Monday, April 29, 2013

If it ain't broke, then what?

It is not old school to be using junk to
manage your business.
One of my colleagues as a joke posted this article on his Google+ feed.  It seems that a manufacturing plant has been using the same IBM 402 system to manage its payroll since 1948.  Let me put it this way, they have been using the same computer for 65 years to manage accounting.

At first I was dismissive of this article saying they should get a more modern system.  Then it dawned on me this is what my company is up against when I am attempting to sell my company to other businesses.  Sparkler Filters of Conroe, Texas would rather manage its accounting with punch cards and form feed paper than upgrade to a more modern system like J.D. Edwards or SAP.

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View California sent a group to ask Sparkler Filter to donate the old system for the museum.  The company politely said no claiming that everyone at the firm understood punch cards and the last sixty year of reports were formatted for the IBM 402 system. To this company, the system was not broke so they decided never to replace it with something more modern and efficient.  A PC with the standard version of Quickbooks could run circles around a device like this but because they are comfortable with punch cards they are going to keep it.

I run into this situation all the time when I am attempting to deal with companies which have thirty year old AS/400 systems.  It happened that fear and inertia are making it hard for people to upgrade their corporate systems.  This is going to get scarier as many of the people in the Transportation and Logistics industry retire and are replaced by this generation’s current supply of employee.  These are individual’s accustomed to smart phones, cloud based computing and social media so when confronted with green screens and systems they cannot access via their phone are going to enter other lines of work.

This, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” mind set is holding back economic growth and technical innovation.

A trucking company today would not dare use vintage 1970’s trucks to transport products today just because today’s trucks have better gas mileage and provide direct savings to the company.  The same holds true for software and services.  Today, thanks to cloud computing a company can have the computing power of a Fortune 500 company at a fraction of the cost.  With contemporary systems you can reduce administrative costs and enhance customer service without having to hire more people.  This gives you the gift of time because you are spending it in the office tracking down paper work; instead, you are selling customers and spending time with you family.

This is why I founded E3 systems.  We want to give you the means to make more money and save time by having technical systems which will make you swifter than your competition.

Until next time.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Other Revolution.

You might have missed the other revolution going on this
It has been a rough week.  Chechen criminals bombing the Boston Marathon and the fertilizer factory explosion in Texas have sucked all the oxygen out of the national media.  What you might have missed is the more quiet and insidious revolution taking place under your nose.

This blog has been very vocal about the revolution.  The evidence also continues to mount and if you don’t get involved you and your business will be swept aside; this is the cloud computing revolution and the continued acceptance of the smart phones by the consumer market.

Your customers are using smart phones with increasing frequency and they are using them in way which is disrupting small and big business with equal ferocity.  One of these trends is called “showrooming” where customers go to appliance, book or electronics stores and window show.  Then they scan the bar codes and price check those product in an effort to get a better deal.  This is great for consumers but it is strangling the margins of many businesses.  Showrooming is not only a threat to retail business but in diverse fields like automotive insurance and philanthropy.

Furthermore social media is being used to sell products and formulate opinion about those brands.  So now unless you devote yourself full time to staying on top of social media the good name of your business could be tarnished.  They were even joking about this trend on this Sunday’s Doonesbury strip.

Finally your business needs a web presence which not only looks good on a standard web browser but it needs to look good on a tablet computer or smart phone.  For a small business, it gets to be overwhelming.  This is why I helped found E3 systems we help take care of the many considerations you need to make when constructing a web site which needs to look good on major web platforms including smart phones and tablets.

We also understand the growing technologies of mobile bar coding and cloud computing so that you can benefit from the same technologies used by the Fortune 500.

We would love to tell you more so feel free to contact us.

Until next time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Gift of Time

Stressed and need more time,
we understand.
Most business people I speak to have one wish.  They want more time.  They want to spend more time with their families. They want more time to manufacture better products.  They want more time to better service their customers and they want more time to learn new skills.  There is never enough time in the day because there is always one more call to take, one more e-mail to respond to and one more customer who you need to make a sale.  I understand that wish because I say it at least every day.  It would be great if someone could give us the gift of more time.

One of the reasons, I started E3 Systems was to help small businesses win back a little more time.  We spend hours a day doing paperwork and chasing down calls.  We struggle with obsolete and expensive software because it is “good enough”.  Many of the tasks we do in our business lives are nothing more than a colossal time suck.  I understood that and knew that I could help write software that would help.  Today, we have online systems which help you manage your inventory without having to install expensive hardware or software.  These systems also work on mobile phones, tablet computers, and laptops.  As long as you have a connection to the web they will just work.

Now, instead of calling into the office to see if you have product in stock you can just make a few taps to your smart phone and find out instantly in real time; this should save you hours of labor.  We also understand that gathering documentation together to meet regulatory requirements is a time consuming hassle.  We understand and make it easy to generate documents and reports at a moment’s notice.  Finally, with the help of Microsoft’s Tag technology we have a way for every piece of paper to communicate with the web and your smart phone so that important documents are just a click away.

These kinds of services make it possible to save time because you are no longer riffling through paperwork and obsolete computer systems.  It also saves you payroll because you need fewer administrative professionals to manage that paperwork. That gives you a chance to free them up to meet with clients and sell to new ones.  That is what is in it for you.  More time to manage your business and less payroll for administrative staff.

I am sure it is a luxury any business person would want.  So contact us today and ask about how we can give you the gift of time.

Until Next time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting Past the Rough spots

The life of an entrepreneur is filled with exhilarating ups and harrowing downs.  This was one of those weeks where I was pretty low.  Fortunately, I have the support of family and friends who believe in me.  This gets me through the rough times.  So for all of you who follow the blog and my business thank you and I look forward to more news and progress reports in the coming weeks. 

Until Next time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Survival Not Manditory

Neither rabbits nor your business needs to survive.
It is nice to be part of the Easter Season.  The reflection and fasting of lent gives way to spring and growth of a new year.  I have spent the week working the phone and attempting to drum up business.  We are in the middle of a site revision right now and working with the local chamber of commerce to help grow our customer base. Something struck me this week and it was a report from showing there is a generational gap between the three major cohorts of people in business.  As a small business owner if you don’t adapt to these generational differences you might as well prepare for your going out of business sale.

First, baby boomers according to the Mitek systems use e-mail less than generation X workers and even less than generation Y workers.  So this means when it comes to communicating information the more senior cohort of business users communicate less using technology than their more junior partners.  This trend is even more pronounced when it comes to instant messaging and laptop use.  It seems that Boomers use desktop computers more than they use laptops by a significant margin.  This means there is a serious disconnect about how computers do business.  For people of Generation X, like me, and the younger generation Y, computing is not a fixed activity.  Computing takes place in coffee shops, on the train and on planes.  If you can find an electrical plug and wireless internet you are going to find smart ambitious people conducting business.

The most interesting part of the survey covered mobile phones and smart phones.  As of 2011, 83 percent of Americans own a cellphone or a smartphone.  When you break down this cell phone usage by cohort something interesting happens.  Baby Boomers use a smartphone in the workplace 35% less than generation X and a whopping 73% less than generation Y.  This means that baby boomers are missing out a huge business opportunity to sell to this younger group because they are not using the technology and tools which generation Y is most comfortable.

As a technology professional, I find this to be madness.  You want to increase our market share and sales but you do not understand the means to reach these new customers.  That is because you are not using the tools that these people take for granted.  I also notice that when I speak with business leaders and share with them this information they blanch because since they don’t own a smart phone they do not think that reaching customers by it is important.  It is a deadly cognitive bias.

W. Edward Deming used to say, “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  I am seeing this increasingly in small and medium sized business.  Cloud based computing, smart phones, and serious generational differences in the use of technology mean that if you cannot adapt then you are not going to survive.  How are you going to put together viral marketing campaigns, adaptive web sites, and mobile phone optimized campaigns if you can don’t understand the importance of them?  How will be able to manage your inventory and sales contacts in real time if you don’t have systems in place to do so?  Finally, how are you going to adapt to change if you don’t understand Agile methodologies and techniques?

This is where we at E3 systems come in.  We help you understand this brave new world and act as your guides through the wilderness or smartphones, social media, and business agility.  Contact us today and we will help.

Easter is a time of rebirth but it can also be a grim reminder of our mortality particularly if you are a business person.  Survival is not mandatory but E3 systems is willing to help.  Give us a call and find out today.

Until Next time.