Referrals, MysQL and Excel

We were contacted recently by a potential customer, as the result of a referral from a previous customer. No matter how many times that happens, it always feels good. The potential customer has an interesting strategy that they wish us to investigate, scope and possibly implement.

To keep things simple for the users and keep costs down, they wish to use Excel as a front-end. For a variety of reasons they have chosen to migrate a several legacy databases [mostly flat file or hierarchical] to MySQL. To keep things really interesting, the new operational systems must interoperate with Oracle Financials.

The first thing Clarise and I thought of is EAI tool selection and design. 'Tis always the interfaces that make a project like this interesting.

Internal Blogging

More organizations are realizing the benefits of running internal blogs, wikis and related technologies. We've been working on codifying these benefits from our experiences in working with our customers in these new forms of collaboration.

  1. Transparency at all levels of management & decision making
  2. Extending "Open Door" Policies
  3. Exemplifying the organization's mission, values and goals and explaining each individual's role in achieving the organizational plan
  4. Allowing a project sponsor to detail the benefits of the project, garner support, and gather ideas & recommendations
  5. Creating an internal "blogosphere" linking individual phases or projects into programs especially across organizational lines or business-units
  6. Collaborative creation and documentation of processes and procedures
  7. Transforming silos of information into cultural knowledge
  8. Providing more efficient and timely sharing of information

Each group must examine these potential benefits and determine if and how internal blogs can fit into their culture.

Considerations in Deploying RFID

In the article of Rob Douglas Bar codes vs. RFID, he cites four main things companies should consider when deploying RFID:

" * Learn about the capabilities of different data capture technologies. There are numerous RFID, bar code and imaging technologies available, and care must be taken to choose the right ones for specific applications.
* Purchase hardware that supports multimedia data capture capabilities: RFID, bar code and imaging technology.
* RFID data will have to be managed differently than bar code data, so a solid middleware solution is crucial for organizing the information
* Find a solution provider with the right experience to design low-risk solutions."

Since companies are concerned with ROI, what are the things to consider for ROI computation? Here are some:
- Time, resources and materials costs for processing new materials
- Capital costs of deploying the technology solution including integration with backend systems
- Cost of staff training
- Inventory time and cost
- Ongoing equipment maintenance costs
- Ongoing support costs
- Health and Workers Compensation costs from repetitive strain injuries

Proposal Finale

Once all the corrections are made from the Proposal Review, all that's left is to print the proposal, bind it, deliver it, attend the opening (if public) and await the award. ;-)

The RFP usually has instructions about all of these.

  1. Usually, you must print out an "hard copy" of your proposal as an original, and then some number of copies (we've seen as few as three copies to as many as ten). We usually print the "original" on the heaviest weight, brightest white paper that we have in stock, at the highest resolution of which our best photo-printer is capable. We print the "copies" on lighter, duller, pre-punched paper, with a software "stamp" saying "COPY", at the "normal" or "every day" resolution of one of our other printers.
  2. Sometimes, one can submit a "soft copy", either in lieu of or in addition to the hard copy. If a soft copy is requested, the RFP usually specifies the file format, usually a Microsoft Word DOC or an Adobe Acrobat PDF, of a particular vintage version. At times, the RFP has asked for, or allowed for, supplemental material to be provided as soft copy. Usually the means of providing the soft copy is specified; normally CD now-a-days, but we've still seen floppy disc as the specified media - though often changed to CD during the questioning stage. We have a nice template for the CD label - always a fine touch.
  3. The allowed binding method is also usually specified. Three ring binders normally work for all proposals, especially larger, tabbed proposals. Sometimes, more permanent types of binding [spiral bound, comb bindings, spine bound, etc.] are either allowed or specifically forbidden.
  4. Sometimes the cost proposal must be sealed separately from the management and technical proposals, sometimes not, sometimes the cost must be in the original but not the copies.
  5. And speaking of sealing - make sure you understand what the RFP means by a "sealed bid", if required.
  6. Box up your proposal and copies and ancillary material, if any and seal it up.
    Print out a receipt for signature upon delivery, just in case the customer doesn't have their own method of providing one.

Basically, just make sure that you understand ALL directions in the RFP, and follow them.

We like to deliver by hand, if practical, and stay around for the opening, if public. Often at the opening, some things - like the proposer's name, address AND pricing - will be read aloud. 'Tis always nice to know if you have the competitive edge or not. :D

And now we wait for the award. In the proposal that we delivered yesterday, we found out two things. First, the deadline had been postponed until next Tuesday. The customer didn't know why we didn't receive the announcement and, while very friendly were unwilling to research the issue. Secondly, the award won't be made in time for an early March start date, as stated in the RFP, but probably not for six weeks. /sigh And, so we wait - and work on other things.

Proposal Review

The proposal is written; the costing is done; the price has been set. Now is the time to review it all. 'Tis best to have reviewers who haven't seen the proposal before. Familiarity can breed carelessness.

The first review should be a straight read through of the proposal.

  • Is it internally consistent?
  • Does it read well?
  • Are there any awkward areas?
  • Can someone not familiar with the RFP understand it?
  • Is it attractive?
  • Grammatically correct?
  • Compelling?

Following this, a more detailed review is in order, against the RFP and against the initial assessment that was done. This sometimes leads to discussions, as fresh eyes take a look at things. It can be good to have someone who sees things very differently do the review. That way you can have arguments rather than discussions. Wakes everyone up.

Did I mention that no proposal is really complete without a lot of lost sleep? XX(

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The TeleInterActive Lifestyle is about the business processes, life choices, management challenges and technical issues facing organizations and individuals as individuals and organizations adopt the Internet of Things, Mixed Reality, wireless networks of all levels, mobile devices, long-distance collaboration, social networks, digital transformation, and adjust to growing urbanization.

Sensor Analytics Ecosystems for the Internet of Things (SAEIoT) brings value from emerging technologies through data management and analytics, advances in data science, as the IoT matures through the 5Cs: Connection, Communication, Contextualization, Collaboration and Cognition. The socialization of machines will allow for Privacy, Transparency, Security and Convenience to be flexibly provided with two-way accountability to build Trust among Humans and Machines.

AsDataArchon, we have evolved our consulting data scientist work from learning how to incorporate sensor analytics into data warehouses, business intelligence and analytics to focusing on IoT data management and forming sensor analytics ecosystems.

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Our current thinking on sensor analytics ecosystems (SAE) bringing together critical solution spaces best addressed by Internet of Things (IoT) and advances in Data Management and Analytics (DMA) is here.

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