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April 13, 2010

Traveling Light - A Tribute To VI and Blind Professionals

Do you travel a lot? Perhaps to a conference, participate in a class or to just visit with family and friends. Maybe you debate whether you should bring your computer equipment on the trip. Over the last years things have certainly become a lot smaller and lighter. A netbook computer or a PDA for note taking will not add too much weight to your baggage. Many blind people don’t think twice about taking this kind of equipment when traveling. But what if you have to read papers, for instance in classes or business meetings? Do you need to bring your flat bed scanner as well?

The Eye-Pal is a small, light-weight alternative to a traditional scanner. It is a camera on a Stand, that lets you quickly scan your printed materials. It folds up like a tripod , weighs about a pound …

Why don't you check it yourself?

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 8:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2010

Business Intelligence is Transforming Data-Intensive Industry

It has been several decades since most major industries such as medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical operations began harnessing the power of computers to streamline their operations and manage their businesses. These industries, in particular, deal with large amounts of data that must be collected, organized, and retrieved.

Over the years software suppliers such as SAP and SAS have provided advanced solutions designed to answer each industry’s specific needs. These ERP software suites are installed and maintained on the corporate server by a staff of dedicated IT personnel. They require not only a large capital expenditure, but intensive user training in order to incorporate their full functionality in the areas of operations management, inventory, supply chain, transportation and logistics.

While there is still a market and a need for such ERP software, the modern company is best served by using a complementary software solution to provide automated, instant Business Intelligence (BI) to quickly prepare queries and reports using real-time data.

How BI Solutions Work

Complementary BI solutions allow companies to integrate existing systems with the fuller capabilities and functionality of a program that can take those voluminous amounts of data and turn them into usable information. Data itself is not an asset, only when it is transformed into information can be it used to a company’s advantage and this is where BI comes into play.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using modern BI solutions is that they can be purchased as Software as a Service (SaaS) systems. This refers to the way the software is accessed; instead of residing on a local network, the program is stored on a cloud platform and accessed by a large number of users. This is a very affordable option since the end user need not pay for the software itself, its maintenance, upgrades, or storage; instead they merely pay an access fee to utilize the immense power of a BI solution.

Security is not a concern. The software vendor provides intensive security measures to keep reports residing on the cloud platform safe from unauthorized users. Administrative controls allow the customer to provide access limited by the user’s authorization status.

For many large companies such as hospitals, drug manufacturers, and chemical suppliers, access to data and real-time reports is limited by network architecture, expertise, and time constraints.

With SaaS BI solutions, all users can access a configured dashboard and easily create reports and queries as needed. Each department, from Accounting to Purchasing, is given the ability to develop their own data analysis, reports, and visualizations. Because the data being analyzed can be pulled from existing software platforms and integrated into the BI program, the implementation is seamless; it is also fully scalable and adaptable to meet very specific needs.

As technology advances, the competitive company needs to advance with it. It is necessary to monitor performance, identify trends, and measure results. The perfect solution for any industry is data analysis and BI provided by SaaS applications for an affordable method of obtaining real-time information.


Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 9:15 PM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2010

Webinar: Interactive Analytics: The Newest Web 2.0 SaaS BI Solution

Learn why software-as-a-service (SaaS) is one of the fastest growing trends in business intelligence.

Hear Boris Evelson, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, share the five use cases for SaaS BI and the typical SaaS adoption drivers and inhibitors.

This webcast will also illustrate how companies can leverage an enterprise-class SaaS BI solution for more advanced reporting needs and to solve their business challenges.

Date: March 24, 2010

Time: 1:00 PM Eastern / 10:00 AM Pacific

Click here to register!

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2009

Can Your Company Afford to Invest in Business Intelligence?

Should you invest in business intelligence in such uncertain times?

A lot of business analysts say that in all actuality, you can’t afford not to. Many businesses are simply hunkering down and waiting with bated breath in the hopes that they can survive current economic turmoil. They’re afraid, and rightly so. But if you don’t invest in business intelligence, you’re leaving yourself more exposed to risk than necessary.

What does BI do for you?

Business intelligence tools help you analyze your business in a way that lets you make educated business decisions. In terms of economic timing, now is the time to analyze your company closely. Micromanaging every detail of your business is what will enable you to stay afloat in difficult times. And thanks to BI reporting, micromanaging doesn’t have to be as tedious and labor intensive as it sounds. Through BI reporting you can analyze every aspect of your profits and your costs so that you can maximize the former and minimize the latter. Data can be your friend if it’s presented in a way that makes it usable.

BI tools that exist today can help you:

•Run reports instantly. On-demand BI tools mean that you don’t have to wait for someone to get you a report. You can log in to your dashboard and quickly get the info you need.

•Get reporting without putting stress on your network. Traditionally, a lot of reports were only possible when systems were shut down. That’s not the case with today’s technology because you can utilize cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS.)

•SaaS also means that you don’t have to continually upgrade and deploy new versions of software and you don’t have to worry about supporting the software because your business intelligence provider does this for you. This means zero strain on your already taxed IT staff.

Whether you want to cut costs, reduce order cycle time, determine areas for improvement, or just give every staff member access to data that can help them do their job better, today’s business intelligence tools enable you to do that cost effectively. While there is an investment in the tools and time to get the system implemented, the return on that investment can mean the difference between holding your breath and hoping you survive difficult times and moving forward confident that you have the tools and knowledge to expand and grow your business.

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 9:30 AM | Comments (26)

December 17, 2009

Real Time Business Intelligence Options – Why Are You Still Waiting for Your Data?

Having access to comprehensive business reports is something that's vital to many business people. Having access in real time to those reports that are needed can help you be better at doing your job. This is the case whether you're an individual contributor or are a decision maker. There are a lot of different available business intelligence tools that companies use. These tools can enable users to access data. Solutions exist such as those by:Pivotlink, Host Analytics, SpotFire, and Oco-Inc's business intelligence solution.

Not long ago, businesses would attempt to run reports internally. They'd buy software packages to write reports for them and maybe they'd ask their IT department to write new reports and they'd have to wait for them. Very often, they'd have to wait a while for those reports and by the time they arrived, the information would no longer be current. Often, you'd have to factor in a margin of error due the inability to obtain real time reports.

Today, more companies than ever are looking to get help with their BI needs. A business intelligence solution can provide dashboards, reports, and analytics on an on-demand basis. And one of the bonuses with today’s solution offerings is that IT departments don't want to have to bring systems down regularly to run department reports and users don't want to wait for information. Because of the various SaaS (Software as a Solution) offerings that exist: resources are freed up, information is more readily available, and the information is far more usable. Companies can set access and restrictions at a per user level so that the right information can be seen by the right individuals. Regardless of whether your environment is heterogeneous or not, you can quickly gather data from multiple systems. The right data can change the way you do business --- for the better.

Comparing BI Solutions

Because there are so many solutions available, you can compare various business intelligence solutions so that you can choose the right one for you. Test drive a few options, analyze features and benefits of competing solutions, contrast costs, and meet with account managers to let them pitch you on their value added proposition.

Cost isn't everything, as you well know. Some solutions will be more expensive but may provide more bells and whistles that appeal to your business model. The most expensive solution isn't going to necessarily be the "best in class" either. Taking a step toward improved data analysis is going to involve looking at your options and your needs and determining the best fit based on your needs today and on your needs going forward.

Be sure that the business intelligence solution you choose is going to provide a great return on your investment and meet your needs as your business evolves. Depending on your business model and your needs, during your analysis you might find that Pivotlink has what you need but you might also find Oco Inc. has the solution that suits your business model. The point is that you don't have to keep waiting for essential data. You can find a consultant who can take raw data and make it both usable and immediately accessible for you, without your having to shut down all your systems to get it. Reading case studies from companies who have recently implemented on-demand BI solutions demonstrates that the ROI on this type of solution can be huge!

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 9:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2009

Supply Chain Conference in Phoenix, AZ

Retailers and manufacturers share one supply chain.
Now they share one supply chain conference.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are pleased to announce the inaugural Supply Chain Conference: Bringing It All Together, jointly hosted by the FMI-GMA Trading Partner Alliance (TPA).

As cost pressures grow and the concept of the shared supply chain continues to evolve, trading partners are innovating more than ever before to increase efficiencies, cut costs and streamline the entire value chain. Combining the best aspects of FMI's annual Supply Chain Conference and the GMA Information Systems and Logistics/Distribution Conference (IS/LD), the 2010 Supply Chain Conference will bring retailers and manufacturers together in one forum to showcase the latest insights and tools that will help these trading partners develop new solutions to traditional and emerging challenges throughout the CPG supply chain.

Conference Benefits

•Build stronger relationships throughout the supply chain to foster more efficient and collaborative execution

•Learn model practices that are saving companies time and money

•Get ahead of the curve on emerging issues such as shelf-ready packaging and aisle-ready product delivery

•Discuss new ideas and challenges with your peers in informal discussion groups

Designed by retailer and manufacturer supply chain executives for retailer and manufacturer supply chain executives, the conference is a can't-miss event for vice presidents, directors, regional managers and managers of:

•Logistics
•Operations
•Supply Chain
•Direct Store Delivery
•Distribution
•Transportation
•Technology
•Customer Service/Logistics
•Strategic Development

Contacts
Registration: please contact Allison Conway at / aconway@gmaonline.org.

Program content: please contact Jeanne Iglesias at / jiglesias@gmaonline.org or Pat Shinko at / pshinko@fmi.org.

Sponsorship opportunities: please contact Jonathan Downey at / jdowney@gmaonline.org.

Hotel logistics and housing: please contact Liz Cookson at / ecookson@gmaonline.org

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 8:30 AM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2009

Tomorrow - Free Webinar - 5 Reasons of Using SaaS for your Divisional BI Needs

http://www.oco-inc.com/landing/december-9-webinar/Using-SaaS-for-Your-Divisional-BI-Needs.asp

Leading companies are choosing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business intelligence (BI) solutions to provide reporting and analytics for divisions and business units. There are some specific use cases where a SaaS model quickly delivers business value and grows with the business' needs. It is a faster, less expensive option that can meet all your needs.

Learn how divisions are using SaaS-based business intelligence solutions to meet the varying needs of their business users to get a more complete picture of how the organization is performing.

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2009

IT Management - Register Now FREE - SaaS Analytics Webinar

Five Reasons, Five Uses, Five Benefits: Using SaaS for Your Divisional BI Needs

Leading companies are choosing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business intelligence (BI) solutions to provide reporting and analytics for divisions and business units. There are some specific use cases where a SaaS model quickly delivers business value and grows with the business’ needs. It is a faster, less expensive option that can meet all your needs.

Learn how divisions are using SaaS-based business intelligence solutions to meet the varying needs of their business users to get a more complete picture of how the organization is performing.

Register now for our Five Reasons, Five Uses, Five Benefits: Using SaaS for Your Divisional BI Needs web seminar and hear:

Anil Chitkara, Senior Vice President, Oco Inc., share why companies are using SaaS for their divisional BI needs including case examples

Mike Beckerle, Chief Technology Officer, Oco, Inc., discuss how large companies are using SaaS for their divisional BI needs

Aaron Graber, Senior Manager OnDemand Solutions Engineering, SAP BusinessObjects, share benefits companies have achieved using SaaS BI

When: December 9 at 2:00pm EDT/11:00am PDT

Duration: 1 hour (includes Q&A)

Who should watch: Senior executives and managers responsible for IT and Finance.

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2009

What are the Key Points of SaaS Business Intelligence?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a key part of modern business intelligence (BI). On-demand software, architecture, and applications allow a company to access the necessary information provided by business intelligence at a fraction of the cost while keeping it highly accessible and secure. The benefits of SaaS BI are many.

Advantages of SaaS

For one, the platform is located entirely on a secure server outside the organization. This costs the company outsourcing business intelligence far less, while meaning that it does not have to maintain the software, or expand its network capabilities to absorb the increased data storage requirements. This also eliminates the need for increasing network security at the organizational level.

The SaaS platform can include such applications as customer relationship management, supplier relationship management, and marketing relationship management software as well as product, sales, and customer analytics. This data system integrates several key departmental areas while allowing authenticated, permission-based access on demand.

The possibilities are nearly endless. Some SaaS providers even allow for the customer’s own custom applications to be integrated into the platform. By outsourcing BI on a SaaS platform, organizations can use the most advanced, most powerful computing available to receive high-level analytics based on the most applicable data.

Key Points for Successful SaaS BI

How successful an organization can become using SaaS business intelligence is largely based on four factors; these are simplicity, focus of applications, power of the platform, and the provider’s focus on the customer’s success.

Simplicity is important, particularly when there are a large number of management team members who must access the data and analytics. In order for BI to be used effectively, it must first be accessed. User friendly products are vital; feature-rich applications not necessarily so. Too often software that comes with all the bells and whistles only has a fraction of its capabilities ever used. This wastes not only time (in training), but money. Simplicity extends to initial set up, use, and subscription or leasing options.

Applications should do more than compile data and analyses; they should help guide the management team in making decisions to improve the company’s performance and optimize its processes. BI is ineffective unless it provides a clear way for an organization to change its focus. It’s not the amount of tools you use that is important, it’s the results that come from using one that is valuable.

The platform of SaaS BI, as discussed previously, is off premises, providing a number of benefits. But even though it is not based within the organization, its power is a vital component. The right platform will measure the right metrics, provide the right analytic application, and use data from more than one source which varies dependant on the desired information.

And finally, the success of SaaS business intelligence is also part of how high your company’s success ranks in the provider’s hierarchy. As the vendor institutes modifications and updates, the value the customer receives should provide the primary impetus for change.

Business intelligence provided through a SaaS platform is not the wave of the future. It is being utilized now, by some of the world’s most innovative and successful organizations. It provides a real competitive edge that is no longer an option in today’s global economy.

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 3:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2009

Making the Most of Data from Mobile Retail Devices

It's a mobile world that has impacted how we live as well as how we do business. As consumers, we expect to be able to access information now and brand loyalty largely depends upon how our suppliers serve us. In the business world, things are becoming increasingly automated so that businesses can serve customers competitively. Loyalty goes by the wayside when customers feel like their needs are not being met so it's in a company's best interest to make the user feel appreciated.

Mobility in the retail world means that you can pay for your meal with a debit machine at your table or pay a fare in a taxicab with the same wireless device. Your server can take your order with a wifi device and send the order to the kitchen and get instant notification when it's ready without later having to tally up your check. It means you can top up your cell phone easily and use self-serve checkouts when you buy things at the grocery store or your local big box store. Store clerks often have the ability to answer your queries on the sales floor with their handheld devices and those devices can help that company plan and strategize for the company's future growth.

Companies need to make technology available to their customers to ensure they keep them. But, companies benefit from being more able than ever to use data to their advantage so mobility in retail provides a very symbiotic relationship between consumers and companies. Because of point of sale terminals and wireless devices can be used to help manage the supply chain and help improve the consumer experience, that data can be fed to decision-makers that will fuel discussions and decisions that help the business stay competitive in their industry.

Use Data to Your Advantage

The data gathered from consumer and retail activities can tell companies what brings people to their websites for online purchasing so that they can cater to those specific needs. It can tell executive chefs what needs to be ordered based on a day's list of menu items provided. It can help grocery stores staff their checkout lanes appropriately based on previous trends. It can help a taxicab company's dispatcher plan to have extra cars in an area at a certain time so it can be competitive because of trends based on the previous day or local events. The possibilities are endless for a company when they use data effectively. The more mobile your workforce is, the better they'll be able to service your customers. Mobile devices can help clerks do effective price changes and cycle counts as well, which can reduce operational costs and expenditures for a company.

From a financial perspective, it's important to carefully plan your mobile device deployment. Taking the time to analyze your current needs and your future needs and taking a look at interoperability of various new tools so that you know they'll work well within your existing infrastructure will reduce the total cost of ownership while increasing your return on investment.

There are a lot of business intelligence solutions providers out there who want to help businesses succeed. They can help you manage data from multiple sources and managing who, in an organization, gets access to specific data is not always an easy task. Many companies specialize in this area. Whether you get business intelligence from someone like Business Objects, Cognos, Sybase, or Oco Inc. , gathering data from your mobile and static devices and using it to your advantage will help you manage, plan, and strategize so that you can continue to serve your customers and gain market share in your industry. While it can seem like a big investment to move to a more mobile environment, using the new data you can gather to your advantage can help you recoup costs very quickly!

Posted by Sasha Grebenyuk at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)