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Looking back at 2011 and ahead to the future

December 27, 2011 General Mark

We end the year with a look back at 2011 and a look ahead to the future.

Version 2 released – base camp reached

On March 22nd, we released Ascend Version 2. On the surface it operated much the same as the Version 1. But underneath the hood was a new engine.  The release was the culmination of project started in 2009 we dubbed “Alpine”. Alpine is the area of a mountain above the tree line. You have to climb high to get there. Once you get there you still have a long climb to reach the peak. We needed to get to this base camp to continue on with our next generation of improvements. It was a long and challenging journey with many lessons learned. It made our team stronger and well prepared for the future. 

The climb begins – delivery of continuous innovation

In our introductory blog, I described how we had transformed ourselves into an Agile development team. With Project Alpine behind us we were able to direct our energies towards a continuous delivery of innovation and new improvements. Ascend Version 2.1, released on September 6th, started the beginning of quarterly feature updates. We followed up with the next release, Version 2.2 , just 3 months later on December 12th. And all along the way we were releasing to our team of beta dealer every two weeks.

One of the best things we did to help guide our way was to open up our UserVoice forum. It has been a great way for us to understand what is most important to you. Over 200 of you have joined.  If you haven’t joined yet, please make a commitment to join in 2012.

Lesson learned

In a recent blog post Seth Godin described the difference between a failure and a mistake. A failure is a project that doesn’t work, an initiative that teaches you something at the same time the outcome doesn’t move you directly closer to your goal. A mistake is a failure repeated. It’s doing something for the second time when you should have known better. We, like all businesses, have had our failures. But rest assured we do everything we can to avoid mistakes. In 2011 we added integrated e-mail service into Ascend. It’s an improvement that will help you to better communicate with your customers. The outage we experienced earlier this month showed we failed to set-up proper back-up for this service. This will be corrected. And as we add new services, we will not make the same mistake again.

Looking ahead:

This past year, as I moderated our UserVoice forum and talked to you, two common themes emerged. First, you want to manage all of your core businesses processes within Ascend. This includes areas such as rentals, customer loyalty programs, employee scheduling and warranty returns. Second, you want Ascend to connect to the other systems and services you work with. This includes things such as your websites, suppliers, accounting software, e-mail marketing and texting. These areas will be the focus of our development in 2012 and beyond. I’ve also heard many times that you’re counting on us to lead you into the future. Cloud computing and mobile applications are two of the top technologies we’ll be focussing on.

We thank you for a great 2011 and look forward to providing you the Best System and Best Support in  2012.

Have a Happy New Year!


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