Entries in the 'About Enterprise Software' Category

opentaps CRM2: A New Way To Do It

If you’ve ever thought, “There’s got to be a better way,” take a look at opentaps CRM2.

The new opentaps CRM2 takes a completely different approach to opentaps 1.x or any other major CRM system out there.  Instead of having all these screens and forms for you to come and enter data, we’re bringing opentaps CRM to you:  We’re automatically capturing the discussions, emails, and tasks that are the back bone of your relationships with your customers, bringing them into the cloud, and helping you manage them there.

Oh, also: We’re making it as easy as possible for you.  There’s no big software package to download or install.  No database to set up and maintain.  No code base to merge and upgrade.  You don’t even have to ask your users to stop using their favorite email program.  You just sign up for an account, plug a few simple widgets into your existing opentaps instance, and synch up your users and emails.

Then just sit back and relax.  Everybody just keeps working as before.   But from your web interface, you’ll see all the emails and discussions back and forth between your company, your customers, and your vendors:

opentaps CRM2 Dashboard

opentaps CRM2 will even help you find the emails related to your orders, invoices, and payments automatically (and it would be very easy to get it to do the same for quotes, production runs, etc. — whatever your company works around):

CRM2 Discussion Thread

Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?  Our beta users have thought so for about a year now.  Why don’t you give it a try and let us know how it goes?

A New Philosophy for opentaps

With the first widgets for opentaps 2 are some big changes: Not just a new look and feel or a new technical framework, but a whole new philosophy for building better software with open communities.   This philosophy could be summed up as:

Make opentaps Benefit the Maximum Number of People

Simple as it sounds, but unfortunately this is not how most business software is built: Most business software is very targeted to a small group of users, and their creators and consumers often focus more on features lists than actual usefulness.

For us, this philosophy required fundamental re-thinking about how we did things and three goals for opentaps:

1.  Make it Easy

opentaps should be easy: easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to extend.  It should be hosted so you don’t have to download and install anything.  It should work where and how you want to work.  Finally, if you know any programming, you should be able to extend it without learning a new framework or language.

2.  Make it Inclusive

We want as many people as possible using and extending opentaps.  This means no matter what your preferred tools — Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby, or Javascript, you should be able to work with opentaps.  To make this happen, opentaps needs to be more than just modular.  It needs to be independent, so that each part of it could be written and maintained by different developers in different languages.

3.  Make it Useful for Everybody

We’re not here just to build an ERP or a CRM.  We want to help any group, no matter how big or small, work together more effectively.  The first opentaps was good for big companies with teams of programmers or consultants.   We want the new opentaps to work for everybody.

Tell us how opentaps could make your organization work more effectively.  We’re listening.

The Opportunity in Business Software, By The Numbers

How well is software meeting the needs of today’s businesses?  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Number of Businesses using Salesforce, Quickbooks vs. total US Businesses

Amazing, isn’t it?

As great as Salesforce.com and Quickbooks are, there is a big and unmet need for business software still.

Can NoSQL Databases Cure Us of Software Complexity?

If you’ve worked with Apache OFBiz or opentaps 1.x, you’ve probably had moments like this:

Q: What’s the difference between internal name and product name?

A: If your company wants to maintain an internal name for products that’s different than the standard product name, then you can put it in internalName. Otherwise you should keep them the same.

Welcome to software complexity.

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Let’s Mash It Up and Make Enterprise Software Fun Again

My New Year’s Resolution: Make building enterprise software fun again.

The Old Way

Almost all enterprise applications follow the same architectural pattern: a single all-encompassing framework housing the data, logic, and presentation layers.  When applied to large-scale applications such as enterprise software, which must cater to the needs of lots of users with many different features, it creates some problems:

  1. Everything that you use in the application must be written in this framework.  You might really like X, but if you want to use in your application, you’d have to re-write X in its framework.
  2. No framework is optimal for all possible features.  For example, order processing and accounting are highly structured, whereas web content management deals primarily with non-structured data.  A relational database driven framework that is well suited for traditional ERP could thus be poorly suited for web content management, and vice versa.

This is why we often hear enterprise users say “We chose [fill in name of your software] because it was good at [fill in the good features], but it’s really not too good at [all the other stuff].”  Conversely, because vendors think this is the only way to build software, they often have to bundle so-so features with their core strengths to create a competitive “enterprise offering.”

A Better Way to Do It?

Sometimes it just takes a shift in the perspective.

Could enterprise software could be built as mash ups of components based on open standards?

Would that make writing business software as easy–and as fun–as putting together blogs with videos, tweets, and maps?

Let’s Try it with Open Source

We’re going to try to do exactly that with opentaps 2.  We plan on building off the OSGi standard and the new Apache Geronimo 3 application server on the server side and the new HTML5 standard for client side applications to create this new kind of enterprise software.  Take a look at our plans for opentaps 2 and follow us.

A New Architecture for opentaps

When I first wrote opentaps 2.0 Planning, my goal was to come up with a new architecture that would make enterprise software more modular and more reusable.  But we will need to do much more in a mobile and API-driven world, so here are some of the guiding principles behind the architecture of the new opentaps:

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Killer Apps: the Defining Applications of Each Computing Wave

Take a look at this chart from O’Reilly Radar: You say you want a revolution? It’s called post-PC computing:

1011-10b-devices-580

We are entering a new computing wave, where a new technology platform will revolutionize software.

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How Did CRM Software Begin?

There’s an interesting story from SoftwareAdvice.com about the origin of ACT!, the first contact management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

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Work in a Mobile, Social World

The world of social media and mobile devices is fundamentally changing the way we work.

A Shift in Behavior

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Can Open Source Make ERP Better?

Derek Singleton at SoftwareAdvice.com has written an interesting article entitled Can Open Source ERP Succeed? He brought up some of the hurdles for the adoption of open source ERP software.

Having developed open source ERP and CRM for over five years now, I’d like to ask a different question:

Can Open Source make ERP better?

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