Microsoft Azure + Power BI + SQL Reporting = A Match Made in Inventory System Heaven

It’s not a mathematical equation, but it is an equation for outstanding inventory management. Three elements which, when added to WithoutWire’s already powerful, state-of-the-art inventory management solution, triple the benefits to be gained.
Built on Microsoft technologies, our affordable cloud subscription leverages Microsoft Azure and its integration to Active Directory for scalability and security, to bring you the data analytics embedded in Microsoft Power BI and SQL Reporting Services.

What do Amazon, Uber and Airbnb have in common?

On the face of it, not a lot. One is an online retailer. One is a ride service. And one is a matchmaker between travelers and cool places to stay. Putting those differences aside, we find that what they have in common is a business model that we would all love to...
Are You Ready to be Happy and Carefree?

Are You Ready to be Happy and Carefree?

I don’t read business magazines that often, but yesterday I read a few articles that compelled me to write about. It reminded me of the company I started long ago; Appolis. Appolis is not a super successful company. We are successful to be sure, but a few Harvard Business Review articles reminded my why I remain optimist. We are good at survival. The company recently turned 13 years old and despite our failures, we seem to be very good at attaining a great degree of success in part because we make creative products and we are good at converting failure to success.

Observations on the Future of Manufacturing

I recently visited a manufacturer that is growing at an incredible pace. The kind of pace that I observed in the reverse manufacturing market.

Side note: Another more recognizable term for reverse manufacturing is refurbishing or repurposing. These businesses buy broken or used stuff for pennies on the dollar, and either fix or disassemble for parts. Great business model!

My visit today reminded me of the 3D printing movement. One of the most revolutionary aspects of 3D printing is its ability to economically produce 1 offs. Rare and unique parts or in the realm of consumerization; unique value when it’s pinpointed to the right buyer.

Big Data for Big Inventory

While traveling recently, I had a chance to read an article (Meet a Start-Up With a Big Data Approach to Hiring) in a magazine about how Big Data is being used to help HR divisions in organizations predict the outcome of new hires. Whitetruffle provides a data service using a proprietary model which analyzes 50 categories of “signals” in a job candidates profile. The claim is that the more data they get, the smarter the model becomes. The result is that you end up hiring better employees. While I’m not an expert in the “Big Data” trend, I summarize its purpose as simply “more data to analyze, means better results”. Big Data analysis can be a valuable tool to selecting the best performers for your company, but it can also be used for selecting the best performing method of picking, receiving, and bin strategies.

Rugged Scanners vs. Consumer Devices

Over a year ago, we rolled out the concept of using a low cost consumer device for warehouse picking at a major trades how. In 2012, the feedback can be summed with the comment “Why?”.

Fast forward to 2013. A month ago, the feedback has changed! Now the same people are embracing the concept. The term “Tipping Point” comes to mind. The reasons may be varied, but one this is certain, buyers are on board with the idea that cheap devices from Apple and those running Google Android are more then a crazy idea for use in warehouses. The reasons are very strong:

Creative Ways to Deal with Lot Tracking in Your Warehouse

If you’re a distributor or manufacturer and lot tracking is heavy on your mind these days, then this article is for you. I know lot tracking requirements can be very difficult to plan for and implement. Especially since the world around us wants faster and more accurate traceability and recalls. The biggest question that will drive the strategy your organization uses is this:

How much additional labor are you willing/able to incur?

Our Experience with Microsoft Dynamics Connector

Over the last 3 months as part of our R&D projects, Appolis developed an iOS based Sales Order Entry System we call “WoW Order”. The need for order entry in the field is alive and well and we continue to get requests for this capability all the time. This article explains our experience with the V2 release of Microsoft Dynamics Connector which was made available to the masses in December 2011. For information about the SDK which is used to create your own custom adapters, check out the Microsoft Dynamics Adapter SDK. (you’ll need login credentials as a partner or customer).

Manufacturing using barcodes

The use of barcodes during manufacturing is not a new concept, but the efficient use of barcodes is something that is much more difficult to design for. Recently I read an article in Technology Review published by MIT. It’s author, David Rotman was questioning whether manufacturing growth is a necessity for the US economy to grow. David and other contributors argue that while design and engineering skills are the strength of the US, over time, countries providing the manufacturing to American companies will chip away at our design skills with one important advantage; knowledge of what current manufacturing technologies are capable of. The article goes on to give specific examples of how American companies are not deeply rooted in the manufacturing process level for a number of manufactured products and therefore, cannot compete. Finally, the article makes the argument that we cannot afford to continue to outsource manufacturing to other countries if we hope to regain a growing economy that fuels more employment. The jobs are no longer growing in the middle tier, but rather are growing in both low end service jobs and highly skilled labor.

What Appolis Tracks

Why does a company like Appolis put an ad in a parking garage with a QR code? Well, this brings me to the topic of tracking. In my analysis, most marketeers see the value in QR codes as providing tracking of customers and prospective buyers with targeted messages and instant feedback on “views”. They engage the customer with an experience that can connect the physical locations of the codes with the message that is tailored for a consumer.

Android versus iPhone

At the beginning of the year, I handed my Windows Phone 7 over to a co-worker and decided to try out the latest Android devices available via AT&T. I now am testing with Galaxy S from HTC.

My take on Android is that it iPhone is designed for ease of use (for most beginner users of smartphone). Even my wife can use an iPhone and likely she could use my Android but it’s a bit more technical. Which also translates to flexible? The android operating system has been the worst in 1 area in particular: connecting to older versions of Exchange Server. I assume this is part of the OS and due to its limitations; I had to move to a 20 dollar exchange email app which works great.

iPhone versus Windows 7 Phone

A few days ago I made the switch from Apple iPhone to Windows 7 Phone. The day it came out on AT&T. Not because I disliked my iPhone, but because this new OS will provide a glimpse of how Microsoft will compete for years to come in the explosive Smartphone revolution. I thought I would write about my experience. I have not read any instructions on the device (same as iPhone experience). Both Apple and Windows devices have a significant focus on the younger market (games, social networking, music). I don’t intent to provide any feedback on the features of either system in most of these areas with the exception of Facebook. Facebook has a very deep relationship within the Windows Phone experience. I believe this strategy could drive a major benefit as there are many aspects of the mobile lifestyle that can rely on your definition of “friends” and I expect many revolution applications to drive this forward in the near future.