There have been some exciting developments recently at Connected Business that I wanted to share with you. First, I was named the President of the company back in January, by the board of directors. As many of our long time customers already know, I was the original founder of the company and President for the first several years of the company. Since January, I’ve been working with my teams to reorganize our operations by cutting back on items that we have not excelled at (i.e. complex implementations and custom software development) and expanding in areas that we feel will have a positive impact on our customers (i.e. new customer service people, improved training resources).
Here are some of the recent highlights of what we are working to improve;
Connected Business 14 Released!
I am proud to let you know that all of the modules of Connected Business 14 (CB14) have now been released. CB14 represents a major leap forward in our product line with major usability and performance improvements. Highlights include:
- 64-bit Application – Faster and less prone to memory issues. Previous releases were all 32-bit applications which could only recognize the first 3 GB of RAM of your machine. Because the RAM is also being shared by other applications, it’s easy for the program to run out of memory and crash during large data requests. This is a major improvement over previous releases and solves many issues reported to us by users.
- Better, Faster Web Module – We have increased web cart performance by as much as 80% while reducing the memory it takes to run the web module by as much as 50%. The CB14 web cart is now 64-bit. This is a major improvement as it allows the cart to take advantage of all of your server’s memory eliminating memory related issues. This alone is MUST UPGRADE reason for version 13 and below customers.
- Faster Core Application Web Services – Did you know that our core application was developed from the ground up to run over the internet via “web services”? In CB14 we have optimized the performance of our core application web services making it much faster than previous releases. If you are currently running Connected Business 13 in our cloud as a remote desktop application you will notice a big difference here. In most cases, running the program on your local computer and accessing your data over the web services will be much faster and more reliable than running as a remote desktop application.
- We have also invested in developing hundreds of new features as requested by you, our customer. Checkout the version 14 video here to see all the exciting new features - https://vimeo.com/87236068
I’m also happy to report that version 14 has proven to be our most stable release ever. Last week we released the first service pack for version 14 (14.01) which contained very few bug fixes and several new features.
With the release of version 14, we will be slowing down the development of new features to focus on product stability and performance improvements. After years of “ripping apart the code” to add new features, the time has come to focus on the incredible number of features we have and make them better. Of course, we will continue to add features moving forward, just not at the same pace.
New Connected Warehouse - Mobile Inventory Management System!
Our new Connected Warehouse app is available for beta now in the iTunes store. This module is designed to streamline common warehouse tasks. With Connected Warehouse you can easily pick orders that you receive via your web site or phone, pack your order, print shipping labels, receive inventory quickly and accurately, transfer products between locations and process your stock counts.
Unlike inventory management solutions that require expensive hardware to run, we have designed Connected Warehouse to work with an inexpensive iPod touch and Bluetooth barcode scanner (works with iPhones and iPads too). Connected Warehouse is provided at no charge to our customers that have a valid subscription or maintenance plan. Details can be found at https://www.connectedbusiness.com/warehouse.
New Connected Kiosk!
Our new Connected Kiosk app is available for beta now in the iTunes store. Connected Kiosk is designed to bring “Endless Isle” shopping / eCommerce to your retail store. Connected Kiosk also works seamlessly with our Woohaa! network providing suppliers and retailers with the most complete supply chain / drop shipping solution in the market. Connected Kiosk is provided at no charge to our customers that have a valid subscription or maintenance plan. Details can be found at https://connectedbusiness.com/kiosk.
New CB14 Web Skins!
For version 14 we have created over 60 stunning skin templates that can be used to add some “splash” to your website. These skins also include corresponding mobile skins so that you can quickly give your mobile website that professional appearance. Best of all, these skin templates are all available at no charge - simply download the skin and tweak it to fit your business! These web skins can be found at https://connectedbusiness.com/web-skins1.
New eCommerce Design Services!
We are excited to announce that we will be launching our new design services division next week. Our design services division will offer a number of graphic design services so that you can get the most out of your Connected Business / Connected Sale website. Look for a special offer in your email box next week as the service is launched.
New Cloud Coming!
We have experienced problems with our cloud environment recently that have affected our cloud customers. This is not acceptable to you and is not acceptable to us either, so we are in the process of rolling out a new cloud environment that is more reliable, faster and cost effective.
The new environment is built for speed with SSD drives and powerful server grade Xeon processors. If you have not already been contacted by one of our hosting team professionals regarding the transition from the old cloud to the new, you will be shortly.
In addition, we are aware that some of our customers cannot reliably print from the cloud. If you are experiencing printing issues in version 13 and you are operating in a Windows environment, then we recommend upgrading to version 14 and running the program over web services. It’s faster and there are no printing issues. This is how we run our own company and we love it.
We have been slowly rolling out our new supply chain network, Woohaa, to the Hobby and Fish and Tackle industries. In late April we gave a presentation peek at the Hobby Retail Association show and got an enthusiastic reception from key members in that industry. Checkout the Woohaa! website to learn more - https://www.woohaa.com/
We are constantly working to add significant value to our product line. Since our launch we have added the following modules to our application at no additional charge to our customers:
- Live Chat
- Business Intelligence
- Shipping Module
- POS Module
- eCommerce Module
- Warehouse Module
- Kiosk Module
With the release of CB14, we have been looking for ways to add more value to our product line by making it cheaper for us to host. The largest single cost in our cloud environment are the licenses / server resources needed to run the program via a remote desktop connection, so we have optimized the CB14 core application to run faster over web services. This effectively eliminates the need to run the application over a remote desktop connection (don’t worry, it’s still there as an add-on option).
With our costs reduced we are now able to reduce our prices to you as well with a 10-device CB14 going for the same price as a 5-device CB13. As our customers upgrade to CB14, they can move to one of these new cost-saving plans and take advantage of it. Details can be found at https://www.connectedbusiness.com/pricing.
New Training Classroom Opened!
Our product line is very comprehensive and can be intimidating for even the most experienced business application professional. To help our customers get the most value out of our product line, we have opened a new 1700 sq. ft. training classroom in the LA Gift Mart in downtown Los Angeles (https://lamart.com/). This new classroom includes:
- Seating for up to 30 students.
- 120” movie screen and 60” monitor
- An interactive “Retail store” area with counter, POS stations and some products to scan for “hands-on” workshops.
- An interactive “Warehouse” area with barcoded bin locations and shipping station for “hands-on” workshops.
If your company has not sent someone to one of our training classes, you are missing out. Attendees are finding about how they can use previously unknown features to improve their efficiency and increase revenue. Typically, companies sharply reduce their support tickets after training as they better understand how to use the system. Classes are normally done monthly for 3 days sessions and it is one of the best investments you can make for your business!
New Online Classes!
Okay, we recognize that not everyone has the time to travel to Los Angeles for 3 days of training and workshops, so we are working to create a comprehensive online training program in our community website. We have already completed the “implementation / getting started” course which guides users through their first time setup and are working on the following courses…
- Setup and Implementation
- Backend Office and Financials
- Website and Shopping Cart
- POS and Kiosks
- System Management
- Woohaa Network
Checkout our online university for more details: https://community.connectedbusiness.com/online-training/getting-started.
New Customer Service People!
Because our solutions cover nearly every facet of a business’s operations, our support team gets questions from literally A (Accounting) to Z (Zebra printers for shipping). In addition, our solution is configurable and customizable, making no two companies alike.
To make our support cost-effective for our customers, we utilize a ticketing system where support cases are entered and are internally routed to a professional who is a subject matter expert of the question asked. Sometimes we might have to refer to people working on different shifts to get the correct answer or meet internally to discuss ways to help a client accomplish what they are looking to do. In the event of an issue in our solution, we may need to create a fix that needs to go through a QA process before we deliver it to the client.
Although we try our best to update our users with the status of their ticket through our ticketing system, some customers still prefer to speak to someone to know the status. To this end, we have hired an account manager that will start next week in the support team. Once trained, we will be emailing out the details of this new person and see how you can use it to improve your support experience.
Like any service company, you may occasionally feel the need to speak to someone to escalate an issue or address a concern. For this, we have hired Kris Ouelletteas our new Customer Service Support Manager. He can be reached at 310-734-4290 (ext. 118) during central time business hours.
Version 13.2.3 Release is now Long Term Support (LTS) Product!
Per our support policy, Version 13 is no longer considered an active development product. As such, we have moved the final release of version 13 (13.2.3) into the long term support status. Accordingly, 13.2.3 will no longer receive maintenance fixes as part of our “Basic Support” services unless they are deemed critical to the integrity of the financials (critical financial issues) as determined by our support engineers.
Companies on an active Basic Support plan can continue to submit support tickets for LTS and end of life (EOL) releases, and our support technicians will attempt to answer these questions; however our ability to support older releases decreases over time. It's important to remember that deficiencies identified by our technicians do not imply that future refinements will be made to an LTS or EOL release and in some cases, the resolution for reported issues will be to upgrade to a newer release.
If you are on version 13 or on an earlier version, it is time to plan your upgrade! You can learn more about our technical support policies at https://community.connectedbusiness.com/downloads/ConnectedBusinessSupportServices.pdf
See us at the Internet Retailer Conference!
I’m happy to report that we will be in Chicago to attend the Internet Retailer Conference from June 10-13, 2014. This year we will have one of the largest boots at the show (20 x 20) and will be showing our Connected Business, Connected Sale and Woohaa! product lines. Feel free to stop by and see us if you will be at the show. You can learn more about the Internet Retailer Conference at https://www.irce.com/.
As you can see, we have been busy making a lot of changes recently. We believe that the improvements we made in CB14, the introduction of new services, and the streamlining of our operations and processes, will greatly elevate your Connected Business experience. By dramatically improving the fundamental elements that define our company and products, we aim to focus more clearly on what really matters most for us - helping you grow your business.