Applications

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Time to Level Up?

 

Craig Schulte  – [Sr. Application Developer/Architect]

Do you sometimes feel like your web applications are not all they could be?  Do your users grumble about slow page loads?  Are your applications swimming in a sea of JQuery that make them harder to maintain?  If so, it may be time to take your web applications to the next level using a framework like Angular or React!

Angular and React are two competing technologies that receive a lot of attention these days.  So which should your company use when developing a web application?  This article will explain some of the key differences that will help you decide if one of these frameworks should be in your future.


Overview

Angular and React Apps PlatformsLet’s start with a short introduction and description.  Google first created Angular in 2010, followed by Facebook with React in 2013, showing both have the backing of major industry players.  Both are popular web platforms written in JavaScript, which primarily run in your browser.  Much of the code that traditionally ran on a server has migrated to your browser, and Angular and React have helped to push this trend forward.  A common goal shared by both is to decouple an application’s logic from its user interface (UI), and both strongly focus on dynamic page updates (aka AJAX) – meaning your entire browser window does not reload when updates are made, only the content that changes needs to reload. This generally leads to a much nicer experience for the user.

A common sentiment is “Why should I use Angular or React when I already have JQuery?”  Angular and React are fundamentally designed to embrace building modern applications that seamlessly update the UI and gather data via AJAX / Fetch requests.  Of course, this has long been possible, but Angular and React take this concept to the next level, often to such an extent that they are coined “Single Page Applications” – a web application that never reloads the browser window.

When building these types of applications, JQuery may no longer be the best choice.  Using JQuery requires extra code to keep the UI synchronized, a manual task that may grow complex and difficult to manage.  In contrast, both Angular and React help to automate and simplify this chore, resulting in optimum performance.


Size & Scope

React Apps Platform SampleAngular is typically classified as a full framework while React is considered a library.  This means that Angular includes everything plus the kitchen sink, but React only concerns itself with the user interface.  React is more lightweight than Angular, but includes less functionality out of the box.

Which approach is better, the all-encompassing framework or the specialized library?  Well, that depends. Angular already includes all the tools you need within easy reach.  Meanwhile, React may need to be supplemented with additional libraries, but you have the flexibility to choose which ones.


Learning Curve

Angular Platform dashboardSince Angular is a full framework, it naturally has a longer, steeper learning curve.  Angular also requires the use of TypeScript (a statically typed version of JavaScript), which is an additional skill that must be learned.  On the upside, Angular includes a tool for almost every scenario, so there’s usually a standardized, well-defined path forward.

In comparison, React requires less time to achieve a fuller understanding of the platform.  React does not dictate a highly opinionated architecture, allowing for better reuse of previously learned knowledge and skills.  However, due to React’s open-ended approach, there’s probably a greater risk of running astray, and developers must take special care to ensure they are following best practices.


Popularity

According to a variety of sources (such as Stack Overflow, NPM, GitHub, and Google Trends), React has the edge when it comes to growth and popularity.  For example, according to Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey, React usage narrowly surpassed Angular in 2019, “a switch from last year”.  Perhaps more importantly, 75% indicated they would use React again, while only 58% would use Angular again.

Why is popularity an important metric to consider?  Primarily, it can indicate a measure of quality.  Secondly, it may also influence the amount of online resources and availability of job pool candidates.  No matter how you look at it, both Angular and React rank among the most popular web technologies, with only jQuery topping them in usage.


Summary

Both Angular and React provide great platforms to build web applications upon, and there really is no right or wrong answer.  Before making any decisions, do some research. In the end, the right technology is the one that best fits your team and the project at hand.  It could be Angular, React, or something else entirely.

If you would like to learn more about Angular or React, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to start a conversation with us.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Let Your Data Tell Your Story

 

Matt Mulherin - Keller Schroeder Applications ConsultantMatt Mulherin  – [Applications Consultant]

Currently, AI or Artificial Intelligence is quite the buzzword.  AI is defined as intelligence exhibited by machines or software.  AI is growing leaps and bounds in the business world and AI investment increased by 300% in 2017 according to IDC.  Deloitte reports 82% of organizations will be investing in AI by 2020. There are many levels of AI, some more advanced, costly, and complex than others.  Many smaller organizations hesitate, and rightly so, to take the plunge into the newest, costly AI technologies.  How do these organizations get started without having to invest too much time and resources into AI technologies?

Our answer is Microsoft Power BI, an affordable business analytics solution that visualizes data and allows you to share insights across the organization.  It can connect to many data sources and bring data to life with interactive, live dashboards and reports.  Power BI can integrate with Azure Machine Learning Services, which are a subset of AI, to analyze data and make future predictions about the business.  Power BI is available as a SaaS option running in the Azure cloud or as an on-premises option as Power BI Report Server.

Even if you are not quite ready to go big with AI, your business will benefit greatly from Power BI because of its easy-to-use capabilities to create reports and dashboards to gain insight into your data.  Different departments in an organization have different needs for the type of data, reports, and visualizations they use to monitor performance.  For example, Finance might want to see visualizations around revenue, profitability, and expense management, while individuals in Operations have a need to see inventory performance and resource consumption trends.

The great news is that Power BI is affordable.  You can sign up for a free account to give it a test drive or subscribe for $9.99 per month per user.  There is a premium license available for capacity-based pricing.  Compared to other tools it can be much more affordable to get started, providing you more time to get buy-in from the organization before investing too much up-front.

Power BI is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. This is quite an achievement for only being in the market for 4 years, but Power BI is a cloud-based platform built using technologies from Microsoft that have been around for the last 20 years.  It is an industry-leading product and can scale as your data analytics and AI practices grow within your organization.

Power BI Desktop is a free downloadable client desktop tool used to configure, model, and build visualizations and reports in Power BI.  It is designed for a power user, someone with data and technical skills, but not necessarily programming skills. Power BI Desktop uses Excel like expressions called Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) for extending your data model for reporting purposes.  No coding is required.

The process for getting started using Power BI is straightforward.

  1. Connect to your data using over 100+ built-in data source connectors
  2. Easily clean the data using the user interface options and load it into Power BI Desktop
  3. Shape the data to match your analysis and reporting needs using DAX
  4. Create relationships and enrich your data model with new calculated columns and metrics
  5. Create reports with dozens of customizable pre-built visualizations
  6. Publish the reports and datasets to the Power BI service for collaboration and consumption by others in your organization

As a consumer of Power BI, you choose datasets and fields you want in your reports, filter the data, build dashboards, share with others, use natural language to ask questions of the data, and view visualizations anywhere on your mobile device.

In the data culture we are currently living in, gathering data from multiple sources and analyzing it in order to clearly understand what story the data is telling can be a daunting task.  Power BI enables you to easily connect, model, and then explore your data with visual reports so that you can collaborate, publish, and share.

Keller Schroeder can help you purchase, configure, model your data, and build visualizations that will change your data into insights using Microsoft Power BI.  Gaining insights and telling a story with your data can be the first steps to utilizing AI in your business and modernizing your organization’s data strategy.

If you would like to learn more about Power BI, please reach out to our Applications Solutions Group to get started.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Save the Date – 2019 Technology Vendor Summit

Technology Vendor Summit Logo

Our second largest event is coming back in 2019! Mark your calendars for our second annual Technology Vendor Summit on April 10th, 2019 from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM (CST) at the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville. Further details will be coming to your inbox soon.

As with last year’s event, you can expect the area’s largest gathering of technology vendor partners, high-quality key note speakers, informative breakout sessions, your opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow IT professionals, and a chance for you to help us give back to our community.

Technology Vendor Summit
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
Old National Events Plaza
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

If you would like to hear from clients who attended last year’s event, take a look at this video:
2018 Technology Vendor Summit | From a Client’s Point of View

Photos and a list of vendor partners who helped make last year’s event such a success can be viewed here:
2018 Technology Vendor Summit

If you loved last year’s event and want to go ahead and register, you can sign up here:
Register for the 2019 Event

Additional details will be online soon, stay tuned!
by Carissa Carissa No Comments

SharePoint News Update

Matt Mulherin - Keller Schroeder Applications ConsultantMatt Mulherin  – [Applications Consultant]

Microsoft has been very busy developing new and exciting features for SharePoint.  Now that SharePoint is online as part of Office 365, it is continually being updated and improved.  Microsoft’s vision for SharePoint going forward encompasses four key areas: share with confidence, transform business processes, inform and engage employees, and harness collective knowledge.


Share with Confidence

Microsoft Teams SharePoint

One of the newest updates is the ability to add a SharePoint page to a Teams channel.  Teams is a social and chat application that encourages quick and immediate collaboration.  For example, if you have a team of employees and you communicate regularly in Microsoft Teams chatting, by sharing files, etc., you then realize that you have a SharePoint page that needs be referenced by the team.  Instead of adding a link to the team chat window for everyone to click, which directs them away from the Team channel, you can simply add the page for reference directly in Microsoft Teams.

SharePoint and OneDrive files on Demand is another new feature that allows you to easily access your personal and professional files from your favorite device.  The files are not downloaded on your device until you choose to work with them.  This new feature is a major development because as a collection of files and folders grows exponentially in our personal and professional lives, we need a better way to manage and keep visible all of this important information.  We also need quick and easy ways to share this information from our devices, which you now can do by dropping the file directly into instant messages on your iOS device, or by simply right clicking directly in Windows Explorer on your desktop.


Transform Business Process

Microsoft Power Apps Sharepoint

You can improve your business processes by using SharePoint hub sites.  Hub sites give structure and topology to your SharePoint sites, allowing users to quickly find and access sites within your organization.  You can create one or many hub sites and organize your sites by associating like sites under the same hub site.

Create custom SharePoint forms and digital experiences with Microsoft PowerApps that surface directly in the context of a list or library.  These new forms provide better context to the user and are much more engaging and interactive.  Any user can transform a team’s organizational processes because PowerApps provides the creation of customized forms without the need to write any code.

Microsoft announced major improvements to lists.  Some of these features are available today and some in late 2018.  Cognitive analysis on list data, column and row formatting, more easily create lists based on excel data and other lists, edit lists more quickly, and real-time list updates (no more refreshing pages) are some of the new list improvements announced.


Inform and Engage Employees

Microsoft Sharepoint Communication SiteCommunication sites are dynamic sites that provide the ability to reach a broad audience within an organization.  Think of a communication site as a way for the organization to share news, inform and engage employees, while fostering open communication.  These sites look great on the web, on a PC or Mac, on mobile browsers and in the SharePoint app.  Publish news content on your communications site and it will automatically surface on the SharePoint home page in Office 365.  Configuring the layout of the communication sites is very user friendly with new multi-column sections and drag-and-drop authoring.

SharePoint provides many new out-of-the-box web parts, but custom web-parts are still possible.  Microsoft has a new SharePoint Development Framework (SPFx) that gives developers a better way to develop web parts and extensions.  SPFX is available today with SharePoint Online and it will be possible to develop SPFx custom code on-premises after the release of Feature Pack 2 this fall.

Microsoft just announced an exciting new feature called SharePoint spaces that is currently in limited preview.  It is an immersive, mixed reality experience for users, which allows visualization and editing of content from any angle on any device.  Microsoft suggests using spaces for recruiting and onboarding, learning, and product development business cases.


Harness Collective Knowledge

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2019For SharePoint On-Premise deployments, Microsoft is committed to on-premises and hybrid customers.  SharePoint Server 2016 has several features that confirm this commitment.  One is the on-premises feature packs that can be installed, which include some of the previously released SharePoint online features.  In addition, Microsoft provides hybrid features that allow organizations to have both an on-premises and online SharePoint environments working together to offer users a single user experience, such as merging search indexes and allowing users to view search results from both on-premises and SharePoint online.  Essentially, users are simply given content based on their search criteria, regardless of where the content is stored.

Microsoft is planning to release to preview SharePoint Server 2019 any day now and to general availability in the second half of 2018.  More hybrid features, Next-Gen Sync Client support, Modern UX throughout, and more Flow/PowerApps integration will be included.  In addition, SharePoint 2010 workflows and InfoPath forms will continue to be supported in SharePoint Server 2019.


SharePoint continues to grow as a popular and widely used enterprise-wide collaboration platform and we do not anticipate the growth will diminish.  According to Microsoft’s Office 365 Roadmap, 62 updates are beginning to roll-out and 190 are currently in development.  We only touched on the surface of all of the new and exciting features coming to SharePoint.  Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to learn how SharePoint can positively impact the performance, collaboration, and engagement within your organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

B2B, EDI, and Data Transformation Made Easy

Mark Heuring- Keller Schroeder Applications ConsultantMark Heuring – [Applications Consultant]

As you move throughout your digital transformation, the need to share data between systems and entities becomes greater and greater.  You may need to share data with your vendors, customers, partners, or compliance agencies, or you may need to share data between two internal systems.

Business-to-Business (B2B) integration, or the automated exchange of data between two companies, is not a new concept. Although sharing data sounds simple enough, there can be many challenges. The entities you share data with might all have different format requirements, different supported communication protocols, different frequency for updates, or any number of items that make them unique.  Whether sharing data with third parties or internal systems, the data will likely need to be transformed into a compatible format for the exchange.

These unique requirements frequently require custom data transformation applications to be written for each use case, which lead to high development and maintenance costs. These high costs may prohibit or diminish your ability to share data in a real-time, automated fashion, which may in turn reduce or hinder your growth potential.

Some companies use EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, to facilitate their B2B integration needs. While Keller Schroeder offers EDI Managed Services to assist companies with the maintenance and support of their EDI systems, many companies do not require or need a full blown EDI system to handle B2B integrations.  The need for automated B2B data transformation and exchange is a requirement across industry verticals and throughout departments within companies.Keller Schroeder is introducing a new B2B service to help address the challenges of data transformation and exchange.  Our new B2B Integration Solution can be used to exchange information with third parties or between internal systems and will not require custom coding for each use case.  Our solution utilizes a cloud based data transformation service that has quick and easy setup and configuration, leading to less development and maintenance time.

Keller Schroeder’s B2B Integration Solution:

  • Automates the transformation and exchange of documents between two parties, including customers, ERP solutions, suppliers, regulatory agencies, warehouse managers, internal line of business systems, etc.
  • Supports many communication protocols, including AS/2, FTP(s), sFTP, web, email, SOAP, and more
  • Supports many message formats, including XML, Excel, EDI, CSV, and even custom file-formats
  • Allows you to mix and match incoming and outgoing formats and communication protocols
  • Maintains the highest quality and strictest security management processes as recommended by ISO27001
  • Removes communication protocol barriers with your trading partners and between your systems
  • Pricing based on number of messages with no minimum, which leads to a low cost and low risk barrier to entry

Please contact Keller Schroeder to learn more about our new B2B Integration Solution or our EDI Managed Services offerings and how we can partner with you to positively impact your digital transformation.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

What Is A Digital Workplace?

Applications Consultant Matt MulherinMatt Mulherin – [Applications Consultant]

Today’s personal technology boom provides instant information at out fingertips to assist with every facet of our lives.  If you have a question, you just “google” for the answer.  If you have a problem, there is an app for that.  With this easy and constant access to information in their personal lives, employees are looking for the same experience in their work life. Many employees have a physical workplace where they report to work every day, but now they are also working more and more away from the office, where they would like to find the same easy and constant access to the information and applications necessary to perform their work at any location at any time.

Powell 365 Digital Workplace DashboardAccording to CMS Wire, “The digital workplace is meant to be a virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, which requires strong planning and management due to its fundamental role in people’s productivity, engagement, and working health.”

A successful digital workplace should incorporate several key features:

  • Centralized and accessible information – employees should have information easily accessible in order to make well-informed, timely decisions
  • Easy collaboration with others – employees should be able to collaborate on projects, documents, presentations
  • Accessibility of business applications – the applications employees need and use frequently should be accessible from one centralized location

The digital workplace should be engaging and easy!  Ideally the digital workplace should bring the ease and availability of information to your employees’ work lives in a way similar to consumer-oriented technology.

Deloitte identifies the following advantages of embracing a digital workplace strategy:

  • Talent attraction: 64% of employees would opt for a lower paying job if they could work away from the office.
  • Employee productivity: organizations with strong online social networks are 7% more productive than those without.
  • Employee satisfaction: organizations that installed social media tools internally found a median of 20% increase in employee satisfaction.
  • Employee retention: when employee engagement increases, there is a corresponding increase in employee retention by up to 87%.
  • Communication tools: information workers prefer newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones like e-mail or team workspaces.

Powell 365 LogoYour organization’s digital workplace transformation strategy could begin with your intranet.  Intranets have been around for a long time, but with rapid changes in technology, organizations find themselves with outdated platforms and features.  Keller Schroeder recommends Powell 365, a digital workplace that sits on top of SharePoint Online and the Office 365 platform.  Powell 365 allows you to quickly implement an intranet with optimum user experience to develop communication and collaboration between your teams. It provides your employees a single point of access to all of your digital content that is accessible in the office and on your mobile devices.

Keller Schroeder is a partner with Powell 365.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more about digital workplaces or Powell 365.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

If These Devices Could Talk

Keller Schroeder Applications Consultant Eric MaurerEric Maurer – [Applications Consultant]

What if your devices could talk? The Internet of Things (IoT) can start to do this! What is the IoT? Putting it simply, an IoT “thing” is nothing more than a physical device connected to the internet. The device can be your phone, your thermostat, a car, or any number of remote monitoring sensors. Experts estimate that by 2020 there will be about 30 billion IoT devices. There are devices that only 15 years ago did not exist for collecting data, or if they did exist, they were so remote getting to the data was difficult.

Internet of Things CollageRecently Keller Schroeder employee-owners Eric Maurer and Ian Welsh participated in an IoT Hackathon sponsored by AT&T. This hackathon provided opportunity to learn about new devices and software from AT&T in the IoT landscape. Devices, becoming smaller than ever, are now capable of running for weeks using batteries or solar power and can transfer data captured by dozens of different sensors over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or LTE.

Their team quickly realized the difficult part of developing an IoT solution is no longer centered on hardware and software but comes from using industry knowledge to find the right problems for which IoT is the solution. They decided to use AT&T’s LTE enabled IoT starter kit to collect real-time GPS data from commercial vehicles to collect and process their location and mileage information automatically. Their idea was just one of many great ideas that came out of the hackathon. Some of the other projects were:

  • Using drones to take pictures of tomato fields to determine overall ripeness and calculate the perfect time for harvest with image processing algorithms and machine learning
  • A smart tool locker using Bluetooth and NFC sensors to allow users to check equipment in and out
  • A small device with humidity and PH sensors to monitor soil in home gardens

The latest generation of IoT devices now connect securely to the cloud using Microsoft’s Azure or AT&T’s M2X. These solutions allow you to secure your devices and aggregate data from any number of devices and sensors in one central location. They also provide dashboards, event notifications, alerts, and two-way communication between devices. Sifting through the large amounts of data one can collect can be daunting. Companies are making it easier and easier to collect, process, and make sense of this data using cloud-based software, such as Azure Stream Analytics.

What would you do with IoT data? Have ideas and want to explore them further? Contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager or call us at 812-474-6825 today!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

7 Items to Consider for a Dynamic Website

Brett Romershausen – [WordPress Consultant]

Is Your Website Healthy?

Do you typically have an annual physical for your personal health? You should do the same for the health of your website.  While it may not seem critical, your website is often the first impression of your business and you want to be sure your visitors have a good first experience.


User Habits Have Changed

Think about how many people you see on a given day using their phones or tablets to search the web.  Unlike five or ten years ago when everyone would wait to search the information when they got to work or home, most people today will access the information immediately from a restaurant, meeting, game, etc.  The number of people doing mobile searches increases every year.


Note: If your website is more than a few years old, pay close attention to the following sections.


Responsive Design

Think about your website—can you see everything on a mobile device without having to scroll to the right?  “Responsive design” is important today.  There are two simple ways to tell if your website is responsive.  One is to access the site from your smartphone browser.  Another way is to shrink the size of your desktop browser window.  Do your menu options scrunch up into the hamburger menu so the limited screen space is used wisely?  Do the panels and boxes wrap or do you have to scroll over to see content?  Does the text wrap around the images correctly?  Not only does it matter to your visitors, it matters to Google.  The search giant gives preference to sites that have a good mobile experience.


Content Is King….Still

In Bill Gates’ 1996 “Content is King” essay he stated, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet…”  He was talking about both the text on the screen and the software that serves it up.  Another point he made back in 1996, and still true today, is there are “broad opportunities for most companies…” and that “no company is too small to participate.”

More small business have websites, often collaborating with other websites to expand their reach. Think about how a website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities can help a business reach thousands more potential customers locally, nationally, and internationally.  Is your website content still relevant?  Is it still correctly stating what your business’ services and capabilities are?  Are the images even from this decade?   Keep in mind, the better the content, the more likely a search engine will pick it up.


How’s Your Google Ranking?

Google Ranking is where you rank when someone is searching for your website with a search engine.  You may be wondering why Google Ranking would be important, but think about how most people look for something.  They go to their favorite search engine and try locating the information based on “keywords”.  If your site is buried at the bottom of page 1, or several pages deep, what are the odds that a potential customer will find your site?

Here are a few of the things that can affect your ranking with the Google’s search engine.

  • Above-The-Fold – When Google looks at your website, they pay close attention to what is above the fold and use that to index your site. This is the area presented on the screen space before scrolling. You need to be sure this area is filled with meaningful content and keywords, and not ads.
  • Popups – While these were popular several years ago, they are no longer in favor. Author Barry Smith confirms, “Google has started to penalize sites with those annoying pop-ups, starting with mobile websites.”
  • Links – Another way to help in your ranking is to link other pages in your own site, as well as other websites. If you go to another site, the key here is to make sure you are linking to sites that are current and frequently update their content as well.
  • Frequency of Updates – It is important to consistently post information to your website. One good way to promote your site is by blogging. Many people use a blog format for their news page, and that works just fine.

Another way to help your ranking is to update your content.  In the article by Cyrus Shepard from MOZ, “changing a single sentence won’t have as big of a freshness impact as a large change to the main body text.”  He also states, “Content that changes more often is scored differently than content that only changes every few years.”  The article also states, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.” When was the last time your content was refreshed?

  • Keywords – Also important are the “keywords” that are used in the content, images, etc.  Think about how you want to find something in a browser.  What special “keywords” would you use to find something?  Now think about your website– if you don’t have those keywords on your site in content, blogs, and so forth, how can you expect the search engines to find your site?
  • Bounce Rate – Think about how long someone might stay on your website? If your site is cluttered, has a bunch of popups, annoying videos that start automatically, or they don’t see what they want above the fold, then they will probably get frustrated and leave the site.  Believe it or not, this is tracked.  According to an article from Granite5, “A high bounce rate is an obvious sign of an outdated or poorly performing site. Website users usually leave a site hurriedly without visiting other pages simply because they don’t find what they are looking for instantly or do not like the look of it!”
  • Load Rate – The same is true for how fast your site loads. If the site loads slowly or plugins are missing, the user will not feel welcomed or important and leave your site.

As microchips have reduced in size and yet increased in performance, so have the requirements for a website.  While “Content Is King”, it is important to take full advantage of what is available to make the site load quickly and efficiently.   Whether speed is gained by a combination of compressing images, compression or streaming of videos, or coding to match up with the latest techniques, websites should be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Social Signals – According to an article from Search Engine Journal, “there is an extremely high correlation between social signals and ranking position. Facebook is still the network with the highest weighted social signals.”
  • SSL – Years ago, most websites didn’t use an SSL encryption unless they wanted to verify and protect the information going over the internet. Search engines, like Google, are now adding that into their algorithm for ranking websites.

How SSL Affects Your Ranking With Google

At a conference I attended this past fall, it was stated that Google ranks sites with SSL certificates higher. In a 2016 Google article from the Chrome Security Team, it states two conditions that took effect in January 2017.  If an unsecure site collects either passwords or credit card information, then the sites will warn users that the sites are “not secure”.  (You may have noticed recently the “Secure” / “Not secure” icon in the URL bar.)  Google is taking this even further with their HTTPS Everywhere initiative.

In the future, Google plans to “label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”


Font

In an article titled “5 Signs Your Website Needs A Refresh” by Michael Burton, the author points out that “A few years ago it was the norm to have a lot of fancy graphics and imagery on your website, but the web has moved on to more of a flat design which relies more on color than images.”  Besides color, the font on the screens can say a lot about your site.

In a recent article titled “7 Elements of Modern Web Design”, the author states “Online, sans-serif rules readability. In print, we see serif fonts as more readable. If you want to get fancy with your fonts, save it for larger headings. It will still have the same impact without blinding your users.”  He goes on to mention that the font size is important to readability.  “12pt used to be fairly standard, but that is being bumped into the 16pt range more frequently…”  In a recent article titled “17 Tips to Create Content 10x Better Than Your Competitors”, author Ramona Sukhari mentions to make the fonts bigger.  “On average, pages ranking #1 had 15.8pt font.”


While getting users to your website is important, the user experience and valuable content will make them stay, and better yet, keep them coming back.   For assistance in optimizing, reviewing, refreshing, or creating your website, please contact your Keller Schroeder account representative.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

How Does Work Flow in your Organization?

workflow-illustrationCarrie Rudolph – [Keller Schroeder Certified Nintex Workflow Professional]

How often do you hear individuals in your organization say, “I haven’t been able to work on that ‘important task’ yet, because of all of these other smaller things needing my attention each day.”?  How often do individuals in your organization answer questions on status with “It’s somewhere in the approval process but I don’t know whose desk it’s on.”?  These phrases are all too common.  When work doesn’t flow smoothly and efficiently throughout your organization it causes backlogs, distractions, and frustration, all of which impact your organization’s ability to function, react, and grow.

According to businessdictionary.com, a workflow is defined as a progression of steps (tasks, events, interactions) that comprise a work process, involve two or more persons, and create or add value to the organization’s activities.  Every department in every organization has workflows.  Some are simple and straightforward, others are more complicated with many people, tasks, and events.  Workflows made up of logical and repeatable steps present an opportunity for automation.

When many organizations begin to explore workflow automation, they focus on the larger, more cumbersome workflows thinking that streamlining these complex processes will yield the most savings of time and resources.  Starting with these larger processes however, many times results in failed attempts at automation or lackluster adoption and savings due to the complexity of these processes.  Instead, I challenge organizations to consider the numerous simpler processes that employees perform every day.

These work items are fundamental processes that are crucial to the operation of your organization, such as document approvals, expense reports, leave requests, and service requests. These are workflows that may distract employees from larger issues/tasks, and because they are performed so frequently and viewed as simple, they are prone to more mistakes, which can add up in rework and lost time.  These processes are perfect candidates for automation because they have a great chance for success, are less complex, and train users to think about workflow solutions.

Automating these solutions takes the burden of managing the processes off of your employees and results in more than ROI.  You can get more done with less effort, focus on what matters most, and expand the impact and scope of your organization. Workflow automation also provides a clear picture of current status and participants’ performance, and this additional data can lead to process improvement. The keys to success, when starting to introduce workflow automation in your organization, are to make an immediate impact by getting started quickly, easily reaching all participants, and connecting to content across your organization.

nintex-logoThe Nintex Workflow Platform is a suite that Keller Schroeder recommends to assist organizations with workflow automation.  Nintex enables organizations to create solutions in days and weeks, instead of months, so you quickly see the benefits from reduced steps.  It allows workflow participants to interact with tasks via mobile devices, emails, or Skype for Business.  The Nintex Platform also facilitates links across your work systems, cloud applications, or social channels to facilitate information sharing.

The Nintex Workflow Platform sits on top of Microsoft SharePoint and doesn’t require additional infrastructure.  Nintex workflows, forms, and connectors are designed using the drag, drop, and configure approach instead of coding, so it’s very easy to learn and use.  If work isn’t flowing within your organization, consider workflow automation as a means to ease the backlog and frustrations and allow your team to focus on what’s most important.

Keller Schroeder is a partner with Nintex and has two employee-owners who are certified Nintex Workflow Professionals.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more about workflow automation with the Nintex Workflow Platform.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Evansville’s SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day

Rob Wilson  – [Business Unit Director – Applications Solutions]

PASSRecently, Keller Schroeder hosted the local SQL Server 2016 launch event, coordinated by Ed Rhodes of the local Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). Ed Rhodes of Walt’s Drive-A-Way leads the local PASS chapter with Pat Minnis of Vectren. The Saturday event consisted of presentations and demos by Ed, followed by video presentations of what is new in SQL Server, and a friendly group competition to “hack” the new SQL Server 2016 features.

Some of the great new features explored at the SQL Server 2016 Discovery Day were:

  • Security updates such as column-level encryption and encryption at rest
  • Data masking
  • Major updates to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • Analytics and performance monitoring
  • JSON support

You can learn more about the SQL Server 2016 features here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/server-cloud/products/sql-server/Features.aspx

SQL-Server

 

Without a doubt, this is the most anticipated SQL Server release in recent history. The added features in addition to the performance enhancements make a strong case for organizations to take a look earlier rather than later.

The group competition at the event was won by a team of DBA’s who scripted solutions around the new security enhancements. This team (made up of Terri Smith and Evans Owusu of SpringLeaf, Todd Greenwell and Shawn Repphan of Old National, and Kael Dowdy of Keller Schroeder) won $50 gift cards provided by Microsoft and the national PASS organization. It was a great day of camaraderie and round table discussions. We thank everyone who joined us, and thank Ed for his leadership and coordination of the event.

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For more information on our local technology groups, please visit www.evansvilletech.com. Our user groups are a great local resource for IT professionals to receive free training and collaborate with other professionals over a long lunch break (meal provided). For more information on how Keller Schroeder can assist you with your SQL Server 2016 migration, please contact your account manager.

 

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