Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers

We are voracious book worms here at E-creation and always looking for something interesting to read (any suggestions?) Even though this book is over a year old,  it is our 'must read' book for 2011:
Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers'

Malcolm Gladwell scores a hit with another one of his books in our office, this time with the rather quirky 'Outliers'. Vaguely reminiscent of Freakonomics, Gladwell takes a look at people and unusual statistical 'outliers', analysing how 'destiny' drives success.

As Malcolm put it himself 'Did you know that there's a magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur? And another magic year to be born if you want to be really rich?' when explaining his book. Sports stars have 'magic months' to be born, with a huge percentage of professional hockey and  football players being born in January, February and March. This tendency can be seen across the world for professional player's birthdays for virtually all sports professions.

The question for Malcolm was why? Selection months. Put simply, most team sports require a cohesive team and therefore select team members at a specific point in the year to give the team a full year to play together. If two 12 year olds are competing for a position in a team in a December 'selection month', a 12 year old born in January will have 11 months more experience and physical growth than the 12 year old born in December. This significant competitive advantage means that if you are born in the wrong month of the year, the chances of becoming a professional sports person are very low (unless parents 'fudge' birthdays to fit into the right age category).

The strapline 'the story of success' really encapsulates this book's aim of demonstrating that 'destiny' exist but it's actually a science of statistics. Malcolm explores the ecosystem that has made Bill Gates a success & why Columbian and South Korean pilots are more likely to crash; "How good a pilot is, it turns out, has a lot to do with where that pilot is from—that is, the culture he or she was raised in. I was actually stunned by how strong the connection is between culture and crashes, and it's something that I would never have dreamed was true, in a million years" says Malcomb Gladwell.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sage Integration for Magento - Sage Magento Integration Connector launched by E-creation

For the past 3 months, E-creation has been working on a substantial e-commerce website build using the Magento open source e-commerce platform. The website has been created to take the client from sub £1m turnover per annum to £2m+ per annum with a complete business process & infrastructure to meet this aggressive target - all directly driven & run by the e-commerce website & business integration.

To achieve this growth, E-creation has pushed the core capabilities of Magento, customising Magento code to accommodate the clients specific requirements, with features like:

  • Quick order page
  • Mixed sub-category / product pages
  • Units of measure
  • Credit sales using account credit limits
Sage 200 into Magento integration

However, the key functionality enabling the client to grow so aggressively is the Sage 200 Magento integration through a custom written Sage 200 Magento connector. There are Sage 50 (a significantly simpler product when compared with Sage 200) to Magento connectors but only one Sage 200 Magento connector that E-creation could find.
The Zynk / Internetware Sage 200 Connector provides 'the same functionality as Internetware Connect product including the ability to Export Customers, Products, Inventory, Price Lists, Currencies and more and the ability to Import Customers, Sales orders, Invoices, Transactions and more.'

After tests using the Zynk / Internetware Sage Connector, E-creation chose to write its own Sage 200 to Magento integration connector in order improve on elements of that would not perform the functions required by the client. SAGE Magento Integration Connector is now available through E-creation as part of Magento e-commerce website projects requiring Sage 200 integration or as part of stand alone Sage 200 integration projects at a price of £5,500 + VAT.

Compared with Internetware's costs, it is exceptional value:

£1,200 + VAT per year license cost for Zynk
£6,000 + VAT installation / integration cost

If your business uses Sage 200 (typically a business with a turnover in excess of £1m per year), E-creation's SAGE Magento Integration Connector can help make your business significantly more efficient by integrating your website with your Sage accounts system.

SAGE Magento Integration Connector benefits include:

  • Improved communications & BI through data updates in virtually realtime
  • Reduced costs by reduction in data rekeying & data entry mistakes
  • Easier management of product data, inventory levels, categories & price changes.
  • More sales by ensuring web customers always see best price available
How does SAGE Magento Integration Connector achieve this?

  • Web orders automatically sent directly into Sage account
  • All sales orders, customer data & transactions managed via web or Sage
  • Upload data from Sage accounts system & publish Magento e-commerce site
  • Management of customer specific price lists that automatically 'funnel' customers