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The New Sound of Software – What Business Can Learn from Music

by Michael D. Croft — Posted in Technology on March 31, 2015

I’m 12 inches in diameter and made of vinyl, have 2 sides and a speed of 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. What am I? If you guessed obsolete, you’re partially correct. The answer is – an LP Record. Nostalgia aside, this music technology has been far surpassed compared to music technology today. Who could have imagined that music would become an intangible, digital medium?

When the world was consuming music through LP Records, it must have been unfathomable that thousands of songs would eventually fit into a device the size of a quarter and that music files would have no real physical properties. Not only has the evolution of music technology changed how we consume music, it has also revolutionized business and these models should serve as examples of what is possible.

For example, we now have the ability to consume music however and wherever we choose - from our desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, TV and MP3 players. We also have the ability to select only the songs we like, create our own playlists and rate and share music instantly with anyone, anywhere.

Why not create a new business software model that allows people to select pieces of software they like, assemble these pieces in their own virtual workplace, and interact with these virtual environments on any desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone regardless of operating system or screen size and from any location? We asked this question, then answered it by creating a first-of-its-kind Web App Ecosystem.

Work to Your Own Beat

Imagine you are an employee of ACME company and you are also taking classes at night for your MBA. During rare times of relaxation you like to read. Using our new proposed software model, you have the ability to engage with ACME, your University and read your books all from the same platform with a single login. The Ecosystem knows who you are and connects you to Web Apps relevant to you. You can access your platform the exact same way using your desktop or your tablet or your smartphone, thereby providing a consistent user experience perfectly adapted to the appropriate screen size.

These Web Apps can provide much of the same functionality as native apps, however, they go a step further. They are device agnostic and can be arranged and integrated with each other creating new applications altogether. Think of each Web App as a Lego® piece that can connect with other pieces to create entirely new structures.

This Ecosystem treats software not as a single, siloed software system, but as granular features and functions wrapped in new-breed, Web App technology with standardized interfaces. They are organized in customizable public or private libraries from which users can assemble their own virtual workplaces.

The architecture is sophisticated - it is a true SaaS SSO model however, it connects to external organizations, using a REST API, where proprietary logic resides for that organization, fostering the curation of custom content for each user of the Ecosystem. This helps maintain security semantics and distribute responsibility and load. The Ecosystem acts as a filter, connecting and authenticating you to the systems and Web Apps you want and need.

We now have the ability to consume software however and wherever we choose - from our desktops, laptops, tablet and smartphones. We also have the ability to select only the software pieces we like, create our own virtual workplace and rate and share information instantly with anyone, anywhere. Now that sounds good!

Michael D. Croft (@Michael_D_Croft) is Chairman & CEO at Volute Holdings Corporation, parent company to Volute Technologies. Michael has over 16 years of professional experience architecting enterprise software used by world-renowned companies. In 2012, he earned the 40 Under Forty award citing 40 professionals under the age of 40 making an impact on a local or national scale. Michael has been featured in various publications and speaking engagements, sharing his expertise on software development and methodologies.

To view Volute’s Web App Ecosystem brochure, visit http://www.volute.co/web-app-ecosystem.html​.

Volute | Web 5.0: Your Web
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Web 5.0: Your Web

Are You prepared for a Web that Knows You Better than You Know Yourself?

by Victoria Walsh — Posted in Technology on March 20, 2015

It’s only 9 am and I have already checked my personal and work email, perused social media, scanned the top stories on my browsers homepage, and researched the topic of my next article. The Web has become a seemingly natural part of our daily routines – wake up, check Facebook, eat breakfast, check email, shower, Google something you heard on the news…

The Web has become more ingrained in our lives with each passing phase of its evolution. We see where it has taken us from Web 1.0 until now, but what if the Web knew us better than we know ourselves? What if it knew exactly what you needed, without requiring you to perform a search?

This is where the web is headed.

Web 5.0 is already being called the Emotional Web. This version of the web will be about the emotional interaction between humans and computers. Using facial recognition, voice recognition, and wearable device, the Web will be able to perceive how you feel to deliver the right content.

Stay Where You Are - The Web will Come to You

Experts say the future of the web is predicted to be more about pushing content to users, rather than being pulled by the user. Currently the web is “pull-based.” We visit websites and download applications to access the information we want. In a “push-based” scenario, the Web will bring the information to you. You will less frequently make a conscious decision to use the Internet because services will naturally intervene at opportune moments.

This push economy will require personalized content and services that can be produced on-demand. Existing business models will have to change, affecting advertising, retailers, and even industries like education and health care. Patients will less frequently visit the doctor, opting instead of for self-diagnosing applications. Wearable devices may even detect early signs of illness of patients before they even realize themselves they are sick.

This personalization will create a shift from “the Web” to “YOUR Web.” The Web will look different for everyone, with interfaces personalized to the user.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all experience designed for the masses, you will be presented with information relevant to you based on your interests and preferences. As a result, Web pages will become less noisy, reducing the links and tabs you see and improving their quality. Your favorite websites will learn your habits and only show you the content you are interested in. Enterprise web applications will do the same - they will know who you are and reveal just the functions relevant to your individual role.

Personalizing with Web Technologies Today

Current technologies are already showing signs of this Web personalization. New web app technology allows users to choose the tasks and functions they need from their organization’s private app library and curate their own user experience. Virtual workplaces can be arrange with the web app that matter to them in workflows customized to their own unique productivity styles. Even if two users have the same job title, their virtual workplaces can look completely different depending on their personal priorities. In the future, technology may not require users to search the app libraries for what they need, but will automatically know what personalized apps to present them with.

Although Web 5.0 is still some time away, the technology is already here for businesses to start providing personalized user experiences. More information about the aforementioned solution can be found in this brochure: Enterprise Software, Apps & Integration - A First-of-its-Kind Web App Ecosystem

Volute | From Static to Ecstatic – Is the Web getting Emotional?
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From Static to Ecstatic – Is the Web getting Emotional?

by Michael D. Croft — Posted in Technology on March 19, 2015

Web technology has been advancing since the beginning of the internet and continues to do so, leading us into the predicted future of Web 5.0 – a version of the Web projected to share your feelings. It is progressing from a place where you request information to an entity that can recognize your feelings and adapt to your needs in the moment, based on your mood. But before you and your Web share tears over an unproductive day at the office, new Web technologies available today are renewing business models and changing how you use and engage with business software.

The Many Aliases of the Web

The general progression of the Web has been assigned informal names along the way, including static web, interactive web, semantic web and others. While the names are not exactly indicative of the features of the Web during these phases, they are a good gauge to understand the technology progression and a predictive indicator of where it’s headed. The Web has progressed from a static view of information to real-time engagement in which the Web can call upon Web Services to complete just about any task.

Web 3.5

We are currently in the chasm between Web 3.0 and Web 4.0. Web 3.0 is often described as the semantic Web or intelligent Web. W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium) states, “The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries”. This definition is a bit misleading. We are not yet at an age of Web evolution to fully leverage a common communication framework, however, it is in progress. Web services are programs architected to support a particular function and accessible using common Web protocols. These are the supporting components to allow a common framework of communication. Web 4.0 states something similar.

Web 4.0 is often characterized as WebOS (Web Operating System) - the entire Web being an operating system of information flows from any point to another. In technical speak, it is the dynamic search, introspection and invocation of location and implementation agnostic functions. A simple scenario demonstrates this concept:

Imagine you are placing an order online. You first login to an application and select your product of choice. This application shows you prices of the same product at other stores. You choose the best price. You enter your shipping address and billing information and purchase the product. You are then given an estimated delivery date and time. Several days later, your product is delivered.

This is a common scenario. Behind the scenes, several Web services were used to make this process happen. A group of Web services scoured the Web connecting to inventory systems of various companies to provide you a list of product price options. Another Web Service was called to collect your shipping address and another to collect your billing information. Another Web Service was used to process your credit card which called a scheduling Web Service to provide an estimated delivery date and time. Each Web Service could be located anywhere in the world – in the mysterious Cloud. Each Web Service was automatically called by another to perform a specific task. This is the beginning of a true WebOS.

This is where we are today. We have the ability to compose various workflows on demand based on our specific Web requests. What is not yet available, is a standardized communication framework to do so. However, the benefits of such a framework are significant. New Web technologies are being built to foster this type of model and are helping to develop new business models in the process.

It’s Getting Personal

Radical new business models will emerge with the next leap of the Web – Web 5.0. While still speculative, many are defining Web 5.0 as a Sensory and Emotive Web. A Web that can detect your mood, which influences your engagement style and preference for many things – work, shopping, research, play etc. New peripheral technology can integrate with your devices allowing them to perceive of what you feel. Cameras and microphones will evolve to be able to see and hear you and map behavioral characteristics. Sensors are already in smartphones that can detect your heart rate and make health recommendations. If engagement with the Web can become this personalized, the entire landscape of consumer and business applications will change and new business models will need to be created.

Final Thoughts

While some of this sounds like science fiction, it is already here in some capacity. Volute’s Web App Ecosystem is bringing business closer to this reality. The system knows who you are and proactively presents you with features and functions based on your organization, role and needs in the moment. It organizes all your business functions as web apps in your own private library, accessible from any computer or mobile device, worldwide. Volute’s Web App Ecosystem uses Web service design to implement a scalable and extensible solution to provide powerful features today while setting the foundation for what’s to come.

Michael D. Croft (@Michael_D_Croft) is Chairman & CEO at Volute Holdings Corporation, parent company to Volute Technologies. Michael has over 16 years of professional experience architecting enterprise software used by world-renowned companies. In 2012, he earned the 40 Under Forty award citing 40 professionals under the age of 40 making an impact on a local or national scale. Michael has been featured in various publications and speaking engagements, sharing his expertise on software development and methodologies.

Volute | “I Learn by Doing” – A Scary Phrase in Software Development
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“I Learn by Doing” – A Scary Phrase in Software Development

by Michael D. Croft — Posted in Technology on March 05, 2015

I often hear people say, “I learn by doing.” Certainly, practice makes better, but in a world moving at the speed of technology, learning by doing can be costly in terms of lost time and mistakes. Would you want a surgeon “learning by doing” surgery on you? I suspect not.

This introduces a bit of a conundrum; you don’t know what you don’t know, so how do you know what you should be “doing” without knowing?

In a fast moving, nimble software company like ours, we are always exploring the latest technologies to improve our products and our clients’ bottom line. This presents a challenge to keep pace with rapidly changing advances in technology while applying sound practices. How can one know what a sound practice is for technology that is not yet widely adopted?

It seems like there is no solution, but there is and it is not to learn by doing. It is learning by architecture and design, then master by doing. Semantically, technology is not changing as rapidly as it seems – the use of technology is. Yes, there are new inventions, however, most of these inventions are the aggregation of other known technologies and collectively form a new technology.

In our world, mobile devices, cloud computing and app technologies dominate. Still, these are not very new technologies. They are advancements in technology that have been around for some time and are aggregated uniquely to form new uses of technology. Take cloud computing and the “new” concept of composable business. At its core, this is using the internet to call applications. Not very sexy when explained this way. Yes, there are new features accessible for more mainstream uses such as pre-built libraries of web services, elastic applications and sophisticated mobile apps. However, the HTTP protocol has been around for quite some time now, and web services are just software programs that can be called using the HTTP protocol (and others). Mobile applications are programs built to run on a mobile operating system and a smaller screen size. These concepts foster a new way of thinking more so than being new technologies.

I am not downplaying these technologies, but it helps to understand that sound practices can be identified and applied to most new technologies even if they have not yet been widely adopted. Understanding architecture and design helps achieve this. As an enterprise software architect, my studies included core concepts for such things as design patterns, system patterns, interface specification design, threading and re-entrance, object and component design, layering, dependency injection, protocols, IDL, duplex communication, polymorphism, brokerage, event and notification models and more. These concepts are the building blocks for most legacy and modern software applications alike. If we can address more of these concepts in education for technology degrees, we would have better programmers and better software solutions. These concepts are taught for every design and development position at our company. When a newer technology is introduced, such as WebSockets, we can apply our knowledge of duplex communication and notifications and apply the semantics for that particular implementation.

Understanding the fundamental concepts and building blocks for such technologies helps to determine if newer technologies are a good strategic decision and implement those technologies without a need for extensive “trial and error” implementations – a.k.a. learning by doing. These are essential core skills required to move at the pace of technology and soundly implement advanced uses for technology. They are the foundation to help know what you don’t know.

Michael D. Croft (@Michael_D_Croft) is Chairman & CEO at Volute Holdings Corporation, parent company to Volute Technologies. Michael has over 16 years of professional experience architecting enterprise software used by world-renowned companies. In 2012, he earned the 40 Under Forty award citing 40 professionals under the age of 40 making an impact on a local or national scale. Michael has been featured in various publications and speaking engagements, sharing his expertise on software development and methodologies.

Volute has developed a first-of-its-kind Web App Ecosystem. Review our brochure to forever change how you think about software: http://www.volute.co/web-app-ecosystem.html​

Volute | A New Business Model – Participation
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A New Business Model – Participation

by Michael D. Croft — Posted in Technology on February 25, 2015

Old School is Out, New School is In

Having been part of large, top-down, thickly layered organizations, I am an advocate for new business models. Traditional organizations with a lot of middle management may still have a place in business, but a movement is afoot to delayer and divide labor, reducing middle management and putting the onus on self-managing staff, vendors, crowdsources and even customers to run operations.

You’re Working for Free

Most likely you have been a part of division of labor at some point – the last time you checked yourself out at the grocery store or paid for your meal via a tablet on your table or ordered a Happy Meal for your kids. All these tasks you performed as a consumer made you a part of a new business model – architecture by participation.

Business Can Learn from Software Architecture

New software models are moving towards ecosystem designs where success is garnered by distributed participation. These ecosystems aggregate functions that are managed via a specialized platform. The definition of an ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. In the context of software, an ecosystem is a community of interacting business functions and their virtual platform. An ecosystem is typically a multi-sided market with a core platform team and a community of developers building applications that plug into the platform. This model distributes the work, value and growth of the ecosystem to external resources.

New business models can leverage ecosystem concepts by distributing work, value and growth to self-managing staff and external resources including vendors, crowdsources and consumers. New tools are required to build such a business model. These tools are new software ecosystems that are built for this reason. They include core concepts such as private and public app (application) libraries, new device agnostic app technology, systems integration and a plug-n-play API for autonomous app integration. The ecosystem centralizes governance for the apps across all distribution methods and users.

Delayering Hierarchies

This model fosters delayering and flattening hierarchies and can improve customer experience. How? By allowing teams to self-manage via virtual workplaces with a central governance component. These workplaces are designed to be personalized to the user and their role within the organization. This reduces white noise and allows them to focus on tasks in the moment, creating more efficiency. The collaborative nature of the ecosystem allows real-time analysis of data and efficient communication methods. This helps reduce the need for middle management. Also, with device agnostic apps, teams can be decentralized while still collaborating on specific tasks.

Pushing other tasks to consumers is another powerful technique to flatten hierarchies, while improving consumer’s experience. Allowing the option for consumers to be proactive in the workflow process can reduce wait times and allow staff to focus on other matters. Can you identify tasks in your business model that can be pushed to consumers? The ecosystem fosters this capability by providing a consumer access role to the platform. The consumer can access an app library and execute consumer tasks in the same manner as employees. The same holds true for vendors and third-party affiliates.

Putting the Participation Model to Work

Your business may not be ready to dive full speed ahead into a model with no middle management (or maybe you are), but you can certainly leverage the benefits of architecture by participation by first thinking about the tasks and functions of your staff. Chances are there are several functions, especially those performed by middle management, which could be shared between people or departments to improve efficiency. The next step is a matter of implementing an ecosystem to support these changes in workflow.

Volute has developed a first-of-its-kind Web App Ecosystem empowering businesses to implement a model of participation. Visit www.Volute.co to learn more and request your demo.

Michael D. Croft (@Michael_D_Croft) is Chairman & CEO at Volute Holdings Corporation, parent company to Volute Technologies. Michael has over 16 years of professional experience architecting enterprise software used by world-renowned companies. In 2012, he earned the 40 Under Forty award citing 40 professionals under the age of 40 making an impact on a local or national scale. Michael has been featured in various publications and speaking engagements, sharing his expertise on software development and methodologies.

Volute | New Software is Still Old…but not for long
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New Software is Still Old…but not for long

Why the Way Software is Built Needs to Change and What is Being Done About it

by Michael D. Croft — Posted in Technology on February 21, 2015

A successful business is made up of people, each with special skills, who collaborate to achieve a unified goal. These people, with their special skills, are put into groups and each group works together for the collective good of the business. Taking this idea a step further, each person has their own personality and personal style of work. This is a necessary trait for a successful business – the diversity of people and style to challenge convention and foster ideation.

This is nothing new. Then why is it that the critical tools used by companies – software – are not built the same way? Why are we still purchasing software that looks and works the same for hundreds of people and is designed only to perform one set of functions? Why is software still built in silos – without an easy way to integrate with other software? Why are we still required to download a specific app that only works with a specific phone or tablet?

When we watched the movie “Back to the Future” in 1984, we thought for certain we would be in flying cars by 2015. This is obviously not the case and it doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. Our businesses do not have the luxury of stalling. If we stall, we do not exist.

I’ve asked these questions about business and software for years and thought there must be a better way, so I set out to find one. We will always be somewhat limited by the technology of our time as there will always be something new on the horizon. Perhaps we bypass flying cars altogether and teleport ourselves to Key West at will. Until then, to enjoy the palm trees and sandy beaches of Key West we must drive on the ground, sail the seas or fly in commercial jets.

This remains true for business. We cannot wait for the next best thing - we need to create and use what is perfect for us today. So, imagine this:

Image software not as individual products, but as individual functions. For example, don’t think about purchasing the next CRM, think about purchasing functions that are necessary and unique to your business for client relationship management. Then also think how those functions interact with other functions outside of client relationship management. Consider the tasks and functions of your staff - your teachers, doctors, field technicians, fleet drivers, directors, managers, sales reps, engineers, business analysts, executives, and so on. Think about the ways in which these people collaborate in and out of the office and between organizations.

Imagine a platform that fosters this type of thinking, fundamentally reshaping business. Every business - your business - has a private library of these functions that can be used to create a custom virtual workplace for each employee, vendor, partner, consultant and customer. These functions can be shared between people, departments and businesses.

Imagine the software companies you know – Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, PeopleSoft – making and selling functions, individually or as bundles, that you can use on any desktop, laptop, tablet, phablet and smartphone - interchangeably. More importantly, you can rapidly develop your own functions that are unique to your business and plug them into your private library, or even a public marketplace creating new revenue opportunities for your business. These functions connect with any system, anywhere in the world, to dynamically aggregate business solutions.

Software should not be about siloed, static products built as pages of information, forms and graphs. Software should be about assembling reusable functions to create your own work experience and workflows unique to your business and people. These functions should also be ubiquitous to the device you choose to use them on. It’s the unique things you offer as a business that keeps you successful and growing and so should the tools you use to run your business.

Volute has developed a first-of-its-kind Web App Ecosystem. Review our brochure to forever change how you think about software: http://www.volute.co/web-app-ecosystem.html​

Michael D. Croft (@Michael_D_Croft) is Chairman & CEO at Volute Holdings Corporation, parent company to Volute Technologies. Michael has over 16 years of professional experience architecting enterprise software used by world-renowned companies. In 2012, he earned the 40 Under Forty award citing 40 professionals under the age of 40 making an impact on a local or national scale. Michael has been featured in various publications and speaking engagements, sharing his expertise on software development and methodologies.

Volute | IoT Saves the Day, One Customer at a Time
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IoT Saves the Day, One Customer at a Time

An Uptick in Field Service IoT Adoption Makes its Impact

by Natalie Tomasso — Posted in Technology on January 21, 2015

A field technician arrives at a hospital to refill an MRI machine’s helium after the machine’s sensors sent an alert. His arrival was pre-determined by the hospital’s patient tracking technology, which indicated a lull in MRI usage.

While there, he receives another alert indicating coil damage. The technician goes to his van. He uses a portable 3D printer to print the exact coil he needs to replace. Once complete, he goes to the next job, having successfully prevented MRI downtime, improving patient care while minimally impacting the hospital’s operations.

This is just a glimpse of the future in terms of the way the Internet of Things (IoT) could impact field services, though current adoption rates indicate it’s not far off.

77% of field service survey respondents reported current use or a plan to deploy machine-to-machine (M2M) or IoT solutions in a 2015 Field Mobility Report. Most use M2M/IoT applications to remotely monitor their own equipment. About 37% use the applications to remotely monitor equipment serviced at customer sites.

Turning Repairmen into Superheroes

With remote monitoring, fixed schedules for routine maintenance become obsolete. By outfitting equipment and machinery with sensors, companies plan preventive maintenance at the first sign of stress. This reduces the cost of labor associated with fixed maintenance schedules, while improving equipment uptime.

This also frees up field technicians to:

  • Spend more time on tougher service call
  • Respond more quickly to a greater number of service calls
  • Improve their skills and knowledge
  • Become customer service superheroes

Taking Customer Service Up, Up and Away with IoT

One technology company is already getting results. It provides tank-level monitoring devices to the light industrial above-ground tank market. The company recently connected IoT technology to a service platform. The result: a centralized dashboard that visualizes all device health and connectivity information.

For customers, this platform:

  • Ensures a response to a problem before customers even know about it
  • Improves employee safety by eliminating the need for unnecessary trips to check network connections

For the company, this platform:

  • Creates a new service, contributing greater revenue
  • Doubles the installed base without the need to add support personnel

If IoT and M2M adoption continues at this rate, we could witness the day when a drone arrives at the site of a new installation, takes measurements, self-deploys its connection to the IoT and begins collecting data on its performance – all while a service agent monitors the installation remotely.

Follow us on LinkedIn or @VoluteTech for resources on IoT, M2M, enterprise mobility, cloud solutions, big data, BYOD, app development and more.

Volute | 5 Ways Manufacturers Use the Cloud to Thrive
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5 Ways Manufacturers Use the Cloud to Thrive

From Two-Tier ERP to Supplier Portals, the Advantages Can’t Be Ignored

by Natalie Tomasso — Posted in Technology on January 19, 2015

The challenges facing manufacturers seem crushing.

Narrowing profit margins, greater competition, inefficient product development, IT barriers in new markets combined with political instability, currency fluctuations, natural disasters and other threats to global supply chains plague manufacturers today.

New cloud technologies provide hope, which is why this article is the first of a 6-part series about the cloud’s impact on manufacturing. It starts with a broad overview of cloud adoption – the top 5 ways manufacturers use the cloud to thrive:

1. Cloud ERP

About 45% of manufacturers plan to implement a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the next 5 years, according to a recent Gartner Research Circle survey. They are trading their legacy, on-site ERPs for:

  • Faster deployment, with some system deployments as fast as 8-12 week
  • Annual savings on IT development and customization, as much as $360,000
  • Increased efficiency with automated processes such as product allocation

Manufacturers with cloud ERPs report the ability to make continuous improvements based on real-time data as a key benefit. Order processing that used to take 8-20 minutes now takes 30 seconds, for example.

2. Two-tier ERP

Manufacturers looking to launch new products or enter new markets at a faster pace are implementing two-tier ERP systems. MintJutras predicts SaaS-based manufacturing and distribution software adoption will increase from 22% in 2013 to 45% by 2023. The catalyst of which will be driven by two-tier ERP system adoption.

Two-tier ERP often involves keeping an on-premise ERP as the primary system at headquarters while implementing cloud ERPs at new plants and subsidiaries. Manufacturers with two-tier ERP report several benefits:

  • Centralized visibility and control over multiple plants and subsidiaries
  • Quicker deployment for new global subsidiaries
  • Easier subsidiary and global financials consolidation

3. Cloud-based analytics and BI platforms

There is an increasing need to capitalize on internal intelligence in real-time to improve processes and outcomes. This drives the adoption of cloud-based analytics and business intelligence (BI) in manufacturing.

Cloud-based analytics and BI platforms give executives and senior management:

  • An easy way to quickly view and manipulate data for greater insight
  • Custom reports and dashboards that any user can generate without IT assistance
  • Visibility into how production improvements yield greater profits

4. Cloud-based integration platforms

Cloud-based integration platforms are an alternative to building in-house B2B integration platforms that connect business partners electronically. Manufacturers adopting them as a standard network for B2B ecommerce connections find:

  • A reduction in the cost of maintaining disparate, global electronic data interchange (EDI) networks
  • Streamlined and improved support services

5. Supplier portals

Manufacturers adopting cloud-based supplier portals gain greater control over supplier-related activities including delivery times, order cycle time, production status and inventory control. Other benefits are:

  • Better two-way communication between suppliers and manufacturers
  • Suppliers are more accountable and performing at a high-level

New cloud-based platforms evolve each day to provide even more agile solutions for collaboration, mobility, analytics and business intelligence. The next 5 installments will go into further detail, outlining both the benefits and challenges facing manufacturers adopting the cloud today.

Volute | Finding a Cure for Hospitals’ Operational Inefficiencies
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Finding a Cure for Hospitals’ Operational Inefficiencies

How the Cloud Transforms Health IT

by Natalie Tomasso — Posted in Technology on January 15, 2015

Nurses hoarding catheters. Storage rooms filled with expired supplies. A map of patients drawn in removable marker on a white board outside an intensive care unit.

Situations like these stem from a lack of efficiency, costing money and lives. Some healthcare organizations turn to the cloud for answers. 30% of health IT decision makers use cloud apps and services, according to a recent cloud adoption survey. 41% of clinicians report routine use of multiple devices like smartphones, tablets and desktops in a 2014 report.

Does this mean the tide is turning? It should. Hospital CIOs face an increasing demand for data, both from internal and external stakeholders, to drive operational improvements.

Finding the cure for inefficiencies in inventory management, patient admissions, discharge planning, etc. starts with big data. This brings about new challenges like data standardization, data cleansing and data integration.

This data exists in several disparate systems, making it difficult to use quickly to inform decisions. Hospitals need a way to integrate, visualize and interact with data to improve operations, and this innovation starts in the cloud.

How Cloud Platforms Cure Interoperability Issues

Hospitals depend on several software systems to operate efficiently, yet few systems are interoperable. New cloud technology platforms remedy the issue utilizing cloud-based applications that integrate with legacy systems and each other.

For example, Mayo Clinic uses an Electronic Medical Record (EHR) system, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and an internally-built Surgery Information Management System (SIMS) to manage supplies at the point of patient care.

If Mayo Clinic utilized mobile web apps that integrate with each other in addition to internal and external systems, a surgical nurse could enter every supply used during a procedure into a single app that could update both the EHR and SIMS – simplifying workflows and reducing redundancy.

Hospitals could use inventory management apps that integrate with internal systems, like Mayo’s SIMS, and EHRs to provide a real-time view of inventory, alerting charge nurses and other staff before items run out.

A Cloud-Powered Remedy for Lost Time

Hospitals waste an average of 33 minutes per patient admission, 35 minutes per patient transfer and 40 minutes per emergency response team coordination per patient, according to a 2014 survey of 400 U.S. healthcare providers.

Those 108 wasted minutes per patient cost each hospital about $1.7 million annually. 54% of respondents blame a dependency on pagers, email, faxes and other outdated technology to communicate.

New cloud solutions remedy this by providing mobile platforms from which users can share patient flow apps with each other instantly from their desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones – eliminating the need for email, pagers and faxes.

The cloud’s potential to transform health IT is burgeoning as mounting regulation and market pressures demand hospitals to be more efficient. Is your hospital ready?

Volute | The Data Mined Student
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The Data Mined Student

Pursuing Student Data of All Kinds to Improve Education

by Victoria Walsh — Posted in Technology on January 13, 2015

Today’s students are monitored more closely than ever before.

A student completes an assignment in the computer lab, each keystroke tracked by the software he has logged into. He eats in the cafeteria where his meal selection is recorded and later attends a school sporting event, scanning his student ID to check-in. Each move he makes provides his school with more data.

With the big data wave hitting education, schools are beginning to find new ways to extract value from student data previously overlooked. The data being collected, visualized and analyzed goes beyond the traditional test scores, course history, financials and health information schools have always tracked.

With a wider variety of data at their disposal, school administrators and faculty are gaining insights about student performance, preference and engagement.

Ensuring Student Success through Big Data

Georgia State University (GSU) is one school using data beyond test scores to create a better educational experience. Using predictive analytics, GSU analyzes student performance in prior courses and advises students on majors at which they are most likely to excel. As a result of understanding its students’ strengths, 1,200 more students are staying in school at GSU every year.

In other schools, the fitness of students is being tracked in physical education classes and outside of school to promote well-being.

Researchers from John Hopkins Medicine knew the trick to get high school students to stay active. Give them fun technology. Lakewood High School students in St. Petersburg, FL are participating in a new program that encourages healthy habits through the use of FitBits. The data opens up a dialogue in the school community about eating right and staying active. To keep students on track, a text or Twitter message providing healthful tips is sent when activity drops.

It Starts with the Right Tools

The ability to analyze students in new ways requires new thinking about collecting and integrating data. Mobile technology offers a key tool for such pursuits.

Teachers can leverage smartphones and tablets in classrooms allowing for more personalized experiences with their students and real-time data analysis. Using mobile applications they can view submitted assignments, track how long students spent reading digital course materials, and conduct polls that provide immediate feedback of who needs extra help.

How can educators make the most of this knowledge?

It takes new ways to visualize, interact with and share the data. It takes a secure, roles-based platform that centralizes traditional data like grades and attendance records in addition to information on home life, engagement in extracurricular activities, and other less-conventional student data. When pieced together this information forms a holistic profile of a student.

This type of platform is not only beneficial to faculty and administrators. Students and parents can also reap the benefits of readily accessible data and tools to make educated decisions and connect with each other in a social learning network.

There is immense potential for data driven approaches in education and we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg. Equipped with the technology to visualize, analyze and share real-time data in new ways, faculty, administrators, and even students and parents will be able to take immediate action that drives even greater engagement and achievement. We may even see a world where education is custom tailored to each student based on data derived about his or her personal learning style. The technology is available now, it is just a matter of whether and how we use it.

Call Volute at 888-316-6303 or email sales@volute.co. You can also follow us on LinkedIn or @VoluteTech.

Volute | The One Time it’s Ok to Shop Online at Work
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The One Time it’s Ok to Shop Online at Work

What You Need to Know Before Implementing an Enterprise App Store

by Victoria Walsh — Posted in Technology on December 15, 2014

More options and fast convenient access to what you want…

These are the elements that draw us to online shopping and the reasons why this practice is making its way into the workplace in the form of enterprise app stores.

By 2017 Gartner predicts 1 in 4 enterprises will have an enterprise app store, but what you may not realize is they lack critical features. We’ll tell you what they are, and how to implement them in your own marketplace of enterprise applications.

Benefits (and Risks) of an Enterprise App Store

Forward-thinking businesses recognize the potential of taking the app store, a consumer technology, and leveraging it to control what applications are used within their organization. Companies embrace this consumerization of IT to:

1. Double down on security

Data security is often the number one concern for businesses, and rightly so. According to a recent Mobile Enterprise article, 70% of Millennials use personal devices and apps for work-related tasks, even when it’s against corporate policy.

Enterprise app stores provide employees with a user-friendly alternative and make it simple to find enterprise-approved applications. Knowing the correct applications have already been vetted leaves out question as to what app and version to download.

Problem:

Even with the right applications, your data can still be at risk. Native apps often store data on the device they are installed on, putting your business information in jeopardy on tablets and smartphones that are easily lost or stolen.

2. Meet employee expectations

Employees are happier and more productive at work using the same devices and technologies they use at home - especially Millennials, who are expected to account for half of the global workforce by 2020, according to PwC. Already familiar with Apple’s App Store and Google Play, using an enterprise app store to download the tools they need for work is an easy policy to adhere to.

Problem:

Most apps are not device agnostic, meaning they do not work across operating systems or on different types of devices. To reach all users, multiple, costly native mobile apps must be developed.

3. Increase productivity

The best apps keep employees engaged and increase productivity and efficiency, giving users reasons to be excited about using enterprise provided applications vs. looking elsewhere. Development teams are encouraged to continually strive to develop new, better apps to keep users coming back.

Problem:

Even with the most talented developers, apps can only increase productivity so much. Since apps do not integrate well with each other or your systems, employees must still access several systems throughout the day.

Solutions to Common App Store Problems

Companies can overcome the issues faced by enterprise app stores with a secure web and mobile solution that ingrates with any business system or service.

1. Keeps your information secure

Use a store for web-based applications that keeps your corporate data safely in your own system. A secure solution will retrieve your data from your system long enough for you to work with it, but will not store it on your device where it is easily breached.

2. Reach every user

Create a cloud-based marketplace of applications that are accessible from every desktop and mobile device, regardless of operating system. Applications built with RWD (responsive web design) will adapt to fit any screen size, reaching anyone using any desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

3. Access a network of collaborating functions

Interact with your data and functions through Volute Apps, a new web app technology. Volute Apps are better suited than traditional apps to integrate with each other and your third-party systems and cloud services. They foster the creation of a single intelligent network of collaborating functions you can access from a single platform – saving you time and increasing efficiency. Read this article on wPaaS for more information about Volute Apps and their benefits.

Acquiring a solution like the one described above is easier than you think. All these features are built into Volute, a customizable enterprise web app marketplace and platform that takes the app store to the next level. What to know more? Visit www.Volute.co, call 888.316.6303, or email us at sales@volute.co to request a demo.

Volute | You Collect Your Data from Where?!
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You Collect Your Data from Where?!

Collecting Big Data for Competitive Advantage and How to Avoid Overload

by Victoria Walsh — Posted in Technology on November 19, 2014

All over the country license plates are scanned on streets and in parking lots by a network of hidden cameras. Chances are your car has been caught on camera without your knowledge.

The purpose is to find the vehicles of people delinquent on their payments, but some companies store data about every plate they scan and sell it to insurance companies, financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and the like.

At schools, data collected about students ranges from what they order in the cafeteria using their IDs to every keystroke they make during digital lessons, providing a holistic view of each student for faculty, staff, parents, and even educational software companies.

These are just a two examples of the many ways data is mined. However, the real story is not where big data comes from - it’s how you can sift through all this information to find what you need.

The Challenge with Big Data

Big data streams from everywhere - systems, sensors, mobile devices, email, and social media.

In the upcoming decade, the trillions of devices connected to the Internet will generate brontobytes of data, according to big data strategist Mark van Rijmenam. To put that in perspective, one brontobyte is equivalent to 1030 bytes or more than all the grains of sand on 100 million Earths.

The truth is more data doesn’t necessarily give you better results. Too much data can actually lead to the inability to pick out the most important information to make better decisions that create value for your business and customers.

The technology platforms you choose will determine how well your teams are able to leverage all this data to drive results. As a result, companies increasingly look for new kinds of software and platforms to give them an edge in this big data revolution.

Position Your Business in the Big Data Revolution

wPaaS™, or Widget Platform as a Service, is a new technology movement helping organizations manage the massive influx of data they receive every day.

wPaaS sets the standard for a new breed of web apps called Widgets. Widgets provide a standardized way to visualize and interact with data and business functions, creating a practical, human-readable way to consume information from your systems. Widgets integrate with any system or service and each other, forming a network of collaborative functions that empower users with real-time data visualizations.

Using wPaaS, your Widgets are able to be centrally organized and categorized, such as in a private marketplace. When categorized effectively, large amounts of data are more easily processed by humans. wPaaS is also an implementation for “composable business,” allowing you to arrange and group your data as you choose. This makes it possible to cut unnecessary or redundant information, minimizing sensory overload - a side-effect of big data.

Focus on the data that matters most to make the best decisions for your business and customers. To learn how your organization can leverage wPaaS, visit www.Volute.co, call 888-316-6303, or email sales@volute.co and request a demo of Volute™.

Volute | The Software Revolution You’re Missing Out On
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The Software Revolution You’re Missing Out On

Introducing wPaaS

by Michael Croft — Posted in Technology on October 17, 2014

You’ve heard of SaaS, PaaS, mPaaS and iPaaS, but chances are you have not yet heard about wPaaS. wPaaS is Widget Platform as a Service.

We understand the movement towards composable business and the idea of breaking apart large, siloed systems into smaller, fine-grain business functions that can be composed on-the-fly to derive unique business processes; this makes sense and its benefits are easily understood. This revolution taking place in our industry offers incredible advantage and moves us further into a digital revolution.

However, there is no standardized way to interact with these components. The one significant piece missing in all of this is exactly how human beings are best able to consume this information and maximize their productivity and efficiency.

What good is a revolution of powerful, globally distributed business functions when there is no unified way to integrate with them or interact with these functions in a human readable way? This is the major gap wPaaS fills.

Setting a Standard with Widgets

Widgets are a new way to integrate with and display information from services. They set a standard for maximizing the power of services and interacting with the information they provide.

A Widget is a 3D representation of service data as beautiful graphics and elegant, interactive forms. It can be rotated and flipped with a click or a touch to expose new “faces.” A Widget can represent different data on each face, or different views of the same data.

A Widget is shareable and offline capable. It can be “opened” to expose what’s inside, which includes a detailed representation of the display on one of its multiple faces. A Widget can also contain other Widgets for even further introspection of information.

Another major characteristic of a Widget is the fact that it can be rendered on any desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. As it uses the latest browser technologies, it offers significant power and in many cases eliminates the need for a separate native application for mobile devices.

The PaaS part of wPaaS is a Platform that allows interaction and integration with Widgets. It is the ecosystem within which Widgets can operate to their full capability. The Platform is cloud-based and acts as a centralized marketplace of Widgets. As these Widgets are visual representations of service data, wPaaS truly offers a game-changing shift in the industry to allow organizations to maximize competitive advantage with reduced costs and time-to-market.

Widgets for all Business Software

wPaaS is the next generation of software as it allows a unified and standard way to interact with disparate, composable functions or services. It fosters competitive advantage as it allows full customization in a standardized way. The same Widgets can be referenced from a Widget Marketplace but assembled differently by different organizations, producing unique result sets.

wPaaS encourages a vision of all relevant business software having a wPaaS version. Just as major software providers offer mobile native app versions of their products for each device, soon they will be offering Widget versions for all devices.

Volute embodies wPaaS, with a mission to standardize a global network of collaborating software that improves human capacity and quality of life through efficiency.

Visit www.Volute.co, call 888.316.6303 or email sales@volute.co to talk about how you can join the wPaaS movement.