Wednesday, October 29, 2014

SmartSimple at the 2014 Fall Conference for Community Foundations

From October 19th until October 22nd, our SmartSimple sales team got to hang out with the movers and shakers of the community foundations world at the 2014 Fall Conference for Community Foundations.

Symbolically hosted in Cleveland, Ohio – the birthplace of the community foundation – by the Council on Foundations, this conference celebrated 100 years of people working together to create dynamic local neighbourhoods. First conceived as a notion by Frederick Goff in 1914, his ground-breaking initiative, the Cleveland Foundation, was developed to inspire people to take charge and develop communities they were proud to call home. Since then, millions of people around the world have become active in improving and building their neighbourhoods, from Germany to New Zealand and from Mozambique to Egypt.

Alas, this year’s event marked the final Fall Conference for Community Foundations, so we’re glad we were able to attend. The SmartSimple booth, located on the second floor of the Cleveland Convention Center, had a good deal of traffic, giving both Gary Modin and Bennett Schwab, our Directors of Business Development, an opportunity to meet and greet old colleagues and new.

“One of the reasons I love attending these events is not only for the opportunity to introduce the power of SmartSimple’s web-based software to people who have never tried our products, but to talk to current clients and hear how well SmartSimple is working for them and their teams. It makes me feel absolutely fantastic, knowing we’re really helping grant makers streamline their processes and engage their applicants and grantees,” says Bennett.

We still have a few events lined up before the end of 2014. This week, we’re attending the inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Toronto on October 29th and 30th, then it’s off to Chicago for our first ever SmartSimple Community Conference, in partnership with Chicago Community Trust, on Wednesday, November 5th. Be sure to also look for us at the TAG 2014 Annual Conference being held in Aventura, Florida from November 10th to November 13th!

Keep up to date on where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going by visiting the SmartSimple website. Interested in having a personal demonstration? Just click on the Request a Demo link and we’ll set one up with you!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Pinch of This, and a Dash of That – The SmartSimple Recipe for Board Support

As a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, SmartSimple regularly fields requests and queries from clients looking to improve efficiencies and streamline their work. These calls offer great insight into features we consider adding to improve our products for everyone, and are often the basis of our bi-monthly upgrade offerings.

For example, one of our Grants Management GMS360o solution users called, asking if there was a way they could use SmartSimple to help administer their board management process. They were using another program – which wasn’t ideal – and wondered if there was something we could do to help.

Presented with a new opportunity to “wow” a client, we decided to see what kind of solution we could provide.

We already had all the ingredients needed to build board books in GMS360o via the Universal Tracking ApplicationTM (UTATM). No new coding was needed, just a little mixing and blending (then bake at 375o until golden…) to configure what our client needed.

After a bit of culinary ingenuity, we created functionality that the client was extremely pleased with. In fact, after sharing it with several other clients – and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response – it’s now a standard option for all our GMS360o users.

SmartSimple Board Books offers pretty much everything other board books software does. That’s a serious advantage for organizations who don’t want to invest in a separate product to monitor and track their board activities!

To give you a peek into what the SmartSimple Board Books feature can do, check out our video:

The best part is there’s no additional cost and you don’t have to download anything new – everything is already included and ready to go!

Still have questions? Check out the Board Management brochure on our website or request a demo of what our software can do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Communing with the Chicago Community

On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, SmartSimple will hold our very first Community Conference in Chicago, Illinois (a special thank you to the Chicago Community Trust for hosting this inaugural event)!

Why a Community Conference?
SmartSimple Community Conferences are an opportunity to meet, share and learn. More than just a platform for us to show what’s new, we open a dialogue with attendees about how our software makes work smarter and easier for them, learning from each other to ensure we’re creating the products our clients really need, with features they really want.

This is a unique opportunity for people to provide Input, and conversation during demonstrations is actively encouraged. These discussions give us real input from real users, and are often the basis for upgrades and enhancements to our software.

We’ve been holding conferences for years in Toronto, but with so many of our clients based in the U.S., we wanted to “share the love” with our neighbours to the south, while gaining valuable insight into the issues and concerns impacting the American market.

What will I get out of the Chicago Conference?
Our experts will review the elements of our new universal search, census integration and custom field translation features, offering tips and tricks to improve volunteer, donor and grantee interaction. Attendees will also gain invaluable insight into the advantages of using the Arcadia X interface and our machine learning tool, Janus, to enhance decision making.

In the afternoon, we’ll discuss technology and philanthropic market trends and insights, how these trends could potentially impact your organization, and how SmartSimple is helping you stay ahead of the curve.

We’ll wrap up the day with a town hall. Participants will have a chance to share their ideas and insights with SmartSimple Chief Operating Officer, Mike Reid, and President, Cameron McLean. This is a valuable opportunity for us to learn how people are using SmartSimple and get inspiration for future upgrades. Mike and Cameron will also offer their expert insights into the future of cloud computing.

Don’t miss out!
Spots are filling up fast, so if you’re in the Chicago area, and interested in joining us for an interesting and interactive day, be sure to register here by Friday, October 31, 2014.

We plan to host further sessions in 2015 in other cities, including New York. Check our website for dates and locations coming in the future!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stepping Back to Jump Forward

Every so often, one of our clients brings us a challenge that’s not only interesting but, like dropping a pebble in a pool of water, has a ripple effect that benefits the entire SmartSimple community.

Take, for example, a request from one of our major retail clients. We’ve been working with this organization for many years and across several initiatives. Recently, they came to us with an interesting conundrum, giving us the opportunity to see what kind of innovative solution our team could come up with.

As a foundation-based charity, they needed the ability to provide not only unique branding, but distinct entry points into the same copy of SmartSimple.

The reason?

Multiple funders were contributing resources to one major initiative, so the website could not be branded for any one company. Because their partners were also well recognized brands, there was a need to somehow create several “aliases”; distinct entry points into the same instance of SmartSimple, but appearing to the donor to be completely autonomous.

Always motivated by the chance to flex our creative muscles, we jumped at the prospect, eager to see what kind of resolution we could come up with.

Ironically, it was by going back in our history that we found the answer for the future.

By reviewing some of the coding we’d constructed in our early days, we realized that – with a few simple tweaks – we could create multiple aliases for one instance of our software. That meant different people could access the same copy of SmartSimple using a variety of URLs without identifying any one particular company as the owner.

And, as an extra added bonus, it didn’t cost our client a dime.

Once we configured the solution, we realized the coding was easily adaptable; all our clients could use it, particularly those in the multiple foundation market and for corporate clients, where different initiatives require different access and views (for example, a foundation versus their employee giving program versus volunteering opportunities, or a firm that manages a multitude of trust funds).

Interested in finding out more about this option and what it could do for you? Give us a call or visit our website to request a demo! We’re love to show off this great new feature!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

“Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant” – Alan Turing, the Father of Modern Computing

The Turing mural in the lobby of our Toronto office 
When you visit the newly renovated SmartSimple offices in Toronto, Canada, you’ll notice a series of murals featuring historical moments in computing. One in particular depicts the man considered by many to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Mathison Turing.

Born June 23, 1912 in London, England, Turing’s genius was apparent early on in his childhood, and by the time he was 13-years-old, he discovered a particular interest in both math and science.

Turing attended King’s College at the University of Cambridge. In 1934, he delivered a paper, On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem (a German term meaning literally “decision problem”), citing the notion of a machine capable of computing just about anything. This became the central concept for modern day computers.

After Cambridge, Turing studied mathematics and cryptology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1938, he returned to Cambridge to work for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS). There, he devised a number of methods for cracking German cyphers, decrypting messages that ultimately allowed the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several key battles during World War II.

Once the war ended, Turing went back to London and began working for the National Physical Laboratory, where he created the design for the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). This lead to a ground breaking concept for stored-program computers – computers which store program instructions in electronic memory. He then went to the University of Manchester where he developed the “Turing Test,” his first foray into artificial intelligence, proposing a design standard for the technology industry.

Sadly, Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for being an admitted homosexual, illegal at the time in the U.K. He died on June 7, 1954, and, while never completely proven, it is believed he committed suicide. On September 10, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated."

In 1999, Time Magazine recognized Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century. Over the years, he’s also been immortalized on the screen in several adaptations of his life and work, including the 1996 television movie Breaking the Code, the 2011 film The Turing Enigma, and the soon to be released feature, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

We’re in the process of installing a new mural portraying Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper, USN, Ph.D., a computer scientist best known for coining the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches. We’ll share her remarkable story in a future blog – stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Learning Together – ORCID’s Research Funding Webinar

Most organization use more than one tool to meet their operational requirements. It takes a balance of several tools that seamlessly integrate to create a complete solution.  That’s why SmartSimple – as a provider of research management software – was excited to attend a recent webinar presented by ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID), a fellow member of the research management community.

By linking up with organizations like ORCID, we provide applicants and researchers with options such as the ability to import their profiles directly into SmartSimple, ensuring accuracy and saving time.

The webinar, hosted in conjunction with the Health Research Alliance, was entitled Why Research Funders are using ORCID Identifiers. This informative session focused on how funders are using ORCID identifiers in their workflows and systems, and featured presentations by leaders at private and public funding organizations in the U.S. and Europe.

Webinar: Why research funders are using ORCID identifiers September 25th 2014 from Rebecca Bryant on Vimeo.

Attendees also learned why funders are integrating ORCID identifiers into common CV platforms, mandating their use during grant submissions. These identifiers are then used to improve tracking and evaluation of applications.

Who is ORCID?
ORCID is a non-proprietary registry service for researchers to obtain a unique identifier to distinguish themselves from other contributors. This is particularly helpful for those who have a common name, have changed their name, or have multiple name variations.  ORCID works with funders and other research organizations to integrate these identifiers into research workflows and systems such as grant applications, publication submissions and other research documentation. 

Who is the Health Research Alliance?
Founded in 1998, The Health Research Alliance fosters collaboration among not-for-profit and non-governmental funders to support health research and training from biomedical science applications that advance health.

Interested to know more?
If you missed out, and are interested in learning more about the advantages of using ORCID identifiers, you can visit the ORCID website.