What a Mad Man might have said about mobile



By the end of his career, legendary ad man (and one of the inspirations for the long-running television series Mad Men), the late Julien Koenig, understood the essence of advertising and marketing with a clarity with which few can compare.

  • Earth Day
  • Think Small
  • It Takes A Licking and Keeps On Ticking
  • Lemon

Think Small was named Ad Age Magazine’s top ad campaign of the 20th century.  At a time when American’s were driving large sedans and muscle cars - all American made – Koenig got them buying a tiny vehicle.  A vehicle with no pizzaz, designed and built in what was Nazi Germany only about 15 years prior.

With two words he changed the way people consumed automobiles, and built an incredible legacy of brand loyalty to the Volkswagen Beetle.  Think Small.

Now there are two word that can change your small or medium sized business like never before – technology guaranteed to save you time and labor, reduce or eliminate errors, improve accountability, increase customer satisfaction, make your fellow worker dudes much happier – and be very lucrative for your company.

An app.

Bring clarity to your sales growth plans.  In the next post we’ll talk about why thinking small can be a great way to start.



What Do You Want from a Mobile Sales App?



What do you want from a mobile sales app?  If you haven’t answered that question yet, it’s likely your smart phone (or your tablet, or your Apple watch) has zero information about customers, inventory—or anything about your business that can make you and your team more nimble and better informed.

Most of us have no lifeline to our business—other than email—when we’re physically away from the office.

But here’s the thing—some companies actually do have all kinds of valuable business information in their pockets. They empower employees with everything they might possibly want to know about their customers, products, and even financials. These professionals have everything essential to their businesses—right in their pockets.

Employees of those companies can answer pretty much anything a customer or another team member might ask about an account, or about product or service. Any time. And with confidence.

That’s true whether they are on the road, at a customer site, at a tradeshow or conference, at the home office, or even on vacation. Those people are better prepared, better informed, and more able to serve the customer.

You can have that, too. To get started, all you need to do is answer this question: What do you want from a mobile sales app?

Driver and Technology

Driver and Technology


Having a hard time figuring out how to introduce mobile into your business? Want to grow your distributor or manufacturing company with mobile sales and other ERP system technology? We can help and we’d love to hear from you! info@xkzero.com or 847.416.2009 or @erp_apps or Paul Ziliak @PaulZiliak

Your Mobile ERP Strategy – Focus On Business Goals First



Everyone is telling you that your business should be going mobile. But should it? And if so, where do you start?

Last month we began a series exploring ways to develop mobile strategies to leverage your ERP system. Let’s look at how you can move forward to get started.

When making a decision about introducing any new tool that hooks into your ERP system, you should be reasonably sure of a few things first: Will the solution being automated be reliable? Will it be flexible? Will it be useable?

Because no one can afford to be in a customer facing situation and not have their application perform as designed. If that happens to you, you might as well hand them the phone numbers of your competitors.

Because not every company has the same needs; not every user in a company has the same needs; and needs change over time.

Because ERP automation needs to be intuitive and inviting to the user for a successful roll-out.

Reliable, flexible, usable. Keep these characteristics in mind as requirements for any ERP app–especially when moving to mobile processing.


With this trio of key characteristics in mind, your first big step is to establish your business goals.

I recommend starting by asking the big questions first, such as these:

  • How can we accelerate growth?
  • How can we create a competitive advantage?
  • What are all of the processes that lend themselves to mobile?
  • What is unique to our industry that can allow us to stand out?
  • Are there new ways to sell and market our offerings?

Engage with the more creative members of your team to brainstorm with these kinds of questions as a jumping point to produce ideas. Garnering feedback from those with various viewpoints can likely generate solutions worthy of further exploration and discovery.


Next, do your best to articulate measurable goals, such as these:

  • Drive revenue growth.
  • Eliminate redundant tasks.
  • Accelerate the entire sales process.
  • Improve accuracy.
  • Streamline processes.
  • Improve customer service.
  • Improve decision making.

Drive revenue growth. Consider how you might be perceived by your customers and prospects if you could offer a mobile app to allow customers to check order or inventory status, or even place an order with you directly on their smart phone or tablet.

Eliminate redundant tasks. We’ve all dealt with handwritten orders faxed or hand-delivered to the office only to be manually keyed in by a person. Do away with unnecessary work.

Accelerate sales process. If you can place an order faster it only holds that you may be able to pick, deliver and collect on those orders too.

Improve accuracy. No one is as familiar with the deal details as you and the customer. If you can book the order when you are in front of them, especially if you can provide an email or print confirmation, you are likely one step ahead in terms of accuracy.

Streamline processes. This means fewer hands in the kitchen. ‘Nuff said.

Improve customer service. Why not consider a mobile app for all of your customer facing staff that provides them any time, anywhere access to critical customer information? If you can answer a customer’s question now as opposed to the next time you’re in the office, you probably just made that customer happy.

Improve decision making. Imagine you’re closing a deal and you are able to show the customer what the product looks like and when you can deliver it. Wouldn’t that be cool?

We’re just scratching the surface here and could go on about payment acceptance, automating sales at trade shows or special events and so on. For today, though, our hope is that we’ve sparked your imagination with ways to define business goals to ignite a mobile ERP process.

Look for our next post in our mobile ERP apps strategy series focusing on functional needs by user.

See you out there.

By Paul Ziliak, co-founder, xkzero


If you would like to learn more about xkzero Mobility, Sage Mobile Sales, or would like to share your mobile ideas with us, please contact us at info@xkzero.com.

Setting Up & Accessing Inventory from Sage 100 ERP with Mobile Sales


[Updated from original post of December 2013 to include new features.]

No more need to lug around heavy and outdated product catalogs. With Sage 100 ERP and iSales 100 by xkzero, confidently identify and make commitments about inventory from an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

The video below shows how to quickly assign only the inventory items or groups of items to access from out of the officeall managed natively in Sage 100 ERP, and
accessed from iSales 100. iSales 100 is native for the Apple mobile devices, meaning the data can be accessed any place, even without Internet connectivity. Beware, however, that quantity, pricing and other information are only as current as the most recent data synchronization.

In the latest version of iSales 100, we’ve expanded even further the ability to filter the inventory information visible on the mobile device. As shown in the image below, there are now options to filter by item type (Internet items only, regular items, miscellaneous charges, miscellaneous items and comments) and warehouse code, and to exclude “zero on-hand” and/or “zero available” items.

For more information about how you can grow your business by going mobile with Sage ERP, contact us at info@xkzero.com, or call 847-416-2009. And don’t forget to download iSales 100 from the Apple app store or off our website at http://www.xkzero.com/mobility/

Is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a fan of this app?

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
a blog series by xkzero

In the previous blog, “Establishing Trust with Mobile ERP,” we discussed automobile diagnostics as a metaphor for the evolution of technology, so we’ll continue with the driving theme. Did you know that Chicago, where I live, has the nation’s most expensive parking meters? That’s not the worst part, though. The true source of stress is the lofty ticket prices for expired meters.

Meter-Paul_ScreenAs you might imagine, I get zero sympathy from Mayor Emanuel. He doesn’t mind at all if I don’t pay the fee on time because late penalties mean more cash for the city coffers!

There is now a mobile app, though, that keeps me out of trouble. It’s called ParkChicago and functions like a mind-reading, convenient dream.

How does it work? First, I pre-fund my account, so I only have to tap a few buttons whenever I park, which comes in handy when I’m in a hurry to get to that dentist appointment.

My favorite part—perhaps because it feels so personal—is that it sends a phone alert when my meter is running out! (Can we attach this functionality to regularly used household items like milk or toilet paper, please?)

That means, when I’m parked on a city street while having a nice dinner with my wife, I don’t have to interrupt our date to leave the restaurant and feed the meter. I simply excuse myself for a moment…tap, tap, tap, swipe…and the conversation barely skips a beat.

It’s convenient all year round, but this is the first Chicago winter we’ll have the option of not bundling up to run outdoors and fumble with cold quarters in gloved hands. That is quite exciting to locals and visitors alike!

This mobile app positively transforms the experiences formerly interrupted by manually feeding a meter. It also helps prevent the expensive disappointment of finding that orange and white ticket envelope adhered to the window.

The possibilities of mobile are life changing, for sure. (Is it weird to say that a mobile app “gets me?”)

Lovely Rita, meter maid, our time is up.

Think of all the little conveniences you can provide your business customers with mobile. Want to brainstorm about this? We’d love to hear from you.

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
a blog series by xkzero

This article is part of a series based on xkzero co-founder Paul Ziliak’s talk at Sage Summit 2014 called “Why Mobile, Why Now?: A Decision Maker’s Guide to Business Success.”

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Through our blog, we bring to you some of the ideas initially shared in this talk. We will also continue to add new insights about why mobile for ERP is here to stay and how you can get the jump on your competitors by incorporating everything special about mobile technology into your business now.

You may also like this story from the series: Is your B2B industry about to go mobile?

The Real Mobile ERP Opportunity


Your ERP system is a beast. A snarling, sometimes messy collection of data held together by software applications and databases, its job is to house, catalog and categorize—then only later shout, whisper and echo back everything that happens in your business. This powerful creature needs to handle processing demands, be a reliable repository, have the organizational prowess to classify information, and communicate about this data.

Impressive, right? Yes, except for the minor fact that your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system doesn’t quite tell you everything. Even the finest implemented ERP systems come up short because they simply don’t possess all of the knowledge you need.

The box score from my first ever Major League Baseball game courtesy Baseball Almanac.

The box score from the first Major League Baseball game I ever witnessed.  Courtesy Baseball Almanac.

We can liken it to a Major League Baseball game box score. It sort of tells the fan what happened during the game, and does so honestly. It just leaves out key details. While a traditional box score will accurately present the total number of hits a player had throughout the game, it reveals very little about the situation–the other forces at work while on the field. Too much of the context of the game is missing.

To analyze the player’s performance, we need to know what happened, and when. What were the conditions?

Sure the box score can tell me that my leadoff hitter had 2 hits in 4 at-bats, but it doesn’t say that he collected both hits after the game was out of reach.

Seriously—how can we smartly boast about our favorite player’s talent without an arsenal of factors that made their plays impressive? And to talk convincing smack, we need to present proper evidence that our buddy’s guy “ain’t all that.” Otherwise, it becomes an empty, witless battle.

The same goes for your ERP system. It possesses much of the data we need for strategic planning. We just want more of it. We like the reports, dashboards and lookups, but the ERP could tell us so much more.

Think of all the missing context that could be captured with your ERP.  The play-by-play detail of our business story will help us properly identify factors contributing to our success as well as alert us to the adjustments we should consider.

My hometown baseball broadcaster with the Chicago White Sox, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson likes to say, “Don’t tell me what you hit. Tell me when you hit it.” Exactly.

Next at batmobile technology.

My 12-year-old son, Owen, follows White Sox games from his iPhone. His experience is a world apart from mine at his age.  For starters, he can look at a live box score as the game is being played. As a kid, I had to wait to read stats in the next morning’s newspaper.

Now, a tap of a finger gives Owen complete play-by-play details, including data not formerly available, like how far the home run ball traveled, how fast a strikeout pitch was thrown, and defensive positioning. The smart phone-enabled box score (game cast) now includes features such as social media links to communicate with other fans, access to photos and replay videos. In every respect, the game cast completely trumps the old school box score in newsprint.

Mobile technology is real-time, interactive, and can tell a more complete story than ever before.

Look at last week’s sales report, yesterday’s receiving numbers, or last month’s financials. When you think of all the missing info, it now kind of looks like an old box score, right?

The opportunity to add new context—and value—to your ERP system is mind blowing.  

Despite the phenomenal technology that we all carry in our pockets, the movement to adapt ERP systems to mobile devices has been somewhat slow. One reason is the new technology is not yet understood enough. In other cases, businesses are simply not sure where to start.

We can learn from the early 1990s, when Business Process Re-engineering was all the rage.  

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) was hugely popular in the 1990s. It was an important and valuable form of business consulting primarily because of the rapid and pervasive spread of PC-based accounting and ERP software systems.

Companies who invested in BPR benefited the most from their new systems. It required companies to document every step of their job tasks. Using the context of new business tools available, it mapped out expected new behaviors, processes and benefits available, thanks to the the latest technology.

Business people who understand ERP, are comfortable using mobile devices, and who have an eye for creating new value are potentially qualified to at least begin re-defining business processes to capitalize on this transformative technology. This needs to be done first—from sales, to warehouse, manufacturing, purchasing, accounting, customer service and all areas throughout the organization.

The question becomes, how do we identify which processes, and it which ways, we can add new value to our business by incorporating the very unique qualities of our mobile devices;  qualities such as camera and video, push notifications and alerts, geo-awareness, calendar, email, phone and other direct app integrations.

Mobile ERP presents the opportunity to bring all new context to your legacy systems.  Once the market discovers the value of mobilizing ERP systems, and how to tap into it, we will see a new era marked by better informed, more responsive, more confident, better-connected, working people.

Business Process Re-engineering can provide the creative energy and the structured framework to define a new reality.

That is the opportunity with mobile ERP

6 Questions To Ask Before Deciding To Invest In Mobile Business


Best-in-class companies are much more likely (2.4 times, in fact) than less successful organizations to enable ERP through mobile devices. The most effective solutions are those tailored to meet the needs of the individual or role in the organization. These statistics were gathered by the Aberdeen Group.*

No matter if your small or mid-sized company is a manufacturer, distributor, or focuses on service, to create a mobile strategy, where do you start? Before you get to that point, it’s important to determine whether investing in a mobile sales app is right for you. Here are some questions that can help you decide if your company should take that step and move to a mobile-enabled ERP.

1. Which software and other information sources does your sales team already use?

Before Mobile

Salesperson tools: Before

Is your business using traditional sales tools such as CRM systems, price catalogues, white papers, technical spec documents, ERP/order entry and quoting systems, and proposal templates? If so, take a hard look at how responsive these tools are to customers’ demands. If your salesperson or customer service rep can only access needed information sources while seated at a desk, or if the alternative is to lug around multiple devices, then your company may not be as effectively responsive. Consider the data and images your salesperson needs.

In this fast-paced competitive world, do you want to be the ones saying you’ll get back to a customer later? No way! Your sales team needs to quickly provide current pricing, product photos, video demos, or other descriptors, and rapid quotes.

Take a good inventory of your current systems and processes. Have your top sales people explain how they use each tool. Consider doing mock presentations and play the role of customer to assess potential frustration levels with information availability. This analysis will go a long way toward determining the current viability of your sales process.

2. Which software tools are used by your industry’s best-in-class companies?

“Know that if you are not doing it, someone in your industry is.” This was the conclusion drawn in a study by Deloitte called, “The Dawn of Mobile Influence.” They also determined that m-commerce (mobile commerce) will grow by 250% through 2016, a rate 6 times the expected growth rate of e-commerce. Will your company be left behind?

What’s so great about mobile? Ask the CEO of Groupon and founder of Echo Global Logistics Eric Lefkovsky. Here are a few of the excellent points he lists in his blog article, “A Spoonful of Mobile:”

  • “It’s real time: you use it to achieve something NOW.”
  • “It’s opportunistic: technology is at its best when it’s relevant.”
  • “It’s geo targeted: knowing where you are makes it technology smarter and more relevant.”
  • “It’s social: it’s designed to interact with those around you.”
After Mobile

Salesperson tools: After

3. Would you freak out if you learned when top competitors conduct sales meetings with their prospects and customers, they provide quotes and close new business–on the spot?

In case you didn’t already know, this is happening while you read this article. The companies in your industry with mobile apps are better prepared to answer questions, record data and eliminate redundancy each step of the way. (Oh, and close those deals, too.)

In time, the fastest, best processes will cannibalize old methods, as well they should. Mobile capabilities give prospects or customers reason to gain confidence, as they receive speedy, accurate responses. Also, from a behind-the-scenes perspective, manual methods of doing business are time consuming, and require unnecessary personnel costs. Save your HR budget for more meaningful tasks and free up the hours employees devote to data entry.

This begs the question: Will you be a forerunner or can you afford to wait?

4. What is the value of mobility for your sales reps? Does your sales team count on tools only available at the office to serve the customer or prospect?

In this mobile world of quick information retrieval options, businesses can’t afford to rely on desktops and other office-based peripherals. People have come to expect answers in real-time, and from any location.

Also, the workforce culture has changed, with more employees working from home, often to accommodate a work-life balance. The line between business and personal time can also be difficult to differentiate, as we may even cultivate our most meaningful connections on the soccer field sidelines or the train platform.

In a world where business can be conducted on the fly, and opportunities arise when least expected, is having your sales and customer service reps tethered to a two foot long landline telephone cord going to cut it for you?

5. Do you pretty much have either a smart phone or tablet with you all the time?

Consider going for 12 hours without a phone or tablet. (Breathe!! This is hypothetical!) In this scenario, you are not spending the day in waders, fly fishing with your buddies in a beautiful brook, or lying supine under the Tahitian sun with the sand under your bare feet, with a cold drink while catching up on fiction.

(Re-focus!) Bring your mind back to a regular workday. How many ways do you rely on your phone or tablet throughout the course of a day? If you think it’s just frivolous, keep a mobile journal on a weekday.

Here’s an example of one morning in the life of an iPhone user:

6:00 a.m. Woke up to phone alarm. Checked work e-mail with Mail app. Calendar alert reminded of meeting at office. Grabbed documents. Turned on radio app and listened to news while making breakfast. Over cereal, checked Facebook. Exchanged texts with a loved one. Checked bank account with app, and paid a bill. Used transit tracker to check for any travel delays. On train, used blog app to edit article. Using music app and headphones, listened to uplifting song. Checked notes app to verify new office entry code. 8:30, sat at desk. Switched to laptop.

6. Can you imagine business shifting away from the smart phone and tablet technology? In other words, do you think it’s a fad?

If it works, why fix it? Smart phones and tablets are only getting more powerful, with added features, apps, and options for interaction. Even the youngest humans among us are rocking the iPads long before entering kindergarten, with educational games and art making apps.

Would it make sense to take this away when mobile technology is becoming imbedded into our culture from an early age? When mobile apps can connect more people, more quickly, and allow businesses to close deals from remote locations, would the smart people who develop the devices and apps simply bail because it’s “too trendy?” Businesses that decide not to hop on board will soon wish they didn’t think they were too cool to join the bandwagon train, as they watch the string of cars roll down the tracks and disappear into the horizon.


At xkzero we’re passionate about mobile technology and making it work in your ERP system environment.  If you would like to talk with us about creating a whole new mobile reality for your business we would love to hear from you.

You can reach us at info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.

* Published 8/25/14 Mobile ERP: Taking ROI Into Your Own Hands

How to Transform an ERP System from Record Keeper to Business Driver


Guest Blogger: Joanna Rotter is the Content Marketing Specialist for MSI Data, a leader in field force automation software and creator of the enterprise field service app, Service Pro. Connect with Joanna via email at joannar@msidata.com.

Enterprise technologies are becoming more and more integrated and connected. Turning software into an all-in-one system can move a business forward.

Mobile Measurement Tools

Mobile Measurement Tools

Historically, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems only served database storage and business accounting needs. While these are still essentials in an ERP, today’s business software demands extend to integrated technology, so the best providers now support companies beyond the accounting department. When customers research ERP systems worthy of investment, they also expect them to accommodate service, sales, CRM, and other functions.

Why Changing Business Software is Good for ERP Providers

The connection between industry operations and accounting management isn’t anything new. Production and financial management have always been inextricably linked in any business. Whether its core focus is manufacturing, distribution, contracting, telecommunications or services, company leaders typically recognize the need to address accounting and common operational function management within a single integrated system wherever possible.

This call for integrated systems, while a change and a challenge for typical ERP providers, opens up a range of opportunities for connections and partnerships with other software companies. ERP providers can take advantage of the call for greater connectivity by partnering with software developers focusing on various industries to offer customers all-in-one solutions that perform an array of integrated functions to meet specialized needs.

ERP and Business Operations Systems: Better Together

In an increasingly competitive market, forging customer loyalty and long-term customer relationships are growing concerns for companies in a variety of industries. This is why all departments in an organization need to work together to form a unified front.

For example, many service-focused organizations now recognize the service department itself as a ‘company within the company.’ This means extending leadership and decision-making autonomy to employees working in this area, so they may operate as a profit center and better set themselves apart with exceptional service delivery.

No longer only reactionary, in these cases, the service department can now be tasked with becoming a critical driver of new revenue and curator of existing customer accounts. That means taking on many new roles and responsibilities, including sales, estimating, and even public relations. With these additional demands, service departments need their own software system that can integrate with the ERP so the sales and revenue initiated in their department is immediately accessible to accounting personnel and vice versa.


Service Pro Web Portals

What to Look for in a Mobile Partner

ERP systems function and exist within the confines of an office building. But many industries, like field service, are inherently mobile, thus require mobile software to integrate with their ERP system.

In order to give customers the best of both worlds, ERP providers can integrate with an industry-specific mobile application. When choosing the best mobile apps to connect with an ERP system, consider the following:

  • Is it cross-platform? Some customers are open to using the best device or mobile operating platform for the job. Others prefer not to be limited by a single option.
  • Does it run native? Mobile workers often work in areas without cell reception. You want to make sure the app still works when they’re offline.
  • Is it cloud-based? Cloud-based software allows companies to purchase software as a service, while easing the ability to share data and provide IT support.
  • Does it improve communication between in-office and mobile workers? You want the application to automatically connect back-office and field workers to save time and keep everyone in the loop.
  • Does it have data collection, storage, and analysis capabilities? Data-driven decisions are better than educated guesses, and real-time data is better than month-old data. Be sure your app provider delivers data that helps improve business decisions.
  • Can it schedule and send alerts to a mobile workforce? Employees who work off-site may need to be able to schedule appointments with specified instructions and receive changes on the fly.

Drive your business forward with the right software partners.
Businesses are learning that both administrative automation and software integration are necessary to compete in an increasingly connected workplace. Conduct a thorough and organized software selection and implementation process for targeted industries and realize the benefits of an integrated business strategy.

About MSI: MSI develops enterprise, scheduling and mobile software that helps companies improve the productivity of their field workforce and replace paper and disconnected spreadsheet-based business processes by automating field service, inspections, site surveys, audits, reporting and other critical field-driven business processes. Whether deployed in the cloud or on-premise, MSI field workforce software applications are easy to acquire, easy to deploy and deliver enterprises with rapid return on investment. To learn more, please visit www.msidata.com.

Are you looking for the right integrated, mobile ERP solution for you or your customers? Please contact xkzero at info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.
Also, to find more about our mobile offerings, visit our website at www.xkzero.com.

Less selling, more buying! 



How a mobile sales application can positively change the dynamic of the account manager-client relationship

Amanda Lubert, xkzero

Blog author Amanda Lubert of xkzero, radiating cheerful energy as usual! ~Julie Downey

A tricky part about building a symbiotic provider-client relationship is that fundamentally it’s one-directional and based on the profit-generating needs of the client. It brings to mind the old cliché, customers love to buy but hate to be sold.

A mobile sales app can help tip the balance a bit and take the hater out of the buyer. Once enabled with an application that enables them to make purchases on their own time and terms, a client can begin to feel more in control of the buying process, thus relieving the aggravation of being sold to every time they need to increase inventory. A mobile sales app is also freeing for clients, as with this tool, they are no longer beholden to their account team’s schedule to inquiry inventory or place orders.

That is not to say that the account manager is no longer needed, rather, that he or she is now unburdened from harder sales tactics and can serve as more of a consultant, focusing on stewarding clients and building and expanding the relationship. This makes for a more productive, profitable, and even pleasant business experience for everyone.

xkzero  847-416-2009  info@xkzero.com

Power, flexibility and freedom. Mobile sales for Sage 100 ERP made easy.


We’re not aware of another mobile sales app for any ERP system–period that provides the same level of control, power, flexibility and freedom as iSales 100 by xkzero. Yes, we are biased, but the fact is, we have not seen a solution that can solve more unique needs.

Watch for the official release of iSales 100 version 3 coming later this week. As always, a free version of the app is available for download from Apple iTunes and version 3 of iSales 100 will be ready in time for Sage Summit July 28-31.

Please visit xkzero at booth 414. We would love to hear about your mobile needs–no matter how complex and specific they may be.  (And, you may win an iPad Air too!)

Can your mobile sales app provide this kind of flexibility and control over your data?

iSales 100 version 3 - Power and flexibility