Electronic Transaction Governance: Implementing Standard Compliance

This is the first of a series of five blog posts detailing how to implement Electronic Transaction Governance in your software interfaces.  We will also discuss how Wovenware implements Electronic Transaction Governance in the Wovenware Integrator. The Wovenware Integrator is an adaptable software platform that provides visibility and accountability to all electronic transaction processes. Please refer to the What is Electronic Transaction Governance blog post for a detailed explanation of the term.

Electronic Transaction Governance: Standard Compliance

In this first blog post we will discuss the area Standard Compliance. Standard Compliance is the area of Electronic Transaction Governance that mitigates processing risks and assures proper handling of the electronic interaction through the initial verification of the electronic message. Standard Compliance limits its process to the verification of the electronic contract between the partners. That is, Standard Compliance will only verify the message format and not the data that is embedded in the message.

The message format can be a standard based format (e.g. ASC X12 EDI, NIEM, HL7, etc.) or a custom defined message format agreed to by the communicating parties.

For example, Partner A and Partner B decide to exchange new purchase orders through electronic messaging and they agree to exchange the messages using the following xml files:

Partner A Sends New Order Request:

<order>
  <item>
    <sku></sku>
    <quantity></quantity>
  </item>
</order>

Partner B Responds with New Order Request Acknowledgment:

<order>
  <acknowledgment></acknowledgment>
  <item>
    <sku></sku>
    <quantity></quantity>
    <price_per_item></<price_per_item>
  </item>
  <total_order_price></<total_order_price>
</order>

Standard Compliance dictates that when Partner B receives a New Order Request the first step in the electronic message handling process is the verification of the message. That is, the certification that the received message conforms to the agreed communication standard. The same would apply to Partner A when a New Order Acknowledgment is received.

To implement Standard Compliance an initial software process must exist to verify all incoming messages. The process will validate that the received message follows the established messaging format. If the tested message does not adhere to the established messaging format then the Standard Compliance software process must notify or return the message to the sender and not allow the message to continue processing.

The Wovenware Integrator handles this verification through the configuration of its Application Services implementations. Application Services are customizable software processes, based on a Software Pattern developed by Wovenware Engineers, which can execute following a custom defined business workflow. The first defined task of the business workflow is an Application Service that is configured to validate the format of all incoming messages. If a message does not conform to the expected format, the message is not allowed to continue through the business workflow and a notification message is sent to the sender.

In our next post we will discuss how to implement the Data Quality area of Electronic Transaction Governance.

Social Media: What’s the point of blogging if there’s no content?

We are living in a time where posting things on Facebook is “more important than anything” and tweeting about how great the service was at that store is what’s in. For us, marketers, it is getting harder and harder every day to reach our customers especially through traditional methods like phone calls or meetings. It sounds all so difficult, right? Well it is not. We have the perfect tool in our hands, we are… blind. We don’t see past our noses and we are ignoring a big important, “ginormous” fact: SOCIAL MEDIA IS EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE!

For most businesses, selling is the most important thing. Businesses sometimes forget that to achieve a good sale… and a continuous sale you need to obtain your client’s trust. So, nowadays where reaching for them is harder, we can use social media as a tool to gain their trust. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter help people connect with each other; but now, more than ever, they serve as a way in which people can stay in touch with your business and they can see what you are up to. Take for example, blogging. Here at Wovenware we focus on establishing a trustworthy relationship with our clients. We mainly sell custom software development services so it is hard to show that on a Facebook photo album. But we can blog about the things we do, we can tweet interesting topics and even things we’ve done, so our clients in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, United States and the rest of the World know we are constantly searching for new ways to improve our technologies and provide them with better solutions.

 It is very important to use social media, in this case blogging, wisely. People, and this is something I’ve witnessed, are constantly searching for solutions in the Internet. Be it: recipes, guides to do a particular thing, cats, news, or how-that-experiment-went-from-success-to-disaster-in-0.5-seconds, among many other things. I’ve read so many studies about social media and about blogging and all of them conclude: blogging content + blogging constantly = WIN!  When potential clients visit your web page they will most likely look at your “About Us” and this is where the magic happens, here is where you have to update valuable content to trigger the interest in them. For example, when I need to research a specific topic, facts or read how to get something done, I visit YouTube or search for blog post written by an expert. This is why you have to update content every day, so when a potential client looks for a solution on the web your website will pop out of the rest. What do customers look for in a blog post? They look for experience and answers to their problems. They want a blogger that writes about solving the problem they encounter every day.

 The most important thing you need to know is that you should write about something you’ve experienced yourself. People often tend to make decisions based on others experience. Experience is what every company should try to sell; experience, trust and killer customer service, then everything will fall into place, the way it is supposed to. The key to a good blog is great content that can be of help for the readers. Write about topics that concern the services you provide and show your knowledge and expertise in each of blog post.

6 Key Things to Be a Better Seller

Selling is not easy … you have to motivate yourself to sell; believe in your products and services!

Develop your experiences on a map of beliefs, where it indicates that it is good, that it works, and that it is practical and possible.

These beliefs arise from references, experiences, acquired knowledge and the belief you have in your product and services. To be a good salesperson you must have good character and leadership skills that will help achieve THAT sale.

A good salesperson has integrity, does not have divided loyalties, but is committed to the truth, understands the need to satisfy the customer, but also knows how to obtain results for the benefit of his client without affecting their character.

As we mention before there are 6 key things to be a better seller:

  1. Offer Real Solutions – one-way to help your clients is offering solutions that suit their needs, but you need to remember that these solutions need to be real. Only promise what you can deliver.
  2.  Submit Viable Proposals – offer your clients feasible proposals, things that can actually be done and that will serve the needs of the customer. You want to solve your customer problems, not create more.
  3. Facilitate/Help – be helpful and make things easier for your clients, they will be grateful. Sometimes our clients have busy schedules so it is very useful if we can give them all the information and advice they need in a straightforward way. Also, you are selling something but don’t forget that your attitude influences the sale. If the customer feels you are not completely into our job or you are not being helpful and truthful they may decide not to deal with you anymore.
  4. Investigate/Ask- ask what is the pain, what needs to be done, how they want it done and when. Research your customer, their completion, and the industry they are. Learn everything you can in order to understand your customer and help them with their needs. At the end of the day you want your customer to be more successful because of you.
  5. Talk less – STOP talking, you need to give the promising and the talking a break. Actions not words are what makes the sale.
  6. Listen More – learn how to really listen and understand what it that your customers want is. Sometimes we think that a quick meeting with our clients is enough to understand all their problems. It is not. Listen more, especially with an open mind and enthusiasm.

It really does not matter what you sell (I mainly sell Custom Software Development and Business Intelligence with QlikView in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic), if you apply these six tips to your sales tasks you will see your sales improve.

Have more tips? Please share then with me in the comments section.

New Software Development Technologies, New Possibilities: Node.js

New software development technologies are constantly emerging and one of the most exciting new ones is called Node.js. It is a software framework (based on the Javascript language) that can be used to develop and deploy custom network applications. It allows running Javascript as native code at server-side making it a very fast, lightweight and scalable framework.

Node.js uses the Google V8 engine to compile high level Javascript code directly into low level machine code. The benefits of doing this are its speed and that it is asynchronous. This means that your code can be designed to execute tasks that are not dependent of each other or must wait to see which finishes first. While it can be used to create any type of application, it is most convenient during web based development.  It can be applied to create a more engaging, real-time web application while diminishing requests to a server and make it more responsive.

A good example of this would be a HTTP server application. Node.js provides countless libraries in order to develop your application. With only a few lines of code you can create a very simple HTTP server:

var http = require("http");

http.createServer(
  function (request, response) {
    response.writeHead(200, {"Content-Type": "text/plain"});
    response.write("Hello World");
    response.end();
}).listen(8080);

In the previous example, when a user opens the webpage “http://localhost:8080/”, he will be treated with a page containing the message “Hello World”. While this can be done in any type of server with a simple HTML page, here we gain more control of our server and the ability to be asynchronous. It can handle the request for the user and route it accordingly based on your own rules. You can limit the traffic to the user and the response he gets directly into the code. It can push new events or notifications to the user without hitting the refresh button, thus eliminating the need to be constantly making requests to the server. Basically, you can tailor fit how the server is going to work based on your own specified needs. This makes it more efficient and eliminates tons of overhead.

Since it is built on Javascript, the programming learning curve is very low. You don’t have to be an expert on Javascript, or programming in general, to be able to create your own application. Big name companies (like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Microsoft) are already aware of this and are deploying Node.js in their production environments. Since the web is moving to one based on instant feedback, it seems to be the perfect framework to use for development.

For more information on Node.js, as well as a tutorial, you may visit NodeBeginner.org and Nodejs.org for the installation client.

 

Have you used node.js before? Did you find it useful? Let us know what you think about it!

 

3 Things You Need To Do Today For Your Content Marketing

We have previously discussed what content marketing is and how it is the new way to market your company. This is true, whether you are an insurance company, a software development firm or a doctor in private practice. Don’t listen to us; search and read the experts in the matter. A lot of new companies are emerging in the marketplace specifically tackling content marketing initiatives. Eg. HubSpot, Marketo, InfusionSoft, and many others. These companies have seen exponential growth due to the fact that their clients are seeing the results of monitoring and adapting content to their visitors’ interests. That said, we list the three important things that based on our experience you can do to have a successful content marketing strategy.

  1. Start! – Many companies suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’ when it comes to content marketing. Yes! It’s that simple, starting is the most important thing you can do with your content marketing strategy. Once you start creating content, you will notice that it is easier than expected.
  2. Provide valuable content – This sounds counter-intuitive. You probably ask, “Why would I give my product / service away?” This is madness, you say. But if you don’t provide valuable information to your potential clients, your competitors will. It’s that simple. Anyone with decent Internet research skills can find whatever they need through the web. So, make sure you are ‘searchable’ and ‘findable’. And, in case a client can’t find the needed information on the web, GREAT, this means your competitors are behind… That’s a great incentive to start now! In this case, you have a better chance of becoming the leading source of information to potential clients.
  3. Post on a regular basis – This is where marketing requires commitment. Posting once a month won’t get many people interested in your company. People want to be kept up-to-date with the trends in the market. They want to make sure you are on top of your game, because they want to make sure they are on top of their game as well. Posting regularly will let them know that you are what you say you are.

Clients today will find whatever they need online. Make sure they find you and not your competitor. Start publishing valuable content on a regular basis and client visits to your website will definitely grow. Once they visit, you will have an opportunity to interact with them in a meaningful way. After you establish this engagement with the potential client, you will be several steps closer to them and closing the sale… and closing the sale is what business is all about.

Tell us: What’s stopping you from starting your content marketing initiatives today?

PS. You like my post or the Kermit the Frog photo on top? … Please share this post with your friends!

Alternative Ways to Document Technical Support

When doing technical application support it is necessary to document its resolution in a structured manner. At a minimum you need to keep a log of the problem type, script or tool used for solving the problem and any other type of instructions on how to handle or solve the problem. For that purpose you have many non-recommended options like using pen and paper, flat file applications like Notepad, Word or even Excel. I recommend you use a note management application like Evernote or OneNote. As an example I will discuss the use of the first one, Evernote.

Evernote keeps the notes you have on a manually structured and searchable manner.  You could categorize them in notebooks which could help you divide notes from one client to the other, but could also be searched in all of the notes at the same time. On each note you could put anything from “SQL” (Structured Query Language) scripts to Word documents that describe requirements, emails, chats logs that include technical stuff, images, etc.  Many things that contributed in the solution of a problem could be added to your notes.

Another feature is that you could create tags that work as bookmarks for linking related notes. All notes tagged with the same words can be found with just one click.

Not only will this help solve an issue faster, but it will also help you catalog your reusable scripts. In the future you only need to search for these references to have access to them. Remember a reference can be a specific command, database table, shell command or procedure you want to reuse.

You could even add tips or information regarding a specific area you are not yet familiar with. These tips can be information someone has given to you or a piece of information you recognize could be important to know in the future.

If you also work as a developer you could add the tasks assigned to you on another notebook and keep track of information regarding these tasks like assigned data, due date, deployment paths or other information which you know could be forgotten so it’s best to have it written down on a note.

Thanks to this note management system, I can perform technical support faster. It has also helped me on the development process of new scripts since many times I have to reuse an SQL code that has been previously developed. If you work with several different technical support issues on a daily basis, keeping these scripts and tools at hand will help you fix issues faster. You will be more efficient.  Do you recommend any other tools to document you technical support resolution, tips, and tricks?