iPadCTO http://ipadcto.com iPad News,Technology and Training for C-level Executives Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:08:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Google Apps, A New Frontier – Part Two: How Mobile Work Influences Platform Selection http://ipadcto.com/2014/07/15/google-apps-a-new-frontier-part-two-how-mobile-work-influences-platform-selection/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/07/15/google-apps-a-new-frontier-part-two-how-mobile-work-influences-platform-selection/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:08:44 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22338 The realm of applications for business has changed significantly because almost every business objective must now factor in mobile work.

When I first began to develop complex business applications, platform choices were few and conventional wisdom helped to narrow down the possible approaches to data management and integrated services. Back then – and by “then” I mean the technology era prior to functional mobile device availability (~2008) – the requirements for business applications were relatively simple. Today, this is not the case.

Since the advent of useful and powerful mobile devices such as iPad and iPhone, I have seen a sharp increase in the demand for business-centric solutions that are predominantly cloud-based and crafted with lightweight scripting environments such as javascript. These are applications that leverage server infrastructures such as Google Drive and which can be instrumented to provide very effective automation processes and integration with other wed services.

Few people realize that it’s possible to build significant operational processes on a platform that was previously regarded as a woeful and substandard attempt to replace Microsoft Excel. I’m referring to Google Docs of course, considered by most Office users as a distant fourth place finisher in the race to attract millions of very satisfied Excel business users.

But there’s another element of modern business applications that is impacted by mobility; SQL database systems. While SQLite emerge on iOS devices early, advances in connectivity and bandwidth availability has dampened the demand for device-level storage and data manipulation. Business users – by and large – don’t want their data on their devices any more than they want the data on their desktops. And to be clear, the number of devices per business user is growing for many, shrinking for very few of us.

And there’s the case for the new frontier of business apps – information and processes must be freed from the personal-centric devices to live somewhere else.

Enter Mobility

Excel and SQL databases continue to be the go-to applications for managing data if (and only if) the information:

  • … doesn’t require collaborative activities between personas that are mobile and stationary
  • … doesn’t need to integrate with other processes
  • … doesn’t participate in automated processes

Information that aligns with these attributes is unlikely to be mission-critical in the context of a modern application. In my view, these are the attributes of the new definition of legacy data processing. Modern business apps are driven by exactly the opposite of these attributes.

Collaboration, Integration, and Automation

A modern business app that embraces mobility and the capacity for operational computing performance in the field, typically recognizes collaboration as central to processing and utilizing critical information artifacts. We tend to get the sense that business applications are creating more distance between users and demands for interpersonal interaction are waning in the face of highly integrated systems. However, the opposite is true if you factor in the increasing opportunities to perform work at a mobile level.

This alone has created wholly new application systems that require new connective tissue between people who previously had no capacity to compute at a work site. A surgeon can access critical patient data from her phone. A rescue team can fully document an accident on site with an iPad Mini. These were never possible until mobile devices matured and connectivity and bandwidth reached a tipping point.

Automation is the glue that connects processes, while collaborative capacity is pathway that enables operational efficiency.

Platform Selection

I’m highly sensitized to the biases that come from knowing specific programming languages or those influenced by conventional wisdom.

In light of the recent advances in modern browsers, mobile application development, and the forthcoming Swift language from Apple, consultants need to be wary of the religious debates that typically sustain a degree of ignorance. For my own decision processes involving platform recommendations, I like to set aside all that I may have known to focus on business requirements. Before recommending any particular strategy, I spend a fair bit of time imagining the total set of process and automation requirements in the context of the functional specifications. We tend to focus on functional specifications but there are also process and automation requirements to consider.

In a mobile climate, it’s now extremely important to develop platform specifications that encompass collaboration, integration, and automation. This is not easy to do and typically clients are not inclined to fund such efforts. However, the efforts of this exercise can often pay big dividends for both consultant and client.

Little Things that Add Up

Recently a client came to me with a business intelligence application she wanted to build. Conventional wisdom of her IT staff suggested that a MySQL server was the right place to collect and manage all the data and that the ideal language to implement the process and rendering requirements was PHP. This is not an uncommon choice for web apps.

I took a look at the requirements and setting aside the mobility piece, the BI charting services, and the collaborative needs, I was inclined to agree. But when I factored in those three little parts, I started to notice a pattern – lots of little requirements that could not be easily created in PHP began to mount up.

Here are some high points concerning this project but which are also very likely to be common among many business apps in the new frontier that encompasses mobile work.

  • Email processes – both inbound and outbound require that we craft and send automated email notifications and that we also parse inbound messages for key data and collaborative activities.
  • Document processes – the ability to create reports and other documents that can be converted to PDF format and distributed to other users.
  • Charts and graphs – the ability to generate and embed charts and other operational data into documents and email messages.
  • UI and UX – the ability to provide user access to a wide variety of tabular data in a spreadsheet format; the added ability to create ad-hoc tables based on user-defined calculations and formulas.
  • Big Data – the ability to automatically align operational data with large industry-segment data sets  and plot relationships and other BI-related displays.
  • Content organization – the ability to store related document artifacts that created internal to the process as well as externally generated content.
  • Search – the ability to easily and effortlessly find data stored in documents, email messages, and tables.
  • Security context – the ability to create specific share rights and accessibility in a secure environment.
  • Local sync – the ability to freely move content artifacts to and from local systems and mobile devices while also embracing the ability to contribute to the application externally generated documents.

Imagine building all of this stuff in a variety of systems and then integrating it – very costly. But ALL OF IT comes almost for free in a platform such as Google Apps. Every one of these requirements is addressable with the Google Apps APIs and SDKs available with its various email, document and drive services.

Try to create a PDF report like this from MySQL data and PHP. The data in this example was collected via a Google form, stored into a spreadsheet, drawn from the spreadsheet and combined into some analytics, and then transformed into a word processing document, and then conveyed for collaborative purposes through a shared folder.

Circling back to the pieces covered by conventional wisdom – PHP and MySQL – is Google’s platform able to accommodate these essential needs as well?

Google Apps Script (GAS)

The scripting environment known as GAS is a variant of javascript designed to provide extensions to the many data types supported across the Google platform. For example, there are methods to locate a row in a spreadsheet, or save a paragraph into a document. The SDKs and methods available to manipulate Google artifacts are numerous it’s a very large collection of programmatic helpers designed and implemented to make it swift work to craft scripts that manipulate common and well as unique data types and content.

This is a formidable development environment that keeps pace with all Google services enhancements. Why? Because Google [itself] builds a number of it’s own services with this same platform.

Data Management

Anyone with MySQL development experience will be reluctant to consider storing data in a spreadsheet; a Google Docs spreadsheet no less. However, it’s inaccurate to think of a spreadsheet in Google Docs as just a spreadsheet. Certainly, it is not capable of extensive relational data representations, and it’s a spreadsheet for heaven’s sake! Um, yeah – a “spreadsheet” capable of storing millions of rows of information – and all with a user interface that everyone understands how to use.

So lets be realistic – a spreadsheet? Seriously?

Yes, you can build business apps that rely on spreadsheets as the data storage model. Business do it all the time; Excel has a long history of businesses running everything from a spreadsheet. However, there are three observations we need to consider before blindly assuming that’s what I’m advocating.

  1. I’m not suggesting that business information that flows through a Google Docs sheet remain in a Google Docs sheet indefinitely. I’m not ruling it out, nor am I ruling it in. The basic premise of data storage in a spreadsheet provides significant advantages to developer and users alike. However, they must be considered in the grander context of managing all business data and storing it for the long run.
  2. The Google Docs spreadsheet UI is an application sitting atop a very powerful data model; indeed, the same data model that powers Google Fusion and other data services in the Google Platform. In that sense, it is not really a spreadsheet. And given that you can apply SQL queries against it suggests that it possesses a far different technological underpinning than most would conclude based on a cursory glance.
  3. Integrated into the Google Apps scripting model is a noSQL database engine (ScriptDB). Moving content to and from noSQL tables from the “spreadsheet” tables is simple and easy to implement. Lastly, Google provides a cloud SQL database system – Google Cloud SQL – with methods for easily transforming the data storage of spreadsheet information.

And while there are no specific relational capabilities in spreadsheet tables, there are ways to overcome this through script as well as formulas.


It’s wise to consider new models in crafting today’s business solutions. Doing so in context to the full and complete requirements will open new pathways to achieving rapid development outcomes that shorten time-to-market while also mitigating costly management of servers and other infrastructure components that require attention and maintenance effort.

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Google Apps, A New Frontier – Part One: The Realization http://ipadcto.com/2014/04/04/google-apps-a-new-frontier-part-one-the-realization/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/04/04/google-apps-a-new-frontier-part-one-the-realization/#comments Sat, 05 Apr 2014 02:10:36 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22318 Google Apps LogoSometimes I look back and realize I’m not very bright.

I should have recognized patterns far earlier than I did. Coming to grips with the opportunities that Google Apps presents is one of those things that makes me feel like I’m blind. I became a little less near-sighted when I recently visited colleagues Dawson Roark and Joe Schram [credit to Joe for naming this blurred vision New Frontier - more about that another time].

Why didn’t I see this coming three or four years earlier? Was I so busy living in the moment that the world of business computing had profoundly shifted gears without even the slightest hint of a tremor? And all without ringing a single bell in my slightly aged brain?

Indeed, I missed it. I was preoccupied, more accurately – I suffered a level of techno-distraction from that which I perceived to be the true shifts in computing.

I was too busy with social media, web services and security trends with best of breed bizmeths that helped me “close the gap” on granular, hyperlocal, long-tail holistic “cat herding” bullshit to help my clients “right-shore” mission critical, new economy “low hanging fruit” that eliminate pain points that were discovered in a deep dive “peel back the onion” exercise to reveal a “boiling ocean” of paradigms “outside the box” — blah, blah, blah. I took a fucking shower, rinsed off the slime, sketched a simple diagram and realized what a dumb ass I’ve been.

The future of business computing was simple, and I was already doing it and doing it really well.

Every five minutes, in a far away place, an army of servers spring into action. Intelligently they analyze email messages, correlate content with data tables, and perform a series of automated tasks … a veritable three ring circus of information acrobatics — all for me — just me.

And the tasks are both varied in nature and integrate across a wide array of information systems and services. This is a framework of business solutions designed and implemented by me for one purpose – my own self interests.

This is the underbelly of Google Docs driven by GAS (Google Apps Scripts) and fortified with dozens of platform services that can be snapped together like Lego® blocks. It’s a realm that few business people know about. And oddly enough, it’s not even what makes Google Docs increasingly more attractive than decades-old Microsoft Office.

Many of the business people I’ve interviewed about Google Docs, and some who have become clients, believe that the primary attractor to Google Docs is its near-free price and relatively good performance as an office suite fully unbound from the desktop. They couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

What few realize is that the promise of lower cost and a robust cloud-centric availability are just a couple of the faint stars in a broad and far reaching constellation of technology designed to revolutionize the way we compute for personal and business advantage. In total, Google Docs, and all things connected to it, are capable of challenging the fundamental relationships we need to perform computational tasks for business or pleasure.

The growing constellation of interconnected services loosely bound by a common and easily understood scripting model, has little to do with the growing desire for businesses to escape from Microsoft Office. But it has everything to do with sustaining the appetite for businesses that take advantage of the hidden side of Google Docs.

Google Docs is a label that is so misleading and under appreciative of its true nature, that describing it in accurate terms requires extended discussions with fine beverages and deep exploration, although, not necessarily in that order.

By using Drive and Docs and a small fraction of its scripting capabilities for a variety of enterprise-grade data visualization, automation, and reporting solutions, I think I’ve unearthed the incentives that have triggered a tsunami of [sustained] defections from Microsoft Office.

And by now you’re asking yourself – what does any of this have to do with iPads in the enterprise? It’s my observation that everything Google Apps impacts mobile computing, ergo, iPad is dead center of the discussion. This may seem like a thin argument today, but it will become clear in Part Three – The Orchestra.

Beyond reasoned abandonment of Office and adoption of Google Docs, is the broad blue ocean of opportunities that Google Docs provides and which largely goes unnoticed by new adopters until they are enlightened. It’s an ocean of possibilities that have few boundaries – and it’s lying there waiting to be exploited by all who might wade in and dream just a little.

Part One: The Realization is simply the introduction of a seven part series exposing my own enlightenment and observations about Google Docs, Drive, and all of the services that form the connective tissue for doing things different, simpler, and more efficient.

If you have success stories where Google Apps is central to your own solutions, please drop me a note; I’d love to hear about your successes (or failures). And be sure to watch for Part Two – The Hidden Side of Everything Google Apps.

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Seriously, Mobile is Replacing Desktop PCs? http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/27/seriously-mobile-is-replacing-desktop-pcs/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/27/seriously-mobile-is-replacing-desktop-pcs/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:17:03 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22312 A new MobileIron study conducted by Ponemon Institute shows that mobility has introduced disruptive business and employee demands that are causing CIOs to shift to a new model of enterprise IT. The study, called “The Changing Mobile Landscape in Financial Services,” was released today and surveyed over 400 IT professionals in the financial services industry about the future of BlackBerry, mobile apps, BYOD, mobile strategy, and the new IT capabilities required to succeed with enterprise mobility.

Mobile is Replacing the Desktop

According to the report, CIOs expect, though are not fully prepared for, a migration from traditional desktop and laptop devices to the new generation of mobile smartphones and tablets. In a very limited context this will likely play out. However, there are large swaths of enterprise workers who cannot work effectively with a tablet.

  • 69 percent of respondents say their CIO believes smartphones and tablets will replace most desktops and laptops.
  • Only 38 percent of CIOs are confident that they can address the risks posed by these new mobile platforms.

IT and Business Priorities are Misaligned

I see this disconnect in client IT organizations every day. Although financial services organizations are rapidly expanding their mobile investments, there is a substantial disconnect between IT and the lines-of-business on mobile strategy:

  • Strategy gap: 50 percent of respondents say their company does not have a mobile strategy. Of those companies with a mobile strategy, 45 percent say it is not aligned with IT objectives and 36 percent say it is not aligned with business objectives.
  • Urgency gap: The line-of-business believes BlackBerry migration is a much higher priority than does IT. On a 10-point scale, 55 percent of respondents rate the level of urgency from the line-of-business as a 9 or 10, while only 15 percent rate the level of urgency from IT as highly.
  • Accountability gap: 48 percent say the line-of-business is most responsible for their organization’s mobile strategy, while only 16 percent say that responsibility sits with the CIO. 19 percent believe it is a shared responsibility.

MobileIron’s Vice President of Strategy, Ojas Rege, expands on the upcoming availability of Microsoft Office for iPad by adding -

“CIOs expect a large percentage of their PCs will be replaced by mobile devices. Microsoft Office has been the productivity standard on most corporate PCs. Now, with employees preferring to do their work on smartphones and tablets, many of those PCs are going away. The days of the single operating system are over. Microsoft realizes that, and Office on the iPad now gives users a consistent productivity suite across PC and mobile.”

Perhaps Microsoft realizes [now] that Office on iPad is a good idea, but I think it’s a little late. Their extremely mobile  Office customers have already fled the scene looking for alternative solutions, and it’s unlikely they’ll get them back even if Office for iPad is an awesome iOS app.

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SlideShark: EPCM Strategy and New Anywhere Solution Emerge http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/18/slideshark-epcm-strategy-and-new-anywhere-solution-emerge/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/18/slideshark-epcm-strategy-and-new-anywhere-solution-emerge/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 15:45:40 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22306 It’s a busy month for SlideShark, the mobile presentation technology that represents, by far, the best strategy for managing PowerPoint presentations on iPad.

SlideShark Anywhere

2012-09-18_0815.pngThis is a cool idea – provide a web-ready interface to SlideShark. In most cases, presenters, sales people, biz-dev professionals will always have iPad handy. However, there’s something compelling about the agility added by being able to fire up a browser and present, anytime, anywhere.

With SlideShark Anywhere, companies can give employees the flexibility to access approved presentations from one place and present them using the most convenient device at hand – this could be a big desktop, tablets, laptops, or smart phones. And SlideShark’s extensive reporting – including data on shared and viewed content, decks presented, broadcast session attendees and more – is available, regardless of whether the presenter used a mobile device or computer.

At first, I though this new addition was simply expecting a modern browser to work. However, there are some limitations depending on the operating system of the device. SlideShark Anywhere is accessible directly from the SlideShark.com content catalog for SlideShark Team Edition subscribers. The high points of this new offering available to PC, Mac and Windows 8 tablet users include:

  • Access approved presentations from their Web browser (Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10 and 11; Chrome; Firefox and Safari).
  • Easily navigate slides using the intuitive, Web-based interface. Arrow buttons and/or mouse clicks advance animations and slides.
  • Play presentations, full screen, during in-person meetings. A tray with slide thumbnails makes it easy to jump to previous or upcoming slides.
  • Broadcast presentations live over the Web and invite others to follow along. When broadcasting to remote attendees, users can access a presenter’s view – with an animation counter for each slide, and collapsible sections for speaker notes, slide thumbnails and broadcast information. Presenters receive data on who attended and how long, and which decks and slides were shown.
  • Easily switch between presenter view and full screen.
  • Click to share presentations and track viewing activity to see, for example, when prospect interest is hot.
  • Eliminate version control issues. When a presentation is updated, the latest copy is automatically pushed out to everyone with access to the deck – on any device. The new copy overrides the previous version, ensuring version control and message consistency.

There’s a pretty good demo video available – definitely worth a closer look if browser access to your managed presentation content is important.

SlideShark Webinar

Next Tuesday I’ll be the opening speaker for a new Webinar for SlideShark  to outline the dangers of poor presentation content management in an increasingly mobile world. The proliferation of the iPad and other mobile devices in the enterprise transforms every moment and every location into a presentation opportunity. I plan to explain why it makes sense to rein in risks and regain control of PowerPoint content by adopting an enterprise presentation content management strategy (EPCM). Bob Bristol, SlideShark VP will sweep in behind my comments to deliver the nuts-and-bolts aspects of driving your enterprise or small business toward greater productivity and control of slide deck content.

  • FREE Webinar:
    Losing Control of Your Content?
    New Exposure in a Tablet-Driven World
    When: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 12:00 PM ET

Gravity Span

Related to enterprise presentation content management is GravitySpan – a simple (free) tool that can help you assess risk and exposure concerning your own presentation content. Give it a try.

The PPT assessment begins with a general attempt to discover all PPT files hosted on the target domain. A full count of PPT documents hosted across the primary domain and all subdomains is performed. In the process of gathering the broad topography of publicly hosted PPTs, the assessment tool also harvests the URLs of 50 highest ranked PPT files indicated by search engines. The top-ranked 50 PPT files are then used as the sampling basis for a variety of tests to address these deeper queries …

  • Are URL tracking parameters present?
  • Is there a high incidence of page redirects in use?
  • Are there copyright indicators in the document abstracts?
  • Is the company name in the document title?

The final phase of on-domain research discovers the propensity for presentation content to be exported to PDF files. Once again, by reviewing the 50 highest ranked PDF documents hosted on the target domain that exhibit PPT export attributes, statistics are compiled to determine the general incidence level of PDF-based presentation publishing. Using the data gathered by these queries, various assertions, estimates, and statistics are generated for the assessment scorecard which is provided by email a few minutes later.

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Brainshark Launches ‘SlideShark Anywhere,’ Extending SlideShark’s Benefits to PCs, Macs and Windows 8 Tablets http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/18/brainshark-launches-slideshark-anywhere-extending-slidesharks-benefits-to-pcs-macs-and-windows-8-tablets/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/18/brainshark-launches-slideshark-anywhere-extending-slidesharks-benefits-to-pcs-macs-and-windows-8-tablets/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 14:42:35 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22303

Now, SlideShark Team Edition Users Can Access, Present and Broadcast Slide Decks From Anywhere – Whether on Their iOS Device, Computer or Windows 8 Tablet – and Track Viewing Activity


WALTHAM, Mass. — March 18, 2014 — Brainshark, Inc., the leader in cloud-based business presentations, today announced the launch of SlideShark Anywhere – extending key features and benefits of SlideShark to PC, Mac and Windows 8 tablet users. Previously available only on iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch), SlideShark now enables business professionals to instantly access, show and share up-to-date PowerPoints, and track presentation views and activity – whether they’re using their iOS device, computer or Windows 8 tablet. Available as part of the app’s business version, SlideShark Team Edition, SlideShark Anywhere maximizes SlideShark’s value for organizations whose sales teams and other presenters rely on multiple devices.

Since its launch two years ago, SlideShark has met explosive demand, with corporate and individual users across 150+ countries, 2.5 million downloads, and 6 million decks and 180 million slides uploaded to the service. Organizations worldwide, including NASA, Nerium International, Delta Dental, Australia’s Nine Network and more, rely on the solution to address PowerPoint’s incompatibility on the iPad – enabling users to show and broadcast decks the way they’re meant to be seen, and distribute and manage presentations in the cloud. Businesses also use SlideShark Team Edition to provide centralized access to timely, approved content, and track presentation views and activity – including who’s watching content/when, and also who’s presenting it (which deck, time spent on each slide and more), providing otherwise unattainable insights into sales activities and content usage.

Now, with SlideShark Anywhere, companies can give employees the flexibility to access approved presentations from one place and present them using the most convenient device at hand. And SlideShark’s extensive reporting – including data on shared and viewed content, decks presented, broadcast session attendees and more – is available, regardless of whether the presenter used a mobile device or computer.

“Our corporate users have been eager to have SlideShark available on multiple devices, and we’re very pleased to provide this functionality via Web browser through SlideShark Anywhere,” said David Klein, Brainshark’s vice president of product management. “Now, SlideShark Team Edition users who don’t have iPads, along with those who use multiple devices – and want to use their iPad on the road and PC at their desk, for instance – can access SlideShark presentations from a single location and take advantage of the app’s presentation features, analytics and other benefits.”

SlideShark Anywhere Features

SlideShark Anywhere is accessible directly from the SlideShark.com content catalog for SlideShark Team Edition subscribers. PC, Mac and Windows 8 tablet users can:

  • Access approved presentations from their Web browser (Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10 and 11; Chrome; Firefox and Safari).
  • Easily navigate slides using the intuitive, Web-based interface. Arrow buttons and/or mouse clicks advance animations and slides.
  • Play presentations, full screen, during in-person meetings. A tray with slide thumbnails makes it easy to jump to previous or upcoming slides.
  • Broadcast presentations live over the Web and invite others to follow along. When broadcasting to remote attendees, users can access a presenter’s view – with an animation counter for each slide, and collapsible sections for speaker notes, slide thumbnails and broadcast information. Presenters receive data on who attended and how long, and which decks and slides were shown.
  • Easily switch between presenter view and full screen.
  • Click to share presentations and track viewing activity to see, for example, when prospect interest is hot.
  • Eliminate version control issues. When a presentation is updated, the latest copy is automatically pushed out to everyone with access to the deck – on any device. The new copy overrides the previous version, ensuring version control and message consistency.

To view a demonstration of SlideShark Anywhere, please see http://bit.ly/ss-anywhere. More information on SlideShark Team Edition, including how to sign up for a free, 30-day trial with access to SlideShark Anywhere, is available at http://www.slideshark.com/Products/For-Business.aspx.

About Brainshark, Inc.

Brainshark enables companies to improve productivity with cloud-based business presentation solutions for sales, marketing and training. With Brainshark’s easy-to-use solutions, customers transform static documents such as PowerPoints into dynamic, mobile-ready content that can be accessed quickly and viewed as on-demand video presentations or presented live – anytime, anywhere. They can also measure the effectiveness of their communications in ways never thought possible and use these insights to take action. Thousands of companies – including half of the Fortune 100 – and millions of individuals rely on Brainshark to increase the impact and reduce the cost of their business communications. Learn more at www.brainshark.com.

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DropTask, A Game-Changer for iPad Users http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/09/droptask-a-game-changer-for-ipad-users/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/09/droptask-a-game-changer-for-ipad-users/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 02:12:27 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22291 Screenshot of Google Chrome (3:9:14, 8:00 PM)I’ve been using DropTask (iTunes App Store, $4.99 for the app, $6.50/month for Pro version) for some time now and while I have absolutely no time to blather on about how great this service and its iOS apps are, I’m taking the time anyway. This can’t wait if you’re the type who’s always probing for a better way to capture, manage, and organize others around tasks.

In the GTD (getting things done) class of tools, DropTask is the bomb. Without question, this product has elevated my productivity by 10 to 15%. I can feel myself actually getting organized and becoming more proactive about status updates from others I depend upon. And with the recently released Pro version, I’m likely to see more productivity gains with the new project templates capability.

Screenshot of Google Chrome (3:9:14, 7:50 PM)

It’s all about circles…

When I first saw the user interface I was compelled; drawn in quickly by a fetching idea – tasks are circles; groups of circles representing topics; multiple topics inside a project. Circle sizes represent task complexity or effort. Simple. Effective. Surprisingly easy to understand.

Tasks can also have detailed sub-tasks and it’s easy to upload attachments to tasks such as photos, documents, etc.

Its a Team Product Too!

And DropTask is team-friendly – invite colleagues into projects, collaborate in real-time, and document activities across all devices. One of the nicest features – a pleasant request to a project member for a status update on progress for a task. This is ideal because its a quick and non-threatening way to nudge people.

iPad, Desktop, Laptop, iPhone

This was critical for me – no task management tool could help me unless it worked the same across all these computing devices. Despite the wonderful iOS implementations, especially for iPad, DropTask also works seamlessly on modern mobile browsers.


Booooo!!! I really want to integrate my other favorite task-related find for 2014 (TimelyApp), but it doesn’t look like there’s an API on the horizon. At the risk of ending this article on a sour note, the lack of an API is my only gripe. For most users, this won’t be an issue.

I cannot think of a more important iPad app to recommend for 2014 than DropTask.

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Timely Redefines Time Tracking, Seriously http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/03/timely-redefines-time-tracking-seriously/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/03/03/timely-redefines-time-tracking-seriously/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 01:18:23 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22282 Screenshot of Google Chrome (3:3:14, 6:19 PM)It’s not often that I get emotional about software services, but TimelyApp has me singing a new tune about my former pain and misery of time tracking.

I spend a lot of time consulting and it’s a real problem finding enough time to track time. That was then, this is now. TimelyApp, a SaaS model designed for desktops and laptops, also works great on iPad and likely any modern tablet browser. It’s not perfect in mobile browsers but it’s good enough to post entries and stay ahead of the time-tracking monster. And while there’s no native iPad app, there is an iPhone app (iTunes App Store).

For mobile use, I tend to avoid lots of field entries anyway because Timely supports this great feature that allows me to plan my work in advance by client, by project and by day. You create time entries as “estimates” for the days that lay ahead. When you actually perform the tasks, you change the estimated time to actual time; takes just a few seconds. It’s an ideal tool for setting your work calendar in advance. In fact, it even looks like a calendar. This video says it all…

The calendar metaphor is the game-changer and creator/founder Mathias Mikkelsen has really opened an interesting can of worms with this unique and compelling application. By turning the concept of time-tracking on its head, the delicate blend of time planning and utilization within days, weeks, and months transforms the difficult task of time-tracking into a wonderful and organizing experience.

But make no mistake – this is not just time-tracking for consultants. Everyone who needs to account for time can use this whether you bill for time or not.

Reporting is what you’d expect and there’s plenty of room for improvement. There is a PDF and Excel export but presently no API (rumors are floating about that there may be one in the making). I’d love to see more colors for project selection and there’s presently no way to slice of a portion of a time event as non-billable. There are work-arounds though.

Timely has changed how I work – it is not so much a time-tracker as it is a tactical work planner that will transform your days from chaos to a simple, effective and methodical approach they truly helps you stuff done.

So, take a test drive of TimelyApp and see if it helps.

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Accellion kiteworks Flies Higher http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/28/accellion-kiteworks-flys-higher-2/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/28/accellion-kiteworks-flys-higher-2/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:57:57 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22272 It’s no secret that I have been critical of Accellion’s user interface in past mobile offerings. As a [former] enterprise IT architect, I have always praised Accellion for its security, collaboration features, and passionate focus on mobile app integration. Getting an enterprise mobile solution right is not easy; few companies have created experiences for enterprise workers that can be described as “awesome”. But today, one more can be added to the short list.

It’s a pleasure to see the newly branded and completely redesigned user experience emerge from this company in kiteworks (yes, all lower case). With this new release, kiteworks positions Accellion as a serious contender and ready to command respect in the enterprise mobile collaboration and file-sharing space.

kiteworks is a secure mobile file-sharing solution that enables users to securely collaborate on files and projects on iOS devices and other mobile platforms. kiteworks also provides organizations with an intuitive re-imagined user interface that empowers users to seamlessly access, share, and manage content across devices with a streamlined and consistent experience across mobile platforms and modern web browsers.

This video sums it up nicely.

But the magic doesn’t end with the pleasurable new UI; Accellion has invested heavily in the ability to perform round-trip editing of Microsoft Word documents. This is an important feature because despite the sandboxing aspects of iOS (for example), allowing other apps access to sensitive information is fundamentally a security breach.

Among the many IT-friendly mobile management aspects of its enterprise solution, Accellion prevents security issues created when passing documents to external apps by retaining complete control of documents in the environment, even when you need to tweak a document or author an entire paper. The architecture they’ve employed ensures the greatest possible security without constraining people who just want to work on their documents in a seamless and effortless manner. The move to encapsulate the editing process a secure cocoon will result in hyper-productivity for enterprise workers while also eliminating training resources necessary in multi-app integrations.

A tip’o'the hat to Accellion engineers. Nice work.

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VIPOrbit: Contact Management That’s Out of this World http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/19/viporbit-contact-management-thats-out-of-this-world/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/19/viporbit-contact-management-thats-out-of-this-world/#comments Sun, 19 Jan 2014 12:49:09 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22252

Reviewing VIPOrbit was a difficult task and ironically, a key element of VIPOrbit is all about managing tasks. It was difficult because I’m clearly not in the cross-hairs of the user segment that this product seems ideally designed for.

I’m an outlier and I’ve said it many times here and over on Google+. I don’t perform tasks, maintain contacts, or manage my day with precision. I’m a real mess when it comes to picking a process or a task and contact manager and sticking with it. In fact, I’m always wasting significant time expploring new ways to elevate productivity and the outcome is typically, less productivity in the long run.

There are exceptions, of course. Timely (TimeplyApp) is a good one. It attempts to eliminate the concept of time-tracking by blending it into a calendar management process. I use it because it chips away at my disorganized outlier behavior. I’ve tried to employ VIPOrbit but it just hasn’t clicked – it’s not ringing the bell (so to speak) nor is it demonstrating a clear path that will help me in every day time, contact, and task management and fits into my process.

There’s Something Very Smart About This App

Setting aside by own bias for what may be a very poor work process, it’s obvious; VIPOrbit (available in the iTunes App Store) possess a number of personal productivity features that are aligned with a philosophical approach which is clearly far more intellectual than other tools available today. And this is especially apparent in the mobile apps sector. Contact management apps (by and large) seem to be seem to be stuck in a funk; a cesspool of sameness with little ongoing innovation or new ideas. VIPOrbit is an exception and deserves a close look by any iPad-toting executive.

The product design team comprised of Mike Muhney, Max Pucher, and Kristi Kuykendall, came together to elevate the craft of building and tracking relationships. These are each seasoned veterans in the contact management space with exceptional previous innovative successes in precisely this space.

It’s All About the Conversations

It’s no coincidence that the name contains the word “orbit” – that’s what this app is all about – the ability to carve out small(er), more manageable chunks of data about people related to a conversation or topic. VIPOrbit is more about managing conversations than the meta-data that represents each of the participants. Certainly, contact information is critical in any personal contact management approach, but by providing the glue to create orbits, Mike and his team have indeed created a new experience for busy executives and managers.

An orbit is simply a way to corral people around a specific topic or objective. You use orbits as a way to organize your most important ongoing discussions. This seems to be an ideal way to maintain focus on contact management activities that need to remain top-of-mind for you and the people in your orbits. Clever idea indeed.

This video describes the basics of VIPOrbit, specifically it’s ability to sync acorss Mac and iOS devices. It also indicates the syncing service is sold separately, however, this service was recently made free as indicated in this press release. Take a look – it’s a very compelling story especially if you’ve recently ditched your Windows PC and you’re pursuing your computing future in all things Apple.

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VIPorbit Delivers Free Sync and Backup Across Contact Management Apps http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/19/viporbit-delivers-free-sync-and-backup-across-contact-management-apps/ http://ipadcto.com/2014/01/19/viporbit-delivers-free-sync-and-backup-across-contact-management-apps/#comments Sun, 19 Jan 2014 12:36:45 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22247 Now Calendars, Contacts, Tasks and Communications Are Always Up-to-Date, Secure and Available Anytime, Anywhere

DALLAS — January 9, 2014 — VIPorbit Software International, Inc., (http://www.viporbit.com), the leading provider of contact management apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad, today announced that its VIPsync and Backup My Stuff services are now available for free. Previously offered as fee-based services, the company’s goal is to provide every customer with free, easy, secure and up-to-the-minute access to their contacts, calendars and communications across any Apple device, anytime, from anywhere.

“The world in which we live and work is increasingly mobile, with the average consumer using multiple devices daily to manage their calendar, contacts and tasks,” said Mike Muhney, CEO and inventor of VIPorbit. “With free sync and backup services, your contacts, calendars and tasks are always secure, up-to-date and ready for work – or play – whenever and wherever you are.”

In October, the company launched a 30-day free trial of VIPorbit Contact Manager for Mac, its flagship product, which is available on the Mac App Store for $49.99. The iPhone version of VIPorbit Contact Manager for iPhone is free and the iPad version, VIPorbit Contact Manager for iPad, is free for up to 100 contacts or $19.99 for unlimited contacts. By adding sync and back-up capabilities for free, previously priced at $4.99/month or $45/year, customers can now tie the entire family of contact management products together into a single, efficient, mobile solution that works across their Mac, iPhone and iPad devices.

On January 23, VIPorbit CEO Mike Muhney will host a live webinar, ‘Getting Started with VIPsync,’ to demonstrate how simple it is to set up and use the service. This webinar is free, but seats are limited. To register, visit: http://bit.ly/VIPsyncDemo1.

About VIPorbit Software

VIPorbit Software International, Inc., specializes in contact management apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad that help business professionals build better relationships with contacts, clients and customers. VIPorbit is led by co-founder and CEO Mike Muhney, a recognized relationship management expert, who was the co-inventor of ACT!, which established the contact management category in 1987.

Visit http://www.viporbit.com for more information; follow the company at http://www.facebook.com/viporbit, @VIPorbit on Twitter and http://www.linkedin.com/company/viporbit.

VIPorbit is a trademark of VIPorbit Software International, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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Free eBook Recommends ‘10 Ways to Build a Better Business Network’ http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/21/free-ebook-recommends-10-ways-to-build-a-better-business-network/ http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/21/free-ebook-recommends-10-ways-to-build-a-better-business-network/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:00:00 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22238 (Ed note – I’ve started using this app and while I’m a poor judge of what works best for contact management, there’s something compelling about VIPorbit because it organizes information in the context of relationships and the conversations that ensue – i.e., “orbits”. I still have lots to learn about the approach designed into this app and how to leverage its model. More to come on this app certainly. In the meantime, get the app and be sure to take advantage of the free ebook.)

DALLAS — November 21, 2013 — VIPorbit Software International, Inc., (http://www.viporbit.com), the leading provider of contact management apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad, today announced the release of a free eBook, 10 Ways to Build a Better Business Network. Designed for anyone using contact management software, the eBook outlines clear strategies for developing more effective relationships and offers tips and techniques for increasing their competitive edge. To download, visit http://www.viporbit.com/campaigns/freeebookoffer/.

“A person’s net worth is often defined by their network. Think of this eBook as a User Manual for building a better network, specifically for those using a contact management application,” said Mike Muhney, CEO and inventor of VIPorbit for Mac, iPhone and iPad, and co-inventor of ACT! software for Windows. “The goal is not to amass a giant database of acquaintances, but rather to deepen those relationships and build authenticity, trust and uniqueness with every interaction. The tips and techniques offered are designed to help anyone put today’s technology to work to build more meaningful relationships and take their business and life to the next level.“

Co-written by Muhney and Max J. Pucher, Founder of Isis Papyrus, the 25-page eBook brings to life the power of personal, mobile-driven connections. Much of the content is excerpted from a book the two wrote, entitled Who’s In Your Orbit? Beyond Facebook — Creating Relationships That Matter. The free eBook includes:

  1. Make Stronger Connections. Your net worth is used on your network. Making stronger connections with those in your network is a long-term investment.
  2. Define Your Orbits. “Orbits” describes the groups of people who are connected to you, not just by happenstance, but by strong reciprocal bonds and common goals.
  3. Organize Your Orbits. The road to meaningful relationships is paved, not with good intentions, but with successful strategies.
  4. Track Your Interactions. Simple doesn’t mean easy, but anything worth doing is worth doing well.
  5. Stay in Touch. Staying in touch helps others keep you top-of-mind.
  6. Make Messages “Them-Centric”. Don’t work so hard to communicate what’s important to you. Instead, make strong connections by focusing on what’s important to others.
  7. Fit in Face-Time. Find creative ways to fit in “Face Time” into activities that you would be doing anyway.
  8. Sift Your Orbits. Having the right people in your Orbits requires sifting out the wrong ones.
  9. Add Depth and Breadth. Orbits don’t exist apart from your social network but rather within them. Don’t stop with an invitation to connect. Delve deeper to create the kinds of meaningful connections that matter.
  10. Start Your Own Orbital Journey. Don’t just plan…DO!

Family of Contact Management Apps

VIPorbit provides enhanced features beyond those built into standard OSX productivity apps, and tracks calendars, contacts, tasks and social media activity all from one place. It includes:

  • A 30-day free trial of VIPorbit Contact Manager for Mac (available on the VIPorbit.com web site) with upgrade to the full version available for $49.99 from the Mac App Store.
  • VIPorbit Contact Manager for iPad is free-to-try for up to 100 contacts, with an in-app upgrade to unlimited contacts for $4.99, and VIPorbit Contact Manager for iPhone is free. Both are available on the iTunes App Store.
  • VIPsync Service is available for $4.99/month or $45/year to provide updates across the Mac, iPhone and iPad. Back Up My Stuff service is included free-of-charge for added protection and peace of mind.
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Brainshark Announces 5 Million Presentations Uploaded to SlideShark http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/05/brainshark-announces-5-million-presentations-uploaded-to-slideshark/ http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/05/brainshark-announces-5-million-presentations-uploaded-to-slideshark/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 14:59:22 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22231

Brainshark’s 2-Year-Old App for Showing PowerPoints From the iPad and iPhone Has Users in 150+ Countries – With 2 Million Downloads and More Than 25,000 SlideShark Presentations Viewed Each Day

WALTHAM, Mass. — November 5, 2013 — Brainshark, Inc., the leader in cloud-based business presentations, today announced that more than 5 million presentations have been uploaded to SlideShark by users around the world. SlideShark is Brainshark’s popular app for viewing and showing PowerPoints from the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.


Launched just two years ago, SlideShark has since seen explosive usage. The app solves a major problem for mobile professionals – as PowerPoint, the No. 1 business presentation tool, doesn’t render correctly on the iPad. SlideShark eliminates garbled decks and frustration, letting iOS users view PowerPoints the way they’re meant to be seen – with fonts, animations, graphics, hyperlinks and videos intact. To get started, users upload a PowerPoint to their free, secure, online account, and SlideShark converts the deck into an iOS-ready file.


Brainshark is also announcing additional major milestones and traction for SlideShark, including:


  • 145 million slides uploaded to SlideShark.
  • More than 8,700 presentations uploaded each day (steady rate in 2013).
  • 1 SlideShark presentation viewed every 3.6 seconds (25,000+ viewed every day).
  • 2 million+ app downloads (2 downloads/min., 24×7!).
  • Corporate and individual users in 150+ countries – from Canada to China to Saudi Arabia, and nearly half the countries in Africa. NASA also used the app under the ocean to train for asteroid exploration.
  • Rated 4.5 stars out of 5 in Apple’s App Store, based on 4,000+ user reviews.
  • SlideShark is a top “Productivity App” in the App Store, and is in the top 2 percent of all 1M+ App Store apps, based on downloads.
  • More than 25 industry awards, including most recently, Gold-level wins in both the Stevies’ American Business Awards and International Business Awards programs. Within the last month, SlideShark was also named a winner in the Golden Bridge Awards and Small Business Influencer Awards programs.









Free with business upgrades available, SlideShark serves as a platform to securely distribute, track and manage presentations in the cloud. In addition to faithfully rendering PowerPoints, the app has cemented its status as a presenter’s best friend. Users can broadcast their presentations live over the Web, view slide notes while presenting, access content from popular cloud storage providers (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, EMC’s Syncplicity, Citrix ShareFile and Microsoft SkyDrive), and more.


SlideShark Team Edition, the business version of SlideShark, enables companies to apply permissions-based access to content; centrally manage, distribute and update presentations; and track content usage in the field. Organizations including Cleveland Construction, Delta Dental, Denver International Airport, Guerbet LLC, Heartbeat Ideas, Nerium International, the Networking Toolchest, Nine Network, Teledyne Marine Systems, Visionix and hundreds more rely on SlideShark Team Edition for their presentation management needs.


“The 115 members of our sales team are equipped with iPads, yet PowerPoint is – and always has been – the tool we use to build presentation materials. We wanted sales staff to be able to access and give presentations instantly from their mobile devices – without having to ‘dumb down’ and rebuild all their PowerPoint assets to function in an iOS environment,” said Warwick Sharp, group sales operations manager for Nine Network, a top-rated television broadcaster in Australia, and part of Nine Entertainment Company. “SlideShark Team Edition solves this challenge for us. In addition, as a TV broadcaster, video quality is very important to us. SlideShark lets us display high-resolution program clips that are embedded in our slides – effortlessly and intact – for maximum impact with advertisers.”


SlideShark Team Edition has reached all corners of the globe. Technology resellers worldwide – including En Pointe, Softchoice, Tech Data and more – have inked deals to resell the app to their customer base.


“We’re excited to announce these milestones for SlideShark – chief among them, the fact that the app has hit the 5 million upload mark, a testament to its value and continued innovation,” said Joe Gustafson, Brainshark’s CEO. “As the industry standard for showing PowerPoints from iOS devices, SlideShark continues to solve business challenges for mobile presenters around the world. SlideShark empowers mobile users to deliver presentations in a hassle-free and professional way – maximizing productivity and agility.”


About Brainshark, Inc.

Brainshark enables companies to improve productivity with cloud-based business presentation solutions for sales, marketing and training. With Brainshark’s easy-to-use solutions, customers transform static documents such as PowerPoints into dynamic, mobile-ready content that can be accessed quickly and viewed as on-demand video presentations or presented live – anytime, anywhere. They can also measure the effectiveness of their communications in ways never thought possible and use these insights to take action. Thousands of companies – including half of the Fortune 100 – and millions of individuals rely on Brainshark to increase the impact and reduce the cost of their business communications. Learn more at www.brainshark.com.



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5 Million Presentations Uploaded to SlideShark http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/05/5-million-presentations-uploaded-to-slideshark/ http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/05/5-million-presentations-uploaded-to-slideshark/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 12:00:00 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22233

The headline is a story that will break in a few hours (see press release). It’s a well-established factoid that about 30 million PowerPoint slide decks are created every 24 hours.  I’m happy for Brainshark and most important, their enterprise SlideShark customers who are getting their arms around the growing crisis in presentation content management. Too bad bazillions of enterprise presentations are still swimming in a sea of compliance risk, most of them unable to be updated reliably or cost-effectively.

Very few businesses assert a common publishing strategy concerning presentation content. The result is a free-for-all — pervasive access to out-of-date presentations across Intranets, social networks, and public search engines. This environment leads to continually expanding risk and a growing universe of presentation artifacts that are nearly impossible to manage. The popularity and ease of creating new presentations have resulted in a sustained and pervasive flood of business information flowing throughout enterprises, much of it into public view.

And who’s to blame? Microsoft, of course. PowerPoint is uncivilized.

PowerPoint: Tactically Aligned to the Individual

PowerPoint is intended to be used by an individual. It was designed in an era when every aspect of computing was intentionally optimized toward personal, desktop computing. Today it has a limited capacity for collaborative commenting and version control features, but at its core it remains an application that is selfishly tilted toward individual needs. And because of this, presentation documents are typically regarded as built by, and promoted for use by individuals. Slide deck creators become personally entwined with the content and generally feel that they can do as they please when it comes to promoting and distributing their creations.

Failure to manage PowerPoint presentation assets in every business context – from desktops to laptops; from netbooks, and smart mobile devices – tend to create gaps in management continuity. And PowerPoint is so tactically and conveniently aligned to the individual that the business suffers from a vacuum of operational memes. 

PowerPoint itself is designed as a tactical application that is selfishly tilted toward individual needs, not teams; not enterprises; not projects; and certainly not toward risk mitigation or knowledge continuity. In this sense, PowerPoint is uncivilized; its network and mobile awkwardness incites risky sharing and poor collaborative behaviors. PowerPoint needs parental guidance. 

And in spite of creating a huge liability in terms of risk, inability to maintain, and content management challenges, PowerPoint gets a pass – the march toward presentation chaos continues unabated.

SlideShark: Mobile Insulator

The ideal approach for supporting mobile presentations, especially in an iOS climate; requires a layered technology stack. At the base is a unified repository of slide decks. At the top, where the sales force employs iPads and iPhones to deliver presentations, is an app optimized to present PowerPoint slides – this is what SlideShark does well. In between, is a transformation layer that magically shapes PowerPoint files into a cloud-based collection of resources that can literally be tapped whenever the need to present arises.

And the by-product of using this amazing presentation solution on iPad are the silent advantages in knowing your presentations aren’t out in the wild. Every propspect is tracked with respect to your slide decks, and updating them everywhere they are accessed is a one click upload process.



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70″ Klipfolio Dashboard In About An Hour http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/03/70-klipfolio-dashboard-in-about-an-hour/ http://ipadcto.com/2013/11/03/70-klipfolio-dashboard-in-about-an-hour/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2013 21:07:14 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22224 Three years ago a client asked me to configure and install a 70″ flat panel dashboard with three rotating screens of KPIs using the Klipfolio dashboard. Setting aside the build-out effort for the three screens of KPIs, the total estimated cost was north of $10,000 and potentially many days to configure and implement the final solution.

Today, it’s about $1,500 and only takes about an hour to hang the display, configure the display for network access, and broadcast the dashboard. And what’s truly amazing is that the bulk of the cost is in the display itself (about $1,379).

It is now affordable in many business scenarios to spread flat panel dashboards around, and they don’t all need to be 70″ monsters to be effective. Some use cases require only a 38″ display – combined with mounting hardware, it’s less than $425.

The trick to doing this so effortlessly is ChromeCast. It costs about $35 bucks, installs in less than five minutes, and transforms any flat panel display into a high-resolution Klipfolio-ready presentation tool. 

Certainly, some iOS fans will argue that AppleTV is also an option in this mix. While true, using AppleTV for a fixed business dashboard is like turning off a light with a wrecking ball; you’re wasting a lot of tech energy and a few bucks to boot. Plus, you need to worry about a power source for the AppleTV and where to hide the HDMI cable.

With ChromeCast, you plug the dongle into the HDMI port and then use the integrated power cable to draw current from an unused USB port in the TV. No cables, setup in seconds, and connected to wifi in a few more minutes.

Broadcasting to ChromeCast from any chrome browser tab is also free and effortless. Just download the free ChromeCase extension, launch the Klipfolio dashboard, configure the display options, and select the ChromeCast option.

The last element you need to worry about is the cost of a mounting bracket (about $129 – cheaper for smaller displays) and performing the mounting task itself. The last time I installed a 70″ display it took me about two hours. A professional can do this in 30 minutes.

No Worker Left Behind

With an abundance of large flat-panel displays in the sub-$800 range and the ubiquity of ChromeCast, I predict a surge in special purpose, fixed-location dashboards that are designed specifically to support more granular operational activities.

Given these off-the-shelf parts, Wifi ubiquity, and the ease of disseminating business intelligence metrics, no worker should be without the best data available to help them do their jobs better.

But Wait, There’s One More Thing…

As I mentioned above, any Chrome browser tab can cast its display to ChromeCast. But what’s not obvious is that any Chrome browser tab may also be instrumented through scripts. This makes it possible to utilize an array of dashboard end-points depending on the time of day. 

There could be certain metrics displayed in the morning and entirely different metrics and content at noon. This idea gives rise to the the idea that BI dashboards should be programmed similarly to the ways we program all types of content. Indeed, a company with a network of displays must think about how to blend a variety of content types to best serve its audience.

How iPad Fits In

iPad itself is a display monitor with the essential elements of integrated ChromeCast functionality. Remember PointCast? Imagine BI channels streaming out to a network of iPads. Imagine enterprise worker’s iPads subtly shifting from dashboard to dashboard based on precise location as determined by Estimote beacons.



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Canva: Gateway to InfoGraphics? http://ipadcto.com/2013/09/23/canva-gateway-to-infographics-2/ http://ipadcto.com/2013/09/23/canva-gateway-to-infographics-2/#comments Mon, 23 Sep 2013 17:15:17 +0000 http://ipadcto.com/?p=22222 I just received beta access to a pretty cool graphs design system – Canva. It presents itself as neither a BI tool nor an InfoGraphics tool. But it could play a peripheral role in both BI and InfoGraphics with one small creative tweak. More on that shortly.

What is Canva?

It’s a simple and effective approach for creating flyers, business cards, posters, and graphical artifacts for all manner of publishing projects. It appears to be a very well-deisgned cloud implementation as well. Having used a number of purely cloud-based design tools over the years, the developers have certainly created a responsive and highly useful UI and UX.

Canva [beta] is unique in that it already has a well-designed revenue model. The use of professional graphics, styles, and backgrounds cost a buck each. That doesn’t seem like much until you leverage a bunch of them as you effortless pick from a seriously big library of resources. There are many free images and styles but you’re likely to be attracted to the professional objects for obvious reasons.

And Canva has a wonderful search feature that allows you to find practically any graphical imagery for your projects. It streamlines your graphic design productivity while providing frictionless access to resources that make you look like a pro. And it doesn’t rule out the ability for you to upload your own images into its library model for your own private use. Ideally though, you should be able to share your images for free or as micro-priced artifacts for others to use or purchase.

While the application and revenue model are seamless and your output will be rapid, the pricing (a dollar per artifact) may not be economically sustainable. I don’t fault Canva for taking a stab at a revenue model right out of the gate; we need to do business with companies that are sustainable and it’s wise they are establishing customer expectations early. And designers – especially professionals and those non-pros who aspire to create professional-looking results, are typically ready to offer up credit cards for micro-payments.

But therein lay an issue – a lot of George Washingtons in a small pile suddenly causes designers to think twice before clicking “publish”. You can create designes as much as you like without paying. To remove watermarks on non-free images triggers the payment gate. I wonder how many designs would get published if images were a buck for the first one and just 25 cents for each one thereafter? I suspect a bunch more – perhaps marginally more thus optimizing revenue potential.

Dynamic InfoGraphics

I create InfoGraphics from time-to-time for clients. Typically they include real charts – pies, bars, etc that are based on real data of course. This is a compelling way to tell a story. Corporate reporting is also something I’ve explored using both Klipfolio and experimental Google Apps such as DashOne.

I was hoping that Canva had a way to integrate images by reference, not [just] by value, but it doesn’t support this seemingly obvious architectural model. I’ve written about the problems of sharing by value and the benefits of integrating content by reference. If Canva would add this, it would be possible to create dynamic InfoGraphics.

A dynamic InfoGraphic could be created as a blueprint for a report. In the report there would be various references to charts that actually exist in BI tools such as Klipfolio. As the data changes in Klipfolio, new versions of the InfoGraphic reports would be updated in real-time making it swift work to republish a new version of the report without requiring you to snag copies of charts, save them locally, then upload them, and finally drag them into position. It should be a click-and-go process.

Klipfolio, Canva; c’mon – put your creative caps on and change the world.



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