“thenextphase” Raising Capital Workshop was Intense

I just finished an all-weekend workshop in Halifax on raising capital to fuel growth for companies. It was sponsored by ACOA and what an intense thing it was. At its core was a methodology and an online tool for defining at a very deep level what your company is all about, who its customers are, and what customer pain it solves. From there, you get into growth plans and what you need capital for, as well as what returns that capital will generate.

Raising capital is not something I ever looked at before, but it’s good to know how it all works. There is a lot more to it than first meets the eye.

What does “the Cloud” mean to Microsoft Office users?

“The cloud” is simply a term to describe computing services that you access online via a web browser, as opposed to having the same services from a server in your office. Many people are opting to go this route as opposed to buying equipment. Microsoft’s version of the Cloud consists of Office 365, an online version of Office (Word, Excel, etc.) as well as other online services like the collaboration tool SharePoint, customer records system CRM, business intelligence tools, etc.

Microsoft’s platform for managing applications in the cloud is called Azure.

This entire suite of products is continually evolving, but it is very robust with millions of users already using them. Nicom has been working with Microsoft products for years, and this is a direction we find our customers are moving in more and more.

There’s a Lot to an Exchange Server Upgrade

One of our employees is off to Meteghan River this weekend in the beautiful (full disclosure: I’m from there) Acadian district of Nova Scotia. He is doing an Exchange Server upgrade for a client who is moving from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2013. Simple, n’est-ce pas? Copy files from A to B and Bob’s your N’Oncle.

Well as it turns out, you can’t get to there from here quite that easily. There is no direct route from 2003 to 2013, and you must go via an interim install of Exchange 2010 running on a Windows Server 2008, which you do in a virtualized environment. Then you have to migrate all the user mailboxes, then decommission the old Exchange 2003 server, then install the new Exchange 2013 server (which needs a new version of Windows Server, by the way), then migrate the files again from 2010 to 2013, then decommission the Exchange 2010 server.

Then test everything. Oh, and there can be no downtime for email while all this is going on.

I know Orin’s up to the task. And he’ll get well fed while he’s down there.


Nicom’s New Website

We practice what we preach and we’ve recreated our own corporate website (www.nicomit.com) so that it has a crisp message and is friendly to mobile devices, just like the ones we build for our customers.

I want to thank Ryan Grant for pulling out all stops to get this out in time, and to Mike Hatfield for doing all the things needing doing for making this all work technically. And to the sales and management team for content.

The goal is to always keep our website up-to-date and being representative of what we feel our value proposition is. Removing superfluous content, and moving it to a user-friendly CMS like WordPress will make this much easier than it’s been in the past.

Needless to say, I am delighted to have this important project completed.

Customized Mobile Business Apps Gaining Popularity

When we think of mobile apps, applications that work on a smartphone or tablet, we think primarily of games or downloadable versions of social media programs. The few mobile business applications we see are generic programs for such things as tracking the stock market or sales force automation.

But that has started to change, and there is a huge shift in building customized mobile applications that connect to your specific business data. When you think about it, it is the natural evolution for business IT systems.

Over the years, we’ve moved from monolithic mainframe programs to networked computer applications to web-based systems, and with each move came a wellspring of new capabilities and functionality. In each of these cases, it took a while for “simple” apps to prove the concept, and then more complex enterprise applications took advantage of the new technology.

That is what is happening with mobile. If you can get the weather on your mobile device, why not your corporate data? Well you can, and you can do so in a secure, real-time environment. Moreover, if done correctly, these applications will run on any mobile device via its web browser, meaning only one version of the application needs to be maintained that will work on any mobile device. It also means that you don’t need to use the “app store”, you don’t need to download anything, and you don’t need to worry about having to reinstall updates whenever changes are made to the application.

What we are finding is that only parts of an overall application need to be mobile-enabled, typically those used by the workforce in the field. Examples of ones we’ve written at Nicom include an automated sales tool for sales consultants, electronic forms used by marine pilots when they are on assignment, and applications used by seaport representatives when they are travelling the world.

That latter one is a good example to demonstrate, as it is publicly usable. To see it, simply use your mobile browser to go to www.halifaxgetsitthere.com/m.
Think about all the ways you could use your corporate data when you are out of the office, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could do so without even having to use a laptop or having to find a WIFI network.

Well you can. It is here, now. I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone who is interested. Call me at (902) 454-5656, or email me at pat.dentremont@nicomit.com.