Google has a New Cloud Platform – What Does it Mean for Application Development?

Google’s foray into the cloud computing space is the talk of the town. By offering a suite of public cloud computing services such as compute, storage, networking, big data, IoT, machine learning, and application development, Google has now joined the likes of Amazon and Microsoft and hopes to take over the cloud computing market. Since the platform is a public cloud offering, services can be accessed by application developers, cloud administrators, and other IT professionals over the internet or by using a dedicated network connection.

google cloud platform for application development

What Google New Cloud Platform Means For Application Development?

According to Gartner, by 2021, the PaaS market is expected to attain a total market size of $27.3 billion. In addition to the core cloud computing products such as Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, and Google Container Engine, what’s particularly exciting for the application development world is the Google App Engine – a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering that enables developers to build scalable web applications as well as mobile and IoT backends. It offers access to Google’s scalable hosting, software development kit (SDK), and a host of built-in services and APIs. Here’s a list of features application developers can leverage:

  • Access to familiar languages and tools: Since developers are most comfortable developing apps using languages that they are familiar with, the Google Cloud Platform allows them to choose the language of their choice – from Java, PHP, Node.js, Python, C#,.Net, Ruby or any other language you prefer. Access to a collection of tools and libraries that include Google Cloud SDK, Cloud Shell, Cloud Tools for Android Studio, IntelliJ, PowerShell, Visual Studio etc. make application development all the more efficient. And with custom runtimes, you can bring any library and framework to the App Engine by supplying a Docker container.
  • Hassle-free Coding: Despite being proficient in coding, developers often end up managing several other aspects of the application development life-cycle beyond the purview of their role. The Google Cloud Platform offers a range of infrastructure capabilities such as patch and server management, as well as security features like firewall, Identity and Access Management, and SSL/ TLS certificates. With all these other facets of development taken care of, developers can enjoy hassle-free coding, without worrying about managing the underlying infrastructure.
  • Scalable Mobile Backends: Depending on the type of mobile application that is required to be built, the Google Cloud Platform automatically scales the hosting environment. With Cloud Tools for IntelliJ, one can easily deploy Java backends for cloud apps to the Google App Engine flexible environment. Integration with Firebase mobile platform provides an easy-to-use front-end with a scalable and reliable backend, and access to functionalities such as databases, analytics, crash reporting and more.
  • Quick Deployment: Quick deployment is a top priority for any developer; if one can’t deploy apps quickly, someone else will and might eat into your market share and customer base. Being a fully-managed platform, Google Cloud Platform allows developers to quickly build and deploy applications and scale as required, and not worry about managing servers or configurations. What’s more, Google’s Cloud Deployment Manager allows you to specify all the resources needed for the application and to perform repeatable deployments quickly and efficiently.
  • High Availability: Making applications available anytime, anywhere, and on any device has become a requisite. The Google App Engine allows developers to build highly scalable applications on a fully managed serverless platform. All they have to do is simply upload their code and allow Google to manage the app’s availability — without having to provision or maintain a single server. Since the engine scales applications automatically in response to the amount of traffic they receive, you can ensure high availability and only pay for the resources used.
  • Easy Testing: The impact of an app failure is extremely profound. Not only does it cost a lot but it also impacts customer trustworthiness. Do you know? In 2017, software failures resulted in losses of over $1.7 trillion. The Google Cloud Platform integrates with the Firebase Test Lab that provides cloud-based infrastructure for testing mobile apps. With Firebase Test Lab, app developers can initiate the testing of apps across a wide variety of devices and configurations and view test results directly on their console. And if there are problems in the app, they can debug the cloud backend using Stackdriver Debugger without affecting end-user experience.
  • Seamless Versioning: Users need updated information about the version of the app installed on their devices. This means that versioning is a critical component of the application upgrade and maintenance strategy. When developing apps in the App Engine, one can easily create development, test, staging, and production environments and host different versions of the app. Each version then runs within one or more instances, depending on how much traffic it has been configured to handle.
  • Health Monitoring: Providing users with high-quality app experiences requires app developers to carry out timely performance monitoring. As applications get more complex and distributed, Google Stackdriver offers powerful application diagnostics to debug and monitor the health and performance of these apps. By aggregating metrics, logs, and events, it offers deep insight into multiple issues. This helps speed up root-cause analysis and reduce mean time to resolution.

Streamline Application Development:

The Google Cloud Platform – with its application development and integration services – could change the face of application development. With access to popular languages and tools and an open and flexible framework that is fully managed, it enables app developers to improve productivity and become more agile. Developers can focus on simply writing code and run all applications in a serverless environment. Since the App Engine automatically scales depending on application traffic and consumes resources only when the code is running, developers do not have to worry about over or under-provisioning. Now developers can efficiently manage resources from the command line, debug source code in their production environment, easily run API backends using industry-leading tools, and streamline the application development process.

The Big Deal About Interactive emails, and How They Could Rule This Online Shopping Season

Email marketing is not dead. In fact, it’s among the most effective ways for online retailers to build relationships with customers. For substantial conversions, you should be emailing your customers regularly. However, if your email campaigns aren’t working, it’s time for you to examine what you’re doing.

Your emails should create user engagement, and among the best ways to do that is to increase interactivity. Interactive emails are a great way to bring more functionality into your customers’ inbox; this could range from showing a hidden message when the user clicks a button to creatively using scrolling to tell a story – there’s a lot of untapped potentials.

interactive emails for shopping seasons

The big deal about Interactive Emails:

Do you know? 54% of marketers say increasing engagement rate is their top email marketing priority. A remarkable alternative to traditional emails, interactive emails are set to be the next big thing in the e-commerce industry. Interactive emails are a great way to surprise and delight customers with new offers, discounts, and more. They are making interactions between retailers and customers more engaging. With innovative ideas, creative designs, interactive features, and visually attractive content and videos, interactive emails are driving substantial increases in the click-through rates as they enable customers to act from within the email body.

  • You can offer menus in emails (like on the website). Users can easily surf products or service categories right within their inbox. Menus are great for new product launches, recommendations, and cross-selling and can help you improve your click-through rates and generate traffic.
  • Delivering engaging content through photos, GIFs, and videos is an excellent way to capture the attention of your customers. From the latest news to the latest product on your website, how-to messages to interactive pics –embedding such features in emails is better than sending a link to your website or social handles.
  • Since e-commerce sites have an extensive array of products, counters work great to create a sense of urgency in an email.  Countdowns to promote a sale or event promote quick action. They allow you to offer limited period discounts and motivate customers to make a purchase directly from the email body.
  • If you want to showcase the latest products or trends or offers, rotational banners are perfect to drive customer interactions. Not only do they make email aesthetics attractive and catchy, but also help in keeping content precise and to-the-point.  
  • Another great way of driving interaction is through the use of sliders. By displaying multiple products in a limited space, you can encourage users to click to view the next or previous slide – with a different CTA for each. You can use sliders to showcase new products, recommended products, product reviews, and more.

What makes them so Effective?  

Although interactive emails are becoming popular across industries, it is the e-commerce space where they really shine. Here are 5 features that make interactive emails so effective in online shopping:

  1. Fill cart: Imagine if customers could shop for their products directly from the email body, without opening the app or logging into the website? Through interactive emails, you can allow customers to easily navigate through products, fill their cart, and check out right from the email. By updating the cart and associated prices, taxes, and discounts in real-time, you can increase customer satisfaction and revenue.
  2. Surveys and product reviews: Very often, customers want to provide feedback and product reviews but do not have the time or patience to log into the website. With interactive emails, customers can directly provide feedback and review products from the email body, and save substantial time and effort. You can gain valuable information about customers, get feedback about your products and services, increase the click-through rate on your emails, and show them that their opinions matter.
  3. Story-telling: Not everything in email marketing has to be about increasing revenue. It can also be about engaging and delighting customers and building relationships through interesting story-telling. Story-telling is a great way to captivate your audience. First, listen to your customers and discover their motivations, concerns, and aspirations. Then, align your story with what drives them, and link your products with their lives to tap the right emotions.
  4. Real-time marketing: If you’re looking to pursue additional sales opportunities, interactive emails are a great way to enable real-time marketing. By enticing customers to make quick decisions based on a certain interaction, you can not only help them make a purchase but also ensure it exactly fits their needs. For example, if a customer leaves your website with an abandoned cart, you can instantly send him/her an email and offer an incentive to buy immediately or check if they have a query. Price is often the main reason for abandonment, a discount may act as a great motivation to finalize the sale.
  5. Add to calendar: Since sale days are a great way to cash in on increased footfall, an add-to-calendar option can enable you to promote your event. Although it is a simple way to increase interactivity, it is highly effective as it will ensure your customer is reminded of the event, and in all probability, drop by as appointed.

Gear up for the Shopping Season:

Interactive emails are a great way to make customers aware of new and attractive offers. By utilizing interactive elements, you can urge customers to make decisions. If you want to build relationships with your customers, it is time to add value to the emails you send and ensure they don’t unsubscribe from your mailers. Make your customers scratch, pull or slide content, spark their curiosity, and enhance their experience with interactivity this shopping season.

Several online retailers are competing to own the 2018 shopping season. Through innovative and interactive tactics, you can truly drive customer engagement and stand out.

All you need to know about the AngularJS – ReactJS choice

With a variety of frameworks available in the market, deciding which web application framework to use can become overwhelming. There are a host of factors to consider including the libraries they offer, the database access options, templates, and code reuse. JavaScript frameworks are developing fast, and frameworks like AngularJS and ReactJS have become extremely popular. With over 318,754 unique AngularJS domains and 214,467 ReactJS domains, the choice is not easy. Let’s look at both these frameworks to see what may best suit your needs.
reactjs-vs-angularjs-framework

AngularJS

AngularJS, an open-source JavaScript-based front-end web application framework primarily maintained by Google. It provides a structure for building an application end-to-end: from writing the code and designing the UI to testing. It addresses many of the challenges encountered in developing single-page applications. It simplifies the development and the testing phases and allows for automatic synchronization of models and views for improved testability and performance. Like similar frameworks, AngularJS offers multiple solutions and designs and is used by several organizations such as AWS, YouTube, Google, Nike, PayPal, Upwork etc.
Key Features:

  • AngularJS offers an out-of-the-box MVC framework that automatically combines all the elements, making it easier to build client-side applications.
  • It uses HTML to build the user interface. This is easy to understand and simple to organize and maintain.
  • Being an end-to-end, full-fledged framework, it requires minimal coding and can run on any browser or platform.
  • AngularJS drives context-aware communications. This ensures the right messages are sent to the right nodes at the right time.
  • The dependency injection feature enables one object to supply dependencies to another object. This allows greater flexibility and cleaner code.
  • Custom directives enable assignment of the right attribute to the appropriate elements.

Advantages:

  • The MVVM (Model-view-view-model) allows different developers to work simultaneously on the same sections using the same set of data.
  • Since AngularJS relies on TypeScript, it offers more consistency and enables faster compilation.
  • Detailed documentation enables developers to easily get the information they need.
  • The two-way data binding reduces the impact of minor changes, minimizing the possibility of errors and eliminating the need for additional effort for data sync.
  • Being open-source, AngularJS is constantly updated and improved through contributions from developers everywhere.
  • AngularJS developers and designers constantly collaborate and contribute to the community. The global community support is excellent. This enables quick familiarization with concepts.

Disadvantages:

  • The earlier versions of AngularJS bring with them complex Angular-specific syntax that drives a steep learning curve.
  • The physical DOM is hard to manage and update.
  • Migration issues make it tough to move from an older AngularJS version to a newer one.

What is ReactJS?

ReactJS, an open-source JavaScript-based library primarily maintained by Facebook, offers a robust base for developing single-page web or mobile applications. Being declarative in nature, ReactJS makes the process of creating rich UIs seamless. It ensures the code is predictable and easier to debug. Since it is component-based, it ensures seamless integration of different components written by different people without causing major ripples through the codebase. The ReactJS ecosystem comprises many building blocks and online tools and is used by several organizations such as Instagram, Netflix, WhatsApp, Airbnb, Microsoft, Facebook etc.

Key Features:

  • The Virtual DOM enables developers to focus on writing the JavaScript code without worrying about updating React components or the DOM; when any data changes, the virtual DOM automatically updates the user interface.
  • The component-based architecture makes components easily reusable, enhancing their testability and maintainability.
  • By using JSX to write views, ReactJS enables JavaScript and HTML to operate in a single file.
  • External plugins enable developers to interface ReactJS with other libraries and frameworks.
  • In order to design an app interface, developers can either use nested elements (by including a reference to the child class within the render method of the parent class) or loops (by combining numerous HTML elements into an array).
  • Server-side scripting can be enabled with Node.js. Developers can create dynamic web page content before the page goes to the web browser.

Advantages:

  • The simplicity of syntax makes ReactJS easy to learn.
  • Since ReactJS is universally flexible, the libraries can be paired with all kinds of packages.
  • ReactJS gives developers more control to size an application by selecting only those things that are really necessary offering extreme flexibility and responsiveness.
  • The Virtual DOM makes arranging documents in HTML or XML formats much easier while developing different elements of the web app.
  • Since data flows only in one direction, the result is better data overview and easier debugging.
  • Downward data binding ensures child elements do not affect parent data.
  • Being open-source, ReactJS is constantly updated and improved by contributions from developers everywhere.
  • The presence of codemods ensures a seamless migration from earlier versions to newer versions.

Disadvantages:

  • The absence of systematic documentation and limited guidance makes development tricky and, sometimes, risky.
  • Since ReactJS is not a full-fledged framework, developers require deeper programming knowledge for integrating the UI library into the MVC framework.
  • Developers may take more time to get familiar with ReactJS as each project architecture varies.

Choose the Right Framework:

Clearly, choosing the right framework for your web application has to be a top priority. Since the framework you choose can have a direct bearing on your ability to meet your current requirements and as well as future needs, choosing between AngularJS or ReactJS is an important decision. While AngularJS offers more consistency, is easier to develop and compile, the complex Syntax and physical DOM make development a little tricky. On the other hand, ReactJS offers a shorter learning curve, is flexible, and easier to debug, but, the absence of documentation and the requirement of deeper programming knowledge make it more suited for professional developers. For the experienced developer, there is no substantial difference in the frameworks; but your choice will have to be driven by your business requirement, your web application goals, and your system constraints.

Check back with us if you need any help in picking what’s right!

Are you missing on these latest eCommerce web trends?

Ecommerce has come a long way from the time when a tiny company called Amazon started selling books online. Today predicted sales in the eCommerce industry are expected to cross $27 trillion by the year 2020. The mobile revolution further fueled the eCommerce revolution and today, you always have your favorite store in the palm of your hand. Almost 11% of online shoppers shop online using their smartphones. 35% believe that the mobile will become their preferred purchasing tool. 39% of the shoppers look towards social networks for purchasing inspiration. Clearly, eCommerce is evolving at a rapid pace. With every product imaginable available online and the increasingly mobile nature of the eCommerce customer, just having a good eCommerce website is not good enough anymore. Consumers today expect that online transactions will mimic the engaging and immersive in-store experience, eCommerce companies must make sure that they follow the latest trends to stay their customer’s preferred online shopping destination. Here’s a look at some of the latest eCommerce web trends you cannot afford to ignore.
latest ecommerce web trends

  1. The ‘motion’ experience:
    Motion is making big noise in eCommerce design this year. Subtle animation, some form of movement on the website, to engage the customer will be a UX imperative this year. The idea of introducing motion is to attract the consumer, keep them engaged, and make the online shopping experience more alive. You could, for example, use animated iconography like Etsy uses to notify people when a product is almost sold out. However, as with everything else, minimalism rules here as well. Don’t overdo the motion experience. This could annoy more than improve.
  2. The Social Connect:
    Today, 9 out of 10 people turn to Social Media before they make a buying decision and almost 75% of people purchase something after seeing it on social media. The Shopper Experience Index reveals that shoppers lean heavily on visual content to absorb the experiences and behaviors of others and to discover the products people are using on social channels.
    Social shopping is expected to be one of the biggest eCommerce trends for 2018. This provides retailers with the opportunity to showcase their products on the social applications their consumers spend the most time with. Levis, for example, added the social connect to their eStore and found that almost 30% of the website traffic started coming from Facebook. Adding the social connect to your eCommerce website will become imperative to give today’s shoppers the opportunity to purchase a product without switching between websites or applications.
  3. Shoppable videos:
    We all know that videos are a mainstay in the eCommerce landscape. They play a big role in drawing the crowds to your website. However, 2018 is all geared to be the year of shoppable videos, where the consumer will be able to shop for a product or service directly from the video itself. Shoppable videos reduce the catalog browsing time for the consumers while providing them with the best visual shopping experience. Global retailers, Marks and Spencer’s have given this trend a try already by selling their new denim collection via such videos wherein the customer could pause and purchase the denim at any point directly from the video itself.
  4. The omnichannel transition:
    The customers of today demand a fully integrated and unified shopping experience. The Shoppers Experience Index 2018, thus unsurprisingly shows an accelerating transition among online retailers towards providing customers with an omnichannel experience. Retailers thus need to focus heavily on delivering a high-quality customer experience that is consistent across online and offline channels irrespective of device. This omnichannel approach allows the customer to view the product on any device, ship purchases to stores, have in-store purchases shipped to them, and process returns and exchanges in any store location. With this approach, Online retailers can truly increase their market reach and develop the capability to sell online as well as offline. They can effectively ‘be everywhere’.
  5. Artificial Intelligence is on the rise:
    AI is going to take eCommerce to the next level. eCommerce companies such as Amazon and eBay are already leveraging AI to improve the online shopping experience. Did you know that Amazon’s recommendation engine drives 35% of the company’s sales? In 2018, Use of AI in eCommerce in the form of chatbots and AI assistants, smart logistics for automated warehouse operations, recommendation engines to analyze customer behavior, and in making hyper-personalized product suggestions will see significant growth.
  6. Voice search to become more commonplace:
    Voice search is geared to take off this year as voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa become more commonplace. Research suggests that more than 40% of millennials use a voice search before making a purchase online. Almost 20% of Google searches on mobile are voice-based. With mobile commerce gaining an even stronger foothold (it is estimated that mobile commerce will cross $600 million in 2018), optimizing the online store for voice search becomes imperative this year.

Finally, eCommerce websites have to become more performance-focused this year (like the years that went by!). Jem Young, of Netflix, said, “Beyond frameworks, beyond libraries, beyond the latest design trends, it’s performance that ultimately matters the most…For eCommerce businesses especially, where the difference of 200 milliseconds can mean the difference between gaining a customer or losing them to a competitor, keeping your site performance is crucial in order to stay competitive in 2018.”
How many of these eCommerce trends is your company following? How have they worked out for you?
Do share your experiences with us.

5 Changes Your Startup Must Make To Succeed With Offshore Product Development

Offshore product development is now quite common in the technology world. Some of the most successful startups such as Basecamp, GitHub, and MySQL are good examples of startups that successfully outsourced their product development and yet were massively successful.

It’s fair to say that outsourcing is only going to increase because of the cost and business benefits it brings to organizations and especially to startups. Highlighting this trend, the IT Outsourcing Report stated that nearly 40% of companies that outsourced application development planned to increase the volume of work they outsourced. The report also stated that 53% of companies with a mobile app outsourced their development initiatives. When it comes to startups, outsourcing had its own set of advantages other than just cost. Since startups are usually resource and time constrained, outsourcing product development makes abundant sense. Outsourcing gives startups the bandwidth to focus on the business aspect without having to worry about the many complexities of product development.

That said, outsourcing product development is anything but a simple process. Both the startup and the offshore product development team need to iron out certain processes to ensure that product development happens effortlessly, and the end result is superlative. Here are some suggestions on how to make this work.

  1. Treat the offshoring team as your extended team:
    Your offshore product development team is an extension of your internal team. They thus should be treated with the same amount of trust that you would show your local team. Startups must trust that the outsourcing vendor will work with a commitment to ensure that they develop a product that is successful.
    In our experience when a startup treats their outsourcing vendor and the team as their partner they work harder for you and empathize more. The fact is, you hire an outsourcing team for the experience and expertise they bring to the table. So, treat them as a part of your internal team to get the most out of that portfolio. Trust their insights and get them more involved by embedding them into your development process.
  2. Leverage them as your technology partners:
    Your offshore team gives you open access to strong technology experts. Sometimes this might lead to a clash of views. Such clashes often happen when the technology expert feels that a particular technology is more suitable for a project and the startup feels otherwise. In such a situation, it is advisable to have an open discussion like you would have with your internal team member. Let us speak on behalf of the offshore product development vendor for a minute. Given that these experts have their finger on the pulse of the tech ecosystem beyond just your product, their opinion will usually not be driven by technology bias. It will generally stem more from a desire to leverage the technology that will help in developing a better, feature-rich and more robust product.
  3. Integrate – make them a part of the big picture:
    Would your internal team be able to function if you don’t give them an idea of the big picture…of where your startup is heading? It’s no longer the case that offshore product development teams work best only when managing certain non-core activities in isolation. If you want your startup to succeed, you must ensure that all invested stakeholders have a clear idea of your company vision and mission -and this includes the offshore team. Help the offshore team understand not only the problems the product is trying to solve but also where the company wants to go in the long run. When you share your vision with the offshore team you give them the context in which they can innovate on your behalf. They can then help you come up with ideas to make the product better, how to extend the product, how to plan for an accelerated product development roadmap and come up with a product evolution plan.
  4. Establish clear criteria for success:
    You can only manage what you can measure. The same is true for startups working with offshore product development teams as well. Adopting an agile approach even in communication is key. Clear expectation setting helps in establishing clear criteria for success. To establish measurable and clearly accountable goals, have reasonable delivery timelines, have regular check-ins at a mutually convenient time, have a defined process of engagement that ensures that all deliverables are transferred in the appropriate format. It is most important to agree upfront on the parameters that define success to establish the performance of the offshore team.
  5. Great communication is critical for success:
    Great communication leads to successful partnerships. When it comes to an offshore product development team, communication can sometimes prove to be the Achilles heel. Startups, thus need to ensure that there is an environment that fosters effective communication between the offshore and local teams. This means leveraging all available tools like emails, messenger, and chat for communication and clarifications. This will involve the use of appropriate productivity tools for proper project management. This is essential to eliminate misunderstandings based on assumptions. Ensure that your outsourcing partner offers a model for business engagement that helps you get clarifications in case the outsourced team is in a different time zone. Regular check-ins also play an important role in establishing clear communication channels. This approach is more structured and ensures that everyone’s time is used optimally and that no information falls through communication gaps.

A change in mindset is essential to succeed while outsourcing product development to offshore teams for a startup. Once you see this team as an extension of your own company then ironing out issues that emerge during any product development lifecycle become easy. Remember that at the end of the day, “Individually we are a drop but together we are an ocean”. It’s time to dive in!

What the widespread adoption of digital transformation means for us?

Digital Transformation – These two words have changed the enterprise as we know it. Given the intense focus on digital, it has become evidently clear that the world will soon be divided into two parts – that of ‘digital leaders’ and of ‘digital laggards’ as per a Harvard Business Report. Unsurprisingly, HBR believes that it is the digital leaders who will outperform the digital laggards. Digital transformation has impacted business models, customer experiences, and operating models. This trend is all about employing digital technologies to business workflows and operations along with customer interactions. The aim is to enhance existing processes and improve the existing modes of interactions and consequently enable new, better, and more relevant products and processes. So pervasive has been the impact of Digital Transformation that it has topped the CIO agenda in 2017 as per a Wall Street Journal report. Having said that, here’s a look at what this widespread adoption of Digital Transformation means for companies like ours who support the organizations that have embarked on this journey.

  1. Web App Development:

    The enterprise today has to keep up with an insatiable demand for apps. It is because of the demand for enterprise-grade, secure, robust, and intuitive applications that organizations developing these apps have had to rethink how applications are created. Development methodologies such as Agile, DevOps, Behaviour Driven Development, and Test Driven Development thus have emerged as key enablers of digital transformation. They give organizations the capability to deliver reliable applications faster. Low-code, rapid application development platforms, also, have been thrust into the spotlight to fuel this digital economy that depends on applications. Given that organizations have to be more consumer-focused in this digital age also means an increased focus on UX. Organizations also have to realize that apps now have to be tightly integrated with existing systems and deliver value to the business. The need for IT agility also means that apps become more customized, simple and modular, and highly secure. App development needs to accommodate these needs. As digital transformation becomes stronger, app development also has to factor in the interfaces with and the working of all networking elements, servers, and databases. Insights into how they are likely to perform under application conditions will become key inputs to delivering service assurance. That is our challenge now.

  2. Mobile App Development:

    The mobile has a decisive role in digital transformation. The growing mobile obsession irrespective of geographical, cultural, and social diversity means that enterprises have to calibrate their digital transformation initiatives around mobile consumerism. For software partners like is, this means mobile app development has to look at emerging technologies such as bot frameworks, machine learning, AI etc. to elevate mobile apps to match consumer expectations and have a transformational business impact. Having a mobile plan for all the disparate systems, and ensuring all legacy applications have a mobile front-end will be imperative. Mobile app developers also have to take into consideration business intelligence and analytics as more enterprises move towards SaaS applications and the cloud. At the same time, traditional mobile apps will make way for intelligent mobile apps that employ cognitive API’s and focus on delivering hyper-personalized UX’s to finely-tuned mobile app experiences. With greater digital proliferation, mobile app development will also move towards amalgamating experiences of the web with the mobile to develop apps that are extendable, performance oriented, highly secure, discoverable, and shareable.

  3. Software Testing:

    The shift towards methodologies such as Agile and DevOps is changing the way software is tested. The need for fool-proof, secure, available, comprehensive, and robust applications has never been greater than today. Owing to this, shift left testing is becoming popular. Here testing is integrated into the development process itself and starts early in the development cycle. Testing in the digital world is not only about finding faults but also about assisting in creating an application that focuses on customer experience. Testing teams have to now not only look at the business aspect but also focus on providing intelligence for business creation. The speed of testing has to increase and thus, we have to implement higher levels of test automation and leverage technologies such as AI and Machine Learning to make testing smarter. Software testing teams also have to focus on ensuring consistent application performance across different platforms, mobile devices, and operating systems, even with an increased focus on UX. Most importantly, test automation initiatives have to be open to evolution in keeping with constantly evolving application demands.

  4. Cloud

    The cloud is a key enabler of digital transformation efforts as it offers enterprises the ease, speed, and scale that businesses need. The digital economy demands application availability. There is no place for latency in this business environment. The cloud emerges as the enabler of efficiencies here to ensure the anytime, anywhere availability of applications and information access. The need for greater computing power, storage, and a robust IT infrastructure can be addressed with the cloud. We have to consider that the cloud will become even more pervasive in enterprises looking at the digital transformation. This is inevitable as it provides enterprises with the capability to continuously innovate, build, test, implement, and experiment with different applications on multiple platforms. Additionally, since digital transformation demands the adoption of a culture of collaboration, it enables people to work more efficiently, to find ways to service customers better, generate revenue, and to find solutions to unsolvable problems. The cloud emerges as its critical enabler of innovation, creativity, and productivity and it has to form a key part of our arsenal.

The true value of digital transformation lies in complete transformation- not just tweaks. This transformation implies disruption and halting a previous trajectory to allow a fundamental change of path. It is only then that you can achieve the goal of digital transformation – to raise the bar and change the ground rules so that you can win in this competitive global economy. And yes, it will be software service partners that will help power that transformation.

The Top 5 Programming Languages of 2018 for Software Excellence

Spring 2018 is already here, and with the year flying by (like it always does), it’s time for a bit of a pause and a status check. At the heart of our world of technology is the underlying programming language. It follows, that if you want to stand out from the crowd and develop cutting-edge software, you must keep pace with new and upcoming languages. Although mainstream languages like Java, C, C++, and Python continue to be among the most popular in the software industry, emerging languages are just as (or sometimes more) capable of delivering great outcomes.

Emerging Languages of 2018:

Software development is one of the most dynamic industries out there. Languages, frameworks, and technologies arise, become popular, and then die an inglorious death. Developers have to constantly learn new skills (and languages) to outperform the competition. That’s why this collation of the top 5 emerging and influential languages for 2018!

If you’re an aspiring product developer, this is a good insight into what’s trending; if you’re an experienced hand, here is your chance to unlearn/re-learn.

  1. Elixir: First appeared 7 years ago in 2011, Elixir is a dynamic, functional programming language designed to build distributed, scalable, fault-tolerant applications. Used by companies like Pinterest, Elixir helps in creating high-availability, low-latency systems. It boosts performance by running on the Erlang VM.
    Since the Elixir code runs inside lightweight processes, thousands of processes can run concurrently in the same machine. This offers substantial horizontal and vertical scaling. What works for Elixir is its high-scalability, high-extensibility, fault-tolerant nature, its functional programming capability, the fact that it is Erlang compatible, and part of a growing ecosystem.
  2. Swift: Debuted first in 2014, Swift is a powerful, intuitive, general-purpose programming language developed by Apple Inc. for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Being a multi-paradigm, compiled programming language, Swift serves as a good replacement for the Objective-C language for OSX and iOS development. Used by companies like Uber and Airbnb, Swift is new-programmer friendly and ideal for developing robust and lightning-fast applications – a must in today’s fast-paced world. What works for Swift is its modern, forward-thinking nature, its easy and fun-to-use Playgrounds, its security features, Objective-C interoperability, its fast and powerful performance, and the fact that it is open-source.
  3. Haskell: First released in 1990, Haskell is a standardized, general-purpose functional programming language that ensures excellent software performance. Haskell uses two popular systems:
    1. the built-in type system determines the type of every expression at compile time – reducing the possibility of bugs and ensuring code optimization, and
    2. the lazy evaluation system which delays the evaluation of expressions until its value is needed – avoiding repeated evaluations and reducing run time.

    Being used by companies like Facebook, Haskell is ideal for applications that need to be highly modifiable and maintainable. What works for Haskell is its expressive syntax, its clean code, shorter lead-times, higher reliability, code re-use features, powerful abstractions, and built-in memory management.

  4. Scala: Scala, which first appeared in 2004, is the perfect combination of an object-oriented and functional language, offering you the best of both worlds. Since Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine, it provides language interoperability with Java; it allows you to use Interact seamlessly with Java libraries and also overcomes many of the challenges associated with Java. Just like Haskell, Scala also uses the same type interface, and hence reduces the possibility of logic errors. The simple and straightforward syntax and highly functional code make development entertaining and fun. What works for Scala is its code reuse feature, high flexibility and extensibility, and built-in class hierarchies.
  5. Go: Google Go, appeared first in 2009, is a compiled, open-source programming language ideal for building simple, reliable, and efficient software. Used by companies like BBC, Go offers immense speed, and is easy to deploy – you can cross-compile your applications, and easily run your original code on multiple machines. Since there are no complex abstractions or clever metaprogramming in Go, it makes it easier for new programmers to learn and excel at development. What works for Go is its simplicity, scalability, its straightforward syntax, its code optimization and error-checking feature.

Surge Ahead

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. The world of software development is blessed with an undying energy and new technologies and languages, all with their own virtues appear each day. Languages like Elm, Rust, and Kotlin could easily find mention in a list like this put up by someone else. Working in software development requires you to always keep pace with technological innovations and to hone your skills with the ever-changing technology landscape. As demands grow, and projects get bigger and more complex, innovation in programming languages becomes key. Staying abreast of new and upcoming languages is crucial to developing bug-free software faster and smarter. Leveraging these (re)emerging programming languages will help you surge ahead in our competitive industry! You can thank us later.

Beyond Code – 5 Benefits Your Software Development Partner Brings To Your Startup

In a world where technology rules and market velocity is king, even startups have to hit the ground running for success. However, you know that developing a great technology product is almost like climbing a mountain. Just like you need an expert guide when you scale a mountain, an expert guide can support you on the arduous uphill climb to product success too. Today startups have the option to work with an offshore development partner for their software development.

So, why should you outsource to an offshore development partner? The traditional argument has been that such outsourcing gives a fledgling startup the bandwidth to focus on activities such as getting their sales cycles moving and identifying new business opportunities while the outsourcing company does the software heavy lifting. However, to put your startup on a winning growth trajectory, instead of looking at a vendor, you should ideally look for an outsourcing partner…one who has the capability to help you beyond coding.

So what are the things that a development partner can help you with? For sure, coding is one of them. Let’s take a look at a few others.

  1. Assist in Making Correct Technology Choices:

    To succeed in the market today, you need specialized technical expertise. You might have the right idea but without the right technology in place, you may struggle to translate your vision into action.
    A development partner can actually be your technology visionary. They can help you not only make the right technology choices that fit best with your product but will assist you in identifying ways to make the product under development more robust and feature rich. A tech outsourcing partner will have a pool of technology experts and access to this valuable resource pool can prove to be of great value to your startup. With access to tech experts, startups can be sure that they make the best technology choice and not just go by the latest trend.

  2. Innovate on Your Behalf:

    Yes, a startup almost always has a clear picture of what their end product should look like. But what if it could be better? A technology partner can give you an early proof of concept to help you assess if your final product is market ready or not. They can help you understand if the product fulfills the needs it was designed for and if not, help in identifying the gaps. Given their experience in software product development, your partner can innovate on your behalf and also identify ways in which your product can be better and even future ready.

  3. Assist in Developing New Opportunities:

    Outsourcing has a definite cost advantage associated with it, but it also gives startups an opportunity to develop new markets.  Having been a part of the technology circuit, a technology outsourcing partner can help a startup identify new need gaps and new market opportunities. They can help the startup identify new ways of making the product viable for a new market. For example, the startup might be interested in developing a mobile app for a specific demographic, but perhaps they could increase their market acceptance by deploying a progressive web app.

  4. Mitigate Risks and Navigate the Regulatory Landscape:

    Startups also need to ensure that they mitigate risks of various kinds. Security, regulatory, and compliance regulations are now a top concern for startups in the face of data breaches and the associated consumer anxiety regarding these breaches. Startups need to be more well-versed in areas such as data protection laws and applications security. They also have to be nimble to adjust fast to ensure compliance with changing regulatory and operational requirements. An outsourced development partner gives you the experience advantage and helps you navigate these challenges with ease and assurance.  

  5. Assist in Team Scaling:

    Working with a partner gives your startup the capability to scale your team up, or down, faster. Finding great programmers with the right skills, in the right quantity, at just the right time, in today’s competitive market can be hard and expensive. At the same time, a start-up might need to scale down as well at times. With a strong outsourcing company, you do not need to worry about the emotional and logistical problems associated with scaling down. You can gain access to rock star developers on demand, and you can focus on developing a product that you want.

According to IT Outsourcing Statistics, application development is the most frequently outsourced function with 37% of organizations outsourcing this function already. By working with a software development partner, startups, like yours, not only gain the coding advantage from programming experts but can also gain other advantages that will help them go-to-market faster with a product that will win the market.

Are great products due to great developers or great testers?

As the world becomes increasingly software-defined and all products become software products, the focus shifts to not only developing newer, better products but to develop them faster. Along with faster development, there has been a shift in the way quality is perceived today. Can we even imagine using a product that is slow or prone to bugs today? In a software-defined world, quality includes reliability and an assurance of uncompromising security. Software development too has undergone a quantum leap over the last few years. Developers are now the superheroes of this software dominated world developing products using new technologies to make our lives simpler and agiler. Developers don’t just create code but are deeply invested in creating products that generate value in our lives. Given this tectonic shift in the manner in which products are developed one big question that may crop up is, “Are great software products created due to great developers or great testers?”

are great products due to great developers or great testers

First, a caveat. Clearly, product development calls for a bunch of collaborative efforts. Just as vital as development and testing are defining the user’s needs and adoption behavior, designing a great user experience, and obviously impactful marketing and sales. For the purposes of this blog though we will focus on the nuts and bolts of building the product.

To begin that conversation, we have to take a look at the change that has come about in the software development landscape. The need for great software products to be delivered in the shortest timeframe possible has led to the adoption of development methodologies such as Agile and DevOps. These methodologies are all about faster processes, the use of the latest and the most relevant technology options, and a clear alignment with business demands. As software eats the world, businesses have to release software products faster to meet the ever-changing and increasing consumer demands. The success of an organization has become directly proportional to its capability to release, update, and improve its software. Development teams have thus had to become focused on perfecting releases. Key is making incremental changes to the software as the need arises.

The connection of the end-user with the quality of code is also becoming ever-tighter as the consumer base becomes more used to great digital experiences. Developers are now expected to create intelligent apps that include the latest technologies such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) etc. New technologies have the potential to transform workplaces and make everyday tasks simpler. Clearly, the developers of today have to know exactly what their audience needs from them and how the application is expected to fulfill a business demand. At the same time, they have to create code that rocks the user’s world. Software products are becoming easier to use but harder to build! Developers now have to focus on creating code that has interconnected parts which render themselves to iterations with ease. Without a doubt, developers have to constantly keep an eye out for the latest technological and business trends and remain updated to create stellar products that can survive in today’s intensely competitive marketplace.

While the role of the developer has risen to one of paramount importance and software delivery reaches Formula 1 speed, the role of the tester has evolved as well. In order to finish first in the race for quality software delivery, the focus on software testing has moved from a good-to-have to a must-have. Software testing can no longer remain an end-of-development exercise. As DevOps and Continuous Delivery move from being a competitive advantage to just par for the course, testing becomes more integrated into the development process itself. Can we imagine fast deployment without adequate testing? Can we release quality software products, releases, or updates fast if the speed of testing does not meet the speed of development? Can we, any longer, afford to leave software testing to the end of the development lifecycle?

While developers have been the key people to recast our society with software, it is the testers who decide the strength of the software in production. It is the testing teams that will identify numerous and creative ways to dispassionately break down a software product so that the product, in the hands of the end-user, behaves as it should. Testing teams are utilizing test automation and technologies such as AI to make the testing process smoother, more expansive, and yet faster, to make sure that broken code does not impede product performance or render the product to vulnerabilities. Testers are the superstars who will dare to raise the uncomfortable questions that ultimately elevate the barometer of quality.

If we look at these two roles closely, we can identify that both developers and testers are working with the same intent – that of creating quality products. However, with new development methodologies such as DevOps coming into play, these two roles are becoming inextricably entwined. Development and testing can no longer function in isolation. If you need a great development team, you need an equally strong testing and test automation team to make sure that the final product is accepted in the market.

The way the world is heading, it is clear that great products can only be created when you not only have great developers but great testers as well. Developers and testers thus both become superheroes fighting the quality war in the software universe…one the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the other the Avengers. Despite their differences, they remain superheroes in their own right, and the biggest battles are won only when they fight on the same side!

6 Tips for Ensuring Great Performance with Frontend Development

Did you know? In 2017 alone, there were 197 billion apps downloaded across the world! With people around the world spending 900 billion hours a year using mobile applications, it goes without saying that slow loading times, poor mobile optimization or browser incompatibility are just unacceptable. Great performance is one of the most critical aspects of any software project: whether it is a simple mobile app or a full-scale e-commerce website. Websites or apps that are clumsy and bothersome to use can never provide the convenience that today’s digitally savvy user expects.

6 Tips for Ensuring Great Performance with Frontend Development

What makes a Website/App Exceptional?

Have you ever looked at an app and wondered what makes it so awesome? Have you given thought to the way it was created? Have you wondered how quickly it offered you the information you were looking for and exclaimed, “I wish my website could do that”! With frontend development, you can. By leveraging various technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, frontend development ensures every aspect of an app or website functions smoothly, on a multitude of devices, form factors, and operating systems, with almost no bugs or errors.

While good content, an attractive layout, high-resolution images, and seamless navigation is essential, each of these elements have an impact on page load time and eventually the end-user experience. Balancing aesthetics and performance is key; at every step, developers need to put in efforts to build a user experience that has minimum impact on performance. Offering core content to users as fast as possible and getting the message across in a quick yet interesting fashion is critical.

So how does one ensure great performance? By focusing on certain guidelines, you can dramatically increase the speed and overall performance of your website. Let’s look at some tips and techniques that can enable a robust frontend development for great performance:

  1. Bundle and minify: A good frontend experience can be achieved by bundling and minification of CSS and JS files. While bundling concatenates multiple files of the same type into a single large file, minification goes a step further and adds model-based compression to the content and removes all unnecessary characters from text including white-space characters and comments. The result? Reduced file size, faster load times, improved responsiveness, and exceptional performance.
  2. Compress files: Speedy performance of a website or app can be achieved by compressing files such as documents, audio clips, JPEG images etc. File compression makes the site’s content light and easy to manage. Choose from an array of tools and techniques like GZIP or CompressNow and make your website or app extremely responsive to user input.
  3. Leverage CDN: If your website or app caters to a global audience, it is imperative you use a content delivery network (CDN). When you use a CDN, your website’s static content gets linked to an extended network of servers across the globe, enabling data to be fetched from the nearest server and delivered to users rapidly.
  4. Reduce external requests: Very often, a large portion of a website’s load time comes from external HTTP requests; each time a request is made, the chances of DNS lookups, redirects and 404 error pages increase – not to mention the increase in load times. Since redirects can cause significant delays, eliminate features that do not augment end-user experience including unnecessary images, pointless JavaScript, excessive CSS and redundant plugins.
  5. Enable caching: You can significantly improve the speed and performance of your website by enabling caching. Since websites and apps are viewed thousands or sometimes even millions of times, servers are often overloaded. By caching your website, you can reduce load on your servers, deliver content to users faster, and improve the performance of your website.
  6. Optimize images: Although high-resolution pictures add to the user experience, they often jam the rendering process often resulting in poor frontend performance. Since devices have limited screen sizes, there is no reason to have images larger than the screen size. Make sure to always compress and optimize your screen size; use tools such as JPEG Optimizer or Tiny PNG and offer a flawless user experience.

Minimalism is Key:

In a bid to offer a lot of information to the user, developers often make the mistake of cramming too many features into the time available. Determining what features your app absolutely requires and choosing the right framework ensures you use the right code, the right-sized images, and the minimum number of external HTTP requests. Although frontend development might seem intimidating, the truth is you can greatly improve the performance of your website by applying certain principles. Always remember, the faster your website loads, the better the user experience it will offer. Since your website is what makes your brand stands out, keep it minimalistic. Use the latest tools, techniques and web technologies to elevate your brand and build pages that are light and quick to load. And watch your users smile as they engage.

Key Data Privacy Considerations in Creating Web and Mobile Apps

The app economy is booming. As of 2017, there were over 2.8 million apps available for download from the Google Play Store. The Apple App Store boasts of over 2 million apps. With the smartphone explosion, apps have created a permanent place in our lives. With this growing acceptance of mobile apps, the enterprise too has become ‘appified’. According to the “Mobile Enterprise Application Market by Software (Accounting & Finance, ERP, Communication & Collaboration, and CRM), Operating System (Android, iOS and Windows), Type of App, Organization Size, Industry Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2021” report, the mobile enterprise application market is expected to grow to USD 98.03 Billion by 2021 from USD 48.24 Billion in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of over 15% from 2016 to 2021. There are many reasons for this appification of the economy – greater smartphone adoption, better connectivity, growing demand for real-time information capture and a consequent focus of organizations to make their processes mobile-ready, and a growing mobile workforce, are all compelling drivers.

Key Data Privacy Considerations in Creating Web and Mobile Apps

The growing use of smart devices and mobile applications also leads to a corresponding rise of volumes of data. Given the very nature of most apps, personal data is collected from them for the software to function as designed. As more and more data is captured to make apps hyper-personalized, there are increased calls for focusing on data privacy. The introduction of GDPR, the European online data privacy law that is expected to come into full effect in 2018, is a signal step in this direction. According to this law, organizations and entities seeking personal data have to explicitly inform the user exactly how that data will be used and what will happen to it. This means that the people will have a better idea of how their data is processed. They will also have the ‘right to be forgotten’ along with being proactively informed in the event of a serious data breach. This General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework is a solid step to solidify data protection for all individuals. Mobile and web app development companies thus have to significantly expand their efforts to make apps that are GDPR compliant. This means stronger encryption algorithms, protocols for single sign-on such as OAUTH, enforcing secure communication using HTTPS, and all other relevant steps.

Given this greater focus on data security and data privacy, as apps become an integral part of the enterprise operations, mobile and web app development companies have to look at ways to enhance the security layer of these applications. Application architects and designers have to thus design web and mobile applications placing security at the beating heart of the entire development effort. This means error-free and vulnerability-resistant code, and a strong emphasis on testing, especially security testing.

Apart from having the required Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention Systems, in today’s app economy, it has become essential for organizations developing web and mobile apps to include security testing at the core of their development process. This approach ensures that all flaws and vulnerabilities can be exposed during the development process itself. It is also imperative to ensure that the data functionality is optimal to maintain operational capabilities without exposing the application to vulnerabilities or malicious attacks. Tests such as vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, security risk assessment, ethical hacking, access control testing, and security scanning etc. may have to be performed. The need is to test in a robust and judicious manner to prevent customer data being compromised in any manner during usage. At the end of the day, app developers have to be creative in their attempts to “break into” the apps. This is all about the many ways in which application data can be manipulated, all possible vulnerabilities identified, and all forms of risk assessed. Finding the vulnerabilities is an essential first step before identifying ways to boost the security of the application and the data that resides within it.

Given that there has been a dramatic increase in the complexity and sophistication of mobile malware, organizations in the web and mobile application development space have to dramatically alter their way of thinking to stay ahead of those creating such malicious code. They must implement strong security layers while ensuring compliance with regulatory security requirements. In today’s day, as Bruce Schneier says, ‘security is not just a product, but a process’. It’s hard to disagree!

Are Mobile Apps Going To Die?

In a cut-throat economy, organizations realize that the key to success is to embrace change fast and not take a reactive approach to innovation. The mobile app market is no different. Yes, there are over a billion smartphones in use across the globe. There also are a dizzying number of mobile applications downloaded each year. In 2017 the Apple App Store had 2.2 million apps available for download while the Google Play Store had 2.8 million apps. Today, clearly we have become quite dependent on these little icons on our smartphones screens – from booking a cab, making a hotel reservation, ordering for food, making online purchases, calorie counting, banking, staying connected with friends and work…the list goes on. Mobile applications have established themselves as an essential part of our lives. But it is also true that the apps that we use now are light years ahead of their earlier iterations. Apps of today do not just disseminate content for the user but enable the user to determine what kind of content they want to consume. App functionality has improved by leaps and bounds owing to the use of geo location and the capabilities of the phone. Apps are more engaging and intuitive now.

Are Mobile Apps Going To Die?

The death of the mobile app as we know it

Today there is an increasing integration of technology with mobile apps to push the boundaries as we know it. Remember the classic Snake game on the Nokia 3310? Well, that was technically a mobile app back in the 90’s. Now compare that to the 2011 Temple run experience. The evolution of the mobile app is pretty evident, isn’t it? Technology is improving. The needs and demands of the app consumer are changing. Consumers are now looking at more seamless and connected experiences. They want their apps to behave in a certain manner. They want more features. They demand greater speed. They want more personalization. And they want access…all the time, anywhere.

Can the present day mobile apps deliver on all these demand parameters? Not quite. With technology giving us opportunities to get the best of everything, mobile apps, too, are not to be left behind. With the growing comfort with smartphones, consumers now want an amalgamation of web and mobile apps and want intelligent interactions with their mobile apps as they traverse their digital experience journey.

The rise of intelligent apps

As mentioned earlier, apps today are no longer being used to disseminate content to the user. The mobile apps are becoming increasingly intelligent. As an example, think Amazon. Using technologies such as machine learning and AI, Intelligent Apps are getting more contextual. These apps have the capability to learn the behavioral, emotional, and contextual patterns of the user in real-time and capably deliver hyper-personalized experiences in each successive session. With each input, the mobile app creates a personalized response. These apps make the use of cognitive API’s, ensure that personalization of the UX is a continuous activity. They eliminate the use of keyboard inputs and use speech, gestures, and bio-metrics to operate the apps without the keyboard. They leverage frameworks to take the app to the next level of user satisfaction with faster releases. Service providers like Netflix, e-Commerce providers such as Amazon, and browsers such as Chrome are already making use of intelligent apps. Gartner expects that this year some of the world’s largest organizations will begin to leverage intelligent apps to fine-tune their mobile app experiences.

The rise of progressive web apps

As you may have read earlier here, Progressive Web Apps are actually web applications that deliver a native app-like experience to their consumers. They come with progressive enhancements to implement features such as push notifications, caching, and background sync to deliver better experiences. Research suggests that an average user spends 80% of his total time on only three apps. The rest of the apps just sit on the mobile phone screen eating up precious mobile memory. PWA’s do not need any installing, deliver a great user experience, have browser compatibility, are responsive to fit any form factor, work offline, and function even in low network quality. Further, they provide app-like navigation and interactions and have a robust update process that makes sure that the app performance is at its peak always. Given that PWA’s are actually websites these are easily extendable. They make it easier to add functionalities. Along with this, these apps are also highly secure, easily discoverable and easily shareable. Quite simply put, Progressive Web Apps amalgamate the best qualities of web apps with that of native mobile apps – what’s there not to love then? But the question for us is –are these Mobile Apps? We would have to say Not really –and that’s a threat to the world of mobile apps as we know it.

Conclusion:

There seem to be clear signs that the age of mobile apps as we know it is fast coming to an end. Well not in the Tyrannosaurus Rex kind of way, but, it is becoming quite evident that the next evolution of these mobile apps is now upon us. Would it then be wrong to say, “The Mobile App is dead. Long live the Mobile App”?

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

I’d say that the biggest misconception about RPA is that it’s easy—It’s not easy. That’s why barely 10% of the buyer population in Global 2000 companies have embraced it.” – Frank Casale, founder, and CEO of the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI)

Given that warning, it would make sense to assess the internal readiness and capacity of your company before adopting or even considering RPA technology. RPA, or robotic process automation, sometimes conjures up images of a solution that helps with cognitive computing. While that may represent the ultimate level of artificial intelligence that exists, solutions that are being developed in the present focus more on automating repeatable, predictable, and fixed business processes. When we speak about enterprises, this technology is still perhaps hard to implement, but experts say that those that do adopt RPA will rapidly see the immense benefits. For companies, it could mean a winning strategy for all the stakeholders – employees included. Let us look in-depth into the possible benefits of embracing RPA.

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

Firstly – what is Robotic Process Automation?

With the surge in digitization and the increasing demand on the already limited resources, the push towards adopting automation technology has now become a necessity. Technology adoption would help to empower organizations and accelerate their efforts towards gaining more business and staying ahead of their competition. Robotic Process Automation is specifically made software that is capable of simulating human conducted activities that would be routine and repetitive in nature. The software “robots” follow designated workflows, seeking information from clearly identified sources and then performing routine yet critical operations. The functions impacted could include back-office processing, support, and front office management. Today, several companies have begun using these solutions with resounding success.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation to Organizations:

  1. RPA is best for transactional or rule-bound processes and for organizing data. Using robotic technology companies have a reduced effort and even lowered full-time equivalent employee (FTE) requirement.
  2. By incorporating RPA into the rules of business, companies would be able to simplify processes, conduct speedier transactions, maintain uniformity in their documentation, and afford complete transparency of their processes. These factors incidentally are among the top priorities for customers today, which therefore would lead to enhanced business and success.
  3. Using RPA reduces the opportunities for human error in rote tasks, and limits the exposure of sensitive and confidential information to humans – critical for the proper functioning of any company.
  4. Several companies require huge amounts of data to be added to various systems and myriad applications. Manual data entry is prone to errors especially given the mundane nature of the task. By using RPA in this process, companies can be sure of increased output of work with no errors, thereby removing the requirement of extra headcount to check and correct the errors. Re-work is eliminated as well.
  5. Since several tasks can be completed in less time and at a lowered cost, the ROI of the initiative can be achieved relatively quickly.
  6. Since RPA is a software, it has endless possibilities and capacity to work – meaning around the clock availability and work churned out. This means a lot more work with no interruptions or breaks.

Where Robotic Process Automation Stops

These RPA-driven software robots are capable of making only limited decisions and the cognitive ability is extremely constrained. In some ways, the primary objective is significantly improving the efficiency, not really the effectiveness. That’s to say, RPA allows organizations to perform these functions faster, with less effort, utilizing fewer human resources, and with greater accuracy. That said, if there is ambiguity about the inputs or if there is volatility in the functions to be addressed or the business processes are extremely fluid and dynamic, RPA is less likely to be successful.

A Bright Future for RPA

It has been said often that the downside of cognitive artificial intelligence is that it would reduce the number of jobs and dislodge employees from their roles. RPA on the other hand empowers employees by allowing them to engage in more creative and value-added tasks and removing the dull, rote ones.

Well-designed RPA solutions have this distinct advantage – companies can embrace them without the need to dismiss employees or spend too many resources in training them on the solutions. The great part of RPA is that it requires human supervision, placing control in the hands of the employees, thereby raising their morale, enhancing their development, and making them more productive on the job. Different types of organizations are already tasting success in areas like:

  • Government: Verifying existing processes; populating forms and assigning subcontractors to jobs, and integrating legacy systems with newer systems.
  • HR: Providing employee on-boarding; better managing leave of absence requests; more efficiently populating employee data into multiple systems, and offering performance appraisal management.
  • IT: Creating new accounts; installing software and updates more seamlessly, and setting up printers and workstations.

Conclusion:

It is probably time to integrate RPA solutions into your company, and the good news is technologies, including strategies borrowed from test-automation, are already at hand to seamlessly draw RPA into your business processes. Are you ready, is the question?

Why you Should Start Caring About Progressive Web Apps (If you Don’t Already)?

Have you heard of the term “the best of both worlds”? As utopian as it might sound, there is one place where this may apply -in the application world. Progressive Web Apps or PWA’s are being touted as the next big thing for the mobile web. These apps take the advantages of the latest technology and combine the best experiences of mobile and the web apps to deliver better functionality and smoother and more engaging application experiences. As web interactions move increasingly towards the mobile, application developers are faced with the challenge of creating applications that can be easily accessed over the smartphone without compromising on quality, aesthetics, and functionality. One solution is to create web applications that look and feel like iOS or Android apps that are native to the device. Welcome Progressive Web Apps!

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps, PWA’s, deliver a mobile like experience to the users without having them download or install the app from the play (or App) store. With these apps, developers can create a simple web application using JavaScript, HTML, CSS etc. and add mobile capabilities such as camera access, push notifications, offline support etc. PWA’s are deployed to servers, are indexed by search engines and can be accessed through url’s. Mobile web apps that are accessed on a mobile browser usually are not capable of sending out push notifications, do not deliver the look and feel of a native app downloaded from an app store, cannot load on the home screen etc. With PWA’s developers can fix this problem leveraging new design concepts, using new web API’s and standards-based technologies in tandem to deliver a native app like experience.

Why you Should Start Caring About Progressive Web Apps?

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

Research suggests that “every step you make a user perform before they get value out of your app will cost you 20% of users.” In such an environment PWA’s work well for businesses since these apps do not compromise on user experience as compared to a traditional mobile web browser and neither do they demand a user go through the process of installing a mobile app. Here are a few benefits of PWA’s

  1. Adaptability– Since PWA’s are built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet they have the capability to work for every user irrespective of browser choice.
  2. Responsiveness – PWA’s have the responsiveness to fit any form factor, be it a laptop, tablet or mobile device, thus ensuring a consistent user experience
  3. Workability – These apps have the capability to work offline and in low network quality since these are enhanced with Service Workers. This is a script that runs behind the scenes and runs in response to events such as network requests, push notifications etc. This capability ensures that these apps also run faster than traditional websites and hence improve app speed and performance.
  4. App-like – Provide app-style navigation and interactions using design concepts such as App Shell that provides the web application a shell of an app UI. The content is then loaded later, is kept and cached separately. This helps in fast loading and improving the user experience.
  5. Always Updated – PWA’s are always updated owing to the service worker update process.
  6. Highly Secure – High on security as these are delivered via HTTPS. This also ensures that the content of the application does not get tampered with.
  7. Discoverability – Since PWA’s are actually websites, this makes them easily discoverable by search engines. PWA’s also speed up the process of application indexing and ensures that the app is indexed in Google much faster without worrying about app deep linking.
  8. Frictionless – PWA’s provide a frictionless user experience since unlike mobile apps these are easily installable without using an app or play store. Since these do not have to be downloaded, application updates happen effortlessly from the user’s side and this gives them access to the latest features, security updates, functionalities etc. This feature also helps in avoiding the problem of software fragmentation as faced by native mobile apps.
  9. Expandability – As PWA’s are essentially websites, it is very easy to expand them to add functionalities.
  10. Sharability – These apps are easily shareable via URL as they do not need to be downloaded.

It’s fair to say that we are still in the early days of Progressive Web Apps. Cross-browser support in browsers such as Safari and Edge is limited but the open support that PWA’s have been getting from companies such as Microsoft (they plan to implement more PWA features) and with Twitter, NASA, etc. all using Progressive Web Apps to create new versions of their service, it is quite clear that this craze will catch on quickly. After all, it is becoming evident that the future of mobile apps is the web!

Here’s Some Help In Picking The Right CMS For Your Business!

Choosing the right content management system(CMS) is key for boosting the efficiency and productivity of your web app. A good content management system results in improved site navigation, greater flexibility, increased security, and helps in reducing errors by preventing content duplication. In today’s digital world, a CMS is essential for every web-based business. Consider how your website needs to be regularly updated with content, new products, styles, services, and campaigns which may be added or removed.

Here’s Some Help In Picking The Right CMS For Your Business!

For those who came in late let’s introduce the CMS first. The CMS is mainly used for managing web content and offers tools for website authoring, collaboration, and administration. This helps users with limited knowledge of HTML and other programming languages to create and manage their website content easily. They are easy to use and can be customized easily, they cost less and provide better workflow management. Without the CMS, the website risks becoming unorganized and inaccurate. Navigation may become more difficult for the users, thus compromising the all-important user-experience.

With different CMS options available in the market, it may be challenging at times to pick the right CMS suited to your business needs. So how do you know which is the best CMS for your company? In this post, we have shared information on the different types of CMS along with their key benefits. We hope this will help you in making the best CMS decision.

First, what are the different categories of CMS that are widely used today?

It may be useful to understand the different types of CMS, their features, and their advantages, before choosing the one which fits your business needs. Open source CMS platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento are some of the widely used in the industry.

  1. Proprietary CMS:
    Proprietary CMS or the traditional, commercial software involves initial license fees for using the software and there are also annual charges required for their support or updates. There may be additional costs for making customization and technical support as well and can prove to be more expensive. Hence, it may be important to know the features that may be covered by this type of license. Ex: Microsoft Sharepoint, Sitecore, Shopify.

  2. Open Source CMS:
    This kind of CMS software is largely free and hence there is no initial cost involved in its usage. There are no license fees, upgrade fees as they are mainly created by a team of developers within the community. However, there may be costs involved if customization needs to be made to the software to meet specific business needs. Ex: WordPress, Magento, Drupal. Since feature additions and support is from the community there is some unpredictability in their cadence and availability.

  3. Software As a Service(SaaS):
    SaaS CMS solutions comprise web hosting, web content management software, and technical support through a single supplier. These solutions are hosted in the cloud and typically involves a subscription model offered on a per user or per site basis. One of the main benefits of using SaaS CMS solutions is their easy accessibility across laptop, mobile devices. Costs are also quite low compared to other types of CMS. The updates for the software can be done in real time and packages are usually scalable.

  4. Component Content Management System:

    As a point of interest, Component Content Management Systems help in managing content at the component level rather than the document level. They deal with content which may be repetitive and may be regularly revised and translated into different languages.

Top Factors To Consider While Choosing The Right CMS For Your Business are:

  1. Assess impact on your business:
    In most organizations, the IT, marketing and sales departments are closely involved in the activities related to the website. Hence one key task is prioritizing the requirements of different stakeholders to avoid internal conflicts. Next, the business needs to know their key internal needs, before choosing a specific platform so that they can plan in case they need to deploy additional staff and resources if required.

  2. Must be able to match with the technology and skillsets:
    There are many dependencies that may influence your choice of CMS solution. It may be necessary to integrate with other core functions such as marketing, sales, communication along with other project management initiatives. If there are any technology upgrades which are planned for the future, it may be best to choose a CMS which may be compatible with these projected changes. It may also be necessary to assess the technical skills and capabilities of your in-house team. In addition, it’s necessary to understand if the CMS is easy to use and manageable for your end users as well.

  3. Choosing the right features::
    The kind of features which you would require for your CMS would largely depend on your business goals. The size and scope of your web app, the likely schedules of content updation, the volume of this content, the number and type of users who will be tasked with managing the content, and the nature of the content will all play a role. The CMS software needs to be user-friendly, easy to use, have a scalable architecture to meet your future needs, must provide security features, and needs to have documentation and support for the end users.

  4. Focus on on-going support:
    Support for CMS platforms is of paramount importance as there may be on-going issues over the business operations. Especially, if you are opting for Opensource CMS, then it’s necessary to choose one with a wider and more interactive community for on-going support and seeking solutions. Besides, this also involves a cost, especially for implementing solutions using traditional platforms. Support may also be required even for the hosting infrastructure.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right CMS platform calls for thorough research on the various available options, weighing their pros and cons and finding the best fit that meets your specific business requirements and goals. If the choice seems too complex, then drop us a line and we will be happy to help!

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