Did you Know #DYK: What is an API?

What is an API

What is an API?

What exactly is an API? You make mention of this at a dinner party and you are likely to hear a pin drop! This is strongly contrasted in tech circles and management meetings where APIs are valuable and possess a positive impact for businesses. So, what is the real definition of an API?

An API stands for Application Programming Interface.

An API is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Think of the API as a messenger that delivers your request to the provider that you’re requesting it from. Then it delivers the reply back to you. What is important about this process is that the API defines functionalities that are independent of their respective implementations. This allows those implementations and definitions to vary without compromising each other.

Wow, technical overload! So for those of us who are computer scientists or programmers, what on earth does that mouthful mean?

Here is an API Illustration most of us can relate to:

API Call Back from RequestConsider your mobile phone, each of us have the ability to make a phone call request irrespective of the kind of phone we own. When we make a call request we get a response from our service provider that connects us to our friend. Your phone model doesn’t really matter. The phone we use is related to what we need the device to do in correlation to our tasks.

In our example, the phone we use has the screen layouts we prefer based on our business needs. On a website this means we can change the “look” or how the numbers display on our phones. However, we are accessing the same information or performing the same task – making a call.  All without affecting how another persons phone works.

It does present an interesting business choice, do you buy an existing phone model off of the shelf? Or design your own because of a unique business need such as integration with a company CRM or Sales database?

API Big Value for Business

An API presents long term benefits for companies. Specifically those who need to track end to end processes under one software solution.

At Leads 2 Business we offer an API service. Allowing your business to design their own interface to access our Project and Tender information. Get your tech team to contact us and we can connect you. We also offer our off the shelf service. It has our interface that we have designed as part of our normal subscription.


API Information dressed for your business.

To illustrate the concept of an API a little further we would like you to meet Data-Bob. He represents the data that we as a company provide to your organisation through our API. Your development team then designs the interface so that it fits with your corporate requirements.

What is an API?

API can be customised to your business

API Off the shelf Alternative


If you are still feeling lost as to the practical implementation of an API? Here’s real world example:

API Air line

The next time you book a flight you will have “front row seats” to interacting with an API! Whether you search from the airlines website or an online travel service that collates the information from multiple airlines, you will need access the airline’s database to see if there are any seats available, what the subsequent cost might be based on the date, flight time and popularity of your destination.

To obtain the information you need to book your flight, the application has to interact with the airline’s API. Then in turn takes the airline’s response to your request and delivers right back to the travel application you’re using. Through each step, it is aided by the interaction between the application and the airline’s API. Enabling you to perform everything from seat selection, to payment and booking.


How is API information delivered?

When you connect to our API, you will need a username and password. The data is delivered in an XML format. XML is a marked up version of plain text that is easy to access by computers. A comparison can be drawn between information that is obtained in comma separated value or .csv files. When you open the file it appears as a long string of values, however when you import it into excel, the values neatly populate columns and rows depending on the comma sequencing. A similar function occurs when an XML file is pulled. The mark up tags in the file allow your development team to populate the various rows or columns of information within your CRM package, creating a seamlessly integrated solution for your company. It’s an exciting approach and it offers streamlined processes and optimal efficiency for companies.

 

Where to from here?

I hope that this has assisted your understanding of what an API is, as well as how it can work for your business.
If you require any further information, please feel most welcome to contact us on 033-3431130 or email our IT team on Support@L2B.co.za

 

 

About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.

How to make the most of our Tenders?

posted in: Did You Know | 0

The Inside Scoop:

Ssssshhh, don’t tell the boss! I wanted to share some insider secrets with you. A brief look behind the scenes and into the research “engine room” of our company. I am hoping that you can use this information to your advantage. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

As you know, Leads 2 Business is keenly focussed on smarter ways to do and create business opportunities.This approach is not just about the information we deliver to you, but an integral part of our business ethos. Each month we capture literally thousands of tenders, yes, you read it correctly, THOUSANDS!

With this much tender information being pumped out on a daily basis, we have to find a smart and effective way to prioritise researching the subsequent tender awards.

How do we know?

Every Tender we send to you has an option to be monitored.
Monitoring a lead allows you to follow it through its life cycle
or assign it for follow-up within your team.

What is not so apparent is that we, in turn, use this monitoring
information as an indicator that this tender is important, creating
a priority flag back to the research team for follow-up.

It then becomes very important for you to monitor a tender!

How to Monitor a Tender

Monitoring a Tender can be done from selecting a recipient from the drop down box “Assigned to” on the tender.
Alternately, it can be done in bulk from the search results page first selecting which tenders you want to monitor, followed by “Actions”, “Monitor selection”. It will then present the same list of recipients as is available from the individual tender view pages.

Ways to get our attention

In the event you have not monitored a tender but still need the award information and the tender is now closed, you can email your request through from the tender page by clicking on “Request Award Information” button and someone from our research team will then follow up with you.

Tools you can use

There are more tools integrated into our tender notifications that we know will help you stay ahead. Specifically, our site inspection, follow-up and closing date reminders, which offer timeous alerts. An area for notes directly relating to the tender or contacts you may have reached out to. Our document collection and/or site attendance on your behalf through Infomessenger. (Gauteng only)

Making the most of your tenders is quite an exhaustive topic…

Here are the common points for consideration :

Subscribe

It may be seemingly obvious, but a valuable subscription to Leads 2 Business is a smart, streamlined approach.
We shoulder the cost of a research team and send you what is important to your business.

The number of filter combinations across categories, industries, geography and keywords creates a uniquely customised solution for your business lead pipeline. If you would like to know more about subscribing or taking a free trial, please send me an email on TarynD@L2B.co.za

Refine Your Profile

Making sure your profile on Leads 2 Business is tailored appropriately to your business requirements so that you get the lead information.

Your Advisory Settings Profile explicitly dictates what is received in the Daily Advisory email.

Steps to Action in Identifying opportunities


Go through the daily Advisory email thoroughly each day.

  • View the full details online.
  • Monitor & Request BoQ/ SI register/ Bidders Lists as soon as possible.
  • Set Reminders.
  • Email the researcher, if there are any discrepancies that you identify or if you need assistance.
  • Make Notes.
  • Download DTAs. (Daily Tender Advisory)
  • Keep a record of DTA numbers, instead of partial descriptions. This helps when searching.
  • Dismiss those unwanted DTAs, that are cluttering up your Search Result. (Be extra careful of dismissing DTAs by mistake)
  • Take advantage of our free online training, live support, telephonic support or in person training. (In person training is availble by appointment and only in selected areas)

Key Vocabulary to Understand:



  • Details Change:The details pertaining to the original tender have changed, please review the new details supplied in our notification.
  • Short Lead: This means there is a very short lead time or a very short time within which you can respond to this tender opportunity.
  • Awards: After the closing date, all the tenders are checked for basic compliance with the tender regulations. Non-compliant tenders are disqualified. The compliance of the products or services offered and the price is considered. Then all compliant tenders are listed in order of price. Those in the lowest price tender list are in the lowest price group. Preference points are given to suppliers on the list of lowest price tenders are first verified. Preference points are only awarded after the most expensive tenders have been excluded, as this makes the process faster and fairer. Those with verifiable information come out with the best preference points and are therefore awarded the contract.
  • Re-tenders: the issue of a second or subsequent request for tenders on a proposed contract.
  • Withdrawals: the contract has been withdrawn and there is no longer an opportunity to tender at this time.
  • Cancellations: the contract has been cancelled and there is no longer an opportunity to tender at this time.


About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.

Industry Events: Africa Energy Indaba 2017

Africa Energy Indaba 2017

Event:

Africa Energy Indaba 2017

 

Date:

21 February 2017 – 22 February 2017

 

Event location:

Sandton Convention Centre, 1 Maude Street, Sandton

 

Event description:

A platform for energy, government and business leaders to share insights and solutions to Africa’s energy crisis, while simultaneously exploring the vast energy development opportunities on offer on the continent.

 

Event Website:

HOME

 

Who to contact for more information:

Margaret Agocs
Exhibition Manager
Email: margs@energyindaba.co.za
Cell: +27 71 844 2569

If you are interested in becoming one of our subscribers, please visit our website.
To view notes with screenshots on how to use our website, please visit our Wiki site.
To view more articles, please visit our blog.

 

About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.

Making the most of your Advertising

posted in: How to... | 0

Making the Most of your Advertising

 

Banners are everywhere! As Internet users, they are on almost every site we visit. It is obvious the power that banner advertisements have as a means to promote your business. We want to go out of our way to intensify future growth for your business. However, whether you’re an industry leader or an emerging company, the difference between a poor banner design and a great one could see your ROI and site traffic go through the roof. It’s essential that your banners stand out from the crowd. How can you create a banner that will generate high click-throughs, or have a strong brand impact? First, we need to understand the current trends in Web advertising. Once you have covered this, you’ll have the foundations to prepare effective banners for your business. Even though the Web has been around for some time it is still a relatively new advertising medium.

This serves as an explanation why most banner adverts to date have focused on the generation of a direct response. Those who make advertising decisions are also less willing to take risks with a new medium, and demand to see direct results from their advertising spend. This is also why banner adverts have gained popularity so quickly – they are easy to track, and make ROI calculations simple. The problem with this model is that advertisers have come to demand an instant response from banner advertising and if it fails to deliver an immediate ROI, decision makers want it slashed from ad budgets. The reality is, due to the recent decline in advert rates, click- throughs, and the general effectiveness of direct response banners, many companies have retreated, unsure which way to turn. To remain competitive it is up to you to design a banner that encourages click-throughs that drive traffic to your site.

So how do you design your banner for maximum click-throughs?

Try incorporating some of these ideas into your advert to increase the number of clicks it generates.

Use prompting words: Using words that prompt the user to take action, will have a positive effect on the results of your adverts. For example words such as “Click Here”, “Click to Visit”, and “Visit Now!” can increase the likelihood of click-through.

Create a sense of urgency: In order for a visitor to click on your banner, they must get the impression that the information on your site is more important than the site they’re currently viewing. Create a sense of urgency by including phrases such as “Hurry!, Only while stocks last” and “Available for a limited time!” Keep it simple: Keep your banners clear and simple. Optimise your banner space with elements that generate click-through. Remember that it’s the job of the banner to get the user to click through and it’s the job of the Web site to provide information about your products and services, not the other way around!

Format for success: Your banner’s colour scheme is very important. Keep your colour scheme constant throughout especially if you’re using animation. Complimentary colours that grab the users’ attention work best to ensure key words stand out.

Target your audience: By using our sites your target audience is already construction oriented. Be sure to think about the subject matter this audience would be familiar with, interested in, and are likely to click on.

Security: New security features implemented by Microsoft for Outlook users will prevent a .gif animation from looping through all frames. So please ensure that all relevant information is displayed in the first frame, to accommodate these clients. Also, please keep in mind the fact that the effectiveness of banners decreases over time, so it’s a good idea to create new banners every few months.

About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.

Tender Documents to Help the Average Ant

Tender Documents to Help the Average Ant

Tender documents to help the Average Ant.

Every day, a small Ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately. She produces a lot and she was happy.

The Chief, a Lion, was surprised to see that the ant was working without supervision. He thought if the Ant can produce so much without supervision, would she produce even more if she had a supervisor?

So he recruited a Cockroach who had extensive experience as a supervisor and who was famous for writing excellent reports.

The Cockroach’s first decision was to set up a clocking in attendance system. He also needed a secretary to help him write and type his reports and he recruited a Spider, who managed the archives and monitored all the phone calls. The Lion was delighted with the Cockroach’s reports and asked him to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyse trends, so he could use them for presentations at board meetings.

So the Cockroach had to buy a new computer and a laser printer and recruited a Fly to manage the IT department.

The Ant, who had once been so productive, happy and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time.

The Lion came to the conclusion that it was time to nominate a person in charge of the department where the Ant worked.

The position was given to the Cicada, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for his office. He also needed a personal assistant who he brought from his previous department, to help him prepare a “Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimisation Plan”.

The department where the Ant works is now a sad place, where nobody laughs anymore and everybody is upset. It was at this time the Cicada convinced the Lion Chief, of the absolute necessity to start a “Climactic Study of the Environment.”

Having reviewed the charges for running the Ant’s department, the Lion found out that the production was even less then before!

So he recruited the Owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out an audit and suggest solutions.

The Owl spent three months and came up with an enormous report and after several volumes it that concluded: “The department is overstaffed…”

Guess who the Lion fired first?

The Ant, of course, because she “ showed a lack of motivation and had a negative attitude.”

Adapted from: Aesop’s Fable/ CP’s Fables

Perhaps this story rings true for you and you are compelled on a daily basis to acquire and complete mountains of paperwork. Unfortunately we cannot change how many supervisors or departments you work within.

We are however hopeful that this secret repository of Tender documents will help you be more positive, effective and motivated in your workplace as well as keep you out of the line of fire from any Lions!

About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.

New Year, New Business: How to start it right.

posted in: General | 0

Business Opportunities

Steps to Success

 

Do you want increased success in business in the coming year or the chance to enjoy the success you’ve achieved more? Maybe last year was not a great year and you want to change your business outlook?

So what are some of the things you can do?

 

1. Get Delegating!

There are so many things you need to do when you are running a business, its very easy to convince ourselves that we need to do all of them. It’s not surprising that at the end of a business day we are exhausted and we have no time for ourselves. Delegation is critical to maintaining that all important work-life balance.

So how can our Lead system help you with that all important time factor, delegation and ultimately money?

We are going to start by sending you targeted information on a daily basis. Straight away you are going to save yourself the time of sifting through newspapers, gazettes and websites as well as the subscription expense to these sources.

You are in control with how much or how little information you receive, as everything you want or need to know is determined via your profile.

As for the art of delegation, you can send Tenders, Projects or Awards to your team and get them to follow up on your behalf.

 

2. Promote your business

Too often the task of marketing and promoting your business slips to the bottom of the to-do list, especially when there are more urgent jobs looming. Why not use some of the time you have created by subscribing to our service & delegating leads to your team to promote your business? It doesn’t take too much time or financial resources to do this on our system. Update your entry on our Platinum Directory and get your name out there so companies can find you, your products and services.

Check out Did you Know #DYK: Why should I subscribe to Leads 2 Business (L2B)? for more information on our products and services.

3. Make planning a weekly event

Planning is vital if you want a blossoming business and there are tools at your finger tips to make this process easier. Earlier we spoke of delegation, now is the opportunity to get feedback on how things are going with your team. Find out which leads have worked for you,which professionals you need to follow up on, who will be attending the next site meeting and where you will be collecting your next set of tender documents from. To assist you in this process we have a handy tool called Leads Management System which will enable you to download reports on your team and begin building an outlook for the year ahead.

 

4. Network

There is a certain amount of buzz that seems to fuel business when you begin interacting, creating a forum for new ideas, refining old ones or creating new contacts. Make use of our Platinum Directory to create points of contact with Professionals or other potential businesses you could set up joint ventures with in future months.

 

5. Set realistic goals & make time for you

Setting goals is a valuable habit, specifically if the goals lead to success as opposed to stress. Resolve to make achievable goals rather than pipe dreams as these only lead to frustration. Part of these goals need to include taking time for yourself. All work and no play is an unhealthy recipe, so please take the time to invest in yourself, if you do not, who will?

 

We understand this aspect of life and have created a business calendar where you can set reminders and synchronise this with your Outlook or Google calendar.

Let us make your life easier. You can see how by clicking here.

About Taryn Duckham

I am a lover of marketing, customer centricity and the art of influence. Being able to effect this through analysis, content and front end design is part of my work, my great love of creatively solving problems that reach across as many parts of Leads 2 Business as I can.