Friday, October 19th, 2012

Software (Apps) are eating the world

This thought provoking article is an update on the state of Marc Andreessen’s famous “Software is eating the world” phrase.  It describes how over the history of computing the value and progress has mostly been measured by devices sold and used because they are more visible, tangible, and their impact is easier to measure…but that software has delivered much more value than the hardware.  It proposes that cloud-based services and apps are so powerful and disruptive that in addition to the industries software and the web have already revolutionized (like news, entertainment, publishing, travel), these new forms of software and services will eat at the foundations and improve some of the largest industries still standing.  It is useful to separate the software from the hardware because with the cloud-based services and apps, software isn’t just something you download to a single piece of hardware anymore, it is accessible from multiple devices simultaneously (laptop, tablet, smart phone).

I’d like to translate this into something valuable to your business and propose that cloud-based services and apps can be your greatest source of productivity and business improvement today, and they are within your easy reach.  Consider that all the wonderful, useful apps you might use aren’t just the ones someone else programs and makes available on your phone, tablet or laptop, like Google Docs or Evernote.  But with tools like QuickBase you can easily (or with our help) create the apps you need on demand to do just what your people need to get the work of your business done better and faster.  It puts a broad, useful category of app creation in your hands all the time, without I.T. help, without any complex technology you don’t understand, or any new hardware or software.  Remarkable when you think about it, and the cloud-based nature of apps and app delivery like QuickBase open the floodgates.

The power and value of this new capability is easily overlooked because like the software the article describes, it is not as tangible or visible in the office (doesn’t even come in a shrink-wrapped package).  It will have the same revolutionary impact to your business internally that it is having to the large industries it affects externally.  The question is, will you bring this value to your business or wait for someone else down the road to do it?

We at Advantage live to bring these revolutionary improvements to our clients’ businesses…let us help you bring them to yours as well.

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Geoffrey Moore: “Cloud computing will reengineer the entire landscape of enterprise IT”

From Geoffrey Moore, author of the iconic Crossing the Chasm, an interesting article predicting the trend and impact of cloud computing.  In summary his term “crossing the chasm” describes the adoption cycle of new technology, where “crossing” is the mainstream acceptance of a technology by the majority of target buyers.  In this article he applies this to the different areas cloud computing can serve, predicting the sequence of adoption.

A few takeaway quotes and my commentary

“The economics of cloud computing are so compelling it is clear, over time, that it will reengineer the entire landscape of enterprise IT”.

Agree, and see our next blog post about how Apps (enabled by cloud computing) are continuing to eat the world.

“Enterprise SaaS, with being the canonical example, is the first enterprise cloud application to reach Main Street….  The big mistake early adopters made here was to overlay heavily customized processes and code onto this standard core, thereby undermining most of SaaS’s benefits.  Later adopters should avoid making this mistake.”

I think he’s wrong about the mistake…(cost-justified) customization is an important feature to retain.  Intuit updates QuickBase without breaking the customizations we (Advantage) build into QuickBase apps for our clients, and Salesforce and others need to do the same.  Don’t tell business users it is a mistake to customize cloud-based apps to work they way they need to work.

Collaboration.  This, I believe, will be the next big thing for enterprise IT, what other folks have been calling the “consumerization of enterprise IT,” what I and my colleagues have been calling “systems of engagement.”  The core idea here is to leverage all the collaborative technologies that have grown up in the Wild West of consumer computing—Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, and the like—and make them “enterprise ready,” a journey of civilizing that will take many iterations but will be justified by generating the next big productivity returns from IT.  These will come from empowering the middle of the organization…to work across organizational, enterprise, and national boundaries to coordinate disaggregated supply chains and sales and service channels.”

In our experience QuickBase and Salesforce apps are key collaborative apps.  I would differentiate Facebook and LinkedIn as “structured content publishing and sharing, and interactive posting”.  They differ in their structure from the QuickBase and Salesforce database apps, though there is overlap and we gain some of their value for our clients with apps that publish, share and track personnel skills, certifications, requests, ideas, and many other things.

If as business leaders you agree like we do with Mr. Moore’s conclusions, the action item takeaway is to accelerate your adoption of QuickBase and other proven cloud products to gain more benefits across your organization.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Cloud Services Driving Outsourced Apps and App Development

From the CIO Journal of the Wall St. Journal, a sizable and rapidly growing proportion of company application purchases, development and hosting is being outsourced to cloud providers.

Cloud-based apps and development can be so much faster to get up and running, and easier to maintain.  We at Advantage see this on the front lines with our leading company clients, who are increasingly finding that we can make QuickBase win over internal and other alternatives for the many types of app solutions they need.  We also integrate QuickBase with common cloud-based apps and services from Google and others that they use, with combinations that improve their businesses faster than ever before.


Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Announcing Autofy for QuickBase, improving QuickBase to QuickBooks Integration

  We have great news for companies who use QuickBooks!  In the past, when your business grew large enough to need centralized apps like CRM, project manager or service management, one of the biggest constraints to using Intuit’s QuickBase to run the rest of your business was its lack of easy integration with QuickBooks.  Since there isn’t a native sync between them, your only choice was to use some existing 3rd party sync tools (some of which Advantage developed). However, our team believed there MUST be a better way! So Advantage partnered with Joe Dwyer at Propelware, who makes the leading, QuickBooks sync product Autofy, and together we developed a better solution!

Introducing Autofy for QuickBase

Autofy for QuickBase enables your company to easily configure a sync that pushes records from QuickBase to automatically add and update your QuickBooks lists and transactions like Customers, Invoices, and much more. Best of all, it’s easier, more flexible and less expensive than the existing sync products in the market! We believe our new solution is good enough that we hope our QuickBase Solution Provider and QuickBooks ISP/ProAdvisor community will adopt it as the new standard.

The Best QuickBase/QuickBooks Integration Solution

By removing the integration barrier, many growing QuickBooks companies can now gain the value that leading companies have from using QuickBase. So sync your QuickBase and your QuickBooks to save time avoiding duplicate data entry; eliminate errors that cost money and future business; and boost your company’s efficiency and productivity.

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Advantage’s new Scrum Master brings Agile Expertise to QuickBase

Advantage recently brought onboard certified Scrum Master Eva Kovari to maximize Agile development for our clients. In case these terms are new to you, a Scrum Master facilitates product development using Scrum, a rugby analogy for a development methodology, to manage how information is exchanged. This combined with the Agile approach, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams, are providing remarkable benefits in our QuickBase+ development for our clients.

How Agile for QuickBase benefits you as a Client:
- Ensures consistently successful project outcomes and better experience for clients during the project.
- Beats other methodologies (and lack of methodology) in time, quality, and cost of delivery.
- Delivers the most important functionality first, and quickly.
- Reduces project risks with better progress monitoring and management, issues resolution, and engagement with the stakeholders throughout the process.

The Scrum and Agile Approach
Eva brings 16 years of expertise, most formerly with Digidata, a cloud storage application development company, to Advantage’s development teams. Adding her Scrum guidance and oversight, Agile principles provide a framework for our teams to self-organize and focus the skill sets needed to deliver both complex and simple QuickBase applications with equal efficiency. They can focus on the most important requirements early, eliminate noise, and quickly develop functionality that you as the client can then provide feedback for quick, interactive improvement. Quick “sprints” and timeboxes keeps things moving rapidly and visibly in the right direction.

Since QuickBase app requirements are uniquely dynamic during the development and over time, the Scrum and Agile approach accommodates this much better than other formal, rigid project management methods. It applies discipline with flexibility and doesn’t require the client to know more than they can early in development. The Scrum Master identifies and removes project impediments quickly, leaving team members to focus on productive work.

“I’m excited that by employing this methodology which is uniquely suited to QuickBase solution development, we can make professional QuickBase solutions even more compelling for companies enterprise-wide,” said Scott Wyatt, CEO.

Effective, QuickBase Development in your Organization
The rate of progress, efficiency, and quality of results using the Agile approach with QuickBase is remarkable. We strongly encourage you to employ these principles in your QuickBase development, or engage a developer like Advantage who can put them to work for your organization.

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

New Cloud Power Tools for Business Units

We’re often asked: How are QuickBase and similar tools really different and better than the software we’re all used to using? The answer can give you the keys to drive significant new business improvement in your company.

We all use the standard desktop apps like MS Office to get our work done. The newer, more sharable versions of these are Gmail, Google Spreadsheets and Documents. While all are useful, they fall short at the next level–-when workgroups need centralized collaboration that supports their workflows and reporting needs. On the other end of the spectrum, companies’ main transaction systems, like GL and ERP are not meant for collaboration, or agile enough to keep up with your business unit’s dynamic, evolving needs. Off-the-shelf software can fall short too…giving you a lot of functionality you don’t need, missing some you do, and forcing you to buy multiple packages to meet multiple but often related needs (like managing customers and projects). This means there is an “App Gap” between the tools your workgroup and company have and the tools you really need.

Enter cloud-based online databases like QuickBase, that meet all those needs and more. They are established and have been used by leading companies for several years, but they are still “new” in the sense that many companies have not discovered them or are not using them nearly as broadly as they should be…leaving lots of new value to tap.

QuickBase is the most credible of the cloud-based/online databases that can fill your company’s App Gap in so many places. Tracking and Managing Marketing efforts, Sales, Customers, Projects, Orders, Production, Services, Support, Supply Chain, Assets, Facilities, Personnel…the list is nearly endless. And you can build all-in-one apps that do any combinations of these, just the way you need them. Whether you use a credible partner like us or do-it-yourself, you can gain tremendous value employing a tool like QuickBase in more places in your business.

Please post your questions or thoughts on this here.

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Objective Cloud interview with Scott Wyatt

Author Bruce Daley just interviewed Advantage’s founder and CEO for his Objective Cloud blog on the surge of business users in enterprises building their own apps in QuickBase and similar tools to meet their needs.

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Do-it-yourself Apps: A Rising Trend in Enterprises

We were excited to see that an Intuit QuickBase Survey Finds Growing Number of Workers Boost Productivity by Custom-building Cloud Solutions. We at Advantage are on the front lines seeing, enabling and supporting this valuable trend at leading companies across industries.  Broad use of QuickBase like this is a key to new levels of business agility, productivity and bottom-line improvement.

We strive to put this in place and get our clients the significant value it can deliver, while providing the governance that minimizes the risk of such powerful new tools.  Our Enterprise Services offering includes training, support and governance of new App Creators within a company, so Advantage can accelerate and amplify the value of QuickBase use across an organization.  It is a turnkey offering that helps large enterprises get all the value QuickBase can offer while managing cost and risk, and reducing the burden on I.T.

If your enterprise is not using QuickBase as smartly and broadly as it should, this report’s findings should prompt you to act, and contact us if we can help.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

U.S. Government embraces Cloud Computing

In case you didn’t see this New York Times Business article, the federal government is modernizing the way it uses computers to manage data and shifting to cloud computing to reduce its duplicative systems. The CIO of the federal government, Vivek Kundra, describes how redundant applications “sprouted like weeds” in their own data centers, and they expect major savings, improved functionality and simplification with this move to the Cloud.

We applaud their initiative, but many businesses are not onboard yet and are missing significant value. If you aren’t fully employing QuickBase as a cloud platform for instance, how much value is your company losing?

Also noteworthy that 140,000 employees at the General Services Administration and Department of Agriculture are moving to cloud-based (Google) email. If you are concerned that your business data may not be secure in the cloud, we propose that QuickBases’s secure, central, controlled system is far better than all the spreadsheets and documents those 140,000 employees are emailing around.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Welcome to the Advantage QuickBase Blog!

After 10 years as expert QuickBase developers, we certainly know some things about this toolset and cloud platform. So the team at Advantage is excited to launch this blog to share the dynamic apps, solutions and advanced development that we and other implementers are doing to help businesses use QuickBase to improve their workflows and productivity.

We’ll post successes, new ideas and developments wherever we find them. The focus will be on business improvement, how to best connect your people and information and, most important, how to get more value from QuickBase as a cloud platform.

We look forward to connecting with you!