Category Archives: Business Applications

  • agile development

    How to write effective user stories in agile development?

    Writing Effective User Stories for Agile Development

    The software world has been changing rapidly, and a new approach to engineering is at the heart of these changes. By embracing self-organizing teams, flexibility and iterative development, agile development methodologies have revolutionized the world of software engineering. Traditional software engineering used the waterfall method, in which each step of the software engineering process was completed before moving on to the next step. This, however, tends to create bloated software that lags behind the needs of the users. Agile developments methodologies seek to address these inefficiencies by running through all the stages of agile development in short iterations, called sprints. At the heart of these sprints are user stories, which are the ideas your engineering teams will put into action.

    User Stories
    User stories approach software problems from the perspective of the user, placing developers in the shoes of their customers. These replace traditional software specifications, which outline some kind of functionality expected of the software. Each user story consists of a way in which a user would hope to interact with the application. For example, a user might wish to visit the website, log in to their account, and check the remaining balance from a gift card. This user story is written out by the team, and functionality is designed around it. In this way, engineers and designers are able to empathize with users, allowing them to build their product to meet their needs more effectively.

    However, writing quality user stories can be challenging. Engineers and designers have a nuanced understanding of their product, and may not easily place themselves in the shoes of an individual trying the product for the first time. Furthermore, stories can be vague or even fail to reflect the needs of their actual user base, and this can lead to products that simply don’t do what the customer needs. Developing best practices around writing and managing your user stories will help your teams efforts stay aligned to the needs of your customers.

    Writing Quality User Stories

    There is no silver bullet for writing good user stories for agile development, but incorporating best practices will increase the overall quality of the stories your teams come up with. Ensure that writing these stories is a collaborative process. Empathizing with your user base will be easier for teams than individuals, who only bring a single perspective to the process. Stories should be as concise as possible. Using a simple template for stories will help developers keep them from becoming overly verbose or too complex. It is also important that these user stories remain visible and accessible to the team at all times, so they can remember the goals they’re working towards.

    There are pitfalls for teams to avoid as well. Often, user stories aren’t refined until they’re testable, which keeps them from being resolved. Ensure that all stories your teams work on meet certain criteria before they’re released. Remember that user stories can’t define all possible requirements, and ensure that teams don’t get locked into thinking about their product solely in those terms. It is also important for executives and product managers to ensure that the real-world needs of the targeted users are being met in the stories. Participation by all stakeholders in product development can be the difference between the success and failure of that product, and it is the job of management to ensure that participation takes place.

    Agile development incorporates user stories because it allows for more flexibility than traditional specifications. They also force developers and designers to see the product from the perspective of the end user, which leads to a more useful and better-received product for your client at the end of the day. By building best practices around user stories into your teams’ agile development process, the quality of your teams’ output and the suitability of their software to its real world applications will increase dramatically.

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  • How are technologies changing the way people interact in the workplace?

    How are technologies changing the way people interact in the workplace?

    In today’s fast-paced working environment, technology holds the key to success. From thriving corporate environments to smaller, tight-knit startups, software and gadgets are vital. This helpful analysis shows off just how tech in the workplace has a valuable impact when it comes to collaborating on a team, communicating effectively, staying productive and much more.

    Innovation

    The internet is ripe with tools to promote innovation in the modern workplace. Many of today’s workers rely on free software and programs to brainstorm and iterate ideas. Krita, Google SketchUp, Inkscape and Pixlr are just some of the many robust visual tools that today’s companies should take full advantage of. With visual communication, it’s easy to approach problems from a new angle and ultimately innovate more efficiently and creatively. For the ultimate idea development in the workplace, these tools are absolutely essential.

    Collaboration

    It has never been easier to collaborate than in today’s world. Google Drive and Dropbox are perfect for file-sharing, while other tools available online even allow real-time collaboration. For workplaces that are either limited on space or want to connect with people in a wide variety of locations, RealtimeBoard and Ziteboard are a few of the many helpful, digital whiteboard collaboration tools. Additionally, workplaces that involve coding and programming have a slew of real-time collaboration tools as well. With options like Kobra, Cloud 9 and Code Pad, modern workplaces can experience the best of collaboration no matter whether every employee is in the office or if the organization involves off-site independent contractors.

    Research

    The internet makes it possible to stay up to date and research online content to maintain a competitive edge. Whether you need to understand market conditions before launching a new product or you’d like to stay on top of trends in the virtual reality industry, it’s easier than ever before. Sites like Twitter, Instagram, Medium and Facebook make it possible to consume valuable information on a daily basis. With plenty of niche sites created by passionate hobbyists and industry veterans, there’s a wealth of information that’s transforming the workplace on a daily basis. These days, employees are more likely to come across valuable, shareable information that promotes collaboration and innovation in the workplace.

    Connectivity

    One of the most important aspects of a quality working environment is effective communication and interaction. Whether attending conferences or simply keeping up with daily tasks, technology keeps employees connected. Tools like Slack, Skype, Whatsapp and more help everyone to stay on the page and stay in touch. With the increased use of wearable gadgets, it’s even easier for employees to stay on top of important work-related updates. Overall, today’s technological advances mean the entire workplace can stay connected and on top of tasks, even outside of the office.

    A Worldwide Connection

    Today’s technological tools mean a lot for employees and hiring managers alike. With instant online messaging and high-quality video calls, the job search has become more accessible to individuals no matter where they’re located. It’s easier to network online and connect with professionals around the globe. Likewise, employees are always looking to gain a competitive edge with online learning tools and worldwide job searches. The impact these tools have on how people interact in the workplace can be enormous when you consider how large the worldwide talent pool truly is.

    Productivity

    Although some of today’s naysayers may harp on digital communication, it surely has a positive impact in the workplace. Especially when it comes to larger companies, tech limits the necessity to track down relevant documents and individuals. Likewise, employees can avoid distractions and focus on work without lengthy or difficult communication with chatty coworkers. Although in-person collaboration is absolutely a bonus for a thriving organization, there are times when it’s more important to get down to work. With the flexibility of smartphones, laptops and answering machines, the workplace has easily become a much more productive environment.

  • Agile Scrum Development

    What key roles are necessary in agile scrum development?

    What key roles are necessary in agile scrum development

    Agile scrum development methods are an alternative to stage-gate project management, including software application projects. Stage-gate methods of management depend on project managers delivering artifacts that record a completed task. A list of required artifacts for each stage is established, usually by a PMO, that needs to be created, reviewed, and approved before the next stage of the project’s life-cycle can be started. A change to the project must be submitted via a project change request or PCR. Changes are strongly discouraged and take a long time to approve.

    The agile scrum development approach assumes that changes will occur during the product’s life-cycle and are welcomed as long as they improve the customer experience. In other words, what the end customer wants and needs will change over time as they get to interact in phases (or releases) with the solution. Agile scrum development teams start working with a product owner, or user representative, as early as possible, to determine what is called the minimum viable product or MVP. The MVP is an understanding with the product owner of the minimum functionality required to do something useful and from which incremental development, or releases, will proceed until the full set of requirements is delivered. Scrum teams are made up of five to seven members, with role flexibility in mind. Work is done in “sprints” lasting three to five weeks, at the end of which there should be a fully tested product with additional functionality.

    There are only three key roles in a scrum team: product owner, developer/tester, and ScrumMaster.

    Product Owner

    The product owner represents the product users and their vision of what the product functionality is to be. One way they convey this vision to the agile scrum development team is through product backlog “grooming” meetings, or prioritizing features list (a.k.a. user stories) for the product. A product owner delivers a solid understanding of users, the business competition for those customers, and a product roadmap with a vision for the future. Product owners must collaborate and compromise, since it’s the scrum team who selects from the backlog priorities the amount of work they commit to during each sprint, trusting that they know best what they are capable of. In return for that commitment, the product owner makes a reciprocal commitment of not coming up with new requirements during a sprint. Requirements are allowed to change (and change is encouraged) but only outside the sprint.

    An individual in the product owner’s role is expected to be actively engaged with the scrum team, be business savvy, and skilled in communicating different messages to different people, internal and external to his organization, sponsors and stakeholders of the project at any given time.

    Developer/Tester

    In non-agile, traditional software development, a programmer’s role (Developer) is sharply separated from a tester’s role (Quality Assurance). In agile scrum development teams where members are encouraged to be flexible and knowledgeable with many tasks, at any given time, if necessary to meet the sprint commitments, everybody works together to improve and build quality into the product. Developer’s don’t program and hand-out their work to be tested. Tester’s don’t just run test scripts, identify defects, and log them for fixing. They work and complement each other and roles may rotate sprint by sprint, per each member’s strengths, weaknesses, and desire to learn new things. It will be difficult for individuals to meet the acceptance criteria of what they are developing and consider a story “done” without early-on tester collaboration and tester’s won’t be effective without immersing themselves and understanding the developer’s work. There are no set/fast rules, it goes down to team working agreements per sprint.

    ScrumMaster

    ScrumMasters serve as mentors and champions of the scrum way of doing things. They also organize meetings associated with it such as sprint planning, backlog grooming with the product owner, stand-up meetings, reviews, and retrospectives. The ScrumMaster role is similar to the traditional project manager but without complicated process and procedures to follow. ScrumMasters are flexible and ideally can take any scrum role to complete a task required to move the sprint forward.

    Summary

    Agile scrum development team roles must be assigned wisely to individuals. Look for members cultural fit and acceptance of their responsibility in the sprint. Let the team come up with their own working agreement decisions and trust their daily procedures for communication and collaboration.

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  • How will technology change our lives in twenty years?

    How will technology change our lives in twenty years?

    Technology is constantly advancing and changing, sometimes at a shocking pace. While we often think we know what the future holds, we are often surprised by what does and doesn’t actually happen. While the 1995 hit movie Back To The Future made some wild predictions about life in 2015, such as the availability of hover boards, it did actually hit quite a few technological advances right on the nose. Flat panel, widescreen TV’s mounted on walls were in fact a daily part of our lives in 2015, as were video chat systems, wearable devices and even tablet computers with fingerprint scanners. You don’t necessarily have to have a crystal ball to predict future technological advancements, you just have to see the seeds being planted today to understand how they will develop in the future. Here are 3 ways technology development will change our lives in the future.

    1. Disease prevention

    Watches and wearable devices are currently on the market that can monitor our heart rate and how many calories we burn when exercising. Tomorrow’s software will allow wearable tech to monitor blood sugar levels, oxygen consumption and even changes in hormone levels. Your watch can tell you when your stress levels are rising, when you need to eat and what would be the best food choice at that time for optimal health, when you are getting dehydrated or even when its the optimal time for pregnancy. Today we are getting much better at curing cancer, in 20 years, our wearable tech may actually be able to help prevent it in the first place.

    2. Minimal drive time

    We are already seeing cars that can park themselves and self-driving cars are definitely on their way, but current technological advancements are already decreasing our need to even use cars in the first place. As it is, features like video conference and cloud computing are allowing more and more businesses to offer their employees the freedom to work remotely, not to mention hire someone from India as easily as someone from Indiana. Not only does this cut down on the amount of time spend commuting every day, but it also cuts down significantly on the number of people that even need cars in the first place.

    Public transportation is also making rapid advances as are car sharing services and even hire services like Uber and Lyft. The time may come when individuals won’t even need driver’s licenses anymore because they either don’t drive at all or their car drives itself. With less cars on the road – and possibly even less roads – this will also lead to fresher air and less pollutants in the atmosphere. This may also lead more people to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Fewer cars will almost also lead the trend away from giant shopping centers and mega marts in favor of smaller, local stores within walking distance – which will also have an increased benefit to overall health.

    3. Less time spent on routine tasks

    Just 20 years ago, when you went to the grocery store, a checker had to remove each article from your basket and manually ring in the price of each item into a cash register. Today, checkers simply run a bar code over a scanner – if there is even a checker at all. Checking out has become so easy, many people opt for a self-checkout rather than waiting in line to have someone do it for them.

    In the future, there will be no checkout lines at all, as scanners will simply scan any items you leave the store with and automatically debit your financial account. Many items will actually be ordered by your appliances and simply delivered to your home, most likely via a drone or even a robot. Even your visit to the doctor will start off with a drone or robot checking your vitals, hormone levels and perform a number of baseline tests, which will include accessing the information from your personal health monitor.

    All in all technological advancements are moving towards automation to take over our most mundane daily tasks, as well as the most mundane tasks in business, science and medicine.

  • IoT application

    Why should CIO invest in IOT application development?

    Why should CIO invest in IOT application development

    In an ever-growing number of industries, the Chief Information Officer is becoming an indispensable part of the leadership team. As your organization’s CIO, it’s your responsibility to keep track of the constant technological changes confronting you and position your team to take full advantage of emergent opportunities. When it comes to the Internet of Things, IoT application development should be a vital part of your approach.

    The Scope Of Possibilities

    The Internet of Things has made a rapid transition from trade journal buzzword to core function for many companies. The IoT application is no longer about “pie in the sky” consumer goods like smart refrigerators; today countless companies are finding real applications for this technology that can drive sales, boost profits, and reduce costs.

    One of the most fertile fields for exploring Internet of Things opportunities is in the field of business-to-business and enterprise commerce. If your company provides smart products that other companies rely on, you need to be prepared to make full use of the data those products collect. There are two key challenges standing between your organization and the full realization of its IoT application potential: Coping with the scale of the data collected and building the tools to put that data to work.

    Problems Of Scale

    Your company doesn’t have to deploy many smart devices before you find yourself facing a tidal wave of incoming data. IBM recently estimated that a single smart car could generate as much as 25 GB of data per hour when in use. Even though your own devices are likely to be less “noisy,” the amount of data you need to sift through scales exponentially as more devices are deployed.

    App development is just part of making that data productive. You also need the IT infrastructure in place to receive, store, and manipulate your device data. The traffic between your organization and its devices may be two-way or one-way, and your infrastructure should be ready to handle the increased traffic that smart devices impose upon it. Successful implementation of smart devices will definitely put you into a “big data” situation, and you need to be ready to take full advantage of that.

    User Vs. Supplier Opportunities

    The sheer variety of different ways you might take advantage of smart devices and their data makes it difficult to talk generally about the sort of applications you’ll need. Just bear in mind that you likely have opportunities to benefit both your own organization and your end users. You may want to invest in separate teams to cover each of these bases.

    Strong applications for the user side of your smart device network will significantly improve your users’ experience and help you meet your customers’ needs. To this end, your user-side apps need to focus on ease of use and reliability. On the supplier side, you need to build robust tools that will allow you to streamline your other services. Look for every possible way to streamline your organization’s workflow through the data your devices collect. Making device data available to your support department can result in significant maintenance savings, for example.

    Why IoT Application Development Can’t Be Left Behind

    You’ve already gotten a glimpse of the advantages that you can capture by paying attention to the software side of smart devices. What about the potential pitfalls you face if you neglect your iot application? Justifying the resources you invest in apps requires you to present a compelling picture of the dangers you’re avoiding.

    While falling prices are a big driver behind the growth of the internet of things, building smart functionality into your products still represents a significant investment. Those costs will be wasted if your organization doesn’t have the software “muscle” to take advantage of the opportunities you’re building into your hardware. That means building and maintaining a potent iot application development team both to meet your current needs and to identify emerging ones.

    Smart devices are going to play a transformative role in a lot of different industries over the next few years. Is your organization ready to take full advantage of the possibilities they unlock? As the CIO, you have a responsibility to take the long view and line up the resources that will be crucial in getting the most out of your devices.

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  • Digital Strategies for Business

    10 trends that will dominate digital strategies of businesses

    Nowadays, almost everything around us is technology-based. From home appliances to office equipment, we are surrounded by items, which didn’t use to exist in the past. On top of that, all these things are fast changing. The typewriters you were amazed at recently can now only be seen in museums. Today, it’s all about keyboard and touch pad.

    Digital transformation has been so swift that you will never notice just about everything you do can now is done in just one touch. Sophistication is now the name of the game. Whatever is termed “Hi-Tech” will always be in business. This is why there is a growing trend for business in relation to digital-innovation.

    Hi-tech innovations have made businesses both producers and consumers. Businesses innovate something for businesses to use. Nonetheless, consumers will still remain the king. Consequently, digital marketers and entrepreneurs are forced to react to such changes.

    Today, we will go over the 10 trends that will dominate digital-strategies of business. Let’s get started!

    1. Intelligent Personal Assistant

    Personal assistant technology such as Amazon Echo, Alexa Voice System, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri has become popular and affordable. Expect to see new brands and new players in the market for this segment and making an impact for digital strategies in business.

    2. Chatbots

    The rise of chatbots has been very significant. Recently, Facebook, Twitter, and Google started their own experiment to enable chatbots in their messaging platforms. In business, this technology is a gem, and many companies recognize the importance of connecting with their customers through live chat support.

    However, employing a number of people to work for this alone may not be that efficient. Through chatbots, companies may get their people to focus on other work. Instead of employing real people to operate the platform, companies may use chatbots.

    3. Artificial Intelligence

    Artificial intelligence used to be just a concept in some old sci-fi films and today, it’s a reality. Google’s search engine is one good example. With the help of AI’s such as RankBrain and Knowledge Graph, your queries are answered the way it’s provided by human intelligence.

    4. The Internet of Things

    The internet of things or IoT is beginning to take shape today. The internet is no longer a place to connect to people; it can now also connect people to things and things to things. The most common example is augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

    5. Mobile Devices

    The number of mobile device users is overtaking the number of desktop and laptop users. As a result, many companies are beginning to react to this trend. They start creating their own mobile-friendly sites and apps to keep up with such changes.

    6. Cloud-Services

    The rise of cloud-services has been phenomenal. A few years ago, Dropbox and Google Drive were the only popular means to store files in the cloud. Today, there are a lot of cloud-services that provide many features other than just storage. What used to work only in your local device can now work in the cloud.

    7. Social Media Branding

    Branding strategies have evolved from the mass media to social media. Before, it was what the content that could tell people and what a brand is. Today, it is the people that can create content to determine the branding.

    8. Productivity Apps

    Productivity apps have become widespread in the past few years. However, most platforms that have been developed are intended for office tasks, especially when it involves working with computers.

    On the other hand, there is a growing trend toward going beyond the confine of office work. We can now see productivity apps being synced into POS and other non-corporate services where Uber App is a great example.

    9. Business Analytics

    Business analytics is becoming more dependent on software technology. Data is no longer generated manually. With the help of other related platforms such as customer service management (CRM), it is now easier to gather and distribute accurate data in real time.

    10. Ecommerce

    Ecommerce sites have proven itself to be resilient and viable. Amidst changes in the internet landscape, online shops continue to flourish and even dominate the internet economy.

    Conclusion

    Technology will continue to evolve, but nobody knows up to what level it will reach. The only thing we know is that technology will always give us surprises. The above innovations and trends will determine the direction of the market. This will further accelerate the race to produce the most sophisticated technology in the immediate future.

  • How can companies save cost with the help of cloud?

    How can companies save cost with the help of cloud?

    Data management is a core component to any business’s success. From inventory control to client invoicing, computers make the business world a reality in today’s connected times. However, stacking servers and updating software on a regular basis at each business can add up in cost over the years. Businesses are quickly realizing the strength of cloud computing as technology improves on almost a daily basis. By outsourcing data management to various third parties, companies can save thousands of dollars. Take a close look at the reasons behind these cost savings so that you can look forward to a stress-free office with cloud capabilities.

    Ample Storage Space

    Businesses managing their own computers will often run into storage problems. They face a choice of deleting some files or increasing their storage space. Both of these decisions take time and money away from the company. When businesses turn to third-party resources, such as Microsoft Azure, the storage factor isn’t an issue. In essence, companies rent enough server space for their needs. Many cloud-computing companies have options where businesses can upgrade their storage for a nominal fee. With virtually unlimited space, companies save on costs by avoiding any data setbacks.

    Fewer IT Hires

    When computers first entered the business world, their incorporation heralded in the field of IT or information technology. Computer-savvy employees suddenly had jobs because they were necessary for data management and possible software development. These professionals, however, can be expensive hires. Large businesses may need entire departments dedicated to IT tasks. With the use of cloud-based computing, businesses can reduce or eliminate their IT department. Only a few professionals are necessary as permanent hires to oversee this third-party relationship. Companies save thousands of dollars on payroll savings alone.

    No Hardware Updates

    Keeping up with hardware changes through the years is expensive. A computer or server might be three or four years old, and its components aren’t compatible with the latest technologies or software updates. Businesses end up paying for regular hardware updates as a result. Cloud-based computing has no such updates because the clients don’t support the hardware at their offices. The service provider houses and updates the hardware as necessary. These costs are part of the service package that’s offered to each business. There’s no downtime when the cloud-based company updates their hardware as clients continue to upload information from their remote computers.

    Remote-Employee Inclusion

    Because of Internet connectivity, many employees work remotely from the field or home office. In the past, they had to manually upload their data to the company’s computers each day or week. Remote workers didn’t have instant access to the main server. With cloud-computing services, remote workers are more efficient than ever. They can instantly see the business’s entire database without stepping into the main office. Because these workers don’t need to contact another employee and ask questions about database information, companies save substantial money.

    Data Backup Covered

    Losing data of any size is incredibly serious at a company. That information must be replicated and preserved somehow afterward. This reaction process takes time and money away from businesses every single day. With cloud-computing services, your data is backed up on a frequent schedule. It’s nearly impossible to lose data with these services because it’s their main job to focus on. Computing customers simply need to upload their information so that it’s available for regular backup processes. Time and money losses can be taken out of the equation.

    The Psychological Factor

    It’s difficult to run any business with so many worries that normally include IT priorities. When cloud-based computing is in place, business owners and managers can focus on other concerns. They’re not dividing their attention between various tasks so the business saves money as a result. In fact, a calm mind might create the next great advancement so that the company can move even further ahead. Being overwhelmed with internal issues can only drag a company’s momentum down with increased costs ahead.

    Picking a familiar name for cloud-based applications, such as Amazon Web Servcies, is a simple way to dive into this sector. Get to know the process, and you can slowly alter your needs in the future. Cloud-based computing will only grow larger as the Internet and businesses continue to expand across the globe.

  • Agile Software Development

    Why is agile software development important?

    Why is agile software development important

    Agile software development solutions evolve through self-organized teams. It encourages fast and flexible changes through adaptive planning. While other methodologies have their proponents, there’s little doubt in any Agile software development shop that this method works well. To understand why agile project management is important, you only need to look at the rewards it provides.

    Scrum and Sprints

    In Agile, a sprint is a fixed time period where certain goals are met. At each sprint, your team and often the client will meet to discuss what’s to be accomplished and what criteria need to be observed.

    Scrum agile methodology is the repeatable framework. A scrum team consists of cross-functional members, a Scrum Master or project leader, and a product owner, or person representing the client or stakeholder. All work together on sprint completion. Scrum principles allow your team to work on various features in shorter sprints as requirements emerge, rather than following a sequential process that can easily be derailed if long phases of work have to be rolled back.

    The Benefits of Agile

    Iterative
    Since agile software development is iterative in nature, features are delivered in increments, so that testing, approval, and revenue can be realized early and continue with project development.

    Quality
    One of the key benefits of agile software development comes from integration of testing throughout the development cycle. Regular, specific testing during all phases ensures that quality issues are more likely to be identified, and allows time for corrections. Meeting quality standards at each increment also ensures that the finished product will meet your customer’s requirements.

    Transparency
    Agile principles encourage user involvement and a cooperative approach. This allows stakeholders to monitor progress and examine the product for assurances that your are satisfying expectations.

    Lower Risk
    Incremental testing, user involvement, and releases make it easier to identify issues. Any changes can be captured and dealt with at any early stage of development. This drastically lowers the risk that the final product will not meet requirements.

    Flexibility
    In many other approaches to development, significant changes can result in overhauls of planning, funding, and specifications that delay progress or inflate costs. With agile project management, change is an expected part of the process. Requirements evolve as the product evolves. Transparency and incremental progress allow your clients to make timely decisions.

    Cost Effective
    Establishing adaptive policies within fixed time frames make it easier to stand by fixed budgets. Variation comes iteratively in the evolution of the product, and does not impact cost. The agile philosophy of early release of features also means the competitive edge of faster time-to-market.

    Customer Engagement
    Direct involvement of stakeholders or their representatives, along with the level of visibility into progress and response to change, creates a better relationship between your business and the client. This leads to greater customer engagement with the process and greater likelihood they will consult you on future projects.

    Better Environment
    Agile software development methods provide a better experience for software developers. Rather than dwelling on specifications and long-term planning, teams get together regularly to discuss issues and progress with each sprint. The team can make decisions and explore options on their own. This provides you more motivated and focused teams.

    Kanban

    Kanban agile methodology is more loosely structured than Scrum. It works as a model introducing change as incremental improvements. In Kanban, work is planned on a visual board as states which every work item must go through. This generally includes In Progress, Testing, Ready for Release, and Released columns. Variation may be allowed through horizontal pipes, or “swim lanes”, but Kanban is focused primarily on managing work in progress.

    Scrum vs Kanban

    You won’t find it difficult to introduce Kanban to any Agile project. Scrum agile methodology offers a tighter structure for more focus, control, and direction where these things may be lacking and development is off track. But if there are already efficient, productive processes in place, Kanban agile methodology can improve your process over time without requiring any radical change.

    Some critics of agile point out that it is less predictable, and teams and product owners don’t always mesh productively. Collaboration is essential to success. Where that’s the case, the possible benefits of agile software development make it an important strategy you should consider.

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    5 Things that will change your lives with internet of things (IOT)

    Even with self-driving cars making headlines, most consumers still seem unaware that the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to change their lives. Even the technically challenged will experience it every time they visit a friend or a public institution like the DMV. Your company may have little choice but to get onboard now. Just as social media, cloud computing, and the internet itself transformed business, smart devices that save time and money are driving innovation and opportunities. Here’s how this technology will impact your organization.

    1. Everything gets logged

    Smart devices feeding their information to computer applications can be used to track everything that goes on for every second they’re up and running. Busy hospitals or huge distribution warehouses will be automatically tracking equipment and even logging maintenance requests via smart chips and bar code scanner data shared over Wi-Fi. You’ll know where every piece of equipment is, what items are being used or produced, and what’s been shipped. You’ll know in almost real-time every product that’s been sold in every one of your hundreds of store locations, who sold it, and unless cash is used, who bought it. This can help your business improve operations and sales, quickly locate equipment and products even in transit, reduce shoplifting, generate up-to-date reports, and much more.

    2. More data

    With billions of smart devices already exchanging information over Wi-Fi, companies will be swamped with data from the Internet of Things. Sensors, keypads, and memory chips will be constantly collecting information on how smart refrigerators or programmable security cameras are being used. This can help your company improve products to meet real-use conditions, but it also means a flood of real-time information. Almost all data stores will become “big data” – very big. That requires new methods of consolidating and analyzing it so that it can be made available to marketers, strategists, sales, designers, engineers, customer support, and more. Companies making smart products will thrive only according to how well they use this mountain of data.

    3. Get there faster and safer

    They may not be the norm on the streets of the US yet, but in China a driverless bus successfully ran its route through crowded city streets. The technology works, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for you. Soon you’ll have driverless forklifts, maintenance vehicles, and delivery carts, all controlled by sensors, beacons, Wi-Fi, and computers to keep from running into each other, product, or human beings. They can run on schedule or on demand. And when the government does finally approve self-driving vehicles as street legal, your trucks will be running routes determined by computers for maximum economy of time and fuel. You can also consider drones as commercial vehicles. Long before Amazon started deliveries, they were used to upload footage for inspections and surveying, faster and more safely than any human could.

    4. Smart grids

    Almost anything can become a smart device. They can do more than gather data. A company in Idaho is now testing panels that it’s hoped will one day fill the streets. These are essentially big acrylic wafers that can support a truck, yet harboring LEDs and interconnected circuits so that they can monitor traffic, and work in sync to display warning messages or other alerts to drivers. They even have heating elements to melt ice and snow. It would cost billions to put them into place over the country’s highways, but how about a few strategically located in your office or manufacturing facility? They can alert and inform employees, guide visitors, or be outfitted with other technologies for taking pictures, recording sounds, temperatures, and weights, detecting intruders, and more.

    5. Remote management

    Today’s smart homes can be managed via smartphones. You can send a signal from across town to start the washer, turn on the lights, feed the dog, turn up the AC, and see who’s at the door. The same methods can be used for business. Just as it does for homeowners, mobile apps can let business leaders check on CCTV cameras, join meetings, view performance dashboards, create and share documents, initiate automated processes, track vehicles, time sheets, and payroll from almost anywhere in the world and at any time of day. This also helps to network with sales people or vendors when you’re away from the office. Remote management maximizes your involvement with a waste of time and travel.

    All it takes is some innovative programming with existing technology, and essentially any of your equipment, from coffee makers to tractor trailer trucks, can become a smart device. Gathering heaps of data can suggest improvements on everything your organization does. But the phrase “Internet of Things” is a bit of a misnomer; these devices are in place, ultimately, to communicate with you.

  • Modern UI flat design vector kit in trendy color with simple mobile phone and digital tablet with icons, buttons, windows and other interface items. Isolated on white background.

    Apps: Is it intelligent to choose function over design?

    It’s the age-old question for app designers everywhere – function or design? In an ideal world, you’d like to have both, but often it becomes necessary to prioritize one or the other.

    Both function and design are crucial aspects of your app and its success. However, your app’s functions serve as its foundation. If that’s not in place, your app isn’t going to succeed, no matter how beautiful the design is. Here are the primary reasons why it’s an intelligent choice to prioritize function in your mobile app development.

    Users Want Simplicity

    The average smartphone user spends the vast majority of their phone usage on mobile apps, and the majority of that time is spent on their favorite five apps. Users can install and uninstall apps in just seconds, and most aren’t willing to spend more than 5 to 10 minutes learning how an app works.

    It’s a competitive marketplace, and to give your app a chance of catching on, users have to be able to figure it out quickly. Some of the most successful apps provide one primary function, they just provide it exceptionally well.

    It doesn’t take long for a user to form an opinion on your app. You want users to catch on to your app right away, so they like it and keep it on their phones. You can accomplish that when you build a functional app that’s easy to use.

    Function Keeps Users Coming Back

    The most popular mobile apps all serve a specific purpose. Social media and instant messaging apps keep you connected with your network through your phone. Gaming and video apps provide entertainment whenever you want it. Map applications help you navigate to your destination.

    Users don’t open an app over and over, day after day because it looks pretty. They do so because it helps them in their day-to-day lives. For your app to be part of somebody’s favorite five apps, it has to help them in some way, even if it’s simply by providing a few minutes of entertainment.

    Google is one of the best examples of getting a huge user base by putting function first. Its home page has a basic layout and one main purpose, but people loved its simplicity and usefulness so much that it became the most popular search engine of all time.

    The Benefits of Great Design

    Function may be the most important aspect of your mobile app development, but your app’s design still deserves plenty of attention, as well. People are naturally drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing. Function entices people to use your app, but design improves their overall experience when they do use it.

    Considering the importance of function, it deserves the majority of your resources, especially if you have a limited budget or are on a strict schedule. However, the goal for your app should be a blend of function and design, where the app works well and has a design that enhances its functions.

    Keep in mind that design doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple design can still be nice to look at and work perfectly for your app. In fact, what’s most important is that your app’s design feels natural, and what feels natural depends on the type of app you’re developing. For a high-octane mobile game, great design may be cool, flashy graphics. For a messaging app, a natural and effective design may be a simple layout that doesn’t overpower the experience.

    The popularity of the iPod is a testament to the power of not just good design, but good design that complements the function of the product. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, it didn’t have the most storage, and there were actually several high-quality devices manufactured by Apple’s competitors. Despite that, the iPod became by far the most popular MP3 player available. It did so through an innovate design that wasn’t overly complicated, but looked good and made the device easy to use. Rolling your thumb along the wheel was intuitive and a quick way to scroll through all your music.

    The Intelligent Decision

    Overall, it is an intelligent decision to choose function over design – in the first stages of your mobile app development. At that point, it’s all about what purpose your app will serve for its users, and that means function is king. That doesn’t mean you need to discount design, though. As you move further along in your development process, building a design that fits your app and its functions is well worth your time.

  • Innovation ideas for CIO

    7 Foolproof ways for Technology leaders to promote Innovation in their Organization

    Digital transformation has altered workplaces so that they are unrecognizable from their ancestral counterparts. Everything from marketing to software development has been impacted by Web 2.0 and the sheer speed and precision with which data passes in the modern day. If you’re a CIO or other technology leader, how do you make sure innovation in your organization keeps you not only up to date, but moving ahead of your competition? Here are 7 surefire ways to to increase innovation in your organization.

    Bring your departments together.

    Intellectual stagnation is a creativity killer. If your team hears the same ideas from the same people day in and day out, your innovation will stall to a creeping halt. Bring your departments together to offer fresh perspectives and new ideas, and to change the course of conversation for the better. The networking team or even the janitorial staff may have a gleaming idea for the software development team that would have never been shared otherwise.

    You start the conversation.

    No one wants to stick their neck out first, especially when it comes to creative ideas. Fear of judgment and ridicule may dominate the silence. So, you start the conversation. Offer ridiculous ideas. Show them that no idea is off limits, and that building on them is key. Ask them questions, and get them talking. Make your meeting room a safe, fun place for ideas to brew.

    Write down your ideas. Keep them. Review them often.

    Make brainstorming sessions a habit. Have your organization write down all their ideas, however big or small, on a regular basis. Don’t just toss the ones that look silly. It may be the creative spark to answer a big question that has not yet even arisen. Keep them visible, perhaps on a community board, and incentivize those people who come up with the most ideas. Innovation is a numbers game, so the more ideas, the better.

    Think fast, implement faster.

    While your brainstorming sessions should be speedy and consistent, your implementation must also be quick for true innovation to occur. Test new ideas in the real world. This allows your team to course correct, which is vital for innovation. Even if one is a flop, then you can move forward, choose a new path, and not waste any more time. If your ideas are stuck behind a barrier, you’ll never know, and your competition will have already tested, failed, and found the winning idea while you’re waiting.

    “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” –Thomas Edison

    Know what you’re after.

    This facet of innovation should lie near and dear to your brand. Who are you as a company? What are you known for, or what do you want to be known for? “Make new ideas,” doesn’t work.

    “How do we make our product faster?” “How do we increase customer engagement?” Questions like these frame the creative problem at hand, then you can ask your organization for innovative ideas. A worthless innovation that doesn’t solve a problem is not an innovation at all; it’s just fluff. Keep your innovation targeted.

    Ask your customers.

    In the age of digital transformation, your customers and fans are a simple click away, so ask them what they want! Is there a common complaint among buyers in your industry? What can you do about it? Things like Twitter surveys, or simply asking your newsletter subscribers what sorts of things they’d like to see or what problems they would like to have solved can provide a cornucopia of fresh brainstorming material.

    Nurture the creative process.

    A happy home for the creative process is not within the confines of a spreadsheet or Word document. Creativity thrives on freedom and sharing. It may look to a passerby just like staring at the ceiling. It may take the form of a conversation with someone across the office. As long as you are implementing your ideas quickly so there is always a push forward towards project goals, it is safe to give your employees some space to think.

    There is a reason companies such as Google are known both for their fun office spaces and employee culture as well as their leadership in innovation. The two concepts are inseparable.

    Some ways you can help foster creative activity are to let your employees, at will:

    • Go for a walk
    • Have a chat with their neighbor
    • Work outside
    • Listen to music through headphones

    Let the buzz of employee satisfaction carryover into their productivity, and see how quickly change and innovation become staples of your work environment. Let them out of the box, and their ideas will follow.

  • CIO Holidays

    Top 5 things on mind of CIOs this holiday season

    There has not been a time when IT has been as important as it is now. The battle for business among the IT companies is at its peak with every player seeking to get an edge over their competition. CIOs and software development experts are at pains to give their bosses this edge and this holiday; it is safe to say they will have plenty to think regarding digital transformation and how they can make their presence known. But, the top five concerns on every CIOs mind this holidays should surround these five.
    1. Innovation

    Virtually any CIO in the market is looking to innovate; it is unfortunate that when most try, it ends up in disappointment. Nevertheless, it never takes away the need to innovate. Now more than ever, they need the innovation be it in mobile apps, software development or even in data integration. Innovation and how to implement it successfully is the single greatest priority that every Chief Information Officer is left to struggle with.

    Every person in any IT capacity understands the essence of innovation and how important it is. No matter how small or big, any CIO that can crack a new way to innovate and rake in better results for their companies will be on the winning team. However, to achieve any success, resources like ideas, highly qualified teams and money are all needed.

    2. Business Productivity and Efficiency

    This is something that rings at the back of every business minded person. You want to drive up productivity without having to invest in an equal amount of resources. While most individuals in management only think about this, CIOs are tasked with actually realizing the dream. Even though innovation features top at the list of digital transformation CIOs are at pains of coming up with productive and efficient ways of going about their business. The only reason why this does not feature further up on the list of things that CIOs have to figure is because of its lower revolutionary nature compared to innovation.

    With a valid idea, most institutions are willing to throw caution to the wind pump funds in following up the idea. Which is why business productivity and efficiency will rank second in the priorities that professionals will be trying to figure out.

    3. Security and privacy

    Whether it is in line with simple mobile apps or state of the art websites, every IT user has one concern, safety, and privacy online. Of course, that means that the establishment with the most comprehensive approach to securing online presence stands to be the most profitable.

    Additionally, with more people opting for online storage of information using cloud services, the demand for security and privacy to secure sensitive information by both businesses and individuals is at an all-time high. Whether it is for their companies, for second parties or as consumer products, online security is something most CIOs will be considering. Especially given that more people are embracing the idea of storing information online as opposed to local storage.

    4. Technology Alignment with Business
    Business and technology has been the theme for years and has continued to be. Aligning your business with recent IT trends is one of the most efficient ways to grow. In recent time’s business have opted for more of social marketing as opposed to the old advert methods. This is just one of the ways that the online world is changing business.

    The task that CIOs are laden with is not only creating mobile apps or engaging in cutting edge software type of development but to ensure that IT understands what the business does, the role it’s going to play and above all, knowing what the priorities are. CIOs will also need to figure and understand how their creations affect the profit margins and business delivery and strategize on how emerging technologies can enhance the operation of business. After all, IT and software development is a business in itself.

    5. IT Cost Reduction and Controls

    If your innovation is not offering the users a more affordable and efficient and effective option or alternative to save data or any other IT-based function, then, you’re headed it the wrong direction. With the ground covered, the focus is now on the ability to produce faster, cheaper and easier to maintain IT options. To achieve the same edge as competitors, CIOs should adopt the same focus. Among the options that many will be trying to consider include a different set of management best practices, personal communication skills and even governance and policies.

    Digital transformation will always be a continuing factor that requires continued thinking, brainstorming, and innovation. It is not easy to come up with new ideas, but without a doubt, this is a process that most CIOs have embraced and have made part of their lives. The only factor that keeps changing is what they have to prioritize. This holiday, these five seem to be at the top of every CIOs mind and list of priorities.

  • Digital Transformation with OTS

    How are digital initiatives shaping CIO strategies of tomorrow?

    Over the next few years, the primary focus for organizations will be on digital transformation. Business leaders now recognize that they must provide agility, scalability, and innovation to be competitive in a digital environment.

    The burden that falls to you as CIO is to provide more capabilities and performance. At the same time, you’re required to provide maximum resource availability to satisfy both business and consumers. Driving a digital transformation at the same time can be a challenge.

    To achieve this transformation you’ll the inclusion of IT in business strategy not just as a service provider, but an essential stakeholder. CEOs and business owners may have to make additional sacrifices and commitments to see that you can realize this transformation efficiently. This includes enterprise-wide collaboration on some or all of the following digital initiatives.

    Focused approach

    Given your challenges in integrating automated systems, IT is not as flexible as other business operations. It’s difficult to introduce innovation to an accepted infrastructure that’s in almost constant use due to the internet and mobile apps. But transformation requires agility.

    As more leaders recognize the digital demands of future business activity, you should be finding increased funding and more support. You must learn to foster a prioritized vision for your IT objectives, where even demands like security and data management take a second place to focus on development and integration.

    Digital revenue

    More third-party application are becoming available, so that it’s more difficult for companies to find alternative that provide genuine benefits over the competition. Technology itself is becoming more interconnected, such as self-driving cars and Wi-Fi enabled smart appliances. You must adapt to a more complex way of doing business.

    Companies are beginning to place emphasis on technical partnerships and mobile apps to provide marketability. Your deliverables must embrace popular mobile devices and an increasing number of open-source platforms. Integrating with wider and already accepted technologies provides your company new revenue streams that differ from traditional ideas of product marketing.

    Data Governance

    In the era of big data and cloud-based business analytics, information has become one of the most valuable assets at any company. Using data to maximize profits and improve efficiency is an important aspect of your role in the foreseeable future. As the volume of data grows, you will look for more automated approaches to business intelligence.

    A CIO may see analytics as a key asset of future business, but many stakeholders are not convinced of the value in investing more heavily. Data mismanagement has led to outdated or lower quality data yielding inaccurate results. Future benefits from analytics will require that you implement a data governance framework, and get top executives engaged in data-driven decision making.

    Collaboration

    Digital initiatives are likely to fail as business grows due to a lack of collaboration and effective integration. Digital transformation tends to be seen as simply a series of your specialized projects. Businesses that aren’t open to digital integration across the enterprise won’t have a clear picture of how you transform internal processes. Sales, marketing, HR, and other departments tend to compete for resources that detract from overall development. This is especially true if certain parties favor outsourcing or third-parry solutions rather than internal transformation.

    You may find it difficult to architect a program of digital transformation without the consensus and participation of management as a whole. You must convince the various stakeholders to participate and collaborate in a mutual solution that benefits the whole organization. Digital transformation can be seen as an ongoing IT function where specific ideas are married to your technical knowledge.

    Speed, quality, and innovation

    Until recently, you may have been reluctant to take up an equal partnership in upgrades that only benefit other interests. Other departments may have no grasp of the time, money, and effort required in your software development projects. But in the near future all business partners will be open to innovation in pursuit of the common goals of quality results and fast delivery.

    The Agile methodology works well not only in software development, but progress in other technical projects. Many companies are slow to deploy these principles, or to fully benefit from them, for fear that you might produce changes too rapidly to adjust to. But those companies that don’t embrace and adapt to rapid change are likely to fall behind. Transformation in the future needs to focus on not just your defined requirements, but speed of integration.

    Most managers feel that IT should play a more pivotal role in business strategies, but few IT leaders are influencers today. In the future, however, you will find that more key executives will understand that you provides not just a core service, but the impetus and leadership for essential technical progress.

  • OTS Software Solutions for Internet of Things - IoT

    Internet Of Things (IOT) – New frontier in technology or a new threat?

    Is the Internet of Things (IOT) the greatest new technological frontier in a generation, or the next great threat? The answer, of course, is both. IOT has the potential to be both a godsend and a plague, depending on how we use it. On the positive side, IOT opens new doors to software development that allow a level of personal interconnectivity and convenience heretofore inconceivable. On the negative side, it opens new doors that hackers can use to launch newer and greater cyber attacks.

    IOT: The New Frontier

    The Internet of Things, simply put, is the integration of Internet-enabled computer technology into articles of clothing, automobiles, household items, personal accessories, and other everyday objects to perform a variety of everyday functions previously left to us human beings to handle.

    These IOT-enabled items are embedded with sensors that read data like temperature, time, humidity, light, sound, motion, pressure, weight, etc., and communication devices like RFID (radio-frequency identification), QR codes, or wireless technology to send this data for analysis and receive instructions for any necessary response. This allows for machines to take over doing many of the monotonous, repetitive tasks of daily living for us, so that we can get about to bigger and better things.

    The Internet of Things offers many exciting, practical benefits that almost seem to border on the realm of science fiction, such as:

    • monitoring your vitals directly from your clothing
    • tracking your children’s whereabouts directly from their book bag
    • keeping your refrigerator stocked with automatic calls to the store to reorder items you’ve run out of
    • starting the shower when your alarm goes off and warm the water to your ideal temperature
    • turning on the porch light and house heat remotely when you’re on your way home from work

    These are examples of the advantages of IOT to consumers, which in turn benefit businesses by making their products more relevant and appealing. However, there are still other, perhaps even more powerful, ways that the IOT can benefit businesses.

    All of those little computers connected to the Internet that are integrated into consumers’ everyday belongings can also be used to collect product and user data, and transmit it back to you, the business owner. In this way, businesses have access to unprecedented data about how exactly their products are being used.

    This in turn, of course, can then be used to update and improve those products in future iterations to fit even more seamlessly with the way consumers prefer to utilize them. In short, IOT may be the biggest boon to market research since Google Analytics.

    Thanks to IOT our civilization can look forward to the following imminent innovations, some of which we’re already beginning to see take shape:

    • automated homes
    • smart cities
    • smart environments
    • industrial automation
    • health monitoring

    IOT is truly a frontier in technology, as it provides vastly improved efficiency, saving both time and money, while improving the usefulness and durability of the machines we use to facilitate our lives. Therefore it improves our quality of life by allowing us more time, money, and energy for more creative and rewarding pursuits.

    It does, however, present one worrisome drawback.

    IOT: The New Big Threat

    The problem that many in the IT world see with an IOT-enabled world is that every computer connected to the Internet, no matter how small, can be hacked.

    Just like every personal computer has its own unique IP address, so too does every communication device embedded into IOT articles. Each IP address is a unique point of communication, like a doorway opening in two directions. This creates a point of access that hackers can exploit. In this way, IOT makes previously safe items and objects suddenly vulnerable to cyber security threats.

    A hacker could take control of the computer embedded into an IOT device and use it to communicate instructions to other, more powerful, machines nearby. This is how hackers cover their tracks: by routing their manipulations through a network of other people’s machines, making it nearly impossible to trace them back to their original source.

    When more and more systems of our cultural infrastructure are infused with (and dependent on) IOT, a plethora more information will become available to anyone who knows how to access it. This means big data on a city’s water and power usage, for example, could get into the wrong hands. And if law enforcement integrates IOT into their systems, then criminals have that many more inroads to create potential havoc.

    It also means personal privacy is at risk, as all the information our IOT-enabled belongings collect about us can potentially be accessed by the wrong people and used to cause us trouble. Not only could a hacker learn things about us that we don’t want them to know, they can even change data, with consequences ranging from inconvenient to life-threatening.

    Cyber security teams have been dealing with just this type of problem for as long as the Internet has existed. The difference now, with the advent of IOT, is a proliferation of mini and micro computers all over, making it easier and easier for hackers to slip through security nets.

    Fortunately as fast as software development teams are putting out new apps to make more everyday objects more convenient, they’re also working just as fast to keep up with the security risks these new technologies present. Nevertheless any businesses considering implementing IOT in their infrastructure or product offerings, needs to consider both security and privacy concerns moving forward.

  • Startups prototype creation

    Build Better User Experiences Through Prototyping

    Prototype development is a useful stage in the UI/UX development process, but many companies get it wrong. If done correctly, prototyping helps developers, designers and marketers iterate quickly on features and messaging. If botched, it can bog teams down in unnecessary choices and technical debt. Here are some tips to prototype effectively.

    Resolve to Throw Away the Prototype

    Prototyping is often thought of as the beginning of the software development process. In that light, the prototype is viewed as the software’s initial stage. The prototype will simply gain functionality and features until it is a more fully-built app or service.

    This is the wrong approach. A prototype should be treated as a standalone project. Handling prototypes as separate entities frees developers and designers from making tough technical choices that cannot meaningfully be decided so early in a product’s development. It also allows for testing ideas inexpensively, determining if they are viable before building out the necessary technical infrastructure.

    Don’t Get Bogged Down

    Software development is full of choices. A product’s database selection determines how its data will be modeled, stored and queried. UI frameworks dictate how it will look. Message brokers, container technologies, and many other factors all combine to determine how a product will look, act and be maintained.

    The prototype stage is not only the incorrect time to make these decisions, but it is also the wrong time to even discuss them. Prototypes should be as simple as possible, even going as far as faking features and interactions instead of relying on complex solutions and interactions.Prototyping is also a good opportunity to experiment with new technologies. Since it will ideally be short-lived, and since prototypes should be discarded, using new technologies gives teams the chance to evaluate their use in the larger project. It also lets developers and designers learn without worrying about mistakes being incorporated into a long-term development cycle.

    Identify and Test a Hypothesis

    The prototype is not the place to include every possible aspect of an app’s ideal design, every feature, every screen, and every corner case. Instead, it is intended to test a simple hypothesis.

    For instance, say a company is designing an on-demand app for delivering services. There are many features an app like this would require to be successful, from complex push notifications to screens for editing account details. The prototype should instead focus on testing the value proposition. Put in place just enough UI/UX development to determine if consumers find the platform helpful and useful. If they do, throw away the prototype and start building the final app.

    Conclusion

    Prototype development may seem like an expensive proposition. After all, why spend time developing an idea only to throw the work away? A common piece of advice is to measure twice, cut once. Building a prototype measures an idea, determining if it will fit expectations before making the potentially expensive mistake of building a thing that no one wants.

  • Software product development

    Why Software Product Development is Different Than Internal Software Projects?

    Why Software Product Development is different than internal software projects?

    Internal software projects can cover a wide variety of tasks, such as building a data warehouse or creating a custom application to be used internally by a business. Many projects might involve coding, but actually developing and producing software from an initial concept to successful release is an entirely different animal.

    Software Development Process

    The software development process, or life cycle (SDLC), is a structure for defining progress. There are a number of development methods which describe approaches to the tasks and objectives involved. These process models began with waterfall methods, which developed in turn into iterative, Agile, and extreme programming (XP) processes.

    Typically any software development includes stages of requirement analysis, specifications, software architecture, implementation, testing, documentation, training and support, and maintenance.

    In thee internal software projects, this cycle is completed for a version to be used by business and remains steady for a while till business needs new changes. However, software product development in many instances, development is never really completed, as there are numerous releases over time with new features and fixes as customer feedback is received and user needs change more frequently. With new cloud based SaaS products gaining foot in market, the cycles of development have become more agile and product companies are actually doing this shorter as possible to get more customer feedback as fast as possible.

    Driving Role

    With internal software projects, it is usually seen that CIO or IT heads get the requests for business software needed, which gets checked by them if available off the shelf. This is what drives to make decisions of creating this custom internally for their business OR if a off the shelf software package can be used to meet the needs with minimal or no customization.

    In technology startup space, CEO is more of an “idea man” or venture capitalist who hires or partners with a technology specialist to head up development. This is the CTO, or chief technical officer. In practice this is seldom a hands-on team leader but a technical adviser. In today’s development world of IT outsourcing, this is not someone with a vested interest in the technology startup, but a contracted, high-level consultant who can be hired as virtual CTO. The role may become more physical and they may need to bring a full time CTO in house once the product hits market

    Platforms & Technology Stack

    Today’s software product development can be extremely complex, and may need to run a variety of devices and platforms. Development teams must stick to their methodology to establish and meet requirements, plan system architecture, and coalesce constantly revised code blocks into a working product that satisfies all quality tests. Going at it with a poorly defined process will only lead to failure.

    In contrast, an internal project although being a very important requirement from business standpoint, does not necessarily need to support many platforms for user adaptability as most of the users may still be internal to business. Technology and architecture decisions however are equally important, still rank low as preference if compared with product development needs of a technology company.

  • Group of Business People Meeting About Teamwork

    Retail CRM – Knowing the Customer Patterns and Making Informed Decisions

    Online retail requires IT solutions that go above and beyond expectations of business models and processes. There are various software solutions that help businesses manage their leads. When a business obtains a lead, those leads are prospects. It is essential for management to understand the requirements of analyzing consumer behavior and how to use that data to turn prospects into actual clients or subscribers.

    When it comes to CRM, businesses must know the why, what, how, when, and where of the buying patterns in clients and consumers. Understanding consumer behavior, especially online, requires a comprehensive CRM that yields useful data by revealing customer patterns. It succeeds when it helps executives and management make informed decisions. Consumer behavior is defined by the actions involved in purchasing decisions revolving around services and goods as well as the disposal of those services and goods.

    Consumer behaviors always have a degree of variables that are unknown and unpredictable due to the sporadic behavior based on real emotions and rationale for buying goods and services. It is human nature to be volatile, and selfish sometimes. All people are consumers, and every day goods and services are bought. Not all consumers have the same tastes, and if they did, they have different reasons for those tastes. Most people adapt, adopt, and change their buying patterns every day.

    For instance, one day one person might buy one type of toothpaste brand, and another time, the same person might buy a different brand. Some people will stick to one brand that they prefer, and they may prefer it because it was what they were raised with or it might be what their friends recommended. There is one thing that all consumers have in common, and that is the fact that they fit in a certain demographic that allows businesses to target relative audiences.

    What the appropriate measures, marketing executives and business managers can understand nuances of what differentiates their business services or products in order to understand their client’s needs. Once the consumers are sorted out, a strategic develops a niche that helps consolidate their target marketing efforts in order to solidify consumer relations. This is essential in gaining an edge and competitive advantage that lets marketing staff determine what makes consumers react to the environment which they are exposed. The adage, “They do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” rings true. With the right software, businesses can automate their marketing processes into a turnkey solution that obtains and retains customers.

  • SolutionWordPuzzle

    Retail IT Leaders – Must have software solutions for your business

    The Must-Have Software Solutions For Retailers 

    Today, the expansion of the Internet has increased the pace of global commerce in startling ways. Around the world, retailers encounter new challenges as a result of this situation. If your company expects to remain competitive in this dynamic market, you require some basic software solutions in your IT investment mix. Don’t overlook these must-have products when you plan for your retail software IT needs:

    1. Security Software

    The ever-changing landscape of viruses, malware, trojans, phishing scams, spam and other threats to website security pose a potential hazard for any business enterprise which maintains an online presence. Although some Cloud Management providers offer comprehensive security for cloud-based applications, companies still need to consider this issue carefully. Even with excellent protection for databases in the cloud, it usually makes sense to secure individual computers within a company, too. Malicious software programs and thefts online can damage a retail reputation and result in costly claims.

    2. E-Commerce Software

    Companies today require E-Commerce software that enables seamless automated online sales. The type of product you select will likely depend upon the size of your enterprise and the fulfillment procedures you maintain. Just as a single shoe size won’t fit every customer, enterprise E-Commerce software packages deserve careful evaluation. A startup with a limited budget will likely not possess the same needs as a well-recognized retailer with an established chain of B2B vendors. However, some excellent software programs today assist retailers in adding ECommerce sales to existing revenue platforms. E-Commerce software includes both tailored and custom-designed versions.

    3. CRM Software

    As the Internet has grown in importance, the variety of excellent Customer Relationship Management programs has kept pace with this expansion. Today, retail outlets can locate some exceptional packages targeted towards their particular marketing needs and preferred promotional strategies. Some companies also obtain customized CRM programs. Just as most retailers now depend upon online sales as a source of revenue, in addition to in-store business, the intelligent use of CRM marketing programs may help enhance your company’s bottom line.

    4. Retail Mobile Apps

    Companies seeking IT solutions need to consider the growing importance of retail mobile apps. The expansion of beacon technology has increased the availability of very sophisticated commercial metrics programs. Developing customized, tailored mobile apps to furnish information to in-store consumers who carry mobile devices may boost store revenues. Many of these programs work well for promoting online retail services, too.

    5. Social Media Integration Software

    Today, even retailers may benefit by maintaining smoothly functioning databases to track sales metrics and promotional campaigns. Using software programs to help integrate social media and SEO campaigns with these programs offer many enterprises an opportunity to take the best advantage of low-cost Internet marketing techniques. Many of these programs work seamlessly with compatible CRM software. Outsourcing to ensure excellent integration with legacy systems may prove helpful in some cases.

    6. ERP Software

    ERP integrates every business automation need required to operate a business of any size in a single platform. With some large players like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle playing in the space, there is a wide variety of software available that can be tailored to any enterprise need and can be installed at multiple locations. ERP software of modern times can cover all business processes ranging from end point of sales, inventory management, supplier management, commerce integration to order processing. Once your business scales up, this is the most essential and complex piece of software you must look to implement helping you control things efficiently.

    7. POS Solution

    Retailers today are trying to achieve an omni-channel approach where their consumers should be able to have a similar experience irrespective of the platform they use for purchasing the goods. It is hence more essential that those old cash registers must become compliant to organization wide Point of Sales (POS) approach of the business. Choice of this software solution is very critical and may break or make your business’ ability to interact with the consumers. It is highly recommended to use an experienced IT solutions provider to choose from plethora of options available in this space.

  • POS-Solutions

    What a retailer must look into before finalizing a POS solution?

    Retailers: Here’s What You Need to Know Before Finalizing a POS Solution 
    Point-of-sale (POS) devices and software enable a business to conduct business. While the basic requirements for a POS may be to conduct transactions, they can and should do more than that. A POS should become a vital part of your business strategy. It should enhance your day-to-day operations while helping you to conduct significantly more business than you could any other way.

    The innate problem with POS solutions is that they are not created equal. Some offer more features, while other offer too many. This can make that final decision concerning what POS to purchase into one of the most difficult ones you might ever make.

    Let’s explore some of the must-have qualities your POS might need to have before you finalize your choice.

    1. Your POS System Should align with How Your Business Works

    The first trait you should look for in a POS solution is the fact that it aligns with the way your business currently operates. It should be designed to be implemented with minimal training.

    This isn’t to say that a POS cannot offer advanced features. If your business needs these features, then it should allow them to be used optionally.

    The thing to understand is that your POS solution should only be as complicated as it needs to be for your employees and customers to interact with it.

    2. Appropriateness for your Industry

    Different POS software can be designed to be used with different industries. There are very few solutions designed to be used everywhere due to the specifics that various industries require.

    Retail POS systems, for example, should include:

    • The ability to enter custom discounts and coupons. Gift cards and other promotions should be included in this.
    • Support for product-specific details like color and weight.
    • Customer invoices for service like warranty work.
    • An implementation of a customer loyalty program. This can be in the form of rewards or discounts.

    To contrast this, hospitality industries such as restaurants need a POS that can:

    • Allow for multiple check payments.
    • Integrate some form of floor seating charts and assigned servers.
    • Produce multiple receipts for separate parties.
    • Track inventory based on ordered menu items.

    3. Is It Reliable?

    Reliability is the key when it comes to POS. Unreliable systems make for lost sales, which means that you earn less than you should.

    Ensure that your POS can communicate over the Internet for maximum reliability. Seldom should a reliable POS solution be “cut off” when it uses the Internet.

    A connection via the Internet will also help foster e-commerce sales and the like. This allows your POS to expand your ability to profit.

    Stability is another factor in the reliability of a POS. Crashes do happen, but they should be limited to less than one time per day. This becomes especially important when you have to rely upon your POS to get customers in and out of your store during busy seasons like the holidays.

    Is Your POS Solution Right For You?

    If you have even one doubt about your POS solution, then it may not be the right one for you. The wrong solution puts your sales and business at risk.

    Expert IT Consulting companies like OTS can provide you with IT solutions, retail software and POS software that meshes with the needs of your business.  OTS will help your business succeed from a technology standpoint, be that with online retail or in a more conventional sense while tying in e-commerce.

    Technology can push your business forward when you use it properly. When you’re ready to see what technology can do to increase your sales and minimize your hassles, contact us.

  • local-seo-multi-locations

    Retail Software – Keeping all your multiple locations synched

    Businesses with multiple locations have special considerations that single-site software can’t address. Companies that have an online retail presence have further additional challenges that come from managing an e-commerce store. The following reasons should help you understand the importance of finding the right multi location retail software for your company.

    Centralized Reporting

    When all your retail locations sync to either a central location or the Cloud, you can view your entire business at a glance. Most reporting functions allow you to begin with an overview of company-wide sales performance and then drill down to see location-specific data. Without centralized reporting, you only see the performance of each store.

    Uniform Pricing

    By managing prices globally, you avoid the complications that arise from having different prices at every store, and you save time. Rather than have staff at every location entering and updating prices, you can have one person do it for your entire company, avoiding the frustrations that develop when your stores compete against each other.

    Inventory Management

    When you have a global view of inventories, you can efficiently use your resources to move inventory between stores before reordering. When the time comes to order merchandise, the software lets you order for all your stores at once, saving time and allowing the use of your purchasing power to buy at lower prices. You can also use global reporting to optimize your merchandise mix at the local level, so stores that don’t sell much of an individual item can free their space for better-performing merchandise.

    Organizational Troubleshooting

    When you have a multi-location software package, you can easily compare the performance of your retail locations. You can quickly identify your retail locations that need attention. You can either improve or close stores that drag your company, so you can focus on the areas of your business that generate the most profits.

    Online Integration

    Many retail businesses have realized they need an online presence to take advantage of modern savvy shoppers. Many companies choose to operate their virtual storefronts as separate companies because they don’t have the software that manages multiple locations.

    When you have software that supports centralized inventory management, you can avoid the expense of maintaining a separate stock room by drawing from the same goods that stock your stores. Also, the same person who prices merchandise for your brick-and-mortar stores can easily manage online pricing by configuring a separate price structure.

    Now that you know some of the benefits of multi location retail software, rather than struggling with software not intended for businesses with multiple locations, you should consider either outsourcing your IT solutions or finding software solutions that meet the needs of your business that you can manage in-house.

  • mshopping_1960x980

    Retail – How a well thought mobile app strategy helps modern retailers

    Retailers: Use A Careful Mobile App Strategy 
    Today a well thought out mobile app strategy enables retailers to compete more successfully for both in-store and online revenues. These useful tools promise to help some brick-and-mortar companies reverse years of gradual losses to ECommercecompetitors. How do Mobile Apps enter into modern retail marketing? What features should these software applications include? What strategies should businesses employ in implementing them more effectively?

    A New Retail Landscape

    Every year, an increasing number of shoppers head to malls and grocery stores carrying sophisticated mobile devices. A growing segment of these consumers use their iOs Apps, Android Apps, Windows Apps and more to seek out bargains. They may visit stores specifically to find certain products stocked there that they have identified via an Internet search. Additionally, a rising percentage of outlets today use wireless beacon technology to draw visitors into the store and promote products known to interest them. Visitors may gravitate to items offering coupon discounts or special promotions, for instance. Retailers who fail to take advantage of these technological innovations risk losing market shares to more aggressive, technically-savvy competitors.

    Custom Design Mobile Apps

    By seeking custom-designed retail apps, often developed with the assistance of IT Consultants, retailers obtain the ability to tap into this attractive Mobile ECommercemarketplace. Many larger stores already maintain 24/7 Online Retail operations. A well-designed tailored retail app helps your store complement and enhance these sales efforts. You can use Software Solutions that provide you with convenient tailored management platforms to track marketing and promotional campaigns campaigns very cost-effectively.

    Some Strategies

    Before making a significant investment in Retail Software, managers should consider consulting with knowledgeable IT professionals to fully explore all the available IT Solutions that might contribute to promotional efforts. Strategies for implementing retail apps vary widely sometimes, depending on your company’s marketplace, resources and staffing expertise. For example, some retailers hire IT consultants to manage retail applications for them, other companies perform this function completely in-house. You may wish to consult with an IT firm in order to gain a better appreciation of all of your potential options and marketing strategies. IT consulting holds value.

    A New Era in Retailing

    The popularity of Bluetooth-equipped devices, “smart” phones and wearable technology suggest that high tech Mobile Commerce will remain significant for retail stores far into the future. With so many exciting new ways to inform shoppers about sales and pertinent product information, retailers find information technology an increasingly productive way to convert store visitors into customers.

  • ecommerce-best-practices-for-small-biz

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    Before choosing an ecommerce solution, you have to know what you need from one. 

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    There are literally hundreds of ecommerce platforms and options available. Making a choice can seem daunting, and making the wrong choice can cost you more than money. Before finding the ecommerce solution that’s right for you, it helps to know what you need an ecommerce solution for.

    • What are you selling? Is it items, a service, or both?
    • Are your products digital or physical?
    • What’s in your inventory?
    • Do you already have a website?
    • Do you need to set up a new one
    • Is your site centered on your shopping cart?

    Answering these and other questions will help you to narrow your choices. There are ecommerce solutions that,

    • Favor one type of selling platform over others
    • Only allow for specific forms of payments
    • Work well as software or plugins to existing platforms
    • Exist as their own full-service platforms

    So look out for the ones that promise to do what you need them to do.

    The Size of Your Business

    The size of your business has a lot to do with the kinds and brands of platforms your company should consider. For example, an enterprise solution like the WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS) is ideal for retail businesses that routinely spend several millions in operating costs.

    Such solutions come with high costs for testing and implementation. At the same time, such an expensive solution comes with far more by way of features, flexibility, and complexity.

    By contrast, a small business, startup, or single owner business can benefit from smaller options such as Zen Cart, Opencart, and various “eshops,” like Shopify. These solutions are easy to set up, and can cost as little as nothing to only a few dollars to implement. However, they lack features, and aren’t built for handling large volume business.

    Examples of high cost, high-end ecommerce solutions:

    • IBM WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS)
    • Oracle (ATG)
    • Intershop
    • Demandware
    • SAP Hybris
    • Netsuite

    Larger businesses should look to these as examples of what they’re looking for.

    Examples of low cost ecommerce solutions:

    • Magento
    • Virtuemart
    • Drupal
    • Prestashop
    • Opencart
    • ZenCart
    • WooCommerce

    New business and businesses with low volume sales should see what these lower tier options offer.

    How Much Control Do You Want?

    Some ecommerce solutions will allow you to create a storefront from which you can sell your products or services. These hosted solutions are ideal if you don’t want to handle all the minutiae of site upkeep and backend manipulation.

    Examples of hosted ecommerce solutions:

    • Shopify
    • Volusion
    • BigCommerce

    Businesses that don’t mind hosting on third party services and at times giving away pat of earnings should see these options.

    These services also offer self-hosted and unbranded services. So they’re nice for those with a business that has potential for further growth. However, when your shopping platform is hosted on another’s service, it’s subject to another’s rules.

    Hosting your own

    On the other hand, if you host your ecommerce site yourself, you have absolute control over it. What you may not realize is that control comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. It’s on you to keep the site updated, keep the content fresh, source images, and deal with any technical problems.

    This isn’t such a big deal when you’re working with a handful of SKUs and a narrowly defined business. It becomes a large endeavor if you’re trying to move hundreds of items.

    More importantly, you’re in charge of your own security. If you’re not familiar with how to secure a site, or you’re not familiar with things like PCI security standards, then you definitely shouldn’t go it alone.

    Managed services

    You can outsource the server and data requirements to a cloud provider, dedicated retail IT services, and IT consulting firms that offer ecommerce options. You can maintain full control of the design and function, while a third party deals with bandwidth, servers, and technical resources. These managed solutions offer you more freedom, and typically more support than commercial hosted sites.

    You can look into many ecommerce comparisons, but no matter the platform, it’s all about what you need and what you can afford. It’s about who offers quality and delivers on promises. It’s not about which service gets the highest star rating on a website.

  • 1444313235omnichannel2

    Omnichannel – What is it and how is it shaping modern retail?

    “New Retail” Blends the Physical With the Digital Through Omichannel Strategies
     

    The retail landscape is swiftly shifting, and many retailers risk being swept away by the profound changes that will come to define the marketplace over the next decade. In order to compete in our increasingly globalized and digital world, retailers need to create seamless shopping experiences for their customers that permeate nearly every marketing channel. The buzzword for this new, multi-channel marketing presence is “omnichannel marketing,” and it is profoundly altering the way retailers will do business in the first half of the 21st century.

    By harnessing the power of digital technology, and tapping into the free flow of information and ideas, retailers can create omnichannel shopping experiences for their customers. But what exactly is ominichannel marketing, and how can retailers, large and small, get on the bandwagon?

    Omnichannel marketing falls under the digital concept of “New Retail,” which is a collection of strategies implemented by retailers to react to the challenges of operating in an increasingly digital world. Omichannel retail, simply put, is the blending of physical and digital retail spaces. It is a concept that allows retailers to take advantage of the strengths associated with both physical and digital retailing models.

    Through the utilization of advanced, digital tools, online retailing is upending the old, brick-and-mortar retail model. Digital retailers such as Amazon have lower fixed costs associated with their operations, allowing them to offer consumers reduced prices, compared to their physical-store competitors. Today, only 10% of retail sales are conducted online; however, the number of online shoppers is expected to explode over the coming years. Retailers who effectively harness the benefits of both physical and digital models will be most successful.

    The key to a successful omnichannel retail solution resides in advanced IT and software solutions. With the right tools, physical retailers can enhance the shopping experience of their customers by adding digital elements. Some examples of this might include “smart carts,” which can track a consumer’s behavior as they progress through a physical shopping space, or utilizing touch screens in store, so that shoppers can interact with digital information while simultaneously viewing a physical product.

    By deploying a retail infrastructure that includes advanced IT solutions, cost-effective hardware, and retail software, stores can implement omnichannel retail strategies that will allow them to outcompete those who choose a one-or-the-other approach. These solutions allow consumers to simultaneously engage with retail brands in physical stores, on websites or mobile applications, through digital catalogs, as well as through social media.

  • crm_best_practives

    CRM in Retail – Why is it becoming an absolute essential tool for success?

    You may have heard about CRM, or customer relationship management. What you don’t know is just how important it has become in the retail space. On the face of it, CRM sounds just like what a retail business should already be doing- building and managing relationships with customers.

    However, the real value of paying specific attention to the new tool of CRM software, that have made the process and workflow of actually developing those relationships much easier. As the saying goes, the best customers are the ones you already have. In retail, repeat business and loyalty matters. CRM solutions are the best way to promote that loyalty through carefully managing the experience of each customer.

    Why CRM?

    The CRM software tools now provide you ability to manage your customers, sales, orders, invoices, and products in more structured and automated fashion. Further business usage of this large CRM dataset can be achieved by analyzing and visualizing through various meaningful reports. This has brought totally new insight to various functions of marketing, product design, customer support, inventory management and even branding.

    CRM software can tap into an interconnected dataset made up of each customer’s history of interaction with the retail brand. That opens up the possibility to optimize business processes to make sure every customer has a good experience, because it’s that positive experience that encourages people to keep coming back.

    The Basics of CRM

    There are four main aspects of business that CRM tools can help unify: sales, marketing, technical support, and customer service. All of these are ways in which the business interacts directly with individual customers, so they all provide golden opportunities to leave a good impression. CRM can automate tasks like calling up customers to remind them to renew subscriptions or track a customer’s past interactions with the support team.

    That lets the business build up a picture of who its most valuable clients are, what needs motivate their customers, and which frustrating aspects of the product lead to the most calls to customer service or tech support, among other things. CRM tools allow the business to treat every customer with the familiarity of a long-time regular, and that’s the kind of approach that solidifies relationships.

    How to implement?

    Nothing matters more than figuring out how to build relationships with customers that will last, and that’s why CRM’s ability to coordinate goals and insights cross several departments is so valuable.

    CRM software tools take time to learn and implement in any organization, not because of their complexity but merely due to change management it requires across the businesses. Bringing in an experienced IT consulting firm that already know and understand CRM software can be major savings of both time and money.

  • OPEN-SOURCE-ERP

    Low Cost Business Automation with Open Source ERP

    For medium and large businesses, it is imperative that they take advantage of today’s advanced technologies, including ERP software. ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, and when in software form, there are various applications that can be used to effectively capture, store, analyze and use a wide range of business data, including product planning, inventory control, marketing and sales, etc. ERP software is especially advantageous to product development and human resources.

    Medium and large companies prefer to use open source ERP because the pograms can easily be customized, and they also provide a cost-efficient way to manage resources. Open source ERP can be scaled and customized to meet a company’s specific needs, whereas commercial systems come with an existing interface that makes it difficult to perform upgrades. It’s also with open source ERP that a company doesn’t have to perform its own upgrades. Instead, it can be fully reliant on the software provider. Gone are the days of having to employ an internal IT team. With open source ERP Odoo, companies can outsource their ERP functions to a team of specialized engineers at a low cost, sometimes for free.

    opensourceerpsoftware1

    Odoo is also highly modular, meaning you can deploy the program with only a few modules and then add on additional ones as your company grows. It’s also with this open source ERP that you’ll enjoy fast integration, which is paramount in today’s competitive atmosphere. The less downtime that you have to endure, the better, and Odoo takes only a few clicks to get started. You won’t have to worry about having a lack of standardized business processes because all of them can be streamlined with Odoo.

    If your company is considering open source ERP, there are major cost savings to be enjoyed. You don’t have to pay for a license to the software, nor do you have to shell out money for software maintenance expenses. Many companies that deploy open source ERP find that programmer fees are very low, and when the ERP uses open source databases, a completely license-free option becomes available.

    Organizations that are already using open source ERP state they enjoy the higher quality programs. Open source means that developers and programmers have reviewed and contributed to the coding on an ongoing basis, always making the ERP better. Since commercial systems make it difficult to perform upgrades, open source ERP Odoo comes out on top for having little to no downtime when upgrades have to be made. This advantage means that upgrades can be performed more frequently than with most commercial systems.

    It’s important to keep in mind that most open source ERP software programs come in two forms: a standard edition and an enterprise version. The standard edition is open to the entire web community to use for free of charge. The enterprise version is usually rich with advanced features, and it does come at a monthly cost. By first trying out the standard edition, companies can determine whether or not the ERP will satisfy their specific needs. If it does, then perhaps the enterprise version will make for a smart investment.

    The Takeaway

    If you’re looking for a way to automate and streamline your daily operations, you definitely need to deploy an Open Source ERP solution like Odoo. It can be customized to meet your needs, and as your needs change, the software can be tweaked to grow with your company.

    About Author

    Author is technology expert at OTS Solutions specialising in open source business solutions for Small & Medium Businesses. Feel free to contact OTS Solutions regarding any open source business solutions like Odoo ERP or vTiger CRM using +1 818 937 4164 OR sales@otssolutions.com

  • How Business Intelligence Tools Can Help Retail Sector

    Business Intelligence is the process of gathering all relevant data for busotsiness purposes. Many analytics believe that there is abundant data, both internal and external. The challenge lies in collating all this and working with it. This has found application in various fields and has been particularly helpful in the retail sector.

     There are many benefits attached to business intelligence tools. Some of these are:

     1. Optimise store operations: Business intelligence Tools can be used to streamline and bring innovation to all store operations. Better feedback and analysis can help in the optimum display of products and store layout. It also helps managers to take informed decisions on inventory, pricing and staffing. In effect it means decisions taken in real time and less wastage.

     2. Improve financial performance: Comprehensive information gathered through business intelligence tools is used to improve the overall financial performance of the retail operation. Effective inventory control by eliminating stock outs or overstocks is one of the examples used to improve financial performance. Similarly, pricing and costing can be better controlled to improve the overall financial performance.

     3. Increase supply chain effectiveness: The main elements of supply chain are transportation and vendors –– both of which can be effectively managed through business intelligence tools. Today you need real time information on what is happening in your supply chain as well as vendor performance. This can help you to streamline operations, keep a better track of unnecessary delays and drive better negotiations. It can help in improving supply chain performance as well as establishing better inventory control.

     4. Risk management: Business intelligence tools are used to keep track of various operations –– from employee performance to vendor chain. This can be used to supervise performance and undertake periodic analysis. With real time tracking, managers can also identify weak spots quickly and move fast to plug them. Possible fraud channels are more easily spotted with constant supervision.

     5. Customer analytics: The customer is the most important part of any retail store and business intelligence tools are the most effective means of gathering data on customers. Track effective sale campaigns, customer friendly tech interactions and overall customer satisfaction.

  • Socially Enabled Business Process

    social business process

    Participation of people is most important to make anything popular. This is the basic principle of socially enabled business process. It is the most recent trend in business processes. The reason for this trend is, it is effective in providing massive outcome in form of profit and ROI. Although social activity and work seems to be two different aspects, they are related to large extend. Work always involves social activities such as collaboration, negotiations and communications. A socially enabled business process is an extension of this concept to develop productivity of any operational process. It is the integration of social platforms in business processes that supports collaboration and coordination of employees. This enables communication between employees related to their work, which increases productivity by simple sharing of knowledge.

    Most of the business processes depended on technology and individual effort. With advancements towards more critical workspace, the need of team work was gradually realized. Socially Enabled processes can be regarded as the next stage of development form the concept of team work.

    Online_Retailer_OTSThis has changed the structure of the workplace from rigid to fluent and without knowledge barriers. A widely used enterprise social platform are the social features of SharePoint. Yammer was one such independent platforsocial business managementm, now acquired by Microsoft. It is integrated with SharePoint now.

    Among many other benefits, an enterprise social platform promotes transparency, agility and accessibility in any business process. With the introduction of social platforms actions of employees became transparent. This also provide useful insight about his personality and inner talents. These could be utilized for better purpose and decision making. Social platforms also promote integrity and honesty of among employees. Within a social process, sharing of information and data is quick. A centralized base could be maintained by the management from where directions of work could be provided to specific employees or processes, publicly or privately. This enables quick response and rapid flow of business operations.

  • SharePoint In Life Science Industry

    sharepoint life science

    SharePoint is becoming a pivotal player in content management and other services in pharmaceutical industry. Life science companies invest in documentation and collaboration with IT services for content management. SharePoint has become an effective application for this purpose. This application is gaining tremendous popularity across the pharma industry. But, still there are potentials that can be unleashed facilitating more efficient strategies for greater growth and productivity of the industry.

    SharePoint is used primarily as a platform for collaboration and document management in the Life Science industry. But, its use may counteract some of the major problems of the industry. A major problem of the industry is need of ongoing innovation. Generally, patents of this sector expires within three to five years. This is the reason why this industry should be driven towards rapid innovations. Using SharePoint different companies across the globe may collaborate and come into one platform to use their expertise. This would promote quality innovation rapidly.

    sharepoint pharma industry

    As multiple regulatory approvals are required for launching a product in the market, the industry faces difficulty in maintaining timely demands of products. This requires quick responses across the industry updating itself about latest measures and policies in different part of the world. SharePoint offers the platform for such updates through its enterprise social features. It has acquired powerful enterprise collaboration platforms such as Yammer. Using applications in SharePoint, Groups, discussion forums and wikis can be maintained where information can be shared on a single access point. This facilitates greater agility of the industry to meet its demands. This also helps to reach out for places and people in need of care and response.

    pharmaceutical industry sharepoint

    A better communication is required across the industry for coordination. Diversity of languages, time zones and workplaces hinder development of effective communication. Features such as video, work flow diagrams, Visio services helps to improve communication in the industry.

    Among many such aspects, reduction of cost is one of the most benefiting one for the industry. Pharma Industry spends a huge sum in systems that could facilitate effective collaboration, centralized management and documentation. SharePoint provides the most effective solution to bypass these needs.

  • Yammer: The Next Leap of Enterprise Social Networking

     

    enterprise social network

    SharePoint has acquired Yammer for better reasons. This $1.2 Billion investment has provided the enterprise application with massive enterprise social networking ability. Yammer helps to connect employees of an enterprise. They can share information and collaborate to deal with a process issue. They can create personal profiles within the company’s private network. This social network has all the features that is provided by popular site such as Facebook. Member can comment on a post, like a post or follow other members in the network to getting updates of his post. Tagging of post and searching facilities are also provided in Yammer.

    In Yammer, enterprises can create multiple private networks and organize them for different groups of members. Creating a network is quite easy in Yammer as a network is created automatically for every unique domain id of an organization. Id of any member in the domain will be accepted in the network. For example, johnson@henjini.comwill be automatically a member of the network for henjini.com.

    yammer sharepoint enterprise network

    A network in Yammer provides centralized control. This helps in better management of employee issues and supervision of their activities in the network. The the central admin can update a schedule or policy that can be accessed by all the employees of the enterprise. This helps in maintaining consistency of any process updates, addition of new features and news updates for employees.

    Yammer allows merging of subsidiary network to the main network. If an enterprise has multiple domain for different locations, these domains could be merged to the main domain and still, separate networks can be maintained within the primary one. Suppose, an organization has different domains for its multiple locations in different countries. Say, these are henjinijapan.com, henjinifrance.com and so on. Network withing these domains can be merged under the main network under the domain henjini.com.

    Yammer together with SharePoint Social features will contribute to a better enterprise social networking, which will provide updated platform for collaboration of employees. This fosters a better teamwork and easy information flow among them. An attractive aspect of Yammer is, its basic version is included free with Office 365.

    Source:https://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-suite-help/upgrade-your-network-to-yammer-enterprise-HA104118334.aspx

  • Mobile Business Intelligence: Powering Up Enterprise Analytic.

     

    Business Intelligence has been an important part for a good ROI in any business. Enterprises has no other way but to invest a good amount in knowing the prospect of their business itself. A reason for this is the increasing critical scenario of the market with competitive products and complicated customers. This arise the need of a more practical and efficient business analytic system. Software and other business intelligence applications such as SharePoint has made this process much advanced and dynamic than before. Most recently, bringing BI to Mobile Platform has rendered great efficiency to this process.

    mobile business analytic

    The Mobile Platform BI, was not an exact strategy. It was rather due to the BYOD trend that boosted the use of Mobile Devices such as I Pads for business operations. However, integrating BI into this platform is not a coincidence, since, it was an evident fallout.

    Mobile applicability of BI has made greater accessibility to data and information. Using analytic tools in devices such as I Pads and Smart Phones makes market information more handy. This enables the sales force to access data more frequently and timely.

    This new platform eases the need of maintenance of large hardware and applications. Such necessities often become a risk itself as they require extra attention, time and resources. Bringing BI to the mobile platform abates such scenario. It has made the system easy and user friendly adding more functionality and mobility.

    mobile business intelligence

    Mobile devices are though to have security vulnerabilities. However, with right steps taken such threat may be abandoned. Virtual Private Network(VPN) could be deployed in each device that can be accessed only through proper authorization. Software application could be installed in the devices that can erase and destroy any data if reported a device is reported lost or damaged.

    Most of the important BI applications works efficiently in Mobile Devices. Powerful application frameworks such as SharePoint are developed to be compatible with these devices. Data Mapping is convenient and easy in mobile devices. Any application that may not run properly in these devices could be used with pluggins and customized set up.

    Conclusively, using Mobile devices for Business Intelligence is expected to bring more ROI. This reduces the cost of hardware maintenance and infrastructure investment. This makes the process more agile and effective.

  • SharePoint Online: Adding New Perspective To Your Enterprise

    sharepoint socialSharePoint has added substantial social features that will deliver much to the enterprise community. For any enterprise, small, medium or big, collaboration among employees is a necessity. Especially in operational processes, followup of teams and members is important. This creates an atmosphere of unity along with a platform for broad discussions on any issues within an enterprise. This is the general idea of how internal social communities of an enterprise could provide. In a more explicit way, internal forums and discussions pages could contribute to smoother flow of business processes. Forums are of much help when it comes to discussion of technical problems or process difficulties. Sharing of experience could solve many problems that are to be faced while operating a process.

    sharepoint social features

    The social features of SharePoint are added to the main navigation bar, highlighting their importance in enterprise management. Users can create and update their own Newsfeeds from the main navigation itself. Comments and posts could be targeted specifically to the public page or to a community page. Comments can be followed, liked and can be responded. The Micro blogging feature adds a lot to an enterprise users. They could post their viewpoints so that everyone may see and respond to the post. In Newsfeed, audio, video, links to documents and web links can be shared publicly. The SharePoint Newsfeed App allow users to use this feature from mobile devices such as Android Phones, I Pads and Smart Phones.

    sharepoint

    Community sites and Community Portals are other two important features. Community sites are where employees can gather in by becoming members. Information can be shared across the organization using this feature. The contents of a community site is available to all the member of the community. Workflows, instructions and process details can be shared in this area. Therefore, this feature quickens the process of information sharing across the organization. Community Portals is the directory of community sites that are available within the enterprise intranet. Here, users can find, follow or join communities of their interest.

  • How to Choose The Right IT Firm for SharePoint Development

     

    SharePoint is powerful enough to lure any enterprise to use it for better reasons. This dynamic application framework can satisfy almost every facets needed for an effective management of enterprises of any level. May it be a start-up, a medium sized company or a large organization, Microsoft SharePoint can cogently handle its operations.

    sharepoint outsourcing firm

    As the demand of SharePoint is rising, one will find many firms that are quite aggressive in taking the project in there hands. However, while on the process of actual development, discovery of what they lack might prove to be dreadful causing loss of both time and resources. Here we have pointed out a few important aspects that an enterprise should focus on to select the right SharePoint Developing firm.

    Don’t Mistake Trainers for Consultants

    Internet is the first place where enterprises would look for any firm to work for them. There are numerous blogs and websites that provide tons of information about SharePoint development and other materials such as “How to solve” tips. They appear to have perfect knowledge of the subject, which they might actually have. But, you don’t need a trainer to develop the application for you. They can teach, however, they might be not able to develop what you need. Therefore, look for actual consultants and firms that actually develop the applications.

    Certifications

    This would help to make out the actual SharePoint Consultants and Development firms out of the rest. Since Microsoft SharePoint go for Microsoft certified firms only. Microsoft gives certification to IT firms as product developers that can be regarded as a license to develop its product. Certified organizations are evaluated by Microsoft itself making it easy for other enterprises to judge them.

    sharepoint development

    Look At The Cloud Closely

    While opting for a company to develop a SharePoint application, the type of Cloud they use should be examined carefully. Be sure, that the firm has its own private cloud. Since, SharePoint is a Cloud Application, its development for an enterprise in the public cloud can be quite venerable to security breaches.

    Communication Flexibility

    Last but not the least, firms developing SharePoint must have a completely transparent development process. Be sure that the firm delivers an excellent communication in all the stages of development and could answer your queries satisfactorily.

  • How Cloud Service Works To Maximize Profit

     

    Cloud is becoming popular among enterprises due to its various advantages. The greatest of which is the reduction of cost. On the other hand, this factor is inversely proportional to profit. More the cost is reduced, the more profit grows. Let us look a bit closer to several aspects of how cloud services work to maximize profit by reducing costs.

    cloud services

    A management framework consist of multilevel infrastructure. Along with such layout, a huge work force is needed to manage applications individually. For example, the email server will need a number of employees to maintain its operations. This, in turn requires expense of maintenance of technology as well as human resources. Moving this management infrastructure to the cloud reduce such expenses. Costs of maintenance could be minimized substantially by paying only for a cloud service alone. Any required application could be deployed in the cloud domain while its maintenance is comprehensively handled by the service provider. Powerful Management Application platforms such as SharePoint are deployed in the Cloud.

    Cost of Cloud Services are nominal. Most of the cloud services are pay per use. This is quite advantageous in reducing cost because a client has to pay only for specific services. Suppose, the enterprise only needs Email marketing application in the CRM service. Unlike other services, payment is needed only for the specified Email Campaigning Application instead of paying for the whole CRM Application.

    how cloud works

    To make Cloud Services more performing and dependable, High Availability and Redundancy is provided to customers. This is included within the cost of the service without being charged extra. This services require maintenance of high power servers clusters as well as visualization. Maintaining this without cloud service will be much expensive and to some extend unaffordable. Cloud service makes this service available at a very nominal rate.

    As the overall cost of infrastructure and maintenance are reduced by adopting cloud service, agility and investment is procured by an enterprise. This make operations rapid resulting efficient production and more ROI.

     

  • SharePoint for Mobile Devices

    As internet has gone mobile with more number of users and still increasing rapidly, SharePoint 2013 is developed to be in sync with user requirements of this platform. It is optimized to be used with complete functionality in mobile devices. New features are added to make it more productive. An enhanced browsing experience along with essential business tools such as business intelligence are brought into the mobile platform. Now, it is possible to carry out business operations from Cell Phones, I Pads and other mobile devices efficiently using SharePoint 2013. This platform is also made secure through implementation of multilevel security infrastructure.

    sharepoint development

    SharePoint 2013 introduces there mode of internet surfing. The Contemporary View is optimize for enhanced browsing experience. It supports HTML 5 and is compatible with latest browsers such as Internet Explorer 9.0 for Windows phones and Safari 4.0 for Iphones. For Android devices, it support android browsers. For devices that are not compatible with this new contemporary view, it would run in Classic View Mode. This mode supports HTML and other mark up languages. Smart Phones can run the full screen view mode that provide desktop view of SharePoint.

    For business intelligence tools, SharePoint 2013 enables users to access dashboard tools and contents. Applications such as PerformancePoint reports, scorecards and Excel Services can be access with full functionality in any mobile platforms. You may work from anywhere in Microsoft SharePoint if you have the mobile device connected to the web.

    sharepoint for mobile

    Now, mobile users of SharePoint would receive push notifications on site updates and events on SharePoints. Users are enabled to write event handler codes once they register their mobile devices with a SharePoint Site. Notifications are received by a user on every event in SharePoint from the server where the application is hoisted.

    With SharePoint 2013, enterprise applications has reached a new level. They can be accessed without a standard hardware such as a computer. As SharePoint 2013 is hoisted completely in Cloud domain, any mobile device could access it with full functionality.

  • Build up A Concrete Business Intelligence Using SharePoint

    SharePoint introduces an optimal platform for business intelligence. The SharePoint server has multiple features that can assemble large number of unstructured data and prepare them to be analyzed. Instead of using a separate tool for the purpose, it is rewarding for enterprises to have integrated tools all within a single application. Additionally, this application can be linked to other business applications such as Seibel, SAP and Microsoft Server.

    SharePoint business intelligenceAmong other utilities present in SharePoint, tools such as Excel Services, Performance Point Services, Visio Services, Reporting Services and Power Pivot, among others are powerful to organize massive data for business analysis.

    Excel services are used to publish excel sheets in the server with special features such as permissions and rights. It is a centrally managed workplace for an enterprise. This can be used online in the browser without installing MS excel. Many chart types can be used within this service including PivotChart and Pivot tables.

    PerformancePoint service is basically a Dashboard designer. With this, powerful dashboard, termed as PerformancePoint Dashboards, can be created. This is used to combine and evaluate reports and scorecards from various sources. Excel Services, SQL Server and SharePoint lists can be integrated to this for data visualization.

    business intelligence

    Visio services can be used for visualization of complex ideas or process. This service links Microsoft Visio to SharePoint and aids data from sources such as SQL server, SharePoint lists and Excel services. Visio diagrams can be changed to web drawings in SharePoint using this service.

    The reporting service is a collection of report, lists, and connections. It is the central location of all related business intelligence data. It also aides to create page templates that contains business information.

    PowerPivot enables data modeling functionality in a SharePoint farm. It also includes additional functionality such as PowerPivot Gallery, Schedule data refresh and management dashboard.

    SharePoint provides essential insight on business intelligence and automates a business process.

  • Effective Management Using SharePoint

    The new SharePoint 2013, is integrated with multifarious functionality. Adding new dimensions to its infrastructure, this new version is made more efficient and effective in handling critical business processes. The three primary facets of management, Time, Cost and Risk can be taken care through this application productively.

    SharePoint Process Management

    Time Management

    By using applications this latest version, time can be utilized more efficiently and hence delivering high performance. It reduces the time required to manage a critical business infrastructure through rapid coordination of various operational units. Above this generalized concept, specific applications such as Calender and Time Sheets could add much more to the management factor. The time sheets provide a centralized framework for operation schedules of employees. The Calendar is another useful tool to that can be used for optimized performance. Group calendars can be used by multiple users easily. They can be customized easily in SharePoint with multiple features.

    SharePoint Management

    Cost Management

    It is a common though for many entrepreneurs that the cost of a project could be manage one way or the either. There are many approaches that can be applied for managing cost. However, the problem arises in the diversity of project requirements and hence a diversity of management strategy. Microsoft SharePoint provides a fundamental approach to cost management. Using this platform, a bulk of the investment amount can be saved. The infrastructure cost can be reduced considerably by integrating this with Office 365. The cloud service is of special mention in reducing infrastructure cost. The paramount task is to adopt SharePoint with Cloud services. The App Hosting platform of SharePoint 2013 is a compelling platform that reduces infrastructure cost. On the other hand, as operations can be rapidly processed, it saves resources and hence reduces cost of implementation.

    SharePoint Solutions

    Risk Management

    Risk management is a proactive practice to handle any probable risk and issues that might arise on a project implementation and life cycle. The project server of SharePoint provides an interface to visualize the risk data. However, it cannot predict anything for the future, all it does is enable you to keep track of the number of risk, that assigned or reassigned to individuals. It provides an effective insight to risk data and manage them accordingly. Microsoft has provided rich details of risk management using SharePoint.

  • Develop Internet Presence Using SharePoint Server 2013

    The SharePoint Server is a free product that can be used along with SharePoint. This can be deployed on premises of an enterprise and can be managed easily. The new SharePoint Server 2013 has significant improvements, among which, the integration of social computing and collaboration is of paramount importance. This will enable organizations to collaborate with other organizations through online communities and portals. This version has a number of new features such as My Sites, Community Sites and Feeds, which are extensions and innovative additions to applications in the former versions. These features will be of immense help in introducing and extending a wide organizational presence in the web domain.

    SharePoint Application

    Introducing Community Sites & Community Portals

    The SharePoint Server 2013 introduces two new templates, Community Site and Community Portal, along with the discussion list in the previous versions. Community sites promote a strong exchange of discussions and views throughout an organization. This enables an effective exchange of expertise, experience and knowledge for betterment of the establishment. It is equipped with dynamic features such as categorization of discussions, Moderation of Comments, Likes, Replies and Best Answers that are required for a complete web community management. On the other hand, Community Portal is a search driven page that can be used to organize community sites. Using this, a user can find and select any community site of the organization.

    Up-gradation of My Site

    SharePoint Server

    Micro Blog and News Feed features are added to the previous version of My Site. Through this, users could post images and comments, tag or follow other users and might lead to easier and effective management. Sharing and storing of files are made more user friendly in this recent version. In addition to these features, My Site is upgraded to have a superb user interface and navigation. Users will be able to connect to other My Sites through these. Document libraries are upgraded and sharing of content has become more transparent as well as secure.