Saturday, 1 December 2012

The dilemmas of technological change

Michael Baxters' article on Investment and Business News, entitled The troubles of HP: is the PC dying, and is the company falling victim to innovators’ dilemma? relates the woes of HP in particular, but technology companies in general, when faced with the dilemmas of impending technological change.

One passage is particularly interesting.

This is classic innovators’ dilemma, or what Clayton M Christensen called the “technology mudslide hypothesis.” In his model, established companies in a position of market dominance reinforce their position of strength through their specialisation, but when a new so-called disruptive technology emerges, they miss it. They get relegated to backwaters or go out of business.

Christensen himself took the disc drive industry as an example, and looked at every major change – for example from 14 inch disk drives used for mainframes to 8 inch disks for mini computers, 5.25 inches with the emergence of PCs and then 3.5 inch disks as laptops were developed. He showed that with the emergence of a new disc drive standard, there was a change in market leadership; previously dominant players started doing dodo impersonations.

What is especially interesting about the Christensen study is that the companies themselves were often aware of the danger, researched the new burgeoning technology, but their existing client base showed no interest, and urged them to stick to what they already knew.

Technology change is a game changer and we ignore it at our peril.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Webfactotum launches the Webfactotum blogsite

You have read my chronicles dedicated to expounding the joys of information systems to the uninitiated. Well, information systems are not the only things that happen at Webfactotum. We now have a new blogsite, and that is where new information and discussion of all of our services and activities will take place. It is where our community will find out our current thinking and how that has evolved through interaction with our clients and their projects.

These littel outporings will continue of course. The difference between the two is that on blogsite, information specifically relating to Webfactotum'sproducts and services are under discussion, whereas here I will continue to wax lyrical about the joys of MIS.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Some reasons to consider data rationalisation in an information economy

IT managers are increasingly waking up to a dilemma. For many organisations IT consumes an ever increasing share of corporate budgets, yet as soon as the expenditure is made, it seems that it is out of date. And this conundrum is becoming ever more apparent the more dependent we are on quality, current and timely information.

The legacy application nightmare

In an information economy, all organisations have a tendency to accumulate vast quantities of data. Some of this may be of long-term value to the enterprise. But much of it may only be business-critical for a brief period of time. Moreover, a significant amount of data may also be sitting on legacy applications in the data centre or elsewhere in the organisation – for example, on individual desktops, or on redundant or little-used servers.

The scenario is this - few people within the organisation know what is on these devices or what some of these legacy applications may be. Indeed, it may be that, thanks to staff turnover, nobody knows what all of them are, or whether some of these applications will ever be used again. Also, discovery of what information exists and is kept where, if it is ever done, consumes valuable time. In the meantime, it is taking up valuable data centre space and maintenance effort, at a time when data volumes are expanding and the watchword for IT departments is “do more with less”.

We all recognise this scenario. But in the modern world data - especially business critical data must be 'to hand' and presented with pristine clarity.

Enter the mobile worker

Organisations are increasingly embracing the idea of a mobile workforce with all the obvious advantages of flexibility and the ability to respond rapidly to changing circumstances. With today's ability to be permanently connected it is becoming anachronistic to 'leave it till I get to the office'. For instance, it is the case that more corporate workforces are making use of email management using personal or company-provided smartphones and tablets; and healthcare professionals are transitioning to healthcare records management using tablets and smartphones. Many point of sale and and field technicians have been using mobile devices for some time.

In an enterprise mobile environment, where applications are delivered over various mobile device types powered by different carriers, multiple operating systems, and numerous combinations of local and network technologies, the end user experience is intensely impacted by local device factors and by the mobile network itself. In such circumstances traditional server-based or network-based monitoring, supervision and information management become subverted, while organisations that hold on to desktop based legacy applications will be destined for extinction.

Not just for giants

These considerations are not just for large corporations. The ability to respond speedily while 'in the field', and to supply or retrieve information that is current determines in many cases the quality of an organisations service to its customers and clients. The world wide web provides the single unifying factor enabling information to be centralised, portable and always available.We at Webfactotum seek to address just these imperatives facing organisations of all sizes.

We are convinced that a streamlined and centralised information management model accessed via the world wide web provides the approach needed to address these problems. That is why we launched our MISBank service, specifically aimed at the smaller business rising to meet the challenges of the information economy.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lovely when nice things are said

As I say, it is nice when people give you a good old write up. And as we have been doing some work for Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid - designing and implementing an online client management system - they have been so good as to provide us with an excellent little testimonial.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Introducing MISBank - a new custom design, build and hosting solution for management information systems

Webfactotum have introduced a new service consisting of design, build and hosting for enterprise management information systems (MIS), known as MISBank. This service aims to enable the smaller organisation to have access to the benefits of online MIS and ERP (enterprise resource planning) services.

Why use a management information system (MIS) ?

Information is generally considered to be an important asset for any company or similar entity in the modern competitive world.

1. The consumer buying trends and behaviours can be predicted by the analysis of sales and revenue reports from each operating region of the company. The availability of the customer data and feedback can help the company to align their business processes according to the needs of the customers. The effective management of customer data can help the company to perform direct marketing and promotion activities.

2. Companies are able to highlight their strengths and weaknesses due to the presence of revenue reports, employees’ performance record etc. The identification of these aspects can help the company improve their business processes and operations, giving an overall picture of the company and acting as a communication and planning tool. Companies can use and manage information to revitalize business processes, conduct electronic commerce, improve business decision-making, and gain competitive advantage.  Furthermore, knowledge management systems can help a business gain strategic  advantages.

3. Early attempts to manage data resources used a file processing approach in which data were organized and accessible only in specialized files of data records that were designed for processing by specific business application programs. This approach proved too cumbersome, costly, and inflexible to supply the information needed to manage modern business processes and organizations. Thus, the database management approach was developed to solve the problems of file processing systems.

What is a management information system ?

Data organized and accessible only in specialized files of data records designed for processing by specific business application programs usually accessible locally on specific edge computers or shared network resources is proving too cumbersome, costly, and inflexible to supply the information needed to manage modern business processes and organisations.

Cloud computing technologies, ie. variously, software; storage; platform; data; etc., as a service, are delivering some of the flexibility that is needed. However, whilst offering greater flexibility without sacrificing security, they mostly remain within the file proceesing approach. Thus, the database management approach was developed to solve the problems of file processing systems.

Typically, the data needed by different applications are consolidated and integrated into one or several common databases instead of being stored in many independent data files scattered across the organisation. Also, the database management approach emphasizes updating and maintaining common databases, with centralised security and maintenance, having users’ application programs share the data in the database, and providing a reporting and an inquiry/response capability so end users can easily receive reports and quick responses to requests for information.

The advantages include:

•  Consolidating data records and objects into databases that can be accessed by many different application programs.
•  Serving as a software interface between users and databases to help users easily access the data in a database.
•  Attempting to solve the problems inherent in file processing such as data redundancy, lack of data integration, data dependence, and data integrity.
•  Data-management system have the capabilities of allowing access to data sets for a large number of employees at the same time.
•  Mobile communication technologies allow access from remote locations.
•  Analytical processes provide quick identification and retrieval of the most valuable pieces of data, along with real time  representation.

Developments in IT have helped companies increased the volume, organization, variety and accessibility of data useful for conducting business. Additionally, data can be structured and analyzed in ways not possible before, allowing for a variety of uses such as customer relationship management, profitability, data-mining and basket analyses, etc..

It is inevitable that decision-making relies heavily on supporting information. MIS provide timely, robust and up to date information about the activities of an organisation  and its interaction with its customers and clients so as to enable better responsiveness, planning and supervision. Also, because of the increased ability for monitoring that is offered by using MIS, it encourages decentralisation of authority. On the other hand, MIS facilitates integration of specialized activities by keeping each department aware of the problem and requirements of other departments.

Key issues for the implementation are granularity, accuracy, uniformity and consistency of data combined with a standard method of delivery to improve decision making and focus attention where it is most needed. MIS implementations are about unification, bringing people together, improving flow, increasing visibility and delivering business effectiveness. The technology is both an enabler and a tool. Successful implementations come from how together, we build, define, articulate and communicate the strategy, as well as how we support the change.

What is MISBank ?

MISBank is a total MIS solution which includes customised database development and implementation, user interface design and implementation, server side scripting, testing and roll out and hosting on the world wide web on secure servers giving you anytime, anywhere access 24/7,

MISBank Offers the advantages of MIS to organisations who previously could not consider this as an option

MIS usually is addressed to the needs of the corporate world, typically of large scale commerce, and finance. However, robust decision making, planning and supervision based on a possession of pristine information should be a concern of all organaisations. MISBank now brings the advantages of MIS to within easy reach of organisations large and small with its total MIS design, implementation and hosting service.

Advantages of using MISBank for your MIS/ERP implementation

* With MISBank, the cost of implementation running off-track is minimised, because we do not sell licenses to use the software that we develop. Running costs are for technical support, hosting  and administration.

* Your solution is totally customised to your requirements, eliminating any considerations about flexibility vs. complexity.

* We focus on value from a total mission perspective, including both tangible and intangible benefits to the organisation.

* Your solution is hosted on the world wide web giving you robust, reliable , up to date and secure acces to your information 24/7, 365 days per year from anywhere in the world, or on the go.

Related information

Enterprise Resource Planning: a realisation of MIS; Michael Wongsam;

Navigating the ERP Software Minefield: 10 Critical Factors to Ensure a Successful Selection and Implementation Process; KeyedIn Solutions strategic white paper;

This post appeared originally on edocr

For further information, contact

Friday, 14 September 2012

Enterprise Resource Planning - a realisation of MIS

Businesses and other organisations are deploying technologies such as Management Information Systems (MIS) to enable them to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, improve their business processes and operations, and align their business processes according to the needs of their customers and clients.

The Wikipedia entry on MIS  quotes;

A management information system (MIS) provides information that is needed to manage organizations efficiently and effectively. Management information systems involve three primary resources: people, technology, and information or decision making. Management information systems are distinct from other information systems in that they are used to analyze operational activities in the organization. Academically, the term is commonly used to refer to the group of information management methods tied to the automation or support of human decision-making, e.g. decision support systems, expert systems, and executive information systems.

Since the advent of information technology technology deployment MIS have evolved from disparate deployments of specialised software applications providing limited functionality, into ever wider and more integrated tools providing information analytics across the organisation.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a model and realisation of MIS which allow organisation managers the ability to discover the current global state of the organisation. It aims to '..provide an organization with integrated software modules and a unified database which enable efficient planning, managing, and controlling of all core business processes across multiple locations. Modules of ERP systems may include finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, production, inventory management and distribution.'

Organisations are increasingly using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to integrate internal and external management information across an entire organization. In principle, it can embrace finance/accounting, sales, manufacturing, human resources and customer/client relations, automating these activities with an integrated software application, and typically employing a database as a repository for information.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

About this blog

If you have been directed here from one of our websites, then you have some interest in or curiosity about management information systems (MIS). If you arrived here through an internet search, you also have at least a passing curiosity about MIS's although you probably have never heard of myself, or webfactotum.

However, if you have stumbled across this blog purely by accident and maybe don't even know what an MIS is then you are also very welcome to browse the blog. Our approach is that internet technology is the most democratic technological development yet, since it has the universal scope and utility to make it accessible to all.

In this blog, I want to evangelise about web based MIS's and all that they can do for businesses in particular, but really, all kinds of organisations. Also, these benefits are not just for the big boys. They really are within reach of virtually everyone.

So, if you have even only a passing interest, and don't want to do battle with a lot of technical jargon and obfuscation, you may be pleasantly surprised by my future posts. You may even be interested enough to want to find out more about what an MIS can do for you.