February 18, 2013
Filemaker & Filemaker GO, Great Solutions for Mobile Warriors on the Move
Most people I know either live in an enterprise world or a start-up world, so when you talk about contact management and databases, they're either on SalesForce or Oracle or they simply use Outlook or MacBook iContacts. Sure, there are plenty of CRM systems that cater to the smaller business owner but they're not as widely used as the larger, more expensive corporate tools and when most of what we need is built into our OS or Office for free, why bother?
I've been a Filemaker fan for awhile now, so long ago I recall first using it in the nineties in a Mac environment, at a time when Macs only came as fat boxes, not notebooks.
Filemaker has so much more functionality that meets the eye. The downside of more traditional databases is that there are all sorts of mapping rules that you need to abide by or your data gets lost or simply doesn't come over. The upside is the depth and breadth of what you can do.
With FileMaker Pro, you can literally drag-and-drop Excel data into FileMaker Pro to get your data over and manipulate from there, or you can get a l'il more techy and build a custom database for your unique needs, including mobile templates.
I created one for my iPhone 5 in about an hour with a little tech help; once you get going, you can change fields and colors on the fly within minutes for the desktop or mobile environment. BTW, they have basic "starter" custom templates if you choose not to build your own, but if you have fields that are personalized for your business, why not go the custom route and create something for your specific needs? remember, you only need to do it once.
For the traveler on the go, Filemaker's iPhone app is ideal. Free to download, you can view any of your data from your Filemaker database on your mobile phone. Whille I don't need some of the more complex business features that Filemaker GO offers on a regular basis, if you're in sales and marketing or a business owner, you can use the app to tackle any business task on your iPad or iPhone. You can go quite deep if you wanted to, such as the ability to display current inventory levels from a warehouse with colorful, eye-catching charts on your mobile phone.
You can even update your project status by sending Excel files or PDFs in a few taps, close sales deals on the road by instantly capturing digital signatures, collect research data in the field by recording video and audio and adding the files directly to your database. And how cool is this ? In the medical world, docs can even swipe through medical records in the emergency room. In other words, the database offers more in-depth capabilities and features than initially meets the eye.
You can connect to databases hosted on the Filemaker Server or Filemaker Pro via a local wireless network or over Wi-Fi or 3G. All changes are instantly updated in the hosted file. This makes it easy to share information with others you wan tto share information with when on the road while traveling or as a small business with your team.
With Filemaker's latest version, you can also publish your databases to the web in a few clicks. You can share that database with others on your team via the web, create surveys, registration sites, customer feedback forms, and more.
I remain a huge fan of Filemaker on the desktop (Mac or Windows - have tried them both). What's great is how flexible and platform compatible they are - Mac, Windows and Mobile. I run Parallels on a MacBookPro and can launch a file in either environment without a compatibility glitch. Even cooler is their iPhone app which allows me to access not just the data but all the information that is mapped to it via its complex or simple fields (depending on how you set it up), all while I'm on the road.
Their tech support ACES it too btw. They went the extra mile to make sure that I didn't just understand the features, but how to customize my fields and use Filemaker GO flawlessly from both my Mac and Windows environments.
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