Guidelines for writing great articles

Part of my efforts with the Mississippi Magic Magazine involve setting up guidelines for writing great articles.  If you are wondering why a technologies consultant is posting guidelines on writing great articles then let me explain.  We are in the business of creating success in our constituents that we partner with through consulting and development.  That being said… Mississippi Magic Magazine provides an outlet of expression for people and businesses in Mississippi but it does not employ writers to produce magazine content.  Therefore, all the writing done on the Mississippi Magic Magazine is done by volunteer writers that have a vested interest in the community.  From business owners to pastors of churches, people active in leadership in the community provide all of the content found in magazine.  To make this a profitable venture for each of them, we’ve found it necessary to publish a guidelines for writing great articles.

Benefits:

  • People like to do business with those they are familiar with.   Through connecting with our community through your articles, you’ll lower the barriers that people have to traditional broadcast style advertising communications.  .
  • Articles will be broadcasted to the RSS subscription readership.
  • Articles will be indexed by search engines so that anyone looking the information you provided will find it and you on the internet.
  • Articles will spread in a viral method through through social media sites such as twitter, facebook, and linked in.
  • Unlike traditional media, articles written will be available online well into the indefinite future.
  • Articles will link your thoughts, expertise, and methods to your perceived value as a solutions provider and allow people to reach you.
  • Articles always make the front page when they are published.
Good practices:
  • Offering needed information to make an informed decisions.
  • Offering solutions by showing how to solve a problem.
  • Providing lists of methods or resources.
  • Expounding upon a subject.
  • Offering information about events by featuring information, pictures, and video covering people in the community.
  • Praising and pointing out the good about others.
  • Simplifying complex information, instructions, or events.
Avoid:
  • Slandering others.
  • Defaming others.
  • Advertising your products or services.
  • Soliciting business.
Using these methods, community leaders can provide invaluable content that leads people in the community to them as a provider of services and goods.  Through the relationship formed between the reader and author in the magazine articles these leaders have an inroad to the reader when the reader seeks to find a provider for a need or want that the author can fulfill.
This style of marketing defined in these guidelines for writing great articles are known today as inbound marketing.  By using them you’ll get found on the internet and connect with your customer.
– Joel

Dissonance in business communication

Overcoming dissonance in business communication

Dissonance in business communication occurs when your message and behavior do not say the same things to your audience.  According to dictionary.com dissonance can mean disagreement or incongruity.  This often to happen when a spoken message is delivered to someone who exhibits body language or behavior that indicates another message entirely.  For instance the message to a co-worker: “Great news!! Bob got promoted!” is partially interpreted by what is said, but if the speaker said it in an annoyed, rude, or pensive fashion then the message really doesn’t seem to be great news at all.

Illustration of Dissonance in Business Communication
Bad Body Language

The message is interpreted by the listener and both the message and the messenger are judged by the speakers delivery.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that you’re fairly successful at business communication when speaking to people so this doesn’t apply to you.  Maybe it doesn’t but it when looking at this type of situation I can say that I know I’ve made these types of mistakes at times and it certainly applies to me.  In my efforts to obtain better human relations skills I came across a work of Dr. Mark Goulston titled Just Listen.  In it Mark talks about this type of dissonance and lists (among many other things) a survey which you can get your close friends and business constituents help you with to identify areas that might be keeping you from getting through to people.

Dissonant Behavior Survey:  Survey several people who are close to you about how you might rub people the wrong way.  Let them know that you are trying to improve your business communication skills and ask them to identify the top three ways from the list below that you might annoy someone.  Be sure to accept their judgements without criticism and thank them for their help.

Dissonance creating behaviors:

  • arrogant
  • hyper
  • needy
  • overly opinionated
  • impulsive
  • rigid
  • nit picky
  • passive
  • indecisive
  • demanding
  • hostile
  • stuffy
  • over sensitive
  • sly
  • untrustworthy
  • mellow dramatic
  • rude
  • shy
  • pessimistic
  • abrupt
  • excessively perky
  • close minded

Once you have received the results of your survey compare them and look for areas that they all agree on. If you really want to be effective with this survey ask your sources to elaborate on the behavior they identified.  They will probably be reluctant to be directly critical of you and tell you that others “may or could” view you with the traits they mentioned because they won’t want to offend you.  Ask them what it is that could make you seem that way and what they think you could do about it.  You will then have the information needed to directly analyse your own behavior and improve your method of face to face business communication.

In the weeks after completing the survey study your own behavior as you interact with people and look for manifestations of the behaviors you identified.   Once you’ve reached a higher level of self awareness about your targeted behaviors you can go to work on them.  For instance you could talk to the people you work with or do business with and tell them that you are trying to improve your performance in the targeted area because you’d like to become more effective in the role that you deal with them in and then ask them how you can do better in that particular area in the future.  If the trait is so ingrained in your personality that you cannot change it then you can pre-disclose the matter in future face to face business communication to keep it from being a distraction from your message.

I hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me. If you’d like more information about this method read or listen to Dr. Goulston’s book Just Listen,

– Joel
Catontech.com
Meridian, MS

Flattening the org chart with mobile web technology – part one the pyramid.

Part one – The traditional pyramid organizational structure

When I was in college (10 years ago!) studying information technology and business one of the hot topics was how information technologies would flatten the pyramid organizational chart of many businesses. Ten years later after graduating and participating in management in several organizations as a corporate citizen of the of the business world I can say that I’ve seen little progress. Many organizations seemingly have invested in new technologies only to primarily use email systems to communicate with most of the information moving from top down with the majority of the decision support technology being leveraged at the top of organizations and not the bottom.

Traditional businesses are built upon a pyramid structure of management that works on a one to many relationship between the highest level leader  / manager or the organization and and his subordinate managers that handle employees and customers.  Here’s a brief story showing how this works.

An illustration:

Our entrepreneur  Joe starts out  with a vision to sell widgets to the world (or at least his home town).  He begins selling and becomes so successful that he must hire employees to help.  At this point Joe has to step back from dealing with customers directly and begin dealing with his employees if he wants to be successful.  Joe must devote some of his time to managing his people.  If he is successful at instilling his vision, methods, and purpose into the people he has hired then his business will continue to grow.

Now lets say that Joe is very successful and must hire or contract 30 people to handle the day in day out operations of his business.  Obviously Joe cannot deal directly with customers like he used to and probably spends most of his time coaching, training, and counseling his people on to success.  He has created a small pyramid structure where each employee or contractor reports to him.  Joe’s business expands and he opens a branch in another town.  He can’t be in both places at the same time so he has to hire another person to help manage.  The new person starts out with several employees and Joe’s plan, vision, and methods for selling widgets.

Joe now has two pyramids to handle,  the one he is directly involved in and the remote location.  This is the small business model.  As Joe continues down the road to success he continually adds more pyramids to his organization eventually creating units that handle marketing, legal issues, human resources, procurement, and financials.  By now Joe’s reached the point where there is no way he can run his original unit and properly motivate, inspire, and lead all the others so he hires another manager to handle his unit and spend all of his time now overseeing all the units.

Sounds complicated?  Well it really isn’t if Joe’s done some smart hiring but Joe does have quite an infrastructure of of people in place and a weekly obligation to do a set amount of sales in order to pay them all.  Joe’s done a great job of scaling up his business but the way he’s done it doesn’t leave him any room for scaling down.  Also, Joe is out of touch with his consumers now because he doesn’t get to deal with them directly so he can’t read market demands like he used to so he has to rely on the people he’s hired or contracted to get this information for him.  Joe’s business model probably looks like the picture below.

The traditional pyramid organizational structure
Joe's business organizational chart

As you can see Joe’s continuing success is placing him further and further way from his customers while his ability to make decisions that affect the outcome of the business has grown in proportion to its scale.  Joe’s answer to this problem would typically be to saturate his decision making process with inputs from the managers he’s hired and empower them to make some of these decisions.  He might occasionally drop in on departments or operations to see what is going on and attempt to get a better perspective of the needs of the business by talking directly to employees that deal with suppliers and customers, but for the most part he’ll be plugged into the network he’s built and be removed from the front lines of the business.  These are the effects of the traditional pyramid structure of business.

Strong points

  • Inherently allows for growth in the scaling of business.
  • Allows for intuitive growth of business
  • Authority and areas of responsibility clearly defined.
  • Clearly defined path for promotions and reward within the organization.
  • Internal units can create group cohesiveness, camaraderie and loyalties.
Weaknesses
  • Leadership is removed from front-line supplier, customer, and prospect interaction and may lack responsiveness.
  • Leadership must rely on subordinate sub leaders to supply information and analysis.
  • Top level decision making can be skewed by group thinking, the overriding desire for consensus, and group politics which do not reflect the businesses actual needs.
  • Front-line employee’s may have limited decision making ability and lack the ability to properly engage the customer or prospect.
  • Innovation may be stifled by top down communication.

In our next article we’ll discuss an alternative structure that could be used to improve responsiveness and innovation through networking.

Joel

 

PHP quick data export to spreadsheet

In our last post we talked about the limitations of creating large spreadsheets with PHP library PHPExcel.  Today we’ll discuss a quick workaround that will allow you to create large unformatted spreadsheets for quick and easy data export from your applications.  Here’s how we do a php quick data export to spreadsheet:

  • Properly escape your data.
  • Write data with fcsvput($filehandle, $yourdataarray, “t”);
  • Include table headings and other data.
  • Use a xls file extension.
Properly escape your data... You’ll be using a tab delimited format for output so you’ll need to replace the tabs with an escaped tab or five spaces so that your data doesn’t corrupt your output format.  For our purposes we’ll be using five spaces in the following function.
function TSV_Escape($str)
{
    if (!strlen($str) == 0)
    {
        $str=str_replace('t','     ',$str);
        if (!strstr($str,"n") === false)
        {
            $str=str_replace('n','%n',$str);
        }
        return str_replace('"','""', $str);
    }
    return '';
}

Write you data with fputcsv:  First you’ll need to open a file handle like this…

// Set file path and initialize handle.
$TSVFile = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/MyDataFile.xls";
$TSVFileHandle = fopen($TSVFile, 'w');
// Write your headers.. See next section :)
// Write your data.
// Write query data to csv.
if ($objdbconn->real_query($sql))
{
    if ($result = $objdbconn->store_result())
    {
        echo date('H:i:s') . "Processing " . $result->num_rows . " records.<br>\n";
        while ($row = $result->fetch_assoc())
        {
            $writeArr = array();
            foreach($row as $value)
            {
                $writeArr[] = TSV_Escape($value);
            }
            fputcsv($TSVFileHandle, $writeArr, "\t");
            unset($writeArr);
        }
    }
}
// Close your file handle.
fclose($TSVFileHandle);

Write your headers and other data:  You may want to include some information about your spreadsheet and you’ll certainly want to include the column header row.  Here’s a brief example of how this could be done:

$headings = str_replace('`', '', "Heading One,`Database Field 1`,`Database Field 2`,`Database Field 3`");
$headArr = explode(',', $headings);

$RepDat[]="Created: " . date('H:i:s d-m-Y');
$RepDat[]="Created by: " . $UserName;
// Write county name to csv file.
fputcsv($TSVFileHandle,$RepDat,"\t");
fputcsv($TSVFileHandle,$headArr,"\t");

Use a xls file extension.  Sure you could use a tsv file extension, but if you want Excel or Open Office to open the file by default with minimal headache the xls extension will do the trick.  You’ll get an message when you open the report stating that the file was not in the same format as the extension, but you won’t have to worry about the tsv file extension being registered to the right application.

This method will kick out a tab delimited spreadsheet in a matter of seconds and can safely handle large record sets.  We used it for a while, as a temporary fix for reporting, until we came up with a better method and we still use this method to create database load files when parsing complex legacy reports or backing up database records to file.

I hope this php quick data export method is helpful.

Joel

Excel spreadsheets with PHP – a PHPExcel overview

Writing Excel spreadsheets with PHP using PHPExcel:  The pros and cons

PHPExcel is a php library for reading and writing excel spreadsheets.  It is very well documented and has good community support.  When searching the web for an open source solution for writing spreadsheets in PHP I reviewed everything from PHPClasses to Pear and finally I came across this package.  It’s the most up to date looking project out there for excel spreadsheets with PHP.  I didn’t want to use a project that was in the twilight of its development cycle so I opted to try PHPExcel.  Here’s a a brief overview of what I found:

Pros – The good points:

  • Very well documented.
  • Good examples
  • Support forum with active participation.
  • Supports many of the builtin excel functions.
  • Easy to style
  • Supports modern Excel formats plus csv, html, and pdf
  • Write spreadsheets
  • Read spreadsheets
Cons – what I couldn’t stand:
  • SLOW….  This library takes considerable time to produce a spreadsheet when memory conserving disk caching is used.  Consider running your process in the background.
  • Memory Intensive  PHPExcel offers disk caching to reduce its in memory size, but it basically is an in memory spreadsheet and must load completely into memory while being before being written to file.  This can considerably hinder your performance as the spreadsheet object and writer object can take over 25 mg of ram while the program is running with an additional 1 kb of ram per cell loaded in memory.  For an example of how this can impact your server or hosting service consider the load of a 50 column 10000 row spreadsheet which would take 525 mb of ram to load when writing to file.  While its possible to set the scripts memory high enough to handle this you’ll find that if several of these scripts try to run at the same time you’ll have a mess that could crash your server.
  • Write to file is batched processed at the end of the script and happens all at one time.  Regardless of your disk caching settings the entire spreadsheet is loaded into memory and then written to the file.  This creates a serious bottleneck if you have a large file and will oftentimes crash your script.  The only exception to this is when PHPExcel writes a csv file in which it allows for a more granular approach to memory to file writing.
Workarounds that will reduce memory usage and improve speed.
  • Set a cells value explicitly.  Setting the cells value and data type explicitly is much faster than writing cell values for PHPExcel to determine the data type of.
  • Disable formula precalculation by setting it to false.
  • Use disk caching.
  • Don’t try to use it to create reports from large data sets.
In summary:  If you are trying to read and write to small spreadsheets with less than two hundred and fifty thousand fields or cells then this library will be a good fit for your project.  It’s great for summary reporting!!  However if you’ve got extremely large record sets that you need to send to a spreadsheet you’ll need a different approach.  I’ll be writing about how we did that in the next blog post.
Stay tuned and may the source be with you!!
– Joel

My findings on large complex sql statements with mysqli

My findings when developing using large complex sql statements with mysqli in php

The granular approach is more efficient

Sometimes its tempting to execute a large complex sql statements with mysqli to “do it all” in one update but I’ve found this approach to be inefficient in terms of speed and functionality.  My advise it to use smaller and precise sql statements instead of large cumbersome queries. The small statements execute quickly and will get the job done faster then the large complex query. For instance in one case I had a complex dynamically generated query with over 230 update statements that updated a single table and concatenated (CONCAT) text to a text field.  This query typically hung up and took so long to execute that it caused problems in my ajax environment locking tables and creating conflicts with other operations that were trying to read and write using update and select statements.  Once I broke it up into 230 small queries the execution time went down from 30 seconds and failing to 3 to 5 seconds and never failing.  In another case when translating csv files to a database I had an issue with a multi query that hung up on large files but once broke it down into running smaller specific queries it was able to execute up to 10000 queries in a few seconds (no I’m not exaggerating it).

In addition to these tidbits here’s some other findings… Mysql lets you set the priority level of queries and by default update queries have a higher priority than select queries so in theory it isn’t possible to run a select on a table that is in the middle of an update transaction if autocommit is being used (it is always on by default). Mysqli locks the table when performing the update and the select has to wait until it is unlocked. This can become cumbersome and unweildy when performing large complex queries and so far I haven’t had very much success with them.

When it comes to complex sql statements with mysqli achieving granularity through smaller interrelated specific sql statements seems to get far greater results for speed and efficiency.

May the source be with you

– Joel

July 2011 in Retrospect

July 2011 in Retrospect:  Too busy to write but things are looking promising.

July 2011 in retrospect has been a tough on my blogging efforts.  My latest project has taken up so much time that between it, my day job, and my family, it’s been hard to get time to write.  This post makes number four during this month which is a considerable decline from what I’ve accomplished in the past so I guess I’m not to happy about the blogging results this month.  I never thought I’d be writing in a manner that anyone in the world could see my thoughts but I’ve found the process rewarding and I don’t intend on letting it go.  Some of the difficulty finding writing material stems from the confidential manner of the projects I undertake.  I tend to focus like a laser beam on what I’m trying to accomplish and when I’m putting a lot of effort into developing functionality for an entity that has exposed their core competencies to me the it tends to create a pool of experiences that I’m not comfortable talking about.  I value the trust that other have placed in me so I can’t write about things that they’ve placed in my confidence on the web for anyone to see.

That being said…  I’ve recently had the pleasure of hooking up with some of the brightest and hardest working people I’ve ever enjoyed working with in my life.  They’ve given me a chance to make a difference in in what they do by utilizing my technology and business skills to improve the efficiency of their process by leveraging technology to automating tasks and procedures and streamlining data flow.  I’m enjoying a synergy of the management, business, and technology skills I have in fuller manner then ever before and I appreciate the opportunity to analyse, innovate, and create that they have offered me.  Putting the icing on the cake,  I’ve been able to pull my brother Jeremy from valleyflight.com in on the project and I always enjoy working with him.  He has a depth of technical expertise, is always helpful, and listens to my ideas without telling me that I’m crazy for thinking too big.

Hopefully August will be a better blogging month.  I’ve got a packed schedule and I know that time will be an issue, but having experienced the power of blogging and how it helps shape thoughts and expression, no matter how busy I get I won’t be quitting the blog.  Sometimes I kind of think of this thing as a big public diary… I write about the things that fascinate me and some of the things that I’m doing and I’ll get the chance to go back someday and it will all be here.  I’ll be able to look back at this along with those that I know and love and see the path I’ve taken along with the milestones of yesterday.

July 2011 in retrospect: Here’s to casting a message in a bottle into the sea of information in hopes that someday it will was up on a future shore and I’ll see it and remember where I was when everything changed.

Be blessed,

Joel

 

PHP and curl for remote site data extraction

Sometimes you’ll need to get data from another site on the internet.  In this article we’ll go over a quick and easy how to for using php and curl for remote site data extraction.

To get things started we’ll need to initialize a curl object and set some parameters so it can act as a web browser and log into the targeted remote site.

        // Initialize cURL
        $Curl_Obj = curl_init(); 

        // Enable Posting.
        curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_POST, 1);

        // Enable Cookies
        curl_setopt ($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_COOKIEJAR, 'cookie.txt'); 

        // Set the browser you will emulate
        $userAgent = 'Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:2.0.1) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/4.0.1';
        curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, $userAgent);

        // Don't include the header in the output.
        curl_setopt ($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);

        // Allow referer field when following Location redirects.
        curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_AUTOREFERER, TRUE);

        // Follow server redirects.
        curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, 1);

        // Return output as string.
        curl_setopt ($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);

You can find a complete list of php curl options at http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.curl-setopt.php if you need more details.

Now that we’ve got our curl object set up lets post some login credentials to a login script.  To do this we’ll need to get the input ids from the login form and supply them values and setup the post with the curl object.  Then we’ll post the credentials to the script detailed in the action of the login form.  Here’s how we do it:

       // Set up post fields from login form.
       curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, "UserFieldId=UserName&$PasswordFieldId=$Password&AnotherFieldId=$AnotherValue");

       // Set the url to which the data will be posted.
       curl_setopt ($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_URL, 'http://yoursite.com/login.asp');

       // Execute the post and get the output.
       $output = curl_exec ($Curl_Obj);

       // Empty the post fields so you don't re-post on the next request.
       curl_setopt($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, "");

At this point we’ve obtained the output of the login attempt and we can parse it to see if it was successful using php string manipulation functions.  For the sake of simplicity* I’ll leave that part to you.  Once you’ve insured that you’ve logged in you can proceed to navigate to the next url using the steps below:

       // Set curl object url option.
       curl_setopt ($Curl_Obj, CURLOPT_URL, $Get_This_Url);
       // Execute query and obtain content.
       $output = curl_exec($Curl_Obj);

Finally you’ve downloaded the content from the page that was not accessible prior to your virtual login.  You can parse it with php’s string functions or use xpath to read its content if you’d like.  Don’t forget to close the curl object before you exit your script!!!

// Close curl object.
curl_close ($Curl_Obj);

 

Happy coding and please use responsibly.

– Joel

 

* Here’s a simple string comparison function you can use when using php and curl for remote site data extraction.

function extract_snippet($html, $Start_Term, $End_Term, $PrintOutput = false)

    {
        $start = strpos($html,$Start_Term);
        if (!$start === false)
        {
            $end = strpos($html,$End_Term,$start);
            $T_Sel = $start + strlen($Start_Term);
            $snippet = substr($html,$T_Sel,$end-$T_Sel);
            if ($PrintOutput)
            {
                print "\n<br>$snippet</br>";
            }
            return $snippet;
        }
        return false;
    }

Linux PDF Virtual Printer

Use cups-pdf as a Linux PDF virtual printer

Recently a constituent of mine asked for some help getting her Linux distro to print to PDF.  In her case she was using the photo sharing software Picasa by Google and needed the ability to print her pictures to pdf files.  Unlike open office which will create pdf files Picasa was looking for a linux pdf virtual printer to print to.  After some searching I found that installing cups-pdf would enable linux to print to a virtual cups-pdf printer that appeared as a printer device on the system.  This process worked perfectly with Picasa and quickly generated a pdf on my desktop of any picture I selected to print.

How to install it:

Installing cups-pdf was easy.  In my case I was using Fedora core 12 with its standard repositories as well as the rpm-fusion repositories.  All I had to do was open the package manager, search for cups-pdf, and install it.  Once it was installed I checked to see if the virtual device showed up in the administration-printing menu which it did and I was able to use it with no configuration required.  If you are using a different linux distribution this process should work for you, but you may need to find and install a repository with the cups-pdf.

I hope this helps someone looking for a linux pdf virtual printer.

If you’ve had an experience with this or need help the please comment here and contact me.

– Joel

What modern business applications should offer users.

Modern business applications should offer users the following features…

While developing solutions for various projects that I’ve undertaken I’ve come up with a few ideas on the types of features that I’d like my applications to offer users.  While this list is far from complete I think it would be good to post it for comment.  Bear in mind that when I’m discussing modern business applications I’m discussing thin client web based applications using cloud architecture.

Modern business application features:

  • Remote connectivity to data and functionality.
  • Encapsulation of business logic.
  • Continuous contextual decision support.
  • User specific views of the data and logical processes
  • Security
  • Flexibility
  • Data Importing / Exporting capabilities

Remote connectivity to data and functionality: Traditional business applications ran on workstations and desktop computers.  Data was stored on the computer itself or on a server and was not accessible unless the user was sitting in front of the desktop computer itself or another computer connected to the server.  This in effect chained the user to his or her desktop device.  Modern business applications must utilize web technology and provide device independent services that allow the user to connect to the data and logic of the business through any device that they can be authenticated through that has internet connectivity.

Encapsulation of business logic: Traditional business applications such as spreadsheets, word-processors, and email allowed for the transportation and transformation of data, but the use of business logic was largely left to the discretion of the user.  Modern business applications can be designed to encapsulate the steps that must be taken with information and resources to automate processes and insure execution of critical procedures required by users.  By profiling the procedures and steps required for critical processes in the business, developers can create software that encapsulates them and insures that the order of operations is followed, all steps required are taken, all resources required are employed, and follow through is complete.  Outcomes and ownership of inputs from each step can also be tracked to determine each users contribution to the success of the process.  Success ratios for processes can be increased as the mundane oversight of each detail is moved from managers to system applications with the general oversight of larger categories of processes taken on by tech empowered managers.

Continuous contextual decision support: Because of the connectivity offered by todays diverse array of computing devices, from smart phones, laptops, tablet PCs, to thin client enabled desktop PCs.  Users now have the ability to receive data and logic at any point of the business process.  Modern business applications must provide contextual decision support by offering relevant information to the user at the right time with suggestions for its proper use and allow for user feedback into the system.

User specific views of the data and logical processes: Modern business applications must offer users unique views of the data and logical processes that fits their context to the business.  For example a vendor that supplies a business would need access to statistics indicating demand for the particular commodity they offer.  Their view of the data and logic would be an on demand view or automated communication with forecasted consumption data generated by internal business processes that the vendor never sees.  User specific views of the data and logic offer modular controls to the business and protects its core competencies from probing by competition.

Security: Traditional business applications were prone to interruption by natural disasters and other disruptive events such as fires, floods, tornadoes etc.  Modern business applications can offer security to its users by storing data and logic in a cloud environment where information is distributed off site amongst computers in multiple data centers.  This offers a degree of security to the user and provides for a significant reduction in recovery time when the business is impacted by such an event.

Flexibility: Modern business applications created with web based technologies are more flexible than traditional business applications because of the ease in which updates can be rolled out to the user.  In traditional environments users had to undergo an application update procedure before receiving an updated version of a business application that contained the latest data and logic.  Web applications are updated remotely with no effort required by the end user making their innovation, iteration, and revision much more seamless and transparent to end users.

Data Importing / Exporting capabilities: Modern business applications should easily convert data with traditional applications such as spreadsheets and allow the user the comfort of converting data for use outside of the application.  Data transfer methods such as XML are a good standard for data export and can allow for data interchange between disparaging systems and applications.

Comments and discussion are welcome.