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Windows based applications

Dinosaur systems MYOB, MIE Software and others holding up your business

Sat 16 Apr 2011

12 years on and the Internet still has so much to offer as a software platform over and above the ugliness of the prior era Windows application software produced in the eighties and nineties.

While we marvel at world changing web based applications, like Facebook, online banking or the countless online shopping opportunities, we forget how powerful the Internet is for serving robust, distributed business accounting systems.

By contrast with the possibilities so many business remained constrained by PC / Windows software that is unreliable, does not talk to customers directly, relies on computing power within the building, restrains the sales force from using its information while on the road and interacts with company web sites in cumbersome, and unreliable ways. Applications for Windows are typically single user, or require a complex server structure and expensive multi-seat licenses to be distributed to the workforce in a useful way.

The most notable of dinosaurs in the Australian Windows software market place is MYOB. Force fed to small and medium businesses, the essential business data is locked away on one computer to be encoded and decoded by a highly prized and skilled individual that can make sense of the MYOB information system, menus and intricacies. The need for other than the key person to use the system requires the completely archaic transfer of the MYOB data file by USB memory key from bookkeeper to manager to accountant and back again. This is not the original intention of the IT industry when we promised so much back-in-the-day.

Recently I supplied a patch for the memory stick data sharing needs in the MYOB example for one client. Rather than have a staff member drive the memory stick of MYOB data for 3 hours round trip to the accountant I created an online �drop-box� type system, that allows them to upload their MYOB to their secure web site and make it available to the other members of the MYOB circle to download. This system can distribute the MYOB data across the world in 1/2 hour if required and accidentally created an audit trail back up methodology for the MYOB data lasting as long as necessary.

When o when is a big Australian software company going to save us from MYOB with a complete small business accounting system that lives completely on the Internet? � or do I have to write it myself? Such a system would reside on the internet with multiple redundant connections, indestructible servers and back up mechanisms that ensure that my small business accounting is fast, efficient, available everywhere, multi-user, backed-up and work in many extra ways for my business. If such an online system also maintained my inventory, it could have an online shopping cart bolt on, to serve my product to a new client base (the rest of the world) and give me a competitive edge. The interface for such a system would be entirely web based, making it available by secure means from businesses, portable internet devices, iphones, and airport gate lounges.

Another specific example of archaic software that I had the misfortune to interact with recently was Summit Suite from MIE Software. The community organisation / client in question had sought an effective means of managing the information for an upcoming conference, while also offering an online booking system for the delegates. From a pack of Windows based also-rans, the system from MIE was selected.

Perhaps a one time leader in managing 1000+ delegate conferences, the complexity of this software had created a Windows software system that was a series of hidey-holes for setup, storage and retrieval of client data, conference session information, accommodation choices and optional-tour information. The complexity of which had the volunteer workforce dazed, and soon to abandon in favour of the transparency of spreadsheets and note paper for managing the information in a visible way.

Add to this a complex web interface. To enable the delegates to register online, the Windows software had to be teased into upload of the conference configuration. There is little room for changes to conference format once locked. The outcome of the online process is less than perfect. Conference delegates are confronted with an ugly presentation of online registration form with the prize for completion being a second ugly page of registration requirements.

If successful in completing the process, the information floated around the internet until retrieved by the Windows software and email. The onward possibility of this process was possible duplicate entries in the database for delegates.

In the end the MIE Software Summit Suite was abandoned and sits unused and unwanted on a notebook computer switched off and now probably buried under files. The online replacement was constructed to provide conference information management, online and offline booking process, reports and exports (for name tags), etc, for a fraction of the outlay for the MIE system.

At the time of writing MIE Software had been been approached for a partial refund as the software had not proved useful to the community organisation, but thus far nothing had been forthcoming.

Sorry world. The IT industry is capable of much more, but 12 years on the Internet has still yet to be used for a fraction of its businesses benefits. Windows based applications will be a dying breed as a generation of new online applications serve your business needs via simple to use web browser interfaces where ever you are in the world. Watch for and reward them.

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