Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking forward to 2014

Being an entrepreneur is like being a boxer.
We are going in for another round.
It is difficult to sum up an entire year in a few paragraphs.  I take a look back at 2013 and I see lots of lessons learned and plenty of disappointments.  Being an entrepreneur means learning those lessons and making sure you don’t dwell on the disappointments.  This struggle requires arrogance and stubborn determination.  I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and wonder if I am up to it.  In these dark times I pull myself out of this funk like a punch drunk boxer ready to take another round.  E3 systems is going in for another round in the ring, and we are looking forward to a prosperous 2014.  This week on the blog, I want to review with you where we plan to go in the New Year.

We have two exciting products in 2014; Sully 2.0 our inventory management system and Tony our fleet management system.  Both of these systems leverage Microsoft technologies to give you an easy to use system which can be accessed anywhere on the web with a mobile phone, tablet or PC.  We are looking forward to selling these systems to the business community and seeing how we can help small or medium sized businesses.  We are also looking into further development for the agricultural community and for over the road transportation companies.

We are also poised on graduating from Microsoft BizSpark and taking the next step on our journey as a start-up.   I am very grateful to the organization for their help and support.  They have made us better technology professionals.

2013 was a tough year for E3 systems but we are going back into the ring in 2014 and after a year of taking our lumps we are going to be dishing out our services with greater strength than ever.

Until next time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Death to Performance Appraisals!

Performance Appraisals are about as
 helpful as slapping your employees
It is that time of year again.  We are hustling to and fro and feeling like we are running in place.  You may think that I am talking about the holiday season, but the reality is a more grim corporate ritual.  It is the return of performance appraisal season.  I hate performance appraisal season.  I hate it like a young child hates liver or a dog owner despises animal cruelty.  I do not see any benefit to having them in a business environment and I certainly do not see them doing any good in an entrepreneurial environment.  This week on the blog, I would like you to indulge me as I explain why I hate performance appraisals.

At an early age we come in contact with the performance appraisal, it was called a report card.  These pieces of paper and notes home to our parents were necessary to let them know how we were doing in school.  If you were lucky you had parents like mine who were involved in your education and had a fairly good relationship with my teachers.  If you were like other students I knew your parents would be surprised each time you brought back your quarterly report card.  As you grew older report cards were a means to perform educational triage.  Hard working and gifted students were moved to the front of the line for college preparation and scholarships while those who didn't measure up were cast aside like trash.  Grades determined your official status in school and your possible desirability to go to college.

Flash forward four years of high school and another four years of college and when we get into the job world we expect to be free from the tyranny of report cards.  Instead, report cards are replaced by performance appraisals.  Unlike report cards, performance appraisals are not based on objective standards of excellence.  They are based on the economic needs of the company.  So you could have perfect attendance, not miss a deadline, and generate millions of dollars of sales and still receive a “meets expectations” on your appraisal.  For a classic example of this kind of insanity, just take a look at Microsoft and its old stack ranking appraisal process.  I feel very strongly that Microsoft hurt its ability to retain good employees and innovate because of this system; if everyone “meets expectations” and then the company really can’t meet the expectations of the customer.  So good employees leave and mediocre and poor ones stay.

There is another reason I hate that hate performance appraisal and that is because it resembles management by fear.  According to W. Edwards Deming, the godfather of lean manufacturing, one of the seven deadly diseases of management is the use of Evaluation pf performance, merit rating or annual reviews to control employees.  People are not dumb, and if they know the metrics you are using to evaluate them they are going to game the system to get the best rating possible at the expense of the business and customer.  For instance, if you reward a bus driver for on-time drop offs they will avoid picking up more riders during high traffic periods because that will affect their drop off times.  This creates perverse situations where people are rewarded for poor customer service.  People are afraid to do what is right for the customer instead they do what will be appraised in a positive fashion.

I am not against rating people and their performance, but the way we do it now reeks of mental illness.  Managers should be in contact with their line employees daily providing coaching and encouragement.  When a performance issue comes up it needs to be addressed right away instead of during the appraisal process.  Immediate feedback when you screw up is much more helpful then trying to recall what you did during the middle of the fiscal year.  Agile teams need to know how much velocity they can perform and if they are improving it.  Sales people and marketing professionals need to know what is going on the top line of sales and how much margin you are making on the bottom line.  All of this data is important and necessary, however you cannot squash it together into a gooey ball of muck an use it to objectively rate an employee. I would much prefer a manager telling me that the firm could only afford a two percent raise than telling me I met expectations and that is worth two percent.  The honesty would be bracing.

So what do I propose as an alternative?  I am a big fan of development plans.  Every 90 days a manager should tell a person what they can do if they need to improve and what they need to do if they would like to advance to a higher position.  In six month intervals, this information should be written down and then saved for HR purposes.  This way over the life time of the employee there should be a record of the growth and development of the employee without the capricious rating system that most companies use.  This forces managers to manage their employees instead of kissing up to their superiors.

At the end of the day, a business must satisfy the needs of their customers.  I strongly believe that the performance appraisal process as it exists in contemporary companies satisfies neither the needs of the employees or those of customers.  Something must change and I hope that as my business grows I will be one of the people leading this change.

Until next time.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A simple thought

I consider myself very fortunate.  I have a day job and in the evenings and weekends I pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur.  During my life, I have had the good fortune to have people encourage me and help me live up to my potential.  As I continue this journey as an entrepreneur, I understand that I will have to give back. 

This week’s blog is not going to be very long. I just want to reaffirm my statement to everyone who has been following that as we grow we will also use that growth to help others. It is the very least that I can do.  Please reach out to us and find out how we can help your business.


Until next time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

To Big to Succeed

People have a right to get upset about
Healthcare.gov
Like many people in the technology business, I am following the news of the roll out of the Healthcare.gov website with a mixture of horror and disbelief.  It is clear to me that the current occupant of the White House deserves some criticism for this roll out; however, I also think a huge dose of criticism should be leveled at CGI International who is doing the principle development.  In this blog, I want to discuss why consulting companies like CGI International are too big to succeed.

In the book “The Geek Gap,” Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin say that technical leaders and business leaders view the world on very different terms; the business leader is interested in control and influence while the technical leader wants to build things which work.  It is clear to me that CGI is more interested in influence and control than building working software.

During congressional hearings with representatives from CGI about the Healthcare.gov roll out, no project managers were discussing the problems encountered.  More aggravatingly the congressmen did not know which questions to ask.  So you had people who negotiate contracts attempting to justify why they should get paid to people who did not understand what they were paying for.  It was depressing.

What makes this even more frustrating is that there are great examples of technology and government working together.  Each year Intuit makes millions of dollars helping people do taxes.  They are able to wade through the income tax regulations and each year release software which helps people do their taxes.  Even if the law changes, they are able to update the software over the internet.  If Intuit can do this each year why can’t CGI?  This answer is that CGI, from the outside looking in, is the antithesis of an agile organization.

They value process and tools over individuals and interactions.  They are more concerned with obeying the letter of a contract that providing collaboration.  Finally, they don’t have working software but they have plenty of documentation of why they should be paid.  Of course, this does not matter because, CGI is highly successful and so deeply embedded into the project that firing them for a poor job would be foolish.  In essence, they are too big to fail.

I had a hunch something was wrong when I reached out to my local congressional representative by e-mail and phone offering to pitch in and author some web services.  The congressional office had a staffer contact me and assure me that everything was under control.  When I asked if there was a way to volunteer for the project, I was instructed to follow the federal procurement process.   As a two person technology start up, I decided that it was not worth the hassle to get further involved.  I am sure that other start-ups felt the same and that is why firms like CGI make money.  They provide lousy service but they understand government procurement so they do not need to excel at fulfilling contracts only closing them and getting paid.

Healthcare.gov could have been a smashing success out of the gate, but thanks to a bad procurement process and a firm like CGI, it began with a thud and is slowly being made functional.  I hope that the November 30th release is a huge success.  I did not go into business to become CGI; I went into business to build things which work and solve problems.  I hope this is an object lesson to our elected leaders being able to win a contract does not mean that they can actually do the work.

Until next time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Thanksgiving Message

It is Thanksgiving time and all of us at E3 systems are going to be taking time off to spend with our families and friends.  I want to devote a little time to what we are grateful for this year.

2013 has been a year of transition for our little company.  We have launched need products and jumped into new directions as the market has needed it.  I am very thankful for the talented people who provided help and direction during this time period.  I would also like to take time to thank the people in the Joliet Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft Bizspark for believing in our organization.  I also want to take time to thank the Will County farm bureau for its help in helping get the word out about our product.

2013 has been a year of transition for E3 systems but we look forward to the new year and hope that you are part of the energy and excitement.

Until next time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The times and trends change

Always looking to the future
As a technology professional it is easy to get swallowed by the hyperbole and latest trends in technology.  While some ideas catch on like design patterns and object oriented design. Other trends look like ugly fads such as noSQL and Java Server Pages.  I am not immune to these trends but I tend to be much more pragmatic than the average developer regarding new technologies.  I suppose being in the development business for fifteen years does that to a person. This week on the blog I want to talk about keeping fresh as a technology professional.

Google posted an interesting statistic for technology professionals.  In 2001, a Gigabyte of storage cost roughly $10, today that same gigabyte costs ten cents.  In twelve years, the time from kindergarten to high school graduation the prince has fallen by an exponential amount.  In that same amount of time technology has changed dramatically.  When we founded E3 systems we were excited about a new technology from Microsoft know as MS Tag.  Today the Microsoft tag technology is being discontinued and will disappear in 2015.  This is the inevitable march of progress and the invisible hand of the technology marketplace.

This puts technology companies and professionals in a difficult situation.  Keeping your technology skills up to date means making educated guesses about what trends to learn and which ones to ignore.  If you guess correctly you can make millions of dollars.  If you guess wrong you can wind up unemployed without any prospects.  So what is a company or professional to do faced with this reality? A professional or company concentrates on training.

A technology profession or company that does not focus on training is like a shark which cannot swim; it will drown and die.  As technologies come and go, training makes it possible to stay on top of what you need to know. This means to remain relevant a technology company or developer needs to update their skill set every eighteen months.

You see this progression at E3 systems as we moved from Microsoft.Net web forms to MVC4.  We have much cleaner data management with Entity Framework and code first than when we started using Advanced Data Objects .Net.  We are also migrating away from VB.NET to C#.  All of these moves are natural progressions and related to the technology needs of our potential customers.  We will continue to make these changes as necessary.

The most exciting of these trends is the growth of the mobile web and the user of technologies like HTML5, Knockout.js and CSS3 to build websites which look good on tablets, phones, and PC’s. I am proud of how we at E3 systems have pioneered this approach to out applications.

Unlike many technology professionals, I have stayed alive in this business because I have kept my skills up to date and avoided the hyperbole and fads which plague this industry. It has also informed the products our company offers.  Drop us a line today and we can show you.

Until next time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Perspective about the Twitter IPO

Some thoughts about all the love Twitter is feeling.
The big news this week is the initial public offering of Twitter on the New York Stock exchange.  Every entrepreneur dreams of the moment when their hard work and effort pays off and they are swimming in stock options and cash.  It crosses my mind from time to time.  This week, I want to provide a little perspective to those wild fantasies that IPO’s create.

An IPO or huge success is as American as apple pie.  A person creates a product everyone wants and then receives a huge payday.  What most people do not see are the countless hours perfecting that product.  People do not see the sales calls ending in frustration.  Finally, it is difficult convey the loneliness and solitude it takes to build a good product.  It is always easier to show the big pay day rather than the long slog it took to get to that payday.  I am not looking for a big payday.  I would like to be able to have my own business but living like Tony Stark with my own computer assistant seems a little far-fetched for me.  

It should also be evident that all the frenzy regarding Twitter is more heat than light.  According to the filing with the SEC, Twitter is still struggling to generate advertising revenue. It is one of those products which people use but cannot seem to make money; sounds like a fishy investment to me.  This does not mean that Twitter will not figure it out but currently people look like they are investing in the promise of profits rather than actual profits.

This situation reminds me of the good-old days of the Dot.com bubble where any company with .com in its name created a gold rush on the stock market.  Companies with spurious business models and the ability to burn through cash lit up the stock market.  What these companies were, according to Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, were falling watermelons where everyone made money until they hit the pavement.  Those forced to clean up the mess were individual investors.  It was a giddy and stupid time.  I am glad I lived through it because it flavored my approach to business for the better.  I still keep a Pets.com sock puppet to remind me of that era’s excess.

I got into business not for the wealth and fame but because I want to work for myself.  I want to help other business people make money and put people to work.  We think that our new Tony fleet management software is a great tool to provide risk management and regulatory compliance to small business.  We also think Sully 2.0 is the right tool to help your business manage inventory and bills of lading.  Contact us today and we will show you.

I am very happy for the owners and investors in Twitter’s IPO but I won’t be toasting them any time soon.  I will save that for my own big milestone when I can go professional.

Until next time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Values Mater.

We think about our values each day.
E3 systems suffered a major loss last week as the founders experienced a death in the family and took time off for the funeral.  If you have visited the company web site, one of our company values is respect.  With the passing of one of our founder’s relatives, it only seemed right to take time off and pay our respects.  During this difficult time, I reflected on my values and the values of the company I founded.  This week on the blog I want to discuss those reflections.

I founded this company three years ago out of frustration with my technology career.  I spent too much time in meetings and taking orders from people who could not use a mouse.  I concluded, in this fit of career darkness, I would found my own business and help others use technology to improve their business.  It was a crazy dream but I was determined to see it through.  Since then, I spent countless hours writing software and meeting with potential clients.  I have affectionately referred to the company as my mistress.  We have released two major software projects in that time and we are launching sales efforts to support those products.

Along with coding, I spent a great deal of time to think about what kind of company I wanted to build.  I wanted a firm where people respected each other, the customer and the communities they server.  I wanted to be able to grow so that I could reward our stake holders and employees.  I look forward to hiring my first employee and the only way that is going to happen is by growing and improving sales.  When we hit that first million dollars in revenue we will let you know.

The other two values of E3 systems are agility and development.  I strongly believe that to be successful a company needs to respond to customer demands.  This is why I have embraced the agile manifesto and why agility is one of my corporate values.  If you do not like something we are doing give us two weeks and it will change.  This is one of the reasons why smaller firms seem to be having more success that larger ones in today’s environment.

Finally, I believe strongly in personal development of my employees.  Unlike traditional businesses a good technology company demands that its employees get smarter and better at what they do. A technology worker needs to relearn their job every eighteen month. Each employee, should learn how to be better at what they do and become more knowledgeable of the world around them.  Continuing education and training just makes sense as the world becomes more complex.  People are not machine tools to be used up and then thrown away.  Only be investing in people and helping them develop will you be a successful postmodern business.

I strongly believe in these values; growth, agility, development, and respect.  I have place them on my company website and I have struggled to live them as I have launched my business.  This organization counts on two things the quality of our product and the trust of our customers.  If we do not have those then we deserve to fail.

We know that in order to earn your trust and provide quality we have to have values consistent with theat.   I know we do.  So reflecting on this journey, I can say we are doing it the right was and look forward to future success.

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Bring Your Own Device revolution

The revolution is here. 
Revolution is messy.  Protesters march in the street and buildings are burned to the ground.  In the end, the old order could become stronger than before or the rebels triumph and have to figure out how to take charge.  Today on the blog, I want to discuss a revolution taking place in the business world;  the bring your own device revolution or BYOD.

Bring your own device began in earnest with the release of the first iPhone. Prior to this date, when you joined a large company and needed a cell phone the company issue it to you.  This was great for the company because the company could control the number of minutes, configure the devices e-mail, and place primitive application on it for critical business functions.  Control and economies of scale was the name of the game.  The release of the iPhone turned that model on its head.  Hot shot executives and sale people snapped up these new devices from Apple and brought them into work.  These individuals demanded they work with the current IT infrastructure.  The BYOD movement was born.

Since the iPhone did not support Flash, CEO’s demanded web sites which worked on their new-fangled phones.  This was the primary reason why the use of flash declined on the web.  The advent of tablet computers and personal laptops make this trend accelerate.  Now companies had to maintain its own computers and support numerous tablets and smart phones which were used by employees.

At E3 systems we have known about the BYOD revolution for some time.  We constructed both our Sully inventory system and our Tony fleet management system with mobile devices and tablets in mind.  Our software is hosted on the cloud so it does not need to be installed on your devices.  If you have a web browser on your phone, tablet or PC then you can use our product.  This is why we say that our software is easy, economical and everywhere because if you can connect with the web then you can use our systems.

People may not be protesting in the streets and building may not be on fire but we are in the middle of a revolution.  E3 systems know how to navigate these troubling times and look forward to helping you today.  Contact us now.

Until next time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reaching Out for Fourth Quarter

We are reaching out this quarter.
The life of an entrepreneur is one of constant tension. Customers need to be courted.  The operations of the business can become the center of your life.  Finally, bad news from the bank or the government can ruin your future plans.  I am an entrepreneur and this week on the blog I want to discuss where we are going in the next few months.

Two weeks ago we released our Fleet Maintenance software Tony.  We think that it would be a good solution for any firm with a fleet of vehicles they need to maintain.  So if you are responsible for a group of school buses or have over hundred tracker trailers on the road we think this would be a great means to stay on top of your maintenance.  We also spoke with some potential customers and who felt that this software could also be a huge benefit of to the agriculture community because there was no good means to track maintenance and hours of operation.

This means that we are going to be reaching out the local farm bureaus to showcase our product.  We are also reaching out to the trucking community to promote our products.  I am also happy to announce that we will have more YouTube videos promoting our products and we will leverage our association with the Joliet Chamber of Commerce.

This means that fourth quarter of 2013 is going to be a busy time for us. If you want to get involved please contact us today.  The entrepreneurial adventure continues and I would love to have you join us.

Until next time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why You Need Tony

Tony is looking after your fleet.
After the work we put into our new Tony Fleet Maintenance program you would expect us to drop the mike and do a little celebrating.  Far from it; this week on the blog I want to talk about why you need to use this application.

If you are safety coordinator at a business or owner, insurance companies and regulatory agencies are demanding that you provide information about the maintenance of your equipment.  This is going to be particularly important if one of your vehicles gets into an accident.  Before Tony, you kept track of this information on paper or with an excel spreadsheet.  Now you can access this information with a few clicks on a PC, tablet computer or smart phone.

So when you are called to the scene of an accident by the state police you can bring along your smart phone and show the officers that all of the maintenance on the vehicle is up to date saving you potential liability.  Our system also makes it possible to settle disputes between the shop and the company.  You can find out how long work is under warranty and if something breaks prove it to the shop that they need to fix it.  So now your organization is saving money.

Finally, Tony makes it possible to save time.  Since it is cloud based system, it works on any device with a connection to the web you can enter information anywhere or any time.  You do not have to be in the office and can enter data at home or on the road.  This kind of system is perfect for people who would rather be meeting with customers instead of being tethered in the office doing paperwork.

We are pretty proud of this application and are looking forward to going out and selling it in the agriculture and logistics community.  Contact us here for more information.

Until next time.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Introducing Tony - Our Latest Product

Your Fleet Maintenance never looked
so good. 
More than cash, the common currency of an entrepreneur is trust.  If customers and client can not trust you your business is doomed to failure.  Today we at E3 systems are proud to announce that we are releasing our Tony fleet management system.  This week’s blog post features our new product and how we kept our promise to our customers.

Tony was conceived in February of 2013; as we looked at the marketplace and realized there was no good tool for tracking maintenance on a fleet of vehicles.  Trucking companies, school bus services, rental car companies and farmers did not have a good tool to keep track of when and what kind of maintenance they did on their vehicles.  We decided to write one.

The system like all E3 products works on a smart phone, tablet or regular PC. It is based on the cloud so there is not software to install or upgrade.  Finally, we made our system easy to use and economical for consumers.

With Tony you can QR code your vehicles so that anyone with a smart phone can view the maintenance history on a vehicle.  Paperwork is a thing of the past as a few key strokes can pull up a vehicle and the history of maintenance for it.  In addition, when you are confronted with law-enforcement or insurance requests for vehicle maintenance you can provide them with that information from any device with a web connection.

We went through an exhausting testing program to make sure we had a great product to offer you.  Now we are pleased to say it is here.  Contact us today and we will tell you more.  This is just one more way we are trying to earn your trust.

Until Next time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Patterns in the Code

Square Pegs is round holes. Could be design patterns
I spend a great deal of time reading other peoples code.  It is part of my day job as a Scrum Master.  It is also what I do as the president of E3 systems.  It is a tedious task sometimes but I recommend it for every developer working today.  This week on the blog, I want to discuss code patterns and why they are important for any developer.

In the world of literature, there are countless critics and competing schools of literary thought.  Fortunately, the world of computer science does not have that problem.  The most important standard for software is that it works and that it meets the needs of customers.  This is changing as software becomes more complex and it has become more important to the operation of the business.  Standards cropped up thanks to this new reality and I think it has been a good thing for the industry.

Developers in many respects are like painters; they are creative, temperamental and a little crazy.  Ask two developers to write the same software with the same requirements, you will get code that is written very differently.  Multiply this by several hundred developers over three continents and you have a recipe for disaster.

Most coding standards are fairly common sense.  I personally like the standards from Microsoft regarding C#.  However, I am starting to see some troubling trends.  First, the Gang of Four, design patterns for Java are being used as a cudgel to punish self taught developers.  These design patterns have been taught in computer science classes the last ten years and the original book on the subject came out in 1994.  Today those patterns are used in numerous development languages.  A good developer with an understanding of the object oriented development doesn't need to use these patterns but some architects and a sizable minority think they should be the necessary grammar of development.

I strongly disagree with this position.  Gang of Four design patterns are a style of development not the last word on the subject.  To barrow from my friends in English and Communications theory, the Gang of Four represents a dialect of coding rather than the grammar.  Just like the formal language of a court room is different than the informal tome construction workers use on the job site.  There is a time and place for both and slavish devotion to design patterns make about as much sense as using a hammer to drive a wood screw.

Software developers often that they are artists but in the real world they are often being used like animators helping create large and complicated pieces of work with an almost infinite number of moving parts.  The Gang of Four design patterns are helpful but are being misused by a minority in the development community to judge the ability of other developers who do not understand these processes.

I am much more open to the SOLID programming approach which creates general guidelines for flexible code.  These guidelines make design patterns possible but not necessary.  If you use SOLID are more likely to write cleaner and easier to use code.  Furthermore, this approach instills good habits in both self-taught and classically trained developers.

A developer is his own worse critic.  I know that I look at code I worked on three years ago and cringe at my lack of technique.  I think I am a better developer now than I was when I started fifteen years ago.  I may not use design patterns but I think that I can create satisfying customer solutions.  In the end, that was why I wanted to be a programmer in the first place.

Until next time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Being a Jerk Does Not Make You a Better Programmer

Can you believe this A@@ Hole.
Image courtesy of Slate.com
It has been quite a week in the technology world.  The big news this week was the firing of Business Insider’s chief technical officer Pax Dickinson for a series of insensitive and sexist tweets.  As someone who has been fired, I really do not like to gloat at the misfortune of others.  I am going to make an exception for Mr. Dickinson.  This week on the blog I explain why people like Mr. Dickinson are a poison to the profession of software development and technology start-ups.

When I first joined this profession, it was male dominated.  Guys wrote code.  It was just the nature of the profession.  Diversity was usually based on experience and ethnic background as programmers from India, Asia, and the United States blended together to form development teams.  I remember quite vividly when the attacks on the world trade center took place that the developers at my firm closed ranks around the lone Muslim member of our development team because we did not want our co-workers hassling him.  People who code together tend to stick together.

As the years wore by it became obvious to me that we needed more women in the profession.  Homosexual slurs were used to describe code that wasn't acceptable.  Developers who couldn't take a joke were called “p#%&ys” and women who worked with us affectionately referred to the development work area as the “pig pen” for all the misogynistic behavior exhibited by the developers.  It was 2009 and I had finally realized that programming had far too much alpha male ignorance associated with it.

Around this time, I discovered the Chicago area application life-cycle management group.  It was led by a woman smart as a whip and tough enough not to take any grief in the profession.  It was also here that I met many women who were managing projects and in the trenches writing code.  To me it was a revelation, women not only could write software but they could teach and provide proper instruction to their fellow developers.  It was a breath of fresh air and it was at that point I realized that if I ever started my own company I wanted to encourage the participation of women in the world of technology.

Pax Dickinson fits into this discussion because he comes from the “brogrammer” school of development.  These individuals are nurtured in the world of game development and the start-up community.  They are defined by their arrogance, intelligence and total lack of an internal filter.  They are not afraid to call an algebra teacher stupid if they know the answer before teacher shows the work on the black board.  They take pride being the smartest person in the room and will make sure everyone knows they are the smartest person in the room.  As it was explained to me once, “a good programmer is smart and he is arrogant enough to make sure everyone knows it.”

Really Mr. Dickinson fits the definition of an asshole as outlined by Robert I. Sutton PhD in his book “The No Asshole Rule” which are people,  “…who consistently aim their venom at less powerful people and rarely, if ever, at more powerful people.”  Dickinson has made a career of making people who are not him feel like dirt.  Women who he thinks can’t code are beneath him.  Developers who don’t understand his mode of operation are worthless.  Heaven forbid you question his business practices or products because that will make you a target as well.

As Mr. Dickinson gained wealth and fame in the world of technology, it merely made a bad problem worse.  Business Insider should have known better than to hire this guy but when they did they gave him the ultimate license to be an asshole to his fellow man.  It is not surprise that he got himself in trouble and soiled the reputation of the organization which fired him.

I suppose that this is an object lesion then in the world of technology.  Sooner or later an asshole is going to get what is coming to him.  They can hide but sooner or later they are exposed as the cretins they are and they are cast aside because people do not want to do business with them.  I have always striven not to be an asshole in the technology world.  It is why I founded my company and why I am looking forward to hiring developers who are going to make a difference in my organization.  I don’t care about gender, ethnic origin or religion.  I just want to make sure they know C# and can code responsive layouts.

So while Mr. Dickinson is packing his desk and protesting his punishment, I am going to get on with the business of running my start-up and helping small and medium businesses work in the cloud.

Until next time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Business Leaders Can Learn to Code

MBA's can code it just isn't pretty.
The Harvard Business Review is always a great source of inspiration.  As a young entrepreneur, it is always nice to get wisdom from the combined academic and business community.  This week they even offered up a little bit of humor as they discussed the efforts of the MBA program to teach its students to write software.  This week, I have some thoughts about managers who try to understand technology.

Prior to entering the world of technology and seven years after earning my undergraduate degree, I decided that I wanted to earn an MBA.  I hoped it would help me advance my career and develop some financial security.  Thus began a thirteen year odyssey of fits, spurts, layoffs and late checks which culminated in me receiving my MBA.  Instead of a mortarboard during commencement I wore a Kofi hat signifying my twenty years of tribal experience as a business person.

During those thirteen years I switched careers and became a technical professional.  As I became more involved in technology, I discovered that many people who ran technology departments had no idea about what they were managing.  They people knew sales, marketing and some of them understood the company financials but rarely did they know the difference between UNIX, Linux, and Windows systems.  What made this more maddening is that they made decisions about these systems.  This gave me further incentive to get my MBA because I felt there had to be a need for business leaders who understood technology.  It is nice to see the rest of the business world is catching up with me.

The current concern about STEM careers and American’s global competitiveness has further accelerated the need for business leaders to understand code.  This is why I like the Harvard Business Review article.  They interviewed eighteen alumni of the the Harvard Business School and asked them if the CS50 class which is titled Introduction to Computer Science was worth the effort.  A whopping 83% said it was.  The class has gotten fairly popular because over the last six years over seven hundred students have taken the course.

I think the best insight that these future masters of the Universe learned is that coding is hard.  The class required two to three more work that a typical MBA elective.  Learning to write code and solve business problems requires plenty of smarts and hard work.  It is also very humbling as you make plenty of mistakes and confront long nights with little sleep and even less productivity.  Many of these students found their way into technology start-ups or IT departments.  I think this is a positive step.  Now, the MBA in the corner office will not think they are responsible for a bunch of magicians on the development staff.

It is also why I founded E3 systems.  I became tired being told by my manager to, “…just figure it out.”  I wanted a company where the boss would pitch in to help solve problems.  I also wanted a company which would help other small and medium sized businesses fix their problems.

Getting my MBA was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I say the same thing about learning to code.  Being an Entrepreneur, MBA, and a software developer is not what I envisioned when I graduated from college all those years ago but since Terri Hemmert is still doing mid-day at WXRT and Steve Stone is still broadcasting White Sox games, I can’t think of a better way to spend my life’s work.

Until next time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Light Out of Darkness

We chase the dream to find light in the darkness.
The life of an entrepreneur is lonely and filled with rejection.  I spend my time alone working on products and placing the finishing touches on code.  I find myself using my free time to solicit customers and finally I am making hard business decisions which I thought I would never make.  It is a life of sacrifice which often ends in failure and only a rare few make it.  I would not trade it for anything in the world.  This week our blog post is about why E3 systems continues to chase entrepreneurial dream.

If you have been following the blog the last few weeks, you might have noticed that we have had to overcome several obstacles.  First, we decided to push back the release date of our Tony product and then the news that Microsoft was going to stop supporting their Microsoft Tag system.  Setbacks like that could kill a smaller business but I am proud to say that we are not dead yet.  We are currently looking for a new vendor for QR coding services and we will be releasing our Tony product this month.

It took personal sacrifice and hard work but I think that we are going to be in a very good position for 2014 providing three services for our customers to subscribe to.  Sully 2.0, Tony 1.0, and our continuing services make it possible for us to help the small to medium sized business achieve its goals.  We also have plans in the near future to continue development on our ever expanding line of products.

We also had a very good conversation with a local enterprise customer and hope that this will expand our exposure with business people in more rural communities.

We started this firm to chase a dream.  That dream was to help small and medium sized businesses grow and reap the benefit of cloud based computing.  If you would like to know more about us contact us here.  We think that we are close to meeting that goal.  When things are darkest is when people discover the light which will guide their way.  We have endured the darkness and we are ready to light the way.

Until next time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

MS Tag is Going Away and We Have Something to Say About It.

Hopefully will will not have remorse like
 the woman who received this tattoo.
Lots of big news from Redmond this week, I will save my thoughts about Steve Ballmer for a more private forum.  When news arrived in my mail box on Monday last week that Microsoft was going to discontinue Microsoft Tag Support, I received a flurry of instant messages from friends and colleagues. They wanted to know about how it would affect E3 systems and my personal feelings on the subject.  In this blog post, I want everyone to know where we stand as a business and what this news means for the QR industry.

My first reaction to this was anger.  Why would Microsoft pull this service when it could be a great way for enterprise operations to have paper documents communicate with mobile devices?  It then occurred to me that I had written a blog on the subject a almost a year ago discussing how advertising and marketing firms were not using QR codes correctly.  Then I read the following article in the aftermath of the announcement and anger quickly mellowed into a vinegary vintage of disappointment.

Because QR code support and MSTag are not built into phones people do not scan tags.  Because people don’t scan tags marketing firms do not create suitable mobile marketing content for discourages scans and further undermines the technology.  I was hoping to use MSTag and QR codes for a manufacturing and regulatory compliance purpose.  Now Microsoft was pulling the plug and we would have to find some other technology or means to fill the breach.

Our reprieve was that Microsoft would not kill the service right away.  They provided a two year window and offered the services of a third party ScanLife to provide hosting for QR codes and MSTag.  They even sent an e-mail and phone number to contact someone as I migrate the service.  The plot thickened when I received an e-mail from ScanLife saying they were very excited about how we used the MSTag service and that they would like to speak with me personally.  That appointment is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

I am disappointed that Microsoft is making this decision.  Looking at the trends and how the technology was misused I understand why that made this choice.  This profoundly effects how E3 systems Sully 2.0 and Tony Platform operate. I am also concerned that this change may effect the profitability of the organization.  If necessary, we will have to do something different at this time. We are just not sure what the future holds.  We will keep you posted.

Until next time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Message to Our Stakeholders

Image Courtesy of the Harvard Business Review.
This week I had a meeting with my board of directors.  It was an interesting two hours where we talked about the future of the business and what we plan to do in the future.  This week’s blog post I want to share what we discussed in the meeting.

What worked –

This year we were confronted with many challenges but a few things did go our way.  We migrated our servers from Windows 2008 to Windows 2012.  We did eight revisions of Sully 2.0 to meet our customer needs.  We were able to post instructional YouTube videos online for your education and entertainment.  The blog traffic has remained steady.  Finally, we revised our corporate website to be more responsive to mobile phones and tablet computers.

What didn't work –

Like most start up organizations, we are struggling with sales and finding good sales people.  I think from a personal perspective this is my fault.  As we grow I hope that we do a better job with sales and finding good sales people.  When we did come close to closing a sale we were rebuffed with silence.  It is one thing to be told no it is quite another to be ignored.  In hindsight, I think this is a good thing because if they were not going to return our calls over a contract then they would be a nightmare from a collections standpoint.

Where we are going –

After reviewing the year, we set out some goals for 2014.  We are shooting for a September release of our Tony software. Tony will make it easier to keep track of maintenance for a large fleet of vehicles and will help you with regulatory compliance with the Department of Transportation.  We are very excited about it.  We are also planning to work on an as unnamed tool to help track fuel and licensing requirements for over the road truckers.  Finally, we are looking to close five sales in 2014.

That is it.  We are very proud that we have lasted this long and that we will be able to have a next year. We have had to overcome a great deal of adversity but I think this will make us a better company in the long run.  Contact us today and learn more.

Until next time.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Making No Little Plans

Greatness means making no small plans.
Being an entrepreneur feels like being a wall flower at your high school dance.  You are lonely standing on the sidelines while everyone else is out on the dance floor having a good time.  More aggravating is that when you ask someone to dance they politely reject your advances or insult you for being so bold as to imply that you even had the right to dance with them.   By the end of the evening you have a sugar high from drinking too much from the punch bowl and your self-esteem is about two sizes smaller than the start of the evening.  I seems like it takes a little courage to show up at your high school dance.

This week’s blog post I want to talk about why we keep dealing with the setbacks and challenges to try and build this business.  I hail from the Chicago metropolitan area and one of the founding fathers of this city is Daniel Burnham who was an early pioneer of skyscraper construction and chief architect of the 1893 Colombian exposition.  He said, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”

I was and am tired of making small plans in my cubical.  I want to help other small and medium sized businesses leverage the power of the web and cloud based computing.  I want to get involved in philanthropy and help others with the opportunities I was fortunate to receive.  I want to be able to own my own office and lay it out the way I want.   Some of this is ego driven and the remainder is motivated by a strong desire to make the business community in my local corner of the world better.

We think that we have the tools to make that happen.  Our Sully 2.0 software makes managing inventory and bills of lading twenty four hours a day seven days a week.  We have a broad knowledge of agile management and we have the people who will help your organization manage the transition.  We are putting the finishing touches on the Tony fleet maintenance system. Finally, we can put together QR codes for you to help drive more business to your organization and web site.  This makes us poised for growth and greatness. No little plans indeed.

Contact us today and we will tell you more.

Until Next time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Quality Goes in Before the Software Ships Out.

I think we need to explain.
This has been an amazing week of transition for E3 systems.  We have formally been in business for three years.  We are also on the cusp of a new software release. Today I want to talk about our new product Tony and why you will have to wait a little longer before it goes live.

Early in 2013, a potential client called us out of the blue and wanted to know if we could put together a simple contact management system for them.  We rushed a prototype out and demonstrated it to the client.  They seemed enthusiastic until we gave them a contract and said that they would have to pay for us to finish the project since it was done on spec.  We never heard from that client again.  I suppose this was a good development because if they were not going to return our calls or honor a contract I am sure that getting paid would have also been a serious problem.

The months of March and April were gloomy as we continued to sell our main product Sully 2.0 and assess the failure of our prototype project.  Some good did come out of the work because; we developed experience in MVC 4 and Entity Framework code first for rapid project turn around.  By May, we had come up with a new project and idea which we nick-named Tony after a famous Fiat mechanic.

Tony would be an easy to use system to track maintenance for vehicles in any sized fleet. Trucking companies, rental firms, and even car dealerships could use the system to keep track of when and where work was done.  It would become a living record and best of all it would obey the philosophy of all products at E3 systems.  It would work on a smart phone, tablet, and personal computer.  We also leveraged the power of Microsoft Tag so someone in the field would scan a code on their phone and get instant information.

We had scheduled that Tony would launch in July of 2013.  It was a hectic schedule made even more dramatic by the server migration we did to upgrade our software and databases.  Something had to give and it was clear that the migration took precedence and that we would have to push back the release of Tony.  We also felt that we needed to do more work on the product before it was ready for release and sale.  I am deeply disappointed about this but as the president of the company I would rather ship quality software that release something and then expect my customers to find bugs and act as our quality assurance team.

So we are planning to release our Tony software in mid-September.  I felt that you our customers deserved and explanation.  We had been dropping hints about Tony for the last two months and felt you needed an honest explanation of why it is not here.  As a young start-up we are not in the business of vaporware so please forgive us for the delay.  If you have any questions or concerns please drop us a line and we will have an account executive contact you directly.

Until next time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Direction.

Hard work and we are ready to help you rock your business
We are currently in the middle of an upgrade and finishing up a major release which we are going to unveil next week.  I am pretty proud of the direction we are heading.  This week’s blog post we talk about some of those changes.

I founded this company because I wanted to provide tools for small and medium sized businesses to help them run their businesses for effectively. This meant web based systems where you could track invoices, inventory, and manage bills of lading.  I worked my day job and at night and weekends began building my software empire.  It was really just a software developer and a dream.  That was nearly three years ago and I am just as dedicated to the cause now as I was then.  Our Sully 2.0 system is a fine cloud based platform to make it easy for you to have a state of the art shipping and receiving system for the price of cable television.  We have mercilessly tested it with professionals inside and outside the trucking industry.  If it can meet their approval then we are sure it will meet yours.

Next week we are unveiling the release of Tony.  This software helps you track the vehicles in your fleet and the maintenance they have undergone.  No longer will you have to rifle through piles of paperwork or try to sift through receipts to know how many times you changed oil or had to repair breaks.  Now you have a simple means to view the information with your smart phone, tablet computer, or PC.  We have also folded Microsoft Tag technology into the system so you can place a simple bar code on the dash of the vehicle and scan it to receive up to the minute information.  We think that something like this is going to make life much easier for your safety and compliance departments.

E3 also offers other services.  We will be happy to provide agile project management training for your organization.  We also offer web site design and construction to make your company web sites respond to the mobile web and drive more business to your organization.  Finally, we can consult on how to use social media like Facebook and Twitter to spread your message.

We offer all of these services and as we head into our third year we are looking forward to a break out year with customers, new challenges, and lots of stories along the way.  Contact us today and find out how you can join us.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We upgrade so you do not have to


Pay attention! We are upgrading.
This week we are preparing for the launch of our new software product nicknamed “Tony.”  We are also upgrading our servers from Windows 2008 to Windows 2012.  This made me think about why you the small business person should care about all these behind the scenes moves.  Today’s blog post will cover the reason we upgrade at E3 systems.

One of the important powers of the web and cloud computing is that as a consumer of cloud services you do not have to worry about software, server space, or even operating systems.  All you have to do is open your web browser use the software.  It is up to the loud service provider to make sure that its systems are up and running rather than placing that burden on the consumer.  This is why we are upgrading.  We upgrade so you the consumer do not have to go through the experience.

It is up to us E3 systems to make sure everything works in a safe and secure fashion.  It is up to us E3 systems to bring you the latest technology including responsive websites which look good on tablets, mobile phones and regular PC’s.  It is up to E3 systems to fine tune those systems for maximum performance.  For our customers, they can worry about their business and leave the upgrades to us.

This is not the most glamorous thing about being a cloud based company but I think it is the most important. We do upgrades so you don’t have to.  Manage your business we will worry about the upgrades.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is your business ready for the next SharkNado.

Are you ready for the Next SharkNado Attack
It you missed it last week of the biggest events on Twitter in a long time was the premier of the B-grade monster movie SharkNado on the SyFi channel.  As the title implies, it was a monster movie featuring man eating sharks which sucked up by a tornado and then dropped on the unsuspecting population of Los Angles.  News anchors from cable television, celebrities of all stripes, and political figures chimed it to remark how awful the film was.  It generated so much buzz that the network decided to rebroadcast the film early because the overwhelming demand.  There is a lesson here for any business person.  The web and social media can be a powerful thing creating demand for your business.  In this blog post, want to encourage you to be ready when the next SharkNado hits.

The universe of social media is composed of many services; Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit being the largest and most influential services on the web.  Facebook acts as a global community for everyone from your parents to people who are interested in dressing up as cats to go for contact.  According to Yahoo news, about 1.1 Billion people call Facebook the place they go to share information with friends and family.  Twitter is known as a micro-blogging service and users can only type 140 characters at a time.  What makes Twitter so popular is the speed of how information is shared and it is also relatively unfiltered so it is the tool of Occupy Wall Street and rebels in Turkey.  Rumors and misinformation swirl about but within this river of information are plenty of nuggets of information gold.  Watching Samuel L. Jackson root for team USA during the Olympics was extremely funny and I highly recommend Jack Tapper’s feed from CNN.  Finally, Reedit acts as a clearing house of blogs and photographs on the web. They also have an “Ask Me Anything” or A.M.A feature which has become the place for politicians and other thought leaders to try out new ideas.  For the sake of disclosure, I use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn as my social networks to promote this business.

So what does this mean to you a small or medium sized business? It means you also need a presence on social media web sites; at the very least Twitter and Facebook.  You can promote specials and talk about your business in an unfiltered manner.  If people like your content they will share your tweets and Facebook messages extending your reach.  It is also cheaper than advertising on radio, television, or newspaper.  This makes it a low cost means to promote your business.

We at E3 systems understand this strange world and would like to help you.  We leverage Facebook and Twitter and can show you how to do the same.  Please contact us and we will show you how.  So the next time a SharkNado hits you will be able to use it to boost your business.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Your Web Site Stinks We Can Help

Your website stinks.  Here is why.
The biggest challenge of software development is that users have an opinion about the subject but don’t know how to transform that opinion into something a software developer understands.  This eventually leads to gallons of coffee consumed numerous hours worked and in the end the user hates the software created because it was not what they wanted.  This week on the blog, I want to discuss what all this means for your business.

In order to do business today, any company of any size needs a web presence. In my experience, a graphic designer with some print experience is given the job and they go about creating a company brochure for the web.  Soon marketing gets involved and the sales force joins the fun.  Finally, someone in tech support chimes is saying the company does not have any infrastructure to support a web site.  In the end, the web site is an unpleasant compromise which features the branding from marketing and does not drive business to the company.

Now evolve these trends over five or ten years and you have a recipe for mediocrity and poor brand presence.  The web site is difficult to update.  The original graphic artist has left and the help desk person is behaving like a troll under a bridge because they are afraid any change will break the website.   It is a mess.
This is becoming a bigger problem because web sites are being viewed more often by mobile devices like phones and tablets.  This means you rickety web site has out of date content and looks horrible on a mobile device.

At E3 systems we understand these challenges.  Contact us today and we will be happy to help you with responsive web design and finding a content management system that will meet your needs.

Everyone has an opinion about software and web sites.  Yours should be positive about your company web presence.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

America the Disruptive

America is the story of disruption,
ask Molly Pitcher.
This last week has been a weird mix of anniversaries and events.  The Supreme Court expanded the rights of gay people with the over-turning of the Defense of Marriage act.  This happens during the same week as the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg where this nation almost dissolved into a feudal Confederacy and technocratic Union.  We have a black president while our Supreme Court repealed election laws which made his election possible.  It is a mulligan stew of conflicting trends and directions.  I suppose that science fiction author William Gibson was right when he said, “The future is here.  It’s just not widely distributed yet.” This week the blog is discussing how this uneven distribution or ideas and technology is part of the American experience.

I began thinking about this subject when I read an article by Maria Bartiromo about the disruptive nature of software in the business world.  After a good read, it dawned on me that the entire history of the United States is the story of technological innovation and disruption.

America was discovered thanks to advances in ship building and navigation during the renaissance.  Since the first settlers landed on our shores, the American experience has been one of technological discovery and advancement.  One of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, became the nation’s first Renaissance man and patron of science with his work on electricity, home heading and his improvements to printing.
This devotion to science and engineering is a unique part of the American psyche.  It led to the creation of the Erie Canal and the development of the cotton gin.  It made railroads possible and helped create the modern research laboratory for Thomas Edison.

Each of these technological advances caused huge disruptions.  The cotton gin made human slavery profitable for the south and railroads made it possible to defeat the confederacy during the Civil War.  Telephones and telegraphs made communications swifter and the world smaller.  Refrigeration transformed the way we eat and the web has altered the way we interact with each other.  I would argue that a solider from the Civil War placed in the middle of contemporary America would consider this a time of wonder and magic.

Each technological change has created social change.  The promises of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution were only enforced 100 years later thanks to advent of national television broadcasts in the middle of the 20th Century.  The labor movement is an outgrowth of the industrialization of our nation.  Civil rights and the sexual revolution would never have happened without Motown and Rock and Roll playing over a new-fangled device called the radio.

So when I read Bartiromo’s article on LinkedIn, I just nodded in agreement.  Software is a new disruptive influence in America.  Software is changing business and society.  It is generating piles of wealth and if you have the correct skills you will benefit in this brave new world.  If you don’t there are going to be economic and social problems.

I do not know how to solve these larger issues but I do know how to help small and medium sized business adapt to these trends.  At E3 systems we are creating disruptive software which can track your inventory.  Coming up later this month we will be releasing our fleet management software which will help you stay on top of fleet maintenance.  This is pretty powerful stuff and it is going to be disruptive.  You may need fewer clerks in your office or you may assign those people to sales or customer service roles which might improve your revenue.

The times are changing and everything can feel profoundly disruptive but change and disruption are part of the American experience.  Gibson was right, the future is not evenly distributed but at E3 systems we will keep on trying.

Until next time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Should be Impressed with the Silicon Prairie

Disappointed with Silicon Valley, you should look
to the Silicon prairie. 
As a technologist, you meet lots of people and all of them have an opinion about technology.  Some eagerly embrace the latest gadgets and gizmos; others, still struggle with text messaging and Facebook.  It is also that way in the technology press.  Farhad Manjoo is one of those voices I trust.  He attended the release of a new and improved video service courtesy of Instagram and like McKayla Maroney, he was not impressed.  He even lamented the state of innovation in Silicon Valley.  In this post, I wanted to talk about where the real innovation exists out on the web.

In the United States, technology is clustered around several key geographic regions.  There is the research triangle in North Carolina and then the empire built by Texas Instruments but the real action is centered on New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.  Silicon Valley gets much of the attention today and this enclave of engineers, venture capitalists and visionaries came into being thanks to an odd collection of factors.  Once that community got started, it became synonymous with the promise of technology innovation within the United States.

Since the dot-com boom of the 1990’s, New York has emerged as a technology powerhouse.  This is primarily due to all the media companies, financial firms and book publishers who call that city home.  Big media and big Finance need to get on the web and so they did what they always do when they need talent: they paid big bucks.  This wealthy new cohort of technologists then began to create its own culture of cynical, ink stained wretches who put together web sites for all the major networks, banks and publishing houses.  They also spawned some great blogs and magazines like Slate, Gawker, Wonkette, and Salon.  This cluster of technology was nicknamed Silicon Alley because instead of flashy corporate headquarter, many of these New York firms existed in office suites and lofts which were not prime real estate in Manhattan.

Chicago has a very different technology tradition.  During the dot-com boom, the Chicago Tribune called the Midwest “The Silicon Prairie” and used that moniker for its technology want-ads.  The want ads and newspaper became a victim of Craigslist and the web but the technology environment of the mid-west is alive and well.  Unlike Silicon Valley which wants to changes the world or Silicon Alley which wants to make tons of money.  The Silicon Prairies is focused on infrastructure and doing business better, faster, and cheaper.  It is not sexy or sensation but it is a vital niche.

My company E3 systems is part of this tradition.  Already, we have inventory and warehouse management software.  We also have a big release coming in July which will make fleet maintenance as easy as scanning a bar code.

Farhad, may be depressed about Silicon Valley but if he spends some time on the Silicon Prairie I think he will be impressed with all the innovation quietly taking place.

Until next time.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Zombie Proof your Business

Zombies are coming,  is your business ready?
This week Brad Pitt is putting his money and reputation on the line with the release of his blockbuster production World War Z.   I have been reading the book in anticipation of the movie and I am looking forward how they are going to transform Max Brooks’ book into popular entertainment.  While I was reading along, it struck me that a great deal wisdom can be gleaned from a fictional zombie apocalypse. As a small business person the unforeseen and the unexpected happen all the time. If you are not careful your business can wind up like the walking dead.  In this post, I want to talk about how cloud based services and changes in the technology sphere can help you avoid this tragic fate.

The biggest challenge for any business is how to deal with disaster recovery.  If a fire, earthquake or flood hits your business how are you going to get back up and running.  Larger companies have decided that they are going to create large data centers resembling Fort Knox.  Massive Batteries, multiple generators, and numerous systems are in place.  In fact these facilities are filled with backups and redundancies that the only way to really stop business is the have an asteroid directly strike the building or a massive civil disruption, like a zombie apocalypse, to shut down the entire power grid.

As a software developer at the turn of the century, I though all these precautions were an over-reaction.   My opinion changed overnight in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the world trade center.  Merrill Lynch lost four employees to the attacks but the terrorist nearly destroyed the company causing it loose over $98 million in the course of a tragic morning.  Data-centers and disaster recover became a very serious business. No one anticipated the terrorists flying a plane into the building with your data but now it was a very real possibility.

Over the last decade, as data centers grew they had surplus space and power.  Being good capitalists, these companies began leasing out their extra space to smaller companies.  Cloud computing was born.  Soon companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft got into the act and became the principle suppliers of cloud services.  Prices fell and up-time increased.  This was technology and the marketplace doing what Adam Smith said it would.

As a small business myself for a few hundred dollars a year I have the computing power which would have cost several hundred thousand dollars during the giddy days of the dot-com boom.  It allows me to stay in business as I look for customers.  I also know that my data is secure because it exists in a data-center in the Pacific Northwest and that if something happens to me or my business, like a zombie attack, the survivors will be able to access the data and information with a few passwords.  You can have this security too.  At E3 systems we have inventory management and fleet management software safely hidden away on the cloud for you to use so if something happens to your facility you will be ready to do business the next day.

Contact us today and we will show you how this is more exciting than a zombie apocalypse.

Until next time.