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Improving Businesses by way of Digital Transformation

Recently, there has been much discussion around the revival and transformation of legacy industries that have embraced the age of Digital Transformation. In an article from inc.com, the Oil & Gas industry was specifically mentioned as not keeping up with the times. It’s no secret that Oil & Gas has been a big time money making industry for quite some time. Perhaps there is a general “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality amongst enterprises within this field. Although this may be true to some extent, failure to keep up with the digital age will undoubtedly result in a competitive disadvantage to those unwilling to innovate and evolve.

There are many options available to streamline Oil & Gas industry practices, or any industry/enterprise for that matter. Though many of these technologies can be costly to implement, there are affordable tools that can make an immediate impact within your business.

Take Slack for example. This simple chat-focused application allows for cloud-based team collaboration. Users can communicate individually, amongst a group, or even within a topic based channel that you can create and invite others within your organization to join. Based on surveying it’s own users, Slack reports 25% fewer meetings, 32% more productivity, and 50% fewer emails. You can also utilize chat bots  (an easy intro to the world of automation) within slack to streamline workflows and boost productivity. With multiple pricing options, Slack is a low-cost implementation that improves team collaboration.

If your Project Management team needs some assistance, take a look at www.monday.com. Monday’s platform also allows you to track everything your team is working on. You can see who is working on what, if they’re on pace with timelines, and assign specific tasks or projects to members of your team. Pricing varies depending on the number of users, but you can choose your from different plans and select your preferred billing cycle (monthly, yearly, or two yearly).

Whatever your budget or business needs, there are solutions that can impact your enterprise. Emerging technologies are easier than ever to implement. So, if you’re behind in these adaptations, take a step in the right direction and give one of these options a try.

A Historical Account of Spreadsheet Mishaps

There are MANY reasons why companies are moving away from excel, but the largest one is increased financial risk. Companies simply cannot afford to the effects of fatal spreadsheet errors. The smallest clerical error can have the largest impact, so it doesn’t take a big stone to create a tidal wave.

Fidelity’s Magellan Fund learned this the hard way, by projecting they would make $4.32 per share. However, this turned out to be false, as an accounting error in excel resulting in the omission of the minus sign on a net capital loss of $1.3 billion. As a result, the estimate spreadsheet was only off $2.6 billion dollars.

The scariest part, is that this sort of thing happens all the time:

  • TransAlta loses $24M over a simple “cut-and-paste” spreadsheet error
  • Fannie Mae discovers a $1.136B error made in a spreadsheet
  • The London Whale suffers a $6B trading loss via a (VAR) Value at Risk model containing standard Excel flaws

The list goes on. The impact of errors such of these not only impacts a company’s finances immediately, but also hurts future business. With the ease in which information is accessed and shared amongst consumers, it can be almost impossible to bounce back from bad PR.

Often times, financial officers worry about the cost of implementing new platforms into their business. Yes, some options are very expensive. However, as a consumer, you have choices. You can have a customized platform built from scratch, you can use an out-of-the-box platform and work your business around it, or you can hire a team to customize an out-of-the-box platform so that it works around your business. The only option you can’t afford, is to continue to rely on spreadsheets.

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Oil, Gas, and Cloud-based Solutions

If you’re in Oil & Gas, you might want to give this article from Energy CIO Insights a read:

How Technology is Changing the Oil and Gas Landscape – For the Better

The bottom line is that companies who are willing to evolve with technology will remain competitive in the industry.

  • Issues with Supply-Chains?
  • Poor Data Management/Analysis?
  • Project Management in chaos?

Let us help, we provide the solutions you need to operate like a well-oiled machine.

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From Columns and Rows to Automated Workflows

If you do a bit of googling, you’ll see article after article with mentions of corrupted data by way of spreadsheets. In fact, 88% of all spreadsheets have “significant” errors in them. In the past, the lack of industry-wide standards has largely been to blame for these discrepancies. However, the point remains that over-complicated spreadsheets are not only difficult to read and analyze but are prone to data entry errors due to sheer size.

Is there a better way?

There’s always a better way. New technologies are revolutionizing the way we share and analyze data. Platforms with the capacity to process huge amounts of data across different sources make the access and manipulation of data quick and easy. These applications contain powerful analytics tools, allowing for reports to be configured to specific business units and roles. You can even have your reports automated, so you never have to manipulate a spreadsheet for data discovery ever again.

So, what are the key benefits to using these platforms and services over spreadsheets?

  • Data integrity – make decisions with confidence, with information you can trust
  • Data discovery – gain a competitive advantage with powerful analytics for insights
  • Speed – access your data, live, whenever you want
  • Efficiency – no more wasted hours performing data entry
  • Collaboration – share your data with your team whenever/however you want
  • Scalability – your platform can grow with your business
  • Simplicity – your data is easy to understand and manipulate. No complex formulas or pivot tables needed.

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Enhancing Unified Communications as a Service

Streamlining Enterprise Applications and Communications

Earlier today it was announced that Workato and RingCentral are now teaming up to enhance/revolutionize the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) business model. This combined service is sure to be a game changer across multitude of industries, especially those that are highly customer-facing. What are the deliverables of these conglomerates, and how can their services change your company. 

What is Unified Communications as a Service?

Techopedia defines UCaaS as “a service model where providers deliver different telecom or communications software applications or services, generally over the global IP network.” Essentially, UCaaS allows for enterprises to utilize scalable/low-cost communication services (voice, video conferencing, text).

How can UCaaS be improved/expanded?

This is where Workato’s partnership with RingCentral makes an impact. Previously, UCaaS was a valuable but seemingly limited service. Most companies utilize multiple applications for information sharing and streamlining communication between these apps and respective UCaaS providers was something not well known to companies in desperate need of such a service. By providing this offering, a critical service has been brought to light.

Integrating Workato/RingCentral!

Workato and RingCentral can be integrated into nearly any low-code system. Whether you use Salesforce, Quick Base, or Zoho (to name a few), these services can be integrated into your business applications so that your information sharing, reporting, and communication mediums can all be in sync.

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Creating Automation with Integrations

Get Back those Wasted Hours!

Today, more than ever, companies rely on multiple systems to manage day to day operations. The issue with utilizing a variety of different systems is the inability for one application to talk to another. This delays data share, slows productivity, and increases the need for manual reporting.

Finally, you decide to integrate your systems. Now what?

Time to automate!

The major benefit of connecting your systems is to minimize man hours that are wasted on tasks that can be automated. By doing so, you can eliminate human error and increase productivity. No more double entries, no more data entry errors.

How to create automation?

By setting up the proper triggers and/or time-based actions, data can be moved from one user/system to another automatically. A trigger is essentially a contingency that initiates a reaction if met (i.e. “if this, then that”). For example, “if” you input a new lead into your system, “then” an automated report will be sent in whatever frequency you determine. In this scenario, the “if” is the trigger and the “then” is the action.

Consider Webhooks

In addition to actions and triggers, QuickBase Webhooks can automate workflows for businesses wanting to connect Quick Base with other systems. This function enables Quick Base to notify a Quick Base application or web-enabled system about real time changes in data. By using Webhooks, you can connect Quick Base to multiple systems and increase workflow automation.

Software integration enables you automate daily tasks that are critical to your business. Why not get those hours back? Focus on things that require the human element, like engaging with coworkers and creating personal relationships.

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An Over-Simplified Guide to Creating Usable Software

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, many enterprises utilize multiple systems to store and access data. Additionally, many of these systems are outdated and simply not as powerful as more modern platforms. So, how can you ensure the roll out of a usable system? Let’s reverse engineer the build process and find out.

There are several common roadblocks that can prevent the creation of a successful system:

  1.     The stakeholder. Most of the time, the person(s) buying/owning the software is not the end user. This causes a difference of opinion: budget vs usability.
  2.     User experience. This couples with the above disconnect. Without proper consultation, the needs of the user(s) can be overlooked.
  3.     Old dogs and new tricks. If a business doesn’t see the flaws in its current system, then it sees no reason to implement a new one.

How can you break through these roadblocks? The most invaluable answer is transparency. Be honest with your stakeholders about the timeframe, the resources required, and the cost. Consult with users, both those in favor and those opposed to a new system. Use these conversations to detect pain points and gaps in the current system. Once the build is complete, test it. Testing is the only way to ensure that the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization are met. Get your users involved, be transparent about your deliverables, and be an available resource after implementation – not just during.

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Quick Base 101

If you’re trying to decide between Quick Base and another product, let’s first define what Quick Base is and how it might be the right workspace for you and your business.

What is Quick Base?

Quick Base is a cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) workspace, built for business users, that allows you to customize or build any type of application where you have multiple users sharing/moving/viewing data. It contains basic database features such as tables and fields, which can be connected with relationships, as well as out of the box reporting (graphs and charts too!), roles and permissions. You can use your application to streamline your team’s communication as you input and share business data.

How do Quick Base applications work?

A Quick Base application consists of one or more tables, which are lists of information. Each table consisting of rows and columns (fields) that are related to each other. Each table can be thought of as a single spreadsheet, so an application is essentially a collection of spreadsheets that can be related to each other. This means that you can look up a customer, for example, and see all of the activities related to that customer. Each piece of information you want to collect is a field within a table, that can be viewed via reports/charts so that you and your team can stay on task.

How is it customized?

The reason Quick Base is so powerful is that it can be customized to suit the needs of your business. There is virtually no limit to what you can do and the number of applications you can use within your personal workspace. You can track anything you need, and you can create custom home pages for different users within your organization to show each team member just the information they need to get their job done. For example, members of your sales team can have their custom homepage feature only information that help them manage the sales process.

How can you use it?

When you first login to Quick Base, you immediately have access to a countless range of applications via the Quick Base exchange. These ready-to-use applications contain sample data, which allows you to familiarize yourself with how fields interact within a table. You can delete this sample data and enter your own when you’re ready. You can also start from scratch, building your own application from nothing or import your data from excel any way you would like for it to be structured.  

In short, Quick Base provides an extremely simple user interface for interacting with an application that you build. Once your application is created, you can add new records, create new tables, create relationships, manage users/roles, and sending reports via email. If properly utilized, Quick Base can be the lifeline of your daily tasks.

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Connecting your Business with Systems Integration

It’s no secret that developing a successful business requires collaboration, whether it’s one business unit or cross-team communication. Most companies utilize multiple applications and systems to store and access data. Sometimes connecting these systems can be difficult, which can inhibit productivity. Integrating your systems will help streamline your business for success.

Many businesses are still using legacy systems (such as MS Access, or even worse, green screens). These systems, though effective, are outdated. There are new platforms, like Quick Base, that can be molded to fit your business. Furthermore, different business units see data differently. Stepping away from legacy systems will allow for you to engage in a systems integration partnership that will provide custom solutions to account for these differences.

Although a systems integration seems like a no-brainer, many businesses are weary of implementing new platforms for several reasons.

  1. Cost of implementation
  2. Fear of end user buy-in of a new platform

Yes, integrating systems can be costly. But the return of investment is invaluable if done properly. By migrating or integrating with a cloud-based system, your team can access and share data in real time across multiple platforms. The key to gaining a successful ROI is not so much in the product you use, but the company you partner with to build, migrate, and manage your system.

Integrating all of your systems can be easier than you think. Workato (www.workato.com) is an excellent tool to take the guesswork and coding out of integrating some of the most popular platforms today. Their easy to use and replicate recipes will have you up and running in no time.

Quandary is a certified Workato partner and has the resources you need to ensure a seamless transition from your old system(s) to your new systems. We take the time to understand your business, so we can identity gaps in your process and implement solutions. Not only does this increase productivity, but it also increases end user buy-in as we collaborate with your team to build you a better system. We provide dedicated consultation, custom builds, systems integrations, and continued support beyond initial implementation.

The biggest challenge with integration is, in fact, integration. Allow us to do the legwork, so you can focus on doing what you do best.

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Retirement of Access Web Apps

As of this coming April, Microsoft Access is discontinuing support for users of cloud-based applications. Before diving into the effects that users will experience, let’s talk about what Access is and how it can be replaced.

 

So, what is Microsoft Access?

 

In short, Microsoft Access (MA) is a database management system. It allows users to access data from any source. It also has the ability to import/export data across many formats (excel, outlook, etc) and has the ability to link data for viewing, editing, and reporting. Sounds great, doesn’t it? In concept, MA is a great tool. However, many users find that the system itself is limited in terms of how you choose to utilize your data. This lack of flexibility can slow down reports, and slow down your business.

 

What are your options? How can you benefit? As a customer, you have two choices:

 

  1. Revert back to desktop/onsite software
  2. Migrate to a cloud-based app-building platform

 

Although option one has been sustainable for many years, most companies are advancing towards cloud-based systems. Why? They are easily accessible and provide a competitive edge in the marketplace. Migrating your data to the cloud may seem costly, time consuming, and pain-staking. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right partnership, your business can have a customized and secure cloud-based database. Maybe it’s time to implement a more efficient system

QuickBase has been ahead of the curve on content regarding cloud-based options via recent ebooks and Webinars. Once released, I will post this weeks QuickBase Webinar link for further information.

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