We are Moving on…a new Look and Feel

Effective now, you will find this blog at http://blog.pequodsystems.com. We believe this change will make us easier to find. We also decided to give ourselves a new look.  We also changed so that our friends using mobile devices such as an iPad can read this blog while you are on the road. Over the next month or so, you will also see some changes at our website.   Our vision, values and mission will remain the same. Our products and services are evolving. We are still enthusiastic Nimble partners.  As always, you will find us on FaceBook, in LinkedIn, Twitter and even in Google+ .

THIS AND THAT

Word for the Day: (An oldie but goodie) Mashup.
Music,  Slang . a recording that combines vocal and instrumental tracks from two or more recordings. a piece of recorded or live music in which a producer or DJ blends together two or more tracks, often of contrasting genres .
…a hybrid website that collates and displays information taken from various other online sources …

Not to be confused with enabling Nimble to talk with your Google Apps. 
Cheers!

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Google’s Rel = Author…where is the Return On Investment?

Susan Ellsworth

For anyone other than a professional webmaster, Google’s current “Rel=Author” implementation in G+ profiles for increasing trustworthy content has a long way to go before those of us in small business will find it easy to implement. And I am wondering exactly where is the return on investment for the time and sweat it now takes to make it work reliably.

Setting up a Google+ account is actually quite straightforward. So is pointing the G+ profile directly to my website and to the URL for this blog. Pointing this blog in the direction of my G+ profile, however, was not so much. The introductory  Matt Cutts/Othar Hansson video on authorship did not match my thee-hour effort to discover the appropriate way to point this blog in the direction of my G+ profile. Google’s online helpdesk documentation specific to WordPress, the Content Management System for this blog, told me why the video had tripped ever so lightly over commenting on its implementation by saying that the implementation is still “in the early days.” Make that “still in Beta.”

At the end of the day, I found myself ponding on two questions. First, where is the return on investment for small business website owners to spend time and effort in this way? If I don’t go through all this effort, will searches on terms on my website suddenly go into the toilet insofar as Google is concerned?

Second, I thought about the matter of trustworthiness as a whole. Frankly, in business dealings, I trust people more than I worry about website rankings. I thought about Jon Ferrera, the Nimble CEO. I have not met him in person, and yet I trust him as a person. Why is that? I have spent time on the phone with him and with his staff. What they say is what they do. My business partner knew him in his early GoldMine days, and I have watched as GoldMine partner after partner has come on board—including some who originally had hooted down the idea of integrating GoldMine with social networking, let alone turning it into a Social Business Platform. Jon has over 20 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA). An entrepreneur at heart, Jon founded GoldMine CRM in 1989 with a college friend and turned it into a very successful venture that he eventually sold to FrontRange. In 2009, Jon founded Nimble LLC, and by February 2010, we were on board. We’re not looking back any time soon. See us at our Nimble site.
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To “Like” Likester or not to “Like” Likester—that is the Question

  Likester—the self-proclaimed global popularity engine—is yet another utility designed to work with FaceBook. Google for reviews of  Likester, and you will find a lot of Likester enthusiasts, including repeated reports of Likester predicting winners of Ameican Idol.

There is a dark side of Likester.

The About_Likester page blithly says “When you sign up with Likester, you contribute your anonymous data (what you like), in exchange for seeing what everyone else likes. What you have “liked” is publicly available information anyway, so you’re not giving up any privacy to play here.” It’s one thing to have “likes” spread around one’s social network. The impact of compiling and reporting those “likes” is dramatically different—and can have consequences the end user never imagined.

I do not like apparent self-contradiction. While the About_Likester page says that “Once you join (without filling out any forms, I might add),”  the Privacy Policy says “At several places on our Website or in connection with our services, we collect certain information you voluntarily provide to us that may contain personally identifiable information. For example, our customer registration page requests your full name, email address, company, and postal address.”

I do not like tracking people who have not explicitly given their permission to a company that does not transparently explain how long they will keep a user’s location(s). Likester has yet to demonstrate a genuine business case for creating a “a heat map that shows you where the Likesters live” other than “We think this is really neat. We’re pretty geeky like that. ” The only people who would buy an attitude like that are under thirteen years old—the ones about whom their own privacy policy says “OtherPage’s services and the Website are not intended for and may not be used by children under the age of 13. ”

Sorry, Likester, but I think I’ll go read Shakespeare’s Hamlet instead.

 

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The nimble CRM Leadership Revolution: Part II

Susan Ellsworth

The nimble revolution is here. Bye, bye bloat. Hello web-based solution integrated with well-known social networking sites LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and  Gmail. Nimble empowers small businesses in today’s socially connected world to collaborate more efficiently, to listen and engage with their community in order to attract and retain the right customers.

Yes, there are people who are still doubtful about the value of social networking and growing business.  You may be one of them. If you are, here is a resource that talks about how social media monitoring can grow your business. Like me, you may have prererences for a variety of browsers for different purposes.  You may even work on a Mac or on an iPad. I raised the question of compatibility in the nimble LinkedIn group.  Todd Martin, Director of Sales at nimble, responded that “Nimble works on PCs & Macs with either Chrome, IE, Firefox or Safari browsers. We support two versions back on each browser.” Other responses from the beta testing community were also positive in that regard.

Here’s a thought. Since GoldMine founder Jon Ferrara is also the founder of nimble, my bet on the likeliest CRM slated for import to nimble will be GoldMine. That would be the same CRM solution, where in 2009 there were “experts” in the FrontRange community who could not see value in integrating social networking with GoldMine CRM.

Here’s another: a FREE nimble license for up to two users you can get at our Pequod Systems Nimble Partner website .Visit. Click  Contact. Sign up. Yup, it’s that easy.

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Technology Past and a Bet on the Future

Susan Ellsworth

We all have rituals in our lives. One of ours is to get together on December 31 or January 1 with a friend of ours from the Eastern shore of Maryland. On December 31, he brought his iPad with him, and our discussion about technology ran something like this.

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first rolled out Apple computer in 1976, their assumption most likely was that if they built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to their door. When Bill Gates started Microsoft, Gates believed that if he promoted his operating system widely, included necessary tools  and got it installed on all the new small pc’s being rolled out, the world would create and roll a carpet to his door. Gates was right, and Microsoft was initially more successful than Apple.

So why am I now reading eMail newsletters that talk about the Apple iPad in the corporate workplace?

Consider one of the smarter moves that Apple made in the 1990’s. Almost as if by magic, Apple Macintosh computers started appearing in public schools. The children in those schools became comfortable with the way the Apples worked. Those children grew up and today are the decision-makers in corporations who remember those Apple computers. They are the ones using the iPads and going to “cloud computing.”

Or consider this software scenario. Back on April 11,2009, I was wondering out loud if Front Range Solutions, the manufacturer of GoldMine, had a purely technical focus rather than a marketing focus—and just who [was] being listened to—and who had contributed significantly to FrontRange’s lack of planning so that GoldMine Premium Edition was not working with with social networking applications.  I wondered if this situation were the total lack of awareness of a sea change in marketing strategies. Lack of incentive ? Lack of customer access to the FrontRange movers and shakers that make it happen?

Today GoldMine Premium Edition still is not integrated with social networking, still is not Software as a Service, and still is not in the cloud. Has FrontRange has concluded that the midmarket is ignoring social networking? How long will FrontRange continue along this path before it is abandoned by its midmarket target?

In an interesting twist of fate, Jon Ferrara —the creator of the product GoldMine and co-founder of the company GoldMine Software— concluded that “most of the vendors that used to serve the small business market have either taken their eye off the ball or have tried to move up-market in price and features. They have abandoned their traditional users and partners and have left a large hole in the space that GoldMine used to fill. “He created a new company and product “to address the needs of the small business CRM community including its end users and Solutions Partners. ” He predicted that “Nimble CRM, a SaaS CRM system for the small business market, will be launched in 2010. It will be lean, mean, affordable and of course Nimble. In addition to all of the features you would expect in a CRM system it will have cutting edge features that leverage the internet including tight social networking integration, web and blog site integration, and great email marketing. “[LinkedIn Nimble group] As with many technical product launches, the beta testers found and reported a few more issues than a responsible company would roll out to the public. Nevertheless, I believe that Ferrara—a guy with a record of success—will succeed with Nimble.

What remains to be seen includes the computing platforms (smart phones and iPads, for example) we see in the schools today that will thrive and be the corporate tools of choice when the students of today are the CIOs of tomorrow.  It also includes  well-developed, flexible softwares easily accessed by the computing public.

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More GoldMine Premium Edition Offers: Gotchas Not Included

Susan Ellsworth

It goes against our grain to lure customers or prospects in with an apparent low price for product or service, and then suddenly hit them up with hidden extra fees. There. I’ve said it.

Here are the latest GoldMine Premium offers from FrontRange, including additional charges that come directly from FrontRange.  Pequod Systems is a GoldMine (FrontRange) partner, so I am definitely not commenting about FrontRange or any other FR partner.

I am talking about Pequod Systems values. We have been told not to lead with price, but with benefits.  Our relationships with our customers have always been built on transparency right from the start.

Welcome Back To GoldMine is an offer for GoldMine Corproate Edition Customers who have been off of maintenance for more than 6 months and who now want to upgrade to GoldMine Pemium Edition with a minimum of 5 seats.  All existing seats of GoldMine must be upgraded. Please contact Pequod Systems before April 26 to take advantage of this offer.

The bottom line from FrontRange for such a customer with 5 seats of GoldMine is $2,940.  Below are figures showing a sample breakout.

Welcome Back to GoldMine

Upgrade from Corporate Edition to GoldMine Premium Edition is for customers  who are currently on maintenance, and who will upgrade with a minimum of  five  GMPE seats. All seats must be upgraded. This FrontRange offer for five seats at $449.00 each comes to $2,245.  The FrontRange requirement for $139 per seat annual maintenance upgrade multiplied by five seats comes to $695.00.  Total offer for an upgrade for customers currently on Corporate Edition with only five seats of CE: $2940.00.

Then there is the Director’s Special for Standard Edition users. Evidently there are still a few Standard Edition users out in the hustings. The FrontRange offering is an upgrade  is for $499.00 per seat. That price does not include the $139.00 for maintenance.  Also, there is a minimum of six (6) seats required. Thus, the software investment for six seats would be $3828. Standard Edition users please note:  GoldMine Premium Edition with multiple users requires a server and workstations around it.  Please do not try to use one person’s workstation as a server.

Bottom line for these offers? Don’t be fooled if you see announcements saying “Welcome Back To GoldMine! Flat fee of $500 ! Upgrade for $349 – includes SQL 2008 for WorkGroups !” Think again if you see announcements that say CE to PE $449 includes SQL 2008 for Workgroups.” Ask for the numbers behind the numbers.

Some other fine print
There is no return for any reason. Clients will be invoiced for renewal at the then current rates. The sale is final and non-returnable.  That includes the End User License Agreement.

Remember, you got your numbers and fine print here at Pequod Systems.

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It’s all about Perspective

 There’s a small television set in my kitchen. On a shelf above the TV, there is a cluttered shelf where, among other things, a small pill-cutter generally lives. Two weeks ago, just when I wanted to cut a pill to give to my cat, it seemed that the pill-cutter had disappeared. We looked high, low and in the middle. No pill-cutter did we see. We gave up, based on my late mother’s philosophy that we would find anything after we had stopped looking for it and based on my cousin’s observation that anything you look for will magically show up immediately after you have bought its replacement.

This morning, while looking for something else, I happened to glance behind the back of the TV. Voilá! There was the pill-cutter, blending with the scenery of cables, clutter and dust. It was all about perspective. What a pleasant surprise!

Here in snow-bound Maryland, you sure can tell the perspective of the folks who have planned well ahead.  One local county school system has announced that classes will be closed for the remainder of the week, and that the President’s holiday will be a regularly-scheduled classday.  Others keep announcing only one day at a time. Some people bought groceries for a week ahead, while others are out there scrambling a day at a time.

We’ve been providing technical services for a number of organizations over the years. We sure can recognize those who plan well ahead for unforeseeable contingencies and those who do not. The ones that plan well ahead and act on their managed services reports  get the pleasant surprises. Those who do not pay a heavy premium when they buy when they simply needed managed services to look where they had not. 

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Scott Adams has it right. Technology is no Place for Wimps

Today I’m wearing my Dilbert “TECHNOLOGY: No place for wimps” sweatshirt. Scott Adams has it right. Technology is no place for wimps.

Frankly, I do not want an Internet search tool that advertises itself as my decision engine, or that tells me what is “Popular now” on its home page, or that suggests in its Preferences page that I should identify my location with city and state or postal code to get search results that might be relevant to my area.  As an intelligent adult who has been using search engines for many years, I prefer a genuine search tool that finds web pages with (or without) specific words and possibly some exact wording or phrase. At my choice.

As for an electronic portal discussed by Martha Stewart during her morning talk show as a way to get myself organized, please! I can organize myself in ways that make sense to me but would leave Martha in knots. Martha, please stick to food, entertaining and crafts—your core expertise.
Then there are the folks who allow a major enterprise application shape the way they think about their business than find a way to work the other way around…configure the application to fit their needs. It’s because the people who might very well have been told that the application can be configured to meet their needs have been trained to accept only the “defaults.”

How many times have you received a phone call from someone in a call center who has asked you for (among other things) your fax number? How many people do you know who say “You do not need this information to process a request for your online newsletter, since you will not be sending it to me by fax?” The call center person is simply in automatic mode, trying to fill out all the blanks in a data sheet. Those who simply hand over their fax number for no reason at all are simply responding to that.  And then later wondering why they receive so many blatently misleading faxes advertising vacations in Florida.

Lest you think I’m simply being a grouch on the first day of the year, consider the extent to which your thinking has already been shaped in ways you might not have realized. How often have you flipped from one major television news program to another (NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS) only to find that most of the news coverage–except for the “soft news”–is pretty much identical? Where do you go to find actual news (not commentary) carried? PBS? CNN? Would you believe Russia Today or Al Jazeera, which are not on Comcast or Verizon’s FIOS TV Central?

We have our very thought patterns shaped by what someone else offers us, not by what we ourselves necessarily want or need. Under those circumstances, technology—especially that which seeks to shape our thinking the way its manufacturer—and/or the technology experts—present it to us thinks about any given business process or service—is no place for wimps.

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Managed IT Services in Plain English: Are you Kidding Me?

Our last blog talked about hardware, and most specifically, hard drives.  Sometimes some really strange, improbable and not quite verifiable stories come to light after a full inventory of computer hardware is made. Consider the case of BROKDLEG.

My office workstation is a modest Hewlett-Packard box with nothing unusual about it…or so I thought until recently.

First, some background. As a contractor on a number of large Federal and commercial projects, I develped a healthy respect for consistent conventions for naming all manner of objects on a network.  Furthermore, you don’t name a product or a version with a name that is disrespectful or spiteful—unless, of course, you want to have your career suddenly cut short.  So imagine my surprise to discover that the model name my workstation was sporting suggested a broken leg! Was there a setting somewhere that could be changed? How did my computer get a model name like that in the first place? There were a number of articles on the Internet that included the model name BROKDLEG. But not one that questioned the model name.  It seemed a very odd model name for HP, for which a far more typical name is Z400.

So we called HP and heard an amazing story that left me scratching my head. It seems that back when HP was merging with Compaq, a disgruntled technician named a number of workstations of a particular model as BROKDLEG. And no, it could not be changed. Whether that technician was already slated for an exit is an open question. We were simply told that the technician was fired when that particular stunt was discovered.

So now the inventory of our network includes an entry for an HP workstation with the model as shown here.

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Managed IT Services in Plain English: II

A while back, I promised that the next blog would talk about inventory of computer hardware, the use of hardware vendor-supplied information about your hardware and what this information can do for you. Today hardware inventory is gathered automatically and remotely with a small piece of well-configured software that simply reads what the hardware is.

In addition to its usefulness for insurance purposes, a complete automated inventory of computer hardware does many things for business.  It’s a great place to begin assessing overall network efficiency and capacity for software upgrades.

Consider the executive faced with a choice of upgrading an old but mission-critical application no longer supported by a manufacturer. (Yes, it does happen!) That’s when  an inventory showing where hard drives with a required amount of space for that mission-critical software can make the difference between an upgrade on pre-existing hardware or purchase of an entire new server.   For the technical support team that assembled this information, providing that information can either be slow, painful and expensive or it can be immediate, easy and offer great return on customer investment.

In the example below,  we see a server that still has 81% of its capacity on a particular drive available to be used for an application. Further information collected by that same, small and remote piece of software about  that server can determine that server’s suitability for upgrade of a mission-critical piece of sofware.

Managed IT Services. Not sexy, but definitely a service with great return on investment.