IBM Developer Cloud
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DevOps has become something of a buzzword lately but the idea behind it can be truly powerful. Using a combination of technology and best practices to increase collaboration between development and operations teams can accelerate the application development lifecycle while improving software quality and reducing costs.
When it comes to software development process, also known as software development life cycle, there are several approaches and models. The details vary somewhat from one approach to another, but there are six basic steps or phases that are common across all models. VironIt, a top software development company today reveals the six phases that are crucial for the development of any software.
Blueprint: In order to develop fully functional software, one has to do some planning and create a blueprint of software. As a developer, you have to first understand what challenges you might face throughout the entire process, and then create a realistic plan that has no obstacles.
Analysis: This particular phase involves scrutinizing whether your project is feasible or not. Taking notes of further requirements or challenges you might face while each development phase.
Software Design: This is the key phase that involves marking out the entire architecture of software and creating a layout that acts as a base for next phase. Moreover, it also helps in knowing what exact hardware is needed to successfully run the software.
Coding: Like the name suggests, it involves transforming a design into code by programmers.
Testing and Software Deployment: Once the code has been developed, it undergoes several testing phases that determine whether the product is working as per original specifications or not. Software Deployment, also known as Beta Phase, involves the product being passed over to the clients, in order to get valuable customer feedback. Any bugs or glitches experienced during this phase can be fixed.
Maintenance: Last but not the least, maintenance is the phase that involves after sales services and support provided by the developers to clients or end users.
Doing business on the go has become the new norm. So does dealing with all sorts of financial transactions through your trusted smart phone or device. From purchasing stocks, making wire transfers and quick personal deposits - mobile finances has exploded in popularity the past few years
The industry keeps growing. Over 1.75 billion users are expected to conduct banking operations through mobile devices by the end of 2019. With this explosive growth what are the benefits for financial enterprises? As more of banking moves into the digital realm, the less money financial institutions have to invest into brick and mortar locations, as well as all of the personnel that goes along with that. When technology can perform all of the functions of a bank teller, and when all of those functions can be safely and easily accomplished by a user app, everyone wins.
But there’s some bad news as well - not all of those users are particularly happy with the kind of user experience they are currently having with their mobile banking. According to the latest J.D. Powers survey only 32% of bank customers say they trust mobile banking and most respondents indicated that they are not “fully satisfied” with the current app proposed by your bank.
The bottom line is this - while financial app development definitely is a promising sector, product owners should specifically focus on building a user-friendly, secure and personalized product rather than deploying just “some app” to stay in trend.
Building That App – Key Elements to Consider
There are several steps in the process of creating a financial app that users will find friendly, safe, and easy to use. If you can accomplish these three things, you will keep customers and your costs down. Consider the following critical pieces.
Know Your Customer
Just who is our mobile consumer? Most would say it is the millennial and younger generations. And they would be mostly correct.
But here’s the thing: Gen X’ers and even 45% of Baby Boomers are using online banking too. And people are interacting with their banks far more frequently than they used to. It’s now so easy to check a balance, transfer funds, and pay bills, if, and this is a BIG if, the app is well done. If not, customers will be lost.
So, what are the biggest objections/frustrations of our potential app users? You have to find this out before you can begin to build or remodel an app.
Here is what consumers are saying about their current banks’ mobile apps:
The other critical information you need to get from your customers is what exactly do they want to be able to do on your app. You can use data analytics to track customer behavior or you can ask. But, in general, here is what most consumers do on their financial apps:
List the Elements You Will Include
Don’t just make a simple list. Create a scenario for each element. How do you want the customer to go through the process involved?
Once you have all of this, you are ready to look at developers, if you don’t have the in-house expertise. Seasoned financial app developers can take what you want and recommend the best technology stack for your needs.
And speaking of financial app developers, be selective as you search for the best one. They should be willing to show you case studies and put you in touch with clients for reference.
Security – It’s the Most Critical Challenge
You already have security measures in place if you offer online banking through your website. Translating those to a mobile app means the following:
Keep it Simple
You know the features your customers want. Limit activities to those features only. If the majority of your customers pay bills on the app, then focus the application around that feature. Don’t waste time building features, such as applying for loans, that are hardly used by your clients.
As the app matures continue adding features in a methodical and customer centric way.
Sleek Design and UX
Here are the things to think about:
While security is important, make sure you have a fully refined QA process in place to reduce any problems with the software.
And don’t forget user testing – you’ll get great feedback.
Plan for Diverse Devices
Make sure you app works well across all devices and screen sizes. There are a number of services that offer online emulators for you to test your applications - make use of that.
Consider adding a mobile analytics piece in your application to track detailed information about usage, and better visibility into any problems your customers might be facing.
Cost – It’s Not Your Primary Concern
When looking for a developer for your application, cost should not be your only concern. Financial applications are complicated and require experienced developers who understand the intricacies of the industry, security and functionality. Don’t just go after the lowest priced developer.
Building a financial app will be key to retaining your customers. If even Baby Boomers are using them, the proverbial “handwriting is on the wall.” Take these eight “criticals” and find the right developer now.
Gaming. It begins at a very early age these days. How many early elementary kids are playing “Minecraft?” By the end of 2013, 33 million kids were playing.
Many of those kids are at least 4 years older now, are graduating high school or may be entering college. But their passions for gaming have not decreased. In fact, they are participating in lots of online competition and dream of either professional gaming or, even more ambitious, getting into game development.
Given the popularity of gaming, there will always be work in the gaming industry. For those who specifically want to move into development, there will be some skill training and some work ahead. Here are 8 tips for these passionate gaming development hopefuls.
Choose Your Focus
You have two choices (and a third, actually – more on that later) – the science of gaming (programming) or the art (design).
Identify Your Limitations and Account for Them
If design is your focus, and you are great at creating scenes and music, you may not be so good at character development. If you are working for a company, the expertise will be there, and you will work as a team. If you are a freelancer, however, you will need to partner up with someone else.
If you are in the programming side, and you are struggling with some of the coding, you need to know where to get that help. Understanding your limitations and getting that help will demonstrate to an employer that you want to get things right the first time out, rather than having to debug after testers have pointed out the “fails.”
And if you have identified some design or programming skill gaps, get thyself into some gaming design coursework from a reputable institution – either off- or online.
Check Your Passion
Good game development requires passionate people who do not see what they do as real work. For them, it is fun. There are crazy long hours, lots of collaboration with others, disagreements, long discussions over Chinese takeout, creative problem-solving, and flexibility/compromises. Make certain that these are all things you will love, or you will develop resentment – never a good thing.
Check Out Options Other Than Development or Design
You may love gaming, and you may want to be a part of the industry. But you are not really into the art or science of it all. There are other opportunities within the industry. These include such positions as testing, marketing, or even doing voice-overs for characters or contributing the music.
Look for Internships
If you want to work for a company/studio, pursue internships. These are amazing learning experiences, even if you do not end up working for that specific company. Other gaming firms or groups will be far more interested in talking to you if you have an internship under your belt. Some internships are even remote, should you not live in close proximity, and many are actually paid.
If you are on the independent side, you may not like the idea of joining a studio as a regular employee. Studios need lots of expertise and, especially if they are small or in the startup phase, they cannot afford full-time employees. Once you have your skill set, check out job boards and niche publications – there will be many opportunities within your skill area.
If and when you take a gig, be certain that you craft a contract, if the firm/studio does not provide one. Any contract should sell out exactly what you are expected to do, how much you will be paid, and a guarantee that your contribution(s) may be used in your professional portfolio.
Be Careful About Pay Offers
There are lots of “poor” studios out there – people who are passionate about gaming and who have big dreams but no money. They are looking for “desperate” people who have their same passion who they can pay almost nothing. Sometimes they will offer you a small equity position or stock in the company or claim that your work will be a great portfolio addition. These things can be tempting, especially if you are hungry for work, but don’t sell yourself short and don’t work for nothing.
Getting Discouraged – It Comes with the Territory
Expect long dry spells. Of course, if they don’t come, great. But when they do, it is probably not because you lack skills. Competition can be tough, and there just may not be a “fit” between a studio’s need and your skillset.
When you hit dry spells or no nibbles from your job applications, take that time to design or develop on your own, to build up your portfolio, or take additional coursework to add to your skillset.
Find ways to network – attend workshops, conferences, and other meetings. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and join groups on that platform. Participate in online forums and discussions; start a blog; develop some podcasts. There are just many things you can do to keep your name out there and to keep your passion intact.
And, if you have to eat, take an unrelated job. Eventually, you will find a position or “gig,” and you will “get your groove” back.
The gaming industry is exciting and fun. It is also evolving rapidly, as technology continues to improve gaming experiences for players. Keep abreast of these advances – you don’t want to become irrelevant.
With the online-based evolution of the IT world, moving apps to the cloud is a fundamental step in the future of technology. As the demand for app development for the cloud has increased more and more in the past years, specialized cloud-based platforms have been created to take apps from idea to URL.
Nowadays, web developers have several platforms that can optimize their work and enable them to make better apps for the cloud. In this article, we are going to tell you all about the rise of cloud-based platforms for app development, along with the benefits they bring, as well as their inevitable shortcomings.
The Demand for Cloud-Based Platforms
Moving an app to the cloud has become one of the most appealing ideas in the IT world because it is extremely convenient. Essentially, it entails running an app on the internet instead of the company's servers. As this idea grew to become a full-on sector of the IT world, three main types of cloud-based app development have been established. These are as follows:
1. IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service
The IaaS model entails that the app is created on the company's platform. Then, the entire app-platform bundle must be deployed to a cloud infrastructure. This is the most lucrative form of cloud-oriented app development because the developers working on these apps have their work cut out for them. However, the IaaS model provides them maximum flexibility, which could be essential when it comes to apps meant to suit very specific roles.
2. PaaS - Platform as a Service
This is the middle ground in cloud-based app development because it entails the use of a middleware platform, such as Heroku or Azure. The deployment process is then made to a cloud service that supports this platform.
The PaaS is becoming more and more popular because it offers developers with quite a bit of flexibility, but it significantly reduces the work they have to put in by providing them with specialized features that can optimize certain parts of the development process.
3. SaaS - Software as a Service
The SaaS model means creating cloud-based apps by using a pre-existing app the offers the required functionalities. The best example for this model is the full range of apps that allow users to log in using their Facebook accounts.
Instead of creating new data for the app's log-in system, developers can simply link it to the Facebook app. While this model is clearly convenient, it keeps developers somewhat limited because they need to adapt to existing apps.
While each of the three models has its own advantages and disadvantages, the highest demand has been observed for the PaaS model because it offers the best of both worlds. Developers have flexibility in the processes they choose to run, and the middleware platforms can help them reduce the work they put in.
The Main Roles of Middleware Cloud-Based Platforms in App Development
Middleware cloud-based platforms, such as Heroku, Microsoft Azure, AWS, OpenShift, and others, are all focused on increasing developer experience. These offer a set of specialized enterprise features that can optimize their work by making the development process more accessible.
By simplifying and speeding up the processes of deployment, app configuration, scaling, testing, and tuning, these platforms can let developers focus on the creative part of their jobs, rather than spending a lot of time on technicalities.
In fact, the most complicated part that developers have to get through is the deployment step because this determines how smoothly their apps will run in the cloud. This is where middleware platforms make a difference because they can make the entire deployment process far easier and thus increase developer experience significantly.
It is extremely easy to deploy Django to Heroku, for instance, precisely because the Heroku platform is made to run processes written in traditional programming languages. Then, it will make the transfer to the cloud as smooth as possible.
The Advantages of Middleware Platforms and PaaS
If this is the cloud-based app development model that show the biggest potential for enterprises, as well as start-ups, let us tell you more about the primary advantages boasted by PaaS and middleware platforms.
Optimization of Testing and Deployment
Whether you are using AWS, Azure, or Heroku, middleware platforms are meant to help web developers try various configurations of their app and run comprehensive tests to assess its performance and its compatibility with various cloud systems. This is an essential part of speeding up the deployment process and increasing developer experience.
Increased Focus on Business
By simplifying the app development process, companies can focus more on their core business targets. The PaaS model can optimize the web development department with minimal effort because middleware platforms are specially created to be suitable for any development system adapted for the cloud.
By simplifying the testing process, platforms like Azure and Heroku are not only useful for developing new apps, but also for creating new features for existing ones. If the developers can test these new features quickly and efficiently, they can implement them efficiently to their apps.
The Drawbacks of Middleware Platforms and PaaS
While these specialized platforms for cloud-based app development are on the rise, there are several aspects that must still be improved. While the drawbacks of middleware platforms are not significant, they can constitute issues for certain business models.
While clearly more permissive than the SaaS model, PaaS platforms still keep web developers limited to a series of features. As such, this could prevent them from creating certain features that might be of interest to some businesses. This is why it is essential that these platforms are chosen in accordance with the company's needs.
As any emerging IT sector, Paas platforms require improved cybersecurity. As such, it is essential that companies stay in touch with vendors to have access to the latest updates to this middleware, as increasing security is one of the primary objectives for the optimization of these platforms.
As you can see, cloud-based applications are clearly an important part of the upcoming IT era. By using specialized platforms such as Heroku, Azure, or AWS, web developers can quickly make the transfer from traditional programming languages to cloud-optimized systems, thus maximizing the potential of the entire project.
Educational software is nothing new. Once computers hit classrooms all over the U.S. (and the world), educational publishers went to work to develop software that could be used to enhance student learning. Mostly, these were in the form of discs that were purchased, inserted into desktop computers, and used to supplement the curriculum at each grade level, K-12.
We’ve come a long way since then. Students now have tablets and smart phones, and download apps of everything from music, to games, to favorite retailers and more. They are tech savvy and want to use their mobile devices for everything.
Why not educational apps that they can access anywhere, anytime, whether they are in the classroom or not? This is the path that educational software is now taking. And publishers are fast developing apps in the following areas:
Building an Educational App for Today’s Student Consumer is Tough
It’s a tough audience. These are kids who play sophisticated games, who spend a huge amount of time on social media, who use their devices for everything from communicating with friends, to listening to music, to shopping, and, yes, to accessing news and information for personal and schooling needs.
And they demand that they be engaged and “entertained” while they do all of this. It’s a tall order for an app developer.
Steps in App Development
If you are looking to develop an educational app, your major concern is not the actual technology of the development at this point. Your concerns are educational. Here are the steps in your process:
Establish Your Goals
What are the learning outcomes that you want for your student users? Like any educator, you begin with these, and then plan your course around them. You will have units – smaller chunks of content and skills that you want to deliver in some way.
Plan the Activities
What types of activities will you incorporate to deliver the content and skills to your users? And what features will you use to deliver them in engaging ways? Be aware that kids today will demand a lot of interaction in environments that the find “valuable.” Here are some of the features that you will need to think about incorporating:
Check Out the Most Popular Educational Apps on the Market
If you want to get a feel for how learning is structured in an app environment and how some or all of the above features are incorporated into app design and development, it will important to carefully study the educational apps, particularly in your instructional niche, that are already on the market and that are the most popular with student users in the age group you are targeting. You will pick up great ideas that will get your “creative juices” flowing.
Create a Map for Your App
This is a difficult and often tedious step, but it is critical, if you are going to be able to codify what it is you want your app to do for kids.
You will need to specifically describe the learning activities you will be incorporating in each unit of instruction and the features/elements of design and development you want to use for each activity. You will need to set up assessment points as well, and the types of assessments you wish to use.
You cannot begin to speak with a developer until this is in as much detail as possible.
Find Your Developer
Technology is a wonderful thing, and there are some great tools out there for developing apps. If you have the time and want to begin a rather steep learning curve, you can certainly learn how to develop your own apps. Your other option, of course, is to find an experienced and skilled developer.
You will need to discuss your project with several developers before selecting one that seems to be a fit” for your needs. You certainly want one that will keep you in the loop as the development progresses and who is willing to provide you with each piece of the software for your review and approval as it moves forward.
Educational apps are part of the future of teaching and learning. Students want access to learning tools on demand, whether they are in the classroom or at home. They want immediate access, and they want apps that will engage and motivate. Educators have a way to meet the needs of today’s learners – by realizing that it is a product and a service just like any other on the market.
It’s all about the customer. It always has been.
In the days before the Internet, how did businesses keep their customers happy? They greeted them when they entered their premises. They directed them to the place where they could find the item(s) they wanted. They took care of returns and exchanges in a friendly way that left the customer satisfied. If customers had a good experience they came back, and they “brought” their friends by recommendations. If the experience was bad, they also told their friends.
In this digital age, where face-to-face customer service is fast giving way to web-based interactions, businesses need to be mindful that customer relations must emulate those traditional experiences as much as possible. It’s not enough to have a call center and/or a live chat feature. Customers need to feel that they are receiving personal, friendly, and satisfactory care, or they will simply go elsewhere.
How Great CRM Software Can Provide Customer Satisfaction
Fortunately, there is technology that can accomplish great customer experiences, in the form of customer relations management software (CRM). And businesses that are growing beyond a hundred customers will need to acquire this software if they intend to continue to grow.
Basically, the purpose of CRM software is to be able to collect, store and retrieve all information related to each individual customer, so that when that customer makes contact, they understand that the business “knows” them and is ready to serve their needs.
Some CRM software products are quite complex; others quite simple. Only you can gauge your needs, and thus you need to find a product that satisfies those needs and that can also grow in features as your needs expand. So, the first thing you need to look for are the basics that are going to work, not only for your customers but also for your customer service personnel.
Basic Critical Features of CRM Software
First, a few statistics and insights
So, what should a solid CRM package include? Given today’s consumer and given that a business needs to reach that consumer where he is and provide the kind of personalized service he expects.
Obviously, consumers want to reach and be reached on mobile devices. And customer service staff, often from remote locations, also need to be able to use their mobile devices to connect with customers. Businesses are actually seeing higher satisfaction and adoption rates, when staff have options of devices to use.
Other research shows that 65% of sales staff that can use mobile CRM have achieved sales quotas, while only 22% of those not using mobile devices have. This alone should drive businesses to ensure that any CRM they choose has mobility features.
As for consumer use of mobile CRM – it is obviously becoming a preferred method as the above stats show.
Because both users and personnel are now using many devices, there is a rising requirement that CRM solutions are in the cloud. At this point, about 87% of businesses that have CRM packages are using cloud-based ones.
This is an area that is perhaps the biggest challenge for customer relations. Business do not see their customers in person. It is critical that they use all of the technology available to reach customers at a personal level. Recent studies show that businesses intend to increase their email marketing budgets for both sales and customer service by 60%. This will allow them to segregate leads, current customers, etc. into groups for far more personalized service. Any CRM package a business purchases must provide for this.
And do not discount the value of “old school” direct mail campaigns. Consumers still go to their physical mailboxes, and there can be those who do so more than others, especially older leads and consumers. Adding a software piece, such as Physical Address that will provide a physical address and virtual mail handling services, can be valuable in certain circumstances.
Compete Customer History in One Place
Probably the most important aspect of CRM is that all of the information on the history of leads and customers be housed in a database that allows sales and customer relations personnel to bring up that entire history on one screen.
This is often called “contact management.” Being able to track every lead as it moves through a sales funnel is a must for any CRM software. Such software should provide a lead/customer calendar, follow-up reminders, and tickets for all contacts and actions. And it should also provide for the sharing of all of this history by multiple departments within the business. This can improve customer retention rates, as studies show.
Every business is unique. Buying a pre-packaged CRM solution that does not provide for customization is useless. A business needs to be able to integrate CRM with its existing systems, giving that business the ability to mine and analyze data that it needs to modify and improve its customer relations.
Keeping it Simple
Unless sales, marketing, and customer service staff see a CRM package as easy to use, they won’t adopt it. Keep it simple in the beginning. Complexities can always be added later, if the right package is purchased to begin with.
Every customer wants to feel important to you, before, during, and after the sale. You can achieve this through the right CRM software. Identify your needs, your customer needs, do the research and find the package that will work for you right now and grow as your business does.
It’s hot – blockchain, that is. By now, almost everyone has heard of Bitcoin and many have heard the term for the underlying technology – blockchain. In fact, it is being touted as the “latest and greatest” method for recording and storing transactions, contracts, public and confidential data, and more. What started out as the best “fit” for fintech has expanded to be a “fit” for governments, education, travel, insurance, real estate, etc. – any business niche that needs permanent and secure (and transparent) records.
Blockchains can be public or private. Bitcoin, and most cryptocurrencies, use public blockchain, and the technology is pretty well standardized. But, more and more, individual businesses are developing their own private blockchain, with proprietary technology used only by and for themselves.
There is clearly a lot of excitement about this technology, and so there should be. It promises to bring a new level of trust between consumers/users and the businesses they frequent. It also cuts out costs of middlemen and their fees. And this is why businesses are looking to the technology as they develop their apps.
Is blockchain a Fit for Your App – Some Initial Questions
This, of course, is the question. And it has to be answered by looking at the benefits and challenges of both developing and implementing the technology. So, here are some initial questions you should ask yourself before you rush into adoption.
Why do you need blockchain technology?
Is your niche engaging in business activity that is subject to fraud? This is a common issue with travel and insurance sectors. Is there a need for security and confidentiality in transactions? Bitcoin sales require transparency in a similar way to the healthcare industry. Are there contracts involved in your business, and do you need an immutable record of them? Do you need to track purchases and transport of goods? Those involved in logistics and transportation niches could find blockchain valuable.
How Will You Develop the Technology?
As new as it is, skilled developers are not as prevalent as they should be, and the demand is high. And in the development process, there are all sorts of challenges. Building and testing distributed applications is hard and full of hurdles and roadblocks. In-house developers with expertise in traditional databases will not be useful here. For most businesses, any app using blockchain will probably be an outsourced project.
The cost – It’s Important
The average loss to business, due to fraud alone, is about 5%. For an airline, for example, this is a large amount. It makes sense, then, for companies that look at large annual losses to go the cost of developing blockchain technology, where identities, sales, etc. can be verified, recorded, and stored. For a small online retailer, not so much.
As the technology evolves, and as more skilled developers enter the marketplace, costs will obviously go down. It may make sense, then, to wait until that happens, depending on your current business needs.
Weighing the Benefits
There is no doubt that blockchain provides some key attractions:
Weighing the Challenges
In addition to those listed above, businesses must also consider the following:
Blockchain holds great promise, and the technology will probably prove to be a huge disruptor in every sector of public and private enterprises. The concepts of trust, transparency, immutability, security, reduced costs, and greater efficiency are too attractive to ignore. Is this technology beneficial for your app? Take time to consider the questions listed above to find out.