mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Join us in exploring the world of modern development, evolving technologies, and the art of future-proof software

Month: October 2013

6 common IT practices that should be eliminated

EducationIn a past article, we explored the growing need for IT evolution and outlined 6 keys to a high-performing IT department. The fact is, keeping the lights on is no longer good enough. Modern IT organizations must move quickly, and drive the business forward.

However, I noticed a problem. While all of the keys outlined in that article will help IT departments improve performance, it ignores a critical issue: common IT practices that kill productivity and waste precious resources.

The fact is, you could follow each one of those points perfectly…yet still struggle. If your IT staff focuses its energy on time-wasting and resource-draining tasks, you’ll never drive the business forward. You’ll be caught in a never-ending cycle of being busy, yet ultimately unproductive.

So, what are these common time-wasting and resource-draining IT practices that must be eliminated? We posed that question to a few experts in the area, and have compiled their responses (as well as some of my own thoughts) below. Without further ado, here are 6 common IT practices that should be eliminated.

The dangers of choosing the wrong reporting software

EducationWhat’s the only thing worse than running a business without good reporting software in place? Running a business with bad reporting software in place.

The problems caused by bad reporting software can range from small inconveniences to major financial losses. For instance, bad reporting software can lead to:

  • Lost productivity
  • Wasted money
  • Security breaches
  • Flawed business decisions
  • and more…

How so? Take–for example–the most commonly used reporting tool: Spreadsheets. Why are spreadsheets a dangerous reporting option? Two reasons: They’re inefficient and dangerous:

Weekly Recap: 10 old-school IT principles that still rule, how to leverage BI for executive reporting, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on how old-school IT principles have adapted with the times, how to leverage BI, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Four ways to leverage BI for executive-level reporting
While data is growing at a rapid rate, many don’t know how to turn this data into actionable insights. Why? It boils down to a lack of appropriate tools and processes.

6 critical guidelines for Business Intelligence beginners

EducationBusiness Intelligence (BI) consistently ranks as one of the top priorities in various CIO and IT surveys. A recent Gartner survey puts BI as the top CIO priority for the last two years running. Forrester comes to the same conclusion.

The fact is, many companies are (or are planning on) adopting a Business Intelligence solution for the very first time. With data growing by leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise that more businesses are looking for ways to capitalize on that data.

The only problem: Most BI implementations fail. It’s no secret. According to various surveys on the topic, anywhere from 60% – 80% of BI projects fail. Yikes.

This paints a grim picture. Implementing BI is the #1 CIO priority, and many businesses will start a BI project in the near future…but most BI projects fail.

Today, let’s explore a few ways to lower those numbers. What must companies who are new to BI do to ensure success? What critical tips should these companies follow? We posed those questions to a few experts in the field, and have compiled their advice (along with some of my own) below. Here are 6 critical tips for BI beginners:

Weekly recap: 9 hottest mobile development skills, strategic tech trends for 2014, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on the hottest mobile development skills, Gartner’s strategic tech for 2014, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Combatting the information deluge
Information is exploding at an unprecedented rate. The burden falls on companies to not only turn that data into actionable metrics (like this user-defined dashboard, for example), but also secure and store that data.

5 new realities that developers must learn to accept

EducationWeb application development has changed. Driven largely by the rise of mobile and the growth of cloud-based applications and services, modern web application development is much different than it was just five years ago.

What’s changed? I classify these changes into two categories: Trends and realities. What’s the difference between a trend and a reality? A trend is optional. A reality is not. For instance, flat design is a trend. You don’t have to use it, but many people do. The rise of mobile users is a reality. No matter how much you may tell yourself otherwise, you can’t ignore the very real fact that smartphone and tablets are here to stay.

Today, let’s focus on the realities. How has web application development changed, and what new realities must web application developers learn to accept? We posed those questions to a few experienced developers, and they provided some excellent advice–which you will find below. Here are 5 new realities that developers must learn to accept:

The need for self-service reporting

EducationDid you know that a full 90% of the data in the world has been generated over the past two years? We’re creating more data than ever before, and this trend is only growing. The only problem: Many businesses still aren’t sure how to capitalize on all of this data.

Oftentimes, the data is inaccessible to the very people who need it most. Salespeople have no way of easily viewing their sales data. Marketing managers can’t easily create the reports they need to view prospect data. As a result, all of that data goes to waste.

The fact is, as businesses generate more data than ever before, self-service reporting becomes increasingly important. You must give your employees a way to pull that data out of your systems and turn it into meaningful management information–without going through the IT department.

Unfortunately, this is still a problem in many companies. They still force end users to go through the process of requesting reports from the IT department, and then waiting around until they’re delivered. While all too common, this process often causes 3 big problems:

Weekly Recap: 5 mobile app questions to ask the CIO, IT’s failing reputation, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on mobile questions to ask the CIO, why IT’s reputation is so poor, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Why everyone wants a private cloud
Concerns over security and control in the “public” could make the “private” cloud model tempting to many companies. But, is this a solid strategy? Perhaps a better question: Do your applications give you the flexibility to deploy anywhere–private or public?

8 hidden costs of mobile application development

EducationMobile apps are taking off in the business world. In fact, a recent survey found that most companies plan on building a mobile app this year, and believe that enterprise mobile app development will outpace desktop application development.

However, with every new field, there’s bound to be some surprises along the way. As more and more businesses jump into mobile app development for the first time, many make a crucial mistake: They go into the process with a limited understanding of the true costs of developing a mobile app. In fact, many falsely believe that development cost starts and ends with the developer.

The truth is, the cost of developing an enterprise mobile app reaches far beyond the actual development. The big question: What unexpected costs should businesses plan for when building mobile apps? What expenses might surprise you during the mobile app development process?

photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc
photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc

Today, I’d like to outline the mobile app development costs that businesses may not anticipate. Hopefully, this will better prepare your company for mobile app development, and reduce some of the surprises along the way.

However, before we get into these unexpected costs, I want to differentiate between mobile app types. People tend to associate the term “mobile app” with “native app,” but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s important to note that there are three types of mobile apps:

  • Native app: An app that’s installed on the device itself and distributed via the platform’s app store/market.
  • Mobile web app: Commonly referred to as an “HTML5 app”, these are cross-platform apps that are accessed through the device’s web browser.
  • Hybrid app: Built with web technologies and wrapped in a native shell, these apps are a combination of the two previous apps. They look and feel like a native app, but are actually web apps inside of a native wrapper.

I explain the difference between each app type because the following “hidden costs” don’t necessarily apply to each one. To help differentiate, I’ve listed which costs apply to each application type at the end of each point. Sound good? Okay, let’s get started. Here are 8 of the unexpected/hidden costs to watch out for when building mobile apps for your business:

New graphs and charts (with demo)!

AnnouncementI’m excited to announce that we’re bringing improved graphs and charts to m-Power! They’ll be available to m-Power users in the coming weeks, but if you’d like to get a glimpse of what’s in store, head on over to Crazybikes.

While you’ll find the new graphs and charts across many of the applications over on Crazybikes, you’ll see the widest variety on the User-Defined Dashboard demo. Try adding a few different charts, graphs, or gauges to the dashboard to get a glimpse of what the new m-Power charting will look like.

How will this help you? Here are a few ways: