We have built from the ground up what we think is the ultimate cloud based business management software. Demand for consumer products is generally driven by technological innovations such as digital products and services that offer consumers ever more convenient and affordable ways to communicate, navigate, and access information.
The AppProcessor BMS (Business Management Solution) will offer clients an all-inclusive solution including many of the well needed features you would like to have in one login. Larger businesses seem to have been quite swift to move their IT into the cloud, whereas small businesses appear to be lagging behind. If you do happen to work for a large or even medium-sized companies, you will likely want a more robust cloud solution. Free services allow an entrepreneur the ability to leverage software in order to get their company up and running. Many business owners may find themselves wondering how it is that software developers are able to offer business owners with free products. The following will guide you through the top applications that will be able to assist business owners in regards to cloud storage. This tool will help your business track project statuses, manage customers, organize contacts and store records from Human Resources.
This is a collection of 400 applications that cover inventory, time sheets, customer relationship management, project management and more. Gramercy One of New York offers business owners with a duo of free products that are GoPromote and GoBook.
While it is true that some enterprises are investing in cloud services, most of these services only store a fraction of the content enterprises hold today.
Financial services institutions, for example, have been known to fire someone simply for emailing a regulated document to themselves as an attachment (as happened recently to someone I know). In reality, even when organisations have contracts with some of the new cloud-only vendors, they still have to keep highly confidential and regulated content in their own data centres. Frustrated by the situation, end users end up copying all the content they need to the Cloud, in total contravention of the enterprise’s rules and regulations. Today’s worker wants to collaborate with people both inside and outside their organisation.
What is needed is a fully compliant, secure platform on both sides of the firewall that meets the needs of today’s worker. The only way to truly provide this level of simplicity and integration on both sides of the firewall is if both services are the same. For the CIOs, that means having the same data models so you don’t lose critical information when synchronising changes between the cloud and on-premise, the same permission models so you don’t end up losing security when sharing content in the cloud and the same APIs so your developers can create solutions that work for all your content on both sides of the firewall.
Until enterprises move all their content into the cloud, a hybrid solution is the only way to meet both the needs of the CIO and today’s modern worker. Legacy ECM systems are so outdated and behind the needs of today’s modern worker, they are actually driving users to turn increasingly to the Cloud. New cloud vendors address the needs of today’s end-user but don’t offer any solution to the complex regulatory requirements. David Gildeh is Director of Cloud Services at Alfresco, in charge of launching Alfresco's new Cloud service. About UsBCW (Business Computing World) is a leading point of communications between business technology leaders and their audiences. Cloud computing is the latest business buzzword, and is also known as cloud technology, cloud applications, or cloud-based services. Whether or not you are already using the cloud, or are familiar with it, cloud computing is nothing to be afraid of. In her spare time, Reilly is an active member of Amnesty International as well as an avid poker player.
Inventory can be damaged in many ways and at some point every business that sells products has to deal with damaged goods. While large companies may have dedicated inventory management teams and multiple warehouses, small businesses often have no inventory expertise and only limited storage space. Whether you have a large catalog of products or a small one, effective product segmentation can help improve your inventory management, providing you with more in-depth data and a clearer sense of what products you need more of. Adopting a mobile-friendly inventory control and planning solution is an effective way for any business to improve some of its most important processes, while reducing employee strain and minimizing human errors. With ever-growing mobile device usage levels around the world, 2016 looks like the year when mobile e-commerce will take off, becoming for many online shoppers the best way to shop online.
Finding ways to improve sales and performance is a never-ending struggle for company owners.
Options for software packages that offer a cloud inventory management software for small business have become a hot topic.
About UsWe provide tools and services for small business: complete Inventory Control, Automation and Purchase Order Management System, fully integrated with popular accounting software, Quickbooks and Xero. Science, Technology and Medicine open access publisher.Publish, read and share novel research.
Today more and more retailers and other businesses that have to keep their inventory in check are choosing cloud based solutions to optimize and streamline their warehouse and sales operations.
Greater accuracy and easier tracking of the inventory flow due to instant synchronization of entered data in real time – all changes are immediately reflected company-wide. Allows spreading costs out over months or, if the product doesn’t work out for you, canceling subscription without regretting having paid that much upfront. It is foreseeable that stronger growth is coming from in the cloud based business management software industry.
Many of the smaller businesses have found themselves discouraged due to high service costs as well as a shortage of cloud suppliers of appropriate offerings. Once the company has been firmly planted and the technology and their benefits are understood, etc., small business owners are able to migrate off of them.
Some of them are able to generate income through the selling of ads that tend to displayed to users that are currently using the software.
Additionally, you will be able to support customers through an online help portal while collaborating with your entire team through documents being stored in the cloud. This is an ideal option for business owners that have between 150 to 200 employees (or less). These are tools that are able to assist a small business owner promote via social media platforms and websites, the managing of customers as well as the booking of services.
There’s no doubt that the cloud has the potential to truly disrupt the way enterprise software is delivered, but the reality is still a long way off. In this situation the idea of allowing staff to freely access this kind of content from the Cloud is a long way off. Most cloud services are only used for day-to-day file sharing instead of proper content management and storage.
On the one hand they get an easy-to-use, consumer-like service through the Cloud with their mobile devices, but are forced to continue with a ‘system that sucks’ for confidential and regulated content that remains behind the firewall. This results in multiple copies of the same content being stored with all the associated versioning problems. Regardless of whether the user is accessing a document in the Cloud or behind the firewall, they should be able to access the same version using the same simple, easy-to-use interface across all of their devices.
CIOs want to retain control of what can go into the Cloud and what should stay behind the firewall. This is what makes the ECM features invisible to end-users who want to simply work with their content between the services without disruption. This forces enterprises to maintain their legacy solutions for the majority of their content. But connecting two completely different systems with fundamentally different architectures, data, security models and UIs is messy and complex. To deliver the hybrid vision, cloud, mobile and on-premise, applications need to work together seamlessly and in sync. Previously David was Founder & CEO of Cloud Collaboration start-up SambaStream, before it was acquired by Alfresco in 2011. It provides knowledge sharing and networking opportunities to help business technology leaders be more effective in communicating analysis and insight on information technology trends, to help the understanding of IT's role in achieving business goals. Cloud computing is where apps or data are accessible on the Internet instead of on a single computer or network.
The most likely outcome is that a cloud-based service can help your small business save time and money.
Stirring Media, LLC is a content marketing and news production firm that provides content marketing and business blogging services to the small business market.
Ita€™s moved from a way for people and companies to share common files to a legitimate consideration for many large-scale programs, software suites and shared applications. Through ETL - Extraction, Transformation, and Loading processes, data from various sources are validated, cleaned, transformed, aggregated and loaded into data warehouse, special sort of database system, optimized for reporting. IntroductionAll business sectors are witnessing the trend of increased global competition, which forces companies to improve their efficiency. The adoption of cloud computing in inventory management brings quite a number of attractive benefits that we would like to drill down on in this blog post. As long as you have Internet connection, you are able to check your inventory status, sales operations, and reports from anywhere and make a more informed decision. Though, if you are still in two minds about whether to go with a permanent license or online subscription-based software, check Permanent Licensing Vs. For this very reason, companies are now offering cloud tools and resources for small businesses that are consistently free. However, it is likely going to be more cost efficient to use an enterprise software that is more all inclusive.
Business owners tend to find advanced functionality within a handful of the cloud tools that software suppliers are delivering free of charge. The full functionality of the application if provided at no cost to users, but it does limit your total amount of data storage to 200 megabytes.
Keep in mind that Apptivo is a company that is able to generate its revenue through two ways.
Users are given the ability to upgrade to a paid version of GoSuite that will include: vendor management, inventory management, employee management as well as mobile payment interfaces. This is partially down to legacy investments, but it is also due to the complex security and regulatory concerns that prevent them from using the cloud for all of their content. Another barrier to Cloud adoption is regulation that stipulates companies outside the US can’t put certain content with US-based cloud service operators due to the US Patriot Act. Employees are doing this because the workplace has changed and IT has been slow to meet the demands of today’s worker. But vendors of cloud services can only provide a fraction of the enterprise content management (ECM) capability needed to enable workers to enjoy greater productivity while on the move.
At the same time users want a great and consistent experience for all the content they need regardless of where it’s stored. Only then will organisations be able to manage content consistently, regardless of where they need to store it. He has extensive experience in launching Enterprise & Cloud services, and is passionate about building collaboration tools users actually use to do great work together online.
Examples of cloud-based services include customer self-scheduling, data storage, online payment, and accounting software.
Finding the right cloud service provider takes time, and the provider of your office productivity suite is not necessarily the same one who will provide your accounting or customer scheduling. Reduction of costs, improvement of operations, improvement of relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners, shortening of delivering times, streamlining and optimization of business (logistics) processes and operations always have been the main reasons for the adoption of new technologies.
This functionality is able to range from general business productivity applications (such as word processing) to project management. This is done in the hopes of the users opting for a more robust plan that tends to be pay as you go. There is a premium plan that is available for a $10 monthly fee and the ability to increase the data storage amount to 500 megabytes. The first of which is through users that desire or require an increased amount of custom features of functionality.
But most of all they want it to be as simple and rich to use like the consumer services they have been exposed to online.
It’s likely that you are utilizing the cloud without even knowing it (if you do know it, please take our current survey about the cloud on the right hand side), as some popular small business tools that are cloud-based include Freshbooks, Constant Contact, Dropbox, and Doodle.
So, take the time to find the right provider for each service you want to use on the cloud. As a result of globalization and integration of different economies, and the formation of international global supply chains and clusters their importance has increased further. To make that time and effort easier, many services offer a free trial to allow for a quick, easy test drive.
And, maybe in a few years, your business will be left in the dust if you have yet to try the cloud.
The use of new technologies undoubtedly contributes to improved efficiency of supply chain management.
The second avenue of revenue comes from the fact that it directs its users to providers that are in the business of internet fax, email marketing as well as similar services. By storing your data on the cloud, you don’t have to worry about purchasing storage devices or backing up your data yourself.
Supply chain management (SCM) focuses on the inter-organizational management of goods flows between independent companies in a supply chain, such as raw material suppliers, component manufacturers, finished product manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. Just sync your files to the cloud, and everything automatically backs up and updates anytime you make a change. This integrated approach to planning, control, and monitoring of product flows, from suppliers to end users, aims at improved customer service at reduced overall costs, and leads to the development of important relationships with logistics providers, suppliers, and customers in order to enhance information exchange and the coordination of business activities, which are the key advantages of an integrated supply chain. The coordination of management processes and activities in a supply chain requires efficient information exchange between companies involved in the supply chain. As a result, collaboration among all participants in the value (supply and demand) chain is essential.


To improve communication, data, information, and documents exchange between customers and suppliers, proper and effective information and communication technology (ICT) is a necessity.ICT is generally seen as supportive technology (a tool) to human activities or human performance of business actions. The proper use of ICT enables faster completion of tasks and activities, accelerates data preparation and transmission times, increases reaction speed to market needs, automates and thus lowers the costs of supervision and information processing, supports the decision-making processes, enables distributive operations enhancing efficiency, reduces data entry errors, improves the quality of customer service, reduces delivery times between the date of the order and availability, facilitates payments, and improves inventory management. Companies using advanced ICT are more capable of responding to a dynamic environment, and can reduce operation costs more easily.
ICT technologies also constitute an essential aspect of the relationship with external partners in that they change the nature of the relations between companies by allowing for real-time exchange of information and documentation in electronic form.
In the context of maximizing supply chain visibility and agility various IC technologies, techniques, systems, strategies, their use and benefits will be presented. A classification based on their characteristics (functional tools and technology, integrative technologies) and their way of use and purpose (organizational, inter-organizational, core business systems, decision support systems, mobile computing, e-business technologies, web-based technologies, SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) strategy, cloud computing, A3 (Anytime, Anywhere Availability) strategy, social networks, and others) will be designed and explained. One of the strategic and most important goals of every business subject is timely and accurate decision-making. Right decisions depend on the availability of timely and accurate information and reporting environments. We have to cope with vast amounts of business data (from disparate operating systems and applications), rapidly changing customer needs and market conditions, but also with vast amounts of hidden information (documents, e-mails, know-how, voice records, external sources, etc.). Therefore, in order to create an intelligent value chain network, it is essential to integrate our core business information system with a set of modern analytical and artificial intelligence tools that enable the extraction of relevant knowledge from all of these sources, management of uncertainty, and creation of business intelligence as our main competitive advantage.
In present chapter also the concept of business intelligence and business intelligence tools (scorecards, dashboard, analysis, OLAP tools, data marts or data warehouses, data mining, knowledge discovery and other), some artificial intelligence tools and technologies (expert systems, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic, voice-based technology, robotics, etc.), and their use in SCM will be discussed.
The purpose and benefits of information technologyInformation communication technology (Vatovec Krmac, 2007) includes the application of hardware, software and networks to enhance information flow and facilitate the decisions-making.
It is one of the few aspects of supply chain that simultaneously offers both improved performance and lower cost. It enables companies to maintain key information in an accessible format, process requirements, and make operational and planning decisions. The adoption and successful implementation of important hardware, software and network technology is a prerequisite for supply chain success.
The supply chain information capability that facilitates a seamless flow of information is a very important element in further enhancing the efficiency of supply chain activities.Key activities in the supply chain are the logistics activities. They include planning, designing, implementing and managing the flow and storage of materials and information exchange in order to support basic logistics functions such as procurement, distribution, transportation, inventory management, packaging, and manufacturing. One of the strategic features of logistics service providers is the employment of customer service. In order to optimally achieve this goal they must use modern logistics tools and processes.
ICT is the most important technology for improving logistics systems, because with its proper use the productivity of constituent activities of logistics systems could be significantly enhanced. Information technologies are seen as a resource of a company, as a source of its competitive advantage, and serve as a catalyst of change in a company. Adoption and successful implementation of ICT (hardware, software and network technology) are certainly prerequisites to logistics success. With the growing trend toward the use of international supply chains and e-commerce, logistics service providers for product warehousing, transportation and delivery are placing greater emphasis on ICT in order to remain competitive globally. In the last decades, innovative ICT have deeply affected the way business is performed and the way that companies compete.
Innovations in electronic commerce play a key role in managing inter-organizational networks of supply chain members.
The internet represents a powerful technology for commerce and communication between supply chain participants as well as a technique for the improvement of supply chain management.
The fact that ICT has a positive impact on efficiency as well as the overall performance of every company that uses it, regardless of its primary activity, is already well known. Nevertheless results depend mostly on the level and type of ICT usage, which are correlated to a company's size and availability of technology, the integration of business processes along the supply chain it's still possible just with proper use of right ICT tools and technologies.
And a fact that the use of ICT requires redesign and reorganization of logistics processes, which can be seen as one of the most important barriers to ICT usage, can also be overcome in the same way.Today's challenges and opportunities are so big and important that companies should be able to quickly adapt their business to changing end evolving markets, policies, regulations, and business models.
Today we have a plenty of various technologies, tools and systems (solutions) on our disposal, but there is not one universal system or technology ("one-size-fits-all" (Tohamy, as cited in Stackpole, 2011) solution that covers all information and decision support needs of the company.
Therefore, we have to combine or orchestrate various different technologies and make them converge to the same strategic business goals or objectives. According to (Slone, et.al, 2008 in Oracle, 2008) one of the "five pillars of excellence that form the foundation of the new supply chain agenda" is the technology. The success and efficiency of supply chain functioning depends on the fact if the right supply chain technology was used and if its implementation was successful.
Basic supply chain functions are steel transportation, warehousing, inventory management, and reverse logistics. But these functions or processes today extends end-to-end and also outside the company and include also the relationships with suppliers and customers on a global basis. Supply chains are becoming multi-tiered networks of suppliers, partners, customers, and other companies.
It means a reduction of delivery time in shipments from suppliers of raw materials, intermediate goods and components to factories, distribution of final products from factories to wholesalers, retailers and end users, and the distribution of spare parts for after-sales services.
Nevertheless, transportation logistics has ceased to be limited only to the movement of goods across space and reducing time and costs along the supply chain. These improvements in transportation logistics are in great part results of new transportation and information technologies.The benefits of an integrated supply chain are numerous, but on the other side the implementations of such a chain are very costly, time consuming and represents a great challenge not only for the individual company but also for all its partners in the supply chain. The partners have to make up a common strategy; there must be a high level of confidence among them. To achieve greater information exchange successful supply chain management requires effective management of strategic alliances, extensive data management capabilities and advanced inter-organizational information systems. Information communication technologies facilitate the transfer of more accurate and up-to-date information, which results in better visibility of demand and inventory throughout the supply chain, and are essential in the use of international supply chains and e-commerce.ICT can have a positive impact on both front-end and back-end processing in a supply chain, because it provides to all parties in a supply chain better and real-time access to information, making logistics services more accurate, faster and cheaper.
The reasons for a higher level of ICT should be the need for accurate information and higher quality customer service levels. Factors contributing to the level of ICT implementation are size of company, technology and policy, and types of logistics services.ICT enablement may not be the remedy for all supply chain related problems.
But, it is a strategic and capital-intensive issue, and its success lies in the readiness of supply chain partners to share information for their mutual benefit. So, mutual trust and confidential information, along with awareness and commitment of top management are considered indispensable for implementation of ICT software systems and tools between supply chain partners.
Obviously, ICT tools that enable electronic communication between them have to be compatible, which mostly means another problem arises because of different levels of ICT implementation and use. As previously stated, the remedy for these kinds of problems could be independent third party web service providers that offer the possibility of the use of special services and tools without their internal implementation and the means for interconnection and real-time communication between supply chain participants, the precondition for effective performance of all logistics activities.
In this way, just with proper use of right ICT tools and technologies, it is possible to overcome differences between supply chain or logistics partners, which are result of different levels and types of their internal ICT usage. An overview of supply chain technologiesAn overview of the supply chain ICT includes technologies that primarily deal with managing and controlling supply chain related data and activities, including information exchange within and between companies.
They range from mature and widely used technologies to relatively new application systems and services. Some of them are essential for the business - they perform transactional processing and are called core technologies and system, while others represent only an added-value to the core business. Most of described systems are used steel as monolithic applications, isolated or connected only "point-to-point". Concepts of service oriented architecture (SOA) and cloud computing are rapidly changing the ways these systems are developed and used by supply chain partners, but also the functionalities of these systems are changing. More and more applications are web-based and accessible from anywhere, anytime, not only through computers but also through different mobile devices.
Supply chain visibility and collaboration pose new claims on supply chain software that should provide 360 degree view of the supply chain functionalities and establish a network of supply chain partners. And there are variety of other simulation and artificial intelligent software we can use to enhance and optimize supply chain functions.
As regards the purpose or usage of a particular technology (Vatovec Krmac, 2005), they can be divided into two main groups--functional technologies and integrative technologies.
Functional technologies, which are mostly internally focused, include systems that are used to accomplish a particular function, and also systems that are used in a particular functional area, such as warehouse and transportation management systems. Functional technologiesBrowsing web sites and studying the literature in the field of transport, logistics, and supply chain management in general we can discover a lot of different functional technologies or systems used to support and manage supply chains. Aside from bar-coding systems, warehouse management systems, computer-aided design, electronic commerce technologies, internet-based logistics systems, radio frequency systems, transportation management systems and geo-coded tracking systems there are also demand forecasting management systems, customer relationships management systems, product data management systems, manufacturing execution systems, automated quality control systems and supply chain event management systems, and many others.
Automated quality control systems: Automatic quality monitoring and inspection devices observe the quality of in-process work pieces in automated manufacturing systems, and are essential for effective production. They are used to determine the acceptance or rejection of a work piece or a specific production lot before work pieces are advanced to the next process.
They are also used to monitor the calibration of fixtures and the conditions of cutting tools, and can be integrated into a feedback control system to directly influence the manufacturing processes. Automatic identification technologies (AIT): Is a set of technologies and devices that capture, aggregate, and transfer data to information systems.
Using automatic identification technologies significant reduction of administrative and logistics costs is possible. Because of error eliminations the data accuracy is increased, and transmission of data is speedier. It is a low-risk technology consisting of systems or products that are used in conjunction with many of the other technology systems to produce or use either linear or two-dimensional bar codes. Radio frequency (RF) technologies: RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) has only recently been introduced to the consumer goods supply chain. It requires the creation and adoption of industry-wide standards, integration with internal business systems, and a significant investment in RFID tagging and reading equipment as well as supporting technology infrastructure. RF technologies use radio waves to transfer detailed information from tags, programmed with a unique number and attached to items, cases, or pallets, to a company's information system. RF tags are superior to bar-coded labels in that they allow significantly more information to be stored and have the capacity to easily update or alter information at any point along the supply chain without having to change the tag. Another advantage over bar-coded labels is its capacity to reliably operate in harsh and dusty environments; but current RFID tags are not always reliable and will not work with some products or in certain situations.
The main advantage and the greater potential of RFID is its possibility to trace products, collect and access the information about products via RFID tags during each step of the logistics chain. Biometric identification system: It is a system for uniquely recognizing human beings from momentary information, gained from "scan" of a part of human body (fingerprint scan, hand geometry, palm vein authentication, retina scan, iris scan, face recognition, signature, voice, and DNA analysis) that is compared with the biometrical data stored in a database of biometric data. With analyses of content the system creates a "fingerprint" and it compares with fingerprints in a database to determine if there is a match. Computer-aided design (CAD) systems: CAD systems are generally stand-alone design tools that are used to design everything from parts to tools and fixtures. With design software company can develop better products that more effectively meet the needs of their customers. Customer relationships management (CRM) systems: CRM systems are computer-based applications used to manage company's interactions with its customers and therefore to improve the selling and revenue generation process of a company.
They provide support for the provision of a service to a customer by collecting customer data and providing information and knowledge about customers and their behavior.
They help companies to become more customer-oriented in the face of increased global competition. Their main goals are increasing customer satisfaction, finding new customers, reduction of marketing and client service cost. Demand forecasting management (DFM) systems: It is an important information system, which represents an integrated part within the framework of enterprise resource planning systems.
It is a centralized forecast system capable of satisfying all of a user's information requirements. The DFM system has the ability of providing forecast information for numerous users, improves forecast accuracy and enhances decision-making. Electronic commerce technologies include interactive web sites, web portals, electronic mail, extranets (to promote electronic ordering with suppliers), intranets (to facilitate internal knowledge sharing) and EDI systems. EDI is the most common form of an inter-organizational information system, an electronic commerce technology that improves customer service and lowers costs by facilitating communication and document exchange between supply chain partners, and has a positive impact on inventory levels and inventory management. Internet-based logistics systems: They are replacing classical electronic data interchange (EDI) systems. They can handle everything from order management and scheduling to delivery, and are designed to help companies cut costs by automating the processes of booking shipments, keeping customers informed, and making sure that goods arrive on time. Their aim is to provide a single, flexible platform for managing production, quality, inventory, and process controls.
These systems also enable real-time visibility and control of manufacturing operations and help businesses to respond effectively to unexpected customer requirement changes. They are seen as a strategic tool for manufacturers to provide customer-specific, innovative, and cost-effective products in the increasingly competitive environment that is the result of globalization. MES is a dynamic information system that drives effective execution of manufacturing operations. Using current and accurate data, MES guides, triggers, and reports on plant activities as a result of various events.
It also manages production operations from point of order release into manufacturing to point of product delivery into finished goods. MES also provides critical information about production activities to others across the company and supply chain via bi-directional communication. MES aims to provide an interface between an ERP system and shop floor controllers by supporting various execution activities such as scheduling, order release, quality control, and data acquisition.
Adoption costs of manufacturing execution systems are high, and integration with other systems is very complex. Order management systems (OMS): Companies use OMS to keep track of orders from customers, stock level maintenance, packaging and shipping. OMS are electronic systems developed to execute orders in an efficient and cost-effective manner (filling orders for various types) and to track the progress of each order throughout the system.


Modern OMS integrate various orders entry channels, for example e-commerce, phone call center order entry and customer service, Business-to-Business e-commerce, and web sales. A major benefit of PDM is the reduction of time to market, as a consequence of control of the product introduction process, which also results in reduction of product introduction costs. Such systems remove barriers to information flow and allow critical information to be accessed by the relevant people. They also improve communication and consistency within companies because everyone has access to the same information.
It enables a company to access supply chain information in real time and immediately responds to unplanned events. Tracking systems: Service-tracking system provides customers a mean to realize the status of their requests and to anticipate and plan actions.
For a manufacturer downstream in a supply chain, this service provides real-time information that enhances the effectiveness of raw material planning and scheduling. Service tracking systems provide the order and delivery status of the products and services; users of the system can make decisions based on the actual status. The internet-based techniques offer users easy access to real-time status information via web-based tracking systems, which have the advantage that information exchange and transmission are not geographically restricted.
The geo-coded tracking system is a technology for tracking transport vehicles, formed of satellite or cellular tracking devices most commonly used in trucks or trailers to ascertain position and feed the information to ancillary systems such as transportation management systems or warehouse management systems and via internet to customers, who can track their goods on-line.Transportation and warehousing are major logistics activities and major cost factors in logistics services. The primary goal of ICT use in logistics activities is therefore reduction of such logistics costs. If our aim is to take full advantage of logistics, we have to have also a well developed, efficient and effective transportation system. The influence of the transportation system on the logistics system is the logical consequence of the fact that transportation generates one-third of the amount in the logistics cost. They support information transfer, route and mode planning, choosing and delivering of products, electronic identification, mobile communication, managing claims, and physical automation, tracking and tracing (long distances, multimodal transport).
In combination with mobile and wireless technology, communication networks and identification technologies can also help in better fleet visibility, reduction of paper work, and efficient communication with warehouses, providing real time data for the use of management and decision-making. Three main benefits of these technologies are reduction of shipping errors, increase in productivity, and inventory tracking ability. Even better results could be obtained if WMS and inventory management systems would be supplemented by automated guided vehicles, sorting devices and automated storage and retrieval systems.
Integrative technologiesIntegrative technologies are information systems used to coordinate and integrate information flows and activities within and between company boundaries to allow the company to effectively manage procurement activities to rapidly meet customer needs. These tools provide excellent algorithmic and technological features to support management decisions, allowing customized planning procedures and optimization algorithms. The goal of both types of systems is the same: to be able to enter information from any source into the computer system only once and have the information made available for all. Its purpose is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the company and manage the connections to outside stakeholders." (Bidgoli, 2004) ERP offer a centralized information control system to integrate all company departments and functions and provide integration for supply chain management.
It's an integrated set of application software modules or packages (capacity planning, customer service, cost and accounting, sales order processing and distribution, manufacturing, material procurement, production management, quality management, inventory, human resources, distribution, logistics, and finance), which work together as an integrated unit by bringing the visibility of real-time information to all departments and thereby focusing on the business as a whole. ERP software is the dominant strategic platform for supporting enterprise-wide business processes. Thus, it provides ways to analyze the demand history, make forecasting recommendations, and suggest safety stock levels.
With maturity of the Internet and simplification of external communication also functions dealing directly with customers (i.e.
Advanced ERP systems are integrated also with business intelligence tools and applications and therefore offer management portals or dashboards, scorecards, customizable reporting, searching functions, document and workflow management, and functions that allow external access (web services, wiki, messaging, etc.).
The greater of them are very high initial investment, integration of independent businesses results in unnecessary dependencies, problematic customization, re-engineering of business processes that have to fit the ERP system, and others. These systems integrate diverse applications and functions such as planning (demand, sales, operations, supply, and forecast planning), scheduling, distribution, and transportation.
One of these systems is the CPFR system, which is used to replace the approach of electronic data interchange (EDI). The objective of the CPFR system is to exchange selected internal information on a shared web server in order to provide for reliable, longer term future views of demand in the supply chain.
As stated in (Vatovec Krmac, 2005) the distinction between ERP and SCP systems is somewhat blurry.
ERP generally covers the full range of manufacturing, sales and accounting software, sufficient to perform virtually all of the information technology transactions required by a company, and provides information and decision support for most of the core processes as well. SCP, on the other hand, is more oriented toward specific logistics functions with specialized systems devoted to demand forecasting, production, transportation, delivery and distribution. The integrative technologies provide extra intelligence for coordination between partners and greater flexibility, which is needed for this cooperation between networked companies. They have to provide basic communication between the systems and users in the supply chain (data communication, message conversion, flow control, etc.), transparent information (stock visibility, track and trace and report), and advanced management throughout the systems and among the users in the supply chain (inventory management, production management and distribution management). Shared information is the key to assuring that decisions can be made as soon as demand is realized. The main benefit of the internet is its capacity to facilitate or speed up the integration of business processes along the supply chain by facilitating the information flows that are necessary to coordinate business activities. It also allows companies to customize service solutions for their customers, which enhances the overall value and competitive position throughout the supply chain network. Inter-company information transfer via the internet can reduce the costs of order tracking and logistics as shipments can be located en route.The internet is seen as a business resource and network technology for the integration of technology at all levels of business practice. Internet and web services promise also the ability to reduce time and costs involved in developing, supporting and integrating the internal information systems within a single company and to quickly and effectively integrate information systems with those of customers, suppliers and other business partners, the primary need for cooperation between supply chain participants. As companies linked together are numerous, the connections become many-to-many, so facilitations and services of independent third parties are required (security applications, performance measurement applications, billing and payment applications).
SOA offers business processes and location-independent interoperable services across multiple, separate systems and platforms from several business domains. Its benefits lay in ability to quickly meet customer demands, in lowering of technology costs, in reduction of expensive custom development costs, and in making business rules more visible and easier to transform. SOA separates functions into services (each service implements one action), accessible over a network.
The communication between services and consumers is realized by "passing data in a well-defined, shared format or by coordinating an activity between two or more services" (Bell, 2010). In many decision-making processes or reporting tasks we need integration of data and information from disparate data sources what SOA makes possible. SOA also facilitates cooperation among different companies, and therefore represents an important feature for supply chain partners’ interoperability. It enables networked data-sharing and analysis tools sharing and so makes the analyzed data available to multiple users in real time.
As stated in (Epicor, 2009), "SOA provides a modern model of application support across an enterprise without regard to who, what, where or when."Many companies still rely on batch or background processing (processing is shifted to times when computing resources are less utilized) to support their existing applications. This kind of processing is appropriate for very large amounts of data or transactions where small delays in delivery of information are acceptable.
Traditional background processing has changed and evolved in the so called Just-in-Time processing, appropriate for data that does not have real-time requirements.
If companies want to move to SOA architecture or to combine Just-in-Time processing with SOA transactional processing they need to overcome the dependency on batch processing.
This is possible with implementation of intelligent service automation which provides a necessary bridge between SOA and legacy applications, allowing for the inclusion of batch processes into the SOA business processes which requires initiation on time, calendar, and events. Intelligent service automation therefore provides web services to initiate, monitor, and manage background processes. So, the main purpose of the intelligence service automation is to provide an automation engine that supports SOA processing initiation in the background and can be seen as an integral technology in business process execution.
Combined with concepts of SOA, A3, mobile computing, and cloud computing it represents an infrastructure for information transfer and collaboration between partners.
In Gartner predictions for 2012 (Gartner 2010) Facebook, as already today the biggest social network in the world, is seen "too big for firms not to factor it into their B2C strategies".
Gartner group see the Facebook as a huge support for advertising, communication, marketing and client support. Cloud computing As Internet has matured it has become a useful infrastructure also in business. Today more and more applications, data and services are transferred from the user's computers to the "cloud".
These computational resources (applications, databases, files, file service, emails, storage capacities, processing capacities etc.) are available to the users on demand. For end user there is no need to know the physical locations and configurations of computer systems he uses in the cloud. Saas applications therefore not support an application customization like traditional enterprise software.
Instead of purchasing all hardware and software equipment (servers, software, data-center space or network equipment), users can fully outsourcing these services. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): cloud platform deliver a computing platform as a service, using cloud infrastructure and sustaining cloud applications. It consists of computer hardware, including multi-core processors, and computer software products designed for the delivery of cloud services, including cloud-specific operating systems.Regarding privacy, security and financial concerns, company's needs, the organization of cloud services etc.
A type of cloud that could be very useful and appropriate for supply chain users is a community cloud. This type of cloud represents an opportunity in the case where several companies have similar requirements and seek to share infrastructure so as to realize some of the benefits of cloud computing. To support supply chain visibility and collaboration integration of supply chain partners' software is needed. Linking up all ERP and supply chain systems from different supply chain companies is rather impossible. So called "point-to-point" integrations between different enterprise systems are very difficult and time consuming. Therefore, cloud is a good solution in the case where information sharing, orders, goods, and payments tracking along the supply chain are essential. One possible use of a cloud is that all partners simply upload their reports into the cloud and in this way availability of real-time information is reached. Two good examples of the cloud computing in supply chain management are SaaS transportation management systems (TMS) and SaaS warehouse and inventory management systems (WMS). The opportunity for SaaS TMS (Gonzales, 2009) comes from one of the most critical aspects of TMS, the need for communication, collaboration, and information exchange with a network of other partners (carriers, suppliers, customers, logistics service providers, and other trading partners). The network provides shippers with access to relevant carriers to satisfy their transportation needs in less time and with lower costs. There is no need to establish and test all classical EDI and other types of electronic communications anymore, because all trading partners are already part of the network. The costs, efforts, and time for frequent updates of TMS are minimal, because there is only one application to upgrade and is available to everyone.
SaaS TMS also facilitates benchmarking and inter-enterprise collaboration, because the data about performance of all companies of the network are available to everyone, so an external benchmark can be done easily and quickly. Regarding payment of use of the application there is only a monthly subscription fee to pay.
Saas WMS (Business Software, 2011) and inventory systems empowers companies to gain real-time visibility into warehouse operations ensuring greater customer satisfaction, improved productivity, and better inventory accuracy.
They offer all needed key features like inventory tracking, that offer real-time visibility into supply chain operations, checking goods into inventory and establishing real-time inventory accuracy, streamlining the receiving, put-away, and picking process for optimal operational efficiency, easily locating and picking orders in sequence to improve employee productivity, automating the shipping process to decrease shipping costs and reduce order fulfillment time, and integrating into companies ERP systems. In this way all trading partners can share timely information about inventory levels, orders statuses, payments, and other important information.
Warehouse systems are increasingly expected to perform more and more functions—assembly, manufacturing, repair.
A3 (Anytime, Anywhere Availability) and mobile devicesIn today business there are really great claims on access of data and information at anytime from anywhere in the world, regardless the used device. A framework that provides anytime, anywhere availability means that "any user can gain access to a consistent set of accurate, up-to-date information in their native language from applications and servers spread around the world." (Epicor, 2009) To realize a framework for A3, SOA environment is needed, because it provides the capability of editing and examining for errors the captured information, and allows a user interface to handle the language aspects. Gates (Gates, 1999) called this concept the concept of convergence - "convergence of the computer, consumer electronics, and telecommunications industries and the merging of gadgets such as the PC, TV, telephone, and smart devices". The fact that service or software is available anywhere means that there are many points of entry, that must be controlled and supervised.
To increase the security of A3 methods like "Single Sign On" (allows persons to access multiple, independent applications with the same username and password) and "Role Based Access" (access rights are associated immediately based on the individual's role in the company) were developed.
The access should be available only for employees or maybe also for supply chain partners, or even customers. They can access from remote desktops, or mobile devices like laptops, tablets, iPads, handhelds, mobile phones, or other smart and wireless devices. The collaboration of these devices is possible only if they are able to communicate effectively with each other, and this is possible through the use of open internet protocols and standards.
Anytime, anywhere access allows employees to be efficient and effective from virtually anywhere, whether they are working from home or on the road.
This convergence is very important also for the supply chain partners, who have great opportunities of communication between them and to gather needed business data and information (like data regarding orders, processing of orders, inventory statuses, shipments, payments, etc.) anywhere and anytime, and have therefore the possibility to react more rapidly and shorter delivering times and consequently reduce overall costs.
Supply chain visibility and agilityOne of the important goals of supply chain management we can also obtain via technology is the improvement of supply chain visibility and its flexibility or agility. Supply chain visibility or end-to-end visibility, called also 360-degree view of company means that company is able to have a clear view of everything that happens across the entire supply chain and also how well this happens. The meaning of the supply chain visibility (Stackpole, 2011) depends on what kind of manufacturer the company is, on the companies’ role in the supply chain, on industry that company serves, and on that where the need for visibility is most serious.



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