Future of Enterprise Resource Planning Software for Organizations

To get a view of future scenario of enterprise resource planning software it is necessary to understand the present scenario of ERP in terms of its optimum utilization, ignored areas and untouched sectors. ERP has become an integral part of business today due to its proven benefits and huge capacities but it is very easily evident that there is much to be explored and need to give up a previously set goal.

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Gone are the days when ERP software was meant for large and big business organizations only which have capacity of investing money in millions. Today with the introduction of SaaS model, ERP on demand and cloud computing, ERP software has come in the reach of small and medium sized companies which has opened gates for ERP vendors to capture new markets. Simply reduced cost, integration and interaction of different departments, capacity to work with different set of rules and regulation, multi currency, multi lingual, web store and SFA are not just the features which are going to suffice the needs of small and medium sized companies.

More dominant role in strategic planning is one of those areas which may see a lot of change in future versions of ERP software. Till today even though a lot of hype has been created by the vendors about this feature but due to one or the other reasons user have not shown trust and courage to rely on the planning which is supported or chalked out largely by their enterprise resource planning software. Utilization of resources at the disposal of the software can help organizations in much more effective way than today, particularly small and medium sized companies are going to be benefited by this feature as they have less to invest on hiring planners compared to large organization.

Another area which might see some positive changes in enterprise resource planning software is budgeting. Many ERP users are still using conservative systems for calculating and sanctioning of budgets for different processes and activities. Perhaps ERP vendors in near future might bring in new ways and solutions to resolve the problem of budgeting.

More of cost effective offers and better SaaS models are expected in near future as all the giants of ERP industry are now trying to fish in the small and medium sized market where companies does not have kind of enormous budget to spend on IT infrastructure and ERP software purchase and implementation. Subscriptions will get more and more lenient and user friendly to draw in more and more users from this sector. Cloud computing promises most till date as far as future planning and developments are concerned.

Perhaps the biggest change that might be in store of future is goodbye to the concept of one single enterprise resource planning software to provide well integrated, seamless working in a large organization where all the departments are knitted together through single application. The future ERP software will be more like a network of applications designed specifically for a particular department of the organization like CRM, SCM and financial management where they are used with a top quality infrastructure enabling them to interact and exchange information in real time.

How 21Vianet Is Leading the Way for Cloud Computing Growth in China

Chinese Internet data center services provider 21Vianet is breaking new ground in an effort to provide best-in-class, cloud-based solutions and services required by China’s largest enterprise organizations.

Who is 21Vianet?

21Vianet, which operates in 44 cities across China, is China’s largest carrier-neutral Internet data center services provider. The company offers typical Internet data center services such as hosting, content delivery network services, managed network services, and cloud infrastructure services. 21Vianet maintains an extensive fiber optic network and uses its own smart routing technology to deliver data reliably and efficiently.

Like other large Internet data center services providers, 21Vianet is increasingly embracing cloud computing. In fact, 21Vianet’s two recent partnerships are positioning 21Vianet as a leader for cloud computing growth in China.

21Vianet Partners with Major Technology Providers

Earlier this year, the company invested in Aipu Group, one of China’s largest regional ISPs. As a result, 21Vianet now owns about half of the company and is its largest single shareholder.

The Aidu Group investment was but one of several strategic moves 21Vianet made. 21Vianet has recently partnered with major technology providers including Microsoft, Huawei, IBM, and Aryaka:

    • Aryaka – This deal incorporated Aryaka’s private network of distributed POPs to 21Vianet’s infrastructure. With Aryaka’s point of presences in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xi’an, 21Vianet’s customers have access to a dedicated private core network and accelerated services. According to Aryaka, “The Aryaka Fusion Program provides service providers with the ability to leverage their own assets – the rack space in their datacenter and the bandwidth they deliver as an ISP. Seamlessly combining the regional footprint with the larger global Aryaka network makes an Aryaka partner a global player in an instant, with no upfront investment.”
    • Microsoft – 21Vianet extended its relationship with Microsoft by adding Microsoft WebDirect payments to the Azure cloud. WebDirect allows customers to order Microsoft Windows Azure products and services online and prepay for them with UnionPay and Alipay.
    • Huawei – Huawei promises to increase 21Vianet’s cloud service provision by tenfold. This deal gives 21Vianet a commercial software defined networking (SDN) enabled network. Huawei and 21Vianet are collaborating on developing an agile traffic engineering solution to optimize network traffic and allow for more flexible data center interconnections. Its recent Huawei deployment is located at eight of its data centers with plans to expand the SDN deployment to more than 40 more data centers across China in the next phase.
  • IBM – 21Vianet and IBM announced the launch of IBM Cloud Managed Services in China. This partnership will allow Chinese businesses to access a variety of IBM’s solutions and capabilities beyond the hypervisor level.

21Vianet has been busy over the past six months forging partnerships with major technology providers such as Microsoft, IBM, and Aryaka. Collectively, these partnerships tell a story, one of vision, leadership, and growth in the area of cloud computing in China.

Excel Tip – How To Generate Random Numbers In Excel

Excel has a great built in function for generating random numbers. This function in Excel can be used for lots of reasons, but one of the main reasons I tend to generate random numbers is to populate and test Excel worksheets as I develop them. If I am developing a spreadsheet solution then it is great for giving my formulas and functionality a great workout. It can help identify any issues with formulas or calculation.

For example, say we want to generate a list of random numbers for sales figures for a fictional company to test a spreadsheet solution. We want to generate and use for testing a range of numbers between 10,000 to 100,000. This will represent how many business leads each of our fictional sales employees Excel’s built in random number generator is ‘RANDBETWEEN’.

This formula will allow you to specify the range of numbers Excel has to pick from. The syntax for the formula is as below

=RANDBETWEEN(BOTTOM,TOP)

BOTTOM – This represents the lowest or bottom number the function should use in the calculation

TOP – This represents to the highest or top number the function should use in the calculation

Let’s apply this to the example above- the number of sales leads our sales people have generated so we can test our Excel solution we are building.

There are two ways to get to the =RANDBETWEEN function in Excel, you can either

  1. Select the first cell tha you want to insert a random number into- let’s say in cell C2.
  2. Hit the =(equal) sign and start to type RAND, you should see the RANDBETWEEN function appear
  3. Go ahead and type the BOTTOM number, in this case it is 10,000
  4. Then type the TOP number in our case it its 100,000
  5. Close your brackets or parentheses

Alternatively the RANDBETWEEN function can be accessed via

  1. Hit the Formulas Tab of the Ribbon menu
  2. Choose Math & Trig
  3. Select RANDBETWEEN and bring up the dialog box

All we need to do now is

  1. Hit the BOTTOM line in the dialog box and enter 10,000
  2. Hit the TOP line in the dialog box and enter 100,000
  3. Click OK and a random number is generated between the bottom (10,000) and top (100,000) numbers.
  4. If you hit F9 and recalculate another random number is generated- go ahead and test it.

We then can generate numbers for all of our list of sales people down the column starting at our original cell C2. Just drag the Excel fill handle down your column to generate your whole list of random numbers. To ensure these numbers do not change as the worksheet recalculates select the column of numbers, it copy and paste back using paste special numbers to cement the values in place.

Product Data Management – empowering small scale industries

The garment and apparel industries, whether of small or large scale, worldwide face the pressure of adapting to the changing markets, and consumer trends from time to time. Manufacturing in time, to meet the fluctuating and speedy demands, requires a sophisticated and organized system that provides timely solutions.

Producers today have a host of different software systems to choose from, like Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Management (ERP), and Supply Chain Management (SCM) to name a few. But these solutions have so far been limited to and procured by large scale industries. Product Data Management (PDM) is developed keeping in mind small textile companies and their requirements. Software like this gives them a competitive edge and help remove bottlenecks pertaining to product data management.

The process of product development requires recording and communicating details of a particular garment to members involved in it. The traditional paper based method of procuring data is time-consuming and prone to errors. Retrieving and sharing information by the conventional means lacks efficiency and are not cost effective. Product management software is what comes handy and simplifies the otherwise complex procedure. The Product Data Management software (PDM) provides just that and much more.

To an extent an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system does help achieve this but with not so much specifications and visual displays. PDM is a subset of the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. PLM finds its place in large textile industries, while PDM is a solution to product data management of small scale companies. PDM organizes, records, and allows communicating information related to product development and pre-production. This includes details like garment specifications, fabric particulars, and bills of materials along with images. This information can be shared between the merchandising, sourcing, product developing, costing, and knitting, weaving, printing, and designing departments.

PDM serves as a centralized system of database that provides clarity and simplicity. It promotes the synthesis and exchange of data among users who have authorized access to it. With the utilization of PDM, apparel industries can manage product development, operation, and maintenance. It also aids in maximum usage of production resources, limits the wastage of raw materials, helps in retaining the quality of the product, and enables to share information with different wings of a textile company.

Since every department is allocated different tasks and is involved in different functions, PDM software allows users to update information pertaining to their work, and responsibilities regularly, which in turn can be used by others to smoothen the manufacturing process. Hence any form of information recorded, created, or re-used helps to perform the production efficiently. Any input on a product, adds value and links the system to diverse users like the CAD (Computer Aided Designing) team, production managers, and designers to work with the latest data.

Bob Wallace, 53 Pioneer in Computer Software

Bob Wallace, a computer software pioneer and an early Microsoft employee who struck out on his own in the early 1980s by launching the Seattle-based Quicksoft software company, has died. He was 53.

Wallace, who believed that being a computer programmer was the best way to enhance the mind and in recent years sold books about hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs on a Web site, died at his home Sept. 20 in San Rafael, Calif. The results of an autopsy are pending.

As owner, president and chief programmer of Quicksoft, which he founded in 1983, Wallace used an unorthodox marketing strategy, called “shareware,” to sell the word processing program he wrote, PC-Write.

Operating under the philosophy of “making a living, not a killing,” Wallace encouraged users to copy and share the $10 PC-Write diskette and then pay to register the program after trying it out.

users who paid the $75 annual registration fee received the benefits of a printed manual, telephone support, Quicksoft’s newsletters and two program updates.

“I don’t worry about the people who don’t register,” Wallace told Associated Press in 1989. “I worry about the people who do register. I want to make sure they’re happy. If they’re happy and we’re making a reasonable profit, that’s good.”

By 1989, the company had 32 employees and annual sales of more than $2 million.

More than 10,000 people wound up paying the registration fee, Megan Dana-Wallace, Wallace’s wife, said Thursday. But a lot of users didn’t pay to register.

“They just used it for free, so we never really got rich doing that,” said Dana-Wallace, Quicksoft’s first employee and an artist, who drew Quicksoft’s trademark “office cat” on the company’s literature. (The cat, Microsoft, is now 19 years old.)

Dana-Wallace, who was separated from Wallace at the time of his death, said her husband enjoyed doing new things.

“He was a real innovator,” she said.

“His idea was as long as we could make a living doing it, that was all we needed, and more people would be able to use the product,” she said.

“He was basically an old hippie.”

Said Jonathan Feil, a Seattle software-business attorney and longtime friend of Wallace’s:

“Bob was a very early enthusiast in microcomputers as a way of giving people the potential to change their lives, and like many others in the pioneer [days of computers], he was more interested in doing good than necessarily doing well.”

In 1991, with Quicksoft unprofitable and requiring more of Wallace’s money to keep it going, he sold the company.

He continued working for Quicksoft’s new owner until the company went out of business in 1993.

He was born in Washington, D.C., in 1949. His father, Robert Wallace, was an economist who became an assistant secretary of the Treasury during the Kennedy administration.

The younger Wallace set the course of his life in motion at age 11.

“I read a Reader’s Digest article, ‘The Man Who Talked to Machines,’ ” he told Associated Press.

“I was one of the people who just knew, then, I would be a programmer,” he added.

He first worked on computers as a member of an Explorer Scout troop sponsored by Control Data Corp. in Bethesda, Md.

He later studied computers at Brown University and was one of the key designers of an early computer file retrieval and editing system known as Fress.

Wallace moved to Seattle to study computers at the University of Washington, where he earned a master’s degree in computer science in 1978.

By then, he had founded the Northwest Computer Society and had run the first Seattle Personal Computer Fair.

He was working at Seattle’s first computer store in 1978 when he saw a sign posted by young Bill Gates seeking programmers for his tiny new company, then based in Albuquerque, N.M.

After joining Microsoft as its ninth employee, Wallace developed an early version of the Pascal programming language.

“Bob was a great early contributor to Microsoft,” Gates said in a statement this week.

Wallace, his widow recalled, “was one of those very brilliant people who just focused on something they were interested in, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Most of the high-level people at Microsoft were like that.”

By 1983, after five years at Microsoft, Wallace thought that he was getting lost in the quickly expanding company and decided to go into business for himself.

“He basically wrote the first version of PC-Write over a Thanksgiving weekend,” Feil said.

When Wallace quit Microsoft, three years before the company went public, he left with 450 shares of stock options that multiplied with numerous stock splits to more than 100,000 shares worth, at the peak of the market, $15 million.

After Quicksoft folded in 1993, Wallace moved to California.

Long interested in the mind-expanding potential of psychedelic drugs, he started Mind Books, a mail order source for books about them, in 1996.

Two years later, he established the Promind Foundation to fund scientific research, public education and harm-reduction efforts related to psychedelics.

In addition to his widow, Wallace is survived by his mother, Luna, of Tucson; a brother, Douglas, of Seattle; and a sister, Wendy, of Tucson.