Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pushing on with eAuction technology - our new release!

For those with eagle eyes, you may have noticed a new feature in our eAuctions over the weekend and this is one we are very excited about.

First a bit of background.  Almost all eAuction software today is driven by ‘pull’ technology, which basically means that all bid updates etc. are sent to the users when they ask for it, either by manually refreshing the screen or by the software causing an automatic check every 5 to 10 seconds (sometimes longer).  Initially this is what we did with our software, as the technology around us when we started in 2010 was still developing.  Put into context, the majority of our competitors are based on technology from the late 1990’s.

However, in 2011 standards were brought in for a technology called ‘websockets’.  Websockets ‘push’ updates to the users instantaneously.  One of the well regarded tools for doing this is Node.js, which is used by GroupOn, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Dow Jones and many others.  Well, now they can add Market Dojo to that list!

So, what does this mean to our users?  

Truly real-time updates

Our journey with Node.js started a few months ago to make our graphs update live.  However, now you will notice that all our eAuction updates are instant, thereby creating more dynamism and encouraging even more active participation.  During our testing, we’ve even seen the case that you can send a message to someone during an auction and they receive it before you’ve even see a ‘message sent’ confirmation on your own screen.  Now that’s what we call real-time!

We recognise that there are users out there who are perhaps restricted to older browsers or hardware.  For this reason, we have built in a fail-over to our old update mechanism in the event that the real-time updates do not work for certain individuals.   

Live Auction Feed

More importantly, it has enabled us to develop an even more innovative feature - the Live Auction Feed.  It could be compared to the text commentary you see flashing across the screen on CNN to let you catch up on all the headlines whilst witnessing the breaking news.

The Live Auction Feed is updated instantly with new bids, including who placed them, what value and what position the bidder is now in (or whether they are still bidding in the case of a Japanese Auction), as well as both sent and received messages and any changes to the Settings made during the eAuction.  You can scroll through this history at any time, which pauses the feed to give you time to read it.

In summary, never again will you be able to say ‘Oh, something’s changed, I missed that’, as you’ll have a permanent script of the complete auction.

We hope you enjoy these new features, which have been brought to you by a collaborative development with a client of ours.  Of course if you have your own requests, let us know and we will be delighted to work with you.  And congratulations to Salve on being the first to try out the new feature for real!

PS: Here are a couple of videos of the new real-time update and Live Auction Feed features in action:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Marketing the Dojo @ CIPS Annual Conference 2013

Last week we attended the CIPS Annual Conference 2013 as quite possibly the latest entrants ever!  By chance at the September ‘13 eWorld event, we met Johnnie Norton, a Sales Exec for Supply Management and Ravjeet Kang, a Sales Manager for Redactive Media Group.  Johnnie mentioned the sponsorship opportunities for the CIPS event, located within the excellent facilities of Kings Place, London, taking place in just two weeks time.  Being an agile company we jumped at the chance after a spot of negotiating - we are procurement professionals after all!

What makes the CIPS conference unique compared to other conferences that we have sponsored is that the delegates have to pay not inconsiderable sums of money to attend.  To incentivise the delegates to part with their cash, the quality of the speakers and of the event as a whole has to be uncompromising, and so it proved on the day.  Some delegates we spoke to travelled as far as Nigeria and Ghana simply to attend, so to say they had a vested interest in the event would be an understatement.
There were approximately 300 delegates and 11 sponsors, equalling eWorld for footfall but with far fewer sponsors, which was great for us.  The sponsors covered a much broader range of goods and services, from American Express Corporate Payments, whom we also met at eWorld, through to procurement outsourcing and HR services.  The sponsors were all held in the main break-out room, which made it hard for us to be missed, although you feel apologetic for pouncing on someone ensnared in the queue for refreshments!

Initially we doubted whether there would be delegates interested in our relatively niche software tools for eSourcing, supplier innovation or category assessment.  However, as delegates had paid to attend, they made sure they returned to their office with some new ideas.  As a result our latest products, Innovation Dojo and Category Dojo, garnered a lot of interest given their uniqueness in the marketplace.  In fact, we received no fewer than two shout-outs during the presentations, one from Paula Gildert, the CIPS President, for our slightly unusual branding, and one from Tim Carrier, Product Development Director for Capita, for Innovation Dojo, as he has done a series of work on encouraging innovation from your supply chain.  Did you know for example that the Heinz squeezy bottle was an innovation from one of their suppliers?  Consider what great ideas your suppliers may have in store for you right now.
Another characteristic of this event, again tied to the delegate fee, was the profile of the delegates.  In previous exhibitions we had been used to engaging in discussions with those of less seniority, which is always beneficial to learn the pains and what we can do to help from the ground up.  However, here we were exposed to many more CFOs, CPOs, Supply Chain Directors and particularly those with global category management remits.  It’s all too early to say what may come from these interesting discussions, but you can’t fault the introductions that were made or the promotion of our brand to the right people.

In summary, this was an excellent event for both delegates and sponsors, and held in a great venue with staff so efficient they literally took your finished plate of lunch from your hand!  We relish the chance to brush up our negotiating skills once more to attend next year and we hope to see you there!

Friday, 11 October 2013

An Englishman in Paris and the fourth dimension

We were very proud to be invited to the Salon Solutions event in Paris on the 1st-3rd October by our French partner, Effixens. As the only French speaker on the Market Dojo team, it was up to me to brave the elements and the French cooking.

The trip over to Paris, although an early, start was actually cheaper than a day return from London to Bristol.  Admittedly I booked early but certainly something to reflect upon.  The Paris Metro system was my next challenge. Not too dissimilar from the London Underground except it does have 2 special tracks which go North to South and East to West called the ‘RER A’ and ‘RER B’. Not a big difference except if anyone in the Paris transport system is reading this, please put up some signs to tell people you need a different ticket!

The conference itself was being held in the CNIT conference building (The Center of New Industries and Technologies), located in Puteaux, France, and was one of the first buildings built in La Défense.  This is the up-and-coming business area of Paris on the West side.  It has a truly magnificent plaza which I think I aptly captured in the panorama photo below.

Incidentally, for those of you who are mathematically inclined, the Grand Arch is 3D projection of a tesseract undergoing a simple rotation in four dimensional space...who’d have thought it.

Our partner Effixens first met us at eWorld in London and have ever since been helping to promote us over the channel.  They were kind enough to share their stand along with a couple of their other partners: MLR, a consultancy, and Shortways who help put help content into SAP. Effixens themselves have many years experience with purchasing systems and are also a close partner of SAP.

I think you can see from the picture below we brought a ‘Je ne sais pas quoi?’ to the stand:

It was a very interesting event with the thrust being anything relevant to ERP and business systems, from large companies such as Microsoft and Oracle to smaller P2P vendors like B-Pack over to contract management and CRM.  

eWorld gives us the opportunity to speak easily with people very much interested in what we provide and often a ‘hello’ is enough to engage, whereas in France with such a large conference and with a rusty French dialect, it was never the easiest to find the interested parties.

However which some typical English bravado and a ‘êtes-vous intéressé à eSourcing?’ we soon captured quite a few leads.  Would I say there was a big difference between a French show and one from the UK?  Not especially.  I found the French show slightly more relaxed (it was 3 days) and the lunches slightly longer (many thanks to our other French Partner on contract management, Per Angusta for my first steak this trip!) but I presume anyone would have guessed that!

My biggest surprise came on the third day as B-Pack, who had chosen to take part in a panel conference on eAuctions, requested my help.  For those that don't know this, like many of the speaking slots, it involved a journalist asking questions from the panel members and also giving the audience a go.  I must say that even though I started out looking like a timid rabbit caught in the full glare of a car’s headbeams, I would like to think they warmed to my Franglais!

For my final night I was lucky enough to be entertained by my hosts at a restaurant called the Louchebem.  Now, like the English with their cockney rhyming slang, the French also have a few oddities.  In the olden days, to prevent the tax man catching on to what was being sold in the market they developed another language entirely.  As an example a ‘Boucher’ (butcher) with the ‘B’ replaced with an ‘L’ and a ‘Bem’ put on the end becomes ‘Louchebem’.  Clear as mud?  Slightly more confusing than Verlan where a ‘Femme’ becomes a ‘Meuf’!

Anyhow, what can I say but an enjoyable few days out the office, met some great people and of course celebrated the end of the conference with a bottle of bubbly!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Customer Inspired Changes

The Market Dojo engineering team have been busy again.  This time cranking out some features requested by our favourite people - our customers.

We love to hear what our customers think, as they often bring a new perspective and always have suggestions based on their real world use of Market Dojo.

So from today...

1. Event hosts will be able to attach several documents to a single message.
This will make it easier to communicate messages which relate to several documents (for example to remind participants to sign NDA’s).
A message including two documents

2. It will be even clearer when a Participant needs to be accepted to an Event.  
We will use a 'notification' (a red circle with a number in it) on the Participants tab to show how many participants are awaiting acceptance. This will ensure that Hosts can quickly give access to their Participants, whilst maintaining a rigorous approval process.

A notification that one action is required on the participants tab

3. The list of participants will load faster.  
For Events with a very large number of participants, the detailed list of information about them should load more quickly.  This should really help out our expert users who invite 600+ participants to their events!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

eWorld - September 2013

Last week saw our now regular outing to the eWorld Purchasing & Supply event in London.

The team in front of our booth
My day at eWorld began with a train journey to London Waterloo and a pleasant walk across Westminster Bridge, past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, to the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre. When I arrived, the venue was a hive of activity as exhibitors unpacked their equipment and prepared for the day ahead. I found my colleagues in our familiar location, at the foot of the stairs to the seminar room.  They had already done most of the setup of our stand and I was just able to help add a few final touches.  Very soon it was time to greet the first delegates of the day.

The day flew past as we spoke to delegates about Market Dojo, and also got some interesting new ideas based on  their priorities and suggestions.

For me, what was particularly striking about this eWorld was how many Market Dojo customers were present. A really nice reminder of how we are growing. It was a great chance to put a face to a few familiar names and also discuss how they were getting on.  It was also really exciting to see the positive reaction we got for the  new things which we have been working on.

Before I knew it, the highly efficient catering team were circulating with drinks indicating that the event was almost over.  Of course, we squeezed every last minute out of our day, even doing a demonstration as the event staff began dismantled the booths around us.

After a quick review, it was time to say goodbye to my colleagues, and head back to Waterloo.

Many thanks to Claire Boffey and her team at Revolution for organising a great event.  Thanks also to everyone who took the time to stop and talk to us at eWorld.