Monthly Archives: May 2003

Along with tens of thousands

Along with tens of thousands of other people, I�m beta testing
Microsoft Office 2003. They are probably doing it because they are
Microsoft Solution Partners or something like that. Or maybe they
are CTOs and they want to know if they should upgrade to increase
their enterprise�s productivity when the software ships. I�m
doing
it because it costs $24.95 to sample all the new products and see
whether it�s worth paying $499 to have them forever. Right now, I
have them until November 30.

First impressions: Office 2003 is prettier. It�s all blue, and
the applications seem to hang together better, or at least they appear
to because of the pretty GUI. Outlook has some new views for reading
email, and seems to work better with my spam filter, Matador, than
Outlook XP does.

I was really looking forward to installing Outlook 2003 with
Business Contact Manager, but I tried to get it to finish installing
three times, and each time I was informed that there was an error
initializing the server, and that I should check the server logs and
the error logs to see what it was. I don�t have a server. Maybe
that is the problem. Then, after the error message came the most
depressing message of all: “rolling back the action.” The program
then proceeded to uninstall itself and tell me finally “no changes
have been made. Installation failed.” Bummer. The installation,
c’est moi.

The CD Software packet of Office 2003 comes with a lot of mystery
meat: One Note 2003, Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft
PortalServer, Windows Server, InfoPath, and Exchange Server. I
didn�t install them for the same reason I don�t cook: it�s not
necessary for a single person. Some things you just don�t need to
know.

I was especially saddened to know that I, as a single person, could
not use the Shared Workspace feature in Microsoft Word. If I were
lucky enough to have lots of friends on my network, I could create a
shared workspace on the web with its own URL. I could invited other
people into my workspace, and let them collaborate with me on my
documents. I could assign them tasks, store documents in a private
library, create links to references needed for the document, and
receive “dynamic updates” when someone in my workspace altered my
document.

In fact, Microsoft has now made it possible to do something that I
have never really wanted to do: create a document by committee.
Documents created by committees are never really interesting to the
reader, although they are politically fascinating for the writers,
each of whom wants to have the last word. Ah, that little rant makes
me feel better for being alone at my single computer, networked only
to my other computer in the bedroom.

I think, however, if I were still at Intel, writing press releases
that needed six levels of approval before they vanished into
oblivion (EE Times), this shared workspace thingy would be desirable.

Two other features that come with Office 2003 are Front Page and
Publisher. I am not a web designer, but I thought since I had the
chance, I would try to design a simple site in Front Page. No
chance. I have never seen a less intuitive piece of software. If I
had started from scratch with HTML code, which I don�t know, I
would
have been less confused. Fortunately, the simpleminded can still
create simple web sites in Publisher. And that�s because
Publisher
is WYSIWYG, which Front Page is not. I tried to embed a video clip
into my home page, and it was like throwing it down a black hole. It
disappeared into a little box and was never heard from again.

Our old favorite, Powerpoint, has a few spiffy new features: it has
a rehearsal timer, and a shared workspace feature of its own. No new
slide layouts (what a shame) and no really funky new background
designs. Probably best not to fix something that is not broken
(although it�s overexposed).

I�m incompetent to talk about Excel, since I still don�t know
how to
use a spreadsheet to do anything but the most routine functions. But
I did get a laugh when I found the shared workspace function for
Excel, because I figure that makes it easier for those corporate C-
types to collaboratively cook their books.

It takes forever to install the Office 2003 Beta, and that may be
because of all theweb functionality . I suspect it takes time to
throw out all those tentacles into other people�s networks and
software. Microsoft, however, has honed this snooping to a fine art –
-and they�ve named it “collaboration.”Is there a spin doctor in
the
house???

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I have always suspected that

I have always suspected that most sales forecasts contain a bit of optimism. That�s how companies miss the moment for layoffs, spiraling down into bankruptcy. It�s also how people like Dennis Koslowski and Andrew Fastow report to analysts that they are going to make money in the quarter when, indeed, they did not.

A company�s own sales staff is difficult enough to keep track of. It�s all over the region, the country or the globe, spending your money in search of sales. Salespeople are notorious for keeping leads to themselves, and for fudging probabilities to make their projected numbers. They have to be optimists or they would not be able to endure the life of a salesperson.

To make matters more complex, many companies don�t even have a direct sales force; they sell through networks of distributors and manufacturer�s representatives. The largest companies employ multiple channels.

Realistically, this means a VP of Sales, in order to make accurate forecasts, would have to be in touch with all the reps, all the distributors, and all the salespeople that touch his organization. And that all those people would tell him/her the truth. Many of these people and their organizations are not under his control � nor can he easily communicate with them. They�re outside the organization. Before XML, collaboration outside the organization was impossible. Now it�s merely imperfect.

Because this process is, at best, fraught with guesswork and inaccuracy, factories are built and never used. Unnecessary leases are signed, locking companies into long-term expenses. Warehouses are full of inventory with no buyers.

Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the company is not ready for increased demand. Intel shut down a General Motors line once during my brief tenure with the company, because someone had mis-forecasted GM�s demand for a certain embedded controller. Intel didn�t schedule the factory time to produce GM�s part. General Motors, which was putting together automobiles on what it thought was its own schedule, was thus brought to a halt by a supplier�s faulty forecast.

Thus, much is currently made of fixing the supply chain and the demand chain � or of how to keep the manufacturing processes rolling without breaking the bank. The supply chain is �where do I get the materials to produce my product?� , while the demand chain is �how many of these am I going to need for the next quarter?�

Another complication is that most techology sales are collaborative. This means more than one person, and often more than one company, is involved in a sale of any magnitude. A customer has a problem. A manufacturer�s rep dreams up a solution to this problem, a solution requiring his manufacturer�s part. This is called a design win. But let�s say this part is a chip, and it�s going on a board, and the board is going into a computer. How do the chip supplier, the board manufacturer, the computer assembler, and the marketing company handle their joint responsibility for getting this product to the end user?

Who actually made the sale? Who gets the commissions? When? How does each company time their inventory to meet the demand for this single product? How do they communicate with each other? What�s in the pipeline, or funnel, that constitutes the sales process?

The complexities involved in these technology sales have created a big business opportunity for Escend Technologies (www.escend.com), the leading sales and order management solution for manufacturers and representatives.

Escend Technologies (www.escend.com) provides sales process solutions for the semiconductor and electronic components markets. Its product enables manufacturers to deploy �funnel management� solutions without massive IT investments in infrastructure, services and support. Its customers include fortune 1000 electronic component manufacturers.

Escend�s new offering, Analytics and Reporting, provides complete sales funnel management, including opportunity analysis by confidence or sales stage. The funnel may be viewed by key customer, sales territory, product line, month, quarter or year.

�The key benefit of this product is its ability to provide automated updates of business trends to management in MS Outlook,� says Mike Penta, Escend VP of Marketing and Business Development. �Management can see design wins by product line or business unit, and Sample Request Trends by product line and sales territory.�

Visibility into the sales pipeline has historically been cloudy for manufacturing companies that use multi-channel commerce strategies, as well as for their reps, who must track their own designs through global manufacturing processes to ensure compensation. Escend�s software may provide a light at the end of the tunnel.

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I have twenty-five years of

I have twenty-five years of photocopied medical records in my house. They constitute my medical history, and I keep them in case I have to change physicians. The internal medicine group of which I�ve been a patient for those twenty-five years has several rooms full of records as compendious as mine � the files of all their patients. My late husband, a radiologist, used to rent the basement of his office building simply to house the thirty-five years worth of mammograms and chest x-rays of his patients. He paid rent for space that sometimes didn�t see a human being for days.

Each time a patient makes an appointment, the dutiful staff in a doctor�s office pulls out the patient�s files and puts them in a rack outside the door of the examining room. In a split second before entering the room, where I�ve probably been kept waiting for twenty minutes, the physician glances at the records to remind herself who I am and why I might be there. In the hallway she strives to decipher all the graffiti that has been entered on my chart, at least recently.

Wouldn�t it be nice if she had my record on a monitor in the examining room where she could pull it up on a screen, glance at it in decent light and review it with me? Wouldn�t it be great if she could see an image of my lumbar spine when she needed it? Wouldn�t it be nice if she could write a prescription by pressing a couple of keys and pull-down menus?

She can. She just doesn�t. Small physician practices like hers (four physicians and a PA) could not, until recently, afford electronic medical records (EMR) software. Because everybody thinks physicians are rich, the companies that make EMR systems price them for the Mayo Clinic, not the Main Street Medic. Even the systems that are more affordable are either incomplete or too difficult to train on.

That�s why Roy Frieband, an osteopathic physician from Pennsylvania, decided to get a master�s degree in medical informatics from the Arizona School of Health Sciences and create his own software. He left his practice in the east and took a part time job at a clinic in Casa Grande while he simultaneously went to school, wrote the software, and beta tested it on his colleagues. He built his own web site, too, and created his own demo. Last week, he finally launched it�PatientMinder�. It�s the flagship product of his new company, Mindware Medical LLC;

Trial versions are available for download at http://www.mindwaremedical.com/dl.html. Testimonials from from former computerphobic skeptics who are now converts are at http://www.mindwaremedical.com/pmtest.html

PatientMinder is an EMR developed by a physician for physicians. Written while being used in a busy family practice, it was battle tested under real world conditions and designed from the ground up to be stable, user friendly, and flexible enough to fit into the work flow of a medical office. Patient Minder is geared to the solo and small group office practice, and really shines in that setting. It’s priced to provide an excellent value, and a quick return on investment. It�s not the most beautiful software on earth, but it works. It has a real possibility of ending the mountains of paperwork that clog the reimbursement pipeline and raise the cost of health care.

PatientMinder lets the physician place partially finished charts on hold and finish them later; track phone calls, prescription refills, and other nondirect patient work;easily generate prescriptions, excuses, referrals, and letters; and access patient data from any internet-enabled computer
PatientMinder also has a user-friendly interface; context-sensitive help;smart capitalization and other aids for easy data entry; files for immunization records; smart filtering to see only the information you want; six levels of user access & audit trails to aid HIPAA compliance; a reminder system; one click chart summaries ; and a variety of financial reports and practice data reports.
Why do you need to know this?
Because PatientMinder was not developed by a company that got three rounds of financing, hired a development team, a visual identity manager, a marketing specialist, and a senior management team. It was developed by one man, writing his own software, financing it out of his pocket. Roy soldiered on before, during, and after the Internet boom, creating and testing his product practically unassisted.
And now it�s on the market, and the doctors will vote with their feet, their mice, their pocketbooks.
Whatever happens to this product, Roy Frieband, D.O. will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has been a true entrepreneur.

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Embracing Change

I own the domain name changeexpert.com, and I own it for a reason.
I spend all day telling clients and potential clients that the
timeline for whatever new product they are proposing will be twice
as long as they think it will be and cost twice as much. And then I
have to explain that the reason is the reluctance of human beings
to embrace change. Even when it is for their own good or their own
pleasure, if anything is “different” or “unfamiliar,” people will
adopt it only slowly. Books have been written about this. (Geoffrey
Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm,” for example.)

Change is frightening to most people. One of the biggest deterrents
to the adoption of new information technology is the threat of
change, and one of the biggest drivers of the dot-com meltdown was
the inability of new companies to force markets to change before the
companies themselves ran out of VC money. Everyone’s projections
were naively optimistic: the hockey stick ramp up to $100 million
in three years. It doesn’t happen that way. Markets move slowly.

But they do move. The market for broadband Internet access is a good
example. The pundits thought broadband would be immediately accepted
because the Internet was so groovy. But only after about five years
of widespread Internet usage have people become fed up with dial-up
ISPs and willing to spend more money for DSL or cable modem.

In general, people don’t change unless 1)they are forced to, or
2) the advantages are so overwhelming that they can’t ignore them. I
can’t tell you how many of my friends said they wouldn’t
learn about computers, wouldn’t get on the Internet, wouldn’t use a
digital camera. These technologies have now become so pervasive that
even Luddites have been forced to adopt them or risk losing touch
with colleagues or loved ones. But it has taken twenty years.

When things change too fast, we refer to the change as disruptive.
At the moment I write, the RIAA is trying to avoid change to its
existing business model by sending millions of instant messages to
users of Kazaa reminding them of copyright infringement. But the
model for the distribution of music is well on the way to permanent
disruption. The RIAA had better quickly find a way to build the
intellectual property costs into a piece of software, other
merchandise revenue, or live performances, because music over the
Internet wants to be free. The market is slowly but indubitably
changing. CD sales are down 15% over the past two years.

Rarely is disruptive change created by design, alhtough many
techniques have been tried to get people to change behavior. In the
lab, rats are shocked to retrain them. In the workplace, until
recently, change management experts accompanied every deployment of
enterprise software. But hundreds of abandoned CRM deployments
show the difficulty of forcing distruptive change.

SMS (phone equivalent to instant messaging) is another example.
Phone companies in Europe and Japan live and die on SMS. But
Americans have yet to adopt it. Smart cards, a simple way to
dispense cash and share information, have also been slow to catch on
in the US. Eventually, all of these will happen. So will HDTV. But
you can’t rush them; they happen in their own time.

In general, I consider myself open to change. In fact, I’m more
open to my own changes than the people around me. (Ask some of my
former husbands.) Last week, one hour before I was scheduled to
leave for South Africa, one of my dogs decided to bite a neighbor’s
dog. As the neighbor’s dog was being carted off to the emergency vet
with one ear bloody and hanging, I smelled change coming in my own
life. It was not the time to hop a plane for Capetown and tell my
neighbor I’d see him in two weeks. I took a deep breath and
cancelled the trip.

It was interesting to watch the reaction of my family and friends
when I announced that I hadn’t gone. It was actually easier for
me to change my plans than for them to accept the change.

Namaste,
Francine

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