Specialized Profession-LiveIamA (Gene Mosher, creator of the first graphical touch screen point of sale software and computer, which I unveiled to the public at Comdex, Las Vegas, 30 years ago this week.) AMA!
Nov 19th 2016 by 43P04T34 • 31 Questions • 1360 Points
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10:45 AM - The questions so far have been great. Please keep them coming. Our session ends in an about 15 minutes.
11:00 AM - We are wrapping up the Excel AMA. We'll stick around for a few more minutes to finish some answers. Thanks for all of the great questions.
I own a small doughnut shop in Montreal. My impression from interacting with m my peers (small businesses) is that small business owners don't optimize their business operations using POS data. They either have real difficulty accessing the data (because of my antiquated POS I only get printable data, which I have to enter manually into Excel!) or they simply don't have the time or ability to convert the sales data into actionable changes in operations.
My question is: do you foresee POS driven data aquisition/analytics entering the small business operations world? And do you know of any particular services that you feel are doing this well? I am especially interested in trying to use the data for helping the different parts of running a business (staffing, marketing, maintaining appropriate stock and identifying waste).
What is your favourite feature which the average Excel user wouldn't necessarily know about?
I have a client, two of them, on the St. Lawrence River near the Ogdensburg bridge, not all that far from you!
Now, to your comment. First I'll note an irony which your comment reveals. Over the years I have often been told that my fully integrated, self contained reports are not what people want, but what they want instead is for me to export the data to Excel. And that, of course, if I did that, would turn my report solution into their report problem. So I never did that. It's as if they just can't get their head around the fact that they are asking me to be able to ride their bicycle backwards.
In general, the PoS companies like to break Pos & hospitality management functions into components, then sell the components separately to make more money. That will make them more money but it will also break the vision I have of Pos & restaurant operations automation, so I never did that.
I am not really that well up to speed on what everybody is doing. The number of companies in the game is too many to count. What you're describing is a rather complete array of hospitality management components and I suspect that nobody is both offering them all and doing so at an affordable cost to the hospitality market. What I have done is at least make it economically and pragmatically possible, by placing my software under the GPL. Let me know if you don't know what that means.
You didn't ask this question but what I think you would benefit from next is if your customers could order their donuts & coffee from their own devices, and that this ordering process would include payment for these items as well. What you would get from this is information about how to maximize profit on your most popular menu items and how you could further engineer your menu to offer more items like the ones your customers prefer. Is there such a thing as donuts fried on demand?
Maybe you should email me about being a client. A Raspberry Pi and an android Tablet and you've arrived. I can't promise that I have everything you're in search of but I can promise that at least nobody is going to tell you that what you're in search of is simply not going to happen. I will be able to tell you how many of each type of donut you've sold on any day, week, month, quarter or year, but I won't be able to tell you how many to prepare tomorrow. That could be done, at least, if it's not already being done, because there is no reason that it can't be done.
Ctrl-` switches to formula view and back. Love it! :-)
-- Alex [MSFT]
Was the reception to your product something you had expected?
Have you created anything in more recent years?
Why did office become a subscription based program?
Did any of you meet Bill Gates?
Did Bill give any orders on what to add, make, etc?
It is fair to say that I had a pretty good idea at the time that it would be a game changer because the response of the people first viewing it was very enthusiastic. I was totally unprepared financially, however, in being able to deal with the response. That was actually very frustrating. I was completely on my own and there was nothing I could do except talk to people and answer their questions. It was a situation where any individual or company was free to copy what they thought they were looking at, what they thought they understood. That is exactly what happened, and this continues all these years later, too.
I have continued to innovate. I offered wifi tablets for tableside ordering in 2003 with the exact same interface that I used in the fixed position graphical terminals. ViewTouch is no longer a company; it is a Trademark and the software is freely available at github, so all projects I'm involved in are just that - projects. What I have most recently created is a Raspberry Pi based PoS solution for restaurants which rivals and in many ways surpasses any other PoS system. The Raspberry Pi, of course, is a $35 computer and I offer licenses & 24/7 support for as little as $35 a month. Restaurant operators who pay thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars for their closed, proprietary PoS systems ought to be shocked that I have an equally good or better solution for them which costs virtually nothing, and gives them access to the sourcecode.
There are other projects underway, too, which provide similar solutions to other workgroups, including one in the cinema/theater, agricultural and educational sectors.
Subscription: we wanted to offer a new model of buying Office that wasn't about buying new software when you bought a new computer so that we could deliver functionality outside of the old "box software" model, get new features out to folks quicker than traditional/slow upgrade cycles, and help users with service-based offerings such as Office365 and even things like the new Designer feature in PowerPoint (that helps you make beautiful looking slides using cloud services).
Meeting Bill Gates: Yup! I've met Bill a couple of times. The first, and most memorable, was at his house when I was an intern. They stopped doing that years ago, but he was a very gracious and patient guy with all the ridiculous questions that us interns were throwing at him.
Bill's "orders": Oh yeah, over the years Bill has weighed in on what we should and shouldn't do for every single version. I still remember contributing to my first BillG review. Me and Dan (one of the other folks commenting here) built this crazy prototype and Bill (rightly) ripped it apart. Good times.
-Charlie [MSFT Excel Team]
Both Google and Apple have been working on Bluetooth beacons.
The beacons send a one way message that can contain a number of things. In particular, it can communicate a URL. In the case of a restaurant like McDonalds, a customer would walk in and get an alert of the Beacon. That URL will lead to a web app localized for that particular location. The person places their order, and pays via Apple Pay, Google Pay, or some other alternative.
Why did you name it Excel? Or did you guys name it at all? I mean, it is a spreadsheet program...
Yes, and we are also working on this. The thing is, though, that you can't spy on people through their devices. There are lines you can't cross. You can do what you want, but you have to be very careful about how you do it, and you have to stay legal.
Here we use "XL", which is handy, since it's easier to fit on a license plate than "WORD" or "PPT" :-D
-- Alex [MSFT]
P.S.: Mine is "XLRULEZ", naturally.
Do you have any patents from your original touch screen POS invention?
If so, please tell me that the NCR's and PAR's of the world are paying you big bucks in royalties!
Who did the flight simulator?
Glad you asked. No, I didn't go that route. It takes lots of money to go that route and I was just me. I have a degree in Anthropology and I have no experience, no qualifications except the fact that I had built and operated half a dozen sub shops, but I knew quite clearly what I wanted, so I built it.
No, I get nothing. No, you can't even get a copyright on your graphical user interface. But you can change the world for the better. That's what I did. and that's what I got.
I clicked so hard on spoilers that weren't there :(
I'm neither a programmer nor a hardware guy. I know that ROM is Read Only Memory but I don't understand your question.
Great to hear that you love the product. We continue to improve the product in terms of reliability and performance. We have millions and millions users worldwide and it is important to keep Excel as a reliable experience for all of them. See this blog post on some of the themes around Intelligent Cloud Services and Collaboration which we will working towards.. https://blogs.office.com/2016/09/26/office-365-news-in-september-at-ignite-intelligence-security-collaboration-and-more/ -Sangeeta [MSFT}