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M-Files Artificial Intelligence now makes Metadata Suggestions

M-File’s next release will include some powerful artificial intelligence services to help end users with metadata suggestions.

I mentioned in another article that the power behind IML’s ‘Intelligence Components’ comes from the integration of Abbyy’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into M-Files. Based on textual content capture and OCR these AI technologies interpret text using algorithms that analyse the meaning of the words and the relationships between them allowing real time classification of complex and unstructured data.

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Even though it sounds complex, it couldn’t be simpler for the end user. Drag a document into the vault and you’re presented with ‘tags’ or ‘suggestions’ that you can click on to populate the metadata fields. The ‘tags’ are based on information in the document that matches metadata already in the vault. For example, your vault may have a list of suppliers stored as metadata to use when adding invoices. When AI reads the invoice, because it matches the supplier name with the one stored as metadata in your vault, a tag is created as a suggestion for you. All you need to do is click on it to add it as metadata, much faster, easier and more accurate than clicking in the field and typing the name to select it.

It doesn’t stop there either; AI based metadata tags can be invoked on existing documents when a property is changed. This is especially useful for business processes where metadata is added or changed along the way in a workflow. Going back to our invoice example, the initial metadata suggested when added didn’t include a description as this is to be populated by the person approving it.

If you want to know more about how to setup M-Files Intelligence Service to make suggestions when adding documents or when a property is changed, please contact us.

Which Backup Media Is Right For You?

Twenty years ago, backup media was easy to get your head around. Floppy Disk, Iomega, CD and Tape Drives, nothing to it.

Nowadays there’s so much more – what method of backup to use, where the backups are stored, how the backups are taken, when they are taken and how the backups are tested to ensure they are restorable.

Floppy disks and Iomega have gone the way of the dodo, but let’s look at current backup media still in use

  • USB Stick
  • Internal Hard Drive (via RAID)
  • External Hard Drive
  • NAS
  • CD / DVD (some people still use it!)
  • High Speed Tape Drives
  • Remote Backup Services
  • Syncing over internet (OneDrive, Google Drive etc.)
  • Cloud Backup

Each of these methods has its place depending on many factors, but don’t fool yourself thinking that a cheaper version will be ‘OK’ - It rarely is.

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Considerations when deciding on a backup media type

Type of backup

Whether you are backing up hourly or daily and what sort of files you are backing up should help determine what backup media to use. For example, if you have a large amount of data requiring a nightly backup, then you could not use DVDs.

Backup Media Cost

It is important to factor in the cost of backup media, as well as the number of devices you require to ensure a consistent and effective backup process.

Backup data security

Identifying what is backed-up and how sensitive that data is can help you decide the most appropriate backup media. If your data is integral to your business, don’t sacrifice quality for savings.

Restorability

You need to weigh the risk of your selected media - how often will a restore fail per 1000 times it is tried? Each type of backup media has its own pros and cons and you need to investigate them properly to make an informed decision.

Hardware Redundancy

Ensuring that your hardware is not going to become redundant over time is extremely important when choosing a media type. Five years down the line, you may need to restore data which seems recent today, and the hardware may be considered obsolete with the restore devices hard to find. Restoring from a 3.5” floppy disk today would not be the easiest task.

Restore speed and time

Depending on the data, whether it is ‘mission critical’ or whether you can do without for a day or more, all plays a part on which backup media to use and what processes to put in place. Consider putting your crucial servers on a quicker restoring media where possible.

These are only a few considerations when looking at backup media. You need to see the complete picture and envision where your organisation might be in five to ten years’ time. If you think back on how things have changed since the 1990s, you can appreciate that being open to new ideas and processes could not only save you time, but also money.

For more information on back-up software and processes, get in touch with one of our highly experienced staff today. 

 

Dimensions & Cost Centres With SAP B1

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SAP Business One allows users to allocate cost centres to transactions with up to five dimensions. The purpose is to be able to allocate a cost centre to a transaction for transactional reporting, as opposed to general ledger account reporting. This provides users a more in-depth view of what is taking place in each area of the business.

Let’s take an example of this where dimensions come into play; say you have a general ledger account number and the accounting team does not require multiple segments for reporting (this would create too many accounts to monitor). Instead they enable cost accounting within SAP B1 by going to System Initialisation – General Settings – Cost Accounting and enable ‘Use Dimensions’. Generally, the option to display distribution rules ‘In Separate Columns’ is selected.

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Once saved, the dimensions can then be setup for cost centres to be created per each dimension. A cost centre is a company, unit or division that performs a specific business function. Users define the various cost centres and can then assign revenue and expense accounts to those cost centres.

The cost accounting feature, and the ability to assign dimensions and distribution rules, is a very versatile function. Once setup correctly, cost centres can be allocated to transactions at the time of posting, providing users a complete view of the costs related to running each department. In addition, it allows you to generate reports that reflect the distribution of costs across selected dimensions.

This provides management ability to better understand its operations and can assist with future planning and deciding what areas require improvement. Through utilising this function, SAP Business One can help businesses better manage their operations and provide them with access to necessary data and information across all business lines or departments.

Note that any changes to your system should be discussed with your consultant prior to proceeding. Ensuring that workflows are not affected, that reporting requirements are achieved and that other areas are correctly setup to allow for cost centres to be allocated correctly is integral to achieving the desired result.

If you are looking to implement cost centre accounting within your organisation, please don't hesitate to contact our team today!

What Makes A Good Website?

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Can you remember the last time you used the phone book or newspaper to find a product or service? I can’t.

The internet is now the main tool used to search for whatever you need; products, services, assistance, etc. If someone is looking for something and your business is a potential candidate, you need to be seen and you need to look good.

Your website is typically the first impression a potential customer gets when investigating your business and what you offer – you maintain a tidy and appealing store for when potential customers visit, why should your website be any different?

What makes a good website?

Modern, clean and easy to navigate

  • An effective website is modern, easy to navigate with all necessary information in easy reach – this includes contact details, location and opening hours if you have a store. It’s important that your website isn’t too overwhelming to the visitor, saving most of your information for pages other than the landing page.

Give the customer a solution to their problem

  • Typically, the reason that someone has arrived on your site is that they are looking for a solution to a problem. It’s imperative that you offer the customer a solution, or an easy way to get started on the right track. Whether this is a product section or an offer for a free quote online, it’s important that the customer knows you can help them within a short time from arriving on your site.

Your website needs to look great on all platforms

  • As of 2017, it’s estimated upwards of 35% of all web traffic in Australia was done on mobile devices, whether a mobile phone or tablet. It’s crucial that if a visitor uses their mobile device to view your site, that your site is just as accessible and clean as the desktop version.

Make it look professional

  • When a user is viewing your site, it’s not a good look if there are visible spelling mistakes, or even blurry images that have been blown up too big. It pays to regularly ensure that all links are still active, with no dead links – it’s never a good look when a user hits a ‘404 Not Found’ error

The result of not having an effective website is your potential customer using that most useful of keys – the back button. If you want potential customers to stay on your site, envision yourself as a potential customer and keep the above in mind.

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If you have questions about your website, or what we can provide for you, contact Advance Business Consulting below.

Would You Consider Blogging On Your Own Intranet?

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It is now commonplace to see a blog section on any website that offers products or services. It allows that company to connect directly with their customers, to keep them informed about what is going on inside the company, or updates on the industry itself. Through a blog, information on new products and services can easily be pushed to common social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Although a passive method to reach out to your client base and potential customers, it is an indispensable tool for communication in today’s technology age.

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How can I utilise a blog internally?

An internal blog is only seen by employees, and generally hosted within your intranet. Internal blogs allow for more freedom of expression and can be expanded upon or limited as deemed by management. A few reasons why you need an internal blog:

  1. Information Sharing

An internal blog is a powerful tool for information and knowledge sharing. If there are changes, (a new employee, a new product, etc.) then blogging is a great medium for sharing that information. You can setup automated emails to staff, ensuring users get a notification to read the blog or set it up to display on your intranet home page for a certain period of time. Not only is this an effective way to share information, it also ensures employees are up-to-date on the latest company and industry news.

  1. Communicating Company Vision

It is easy for employees to forget the company vision, goals and core values. Culture takes over from those visions and goals, and periodically employees need to be reminded of what the company stands for and the direction it is heading. An internal blog allows you to regularly communicate your company vision and values to employees via your intranet platform, helping employees feel more connected to your organization.

  1. Increased Communication

An internal blog is a great addition to other communications tools such as Yammer and Slack (and more). Allowing all employees to create blogs (approved by a content manager), creates a great forum for discussion. This not only promotes open communication between employees, but also boosts employee engagement and morale. If you are an organization with many face-to-face meetings, a blog helps keep the conversation going long after the meeting is finished.

  1. Growing the Company Community

Hosting an internal blog is a great way to build a sense of community. Employees can use the blog to promote upcoming events, increase awareness for causes or give praise and congratulations to other colleagues.

What we think..

Contributing to an internal blog is the best way for your organization to share information, communicate company vision, increase collaboration and help staff feel like they are part of a larger community. Establishing an internal blog can give as many as, and if not more benefits than a public blog.

Would you consider blogging on your Intranet?

Consolidate Your Data and Make It Easier To Access

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As organisations grow over the years, so does the assortment of tools that are employed for various projects and departments. This often causes a headache for employees and business owners while information can become scattered amongst several disparate systems and locations.

Generally there are different products on different platforms with different security and data requirements. Together they assist a user do their job, but they are on different servers and possibly even different locations with different access and user rights.

This is a problem that affects many organisations today, and the problem will only get worse as more data is made available to employees.

By using an Enterprise Portal organisations can optimise their information management and empower their staff with personalised information in one place, sometimes with just one click.

An Enterprise Portal can be designed to merge this disparate information into one place, ready for the user to click on a button to access as well as interact with the program. An example might be where information is gathered from the:

  • ERP system
  • Production planning and control system
  • Employee timekeeping system
  • Inventory management

to be made available to the user with a simple mouse click. An extra benefit here is that users don’t need to log into each individual system separately which saves time.

The security level is placed on the user’s login to the Enterprise Portal as to how much they see and what rights they then have within each produce. Effectively you now have one secure system that accesses all of the information relevant to that particular employee’s function.

Further, if an employee enters the number of a certain product component, all information on this component is displayed immediately on the portal page, including:

  • How this product is selling
  • What revenue the company achieves with this component
  • Whether there have been any complaints
  • An image of the component
  • How much time has been estimated for producing this product
  • How much time is actually needed to manufacture this product

The data for this comprehensive information page is compiled from different systems, and provides the validated employee with the right information just when and where they need it.

It’s a holistic view which allows employees to serve their customers and managers quickly with relevant information. When a customer calls to enquire about an orders ETA, customer service staff can access relevant information, quickly and with accuracy as it is linked to inventory and manufacturing systems.

Contact us to learn more about how the Advance team can assist with your technology needs.

Implementing a Business Intelligence Solution

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Considerations when Implementing a Business Intelligence solution

As the type and number of Business Intelligence solutions have grown, considerations relating to the implementation need to be taken into account.

To help you avoid potential costly mistakes, consider the eight common mistakes organisations do make when they purchase a Business Intelligence solution and make the most out of your Business Intelligence software investment

Not properly defining the business problem the BI solution will solve.

Companies will jump in the deep end and purchase software before there is a definable problem that it will resolve. In some cases organisations will purchase simply because they have found that someone else is using it, so they need to as well.

Instead step back and look at your problem statement, what is needed to be able to resolve it, and then look for a BI solution that will give you that result.

Not getting acceptance from the end users of the system

Unless users are going to see a benefit to a BI solution offered and will use it, then the solution is going to fail. Bring in all stakeholders at the beginning of the process to ensure that not only the problem exists, but that everyone agrees that the solution offered will solve the problem.

Not factoring in security

Make sure that the BI solution you plan on purchasing has the ability to ensure that sensitive data remains secure and is not available for just anyone to look at.

Don’t be sold by the “sizzle”, you are buying the “sausage”

A common sales terms is “Sell the sizzle not the sausage”. Go past the bells and whistles and really concentrate on features that will matter at the foundation of BI solutions, data collection and integration between disparate data. Missing the nuts and bolts of what a BI solution should offer could leave you out in the cold when it comes time to grab all that data to present.

Not choosing a scalable solution

You want to be sure when looking at a BI solution that it will adapt and grow with your business. If it is already slow to query your data how will this affect your business two or five years down the road? The same could be said for the size of your data. As your data grows your BI solution will need to keep up with it. If you buy small you could find yourself looking for a better solution sooner than you think!

Not factoring in the mobile workforce.

In some cases a simple KPI displayed on a smartphone is as useful as any report that could be printed to screen or paper. Being able to put information that is easily digested at your employee’s fingertips is becoming more important as the workplace becomes more diverse geographically.

Rushing implementation

If you take one thing away from this blog, take this one! Rushing implementations is sure to cause problems down the track. Have a clear idea within your organisation about how long each phase is going to take and discuss that with the BI solution partner to ensure that everyone has the same expectations. Double check throughout the buying process that any changes have not changed this expectation as typically there I some scope creep as each party adds in or offers or wants more functionality.

Breaking down the project and prioritising specific outcomes you want to achieve and communicating them is extremely important. Also consider stages within the project and whether milestones will be based on reports being delivered in set time frames.

Insufficient training and consulting

Budget in plenty of training and familiarisation sessions for users of the system. Also factor in how much consulting / programming will be required to complete each project / facet of a project. Look for online training videos to have users get the most out of the training and in some cases replace initial training. Knowing what you are “up for” early in the buying process avoids disappointment later when the true cost is found out. Remember too that although best guesses can be used to judge how long a project or sub project may take, these can blow out based on inadequate information or improper definitions of the business process.

BI solutions can identify opportunities, highlights risks and forecast trends if properly implemented. Foresight into the whole solution process, from identifying the problems the organisations have, the selection of the BI solution and the implementation of that paramount to achieving that result.

For more information on Business Intelligence or other IT Solutions contact us