That Was Your Retail Idea

I like Microsoft's Windows 7  TV commercial where users  flashback to an inspirational moment about improving Windows.  It's cleverly done where the Windows-7-Was-My-Idea sequence depicts a younger, thinner person - whose teeth are whiter and eyes are brighter. My -- 25 plus years in software development, couch-potato, Monday-morning-marketing, 6 years of art school, thinking about it outside the 30 second TV script -- critique spun out of my noggin this way:  the earth must have looped around the sun a couple times between the moment of divine inspiration and the feature's debut.  One fellow looks like his moment of bliss was followed by 10 planetary orbits and maybe 10,000 glazed donuts. That's a lot of donuts.  And 10 years is a long time to wait for a software feature.  So the complete gulp of the ad went down like this: a light zesty initial splash, followed by a sour after taste.

I asked my teen age children, and a number of adults who are NOT in the software business what they thought of the ads and they all thought the ads were excellent. No one had any negative take on it. Everyone saw it as a actor-reenactment spoof that was clever and funny.

So I am wrong, the time between inspiration and delivery was not 5 or 10 years. No one gave any thought to how long it took Microsoft to delivery the software. No one thought it took a long time. Time did not even enter into the advertised mind-set of my sampled audience.

So this is a case of sitting too close to the fire and getting my software marketing antennae scorched.

Probably because DataWorks' strives be to highly agile and capable of accelerating in a high G turn (See John Boyd) I took the Microsoft ad too personal. At DataWorks we have one major release a year. There are usually 4 or so incremental minor releases that address software bugs,  additional reports  or small feature tweaks.

Back  in December of 2008 I sent an email out to our end-users saying, "Hi, we are working on a new version, it's Christmas time,  and in the retail spirit of the season, what do you want gift wrapped into our inventory control software?". We got a lot of great responses. We organized the list, sorted it twice, scored everything with a strategic index (how many other users want this too?),  assigned developers with the tasks, and delivered the features in less than 12 months.

So in the spirit of NeXT-Was-My-Idea, here is a public thank you to a few  of you who asked for features and made NeXT® better:

  1. To speed up Purchase Order input, define a Default Ship To Address within an Employee Access Group. From the 2008 DataWorks Users Conference Group Session.
  2. Change the name of the PO Input from "Multiple" to "Pick List". Also make it the first choice in the drop down choice since it is the most popular. From the 2008 DataWorks Users Conference Group Session.
  3. Search for a SKU that has been counted in a physical inventory.  From L. S.  at  Ripleys Entertainment.
  4. Add a  field to the Vendor definition and allow me to define a vendor's federal tax id number. Include the field in an Account Payable export. From L.K.A. at Beaumont Hospital.
  5. A report to list inventory items that have margins outside the normal parameters I have set up by category. From J.M. at Grand Casino Hinckley.
  6. For Products with many colors and sizes, add an option to the purchase order system to show only the SKUs  that have been re-ordered. From J. McG. at Sea Island Company.
  7. Give Sales Reports the ability to be run for a set of vendors. From D.U. at Ripleys Entertainment
  8. Expand the Best Worst Reports to rank by product within Department; Product within Sub Department and by Product within Vendor. From D.U. at Ripleys Entertainment
  9. Please add a way that we can scan our product's barcodes with a portable data collector and import them directly into a purchase order. From T.K at Via Christi.
  10. Create a consolidated Manufacturer by Product by SKU Inventory report that focuses on recent ordering and receiving performance.  From J.W. at Jacksonville Zoo.
  11. Best Worst Report with both Quantity Sold and Quantity On Hand Values, plus Percent of Totals. from S.W. at Ritz Carlton.
  12. Comparative This Year to Date to Last Year to Date Sales report by Department. From L.S. at Ripleys Entertainment.
  13. Create a forecast model that tracks and projects demand based on trailing 15-13  months (Q5) versus trailing 12-10 months (Q4) by Subclass.  R.T. at Pebble Beach.
  14. Redesign the Quick Physical system so that is actually quick! From the entire audience at the the 2008 DataWorks Users Conference.
  15. Create a faster way to input and cancel ticket batches. From  T.Van A. at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort.

Thanks for all of the ideas. These are just a few of the ideas the DataWorks community submitted and turned up in the release.    If you see your suggestion above and would like your name published - just let us know and we will give you proper credit.  You can read about all the enhancements by clicking here:  Version 6's Feature List.  Additionally  you can watch this recorded preview of the software.

If you have an idea for our next version, please feel free to add a comment here.  Keep the ideas coming and we will keep the code rolling. Together we design a better inventory back office system.