SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Green Geeks: POS Technology Solutions (Part I)

The emerging cannabis industry is surprisingly technologically sophisticated. Take what I call the last mile: point of sale (POS).

I recently interviewed John Yang at California-based Treez, a POS solution focused on the cannabis industry. In fact, the free ranging conversation went so long, over two interviews, that I’ve decided to do a two-part blog series. In this first blog, I paint the picture (including taxation) and introduce Treez. In the second installment we’ll get down to the keystroke level.

“We are an enterprise-grade product with reliability and stability.” Said NAME. “In fact, you can run Treez as it’s meant to be in the cloud…we are a cloud-based solution first. But you can run it on-prem toowhich is important if you can’t be down for even a few minutes or a day. We serve dispensaries that have 100+ customers in the lobby at a time so any downtime is unacceptable.”

Let’s Talk Taxes!

Some readers know that SMB Nation’s hometown of Bainbridge Island is where Avalara started (about to IPO and known for creating online sales tax and compliance solutions). Thinking about taxes and compliance is second nature to me. When NAME took a left turn with our cannabis conversation to discuss Treez tax and compliance solutions, I told myself this conversation just got much better.

“In our business development efforts, we lead with the tax calculations for the State of California. Many of our competitors don't have this functionality. We do taxes correctly and help dispensaries from being overtaxed. This includes that we take care of the excise tax calculations.” Shared NAME. “California is taxing 35% to 40%...different tax layers (city, county, excise, sales) that compound on top of each other. Think of it as a tax on top of a tax on top of a tax.” Seems like tough math to track.

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Figure 1: Treez tracks cannabis taxes. Harder than it looks folks.

We next discussed the Excise Tax Report. “it’s about….how much to pay….a lot of complexity…very important with compliance…we do the break out of the taxation - our competitors don't have the granular level of detail.” Stated NAME.

I asked about how it works in Washington state, sensing that this young industry behaves differently in each state (#TrueThat). NAME shared that the State of Washington is a post-tax model like $40 for a ten pack of gluten free Indica peanut butter cups. The taxation is baked into a round number price that a customer would pay. If there is a mathematical mistake, the dispensary would have to “eat it” with respect to making the taxes paid whole.

In Part II of this blog series on Treez, I’ll speak toward the hands-on, keystroke-based POS solution and its use cases. Hint: Customer experience is the development paradigm.

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How to Maintain Data Integrity in a Business Setup?

Everybody, every day and everywhere is flooded with large volumes of data. This is most apparent and significant in the business sector. Who is worried and why should anybody actually pay attention to the business data? The fact is that data formulate the framework for all business operations. In order to run a thriving business irrespective of its niche, data management plays a significant role in the overall success equation.

In all probability, if you are reading this blog you are an integral part of such a business; consequently, you must be careful about your business data.

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What Exactly Do You Understand by Data?

If you ever ask distinct people this very question, you are likely to obtain varied responses from all of them. Some of the standard definitions are provided below: Figures and facts that are accumulated for reviewing and analysis. Things referred to as facts, which form the base of reasoning, computation and making decisions.

Still finding it hard to understand? A good illustration of business data is “the amount of merchandise sold by a company in the northeast region in the previous business quarter.”

Why is Data and its Credibility Crucial for Businesses?

Who is concerned in case the data available is inaccurate or if perhaps the all-round quality is lousy? Data quality is also known as data integrity. It is managing and retaining the accuracy and uniformity of the data over its complete lifecycle. Data integrity implies that the data available is correct and dependable. At numerous stages in work life, all the employees of the company have to make essential business decisions as a part of their job and commitments and such decisions play an important role in the deciding a company’s fate thereafter. In a lot of business firms across the globe, there exist areas where crucial business decisions are regularly made depending on the available data.

Business Performance Measurement: Constantly evaluating the performance of the business against its overall objectives and the competitors is essential for being successful.

Managing and Delegating Resources: Having the right resources in the right places at the right time focusing on the right project is essential. Not doing so is unfavorable and can provide the competitors a heads up.

Customer and Client Satisfaction Management: Happy customers and clients are crucial for a business success. Be it in the form of feedbacks, visitors on the site, and so on data must be consistently gathered and assessed to ascertain that the customer demands are satisfied or surpassed. Possible inadequacies or constraints in company's services and products must be brought to the front and addressed before the competitors learn about the same.

As stated above, dynamical real-time data with substantive credibility makes it possible for the business decision makers to get a clear picture of the company’s overall performance in the industry as well as against the competitors at any time. Getting correct and dependable data for conversion into information in order to make vital, fast or effective decisions is an important business function.

Strategies for Maintaining Your Company’s Data Integrity:

It is one thing to determine what actually is meant by data and the reason why its integrity is essential. It is an all-together different thing to systematically collect and manage it. At higher-levels, businesses commonly gather data by means of a variety of techniques like the following:

The Website of the Company: A usual practice is gathering data from a business website by means of page views and mouse clicks, a get in touch with us segment, a request for quote segment, a blog segment, a service or product purchase (shopping cart) segment, and so on.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Platform: An ERP platform is a business management program that incorporates a number of aspects of a business, such as project and service planning, production process, material acquiring, inventory management, supply, accounting solutions, financial management, human resources, sales and marketing, and so on. Data is accumulated from manual or automated data entry.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform: A CRM program is a business management software that deals with communication and connections with existing customers, potential buyers, and affiliates etc. It supports departments like sales, marketing, customer support and service. Data is collated from automated or manual data entry processes. Integration between an ERP and CRM program is furthermore very beneficial and can put a stop to data silos, superfluous data and general reliability on poor data.

Back-end Database: In the background, usually exists the database. Front-end programs like websites and CRM/ERP platforms are connected with databases. Data entered into the front-end programs move into and is saved in database on the backend. It is in this place where data extraction takes place and, thereafter that data is analyzed with the help of several techniques.

Author Bio:  Alika Cooper works a Business Development Manager at Cogneesol, a well-renowned company offering Data Management, technology, accounting and legal services. She has been working with Cogneesol for the past 10 years and is responsible for generating sales for the Data Management division.

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SAP Business One Surpasses 60,000th Customer Milestone

SAP

SAP Business One, the comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) business suite designed for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), has just accomplished a landmark achievement: The application has surpassed the 60,000th customer milestone mark.

This makes SAP Business One the best-selling ERP offering within SAP by number of customers. Just consider this tremendous accomplishment in its proper context:

  • Over 1 million end users from more than 60,000 SMBs across 170 countries use the solution every day to transform the way they work — let that sink in for a moment!
  • SAP Business One contributes at least half of all new customer acquisitions for SAP in the SMB space with over 1,000 new customers added each quarter.
  • Even at this very moment, SAP Business One continues its accelerated growth streak – providing deep expertise in multiple industries and over 500 industry-specific add-on solutions delivered through 300 software partners.
  • Technologies such as natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things built on top of SAP HANA make SAP Business One the intelligent ERP of choice for SMBs.

SMBs are increasingly turning to SAP Business One to support and extend their business growth, and we are thrilled to be able to participate in our customers’ digital transformation journey.

Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Products & Innovation, sums it up best: “We have a hands-down winner with SAP Business One. The positive feedback from the market validates SAP Business One as exactly the type of solution that small and midsize businesses want: It is easy to implement and offers end-to-end functionality that is tightly integrated between different business functions while enabling access to a comprehensive portfolio of industry-specific solutions. As a strategic differentiator for small and midsize businesses across the world, SAP Business One is an important vehicle that brings to them the power of the intelligent ERP.”

Helping SMBs Be Successful

Without a doubt, every one of us on the SAP Business One team has worked hard to ensure our customers – and our customers’ customers – are successful.

QALO, leaders in the functional wedding ring industry, is a recent SAP Business One customer to have seen tangible business outcomes. In order to support their business with 500 retail partners and over 1,500 daily orders, the company deployed SAP Business One to centralize its enterprise information into one system, and automate its sales and ordering processes. Through the use of analytics from SAP Business One, it quickly discovered, and rectified, a 10% discrepancy in inventory value.

“As people, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves. SAP Business One is helping us to be the best business we can be,” said Ted Baker, CEO and co-founder of QALO. Learn more about how SAP Business One helped QALO here.

The Power of Strategic Partnerships 

It is thanks to the power and the passion of our partners that has helped put SAP Business One at the top of the leaderboard. We are proud of the rich history we have of developing new routes to markets and industries through strategic partnerships. The solution currently serves multiple industries with over 500 industry-specific add-on solutions, delivered through 300 software solution partners.

A prime example of the symbiotic relationship we share with partners is MWA Intelligence, Inc. (MWA). The company expanded its partnership with SAP Business One just a few months ago in March of 2018 to revolutionize the copier dealer and print imaging industry. MWA Forza, using the SAP Business One platform, created a single integrated ERP business solution to dramatically reduce the overall costs of IT management and service provision – while providing real-time data-driven insights to improve business processes for imaging dealer networks.

This partnership enables unprecedented alignment, standardization and integration of operations and data between imaging vendors, their channel partners, and customers. It also allows SAP Business One to serve at least 10,000 new companies within the imaging industry.

But don’t just take my word on this. Michael T. Stramaglio, president and CEO of MWA Intelligence, Inc., has stated in no uncertain terms, “The unrivaled power of the SAP Business One platform opens up possibilities for organizations that otherwise could not have been achieved on any other system. We have leveraged SAP Business One powered by SAP HANA into the design and development of FORZA, an all-inclusive solution tailor-made to ensure the successful growth for the future of the imaging channel – on a level never seen before in the imaging industry.”

Attend the SAP Business One Partner and Customer Presentations at SAPPHIRE NOW

MWA will be presenting at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s flagship customer and business technology event. So if you are attending the conference, check out MWA’s session, “Innovate the Way You Work with Business Partners Using Integrated ERP” on Tuesday, June 5, at 12:00 p.m. ET. You can also join us at the Business Applications area to catch top customer speakers, including David Leadbetter Golf and Square and Baumer. Hope to see you at SAPPHIRE NOW!

Luis Murguia is senior vice president of Global Customer and Partner Operations for SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign.

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Kaseya’s Ten Dollar Word Strategy: Horizontal Integration

It’s right out of the old school business playbook. It’s about portfolio diversification, risk reduction and greater customer choice. And it’s ultimately about a stronger Kaseya. Just prior to its annual KaseyaConnect conference in Las Vegas last week, Kaseya announced its acquisition of Unitrends, a mid-market enterprise and MSP backup provider. In a 1:1 interview with Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, I got the inside scoop. Warning. A couple more ten dollar words ahead.

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Figure 1: KaseyaConnect 2018

I liken the Unitrends acquisition to a company eating its own dog food. According to Voccola, Kaseya had been using Unitrends internally and on customer-side activities and it got to know the product very well along with the Unitrends team. Kaseya engineers impressed upon Voccola that Unirends might be a good technical addition to the Kaseya family. On the financial side, Voccola and team viewed the acquisition as accretive, defined by Investopedia as “An acquisition is considered accretive if it adds to the item's value or corporation's earnings per share.” Loosely translated, we’re talking synergy here.

Full disclosure: we have worked with both Kaseya and Unitrends over the years at SMB Nation. Both have had their eyes firmly affixed on the “M” of SMB and I don’t see that necessarily changing in the future. But the story is better. There is more horizontal integration going on here. Think of it as eating tapas at a true Spanish restaurant where you can order fish and beef to create a complimentary meal.

The trend to all-in-one-shopping is being observed across the MSP space. For example, SkyKick, known for its Office 365 migration tools, introduced a backup solution over a year ago. Kaseya, best known for its remote management and monitoring (RMM) roots (it now holds itself out to be “complete IT infrastructure management solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) and mid-market enterprises (MME).” The Unitrends acquisition mirrors this horizontal integration trend.

I attended KaseyaConnect for a day last week after completing my duties at Lenovo Accelerate just up the strip. I’ve attended this show in the past but not in recent years. It’s certainly grown and still reflects a slighty larger MSP (read sports jacket). For me – it was a chance to check-in on Kaseya and meet up with old friends such as this gent below from the Orlando-area.

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Figure 2: Brian Laufer, Vice President at QuoteWerks in ‘da booth!

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Brelsford to Zielinski: Sell Me A Laptop

Over the past year, I’ve worn out a Lenovo laptop as a road warrior. In a pinch, I went up to the SMB Nation mini-storage and grabbed a third-tier brand laptop to get me by until the annual Lenovo Accelerate conference this past week in Las Vegas. My intention was to ask the newly installed president Matt Zielinski just one question: sell me a laptop. I believe the president role in a large company such as Lenovo should be akin to rainmaker not bottle washer. Zielinski’s career path is on the sales-side, not operations. Could he sell me a laptop?


Before I give you the answer – I want to provide some context.

Mobility
One year ago at the Lenovo Accelerate conference in Orlando, I was on my last legs with my Nokia 1020 Windows-based phone. Milanka Muecke, Director of PR, Customer Center and Community Relations sold me on a Moto Z Play phone. How? She demonstrated the “mods” that snap on to the back of the phone including the HD projector, the JBL sound system and backup battery. Worked for me as it’s Android-based so I can also get appy. And that’s why there is a basis for me viewing the annual Lenovo Accelerate conference as a Spring buyers show.

FUN FACT: I actually wrote my blogger notes in the big stage keynote with my Moto Z Play 2 mobile phone using the Google Docs word processor to supplement my audio recording device. I’ve never done that before, always being the blogger with the laptop. The keynote summary highlighting Lenovo’s partner pillars will be my next blog.

Lucky 13

A primer on Zielinski https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-zielinski-34a2642/ . As you can see in the figure below, Zielinski is one tall dude with more years ahead of him than behind him. He framed up his career as two chapters of a book (although I’d offer he has more chapters ahead). The first chapter was 13-years at AMD where he enjoyed a successive and progressive career path resulting in his role as Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Global MNC Sales. Then he shared another 13-ism. He’s only been in role as President for Lenovo North America for 13-weeks. He’s in the process of relocating from Austin, TX to Raleigh-Durham NC with his wife and two children.

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Figure 1: Guess which one is Zielinski in this pic?

The Answer
I asked my question: Sell me a laptop. Proving he’s quick on his feet, Zielinski responded rapidly. He shared that he’s played piano since he was three years old (yes – he’s “that guy” we all have heard of). By analogy he offered that when he plays his Steinway piano, he “just plays better.” Not a bad answer for being ambushed in our 1:1 interview.

Floor tour
Armed with Zielinski’s answer, I took that view point into a private 7:15am trade show hall tour (seriously – a 7:15am meeting in Vegas?!?!?). I was on a mission to discover what my next Lenovo would be. The short answer is that I’m eyeing the Lenovo 480s family to balance functionality, budget and durability (I first and foremost respect the lifetime duration I’m able to consistently maintain my Lenovo models for; in fact, my son has a Lenovo laptop he has used for four (4!) years studying aerospace at CalPoly). I’m not feeling the need for the more flashy/cute Lenovo laptop SKUs such as 2:1 because I’m increasingly leaning on my Moto Z Play 2 phone for the “fun stuff” (for example – in the near future I’m adding the Hasselblad True Zoom Camera Mod to improve and enhance my blog pics). I want my laptop to be a working dog; not a show dog.
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Figure 2: Lenovo T480s model on the tradeshow floor at Lenovo Accelerate

Finally – I end with some “fun photos” from the tradeshow floor – all before 8:00am in Vegas!

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