We are in discussion with Gary Watson, VP of Technical Engagement and Nexsan Founder. He will be talking about unified storage solutions. In fact, these solutions are focused on seamlessly and securely enabling a connected workforce. It is all about empowering enterprises to secure the valuable business data. At the same time, it allows users to access this data anytime, anywhere.
Q: Your name and title?
A: Gary Watson, VP of Technical Engagement and Nexsan Founder
Q: Company elevator pitch?
Nexsan™ is a global leader in unified storage solutions that are focused on seamlessly and securely enabling a connected workforce. Its broad solution portfolio empowers enterprises to securely manage, protect and utilize valuable business data – while allowing users to sync, share and access files from any device, anywhere, anytime. Headquartered in Campbell, California, Nexsan is a wholly owned company held by Imation Corp. (NYSE:IMN).
Q: Brief description of key offerings?
We have three product lines – our UNITY unified block and file storage solution with integrated mobile access, our Assureon high-integrity archiver which protects valuable fixed content against accidental or deliberate modification or destruction, and our E-Series P and BEAST block storage solutions for Fibre Channel, SAS, and iSCSI SANs.
UNITY is a filer that can scale from a few terabytes to over 5 petabytes while providing secure access to data via iSCSI, Fibre Channel, NFS, CIFS/SMB, FTP, HTTP, and uniquely, client software that is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS. It also has integrated support for Nexsan’s popular Assureon secure archiver.
Nexsan is also well known for its 17-year history of providing dense and reliable storage for SAN and DAS applications. Our flagship E-Series P systems have just been updated with new controller hardware which more than doubles the throughput and connectivity as compared to its very popular predecessor.
We will continue the discussion with Gary Watson in the next post…
This is concluding post from my discussion with Connor Cox, Director Business Development, DH2i. In the first post, we discussed the salient features of his company DH2i and its container virtualization and management software DxEnterprise. In the second post, we discussed how DxEnterprise differentiates itself from competitors. Here, in this concluding post we talk about DH2i’s new channel partner program, DxAdvantage. In this concluding Q&A, Connor highlights the key features of the DxAdvantage Partner Program and how it creates a win-win situation for all.
Here we go:
Q: You have announced a new channel partner program — could you provide the program highlights, what types of partners are you seeking, and what is the program’s value for partners?
Cox: The DxAdvantage Partner Program has actually been going strong for a couple of years already and we have crossed the threshold where partners are starting to reach out to us proactively instead of us having to hunt for partners ourselves. We are trying to leverage on this organic momentum by getting the DxAdvantage Program more publicized through this official announcement. Currently, we are represented by partners on 4 different continents: North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
We are looking for value-added resellers, consultants and also open to OEM’s if they have an innovative idea how to integrate DxEnterprise software with their own product offerings.
The DxAdvantage Partner Program entitles partners to significant discounts on DxEnterprise software, includes technical sales training, opportunity identification, and selling the collateral in a customized portal for their business. The program gives partners the power to deliver superior outcomes to their customers with SQL Server environments in terms of cost savings, next-level consolidation, and simplified management. A lot of our partners also view DxEnterprise as the missing piece in their product offerings—the ability to offer a unique container solution for new and existing SQL Server workloads.
We are in conversation with Connor Cox, Director Business Development, DH2i. In the previous and opening post, he talks about his company DH2i, and throws light on DxEnterprise. As we learned, DxEnterprise is a powerful tool. It helps you control your servers and data center cost substantially. In addition to cost savings, it removes complexities. DxEnterprise is container virtualization and management software that decouples new and existing SQL Server instances from the underlying infrastructure to make them portable. It then enables the stacking of these containerized instances. This improves server utilization and reduces the number of OS licenses. In the nutshell, it enhances manageability, reduces complexities, and cuts down operating costs.
We proceed with our discussion with Connor below.
Q: How is DxEnterprise differentiated over competitors, like Docker?
Cox: To be honest, we don’t even think we should be grouped in with companies like Docker. Companies like Docker focus on stateless applications with their containers and the main goal is distribution and provisioning—something they have grown extremely proficient at. However, there is very little built-in technology focusing on the management of these containers, especially in terms of high availability. On the contrary, DH2i is much less focused on the container and more so the advanced management framework it enables. We can containerize new and legacy deployments of stateful applications like mission-critical SQL Server.
The closest thing we qualify as a competitor is WSFC in the sense that we both compete as a solution for SQL Server instance-level HA—though our software is much more than just an HA solution. We differentiate DxEnterprise predominantly on the simplistic management that it enables at a low cost. DxEnterprise allows for unlimited cluster size on Standard Edition SQL Server and clusters can be made up of any mix of OS and SQL versions/editions (back to SQL Server 2005 and WS OS 2008R2). They don’t have to be like-for-like—a requirement of failover cluster instances.
We will be closing our discussion with Connor from DH2i in the next post.
We are in discussion with Connor Cox, Director of Business Development, DH2i. He will be talking about DxEnterprise and the company’s newly launched DxAdvantage Channel Partner Program. In fact, DxEnterprise is a unique concept. But before that, a little background on the company.
DH2i provides Microsoft Windows Server application portability and management solutions. Its flagship solution, DxEnterprise, containerizes and decouples Windows Server applications, such as SQL Server, from the host OS and underlying IT infrastructure. Customers can simplify and dramatically improve the management of their data center environment. In addition, they can ensure SLA compliance and lower costs by 30%-60%. DH2i is on Gartner’s list of Cool Vendors in the “Cool Vendors in Servers and Virtualization, 2015” report.
Q: Name and title?
A: Connor Cox, Director of Business Development.
Q: Could you introduce DH2i and DxEnterprise?
A: DH2i is a software company founded in 2010 by Don Boxley and OJ Ngo with the mission of making software to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying mission-critical Windows Server applications. Our initial focus has been SQL Server for two reasons: it’s expensive to license and it’s mission-critical.
DxEnterprise is container virtualization and management software that decouples new and existing SQL Server instances from the underlying infrastructure to make them portable. We encourage customers to stack these containerized instances to up their server utilization and reduce the number of OSes they need to license and manage as well. In addition, an automated, instance-level high availability engine is built-in to the software with QoS controls to ensure that all your SLAs are met. In total, DxEnterprise is a cost saving, consolidation, HA, and management solution that can help virtually anyone with SQL Server under management.
We will continue the discussion with Connor Cox in the next post…
This is the last post of an interview series with Bruce Coughlin, EVP, CTP. You can read first post here, and second post here. In this concluding post, Bruce talks about the expansion of their Cloud Adoption Program. And how CTP plans to leverage in scaling it globally to match their client’s needs. Bruce emphasizes the need of Digital Innovation Practice program in order to cater to IoT and other emerging technologies. In fact, digital innovation is the future.
What are the expansion plans for 2017?
First, we will continue expanding CTP’s Sales and Delivery teams both in the US and across EMEA. The market opportunity is truly staggering and we look forward to scaling globally to support our client’s needs.
Second, we will expand our Cloud Adoption Program in order to cover end-to-end cloud adoption for clients across all industries and on all major public cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.
Third, we are growing our Digital Innovation Practice to cover Internet of Things and other emerging technologies as we see that all of our enterprise clients are putting digital transformation initiatives at the center of their corporate strategy.
Fourth, we are expanding CTP’s managed services capabilities. Last April, we announced a strategic partnership with Rackspace to deliver professional and managed services for enterprises. Rackspace and CTP have integrated our offerings to create a new category of managed services and provide enterprise clients with unparalleled end-to-end cloud services.
Is cloud the ultimate future for an enterprise? What benefits it brings?
Indeed it is, for most applications and data, but not all. The benefits include cost efficiencies, at about 40-60 percent in operational cost savings. However, the largest point of value is the ability to bring agility to an enterprise. When an enterprise is able to scale rapidly to meet demand or enter new markets quickly, they unlock huge business value.
Digital Innovation Is the Future
What are your views on an organization outsourcing complete IT function?
I’m not sure enterprises are going to outsource all IT functions. They will, however, outsource some operations, platform support, and development. Keep in mind that the enterprises need to drive the innovation aspect of their businesses, and IT should be there to support the business, no matter if it’s outsourced or not.
Is cloud security still a concern?
We solved the cloud security issues a few years ago. In fact, most systems residing on public clouds are typically more secure than on-premise systems. We’ve completed over 350 enterprise cloud projects, many of which were in highly regulated industries including financial services. Ensuring security is systematic to everything we do.
Which kind of organizations doesn’t prefer cloud adoption?
Risk averse organization typically wait for others to succeed before they dip in their toes, and even then it’s a scaled approach. These are typically industries that are less aggressive in their markets, such as manufacturing or retail. That being said, we are seeing successful cloud adoption projects across all industries and organization types.
We are talking to Bruce Coughlin, Executive Vice President (EVP), Cloud Technology Partners (CTP). In the previous post he talks about CTP’s comprehensive framework for cloud adoption. It is very interesting to note how end-to-end cloud services mark a successful 2016 for CTP. In this post, we are discussing Cloud Adoption, Digital Innovation, and Managed Services. And how all these help in accelerating their collective customers into successful cloud deployments.
What made CTP open operations in EMEA? What are the primary goals?
Our key partners including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, and Rackspace are rapidly expanding their reach across EMEA. Their expansion illustrates the demand for cloud services that exists in enterprise and global accounts. We are thrilled to begin leveraging our own enterprise cloud adoption, digital innovation and managed services to help accelerate our collective customers into successful cloud deployments.
Our expansion abroad is in line with the rapid increase in cloud adoption across the region. To support this growth, AWS is opening new regions in the UK and France to complement its other European regions in Frankfurt, Germany and Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft currently operates six Azure European regions and Google is expanding its cloud services from four European data centers in Ireland, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
End-To-End Cloud Services Deliver Great Results
This commitment is encouraging to many companies looking to migrate their applications to the cloud. We partner with the world’s leading cloud platform providers and now have the dedicated resources abroad to help accelerate cloud adoption for our global clients.
Would you like to share one of the biggest success stories of 2016?
2016 was a huge year for CTP. We doubled the size of the company, expanded globally and established a strategic partnership with Rackspace to enable new end-to-end cloud services for our enterprise customers. Early in the year, we launched The Doppler Quarterly, our flagship cloud computing news, and best practices publication that is read by thousands of IT professionals around the world. We closed our series C round, achieved the AWS Migration competency for our work migrating enterprise applications to the cloud and were named a Gartner “Cool Vendor in Cloud Computing.”
As Executive Vice President at CTP (Cloud Technology Partners), Bruce Coughlin is responsible for all customer-facing functions from sales through delivery. In his role, Bruce Coughlin works with all of Cloud Technology Partners go-to-market functions including sales, technical pre-sales, marketing and alliances to build and execute on global expansion strategies. From a delivery perspective, Bruce Coughlin works across Cloud Technology Partners’ practice areas to build the teams, structure, and process required to execute on Cloud Technology Partners’ industry-leading market position and service offerings. Additionally, Bruce Coughlin has responsibility for guiding the strategic evolution and growth of CTP on a global basis.
Please tell us about CTP’s comprehensive framework for cloud adoption.
Based on the best practices from hundreds of successful engagements, CTP’s Cloud Adoption Program brings together the best technology, practices and learnings for enterprise-wide cloud adoption and has been a huge success with our enterprise clients who want to ensure their cloud initiatives start – and stay – on track.
The Cloud Adoption Program is a comprehensive approach to enterprise cloud covering:
● Cloud Strategy & Economics
● Cloud Security & Governance
● Application Portfolio Assessment
● Application Migration & Development
● Cloud Ops
Starting with a workshop, the Cloud Adoption Program aligns key stakeholders and ensures client teams are working towards the same cloud goals and objectives. This prescriptive approach to cloud adoption and application migration has proven invaluable to dozens of enterprises including the most prominent financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing and technology firms in the world.
Cloud Technology Partners
We would be discussing many important aspects with Bruce like:
What made CTP open operations in EMEA? What are the primary goals?
Would you like to share one of the biggest success stories of 2016?
What are the expansion plans for 2017?
Is cloud the ultimate future for an enterprise? What benefits it brings?
What are your views on an organization outsourcing complete IT function?
Is cloud security still a concern?
Which kind of organizations doesn’t prefer cloud adoption?
Project lifecycle and project management have a very close relation. The success of a project highly depends on its timely closure. Although projects rarely have a pre-closure. But it does happen. And it might happen repeatedly. Then here is something extraordinary in that project manager. But there is a catch in this. The project manager might be playing a big game. Projecting timelines beyond stretch in the project plan. And then squeezing the timelines comfortably. But then these flukes do not happen repeatedly. Rather then it can’t happen that all other stakeholders overlook it.
Project lifecycle and project management go hand in hand. If you don’t manage a project well, it could have severe impacts on the project. And when a project undergoes serious negative impacts it might lead to an early death of the project. The project may hang without any ownership in that case. Therefore project lifecycle and project management are directly proportional to each other. Also, if you manage it well, you get credits for that.And vice versa. Here are 4 posts that will help you from various angles. In fact, all four posts try to touch project lifecycle and project management in a different style. Looking at the same thing from various angles always helps.
Project Lifecycle And Project Management
A project manager can’t afford to vanish out of the stage during any phase of a project. It does not mean that you have to be present in front of all team members all the time. That might not be possible, especially during an offshore project when your teams are scattered geographically. But there are ways of being present and making your presence felt across the teams and during all important project review meetings. Read more.
If systems and processes are not in place to manage each and every phase of a project, it leads to panic across the teams. The smooth sailing gets disturbed thereby causing turbulence and unnecessary hindrance. Read more.
Do you have an Idea Factory within your organization? It gives you an indication that the teams are alive and functioning properly. Read more.
Following are the top 15 pain areas of a software project. Read more.
Learning how to enhance project quality is critical for every project manager. As a matter of fact, project quality is a multidimensional array of tasks. In fact, if the project manager doesn’t expertise how to enhance project quality it will create a lot of trouble for him. He will never be able to inculcate the relevant passion in his teams. Rather, it will start deteriorating the existing zeal and fire in the teams. When you are captain of the ship, in the case of any crisis all eyes will fall on you. Everyone will have a lot of expectations. In fact, at that moment of time, you have to be their source of motivation and energy.
Whatsoever is the intensity of the crisis, it is you who has to ensure that the journey doesn’t stop. You will have to bear the brunt of disruptions. But you will have to find newer ways to get results even out of those disruptive moments. Because it is important to learn how to enhance project quality. Hence acquiring expertise becomes important. Moreover, sustenance is also important to maintain. In the same context, here are 4 posts:
How To Enhance Project Quality
The definition of QUALITY varies in different contexts. On one hand, we talk about software quality. That means adopting standards and measures. Read more.
Project initiation is the beginning. If there is no initiation, there will be no way forward. Once the ignition does its work, only then the engine can start. If all blessings are intact in right place, a right team formation becomes a big boon for project drive and completion. Read more.
Project management must have inbuilt sensors. These sensors must be capable of detection of flaws (or shortfalls) in the system. It is important because you need to monitor project progress quality. These sensors have to carry a fast response time. And these should be active in all kind of environments. That will help you in improving the health of the project management ecosystem. Read more.
A successful product development does not mean its deployment will also go successfully. Read more.
For the project managers, this art is very important. This art is how to avoid project failures. Once a project manager acquires expertise on how to avoid project failures, he can lead other project managers and climb up the ladder. In fact, once you reach this level, you become a natural leader, mentor, and coach for others. And the largest chunk of the benefit goes to the teams working under you. Because the smart guys will also start acquiring knowledge on how to avoid project failures. That too, without your knowing or guidance. Because they start noticing something unique in you. And that starts driving them in that direction. In fact, you start building a healthy competition not only among your peers but also among your teams. Here are five posts in that regard:
Overseas projects handling is an altogether different game. You need to be quite careful in selecting and supervising teams for the overseas project. Read more here.
Understanding people related issues is an art. Some of these issues, if not handled properly, may lead to a critical edge. Read more.
How To Avoid Project Failures
Project Governance challenges are an integral part of a project. There is no point in avoiding these challenges. The best way is to master the way in handling them. In fact, there is always a scope for improvement in any kind of governance. It can always be enhanced and improved to an optimized level. Once you reach an optimized level, it does not mean further scope for improvement is over. The day you stop seeking improvement in its governance, your project conditions may start deteriorating. Read more here.
Project Management means no failures. As a matter of fact, the anagement is meant to clear all obstacles. Projects encounter obstacles. In fact, project Manager needs to anticipate risks well in advance. Mitigation of risks is important. The important aspect is to learn from failures. Read more.
What happens when a project fails? It is the turn of a project manager to give valid reasons to safeguard himself. Read more.
Continuing from my previous post on Custom Insights, let us learn more about it. Firstly, Apteligent has come out with its latest industry report, ‘Network Crash Edition’. This report has the first of many previously unknown findings. The report reveals certain amazing and shocking findings. It says interactions with cloud services result in a substantial increase in the number of crashes on iOS and Android apps. Secondly, it also evaluates the respective app store category. And what impact does it have due ṭo networking issues? Moreover, it points out why these issues keep occurring at such a high rate. It implies the power of Custom Insights.
Key features of Custom Insights™ are:
- Correlate vast amounts of underlying app data with marketing performance metrics in a simple way
- Manage data-driven decisions with custom reports containing the statistical analysis and insights to improve mobile business
- Leverage bleeding edge data science tools and Apteligent’s global data to contextualize your app’s data for predictive analysis
Custom Insights from Apteligent
As a matter of fact, key takeaways from the report include:
- 20 percent of mobile app crashes are correlated with a network issue
- Android Nougat is 2.5 times more likely to have a network crash than iOS 10
- Fabric, Twitter’s mobile platform, crashes apps. It ranks third worst in analytics and fifth worst in advertising
- Medical, finance, and shopping apps are extremely susceptible to network crashes
- 88 percent of network calls involved in a crash were successful but returned unexpected data that led to a crash. In fact, 10 percent of successful network calls returned no data and then led to a network crash
It is quite critical for organizations to be able to find how user behavior causes certain network calls. In fact, these calls can easily lead to a crash. Such crashes increase customer dissatisfaction. Rather it can cause deterioration in business and brand reputation. As Andrew Levy, co-founder and CSO, Apteligent summarizes about Custom Insights “There are plenty of ‘big data’ solutions in the market today. The unique value in Custom Insights is that it allows organizations to go beyond dashboards of data. Our platform makes proactive recommendations by analyzing data across tens of thousands of apps.”
Apteligent Custom Insights enables yo to find critical data points. As a matter of fact, Apteligent is a global company providing predictive app intelligence. It’s most recent data report has come with the title ‘Network Crash Edition’. The report highlights discoveries on the basis of its newest offering Apteligent Custom Insights. Andrew Levy is the CSO (Chief Security Officer) and co-founder of the company. The key findings from the report are:
- Android Nougat is 2.5 times more vulnerable to have a network crash than iOS 10
- Fabric, Twitter’s mobile platform, crashes apps. In fact, it ranks third worst in analytics and fifth worst in advertising
- As a matter of fact, Medical, finance, and shopping apps are extremely susceptible to network crashes
- 88 percent of network calls involving in a crash were successful but return undesirable data that leads to a crash. In fact, 10 percent of successful network calls return no data and then lead to a network crash
- Finally and amazingly, 20 percent of mobile app crashes can easily correlate with a network issue
Since the outcome is resulting from tens of thousands of mobile apps, it represents hundreds of millions of application launches. The revelation of cloud services source of crashes brings Apteligent’s Custom Insights to the forefront. In fact, it becomes an essential tool for the companies. Rather it will help them to improvise the overall experience faster and much accurately. Because the tool will be touching some new but crucial data points to pinpoint the exact issues and causes. In fact, it reveals many new insights.
Apteligent Custom Insights
As a result, Apteligent’s Custom Insights™ reveals cloud services source of crashes. It reveals that almost 20 percent of mobile apps crash due to a network issue. This is a big concern for organizations and apps. In fact, it turns more serious when we are talking about big data, mobility, IoT, etc. Apteligent is an expert and legend in predictive app intelligence.
We shall be talking more on Apteligent Custom Insights in next post.
ERP is never a one-time expense. Along with capital investment in any ERP, you invite a big operational expense. The major chunk of this annual investment goes into top three activities. First and foremost is the development of new reports. Second is customization of an existing report. And third is document processing. You really need to introspect it. How many developers do you have in the organization for ERP Output Reports and document processing? What is per developer annual expense? How much backlog is there all the time? How much idle time they get when there is no considerable requirement?
I think with advancements in technology and entry of smart SAP Output Management tools the scenario is going to change drastically. There is going to decrease in ABAP coder’s demand. The tools like Compleo is powerful for ERP Output Reports and document processing. It is a SAP certified product from Symtrax. Compleo is powerful enough to help manage complex reporting and document processes and its distribution with ease without ABAP programming. Businesses using SAP are adopting Compleo fast so as to cut off their large pool of ABAP programmers thereby gaining long term benefit.
ERP Output Reports and Document Processing
As a matter of fact, three major global giants have certified Compleo. These are IBM for their AS/400 systems, SAP, and Oracle. All three agree that Compleo from Symtrax is a magical tool that reduces development cost drastically. In fact, Compleo does wonders in case of any ERP you use. This is on-premise, per user license model. The product is modular. You need not purchase all modules. It is as per your organizational need. Moreover, whatever modules and number of licenses you procure, the cost recovery is fast. In fact, in most of the cases, you recover its cost within a year. And thereafter it is a profit for your organization in terms of saving the cost of high-level developers. I will talk about the product features in detail in next post.
Whenever you plan you can look into these key considerations to start business pṛocess automation. One thing is there that you must take a note of. That it is not possible to automate every process.There has to be a proper assessment. And this is true for each process. Some processes might not be appropriate to automate. And in fact, there will be some processes that you will find difficult for complete automation. That is why it is important to learn key considerations to start business process automation.
In-depth analysis of the processes is important as a part of key considerations to start business process automation. Key users ar the right candidates for such probing and understanding. They will be able to point ou many insights. How many times a process require deviation? How much repetition? Who approves deviations? Who analyzes the repetitive jobs? These are the important insights. Any automation must result in cutting the workload. In fact, it must free up staff time. And they must utilize this free time in carrying out other activities. Those activities that require their skills and experience. As a matter of fact, the whole setup must become more efficient and productive.
Key Considerations To Start Business Process Automation
Automation without gathering complete information from respective key users might go waste. As a matter of fact, this information includes complete process knowledge. Always take them along during the automation journey. Otherwise handing over a system at the end might not get you proper results. Their consent is important. They must get training to get conversant with the new system. A proper hands on is important in tat regard. It helps them in using the system effectively and efficiently. This, in turn, ensures a smooth transition. Definitely, there is resistance fṛom user for any change happening. One reason for this is losing importance in the organization. But this is not true. They must understand the new system will increase their efficiency and importance.
In fact, the management always seeks results. Especially whenever there is an investment. Implementing BPA involves investment. Therefore, it is important to monitor the progress of automation. These key considerations to start business process automation are always helpful.
Business Process Automation, Business Process Management, and Business Process Engineering (BPA, BPM, and BPE) are different from each other. It is important for a business to clearly understand the difference between BPA, BPM, and BPE. BPA or Business Process Automation in simple terms is enabling technology to automate business activities or services in order to achieve a particular process, function, or workflow. Business processes evolve out of various activities and functions of the business. There needs to be a business strategy in place. Automation must result in cost reduction.
Firstly, it involves the integration of various systems and applications. Secondly, it also results in restructuring in the organization. And all this is done with the help of technology. ERP is the best example of BPA. Because it involves all functions and key processes of the organization. To understand the difference between BPA, BPM, and BPE, it is important to understand each.
BPA, BPM, and BPE – Main Differences
Business Process Management or BPM is an alignment of all business elements in order to improve business operations and performance. BPM must enhance business efficiency, creativity, flexibility, and technology. It involves a systematic approach to enhance business workflow. In fact, it helps in achieving business goals in a better way. The three key focus areas of BPM are lowering human errors, making communication a highly effective tool, and optimize clarity in roles. It aims to improve overall as well as individual performance. In fact, it is a process of managing and optimizing organization’s processes. That is why we describe it sometïmes as ‘process optïmization process’. There is no doubt that organizations that are process driven perform better than those that are people driven.
Finally, we talk about BPE to understand the difference between BPA, BPM, and BPE. BPE is a framework to enable the execution and maintenance of various key business processes. It aims to leverage a proper handshake between the business processes and business applications in an organization.
IT systems are prone to bring automation in an organization. In one foṛm or the other. There are enormous benefits of business process automation. In fact, sometimes the benefits come into light after automation. Mostly you get more benefits than you could perceive. Only thïng is to move in right direction. Definitely, automation is always there for a purpose. And this purpose is obviously bigger than the expenses to incur in doing it. Actually projecting right benefits is also an art. Management will always seek right justification for any investment. If you are not able to convince your management for automation, you lack something. Either you are not clear about the benefits of business process automation. Or you are not having a good convincing power. Your confidence and knowledge are at stake at this juncture.
IT systems bring ease and comfort to the users in an organization. This is the foremost criteria of automation. In fact, these factors must be on the top of benefits of business process autömation. The other way round is to do a POC (Proof of Concept) or a pilot to convince key users. This way you can easily showcase the benefits of business process automation. In fact, if you are able o convince them, they become your voice in convincing management for investment approval. The design of your various systems must be in such a way that they easily talk to each other. This approach enables you to automate in much faster, easier, and effective manner. It makes integration and information flow easier.
Benefits of Business Process Automation
Selecting a right tool for getting maximum benefits of business process automation is very important. In fact, the tool must be capable in streamlining all the key processes. And it must also have the ability to integrate operations and applications in place. Overall, the purpose is to streamline the business.
A business comprises of two sets of patterns. The first set is a set of predictable patterns. And the second one is of unpredictable patterns. The former results from operations that are repeating in nature. While the latter arises out of operations that are not repeating in nature. But both the cases involve a series of processes. Business Process Automation is possible for predictable patterns and series of operations. Basically, any automation should focus on primary operations that run the business. Such operations are the core processes of the business. In fact, these are mission critical processes.
Automation is an evolving mechanism. It triggers from the knowledge an organization carries. And once you automate key business processes, it helps in enhancement of the same processes. That is how the circle completes. Automation brings satisfaction in an organization. It brings maturity in roles and responsibilities. As a matter of fact, it also brings maturity in business and business processes.
Any BPM (Business Process Management) tool is useless if it doesn’t talk about automation. In fact, business process management is incomplete if lacks focus on automation. There has to be a complete study of existing IT systems. You can also think of procurement of some exclusive BPA tools. There might be a need of re-engineering of business process management in the organization. Whatever system you deploy in the organization, it aims to fulfill some or the other business process. Business processes evolve with the needs of a business. A business has a number of needs. And IT systems can’t cater to all these needs. Business keeps some processes out of system strategically. But it is not fair to keep the key processes out of the IT systems scope.
Automation Brings Maturity in Business
Similarly, there are many BPM tools available in the market. It is important to ascertain the need first.
Business Process Management and Business Process Automation have a deep and direct relationship. I have seen many business process management experts who don’t talk about automation. In fact, they should highlight the key business benefits of automation. And how business process automation can act as a catalyst to their business. Automation may lead to different action points. In fact, automation may lead to major changes in business processes. And as a matter of fact, it also might lead to a change in responsibilities and roles for many in the organization.
Coming back to my point above. Why many experts don’t educate organizations on business process automation while talking about business process management? They might not be aware of the benefits. And may happen because they might belong to a pre-digital era where data processing was the prime job of IT. So unless you taste the pudding you don’t get the confidence to talk about it.
Business Process Management – BPM
On the other hand, thë younger generation belonging to digital era wants automation in every process. In fact, if there is no automation they feel it as a wastage of time and energies. Automation brings different meanings to different organizations. And it also brings a different meaning to the various stakeholders. But the ultimate goal remains the same. It needs to bring down the manual work. Also, it fastens the processes by means of various good things. Firstly, it reduces rework. Secondly, it makes the same information available universally. Thereby it reduces the ambiguity of data and information in the organization. Thirdly, it helps people work smartly and more efficiently. Lastly, it helps management take fast and accurate decisions. In fact, wit the help of automation you can reach to a level of the real-time environment.
To summarize, business process automation means streamlining of processes. As a result of this, it helps in reducing costs. Automation and business process management needs to apply across the organization. As a matter of fact, it results in restructuring and integration of key applications. This has to happen across the enterprise in order to save time and money.
Business Process Automation is an essential key to any business today. In fact, it applies to all businesses across the globe. Whether your business is running within the boundaries of a state, region, or country. It doesn’t matter. Rather the larger the organization, the higher is the necessity. As a matter of fact, it is important. And it must be a top priority for any size organization. In fact, it must happen irrespective of your geographical stretch across the globe. It is helpful in reducing organizational workload. Not only that, it also helps in the downsizing of organization size. Contrarily despite reducing manpower, you achieve more. Also, it gets you business results in a shorter timespan. Thereby, as a result, it increases organizational throughput. And in fact, it makes your decision engine run faster. Rather in a more effective manner.
As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t believe in reducing your manpower. Then it can do magic for you. You can think of expansion and diversification in a smarter way. Because shredding of your talent pool is a foolish act in my opinion. This is not the right way of reducing cost and increasing profits. In fact, it reflects the lack of vision. Better use this spare spool in a different way. Use it for increasing work efficiency. Your older employees are always an inspiration for younger employees. They can be good role models for the younger recruits. And this all can become true with the help of business process automation.
Business Process Automation and Its Importance
Mostly people misguide while talking about business process automation. They project it as a costly affair. On the other hand, it is just a misnomer. They might think like this for their own reasons. Or rather lack of knowledge. They are not clearly able ṭo perceive the real benefits. But if you have the ability to understand above factors. And the capability to make it happen. You are able to recover this investment in no time.
Let me talk about 10 posts on software testers. The first post of 10 posts on software testers is Knock, Knock it is a tester here talks about all that a tester handles during his job. His job includes documentation, test cases, testing, testing report, feedback, and verification. In fact, the feedback component is back and forth. Firstly, tester finds out bugs and submits the feedback report of bugs to programmers. They, in turn, fix the bugs and submit feedback to the tester.
The second of the 10 Posts on Software Testers is Progressive Software Testing Approach by acquiring Soft Skills – Step by Step. This post highlights the soft skills a tester requires in his career. In fact, these skills help to stay on and progress well.
The third of the 10 Posts on Software Testers is BVT or BVA – Boundary Value Testing or Analysis. This post talks about what we call as Boundary Value Testing. We also call it as Boúndary Value Analysis. In fact, the name of the post implies itself.
Fourthly, we talk about What is Black Box Testing. Here too, the title confiṛms what this post is about.
Next, it is Equivalence Partitioning (or Class) Testing Method. Though the title is quite clear to indicate what is it about, I would like to say a bit about it. This post tells the importance, purpose, and significance of Equivalence Partitioning Testing or Equivalence Class Testing.
10 Posts on Software Testers
My sixth post of the 10 Posts on Software Testers is Twenty ways to ensure complete coverage of software testing. This is an interesting post. In fact, it talks about all modalities of testing at a micro level.
The seventh post is Testing does not ensure risk-free or bug-free software. As a matter of fact, it is more than a testing to ensure foolproofing,
The next post is Twelve essential Steps of Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). Here, let us re-examine STLC.
My ninth post of the 10 Posts on Software Testers is Change of Career, Testing to Development and vice versa. It is interesting to learn how easy, or how difficult it is to change the hats.
And the last post is 5 essentials while building test environment for software testing.
Overseas projects handling is an altogether different game. You need to be quite careful in selecting supervising and other teams for any overseas project. Understandïng culture, people, customs, traditions, language, and economy of the destination country are some key factors. It requires a different kind of trainïng to the teams handling overseas projects. There are additional skills, in fact, to inculcate in your team. These include some soft skills too. Definitely, this is in addition to the technical and functional skills that in any case are essential. Handling different set of management and users in a foreign country requires a certain set of qualities.
Language is a big barrier in overseas projects. And in many cases, I had to visit countries where English is not prïmary or secondary language. Therefore, yoú must have a clarity on this beforehand. In fact, for the day-to-day, you must learn some common words. Because these words or sentences will be your surviving tools. These will not only help you to survive at the customer location but alṣo at the hotel and in the city. At such locations, I always select a user in the customer organization who is good in English. He or she becomes the connëctïng factor between my users and me during meetings, deployment, training, or discussions. In fact, such users (even if you are able to get just a couple of them) are very helpful in review meetings with the top management there.
Don’t forget to learn about their culture and traditions before landïng in the country. In fact, it will help you a lot. Rather, it will be a strong bonding factor there. I use it a lot to build momentum and interest during training sessions. Sharing your culture with them and talking about theirs create a rhythm and connect. And it helps me in closing the sessions successfully.
I have a bad habit of becoming one of them. As a matter of fact, it helps me a lot. I don’t mind listening to the music they like, watching their choice of movies, and marketing at places they recommend.
How do you ensure complete coverage of software testing? First and foremost is to check if you have a proper balance in your testing team. In fact, it is to check in skills as well as responsibilities. If you use automation tools, it is important to engage manual testing teams as well. The testing team has to be conversant of all the relevant processes. All this is ïmportant to únderstand for complete coverage of software testing. Two prime aspects of testing goals are business and customer requirements. In addition, the testing procedures must be matching global standards. Of course, these standards you may customize as per your customer’s requirements.
If these goals are not in target then you may face adverse consequences during ïmplemèntation phase. Rather, the pain will arise further post-deployment. The larger is the coverage, the higher are the chances of success. Otherwise, reworks and reinstallations can squeeze your organization badly. This results not only into financial but operational and reputation wise too.
Complete Coverage of Software Testing
Findïng more bugs in the product durïng various phases of development does not ensure complete coverage of software testing. Ïn fact, it might be a result of product development lyïng in poor hands. That needs probing. Whether programmers are weak in skills or there is lacking of supervision, direction, and management. On the other hand, less detection of bugs does not mean complete coverâge of software testing is not in place. In fact, the development by programmers of high skills might result in a strong product with least bugs in it. Documentation of business and customer requirements play a major role. In addition, An objectively driven complete and correct requirement capturïng helps in achieving your targets of complete coverage of software testing.
Verifying or vetting these documents is the next step. If the customer dies not verify and approve these requirements, development and deployment can land in a big trouble. After approval understanding these documents by all stakeholders is critical. Basis this, the scope of developmènt and testing is created. Ensure each step below to ënsure complete coverage of software testing.
- Test strategy, plan, and scope are correct.
- A clear cut scope helps in achieving targets.
- Select the correct test methodology and test tools.
- Test cases must cover all the business rules and customer requirements.
- Prepare a test bed that closely matches the real environment.
- Keep the test environment consistent throughout unless scope changes.
- Test scenarios must be there for all test cases.
- Test report has to be comprehensive.
- Ensure real bugs reporting and miṭigation.
- Ensure to report assumptions and exceptions.
- Adhere to schedules.
- Fix all bugs and verify.
- Engage customer and development team during the testing phase.
Who says a good programmer can’t become a good tester? It is important to learn how good programmers be a good software tester. Most of the people will say quite confidently that a good programmer can’t be a good tester. But if you look at it from another angle you will also agree that a good programmer can be a good tester as well. In fact, if a good programmer understands few realities, he will easily learn how a good programmer be a good software tester. While programming is creativity, testing is in a way anti-creativity. Because a tester always tries to find bugs in the software that a programmer builds. Now look at it this way.
The role of a tester is to find out the defects in a code. This, in turn, enhances the capabilities of a programmer. Hence, a programmer should always be thankful to the testers who spend energies to find out flaws in his creation. Once a programmer learns two exclusive arts, it will be quite easy for him to understand how a programmer be a good software tester. These two arts are self-analysis and self-criticism. Criticism, in fact, is a very constructive tool. If a programmer is able to open his third eye, which is the eye of criticism, he can easily be a good tester. The love for your own creation stays forever. The same is true in the case of a programmer for his program or code.
How Good Programmers Be A Good Software Tester?
But after coding, if he learns to have a critical analysis of his code, it can help him to make it bug-free. Although it is difficult to weigh equally criticism like praises, it is quite important. This, in fact, helps a programmer to build stringent test cases. Which, in turn, will help in a micro level testing of the product. Rather, it will also remove the generic fear-factor that lies underneath. Finding flaws by the tester and getting known to all, especially seniors builds a fear in any programmer. But crossing this hurdle is crucial in learning how good programmers be a good software tester.
Moreover, walking on two two different roads will bring in the expertise of both. Otherwise, regular coding and only coding will make you only a good programmer. On the other hand, handling a double sword in a professional way will make you double-expert. Hopefully, by now you have become aware of how good programmers be a good software tester.
The person in this question is Bachelor of Engineering in EEE (Electrical and Electronics Engineering). Also, she has very poor knowledge about programming. But she wants to become a good software tester. Therefore, she wants to know the important skills to develop for this purpose. My reply goes like this. Having done EEE or not having good knowledge about programming doesn’t qualify that you have the right aptitude to become a good software tester. Software testing is not an easy task. And it also requires good scripting knowledge. You will have to write queries to run test scripts in software testing.
Software testing is checking the loopholes, leakages, and shortfalls in meeting customer requirements. This is not an easy task to become a good software tester. You need to have certain specific kind of skillset to ascertâin this. Check if you are able to clear advance level STQC exam or test. There is a basic level test that anybody can clear. But for clearing the advanced level STQC test you need to be very clear and thorough on software testing and quality.
Some Tips to Become A Good Software Tester
An analytical mind is ïmportant to become a good software tester. In software testing, your mind must work as a business analyst. Only then you will be able to understand exact customer requirements. And you can test a software only if you understand customer/business requirements thoroughly. It is quite clear̆ that to test a product you must be in customer’s shoes. If you can’t try to use a software like a customer, you won’t be able to justify your job of a good software tester. whether you are a part of automation testing or manual testing, coding and scripting are important to learn. Though you won’t be doing it as much as a programmer. But it is necessary. Otherwise, it becomes difficult for survival.
Well, if you think IoT Predictive Maintenance SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is going to be same as of an enterprise, you are wrong. Even If it is a large size enterprise, it still can’t match ITO predictive maintenance SOA. IoT Predictive Maintenance SOA will be entirely different from a regular predictive maintenance SOA keeping Enterprise Architecture in mind. Typically an enterprise or company level maintenance is taken care of by internal staff or may be a hybrid setup. Hybrid setup might have various propositions. In few cases, an external agency will be minimal, while in others it could share a major chunk. Moreover, in certain cases, some organizations outsource it completely. You can correlate it with a lift contract where the vendor or service agency visits every quarter for preventive maintenance activities.
An IoT system will be not as simple as above. It will be extremely heterogeneous. While in the case of a medium or small organization most of the preventive maintenance jobs are internal. But in the case of IoT predictive maintenance SOA, there will be a high dependency on external agencies. And that too not a single but many. In such cases, a very high level of coordination is important. In fact, there will be a large team for coordination. Definitely, if you automate this system to a large extent, then the system itself can take care of coordination mechanism. In such kind of automation, the system will generate reminders, alerts, escalations and so on.
Moreover, governance is manifold and most crucial. In fact, coordination and governance will have complete responsibility in streamlining the mechanism. Basically, IoT Predictive Maintenance SOA will involve many vendors, government agencies, private companies, and individual professionals.
IoT Predictive Maintenance SOA
In the nutshell, IoT predictive maintenance SOA is like an ocean accommodating many ecosystems. While, an enterprise architecture will vary like pond and river.
In my opinion, Data Governance and Management Director should have a dual reporting. Since he is responsible for the maintenance of master data of the organizational critical database, the quality, integrity, and consistency matters most. In such a case, he should report to Director Quality Control & Audits. Because quality control is important. A small glitch in that could cause a severe loss of the organization’s reputation. Especially in financial and legal matters. There have to be regular audits and inbuilt strong control mechanism. The team will always be confident of their processes and procedures. That is why an external control and audits are necessary for exhaustive data governance.
Moreover, the same team that is responsible for data governance and management is also responsible for few more key activities. These are monitoring data quality, governance rules for updating/changing. For administering those rules, a parallel reporting must be assigned to the head of mainstream business applications. In this case, if it is SAP, then the reporting can be done to the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the business. In fact, I would recommend a third reporting to CISO (Chief Information Security Officer). In the nutshell, it forms a core governing body for data governance.
On the other hand, there are many organizations that don’t support or entertain dual or multiple reporting. If your organization falls into this category, then let the reporting go to CISO. Because this role also has to play a major role in data governance. In that case, the other two will be the integral members of the core governance body. This governing body not only takes care of data governance but also relevant activities as above.
Data management is a serious affair. There are examples where a negligence in this regard has gone ïnto long legal battles resultïng in hefty penalties and business closures.
Yes, there are ways of measuring ROI of PR and advertising. And that too in an effective manner. In fact, there are two kinds of PR and advertising efforts in any organization or business. Initially, there will be new plans and executions. But gradually, there will be new as well as the ongoing activities. Even in some cases, few of the activities are of a short span. These are in fact, lïke a project. Measuring ROI of PR and advertising is possible only if you follow certain rules. For instance, If there are new advertising and PR efforts, you must know some basic thïngs clearly and objectively. Firstly, you must be very clear about your expected outcome. Because only then you can measure ROI. Break your expected outcomes into small components and then measure accordingly. It is something like WBS (work breakdown structure) in Project Management.
Let us take some concrēte examples of measuring ROI of PR and advertiṣing. For instance, your new activity is advertising on social media platforms. And you are advertising about a new Insurance Plan. Your ROI, in this case, is to achieve hits as per plan. In addition, the analytics must talk about the conversions. Because mere hits can’t result in business. But still, hits are important. Since without hits you can’t get conversions. It is the number of conversions that bring revenue. If you fail in achieving hits and conversions more than your plan, then the whole project needs analysis. Your campaign might be good and effective but the advertisement itself might not be effective to draw attention.
ROI of PR and Advertising
Similarly, for the same Insurance Plan launch you hire a PR agency to drive a blogger’s meet. The agenda is to invite bloggers. Educate them on the new plan and expect a post from each on their blog. The purpose is to spread the message as far as possible. And to the most feasible auḏience. ROI of PR and advertising depends on certain factors. But firstly, you objectives must be crystal clear.
There is no standard set for measuring Social media ROI. Firstly, it is not run sensibly. Even an organization is not clear who owns this portfolio. The probable candidates are – Marketing, Sales, IT, MIS, or Operations. Why Operations? Just think. Actually, Social Media ROI is a tricky thing. Firstly, like in any investment, or project, there has to be a clarity on what you want to achieve. I see many companies just landing on any social media platform officially and randomly. In such cases, they are not clear on the purpose and there in no agenda in their plan. With such anomaly, you can never think of social media ROI. Secondly, if you are clear about your goals, have you a plan in place?
It is important to learn which platform or platforms you should pitch in. Spending your energies on all platforms is not possible, nor advisable. Thirdly, never invest your money on an external agency thinking you are in safe hands and everything to smooth. Remember, your involvement and engagement is very important. Never let them drive the show without your involvement. Lastly, list down what all you are investing in building your social media ROI.
Social Media ROI
At times many companies do it on an event basis. While others do it on a regular basis. Both are fine. But it all depends on your business and your goals. An example of event-based social media drive is a yearly beauty pageant every year in a particular month. The company sleeps over social media during eight months after the event is over. But the moment next event registrations are about to start, they become quite active on their social media pages and accounts. Moreover, it depends on the particular campaign which you run on a social media platform.
Practically ROI is possible only if you are clear of the desired outcomes you have in mind. Some people claim higher outreach. Though it is important, but that is of no use if it has not come to the right or correct segment of people. Otherwise, a mere tweet with no purpose will not fetch any desired results though it may result in a surprise outcome.
Obviously like any other investment, ROI of BI is quite possible. You know operational and capital expenses on a BI. But this is one side of the picture. There are many things you have to think of. Why you deploy BI is important to understand. Definitely, management approval comes only once you are able to justify the investment. And this justification comes only if you are able to convince them. There are certain things to keep in mind while trying to convince them. Never speak vendor’s language. Rather do your homework properly, accurately and completely with the vendor before taking the case to your management for discussion and their approval. Probe your vendors as much as possible. And in complete depth.
Firstly, you need to be convinced. You must be very clear about what is the purpose of deploying BI in your organization. In addition, it is important to únderṣtand the goals to achieve. In fact, the goals must be clear function wise, and for the organization. Rather, arrive at a micro level picture than looking at it broadly. Once you are clear about purpose and goals, then your task becomes easier. Never talk to a single vendor. Even if you are talking to multiple vendors, they must be representing different solutions/products.
ROI of BI
To calculate ROI of BI, here are some key points. It must decrease time to release management reports and dashboard. In return, decision-making must become fast. A time must come after some time of installation when critical information is available in real-time or near to real-time. Think on these lines and you will generate more ideas in this regard. There need to be objective criteria to measure ROI of BI. A regular monitoring is important to analyze the results and outcomes. In fact, you must question the vendor or installation partner before your management starts questioning you. Be a little proactive in this regard.
Recently I was at one of the busiest Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) outlet. We are drawing some important project management lessons from my experience there. The outlet is at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station in New Delhi. During my transit, I was feeling hungry. And that is the reason I was there to grab some quick bytes. There are few good project management lessons for a grab too. But before that, it is important to correlate it in terms of project management. It goes like this. Firstly, each table is a customer organization. Secondly, all the people sitting on a table are various departments of an organization. Thirdly, each order is customer requirement. As a matter of fact, some requirements may demand certain variation from the standard recipe. This is customization in the scope of work.
Floor manager is the Project Manager. Chefs, kitchen staff, cleaning staff, and serving staff are the teams. And these teams are workïng on various projects at the same time. In fact, same resources are working on multiple projects. The items in the menu are deliverables. And each constituent in the menu item is agreed on deliverables. We ordered two desserts and three food items. The filling in one of the sandwich was very less. Both desserts were missing few constituents. Moreover, in one of the food items, stuffing was too spicy. And it was very oily too.
There was a need for some actions. The project manager should know project anomalies. If delivēables are not as per commitment, it is time to raise an alarm. Hence I told the service staff to call the floor manager. In no time the floor manager was there. A conversation was about to start between a customer and project head.
Project Management Lessons
Firstly, I showed him the stuffing in the sandwich and he agreed that it was less. That is a good sign of a project manager. A good project manager will agree if there is a shortfall in the product or service. Unnecessary arguments and false claims are a big ‘No’ for a project manager. Then the desserts were also replaced. This is not a good sign. If the ingredients were available, why it was not there in first go. This is another set of project management lessons. Never leave loose ends for the customer to catch you for wrong reasons.
This is the last post in the series of interview with Rohan Shravan about his journey, learning, and the new product #iamAble Able 10 tablet for professionals. In this post, we are talking about 4 Quality Control Stages that helped Notion Ink Device Labs to offer Swap Warranty in a glitch-free manner. These 4 Quality Control Stages are quite stringent. At each stage, I learned, there is a high volume of rejection. And that rejection helps the organization to churn out the best of the pieces. Hence it helps in lowering down the rejection and defect occurring at consumer or user level.
9. What all stringent quality measures are taken during its development lifecycle?
SWAP warranty for us is possible because our devices go through 4 Quality Control stages. Primary QC is done by our manufacturing plant, which confirms the mean time between failure numbers for us. Then our team, right on the assembly line rejects devices which do not conform to the functional or design requirements. In next stage, we get the QC done through a 3rd party agency, which adds a very strong impartial look at everything. Finally, the devices are airs-hipped to India to reduce in-transit time and damage. Once they reach our labs, every single device again goes through full functional as well as design coherence test. That’s when we add those Mint chewing gums and our letters as well for our customers.
10. End consumer or business? Where does it fit best?
It is best suited for Mobile professionals. Our core focus with Able is enterprise through it is available online as well for Consumers looking for a reliable device instant connectivity.
11. Is this an international product?
Yes, it is also available in European Enterprise Market.
12. Please throw some light on the battery part. What is the backup it provides?
Able has 8100 mAh Battery. On normal usage, it should work for 8 hours with any trouble, but battery performance depends on a lot of things. On a poor Wifi network watching youtube can drain Able in under 6 hours as well.
4 Quality Control Stages demands high discipline
13. What is the current volume and pricing model?
All enterprise orders are different. Most go with Windows Pro licences, want 2 or 3 years of either SWAP or onsite Warranty, as well as additional spares. So pricing for Enterprise segment can vary anywhere between INR 24990 to INR 34990. In the consumer market, Able is available at INR 24990.
14. Any other aspect you would like to highlight if skipped by me?
One thing which differentiates us from others is our in-house design. Everything you see in Able goes out from our lab. We feel the designers have more connect with the consumer using their devices and if then something goes wrong as compared to traders for whom it was the Chinese guys who did some mistake. We are very emotional about products and every feedback helps us improve further.
15. What next in terms of technology and upscaling?
We feel there is a need for a proper product which can compete with Microsoft Surface. The Surface is an excellent example of a 2in1 which can replace your laptops. We are very keen to enter this segment, but the price point needs to be correct. We are hoping we can surprise people soon.
This is the third post in the series. We are interviewing Rohan Shravan, CEO, Notion Ink Design Labs. While the previous two posts are about his journey and learning, this post is about iamAble. iamAble is Able 10, the modern age tablet cum mini laptop. In fact, iamAble is for all professionals who don’t want to compromise with their work on the move. It is for all time connectivity with the business and profession. While it is a great solution for corporate mobile teams, it is an equally good option for individual professionals. Hence the device fits for all professional world ecosystem.
6. What is the configuration of the Able? Who is the target audience?
We have spent a lot of time asking our Cain users on what is it that would want to improve. Most wanted more compute performance, storage, and laptop like experience. Able is a result of these studies. It has 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, hard keyboard with large trackpad, large 8100 mAh battery, full aluminium design for even better cooling, 2 FULL USB ports, micro USB charging capability, large number of inclination angles for the display, even stronger locking magnetic mechanism, metallic locks for durability, integrated 3G and 64BIT OS. Able is targeted towards people looking for second smaller but efficient computing machine, something on which can rely upon for their professional work.
7. What about its sturdiness, ruggedness etc.?
From Cain, we learned, that it is the keyboard and it’s locking mechanism which needs more work. Able has 4 times the magnetic strength than Cain for Keyboard lock. The hinges on Keyboard are also metallic ensuring much longer life and limited abuse proof. The device can sustain daily abuse and Asahi scratch resistant glass makes daily usage comfortable.
iamAble is a revolution
8. What is Swap Warranty? How much time does it take to replace the faulty device with the new one?
We figured two things. First, if we have service centers for drop-ins of non-functional devices or those needing repairs, it is the user who has to spend the time to find the center and drop the device. Second, today electronics are so complex that literally nothing can be done unless device goes back to the factory.
So in SWAP warranty, our Customer Care Engineers work with the customer to understand the problem. Solve it through remote access. And when required issue a SWAP. In SWAP we first send a fresh unit to the customer and once the customer is happy, then we pick up the non-function unit. This ensures hassle free experience. It can take between 1 to 4 working days to get a SWAP device. This is the limitation of the Courier network in India, with things working out way faster in Metros. In general, it can take between 7 to 14 days in the case of Service Center based models.
We are talking to Rohan Shravan, CEO, Notion Ink Design Labs. This is the second post in sequence. In the earlier post, he explained his journey from Adam to Able. While talking about his journey, he also talked about when it started. Here he is telling how it started. During elaboration, he explained how the things evolved while his journey was in progress. While Rohan Shravan opens his heart out, it is a great learning for all of us.
3. How did it start?
It started in my 3rd year of engineering when I started collecting money and ideas to start this business. Since childhood, the potential in computers has fascinated me and the lack of what we have envisioned, drives us. We have been extremely innovative in how we have achieved things. A very simple example is how we pitched and got help from a college called, BVRIT to set up computing lab, where we could select the best students from the college to train them on our OS, and in return got extremely well design computing lab for our development.
4. Did you really enjoy this journey?
Yes. We have had the privilege to train more than 400 people, work with wonderful students and professionals, learn things which would otherwise would be impossible, drive people mad, drive engineers to give out their best (for which most hate me as well), as well as understand the ecosystem and importance or training people. 5 start-ups have come out of Notion Ink, and we hope that we can give birth to more.
Rohan Shravan continues…
5. How the things evolved during this journey? Technically, operationally, and logistically?
There is no word which can describe the difference in the level at which the real world works and what is taught in colleges. This is disappointing, but an eye opener as well. When I started it was all a vision, and each element of that vision required learning new things. We have designed touch panels, learned injection molding, internal as well as exoskeleton design for strength, battery design, designing OS from scratch, developed 20+ core apps, optimize Kernels and DVFS systems, written drivers, designed world’s smallest STN display, wrote several patents, failed at perfect execution of support system, then designing a fail proof support system, sold devices to 84 countries, worked with RBI and Banks to implement international Payment Gateways, etc.
This is a very large list and it can overwhelm anyone unless they have right people doing their part in the whole scheme of these inter-dependent/driving gear system. We are glad that today we have such a wonderful team.
It was an invitation from Notion Ink & Microsoft for the launch of Able 10. The launch date was July 7, 2016, at Microsoft, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon. Rohan Shravan is the Founding CEO of Notion Ink Design Labs, one of the only consumer electronics product design company out of India. He has designed and developed world’s first Android SOC tablets, world’s first Android UI for tablets and continues to set benchmarks in industrial design for computers. A Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur, he specializes in Industrial Design, Manufacturing Technologies, Product Design, User Interface Design, and Machine Learning. Let us hear from the horse’s mouth about his journey so far. Welcome, Rohan, CEO, Notion Ink Design Labs.
1. How would you explain your journey from Adam to Able?
The journey has been extremely eventful. When we began, Adam was literally the only tablet out there (others fell in categories of Media players as they weren’t focusing on productivity or consumption Apps), even iPad wasn’t launched. And in last 7 years, we have seen tablet segment just explode (especially in the West). In last few years we have been trying to stay away from tablets and rather focus on 2in1s. We made Adam for providing productivity, but tablets in last 6 years have moved more towards entertainment and a little bit of content consumption. 2in1 has given us a very strong platform to again innovate on design and experiences. Able is the result of our last 7 years of experience.
Rohan Shravan, CEO, Notion Ink Design Labs
2. When did it start?
It all started as a need to add computing to people’s life, something we still haven’t achieved. Computers are today useless unless you have an app to do what you want to do. A doctor with decades of experience cannot get a computer to help them unless some programmer has written an app for that purpose. This has created a programming-computing-usage barrier between real users of computers and real makers of programs. We see future where a normal person can design his own features as if it was just a lego set.
Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals are being held at Seattle. It is scheduled from July 26 to 29, 2016. 35 teams from various countries have been fortunate to reach finals. These teams are joining at Seattle bringing their unique visions from the future. Team Axe Julius from India is one among them. Microsoft Imagine Cup is among the most aspiring competitions on global front. It embodies the spirit of student innovation to the highest possible level. This is Microsoft’s premier global student technology competition. Every year thousands of young developers participate in this event. They amaze the world with their inspiring, innovative and creative ideas. These ideas are attempted to mold the wold around them through the power of technology.
Every year the Microsoft Imagine Cup begins with local, regional and online contests. That is the usual pattern. It is followed by screening of best projects from each country. This year, there were more than 150 top teams from various countries to reach the World Semifinals. In the semifinals these teams were judged by a global panel of experts from various streams. These streams include Microsoft Valued Partners (MVPs), Industry experts and Microsoft staff. It goes with the theory of survival of the fittest. The best and most promising projects are teams across the globe reach to the final stage of the competition.
These finalists at the World Finals will compete for the top crown in their respective categories. The winner team will get the coveted Imagine Cup and a grand prize of $50,000. In addition to this there is a bonus. The best team will have a private mentoring session with Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella.
Axe Julius, the Indian team won at the National Finals in the Innovation Category held in April 2016. Their project is about a revolutionary way of distribution of eBooks. It will build an innovative ecosystem to benefit both the reader and the publishers. The team comprises of Akshit Sharma, Garv Jasuja, Adish Jain, and Akshay Kumar Gupta.
There will be two very exclusive celebrities on stage as judges along with others. They are Star War: The Force Awakens lead actor John Boyega, and Dr. Jennifer Tang, who was part of the Team Eyenaemia, 2014 Imagine Cup Champion.
Tourism is a multi-sector ecosystem by default. There are heterogeneous components involved in it. Due to it was and still is vulnerable in many aspects like market turbulence, economic crises, rapidly changing dynamics, and so on. But still, it has managed to stand firmly against the global economic crisis in a better way as compared to other sectors. In this process of evolution, a number of sectors were relaunched. It helped in faster recovery. These were the ideas shared by Anca Pavel-Nedea, President of the National Tourism Authority of Romania at the opening of UNWTO (United Nations World Travel Organization) Conference on Quality Management in Bucharest, Romania. As discussed in the previous post, the conference had its prime focus on ‘destination quality’ as a next step to ‘product/service quality‘.
Some new quality management initiatives and best practices were showcased in coastal destinations, spa/wellness destinations, protected areas, urban destinations, and cultural heritage destinations. If we go a little back to its origin, probably the credit goes to 103rd UNWTO Executive Council Meeting that was held in Malaga last May. It was during this meeting a proposal was tabled by Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness. It was concluded and approved that the Quality of Tourism Destination has to be defined in an objective manner. The process, so defined, should imply the complete satisfaction of all tourism product and service requirements, needs and expectations of the tourists. And it must happen at an acceptable price but without any compromise to safety, security, accessibility, infrastructure, hygiene, communication, public amenities, and all such services. All this work under the umbrella of ethics, respect, and transparency towards the cultural, human, and natural environment.
Overall, it was decided that the Quality Management Initiatives in tourism destinations must focus on following agendas keeping factors mentioned above:
The recently concluded UNWTO (United Nations World Travel Organization) Conference on Quality Management in Bucharest, Romania, stayed its key focus on Integration and Strategic Planning to achieve its goals. It emphasized that Quality management indicators and processes are the key tools for achieving the competitiveness of tourism destinations all across the globe. The key objectives need to be adopted universally and in its entirety. All the participants to the conference agreed unanimously that an integrated approach to quality management must be taken up as a top priority. And it should be made as an important agenda of the long-term strategic planning of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) at all levels.
It is evident that if an integrated quality management approach is applied to destination management, it helps a lot in transforming the image of the destination. It can also enhance the legislative and administrative framework. And it also will help in minimizing operational and logistics challenges. It denotes that if Quality Management Indicators and processes key tools are in place universally across destinations, it will bring a healthy competition, better experience, and least variations. Talevb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General elaborated that we all are facing an increasingly competitive ecosystem. The same applies to Travel sector too. The prime focus must stay on Quality Standards to create a framework to enable stakeholders to improve their operations and services. This will have a great positive impact on the complete tourism value chain to build a comprehensive and positive tourism experience.
Costin Grigore Borc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Commerce, and Relations with the Business Environment of Romania said that the constantly changing dynamism in the global tourism vertical indicates a steep need of qualitative transformation of almost every tourism segment within a destination. If a tourism destination has to survive, it has to be on a scale of continuous improvement of the tourism supply quality needs. And these quality needs are to be regularly tracked and monitored.
This is the last post in the Interview Series with Andrew Levy, CEO, and Co-founder of Apteligent. Apteligent is in San Francisco and is engaged in streamlining businesses involved in mobile apps distribution, monitoring, and mobile app analytics to derive business KPIs. We have been talking about various aspects of mobile app KPIs, Mobile App Economy, and its significance, Measurement Standards for Product Managers and why these standards are so critical for them. We also discussed in the previous post, Mobile App Industry Standards, and how to build a realistic set of measurements from this.
And finally in this post we are discussing the importance of laying the foundation for mobile app KPIs, what customer data is critical generating this foundation, how it is established, why is it so important for a business, and what is the gain intended out of it. All these factors are very important to understand for any business involved in mobile apps development and distribution.
5. What customer data was used broadly to lay the foundation for mobile app KPIs ? How has it been established? Why is it so important? What it intends to achieve?
The data we collect helps our enterprise customers rapidly fix app issues, develop new features, and deliver the best possible app performance & user experience. To achieve those goals we collect data about the customer journey, such as movements from one screen to another or if the app is put into the background. We combine that behavioral data with critical contextual information about the environment of the app and user. This data includes information, like the hardware and software configuration, bugs in the code, network and cloud service failures, as well as geographic specific issues.
We are able to analyze this data at scale across tens of thousands of apps and billions of data points. This allows us to deliver actionable insights and benchmarks back to our customer base. These App Metrics, like crash rate, latency averages, and app load times, directly influence business KPIs like retention, engagement, and revenue. It’s important to understand how well your app is doing relative to its peers in the App Store and have this information available to drive investments in app performance and user experience.
In this post, Andrew Levy, CEO, and Co-founder, Apteligent talks about the best mobile apps industry standards at a global level. When,where and how did these industry standards initiate? What did it lack? And finally, what do we mean by a true set of measurements? Apparently, it appears there is no organized or structured set of mobile apps industry standards worldwide for mobile app metrics.
3. What are the best industry standards for mobile apps discussed so far globally? When, where and how did it initiate? What did it lack?
There really have not been industry standards and best practices for mobile app metrics … particularly actionable metrics and standards that mobile teams can apply to measure themselves and to improve against. Until now, there has been little guidance about what metrics to apply to an app (beyond “don’t crash”), how those metrics relate to the end-user of the app, and how those metrics connect to the top-line KPIs. What has been written has focused either on top-line KPIs (engagement, retention, monetization) or is weakly based on generalizations and anecdotes from web-browser performance experiences … things like page load time and its impact on e-commerce transaction volume.
Mobile is a different beast from the web because mobile users are on the go – their interactions are typically very short and very goal- oriented. User satisfaction means delivering an experience that always works for them on-the-fly between the other moments of their lives. Recognizing the differences, we provide specific guidance for mobile teams on what mobile app metrics they should track and how they should prioritize their efforts. Our guidance is based both on current industry performance against the metrics through aggregate benchmarks, and also “best of the best” targets based on well understood human factors research.
4. What do you mean by a true set of measurements?
Simply this: If you wish to improve your business results, you must measure your end user’s experience, in their context (where they are, with the connectivity they have, in the moments they use an app). This is the “true” view of their experience. Without this visibility, you really have no idea where to focus and how to prioritize to improve your business result.
This is in continuation to the interview with Andrew Levy, CEO, and Co-founder of Apteligent. In the previous post, he presented insights on the mobile app economy and its significance. Here he is talking about the measurement standards for product managers and their importance.
2. What is meant by measurement standards for product managers? Why are they important?
There are two parts to this.
First, there is a need to understand the components that drive top level mobile business results up or down so that a business can take actions that influence the business outcome. The standard marketing metrics around adoption, engagement or retention are not enough to guide such actions.
The best set of metrics are the ones that most closely reflect the user experience – as it is that experience that will drive a user decision to continue using an app – or not.
Second, this set of metrics offers limited insights in a vacuum.
Users will rarely use only one app. As a result, their perception is strongly shaped by the expectations the entirety of their mobile interactions has set. An app may be fast, but if the user only interacts with much faster apps, it will appear to be slow – just because it is slower. The definition of a ‘slow loading screen’ in your app might be best put in the context of all of the past loading of that particular screen, ideally for that particular user. If it is much slower, it will appear slower to the user. If it is on par, the app will appear to be working as it is supposed to.
None of these metrics have absolute and static standards. They all need to be considered in the context of a particular user.
This means two things for any product manager optimizing for mobile success. It is important 1) to track the metrics that quantify the quality of user experience and to link them to the top level business outcome and 2) to understand what the user’s perception of these metrics are and how it might evolve over time to calibrate decision making.
Andrew has been co-founder and CEO of Apteligent (formerly Crittercism) since 2011. Prior to starting Crittercism, Andrew Levy was the co-founder of AdThrow, a Y Combinator company that built a data processing pipeline for real-time ad targeting. Before YC, Andrew worked at HP Software where he led teams specializing in agile programming methodologies and advocating rapid product iterations. Andrew also worked for several companies in defense and intelligence, such as Silicon Graphics Federal, Northrop Grumman, and Computer Sciences Corp. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. It is quite important to understand the state of the mobile app economy and its significance.
1. What is the state of the mobile app economy? What is its significance?
The mobile app economy takes many forms. Ask the average consumer and they might cite their in-app purchases (IAPs) they made in their favorite game. Ask a retailer and they’ll talk about mcommerce, not just sales driven directly via apps but also in-store sales driven via their digital channels. Talk to a travel industry expert and you’ll hear about how apps build a relationship with the consumer throughout their journey and enable new experiences from the airport to unlocking their hotel door. There has been a tremendous impact across every industry vertical which has drastically altered consumer behavior and expectations.
In previous years apps used to be a competitive advantage or a way to reach new audiences. It has transitioned to being table stakes where it’s no longer enough to “just have an app.” Now brands need to exceed expectations of their growing millennial audience and really think about how to drive a 5-star app experience.
The revenue opportunity is staggering and we’re still only at the beginning of the curve. A BI Intelligence report projects mcommerce growing more than three times by 2020 to +$284 billion in sales1. If you consider just retail projections, mcommerce is only 2.6% of total retail sales but saw over 39% growth from last year!
Each download of a mobile app matters. And so does each of the uninstall. It matters to the reputation and popularity of a mobile app. Each user has its own set of expectations and usage criteria. It counts if these expectations are met satisfactorily or the user stops using a mobile app out of desperation. It is important to gain each user’s experience in a collective manner so as so draw out critical metrics. It is also important to optimize mobile KPIs through user-centered app metric. A recently released whitepaper on the same subject brings out many key insights that are of deep interest not only for the app development organizations but also for the consumers.
The whitepaper released by Apteligent highlighted the lack of industry focus in developing objectively designed app-based metrics that helps product managers and app developers to assess and improve end-user experience and in turn business KPIs. It is always important to understand how well the app enables a user to satisfy on its purpose. But in practical, do we have such metrics in place and are these metrics helping a business in terms of revenue. Whatever business KPIs are driven on mobile, it is important to understand why their existence is critical for business. That is where this whitepaper comes into the picture. It creates the case for a new class of app performance metrics from the business and user perspective and thus formulates best practices and practical guidelines for monitoring them.
The basis of this report is data drawn from various researches done in this regard. Another source of data is from Apteligent, the company that produced this whitepaper. Mobile KPIs optimization is a key concern for most of the mobile app development organizations and so is the user-centered app metric that helps in the evolution of the former. The data provided by Apteligent has originated from insights from a large number of anonymous user-application interactions.
I had an interaction with Andrew Levy, Co-founder and CEO of Apteligent in this regard to gain his point of view on the subject. The interview would be covered in the next post.
Apteligent is a smart mobile app intelligence platform company in San Francisco. Recently, it released a new mobile app industry metrics along with a whitepaper titled “Optimize Mobile KPIs Through User-Centered App Metric”. Apteligent develops tools to empower mobile development teams and product teams to troubleshoot, resolve, and prioritize such issues that impact on users’ app experience. It sounds to be quite an important and necessary set of tools for mobile app development companies. The tools provide detailed and real-time information to developers in order to find out app crash, app freezing, and related issues in key user flows. Once the issues are identified, the same tools help in resolution.
Why such tools are important, is necessary to understand. Probably the requirement arose with the industry need to cater to the end users with a better experience in app usage. The development team with the help of KPIs provided create a dashboard to get global mobile industry and competitive insights. These insights greatly help product managers to better plan and focus their related initiatives. It also helps them in getting real-time visibility to app metrics thus enabling quick detection of issues, prioritizing their action plan based on the severity of these issues, and thereby build next releases for app improvement and better user experience.
Three of the top credit card issuing financial companies in US trust on the solutions provided by Apteligent. Similarly, two of the top three hotel chains, three of the top five media companies, three of the top five retail companies use Apteligent solutions to ensure the success of their strategic mobile app initiatives. The new mobile app performance benchmarks established by Apteligent has escalated its stature has mobile intelligence leader in building user-centered metrics that helps mobile app companies to deliver business success. These success factors for organizations are based on the tracking of business-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer engagement, new customer acquisition, revenue, crash-rate, churn etc.
We would be discussing the outcomes of this whitepaper recently released, in the next post.
Hitachi has decided to allocate major portion of its research and development budget to developments related to Internet of Things. In addition to this they also plan to open few more R&D centers outside Japan at a faster pace, as announced at Hitachi’s Tokyo headquarter. The company’s business model is to project it as a collaborator for innovation in the field of Internet of Things while offering various products and services. Keeping this in view, the company has overhauled their R&D policy and set new goals to achieve till 2018.
Internet of Things is Now
There is a huge increase in Hitachi’s budget for Internet of things related research to 64% for fiscal 2018 from 24% in the last fiscal year. This 24% accounted for new business creation and some basic work in R&D while 64% budget allocated will go in research work in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics and related areas. The company plans to increase its researcher’s strength to 3,000 by fiscal 2018 that is almost 12% higher than in fiscal 2015. The increased strength is for the new research centers to be opened in the Western countries in addition to the one recently opened in Guangzhou, China, in April. The core strength of these researchers will be AI and analytics. The new research base in China is currently focusing on internet of things applications for the manufacturing sector. There are two more bases in China in Beijing and Shanghai that have put entire focus on internet of things. The one opened in April takes their count of internet of things centers to 13.
A new concept is also coming up in Hitachi to open global collaborative innovation centers. In such centers there is a collaboration between company and its customers to create various business models. The first to come was Global Center for Social Innovation, Silicon Valley, California, North America in January this year. By fiscal 2018 Hitachi plans to open two more centers – in Beijing and London. There might be a change in its plan after Brexit regarding the new center to be opened in London. A similar facility for collaborative innovation at its Central Research Laboratory in Tokyo.
The United Kingdom is shattered internally post-Brexit. Future of Technology is not the same for the country now. The big question is will the United Kingdom remain united after Brexit? I think there will be re-polling for Scotland as a separate nation. And what about North Ireland? Few things are very clear as of now. The whole country is in a state of panic and shock. The whole EU community is eager to throw them out pressurizing them to start the exit procedure. Prime Minister Cameroon has decided to step down. There is no visibility of the next equally responsible leader in the country. There is a huge chaos beneath the carpet. It is like a silence before the storm. Like other things technology will suffer in a big way now in my opinion for following reasons. There is a clear visibility that future of technology in the United Kingdom is going to decline.
UK is divided in factions:
It is only Wales and London that are responsible for taking the poll in favor of exit to a majority. It is apparently clear that North Ireland and Scotland never wanted UK to exit from EU. The relationships between the four factions will deteriorate that will definitely impact business and technology. This brings future of technology in the UK at risk.
Future of Technology at risk
EU is gone biased towards UK:
All the 27 countries that are part of EU will not remain soft towards the UK henceforth. In fact, EU parliament has already shown their anger openly and clearly directing the UK to start the exit procedures at the earliest. Post September when Cameroon steps down as prime minister of the country, the relationships will further become harder to retain. Great Britain has probably lost its greatness and moved towards instability.
Enterprise IT in UK is bound to lose direction:
Enterprise IT will lose its direction drastically especially on international and European contracts. The UK is now out of limitations of following European privacy regulations. The companies might or might not keep working under those regulations. It will also take some time for government and businesses to absorb this shock and set a fresh direction. Internationally countries will prefer to do business with EU countries than Great Britain unless latter presents some lucrative incentives in terms of business and environment to the external world. Ireland will get precedence in getting business.
Pound will get devalued:
International Businesses will hesitate in launching new IT projects in the UK. Expansions will come to a halt. The economy will get shattered. There will be a scarcity of jobs and growth for professionals. The quality will start getting compromised and so will be the talent in the country. Budgets will shrink. Stock values will come down. Research and development will touch new lows in the country. A substantial number of international projects related to IoT and Big Data will lose their momentum thereby impacting globally.
China Mobile, Ericsson, and Intel are about to complete the world’s first ever application demonstration that is based on latest Cellular IoT technology. The demonstration is taking place at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2016. The joint demonstration is taking place with the help of Ericsson’s RBS6000 multi-mode base station and its pre-commercial software based on the latest Cellular IoT technology, assisted with the Intel XMM 7115 modem solution, and China Mobile’s environment monitoring application and platform. The complete setup and effort are aimed to achieve end-to-end interconnection and application of the latest Cellular IoT technology.
The data supports latest Cellular IoT technology
The demonstration involves capturing of humidity, temperature, brightness, PM2.5, and other data by multiple sensors based on environment monitoring application. The data that is collected using Intel’s XMM 7115 modem and Ericsson’s network with pre-commercial software supporting the latest Cellular IoT technology, shall be sent to China Mobile’s environment monitoring platform for further study and analysis.
What we learn from this demonstration is the fast evolving latest cellular IoT technology shifting from standard to products. As products evolve further, the same cellular IoT technology would universally be adopted in various areas such as smart wearables, smart meters, municipal IoT, smart home, smart building, smart city, logistics tracking, industrial IoT, wide area IoT, and so on, to take care of the exploring demands of IoT application.
The recent evolution in cellular IoT has been completed by 3GPP. This technology is assumed to stay there for some time, mature along with an increase in usage, and is capable of meeting the requirements of LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) IoT applications with a benefit of low cost, wider/deeper coverage, low power consumption, high reliability of transmission, and massive connections.
China Mobile launched a Cellular IoT Open Lab in their 5G Innovation Center in order to promote the cellular IoT industry and enhance the cellular IoT ecosystem in China. The purpose is to ensure availability of complete testing environment for various stakeholders in the ecosystem like industry partners, facilitate operators, developers, and testers to develop and test the product in the lab, and also to facilitate vendors like chip providers, device providers, system equipment providers, module providers, etc. The development and testing involve end-to-end interoperability testing, application testing, module testing, and product conformance certification. The lab also acts as an open industry collaborative platform to provide developers with the standard API calling basic communication capabilities thereby assisting developers quickly grab ready-to-use innovations in service, application and business model.
No business survives without automation. The extent of automation varies from organization to organization. Automation includes business applications that comprise of working software. A working software having a full documentation is a rare commodity in organizations. Over a period of time, any working software evolves that require changes. With every change, there is a change in the coding. With every change in code, there is a need of change in documentation. Any change must go in parallel for functional and technical documentation accordingly. But does it really happen?
Working Software with full documentation is rare
I remember many legacy applications that act as subordinates to the core application, stop getting attention in terms of updates in documentation. Such apps keep running on an as-is basis as long as they are able to cater to the needs of an organization. In my first organization, though we deployed a fresh enterprise application outsourced from a reputed company in Chennai, the company demanded a huge amount of customization for our payroll application that was solely developed by me. Thus we decided to keep the payroll application running as it is and procure the enterprise application without their payroll application. The integration was taken care of. The legacy payroll application kept running for almost two decades as it was easier to cater to the changes in that rather than developing that application afresh on latest platform. The documentation was taken care of till I worked in the organization. A decade later I was called by their CFO seeking some help in the same application as there were some changes to be incorporated in that due to change in incentives and salary rules.
I was surprised to see that the documentation was put on hold the day I left and none of the changes done so far, during the decade, were updated in documentation. What I could do in a few hours, because it was my baby, took me more than a week as I had to dig down the code to the extent of last changes done and then incorporated the changes required. The last thing I ensured before handing over was to update technical and functional documents.
Do you have a separate team responding to change in your organization or is it the same who is following a plan? Obviously, it is the same team that follows a plan responding to change as and when it happens. Following a plan is a day-to-day activity while change does not happen on daily basis. If you have good processes and tools in place, you won’t be changing them so frequently. There is always an internal or external (or both) factor that raises an alarm for a change in process or tool, or an individual performing that process or tool.
Responding to Change is a Quick action
Do you have a change management process in place in the organization? Does this process address to how the priorities change over in case a change request is raised? The change request automatically takes a priority over the plan in adherence. The reason behind this is the change itself. If there is a request for a change, it means there is some shortfall in the current process. This shortfall that was not until yesterday might have arisen due to change in policies, strategies, processes, a new business application introduced, or the introduction of mobility in the organization. It is a well-known phenomenon that whenever there is a launch of a core business application in the organization, there is a change in processes, roles, and responsibilities.
Following a plan is always good. It could be daily production plan, material procurement plan, development plan, testing plan, etc. If least deviations occur out of a plan over a period of time, it means the plan is well structured and matched with organizational needs. Change, as said above, does not occur every day. It arises out of a need. A need occurs out of a change. It is a cyclic behavior. A need catering to a change and a change catering to a need.
Processes and Tools are important for any project. More important is to understand the two key drivers of these. Whatever is the level of automation of processes and the advanced level of tools, it is the individuals and interactions that drive them. If the two sides are not synced well, it is doomed to be a failure or a big disaster. You just can’t keep your eyes closed or go for a sound sleep once you have a kitty of world-class processes and tools. There has to be a constant vigil and monitoring to ensure that the individuals or the team members who are supposed to use these tools or run these processes are well equipped with sufficient amount of knowledge to use those. Also, it is important to have a good governing process in place to ensure the two are going hand in hand in harmony.
Processes and Tools are important for business
A good amount of investment goes in design, development and deployment of processes in any organization. Similarly, when you talk about tools, it is either an investment in terms of procurement and deployment or there are internal development and deployment. Another set of investment goes in training imparted to individuals to acquire expertise in usage of these processes and tools. On top of everything, it is the individuals and interactions that happen in any organization that can give you the health status of processes and tools in use.
A loose link in the chain of users of any process or tools can bring a potential harm to the organization. This loose link might develop due to many reasons. It could be due to lack of knowledge, interest or training. As I keep telling my customers, put 4 individuals as independent heads of a crucial process. Monitor their performance on a regular basis. All four individuals will have a difference scale of performance. Choose the best and drop out the weakest. Let the best one be the supervising agency for the others working on the same process. Chalk out a rehabilitation program for the weakest to groom or place him on another process after analyzing his skills. Let no talent go waste. The same has to be done in terms of tools.
Customer Collaboration is a very important factor in a Software Development project. There is no success possible if a customer is not engaged well right since beginning of product development. In fact, the engagement has to start from contract negotiation, stay intact during product development and right through change management.
Customer Collaboration goes end to end
- Contract Negotiation:
A Contract can’t be finalized unless a customer is on the same floor as you. It has to be universally accepted between the two parties. The scope has to be well defined, or rather curated, to match the envisioned goals meant to be achieved through this development. The product which is right now on papers has to be carved well so that the development goes in right direction to achieve the desired goals. The design that is in mind put down on a chart has to sync perfectly with the development that has to happen. The negotiation has to happen in terms of time, commercials and deliverables. Though the scrum sizing is done at a later stage but that is done on the basis of reverse engineering.
- Product Development:
Once scoping is finalized, product development starts with appropriate team formations and role assignments. Even if this is an in-house activity, customer needs to stay in sync through this phase. It is important for a customer to stay connected and keep a close watch on the development of various pieces, and ensure the things are moving in right direction.
- Change Management:
Any change to any extent must happen in collaboration with the customer. After all, it is customer’s product that is under development. If a change is happening, it has to be in the knowledge of customer for making them understand the need for the change and its impact on the development.
As we see the importance of customer collaboration and its importance during software development is quite crucial and hence must be taken as a top priority activity.