Improving the way hospitals maintain medical devices with FileMaker

A recent study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst exposed that today's commonly used medical devices may need better security and tracking methods as well as an updated means of maintaining important information in case of malfunctions. Most of these problems can be alleviated through the use of custom database software.

By combing through the Food and Drug Administration's databases, the group of researchers determined that the industry needs a more effective reporting system for medical devices and increased cybersecurity efforts.

According to Kevin Fu, a computer scientist and medical device security expert at UMass Amherst, hospitals should "rethink how to effectively and efficiently collect data on security and privacy problems in devices that increasingly depend on computing systems susceptible to malware."

With the increasing dependence on medical devices to monitor illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, the safety and maintenance of these devices is becoming very important. While working through the FDA's databases the researchers found that, while security concerns are relatively low, the way the administration stores and records important device information needs tweaking, as it is not well suited for handling modern malfunctions and repairs.

By using custom database software, hospitals and medical professionals can create a database that holds important user information that will allow them to keep an accurate account of specific device locations. In addition, custom database software can be used to file reports of incidents involving these devices for authorities and aid with any subsequent investigations. Administrators can later track the need for possible repairs and determine how much this work would cost.

Using customer data as a way to improve the online shopping experience

Having an online retail site can be critical for companies in this day and age. As technology progresses, more consumers are not only purchasing items online, but on their mobile devices and cell phones, as well. This drastically increases the importance of not only having a high-quality website, but also providing excellent customer service.

According to Inc. Magazine, quick and easy is the name of the game for increasing online sales. While most of this comes down to efficient website design that allows for seamless browsing and clear product pages, much of it also takes place after the customer has selected an item.

By storing necessary customer information with custom database software, companies can use this to automatically refill billing and shipping information, which is often seen as a nuisance by repeat customers.

Also, maintaining account information in custom database software can not only be useful for allowing forgetful customers to access their login or password information, but also prove an effective for marketing tool. By tracking customer behavior data, companies can increase the effectiveness of targeted internet marketing initiatives.

In addition, after a customer has purchased something, it can be helpful to send them to a "thank you" page, as this is where visitors are most responsive, says Entrepreneur Magazine. By putting a call to action on this page, businesses can increase the effectiveness of that call to action, and introduce an excellent opportunity for customer satisfaction surveys.

These surveys can help companies gain valuable insight into what's working with the site and what may need work. By tracking this data, companies will have a comprehensive picture of what they need to do to create the best online shopping experience for their customers.  

Using database software as a way to encourage better customer communication

Customer interaction has always been an area of business that can make or break a company. Most often, a company is either too reclusive or too intrusive, not finding the right balance of when and how often they should engage in customer interaction – on both the customer service side and the sales side. This can have a huge effect on how happy clients are and, thusly, the bottom line of the business.

In his interview with Entrepreneur, Richard Branson – the eclectic CEO of Virgin Inc. – says that when it comes to customer service and meeting consumer expectations, her prefers to rely more on individual experience than on market trends or big data analysis.

But, while this method may work well for Branson and his business ventures, it can oftentimes produce varied results that depend largely on uncontrollable elements. In order to help boost sales as well as customer satisfaction in a more reliable manner, many companies should provide their employees with software that can aid with current and potential customer interactions while still giving them the freedom to add that human touch that Branson suggests.

Inc. Magazine recommends that companies make their processes more efficient for their employees. This can be done by using customer relationship management software that allows workers to access and store essential information about anything from product details, client information, cold calling scripts and recent sales figures. This information can complement a salesperson’s own ability to gauge customers interest and encourage a sale.

In addition, boosting morale is always a great way to increase productivity, as motivated employees are more likely to take extra steps to help customers. This can be done by using custom database software to track an employee’s progress toward reaching a sales goal or even the overall team’s improvement. This can help give hardworking representatives a tangible way to look at the importance of their role in the company.

How one company used analytics to measure the effectiveness of internet marketing

A new study by RapidBlue, an analytics software company, shows that tracking and analyzing customer behavior data as well as advertising analytics can greatly improve the insight businesses have in their marketing campaigns.

RapidBlue tracked participating stores’ Google AdWords campaigns and then implemented analytics tracking at these companies’ in their brick-and-mortar locations. RapidBlue continued monitoring customer traffic after the AdWords campaigns ended to cultivate comparison data.

“We’re not really tracking the individual person,” said RapidBlue chief operating officer Sampo Parkkinen to VentureBeat, a major industry blog. “We’re installing our solution, which tracks mobile phones in retail outlets. Then we look at the sales metrics and how they’re fluctuating.”

While tracking both the progress of the online ad campaigns and the customer behavior in the stores, the company found that AdWords contributed to a double-digit increase in both foot traffic and the average amount of time a customer spent in each store. These behaviors can provide sales associates with more opportunities to facilitate customer interaction and sales

While the study clearly shows the effects of running a well-targeted internet marketing campaign, it also demonstrates how important analytics can be for companies – especially in the digital age.

By using custom database software, small businesses will be able to effectively monitor customer analytics and behavior. This can lead to increased insight into what customers may be responding to – whether it’s a certain Google AdWord campaign or social media activity – and how they’re responding to it.

In addition, custom database software can help business owners track valuable customer data that can provide information on the identity of their key demographic as well as any other consumer trends that can facilitate more effective communication between the customer and sales associate.

Keep customers happy with consistent software update reminders

According to Bloomberg, the Washington-based technology giant Microsoft experienced a higher multiyear gain than analysts had predicted last quarter. This may be because most companies that either subscribe to or use Microsoft's business software are beginning to update or renew software subscriptions.

But, while corporations may be benefiting from software updates, a new survey from videoconferencing software provider Skype shows that roughly 40 percent of consumers from the United States, England and Germany do not regularly update their software when given the opportunity.

In addition, about 25 percent of respondents in each country say that they don't clearly understand why they need to update their software. And, more than half said they needed at least two to five reminders before they installed the software updates. Ultimately, most of the responsibility may lie on the shoulders of the software developers to make sure their customers understand the value of software updates.

"Only by regularly updating, are consumers able to enjoy the benefits of improved voice and video calling quality, longer mobile battery life and bug fixes, in addition to new features that we regularly add across our portfolio," said Linda Summers, director of product marketing at Skype, describing the value of updating her company's software.

In order for smaller software companies to accurately notify their customers of available updates, they may want to use custom database software to store the appropriate customer contact information as well as each individual's product information.

While also tracking when a product update is available, database software can allow customer service representatives to track how many free updates the customer may have left if such a program exists. In addition, if a company is using a loyalty program, this software can track how long an individual has been a customer and what rewards they may qualify for, including free updates.

Workforces become more competitive as group creates workplace productivity metric

According to a new survey from OfficeTeam, 41 percent of office managers believe their workplaces to be somewhat more competitive than last year. In addition, 8 percent say their workforce is significantly more competitive than it’s previously been. This shift to a more competitive workplace may also mark an overall increase in office productivity, something that can be measured by managers with custom database software.

“A little friendly competition in the office is healthy if it inspires great individual and team performance,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Rivalry between co-workers can become more intense when the economy is uncertain and people feel pressure to prove themselves. Although it’s natural for employees to want to stand out among their colleagues, it shouldn’t be at the expense of others.”

While competition requires a form of measurement, one group of HR managers are trying to create a national standard that gauges the value of a workforce. According to BusinessWeek, a group of 600 HR managers, academics and advisers are creating a way to measure workforce productivity, diversity, job training, turnover and other human resource issues.

In addition, this group is creating a template for a way that companies can communicate this information with shareholders, to help these important board members who are typically away from the workforce understand how productive and efficient the organization is running.

While this national metric is still in development, having a standard performance metric is a great way to induce healthy workplace productivity. By using custom database software to not only measure the standard but also rank and track employees’ progress and standings among each other, companies can help turn a normally dull work environment into one of competition and striving for excellence.

How to stay organized even as your business grows

According to a new survey from staffing agency KPMG, 76 percent of Minneapolis-based business owners feel that their profits will increase throughout the year. This statistic is up from 67 percent last year, showing increased confidence in the economy.

This confidence is also translating into new jobs, as 48 percent of respondents plan to expand their workforce in the year, which is up 13 percent from last year.

"Although business leaders continue to voice concerns about economic uncertainty, they are moving their businesses forward in this 'new normal,' post-recession environment and are voicing more confidence as a result," said KPMG Minneapolis managing partner George Kehl.

As a result, these companies may need to use custom database software to maintain an accurate account of their employees, payroll and tax information. If not, they may end up in hot water much like a Chipotle branch based in Minnesota. In May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forced the company to terminate roughly 450 workers due to invalid documents.

Throughout the investigation, which started in 2010, Chipotle was able to produce over 300,000 pages of documents for ICE's review, according to BusinessWeek. Throughout all documents, the company could still not provide sufficient proof for the validity of 450 employees' documents.

This probe also came at the same time that the Mexican restaurant chain was suing the Department of Homeland Security's E-verify program, which also validates the documents that are provided by potential citizenship.

Clearly, the importance of maintaining appropriate and verified documents is huge not only in Minnesota, but anywhere. Companies that want to ensure they are able to do so may want to consult a FileMaker developer to create custom database software that's designed specifically for their company's needs. 

Survey shows internal audits and tracking finances keys to better business

A new survey from major financial consultancy Ernst & Young highlights the importance that many executives put on internal audits and maintaining a balanced company budget – a task that can be facilitated with custom database software.

“Internal audits can use the organization’s overarching organizational strategy to identify the risks that matter the most in the context of the organization’s risk appetite,” said Randall Miller, Ernst & Young’s advisory global risk leader. “Elements of the organizational strategy will vary by industry and are very specific to the business but to remain relevant, internal audit needs to use risk assessments based on the organization’s strategic objectives.”

According to the study, 75 percent of the surveyed chief audit executives (CAEs) and other C-suite executives believe that strong risk management has a positive impact on a company’s long-term earnings. In addition, 75 percent also believe that an internal audit has a positive impact on overall risk management tasks.

In addition, Inc. Magazine has spotted a few specific expenses that many companies can keep better track of, a duty that can be fulfilled by using custom database software.

According to Inc., companies may want to pay close attention to their shipping expenses, as these can easily add up. With many companies such as FedEx and UPS making overnight deliveries their default, businesses can rack up quite a hefty shipping bill fairly quickly. By using custom database software to track all shipping payments as well as their timeliness and efficiency, companies can see whether these investments are worth it.

Also, if companies aren’t careful on their workforce expenditures, these could surmount to a heavy burden fairly quickly. If businesses allow employees to use a corporate credit card or reimburse these individuals for company expenses, they should be able to track these expenses.

The importance of tracking advertising and media analytics

The advertising industry is reliant on consumer trends and behaviors to ensure that businesses can make the most out of their investments. But, trends can often be hard to quantify and understand. As such, many companies have developed their own methods to try to understand these trends, some of which involve custom database software that allows them to organize analytics and statistics. While, other companies may make major investments and acquire an entire analytics company.

According to the Wall Street Journal, TiVo will buy advertising analytics company TRA Inc for roughly $20 million, a deal which will be finalized before the end of July. TiVo's acquisition of TRA – which stands for The Right Audience – is believed to be a move to help advertisers target their campaigns more effectively.

"With this new level of unique audience insights and analytics, TiVo will be able to provide insights nobody else has in an industry increasingly seeking alternative ways to measure audience behavior accurately while increasing efficiencies in media spending," said TiVo CEO Tom Rogers to the Journal.

In addition, Perks Associates – a market research company – released a survey showing that more individuals are using smart TVs to consume media than ever before. In fact, 75 percent of smart TV owners in the United States watch on-demand online movies or TV shows at least monthly, which has gone up from the 57 percent in 2011. Also, 71 percent of viewers watch online TV shows at least monthly, which increased 20 percent from last year.

Clearly, it's become important for advertising companies and broadcasters to maintain an accurate view of their analytics, regardless of whether these are coming from live programming or on-demand sources such as TiVo.

If these agencies wish to gain clear insight into their analytics and overall effectiveness of their advertisement campaigns, they may want to use custom database software that can efficiently store and categorize the major data these companies need. 

Ways retailers can make shopping easier for mobile customers

While overall retail sales may have dropped by 0.5 percent in June, a recent IBM survey reveals that mobile and online shopping rose in the last three months. According to the survey, mobile device sales grew by 15 percent while social media sales actually dropped by 20 percent. In addition, IBM also points out that June 2012's retail sales are 3.8 percent higher than the same time last year.

"Shoppers today are shifting from a singular online approach to a multichannel experience that includes both mobile and social media. As a result, retailers must be prepared to connect with their customers on all fronts, or lose them to the competition," said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM's Industry Solutions. "As we enter the home stretch for the 2012 holiday season, we will continue to watch how CMOs and CIOs tackle these challenges and create social media efforts that deliver value to the customers while driving revenue for the business."

According to Inc. Magazine, there are a few things retail owners can do to ensure that they effectively take advantage of the upswing in mobile and online shopping methods. One such example is for retailers to make the return process for customers much easier.

This can be done by using custom database software to not only store vital return information, but to also upload all returns accurately and efficiently so inventories are unaffected and customer satisfaction is ensured.

Also, Inc. suggests that retailers use limited time offer sales opportunities for their online and mobile purchases where customers who purchase a product via mobile device or online are eligible for a temporary sale that is only available through those platforms.

While this requires consumers to reach a certain number of qualifications – the right product via the right platform – custom database software can help them manage these prerequisites and determine which purchase order qualifies for which deals.