FileMakers Features

Coding in schools: theory vs practice

Youth unemployment has been described as one of the great problems of our time. But what can be done about it? Is it time to bring back National Service, which formally ended in 1960, as has been asked by some commentators? Others wonder why the school system isn’t better-capturing the hearts and minds of our young people. Bigger problems perhaps than we have space for here.

Line Of Children In School Computer Class

Cracking the educational code

It may sound odd coming from a company with developers at its heart, but here at FileMaker, it’s not a new generation of coders coming through the school system that’s got us excited, but rather a new generation of problem solvers and team workers.  That’s the really exciting part of this change in technology education.

To think that this huge initiative to introduce coding into schools will simply help reinforce the UK’s tech pedigree is to miss half the benefit. Yes – of course there’s a huge advantage in having a nation of tech-literate, coding-friendly young people ready to enter the workforce. The need for applications, that can solve the most significant business challenges, is increasing at an exponential rate. So there are clear economic opportunities associated with the world of coding.

However at FileMaker we get even more excited when we come across people with an aptitude for creating tangible solutions to real problems. Some of the most promising developers we know have ended up developing not because they had a love of computing or code, but because they wanted to solve an issue, to make something in their world better. Indeed, several of our recent blogs have shown the fascinating avenues that have brought people into the developer community.

Give me solutions not problems

We know that you can teach someone the processes and languages needed to be a developer, but trying to instil curiosity or develop a logical approach takes far, far longer. The intrigue of a challenge that needs solving, the pleasure of working with a team to identify the solution and the delight at realising you’ve found the best answer – these are all experiences that engage and motivate students.

Taking the skills that coding gives you into life beyond the classroom can only be a good thing. At a time when youth employment consistently skirts 1 million people, these sorts of skills will help entrepreneurial thinkers set up successful businesses. “Even if you’re not planning a career as a web developer, a basic knowledge of code can be helpful to students going down a variety of different career paths,” says Jake Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of business and technology education organisation General Assembly.

FileMaker Developers

A challenge and an opportunity

Whereas some see the introduction of coding as forward thinking, we see it as a necessity which we just have to get right.  “Coding is the language of our future,” says Lucie Sarif, associate director of Little Miss Geek, a social enterprise that aims to encourage young women to get involved in technology. “If we don’t learn to code, we’ll be left out of the technological revolution.”

Furthermore, there is also the chance of the UK raising its status on the world stage. The Guardian recently reported that the likes of Japan and South Korea are watching the changes in England carefully with a view to following in our footsteps if we do well.

The future of the UK economy

If the UK gets this coding initiative right, it will be a smart investment in the future of our economy. These kids can certainly have the digital world at their feet, with an unprecedented choice in how they live their lives and develop their careers. But even if they have no interest in a technology career at all, they’ll be part of a whole new wave of talented problem solvers entering the workforce.

And that’s a win-win as far as we’re concerned.


Every Day is a Developer School Day

Vicky Nesbitt

Vicky Nesbitt: From the Sales Floor to FileMaker

Everyone attends the ‘University of Life’, and it’s where we learn the most valuable lessons. However I also tried going down the more institutional university route first off. I soon realised I was more interested in living life to the full than I was in academics… which produced the unexpected result of my getting a job on the sales team at Carphone Warehouse. Not the outcome I’d planned for, but perhaps everything happens for a reason.

Developing my Own Path

Thanks to my ‘extroverted’ style on the sales floor, I managed to secure some new job opportunities, which by a serendipitous turn saw me working for a small software company that specialised in software for PR and marketing agencies. Initially the role, despite the ‘sales executive’ title, largely involved trips to the post office and making tea. Thrilling as that may sound, eventually the appeal ran out. So I started peering over the developers’ shoulder (I’m nosey like that).

The company was using FileMaker to develop software for reporting and workload management at these media agencies, which seemed surprisingly interesting to me. So having continued to push my nose in where it wasn’t wanted, I was eventually given a FileMaker training course, which in turn led to me having a developer role. (I just can’t help myself when I see the chance to get involved with something exciting and new).

The Lone Developer

Quite unexpectedly I ended up in a remarkable sink or swim situation. It was me, my limited developer skills and our full client portfolio against the world. That lasted for a while, but let’s be honest – these sorts of situations only have a limited shelf life. So eventually I moved on to RecruitmentForce, where we have two products for managing candidates based on FileMaker.

It’s here that I’ve realised the real fun that can be had in creating your own business solutions – and where all the lessons I learnt along the way have started paying dividends. I’m currently involved in interacting FileMaker with APIs such as a cloud-based calling systems, MailChimp, Xero Accounting and so on. It’s a chance to make two pieces of a puzzle come together, with the result being a real change for the way someone does their job.

Developing in the Real World

Having had some pretty ‘dry’ jobs in my time, I really love seeing how we can make someone’s day that bit better, and their business more profitable. One area in which we’re seeing huge opportunities to do this is mobile. Our FileMaker products have an iPad app, allowing people to access all the great resources on the go. It’s how people want to work today, and so we feel that the solutions we’re building are really relevant.

It’s important to learn the skills you need to do your job well, but I’d add it’s almost as important to make mistakes along the way. Hint – make them as early as possible so you don’t have to when you’re starting to do the really fun stuff.


The Sweet Sound of Success

Oli Sussat: Developing is Music to my Ears

For many developers, their professional life (and freetime hobbyist work) is a creative expression. It’s where they can realise the ideas in their heads.

Striking the Right Chord

I’ve been lucky enough to have two other fields of expression, both tied to a single industry – music. Clearly I have a passion for music itself, however I also get a huge buzz from exploring different ways to actually manage the creative process and the business that surrounds it.

Developing is an incredible combination of ideas -  of a vision for something new and more interesting -  with the hands on ability to turn that into a working reality.I work at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), an institution with a population of around 1,000 students based in Guildford. In addition to the academy itself, we have Europe’s largest recording facility – the Metropolis Studios. Here we’ve welcomed talented artists such as Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner, both of whom were ACM students, and internationally renowned acts such as Jessie J, Public Enemy and David Guetta.

Getting Creative in the Music Business

The last handful of years have seen some fantastic changes within the ACM, and now the same is happening in Metropolis. The quality of our staff and facilities speaks for itself, but inevitably they sometimes need a helping hand to head in the right direction. We’ve had to come up with some creative solutions to help our business move forward in a way that’s resource efficient, but also sensitive to the nature of the industry.

As a business we found ourselves using enterprise solutions like SAP, which on the surface answered some questions, but didn’t really do everything we needed. I quickly realised that creating our own solutions would be a far more natural approach and so trained as FileMaker developer. I don’t think I realised at the time how important a skill it would prove to be in helping design the future of ACM and Metropolis. In fact I’d say FileMaker is at the heart of our growth because it’s allowed us to improve almost every facet of the business.

Developing your team

When it came to recruiting developers to help grow our business, I didn’t want to be too prescriptive. In fact the opposite has been true. We challenged them by giving them a long leash. Rather than set people specific tasks to complete, we wanted to harness the creativity that developers inherently seem to possess. Developing is an incredible combination of ideas – of a vision for something new and more interesting – with the hands on ability to turn that into a working reality. It’s not too dissimilar to writing and performing music in that sense.

The ideas my developers came back with really blew me away, and they’ve been implemented to real effect at ACM and increasingly Metropolis. It really is like being in a recording studio and seeing an artist pull their vision together into that perfect sound. It’s pretty exciting to help an organisation like this evolve, and in many ways I think the problem solving we do as business managers is more creative than making music!

I could go on all day about the solutions we’ve developed, but a simple example is student attendance. All our staff use iPads, and the applications we’ve developed provide immediate access to information on student attendance. Integration with Clickatell means lecturers can receive live notifications from students via text if they’re running late, and we’ve got a contactless registration process which keeps this data current, thanks to some crafty projects with Arduino boards. This all helps with efficient management of the business, and allows lecturers to deliver a tailored approach for each student.

As someone used to being on the creative side of things, I instinctively always want to work with the flexibility to explore new ideas. For our business, FileMaker has really given us that.


I’m a Geek and a Whole Lot More


Jordan Watson: Forget the New Football Season – Start Developing

Most people would imagine professional footballers have more clout than us humble developers. But I disagree.

The Hard Knocks of Professional Football

My path into the developer community wasn’t exactly conventional.  At the tender age of eight I became involved in the Manchester Utd football set up and spent the next six years there, eventually continuing my professional career at Preston North End. I earned league and FA Cups Squad shirts. Football has its glamour, but it’s a harsh business. At the end of my contract, aged 18, I was looking for a new opportunity.

Out of the blue a university in the US offered me a four year football (soccer!) contract. However there was a catch; I had to take a gap year and had no idea what to do with myself. Other than lots of running, I was left trying to fill my time.

I became fidgety and needed something to occupy my time, so went to work with my friend who owned a sports event company in the North of England – running coaching sessions and fundraising programmes. It was literally a life changing experience, in a way that surpassed even the Manchester Utd academy. How?!

Another Beautiful Game

The long and short of it is that working at the sports events company made me realise I could help change a business – even as an inexperienced 18 year old. Initially there were easy wins. For example, I was no computer whizz but I realised that using a calculator to complete sums and manually enter them into Excel wasn’t the best use of the technology at their fingertips!

It struck me I could really do something at this firm, helping the business work far more efficiently by finding real solutions to real problems. One such area was bringing their disparate teams into the 21st Century with a shared database. I set about finding them the right tool, and it was really clear that there were two options available to me – one of which was FileMaker.

The FileMaker starter solution seemed far more usable than the alternative, and the firm took a punt on me, giving me the six week summer holiday to produce something workable for the business. I didn’t know how to code anything, and this was my first foray into the development of business solutions, but I could see elements of FileMaker that were immediately changeable and manageable. What I produced after six weeks wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Most importantly, the company’s turnover doubled in six months.

Going for Growth

During that six months I continued to update their solution – it evolved as my knowledge evolved – to the point that I felt confident enough to approach a new employer. My new target was the North West’s largest building firm, whose managing director received a promise from a bold 18 year old claiming he could increase the business’ turnover. For some reason he believed me, and I promptly spent 12 months building a more complex business management system. In hindsight it wasn’t the best. But they’d never had anything like this before, and again, it worked.

Buoyed by my success, I went back and rebuilt it using FileMaker 13 – in just 4 weeks. I take pride in the fact that the updated solution is still in use today, and they run pretty much every element of their business through it, around £10m in annual spending is processed by the system, supported by sales managers with iPads who can feed into the database and make decisions based on its insights. It just works for their business, and the ROI was ridiculously high.

Do I wish I was still playing football? Yes and no. However the world of professional sport would never have given me that creative freedom to make a massive difference to real people’s lives. I’m a developer, a problem solver, and that’s where I get my kicks today.


How do you develop a developer?


“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”


Steve Jobs got one or two things right in life, and his approach to working life was as inspirational as his redefinition of the technology market. So ask yourself – when you walk away from your desk this evening, are you going to be buzzing about what you did today?


Sure – a good job can be hard to come by. It’s a competitive marketplace out there and no more so than within the IT space. But those really making their mark are the ones using technology to add value and have a positive impact on the bottom line of the business. Just ‘keeping the lights on’ isn’t the career option it once was. Now is the time to do great things.



Developing the developer

So how do you stand out from the crowd and make sure the grass is greener in your next career move? Whether you’re an IT professional, an employed developer or a hobbyist developer looking to take that next move and convert your skills into a full time job and career, it’s worth thinking carefully about what you really want from each day.


Laying cards on the table, most developers will want to achieve some or all of the following:

  • Making yourself sought after by top companies
  • Increase your earning power
  • Having your pick and choice of companies to work for
  • Gaining the opportunity to work globally


This is all easier said than done, surely? Yes and no.


Clearly it takes a commitment to gain the skills and experience required to complete big projects and change the way a business works. But this skill and experience is all attainable. There are also some simple steps to changing the way you work that can reposition you as a true asset to the business:

  • Be more than just a doer. Become a business problem solver by using technology to get to a new way of working, not just to a tech solution for a tech problem
  • Gain visibility with senior decision makers by proactively suggesting how these solutions can make a change for the better
  • Work towards the certifications that really show your capabilities



How can we help you?

If you’re thinking “how do I get more from the skills I have?” you’re not alone. There’s a vibrant community already reaping the benefits of a smarter way to develop, by working on FileMaker.

FileMaker 13 Certification is the official credential offered by FileMaker, and as a certified developer, you can expect the red carpet treatment. Well, OK it doesn’t exactly make you a rock star, but in developer terms it’s pretty close. It will show clients, peers and management that you’ve got the potential to help drive the business forward using FileMaker solutions, many of our developers show this on an ongoing basis.


Event: Your future with FileMaker

Whether you’re new to us, or have already earned your FileMaker stripes as a certified developer but are yet to take full advantage of what could come your way, we’ve got an event coming up that you might want to drop into…


What:               FileMaker Developer Event:

Where:            Apple’s Regent Street store

When:              Tuesday 5th August at 6pm


We’re delighted that former-CIO Matt Ballantine will be hosting a session on the opportunities that becoming a certified FileMaker developer can bring. You’ll also hear from other developers from all walks of life, including an ex-Manchester United football player and from an in-house developer at the ultra-cool rock school, ACM.


Whatever stage you are in your developer journey, you can find out more about FileMaker developers’ work with companies of all shapes and sizes from Framestore who worked on Oscar-winning film Gravity, to the NHS. Not to mention McLaren, Virgin and Warner Bros.


What do I do next?

Whichever path you choose, with FileMaker on your side, you can expect bigger and better things and it will help you climb to the top of your career charts as a developer. If you can’t make the event, get in touch to find out more.

Please help us make this event as great as possible – come along to the event and share the love on your social channels with #FileMakerlife.

Or if you simply want to find out more, then please visit



Well at least you’ve got your health…or have you?

Most of us will put our health above all else in our daily lives and it’s often what we hang on to when the finer things in life evade us. So, it makes perfect sense, that we rate the NHS as such a crucial pillar of our society. With the service being critical to each and every one of us the key question is how we ensure that we make the most out of its capabilities. A recent report published by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation shines a light on one of the key challenges that the NHS faces, the limitations of the data available.

So, with the reams of data at its disposal, how can we make it start to work for the NHS and improve this vital government service. After all, if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

Demystifying the data

It’s all well and good saying that the NHS needs more investment, but if we don’t know which areas to focus on we could be throwing good money after bad. According to Gwyn Bevan, one of the authors of the aforementioned report, the lack of data at our disposal, and its consistency, means that we cannot compare performance effectively across the four nations of the UK and assess which is offering the UK taxpayer best value for money.

Well at least you’ve got your health…or have you?

The primary reason for this is that data gleaned from the NHS is not granular enough. The report goes on to state that data across the UK does not show how expenditure is channelled to fund frontline services. So, it got me thinking, surely this is not helping us pinpoint where the problems are within the system. It seems that the sheer volume of data collected by our hospitals is enough to deter a true analysis of performance with the data currently being largely unstructured. In any other business we would be looking at how to use the data at our disposal for competitive advantage, so why not in the NHS? Once we can give the data structure and manage it, then we can apply it to create a more effective NHS which will be an increasingly data smart business.

Applying the right medicine

This is where a customised database solution can come into its own. If data is amenable and people are encouraged to use it, the NHS and businesses of all sectors will benefit.

We’ve already seen, through our work with various clients, evidence of companies working with data within the healthcare sector and using it to improve patient care exponentially. The Free Diagnostic Pathology Software Project, which is actually a result of a Department of Health initiative to improve the NHS through the use of technology, is a good place to start. The team has been using FileMaker to build its own database solution that allows it to speed up the reporting of cancer diagnoses and reduce the element of human error for diagnostic pathologists. As a result, the lab can now report 85 percent of specimens within seven days as opposed to the 40 percent prior to adopting a FileMaker solution.

The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD) is another great example. It has found that automating the collection and scoring of data can play a big role in improving customer care. By shifting something as simple as a patient questionnaire from paper to iPad, using the FileMaker Platform, the hospital is now able to use its data with ease and measure patient progress over time, improving patient care thanks to less time spent processing data.

Healing Honey is another case in point. The company developed an antimicrobial honey that can be used in cases of resistance to, or unavailability of, antibiotics. Using FileMaker it has been able to bring the solution to hospitals in record time and at a fraction of the cost of using paper-based systems.

So, steps are being taken across the sector to improve management and application of data, but a more consistent approach is required to make an impact in all corners of the UK. As things stand, our national treasure is struggling under the weight of the data millstone hanging around its neck. It’s now time for the NHS to focus its attention to shifting its data online, analysing it and using it to improve the service that citizens of the UK receive.


Defying Gravity

With every week that passes I’m lucky enough to witness the great work our clients are doing with the FileMaker Platform. Whether it’s great things that are being done in schools, efficiency systems being implemented in hospitals or business enhancing work in companies from every sector, I’m continually impressed and inspired by what people can do with a database, so far removed from traditional perceptions of what a database or spreadsheet is capable of. A shining example of this is Framestore, who recently took the floor at the Apple Store – Regent Street, to share how it used FileMaker to make the impossible, possible when creating the Hollywood blockbuster, Gravity.

What lies beneath the red carpet

Let’s be honest, when most of us think about the movie industry, the glitz and glamour of the red carpet will be at the top of our minds, but the exponential amounts of work that go in behind the scenes, before actors even set foot on the set, is what makes it all possible. Unfortunately though, this is not likely to get you onto that exclusive Oscar podium.

So, it was great to hear Alex Jackson, software developer at Framestore, shine a light on the less heralded stars of the film industry. As was clear from Alex’s talk, when you’re making a top Hollywood movie, tracking the minutiae is vital, with every movement of the camera having to be tracked to a high level of precision. When you’re filming a movie set in zero gravity, this is more critical than ever. It left Framestore with two clear choices. Either they could string up the cream of Hollywood’s talent and treat them like the cast of Thunderbirds for a few months on set, or they could use computer graphics. Not surprisingly, Framestore opted for the latter and, as a consequence of focusing so much on visual effects with 80 percent of the film being computer generated, had an awful lot of data to control and capture. It was intriguing to hear from Alex what the connection is between a file naming convention and keeping Sandra Bullock spinning in free space.

This is where FileMaker made its way onto the big screen. When the film is broken down into 500 shots, with each comprising 30 sequences, with 366 shot set ups and 2409 takes; you start to realise the importance of managing this data. FileMaker not only helps Framestore control the setup in the studio, it also helps capture the reams of data. For example, during the filming of Gravity, cameras had to be mounted on a large robot and constantly adjusted throughout the take. Using FileMaker, Framestore tracked everything related to the camera throughout a scene, from the lighting levels that are so crucial when producing visual effects, through to the exact position of the camera at specific points within the take.

With such intricate work going on, on set, there is a great pressure for the whole team to be aligned and know exactly what is going on. FileMaker is critical in joining up the back office with those working on set and then the other companies that are also working on the film. While the staff are in the studio, Framestore will have 500 artists at its base office, working on the same shot, making it crucial that everyone is on the same page, regardless of location.

Singing from the same hymn sheet but with a different voice

The film industry is as good an example as any of the value of a fully customisable database solution. As Alex mentioned at the Apple store, every film is different and Gravity required a bespoke database tracking thousands of variables. Each and every project needs a database that will work for its specific requirements, rather than forcing Framestore to adapt its needs to those of a pre-existing  solution. This flexibility, allied with the ability to set up a new database at the drop of a hat, be that by exporting a humble spreadsheet or starting completely from scratch, is crucial for such big money projects that need to get up and running immediately.

Setting a platform

So, while it may not go down too well with the film-watching public to make ‘Database – The Movie’, it’s clearly a critical cog in the film industry; dare I say that behind every good film maker there’s a FileMaker. We are seeing FileMaker working with numerous companies in this line of business but have accepted that we are never going to have our name up in lights. To enjoy the talents of the greatest actors of our time we have to set a platform for them; to ignore the importance of data management would be like pulling that red carpet from under them, and no one wants to see the stars or the back room crew fall flat on their face, do they?


Kids, get out your tech-books

Today’s children are dealing with technology and handling data as instinctively as we put pen to paper.  As natural innovators, members of “Generation Z” automatically use technology for their own ends – to make their lives easier. It makes sense, therefore, that they expect education providers to have an equally strong understanding of the technology that will enable them to stretch themselves academically and take the first steps into a career of their choice. Increasingly, improving data management is more than an administrative benefit; it can push students to reach their academic potential. So the question is: what are we doing and how far can effective data management drive the education sector?

Sharing the wealth

The integration of technology is critical to the future success of our educational institutions. Thankfully this is an area in which the UK seems to be on the right track. A recent report, compiled for Pearson by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranks the UK as providing the second best education in Europe. But even in the light of this success, there is always room to question whether there is an even better way of working.

As John Fallon, CEO of Pearson said: “Digital technology could play a part in sharing good ideas,” a trend that could enhance the role teachers play in developing young talent. Pearson has already developed a database through which education professionals from 50 countries can share information and knowledge. This culture of sharing is a great blueprint for educational bodies to follow and shows clearly the potential that lies in the intelligent use of data. To promote continual improvement, we need to see technology as supplementing rather than supplanting work of professionals such as teachers. The innovation and talent is already at our fingertips; the challenge is in sharing this with others.

Hitting the right notes                  

Let’s take a look this on a more granular level, at the coal-face if you will. The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) has been working with the FileMaker Platform, utilising its customisable database technology to enhance the education that is helping to shape tomorrow’s stars.

FileMaker has enabled ACM to manage every aspect of the student experience, from processing applications, through to identifying those who need extra academic help and keeping them up to speed with upcoming events and deadlines. This brings me to my next point: the management of data is not only a boon for administrative staff. Automating administrative procedures is certainly of great benefit for ACM, but more intuitive management of data has also allowed the staff to use this time that they have saved to improve the first-hand educational experience of its students. For instance, course materials and feedback on assignments are available through a student portal and automated alerts are sent to tutors when a student’s attendance starts to tail off, allowing teachers to focus more time on the pupils that need help.

Making exceptional the norm

It’s clear that there is some great work going on in schools and higher education institutions up and down the country, but the challenge now is not just to celebrate the achievements of these leaders, but to ensure that this high standard becomes the norm. This is where handling data can make an impact both at the grass roots level and in the wider context of international education standards. If individual institutions can handle data more effectively to provide a better level of education to their students, then the next step is to share this data, very much in the manner that Pearson has begun to do. As always, we have the raw materials and they are great, but let’s not allow this potential to escape unfulfilled.


Seeing the Wood for the Trees

We’ve been talking for the last couple of months about planting the seeds of knowledge and educating others to unlock the potential of their data. But this month we are changing tack somewhat and talking about planting real seeds, and how planting these in the wrong place has become a real threat to our national heritage, all as a result of poor data management.

According to a recent report  conducted by the Forestry Commission, tree cover in the UK has increased significantly in the last 100 years. However, the Woodland Trust has raised doubts over the substance of these statistics, claiming that ancient forests are being put at risk and citing poor management of data as the major reason for this. The Trust believes that inaccurate recording of data has worsened the scale of ancient woodland being lost to development and it claims that the government can’t tell it how much ancient woodland has been damaged by development in the past 10 years.

While it is worrying that data so crucial to our national heritage is being handled in this way, it clearly highlights the massive opportunity and potential that an intuitive, custom database solution can hold.  Equipped with such a solution, the Forestry Commission would be able to input instantly usable data from the field, linking up colleagues working far and wide across the country.

A stronger hold over the vast swathes of data that the Forestry Commission holds would solve what seems to be the key problem in losing ancient woodland to development. The Ancient Woodland Inventory, the method used to track ancient woodland, currently does not record stands of trees smaller than two hectares as ancient woodland. This seems to be because the organisation is unable to process and manage such large amounts of data. Being able to track the minutiae of the data such as this in real-time could play a large part in conserving this land. Employees could enter data on the move, to be analysed by colleagues elsewhere in the country, eradicating the lag time that can hinder such large data gathering operations. An intuitive database could enable and encourage much more frequent reporting, giving the Forestry Commission a 360˚ view of a key part of our national heritage and making sure that ancient woodland does not slip through the net.

This seems a classic case of an industry/public sector body where a technological solution is not given due consideration because it feels too far departed from the core service that the organisation in question provides. True, when one thinks of the Forestry Commission, it’s probably as far away from the working environment that people traditionally identify with databases as possible. But this need not be the case. Technology such as customisable database solutions must be seen as enablers that can be used in any walk of life to maximise potential. In this case, a system where field surveyors could enter data directly, from the field, and input it into a database where it could be tracked and analysed immediately, by colleagues in the office, would go a long way to offering the protection that our ancient forests evidently need. By collecting more accurate data and being able to access and assess it in real-time, comparing numerous data sets, we could do a lot more than organise a few spreadsheets; we could save a large part of our natural heritage.

The point here is that not only technical organisations need to manage data, it is essential in all professions; no matter how far detached they may seem from technology. By intelligently managing data, the Forestry Commission would be able to not only track what has happened in the past and identify trends; it would be able to focus on finding a solution to the issue and put an end to the loss of ancient forestry to development. If you will pardon the pun, many organisations need to branch out and challenge the ways in which they work and deal with data. The consequences of not doing so can be wide ranging and damaging in every aspect of our lives.


Sowing the seeds of growth

No matter what line of business you are in or how well you are performing, there is always room for improvement. Here at FileMaker, on a daily basis, we’re showing some of the UK’s most innovative SMBs how to tap into the latent potential of their business information and find new ways of working that will help them become fast-growth businesses. In short, we are showing that there are always measures you can take to improve your business, regardless of size or technical expertise.  We are firm believers that there should be nothing stopping the latest generation of entrepreneurs pursuing rapid growth from the earliest stages of their business. This is why we have begun to share our expertise with the next generation of innovators. As the philosopher, John Scruton, has said, education ‘is not about social engineering’ but ‘about passing knowledge from those who have it to those who need it.’ Let’s share the wealth.


Teacher, don’t leave those kids alone

Undoubtedly there always has been and always will be a nucleus of entrepreneurial spirit and fresh ideas throughout the UK. We are not necessarily seeing more innovative ideas than we were twenty years ago, but we have the technology to make these dreams a reality. Today’s school pupils are growing up with technology from the get-go, and it is ingrained in their everyday work. So, what better place to start sharing the potential that FileMaker can hold for an aspirational business? This was the thinking behind the project day that we recently ran in conjunction with Fujitsu at UTC Reading.

Working with Fujitsu, we were able to show the students how they could apply their knowledge of databases to deliver real business improvements. During the morning session our FileMaker experts ran the kids through a hands-on session, showing them how to build an application to analyse test results that they would be running from NAS devices, supplied by Fujitsu, later on in the afternoon. The uptake was fantastic and showed the students that understanding how to build a database could make technology work for them, rather than the other way around. It was great to get the FileMaker software into the hands of these young people and show them how they could use the technology and their own expertise to complete their own work to a higher standard.


The next generation of developers

We have always prized our developers as the key to sharing the wealth of benefits that a FileMaker solution can deliver. It was particularly pleasing, therefore, to see the seeds being sown for the next generation of developers with a number of new attendees registering for our FileMaker Experience Day later on in the month. It was great to be able to fast-track some more potential developers and let them apply and develop their knowledge.

Once again, University Technical College Reading played host to us for our latest session educating SMBs about the FileMaker solution. Welcoming people of all ages, from all spheres of business, the latest Experience Day really showed off the true value that FileMaker holds in allowing any type of business to develop a solution tailored to their own needs that helps them use their wealth of data more effectively.

So, education is the order of the day. The UK’s SMBs need to tap into the potential of their own data, and we in turn need to show them how to tap into their own potential. By starting with the next generation of entrepreneurs at the outset of their journey, we open the door to technology as a true enabler. The earlier we deliver the message that technology can always offer a more productive way of working, the greater the chance that these ideas will be embedded in the next generation of SMBs that we can help flourish in the near future. The future’s bright: we look forward to helping you make it brighter.