Thursday, 27 January 2011

The joy of creating new solvers...

It’s an exciting time at the moment with a whole range of new routines being completed ready for the next Library release. The development group here are a highly motivated set of hard working folks, many with post-doc experience in a plethora of different areas of mathematics and computer science. While bringing their own individual knowledge to the code, they also get together as a well orchestrated team as all the methods are cross checked and fine tuned and documented for inclusion as new additions to the NAG library.

The next Library release will include more optimization routines, additional regression methods, extended wavelet functions, new surface fitting routines, further ODE solvers, enhanced random number generators... to mention only some of the content. So, particularly at the moment, it’s a real pleasure to have conversations with the individual developers and hear how some of the subtle design decisions that are made during the development process provide such large benefits, in usability, accuracy and performance, to users of our routines. For example one of the new optimization routines provides a new approach to solving bound constrained problems without requiring derivatives – making this solver very efficient for a range of large dimensional problems.

All these recent conversations have reminded me that we certainly have the expertise and the right attitude to help you. So do get in touch, at any time, if you want to discuss which of the hundreds of NAG routines you can use to solve your specific problem.

Friday, 21 January 2011

True Customer Engagement (when social is not so social)

About a year ago NAG embarked on a new journey into the realms of social media as a new way of engaging with our customers and potential customers. For many years we’d relied on communicating via the website, email, telephone and letter (all of which we still do of course), but we felt social media outlets could provide a great new way of improving communication.

First we created the NAG Blog. The vision for the blog is to provide an outlet for NAG staff to share their thoughts with the outside world in an informal way. We also created a space for NAG on Twitter and a group on Linkedin. So far, we’ve been pleased with how the groups have grown with followers and readers, but feel what might be lacking with all three places is true interaction with our audience.

The statistics show that people are reading and following, yet there's little two way dialogue. I’ve been trying to understand why this is, I've concluded that it's probably down to a host of reasons. Here are my thoughts:

1. Maybe our audience don’t have time or inclination to communicate with us through social media?

2. Or, maybe we’re not asking the right questions of our audience, or in fact any questions?

3. Maybe our audience still prefer more traditional methods of communication?

During 2011 we’ll be thinking of ways to further enhance dialogue with our customers. We really do want to hear how you’re using our software and learn about your successes and failures. This helps us grow and improve as an organisation, not only by making product offerings more customer centric, but improving our customer service.

Please do get in touch if you have ideas or thoughts of your own on this. I’d love to hear from you.

Friday, 14 January 2011

NAG Life Service Recognition Award

You don’t often feel like singing about being 40 years old except when you are a software company with such a rich history and as many good friends, colleagues and controbutors to remember. So it would seem very fitting in NAG’s 40th anniversary year to create the NAG Life Service Recognition Award. The award aims to recognise valuable contribution to the company over an extended period of time. An invitation went out last week to all members of NAG to submit nominations for this award. The award will be made at AGM35 this September. It’s a shame that we have lost touch with quite a few good friends, colleagues and contributors, I would love to hear from anyone who is interested in what we are up to now.