Skyward for Schools, iPhone Deposit, Faith via Skype, Unified 360, Softtek, Shoot it!

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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Skyward for Schools, iPhone Deposit, Faith via Skype, Unified 360, Softtek, Shoot it!

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is one of the few Jimmy Buffett albums where the deep cuts are better than the hits, Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes. We've all heard "Margaritaville" and the title track, but the real gems are "Banana Republics," "Biloxi," "Landfall" and, well, okay, the title track:
Skyward, a vendor of K-12 administrative software, has announced the upcoming release of their Web-based data warehouse application, billed as eliminating "any extract, transform, and load hassles."

The application is configured to accept data elements from the Skyward School Management System to reduce the implementation time and save money. It also offers flexibility for "summative and longitudinal analysis," evidently a big deal for decision making as it lets one "quantify the effectiveness of educational programs within the district," Skyward officials say, and we'll take their word for that one.
The module provides an customizable, interactive dashboard for everyone, "from the superintendent to the teacher." 

So why design a native data warehouse instead of working with existing third-party ones available? "Customer needs," says Jon Oliver, Skyward Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations. "Our customer feedback for a data analysis toolkit always returned to the struggles with data mapping and ongoing costs, especially when capitalizing on ARRA funds."

The data warehouse application will be available this fall, and there's an early adopter discount through the end of 2009.

USAA has launched mobile check deposit capability for the iPhone.
This is part of USAA's Deposit@Home service, introduced in 2006, which lets certain members scan and deposit checks on a home scanner. Company officials say qualifying banking members can use iPhones to deposit a check from "anywhere else they can get a wireless signal."

The feature, called USAA Deposit@Mobile, lets you snap a photo of both sides of a signed check with the iPhone camera and transmit the image to USAA, which verifies the deposit information and signature to complete the transaction. Approximately 14 percent of USAA's 7.2 million members currently interact with USAA via their mobile devices, which is three times greater than any other bank's level.
Maybe the mobile-centricity is due to the fact that 97 percent of USAA members own a mobile device, compared to 89 percent for the general population.

Wayne Peacock, USAA's executive vice president of Enterprise Business Operations, noted that since nearly 50 percent of their one million mobile users are active-duty military who may be deployed anywhere, "the convenience of mobile access is essential."

In May USAA offered their Mobile App for the iPhone, letting members manage insurance, investment and bank accounts on a single platform. The app is free, and has been downloaded nearly 140,000 times from Apple's iTunes store.

USAA also lets members access account information and transact business via SMS text messaging, a mobile banking application and its mobile Web site,

Skype, voicemail and other "hot technology" are two reasons why The Healing Today Show "is not your typical faith-based show," says Randy Wecker, the show's executive producer and host.

One wonders what the "typical" one is, First Coffee hasn't watched one since channel-surfing Ernest Angeley in the '80s -- there's twenty-dollar donation I'd like to have back -- but Wecker says one difference is that guests will "share their own fascinating stories of faith healings to a potential audience of 40 million households."
The show will incorporate "hot technologies such as Skype," Wecker says, to allow guests to appear on the show via a HD monitor "without having to leave the comfort of their home or office," although they may want to make sure their boss isn't watching the show if they're Skyping Randy for healing while on the clock. 
The show's watch & win giveaway incorporates "an advanced voicemail application allowing viewers to answer a question at the end of the broadcast for a chance to win exciting gifts and prizes," show officials say.

Wecker co-hosts the show with his sister, Rhonda Lynn Wecker-Bilbrey. "It's definitely not unusual to hear people say we are the 'Donny & Marie' of faith-based talk shows," Wecker says, joking that it's probably not appropriate, since "I can't dance and Rhonda can't sing." For those of you who don't remember Donny & Marie, it isn't a compliment.

With what he termed his "past experience in Los Angeles," Wecker says, "I understand how mainstream television is produced. I have an unrelenting passion to produce revolutionary faith-based television programs and entertainment... appealing to a mainstream audience."

Show officials say upcoming guests include eleven-year-old Zach Bonner, who founded The Little Red Wagon Foundation and walked over 1200 miles across the US to raise funds for homeless children, and Julie Shematz, co-founder of Beauty From Ashes and former adult entertainer who now "shares God's love directly inside sex clubs." We're quoting directly from the press release, people.

Wecker's still raising funds to purchase a mobile satellite production vehicle "which will allow us to travel and broadcast live at sports events and other venues" to "attract a broad audience." Indeed.

In an example of electronic communications giving a shot in the arm to snail mail, shoot it! has announced the launch of its postcard messaging application for the iPhone, letting users "take a picture, create a personal message and have it mailed as a REAL postcard from anywhere to anyone in the world," company officials say.

Well, that's the plan, anyway. Currently the US & Western Europe are available. Other countries coming soon.

The application lets you pick the recipient's addresses from your iPhone contacts. That's right -- you have to go through and put them all on first. After that it gets easy: Type a personal message right from the device keyboard and "postcards print and mail the next business day from the country closest to their destination."

Your photos appear in brilliant color on heavy card stock, Shoot it! officials say.

Available for just 99 cents at the iPhone App Store, shoot it! comes with one free postcard. Future postcard credits start at 99 cents for US addresses, $1.25 for UK addresses and $1.50 for other Western European addresses, with quantity discounts starting at 10 postcards.

"We're excited to bring postcard messaging to the millions of iPhone users," said Tom McDermott, shoot it! founder and president. "With our global print network, you can take a photo from the beach in Australia and send it to your friends in London and New York, in about 30 seconds, all right from your iPhone."

Okay, amend that above: Evidently Australia's included too. No word on New Zealand yet. 

Of course one advantage of purchased post cards is they were usually much better pictures of Big Ben, the Colosseum or Haigha Sofia than you could take, especially on an iPhone, so we're guessing this fills more the need for those personal touch photos.

Unified360, a unified communications provider, has announced the formal launch of their suite of managed services including e-mail security, hosted exchange service, Web security, message continuity, remote monitoring, and global N.O.C. services.

"These are applications our customers have been asking for," said Paul Tran, CTO/Founder of Unified360, adding that "as we roll these services out we are going to refine our offerings to bundle these with our value added services already being delivered. In the current market and with new technologies making it feasible to manage networks remotely, companies are electing to outsource this aspect of their business."

Jim Barker, CEO/Founder of Unified360, called the launch "a new direction for the company that enhances our core competency." In Barker's view, "we have already seen growth in this area of our business and expect it to play a major role going forward."

Dallas-based Unified360 is a premier partner of Cisco Systems, and sells to SMB and larger organizations for next generation communication solutions.

Softtek, which styles itself "the largest private IT service provider in Latin America," has been recognized as a "strong performer" in an August 2009 report from Forrester Research titled "Forrester Wave: SAP Implementation Providers, Q3 2009." 
The report evaluated 18 SAP implementation providers based on 60 criteria, including their current product offering, strategy and market presence.

The Forrester Wave Vendor Profile on Softtek records that Softtek is "well-known in Mexico and Latin America" in the SAP space, especially in such industries as aviation, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals. 
The report finds Softtek's strongest area being "around SAP support and maintenance as well as technical elements of the implementation." It also rated Softtek highly for client reference rating for transparency of costs. 

Mauro Okamoto, VP of SAP Business Development for Softtek in the United States, said Softtek works with clients "across the Americas" for SAP engagements. Softtek's SAP Practice also received the SAP Award of Excellence in the "Best Regional Partner" for the 10th time in 11 years. 

Beni Lopez, CEO of Near Shore Services at Softtek, says the company combines their SAP practice with a "Global Nearshore delivery model."

The annual award is offered by SAP to one outstanding partner in each geographic category that obtained the best results in annual client satisfaction research, according to pre-established criteria.

Founded in 1982, Softtek counts 6,000 associates across 30 offices in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, as well as nine Global Delivery Centers in Mexico, China, Brazil, Argentina and Spain.

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