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.