Some Problems Don’t Change

[ed. this is the CEO presentation from the HarrisData User Conference of May 22-25].

Logistics: The Soldier’s Perspective

“Troops in action should never have to turn their backs on the enemy to fetch further supplies”

“Troops should not be encumbered with supplies beyond immediate needs”

Lt General Henry S. Aurand, mid-1930s.

As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, it is appropriate to begin the presentation by honoring those who gave so much of their lives for all of us. You may note that the General and I share a name, this is no accident as I am his grandson.

Lt General Aurand was a logistics instructor at the War College in the 1930s. The problem facing army logistics then – ensuring enough supply of ammunition, food, and fuel to front line troops – is similar to the problem facing enterprises today as we focus on just in time production and lean supply chains – and is similar to the problem facing IT departments today as we supply decision makers with the key business intelligence they need when they need it. During the 1930s the General looked for ways to improve the Army’s ability to supply troops in the field, and on maneuvers in Louisiana saw a team from IBM using punch cards to manage steel inventory. It was not until 1944 as Commanding General of the Normandy Base Section that he could order punch cards used to manage inventory – and successfully distribute supplies to the forces liberating Europe.

IBM 917

Many of you have toured HarrisData offices and will recognize our old friend the IBM 917. This one is programmed as a four quarter annual list of the order history file – it is conveniently labeled via plastic tape. Should a friendly sales tax auditor from Minnesota stop by for a visit, you would send a memo to the good people in lab coats to reprogram the IBM 917 to create a list of sales history for Minnesota. Results could take weeks. A business person’s only alternative would be to take scissors and paste to the full printed list.

Programer Productivity Tools

By the 1970s things improved for the people in the data centers. The productivity tools shown (above) include an IBM RPG Debugging Template, an IBM Flowcharting Template, and a Pansophic Systems report layout ruler with a magnifying strip in the center. When combined with a modern keypunch – one which printed characters along the top of the card as shown above – a programmer could more rapidly produce or enhance a computer program such as the IBM System/3 one-up label program (the card deck in the clip) which is among HarrisData’s oldest intellectual property. It is much faster to insert a card to select only order history records from Minnesota than to write a new program. I still use the magnifying strip and flowchart template on occasion.

    Online Processing – aka “Green Screens”
    Client Server – aka “Blue Screen of Death”
    The Web
    Just in Time Production and Lean Supply Chains

The newer revolutions in data processing are listed without pictures – you can still find these in production today. The original online processing of the 80s featured green screens for data entry and report selections, but a business person would still need a visit to data processing to handle ad hoc requests like sales history from Minnesota to hand the sales tax auditor. With PCs the 90s brought client server and the feared ”blue screen of death”. Here the business user could load the entire sales history into a spreadsheet, then sort and select Minnesota orders for the auditor. The 00s featured the web, allowing access to massive amounts of data without overloading the desktop machine. At each step the business user gained faster access to information, and better focus on the important information. On product of all these revolutions was the ability for business people to get key information fast enough to implement Just in Time production and lean supply chains – no more “Just in Case” inventory to cover for delays in delivering information.

Fastest adoption of new technology ever?

    Born: March 12, 2010 (1st Pre-Orders)
    Sold 1 Million in first 60 days
    Sold 2 Million in first 90 days
    Sold 3 Million in first 100 days
    More than 15 Million in first year
    Estimated more than 40 Million this year
    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
    Now more than 25 other tablet brands

Now that we are in the 10s, the tablet computer has taken over for business people. The tablet as epitomized by the Apple iPad is being adopted at an incredible rate – 40 million of them within two years of the product introduction. Why has this technology grown so quickly? Two big reasons: first when you press the on button the iPad is ready for you. No more waiting for a reboot – turning the PC on in the morning, getting coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal, then wondering why you still have to wait before using the computer. Second is the lack of stuff needed to use the iPad, all you need is your finger. No mouse, no keyboard, no cables, you don’t even need training! Just point and go! The only drawback is that when I was younger my mom taught me not to point – pointing was impolite.

The tablet makers have an answer for that as well – Android tablets have a nice voice interface. Just tell the tablet what you want to do, no more impolite pointing. Be sure to say please and thank you to keep mom happy.

And there is more! Microsoft is not known for tablets, but they do have the Xbox gaming system. At a recent press conference the demonstrated the Microsoft ERP system using the active gaming interface – although press reports said it was kind of boring. Imagine controlling your work by using American Sign Language – or combining work with exercise by using semaphore signs—month-end close aerobics for all!

The important thing in this slide is the Computers Arise! poster on the lectern. This poster was produced by Ted Nelson in 1976 – I have had a copy of this poster on the wall of my residence or office for the past 35 years. Once again a slide I share a name with, but Ted Nelson is not a relative – he is the creator of hypertext. If you look at the back side of the poster you will see my favorite software license term of all time: “Make no mistake, these packages are not ready yet.” [ed. the reverse side of the poster has this term, the OmniLicense from HarrisData does not have this term.] Thus Ted Nelson may also be considered the inventor of vapor-ware.

Ted Nelson offers a vision for the future of computing in this poster – it depicts a computer breaking chains and the words “Computers Arise!”. With the arrival of tablet computers, his vision of the future has arrived – no cables, no peripherals just you and your tablet. We all will work with computers in this world in new and different ways. For example I’ll use football referee signs along with voice and finger pointing: [ed. demonstration of imagined user interface.]

(points to record)
(throws virtual flag, folds arms in front of chest)
Delay of Payment. Penalty 5 percent. Re-Invoice.
(points to next record)

[end of demonstration]

Well, it may not look quite like that. Now I should answer your real question, what is HarrisData going to do with tablets?

Hide this slide unless Mousetrap Project is announced!

(throws virtual flag, rotates arms around each other in front of chest)
False start. Loss of Slide.

    • Committed to Product Growth
    – Modernization
    – Smooth Upgrades

• Committed to Choice

    – On premise or Cloud
    – Buy or Rent

• Committed to Quality
Aggressive Quality Initiative

The heck with this slide, lets talk about what HarrisData is doing. Last year when Apple announced the iPad we recognized that it meant big changes for the entire software industry. We also realized HarrisData is in a position to lead those changes. The whole way people interact with computers has changed – our software will change as well for both HarrisData and RTI customers.

The first thing we did was to set ground rules for how HarrisData will implement these changes. All R&D related to the new products will be made available to our current customers by the normal product fix and upgrade processes. All products will be the same no matter how they are delivered – the on-premesis, cloud, and hybrid products are the same code, they simply use different license forms. That means that as you move to HD5 or RTI 6.0, you will begin to receive enhanced tablet functionality as soon as it is available. While the tablet projects like “Mousetrap” are enormous, HarrisData can and will divide the projects into discrete deliverables that can be made available as they are completed. You will see several new features from the “Mousetrap” throughout this conference. The “Mousetrap” projects are on an expedited time-line, look for more information through HarrisData’s Lunch & Learn series as more components are completed.

Thank you, enjoy the conference.

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