The Internet is such a ubiquitous part of our life, especially with the staggering range of devices connected to it. Not just smart phones and tablets, but such things home automation allowing you to control your house's lights and thermostat from across the globe, cameras that can instantly upload pictures for viewing by your friends and family wherever they are, and ordering goods from "local" artists that are local to another continent.
All this started from the submission of a proposal to CERN for a distributed information system submitted 10,000 days ago as of 28 June, 2016. That Sunday, on 12 March of 1989, saw a truly life changing idea be born.
IT Expertise by Allegro's President
A founding member of Allegro, Mike Lonski has built his 4GL programming expertise in Progress since 1986. Starting in Progress version 3.2, Mike has successfully completed projects in locations ranging from the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol Building to manufacturing shops all over the North American continent. Mike is an internationally known speaker on Progress RDBMS topics and author of Coding Smart, the Progress ADM2 book. His forte is in interfacing between real-world user requirements and technically-oriented solutions. Mike has taught, mentored and presented on Progress topics, small project estimation, and UI design on five continents. Mike also applies his technical and executive skills towards open-source applications. He is a skilled implementer, trainer, and process manager for SugarCRM application software and technical editor for the recently published edition of SugarCRM for Dummies.
The writing was on the wall last year that Google and other search engines were putting more and more emphasis on the mobile responsiveness of web sites. This is important for more informational sites such as our own Allegro site but it is critical for those companies that sell products directly over the web. If your rankings are reduced, your customers may likely find someone else to buy from instead of you.
As of this spring, Google changed their search algorithms to provide greater weight to responsive web design. Fortunately , they also then provided helpful tools to test your site such as their Mobile Friendly Test. Initially Google stated that this would only impact the ranking of mobile sites and not the more typical "desktop" sites but the true impact was quickly felt. Within the first week of implementation, pages on mobile sites were getting a huge spike in their presence on search engine results versus "desktop" sites using the same keywords.
The morale of the story is to make sure you pay attention to your Google tools and analytics. Make sure this new paradigm in search ranking doesn't leave you behind.
E-commerce, the buzzword for looking something up on the Internet and purchasing it, has never been just about the random consumer. Businesses too search for goods and services and buy them on-line all the time. The brand engagement firm Sullivan created a nice infographic recently about the growth of B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce, estimating B2B online sales to top $1.1T (yes, trillion) by 2020. 9 out of 10 execs purchase business products online with half of them buying a competing product to what they originally searched for because the competition made it easier to purchase.
You can find more details as well as the infographic here
Buy versus build is a discussion that comes up a lot in the IT and management field, especially if you are a consulting firm like Allegro. The problem with "buy" is that it is never that easy. The question should really be "integrate versus invent" as no matter how cookie cutter your new IT application, it will have to be connected with the rest of your IT infrastructure to truly be of any value to your business.
This article from InformationWeek looks at the hidden impact in losing technical expertise for companies that too blindly pursue an "always buy" mentality. While you do not want to painfully build everything yourself, you will need that expertise to skillfully integrate any bought IT system with the rest of your business infrastructure and then extend it to reflect and enhance the unique benefits that your company offers over your competitors.
This is why we at Allegro have turned to open source applications such as the world leading Magento eCommerce platform. Your "buy" choice can start with a baseline Magento installation that has all the core eCommerce functionality necessary. Supplement that with the "build" addition of targeted modules and custom enhancements and integration, whether from your internal staff or quality consulting firms such as Allegro. This type of strong integration and customization is where companies really stand out.
We here at Allegro are very excited to see the ongoing maintenance releases for Joomla! with their latest 3.3.1 release in June of 2014. We have found Joomla! to be a very powerful content management platform and this most recent update further demonstrates the communities ongoing contributions to this product.
You can read the details of this release in these release notes.
Magento, the world leading open source e-Commerce solution, has made the difficult decision to shut down their Magento Go offerings. This is to allow them to focus their efforts and resources on developing their core Magento product and get away from offering a hosting solution. They are no longer accepting new accounts and will be shutting the service down altogether on February 1, 2015.
As a business owner, I can understand the difficulty in making such a tough decision but I applaud them for focusing back on what they do best. We here at Allegro have had great success in using their products for our own clients, implementing in such diverse areas as furniture sales, organic health food products, plumbing supplies and direct B2B interactions.
I am looking forward to seeing the results of this new focus in the coming year. You can read more about Magento Go and their plans on their site.
Everyone loves a good buzz word. All too often, this love affair leads to assumptions and misplaced trust and we all have heard about what happens when you assume.
Last month, a code hosting and project management service provider was forced to shut down because of failure to use common sense. They advertised full redundancy and kept not only client information in their Amazon EC2 cloud but also backups of that same information. Unfortunately it seems they did not have redundant backups stored elsewhere. While Amazon's EC2 services protected them (as expected) from random failure, they were not protected when attackers hacked into their accounts and, after a failure to extort money, proceeded to delete their various client snapshots, SVN and GIT repositories, server instances and other critical data and backups.
Like any other service, putting something into "the cloud" has its benefits but should never be considered the silver bullet to resolve all of your worries.
I have been developing, designing and breaking things in the Progress and OpenEdge world for over 25 years now. Even so, there's always a chance to learn something new. This can be especially startling when you have to question foundational knowledge. You know, those facts and details that make up the underpinning of your domain of expertise.
I had an opportunity to question my own foundation of knowledge this morning when I was brought into a discussion of how indexes are selected by the OpenEdge engine. This is an area where I am something of an expert. I have presented on this topic numerous times over the years and always manage to shake people up by showing them how what they think may be true is actually not the case. The point is always to increase the depth of their knowledge and enable them to be more accurate in the future when writing queries and examining performance issues.
Progress states their index selection criteria as a set of 7 simple rules along with how adjunct rules about when multiple indexes are selected. Unfortunately it isn't as simple as a couple of basic rules because there are unwritten exceptions and further details. Most developers will never run into these problems. Those of us that do will hopefully have a bottle of aspirin handy.
But look, I learned something!
The new SugarCRM v7 (out in late 2013) has a greatly improved forecasting module. Just a few of the new features include:
- Real-time reporting on distance to quota
- Inline editing on worksheet
- Make and save forecast drafts before committing a specific scenario to the sales manager
- Aggregated in-forecast revenue and break up across quarters/months with selected time periods
Catch a preview of from the v7 beta hosted on our SugarCRM Youtube channel.
SugarCRM made an announcement during the first week of September about their integration with Google's new "Conversion Import" feature. This integration will enable customers that use Google AdWords to drive traffic to their site an improved ability to connect online and offline conversion rates.
As part of their process in overhauling much of the user interface for version 7 of SugarCRM, the home page's dashlets were one obvious target for upgrade. Take a look at this video where Allegro shows you a pre-beta impression of the new look and feel.
How much is a video worth?
As someone that grew up in the "Show Me" state, I am a firm believer in being able to see and handle something that I wish to learn about. To that end, Allegro has set up a YouTube channel dedicated to information about customer relations management in general and SugarCRM in particular.
Feel free to head over to Allegro's CRM Experts Channel
Allegro celebrated 20 years of business in June of 2013. It has been a long journey with many changes along the way. One of the latest changes is turning our attention to our own "house" and building a new website, complete with blogs such as this.
Allegro has been a partner with SugarCRM almost since their first released version. As we have grown together, we have gained great expertise in helping our clients succeed with this world-class customer relations management solution.
I hope you read along as we share thoughts, best practices, tips and tricks we have learned over the years.