Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can one little phone impact GDP?

Sales of the new iPhone could add between a quarter and half a percentage point to annualized economic growth in the fourth quarter according to Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist for J.P. Morgan.

xTuple's new Mobile Web client (works on the iPhone, iPad and Android's) will interoperate seamlessly with the desktop client. Both will talk to the same PostgreSQL database back end and, by the end of the 4.x series, the entire application will have been ported to the Mobile Web platform. We’re not aware of any ERP vendor that has come close to doing this. One little phone can make a big difference!

As reported by Sudeeep Reddy in the Wall Street Journal:

J.P. Morgan’s equity analysts expect Apple to sell about 8 million iPhone 5 units in the final three months of the year. If the phone sells for around $600, with about $200 of it counted as imported components, then $400 per phone would figure into the government’s measure of gross domestic product. (Even though consumers may not pay that much for the phone, because of subsidies from wireless carriers, Feroli explains that phone-selling companies often report the sales based on the price of the standalone product.)

The bottom line: the iPhone 5 sales could boost GDP by $3.2 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. That amounts to an increase of 0.33 percentage point in annualized GDP growth. It could be even higher, he says. Even a third of a percentage point would limit the downside risk to J.P. Morgan’s fourth-quarter growth projection of 2%.

Feroli warns that the estimate “seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically” but adds: “we think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection.” When the iPhone 4S became widely available last October, he writes, over half of the 0.8% increase in core retail sales came in the categories of online sales and computer and software sales. The two categories together had their largest monthly increase on record. The fourth-quarter sales growth at those stores over the third quarter would have boosted fourth-quarter growth by a tenth to a fifth of a percentage point if due to the iPhone. The iPhone 5 launch will be even bigger than that, he says, making the latest estimate “reasonable.”

OpenSurge can help you grow your business too! Using the latest business management ERP solutions.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What's This Cloud Thing Anyway?

Was recently putting some thoughts together on the tipping point for a business to finally make the plunge and replace their ERP system and it seems that many "experts" and "articles" like to include the cloud or "The Cloud" in this discussion. Recalling an event where Oracles' Larry Ellison expressed his opinion of the the cloud.

 "The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?" Full remarks

So what is this cloud thing anyway? And specifically related to ERP or business management systems? I think that it breaks down into two simple concepts. The first, my application can be accessed from anywhere and the second, some or all of my software/hardware investments have been outsourced.

Accessed anywhere simply means that if the internet can be accessed, my ERP can be accessed. This is done through a VPN, Citrix, RDP connection; natively through the ERP client or a browser based application with user authentication. Big surprise, nothing really new here. Access of this type has been around certainly longer than "free" internet access at every coffee shop on the planet.

Outsourced software/hardware - certainly a newer concept, but not the outsource part. Businesses have been outsourcing aspects of their operations for as long as there have been businesses. Anybody still doing their office cleaning? So with "cloud ERP" one end of the spectrum would be having a 3rd party facility provide a rack space (no real pun intended) for the ERP server. At the other end of the spectrum is a subscriber relationship where the vendor provides all of the software and all of the hardware. With any outsource relationship, the customer calculates the internal costs and compares them to the outsource price, then picks the one that makes the most business sense. And as anyone who has spent time selling outsourced services can attest - everyone has a different opinion.

Outsource hardware is fairly new, but not so new that it hasn't been commoditized already. Outsourced software, while there certainly has been some enabling technology, is really just a pricing model that's been around since the beginning of time.

Put me in Larry Ellison's camp - "It's compete gibberish".

But if you're wondering if your business has reached the tipping point and its time to consider next generation business management solutions - OpenSurge would be delighted to help.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

xTuple Mobile Web App

xTuple ERP is the industry-leading open source business management software now includes a Mobile Web application – empowering you to manage your business without being tethered to a physical office – improving productivity and profitability.

It is unlike anything on the market today - written in 100% JavaScript and making use of a whole new generation of open source HTML5 technologies. So, it is actually *faster* than the existing xTuple Desktop client.

Starting with the release of version 4.0, the functionality in the Mobile Web begins with CRM (the full module) as well as the Accounts Receivable portion of the accounting module over the course of the 4 series, additional functionality will be released- next up is Accounts Payable, the full General Ledger as well as the Time & Expense module which is useful for Professional Services companies – in fact, we use it ourselves at OpenSurge.

Ned Lilly, xTuple CEO, give a concise explanation of the technology, the plan and why it matters in this video:

One of the ongoing advantages of open source software is the continuous and rapid adaptation of technology. The result is a seamless ERP solution that can be accessed using a browser or mobile device- while increasing speed and performance.

Visit the OpenSurge website to learn more.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Learn Your Business Management Solution

A recent article in USA Today, “Ask an Expert: Entrepreneurs, avoid these these 5 tech traps,” included one of the things many companies overlook related to their business management software. Item number four on expert Steve Strauss’ list:

"4. Never really learning the software: Like the brain, people tend to use only about 10% of what their software can actually do. That’s the mistake. Software companies spend a lot of time and money studying small business and creating software to meet our needs. If you spend a little extra time actually learning what your software can do, you will be amazed." - Here's the full article

Business management software and solutions have evolved over the last 20 years with plenty of best practices and cross-pollination of features and functionality. What this means is that more most any business process that your business performs, there is a corresponding function in your business management software.

Just spending an hour or two every week studying your small business management software, learning about the functionality will continuously open your mind to the possibilities. Those possibilities include organizing your business, saving time and smoothing out the flow of your operation, so you are in a better position to take on more customers, more business with the same resources- improving your bottom line.

Your ERP business management solution should be considered a strategic investment in keeping your business competitive and enabling your particular business model to far outperform your competitors - whether that be through customer service, shorten lead times, better inventory availability or simply sharing information. Granted your business is always what you know best - and you might need an outside specialist to help you with creative and innovative ways to get the most from your investment. And many times this a long term, evolving process.

At OpenSurge we have helped many clients unleash the power of xTuple ERP related to their specific needs. As an example, one of our clients had a compelling need to be able to readily access documentation and test results for specific batches of materials. Further they had a requirement to provide this documentation with each customer shipment. Utilizing the existing xTuple functionality, creative application of bar code technology and simplified work flow resulted in the ability to produce the necessary documents the time of shipment.

Be sure to check out the other four tech mistakes to be avoided on Steve Strauss’ list. One of which is "not scheduling regular data back-ups".  So if you haven't backed up in a while - here's your reminder!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Payroll and ERP Selection - How it Fits

Technology's great! When you started your business it was a simple (and cheap) decision to begin running your accounting and invoicing with Quickbooks. Intuit does lots of neat things and is responsive to it's small business base. One of those things that Intuit does is provide payroll services. Note this is a "service" not "functionality". As a service Intuit prepares checks, direct deposits, calculate taxes, etc., but some of the work is still left up to the user, such as filing and paying taxes.

The problem is that your business isn't small any more. You have some complex issues to address such as managing your inventory and supply chain, quickly and efficiently processing orders for your customers, tracking your cash flow - maybe you even have manufacturing or production issues to address. Quickbooks is no longer able to keep up with the complexity, size and speed of your business.

A key step in a business management solution (ERP) selection process is to prepare a needs analysis. I often see "payroll" classified as a critical need. Don't get me wrong paying your employees is definitely a top priority, but it really shouldn't be part of the selection criteria. The "service" part of payroll is far more important than the "functionality" piece. 

Payroll service is a very competitive market (ADP and Paycheck being the current leaders) producing low prices and good services. Your payroll provider will be able to handle every aspect of your payroll needs, including giving your employees access to their own information (Pay stubs, W-2's, etc.) over the web.

The data provided from you payroll provider can be easily (even automated) imported into virtually every current technology enterprise class accounting and business management solution. The result is you get the best of both worlds; competent comprehensive payroll services and a complete picture of your payroll costs reflected in your enterprise solution.

Developing a needs analysis is an important step in the ERP selection process. In general, the Intuit/Quickbooks payroll model isn't replicated in the enterprise class solutions for the reasons outlined above. You should take this into consideration when developing your ERP selection criteria.

Since our customers and prospects still want an integrated approach to payroll, we partnered with ADP - the leading payroll provider, to deliver the payroll functionality to xTuple. So we can now answer "Yes, xTuple does payroll". Using ADP's web portal you can have all the payroll functionality you require (direct deposits, employee website, tax payments, reports, etc.) and the results are automatically reflected in your xTuple general ledger.