IT Expertise by Allegro's President

Can you remember life before the Internet?

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.



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Why mobile sites are more critical then ever

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.

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On-line B2B sales to top $1T by 2020

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

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"Buy vs Build" should be "Integrate vs Invent"

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.

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Joomla! 3.3.1 released in June to keep 3.3 going strong

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.

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Magento Go shut down to allow focus on core development

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.

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Want to read about SaaS, mobile computing, cloud and more?

Whether it is relaxing by the pool enjoying vacation with your family or filling in time while traveling to yet another client site, many of us turn to books to fill in this time.  If we're feeling motivated, these books are business or technology related to help us keep current in our professional life.

Progress is providing an unexpected boost to anyone looking for that next inspiration.  As part of their revamped website, they have started a book club to poitn out new releases in such areas as SaaS, mobile computing, social media and more.

Take a look at the OpenEdge Book Club to grab the leading chapter of these recommended books and start reading today.

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Don't let the "cloud" blind you to common sense

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.

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Progress User Group: OpenEdge Mobile

On October 22, 2013 Allegro Consultants hosted the Progress User Group meeting with guest speaker Peter Judge, Principal Software Engineer with Progress Software. The topics included Horizontal Table Partitioning and OpenEdge Mobile. With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular, this topic has generated much excitement with our attendees and the majority of the business world as well. More than ever companies are taking a serious look at how they can get a piece of the action. Mobile applications allow people to use free time while out and about to search a specific item, comparison shop, and make purchases online. If a business does not have a mobile application, they may be missing out on opportunities to gain new business.

OpenEdge Mobile makes it possible to connect potential customers to the OpenEdge business logic your company uses every day. OpenEdge Mobile provides everything you need to develop apps for Android and iOS platforms. Mobile applications can be developed easily from the Progress Developer Studio. Design your app using drag and drop functionality to sculpt your user interface. OpenEdge Mobile gives you the ability to add your progress code, your own security protocols, so that your users can access your data. OpenEdge Mobile offers an express setup allowing you to have a basic setup up and running in minutes, offering testing to see your work in action, and a QR code to scan and see your handiwork on your own mobile device.

There are three different types of mobile applications, Native, Hybrid, and Mobile Web app. Native apps are specific to one particular device, which would require building an app for each specific operating system. This type of application would allow full access to features of the device, and distribution of the app on the AppStore, allowing restricted distribution of the app.

The hybrid app is one that would allow you to develop one app for a specific group of devices. Hybrid applications are device specific and use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. This allows you work with most of the capabilities of the device, and you would also be able to distribute your app on the AppStore, but allow restricted access to the app.

The Mobile Web App uses HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript and allows you to develop one app for any device. For this app to work there must be an internet connection available. The access to device capabilities is diminished, and there is no native AppStore for distribution or restricting access to the app.  

OpenEdge Mobile uses the Hybrid App model which uses the native container and the web application as well. There is no need to learn new programming languages or purchase a specific computer to develop your app. Using the Hybrid approach also allows you to market your app in AppStores your customers are familiar with making it accessible to a wider audience. A hybrid application also gives you access to more functionality of the user’s device which gives a richer experience to the end user.

There are some expenses involved in going mobile. OpenEdge Mobile is only available in version 11.2 and up, so you may need to upgrade your software. OpenEdge Mobile also requires licensing. Depending on the device you are developing for, there are fees to submit your app to Apple or Google as well. It is typically a once a year subscription, and the cost is relatively low.

Connecting a device to your business logic can be made using different techniques, but the use of REST is the recommended method. Typically in the past, SOAP was used to connect the data to the mobile device, but REST is much more flexible and easier to use.

OpenEdge mobile uses drag and drop for the functionality of buttons, maps, and other interface items. Just drag over the fields from the table you are accessing and assign them to the desired display location. Button actions and page calls are all done for you through the intuitive tools of OpenEdge Mobile. Mobile development is just one of the new additions to the Progress Software collection.  Join us for our next Progress Users Group meeting to learn more.

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There's always a chance to learn more

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.

My turn...

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!

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Forecasting in v7 takes a huge leap forward

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SugarCRM teams up with Google to make AdWords even better!

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.

You can read more about Google's Conversion import as well as see SugarCRM's initial press release on the topic.

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PUG Challenge Americas 2013 was a huge success

The 3rd annual PUG Challenge Americas was a great success with over 200 attendees from around the world.  As one of the executives that organize this user-lead conference, I am very proud of our success.

If you were unable to attend, you really should put it on your calendar for next year.  I hope to see you there!

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SugarCRM v7 has some impressive updates to dashboards

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If a picture is worth a thousand words...

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

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Welcome to our new readers

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.

Sincerely,

Mike

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