Farm uses FileMaker to improve operations and bottom line

When most people think about using the latest technology to improve overall operations, they picture a company that is based in technology. While that may include older computer systems, there is some hint of tech already being deployed. What doesn't come to mind is a farm, restaurant and cheesemaker that uses a tablet and the latest databasing systems to improve overall operations.

FileMaker is such a flexible solution that is can be used by a number of different organizations to take operations to a new level. One of the company's recent profiles focused on Sea Breeze Farm, a grass-based animal farm known for world-class wine, a restaurant, charcuterie, butcher and cheese shops. It is located outside of Seattle and used the motto "Green is Good."

This is the type of business that would seem to shy away from technology, but instead has embraced the latest technology and is thriving because of this decision.

According to owner George Page, the farm used FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go to create an integrated business system that links the numerous operations that the farm conducts into a single platform. It has elevated the farm's overall efficiency and profits.

In the dairy operations, Page and his team are able to manage cow productivity and update information in real-time on the server for all to see. For the cheese, employees keep records of which kind of milk is being used during the process and track of aging times. This is also used in the wine cellar to monitor every batch. In the butcher shop, orders and delivery of every cut of meat is tracked. Aside from having all of this information at their fingertips at any time through an iPad, iPhone or iPod, caring for these devices is also much simpler in the cramped quarters of some of the farm's rooms.

"We have to track production for internal and regulatory purposes, constantly logging temperatures, refrigeration times, ingredients, recipes and weights," says Page. "We need to do it in a tiny space and on a system that we can keep clean instead of running the risk of getting food stuck in a keyboard."

The restaurant, which is much roomier, is also included in the FileMaker solution as a custom point-of-sale solution.

With all of these systems tracked through a single platform in real-time, the farm is able to make sure that everyone is on the same page and master inventory numbers are accurate.

With the help of a FileMaker developer, any company will be able to create a custom solution that improves the bottom line.

Top prep school runs FileMaker database and Go systems

One of the hottest trends in the educational landscape is mobile devices. From school boards deploying tablets in every classroom to improving wireless networking so students can use their personal devices to using specialty applications to help special needs students, tablets and smartphones are finding a home in the education system. However, the learning institutes need to make sure that they are doing everything possible to optimize the mobile platform.

Recently, FileMaker profiled Cheltenham College Junior School, which has been educating young people between the ages of three and 18 since 1841. It is considered one of the foremost co-educational public boarding schools in the country with a sterling reputation for academic achievement, breadth of extracurricular opportunities and a strong community.

The organization has been a FileMaker customer for the past 15 years and has been active in how it uses the system. Over the time period, the solution, which started as a simple contact management system, has evolved to include everything from pupil assessments to e-registration. The College has taken full advantage of everything that FileMaker has to offer and continues to look for new ways to optimize how it runs with new systems.

The most recent evolution of the system that the school administration has spearheaded include a deploying a mobile system through FileMaker Go to better meet the demands of current trends.

Nicky Fortune, the Curriculum Director at Cheltenham Junior College, told the news source that by partnering with its FileMaker development firm, the school was able to create fill mobile access with the FileMaker databases that are already set up within the school network. This includes a significant amount of information that is now able to be accessed while on the go.

With the new system, professors are able to access the grade book, for example, and update grades and assessments during the actual lesson in real-time instead of making notes that need to be transferred at a later date. The success here has the administration considering expanding the programs to including management of extracurricular activities and sports teams.

The school also has a backend overhaul that included a major contact database for parents of students. With a simple search of the database, the school is able to find all the important and contact information for a student and make the call to a parent or guardian with the click of a button.

Fortune laid out an example where a an emergency arises and a student needs to be found and the parent contacted. By using the new FileMaker database, a quick search brings up all contact information, as well as the students schedule. Now, the administrator knows right where the student should be and can press the phone number to start a call.

He went to on talk about the security features, multiple standalone uses and plans for continued expansion of FileMaker in the coming years into curriculum systems and more.

"We're extremely proud of the system that we've created here at Cheltenham College, and even fifteen years on there's a real feeling that there's so much left for us to get from FileMaker," Fortune said. "With the addition of FileMaker Go, it's a very exciting time to be using the software."

With the help of a custom FileMaker development firm, any company can improve how it operates through the use of FileMaker and its many features.

Kyo Logic to attend the 2014 FileMaker Developers Conference

Over the last few months, this blog has been covering the announcements surrounding the 2014 FileMaker Developers conference. This is the annual gathering of FileMaker developers for a national convention hosted by FileMaker.

This year it will be held in San Antonio, Texas from July 28-31, where over 1,200 FileMaker developers will gather to show off the latest software solutions and what could be possible in the years to come.

The theme of 2014 is “Business Without Boundaries” and will focus on the ability to work from anywhere. This trend affects every organization from warehouses, to emergency rooms, retail stores and classrooms. Those who attend will receive in-depth insight into FileMaker’s newest technology including the new WebDirect feature. They will also be able to gain knowledge from a wide range of sessions including design, mobility, development, business and innovation.

The conference also features a large Exhibitor showcase that features the latest in FIleMaker services and third party products. It is also a great way to network with the FileMaker engineers, product managers and technical support teams members.  This allows organizations to gain a better understanding of any aspect of FileMaker that they could be looking for.

Kyo Logic will be in attendance

At this year’s DevCon, Kyo Logic will be in attendance, meeting with vendors and attending sessions. Tim Neudecker, who was recently certified in FileMaker 13, will be our eyes and ears on the ground where he will touch base with vendors of third party products and development tools that tools that we recommend to our clients. The sessions he attends will focus on advanced development techniques and the future of FileMaker.

It is important for Kyo Logic to have a presence at this event to remain on the leading edge of software development. This also helps ensure that we are using the current best practices to provide clients with the best possible service.

This is not the first time that we have been traveled to the convention and know how valuable the information gathered here can be. Neudecker has been a regular attendant since 1997 and Kyo Logic has sent representatives to every DevCon since 2003.

Check back with us later this month for full coverage of the FIleMaker Developers Conference. We will be covering all the major trends that are found and examine what the future might hold.

Using FileMaker as a CRM system

There are multiple software solutions in the business landscape that companies are adopting as a way to improve overall operations. One of the more popular is customer relationship management (CRM). This system allows companies to keep track of current and future customers by organizing, automating and synchronizing sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.

There are many ways that a CRM can be customized to meet the specific needs of a company. There are also countless features and tools that can be used to craft a customized solution.

A recent article from Productive Computing makes the case that the most effective form of CRM software is FileMaker Pro. It is a database program that integrates its powerful engine with a easy-to-use graphic user interface. There are several specific reasons why FileMaker Pro is such an important part of a CRM solution.

First off is the fact that FileMaker 13 is user friendly. If your company is switching to a system like this for the first time, it can be overwhelming. That is only compounded if the new solution is complicated to learn.

"FileMaker Pro is a completely user-friendly application that is easy to use regardless of your computer prowess," the article reads. "You don't have to develop databases for a living to use FileMaker, and teaching your team won't require many precious hours of training. All it takes is a few minutes to become a pro thanks to the clean, easy-to-understand user interface."

The database is easy to start using for any modern business, regardless of size if it is looking to store, organize, change or recall information. From a CRM standpoint, the relational database helps business owners record customer information like products purchased, time of purchase and personal customer information to help customize a marketing strategy. 

Powerful data analytics tool

In the hands of the right FileMaker developer, the system can be a dream because of the robust capacities. Organizations can create a database by importing a Bento library or through an Excel spreadsheet. Even companies that try to run the system themselves have the option to use several layouts and themes from 30 starter databases that can handle a wide array of applications.

Through FileMaker Pro, companies can create dynamic summary reports that create records and offer subtotals based on the sort order. The system can also be connected to the company's website, allowing for better email blasts and sharing of information. Through the cloud hosting services, organizations are able to manage customer information and better communicate it with the rest of the team.

"Getting into the nitty-gritty of FileMaker Pro helps you realize just how much control you have over the program, primarily in the scripts you can write to perform all sorts of actions with data," the article reads. "Scripts can be simple—send a report to a printer—or highly complex."

FileMaker Pro provides small businesses with a powerful tool for a fraction of the cost. With the help of a FileMaker development firm any company will be able to improve how they harness their data and take operations to the next level.

More companies need to improve data management

It is easy to see how technology has changed over the last few years. If you look at how nearly any business operation was handled a decade ago, you can see how traditional solutions like telecommunications or brand new concepts like virtual data management have evolved. Something like a database, for example, has transformed from a niche concept to a "must-have" system that has been incorporated into core decision making, is needed to push innovation and improve operations.

A recent Experian Data Quality article examined this trend for closely and points out that despite a growing importance of quality data, more companies are struggling to actually master how they manage it.

The piece cites a study by Dynamic Markets that found 94 percent of companies still suffer from common data errors. One of the main reasons for this is that companies have poor or ineffective data management practices. The problem here is that in many cases data management is fragmented or has become stagnant because of poor practices.

This is where having a proper data management strategy and software solution can come into play. The article points to three specific themes — detection, analysis and resolution — which can be used to unlock the most effective benefits. These include:

  • Cutting down on unnecessary expenditures by identifying relevant data faster
  • Enhancing regulatory compliance
  • Centralizing and consolidating data
  • Establishing a benchmark that is weighed against key performance indicators.

More organizations are relying on databases and data management to accomplish a number of best practices. With the help of a custom database software and a quality solution provider, any company will be able to tap into this potential.

The security benefits of FileMaker Pro

For every new technology, one of the biggest challenges is security. Because an increasing number of business critical systems are transitioning to a digital platform, the need to keep this information safe is a growing priority.

A recent post from FileMaker's internal blog focuses on the security features that the platform has. While most operating systems provide their own security features, the FileMaker Pro access privileges are a fundamental way to control who has access to the database, which is security 101.

"It's especially important to protect FileMaker Pro files that are shared with other FileMaker Pro users via the FileMaker Network, with web users via Instant Web Publishing, and with ODBC/JDBC clients," the article reads. "These shared files are more vulnerable because they may be more widely available over your network."

There are other ways that FileMaker's built in security can be beneficial. This includes:

  • App development – With fine grain access control for data, script execution and meta-data, organizations will be able to protect the integrity of an application while allowing end-users to perform expected changes like adding a use or making small improvements.
  • System administration – With a database on a FileMaker Server, businesses can leverage infrastructure for authenticating users and protecting network resources. Companies can also set up accounts for specific users based on a centralized server.
  • Ease of use – Transparency is crucial and FileMaker has this as a priority.

With the help of a FileMaker support service, any company can improve how they manage their database and improve security across the board.

Why companies need to move past spreadsheets and into the database

For every organization, there is a growing need to collect and organize information in a timely manner. Many companies turn toward spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Apple's Numbers, and while these work for basic data, it is not enough for more complex solutions.

A recent article from the Worthing Herald features an in-depth interview with Heather Godfrey, a software developer at CM Databases. In the course of the conversation, the biggest takeaway is that every company needs to have a database and not rely solely on spreadsheets.

According to Godfrey, spreadsheets can be useful, but they are also limited. For instance, a spreadsheet is not the right tool for handling contact-management. While it will provide a way to get the task done, it is by no means the most effective tool for the job. In this example, exporting this information from a spreadsheet requires human interaction with the data, which opens the door for mistakes.

"Spreadsheets are bad news for business management, because inconsistency equals mess, and mess equals inefficiency," Godfrey said. "A good CRM system will allow the entry of a name only once, and then feed this through to wherever else it is needed."

By using a system like FileMaker, it becomes much easier to not only compile this kind of data but also use it in an effective way like for automatic email lists, labels and data sharing. With the right database solution, any company can find a way to improve the working environment and run more smoothly.

Bank of America using database to fight poor lending practices

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, Bank of America has announced that it is using a custom software database that has been created by a top financial regulator. The goal is to flag any potential payday lenders that could violate New York state laws.

One of the challenges that Bank of America and other financial institutes run into is the possibility of working with a merchant customer that may be engaged in illegal lending. By using this database, the bank will be able to identify any lenders that have issued illegal loans to customers in New York and notify other financial institutes of this. This will prevent them from taking an unnecessary risk.

Andrew Plepler, the Global Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumer Policy executive for Bank of America, told the news source that this tool will help protect customers from "predatory lending practices."

"In the past, merchants have been responsible for their own compliance with laws and regulations specific to their industry," said Marsha Jones, president of the Third Party Payment Processors Association, which represents processing firms. "Recently there's been an expectation that banks and processors should know every law in every state for every industry, and that becomes problematic. It's impossible to keep track of all of that, and be able to process efficiently."

With the use of custom database software, any organization can find a better way to deploy information. While not every company is trying to stop crime, there are plenty of better practices that can be had by using this idea.

Connecticut law firms improve operations with technology

Many people who are hot on the technology landscape have made the case that systems like mobile devices and the cloud are changing the way entire sectors of business operate on a fundamental level. This happens to businesses in all sectors.

A recent article from the Hartford Business Journal profiled Connecticut's legal sector, which has rebounded in recent years following the recession. Helping with the turnaround has been the influence of business technology. Specifically, this has included the use of mobile devices, encrypted networks and cloud storage.

According to Mark Dubois, a lawyer from New London and the impending Connecticut Bar Association president, the use of this technology has fundamentally changed how individuals define themselves as lawyers, how communication happens with clients and how legal services are delivered. This isn't doing the same task with different tool, but a refashioning of everything.

"Technology has been an important sentinel in his firm's march toward greater efficiency and security for client-lawyer communiques and documents," Thomas Marrion, managing partner in regional law firm Hinckley Allen's Hartford office, told the news source. "We think three to four years down the road, we'll see even more the benefits of investing more time and effort in that.''

The only problem is that there is no "one-size-fits-all" type of solution for all businesses. Instead, companies need to start looking at their specific situations and work on creating custom database software or examine the network to make sure that every system is deployed successfully and meets the specific needs of a company.

Google, Autism Speaks partner for genomes database project

There are some members of the IT department that will tell you a good database can dramatically change a business. While some may think this is a bit of an exaggeration, nothing could be further from the truth – just ask Google and Autism Speaks.

According to an article from the Verge, these two groups have partnered to start creating the largest database of sequenced genomes in existence when it comes to people with autism and members of their families. It will include genomes from 10,000 people, 1,000 have already been mapped. The goal is that this "open source" database will be able to facilitate research into the causes of the autism spectrum and possible treatments and diagnosis.

"The [Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program] holds the potential to radically transform our understanding of autism and redefine the future of medical care for those affected by the disorder," Rob Ring, Autism Speaks' chief science officer, said in a statement. "Working with Google is a game-changer in this story."

According to David Glazer, the director of Google Genomics' engineering, there are similar genetics databases in existence, but none of them are close to this scale with regard to information specifically about autism. He added that modern biology has become a data-limited science, but that is changing as the limits are being removed by modern computing.

It is clear that organizations will be able to do great things when information is brought together. With the use of custom database software, any organization will be able to take this idea to and start changing the world.