Archive for January, 2019

Encourage Your Team to Install Software Updates with These 10 Tactics

January 31st, 2019

Software updates fix bugs, increase security and improve performance. However, even knowing this, many employees delay the dreaded update, thereby putting your organization at risk.

No matter how busy staff members are or how inconvenient installing updates might seem, you should ensure your company’s team members don’t put it off for too long. To that end, we asked Forbes Technology Council members how to ensure that all of your company’s employees routinely update their software. Here are their tips.

  1. Revoke Access until They Patch

You can show stats, share tales of woe and conduct awareness training, but for most, keeping systems patched doesn’t top the to-do list. Consider network access control (NAC). NAC can require systems to be at certain patch levels to access company assets. Simply put, if they need to be patched to do their jobs, they will be more likely to patch. – Brian Contos, Verodin Inc.

  1. Send Regular Reminders

At QArea any important software update is accompanied by a companywide email to prompt employees to install the update. Furthermore, to remove resistance, we ensure that time is allocated to install these updates, usually during the last hour of the workday. – Maxim Garkavtsev, QArea Software Development Company

  1. Use Penetration Testing To Prove the Need for Updates

Nothing does as good a job in teaching a security lesson as pen-testing. By performing a penetration test (with written permission) of software, you demonstrate the need to keep software up to date. Reputable vendors will provide software updates and new software versions to improve the security and performance of the application, but this is only good if your company stays up to date. – Michael Hoyt, Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.

  1. Hold Employees Accountable For Security Issues

While this is “stick” and not “carrot,” people need to be held accountable for security violations if they are responsible for patching and updating their own laptop or software platforms used for business. Sadly, for this type of negligence, I rarely see action taken. – Bret Piatt, Jungle Disk

  1. Educate Your Team

Educate your companywide team so that they are aware of the risks involved when not updating software for security purposes. Start with the executives and have them manage those working under them. This should be a top priority for all businesses, because one link can bring down the whole system. Making your team aware of the issues is an informative way for your team to take action. – Alexandro Pando, Xyrupt Technologies

  1. Assign a Risk Score to Each Department

At a previous employer, we had issues where business units did not want to update their enterprise applications. To address this we conducted a full risk assessment on each department, which included a list of their apps, current vulnerabilities and required remediation steps. We then put a letter grade to each assessment and shared them business wide so each department knew where they stood. – Gary Hayslip, Webroot Inc.

  1. Encourage Updating At Lunch Time

Let’s face it: Software updates are boring. One practical way to make it work is to remind users when they are about to leave for lunch. Remind them about the patches to be run at the time when they don’t have to be staring at their screens. Check out when the user is passive (not difficult) and remind them at that time. They are already passive and won’t mind the time it takes to patch. – Ashwin Ramasamy, PipeCandy

  1. Automate the Process

Desktop management software can automatically install the latest software updates, security patches and antivirus software on desktops, laptops and mobile devices—and keep track of your “fleet.” All of our Macs are configured with a standard set of apps and Jamf, a management tool that automates the software on these devices. There are similar tools available for Windows PCs as well. – Vinay Pai,

  1. Create an Internal Security Chat Room

Internally we maintain a security Slack channel. Since several of us learn about security issues before they are generally available, we post when we know a patch will be forthcoming, without breaking an embargo. People like to anticipate problems. With their attention fixed on that channel, they eagerly react when they need to update their machines. – Sandra Carrico, Glynt.AI, a business unit of WattzOn

  1. Make Security Part of Your Culture

When security and data protection become a part of the culture, process adherence becomes a part of everyday life. Start by defining and documenting the policies and processes, and then make sure they are communicated effectively. Stress very clearly why they are important to the business and what would happen if a breach occurred. Provide ongoing communication and training to support the program. – Brent Yax, Awecomm Technologies

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



Launching a New Product? Here Are 16 Tips for Effectively Testing It First

January 22nd, 2019

As a business, you want to provide the highest-quality products and services to your customers. To make sure the launch of a new offering goes smoothly, it’s essential to thoroughly and effectively test it first. That way, if any issues arise, you’ll have time to revise without risking your reputation.

We asked a panel of Forbes Agency Council members to share their best tips for testing a new product or service. If you want to please your audience and give your new offering its best chance for success, follow their tips.

  1. Start Early

As soon as you have a minimum viable product (MVP), begin to test it out. There are trendsetting types who love working with MVPs before anyone else gets the final product. Once the product is polished, it’s probably too late to take advantage of curious beta testers. Get the first-user advantage and do continuous testing as soon as you have an MVP. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

  1. Host a Diverse Focus Group

Host a focus group with a mix of loyal and potential customers to get a range of feedback. It can be helpful to watch the reactions firsthand, ask questions as they’re seeing it for the first time and then take that and apply any changes needed to the product or service before revealing it to the public. Customer feedback can be so powerful when collected properly. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

  1. Genuinely Listen To Feedback

You have to be willing to listen to feedback and then be willing to not just tweak, but maybe even pivot. There is a ton of research, hard work, internal testing and pride of authorship in developing a new product or service. Be careful of the attachment and resistance that comes with all of that. Your new product/service will perform with a new audience if you genuinely listen to them. – Beth Noymer Levine, SmartMouth Communications

  1. Try to Prove Yourself Wrong

Collect data, evaluate its relevance, assess the risks, and then make a decision. How do you get good data? Better yet, how do you identify good data? Excitement typically leads to confirmation biases. The first step to testing is shifting mindsets. Treat it like research, and do your best to disprove your hypothesis. Creating this culture will facilitate an ecosystem that is welcoming to criticism. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

  1. Have Children Test Your Products

The marvel of iOS was that it gave birth to a line of software that is so intuitive kids can use it. As we built our software the goal was to make it just as easy. So we invite our staff’s kids to test our products. We go no higher than children at a 12th-grade level, then work our way down to those at a seventh-grade level. If they can use it, the product is ready to go live. – Giovanni Sanguily, TRIdigital Marketing

  1. Leverage Influencer Relationships

The standard practice with influencer marketing gears towards sales promotion. However, it is also an effective way to test a new product or explore a new customer group. Instead of asking influencers to promote a product, ask for their candid feedback and experience using the product. When you involve them in the beta testing phase, you build the relationship for future launch as well. – Yan Zhang, XYZ Advantage

  1. Hire a Market Testing Company

Market testing is a great gauge and worth the investment to ensure your tweaks are taking you in the right direction. If you can’t properly implement this testing in-house, there are companies that do market testing. Take advantage of market testing companies to make sure you are heading in the right direction. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

  1. Plan the Perfect Prototype

The most effective method of testing is prototyping. Ensure there is a balance between creating a prototype robust enough to deliver a taste of the experience, but minimal enough that you aren’t committing too many resources. Based on audience feedback, edit your prototype accordingly, and ultimately this will lead to a satisfactory final product or service. – Danny Fritz, SBX Group

  1. Run Pilot Tests and Proof of Concept Campaigns

At OMI, we’ve found that pilot campaigns and proof of concept (POC) testing offer an excellent way to prove to clients that our email marketing services deliver as promised and that audiences will respond. For example, we do POCs for our data cleansing services at no charge, and we do pilot testing for our email acquisition campaigns. After testing, we then roll out the full campaign. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

  1. Offer the Chance to Use the Product at a Discount

There are two questions to consider. First, there is actual performance: whether your product/service will work for the new audience. Second is whether the new audience will care about it enough to buy it. By offering it at a discount, you get to answer both. You get feedback from actual users, and you evaluate the interest too (if they don’t buy at a discount, they won’t buy full price). – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design

  1. Take an Integrated Testing Approach

Start by defining alpha, beta and generally available (GA) test stages. Then ensure cross-departmental involvement in determining key performance indicators (KPIs) of success at each stage. Use these metrics as gating factors to determine if the product or service is ready to progress to the next phase. Rather than a waterfall approach, consider an integrated, agile team of diverse functions across product, support and DevOps. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

  1. Automate the Pretest When Possible

As an agency delivering end-to-end digital, we’ve seen success in using test-driven development techniques and automation to pretest the functional, and even some of the design, aspects of web projects. This approach to our technical deliverables has enabled our team to spend less time on testing, while at the same time improving quality, because we’re able to focus on big-ticket items. – David Ward, Meticulosity

  1. Do Primary Research First

Primary research is a highly underutilized tool, especially for creative agencies. Using data improves many aspects of product/service development, especially avoiding the produce-then-test cycle. Engaging your target helps consumers build trust with you and helps you avoid unnecessary failure. – Mimi Lettunich, Twenty Four 7

  1. Gauge Interest with Pre-Order Sales

One trick you can use is to set a pre-order sale to gauge interest if you have a new product. Gather qualitative data on what your audience cares about most, and effectively test different elements on your site to find out what holds the most weight in the eyes of the visitors. Figure out what they care about most, what they like and dislike, and what their biggest problem areas are that you solve. – Justin Christianson, Conversion Fanatics

  1. Do a Simple Split Test

Simple split-testing is relatively easy using landing pages on a website. Randomly segment your list, sending half to version A and half to version B. While, depending on the sample size, your data might not be significant, is there anything you can learn? The answer is usually absolutely, yes. – Jesse Marble, Magneti

  1. Test in Real-Life Scenarios

Many marketers immediately think of focus groups when testing new products, but if you’re familiar with focus groups, you know that it’s not quite the same as testing that same product “in the wild.” By introducing your new product to a small test market, followed with more in-depth interviews, you’re able to see how it fares in the real world, which will give the best feedback for optimization. – Kevin Smith, Mighty Roar

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



Developing a Major Project: Eight Ways to Improve Planning

January 17th, 2019

As companies grow in complexity and size, so do their projects. Executing these major projects can be either massively beneficial or unfortunately troublesome. On the one hand, bigger projects usually involve a lot more people or teams and higher funding, which allows for more diverse ideas to be explored and carried out. However, having a larger number of people or moving parts can introduce unhelpful elements, such as increased chances for miscommunication or errors.

In order to get the best result out of your project, developing a plan of execution is often the best course of action. So which steps are the most effective for developing that plan? Below, members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their most effective tactical step in developing execution plans that work. Here’s what they advise:

  1. Define All ‘Whys’

The real, business-centric answer to why we are doing something is where most major problems on projects start. Complex projects will have lots of whys and it is important to capture all of them. From there, use prioritization to define measurable goals that achieve your “whys” to keep the scope of work on target and reactive to what’s doable alongside what’s impactful. – Adam Brazg, Bilberrry

  1. Begin at the End

An execution plan must begin at the end. Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and build a ladder from the ground up, making each step an achievement before you reach the ultimate goal. – Elisabeth Swardstrom, PixelFish

  1. Use Organizational Tools

Internally, we like to use a variety of tools to organize our plan of attack for upcoming projects or client work. We use as a project management tool in order to keep track of individual itemized tasks that go into the project as a whole. I think having some kind of structured organizational tools will help a lot in executing and planning major projects. – Lorne Fade, VR Vision Inc.

  1. Sell the Team on the Idea

The first step to any project is to sell yourself and your team first. Once you sell the team, then you can effectively raise capital, and sell everyone else on it. Without this 110% belief, the project is doomed to fail. – Tarry Summers, KP Real Estate Group

  1. Build the Right Team

One of the most important steps in developing an execution plan for a major project is ensuring you have assembled the right team. Each project is different, but you must make sure you have a mixture of vision, strategy, project management and execution. Without the proper mix of skills, you’ll fail. Vision without execution is a hallucination. – Craig Haynie, AtlanTech Resellers, Inc DBA CablesAndKits

  1. Hash out A Plan With Leaders

Get all the people involved in a room to hash out the plan. Have all the decision makers in a room in a distraction-free environment: Anyone and everyone that need to have a say must be in the room. Then mentally walk through the journey of implementing the plan top down, starting with customer or end-user journey, and then going down to the details of meeting her or his needs. – Bramh Gupta, RoboMQ

  1. Envision the Ideal Outcome

When creating a strategic execution plan for major projects, always start by envisioning the ideal outcome. What are we looking to achieve? What specifically defines that outcome? How long do we project it to take to complete? From there, tactically work backward, identifying the milestones that need to be hit to complete the major project. This will give you a clear roadmap to get started. – Connor Gillivan, FreeeUp

  1. Dedicate Time to Prepare

As a leader, you will see more — and see earlier — than the others around you. Processing what you see into the most successful team execution plan requires quiet and dedicated space. In leadership, private preparation is the source of public power. The most tactical step in developing an execution plan is to dedicate the first hour of your work day, focused and uninterrupted, to preparing your plan. – Caroline Beckman, Nouri Life

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Expert Panel, Young Entrepreneur Council.

Is It Time To Test Your New Product’s Usability? 13 Tech Experts Weigh In

January 8th, 2019

The new product development cycle can be quite complex, especially when it comes to technology. There’s a lot of planning, testing and tinkering that must happen before a tech product is ready to hit the market, and sometimes it requires going back to the drawing board.

An essential step in this process is usability testing, which helps determine whether a product functions as expected or whether it needs additional fine tuning. But how do you know the right time to begin this testing? To find out, we asked a group of Forbes Technology Council members to share their opinions.

  1. The Idea Is On Paper

You should test as early as there is a hypothesis to validate. Usability testing should start with sketches and low-fi prototypes as early as an idea is vetted within the company walls. Earlier feedback always provides extremely valuable insight, not only to usability, but also in gauging interest for the new product. – Bruno Guicardi, CI&T

  1. Code Is Being Written

If there is code being written, you should be testing usability. This usability testing not only covers your customers, but also your developers and any internal team member who interacts with the product or codebase. This is imperative to keep your velocity high and make an easy transition to focusing on usability testing for your customer without taking steps backward. – Philip Hutchins, Storj Labs Inc.

  1. The First Mock-up Is Ready

It’s best to start usability testing from the very beginning — from the very first wireframe and mock-up you have. Otherwise, you are just assuming. Early usability testing could help you observe the way users will interact with your product and what their struggles, concerns and biggest needs would be. – Ivailо Nikolov, SiteGround

  1. You Have Users

You’re ready as soon as you have users. A lesson Y-Combinator taught me is that to make something people want, you should be exercising two important things: talking to users and building the product. They’re both important, but talking to users is the first step in testing usability. If you’re not doing it, start now, and then move on to more formal processes when needed. – Russell Smith, Rainforest QA, Inc

  1. You Have Basic Criteria for Usability

Finding out the user group on both edges of the consumer spectrum would be the first key step to test readiness for usability. The usability findings matrix formed by these user groups against the mock model of the product should be vetted against the intermediate product outcomes to see if they surpass the 80/20 rule that is set as the gating criteria for usability. – Shafeer Badharudeen, Attinad Software

  1. Tasks Are Ready For a User to Complete

Usability testing should start as soon as there are tasks for a user to complete, because the earlier that product teams can start getting feedback from users on what they are building, the better. Early testing can be as simple as informal “hallway” testing using paper prototypes. As the product matures, the testing can take advantage of a more formal, structured series of tests. – Peter Mourfield, TaxSlayer

  1. You’re moving Into Beta Mode

With today’s compressed production cycle, usability testing should begin as soon as possible to ensure an effective product launch. Once a product hits beta testing, it should go to the field with trusted clients. This provides a 360-degree test of the product’s usability and powerful insight into how the product will fare in the real world. There is no substitute for a real-world product test. – Paul Ryznar, OPS Solutions, LLC

  1. You Have A Diverse User Base Willing To Test

Test with a wide variety of users. Validating the user’s experience for things like visual contrast, large fonts and screen reader support are critical to ensuring that all your customers have a great experience. If your product supports multiple languages, there is nobody better to validate that your translations are on point than a native speaker. – Amy Czuchlewski, Bottle Rocket

  1. You Need To Test Any Of The Features

Usability testing is not a one-time event. It should be embedded throughout the lifecycle as necessary and applicable. There is nothing more costly or disappointing than to find that a strong, feature-rich application with good business logic is not intuitive. When this happens, adoption suffers. And sometimes it is too costly and too late to adjust for usability. – Mohamad Zahreddine, TrialAssure

  1. You’re approaching Your Minimum Viable Product Goals

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Pre-launch, teams should set the readiness bar even lower for usability testing — and itch for feedback. Define your minimum viable product goals at the outset of the design and start usability testing well before you’ve hit those goals so your assumptions can be challenged. – Evan Kohn, Pypestream

  1. Your User Interface Is Ready

It’s important you build the user interface features of the product first, which enables the usability testing. All core features need not be functional at this point in time; minimal features enabling the user to start interacting with the product and letting them experience the core features by mocking them helps us understand how intuitive it is to use, avoiding fixes post-launch. – Sujeeth Kanuganti, Aira Tech Corp

  1. You Have Incorporated the Needs and Wants of a Beta Panel

Usability highly depends on your testing the market for your product. The idea is to kill two birds with one stone. When you find an intersect of needs and wants from a beta panel of users you are targeting, develop what will satisfy both customers. Keep your beta customers engaged, show and tell, iterate. Be humble and agile every step of the way and you will be ready for widespread testing. – Waije Coler, InfoTracer

  1. You’re At Any Point in The Process

You should always test usability, from the first sketches made on paper to the very last point of the design. There’s no “correct moment” to do it; everything you do in a design process should be user-oriented, which means being fully aware of how they will interact with the product. If you’re not testing usability throughout the whole process, you’re working in the dark. – Nacho De Marco, BairesDev

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

2019 Tech Forecast: 11 Experts Predict the Next Wave of Breakout Technologies

January 2nd, 2019


In 2018, the world witnessed the continued development of technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. As these tools become more accessible and widely used among both businesses and consumers, many tech industry experts are speculating about what the next “big thing” will be.

Looking ahead to 2019, we asked a panel of Forbes Technology Council members for their take on upcoming trends in their field. From blockchain as a service to enterprise content management, here are their predictions about the next wave of breakout technologies.

  1. Blockchain

The blockchain is not as revolutionary as artificial intelligence (AI), or as intuitive and user-friendly as voice control, but it will transform the way we handle finance, real estate, Internet of Things (IoT), the supply chain of most industries and much more. That’s why governments are rushing to incorporate it in every sense they can; they know the high cost of falling behind on this. – Nacho De Marco, BairesDev

  1. Blockchain as a Service

In 2019 we will begin to see the first practical implementations of blockchain, beyond the cryptocurrency use case, and unlock distributed marketplaces and computing systems that leverage communities for sharing of resources in both a cost- and resource-efficient manner. These technologies will be enabled through the blockchain-as-a-service platforms being unveiled by IBM, Azure and AWS. – Danny Allan, Veeam Software

  1. AI-Led Automation

The breakout technology of 2019 is definitely going to be AI-led automation. It’s expected that data mining and management, business processes, information technology (IT) services, customer support, and many other sectors will witness automation via neural networks and machine-learning-based solutions. – Amit Jnagal, Infrrd

  1. Machine Learning

AI and machine learning (ML) were born in the ’80s, but the hardware was never fast enough to deliver the expected promise. Now, ML libraries are readily available, and the cloud provides all the computing you need. Thanks to AI and ML, marketers can improve revenue growth, support reps can deliver better answers, service professionals can deliver insights and customers can connect all their data. – Vinay Pai,

  1. Enterprise Content Management

In 2019, more documentation will originate digitally, eliminating the need for organizations to “go paperless” in the first place. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software integrates disparate data from across your organization through the use of electronic forms and automated workflows. By empowering this exchange of data, businesses maximize their return on investment (ROI) and customer acquisition costs (CAC) throughout customer lifecycles. – James Hwang, Cal Net Technology Group, a NexusTek Company

  1. AI for the Back Office

There’s a lot of hype around the potential of AI, but one area that is often overlooked is the power of AI to revolutionize workflows. In 2019, we’ll see the start of AI making a noticeable impact on the back office, from increasing electronic operations to streamlining identification and credentialing. These developments have the ability to transform labor-intense processes across industries. – Charles Aunger, Health2047 Inc.

  1. Quantum Computing AI Applications

2019 will be the year of quantum computing AI applications. Quantum technology recently became available for the public on the cloud and is now set to have a large transformative impact on many industries, providing solutions and answers to problems that supercomputers couldn’t solve before. Major applications are expected in health care (material science), trading and in cyber security. – Nir Kaldero, Galvanize Inc.

  1. Mainstreamed IoT

While IoT is not a new concept, it will move from pre-adoption to a mainstream solution that retail, manufacturing, health care and other industries will integrate as an everyday business operation. It will change the way consumers and businesses get real-time data, engage with their users and interact with AI and machine learning. – Frank Cittadino, QOS Networks

  1. 5G

With the recent explosion of connected devices and IoT, mobile connectivity via 5G will become a major player and competitor to all things Wi-Fi. But the real question will be who can bring 5G to market quickly, painlessly and affordably for both consumers and industry alike. – Andy Dalton, IVM, Inc.

  1. Realistic Robots

If you’ve seen any of the Boston Dynamics robot videos, like the dog that opens doors, you know there’s a whole frontier of robotics that is starting to get into exciting (or scary) territory. As these robots integrate the type of intelligence that machine learning and modern AI techniques offer, we’re going to start seeing more and more robots that look and feel like living beings. – David Isaac Murray,

  1. Split Testing Via ML

Split testing, or A/B testing, has helped companies increase conversions for their businesses across the board. I think we’re going to see an advancement with split testing thanks to machine learning. For example, instead of manually designing different layouts of a website and seeing which one performs better, different layouts would be shown to different customers automatically. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

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