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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume V, Issue 10||October 2002|
By Omer Gagne
In the 1970's the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) gathered records of daily sales, ordering, and inventory from customers using 60's technology. Miles of green paper punch tape from registers was received by Merchandising via post. If the "blue giant dinosaur" was having a good day it would not eat the tape and the data was captured. If it had a bad day, the division was in for a ticker tape party - splicing and dicing tapes together for another try.
In 1986 BABLO moved on to newer mode by using on-line DTS registers at State locations, and Merchandising was outfitted with terminals to enter all other customer information. Then in 1994 BABLO adopted a retail software package with accounting functions, which was much improved. But, since it used standard polling lines, it is now out of sync with the rest of the techno world.
To keep pace, BABLO is currently investigating a Web based system which allows real time information for customers and BABLO. Some of customers are so techno savvy, they have to reach into their archives to convert the information we require in order to place, and receive, a merchandise order! This certainly gives us an image of grammar school students in a college environment. BABLO needs real time information - not post dated information - to successfully meet customer and accounting needs. Let's get rid of the US Mail, fax, and telephone and move on to at least e-mail.
The Bureau has tons of paper recycling, and with the use of modern day technology it seems logical that substantial savings can be realized. History has demonstrated that not keeping up with software and other technology upgrades leads to tremendous costs including labor intensive (and needless) man hours expended trying to stay current with the work load. Budgets need to include realistic monies for maintenance and upkeep for a secure platform of gathering needed information efficiently. BABLO has a retail/wholesale data system, and needs a Web based application which will provide information in real time, and a "souped up" customer delivery (7 to 3 days) system.
BABLO hopes to adopt a Web based system which leads to better accountability of inventory, productivity, and accounts receivable. It should also have automatic e-mails sent out to customers of invoice completion, vendor warnings of low stock or outages pending receipt, and many other advantages. These are only a few of the technological breakthrough features that can be incorporated and that will make a lot more "real time" for all of us to enjoy.
Omer Gagne is a Management Analyst at the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO).