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Logistics / Supply Chain rss feedInsight Community Cases (All Public)

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The New World of LogisticsCase Details


Closed: 15 Dec 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

UPS loves logistics and is looking to start engaging with others who share its passion -- and who have an appreciation for the modern complexities of combining the latest technology with efficient supply chains. The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and global logistics can make the difference between success and failure. The competitive advantage that integrated global logistics provides can help to improve customer service, to expand into new markets and to improve the bottom line -- and we'd like to hear about your stories.

To start off this conversation, we're interested in hearing about "new logistics" -- such as experiences involving small businesses that have leveraged logistics to take advantage of international markets, or how logistics helped you and your company to better compete with larger companies by creating new opportunities, or simply explanations of what "new logistics" means to you and how it has helped build up your company's operations.

Relevant information to include in your insights:

  • The type of business you're describing and how logistical obstacles are met
  • Summaries of how your logistical challenges were ultimately successfully resolved
  • Examples of modern logistics -- describing the challenges for smaller businesses just starting out
  • Technologies that have advanced (or will improve) logistic operations (eg. RFID, 4G wireless networks, etc)
Based on the responses we receive, we'll follow up with future cases on other topics -- or cases that further delve into viewpoints on related subjects.


6 Insights

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Looking For Feedback On IT Innovation ResourcesCase Details


Closed: 30 May 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

As you know, we've been running the ITInnovation.com tab within Techdirt since last year, sponsored by Sun (now Oracle) and Intel.  We've had a series of fascinating discussions within blog posts and webinars during that time.  We've also continued to regularly refresh the IT Innovation Resource Center, which includes a rotating list of useful tools and white papers provided either by us or the sponsors of IT Innovation.

We'd like to get some feedback and insight into the quality of these resources and how they might be improved upon.  Listed below are six currently available white papers in the Resource Center.  If you are familiar with these topics (i.e., you work in IT), please review the white papers and write up your insights and comments on the whitepapers: what's good about them, what could be improved, what would make them more useful, etc.  You are free to provide insights on as many of the white papers as you would like, but we ask that you submit insights on each white paper as a separate insight, rather than combining them into a single response.

  • Best Practices for Managing Datacenter Costs via Application and Server Consolidation

    Server sprawl, software licensing fees, and facilities costs are sending datacenter operational expenses through the roof at a time when every penny is being scrutinized. As a result, low utilization rates and wasted power/cooling resources are no longer acceptable, and smart companies are looking to consolidation and virtualization to trim expenses and increase operating efficiency.

  • Why Solid-State Drives Usage Scenarios Are Expanding for the Datacenter

    To accomplish the objectives of making more-efficient use of IT resources, lowering power consumption, and reducing operating expenses, many companies are turning to server consolidation and virtualization efforts—endeavors that increase server CPU utilization and reduce the number of discrete servers in a datacenter.

  • The New Economics of Midsize Enterprise Computing: Oracle’s Sun Systems Based on the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series

    Midsize companies often face the same competitive pressures as large-scale enterprises. However, they may not possess the resources and staff to invest heavily in complex computing systems. Yet it’s critical for IT organizations within these companies to ensure that they have the strongest, most expandable systems in place, so that their companies have the requisite flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, roll out new products and services in shorter cycles, and become more effective competitors.

  • New Blades and Networking Solutions Ensure Solid Return on Investment

    Traditionally, when companies need more computing power to deal with expanding amounts of data, they increase the number of servers, the number of compute cores per server, and the memory capacity of each server. Today’s high-powered blade servers save space and help enable significant gains in computing performance, especially when workloads are consolidated efficiently and datacenter resources are utilized most effectively. To accommodate this increase in capacity, however, the network infrastructure carrying the data must also be upgraded.

  • Reassessing Server Costs for Midsize Companies

    Most companies keep their servers for three to five years—a time frame that seems reasonable given current economic conditions. Despite the savings this would seem to imply, however, extending server life in the datacenter in this way may not be the best strategy, even in the toughest economic times.

  • Oracle Solaris Operating System — Optimized for the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 and 7500 series

    This document is intended as a technical guide for developers and system administrators that want to understand the precise details of how Oracle® Solaris and the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 and 7500 series can improve your application solution environment.



20 Insights

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Are You Happily Invoicing Your Customers?Case Details


Closed: 20 May 2010, 1:46PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

Our entrepreneurship series - sponsored by AcceptPay from American Express - is compiling interesting resources, valuable tips and useful services that can help out small business owners.  One of the key themes we want to discuss is the process of invoicing -- because what could be more relevant to a small business than getting paid?  Every business (small or large) needs to deal with billing customers and efficiently accepting payments.  For smaller companies, though, invoicing and payment collections can become a more time-consuming process than it should be.

For those of you out there who are already happily invoicing -- what kinds of invoicing software do you use?  What kind of billing solutions have you tried?  What is your opinion of online payment solutions? (full disclosure: AcceptPay is a player in this market.)  How would you evaluate an online payment system for your company?

However, if you've ever encountered invoicing challenges that started to eat into the enjoyment of actually running your business, do you have a happy-ending story for your billing solution?  What would you recommend for other small businesses that might have similar experiences?  What kind of procedures have you developed to make your accounts receivable easier to handle and more reliable?

To other helpful folks who aren't (yet?) entrepreneurs, what types of small companies do you think might benefit from using online payment solutions (that may not already be doing so)?  How would you describe the market for online payment services?  What recommedations have you seen for small business invoicing software?

We're looking for your input on these topics, and the best response will be published on the Entrepreneur's Corner edition of Techdirt, as well as receive a monetary award.  Other high-quality insights may also receive monetary bonuses, depending on the content and how many insights are submitted.

7 Insights

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What Does Virtualization Mean To You?Case Details


Closed: 3 Dec 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

Intel and IBM would like to get the Insight Community's thoughts on what virtualization (in the IT context) means to you.  

They will be hosting the best thoughts on this subject on their new site, Virtualization Conversation.

Pick ONE of the following topics and expand on it to discuss your views on the subject in approximately 750 to 1,500 words.

  • Maximizing the business value of data centers
  • Virtualization benchmarks
  • The benefits of virtualization
  • Improving efficiencies in the work environment

We're looking for views from folks in the IT world, giving some insight into their real world experiences on these topics. Eight Three responses will be chosen and placed on the Virtualization Conversation site.

Update: Intel and IBM were so pleased with the quality of responses, that they have increased the number of insights that they would like to use from three to eight.  Thanks everyone for your excellent insights!

17 Insights

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How Can Digital Nomads Stay Connected With Coworkers?Case Details


Closed: 5 Nov 2008, 11:59PM PT

Qualifying Insights Split a $4,000 Bonus.

We're looking to get insights into how individuals and the workplace are changing due to an increasingly "mobile" workforce -- thanks to things like widespread laptop and mobile device usage, as well as wireless connectivity. These days, "working" no longer means "being in the office." People and employees have truly become "Digital Nomads."  We're hosting a series of cases exploring different aspects related to this new mobile workforce. Dell is sponsoring the conversations here, and the best results will be placed on a site sponsored by Dell: http://whitepaper.digitalnomads.com/. The content may later also be added to a whitepaper and a wiki on the subject. While Dell is sponsoring the conversation, the content is vendor neutral. Just provide your insights on the question at hand.

One of the biggest challenges a digital nomad faces is keeping in touch with coworkers, team members or partners, when the group is not in the same physical space most of the time.  These days, many rely on tools like instant messaging, wikis, collaborative workspaces, email and other tools to keep everyone on the same page.  What are some tips and tricks that you've found for keeping a group of digital nomads working together well?  What were some of the downsides and challenges?  How were those overcome or minimized?

24 Insights

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How Do You Use Analytics Tools To Enhance Sales/Marketing?Case Details


Closed: 2 Jun 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

Business analytics are playing an increasingly important role in helping companies gain the insight they need to make better decisions. How have you found this to be the case with your business? Please share your best examples with us of how analytics (CRM, dashboards, or other analytics capabilities) have improved the performance of your business. For an example, see this video clip by Malcolm Gladwell.

Responses for this case will be used in a whitepaper being created by Techdirt for TheCustomerCollective and included with the results of a survey we are hosting titled, "CRM Analytics."

10 Insights

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The Potential Of Mid-Market Solutions For Accounting SoftwareCase Details


Closed: 27 Apr 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

Accounting software solutions have grown in complexity with an ever increasing number of features aimed at small businesses as well as large enterprises. Now, software focusing on medium-sized businesses is becoming a more important area. How can software solution providers better serve this middle segment? What are the unique challenges facing mid-sized businesses that small or large organizations aren't dealing with?

For those of you who have transitioned from Quickbooks to Intacct Enterprise, NetSuite, SAP BusinessOne, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, Sage MAS 90 or another mid-market solution, how did you know it was time to upgrade? Please describe your successes and failures in making the transition and how the transition ultimately helped or hurt with your company's growth. What advice would you give small and medium-sized business owners to help them to avoid pitfalls and better make this transition?

For those of you who haven't done this switch, but are familiar with these products or the space, what do you think are the key factors in moving up to mid-market solutions and what are the biggest pitfalls and risks that companies face in making that transition?

Responses for this Case will be used in a whitepaper being created by Techdirt for MyVenturePad and included with the results of a survey we are conducting. Please take the survey and we will share the results with you.


5 Insights

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Strategies For Cadbury Schweppes To Engage Consumers And Promote Its US Retail ChannelsCase Details


Closed: 21 Apr 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $1,000 for Insights on this case.

Cadbury Schweppes sells a wide variety of beverages in the US including brands like Seven-Up, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, Motts, Hawaiian Punch, Canada Dry and A&W. The company is looking for ways to go beyond the normal web offerings of online coupons, and they want to create real value for their retail partners -- using the internet to drive customers to those retailers.

They want to focus their efforts on their top retail channels in the US, like Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, Albertson, Stop & Shop, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, YUM, 7-Eleven, CVS. The key goal is to find ways to use Cadbury Schweppes brands as an asset to bring shoppers into the stores (not just to buy Cadbury Schweppes drinks). Don't limit yourself to just focusing on drinks. The ideal project drives more interest in getting shoppers into retail partners, increasing the overall amount of consumer spending.

What innovative and new ideas are there for engaging shoppers with retailers & Cadbury Schweppes brands online that can translate to added profitable sales for retailers? Please describe specific examples of strategies that could be employed, and estimate budgetary and return on investment factors for any proposed solutions.


16 Insights

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The Shift To Computing As A UtilityCase Details


Closed: 24 Jan 2008, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $350 for Insights on this case.

While there's been plenty of talk about the move to software-as-a-service, an equally interesting one may be hardware-as-a-service. Certainly, Sun and IBM have pushed for utility computing offerings -- and Amazon has done quite well with its EC2 offering. There's been talk for years that Google could get into the space as well.

However, even with all the ROI support that marketing folks from Sun and IBM throw around, it still seems risky. We're trying to understand if it makes sense for large IT organizations to look seriously at moving over to "on-demand" computing systems, or if it pays to wait. Under what conditions would it make sense and what are the biggest risks involved? If you were a consultant, in charge of making the case for or against a utility computing move to a Fortune 500 company (recognizing that there are different issues involved with every individual company) what key points would you focus on?

Clarification: This is about making the case for the company to *using* utility computing, rather than offering it as a service.

15 Insights

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What Does A Food Company Need To Know About Social Media?Case Details


Closed: 3 Dec 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

An Australian food products company is thinking about how Web 2.0 and social media applies to their business. We've seen brand-oriented campaigns such as the Dove real beauty or the Heinz MySpace campaigns. That is not what they are asking about. They are more interested in how they can use these technologies or platforms to derive long term value and relationships with their customers. Focus your thoughts around Facebook, blogs, the Metaverse (Second Life), and mobile platforms -- although you don't have to limit yourself to those if you have other ideas. Think about a time frame that encompasses the present to 3-5 years out. What should a brand-oriented food products company be doing to drive value from Web 2.0?

Background on the company:
Limited online presence now consists primarily of a static corporate web site. They are generally considered #1 or #2 in their market - products consist of a range of shelf stable (not in the chiller/fridge) sauces and condiments that people cook with/eat with. (think pasta sauces, ketchup, etc.)

21 Insights

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Investment Opportunities In Wireless BroadbandCase Details


Closed: 19 Nov 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

With the news that Sprint and Clearwire have dissolved their relationship to jointly build a nationwide WiMax network in the US, what will it mean, from an investor's standpoint, for the following companies: Sprint, Clearwire, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Intel, Qualcomm, Comcast.

To be clear: Sprint and Clearwire had an obvious lead in deploying a fourth generation wireless network in the US. By splitting up, we're wondering if this helps or hurts the various players in the space, such that any of the above may now be over- or undervalued, thanks to greater or fewer opportunities in the wireless broadband market. How big an impact will that be (in dollar values) over the next year? For example, does this make a marginal difference in Qualcomm's bottom line as they get to sell more EVDO chips rather than losing marketshare to WiMax? If so, by how much?

5 Insights

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Applying The Lessons of The Dot Com Bubble: What Social Network Investments Make Sense Today?Case Details


Closed: 27 Aug 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $300 for Insights on this case.

There are some eerie parallels to the dot com funding bubble of late 90's and the social networking funding bubble today. In the 90's it was about e-commerce. There were the Goliaths: eBay and Amazon who clearly dominated the market. However, there was a frenzy of investment in all kinds of vertical e-tailers, from Pets.com to eToys to completely niche-focused areas like "foreign foods." Then, there were companies that tried to piggyback on the success of the two big players with things like AuctionWatch and PayPal.

This time around, it's all about social networks, with MySpace and Facebook playing the role of the Goliaths. Recently, there's been tremendous investment in vertically focused social networks, for narrowly-defined demographics -- such as mothers or people who want to lose weight. There has also been tremendous interest in funding applications that piggyback on the success of MySpace and Facebook, with things like Slide, Photobucket and LendingClub.

Obviously, many of the bubble-era investments went bust, but there were some success stories, like PayPal and Zappos. What characteristics should an investor look for in figuring out which companies this time around will be the successes -- and how should we avoid the Pets.com of the social networking era? What criteria should we be focusing on and what hidden gems or opportunities are being ignored?

14 Insights

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Alternatives To Microsoft Office: Two Goliaths -- What Does David Do Now?Case Details


Closed: 20 Aug 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $150 for Insights on this case.

Google has received quite a bit of attention for the beginnings of its office productivity suite that can operate collaboratively online (as well as offline with Google Gears). But there are already several non-Microsoft office suites that are much more mature than Google's current office apps. However, by adding the weight of its brand to the Web2.0 productivity market, Google has apparently stolen the "thunder" of the upstarts who were pitching stones at Microsoft. As one of these alternative office suite developers,

1) What are the weaknesses of Google Docs & Spreadsheets?

2) How does a smaller office software firm promote itself with two giants in the same arena?

9 Insights

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The Emergence of DIY Application Development PlatformsCase Details


Closed: 15 Oct 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $300 for Insights on this case.

Mashups have been an integral aspect of web 2.0, since the concept started to emerge, but they've been somewhat limited. For one thing, mashups have typically required some technical knowledge, which cuts off most users. Also, many of them are formulaic, e.g. Craiglist + Flickr or Google Maps plus a list of Starbucks locations. The upshot is that for the typical user, there's been very little ability to develop mashups of one's own liking.

But now a number of companies, both startups and established internet vendors, are trying to expand this area. Yahoo has its Pipes service, and Microsoft has released a similar service, dubbed PopFly. Google is also testing its Google Mashup Editor. Then there are a number of startups focusing on this space specifically, such as Teqlo and Coghead. Former Microsoft exec Charles Simonyi is also working on something in this area, although so far it's been pretty quiet.

Looking down the road, how is this space likely to play out? What can we realistically expect a non-technical amateur to be capable of? What needs to happen, from a technological perspective, before non-technical users are able to create robust software? Or are non-technical users consigned to being only capable of simple, pre-designed mashups? At what point does the emergence of these DIY applications start to have an impact in both the enterprise and on traditional software vendors. If this is going to have an impact on software vendors, what can they do to facilitate and profit from this trend? Don't limit your responses to these questions. Support your predictions with quantitative data, if applicable.

18 Insights

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How To Harness User-Generated Content In Branding Campaigns?Case Details


Closed: 23 Jul 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $300 for Insights on this case.

As a Fortune 500 company considering a consumer-focused branding campaign that incorporates user-generated content, we are an office equipment and services provider looking to maximize the benefits of an online video campaign using YouTube and other online video communities. Obviously, we are aiming for a fresh and vibrant (and perhaps viral) response, but we also realize there may be somewhat negative portrayals of our brand.

1) Given our broad audience of consumers, how can we best encourage positive entries and on-message responses? Suggest online venues where the prevailing tone is upbeat -- or virtual locations that should be avoided if they are known to be too crass. How can these characterizations be determined?

2) Suggest creative ways to promote the collected video materials, after the submission period is officially over, that leverage online communities.

3) Other than ignoring or deleting content that may be negative, how should we handle submissions that are not entirely favorable to our brand?

11 Insights

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What Can Small-Cap Companies Learn From Governance Risk And Compliance (GRC) Lessons So Far?Case Details


Closed: 24 Jun 2007, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

There's been a lot of talk about the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) market lately, with companies like SAP making a big push into the space. When talking about GRC people often fall back on talking about Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, as that's been a key part of it. Certain compliance deadlines have been pushed back for smaller companies, but small-cap companies may wish to anticipate GRC issues before they hit with full force. How do you see the market for GRC solutions changing for small-cap companies over the next 3 to 5 years?

5 Insights

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