portatour – Software for route-planning and route-optimization for sales reps and field sales force. I consult.

News: portatour is a Software for route-planning and route-optimization for field sales force / sales reps. It is the future of fully automated sales-route planning for your field sales force, consultants, and service team members. Automatic scheduling can cut up to 25% of your mileage and save CO2, increasing revenue the same time.

You may be interested in this because that is the company I have been consulting the last months. It is a fascinating business to optimize sales routes and I help in marketing and sales.

Sales reps have been planning their schedules and routes manually, which took hours to do and essentially it is pretty hard to put together a meaningful itinerary with all of your customers, ranked by priorities, honoring call frequency and scheduled appointments – using only an excel sheet of your customer addresses and a road map.

In fact, it is so hard that even computers can’t do it easily – sales route optimization is classified as “NP hard problem”, which are the toughest problems in computer science. Reason is, that with growing customer numbers you have exponentially more calculations to do. portatour can optimize your routes to 1000 customers, which will basically plan you throughout the whole year. Now, between 1000 customers, you have a million possible drives between all of them. You can visit 5-20 customers a day, so portatour needs to optimize between 50 and 200 tours to visit all of the customers in an optimized way. BUT portatour also picks, which customers to visit. That means, it also looks at the desired call frequency (call interval) and includes customers earlier in your route, when they are more urgent to visit. Over a year, portatour will pick 5-20 customers each day from a set of 1000. If you pick every customer only once, you end up with 1000! (factorial of 1000) ways to do this, which is a number with 2567 zeros after it. The number of atoms in the universe has only about 80 zeros. Within these choices, portatour looks for an optimized route. So, if you are a sales rep and spend your sunday planning your next week’s sales routes, you may want to look for a software that helps.

portatour® plans sales trips within seconds at the push of a button, giving sales reps back valuable time which would otherwise just be left on the road. They can visit more customers, drive fewer miles.

portatour® is applicable in different scenarios, here are a few:

route planning software for field sales force | route planner software for field sales force | route planning software for field sales reps | route planner software for field sales reps | route optimization software for field sales force | route optimizer software for field sales reps

Updated my homepage leobard.net

I updated my homepage…yes, besides this weblog, twitter, facebook, flickr, soup.io, … etc etc … I also have a homepage. I never find the time to update it, but thanks to soup.io there is an activity stream on it.

my homepage:

http://www.leobard.net

I did it because I wanted to host GodSees in a long-term way, this thing here:

http://www.leobard.net/2010/GodSees/

while doing these updates, I spent HOURS on divs, margins, floats, and google fonts. Thank God I am not a designer, I need ages to get things done.

Schema.org – another take on the semantic web

On 2.6.2011, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! announced Schema.org. Schema.org is intended as a standard to mark up data on webpages. This brings these three companies one small step closer to the Semantic Web.

Many people should use the same format to markup data. The more people publish their data in the same format, the more people will be able to read the data using the same tools. Its an easy formula:

  • more data = more applications = more benefit

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! announced their shared support for schema.org, and call for adoption of their new standard from all webmasters. If you follow their call, you should change your website and write your data in their format.

To give an example (from their website): Instead of writing “Avatar was directed by James Cameron”, you would write:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Movie”>
<h1>Avatar</h1>
<span>Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954)</span>
<span>Science fiction</span>
<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRdxXPV9GNQ”>Trailer</a>
</div>

For the end-user, this looks the same as any other website: Avatar, Director: James Cameron (born August 16, 1954) Science fiction Trailer

For a machine, or a search engine, the data would be readable and could be imported into a database, such as wikipedia or freebase. Or your personal movie-booking application could show you a trailer next to the ticket. Great! Benefits!

The message is: webmasters out there, adopt! For you who follow the blogpost by Google,Yahoo and Microsoft, you can start adopting!
But hang on, haven’t some of us just installed Drupal 7 and used its RDFa generator to do the same? Didn’t we markup your website with facebook’s opengraph protocol a year ago? And what about those Good Relations markup that Bestbuy did use, and that Google used to bring prices to the search results? This was a good investment, and it showed that the general idea works – standards for metadata. We are heading in the right direction. Now the three big companies worked to continue further:

The FAQ on Schema.org say:
Q: I have already added markup in some other format (i.e. microformats, RDFa, data-vocabulary.org, etc). Do I need to change anything on my site?
If you have already done markup and it is already being used by Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo!, the markup format will continue to be supported. Changing to the new markup format could be helpful over time because you will be switching to a standard that is accepted across all three companies, but you don’t have to do it.

They also say: We will also be monitoring the web for RDFa and microformats adoption and if they pick up, we will look into supporting these syntaxes.

Its a chicken-egg problem:

  • You haven’t been adopting RDFa as much as we liked,
  • So we don’t tell you to adopt RDFa,
  • But we tell you to adopt microdata, which is nearly the same but different

Maybe giving the chicken a bit more time to hatch its old egg and supporting it could have helped. But maybe also the new egg is better and the chicken should really walk over and hatch that one…still, its a new egg and needs to be hatched and it remains a chicken-egg-problem.

In theory, RDFa could have been used as basis for schema.org, but wasn’t. As part of HTML5, the microdata standard was developed. People will need to follow the schema.org bandwagon now. Less risky would have been to reuse RDFa as a markup and publish a schema on schema.org. But it seems the big three companies put their bids on microdata now. This is a signal that can be interpreted in two ways: if we look back we could infer from the RSS/RDF/RDFa/Microformats/Microdata story that it continues and we are facing an era of often-changing standards established by rivaling companies and continous investments needed by webmasters to keep up. If we look into the future, microdata (and its compability with RDF) could be the stable solution for the coming years.

Failing in a startup – not

You often read about failing in a startup and that founders who fail should start again and that failing isn’t bad, etc… also you often hear about “pivoting”.

This certain paragraph I love:
Have the courage to fail
Failure is a part of anything in life, but having the courage to face it head on is what makes you stronger. We hear so much talk about “it’s okay to fail”, but I don’t think there’s enough clarification. You shouldn’t let your startup as a whole fail, that’s not something you should easily let happen. Startups are really a compilation of many small instances of victories and failures. It’s embracing those small instances of failures that will let you learn and adapt better. Think of embracing failure as the entrepreneurial equivalent of an immune system. By embracing failure, you learn what went wrong, what’s bad, and how to prevent it from happening again. You build up a resistance to that specific instance of failure.

found http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/29878/How-To-Become-Legendary-23-Things-Michael-Jordan-Taught-Me-About-Entrepreneurship.aspx

Nepomuk Thank You

Last week a mail came through the NEPOMUK mailinglist, positive feedback. I am happy to copy it here – because it programmers like the KDE guys appreciate positive feedback, usually only angry people bother writing mails:
I’ve been playing around with Nepomuk and his cousins since the early
days. Posted to forums about setting up virtuoso when it was
introduced. I just wanted to make everything KDE to work properly; it
wasn’t like there was an major, urgent need for search.

Today I went looking for a file using search in Dolphin. Things have
come a long way with search. Fast and accurate. I found what I was
looking for with ease.

Thank you all so much for what you’ve contributed.

(p.s.: I don’t copy the name of the submitter, as I don’t know if he would appreciate it. If you are curious, check the mail archives)

LixeMatrix – the telly guide for the web – xml format

Live Matrix, What’s When on the Web

It’s a tv guide for the Web. Neat. If you want to replace the telly with shows to watch on the web, this is the way to get to know what is running tonight. In their own words:
Live Matrix is the first guide to live and upcoming scheduled events on the Web. We link you to anything that has a start time and can be attended online: audio and video webcasts, live chats, limited-time sales and auctions, conferences, product launches, games and contests, events in virtual worlds, and much more.

Live Matrix was created by Nova Spivack and Sanjay Reddy. I recently met Nova in San Francisco shortly before beta launch and it didn’t take long to convince me that LiveMatrix is great. I will watch it tonight.

In a recent newsletter, they shared details how to import data into Live Matrix. There is the old-school web form, CSV uploads, and – alas – a way to specify feed URLs to be crawled by Live Matrix.

Read the LM_Event_Providers_White_Paper.pdf for the XML format specification.

as an old RDF/XML guy, I cannot hesitate to comment on the chosen XML format by livematrix:

<events>
<event>
<link><![CDATA[http://google.com]]></link>
<title><![CDATA[title]]></title>
<start_date>2010-01-01 15:20</start_date>
<!– Leo misses a    “T”     between date and time. –>
<duration>1:30</duration>
<end_date>2010-01-01 19:30</end_date>
<description><![CDATA[this is the description]]></description>
<time_zone>GMT-9</time_zone>

So they “nearly” reused a standard (ISO dates, RDF, Atom) but like Facebook chose to “simplify” it. Alas, I would say “as long as you give a sample to copy/paste, you can include as many xml:ns declarations as you want in the top” but it seems this view is not shared with everyone.

In the document they say that they also support ATOM and RSS, so I guess if you already have an RDF or other stream with live data on the web, Live Matrix will be happy to include it.

Currently we call it Cluug, but now it´s your turn to make it better!

At Gnowsis, we are looking for a new name for our personal semantic assistant. Currently we call it Cluug, but now it´s your turn to make it better!

  • The submitter of the new product name preferred by Gnowsis gets € 300 and a flight to Vienna in summer 2011.
  • The submitter who gets the most user votes will also get € 200 – so go and share your idea!

Here it is:
http://cluug.uservoice.com/forums/77753-naming-competition

of course, you can also vote on facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/gnowsis/105426213178?v=app_46468144668