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Case Study: Desert Grove Database MS

A Start

One of our latest work, Desert Grove database management system, based in UAE, was first a start-up idea back in September 2016. The main founder, Mr. Michel Kalai came to our teams, as we had done a few projects with him before. Comelite teams and Project Department worked closely with Mr. Kalai to analyse, guide and prepare the foundations of Desert Grove database management system.

At the start, the client initially needed something flexible, with the ability to build on to it, and at the same time, displaying uniqueness and elegance. As explained in the intro, the Desert Grove story began with a simple idea: enable anyone to create the perfect environment to enrich one’s personal life to the fullest.

As most start-up ideas, our teams combined with the client, had to do define goals, targets, analyse the flows and much more. Finally, after 3 months of planning, going back and forth, the plan was ready.

Getting the Wheels Rolling

The Desert Grove application was based on Laravel, a PHP framework popular for speedy development, simple syntax pattern, database flexibilities and secure mechanisms. Providing a smooth interface for the custom development, Comelite teams took advantage to base the Desert Grove application on this MVC platform, with its function-rich libraries.

Desert Grove Case Study1

Needless to mention, the Comelite teams also prepared the main company logo with authentic design, and the divisions logos, business cards and letterheads.

Get to Know the Purpose

Desert Grove consists of 4 main divisions, Spas and Pool Construction, Landscaping, Design & Consulting, and Retail. Customers coming to the web application have the easy experience of choosing from swim spas, movable floors, marina pools and other services.

Desert Grove Case Study2

Desert Grove Case Study3

The application includes many forms allowing the user to custom apply for their exact request. This might include pool repairs and maintenance, cleaning, or spas and movable floors to the exact dimensions you will need.

The forms, the blogs page, the newsletter as well as all the website pages have been integrated with Hubspot Marketing/Sales platform enabling the company to track and measure visits and interactions from potential clients, in order to improve conversion to sales.

Technical Challenges and Backend

Desert Grove Case Study4The project had a lot of challenging curves, in which each page had its own layout so we had to use a unique system to accommodate the different themes and variables of each page. First we had an HTML/CSS design for each page, but later decided to develop the project on October CMS, based on Laraval. October CMS would allow us this flexibility to give a custom layout per page, as well as to allow the client to make edits in the backend area. Our teams also developed a custom October CMS module for the customer area and project management, allowing the client to create customer accounts, update the project status and more.

The language module was also modified to accommodate the application, as it was a bilingual application.

End Note

It was a pleasure to work with Mr. Kalai on this long-term project and Comelite teams wish the best of luck for the Desert Grove business, and if you need a pool or spa, or services in this industry, make sure to pay a visit to this website!

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9 Steps to Jump Start your Idea

See How You Can Jump Start Your Idea

In our line of work, we have met with many creative people, seeking to jump start their idea. In the world of business, everyone strives to find a unique way of creating a new business line, or maybe a new trend, or any sort of way to reach out to a new market and hit the gold mine. So how can you jump start your idea? Take a look at a few tips below.

1.      Define your goal and target audience

The first thing you need to ask yourself is what is your main purpose and goal for your idea? What makes you different from others before you? Once you define that, you need to detail out your target audience, such as their age group, gender, business sector or walk of life, and most importantly, the region, whether it will be local or global?

2.      Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm

The best way to get everything down to jump start your idea, is to brainstorm all you have. Write it anywhere you are comfortable with, either an excel sheet, google sheet, a google keep note, a physical notebook, anything that will help you expand and build on.

3.      Research similar competitors

Finding people or businesses with similar ideas will help you find your competitors, and also differentiate your idea from others. You can also summarize the advantages and disadvantages of your competitors and build on to them to make your idea better.

4.      Plan out priorities and phases

One of the best way to jump start your idea is to start phasing it out and determining what is the most important. Prioritize your ideas and features. Try to simplify it and start simple and flexible. If you start with a big step for the future, you will miss out on the present. So even a small calculated step will take you move forward.

jump start your idea

5.      Write down all the flows

This part might be hard for you as the idea founder, so you can always hire a tech team to do it for you. But the main point to jump start your idea is to write down every single flow. For example, say I am a founder of an online marketplace for selling services. I have to start writing the flow of where the users first login/signup, to where they pick their role, to where they define their services as a service provider or search for services as a service buyer and so on. It might be 10 flows; it might be 50 or even more. What’s important is that you get it all documented. Think of all the conditions, all the obstacles, and even the very straight forward flows.

jump start your idea

6.      Wireframes, Screens, Pages

When you reach this step, then you have moved forward a giant leap to jump start your idea. Creating wireframes, screens, pages is the step after your flow documentation. A great tool for creating this phase is Draw.io, or others like Balsamiq or JustinMind. Once the wireframes are in place, you can use tools like Invision App to show the flow.

7.      Hosting, Storage

According to your idea and business size, you should think about the method of hosting and storage. For example, will you need a cloud plan? A shared plan? Maybe a dedicated server or a managed VPS will be your solution. In this article you can see different types of hosting explained.

8.      Final Document

Somewhere between steps 4-6, you should start preparing a Requirement Analysis Document, or your documented and technical business plan. Without this documented plan, you won’t be able to jump start your idea. This document should include a clear view of what you will deliver, the exact screens/pages, features/functions, and user scenarios. This document should be so clear that will be the guide and hard copy of the path to take for the development team.

9.      Timing & Testing

Remember to set a timing for your start and go live. You need to consider planning, design, development, and of course quality assurance testing. Think of how to keep it maintained after go live, and how you will link the next phases to your new idea.

End Note

I hope you got a brief idea on how to jump start your idea. In our upcoming project Universal Restaurant, which will go live this month, we’ll later elaborate on the steps taken and how it went live.

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2017 Accomplishments: See Our Website Projects

As we approach the New Year and wrap up 2017, I think it’s important to reflect back on your 2017 accomplishments. As we close the doors on 2017 I think it’s important that everyone recognizes how much they have gained over one year. As Project Manager, I must confess that every single accomplished project in 2017 had a new thing to learn, whether if it was a small project or a new complex project. In this article, I just thought to point out some of our 2017 website projects to honor our valued clients, and to summarize the year.

2017 Accomplishments: Website Projects

In general we had over 30 website projects done the past year, from countries UAE, KSA, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, KSA, Kuwait, and Lebanon. See them here:

Eathos Websites

In the first months of 2017 I had the honor to finalize two projects from the Eathos company in UAE, Kababji Arabia and Tortilla Arabia websites. These two WP based websites included ecommerce based on the Sapaad restaurant software platform. By finalizing these two websites, we added to our restaurant collection in the Comelite portfolio.

One Page Websites

We had a one page project from Gulf Homes Compound KSA, a mini property selling business, and a one page website for our Marina App project, to present the app features and functions. Also, we had another restaurant website Cookshop in KSA, which was also a one page, with a unique new design.

Construction Websites

An industry filled with projects, we had the privilege of doing the Al Motaheda website in Egypt (not live yet), and the Shandz website in Iraq. Also the Al Kobraish company website in KSA was another modern looking website done by Comelite teams. The Premium Construction website from Qatar is also coming up by start of 2018.

Other Selections

We were proud to do the Bioshield website in UAE, which is under transformation now, and the Beyond Lighting website in Qatar, a unique looking project designed to show the beautiful Qatar projects. Also the Al Rukaya website in KSA was another project done by our teams as part of our 2017 accomplishments. The Saudicom Security website also reflects another of our KSA projects done fast and easy. The UAE based 4Maat and Petro Technologies websites were some of the last quarter projects we had, thanks to our clients that made this possible.

Favorites and Highlights of 2017 Accomplishments

One of the highlights of 2017 was the Kaso website which I especially am fond of since it was initially done by our teams in 2014 and I had the honor to manage the project again for a modern revamp in the last year.

Also the online pharmacy based in Kuwait, Dowa Co was also another highlight of our teams, where one of the most famous pharmacies was made into an online platform as a Nopcommerce based website and app, detailed out here.

The Memecs website, based on a minimalistic design and modern looking was also done this year, as one of Comelite partners. Here you can see the techniques used elaborated.

The Tmreya project was also one of my favorites and a delicious tasting website including ecommerce, HyperPay integration, and bilingual as well.

Some Still Cooking

A few more of our 2017 accomplishments are still cooking such as the UR (Universal Restaurant) which is coming soon but includes an online platform for Cooks and Customers, including website and app.

Also we have a few other websites coming up from the Al Delma company in Iraq, to the TGCS company in Kuwait, TEM 360 GES in USA, and more…

Thanks for following up to here and wishing all the best of luck in the New Year, especially to all Comelite clients that made this possible.

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AI Business Benefits: How does it fit you?

In my last article, we learned what AI is simple terms can be. Also, I pointed out to how it is used in our everyday lives and the difference between narrow and general AI. Now we want to see how it can benefit our business world and the AI business benefits.

AI Business Benefits in the Workplace

As we advanced in the tech era, you are used to some things you might see every day that AI is implemented within. However, not many recognize the AI business benefits so I have first pointed out some main advantages:

  • Virtual Assistance
  • Predict insights from business data
  • Automation of repetitive work
  • Enhancement of productivity, more focus on the real work
  • Fraud detecting
  • Notifications and Scheduling
  • Marketing assistance
  • Avoidance of human errors

Virtual Assistance

One of the great AI business benefits is using it as a virtual assistance. This is currently used in the Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. The benefit of a VA is that you can get a lot of the work done that you might previously have needed a live person for, so you can reduce costs in the payroll and also use the energy of a live employee more efficiently. You can use VAs for other office work like dictation, ordering tasks, calendars and events, to do lists and more.

Prediction Based on Data

One of the main concerns in business today is how we are using all the gathered data in our work. Many businesses seek to hire data scientists and growth hackers to analyse all the information and collected data. AI can help tremendously by processing billions of data in a matter of minutes. For example, it can be used to analyse lead generation reports, sales reports, procurement reports and more. With the help of machine learning and deep learning, it can continuously advance as well. AI uses data as raw material fed into it, to process information and provide valuable summaries, analytics and insights.

AI Business Benefits in Automation

Another significant AI business benefit is how we can use it in automation tasks. For example, we can use it lead flow tasks, in notification automation, in scheduling and much more. As written in this article, some of your daily tasks can be automated, like scheduling invites, managing emails for replies/delete/reviews, booking flights, ordering and help us perform better. For example, in Sales, automation can be done by follow up emails, contact updates, and lead updates.

Fraud Detection

Most business need to secure their information as cyber-attacks rise. Many have been target of cyber-attacks due to flaws or wholes in their business security. Another benefit of AI for business is how it can detect fraud in your business network. Using deep learning techniques, check of time series/sequence, ability to identify networks, check payment transactions and more, AI will help to secure your business.

Marketing Assistance

One of the best samples of AI is how it used as a marketing tool. For example, it can be used as a service chatbot, social media automation like IFTTT or Buffer, used for making checks and balances, and scoring leads, adapting the customer journey, advertising, and more.

Increase in Productivity, Reduction of Errors

The best AI benefit in business though is how it can enhance employee productivity so they can focus on high-value work, instead of tedious repetitive work or administrative work that can be handled by machines. AI VAs or applications don’t get tired, don’t make mistakes, can work without breaks and without payroll. On the bright side, employees in companies can focus on the real value of their work, how to improve customer service, and are the best friends of the HR department.

Wrapping Up

So, to wrap up, you can see some of the AI business benefits and how they can be applied in your business. Of course, the advantages are endless and this article is just a short briefing to get you familiar and open your mind on the possibilities. In the next article, I will explain our AI solution and how you can apply it.

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AI in Simple Terms

Last year, I read in many articles that AI was part of the emerging technologies in the years to come, and interestingly enough, this year, we were witness to a lot of progress in this field. As this is an immense field and I won’t be able to expand it fully, I thought it might be good to explain the fundamentals of AI in simple terms for our readers, and in the later articles, how it will benefit your business and our solution for it.  These days AI has become an ordinary term and used almost everywhere, from Google products, to social media platforms like Facebook, to apps in your smartphone and devices in your home.

So what is AI in simple terms?

AI in very simple terms is the ability of computers to act like humans, as defined in Tech Terms. As in this Salesforce article, it means that non-human entities have human-level intelligence and perform tasks intelligently. There are two general AI versions, the “narrow” or “weak” AI, like the ones you usually deal with such as smart search engines and apps, or the computer chess games you play with, or even speech and image recognition. Narrow AI works within a specific scope, so even though it is referred to as “weak” AI, it does its job pretty well. Actually most of AI you see today is weak/narrow AI and it automates a human activity so it serves us well.

The other type of AI is called “general” AI, which can operate independently of human beings. Up to now you would see general AI in sci-fi movies, but thanks to development in technology and use of Machine Learning, this has become reality now. When we talk of Narrow AI, we’re talking of AI that can’t learn new things or learn from experience. In General AI though, Machine Learning is used so the AI can “enhance” and “learn” and progress. You can read this to learn more of how AI and Machine Learning work.

Example of AI around us

Now that we learned of AI in simple terms, let’s see how is AI used around us. Here are a few examples:

Purchase Predictions: if you have shopped online, you probably have experienced the online platform predicting and suggesting products to you. Based on your favourites, or previous purchases, or selection, most ecommerce platforms like Amazon have AI build within working on predictive analytics algorithms.

Marketing Automation: in your CRM or marketing software, you will experience a lot of automated tasks and predictions and reports based on your data. In Salesforce, Einstein is taking the lead in facilitating all processes in a business.

Online Support: have you seen a chat box in service websites, providing online support? Most chat boxes these days have a chatbot based on AI like our Universal Chat. This will help free resources and save time by programming the most common questions people have when they come to your website.

Personal Assistants: anyone using a smartphone can see Siri, Google Now, Cortana as an intelligent digital personal assistant, and helping you find information with just your voice. You can ask for the nearest restaurant, ask for task reminders, schedule important appointments or just send other commands to your phone.

Music and Movies: ever wondered how Youtube provides you relevant videos of the one you just watched? This is also using AI to “guess” what you will like based on your previous judgements and likes/dislikes. A lot of platforms these days use AI to learn your taste and interest.

Social Media: one of my favourite AI examples is how Pinterest uses AI to learn your interests and get you back on their website. But Pinterest isn’t the only social media platform using AI. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn also are using AI algorithms to learn about you and “sell” customized services for you.

Computer Games: if you have played chess or any other computer games with a Computer opponent, that is using AI as well. It started with video games and Nintendo but now it has reached a higher peak.

Smart Cars: smart cars and self-driving cars are a perfect example of AI, such as Tesla’s autopilot and maybe in the future you will no longer need a driver’s license because self-driving cars will be much safer than humans!

These are just a few but you can find more by just googling or reading online.

Ending Word

So up to here, we learned the basics of AI in simple terms. We learned of narrow and general AI, and samples of AI in our everyday lives. In our next articles, we’ll learn of the benefits of AI in business and how it’s applied.

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How I was Convinced: Why Salesforce for Business?

I’ve been working in the tech field for over 15 years and I’ve seen and heard and even worked with a lot of platforms. The first time I heard about Salesforce was some years ago where I heard it was a good CRM. Most of the bigger projects I have come across up to now, which included management systems and platforms, required ERP applications so when I heard of Salesforce for business as our main solution, I was pretty sceptical. My tech colleague, who has also worked with a lot of CRMs and other types of management systems spoke very highly of Salesforce. In this article, I wanted to let you know what I thought BEFORE of Salesforce for business, and what I think of NOW.

My Dialogue: Why Salesforce for Business

My colleague and I were discussing the new techs and trying to figure out a solution to base our 2017 strategy on last year and when she said Salesforce, I said, no that’s just a CRM. A CRM is not going to resolve the issues of companies with products and inventories and what about their accounting and transactions? What makes it so special anyhow? There are so many CRMs. We should focus on another solution, something more complete.

She replied: but this is not just a CRM. It’s a platform. It’s based on the cloud. This means everything will be online and accessible from any device, any location. No hosting required, no special hardware, no software updates.

Me: What do you mean platform? All management systems are Platforms. A CRM is a CRM. Odoo is a better software application. It has CRM, HR, Inventory, Sales, Purchases and it is fully open source, we can do any customizations. And it’s an all in one. But Salesforce, if you want to add inventory and accounting, you have to do more custom work and integration.

Colleague: Platform means that it has so many tools, you can create “apps” (modules for old tech people like me) without any coding. It has even a third party store too, it’s called App Exchange. You can even publish an app you make for others to use. There are platforms currently build for specific industries on the core Salesforce platform, like Property Base for real estate or Financial Force for accounting which you love. It is a full ERP too, all based on Salesforce. That’s why we say it’s a platform, not a simple CRM. It started as a CRM but now it is much more.

Me: (a bit surprised and curious now) Tell me more…

Colleague: It has “clouds” for all the products you need, for example Sales Cloud is for CRM services, Service Cloud is focused for businesses with support and services focus, Marketing Cloud for marketing automation, Community Cloud for collaboration environment and also, (taking a breath), it has AI, Salesforce Einstein, embedded in the whole platform. It even has an app called Salesforce1, it will automatically read your platform and you can create mobile compact views for it.

Me: Hmm… (now she has my full attention) OK let me do some research and check it out a bit.

A Change in Opinion

So you saw how I first started learning more of the “new” Salesforce and not the old impression I had from years ago. My main tendency being bent on ERP systems, it was hard for me to believe this so-called modernized CRM could replace Odoo (I had checked many ERP applications, and Odoo was the best I had come to up to here). Then I saw they are both different solutions but Salesforce for business is by far a much smarter choice. Now here’s why below.

Customer Centric Core

As Salesforce started as a CRM, the main core is the CRM, with the main apps available in pretty much all products (leads, contacts, opportunities, etc.). The main tagline of Salesforce is customer centric as well, which shows the change of modern business implemented within the platform.

Cloud Based Platform

As mentioned before, cloud based platforms have many benefits. The most obvious one being the fact that you don’t need separate server hardware and hosting fees. All is included within your Salesforce subscription. Also, you can access the cloud anywhere from any device so this is another benefit that internally setup platforms won’t give you. One of the benefits I like most though is that there is no need for software updates, and this will be done automatically by the Salesforce team. This video illustrates the benefits of cloud computing.

Flexible to Customize

This part caught my eye the most. Salesforce is not just flexible to customize. It’s flexible to customize without code. When Odoo brought forth the Odoo Studio App, it also caught my attention but Salesforce has multi layers of customization, from the way the menus are placed, access level customizations for objects, even fields, adding new apps and new objects, reports, dashboards and more.

Centralized Data

When you run a business, the most important thing is to keep track of what you do, analyse it, sum it up, and repeat your processes with improvements on your analytics. And if you have your info in different platforms, documents, spreadsheets then it will be very hard to get a good overview and make key-turn decisions from scattered information. Once you base your business in Salesforce, you will be able to see it all from the birds-eye view as a business owner.

Workflow Setup

One of the things that I liked most in Salesforce for business was the ability to create rules, email alerts, flow charts based on decisions and data. For example, we could capture the leads depending on what source they had come from, then based on that, send a notification to an account owner, or send a welcome email to the lead, or make other decisions. Or it allows us to create tasks and follow ups, events, campaigns and more. We are allowed to create triggers based on specific criteria and other automation techniques.

Third Party Apps

When I first learned of Salesforce for business, my first question was, what if we want more? Like many platforms, Salesforce offers a store for third party apps and integrations, called App Exchange. This business store includes categorized apps by industry, collection or business department. The good thing is, you can create apps and publish them for others to use as well.

Mobile Ready

As a Millennial in 2017, I’ve noticed one of the first thing people click on is “Is it available on mobile?”. Fortunately the founders of Salesforce have thought of this one and the answer is Salesforce 1. This is a unified app available for all devices, where you can connect to your own platform. And within your own platform, you can customize lists and forms to show best on mobile.

Scalability

As your business grows, you will need to level your gear for business. As Salesforce for business is made for scalability, you can increase your platform capacity, add on more apps, get more processing power and suit your business with the growing size.

Wrapping Up

Ok I think I have proven to you how I got convinced on Salesforce for business being an ideal. As a person in the tech field, I’m interested to know what gets you stuck and what obstacles you face as a business owner. So please feel free to let me know and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you.

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Get a Special Restaurant App: a Table Top Digital Menu

It’s hard to be a restaurant, coffee shop, diner, fast food shop or any food providing manager without constantly thinking of ways to keep up the momentum and to make your restaurant feel special. Just a while ago, we did a special restaurant app for Kababji in UAE, which was a digital menu aimed to be used as a table top menu shown on tablets in the diner. Kababji is a Lebanese cuisine restaurant with three branches in UAE and 2 branches coming soon in Saudi Arabia. What makes this restaurant stand out is it’s special cuisine and menu items, as well as how it is presented.

special restaurant app

Special Restaurant App: See what’s inside

special restaurant app-kababji screens

Main Category Screen

This app first starts with a unique simple splash screen, leading the user to the main dashboard, which is a categorized list of the restaurants’ menus. Most restaurants have from breakfast to dinner categories, but this is all up to you and in this app, you have the flexibility to make changes to your categories easily through the dynamic back-end website. As a subtitle small text, you can also see the number of items in each category as well. These all create a memorable experience for your customers, and they will remember you have a special restaurant app to serve them with.

See the Details

In the details page, we can see one or more images of the dish, giving clients a special preview of what they will get. Also it has the main title, description and price of the item. This is especially good if you have changes in names, photos and prices and you can easily make changes in the backend. No need for any printing costs once you have changes in your menu. You can keep an up to date item list from the backend, making your special restaurant app dynamic and up-to-the-minute.

Localize it

The app provides a unique experience for clients in the diner as it has a localization feature and you can view the items in English or Arabic, whichever is preferred. This especially good for tourists or for locals who wish to see the app in their local language, creating an impressive experience for all types of clients.

Manageable Backend

Having a dynamic backend for your special restaurant app provides the benefit of having an up-to-date app without the need of constant re-publishing. The app reads from the central database of the backend allowing the restaurant owner to have the flexibility to make changes anytime necessary.

special restaurant app- backend

What else to consider

So how else can you add extra value to your restaurant digital menu app? Well, there are many restaurant apps with different features, but for a tabletop digital menu, see our ideas below.

Reviews & Ratings

Reviews and customer feedback will add value and trust-building information on your restaurant. Not to mention increasing the loyal return customer rate, and spreading your creditability.

As a restaurant owner, you know that user experience is your key to improve and present a higher customer experience.

Loyalty

Most restaurants know the value of a customer loyalty program that can be included in an app. Loyalty programs can vary from coupons and rewards, a point system or just providing anything extra in the app to encourage returning customers. In this article, we elaborated some methods but creativity and innovation are endless when it comes to restaurant services.

Online Ordering

Another feature to add to your app is the capability to have online ordering, integrated with your restaurant POS system. In this way, you can even add on further features such as delivery or reservations, thus adding more loyalty by providing quality customer service.

Complimentary Items

Newcomer customers love to be guided through a restaurant’s experience and when they order a dish, you can provide suggestions for complimentary items, such as a fries and coke with a burger. This way you can increase your revenue by simple suggestions in up-selling.

Locations

It’s always great to have your locations listed in your app. Customers will become familiar with your branches and it will also add to your loyalty program, when customers know the locations they can come to you. Also, when on the road, it will add up for hungry clients to come to your nearest location.

Special Events

In your table-top special restaurant app, you can even consider special events and menus for special days. For example you can create a category for an occasion and add on the special items easily through the dynamic backend, then unpublish it when the occasion is over. This is ideal in case you provide catering or host special events in your restaurant.

Wrapping Up

I hope you had some insight on how to get a special restaurant app for your restaurant or diner. As a fan of hospitality, I have paid special attention to the details in restaurants I have visited, from their looks and decoration, their customer service, facility of work, and of course their food! So consider all customers coming to you will monitor your services and rate you in their mind, if not publicly. It’s always my pleasure to help restaurant businesses and hear from like-minded restaurant owners or hospitality experts. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below.