Monday, March 25, 2013

Funny Squares that Replace Business Cards

What better way to show off.
The life of a technologist is spent relearning there job every eighteen months.  It is just the nature of the profession.  This week I spent my week receiving training as a Certified Scrum Master.  While I was at training, I broke out of my shell of meetings, code, and sales calls to talk with other technologists who share the same passion for Agile business practices that I do. In spite of all technological skill in the room we still swapped business cards like we were part of the cast of Mad Men.

I firmly believe that the business card will help archaeologists understand the operation of the contemporary corporation five hundred years from now.  They contain personal information about a person, how to get in touch with them and their relative position within the organization.  They will also chronicle how businesses have tinkered with the English language as Sales People have transformed into Account Executives.  It is a universally accepted custom in business that when you meet another business person there is an expectation that you will receive their business card.  It is such an accepted custom that it was brutally parodied in the book and film American Psycho.

It is always nice to hand out business cards and to network however in this age of smart phones and Google Glass why does it have to be so cumbersome.  When I receive a business card, I want to place that information into my smart phone right away.  The sad reality is that I can't.  I either have to go on my e-mail program and enter the information in my contacts or I have to go to an online service which will sync the information with my phone.  It just seems wasteful.

It would be nice if a technology exists which makes it possible to instantly scan a business card and place it in our phone's contacts.  The good news is we already possess this technology.  It is courtesy of Microsoft and it is called MS Tag.  Thanks to MS Tag you now have an easy means to allow people to enter your business card into their smart phones.  The application is free from Microsoft and once installed easy to use.  Just point the camera from the smart phone at the square code and it creates a contact for your phone.  That is it.  No muss and no fuss.

E3 systems will provide this service free to you or your business.  We offer lots of other services to our customers but this is our way of introducing ourselves to people who may not be familiar with business automation or using technology to streamline their business.  Contact us today and we will show you how.

Until next time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

You need a digital handshake

A digital handshake can help your business.
Lots of news happened this week.  We have a new pope and he looks like someone who shows a great deal of promise.  The wheels of government continue to grind along in spite of a charm offensive.  We also had some baseball games which counted in March and team USA once again disappointed.  What you may have missed is the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.  This is just another sign that the business world is changing and if you do not catch this wave you are going to drown.

As Will Oremus reported the Galaxy S4 unveil was a silly and weird affair but it does remind me of the hype surround automobiles in the 1970's and the excitement generated by the promotions for new Saturday morning cartoons on network television.  As a technologist I am being asked to write applications which work on as many different environments as possible.  It is no longer good enough to have a web site.  Now you must have a web site, tablet application, and something that looks good on your mobile phone. 

I have been saying this for a while but I am going to say it again.  The dual technologies of cloud computing and mobile computing are going to change business and if you are not ready for it you are going to get left behind.  This is why you need help from a company like E3 systems.  We are surfing this wave of technology.  We understand how to use the cloud and mobile computing to make life easier for small businesses.  We can help you with your web development, QR code creation, and numerous other services which will make it easier to do business with others. 

Consumers already can scan bar codes in stores to compare prices with their mobile phones.  Best Buy has been having problems with people using their stores to browse products and then purchase them at lower price on-line.  If this problem affects a big player like Best Buy, known as Showrooming, what do you think this is going to do to your business?   This is why I think you should look into how E3 can help you.  We have a full line of software products which will help you manage inventory, track sales leads, and now we are offering an inexpensive "Digital Handshake" which makes it possible for you to have Microsoft Tag or QR codes which you can promote your business.  Now you save money on business cards by having people scan your "Digital Handshake" and it will automatically place you as a contact on your customer's phone. 

We have made an effort to make this process simple and easy.  We will even offer a discount to members of the Joliet Chamber of Commerice who are interested in trying this new innovation.  In this new economy of mobile phones and cloud computing you need every advantage you can get. 

Contact us today to learn more. 

Until Next time.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Don't Panic, it is my dream.

Thanks for the inspiration Douglas.
March 11st was the 61st anniversary of the birth of Douglas Adams.  Google made a big deal about the affair with a doodle on their web site and everyone had a story to tell about Adam's and his cultural impact.  I want to remember him as someone who came to his success later in life.  I also see him as a great writer and someone who could always make me laugh.

As struggle to keep my business running.  It gives me comfort that a misfit science fiction author can succeed and have cultural relevance.  I am sure that every time he heard 'Yes' in his life he heard a 1,000 no's.  If he can do it then I suppose that a lowly software developer can build a company which can help other business people be more productive. 

It is my dream and I am entitled to it.

Until next time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Software is Never Free

Just like the Merchant of Venice
we all need our pound of flesh.
Being a software entrepreneur is a difficult business to be involved with.  I spend much of my time writing software and then the remainder selling it to others.  It is difficult and I could not think of anything else I would rather be doing.  Still I do have one big challenge and it is the same challenge all types of creative people are facing.  It appears that in this internet world of abundance they do not have to pay for books, music, or software.  This week I would like to explain why software is not free.  Someone has to pay. 

I believe that this notion that software should be free was spawned from the Linux movement during the Dot.Com boom days.  Countless pixels have been spent expressing the view that software should be free and that copy writes for things like books, movies, and software were quaint notions from the pre-internet days.  I think it was professionally and culturally poisonous for the software industry.  Please let me explain.  

Software, music and books are the one of the few things we have not figured out how to automate.  The creative process necessary to build them are labor intensive and imprecise.  These processes are also prone to spectacular failure.  This is why when you check the CHAOS report it is clear why many of the software projects are challenged or failing.  It is hard to match the expectations of the people paying for the software to the abilities of the people writing that software. 

Along came the Linux movement with the religious fanaticism of the Opus Dei.  Linux was a version of the Unix software program which was developed by AT&T during its monopoly period of the 1950's and 1960's.  What made it unique is that it was freely distributed over the internet via download.   This meant that instead of paying a license for an operating system for a computer it was free.  Companies sprang up to support this ecosystem of Unix and provide a means to cash in on all the companies who didn't want to pay for software but didn't know how to use it.  So the tradeoff for a company was no cost for software but huge fees for labor to maintain and customize the software.   This spawned a system of software which is used today in the corporate world; Oracle Databases, Java Development, and PHP for web development.

I suspect that the Linux movement had to happen because companies like IBM and Microsoft made a very good living off charging people to use their product.  To software developers who tend to be an iconoclastic lot having free and open software was a nirvana of sorts.  Upgrades were based on the needs of the community and weren't subject to a corporate project manager.  Finally, the open source Linux movement emphasized the technical ability of the developer to make changes to core systems and improve the product.  Thus, free software seemed to be the best of all worlds; developers judged on merit, free products which respond to real needs, and something that was technologically elegant. 

Of course, something was missing.  Since these free products we constructed by engineers for engineers, for non-technical people they were impossible to use.  MS-DOS from Microsoft abandoned command line prompts for the windows interface for a reason.   They wanted more people to use their systems.  The Linux movement still used the command line.  In addition, major manufacturers did not create Linux personal computers so they had to be created by hobbyists and Linux fans who have been affectionately labeled a "priesthood" because of the difficult process of developing technical competence and the religious devotion they have to the Linux world view.  Finally, no one had time to write Linux software.  This is because many of the people who worked with Linux were busy updating the system and working in the corporate sector keeping systems working; in other words, with no killer application that would force people to use Linux people in the consumer realm did not use it. 

Flash forward to today, now an entire generation has grown up with free software.  Piracy is rampant in music and on-line books and when I hand a contract to a client they look at me like I am crazy.  "You expect me to pay that much," they say and I grit my teeth and say yes.  Just like my customers, I have bills to pay and mouths to feed.  They charge for their services so why should they be shocked and surprised when I charge for mine.  I think this has been my biggest frustration as an entrepreneur.   I am charging for my services and many people think I should be giving it away for free. 

I think I have a pretty good service to offer.  I have an inventory management system which works over the cloud and can be accessed via a browser, tablet, or mobile phone.  I am in the process of completing a contact management system for the insurance industry which will make it easier for people to trace sales and leads on-line.  It also works with the cloud via a browser, tablet, or mobile phone.  I am even leveraging QR codes for advertising and contact management for small businesses. 

It is an exciting way to make a living but it requires people to realize that software is not free.   It requires blood, sweat and tears to create.  I have invested most of my life into software.  You should invest a little money into to product I sell you.

Until next time.