Archive for August, 2018

10 Ways To Get Different Teams To Work Together When Creating Software

August 27th, 2018

When thinking about developing software, usually the programmers are immediately the people who come to mind. However, it takes more than programmers to get a piece of software to market. In fact, a marketing team is an essential part of the process. However, they’re often either kept in the dark or brought in a little bit too late. There is a way to fix that.

It’s important that marketing professionals and programmers work on a project together to ensure success. We asked members of the Forbes Technology Council how to handle two different teams working together on the same project. The advice given offers a few different ways to bring the two teams together to execute a project successfully.

  1. Establish Leadership And Culture

By establishing a culture of collaboration and consistent communication, companies place themselves in more optimal positions to have inter-collaborative departments. A culture of collaboration and teamwork starts with the leadership and the company culture. That then sets a precedent for the rest of the organization. Making sure those in leadership positions from both teams have regular meetings is a good idea to keep both teams in the know. – Alexandro Pando, Xyrupt

  1. Create Cross-Departmental Teams

Communication between two teams is crucial. Having a marketing person in development projects (e.g., product manager) or having a technical team member lead part of the marketing team helps when they are defining use cases. This approach lets both teams have a common understanding of capabilities from the beginning ensures both take ownership. – Viren Gupta, Eponym

  1. Let The Primary Team Lead

For market-driven projects, start with the marketing view and align it to the execution. Translate the press release to a rationale/overview, customers to personas and features to use cases to guide the engineering team. For technology-driven projects, reverse the process and extract out details for external communication, both content and target audience, to equip marketing. A skilled product manager is key to these successful “translations.” – Ketaki Rao, Jivox

  1. Add Marketing To The SDLC

The software development lifecycle (SDLC) usually entails some version of research, design, development, and testing and user acceptance. However, if you introduce marketing alongside the SDLC, it becomes part of the process. – Daniel Hindi, BuildFire

  1. Use Product Managers As Liaisons

Interrupting programmers is costly, and it’s not always reasonable to expect that they will understand the business upon which their code runs. That said, one of the great values of product management is that they are often the glue that sticks the product together, interfacing with all parts of the company. Leverage your product managers to translate between engineering and marketing. -David Murray,

  1. Schedule Huddles

We have marketing and programmers conduct quick huddle meetings to go over what is being developed and why it is being developed. Developers get answers to their questions on customer usage scenarios and product positioning in the market. Marketing people get understanding on technical key points, which they can use to sharpen their market positioning. Huddles are effective when conducted once or twice a week. – Mandar Bhagwat, SpadeWorx Software Services

  1. Leverage Processes And Rules

We have clear processes and rules for every project that gets to our Kanban board. We strictly follow the agile principles in our workflow. It helps our marketing and development teams prioritize the projects they work on together, communicate easily and deliver quality solutions on time. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

  1. Complete A Market Requirements Document

If you wait until the product is complete, you are way too late to effectively market it. Collaboration at an early stage is best accomplished by the technical and marketing leaders co-authoring a complete market requirements document (MRD). A codified, tangible document eliminates the guesswork of who agrees to what and sets the proper prioritizations in stone for the whole company to see. –   Billy Bosworth, DataStax

  1. Think Outside The Stereotypes

It’s easy to stereotype programmers as “resistant to change” and those from a marketing department as too “free-thinking” to understand tech limitations. However, both teams generally have the same goal in mind: growth and company success. Try letting the two teams meet outside of the confines of these workplace stereotypes (e.g., an after-hours mixer). You may find that common ground is met and issues get resolved. – Jason Gill, Attracta

  1. Assign A Chief Visionary Officer

Every company needs a founder who accepts an ancillary role. The role of CVO (chief visionary officer) helps employees focus on a common mission. Once all team members believe in a common vision, the rest is relatively easy. The common vision can then be translated into an executable strategy by breaking down each milestone into smaller tactical steps that can be clearly understood and followed. – Karin Lachmi, Bioz

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council. 


Six Smart Ways You Can Use Big Data To Strengthen Your Leadership

August 21st, 2018

Big data is used by companies around the world to inform and improve countless business processes, from customer service to marketing campaigns. But the ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of information isn’t just useful for external operations; it can help you strengthen your business internally, too.

One often-overlooked application of big data is leadership improvement. By looking at a variety of data points like performance metrics and employee survey results, you can determine what’s working and what’s not, and ultimately strengthen your leadership abilities. Below, six members of Forbes Coaches Council explain how.

  1. Reducing Guesswork For More Targeted Decisions

While data can be imperfect, it can generally help identify trends, and from those gaps, development or hiring practices can evolve. Less guesswork can lead to more resources spent on ways to enhance leader’s capabilities. That can lead to stronger teams, happier customers and better ROI. And leaders who lead well and employees who will enjoy working for them. – Kari Price, The Art of Being a BOSS

  1. Customizing Leadership Criteria To Your Specific Context

Much leadership advice falls short because it is generic. Big data can help you customize what it takes to excel in your context, company, industry and culture. For example, what are the attributes of the best managers at the firm? In financial services, we use big data to get rid of the false dichotomy between producing revenues and managing people. – Shoma Chatterjee, ghSMART

  1. Identifying Common Gaps

The more data we can access, the better we can assess the most common pitfalls of aspiring leaders. As we gain this information, we can tailor trainings to help leaders develop skills early in their academic or work careers that will counter these common gaps. – Billy Williams, Archegos

  1. Instructing And Creating Dialogue With Your Teams

What the online universities and other remote-focused institutions know is that you need to bring big data into your virtual classrooms. Don’t firehouse big data at employees; use big data to teach. Educate, interact and ask for insight into the numbers. Leaders should share what the data seems to say. Get their insight, and integrate the human element as a leader. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

  1. Pinpointing Where To Invest Your Team’s Resources

Big data provides insight into areas that need attention and allows leaders to make decisions based on evidence. Companies that make data-driven decisions perform better overall. Data should be used to pinpoint where to invest budget and time to increase efforts, but it is not a replacement for having and communicating vision and setting goals. Big data should inform leadership, not replace it. – Jean Ali Muhlbauer, People at Work

  1. Evaluating Employee Perspectives On Leaders

When fear is present during communication, truth cannot be exchanged. Source your big data in a way that allows contributors to be completely honest about their perspective on a particular leader. Singular input is key, as one bad managerial experience could easily taint one’s view of leadership as a whole. If successful, you’ll end up with better leaders and better people. – Derrick Bass, Clarity Provoked

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Coaches Council.



14 Ways To Protect Your Key Data (Without Buying More Software)

August 13th, 2018

Data security is one of the top priorities — and biggest challenges — for modern businesses. High-profile breaches and data leaks are happening constantly, and companies need to remain on alert to ensure their sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

For smaller businesses on a budget, it might not be possible to invest in all the latest tools and services that larger enterprises use to protect their data. Fortunately, there are low-cost strategies and processes you can implement to boost your security internally. Here’s what 14 members of Forbes Technology Council recommend doing to guard your company’s most critical information.

  1. Keep It Simple

While some people point to training and education as the primary approach to more secure processes, the reality is that the simplification of processes does far more to ensure security than any education. Complexity is the enemy of security and availability. – Danny Allan, Veeam Software

  1. Plan Ahead

By planning ahead and accounting for privacy settings from the beginning, companies will be better prepared to protect key information. Additionally, your company should establish data security requirements throughout your organization for the full business process. – Alexandro Pando, Xyrupt

  1. Encrypt Everything And Run Penetration Testing

Encrypt everything with industry-grade security configurations, but know that attempts to breach your data are more and more likely to occur as your company grows. The best way to stay ahead of this curve is to hire a third party to “white hack” by doing penetration testing and seeing where they can exploit your company. If they do it first, you’ll prevent the black hackers from doing it later. – David Murray,

  1. Enable All Optional Security Features

With services such as Salesforce, Microsoft Azure and G-Suite, companies should pay specific attention to optional feature-sets. Multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and validation rules are all free features you can enable to help secure access and data storage. Today’s cloud services make security very easy, but your deployment needs to be investigated to ensure you’re making use of it. – Tom Roberto, Core Technology Solutions

  1. Focus On Employee Education

Employee education is a huge part of this puzzle that is often overlooked. All the money invested in data privacy technology can go up in smoke the moment one of your employees makes a wrong move with PHI or PII — sharing it inadvertently or not using a privacy filter screen on an airplane. Require all employees to complete training annually and make data protection part of your culture. – Kevin McCarty, West Monroe Partners

  1. Use Open Source Solutions And Invest In Human Resources

To protect key information, companies can implement various open source solutions in their on-premise or in-cloud infrastructure. They are free of charge; however, a sufficient investment in human resources is needed so you can form a knowledgeable team that can build proper intrusion detection, intrusion prevention systems and adopt the best security practices. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

  1. Add A ‘Canary In The Coal Mine’

Your existing firewall or IDS software already has the ability to create logs when certain strings are found in network packets. Create test accounts with unique names and details in your system, and then have your network team set up rules to alert you when that information passes through the firewall. This simple step can give you an immediate notification of any unusual data exfiltration or breach. – Jason Gill, Attracta

  1. Use Existing Resources To Their Full Extent

When you are on a budget and need to protect your organization’s data and privacy, try to use existing resources to their full extent. Teach employees how to identify phishing emails, disable Microsoft Word’s macro, double-check the browser’s address bar before entering information, etc. You should also assign IT staff to review existing security software/hardware. – Song Li, NewSky Security Solutions

  1. Leverage Your Cloud

Building up security infrastructure isn’t easy. By leveraging the cloud and enterprise solutions, you shift the burden of technical security to outside partners who have proven abilities to secure their partner’s data. Additionally, having a proven vetting process for your vendors that is documented will mitigate claims of negligence. Lastly, don’t hold what you don’t use. – Kyle Pretsch, Lucky Brand Jeans

  1. Establish A Threat Response Plan And Team

Establish a thorough threat response plan and dedicated team. Routinely test them and ensure you’re also challenging existing cyber defences with penetration testing on at least an annual basis. You should also be doing inventory spot tests across your organization to ensure no personal data lies hidden or untracked. – Ryan Kearny, F5 Networks

  1. Start With Ethical Data Practices

Start with having full awareness of software already in use — where data is and how it is protected. Follow with regular data security and privacy reviews and live scenario training. Adjust or rebuild architecture to support enhanced data compliance. Create a cyber security culture that sticks. All this intrinsically leads to more effective and ethical day-to-day activities for everyone. – Timo Rein,

  1. Only Store What You Need

Companies spend a lot of time seeking and storing a whole lot of information that is not required. It is very important to compartmentalize the data, storing the absolute minimum amount of data required to run the business. Convert account numbers into tokens at the first available opportunity. – Mahesh Vinayagam, qBotica

  1. Solidify Processes Around Data Access, Changes, Audits And Sharing

Analyze your data inventory and establish a tight process with data access. Scrub confidential information before you share data and enforce a tight change management process. In addition, you should audit key vulnerabilities with static and dynamic scans using open source code analyzer. Finally, you should review and secure your data centre access points and ensure that all data is encrypted. – Amit Mondal, PowerSchool

  1. Enforce Good Standards Across The Company

The best prevention without any external software is enforcing password policies through guidelines, how-tos, and best practices about password creation, cookie management and two-factor authentication. By enforcing these, you can prevent the “weakest link” so to speak from becoming an entry point that hackers can exploit to bring down your entire system. – Anand Sampat, Datmo


Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council.

11 Signs Your Software Is Due For A Major Update

August 6th, 2018

In April 2018, Google announced a significant Gmail update that included several new features and a visual redesign. This revamp is the biggest change to the popular email service in years, which serves as a reminder that every software company — even giants like Google — need to rethink their approach every now and then.

But how do you know when it’s time to make a major update? You shouldn’t redesign your software just for the sake of change, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons to consider a big upgrade. Eleven experts from Forbes Technology Council shared some telltale signs that your software is in need of a change.

  1. Your Customer’s Opinion Of You Has Become Sour Or Stale

Carefully listening to your customers can signal when a revamp is needed. If there’s a large number of customer complaints or issues that are hurting your brand/product, or if customer growth has stalled and flat lined, a revamp could help re-energize it. Beware that with any substantial change, some customers will be lost. However, a well-calculated one will likely bring new success. – Peter Kuang, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

  1. Your Software Is No Longer Helping You Achieve Your Goals

Major updates can be a double-edged sword but are necessary to keep your business up to date and applicable to new advancements. Adaptation and flexibility are a must in today’s tech atmosphere, especially to survive major updates. Due diligence, attentiveness to the existing landscape and clear goals should be the centre of the update. – Alexandro Pando, Xyrupt

  1. There’s A Security Or Functional Optimization To Be Made

As a cyber security software provider, our product features from security to the end user and admin experience are under constant review and improvement. Internal infrastructure and quality assurance teams also do a great job toward further optimization. We provide our customers with newer versions at least four times a year so they get the latest and best security and user experience functions. – Bojan Simic, HYPR Corp.

  1. It’s Been A Few Years Since Your Last ‘Big’ Update

The principle of agile software development is to have smaller updates, more often. However, sometimes there is an idea that can’t be finished in a two-week sprint. That’s when we have a major update coming. The problem is that clients are used to getting major updates every two to three years, so even if there is no major update coming, software providers should freshen up the UI with a redesign. – Dzenis Softic, Clickbooth

  1. Customers Are Requesting Capabilities That Aren’t Possible In Your Existing System

It’s critical to be in touch with customers. If your architecture or code structure has reached its limits, you’ll see an increase in requests for capabilities that aren’t possible in your existing system. For critical areas, it may be easier to do a one-time change and explain it clearly to users instead of incrementally changing the product and potentially upsetting customers on a regular basis. – Bob Muglia, Snowflake Computing

  1. Your Competitors Are Making Major Changes To Suit Customer Demands

In the software as a service (SaaS) market these days, customers know exactly what they are looking for from software. Listening to them will give you insights not just about what is working with your software and what needs a change, but you will get an in-depth understanding of the competitive landscape and what your competition is up to. – Kumar Erramilli, ACTO App

  1. Your Customers And Front Line Staff Have Brought Up Issues

It’s easy to get Stockholm syndrome with software that you’ve developed, leading to an aversion to change or criticism as interfaces become outdated. To prevent this, regularly survey your customers and your front-line staff that use your tools on a daily basis. This can expose pain points and issues you’ve become blind to. Don’t forget to use your competition’s interface as a guide as well. – Jason Gill, The HOTH

  1. You See The Potential To Improve The User Experience

Your software is always due for an update. Nothing works perfectly as designed, and great technology companies are always pushing the limits of what creates a better customer experience. Of course, change for its own sake is distracting and frustrating for users, so before making any changes, you need to believe deeply that the change you’re considering significantly improves your user experience. – Kieran Snyder, Textio

  1. Your Product And Growth Metrics Are Slumping

Always keep an eye on both product and growth metrics. Product metrics such as retention or a specific conversion funnel helps to be sure the products sticky and people are using it. Growth metrics such as daily active users (DAU) or revenue show how’s it performing. A major update would be a result of an observation based on those metrics. – Andrew Neverov, Trucker Path

  1. The User Community Is Creating Hacks And Mods

A functional and mature software package will have an extended life in the marketplace. Things like Gmail and Outlook are fundamental for organizations. When the user community begins implementing mods, hacks or advanced extensions for your platform, it typically means the user base is unhappy with the feature set or trying to extend shelf-life. This should be a key indicator for major updates. – Tom Roberto, Core Technology Solutions

  1. User Testing Of Your New Release Revealed Problems That Need To Be Solved

The update process never stops. In fact, I’d argue the main purpose of any given iteration of your software product is to get to the next iteration. They’re all learning tools helping you to build the next version of your product. As soon as you launch one version, you should be gathering usage data and identifying problems to solve in the next version –- and that cycle continues forever. – Ben Lee, Rootstrap


Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council.