Obsolete IT applications – issues for entrepreneurs

So let’s jump merrily into the depths of the nightmare of every entrepreneur: IT investment. I say nightmare because it’s a field of expertise for which the vast majority of entrepreneurs have absolutely no basis for appreciation or evaluation.  There is little or no reassurance for a decision-maker faced with a 100, 200, or even $500,000 decision, which choice will likely have a major impact on productivity, thus profitability and the future of the business.

So… to help the entrepreneur in this situation, and I believe there will be more and more who need help in the years to come, because the stakes are the same and are just as important as ever: Business Process Automation, increasing productivity, mobile workforce, accessible information, increased quality of Business Intelligence, improved decision-making processes, integrity and security of company data, etc., all of course with the ultimate goal; increase Profitability and improve Customer Satisfaction.

The Problem


The Database – always at the heart of a company’s business reality

Amazingly, 25 years ago, the only people who spoke of Databases (DB) were the IT folks. They were perceived within large enterprises, not just as geeks but as business gurus. They held the secret formulas, some sort of modern day sorcerers.

Over time, the variety of databases available has diversified. Databases infiltrated the universe of many different departments of businesses; be it the Sales Force with its CRM, Human Resources (HR) with a homemade Access application, the Finance department with their multitude of Excel sheets (even if strictly speaking, they’re not really databases, it must be pointed out that Excel still manages the largest amount of data stored globally), Production and Purchasing with their ERP, etc. And that’s without counting the best years of Visual FoxPro,  which has been replaced by SQL, Oracle and many others…

Since that time, we have bandied about the term across levels of business, for example: “I think we have that into our Database”

Good evening, tonight on Discovery: The Adventures of Databases…


HTML 5: custom business application or off-the-shelf software?

hAs we mentioned in our previous post, it’s clear that, mostly for economic reasons, companies want applications that are “ready-to-mobilize”. The demand is there: 75% use standard applications and 20%, custom business applications. Further, we continued on to show that developers see positive opportunities for both options. Off-the-shelf as well as custom-made business applications…

One in the hand, is better than two in the bush

Recently however, a senior mobile developer confided to me that he had seriously considered dropping some mobile development platforms. Because customers were just not ready to absorb the costs of cross-platform development. Instead, in order to save money these clients were asking him to select THE platform (or sometimes two) with the greatest reach and potential, to evaluate the costs for it and to eliminate the others! While this is understandable, it’s not necessarily an elegant solution and very often proves problematic because there are few companies or homogeneous target audiences that use only one model of mobile device, let alone a single OS.


Mobility: custom or off-the-shelf business applications?

Two articles on enterprise applications coming from the same publisher, businessmobile.fr, caught our attention recently. They’re interesting because they appeared less than a week apart and were in fact contradictory:

Mobility for business: complex business applications are slow to gain acceptance

In the first article based on a Forrester study, it says “the use of specific business applications is still limited and trails far behind the adoption of email or calendaring functions.”…



Web applications or Windows ? No, Web applications & Windows!

The debate has been raging for over a decade and the heights the confrontation and rivalries. So, what is it, Web applications or Windows? At the time, these two diametrically opposed visions each had hard core advocates who had sworn allegiance to the death. Much water has passed under the bridge since then and today we understand that reality is not quite so simple; not everything is black or white.

The vast majority of businesses – be they big, medium or even small – have purchased numerous office software programme licenses from Microsoft (Windows, Office, SharePoint, etc.) since the arrival of Windows and a great many of these have invested in the development of applications custom built in Microsoft’s .Net framework or other platforms. And today, almost all IT managers are turning to the Web applications where they are seriously considering or at the very least evaluating their options there.

Walking the Web applications / Windows high wire with my business


Web Migration of my old applications or die. Really?

The time has come to migrate the technology  and your IT Management Director swears by the Web. He o wants all new applications (or almost all…) to be Web-based. The main argument being made is that all these web applications will be much easier to deploy and maintain. That there will be huge savings in fees. Should you make the web migration move.

Oh Web!  Oh how we adore you!

Some of your current applications actually contain a lot of business intelligence. Your users have gotten used to the way they’ve accessed it over the years.  Will a web migration allow you to preserve the integrity of your business intelligence and maintain the current level of usability?


Client Database vs CRM – 12 fundamental questions

It seems that everyone has been in CRM mode since the beginnnig of the New Millennium; CRM 1.0, CRM 2.0, Social CRM, CRM-in-the-Cloud, etc., it’s the Buzz word of the moment. Surprisingly, we forget that the 90’s was the Golden Age of Database; at the time every business invested heavily in a Database. Who doesn’t recall VisualFoxPro. But that was another time…

The fact is that it’s all well and good to put into place a sophisticated CRM with advanced management functions, with or without plug-ins for Social Media; it will never compensate for the deficiencies or the absence of a Database that properly reflects the reality of your business situation. Equally, you are no further ahead if your CRM system database needs to interface with other IT systems used to run your business.

When it comes to choosing between a CRM and a Database, one must evaluate needs that vary depending on the size, industry sector, and above all the size of the Sales Force/ Customer Service and customer base of your company.


A Custom Mobilized application and productivity of an enterprise

This is the third opus of a series of posts and comments published by « Enterprise Mobility Matters » which will be the subject of a “parallel blogging” experiment with Analystik, editor of the « Productivité + » blog, onto which you will find a reply to these posts and comments.


Why Develop a Customized Mobility Application?

We have ended our third post with this conclusion: “Now, can a Smartphone contribute to optimizing those processes critical to mobile workers productivity?  A true leader will immediately proceed by analyzing its critical business processes and assessing their optimization potential with Smartphones. He will have in no time put into place metrics to ensure the productivity gains are at the rendezvous!!!”


And while analyzing your critical processes, a question may erupt at the top of your mind. Shall I develop a customized mobile application?


The question is quite simple and the answer is as simple, since the « required-to-be- mobilized » function is not available within the mobile applications park, you will most probably be facing one of three situations calling upon a customized mobile application:


  • The business function to be mobilized is in fact part of a custom-made application

Ex: ERP which was custom-made for your enterprise can be mobilized. It will be available to any smartphone compatible with some restriction.


  • An activity executed on the road can now be automated, thanks to Smartphones capabilities

Ex: technicians are now using BlackBerry’s instead of paper forms.


  • New-generation Smartphones increased capabilities let us anticipate some internal business functions to be mobilized.

Ex: An enterprise CRM advanced functionalities such as access to strategic data mobilized.

The smartphone power helps to get mobilized application

Let’s mention, to make our point, that today’s Smartphones technical specs (BlackBerry Storm, iPhone, Treo Pro) are quite impressive for such little devices:

  • processors from 400 to 600 MHz
  • screens up to 480×360 pixels
  • memory cards up to 32 Go
  • 3.2 megapixels cameras.

Let’s not forget that at the turn of the Millennium, a lot of people were working with desktops just barely faster. Hard disks were not at 1 Go yet and desktop digital cameras were still quite exotic!


From the moment your business operation specifics require the development of a customized mobile application, you will have but only two choices:

  • Smartphone embarked application
  • Web application calling upon your Smartphone Internet capabilities


Which is which, how to choose between developing an « embarked » versus a « Web » mobile app?  What follows is more of an analysis guide than a comprehensive list of evaluation criteria.

5 development steps


1st step

  • The first point to assess the “criticality” level of the application to be mobilized.  Must this application run at all time and at all cost, in an uninterrupted fashion in order to ensure the enterprise or the workers productivity?  If so, then without any doubt you must develop a Web app onto which your Smartphones will hook themselves.

2nd step

  • Secondly, security is a serious matter to take into account.  Can you keep embarked data, or transferred data or data captured on the road on the device without any risk for either the enterprise or its clients’ security?  If not, then a Web app is your best solution again.

3rd step

  • The nature of the application to be mobilized is also not to be neglected. Is this application processing much more data than it is providing?  For example, verifying the quantity of a specific item in inventory demands a lot of processing but delivers only one data; thus, the processing is done with data only available from the inside of the enterprise to which your Smartphone doesn’t have access, then…

4th step

  • Another important criteria to consider is the geographical environment of the mobile workers, do they always have good network connectivity?   If not, then you should capitalize on your Smartphone.

5th step

  • Finally, the nature of your operations or of the job on the road can tell you how to go about things.  For example, if your operations call upon functions such as taking a picture, a vocal note, downloading and/or reading a file, etc.?  Then, it’s a no brainer.


In any case, more than anything, your top motivation for developing a customized mobile application is the existence of a potential gain and the final justification should be the confirmation of the expected gain.  If there is an opportunity to do better or more or do the same but with less resource with the help of a Smartphone, then you shouldn’t hesitate!!!   The logic is quite simple, how or when will the development cost be compensated by the expected gains; in short, what is the ROI?

Denis Paul van ChesteinMichel Martel

Mobility and the optimization of your enterprise productivity

This is the third opus of a series of posts and comments published by « Enterprise Mobility Matters » which will be the subject of a “parallel blogging” experiment with Analystik, editor of the « Productivité + » blog, onto which you will find a reply to these posts and comments.


Measuring the contribution of Mobility to Sales Force Productivity

This is the third opus of a series of posts and comments published by « Enterprise Mobility Matters » which will be the subject of a “parallel blogging” experiment with Analystik, editor of the « Productivité + » blog, onto which you will find a reply to these posts and comments.