Tesco (can’t do their) Banking

October 24, 2014 by

How the mighty fall. A few years ago no one could touch Tesco. Most other retailers were in a David and Goliath situation with them. They had the right strategy, the human touch (remember “Every Little Helps”?) and the ability to be everything to everyone. Oh, how we all desire to be that business.

But something as simple as “accounting errors” looks likely to be the stone in the forehead of this mega-giant. 92% fall in half year profits…eesh!

I know it isn’t this straight forward. Tesco was being squeezed on both sides by competition. They rolled out a massive store make-over in order to compete with high end Waitrose and Whole Foods whilst also being squeezed out the market on price by bargain food chains Lidl and Aldi. Tesco no longer fit nicely into one space or another. But, at the end of the day it was “accelerated recognition of commercial income and the delayed accrual of costs” (an attempt to feed the beast), which did it in.

So what’s my point? Well, if a big business like Tesco can get it wrong, think how easy it is for a small business to get it wrong. I’m not suggesting that Tesco’s error could have been prevented by using better software, but perhaps it’s time for you to think about how you can run your business more efficiently.

I don’t know any business which hasn’t had a “hairy” moment or two – perhaps in its embryonic period. It’s scary, but possibly preventable. Consider this: do you have accounting software which integrates your sales so that your forecasting accurately reflects your trends? Or do you still have someone hand cranking a forecast each month? Do you set your business goals based on real time information? Or do you have to wait until the current accounts cycle has run its course? Are you “Doing a Tesco”? Or are you being the most effective and efficient (and truthful) version of yourself you can be?

To talk to one of our software gurus about how your business can be more effective talk to us

Written By Emma Stewart

Why Cofficient is More Forward Thinking than Facebook and Apple

October 24, 2014 by

Why Cofficient is More Forward Thinking than Facebook and Apple

It must have been a man who came up with the solution, “let’s offer to freeze her eggs!” as a way of getting more women into the technology sector.

The technology sector in the UK is dominated by men, only 20% of the workforce is female. It clearly faces some issues when it comes to equality. But as a woman working in the technology sector, I suggest that the way to improve this is NOT to subliminally suggest that a women continue to work until she is barren (but it’s OK cause we’ve contrived a way for you to still have children lucky you!). Instead, I would suggest the way to deal with this is to show some better understanding towards work life balance.

The problem is perpetuated cross sector by the fact that male employees are not expected by their employers to have to attend to childcare matters. Take my partner, his employers expect him to be available to the business, within business hours, 100% of the time. I’m not even sure if his employers are aware that he has kids. And whilst men conform to this stereotype of ‘I’ve not got childcare needs’ women are left to scrounge time from their employers (and by default – lose brownie points). Using myself as an example, I had a senior job in a multinational organisation where I worked for four years – then I got pregnant. I had to actually leave my job in order to get the flexibility I needed to raise my three kids. The inference is that you cannot carry out a senior role in the business if you require flexibility.   But what-do-you-know, I got a senior job WITH flexibility….in the technology sector no less.

So I suggest the solution is not to offer free fertility treatments, but to show greater flexibility – to all your employees with children – regardless of gender. Have an expectation that work will still be done, despite the requirement to deal with family issues around about work.   It’s this kind of forward thinking that technology companies need to adopt in order to operate a meritocracy which truly reflects the merits of each gender. Until this change happens, there will be no improvement of female quotas etc.

Written by Emma Stewart.

We are always looking for fresh new talent. To find out how you can work for a progressive and forward thinking company like ours click get in touch

How can Jennifer Lawrence help me sell cloud hosted software?

October 21, 2014 by

In an apparent massive hacking leak, “a flagrant violation of privacy” according to Lawrence, naked photos of Hollywood starlets have been traipsed all over the internet.   In an article published by The Telegraph Edd Hardy (Head of Security Assessment somewhere important) said that they were accessed from the cloud server they were hosted on.

Apart from the obvious response which any sane person would have of “why the hell are you taking nude pictures of yourself?!” this is actually quite a useful turn of events for people like me who sell cloud hosted software like NetSuite and SAP By Design.

Although articles like this don’t help with the misconception, it remains true that a major concern for businesses considering cloud is that it isn’t secure enough. Of course, if the cloud weren’t secure, we should all stop internet banking now. Not to undermine these concerns, if you are committing all your business information to the cloud, I get why you really want to make sure it isn’t going to be hacked or pilfered. But just a small scratch under the surface and it’s easy to see how everything is not as it seems.

Think about how hard your company works in order to keep your data secure. Think about the amount of time and effort you invest in your own security when your servers are sitting in the next room. Now imagine the amount of energy and money invested by big multinational, market leading companies like SAP and NetSuite. Would they really compromise your data by allowing someone to guess your password through the recovery function?

Of course not. NetSuite, for example, employs round the clock monitoring tools and a dedicated team of security experts to ensure security for their customers. Deloitte are so comfortable with the security from these cloud solutions that they have approved it from an auditing perspective. In fact, Forbes ranked Netsuite as one of the top most trusted companies scoring them a near perfect 99.

So in short, Jennifer Lawrence was (*cough*) “exposed” as a result of a mix of high self-esteem, no self-control and really really poor password control.

To talk to someone about how cloud hosted software can enhance your business (and keep it safe) come and have a chat with us.

Written by Emma Stewart.

Future Of Cloud Technology [INFOGRAPHIC]

September 4, 2014 by

Who knew that one day companies like Google and Amazon would be competing with companies like Apple over invisible Internet space? Well, welcome to the parallel universe of cloud computing. Cloud-computing, which allows for a large number of computers to be connected in real-time through the Internet, is a growing industry in saving, restoring, and sharing permanent information “in the clouds.”

While computing locations can differ between public hosts who make their networks available to customers over open networks versus private hosts, which keep sensitive information for companies guarded high in the sky, cloud computing is great in an office environment. Many companies will cloud-compute to store private information in certain folders as a means of opening up public storage space for shared networks of employees. Essentially, cloud computing gives companies better storage options than the good old-fashioned steady cables of the “Internet.”

Of course, cloud computing has its own security and performance drawbacks to be aware of, but it’s still relatively new and these issues will be addressed. Ultimately, your company will decide what works best for it. The truth is, the demand for cloud computing is growing, and for good reason.

This infographic explains it all:

CloudUpIntheAir1

P.L.A.Y.ing in the Cloud Leads to Success

September 3, 2014 by

The mark of success for a business can be measured in any number of ways, but for a startup, you might say success is going from no customers to a fully operational company with 70 percent annual growth for the past four years. Pet Lifestyle and You (P.L.A.Y.) at http://www.petplay.com has done just that. It launched its business on NetSuite in 2010, and has since grown to over 500 retail store partners in North America and a dozen international partners in Europe, Asia, and Canada. Today the company’s product inventory is at 200 SKUs, and rising.

P.L.A.Y. co-founders Deborah and Will Chen started the business with a very personal quest – to provide a quality bed for their dog Momo. They wanted something attractive that went with their décor. They wanted good quality, but also affordable. Unable to find it, the Chens decided to create their own and ultimately launched their own line of stylish, ecofriendly pet beds and toys. But they soon found out that competing with the big commercial players in the pet supplies market was no small task. The Chens put in a lot of effort — networking, establishing themselves in the market, creating an ecommerce site, and investing in an all-in-one software system that could handle the diversity of their business needs but be affordable to a startup like theirs. In 2010, they opened up their business on NetSuite’s cloud ERP platform.

Lisa Hisamune, associate sales director at P.L.AY., credits NetSuite for making it easy to create new SKUs, update information, and keep information that might be important in a future sale.

“It makes it easy to update all of the information people need, like UPC codes, purchasing codes, selling price, and it lets me do all of that with one single click,” Hisamune said. “We can keep information when we talk to a customer – what did I say, what did they ask about, what were they looking for, etc.”

NetSuite’s mobile support for virtually all of the central NetSuite functions and real-time data has also provided a huge bonus for P.L.A.Y. said Bill Parsons, sales associate for the company.

“When I’m at a hotel or tradeshow, I can get real-time information on who spoke to the customer last, and I can enter the notes at a tradeshow rather than scrambling to remember what was said and who we spoke to. I can save all calls and conversations into NetSuite,” Parsons said.

Financial information is also streamlined in NetSuite’s ERP system, with all of the data centralized in one database. That means data and data trends can be compared region to region, or store to store, and P.L.A.Y. can view reports on how the business is doing over time.

According to Deborah, the accounting information in NetSuite is easily tracked, and you can quickly see if a transaction is a personal check, credit card payment, a wire, or one of the various forms of ACH deposits.

“With NetSuite, all of my accounting information is easily tracked and I can avoid errors,” added Bill.
Check out this great customer video we did with P.L.A.Y. that really digs into some of NetSuite’s sales and marketing capabilities as well as showcasing the power of an integrated platform for a smaller company:

Why is cloud the way of the future?

September 3, 2014 by

Have you ever wondered why cloud is the way of the future? Are you familiar with the cloud? I’m not talking of the clouds in the sky itself but more in line with the technological lingo that means data are stored by another provider in a remote location. This gives the company freedom from being tied to conventional in-house system infrastructures and the costs and maintenance that goes with it. You can access the data from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection be it via desktop computers, laptops or even mobile devices. The advantages you get are greater financial flexibility, quicker reaction time, increased efficiency and immediate access. We have to admit that these are all vital components to run a successful business but let’s take a deeper dive into the last factor.

We are now in a time where technology is at its ascension. Everything we do is somehow connected to technology or the internet. Most headline making inventions or fads are either on the internet or caused by the internet. People now have become more dependent to it. Everywhere you look, you will see people busy reading, typing or playing with their mobile devices.

So why then is having immediate access to your business system important? Having a system that you can access anytime, anywhere does give you immense benefits. Before having real-time access to your data was a big thing but now, it’s a thing of the past. Nowadays, real-time data is not enough and it means nothing if you are not empowered to make decisions and changes based on it. But nothing seems to be bigger than the fact that having immediate access to your ERP system gives you the chance to be above or at least in line with your competitors. Let’s face it, one timing delay may cause a business to lose a considerable amount of money or be left out by the competition. The competitiveness of the business world now is very high that people are looking for ways to one-up the other in any way possible.

With this in mind, SAP utilized their industry leading expertise in creating real-time ERP systems and combined it with the cloud technology. Thus, it gave birth to SAP Business ByDesign. This ERP software is not really new, it has been in the industry since 2007 and have been through a roller-coaster ride. There was even talk about SAP Business ByDesign’s death but of course it was short-lived since ByDesign still exists up to this day. Somehow, the not so good way it started proved to be a blessing in disguise for SAP since they were able to identify the key challenges and is now bouncing back stronger than ever.

SAP wanted to start a cloud solution that would cater to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). They wanted to help businesses grow by providing their world-class ERP business software at a price better suited to SME’s pairing it with the cloud technology. What clients get is a full suite ERP business solution that is in the cloud. The user interface, navigation and help functions are better and easy to use and understand. The system has its own library that you can use as a reference and it even has a community center where people share their thoughts and questions about ByDesign. If that still won’t solve your problem, you can always log an incident (ticket) to SAP’s 24/7 support hotline.

The system has most, if not all, of the common functions that SME’s needed and can be configured easily. There are also functionalities – known as apps – that you can buy which are customised for certain business processes that are created and/or developed by accredited SAP Partners only. You can also do changes post implementation and the system will be able to respond quickly without having downtimes. The system currently undergoes quarterly upgrades which update the system functionalities to better cater to the needs and concerns of the majority. These upgrades are based from the on-going collaboration between SAP and its clients through user feedbacks as to what improvements they want SAP to make in ByDesign. This is a good thing since it empowers the users to be proactive and to do their part in improving the system.

SAP Business ByDesign can be summarized in 3 words: Intuitive. Flexible. Accessible. ByDesign has done a lot of developments and growing up since its inception and surely, the best is yet to come. As the saying goes, “Success is not by chance, it’s ByDesign.”

Cloud Storage: 4 Ways It Can Save Your Business

September 3, 2014 by

$13 billion. That’s the total market value of cloud storage in 2014, according to research from MarketsandMarkets. As reported by Business Channel Partners Online, the market is expected to grow at a CGAR of 33 percent through 2019, topping out at just over $55 billion. In other words, the cloud storage market is hot — here are four ways it can save your business.

Attack vectors
On August 20, shipping chain UPS admitted that 51 franchised store locations were victims of a malware attack. But how did this attack get past internal IT defenses? According to recent Zdnet article, each store is independently owned and all run private networks. In each case, the anti-virus software installed locally wasn’t up to the challenge of detecting or removing this malware.

How can cloud storage save your business from a fate similar to UPS or retail giant Target? Simple: limited attack vectors. Hackers breaching your local network won’t find sensitive data, since it will be hidden away (or at the very least, duplicated) on a cloud-based server. Whether public or private, this server has a defined perimeter and acts as a monolithic deterrent to would-be hackers. Guarding mission-critical data becomes easier when it’s all in one place and satellite users (along with partners) are all subject to the same authentication procedures.

Proof of life
You’ve probably looked into the cost of a hot-site disaster recovery option and balked at the price tag. Basic duplication and the cold sites provided by most third-party recovery vendors are often the cheapest solution available and typically have you back up and running within a week. As noted by MSPMentor, however, there’s a growing market for disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solutions. Sound familiar? It should. Just like software, platform, infrastructure, security and almost every other IT function, there’s a way to do disaster recovery without relying on local servers.

One option is a disaster-proof appliance supplied by vendors and ready to spin up at a moment’s notice. The problem? On-site hardware can still fail and if the DR solution fails during a disaster, there’s no going back. The other option is cloud-based storage as a means to disaster recovery. It goes like this: data is continuously pushed to a hot site server that takes over in the event of a power outage or systems failure. No down time, no loss of control or even quality-of-life (QoL) applications; just business as usual while your server is repaired or rebuilt. It’s a hot site without a burning hot price tag.

Easy access
How else can cloud storage save your business? Easy access. When all your files are centrally accessible, IT admins and end users don’t need to go hunting but can instead find exactly what they need and get back to work. This kind of access goes a step further, however, by providing a way for companies to demonstrate compliance with local, state or federal data laws. New legislation in many industries compels companies to first prove they know where information is stored and then retrieve it on demand. Local systems may not be up for the task — with cloud storage any data is just a few clicks away.

Going down
The final way cloud storage can save your company? Cost. Consider the rise of big cloud storage providers. In March, the price of storage hit $0.24 per gigabyte, and it’s entirely possible the price will drop even further — as noted by TechCrunch, a drop to $0.001 per GB would mean just a dollar per terabyte, or effectively zero. But for many companies, the thought of relying on a large public provider doesn’t sit well. Fortunately, technology advancements made as storage giants fight it out are now making their way to smaller, more secure providers who can offer high availability and superior redundancy at a price far lower than traditional storage offerings.

Has the time come for a move to cloud storage? It can save your company from an attack, bring you back from the brink of disaster or make sure you’re always in compliance — and do all that for less than your current storage budget.

Cloud CRM And The SME: How To Work Out Its Role In Your Business

August 30, 2014 by

It seems that the cloud has taken everyone by storm, with a proliferation of stories in the media of both its successes and its failings as a business tool. The cloud is everywhere and even those organisations that haven’t actively moved processes into the cloud are probably using it in some small part, for example through the use of Dropbox or GoogleDocs.

CRM is one of the driving forces behind many companies moving their data and functions into the cloud and there is no doubt that there are benefits to doing so. The decision on whether a cloud CRM deployment is suitable for your business, however, is not one to be taken lightly, and the more information you are armed with the better. Here is an explanation of some of the most prevalent myths and the realities associated with cloud-based CRM.

The four big myths

1) The cloud compromises data security

Data security is a big issue for any business and a common concern surrounding the cloud is that moving data and business processes online can expose a company to more cyber threats. In actual fact, the access to sophisticated firewalls, security protocols and data encryption that using a cloud service provider grants is a major bonus, particularly for SMES which are unlikely to install this level of protection on their own internal servers.

2) Operating in the cloud will result in disruptions and poor service quality

These issues came top of a 2013 Maximizer survey into the cloud: the biggest concern for 71% of UK SMEs. In reality, a cloud service provider is likely to have far better back-ups and technical support than the average SME, as well as a far greater level of computing power, maintenance capabilities and around-the-clock support.

3) The cloud will have an impact on how we do business

It probably will – but for the better. A common misperception is that moving to the cloud can ruin your carefully built up business processes, whereas in actual fact, working in the cloud will make it easier to search your customer database, update records, enable workplace collaboration, permit off-site work and access business intelligence.

4) The cloud is too expensive for the likes of me

Many SMEs are put off the cloud by falsely thinking that it is more suitable for larger businesses that can afford to take greater risks. Again, this is just not true: operating in the cloud cuts cost and risk for the majority of SMEs that use it because no expensive infrastructure is required, security is better and costs for IT staff, power and maintenance are reduced.

Why cloud CRM works

Cloud CRM evidently has some major advantages for businesses and particularly SMEs. Choosing a cloud-based CRM platform negates the need for the expensive infrastructure and security applications associated with an on-site solution, and operational costs are also reduced. In fact, the International Data Corporation estimates that almost every SME that uses cloud services lowers costs by 10%-20%. Software is also automatically upgraded on the host server, making it easy to keep up with technology without having to worry about the financial implication of an upgrade.

Another major benefit is that CRM system is scalable, offering businesses the opportunity to change the number of users at minimum cost. Our 2013 survey revealed this to be the cloud’s most significant benefit, with almost half of SMEs seeing it as an advantage.

Clearly, before making a decision on whether adopting a cloud-based CRM system is the right move for your business, it is essential to look beyond the hype and the misconceptions. Only once armed with the facts can you determine whether the business benefits outweigh any potential down sides.

Consumerisation Nation: The Future of Wholesale Distribution and Manufacturing

August 28, 2014 by

The wholesale distribution and manufacturing sector has often, in the past, been criticised for its resistance to change and lack of technological innovation. This is fast changing. Today, companies like PAG Leisurewear are making incredible leaps and bounds adopting the latest technology. These businesses are taking advantage of the benefits cloud technology has to offer. Adopting new tools that are available on-demand from any location, rapidly scalable and purpose-built help them to streamline the mission critical business processes and increase efficiency within their organisations.

The companies that are resisting the move to cloud within the wholesale distribution and manufacturing sectors will soon be left behind. They will be limited by their outdated infrastructure and lack of a single, comprehensive, view of their organisation – which enables them to make the best decisions for their businesses.

In the era of connected consumers, wholesale distributors and manufacturers need to be able to be flexible and adapt to the demands of, not only their clients, but the customers of these clients too.

People do business with people
With increasing levels of consumer demand impacting how B2B companies do business, wholesale distributors and manufacturers are looking for ways to transform their businesses. Companies must become agile enterprises with timely execution that can provide an online consumer-like experience appealing to the employees within the organisations they are selling to, as much as the organisation itself. In order to succeed in this very competitive market, enterprises must focus on giving the customer a quick, easy and consumer influenced experience.

Follow the leader
That’s exactly what one of the UK’s leading apparel wholesalers, PAG Leisurewear, has done. The brand has embraced the future of wholesale by delivering B2B services in a B2C style. The company is using NetSuite SuiteCommerce to manage its omnichannel business from end-to-end in one unified business management suite. PAG Leisurewear found that the traditional ways of doing business, relying on fax and telesales, were no longer leading the market or enabling it to make the right decisions for growth. In fact, in an interview, PAG Leisurewear noted that technology is constantly changing and the pace of that change is only accelerating, making the cloud an optimal investment.

With the web truly becoming the core of any wholesale and distribution business, giving any organisation a truly global reach, NetSuite’s cloud-based technology not only reduces IT costs whilst providing a seamless customer shopping experience, it also provides the business agility to rapidly expand into new markets and sales channels. In addition, NetSuite SuiteCommerce’s advanced web store allows the creation of rich interactive and engaging shopping experiences with features like faceted search and navigation, advanced product imagery, search and dynamic merchandising, all able to display elegantly across all devices. This feature alone, helps to bridge the divide between the B2B and B2C side of business.

It is clear that technology that empowers employees and places the web at the center of the business is necessary to future-proof wholesale distributors and manufacturers with aspirations of growth and sustainable success.

EndoChoice® Offers Example for Fast-Growth Companies Moving to the Cloud

August 26, 2014 by

The range of business cases justifying the cloud expands every day, but one prototype may illustrate the cloud’s value more than any other: the young, fast-growing company.

Consider EndoChoice Inc., an Atlanta, Ga.-based maker of medical technology designed to help in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. Just six years ago, the company was a tiny startup with a handful of employees and $3.8 million in annual revenue. By the end of 2012, annual revenue had reached $33.1 million and the company’s employee headcount had reached 177.

By then, EndoChoice had expanded to three locations in the U.S. supporting three lines of business—devices, diagnostics and infection control.

“We chose NetSuite from day 1 and have since the beginning continued to expand our use of NetSuite,” Bjarke Ormstrup, the company’s vice president of IT, told attendees attending a session at SuiteWorld 2014.

Last year brought continued growth when EndoChoice launched the Fuse® Full Spectrum Endoscopy® system and added an imaging line of business. The company opened facilities in Germany and Israel, as well as an additional U.S. location, and its light manufacturing operations grew with much more complex processes. Revenue rose to more than $50 million and the staff more than doubled in size, reaching 400 by the end of 2013 as doctors adopted the Fuse system to help them find more pre-cancerous lesions than traditional endocopes.

By standardizing on NetSuite ERP, not to mention expanding the use of cloud-based email and file-sharing, the company was able to support its continued growth with a technology environment that can easily scale with the business. And scale it will. Ormstrup noted that EndoChoice is on pace to reach 500 employees by the end of the year.

“Our strategy is to have everything in the cloud,” Ormstrup said. “I don’t have to have architects or anyone who needs more memory or disk space. That’s been really helpful, and has helped us expand.”

But even the cloud alone can’t ensure a smooth path for a fast-growing company. Along those lines, Ormstrup told NetSuite attendees that he’s come away with five areas companies experiencing rapid growth should pay special attention to:

Access to on-demand local support. “Centralized support over seven time zones does not work. We recognized that early, so we got some good partners,” Ormstrup said. “You can never have enough brains.”

Effective communication of plans, expectations and accountability. Ormstrup said it’s critical to ensure plans are known, set clear expectations, identify a directly responsible individual for each task, and, perhaps most importantly, be prepared to adjust as conditions change.

Invest in company resources in the markets you enter. That means making life easier for new hires in new markets by ensuring they have the tools and resources they need, that they’re trained properly to take advantage of systems and processes and that management gets to know them and makes them feel part of a team.

Consolidate financial systems in one cloud-based environment, and compel its use. According to Ormstrup, accounting activities occurring outside a new cloud-based system only prolong a company’s growing pains.

Invest in bandwidth and networking infrastructure. Even the best cloud-based services are only as good as the connection to them. And, as Ormstrup notes, in some countries, it can take months to acquire additional bandwidth.

None of this is to imply that Ormstrup has all the answers; “We are always trying to improve upon our cloud-based IT strategy, and to make it more efficient and easier for our employees to use every day,” he said.


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