Collaboration Software: Index of Collaboration Software Technologies

Collaboration Software

Collaboration Software, also known as group collaboration software or groupware, is software which allows cooperation on a business document between multiple parties on multiple computers. Collaboration software also allows the integration and merging of document changes and versions on a business document.

There are two types of collaboration software: IT centered and low IT involvement. IT-centered collaboration software, like many document and content management platforms, requires new IT infrastructure, training, maintenance and support. Low IT involved collaboration software communicates collaborative information to all parties involved using the existing IT infrastructure and with little or no training and maintenance, making open collaborative software more diverse and less expensive. This type of collaboration software also manages the ad hoc processes of business collaboration, assisting businesses even when the workload and deadlines create a hectic and disorganized schedule.

This article presents an index of collaboration software technologies to assist businesses in finding collaboration software that works for them. Any given internet search on “groupware” or “collaboration software” will yield millions of results. Knowing what technologies to look for will help whittle down the results to a groupware that works the way businesses work.

literally threads together multiple drafts of a document by placing a tag in the metadata of the document. Each time the document is edited or changed, the changes are tracked. When it comes time to merge versions of the document into the final draft, each version will be accounted for. In addition, those who work on the document will know what changes were made, when they were made, and where and by whom the drafts were saved.

Digital Signature is a signature appended to e-mails sent back and forth with draft attachments during the collaboration process that informs the user which draft it is and by whom it was saved. Finding the latest version of a document is very simple to track.

Version History ties everything together by presenting a visual flowchart outlining the “genealogy” of the document. Each draft is accounted for, and the who, what, when, where, and why of the document and its drafts are always answered.

Merge is usually the final and most difficult step of document collaboration. However, adopting the right collaboration software simplifies this process by allowing you to compare the changes in a document, even when those changes are saved in different locations or in your email account. Merging documents is often synonymous with sifting through document chaos, but collaboration software suites which can manage ad hoc business collaboration simplify the tracking and merging of document drafts.

Conclusion

Businesses move quickly, and collaboration software needs to be able to keep up. Business collaboration can be a messy ad hoc process, and collaboration software needs to be able to manage it. Merging business documents can be confusing and chaotic, and collaboration software needs to be able to simplify it. Digital Thread Technology, Digital Signature, and Version History are technologies that have combined to find a way to work the way businesses do.

Top ERP and Enterprise Software Technology Trends for 2014

As another year passed, the technology marketplace has been tumultuous in terms of adoption, trends, mergers and acquisitions. Large software players have broadened their portfolios and have started to target customers upstream and downstream from their typical customers. For the new year we have compiled a list of top technology trends – mostly for enterprise software. These trends include ERP, Social business, CRM, BI/EPM/Analytics, Collaboration, Project Failure/Success, Mobile and Security and others are the main areas of focus.

Looking back at the 2013 list of technology trends, most of them have come to pass and are still evolving as adoption continues to grow. Projects continue to fail, spending increases, infrastructures and applications are being remade using the cloud and other IT issues continue to appear and also be resolved.

Here is a list of what we think the top software trends will emerge in 2014.

1. Rise of BI/EPM/Analytic Vendors: This trend has become apparent as many new small start-ups have introduced some type of analytics or BI tool. We have seen very vertical specific solutions to broad all-encompassing software that can be customized by industry. A reason for this trend is that enterprise applications have become easier to integrate and require less technical knowledge to aggregate data out of a system. Organizations are requiring more real-time information, by implementing these systems unlocks the decision-making potential that is stored in the data.

2. Increased Consultant Use: This trend is a 180 from organizations wanting to bring back in-house technical expertise. CIO’s have committed to spending more money on contractors for the upcoming year and software selection is a key component of this spend. Other areas where organizations will spend money in IT and Business alignment are resourcing to support existing projects, project management recovery services have started to push forward as an important area to save failing IT projects to get them back on track. Organizations often do not have the resources or skill sets to properly evaluate enterprise software thereby, more attention will be attributed to lowering project failure. An impartial properly executed software selection greatly lowers the risk of IT failure.

3. ERP’s and Enterprise Software Projects Continue to Fail: Lack of expertise and accountability from both the organization and the vendor lead to failed implementations. There is no clear direction from organizations as to what should be implemented, by whom, what timeframe is acceptable, training, POC, management of scope creep, budgetary overruns, and how problems are resolved should they arise with definitive timelines and accountability. Clear business process definitions are often not revealed by the customer leaving vendors to guess how an organization does business. Organizations should be fully transparent with the vendors they select as they business partners with full two-way communications whereby the vendor can provide a smooth transition after implementation and the organization should also become a reference site for the vendor.

4. Changing IT/Business Selection Criteria: As delivery models continue to change organizations are evaluating different priorities and criteria. Previously organizations have relied too much on features and functions when selecting enterprise software. Many new selection criteria have started to emerge such as: nuances of data, cloud model, portability, scalability, TCO, SLA levels, Vendor lock-in, ROI and agility are areas that more closely scrutinized.

5. Enterprise Software Categories Continue to Merge: The creation of new enterprise software categories continues to emerge. Specialized software vendors have started to include additional functionality that expands the breadth of their solution but often times not the depth that is required. Customers are confused as to how to match the right type of software with what functions and depth they actually require. Vendors have started to include social, collaboration, CRM, project management, billing and BI within their software. This delineation muddies the water for the consumer as they may not know how to categorize their business to match enterprise software categories thereby contacting the wrong vendors to start out their software evaluation.

6. Paying More Attention to BYOD and Security: As use of mobile devices continues to proliferate mobile security and social user policies must be put into place and enforced. Additional security will lower organizational risk by securing multiple mobile devices. Employees should also have direction from the company as to what is acceptable and not for social media interaction, who owns the information, where it stored and clear lines of communication where social accounts differentiate if communications are from the company or an individual user.

7. Increased Spending for Social, CRM and Email Automation: Organizations have committed more IT budget to these softwares. Coincidentally, this is one of the enterprise software categories that are blending functionalities. An organization should comprehend its main business function as to what the organization requires and the auxiliary functionalities. A mistake often made here is that the auxiliary functionalities become the focus which strays the original intent of the software evaluation.

8. Shadow IT Emerges: This is caused by the CMO spending that does not often include the CIO. Usually, the new marketing, social software and BI software is implemented and rarely incorporates into existing IT infrastructure. The new software is independently supported, updated and managed proving difficult for internal IT management and integration to existing systems. Support also becomes a point of contention as the Shadow IT organizations are created as support is often non-coherent and difficult to manage.

9. Vendor Consolidation Continues: More vendors are increasing their portfolios by acquiring either complementary software to bolster existing functionality or even acquiring software that is completely different from current offerings. Organizations should carefully distinguish their needs and if the vendor can support their requirements, if the vendor has enough industry experience or is new to the space altogether are areas for companies to watch out for.

10. New Government and Regulatory Standards: These new requirements will require system upgrades and in some cases new system implementations. ObamaCare, New HIPPA and medical industry requirements will drive software spend in this sector. Also there have been many changes in food processing and manufacturing industries that will cause companies to re-evaluate existing systems or completely installing something new.

11. Salesforce.com Turning into ERP: Salesforce continues to grow its cloud presence by acquiring more SaaS solutions. Its recent acquisitions and cloud portfolio suggests that one of the few plays to increase company value is to increase its offerings. SFDC will acquire solutions that complement their SCRM business with more HR/HCM, Financial and possibly project management which will effectively turn into an ERP for Services. The Oracle partnership suggests that SFDC is targeting Workday customers with Oracle functionality – all to be offered in the cloud. This one should prove interesting to see where this ends up.

12. Further IT Specialization Being Required: New softwares are emerging and requiring specialized expertise. A new software category that enables integration and workflow capabilities are greatly reducing complex IT tasks. However, these new applications often require highly specialized expertise such as programming, business process mapping, API creation, administration, integration and design capabilities that may not have been part of the IT department.

13. Organizations Going Hybrid Cloud: Organizations are adopting a combination of public and private cloud creating hybrid clouds. Organizations are not comfortable putting some types of information in the cloud. They create an internal cloud and have less important information in the public cloud. The cloud provides a seamless integration for employees.

It will fun to see what unfolds this year as with each year. Did we forget any? What trends do you see?

Accounting and Payroll Software – Ten Reasons Current Software Technology is Crucial to a Business

As a business owner, it’s easy to make accounting and payroll software a low priority. After all, you are busy making sure sales are up, costs are down, profits are high, and everyone is staying productive. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to fall behind if you don’t stay abreast of technology, and when that happens you can quickly lose the benefits that the software was supposed to provide in the first place. Here are ten reasons why keeping your accounting and payroll software technology current is crucial to the successful operation of your business.

1. Hardware Compatibility: The old dot matrix printer still works fine, humming away in the corner, printing your invoices dot by dot. Hey, you can’t hear each other speak over the noise, but you’ve become accustomed to it. So, why move? This is an all-too-common scenario, whether it’s a printer, computer, or a long list of other hardware devices. For a business, hardware is an important component which allows you to print invoices, save valuable files, communicate with customers, and much more. The older your software system gets, the less likely you will be able to keep on performing those functions in a timely manner, and eventually you won’t be able to at all. The software you are using plays a huge role in the hardware you are able to operate. Compatibility with new hardware is why it’s important to keep your software up to date.

2. Safety and Security: The good news is that we are now able to communicate much more quickly within a business, and also with outside contacts such as vendors and customers. E-mail, instant messaging, and a host of other modern technologies make communication much faster! But the downside is that there are also many more security threats. Keeping your software technology current helps keep your data safe from hackers!

3. Time Savings: If you’ve been doing things the same way for many years, it’s easy to believe that your way is the fastest way available. After all, learning a new system does take time. But in the long run, things like running reports, processing invoices and keeping track of data are generally done more quickly with newer technology.

4. Company Image: How do your customers feel when they receive and view your invoice? Is it printed on nice paper with your logo and a custom message? Or is it printed on thin paper with tear marks on the sides, barely legible because of printing issues? Do not discount the fact that what your customers receive from you impacts their image of you. Having newer technology allows you to print documents and perform other functions that look much more professional than they did years ago.

5. Customer Satisfaction: What happens when your customer asks to view all of their sales from you for the past three years? Are you able to help them, or is your historical data limited? This is one example where your technology affects your customer satisfaction. By moving to newer technology, you can improve your customer service and meet the needs of your customer more quickly and easily.

6. The Green Factor: Older programs often require the printing of documents such as reports, financial statements, invoices, orders and other documents. Newer technology offers the ability to keep track of and send such communications electronically, saving many trees per year!

7. Crucial Updates: If the software technology you are using is extremely old, chances are your program is no longer being updated or enhanced by the company who developed it. You may think your program doesn’t require any more updates because it’s been around for so many years. The truth is that updates and enhancements help keep your software compatible with everything else on your computer. By not receiving updates, you will experience more and more problems as other technology moves forward. Moving to newer technology can assure you get the updates to keep your company safe and secure.

8. Support and Help: Many older programs are no longer supported, meaning there is no help available in case of questions or problems you may have with the software. While you may know the software well, there are always questions that arise with the advancement of other technology you are using. Maybe you installed a new printer or need help getting a time clock working with your software. Or perhaps a new employee started who is unfamiliar with the program and has questions. In cases like these, having support available is crucial to the function of your business.

9. Compliance: These days even the government is starting to require companies to have a certain level of technology. Certain government forms must now be submitted online, and no doubt that trend will continue. Older programs often cannot handle the newer tools necessary to stay compliant, and moving to new technology will be needed to meet those requirements.

10. The Band-Aid Factor: If you have ever had an extremely old car, you are all too familiar with the process of fixing one thing after another until you are worn down, and your pocketbook is empty. Trying to get anything old to keep working can become tiresome and can also become extremely expensive. Because you are keeping so busy trying to make the system work, you may not even be aware of how much time and money you are spending to hold everything together. Moving to newer software technology can seem challenging at first, but it is typically the best option for your business in the long-term.

Understanding Of Barcode Software Technology

Standing at a grocery counter, all your groceries must definitely have gone through a barcode scanner. The counter person reads the barcode on each product with a barcode scanner after which the resulting data is sent to the computer. The computer, in turn, refers to the database for the price and description of each product.

The principle at work in barcode technology is called Symbology. It encodes alphanumeric characters and symbols, presented in black and white stripes or bars. This technology is one among the AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) technologies that work to minimize human involvement in areas such as data entry and collection, and thereby also minimize chances of errors and use of time.

The encoding aspect of this technology determines Symbology at its most basic level. It allows the scanner to know when a character starts and ends.

Structure of Barcode: Typically, a barcode comprises:

• Quiet Zone: Also known as the Clear Area, this zone comes before the Start Character of a barcode symbol. It is the least space needed for barcode scanning. It should be free of all printing and have the same color and reflect the same colors as the background of the barcode symbol. It should also be 10 times in width of the narrowest element in the specific barcode, amounting to 0.25 inch.
• Start Code: This indicates the beginning of the barcode to the scanner. It comprises special barcode characters. These characters are stripped-off and not sent to the host.
• Data: This refers to the actual data stored by the barcode.
• Check Digit: This is a mathematical sum that verifies the accuracy of all other elements of the barcode. It is identified as the extra digit at the end of the barcode which confirms that the scanner read the barcode accurately. It is stripped off from the data and not sent to the host.
• Stop Code: This indicates to the scanner where the barcode ends. They are not sent to the host but are stripped off.
• Trailing Quiet Zone: After the Stop Character, this is another clear space without any printing.

How it works: The scanning head emits LED light onto the barcode. Light is then reflected back away from the barcode into a photoelectric cell or a light-detecting electronic component. White parts of the barcode reflect the maximum light whereas black areas reflect the least.

As the scanner moves over the barcode, the photoelectric cell emits a pattern of on-off pulses corresponding to the code’s black and white stripes. The electronic circuit that forms part of the scanner converts these pulses into zeros and ones. These digits are then sent to the computer attached to the scanner which detects the code.

Applications of barcode technology: At stores, barcode technology can provide a variety of benefits, such as:

• Items that fly off the shelves are quickly identified and reordered.
• Items that are slow to sell can be identified so that they are not reordered.

• Fast-moving items can be given more space on the shelves, depending on their performance.
• Seasonal fluctuations can be predicted using historical data.
• Items can be repriced to show the earlier and new prices.
• Profiling of individual shoppers is also possible through discount cards registration.
• Barcodes are also useful in logistics and supply chain management. When a parcel is to be shipped, it is given a Unique Identifying Number (UID). The database links the UID to specific information about the parcel, such as its order number, date of packing, destination, quantity packed, etc. This information can be sent through the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to the retailer so that he has this information before the parcel arrives.
• Shipments sent to a Distribution Center (DC) are tracked before they can be forwarded. At its final destination, the UID is scanned so that specific store knows the contents of the parcel, its cost, etc.