Category Archives: IT Related

The Retail Technology Trap

Never Succumb To the Technology Trap

The experience most consumers will have with a digital retail service is a self-service check-out (like many major supermarkets); however, over the past couple of years, there have been a number of amazing technologies for retail businesses. This could include anything from the collaboration of Myer and eBay to launch the first virtual reality department store, Neiman Marcus’ “Memory Mirror”, Afterpay’s online payment instalments or Temando’s intelligent fulfilment solutions.

hand holding the phone with mobile wallet online  to shopping on the store


That said, when you hear about a new technology that claims to be the latest and greatest ever made, do you rush out and invest in it in the hope that it may add value to your retail business? If you’re the type of company with a habit of investing in technology for the sake of it, then you need a reality check. It’s time to turn your back on the technology trap and start using your common sense.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins it wasn’t a surprise that more than 80% of great companies do not rank technology as one of their top five reasons for making a great company. So, unless a technology fits squarely in with your Hedgehog Concept, you should ignore it.

Does the technology you use fit in with your Hedgehog concept?

Good retail companies often look to technologies to help take them to the next level, whereas great companies always use technologies as an accelerator to enhance their Hedgehog Concept. When a technology aligns with your Hedgehog Concept, you need to act like a great company and become a pioneer of it. If your Hedgehog Concept doesn’t drive the use of a technology, you either have to settle for parity or ignore it completely.

I’ve seen leading edge technologies that have been pioneered by great companies. However, I’ve also seen the same technologies in “comparison organisations” and witnessed them fail to produce the same results.

Before jumping on the technology bandwagon, you need to ask yourself:

  • How does this technology connect with our Hedgehog Concept?
  • Can we be pioneers in the technology?

If you answered no to both questions, just forget the bloody technology and move on. It’s so easy to panic in fear of being left behind, but you need to stop worrying about what technologies your competitors may or may not be using, as they will never be the answer to making you great.

The bottom line

Technology should only be used as an accelerator, rather than a creator of momentum. While I understand that it can be hard to dismiss the hype of current technologies, you need to have absolute discipline and steer clear of any technology trends that don’t support your Hedgehog Concept.

As Norwegian politician, Christian Lous Lange once said, “Technology is a useful servant, but a dangerous master.” Never use technology as a primary means of igniting transformation – but if you can, always become a pioneer in the application of carefully selected technologies.

Why Simple BI Dashboards Provide the Most Insight

Written by  Angel Willis at Phocas

With business intelligence dashboards, simplicity is key. We’ve all experienced carnival-like websites with side bars cluttered with irrelevant links, advertisements and other garbage that is just plain annoying. When we are searching the web, we are seeking data and information. Clutter makes it harder for us to extract the information that we need. The same is true with dashboards.

When users view their custom dashboards, they don’t want to see data that is irrelevant to their positions. They also don’t want to see all of the data that is relevant to their positions. Steve Krug wrote a book titled “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” that addresses the importance of simplicity when designing websites. I believe that the same concept of “Don’t make the user think” can be applied to the creation of an effective dashboard design.

When your business analysts, managers, and VPs log in to view their dashboards, provide them a few broad categories that display current data that they might want to glance at to start their day. If you are like me, the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk is check your email. For dashboard users, the second action is probably to glance at their BI dashboards.

The beauty of the BI dashboard design is that the users have the ability to drill-down and view details about summarized data, so there is no need to display complex aggregated data on the home page of the dashboard.

Lastly, I have to point out that you can’t guess what the users want to see on their dashboards. Don’t get overly enthused and skip the requirements gathering phase. Meet with your users before designing their dashboards to get a feel for what they would like to see. After they have had access to their dashboards for several months, follow-up with them; Are they using the data that is provided? What types of reports would they like to see? Make changes as needed to keep the dashboards up-to-date and relevant.


Fusion Factory Case Study – MotoParts

MotoParts Solves the Complexities of Listing on eBay with CommerceConnect

Driving a Whole New Section of Growth for the Business


MotoParts is one of the leading distributors of automotive parts and car accessories in Australia—with a long history in the B2B commerce space supplying wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia. MotoParts decided to launch into a completely new sales channel to leverage their existing business model—driving a whole new section of growth for the business. “As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay was the obvious choice for MotoParts to start our online presence,” said Shillinglaw.

Business Drivers

“We required a solution to manage product data feeds, with the added functionality of enriching and enhancing product data ready for listing on eBay. We needed to integrate with our ERP system, specifically product, pricing and inventory data along with both eBay and MotoParts’s new consumer eCommerce website. This also included receiving orders from eBay and our eCommerce website and sending shipment updates,” said Shillinglaw.

For sellers of automotive parts, the complexity and volume of parts data is an added challenge. The massive increase of vehicle models and variants over the past few decades is further complicating the automotive parts industry.

“At MotoParts we needed the data to be in a coherent format to allow us to list products on eBay that easily identifies a part, the vehicle it fits and in a format that people feel enticed to purchase,” continued Shillinglaw. “Buyers that would be shopping in the automotive aftermarket can be enthusiasts or do-it-yourself people and if the product data isn’t presented in a compelling way—you’re not going to make the sales.”

Fusion Factory Speeds Time to Market for MotoParts

“With their experience, the team at Fusion Factory were able to integrate and automate MotoParts’s solution in the fastest and easiest way possible with minimal hassles,” said Shillinglaw.

“We were referred to Fusion Factory by PARts who provide us with automotive parts content,” explained Shillinglaw. “Fusion Factory was one of the few, if not the only company having the essential experience with large-scale integrations in the automotive parts industry. I didn’t want to waste valuable time working with an organisation where I would need to explain the basics. Fusion Factory and the team have a solid reputation and the price was right—this made the decision easy for us. We would not have been able to get where we are today and where we are heading in the future without the work delivered by Fusion Factory.”

“The team has been fantastic in their flexibility and receptiveness to any of our business needs—nothing is ever a problem,” added Shillinglaw.

Parts to the Solution

With Fusion Factory and the CommerceConnect application, MotoParts are managing their product data in a centralised solution. The product data is received from PARts and collated with inventory and price data from MotoParts’s ERP system the data is frequently synchronised in an intelligent way in order to list products on eBay.

“Orders that are placed on eBay are extracted and standardised into one format—ready to be processed by our ERP system,” said Shillinglaw.

“It was vital for our eBay sales success to have a solution that could handle two-way integration with our backend systems—paving the way for seamlessly adding more online sales channels, said Shillinglaw. “The CommerceConnect solution and the team at Fusion Factory manage all the intricacies of these integrated processes extremely well.”

“CommerceConnect sits in the middle between our online sales channels and our backend systems and collates the orders from all channels,” said Shillinglaw. “Orders are pushed through to our inventory management system which pushes data through to our warehouse management system then the products are ‘picked and packed’ with the online shipment process fully automated. Inventory feeds are currently pushed through daily, enabling us to always have the correct maximum level of stock online at any one time.”

Business Value Delivered

Building a New Online Sales Business from the Ground-up

  • MotoParts was up and running and selling on eBay within just a few months—a fast time to market.
  • CommerceConnect is a robust commerce solution that doesn’t hit a wall at hundreds of thousands of listings—a solution that will keep up with Parts’s fast growing online business.
  • Fusion Factory’s knowledge and experience in the automotive parts space saved MotoParts significant resource time and IT spend.
  • Listing on eBay with CommerceConnect established a solid foundation, allowing MotoParts to add many additional online sales channels, as they desire— with minimal work.

Achieving a Rapid ROI

Listing on eBay increased total MotoParts revenue by up to 5% within a few months. “We are happy with the results—It’s a great start to moving into new channels,” said Shillinglaw.

The Road Ahead

“Now that we have built a solid foundation with Fusion Factory, we have a fantastic opportunity to go after as many online channels as possible to rapidly increase our sales,” said Shillinglaw.

“We are working with Fusion Factory closely in planning our future online sales strategies and destinations. We are looking to expand into many different online sales channels including our own consumer eCommerce website,” added Shillinglaw.

“Fusion Factory has extensive knowledge and experience building eCommerce solutions for clients in the automotive parts industry. They understand the business processes and data requirements associated with the constant changes in the complex world of automotive parts. A significant deciding factor in choosing Fusion Factory is they can deliver a solution that will scale as our business grows—the sky is the limit. We are looking at hundreds of thousands of SKUs and this is possible with CommerceConnect. We have comfort in knowing that Fusion Factory can support MotoParts business.”

Scott Shillinglaw

Online Director for MotoParts



Fusion Factory delivers dynamic data integration solutions ensuring your people, partners and systems all work together – sharing data to achieve business success. Fusion Factory is a proven performer with over 150 clients across Australia. Our client portfolio includes organisations of all sizes – from SMEs through to blue-chip enterprises spanning many industries. To learn more visit, email or call +61 2 8026 6800.

Fusion Factory Media Relations Contact:

Jennifer Svanstrom

Phone: +61 2 8026 6814

Mobile: +61 414 699 604



Written by Michael Hazilias at HRMWEB

Cloud computing has been around since the 1950s (when “time-sharing” – which is considered the underlying concept of cloud computing – was used in academia and large corporations) and people have been using it regularly for years, probably without even realising it. Although you wouldn’t think so given the amount of attention it’s been receiving the past year or so.

Michael Hazilias, CEO of HRMWEB and the creator of workforce management cloud solution easyEMPLOYER explains, “All those free services you’ve been using for years to communicate with, save information on, share media with i.e. MySpace, Hotmail, Facebook, YouTube, Dropbox, Flickr, they all utilise the cloud. However, only in recent times have these services had the ‘cloud’ label slapped on them hence the perception that cloud computing is something new”.

Regardless of having been around for years cloud hype has helped make it more understood and created fascination amongst the average consumer. The cloud hype has also brought a touch of sex appeal to a technology that essentially involves computing platforms owned by someone else and available for rent on an as needed basis.

In our two part series we will leave all of the hype behind and look at what cloud computing (also referred to as the cloud) is and the opportunities it brings with it. This week we will start by explaining what cloud computing is.


In order to understand what the cloud is it’s best to look at the opportunities it offers rather than the way it works, however it’s also good to have an understanding of the basic premise.

In its simplest form cloud computing is the delivery of an IT solution as a service to an end user. The user, whether it be an individual or a business, can store all of their data in the solution and access it via the Internet by using a web browser and their choice of device (like a computer, laptop, phone etc). Users are not required to understand the technology, own, operate or maintain any of the IT infrastructures.

The best examples of cloud computing are often the simplest. Like being able to share your holiday photos with friends by simply uploading them to Flickr or collaborating on documents with others through Google Docs. The cloud really comes into its own when it comes to businesses wanting IT solutions that are cost effective, flexible and fully redundant.

“We use cloud based tools to operate our business and seven years ago we were so confident of its future impact that we built our easyEMPLOYER staff management solution with the cloud in mind. Today our clients are using it to roster, clock and approve hours worked and pay their staff all done in real time, online, and in some cases from half a world away from their place of business.” Michael Hazilias.

So that’s the cloud in a nutshell. Stay tuned for the next article in our cloud computing series where we will talk about all the great opportunities using the cloud brings.


Integration Case Study – Trebuchet

Trebuchet Innovative Logistic Network Model Delivers Global Wine Company Competitive Advantage with Fusion Factory’s EDI Implementation

The EDI Business Challenge

To launch in Australia, Trebuchet Nordics supported the local team by providing their IP, infrastructure and systems. “In relation to the existing integration, Trebuchet Nordics utilise Microsoft BizTalk, which was one of the options we considered locally for our requirements,” said Anthony Mancini, Technical Business Solution Delivery Manager for Trebuchet. “The way the integration was built in the Nordics with BizTalk— the rules were specific to their market, much of it was done within the integration layer with a large amount of custom-code. On evaluation—to implement the Nordics integration approach would prove too costly to re-engineer and did not provide a standard that our clients could adopt, as well as meet our time to market deadline,” explained Mancini.

For Trebuchet Australia, the answer was to start fresh. “We made the strategic business decision to design an EDI solution more suited for the local market,” said Mancini. We had a very complex integration requirement with many endpoints and process areas. We lacked in-house integration expertise at a technical level and our immediate priority was to source an integration vendor that understood our complex integration needs. The solution had to be cost effective, easy to use and fast to implement. It was a requirement to be able to communicate using standard methods, for example XML and CSV, along with the different connectivity methods such as FTP and AS2. We also wanted to avoid massive infrastructure investments and support requirements that we would then need to manage,” adds Mancini.

Locally, Trebuchet was introduced to the Fusion Factory team through Avanade. “Avanade recommended Fusion Factory to demonstrate their integration expertise and the Flow Integration software—and that’s where our partnership was made,” says Mancini. “We had been working with Avanade for some time as our global MS Dynamics AX partner and we trusted their recommendation and knowledge,” Mancini explains. “Other compelling decision factors for Trebuchet were Fusion Factory’s costs and their ability to demonstrate taking clients to market—fast. Fusion Factory with Flow ticked all the boxes for what we were after. Time was of the essence and we had no time to waste,” added Mancini.

Seamless EDI Solution

“Much of the challenge for Trebuchet was actually around the significant number of message files that needed to be processed and the complexity of the business processes—more than the technical solution itself. There is a lot of logic to deal with particular situations coming in and out of Trebuchet,” said Craig Bennett, CTO for Fusion Factory.

 Trebuchet defined the business processes and Fusion Factory implemented the corresponding message flows that allowed files to seamlessly pass between their clients, and numerous trading partners.

Trebuchet’s ERP system is MS Dynamics AX and is the key interaction point for integration. Fusion Factory configured the logic to translate various XML and flat file formats to the OAGIS format (Open Applications Group Integration Specification), the standard format that Trebuchet has agreed to use and is working with all its trading partners. “The Fusion Factory solution created a seamless integration between Trebuchet’s MS Dynamics AX instance and other parties’ systems, such as 3PL WMS systems, client ERP and partner software including a TMS (Transport Management System from Descartes) and BSM (BuySellMove – a global export & import control tower solution),” added Bennett.

 “The solution, configuration and functionality met all our expectations,” said Mancini. “Our expectation was obviously to have a functioning solution, but also one that met all business requirements in message latency (time it takes for a message to be sent from one party to another), 24×7 stability, audit functionality, search functionality and especially the ability to trace logical groupings of messages—all the functionality within the Flow Integration software.”

Business Benefits for Trebuchet

“Fusion Factory’s superior integration expertise became increasingly evident in the implementation, especially where fast changes were vital to facilitate business processes that weren’t in our initial scope. The Fusion Factory team was always available and ensured any required changes were made in a timely and robust manner,” said Mancini.

One of the most significant benefits to Trebuchet is the ability to track, trace and audit the messages in the business process. “At the integration level we can view the data flows in real-time which allows corrections if required in a very short turnaround time,” Mancini explained.

“An unexpected benefit discovered through the implementation was the monitoring component within Flow, which we use to run checks and balances within our systems to make sure they’re continually up and running without any issues. Previously, we waited for an error to alert us—and then action. Now we actively use the monitoring tool, which highlights to us immediately if there is an issue,” explained Mancini. “An additional benefit with Flow is that we can perform searches, view code and make minor updates without having to engage a Fusion Factory developer, which is a huge benefit to us and saves considerable time and valuable IT spend in development,” said Mancini.

The Total Trebuchet Logistics Network Service Provider Model Delivers a Competitive Advantage

The Trebuchet client benefits are simple yet effective. The message standards that clients use don’t have to be changed when 3PLs switch over. “Our seamless network model allows our clients to take less ownership of significant aspects of their business. Companies do not need to be concerned about changes to any of the systems that Trebuchet connects,” explained Mancini.

Results Achieved Working with Fusion Factory

  • Reduction of Trebuchet in-house resource time and costs by 30% associated with gathering of integration requirements.


  • Reduction in manual labour for Trebuchet clients by 30% due to the combination of Fusion Factory and the Trebuchet Solution.


  • Reduction across in-house development of configuration rules within MS Dynamics AX and partner systems by 80%. Flow handles the logic when integrating data from one system to another.


  • Configuration changes to the integration process are built twice as fast within the Flow Integration software using Fusion Factory expertise compared with a competitor custom-built integration solution.


  • Improved automated workflow for Trebuchet business processes working with Flow Integration software by up to 20%, reducing the amount of manual work required to manage the same processes.


Mancini also adds, “Whenever we have a scenario where we look at the challenge and how to solve it—our first action is to contact Fusion Factory to make the change—which can generally be completed within a couple of hours. Alternatively, if we had to go back through our clients, partners or vendors to make a change it would be up to a three-day build.”

Ready for the Future

“Any new client, application or trading partner that comes on board, we will deploy the Flow Integration software working with the team at Fusion Factory—it’s our only way to go. Our plan to expand with Fusion Factory will allow us to be less reliant on our clients and partners to provide us with information for testing. As a practical example, right now where we need to test a message going to our warehouse and transport partners we need our clients to key in a dummy order for us. There is functionality within Flow that can produce a message to mimic what our clients would need to send us. This significantly reduces the lead time and a lot of costs for us, as we need to request and a charged for their time,” concludes Mancini.

No Thanks, I Don’t Want to Grow My Business?

Written by Ken Prokopec from Phocas Software

“Excuse me sir, you’ve just dropped this $100 bill”. Imagine my surprise when the guy said “naahhh, I don’t want it”. Ummm what? That’s crazy – it’s $100 dollars!

I have a similar feeling of WTH (that’s “What The Heck” for all you non-texting lingo people) when I speak to someone about business intelligence. I’ve met with numerous people who say “Business Intelligence??? Naaaahh, I don’t need it”. Yah, but how do you know what your customers are buying from you? Or what they’re NOT buying from you? How do you know what customers are cherry picking business from you, buying only part of your product offering not everything that you sell? How do you know what products sitting on your shelf have been there too long and need to be returned? How do you manage inventory turns?

Often I get answers along the lines of “My ERP does that, I think”. “Awww I don’t have time to look at that crap”. I even will on occasion get this response: “I don’t need to grow my business”. Ummmm WTH?! I certainly understand the business owner who doesn’t want to get exponentially larger but who honestly feels like they wouldn’t like to put more money into their pocket? Seriously?!

When I get the opportunity, which I do from time to time, to have a better chat with these prospective customers, I often find the root of the problem is not apathy but fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the visibility a tool like this gives to their bosses, fear that a business intelligence tool will render their job obsolete, fear that they won’t use it and fear that it will be too hard. The list goes on and on and while there are plenty of things to be fearful of in your business, a business intelligence tool shouldn’t be one of them. The right BI tool should be easy to implement, easy to use but most importantly, should give you almost immediate visibility into ways to putting more money into your pocket. But, if you’re still afraid, I’d be happy to keep that $100 bill.

To understand analytics better, click the below image to download our free Sales Guide to Analytics whitepaper:

Strandbags Stays Ahead Of The Fashion Curve

By Bob Johns, associate editor

Through innovative assortment planning, the specialty fashion retailer is able to reduce inventories and increase sales.


When you are a specialty fashion retailer like Strandbags, having the latest styles in stock and ready to go is a matter of success or failure. That is why Strandbags, a leading Australian seller of handbag, travel bag, business bag, school bag, backpack, and wallet collections, is always looking to streamline its supply chain and get product to the stores quickly and in the right quantities.

Strandbags has become a destination store for customers seeking the latest fashion styles since the early twentieth century. The company has grown to three hundred stores across Australia and New Zealand and features a robust e-commerce site with a broader reach. However, keeping up with the Kardashians, literally, and other designers can be problematic. The company cannot afford to sit on inventory when a new line hits or when there are updates to an existing line. Plus, if the new fashions have to wait to be on the floor until the old ones are gone, the store misses out on the fever created by the new line. “We need to be ahead of the fashion curve, which is nearly impossible,” says Graham Clements, merchandise planning director. “We can’t do that by having old product that needs to be cleared out, nor by not ordering enough of the hottest fashion.”

Improve Fulfillment Across The Board

In order to facilitate the improvements in the supply chain, Strandbags turned to ITR Software. By implementing new assortment planning, purchasing, and business intelligence platforms, the transformation has begun from an order, delivery, back-stock to floor model to a more on demand fulfillment model.

It all begins with the assortment planning. By incorporating historical sales data, along with buyer opinions, the company can target specific lines that do well with its customer base and steer clear of lines that sit on the shelves, eventually resulting in huge markdowns and lost margins. Even though much of this data was available before, it was never processed and made available in an actionable format that helps buyers spot trends and forecast accurately. Clements says, “We are able to spot shopping trends that allow us to adjust inventories for the next season.”

Secondly, purchasing is made easier by the planning module. The purchasing module takes the planning data and historical sales data by store and helps to coordinate purchases accordingly. By streamlining this process, Strandbags is not left with too much of any product at any particular store. The purchasing and distribution is calculated for each store to avoid this situation. The total purchases are made to maintain the buying power, but the individual store sales are taken into consideration. This is definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Clements notes, “Each store has a slightly different demographic, and what is hot in one location may not be hot in another. We have to be able to understand this when placing orders. Not every store is going to sell 300 of every brand.”

Business Intelligence Helps Increase Profits

Third, ITR’s business intelligence data makes the whole thing work for Strandbags. All of the appropriate sales data, including markdowns of overstocks, is continuously feeding into the system to allow the planning and purchasing modules to increase accuracy. Customer preference changes quickly in the handbag market, so the continuous flow of information is essential to keeping the system healthy for the company.

Strandbags has been able to reduce inventory levels while increasing sales since implementing the ITR solutions. This has resulted in lower expenses and increased conversions. Having the right product on the shelf, and the old product out the door, keeps Strandbags at the forefront of the fashion industry and helps it maintain its status as a destination shop.

For More Information On ITR Software Solutions Go To

How to Translate Your Geek Speak (and why you should try)

Posted by Angel Willis
from Phocas Software

I’m going to make a broad assumption that if you are a fellow nerd (who grins after coding for eight hours straight) you may not be the type of person who works on your own car.

Have you ever taken your car to the garage and experienced the mechanic speaking a hundred miles an hour about A-Brackets,  A-Pillars, Alternators, and Ammeters? Yes, No? Well, I have, and sometimes I wish they would consider that I might not speak their language. I really won’t be offended if you simply tell me there’s a hose that has a small leak in it and it should be replaced.

I personally feel that it is more admirable to be able to speak intelligently about your profession in a manner that anyone can understand, regardless of your industry. When preparing for an upcoming board presentation I came across a 40 page presentation designed to explain BI to non-technical people. Ahhhhh!

Remember…It Doesn’t Have to Be Complex to Be Cool! What is business intelligence? Well, if you search this question you will find hundreds of complex explanations, however, don’t forget to remember your audience. Don’t make the mistake of boring them with long drawn out ramblings of ETL processes, data cleansing, and server maintenance plans.

Really, BI can be explained very simply; it’s the process of gathering data to present a single version of the truth so that data driven decisions can be made more easily.

Simple, right? Here are a few more: Data warehouse – a place to store summarized data from several end user systems. KPIs – a way to measure the progress of company goals. Scorecard – a collection of KPIs. I know, it may sound silly to simplify concepts to this degree, but it often accomplishes what is really needed in business conversations – solid communication.

It’s still easier said than done, so here are some things to consider before presenting your technical joys to non-technical people:

  1. An intelligent co-worker of mine suggested considering how you might explain the technicality to a child. This is not with the intent of sounding condescending, but more to make us more aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it.
  2. Remember, don’t try to impress others by using technical lingo, instead, impress them by demonstrating that you can live in their world as well as yours. This means being mindful and considerate of your audience.
  3. Practice! After a long time of fumbling through my explanation of “what I do for a living” I finally have my elevator speech nearly perfected – ha-ha, but not really. Sometimes I find that I still accidently insult people by speaking too elementary or I frustrate people by speaking too technically. The important thing is that I learn more each time about how to gauge people and the approach I should take when speaking about my nerdy life.

One last thought to consider…From my experience “less is more”. My first goal in meetings is to accomplish solid communication. I do this by presenting condensed and non-wordy explanations. I have found that if the other party wants to know more they generally won’t hesitate to ask, especially when I have successfully presented the topic in a non-threatening manner…

How do you translate your geek speak? Tell us in the comments below.

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