Nov 05

Business Intelligence

1. Companies are aggressively moving to computerized support of their organizations. Can you list at least 2 of the factors driving this move?

• Speed and efficiency.
• Legibility and accuracy.
• Self-sufficiency.
• Cheaper research and development.

2. The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) is:

BI is an umbrella term that combines architecture, tools, databases, analytical tools, applications and methodologies.

What does “umbrella” term mean?

The definition of Business Intelligence (BI) encompasses various software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. The discipline entails many related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting

3. Sometime we say that the term Business Intelligence (BI) is “context free”. What does this mean?

The term business intelligence is “context free” in the sense that the expression means different things to different people. For this reason, we have seen researchers advancing different definitions for business intelligence.

4. Describe what a data warehouse is and how it might differ from a traditional database used for transaction processing.

A data warehouse is a central repository for corporate data and information that an organization derives transaction data, operational systems and external data sources. Although these two may look like they are similar, they exhibit several differences with regard to usage pattern, architecture as well as technology. A traditional database is based on operational processing while a data warehouse is based on informational processing.

A data warehouse focuses on storage, filtering, retrieval and analysis of voluminous information.

A traditional database is used for day to day operations while a data warehouse is used for long-term informational requirements.

5. What is the difference between a data warehouse and a data mart?

A data mart is a subset of a data warehouse that relates to specific business line. Data marts are managed by a specific department within an organization. On the other hand, a data warehouse involves multiple subject areas and assembles detailed information from multiple source systems.

6. What is meant by “Big Data”?

Big data refers to a huge volume of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data from which viable information can be extracted. This kind of data is so voluminous that it cannot be processed using outmoded database and software techniques. Big data helps organizations to improve their operations and be in a position to make quick and smart decisions.

7. Data mining methods are divided into supervised and unsupervised methods. What are these and how are they different?

Supervised data mining method has to do with the presentation of fully labeled data to a machine learning algorithm. On the other hand, unsupervised data mining methods conduct clustering. Data instances are divided into a number of groups.

Unsupervised data mining methods do not put emphasis on predetermined attributes. Moreover, it does not predict a target value. Instead, unsupervised data mining finds hidden structure and relation among data.

Supervised data mining methods are appropriate when there is a specific target value that I to be used to predict about data. The targets can have two or more possible outcomes, or even be a continuous numeric value.

Supervised data mining methods the classes are known in advance while in the other the groups or classes are not known in advance. In supervised data mining methods, data is assigned to be known before computation but in unsupervised learning Datasets are assigned to segments, without the clusters being known.

8. When we consider KPI’s (key performance indicators) we distinguish between driver KPI’s and outcome KPI’s. What is the difference between the two (give a couple of examples of each)

Key performance indicators provide a framework on which organizations can value their progress. Outcome KPIs which are also referred to as lagging indicators measure the output of previous activities. On the other hand, driver KPIs/leading indicators measure the activities that have a significant on outcome KPIs. Driver KPIs have a significant effect on outcome KPIs, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

9. A BSC (balanced scorecard) approach for BPM (business process management) is well-know and widely-used. Describe the strengths of a BSC approach.

BPM entails activities

BPM involves activities like automation, remodeling, monitoring, and analyzing and improving business processes.

Cost efficiency

This is one of the most palpable benefits of BPM approach. It cuts down on costs and increases revenue. BPM adds crucial value in the long run by allowing businesses to compete globally. BPM technology equips a business to switch gears and respond to changing business environment appropriately.

Agility

Change is inevitable in business and a business must be ready to undergo sudden changes at any time. BPM accords a business the flexibility of making changes at minimal costs.

Improved productivity

BPM automates several elements within regular workflows. Process improvements such as eliminations of drawbacks, elimination of redundant steps, and introduction of parallel processing are achieved through BPM. These process improvements allow employees to focus on other important activities of their business since the core support functions would have been handled.

Better visibility

Basically, BPM uses advanced software programs to facilitate the automation process. These programs enable process owners to keep abreast of their performance. Apart from guaranteeing transparency, BPM keep track of how processes work without the need of monitoring techniques and extensive labor.

10. A closed-loop process is often used to optimize business performance. Briefly describe what a closed-loop process means.

A closed-loop process, also referred to as feedback control system is a management system that promotes a well-organized base of preferred outcomes and system feedback. This process is designed to achieve and maintain the desired output in comparison with the actual condition.

Nov 05

The I’s In Innovation

When you hear mention of the word innovation, what comes to mind? Technology? Biometrics? Virtual reality? Androids? Data mining? Holograms? Wearable devices? Driverless cars? Let’s face it, innovation is nothing new, but it has become our sizzling buzzword of the century. Not to be confused with the word invention, innovation provides better solutions for a market’s unstipulated or existing needs.

In order to survive in today’s business climate, regardless of how large or small an organization is, or what industry they are in, the creation of new internal processes, new products, new additions to service offerings or overall business structures is vital. Innovation can refer to creating something new (an idea, method or device) or changes made to an existing product.

These 8 essential components will help you stay on target of your innovation strategy:

1. Ideas: Abstract concepts, mental representational images that you have in order to create, expand or reinvent your product or service for your organization.

2. Imagination: The creative ability to visualize, form, transform and integrate those ideas into functional products or solutions.

3. Inspiration: The process of learning through visual thinking or divine influence by moving intellect to motion and emotion.

4. Investigation: Discovering, studying, gathering or inquiring information and resources to produce an end-product for your users.

5. Identification: To recognize and establish your idea or invention into quantifiable and qualifiable opportunities and benefits to market your product or service.

6. Investment: A monetary, educational or time asset that will provide productivity for future profits and growth development of the organization.

7. Integrity: Ethics in all aspects of business practices influences the culture of attracting new customers, increases loyalty among current employees and affects the organization’s reputation in relationship building with stakeholders, business partners, and suppliers.

8. Influencer: Those individuals or influences (e.g. testimonials, reviews) who make a positive or negative impact on decision-making by potential buyers. Opportunities in your marketing activities, social influence, the power of persuasion, the collective teamwork of employees and other external interactions impact advocacy and promotion.

Nov 05

5 Ways Dehumidifiers Can Improve Commercial Food Production

Although making food in your kitchen and making food on a commercial scale might seem much the same, the realities are that they are, in fact, almost completely different. Of course, whilst the end result of both endeavours is (hopefully) delicious food, the way those foodstuffs are produced it wildly different.

From industrial mixers to fully automated moulding and baking machines, the commercial food production industry barely resembles what you might do at home.

So, whilst you might not need a dehumidifier in your home kitchen, you certainly need one if you’re operating a commercial food production company. But why? Here’s five big reasons:

#1 – Improved production speed

If drying is part of the manufacturing process for your business, whether you’re stove drying or dry curing meat, you can waste days, weeks and even months waiting for the process to occur naturally in an uncontrolled environment.

By leaving ambient conditions in place, the natural inconsistency of air humidity will deliver an uneven and unpredictable results which can spoil or halt production. Alternatively, by introducing effective humidity control into an environment you can dramatically increase the speed of your drying procedures.

Indeed, one business was able to reduce their stove drying time from 5 days to 1.5 days, more than doubling the output of their existing stoves and delivering a more consistent end product. Increased drying times naturally lead to a higher level of output, which in turn means more profits.

#2 – Unified production rate

Winter conditions might well offer ideal humidity rates for food manufacturing, but the summer months aren’t as kind. High humidity can slow production to a crawl during the warmer months, so installing a commercial humidity control system is essential. It’ll help level out your production rates and equalise output levels.

#3 – Improved product quality

Humidity can cause a number of number of issues in quality control of food and drink manufacturing. Whether it’s causing dried fruit to clump, bread to become misshapen or plastic to bottles to become distorted in production, humidity can be a real nightmare for quality control.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out why quality control is important for your business, so don’t waste time producing inferior products.

#4 – Reduced costs

All machinery is affected by humidity, and by leaving it unchecked you’re opening the door to condensation on equipment, damp electrical panels and more. By operating a humidity controlled area, you can reduce your spending on vital repairs.

#5 – Superior hygiene

One of the major issues with high humidity is regards hygiene, because with high levels of humidity comes an increased risk of condensation. This, in turn, is followed closely by fungus and mould on both packaging and the product. This can spoil entire batches and result in a product which is unsafe to eat – something every food manufacturing business is keen to avoid.

Nov 05

The Perfect Packaging for Every Product

Whether you talk of fresh food items, dry groceries, machine parts, furniture or hardware, every product needs to be well packaged. The type of packaging best suited to a product depends on a number of factors including cost of the product, perceived value, size, fragility, shelf life etc. Thus, there are a number of materials that can be used to package a product such as paper, polythene, corrugated cardboard, cartons, shrink wrap and pallets.

Why do you need Packaging?

The most obvious reason to package a product carefully, is to protect it while it moves from the factory floor to the retail shops and then to the customer’s house. However, this is not the only reason to focus on packaging. Packaging plays an important role in a customer’s decision making process. The way a product is packaged is the first interaction many customers have with the product and hence this plays an important role in creating a first impression. A well packaged product speaks of attention to detail and helps build trust in a brand name.

Packaging is also important from a marketing perspective. This is because whilst the product itself may offer limited space for branding, a carton or sleeve allows a much larger space for branding thus making the brand name more visible. When it comes to wholesale packaging, cartons are usually left plain. However, it is still possible to brand the cartons by using printed carton tape.

How to Choose the Right Packaging Material

The wrong packaging can put a customer off the product. The first step to packing a product is to select the right material. There are many factors that must be considered when picking packaging materials. These include:

Type of Product- While dry groceries need to be packed in such a way so as to be visible to customers and yet protected against natural elements; product visibility does not matter when packing hardware items or machine parts. A few other product characteristics to keep in mind are sensitivity to light and moisture, shelf life and reaction to other materials.

Cost of the Product- The cost of packaging a product should be in direct relation to the cost of the product and should not exceed it. Thus, whilst clear, polythene bags are sufficient packing for disposable plates, bone chine needs to be packed in boxes with cushion packaging.

How the products are to be shipped- To a certain extent wholesale packaging also plays a role in determining the right material for retail packaging. For example, if the products are going to be packed in a larger carton, puncture resistance is not a high priority. However, if the products are going to be stacked on a pallet, this is a factor that will need to be considered.

Common Types of Packaging

Paper Board

Paper is the cheapest and most ecofriendly way to package a product. Paper is often used in the form of boxes to package low cost items such as stationery or in the form of paper bags for fast food and other consumables.

Polythene

Polythene bags are the most preferred form of packaging for products such as dry groceries and liquids. This is because it is transparent thus allowing the consumer to see the product being purchased and protects the food items from natural elements.

Rigid Plastic

Rigid plastic may be used to package both consumables and non-consumables. This is a chosen packaging material when the product needs to be visible to the consumer and yet protected against shocks and being accidentally dropped etc.

Corrugated cardboard

When it comes to large products such as furniture, it is not possible to fit the piece into a carton. Hence, such products are usually wrapped in corrugate sheets to protect them against bumping into other things or being dropped accidentally.

Nov 05

3 Keys to a Successful Preventive Maintenance Program

Preventive maintenance planning and practices influence most major maintenance department activities in a manufacturing environment. Here are some examples of this.

  • Equipment downtime is largely affected by preventive maintenance or the lack there of.
  • Repair work orders are subjected to the influences of the preventive maintenance program.
  • Purchasing and inventory are affected by preventive maintenance for routine replacement of expendable spares as well as repair parts required for unexpected downtime.

As evidenced by the points above, preventive maintenance should be “first base” for any maintenance department. Unfortunately sometimes routine preventive maintenance activities often do not get the attention or credit they are due. This is a mistake. So what are the keys to a successful preventive maintenance program?1. Careful Planning of the Preventive Maintenance Program

Planning a preventive maintenance program involves the following:

  1. Determine tasks and intervals needed to maintain the equipment.
  2. Ensure that the appropriate resources are in place.
    • Schedule maintenance personnel for maximum preventive maintenance wrench time.
    • Understand how scheduled equipment downtime and maintenance personnel scheduling interface.
    • Manage spares effectively.
  3. Select a scheduling and accountability system (preventive maintenance software, CMMS software or equivalent)

Determine Maintenance Tasks and IntervalsA good preventive maintenance (PM) task list contains the following components:

  • The equipment item.
  • The task(s).
  • The person the task is assigned to.
  • A task interval.
  • A start date and due date.
  • Optional: Detailed instructions and pictures if needed.
  • Optional: Task completion sequence.

Begin with your equipment list. Next gather appropriate tasks for preventive maintenance task lists from OEM manuals or online manuals when possible. This is a good place to start, especially with newer equipment. In some cases, the equipment warranty is dependent upon following the OEM recommendations. Another source of tasks is the maintenance manager’s experience and intuition. Yet another source is branch locations running similar equipment.When developing a task list, consider the reusability of the task descriptions. Reusability refers to using the same task description on potentially multiple equipment items. The benefit is that there are fewer tasks, no duplicate task descriptions and better reporting and analysis of PMs. Consider these examples:

REUSABLE task description: Lubricate Roller Chain(s)

NOT REUSABLE: Lubricate Roller Chain(s) on Conveyor #1

In the first example this task, Lubricate Roller Chain(s), is appropriate for any equipment with a roller chain. In the second example, Lubricate Roller Chain on Conveyor #1, is only appropriate on the Conveyor #1 PM task list. Imagine how cumbersome your preventive maintenance software management efforts become if you are not using reusable tasks. Another example that may cause problems later is naming conventions such as 30 Day PMs or Weekly Tasks. This creates unneeded redundancy, as the interval (30 in this case) is included in the PM record already. Additionally there is no task description here that refers to the actual work performed.

How do you create reusable tasks? Begin with the most generic tasks you can think of and create these first. Examples could be Inspect, Clean, Lubricate, etc. After these task descriptions have been created, go to the next step and create tasks that are somewhat more specific. Here are some examples: Check Wiring, Replace Lubricant, Lube Chains. Continue with increasingly more specific tasks always trying to avoid including the equipment or equipment component in the task description. Eventually, for specialized tasks that are only performed on specific equipment, it may become necessary to include a component of the equipment in the task description. Keep the task description short and focused on the actual task. Obviously if the task description is short, it may not fully describe the job. This is where detailed instructions and pictures are used.

Next, determine what interval units are needed for your PM system. Calendar-based PMs usually will use a day interval. For example every 7 days Lubricate Roller Chain(s). Other tasks may be demand based or based upon the actual runtime of the equipment. In some cases, hours or minutes may be appropriate. As you gain experience with this set of PM tasks and intervals changes to the tasks and intervals may be warranted. Consequently choose a system that makes editing existing PMs simple and without historical data loss.

Ensure that Adequate Resources are in Place

Listed below are resources you need for a successful preventive maintenance program:

  • Trained and available personnel.
  • Adequate spares, expendables, lubricants, drive chain, bearings, etc.
  • Time in the production or equipment runtime schedule to perform PMs.
  • A motivated team of maintenance professionals.

Personnel must be trained and capable of safely performing the required work. Vigorously enforce proper lockout/tagout procedures. Stock on hand for expendables and other spares used for PMs has to be adequate. Inadequate spares not only prevents completion of the PMs, but also hurts motivation when personnel attempting to perform their job are hindered by a lack of spares. As such, the purchasing department has to have an ordering system that stays ahead of preventive maintenance spares requirements. Additionally an accountability system (CMMS) helps track spares use for restocking purposes. In summary, show your maintenance technicians how important you believe preventive maintenance is by providing the materials and training needed for these important tasks.Time is a resource. Time must be available so that personnel can perform their work. This may require scheduling changes so that maintenance personnel are available during scheduled equipment downtime. Given the right resources, your maintenance team cannot help but be motivated to succeed with equipment maintenance.

Use a Maintenance Software Solution to Track and Manage Maintenance

Now that the tasks, intervals, personnel, training and scheduling are established it is time to load the data into a preventive maintenance software system. With so many CMMS choices, it is important to do your research carefully. Approximately fifty CMMS companies go out of business annually and fifty more replace these. Choose a well-established long-term CMMS company that has a proven record of accomplishment. Ask the following questions when choosing a CMMS:

  • How long has the CMMS company been in business?
  • How flexible is the preventive maintenance system?
  • Are there different task list formats available?
  • Is it possible to automate task list issuance?
  • Do technicians have the ability to close their own PMs while maintaining the integrity of the data?
  • Is it possible to close PMs without leaving the plant floor?
  • How easy (or hard) is it to adjust preventive maintenance task schedules?
  • Are labor and parts costs easily summarized and reported?
  • Is there an objective way to know how to optimize task lists or task intervals based upon downtime or reliability data?

When evaluating a CMMS it is best to run a demonstration copy of the proposed system with your own sample equipment and tasks. Use the system for at least 30 days. Issue preventive maintenance task lists to your personnel. Get their buy-in by demonstrating the usefulness of the system. Prove to yourself and your maintenance technicians that using the software makes both of your jobs easier. Most importantly confirm that this system has the potential to improve equipment availability and reliability.Consider support and training as part of the initial investment. CMMS software training is well worth the investment as it brings the maintenance department up to speed quickly with the CMMS and instills confidence in its use. This leads to better compliance in entering and updating data.

Price is important, however the real cost benefit of CMMS comes not from the initial investment in CMMS but in the ongoing use and benefits derived from that use. Some CMMS software solutions are subscription-based. Others are a one-time investment with a perpetual license. While there are several factors to consider in CMMS selection, initial investment (price) should be a low priority when the budget allows. Ask yourself this question: “Do you want to trust millions of dollars in equipment assets to a cheap CMMS?”

2. Implement Your New Preventive Maintenance Program

Now it is time to start reaping the benefits of your new preventive maintenance program. Here are a few questions to consider when implementing your new PM program:

  • Should tasks lists be printed, emailed or simply viewed through a tablet or smart-phone?
  • How are tasks closed and what data should be included?
  • Who should close the preventive maintenance tasks as they are completed?
  • What will you use the system when maintenance personnel are absent?
  • Should spare parts lists be included on the task list?
  • If spares are included on the task list, should stock levels automatically draw down when the PM is completed?

The answers to these question come down to company policy, industry requirements, regulations and personal preference.3. Assess and Adjust Your Equipment Maintenance Program

Constantly assessing your preventive maintenance program is an integral part of managing this system effectively. Equipment runtime schedules change, equipment demand changes, personnel change, maintenance technologies and procedures change. Your primary assessment tool is equipment maintenance data. The longer you use your CMMS system the more data it accumulates. Assuming that you chose a CMMS that provides extensive analysis and reporting, this data is now a valuable decision-making store. Use this data for OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and reliability analysis. Choose a CMMS that uses MTBF (mean time between failures) to suggest preventive maintenance task intervals. Using real runtime data to set PM task intervals eliminates guesswork.

Being a proactive maintenance manager you should be adjusting to these changes as needed. Here are some things to look out for and some ideas on how to react. Keep in mind that sometimes there is no substitute for an experienced maintenance manager’s intuition.

Equipment Runtime Schedule Changes

In some situations, preventive maintenance can only be performed while equipment is in a scheduled shut down period. This creates a problem for maintenance scheduling. Here are some ways to manage this situation.

  • Non-maintenance machine operators can complete some simple maintenance procedures such as minor lubrication tasks.
  • Double-team certain equipment when it is down.
  • Adjust maintenance schedules.
  • Use automated maintenance devices, such as lubricators.
  • Implement preventive maintenance procedures during unscheduled downtime.

Equipment Demand ChangesEquipment demand relates to more than just runtime schedule changes. Demand reflects the actual time equipment is running and how much work it performs during the scheduled period. Obviously triggering PMs based upon calendar days would not be appropriate in these cases. It is best to trigger PMs in this case based upon runtime hours, cycles, cuts or whatever the appropriate meter unit is for that equipment. Consequently this equipment should have a counting device or be connected to the system that automatically triggers preventive maintenance work orders through an OPC compliant data connection.

Select a CMMS software solution that reads OPC data directly from the equipment then automatically responds with a preventive maintenance work order at exactly the right moment.

Personnel Changes

The best way to overcome this inevitable change is to have detailed listings of preventive maintenance tasks, intervals, spares requirements and history. Make sure this information is available to pass on to the new person. The more organized your system is the easier is to move seamlessly through this change. Once again, a good preventive maintenance software solution addresses this need.

Additionally, ongoing training and cross training in various maintenance processes can offset personnel change issues.

Changes in Maintenance Technologies and Procedures

An example of this type of change could be a new sensor that provides critical maintenance data to an OPC server. This data in turn indicates the correct PM interval. Another example could simply be running the equipment only when needed. This action saves energy resources and may reduce wear and tear on the equipment.

Software is constantly improving. Desired options with preventive maintenance software solutions are as follows:

  • Is there a role-based permission capability that allows the maintenance technicians to close their own PMs?
  • Is there a mechanism to validate PMs closed by technicians?
  • Does the ability to temporarily assign tasks to an alternate maintenance technician exist?
  • Is it possible to gather runtime data through an OPC compliant data network and issue work orders automatically.

SummaryPreventive maintenance is the one of the primary responsibilities of the maintenance manager in a manufacturing environment. Many maintenance department activities are affected by, and rely on a successful preventive maintenance program. More importantly, success of the manufacturing facility as a whole is directly proportional to the quality of the design, implementation and management of the preventive maintenance system.

Nov 05

Top Tips to Choose the Best Connectors

From smart phones to sophisticated machineries that manufacture them, you can find an electrical connector in many forms. If you are an electrical industrialist or purchase engineer, it is essential to have some key factors in mind before making your final choice.

Here are a few essential aspects to check while choosing a connector:

Power

Power of the connector is a determining factor. The market offers a wide range of connectors with different power-ratings. Identify your requirement and choose the one that meets the purpose.

A low power variant may not give you the expected efficiency and on the other hand, a high power connector can even damage the entire system.

Density

The density of a connector is yet another influential factor in the present day. The higher the connector density, the more compact your machine design will be. This is especially important in case of complex machineries. In order to keep it solid at the same time give exceptional performances, it is essential to choose a high-density connector.

Temperature Resistance

Another important feature that adds to the quality of a connector is its capacity to withstand high temperatures. Most of these connectors are used in intricate machineries and they undergo immense heat exposure during their functioning. High-end connectors are often passed through multiple levels of testing to ensure its temperature resistance.

Speed

The transmission speeds of connectors are quite significant for their overall performance. Many of the latest connectors ensure to meet high transmission speeds. ExaMAX High Speed Backplane Connectors are one of the best you can get in the market these days.

Mating Features

The mating features of any connector play an important role in determining its performance, quality and durability. Before you choose your connector, ensure that you scout through specifications to analyze its mating features. The angle of mating, the number of mating cycles, etc. will be clearly mentioned in the specifications, which help to find the one matching your requirements. Mating cycles are especially important for connectors that are mated and unmated frequently. For a USB connector the mating cycles will be in thousands where as for a board to board connector will have a lesser mating cycle. Blend security into your home with black colored Defiant outdoor lights from howardssupply.com . Shipping is fast from Medina Ohio.

Nov 05

Catering Your Business Meeting

Business meetings can be tedious affairs, often taking up a lot of the day, but they are also the place where things get decided and offer a chance for team members to input their ideas over new products or services. The business meeting may elicit groans from those who have to partake, but they are a necessary evil. Instead of brown bagging it, what about a catered meeting that will give everyone something to look forward to and bring people together again in a less formal way–as they eat?

Most catering companies will have a dedicated menu specifically for the corporate world. They include things that can be eaten on the go, or hand held and of course they will also cater to sit down lunches or dinners as well, depending on your needs. The best part about having your lunch catered is that it arrives ready to eat when you want it to, no one has to leave the meeting to make or put the food out. It also doesn’t matter where you meeting is taking place. Your boardroom, outside or at a client’s place, it doesn’t matter to the caterer as it is their job to take your order to you at the specified time and location.

Catered food is known to be of high quality, because with so many caterers around, no one would ever order from one that had a bad rating either online or by word of mouth. You can also customize your menu to suit a specific theme or to avoid certain allergens that may make some people ill and of course there will be plenty of food to go around, and beverages like coffee and tea are usually also included in the fee.

About the fee–catering your office meeting is cheaper than you may think. It is hassle free for you and your employees of course but it is also better than asking your associates to bring out their own food at the appointed time. This means they’ll sit where they are and eat, but with a catered meal they will get up, fill their plates, chat with each other and eat in groups which is more conducive to the meeting’s overall feel once you get back at it after your lunch break.

Nov 05

7 Tips To Choose An Automation Tool For Your Business Growth

Nowadays, businesses need automation tools to save time and money. As a matter of fact, automation tools bring a lot of efficiency and effectiveness. That is the reason, they are all the rage these days. Before you choose an automation tool for your business growth, make sure you consider a couple things. Given below are a few factors to consider when choosing a marketing automation tool. Read on to know more.

1. Ease Of Usage

Ease of usage and flexibility are the two factors that can affect the performance of the tool. Apart from this, since organizational needs continue to change with time, the tools they need should be user friendly and flexible.

2. Portability

The second most important factor that you should consider is portability of the tool. Actually, this is all about how and what you are going to do is the maker of the tool goes out of business. Apart from this, making sure that the tool is portable can make it easier for you to deal with cost reduction requirements, requirement changes and performance issues, just to name a few.

3. Reporting

Good businesses have goals that are measurable no matter what they do. The same applies to marketing whether it is a modern approach or native approach. If you look at the reporting feature of the automation tool, you will save you from a lot of troubles down the road.

4. Interoperability

Make sure the automation platform can be integrated with the other tools used in your organization.

5. Mobility

Nowadays, mobile phones are used for almost everything. When choosing an automation tool, make sure you consider the mobility factor as well. this will help you greatly in the long run.

6. Customization Or Adaptability

Automation tools that are sold online have standard features. And you need to customize these tools so that they can meet the needs of your organization. So, make sure that the provider is open and adaptable. Besides, the tool should be easy to customize. If the tool can’t be customized, you will be unable to use it down the road. So, you may want to ask the provider of the tool if it can be customized.

7. Cost

There is no doubt that the tool should be reasonably priced. Often, people make their selection decision based on the cost or price alone, which is not a good idea. What you need to do is look at the RIO while choosing a tool. If you are looking for a basic tool with basic features, you won’t have to pay a lot of money. But if you need one with a lot of advanced features, be ready to pay a bit more money. We suggest that you look at the needs of your business to choose a tool that can best meet your needs.

Nov 05

Pricing Strategy – What It Is?

Product pricing is a major and vital focus of market research. The idea is not to find what consumers like, but to establish what they are willing to pay for any given product or service. Then researchers use that information to establish a price tag that is ideal for maximizing the profit for that product or service. There are four primary methods researchers use to establish this ideal price tag: Conjoint Analysis, the Brand-Price Trade-Off, the Gabor-Granger technique, and the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Monitor.

What consumers are willing to pay is not the only consideration in pricing strategy. The market you are in and the cost of production are also important considerations in establishing optimum prices. Some items, like cars and computers, lose value almost the minute they are made. And you do not want to charge $10.00 for something that costs you $25.00 to make and market. Price models and market models are a part of pricing research that are used to estimate prime demand points and the responses of competitors in your market. All these things and more need to be considered when deciding what pricing strategy to use.

The Gabor-Granger technique, also known as immediate pricing, is a survey-based system. Customers are asked if they would purchase a certain product at a specific price. They are asked this question with a variety of different prices. From the results of this survey, the perfect price for each person can be established and then the best average price can be estimated from all the responses. On the plus side, this techniques gives you a quick answer. On the other hand, it may not be especially accurate because people may not give a truthful answer about how much they would be willing to pay for the product. The other drawback is that this approach only asks about a specific isolated product – if consumers are faced with the same, or a similar, product for a lower price, they would likely purchase the less expensive item.

The van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Monitor is also survey-based but, it asks more questions that are more specifically aimed. Rather than one question, as the Gabor-Granger technique, it asks four questions: at what price is it a bargain; at what price is the product becoming too expensive; at what price would you start questioning the quality of the product; and at what price is the product way too expensive to think about buying it.

While it may not seem like a big difference – one question versus four – the four questions of the van Westendorp approach offer more detailed information, making it easier to establish a full range of prices for a specific product. That extra information can then be used to address variation in competitors’ prices as well as variation in individual customer responses.

No matter which specific technique, or combination of them, that you decide to use, there is a quantity of good information you can use to establish the best success for your product or service.

Nov 05

Juggling Living in the Now and Our Businesses

Does anyone else find this quite a tightrope walk? It can be quite mind boggling!

The Past, Future but rarely Present

The business world at large demands projections, business plans, analysis of data and constant checking of figures – which area of our business should we concentrate on next, which country should we try to conquer next? A full time job in itself if we don’t have people to help us out!

All of the above serve to keep us in either the past or the future. The present moment is fleeting and reflects what we have been doing in the past anyway – so why spend so much time analysing it? Surely, by looking at the present moment and where we are – not just in business, but in our lives – we have a pretty accurate yardstick of how we have been creating our lives to date.

Business is a Serious Business

Most businesses are run with the aim of making money – yes, I know – I’m stating the obvious! However, isn’t it just this factor that takes the joy out of many businesses? A bit like a person who loves amateur dramatics, but when they decide to transfer over to the professional stage the joy dissipates because now their lifestyle depends on their success. There is a mantle of seriousness which now envelopes them and, except for a fortunate few, it’s not fun anymore, but business.

This very seriousness is what ties people up in knots, makes them tense, stressed and out of touch with their intuition and guidance. There is too much fear of failure and thoughts of not having enough money to support themselves, needing to go back into work that they hate doing just to make ends meet and even the fear of people telling them ‘I told you so!’

There are many layers to starting our own business. It’s about making ourselves vulnerable because we can ultimately be rejected by the world and nobody wants what we have to offer. The ultimate rejection! It takes courage to take that leap of faith.

We have to be Passionate

Loving what we do is really the only way to have any chance of a successful business, and I’m not just talking about money. I’m sure all of us have had dealings with businesses which have been run delightfully – restaurants that serve the most delicious food for example. Then one day we visit our favourite restaurant and the food isn’t quite as good, the service isn’t quite as personal and, on enquiry, we find that the restaurant has changed hands. The passion and energy of the person/people that started it has gone and, unless the restaurant is taken over by people with equal passion, the customers are going to feel the difference. Is there ever the same level of passion shown for a business which is already a running concern versus one that has been built from scratch with blood, sweat and tears? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

It is our energy which runs our business. We can have unlimited funds to throw at it, but unless we have passion for what we do that money is going to go down the drain, as potential customers will sense that we aren’t in business for the love of it, but purely as a way of making as much money as we can, in as short a time as possible. We won’t show up as people that they can trust!

Getting Things into Perspective

I think that it is imperative to focus on the present moment to stay sane in business. We can easily be forever looking at next month, next year or 5 years hence as to what our business should have achieved by then – along with that is all the pressure of trying to make that imaginary path an actual reality. If we have started a business with borrowed money, we also have the stress of having to report in on our successes or failures to meet financial deadlines. Our stress levels rise exponentially if we are in that situation!

The same as an artist will create a work of art or a piece of music, putting their heart and soul into it, and then tentatively release it into the world in the hope that someone out there will grasp its essence and understand what was in their heart at the time of composition. That is what it is like with our businesses – we put our hearts and souls into them and then hope that somebody, anybody, out there ‘gets it’ and will join us on our journey.

Ultimately, there are no guarantees that our businesses will be financially successful, but we can guarantee that they are emotionally successful on a day to day basis through following our intuition and doing what we love in each and every moment. Using this method will probably mean that projections fly out the window, as we can be lead down an entirely different path and our business could serve completely another purpose to the one we had originally envisaged. We could also be lead to change to another business, or travel another path – who knows. Life is full of surprises!

My point is that when we focus on the future and the money we feel we need to make (sometimes just for worldly validation), we often distance ourselves from the heart of our business, and the reason why we started it. Fear is what we feel when we imagine that we won’t make self-imposed deadlines – again, it’s often all about the money! Then our business suddenly becomes this massive thing which takes over all of our life, and we start to see it as the means of our ultimate glory or destruction – we see our whole lives depending on its success. Then the tables are turned – instead of us being the owner of our business, our business becomes the owner of our life!

I know people who don’t run their own businesses who are working jobs that they absolutely hate, but they fear leaving or losing those jobs because they have tied their whole existence to them. They don’t have enough faith in the Universe to provide for their needs, and transfer the power of the Universe to the company they are working for – making it the be all and end all! If they could just step away from their fears of destitution and homelessness, they would see that the company is merely a tool for the Universe to provide for their needs, and that they can change that and create a much more pleasant and worthwhile experience for themselves.

Similarly, if we can view our business as a tool the Universe has given us to either provide for our material needs and/or our emotional needs, that will help us to lighten up and enjoy the experience. However, if we see our business as our only means of survival, then it’s like having a partner that we rely on to supply every aspect of our happiness! It just doesn’t happen!

Conclusion

I believe that each of us has a unique path to follow and that we are only shown one step of that path at a time. The journey unfolds as we take the next step, and our mind-set and emotions are the keys to our final destination. If we move forward with joy and anticipation, then we find that in every moment. If we move forward with fear and trepidation, we similarly find that in every moment. We can choose to be a creator or a victim – the choice is ours. The good news is that we can change direction at any time – by living in the present moment and being grateful for what we have at that specific time. The more grateful we are, the more things we receive to make us even more grateful. I’m not saying anything new – a lot of people are talking about this and have been for many years. The thing is – it works!