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How mobile will revolutionize inventory tracking

Save MoneyMobile is about to change inventory tracking as you know it. Before I show you how, let’s take a quick look at current inventory tracking methods. Right now, inventory is typically tracked in one of two ways:

1. Manually: This involves employees manually logging inventory on paper, and then entering that information into their system. This is the cheapest option, but also the most time consuming.

2. Barcode scanners and software: This involves employees scanning inventory with barcode scanners, which automatically update the system. This is certainly much faster than tracking inventory by hand, but purchasing all of the scanning equipment and software can get expensive.

How will mobile change this? Mobile provides an inexpensive, yet efficient method to track inventory that can easily replace expensive barcode scanners.

Here’s a great story that illustrates this point: A medical supply distributor needed a better way to track incoming inventory. Rather than purchase expensive scanning equipment, they used mobile apps running on standard smartphones that automatically update inventory levels in their system. The result: They nearly automated inventory logging while using inexpensive, off-the-shelf parts. That’s just a quick summary, but you can read the whole story right here.

Can IT really drive revenue?

Save MoneyHow does the business view your IT department? Do they see it as an added expense? Do they see it as a cost-center? If so, you’re not alone: This is a common problem faced by IT departments around the world.

The question is…how can you change this perception? How can you change from a “cost-center” to a “problem solver” or even a “revenue generator?”

One way to change this perception: Ask more questions. Talk to end users and learn what problems they deal with on a daily basis. What currently frustrates them the most about their job? Does anything keep them from accomplishing their daily tasks?

As you ask these questions, you’ll probably learn two things. First, you might find that many of these problems are easily solvable with technology. Second, you might find that fixing these problems will directly impact your company’s revenue.

Here’s a great example of one IT department that solved a problem in their company, which directly boosted revenue. How did they do it? They first identified a problem, and then identified the tools that would let them fix that problem quickly. You can read the whole story here.

The huge trend that no one is talking about

Save MoneyThe cloud may get all of the press these days, but are companies actually doing anything about it? Probably not as much as the press would have you believe. I recently spoke with an IT professional at a large company about that very subject. When asked if his company had any plans for the cloud, his response was simple and straightforward: “Our whole business runs on the mainframe, and it runs well. Why would we move to the cloud?”

While it’s just one company, and one opinion, I get the feeling that many businesses are in a similar situation. There are many, many companies that have invested so much time and money into their current systems, they couldn’t possibly justify ditching everything and moving to the cloud any time soon.

That begs the obvious question: If these companies are stuck with old systems, how can they possibly keep up with tech trends? What if they want modern features and capabilities that aren’t supported by their outdated system?

2 ways “socialization” can improve business applications

Save MoneyHere’s a question for you: Is social media good for business or bad for business? From the surveys I see, companies are fairly split on the issue. Some companies ban the use of social sites, while others allow it.

Regardless of your stance, don’t be so quick to dismiss the social revolution altogether. Whether or not your company chooses to ban social sites, the concepts behind social media hold some valuable benefits to your business applications.

How so? I see two ways that business’s applications can vastly improve with a little “socialization”:

5 approaches to application modernization

Save MoneyHow much time and money does your company waste maintaining your legacy applications? A recent survey indicates that companies use anywhere from 70-80% of their tech budget (and countless hours) just keeping their legacy applications running.

It’s kind of like owning an old, beat-up car. The car might still work, but it lacks modern features, doesn’t run very well, and a good portion of your time and money goes into keeping that car on the road. In fact, buying a new car would probably cost less than maintaining the old one.

Modernization is similar…but different. It’s similar in the sense that modernizing your applications is often less expensive than maintaining legacy applications. However, modernization is a bit more complicated than just buying a new car. How much more complicated? The degree of difficulty varies per modernization approach. Choosing the right approach largely depends on your company’s needs and goals.

If you’d like an in-depth look at modernization requirements and methods, here’s a free whitepaper that will help you: Crash course in modernization. If you just want a basic overview of your modernization options, I’ve summarized 5 different methods below, along with the pros and cons of each:

5 things to look for in embedded Business Intelligence

Save MoneyIn a recent article, I explained a couple of ways that embedded BI is typically used. Software companies embed third-party BI tools in their software to quickly add new capabilities. Internal IT staffs use embedded BI to solve user adoption problems.

The big question: What should you look for in embedded BI software? The answer: While there are more, here are 5 of the most important features to look for in embedded business intelligence software:

Can embedded BI solve your user adoption problems?

Save MoneyUser adoption is one of the biggest reasons why business intelligence fails. After all, if no one uses it, business intelligence is worthless. What keeps users from using business intelligence? Depends on the user. Maybe it’s too difficult. Maybe it’s inconvenient. Maybe they’re just lazy.

Whatever the reason, business intelligence that isn’t used is not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of time. Users go back to what they’re comfortable doing, like using Excel or asking the IT department to run reports.

If any of this sounds familiar, then keep reading. I’m going to explain the concept of embedded BI, and how it can solve this problem.

A dirty little secret about screen-scraping

Save MoneySuppose you’re buying a new computer. You find a great-looking computer at a local store, bring it home, boot it up, and…it’s extremely slow. You open up the case only to discover that all of the internal parts are at least 10 years old. You storm back to the store demanding your money back because they sold you an old computer. Their response: “Of course it’s new, look at the new, beautiful case we put it in.”

Of course, that’s a ridiculous story. No self-respecting computer store would sell you a “new” computer that’s actually old on the inside. Why then, do some companies try to sell “modernization services” which do little more than put a flashy new case on old parts?

Turning COBOL programmers into web developers

Save MoneyBack in 1997, Gartner estimated that 80% of the world’s businesses ran on COBOL. These days, the numbers are a little more uncertain. Some say that number is down to 70%. I’ve also seen surveys that put it right around 62%. Regardless of the figures, one thing is clear: COBOL is still widely used in many businesses.

However, many of these businesses find themselves in a tough situation. They have their COBOL programmers on staff to maintain their current apps. But, they don’t have the skills necessary to build modern web apps, and can’t afford to bring in new employees. …

Solving the “build vs. buy” debate

Save MoneyIt’s a common question, one that undoubtedly emerges with most large software purchases: Should we build or buy? Do we build our own solution from scratch or purchase a pre-built, off-the-shelf solution?

On one hand, building a custom solution is ideal. You’re left with software built specifically for your company, built to handle those small details unique to your business. That sounds great, but…there’s a problem: It’s expensive and time consuming. Building a custom solution from the ground up can take a year or two, depending on complexity. Oftentimes, it requires bringing in outside consultants, which only adds to the cost. …