Saturday, December 13, 2014

Leverage

Recently O4BO.com sponsored a Mixed Martial Arts fighter Jujeath Nagaowa in a OneFC.com fight here at Manila Mall of Asia Arena. Jujeath "Bad Girl" Nagaowa won her bout in the second round. But this blog is more about the leverage this means to the subscribers of O4BO.com and Explorer4Manila.com to drive people to those sites and see their listings and pages. Our subscribers not only benefit from low cost services, web page hosting  and applications but we promote those sites in many ways. 

One of those ways is this sponsorship. Not only is our logo and URL displayed on her banner but present in the video in the bout and in other promotions for OneFC.com, fighterservices.com and our fighter's page badGirlMMA.com

Think about it, even those with free listings on any one of the explorer4manila.com site or any of the other explorer4*.com sites benefit from ALL the promotions we do on all the social media, including THIS one. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

SOA at the Core of Products?

Many years ago in a galaxy far away, I was the Chief Architect for a company that will go unnamed.  We had what we called a "Technology Council" and it was responsible for the technical direction of our product line.  Before Service Oriented Architecture  (SOA) was popular, heck before anyone coined the phrase and Web Services / SOAP was in their infancy, I suggested to the council that our product should be modularized and wrapped in standard interfaces to facilitate maintenance, development, integration and more.

The Council agreed and I prepared a proposal that the board would have to agree to, since it was going to radically change the product and would take time and money to implement.

They said "No, too risky"

What if they had said yes?

Several new acquisitions occurred over the next couple of years and if they had said yes, then those acquisitions would have much more easily been integrated into the product line.

A large percentage of the revenue for the company came from professional services doing integration work or custom solutions, and if they had said yes, all of those would have been easier, taken less time and made our customer happy.

So today, all these years later, they are still a monolithic platform with a bolt on SOAP/REST api, but the core product is basically unchanged.

SOA is no transforming a growing number of Enterprises into a coherent suite of services that can be composed into new applications, reused and integrated easily.In the recent past I was CTO of Corent Technology, where we built a product that allowed existing web applications to be converted from single tenant shrink wrapped applications into Software as a Service (SaaS) multi-tenant application.  With applications built as SOA they would be much easier to convert either by Corent or by their own staff.

What other benefits would a SOA Based product have?


  1. The product would place a priority on business value over technical strategy.
  2. The product would more easily fit into the core Enterprise architecture with a strategic value beyond the initial application values.
  3. The product would be intrinsically interoperable with the other applications and SaaS solutions the Enterprise was using.
  4. The Shared Services the product would offer could more easily be used to augment, extend and customize the Enterprise solutions.
  5. The Enterprise itself would be more flexible and provide a better return on investment.
  6. With current cloud technologies, performance is obtained as needed with horizontal scaling, this allows optimization to be done at the service level instead of the application level greatly reducing the time and effort to build and deploy new applications.
Having one product that is SOA Based does not make an Enterprise Architecture SOA, but it can serve an an initial foray into SOA.  If a SOA based product is also based on an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) then that ESB can also serve as an integration platform for the rest of the Enterprise to use.

The Open Group has an excellent page devoted to SOA Features and Benefits at http://www.opengroup.org/soa/source-book/soa/soa_features.htm

CIOs should be adding SOA to their evaluation criteria for new products, whether build or buy.  Today few Enterprise Applications offer true SOA, but many have seen the light and have at least added SOAP/REST interfaces.  The day will come with entire software products are themselves based on SOA and when they do I am sure they will cause a paradigm shift to SOA.

Being really old, I can remember when products were developed in procedural languages, and Object Oriented Programming hit.  It was a while before products started being designed and developed around OOP, and those that didn't make the transition largely went away.  I predict that same evolution of SOA based products.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Explorer 4 Business Networking

Check out this new post on Explorer 4 Universe blog

http://explorer4universe.blogspot.com/2014/07/business-networking-is-not-just-for-big.html


Monday, June 9, 2014

Come on in the Pool is open

I recently had a customer ask how we can provide such high quality service for such a low price.  My response was simple, "We apply all we know to every problem, and do our best to remember that you, the customer, expect nothing less than a solution to your problem."

I think that is true, and fits with something all my staff have heard many times before.

If you don't have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over.

But that too, is not the answer, it takes a little more details.  We offer packages with professional services and support for less than half the rates of other professional services companies.  How do we do that?

  1. Open Source - We use Open Source software to the maximum extent possible, for two reasons.  One is that Open Source offers the highest quality at the lowest cost and the other is that we can most easily integrate the applications so we can compose new custom solutions for our subscribers.
  2. Staff Pooling - I hinted at this in the subject of this post.  The fact is that subscribers don't all need the same level of support or professional services at the same time.  If we take the current number of customers and average their needs for support and professional services we get a number of hours per month of demand.  We staff up to that level plus a little bit more so we can cover more urgent needs.  Then we take the cost of that Staff per hour and divide it by the number of customers consuming those hours and add a small profit margin (7%).  We build our packages to be just rounded up to the next higher hour above the average.  The result is that we have compensation for the average number of hours needed by our customers plus a little.  If we get an urgent need beyond the package we price that separately to meet the demand and sometimes we use part time developers on a project by project basis and if it is larger we use a Partner.
  3. We keep all other costs as low as possible, from where we are located, to using the most cost effective Cloud hosting.
Como on in the Pool is open (and affordable)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

IBM App Throwdown

How well does your app stack up? The IBM App Throwdown is your chance to find out by demoing your best ideas using IBM solutions. View past winners, get ideas and find out how to submit your app here. May the best app win!
SEE THE LIVE VOTING RESULTS
One of the finalists is my previous company, Corent Technology, and their SurPaaS product. to Vote you
just  vote from Twitter with @CorentTech #ibminnovateapp or for less typing you can search for 
@CorentTech #ibminnovateapp and retweet.



They are the clear winner in my mind, and heart and soul....please check it out and vote!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

IndieGoGo Campaign Launch Explorer 4 Small Business

We have started IndieGoGo Explorer 4 Small Business to raise money, but more importantly to give our initial subscribers a great deal and populate our sites with listings and images that will attract customers to our subscriber's small businesses.

On the IndieGoGo Explorer 4 Small Business site, you will find a video that shows off one of our initial subscribers. Bay Reception of Legazpi is a small business that runs a magnificent facility for Banquet's, Receptions, Weddings, and Meetings.  They can service up to 500 people in a beautiful facility with views of the Mayon Volcano and Pacific Ocean.


As marvelous as this facility is, they had a problem....getting the word out.  They were not Information Technology oriented and although they knew what the Internet could do for them (many small businesses don't), they didn't know how to do it themselves.  The only advertising they could do was a local radio station and drive by signage.

One of my nieces (I have many) went in to inquire about a graduation party, and asked a few questions on how they do their business and how they get they customers.  Well my good niece reported back and my nephew went back and did a sales pitch.  Not only did they sign up but within a week of publishing their site and listing on Explorer 4 Albay, they had their first customer booking that came from our listing.

Explorer 4 is not just for Philippines, although we certainly started here, we have plans for Explorer 4 sites for all countries and all provinces and regions as our subscribers might need.

Since that's a big task, we sought out IndieGoGo to do a campaign to offer huge discounts to new subscribers and special deals for new subscribers in a country or region giving them an upgrade from their already hugely discounted rate.

If you have a small business you can't find a better deal, if you know someone that has a small business, do them a favor and send them this link.  Just one new customer will pay for two years of ads and we don't stop there,

We started life doing hosting of Small Business applications based entirely on Open Source to keep the costs down, go to O4BO.COM to see what else we do, and all our Explorer 4 subscribers can take advantage of our other services (at a discount as you might expect).


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Special PayPal Offer

Not only do we have great value in our solutions for Small Business with Explorer 4 listings starting at just P100/mo (USD$2.24/mo) up to our Full Service at P6,000/mo (USD$133/mo) but we have just struck a deal where we will offer a USD$50.00 Hotel Savings Card, redeemable at over 500,000 hotels worldwide.

Just go to our store http://open4businessonline.com/store and subscribe to ANY of our subscription levels, and pay with PayPal, and we will send you the link to redeem your USD$50.00 Hotel Savings Card



Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Prices and Packages

We are pleased to announce that we have reduced prices and increased our service offerings, please take a look at our new store...http://open4businessonline.com/store

Some of the changes are the addition of the Explorer 4 Packages starting at just P100/mo for a simple listing to P1,000/mo for a full Web Site and Portal with Accounting, Project Management and more.

Then our O4BO Small Business packages add to the Explorer 4 packages with more Software as a Service including Sugar CRM CE and our 320+ Solutions to choose from starting at just P1,895/mo that includes your own domain name and Sugar CRM plus professional services and support, to our 'Full" service that includes more of everything and your choice of any of the 320+ Applications.

We aren't just talking advertising either, we are talking about advertising plus access to all the software most small businesses need including Hotel / Resort Booking, Credit Card Processing, Accounting, ERP, Customer Relationship Management, Educational Software, Portal, Document Management, Content Management and a lot more.

In addition some of our partners offer services with a discount to our subscribers such as Asia Pacific Micro Finance, Bay Reception, and from time to time others will offer specials and sales.

Why try to do all this on your own?  Why hire even just one part time person to do this stuff, when you can get all this from us for very little money?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kapana-panabik na beses

Kapag nakahanap ako ng bagong tool na makakatulong sa akin, ibabahagi ko sa iyo at sa lahat ng aming mga subscriber sa O4BO. Ngayon, mayroon akong tatlong komento at makakakuha tayo ng ideya upang bigyan ang mga update at tip.

Ang una ay ITTT na ang ibig sabihin ay "Kung ito at Pagkatapos Iyon" https://ifttt.com/dashboard at ako ay  naglikha lamang ng isang "Recipe" kung saan ko ia-update ang aking mga larawan sa profile sa Twitter kapag binago ko ang aking larawan sa Facebook ... recipe ay simple, gumawa ng anumang mga koneksyon sa isa sa 80 + para sa "ito" at isa pa para sa "Iyon" at i-save ito. Pagkatapos ay kung ang Larawan sa pagbabago ng Facebook, nagpapatakbo ang kaganapan na ang script na mga update sa Twitter. Simple, malinis, at ligtas na dahil ito ay gumagamit ng OAuth / OpenID upang kumonekta. Ito kahit na may pagsasama ng data at i-extract ibahin ang anyo at load ang mga potensyal na sa pamamagitan ng JMS at mga feed sa RSS .... aking ulo ay reeling may posibilidad.

Ang susunod ay isang bagong Serbisyo na nag-aalok kami ng LAHAT ng aming mga subscriber. Maliit na sa Medium sized Enterprises lahat ng kailangan accounting, ngunit ang accounting kailangan lang nila ay simple, madaling gamitin, at maaasahan. Nag-aalok kami ng ilang mga pagpipilian mula sa OpenBravo ERP sa itaas na pagtatapos sa ilang mga solusyon sa accounting Open Source  host. Ang bagong serbisyo ay makukuha sa isang Portlet sa Portal aming Subscriber at na-integrate ang Wave Accounting (https://www.waveapps.com) na may isang walang pinagtahian Single Sign On mula sa aming Portal. Ito ay ang lahat ng bagay ay nangangailangan ng Maliit na Negosyo kabilang ang, pag-invoice, payables at kahit Payroll (limitado bilang ng mga bansa sa sandaling ito).

Ang huling isa ngayon, i Asana (http://www.asana.com) na kung saan ay isang napaka-cool na bagong paraan upang pamahalaan ang mga proyekto. Ito ay magagamit sa lahat ng aming mga subscriber sa isang Portlet sa aming mga subscriber Portal na may magkatugmang Single Sign On din. Ang pagkakaroon ginagamit ng maraming iba't ibang mga application sa pagsubaybay sa Pamamahala ng Project at Task, dapat ko bang sabihin ang isang ito ay sa pamamagitan ng malayo ika-pinakamadaling gamitin at mayroon itong isang API na hahayaan amin na isama ito sa lahat ng mga application 320 + Open Source-host namin sa pamamagitan ng aming Platform Pagsasama O4IPaaS bilang isang Serbisyo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Go live

One of our sister companies has gone live!  Hooray, read anout it here... http://explorer4universe.blogspot.com/2014/03/go-live.html?m=1

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Exciting Times

When I find a new tool that will help me, I will share with you and all our subscribers at O4BO.  Today, I have three to comment on and as we get going I will provide updates and tips.

The first is ITTT which stands for "If This Then That" https://ifttt.com/dashboard and I have only created one "Recipe" where I update my Twitter profile photo when I change my Facebook photo...The recipe is simple, take any one of 80+ Connections for the "This" and another for the "That" and save it.  Then if the Photo in Facebook changes, that event runs the script which Updates Twitter.  Simple, clean, and safe as it uses OAuth / OpenID to connect.  It even has data integration and extract transform and load potential via JMS and RSS feeds....my head is reeling with possibilities.

The next is a new Service we are offering ALL our subscribers.  Small to Medium sized Enterprises all need accounting, but the accounting they need is simple, easy to use, and reliable. We offer several choices from OpenBravo ERP on the upper end to several Open Source accounting solutions we host.  This new service will be available in a Portlet in our Subscriber's Portal and that will integrate Wave Accounting (https://www.waveapps.com) with a seamless Single Sign On from our Portal.  It has everything a Small Business needs including, invoicing, payables and even Payroll (limited number of countries at the moment).

The last one today, i Asana (http://www.asana.com) which is a very cool new way to manage projects.  It is also available to all our Subscribers in a Portlet in our subscriber Portal with a seamless Single Sign On.  Having used many different Project Management and Task tracking applications, I must say this one is by far th easiest to use and it has an API that will let us integrate it with all 320+ Open Source applications we host via our O4IPaaS Integration Platform as a Service.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Get the best reception

Our newest subscriber to O4BO.COM is Bay Reception of Legazpi (http://ww3.bayreceptionoflegazpi.com).  It is almost a shock, I mean really, when you enter the gates and see the compound they have built around an open air Reception Pavilion and grounds, you can't believe it.  The transformation is almost magical, one second you are on a highway with an unassuming Block Wall and a Gate, entering is like stepping through a time machine into the Garden of Eden.

Home

They can seat 500 people in nine bays and fully cater with a menu that is awesome to say the least.  They can arrange live entertainment or you can watch videos on a big screen TV.  For Reservations go to http://ww3.bayreceptionoflegazpi.com/reservations.

We provided the web site and some application software, they provided the magic.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cantina Deliciosa just what they need

Small Businesses everywhere have one major need.  How to get more customers and keep the customers they have.  It doesn't matter if you are selling Burritos or Beans or Buckets or Barns, you need to find customers and keep those customers coming back.

Many if not most small businesses in the world do no advertising at all and depend on walk by traffic to acquire customers.  An even smaller number of small businesses use the internet at all.  Sometimes that is because their customers are not on the internet, or at least that is what they think.

Our most recent customer is Cantina Deliciosa http://www.cantinadeliciosa.com is a small business creating great Mexican and American food in two food courts in Makati City.  The food is so good (especially the Pulled BBQ Pork Burritos!!!!) that alone keeps the traffic up and return customers.  James Gallegos the co-owner of Cantina Deliciosa already had a FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/cantina.deliciosa?ref=br_tf and was doing daily emails to his mailing list.

Now James understood the benefits of using Social Networking, to help market his great products, but he is a restaurant owner, not a Computer Geek, and he wasn't reaching out as much as he wanted and he wants eventually to grow into more than just food courts.

As a regular customer we managed to talk about what we do at O4BO and eventually we convinced him that we could help him reach a bigger audience at a cost much lower than other forms of advertising.  The Makati business district is covered by many 40+ story office buildings with thousands of potential customers, many of which are computer literate and active on the social networks beyond FaceBook including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and others.  We are going to work with him as we do with our other subscribers and leverage tools like his web site, web content management, CRM and a Portal without him having to buy a computer or install software all for less than a daily burrito!

Welcome aboard James, stand back we don't know how big this is going to get.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Magandang serbisyo sa customer ay tulad ng pornograpiya

Nabasa ko na ito ay mahirap upang tukuyin ang Pornograpiya, ngunit "Alam ko na kapag nakita ko ito" Sa tingin ko ay maaaring  pareho para sa Customer Service. Hindi ko ma-maipaliwanag"Magandang Customer Service" ngunit Alam ko kapag nakita ko ito. Sa tingin ko na ang mga kaparehong Hindi ko maipaliwanag "Bad Customer Service" ngunit malalaman kung kailan ito nakikita.

Kamakailan, nagkaroon ako ng isang sitwasyon kung saan nagbayad ako ng bill, ngunit kapag ginawa ko, ang pagbabayad sa kumpanya na ito ay nai-post sa maling account. Nagkaroon na ako ng maraming account at hindi ko malaman na ang pagbabayad ay nai-post sa maling account hanggang sa susunod na buwan kapag ang isang account ay overpaid at ang iba pang mga noon ay lagpas na sa takdang at isang tawag mula sa kanilang mga "Customer Service" Nakatanggap ako ng pagtatanong kapag gagawin ko ang pagbabayad.

Sinabi ko sa kanila na ako ay nabayaran, at habang ako ay nagkaroon sa telepono ko-log in sa web site at naka-check sa aking mga account at nakita ang problema. Sinabi ko sa kanya ay nagkaroon ako ng balanse ng credit sa isang account at maaari ko bang ilipat ang balanse ng iyong credit sa iba pang mga lagpas na sa takdang account. "Kapag kayo ay mamamalagi ang bayaran" ay ang tugon, tulad siya ay hindi kahit nakikinig. Sinabi ko sa kanya Gusto ko pumunta sa store at sinabi niya, "Kailan?" at sinabi ko "Ngayon" upang bigyan sya ng dahilan kahit hindi nakikinig. Upang maging patas Ako ay nakakakuha ng lahat ng uri ng dahilan at marahil ay sinanay nya upang hindi kahit na makinig  ay nakakakuha siya ...

Kaya nagpunta ako sa tindahan ng serbisyo sa customer at nakakuha ng isang numero at naghintay. Kapag ito ay ang aking pagliko Nagbigay ako ng mga "customer service" rep, parehong ang mga pahayag ng account, na ipinapakita ang balanse ng iyong credit sa isa at ang nakaraan dahil sa kabilang at tinanong, "maaari ko bang ilipat ang balanse ng credit sa nakalipas  na account?" "Hindi posible" ay ang tugon. Kaya't sinabi ko, "Ok maaari kong makakuha ng refund sa overpayment" "Hindi maaari, maaari mong ubusin ang balanse ng credit ngunit hindi namin ipoproseso ang isang balik-bayad maliban kung isasara mo ang account ng balanseng credit" "Kaya hindi mo o hindi maitatama ang isang pagkakamali? " "Gumawa kami ng walang pagkakamali" sinabi ko "na rin Hindi ko ma-patunayan ito, ngunit kapag ginawa ko ang pagbabayad ipinapalagay ko ang klerk ay tumingin sa akin sa pamamagitan ng pangalan, natagpuan ng isang account at naka-post ang pagbabayad. Hindi ko ma-patunayan ito ngunit sa tingin ko ay kung ano ang nangyari . " "Iyon ay hindi ang aming mga kasalanan."

Ang halaga ay hindi mahalaga, $ 30 lang kaya binayaran ko ito at kumonsumo ang overpayment at ako ay gumawa ng mga pagbabayad nang direkta mula sa bangko sa on-line kaya walang pantaong serbisyo sa customer rep ay maaaring "hindi makagawa ng isang pagkakamali".

Hindi ko ma tukuyin ang hindi magandang serbisyo sa customer, pero alam ko kapag nakita ko ito at ito ay sigurado.

Kami sa O4BO naniniwala sa "Magandang Customer Service" at ituturing namin ang lahat ng aming mga customer na may paggalang at huwag iwasan ang magandang serbisyo sa customer sa pamamagitan ng pag-claim ng isang problema ay hindi ang aming kasalanan. Kung ang isang customer ay may isang problema, trabaho namin ay upang subukan upang makahanap ng sulosyon kahit anong klaseng problema.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Good customer service is like porn

I have read that it is difficult to define Pornography, but "I know it when I see it"  I think the same can be said for Customer Service.  I cannot define "Good Customer Service" but I know it when I see it.  I think that similarly I cannot define "Bad Customer Service" but I know it when I see it as well.

Recently, I had a situation where I paid a bill, but when I did, the payment to this company was posted to the wrong account.  I had several accounts and I didn't figure out that the payment was posted to the wrong account until the next month when one account was overpaid and the other was past due and I got a call from their "Customer Service" asking when I would pay.

I told them that I had paid, and while I had her on the phone I logged into the web site and checked my accounts and saw the problem.  I told her I had a credit balance on one account and could I transfer the credit balance to the other past due account.  "When are you going to pay" was the response, like she wasn't even listening.  I told her I would go to the store and she said, "When?" and I said "Today" to give up since she wasn't even listening.  To be fair I am so sure she gets all kinds of excuses and is probably trained to not even listen to the crap she gets...

So I went to the store customer service and got a number and waited.  When it was my turn I gave the "customer service" rep, both account statements, showing the credit balance on one and the past due on the other and asked, "can I transfer the credit balance to the past due account?"  "Not possible" was the response.  So I said, "Ok can I get a refund on the overpayment"  "Not possible, you can consume the credit balance but we won't process a refund unless you close the account with a credit balance"  "So you won't or can't correct a mistake?"  "we made no mistake"  I said "well I cannot prove it, but when I made the payment I assume the clerk looked me up by name, found an account and posted the payment.  I cannot prove it but I think that is what happened."  "That's not our fault."

The amount was trivial, just $30 so I paid it and will consume the overpayment and I will make the payments directly from the bank on-line so no human customer service rep can "not make a mistake".

I cannot define bad customer service, but I know it when I see it and this was definitely it.

We at O4BO believe in "Good Customer Service" and we treat all our customers with respect and do not avoid good customer service by claiming a problem is not our fault.  If a customer has a problem, our job is to try to find a solution, no matter how the problem came about.