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mobileLIVE maintains Best Managed Gold Standard, awarded Canada’s Best Managed for Sixth Consecutive Year

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What are UX Metrics? Types of Metrics Three UX Metrics For Usability Testing UX Metrics Test Plan Template TakeawayWhen we talk about UX & design, we often discuss research, research-led design, usability studies, and user experience trends. However, while we often finish these discussions with several exciting learnings, we find all of them battling for our attention.How do you prioritize your work and understand the value a design change could bring to you?The simple answer? UX Metrics.What are UX Metrics?Metrics help support design changes while also allowing UX teams to choose the most critical problems in their product usability. Usually, this framework is used to measure the enterprise user experience so that we can talk with the users and gather vital information from them.A metric is a measure that we can track, and in this context, a 'measure' is the detection of change. Similar to the multitude of metrics that businesses use, such as sales and retention rates, there are several types of UX metrics.(Diagram by Mark G Brown)Types of MetricsConsider UX metrics as your key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs for UX/UI design are of different types, each of which focuses on a distinct area:Usability MetricsThese are descriptive metrics that look at how easily users complete a task or event. Commonly tracked indicators like ease-of-use rating, time on task, task success rate, etc., are used to measure the ease of task completion. Advanced usability metrics may also track interaction patterns.Engagement MetricsThese measure user perception: how users interact with your software, app, or website. They include page views, scrolls, event streams, the time it takes per interaction and the attitude of the occurred interaction.Conversion MetricsThese measure the outcome of the experience by focusing on smaller groups of users that you can engage for prolonged and retained use of your product to get insights like conversion rates or Net Promoter Score (NPS).Three UX Metrics For Usability TestingYou might be familiar with some common usability testing metrics and the frameworks that use them.However, in this article, we’re only talking about the ones that:Are both time and cost-efficient and were found to be the most effective at providing accurate results – without needing a large sample size of participants!These methods listed below were handpicked after we tried them out and used them to conduct our own usability testing on a very complex Enterprise Product that we were working on.1- Single Ease Question or SEQ (Post Task Questionnaire)The Single Ease Question (SEQ) is a UX performance metric that uses a seven-point scale to rate how difficult users are finding a task. Here’s an example of what this scale may look like:ExampleOverall, how difficult or easy was it to complete the task? Rate your experience using the seven-point scale below.During usability testing, users are given a post-task questionnaire with this rating scale right after attempting a task to best capture the user’s impression and experience of the task. Since most usability-study sessions will involve many individual tasks, each task followed by such a questionnaire will allow you to extract and record several subjective answers from each user.Collecting Responses of SEQ through Google FormPost-task questionnaires should be short – ideally one to three questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.The SEQ Google Form Survey looks like this.Interpreting SEQ ScoresOnce user responses are collected, you can track the answers using this UX Metrics Scorecard.You can then interpret these scores on an SEQ Percentile Rank Scale:On average, SEQ scores fall between approximately 5.3 and 5.6, which is above the midpoint of 4 on the seven-point scale.One issue of the SEQ as a diagnostic tool is that the questionnaire can lead to users finding it hard to recognize and differentiate the complexity of finishing a task from the actual problems experienced while completing it. So, it is recommended to ask a follow-up question: “What is the primary reason for your score?”Benefits of Using SEQThe SEQ method is very useful for two reasons:Since it is conducted right after task completion, the SEQ method gathers users' immediate thoughts and impressions, as the experience is still fresh in their minds. Hence, the participants can clearly assess how they felt during the experience without any other tasks or thoughts hindering their memory. With the data being collected right after every task, the SEQ method allows easy comparison of the most problematic issues in your workflows for every task.Post-task questionnaires should be short – ideally not more than 1 to 3 questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.Note: There are many user testing platforms like User Testing, Usabilla, or Maze that can help you measure task time and success. The UX metrics methods quoted above are what we used for an Enterprise Product.2- System Usability Scale or SUS (Post Test Questionnaire)A post-test questionnaire, the System Usability Scale contains ten different questions. Each of these questions has five responses – from strongly agree to strongly disagree – to gauge the usability and learnability of the system.ExampleAs the name suggests, this post-test questionnaire is given out at the end of a session after participants have completed all tasks in the usability test.According to an article on perceived usability published by the Nielsen Norman Group, post-test questionnaires "reflect how your users perceive the usability of your website or app as a whole". They are meant to capture this assessment from the perspective of the user, including "their lasting overall impressions". The impressions on your users of the experience as a whole are subject to something known as the peak-end effect, which is that "the most intense and last parts of the experience, either positive or negative, impact the participants' recollections and evaluations the most".Conducting Usability Session by SUS through Google FormTo conduct the usability session by SUS, here’s the Google Form Survey you can use.The formula used to score SUS is as follows:For odd items: subtract 1 from the user response. For even items: subtract user responses from 5. This will scale all values from 0 to 4 (with 4 indicating the most positive response). Add up all of the converted responses from each user and multiply the total by 2.5. This will convert the range of all possible values from 0 to 100 instead of from 0 to 40. Formula:Interpreting SUS ScoresJust as we did in SEQ, a UX Metrics Scorecard is used here as well, which looks like this.Based on research, a SUS score above 68 would be considered above average, and anything below 68 is below average.In order to have the usability of your site be in the top 10% of all sites, you'd require a score of 80 or higher, while a score of 73 would put you only in the top 30%.The best method of interpreting your score is through the process of normalization, in which the scores are converted to a percentile rank. The grading scale below shows how the percentile ranks can be associated with SUS scores and letter grades to interpret the results.Benefits of Using SUSWith references in more than 1300 publications and articles, the SUS method has made its mark as an industry standard.Some of the noted benefits of using SUS, according to usability.gov, are:It is relatively a very easy scale to apply to participants It provides reliable results even when administered on small sample sizes It is very valid in that it effectively differentiates between usable and unusable systems. 3- Usability Metric for User Experience (UMUX)A result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).Interpreting Score of UMUXA result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).The UMUX method is used for testing perceived usability via a four-item questionnaire. Scores are measured on a seven-point option scale, which goes from Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (7), and the scores range from 0 to 100.Interpreting UMUX ScoresThe UMUX is best used after a usability test in the following way:Determine what method you will use to distribute the questionnaire. A pen and paper will suffice for in-person testing, but you can use an online survey tool for remote testing. While scoring UMUX, odd items are scored as [score — 1], while even items as [7 — score]. The scores are summed up, and the total is then divided by 24 and multiplied by 100.To conduct a usability audit, we always let users know as much as possible about all the scenarios, tasks, participants, and facilitators, as well as provide them with brief information within the given time.UX Metrics Test Plan TemplateHere is a sample usability test plan template to use before conducting Usability Testing.TakeawayThere are many factors that come into play when deciding what metrics will work best for you; the ones discussed in this article were shortlisted because they were found to be the most time-effective and easily compatible with smaller sample sizes of participants.As is the case with many other UX researchers and designers, budget-friendliness was also a very important reason we ranked these methods at the top. If cost-efficiency is something you’re concerned with, you’ll appreciate this article about Usability Testing on a Budget.All in all, UX performance metrics are vital in UX research, particularly as a KPI for UX UI design. But it is also equally important to understand why UX metrics are used and which ones to use at what stage of your usability testing process will ultimately pave the way for you to achieve your main goal: consistently providing an unforgettable user experience.

Top 3 UX Metrics For Testing Product Usability

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Part 1: The Challenge and Our North Star The Challenge Every now and then, we see designers wasting their time creating UI flow diagrams inside slide decks and whiteboard tools to show UX/UI design to executives or senior management. Designers are also at times found giving walkthroughs of their design files to every member on their team, then to all product managers, then to all developers, then to all the people who missed those calls, and it goes on and on until the end of time. When we have designers working repeatedly on these things, it impacts not just the designers but the whole organization. We want the designers to work on more important things: solving user and product problems. When this starts to happen, the designer’s valuable time and energy are reduced to doing these repetitive tasks. Design Ops to the Rescue One of the key areas of Design Ops is to alleviate problems exactly like this. Our North Star here is to completely eliminate the handover process of design with stakeholders. In an effort to achieve this, we need to bring everyone to the same table and have the same language that everyone speaks and understands, which is what DesignOps achieves. This will have two immediate benefits: Eliminate (reduce) time wasted by designers doing side tasks. Build confidence with stakeholders. Stakeholders feel more comfortable trusting their designers when they can understand their work and process as well. The design department will no longer be seen as a black magic box that no one really knows how it operates. The shared language will help the stakeholders understand how design files are organized and documented, so they can go and find anything whenever they need it without bugging designers. The documentation on design decisions in best cases eliminates the requirement for tedious walkthroughs, one of the biggest benefits of DesignOps. Laying the Foundations As a first step, we set up two keys or legends to identify the state of the design and document the design files. State of Design Very similar to project management statuses, we introduce the states of UX/UI design. The key allows anyone coming into the design file to understand their status. This can be used not only to identify design files as a whole but also the pages, user flows, and individual screens. Our first set of statuses look like this (these can be modified and adapted to any team’s needs, but we have found this to be most productive in our case): ✍️ Working on it Anything that designers are currently working on can be denoted by this status. 🚧 In-progress Things that are not yet finished but also not being actively worked on can be denoted by in-progress status. ✅ Pretty much done This status is important to indicate your progress on work. Statuses like these will build confidence with your stakeholders. 🔸 Please review for approval With this time you are inviting the product manager or other stakeholders to review your UX/UI designs and decisions. 👍 Ready for presentation UX Designs that have been approved by product managers and the internal team will be ready for executive presentation. 🔹 Approved Designs approved by all the stakeholders can be marked with this status. 🔒 No further changes Use this state when a design has been officially locked and you want to hand it off to developers. This will mean that no more changes will be catered to on the design and it is locked until delivery of the project. 🔻 On hold Designs that get deprioritized due to any reason can be marked as on hold. 📦 Archived or legacy Any old or deprecated design can go under the archived or legacy label. 🎆 Magic Lab All the amazing ideas and designs can find their place in the magic lab. These are proposed pieces of design that designers want to showcase or show off but are not part of the main user flow. Documenting Design Taking this a step further, we also set up comment keys. These can be used to document design decisions, clarifications, ideas, concerns, and more as raised by designers and stakeholders during the design process. The comment key we generally suggest to use looks something like this: The status and comment key is part of the Figma File System, a subset of the Figma Design System by mobileLIVE. This can be downloaded free from the Figma community. This is available as ready-to-use components that you can plug in any of your design files and start using them.

DesignOps Series: Improved Designer and Stakeholder Collaboration

mobileLIVE-Great-Place-To-Work-Certified
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TORONTO, ON – Nov 16, 07:45 ET mobileLIVE, a digital transformation consultancy specializing in experiences and the technology used to perfect them, is proud to be named a Great Place to Work®-Certified Company. “Investing in our people, prioritizing a culture of learning, and empowering and enabling the professional and personal goals of employees is ingrained in our culture,” says Aftab Ali, Director Human Resources. “We understand that in our line of work, fostering innovation and supporting the people who spark it is critical to driving change and solving the challenges our clients turn to us to solve. We give our employees less to worry about while enabling them to do more, professionally and personally. It’s simple in concept but far-reaching in impact.” This certification is determined after a comprehensive independent evaluation by the Great Place to Work® Institute Canada and an extensive employee survey conducted anonymously. Additionally, recognized organizations must be headquartered in Canada, with a majority agreement that people are treated fairly, regardless of personal characteristics (such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation). “Becoming an employer of choice is not only a foundational aspiration of ours but strategic and critical to achieving our vision for the future,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder. “This certification serves as an indicator, directly from the people who matter most, that we are on the right track. It’s the experience our people provide which is a big driver for our growth and never losing clients, and why it’s so critical to provide an equal experience to employees.”

mobileLIVE Becomes Great Place to Work® Certified™

GraphQL and the API Academy
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Client demands are always changing, and if the last decade is any metric to go by, we know they will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. To stay competitive now requires companies to have multiple permutations of their offering and an agile approach to continuous improvement. The traditional REST API model doesn’t cut it anymore; what companies need is fast pace in development, and with GraphQL that’s exactly what they get. Join Luca Maraschi, CTO mobileLIVE, as he very elaborately walks us through the journey of what GraphQL does, why it is important, and how it differs from REST.

GraphQL and the API Economy: Beyond the Traditional REST API Model

How Financial Institutions Can Exceed Customer Expectations
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Customer expectations are always changing; however, digital has not only accelerated the rate of that change but elevated those expectations. Needless to say, this has caused challenges for business, with BFSIs being particularly hard hit. The Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world have spoiled customers, providing them with seamless experiences, on-demand, wherever and however they want. And now, it’s time Financial Institutions and other BFSIs do the same, and I’ll show you how below. But before you can solve the problem, you need to understand it. The Problem For Banking Customers For banks, credit unions, and insurance brands, and BFSIs in general, the shift of consumer preferences towards digital solutions poses one of the biggest threats to their core modus operandi: in-person customer appointments. And while physical bank visits were not an issue felt by banking customers previously, their perspectives have changed on two significant fronts: Experience over products More customers now prefer that their experience should be better, more efficient, and faster, prioritizing it over the products that they receive, which are pretty vanilla in their construct. Convenience over privacy Customers are also willing to let go of a little bit of privacy in exchange for more convenience, better integration of financial or banking softwares, and faster action for the services they’re choosing. Changes in Customer Behaviour With customers getting so used to getting all of their tasks done instantly and in a few clicks, BFSIs are lagging in adopting such efficiencies in their customer engagement models. As a result of such fundamental changes in customer expectations from the industry, we’re now witnessing alarming statistics in customer acquisition rates as experienced by banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, and BFSIs that are trying to shift their processes to a digital framework: 51% of customers drop off from their onboarding journey with a bank due to the length of the process. 46% of customers leave their applications midway because the user interface is not friendly enough to proceed. 41% of those who start the process digitally never return if they log out or if the sign-up process is too long and requires too much information. In addition to changing customers’ tolerance levels towards their banks, such variables contribute largely in showing BFSIs that they have a lot of catching up to deliver the differentiated experiences that their customers have already become so used to receiving from interacting with other non-financial services. The Industry Perspective on Digital Experiences When we look at financial institutions and BFSIs as a whole, it’s no news that it’s a heavily regulated industry. While that in itself is not a challenge, their use of decades-old practices, processes, and financial softwares is still being followed. Such institutions have never viewed it as a customer journey but rather a journey that happens internally within the bank and involves the customer’s file to move physically from one department to another. In simply trying to make such a process seamless and convert it into a frictionless onboarding journey for the customer, many issues come to the fore. Organizational Challenges Before looking at how financial institutions could begin to address these bottlenecks, we need to consider some of the grave organizational challenges that exist as well: Disconnect at the first touchpoint Whether the customer’s first touchpoint is a website or app, in the case of a digital channel, or to visit the bank and talk to a teller for non-digital channels, this is where most of the disconnect happens. Systems failing to cope up with expectations On a system level, the challenge remains to cope with increasing customer expectations, be it an internal system or a legacy system with the customer. Old and outdated processes The fact also remains that the processes and financial softwares adopted by these institutions are simply too old to convert and involve too many layers in pushing the customer’s application from one place to another. The true picture that this paints for financial institutions is that of struggle: breaking the numerous silos, being unable to implement automation, and using non-modular technology, rather than using modern technologies like banking softwares that offer convenience in accordance with the current needs in the digital world. That being said, one sliver of hope we’ve seen in the last three to four years is that the right technologies have become available to remove nearly all such hurdles. With such technologies at hand, processes like identity verification and document scanning and organization can all be reduced to a matter of a few seconds and done purely digitally rather than taking days and manual interaction with people. This is where successful institutions are now setting themselves apart, and the reason why achieving the optimal customer onboarding experience has become more critical than ever before. How Banks Can Address the Challenges Most banks resorted to addressing the digital shift by taking the same system and flow of process and creating an online facsimile of it. With research showing us that 85% of customers drop off between clicking on an ad to starting their application online, it’s evident that these ways aren’t working. We see such high drop-off rates because the customer onboarding process isn’t being adapted to digital, rather just shifted to it. Even if financial institutions didn’t – or didn’t need to – think about these earlier, certain factors are unique to a digital journey and need to be taken into consideration: Capturing the customer as soon as they come in How can the institution position the journey and capture customer information so that even if the customer drops off, they can be contacted again to help move their application forward? A lot of organizations are rewarding customers to return and complete their journey, an incentive that is doing wonders in the way of new customer acquisitions. Upgrading to new systems Most core banking softwares are quite archaic and need upgrading, and to run a digital workflow, institutions will need new systems rather than relying on the same old financial softwares. Speeding up the process With digital experiences, the pace of action is one of the most critical factors, and the question becomes of how fast banks can get the customer in and through the system and convert them into revenue-generating customers. The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Digital Onboarding - The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Understanding that the customer journey cannot remain in the background anymore needs to be prioritized above all else. From an organizational point of view, it can be broken down into five stages: Acquisition of Data Whether customers fill-up the form themselves or their information comes from third-party portals, capturing their documents and organizing them in as little time and clicks as possible is the first stage. Verification Is the customer who they say they are? Depending on the product offered, there are different Know Your Customer (KYC) regulatory requirements. Risk Assessment Once customer information is verified, an automated risk adjudication process is conducted. Payments Are customers paying directly, or are payments integrated with third-party payment providers? Provision of the Service The customers are issued a digital card to add to their Apple or Google wallets to get started with using the service as soon as they sign up. Interestingly, from the first to the last stage, this entire journey can be 100% automated, without human intervention, and in most cases done almost instantaneously. The experience needs to be easy, fast, and frictionless. In 5-minutes, a customer can and should be able to activate their account, with a digital card added to their device, all without ever having to set foot into a branch. Takeaway Every organization hoping to enter the digital era needs to break from or evolve their traditional processes, and this, although harder, is especially important for financial institutions. The question is, how to create a solution that balances customer expectations and business objections; and it will be those who can most effectively achieve that, who will be the most successful in the future.

How Financial Institutions Can Exceed Customers’ Expectations

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Experiences that make you feel the same way regardless of where they happen – that’s what sets apart a business from a brand. Omnichannel experiences will continue to guide digital interactions that are: Faster More personalized Customer-driven And our experts show just how that can all be implemented. Bringing together their brand, design, and technology, this one-hour session about unravels implementing omnichannel experiences, the challenges that come with it, and the potential it will unlock for the future of digital businesses.

Omnichannel Experiences: Solving the Implementation Challenges

How to Create Frictionless Digital Onboarding in BFSI
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While the preference for digital channels isn’t diminishing, customers’ tolerance for long, complex sign up processes is, and that means financial institutions are now facing challenges like: Dropping customer sign ups Increasing cost of acquisition Rising cost of abandoning signup Fortunately, this can be fixed with faster, frictionless, and completely E2E digital onboarding, and you can discover how here. In this extremely insightful, one-hour session, BFSI experts Ghazanfar Ahmed (Director of Digital Innovation) and Danysh Hashmi (VP BFSI) let us in on exactly how banks, credit unions, and insurance brands can achieve a better Digital Onboarding experience for their customers. Join them as they discuss key industry drivers and market challenges, designing customer-driven experience, and the technology needed to support it all.

BFSI: How to Create Frictionless Digital Onboarding Experiences

Creating A Roadmap For Your Perfect Product
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Any experienced product developer will tell you that a bold vision and strategic planning are not enough to bring your envisioned product to life . That approach focuses too heavily on the destination; overlooking the critical journey of how to get there. And for that, we turn to a roadmap. A product roadmap is the bridge between your long-term goals and short-term struggles; and today, we’ll dive further into the concept of roadmapping and why it can take you on a journey to your next product. What is a Roadmap? Agile roadmap The concept of a roadmap is commonplace, especially if you’ve even been involved in a long road trip like the one from Toronto to Montreal depicted below. Note, it does not say a specific time of arrival; rather a window. That is because there are several stops along the way; and given any number of variables at those stops, it’s difficult to say with certainty how long each of those stops will take. After all, what if there’s a huge line for the bathroom? However, the roadmap does help answer some critical questions: Which is the fastest route? Will you stop along the way; and if so, where? How do you know you’re moving in the right direction? The prerequisite for gaining any benefit of a roadmap is a destination; and when talking about product development, that destination is the product. And the roadmap is how you ensure that journey ends up where it needs to be while addressing strategic objectives along the way. The Importance of Roadmaps for Product Development The same that applies to road trips apply to product development The value of a good roadmap applies equally to road trips as it does to product development. And while there are numerous frameworks for creating one, as long as it keeps you on course and gives you a better understanding of where you’re going and why. An incredible tool for implementing product strategy and aligning stakeholders on a shared vision; a product roadmap provides not only the journey the product will take but how that strategy will be executed, communicating the product’s evolution by mapping its major releases onto a timeline. Roadmapping in Action That’s exactly what was done for our engagement with one of our clients. The client was in the process of executing an important digital transformation initiative when they began to voice some concerns: How would the journey look like, and how can we communicate to executives that the teams are moving in the right direction? How would the product evolve in the future? How would the three teams work together to deliver integrated business goals; what were their dependencies? Executives were unclear what the individual teams were trying to achieve, how much was done, and what was next What would be in the releases and when would they take place? Which release to focus on now and why? Which features to prioritize and what associated user stories to use for the first release What they were missing was a connection between the vision and execution, and the solution for that is nothing but a good roadmap to plan out its major releases. An exercise was done to identify the milestones along the way, and eventually, they were able to create their first roadmap in the following format. The items or business goals in these three columns were strategically placed to inform the team of the goals to focus on NOW and which ones to focus on later. This format helped them emphasize the order of things with business goals rather than their due dates. It also allowed product owners to prioritize features and associated user stories, which helped them to achieve the goals mentioned in the NOW column. Roadmap in Action Multiple sessions were conducted with all stakeholders, and we helped them understand the purpose of a roadmap that would help them overcome the challenges they had identified. After that, the following structure was produced. This structure identified the releases for the NOW column business objectives: releases for the NOW column The results of the roadmapping exercise above were as follows: Aligned the vision with business goals and objectives. Even though everyone already had this information, it was not presented in such a way that could be understood by all of them. Identified and agreed on the KPIs on the business objectives. Identified the features from all the teams involved (presented with different colors) to achieve those objectives. Identified what the journey will look like by mapping out releases. Identified which features need to be delivered for each release goal. Understood what the user stories are associated with the identified features for each release. Not all user stories needed to be considered for the release goal. Introduced goal-oriented thinking instead of just delivering outputs through user stories. By following the format of NOW, NEXT, LATER for the roadmap, the program could communicate better with the key stakeholders and was able to establish transparency. The roadmap was able to solve the challenges the client was facing and also help them identify what to focus on. Roadmapping During COVID-19 As mentioned before, the concept of road mapping is not only applied for product development or a road trip. It’s frequently used by governments as well. Here’s an example of what Ontario followed as part of the province reopening during the pandemic: The Roadmap to Reopen is a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. The plan is based on: The province-wide vaccination rate Improvements in key public health and healthcare indicators Creating A Roadmap For Your Perfect Product There is no specific date involved in the plan, but it does highlight goals to achieve. As the Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, clearly mentioned in one of his interviews: “Roadmap is a plan about how we are going to reopen the province, not when.” Build Your Own Roadmap It should be clear at this point how crucial a roadmap is for any serious product development effort. Which is why I want to leave you with exactly how to create your own:Identify and articulate product vision Identify business objectives/outcomes to achieve along with metrics Focus on goals and benefits, not on timelines Collaborate with all stakeholders for alignment Consider rough estimates to check the feasibility of the goal Review it regularly and adjust as required By creating a roadmap, you have better communication and easily identifiable goals that help you achieve the product you have envisioned.

Product Roadmapping: For Agile Planning & Product Development

Click to read "How Teams Can Connect Remotely"
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Now that the social experiment of working from home is over, how many of us can say we want to go back to work? For most organizations, replicating physical workspaces to the virtual landscape was not an easy task; in fact, it was one that came with a range of unforeseen challenges. But with virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and the latest inventions of modern technology, most of all Virtual Reality, organizations, both big and small, are able to not only manage their teams efficiently, but engage them in ways that can make remote collaboration all the more enjoyable. And just like everyone else, my colleagues and I have also had to find different ways and virtual tools to keep our team members engaged and inspired during the pandemic as we tackled remote collaborations with people we had never met before. We recently held a virtual talk in which we discussed the strategies that have enabled our teams to have successful remote collaborations in the new virtual reality. Remote Collaboration versus Regular Meetings Before we get into the virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and practices that can make your project successful, it is important to understand what the term ‘remote collaboration’ encompasses. This is the process of different teams working together, regardless of their geographic location. While the purpose and content are the same in both remote and regular meetings, the element of body language is missing in the former. In face-to-face meetings, you have the facility of being able to judge the body language of your peers. Not being able to fully gauge the response of your team members across the screen can affect work performance and company morale. While pre-pandemic collaborations would include face-to-face meetings, conferences, and workshops, remote collaborations consist of group chats for work projects, virtual interactive meetings and workshops, and virtual tools as well. In order to have a successful online collaboration, you need certain virtual tools that can help team members connect and also boost their innovative thinking, even in a virtual reality. So instead of having boring Zoom meetings in which at least one team member is likely dozing off, engaging the team in a much more interactive virtual activity, like an online workshop, can prove to be far more beneficial. Virtual Tools for Collaboration Workshops Collaborative workshops are the best way to brainstorm new ideas since they are more focused toward one specific topic or project. With every team member tending to one problem or project, you will have better outcomes. The word ‘workshop’ may sound daunting – but don’t be intimidated by it. You do not require big teams in order to have a fun and constructive workshop; it can be with as little as three people – even as you work in your new virtual reality of working from home. Workshops foster innovative thinking as they allow you and your team members to be more hands-on. It also allows for more visuals which can definitely make the entire process less snooze-inducing. Remote collaborative processes like workshops prompt your employees to be more vocal. Every single one of your workshop attendees will be required to participate in some way, so it is an effective way of improving communication between team members. This is especially so because a workshop offers the opportunity for everyone to be heard, as opposed to conventional meetings where only someone higher up in the company hierarchy, like the CEO, would be the loudest person in the room. With everyone participating, you can identify what each team member excels at so that you are playing with each other’s strengths. Virtual Tools Now that you know about the advantages of having a workshop, let’s talk about some virtual tools that will facilitate you in the process. These are some of the soft wares I have found useful for creating workshop boards on: Miro is a whiteboarding platform that allows various teams to work together for an online collaborative process. This virtual tool has a suite of features, from digital sticky notes and a Template library to a canvas that never runs out of space. The ability to integrate this with other platforms like Google and Jira to quickly export documents serves as an added benefit, making this one of the most efficient virtual tools for such remote collaboration. Mural is another virtual tool that allows you to have a seamless collaborative workshop online. You have visual communicative features like flowcharts, drawing, sticky notes, and some interactive tools like timer, voting, and celebrations. Google Jamboard is a user-friendly virtual tool, and the best part is that if you are using other Google Suite products like Google Sheets and Google Meet then you can just integrate the Jamboard with them. You can have up to 50 collaborators on Jamboard at one time, making it another valuable addition to the list of virtual tools we have at our disposal. Collaboration Strategies in Action Your Role as a Facilitator It’s important for you to think about the role you will play as the facilitator. It is a crucial job, one that can greatly determine the success of your virtual workshop. But don’t worry – I have some collaboration strategies for you that will help you shine in your role in this virtual reality we’ve found ourselves in. As a facilitator you must allow creativity to flow while maintaining the structure of the workshop. There are two aspects that you must keep in mind as you prepare for your workshop: Firstly, since you have to guide the workshop you must fully understand and convey to your audience that the purpose of the workshop is to dive deeper into the problem or topic that the workshop will be addressing, and it’s okay for participants to not have a high-level understanding of the topic. As the facilitator, it’s more important to answer questions and help everyone come out of the workshop with a better understanding of the topic and unveil the root of the problem being addressed. Secondly, you have to empathize with the people working with you. When I prepare my workshops I try to keep in mind that my team members are also nervous about taking on a remote collaborative process and will need me to keep them motivated and engaged through the process, as well as guide them on working with the virtual tools being used. Rules Give Your Collaboration Structure Even before the workshop starts you can connect with your virtual collaborative team by sending them an intro board that has the names of team members and the other details such as the mission and aim of the workshop. You can also include tips and shortcuts in this intro board, especially for those who are not familiar with the tools of a virtual workshop. This ensures you don’t waste time in the actual workshop trying to guide team members. A quick tip to achieve this is to send out a short 5-minute tutorial video that explains, with a practice board, how the tools are to be used. This helps participants get used to the tool that will be used in the workshop beforehand. It would also be helpful for you and your team members if you added the rules of the workshop. Here, I must emphasize on two rules: Stick to the topic, and Respect the time Stricter time management is required in virtual collaboration meetings; focus on these two rules so you don’t lose time or track of the meeting. Another rule that you should have for yourself is to encourage out of the box thinking and let your participants be expressive. Also keep in mind that sometimes there are stretches of silence as team members are thinking or working on something on their own. This can feel awkward for many but it is the facilitator’s responsibility to assure the team members that this silence is normal and not uncomfortable. What can help at this time is a playlist that can uplift the mood of collaborators – it might even help the creativity flow! The most important rule of all is that everyone in the workshop, including you, feels comfortable enough to share their ideas. Socializing is a Key Part of Remote Collaborations Once the rules have been laid out, don’t just jump straight to work. Remember, if your team members are awkward with each other, you won’t be able to foster any innovative thinking. Have some ice-breaking activities that will allow your team members, especially cross-functional ones, to get comfortable with each other. Not only do such sessions help with getting the participants familiarized with each other, but can also be done as a quick warm up exercise on the topic of the workshop before they begin. If your ice-breaker is based on the theme of the workshop, it’ll help get the conversation going. Team members can upload pictures of themselves, and play a game in which each of them writes a truth and a lie on a sticky note and lets the other team members guess which is which. If you really want to kick things off, you can also ask them questions, like giving them four different meal options and letting them choose what they would order by writing it on a sticky note, or ask them their favorite part about the topic to be discussed and asking them why they think so. Socializing done, let’s start the real work! First, set the goals and expected outcomes of your collaboration. This means establishing two points: Why are we here? What are we trying to achieve? Your collaborators should have all the information about the purpose of the workshop and with that, you need to ensure that the outsiders have complete context of the problem they are taking on with you. Once everyone has all the information, let the discussion flow. Remember, you have many virtual tools and features at your disposal so don’t hesitate to use them. Best Practices and Tips For Virtual Collaboration How Can You Improve? An important part of having workshops is receiving constructive feedback. My peers and I find that having a post-workshop survey allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. So use a survey to find out how your participants felt about your workshop. In the survey you can ask questions such as: Have you achieved the goals you had before coming to the workshop? What did you think of the time management/activity design? How was the facilitation? You can share the survey at the end of the workshop, when memories are fresh, and give them a few minutes’ time to fill them out. If you want honest feedback, ensure your participants that the surveys are anonymous. Playback Session Now the workshop may be over, but there is still some work left! We suggest you have a playback session. This allows the team to get back together for a second session and review the workshop results. The teams know exactly what work they have produced and if it matched the expectations or hypothesis they had set. You can also decide what the next steps are going to be. A playback session is another interactive way of ensuring that your team members are all on the same page with each other, so it will include a recap session in which you may include short clips or screenshots of the main discussion points of the workshop. A section on synthesis and key findings would allow everyone to discuss the details of the ideas produced in the workshop. Finally, you can organize the ideas into actionable items and then work towards what the next steps can be. The Future of Remote Collaboration The pandemic has forever changed how we work. Whether it is in offices or at schools, work from home will become more frequent, at least in a hybrid capacity if not completely. But the shift to virtual workspaces will continuously demand innovation of better ways to recreate human interactions and make them as comfortable and convenient as possible. With the introduction of 5G, virtual meetings, conferences, seminars, and workshops will run a lot smoother, with less lagging, call dropping, and other connectivity issues. One thing that I’m personally excited about is that many companies are looking into VR processes that will allow you to attend meetings virtually, either as an avatar or hologram. We may feel isolated right now, but technology is growing by leaps and bounds. With holograms and avatars, you could freely interact with new team members from any corner of the globe, and this is just one of the many advancements that prove to us that despite not being physically present at work, we do not have to do without the social elements of collaborating with each other.

Remote Collaboration For Successful Innovation

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While my career choices might make me appear biased, I truly believe that few practices will carry as much importance in the future as Service Design. In truth, service design isn’t new. However, as our world moves towards all things digital and finds that transition accelerated by historic and uncontrollable forces – like the pandemic – there has been a keener interest in what exactly service design has to offer. Much like the world had to evolve and transition to digital quite rapidly, so too did the practice of service design adapt and evolve to help architect and orchestrate that transition, or at least, many of the success stories. And seeing how at the heart of service design is incorporating a variety of perspectives, I’ve included a few of my peers’, taken from a virtual talk we shared, to show how service design can improve ever-evolving digital experiences by evolving alongside them. Changes in Service Design An Internal Perspective Service design is all about going out into the world and observing how people interact with services, gathering data and plotting the best course forward. And to address “the elephant in the room,” as Patrick Bach, Director of Service Design at CIBC, put it, research and the way it is conducted has been forced to change significantly. Ethnographic interviews are a great example, notes Patrick, something he and his team would historically conduct in-person, and in some cases even fly across the country for, have all had to shift to virtual. He admits that while many elements do translate well to a Zoom call, getting to the heart of research questions isn’t without its challenges. Virtual poses many obstacles, especially to participatory and activity-based research, while the lack of a traditional conference room setting has forced teams to reimagine how they collaborate and co-create. “One of the ways we’ve adapted is around how we communicate. So it used to be these very physical walkthroughs; we would print things over large sheets of paper and get everyone to walk around, annotate, and reflect. In the virtual world, we’ve been embracing the format of video, so instead of creating a journey map or service blueprint, we’ve been converting those things into something more portable, repeatable, and reusable.” I couldn’t agree more with Patrick, and will come back to this point later. An External Perspective Video does allow for many opportunities for collaboration and connection; however, not everyone is so quick to embrace it. “Let’s take observational research, for example,” says Judy Mellet, Director of Service Design & Strategy at Telus Digital. “We are on a project where we try to observe what happens in an installation process in the home where a customer might be comfortable in some ways letting you into the house and observe them and they see you as perhaps somebody that may be able to support them through that process. They are less wanting to be observed over video, and it’s just a dynamic; they feel like they’re being watched.” Service design beckons professionals to dig deeper for ways to improve, revamp, and evolve how specific processes or activities are carried out. It proposes new and reimagined ways of achieving the same, if not better, results – and it appears organizations and enterprises are ready to embrace. Judy goes on to remark that evidence of this can be seen in how the nature of requests from businesses of service design are evolving. Rather than asking to fix one specific problem, the demands are more transformational, reimagining entire concepts or approaches. And to me, this is the real proof of its value – when applied to transformational initiatives. Growing Appeal of Human-Centred Design An interesting observation is that the pandemic pushed customers and stakeholders into becoming the end-users of a complex and broken system. Suddenly, everyone knew what it was like to be on the wrong end of a bad digital experience. So how do we fix it? The answer is human-centred design, and by putting it at the centre of all transformation projects, we’ll best be able to craft an experience that justifies the systemic journeys and buy-in processes that are becoming the norm of digital life. This has seen the demand for service design increase and, to echo Judy, so too have the project sizes, as organizations realize, in some cases the hard way, that their digital experiences simply weren’t good enough. Communication & Collaboration Adding to Patrick’s point earlier, professionals are now more driven to develop new digital tools to overcome their biggest problems, which couldn’t be more evident than in collaboration and communication. Virtual tools now complement physical walkthroughs otherwise conducted in more tangible ways. For instance, where experience mapping was previously being done on physical walls with location and size limitations, virtual walls are now being used that are more conducive to collaborative research and come with fewer physical restrictions. This is not to say that such virtual activities weren’t in play before the pandemic hit; rather, it’s their prevalence and adoption that have increased. Not only does everyone have to have access to them now, but being a part of such an environment has led to better and more efficient ways for everyone to play their part within an organization. Industry Impact & Opportunities Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals The role that service design can play in healthcare is just now being paid its due attention because workers are faced with challenges and questions unlike ever before. A new scale of awareness is now observed, with individuals partaking in conversations like which vaccines they can get, where they can get them from, and where they currently stand in the process. Such a level of individual engagement has opened up a large window of appreciation for service design principles and how they can be applied to solve all such concerns. Telecommunications & Banking Where driving sales and engagement with customers has always been a priority, sectors like banking and telecommunications were severely impacted as a result of the pandemic. Powerful, yes, but these industries driven by sales and customer engagement saw a massive disruption in their processes. Now, as offices and retail are reopening, we are seeing these industries finding some resistance in going back to the old ways and much value in staying on the course forced upon them. It appears much of the “quick patchwork” intended to tie us over is being revisited, refined, and will likely make an appearance (or at least some facsimile) in whatever the “new normal” turns out to be. Real Estate Another industry is real estate, where historically, physically visiting a property site was vital. Beyond virtual tools and walkthrough technologies, service design thinkers created completely new ways to translate physical interactions into immersive virtual journeys that took the customers from point A to point B via a seamless digital process. Why Service Design? It’s Adaptable & Malleable What makes service design so relevant and effective in today’s global landscape is its multifaceted nature. There are numerous service design methods, principles, and applications that can adapt to any given situation to the degree with which it is required. Rather than offering a single solution to a specific problem, service design takes up a problem-fit approach to really tackle challenges as they come along. It Breeds Innovation & Human-Connection Being applicable to a range of different projects makes service design a huge facilitator for innovation. It drives out-of-the-box thinking because it urges users to think along bigger lines for better solutions. And the value of service design is not going to fade away when and if we “go back to normal.” The new norm will be a different one, and service design has the potential to assist organizations with rethinking the best ways to design this new reality, keeping the people who will be living it at the forefront. Practically speaking, our own service design team comes in at the start of engagements, rethinking how the business is currently serving customers and the quality of the experiences being offered. It’s imperative to translate the context of the customer in such situations, but transferring the same level of empathy across all user testing channels is challenging. In my opinion, the onus is on service designers to augment themselves throughout the end-to-end process so that they can reimagine these experiences and prioritize human-centrism every step of the way. Take Away While I know I am not alone in this opinion, I’m doubtful we’ll ever go back to the way things used to be. Already, hybrid work models are being implemented, businesses are shifting and transforming to digital at an accelerated speed, and the demand for better digital experiences is increasing at an exponential rate. And it’s those reasons why service design is so largely at play now across the globe. It’s also why service design will continue to support the efforts of future-focused businesses in not only improving their digital experiences, but crafting them (and their organizations) in such a way that the interest and journey of all parties involved are best served.

Service Design: Improve and Evolve Experiences

Click to read Luca Maraschi "Scaling micro frontends blog
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Develop, test, and deploy pieces of the frontend independently Add, remove, or replace elements of the frontend without rebuilds Build the components of the frontend using different technologies Craft the truly omnichannel experiences customers demand You know why Micro Frontends are so appealing and what challenges they solve; and now, you can learn how to scale them. In this one-hour session, join Luca Maraschi, CTO of mobileLIVE as he shares how to create the elevated customer experiences that are driving revenue for Ikea, Starbucks, HelloFresh and more.

Scaling Micro Frontends: The Why and the How

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Toronto, ON – June 7, 2021 – mobileLIVE’s singular purpose to accelerate digital transformation has just gained momentum with the appointment of Luca Maraschi as their new Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, he will be responsible for architecting the technology roadmap for our clients, lending his deep expertise on cloud computing, distributed systems, designing platforms at scale, and for scale to provide a holistic framework for transformation. “Technology is far from being utilized as a real tool to leverage acceleration. In the short term, layering on more and more technology can solve the problems in front of you, but it also weighs you down, causing bigger ones all around you. Suppose your goal is agility, speed, and efficiency? It would be impossible to accomplish this through that approach. First, you need to reassess and reimagine your processes, remove points of friction, and realign your people and perspective for organizational, not just project efficiency.“ LUCA MARASCHI, CTO of mobileLIVE From his time as a Technology Leader advising Fortune 500 companies through their transformation journeys, inspiring hundreds of developers to create the next generation of platforms and products, and his reputation of removing complexity and replacing it with value that is felt by both user and organization as a whole proceeds him. As an active contributor to numerous developer communities and author of several open-source tools, the proof of what he can do is all around him. “I met Luca several years ago and was instantly impressed not only with his technical knowledge but how he utilized his unique experiences to approach challenges with simplicity and efficiency in the forefront,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “When I discovered such alignment between his approach and our own, I knew he was the person to lead our technology teams and drive the transformational efforts of our clients.”

Luca Maraschi Named New CTO at mobileLIVE

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If you are looking to launch a device in Canada, whether it’s IoT, a tracker, wearable, 5G, mobile – whatever, you’re going to want to have it tested and certified first. And in this 30-minute video, you can learn how having the most common questions answered, including: Where do I start, and should I do it alone? What tools do I need, and what’s the end-to-end process? How long does it take, and what does it cost? What type of certification do I need, and what comes next? And more! The mobileLIVE Device Certification & Testing Lab professionals have been helping Fortune 500 brands and SMBs launch their products in Canada with certification, testing, and team augmentation for more than 10-years. And in this video, they will show you precisely what you need to get your device certified and launched in Canada.

How to Certify IOT, Wearables & Mobile Devices for the Canadian Market

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Despite a challenging year felt across the globe, the company maintained its drive, culture, and future vision. Toronto, ON – May 5, 2021 – mobileLIVE is being recognized for its commitment to strategy, culture, innovation, and sustained growth, earning Deloitte’s Canada Best Managed Companies for a fifth, and perhaps, most memorable, year in a row. “The entire world felt the impact of the pandemic, and we were not immune. It was challenging, but being an agile organization by nature with digital in our DNA, we were able to pivot quickly,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Good planning, clear and communicated strategy, and a resilient culture helped us respond, not react to events as they unfolded. That is why maintaining this designation is something not only myself, but our entire organization is proud of and will continue to strive for.” Going into its 28th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is the country’s leading business awards program, recognizing excellence in Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues exceeding $25 million. These companies are judge across 4 pillars, including: Strategy & Execution Culture & Commitment Capabilities & Innovation Governance & Financials “This past year has posed numerous challenges for Canadian business and has touched each and everyone in some form or another – including this year’s Best Manage Winners,” said Kari Lockhart, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “They should be extremely proud of this designation and use it as a catalyst to continue the work they do each and every day. Their unwavering commitment to their people, and their adaptability amid a year of turmoil, have led them to this achievement and it mustn’t go unnoticed.“ Each year, several sponsors join Deloitte in celebrating Canadian Business, among which is CIBC. “CIBC is especially proud to celebrate and recognize the winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in what has been a very challenging year,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking. “The companies had to make tough decisions, adapt quickly to a new environment and most importantly, continue to innovate and invest for the future.” About Canada’s Best Managed Companies Canada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for privately held Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $25 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices. For further information, visit http://www.bestmanagedcompanies.ca

mobileLIVE Named Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the Fifth Consecutive Year

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Replace manual & scripted testing with automation Drastically reduce the cost of running multiple tests Test across multiple machines and interfaces Quickly detect system or product defects Reduce time while improving customer experience This is what the democratized future of QA and Software Testing looks with Model-Based Test Automation, and in this 30-minute video, you’ll discover not only how to accomplish the above, but why you’ll need to if you are still relying on traditional testing methods.

Model-Based Test Automation: Bigger, Better, & Faster QA

service-design
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Service design has changed, and so have the men and women who practice it. That’s because they’ve had to adapt; they’ve had to evolve in order to overcome Bad Digital Experiences. Fortunately, we’ve assembled some heroes to discuss where this discipline is having the greatest impact on business and the changing needs of the people it serves. Judy‌ ‌Mellet‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Service‌ ‌Design‌ ‌&‌ ‌Strategy‌ ‌@‌ ‌Telus‌ ‌Digital‌‌ Uzair‌ ‌Sukhera‌‌ -‌ ‌Sr.‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Product‌ ‌&‌ ‌Design‌ ‌@‌ ‌mobileLIVE‌ Andrea‌ ‌Guertin‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Vice‌ ‌President,‌ ‌Design‌ ‌Strategy‌ ‌@‌ ‌Bridgeable‌ Patrick‌ ‌Bach‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Director,‌ ‌Service‌ ‌Design‌ ‌@‌ ‌CIBC‌

Can Service Design Save the Day?!

mobileLIVE donates $100,000 to help Trillium Health Partners
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The company is lending its digital expertise to help usher in the future of health care. Mississauga, On (March 11, 2021) – mobileLIVE is gifting Trillium Health Partners (THP) more than $100,000 to help create a new kind of health care for a healthier community. The gift includes $35,000 for the future redevelopment and expansion of Mississauga Hospital and $75,000 worth of professional IT services over the next five years. Increasingly, it has become the responsibility of enterprises to contribute to the reimagining and creation of a better world, and mobileLIVE believes that supporting our health care system and workers is integral to a thriving, resilient community. “There is a growing need in our community, especially among our most vulnerable,” says Jahan Ali, Founder & CEO of mobileLIVE. “Social responsibility is one of our cornerstones since inception, and the last year has only reignited our commitment to meet that need. With THP, in addition to making a financial contribution, we wanted to make a tangible impact by engaging our talented team to support THP with IT services.” THP already has an embedded culture of innovation. This partnership will accelerate and enable the advancing transformation through technology and expertise. “Now is the time to rethink health care and hospitals to create a more complete, equitable, inclusive and efficient system for our community of patients and their families. The opportunity to leverage the expertise of mobileLIVE is a way to accelerate success and we are so grateful for their partnership and support,” says Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Trillium Health Partners Foundation.

mobileLIVE donates $100,000 To Trillium Health Partners

Watch webinar on "Connect, Collaborate & Innovate Remotely"
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Workshops and team collaboration have always been beneficial: View problems from different perspectives Get to the root of the problem Encourages creative problem solving and innovative thinking Keep teams focused on outcomes Increased accountability and investment Immediate, more tangible and actionable output There fun So how do we replicate all of that living in a predominantly virtual world? You’re about to find out. Learn how to reignite innovation, reconnect with your teams, and get from problem to solution faster, even when working remotely. Created to help enterprises overcome some of the challenges their teams are presently facing, this session will cover. The fundamentals of Remote Collaboration Why it’s critical for teams working remotely The best tools to connect and collaborate Strategies & Best Practices that drive participation The Future of Remote Collaboration And more

Virtual Tools & Strategies For Successful Remote Collaboration

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Whether talking about native, mobile web, or hybrid applications and regardless if your project is iOS or Android, Appium is the most popular open-source framework for mobile application testing – and it’s easy to see why. And because of that, we’re going to talk about something else. Everyone knows that Appium is great, but what I’ve noticed is this common knowledge has resulted in more and more people turning to it in blind faith, without fully understanding how to get the results that made it so appealing in the first place. I want to fix that with these: Test using a Cloud Platform Device Selection & Fragmentation Using one script for both OSs Android and iOS If you are looking for efficient and cost-effective mobile automation, these not always followed best practices are critical. Those three best practices are what you have to do. Now, I’ll take you through how and why you should. Test Using a Cloud Platform – A Change in Mindset Most mobile application automation is done using a local setup where you have a mobile device connected to a laptop executing the tests, typically in an office where single or, multiple stations are set up as illustrated below. However, as everyone knows, typical is not what you would use to describe our current reality. And for many if not most predominantly working remotely, a new set of challenges arise: Setting up Appium can be tedious and time-consuming, especially for iOS. Devices cannot be maintained in a lab-style environment from home as devices need to be periodically reset. Loss of network connectivity or downtime within the office cause additional delay and hassle. Reliance on remote viewing of the devices can be slow and inefficient. The limited breadth of testing and coverage due to not being able to test on many different devices using the local machine. Testing bottlenecks – because you can’t execute everything on your laptop. Setting up parallel execution requires effort. And this was just off the top of my head! These challenges aren’t feasible given our current remote work environment. So what do you do? You write your scripts on your laptop and execute them without worrying about setup, bottlenecks, or limited breadth of testing. And to do that, you need cloud-hosted environments like Saucelabs, Experitest, Perfecto and others. Personally, I prefer Saucelabs and Exepritest. Here are a few reasons why: They offer a large cloud for continuous testing with the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for mobile devices. Highly scalable platform for increased parallel execution, decreased execution time, and elimination of bottlenecks. Provides complete transparency on your testing efficiency using videos, screenshots, logs and full analytics to determine where gaps may exist. Using an integrated development platform makes Appium automation even easier by directly executing Appium tests from Eclipse & IntelliJ, using embedded simple editors and detailed views. Offers hybrid support that connects to a local or remote device and uses the device’s reflection for instant visual feedback on device behaviour. Use Object Spy, object repository and XPath identifiers to automate complex scenarios. Modify tests and create a complete, robust automated mobile testing project (Experitest). Advanced automation capabilities to increase coverage. Test advanced use case scenarios such as barcode and check scanning, audio features, GPS simulation, 3rd party applications (Facebook, maps, e-commerce, etc.) TouchID, or customized elements such as sliders, pickers, tables, gestures, and more. While I am not a salesperson, this is usually the part of the conversion where the cost comes up for this setup. Local Setup vs Cloud Platforms Testing for 6 months on 12 real devices Local Setup costs are Device Cost (one time) – $800/device x 12 devices and 2-4 Laptops (2 Mac, 2 Windows) is equal to $12,600 and Cloud-Hosted Devices costs are License cost – $999 for (4 concurrent tests per month) for 6 months and One laptop is equal to $6,700 You can see that the cost for doing six months of testing on 12 real devices using a local setup is double the cloud’s cost. Why would you pay more to make your life more difficult? It’s clear that Appium automation on cloud platforms is the way as we advance. Choosing your devices for testing effectively While the abundance of device options is great for consumers, this fragmentation is a major headache for developers and testers. Currently, we have two main OSs for mobile phones, Android and iOS, which seems simple enough until you account for the different models, makes, and versions – especially for Android. It’s not feasible from a time and resource perspective to test all the combinations. This is why device selection is so critical, and here are some steps to help you narrow down your choices: 1. Visit the following https://gs.statcounter.com/ to get the latest mobile phone stats. 2. Get the mobile device market share, e.g for Canada: It means that in Canada 50% of people use Apple and the rest use Android devices. It also tells you which devices are mostly used. From the list, select the top 4 devices. 3. Android OS share. Android(10.0 10) 49.9% Android(9.0 Pie) 21.32% Android(8.0 Oreo) 9.05% Android(7.0 Nougat) 4.96% Android(7.1 Nougat) 3.81% Android(8.1 Oreo) 3.54% 4. IOS share iOS 13.6 34.24% iOS 13.1 26.17% iOS 12.4 9.52% iOS 14.0 8.78% iOS 13.5 5.32% iOS 13.3 3.03% 5. Resolution Share (1920x1080) 11.79% (1366x768) 8.17% (768x624) 6.73% (375x667) 5.91% (414x896) 5.72% (1440x900) 4.45%. Screen Resolution Stats in Canada - September 2020 Based on the information that is available, you can narrow down your list and create the best feasible combination of make, OS, and version. One Script / 2 OSs There are many ways to write efficient test scripts. Most engineers follow page models by default which is a good thing. But how do you create one automation script that will work on both Android and IOS? A properly developed application’s behaviour and logic are usually the same on both Android and IOS. There is no point in doubling the work by duplicating the business logic and developing two scripts, one for Android and one for iOS. Here is how you can tackle the problem at hand. The following screenshot shows an example of a unified Appium test to calculate restaurant bill. For a unified test to work on both Android and iOS, the following must be done. 1. The Appium tests need to instantiate the appropriate driver based on the configuration. 2. Use page factory methods to define elements for both OSs and for each page of the application. The annotations AndroidFindBy and iOSFIndBy will help pick the right element based on what OS the test is running automatically. 3. Create methods to implement the test steps. The following method will click on the button to calculate the tip. 4. Call the page methods from the test class to complete the test case. Take Away The world we live in has changed and the way we work and the way we test has to adapt. The key is to develop and perform testing with efficiency in the forefront, trying to avoid duplicate efforts and unnecessary costs – that is exactly what the above was intended to do. Hopefully, after this, you be more efficient, more effective, and better equipped to perform automated testing of mobile applications in whatever your new setting is and with the highest ROI possible.

3 Things Every Appium Developer Should Do For Mobile App Testing

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In response to physical distancing, capacity restrictions, and unpleasant customer experiences, Stand-in is an app designed to regulate the flow of people going inside of a business, so there isn’t a line outside. Toronto: December 3, 2020 – Today, mobileLIVE has officially released Stand-in, an application designed to help businesses and customers navigate the new normal of physical distancing and capacity restrictions. Conceived after an unpleasant experience lined up outside of a big retailer and in anticipation for the cold winter ahead, Stand-in is a line-management system that ensures businesses can safely reach and maintain capacity restrictions inside without causing overcrowding or unsafe lines outside. “Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine having to wait in line to buy fruit at the grocery store, let alone 45 minutes,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “But after that experience, seeing how inefficient and unenjoyable it was despite the increased staff, I knew we had to do something that would help these businesses operate safely. Nobody should be left out in the cold.” Stand-in offers a more comfortable and safer retail experience, focusing on helping businesses that have already suffered many recent hardships. After registering the business and its locations, customers can join a “virtual queue” from anywhere, providing them with their position in the queue and estimated wait time. When it’s their turn, they will be notified in advance and given the fastest route to get to the business. They will be automatically checked-in and out, all while providing real-time foot traffic data of customers to the business. Stand-in is entirely self-serve and requires no expensive hardware other than a smartphone. It can even work if people don’t have the application. Stand-in is free for both businesses and customers and is available now for iOS and Android devices.

Introducing Stand-in

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Do you feel that your technology teams are not living up to the expectations for your Digital Transformation? Do you find technology to be a significant bottleneck in the rollout of your next-generation experiences? Does it take months to roll out new features and capabilities from concept to market? Do you believe that your API platforms fuel your business growth or create a hindrance in your vision for future growth? Can your cloud support the immediate demands of the market efficiently and effectively? Have you seen tangible results from your cloud transformation yet? If any of this sounds familiar and you’d rather it be a past problem and not a present one, then you’re in luck. Watch Uzair Sukhera (Director of Design & Innovation) and special guest Luca Marashi (VP of Engineering @ CTO.ai) as they discuss how to tackle these challenges and accelerate your digital transformation by simplifying your technology.

How to Simplify Technology & Accelerate Digital Transformation

Watch Design Thinking Video Abstract to Concrete
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Discover a framework that takes your ideas from Abstract to Concrete and into the hands of your users. One that gives you better design through collaboration and less risk by testing your business hypothesis with your users. Why would you want to create a product any other way?

Design Thinking: Taking you from Abstract to Concrete

Watch the Design Systems for better, faster, and cheaper development video
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There is undeniable value in a Design System; just look at what we titled this webinar. However, looking again at that title, you may notice something – the word Development. Despite how beloved Design Systems are by Designers, they are not the only recipient of its value. Implementing and benefiting from Design Systems hinges on the heavy lifting from Development teams. And in this webinar, you’ll learn not only how to mitigate challenges but: How Design Systems improve user experience, especially for multi-branded experiences The benefits of developing reusable UI blocks (hint: it’s time, effort and cost) How Design & Dev collaboration improves output & delivery Utilizing a common design language between Design & Dev Effective collaboration between Design, Dev, QA, and more! Quantifying the benefits over conventional development methods Setting & scaling your design system across the organization And more!

Design Systems: Better Development, Faster, and for Less

Watch the Them Switcher demo
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Theme Switcher is a Figma Plugin that allows designers to shift between multi-brand themes effortlessly. Intrigued? You should be. By designers, for designers, this plugin improves workflow and reduces the time spent on projects by 25%. Once downloaded, easily: Switch between multiple style sets Sync from Local Styles Apply Colour Themes With no external platform required, and all in less than three clicks. In this short demo video, you’ll discover what Theme Switcher offers; including, how to create naming conventions for brand themes, how to turn those into Local Styles, and more.

Theme Switcher Demo: How designers can use this workflow plugin

Watch the DesignOps discussion video
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As an organization, as a team, and even just as a designer, how do you: Create productive & efficient workflows? Find the right talent with the rights skills? Grow & strengthen your design teams? Improve the value and quality of your work? The answer to all of the above is DesignOps. And if you have questions then this webinar and its expert panel will likely answer them all and more.

Demystifying DesignOps: From Theory to Practice

Watch the Design Thinking Delivering Value webinar video
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Today’s reality is one of accelerated product lifecycles, competitive pressure on a global scale, rapidly changing technology, and an ever-growing number of market segments all demanding their own unique experiences. That is, until tomorrow, when the demand shifts yet again. So how do you succeed in a world of constant change? In this session, you’ll discover how to: Organize a culture that drives meaningful outcomes Empower your people with autonomy Shift towards Human-Centred Delivery Manage the end-to-end value creation process Centralize services and self-serve platforms And more!

Delivering Value in the Age of Constant Change

Watch the Design Systems webinar recording
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Most major brands and product companies have already adopted Design Systems and for a good reason. Good design results from good design practices and few bring as much efficiency, consistency, and organizational value as a well-implemented and utilized Design System. This session was created to give a candid view of Design Systems in action, with a particular focus on small to mid-sized and legacy organizations. Addressing everything from design and developer collaboration to garnering stakeholder buy-in, and spanning the theoretical to the practical, you’ll discover not only the “Who, What, Why, and How” of Design Systems, but also our own unique and straightforward framework for successfully creating one. In this webinar, we answer: What is a Design System, and why you’d want one? How do you successfully build them, and who should be involved? What are their key components? How do you use and maintain one? Open Source vs Design System? And more!

Design Systems: Creation, Application, and Value

Watch the Who Should Own Microservices discussion video
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To better understand Microservices, you need the perspective of the developers who create them and the business side that drives them. You need men and women who haven’t just read about them, or work with them in isolation but have had their boots on the ground at a variety of client locations, on dozens and dozens of projects, that span multiple industries and verticals, and have driven successful outcomes. So we gathered those people up and recorded them!

An Open Discussion: “Who should own Microservices?”

Watch the AODA Digital Accessibility and the Law Webinar
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The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) means that all public and private sector organizations with 50+ employees must make web content accessible to WCAG 2.0 AA standards. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $100,000/day. But what does it mean or take to be AODA compliant? See for yourself in this webinar as we take you through: An overview of AODA regulations and requirements Give advice on accessibility testing techniques to ensure your website meets WCAG standards and is AODA compliant Tell you how you can make the business case for accessibility at your organization

AODA Regulations in 2021: Digital Accessibility and Compliance

Watch the Business Continuity webinar recording
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Discover a solution adopted from large enterprises’ playbook and specially adapted for small to medium-sized businesses. Learn how to leverage the cloud to keep your teams communicating and collaborating anywhere, guaranteeing uninterrupted operations and service during a crisis while: Generating revenue Future-proofing your business Lowering operational expenditures Empowering remote work Scaling and growing with your business No segment has been harder hit by recent events like SMBs. That is why we would like to make ourselves available to answer any of your questions about the cloud, future-proofing your operations, or moving forward in our new post-pandemic reality. Request your FREE 1:1 consultation with one of our experts today to learn more.

How Small & Medium Sized Companies can Future-proof their Businesses

Watch the Design Thinking 5G webinar video
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Watch as we discuss the possibilities and potential around the new business models and exciting experiences that 5G has the ability to create for consumers, for business, and society at large. Retail, entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, and more; it’s no longer a matter of how 5G will revolutionize these industries, but when. And that is up to us. Stop imaging. Start doing.

5G Technology, Business Models, and Experiences of the Future

What Design Thinking Chaos to Clarity Video
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Recent events have shown all of us just how quickly the world can slip into chaos and confusion. But that “chaos” isn’t limited to a worldwide pandemic. It happens in varying degrees in our day to day lives. However, despite the chaos, whether global or professional, a business must keep moving forward. Customers still have problems that need to be solved, and your ideas still have the potential to solve them – that is if you can take them from concept to fruition. Watch and discover our framework for cutting through the chaos, and going from the problem space to rollout; getting your MVP where it belongs – in the hands of your customers.

Design Thinking: How To Shift Seamlessly From Chaos to Clarity

Watch HyperAutomation discussion video
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Discover HyperAutomation – the intersection of RPA, Test Automation, and AI – as we showcase how to successfully automate your E2E environment and drive ROI. This is a live recording featuring Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO of mobileLIVE, Noel Kirthiraj, CEO of UXPLORE, and Ragavan Balasubramaniam, Test Automaton Manager of mobileLIVE. It was hosted and moderated by Crina Bildea, Director of Sales.

HyperAutomation: Overcoming E2E Complexity

Watch the multi-cloud implementation video chat recording
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For your convenience, here is the full transcript of the Q&A between Naresh Babu – Director, Engagement Practice and Uzi Murad – Account Executive. Uzi Murad: Hello and welcome, I’m Uzi Murad and here with me today is Naresh Babu, head of strategy and architecture at mobileLIVE. Hey Naresh. Naresh Babu: Hi Uzi. Uzi: These days we see more and more enterprises adopting Multi-Cloud strategy. In fact, a recent survey by IBM showed that about 85% of executives are saying that they’re already running Multi-Cloud, or will be moving there within the next three years. So what we want to understand today is what’s driving organizations to the Multi-cloud strategy, and what are some of the challenges they are facing. But before we dive into the details there, Naresh, can you explain what we mean by Multi-Cloud? Naresh: Yeah. A Multi-Cloud strategy is just utilizing, I would say, two or more public or private clouds, for example, let’s say, you are utilizing AWS or GCP, or Azure and AWS, we can call it as a Multi-Cloud. Uzi: I see. And is that strategy a good fit for any type of enterprise? Naresh: So I would say Multi-Cloud strategy is a right fit for larger enterprises, because of the cost and complexity of running and maintaining it. For small to medium organizations, I would recommend Hybrid Cloud as the option. Uzi: And what does Hybrid Cloud mean? Naresh: Yeah. So, when you are running a local data center, and then you’re extending some services or a replication of that into a public cloud, you can call that as a Hybrid cloud. But there is terminology, something like Hybrid-Multi Cloud where there is a local data centre as well as more than two or three public clouds. So the combination of that is called Hybrid-Multi Cloud. Uzi: I see. So, definitely doesn’t sound trivial, I wonder what’s driving so many enterprises in that direction. I know many of them have the dual vendor strategy, they want increased competition, keep the cost down, but is that really what it’s all about? Naresh: Yeah. I would say yes. There are multiple drivers for the organizations and from my perspective, I would say it’s really the flexibility for picking the services, one versus the other. Let’s say for example, if you are in AWS and Azure, is AWS Lambda better versus Azure Functions? Or the second aspect I would say, is from the security aspect, where it’s very hard to bring down a Multi-Cloud environment using a denial-of-service-attack or DDOS attack, I would say. And the third aspect, I would say is data recovery or disaster recovery where you can create the most reliable architecture which can reduce a single point failure as well. Uzi: So I’m hearing: ability to do best of breed, improve the security, and finally disaster recovery and availability. Naresh: I would say, yes, yep. Uzi: So what are some of the top challenges that we are facing when implementing Multi-Cloud strategy? Naresh: Yes, so, when it comes to any new technologies, there are a lot of challenges. So when you talk about Multi-Cloud, i would say it’s still evolving, and organizations are already into it, but one of the key challenges is that there is no industry standard in terms of giving architecture guidelines or principles or best practices to be implemented. There are not many tools in the market that can help support or monitor the Multi-Cloud environment. And when it comes to provisioning, deploying and testing of it, you don’t see much tools as well. So from an application standpoint, I would say, one of the problems is identity brokering in the Multi-cloud environment, where each service provider might use their application to identify the request and response. Uzi: I see. So you mentioned identity brokering, what do you mean by that? Naresh: Yes. So let me give you an example. So when you are running an application for example in a local data centre, which has typically been authenticated by an active directory, and this has to contact or receive some information from your AWS file system, let’s say for example. AWS, on the other hand, uses IM service, which is identity management service to authenticate any request that is coming in. So how do you translate an AD token or AD authentication to automatically authenticate in AWS is called identity brokering. Uzi: I see. So what would be your recommendation to enterprises that are implementing the Multi-Cloud strategy? Naresh: Yeah. So I would say I can see in the industry there is a new adoption, it’s called infrastructure as code, which is one of the ways that you can convert doing admin tasks in terms of, from provisioning, to deploying, configuring, testing the virtual machines, creating containers, deploying containers, creating serviceless functions, deploying them: all of that can be considered as a code and this code can be run by anybody. Which typically what I’m trying to explain is an automated CI/CD pipeline spanned across a Multi-Cloud environment. Uzi: You mentioned tools, you said there are not too many tools out there. So are there any tools, and can they do the Multi-Cloud management? Naresh: Yeah, so, I’ve come across very few tools in terms of Multi-Cloud management, one would be Flexera, the other one would be Embotics, so I would say they are somewhere closer in terms of managing Multi-Cloud environments. And then there is another tool which again is being more famous is IBM Cloudpark, and people are mostly using it for data insights. And I’m thinking that if we can use, there is a tool called Terraform, if you can combine Terraform with Ensemble, which can act as a great IT automation tool, that can automate most of the IT tasks in terms of public as well as private cloud. I would say there is still a huge demand from enterprises to come up with a holistic platform that can allocate the workload strategy, at the same time managing the business containers in this hybrid Multi-Cloud environment. Still we have yet to see a unified tool that would act as a unified management platform. Uzi: So that unified infrastructure management tool, that’s what we really need? Naresh: I would say yes. Uzi: And do you see any of the major cloud providers coming out with this tool any time soon? Naresh: Yeah, why not right? I can see everyone is trying to get there, there’s a lot of third-party tools that are coming up. And definitely Azure and AWS have already implemented tools to have Hybrid Cloud management, and nothing is stopping from making a Multi-Cloud management platform, or unified infrastructure management platform. Uzi: Thank you Naresh and thanks everyone for joining us. Naresh: Thanks Uz

What’s Driving Large Enterprises to Multi-Cloud

Watch out Canadas Best Managed Companies Gold Standard award video
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It’s an honour to announce we have earned the distinguished designation of “The Gold Standard” from Deloitte Canada. It is awarded to Canada’s Best Managed Companies who excel in Strategy, Capability, Commitment, and Growth for four years in a row.

The Gold Standard of IT Managed Companies: Canada’s Best Managed

Watch Pakistani Professional Forum Video
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What does the future hold? Few know with much certainty. The only certainty of the future is it guarantees change. What won’t change, however, is our commitment to helping you succeed in that future – no matter what it brings.

Past, Present, and Future: Using Cloud, Data, Innovation, & More

Watch the Test Automation discussion video recording
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No matter the industry, and whatever the vertical, Test Automation is no longer optional for excellent customer experience – it’s mandatory. Discover how with our intuitive test automation services, great experiences and reduced OPEX don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Intuitive Test Automation for Brilliant Customer Experiences

Plaque honouring service to Richmond Hill and Ontario
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Richmond Hill, ON: The Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Reza Moridi, paid a visit to mobileLIVE headquarters in Richmond Hill, to learn and discuss the company’s innovation and research practices. Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE, along with other members of the leadership team welcomed him to the office. During the tour of the office facilities, Minister Moridi was made familiar with the innovation practices and disruptive products in the areas of digital transformation and artificial intelligence such as UXPLORE that are being designed, built, modified, and marketed from mobileLIVE’s ready repository. To commemorate the Minister’s presence and etch a memory, the leadership team along with CEO, presented a plaque to thank him for his bold vision, leadership, and contribution in the field of research and innovation in Richmond Hill and Ontario.

Minister of Research, Innovation and Science visits mobileLIVE HQ

Toronto Skyline
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Richmond Hill, ON: Despite the stagnant economy of the country, mobileLIVE, a Richmond Hill based technology company, has earned several recognitions from the industry stalwarts for its fast growth, innovative solutions, high client retentive power and timely delivery of services. Deloitte recently recognised the fastest growing companies in Canada as well as North America in their Technology Fast 50™ and Technology Fast 500™ programs. These companies were identified for their disruptive innovations and potential for continuous growth. mobileLIVE ranked 13th as the Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada on Deloitte Technology Fast 50™awards with a steady growth of 999 percent. The company also secured 119th position among the other Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Fast 500™. Also, interestingly, it is the 8th technology company from Ontario which had a steady growth despite the stagnant economy. Jahan Ali, the CEO of the company believes, “Our business is to ‘simplify everything’ for end-users through innovative solutions. This basically gives us the zeal to perform and deliver.” “Fast 50 companies are the cutting-edge innovators leading the technology industry in Canada,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada. “Their bold vision, unrivaled growth and true commitment to innovation allow them to not only improve today’s world, but also shape tomorrow’s.” mobileLIVE’s unmatched quality services, innovative technology solutions, helped the company to win the CAMSC “Supplier of the year” award. Ali dedicates the win to his people. “My people are my IP (Intellectual Property). It’s the team’s dedicated efforts that made us successful.” 83 percent of the CEOs in a Deloitte annual survey of Technology Fast 50 mentioned that an inclusive workplace is one of the top three strategic drivers of their company’s success.

Technology solutions firm wins accolades for remarkable growth

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 2016 Award logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE won the 13th position in the 19th annual Deloitte Technology Fast 50™awards for demonstrating bold innovation, dedicated leadership and strong growth. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program celebrates leaders in the Canadian technology industry and tracks the successful growth of Canadian-grown leaders. The program augments the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™ initiative with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking. “Fast 50 companies are the cutting-edge innovators leading the technology industry in Canada,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada. “Their bold vision, unrivalled growth and true commitment to innovation allow them to not only improve today’s world, but also shape tomorrow’s.” To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least four years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, conduct research and development activities in Canada and invest a minimum of five percent of gross revenues in R&D.

mobileLIVE ranks 13th Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 2016 Award logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE ranked 119th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. “Today, when every organization can be a tech company, the most effective businesses not only foster the courage to explore change, but also encourage creativity in using and applying existing assets in new ways, as resourcefully as possible,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada “This ingenious approach to innovation calls for the encouragement of curiosity and collaboration both within and outside the office walls.” Overall, 2016 Technology Fast 500 companies achieved revenue growth ranging from 121 percent to 66,661 percent from 2012 to 2015, with an average growth rate of 290 percent.

mobileLIVE ranked number 119th Fastest Growing Company in North America

plaque of recognition from the Mayor of Richmond Hill
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Richmond Hill, ON: The Mayor of Richmond Hill, His Worship Dave Barrow paid a visit to the mobileLIVE headquarters in Richmond Hill. The company CEO, Jahan Ali, along with the senior leadership team welcomed him and to the office. He was made familiar with the mobileLIVE office facilities as he toured along the office premises. The senior leadership team along with Jahan Ali, the CEO, handed him a plaque to commemorate the visit and thanking him for his vision, leadership, and commitment to making Richmond Hill a part of the largest technology cluster in Canada.

Mayor Dave Barrow visits mobileLIVE

Toronto Board of Trade Logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: The Toronto Board of Trade has declared mobileLIVE as a finalist for their Business Excellence Award – “Emerging Entrepreneur”. This award recognizes a business that has seen rapid innovation-driven growth achieved by disrupting the status quo to spark and influence the industry transformation.

mobileLIVE gets nominated finalist for “Emerging Entrepreneur”

2016 Startup 50 Canada's Top New Growth Companies award logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE secured 16th position in PROFITGuide’s Startup 50 for its entrepreneurial achievements. PROFITGuide, over the last 29 years has been commonly known for acknowledging Canada’s top Fastest Growing Companies on their revenue growth. “These companies promise to transform Canada’s economy through innovation and determination,” says James Cowan, Editor-in-chief of PROFITguide and Canadian Business. “Their stories of early success are truly inspiring.” This feat of excellence synced mobileLIVE with the elite community of Canada’s most successful, vibrant, and important businesses.

mobileLIVE ranks 16th among “Canada’s Top New Growth Companies”

Jahan Ali receiving company of the year award on stage
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE bagged the TechConnex Technology Leadership Award as the “Momentum Company of the Year” for continuous excellence in innovation and a commitment to the knowledge-based sector in the Greater Toronto Region. The award also recognized the zeal of the company in consistently reaching out to new customers or delivering new services within an existing customer framework, increasing revenues, adding employees, encouraging community involvement and embracing sound business fundamentals. TechConnex’s Technology Leadership Awards Gala & Showcase acknowledges the excellence amongst technology businesses and their achievement in one of five important categories of peers within the GTA Tech Ecosystem.

mobileLIVE wins the “Momentum Company of the Year” Award

Group on men in suites smiling on stage after receiving award
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE won the prestigious 2015 Ontario Business Achievement Award (OBAA) in the “SME Excellence category.” This year, over 100 businesses submitted their applications for an OBAA award and out of them, mobileLIVE‘s achievements were recognized. Hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), the OBAA is a unique event that showcses some of the province’s most successful businesses and the positive impact they have made on Ontario’s economy. For 33 years, the OBAAs have acknowledged and celebrated Ontario’s best in business – awarding organizations that personify integrity, hard work, innovation, entrepreneurship, and export excellence. Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE accepted the award from the sponsors RBC. Commenting on the success, Ali says “I certainly owe a big thank you to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for creating this wonderful opportunity and to my team who have made this possible. We are extremely proud of this recognition which will further fuel our quest for excellence.”

mobileLIVE won the prestigious “2015 Ontario Business Achievement Award”

obaa 2015 finalist logo on black background
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Richmond Hill, ON : The Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, recognized mobileLIVE for delivering Innovation, enhanced End User Experience and Service Excellence. The Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, is the most prestigious awards gala in the province with a single focus on celebrating business success. For over 30 years, businesses have been awarded OBAAs for their achievements in areas including sustainability, innovation, market expansion, and exporting. Only two finalists were selected in each category from this year’s pool. mobileLIVE is honoured to be one of these finalists and is exceptionally proud of this significant achievement. It is a testament to the quality of work provided by the highly talented and experienced team working at mobileLIVE. The awards are scheduled for Wednesday November 25, 2015 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

mobileLIVE is being recognized for delivering Innovation & Business Delivery Excellence

obaa 2015 finalist logo on black background
News

In the recently held, Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, mobileLIVE received some excellent words of appreciation from the various business leaders of the region for its excellent business service delivery and innovation led practices. “It’s a well-known fact that SMEs are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and mobileLIVE is no exception. By centralizing operations here in the province, this organization is actively creating jobs and stimulating our economy from their hometown of Richmond Hill.” – Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce “By harnessing the unlimited potential of modern technology, mobileLIVE is making their customers’ products more relevant, effective and user-friendly with their innovative services in a highly competitive marketplace.” – Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce “Finalists like mobileLIVE are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the internet. Congratulations to mobileLIVE, proud member of the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce, on being a finalist for the Ontario Business Achievement Award’s SME Excellence Award.” – Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Chair of the Board at the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce mobileLIVE thanks Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Business Achievement Awards Team for showering such inspiring words to the team. Jahan Ali, CEO, mobileLIVE concludes, “Create an experience beyond a product or a service and success will follow.”

What Ontario business leaders are saying about mobileLIVE

CAMSC logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Suppliers Council (CAMSC) presented mobileLIVE the 2016 Business Achievement Award, “Supplier of the year” for demonstrating growth in sales and employment; consistently providing high quality products and services at competitive pricing; offering innovative solutions; and significantly delivering greater benefits through growth and development to their community. On winning this award, mobileLIVE was offered a scholarship to participate in a Tuck MBE program sponsored by the General Motors. The company is proud to share the prestigious frame with other CASMC Business Achievement Award winners like E&Y (Ernst & Young), Triplewell Products, Sodexo, Stratus Plastics International, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), and BMO (Bank of Montreal).

mobileLIVE wins “Supplier of the Year” Award

News

Richmond Hill, ON – mobileLIVE is sponsoring charity JDRF via TELUS’ third annual Telecom Networking Event, to be held on June 12, 2014 at the Metro Convention Center, South Building. Event Detail: Join TELUS for our third annual Telecom Networking Event: Talking Tech in Healthcare TELUS will be hosting its third Telecom Networking Event which is all about connecting with the telecommunications community and connecting with reputable charities. Various executives of the telecommunications sector including senior executives from TELUS (Sales, Consumer and Business Marketing, Procurement, Technology, and Channel Operations) have supported this cause and have regularly attended in past years. It’s a great opportunity to network and connect with a variety of senior executives, all while contributing to a great cause. Some of the attendees we’re expecting from TELUS this year are: Peter Green, President and SVP, TELUS Business Solutions Lloyd Switzer, SVP, Tech Strategy Joe Goodbaum, President, TELUS Channels Michael Guerriere, Chief Medical Officer, TELUS Health Tony Krueck, VP, Business Products & Services Jim Senko, VP, SBS and Mobility Phil Moore, VP, Large Complex Deals Eric Fergin, VP, Supply Chain and Procurement Drazen Lalovic, VP, Market Planning Alfred Baghouzian, VP, Devices and Applications Tickets are on sale now for $20, which include snacks and complimentary beverages. A cash bar will also be available. All proceeds will go to JDRF and United Way. With your help, we can make the event an even bigger and better success than previous years. Time & Place Date: June 12, 2014 Time: 5:30 – 8:30 PM Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre ; 222 Bremner Boulevard; South Building Price: $20

mobileLIVE sponsors charity JDRF via TELUS’ third annual Telecom Networking Event

four phones and a thumb drive with Telus branding
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Markham, ON : mobileLIVE has signed an agreement with TELUS to perform its HSPA Device Certification Testing for the next 3 years. mobileLIVE has one of the best 3rd party state-of-the-art lab in Canada for smartphones and IoT that can test in any service provider environment. “Our lab can simulate satellite and any cellular networks worldwide eliminating the need to travel to test roaming and location-based services. We can also simulate 100+ different types of male and female voices and accents, various interference, and noisy conditions delimiting the time to travel to different places to test voice quality and performance, all inside our lab,” explains Jahan Ali, CEO, mobilelIVE. Ali adds, “It’s a big business development for us. And we appreciate the trust and confidence that the market has on us.”

TELUS has selected mobileLIVE to perform its end-to-end HSPA device testing for next 3 years

mobileLIVE surpasses the national average for women in tech
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Toronto: A recent report published by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship says women in Canada are under-represented in the Canadian technological workforce. In light of recent International Women’s Day and its theme “Balance for Better,” Canadian tech service provider mobileLIVE decided to showcase how they’ve been working towards a more balanced workforce. “We are a team of 300+ technical and non-technical roles, working together to accelerate digital transformation for our clients. It is undoubtedly a proud moment for us to say that 31% of our total team is women, and it is a well planned strategic move to enhance the representation of the female force in our teams” explains Aftab Ali, Head of Human Resources at mobileLIVE. The Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship explains women account for 20% of the tech workforce in comparison to their 80% male counterparts. Furthermore, the report also claims, “women participate at lower rates in tech, across all age groups.” In 2018, MaRS, Feminuity, and Fortay conducted a survey to examine diversity, inclusion and belonging in Toronto’s tech sector. Women in Toronto’s tech sector reported “lower levels of diversity, inclusion and belonging compared to men.” The report also highlighted that “women in Toronto’s tech sector also feel less engaged in decision-making processes at work.” “The average age of women at mobileLIVE is around 33, but we have a wide range,” affirms Aftab. “From GenZ to Millennials to Baby Boomers, with each excelling in their career trajectory. It is also worth noting that our leadership team comprises of 25% women, which sets a great balance within the organization.” At present, 28% of technical roles at mobileLIVE, including Software Developers, Business System Analysts, Data Scientists, Project Managers, Quality Assurance Engineers, Network Engineers, are held by women. On the other hand, 58% of the non-technical roles involving departments like Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, and Administration are held by women. From flexible work schedules, time off for childcare, exclusive shopping perks, health benefits, and a family-like culture, mobileLIVE continues to reaffirm their commitment in promoting equality and balance for women in the workplace and the world.

mobileLIVE surpasses the national average for women in tech

Canada Best Managed Companies award logo 2017-2019
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Toronto: For the third year in a row, mobileLIVE is being recognized for its overall business performance and sustained growth with the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation. The 2019 Best Managed program award winners are amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies demonstrating excellence in strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Entering its 26th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards program recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. The “CIBC is pleased to congratulate mobileLIVE on being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, recognizing its excellence in leadership, business performance and innovation,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking. “As a sponsor of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for over 20 years, CIBC is proud to celebrate private companies like mobileLIVE as leaders in their industry.” “It is humbling every year to see the calibre of businesses that earned this designation,” says Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Far from intimidating, we find it inspiring and use it as motivation to continue our streak into the fourth year.” Applicants are assessed on their sustained growth by a panel of independent judges against a predetermined set of attributes that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent. “2018 was yet another big year for us,” exclaims Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “We grew our clientele, added industry verticals, and geographies, all while reaffirming our innovative spirit and solidifying our performance-driven culture. One of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to sustain this growth – and this designation – is the alignment between our business strategy and culture that acts as a framework for all our efforts.” “This year’s Best Managed winners are a testament to the success found when businesses invest in talent, innovate intentionally, and think long-term,” said Peter Brown, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “These companies should be proud of this achievement, and their responsibility in acting as role models for other Canadian businesses.” 2019 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 17, 2019. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, TMX Group and MacKay CEO Forums.

mobileLIVE named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies – for the third time

mobileLIVE Employer of the Year
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is honoured to be recognized as Growth 500 Employer of the Year among the list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. The Growth 500 Employer of the Year designation is reserved for a single Growth 500 company that has dramatically increased the size of its workforce in the past five years, creating net new jobs; that offers a diverse range of programs, benefits and services to attract, engage and retain employees; and demonstrates commitment from its leadership in creating a great workplace. Out of all the applications submitted by all 500 winners, the editorial team believed that mobileLIVE was the most deserving of this award because of its unique and innovative initiatives. “In 2017, we made a commitment to our employees, present and future, that by 2020 we would be one of the greatest places to work in Canada. And while we normally pride ourselves on our punctuality, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have arrived here a couple of years early. This award serves only to validate our efforts going forward as we remain committed to creating a launch pad for brilliant ideas, fulfilling careers, and a balanced life that has earned us this recognition.” This award acts as a benchmark moving forward, helping to guide cultural and administrative practices to ensure mobileLIVE remains one of the best places to work in Canada.

mobileLIVE recognized as Growth 500 Employer of the Year

Persona standing on top a mountain peak
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Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian tech firm, mobileLIVE has earned a spot on the Growth 500 ranking for the second consecutive year. Canadian Business and Maclean’s announced today that mobileLIVE ranked 99th on the 30th annual Growth 500 – the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. mobileLIVE also ranked as the 39th Fastest-Growing Company in Toronto and 20th Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada. “The companies on the 2018 Growth 500 are truly remarkable. Demonstrating foresight, innovation and smart management, their stories serve as a primer for how to build a successful entrepreneurial business today,” says Deborah Aarts, Growth 500 Program Manager. “As we celebrate 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurship is healthier than ever in this country. “ “Winning this award once is an achievement, however, being honoured for a second consecutive year is truly humbling,” says Jahan Ali, CEO and founder of mobileLIVE. “I can’t claim this award for myself; rather, it is the team we’ve built, their unyielding agility, adherence to scalability, and dedication to quality that has allowed us to maintain our growth trajectory.” Momentum has been building as this announcement comes on the heels of a number of growth initiatives from mobileLIVE, mainly, the addition of office locations across the country as well as adding some more depth and experience to their leadership team.

mobileLIVE ranks 99th among Canada’s Fastest-Growing 500 Companies

145 King St West building number
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE, the multi-award winning tech company just announced a new central office location, situated at 145 King St. W, in the heart of Toronto’s bustling Financial District. The new location is part of an overarching strategy intended to not only enhance accessibility to clients but to establish a central hub for all key initiatives and activities moving forward. This announcement comes on the heels of other recent news from mobileLIVE: the addition of two new members to their leadership team; Daniel Yinanc as VP of Innovation and Technology and Chris Chambers as VP of Sales (BFSI). The company confirmed that their new location in Toronto, coupled with an established presence in Richmond Hill and Montreal, is part of their growth strategy, both here and abroad, and includes the recent acquisition of ZSystems (Pvt.) Ltd. in Pakistan. The Lahore based tech company will help mobileLIVE provide a greater focus on international operations and expansion. “The market response and subsequent growth of mobileLIVE have been tremendous,” says Jahan Ali, CEO, mobileLIVE. “With Daniel and Chris joining the team and our stronger, more strategic presence in Canada and abroad, we are better poised to further accelerate the growth of not only ourselves but the clients we serve.”

mobileLIVE adds new offices as part of their strategic expansion

Canada's Best Managed Companies
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE has won the prestigious title as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies of 2017, leaving behind hundreds of other companies who apply to win this coveted title year after year. Companies which are fully Canadian-owned and managed were selected in the grounds of steadfast revenues along with demonstrating strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth in the Canadian market and adding to the global economy. “This recognition affirms the company’s strong commitment in transforming client’s vision into reality, building a collaborative culture, and ensuring financial growth year over year,” said Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE in a statement. Ali, explains, “Our strengths in operational adaptability and scalability, enterprise grade solutions, end-user experience driven developments, modular and scalable approach, culture of robotic process and test automation, agile and lean structures along with collaborative working models to co-create, sets us apart.” Established in 1993, ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing companies for their innovative, world-class business practices, distinctive culture and sustained growth. “It’s much more than just financial performance,” said Lorrie King, Partner, Deloitte and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “Well-run companies are important to the economic health of our country. These companies serve as role models to help make all Canadian businesses better.” In 2016, mobileLIVE was conferred the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ and Fast 500™ awards along with many other notable industry awards for fast growth, innovative approaches and entrepreneurial qualities. “Winning the Best Managed Companies title is a proud moment for us,” says the excited President, Hussain Qureshi. However, he believes winning is not the end in fact consistently living up to the title is equally important. “We will always go above and beyond in providing disruptive & innovative services to our clients, ensure unique and personalized experiences for end-users along with consistently investing in our team’s growth.” The best managed winners are an important engine of economic growth for being adaptable and sustainable in a global market. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel made up of judges from Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums. “CIBC is thrilled to congratulate mobileLIVE on being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, recognizing its excellence in leadership, business performance and innovation,” said Jon Hountalas, Executive Vice President, Business and Corporate Banking, CIBC. “As a sponsor of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for over 20 years, CIBC is proud to celebrate private companies like mobileLIVE as leaders in their industry.” 2017 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 19, 2017. On the same date, the Best Managed symposium will address leading-edge business issues that are key to the success of today’s business leaders.

mobileLIVE wins Best Managed Companies Title in Canada

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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is once again, recognized for its overall business performance and sustained growth with the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation. The 2018 Best Managed program award winners are amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies demonstrating excellence in strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Now in its 25th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO mobileLIVE explains, “Winning Canada’s Best Managed for the second year is no easy task, nor is it one that a single person can take credit for. In fact, it takes everyone on the team staying true to our vision – to be the number one company in every every customer we serve. We are happy with the world taking notice.” Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. 2018 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent. “We don’t believe in one-offs, random occurrences, or isolated incidents,” says Hussain Qureshi, President, mobileLIVE. “So, when we won Canada’s Best Managed in 2017, we knew exactly what we had to do in order to keep our coveted status. We differentiated ourselves, assembled teams and capabilities to drive innovation and productivity, stayed committed to our goals, created a distinct culture, engaged, invested, and rewarded teams with a long-term vision to achieve success for our clients.” “This year’s winners reinforce the significant impact that privately owned Canadian companies are making by pursuing innovation and maintaining a sharp focus on their clients,” says Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking, co sponsors of the program. He further adds, “CIBC proudly congratulates the 2018 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, who exemplify business excellence and success.” 2018 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 11, 2018. On the same date, the Best Managed symposium will address leading-edge business issues that are key to the success of today’s business leaders. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, TMX Group and MacKay CEO Forums.

mobileLIVE recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies again

Jahan Ali MAX Business Leader of the Year
News

Richmond Hill, ON: The Max Gala Foundation, declared Jahan Ali as the ‘Business Leader of the Year’, in their 2017 Annual Awards Gala. The Max foundation, progressively works to recognize, reward, motivate, and celebrate positive contributions as well as high achievement of Canadian Muslims towards the society. Jahan immigrated to Canada as a student and founded mobileLIVE, a company specialized in accelerating digital transformation for its clients along with robotic automation. Within six years of his entrepreneurial journey, Jahan has advanced the company to great heights, winning praiseworthy business titles year after year. Apart from his acumen as a businessman, Jahan is also known for his philanthropic activities in various roles. Be it a mentor or a coach supporting in the settlement of newcomers and immigrants to actively supporting various charities in building a better world.

Jahan Ali wins 2017 Max Gala Business Leader of the Year Award

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 2017 Winner Logo
News

Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE ranked 219th in Deloitte’s Technology 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. On further breakdown of 500 companies, mobileLIVE is one of 70 companies with Headquarters in Canada. Out of these 70 companies, mobileLIVE ranked 16th among technology companies from Ontario, 22nd among software companies in Canada, and 30th among technology companies from Canada. “The Deloitte 2017 North America Technology Fast 500 winners underscore the impact of technological innovation and world class customer service in driving growth, in a fiercely competitive environment,” said Sandra Shirai, vice chairman, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader. “These companies are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business. We extend our sincere congratulations to all the winners for achieving remarkable growth while delivering new services and experiences for their customers.”

mobileLIVE ranked 219th among Fastest-Growing Companies in North America

Deloitte Technology Fast 50 2017 Winner Logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE today announced their ranking as 37th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program award due to its rapid growth, bold innovation and its entrepreneurial spirit. On further breakdown of the Fast 50™ companies, mobileLIVE ranked 11th among technology companies from GTA, 18th among technology companies from Ontario, and 23rd among software companies. Additionally, mobileLIVE has also been ranked 219th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500TM across North America and is one of 70 companies with Headquarters in Canada. On further breakdown of these 70 companies, mobileLIVE ranked 16th among technology companies from Ontario, 22nd among software companies in Canada, and 30th among technology companies from Canada. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program winners are made up of public and private companies in the technology sector that share common traits and strengths and have transformed the industry. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the program augments the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™ initiative with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking. mobileLIVE CEO, Jahan Ali says, “We are really proud of achieving this prestigious title 2nd year in a row.” he adds, ”Success is never by chance. You create it by obsessing over customer success, building a reliable team of innovators, and ensuring simplification for the end users.” “New technologies have disrupted various industries in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago,” said Erica Pretorius, Partner and National Leader for the Technology Fast 50™ program at Deloitte Canada. “Fast 50 winners have led the way and I can’t wait to see where they take us next.” Hussain Qureshi, President mobileLIVE says, “Winning the title again is very reassuring. We are very pleased with our technological advancement, path breaking innovative solutions, and world class customer service in accelerating digital transformation.” Sandra Shirai, vice chairman, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader explains, “These companies are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business. We extend our sincere congratulations to all the winners for achieving remarkable growth while delivering new services and experiences for their customers.” To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least four years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, conduct research and development activities in Canada and invest a minimum of five percent of gross revenues in R&D.

mobileLIVE Ranked 37th Fastest-Growing Company in Canada

2017 Profit 500 Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies award logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian Business and PROFIT today ranked mobileLIVE 33rd on the 29th annual PROFIT 500, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. The program ranks businesses based on their five-year revenue growth. On further categorization of the top Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada, mobileLIVE was ranked 13th among the 71 listed companies, and 10th Fastest-Growing Software Companies, based in Ontario, vis-a- vis the PROFIT 500 program. “It is never easy to earn a spot on the PROFIT 500, but this year’s applicant pool was the most competitive yet,” says Deborah Aarts, PROFIT 500 program manager. “This year’s winners demonstrate the resilience, innovation and sheer management smarts it takes to build a thriving business today. Canada—and the world—needs more entrepreneurial success stories like these.” For the past 29 years PROFIT 500 has been Canada’s most respectable and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement. mobileLIVE CEO Jahan Ali, says his company’s explosive growth recipe is in “Being end-user obsessed.” He continues, “We go to great lengths in understanding user requirements and use those insights in ideating, building, testing and delivering exceptional experiences.” “On securing 33rd position in the PROFIT 500 ranking we are delighted and feel honoured that our efforts are recognized by the industry and the markets we serve,” says the excited company President, Hussain Qureshi. “This achievement reflects on the performance reliability of our team and a promise to our clients of success and nothing less.”

mobileLIVE Ranks 33rd on the 2017 PROFIT 500

Jahan Ali a EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Finalist
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Richmond Hill, ON: Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO mobileLIVE, has been recently recognized by Ernst & Young (EY) as a finalist in their Entrepreneur Of The YearTM program, which distinguishes entrepreneurs who are bold and daring to take risks, challenges status-quos, dive into uncertainty, and overcome impediments with innovative solutions. The firm named 40 finalists across 10 categories in its acclaimed EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM 2017 Ontario Awards program. “EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program celebrates the men and women who dare to dream big and build boldly,” says François Tellier, Region Program Director. “From coast to coast, our regional finalists are entrepreneurs who make the most of uncertainty, disrupt traditional business models and develop solutions to unforeseen problems. Just like this year’s EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, Murad Al-Katib of AGT Food and Ingredients, they make us proud to be Canadian.” Jahan’s prowess in customer-driven approach and leading the company to achieve exceptional growth over the years, has been key in securing a place in the program.

mobileLIVE CEO named finalists of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program

Man receiving an award surrounded by a group of mobileLIVE employees
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Richmond Hill, ON: The Minister of International Trade, Ontario, Michael Chan, paid a visit to explore mobileLIVE’s Robotic Process and Test Automation factory. mobileLIVE team welcomed the Minister and offered him a tour of the office facilities. He was guided and explained about the various innovation led practices and products that the company offers. After meeting the diversified workforce of mobileLIVE, Minister Chan was also assured that the company values the principal of building more jobs and propelling the Canadian economy forward. As a vote of thanks for his bold vision and services around the Markham-Unionville region, the leadership team of mobileLIVE presented him a plaque.

Minister Michael Chan visits mobileLIVE Robotic factory

Man receiving award surrounded by a group of people
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Richmond Hill, ON: Member of Parliament, Richmond Hill, Majid Jowhari visited mobileLIVE headquarters to learn how the company is progressing in the areas of Digital Transformation, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Test and Process Automation. MP Jowhari, a Tech graduate from Toronto’s Ryerson University, along with a MBA from York University has an acumen for Technology Businesses, and has lead his own consulting firm for over seven years in a row. To commemorate the presence and etch a memory, the leadership team presented a plaque to thank MP Majid Jowhari for his bold vision, leadership, and contribution in Richmond Hill and Ontario.

MP Majid Jowhari visits mobileLIVE HQ

UXPLORE logo
News

Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE enhanced new features to its recently launched new automated testing tool, UXPLORE, designed for Smart communicating devices (mobile phones, PC’s) and Applications (mobile, web, and other IT apps). The first one permits testers to effectively schedule script runs on specific times/days as well as adding a recurrence to the runs. With this function, testers can now dedicate their working hours in developing/enhancing and validating new scripts, and run them during off-hours period to maximize their productivity. The second feature permits testers to update a library-based test case and effectively push the changes automatically to all the test suite utilizing that specific test case. This not only adds a high level of convenience but also permits a huge productivity gain in updating related test suites.

UXPLORE R1.1 offers additional features

Phone, tablet, desktop and laptop screens of mobileLIVE website
News

Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is proud to announce the first release of the new UXPLORE automated testing tool designed for Smart communicating devices (mobile phones, PC’s) and Applications (mobile, web, and other IT apps). UXPLORE is the latest automation tool created by mobileLIVE that allows one tester to create a script and run it across Multiple Screens and Multiple Platforms with Real-time Reporting Capabilities from anywhere and at any time. UXPLORE’s web based GUI permits users to access the management portal with any browser supporting device. UXPLORE automation tool goes further than traditional testing tools with its unique capability of testing targeted screen equipped devices located at specific geographical area. UXPLORE is the only tool available today that will test a specific device sitting at a specific geographic location. With the simple drag and drop functionality, users can easily create test cases and suites without the need to have any previous coding knowledge. UXPLORE can automatically discover and report on issues and discrepancies that traditional automated testing software’s will miss such as: User Flows, Application Latency, Session Timeout, Health Checks, UI Discrepancies, Branding Issues, Spelling Mistakes, and Data Validation. UXPLORE can also read use information from an external source to be used to test live applications, such as login names, password, payment information and more.

Release 1 of UXPLORE

CAMSC logo
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Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE is proud to be certified as a supplier with Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC). Being a Canadian owned and operated company, we look forward to working closely with prestigious CAMSC members. CAMSC operates as a private sector-led, non-profit membership organization governed by a board of Directors; comprised of major multinational corporations operating in Canada. The organization aims to boost economic development efforts and employment.

mobileLIVE wins Supplier Certification with CAMSC

Phones showing the user interface of a tracker app
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Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE is pleased to announce the launch of its latest app “MyThingsTracker”. With MyThingsTracker, users are able to capture and organize information of their expensive purchases or important documents in one central place and get reminded on when to take action or refer to them when needed.

mobileLIVE launches new app- MyThingsTracker

Branham300 Logo
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Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE, under the ICT (Information Communications and Technology) industry, claimed 116th position among the Top 250 ICT companies awarded by the Branham Group, in its industry acclaimed Branham300 listing. “mobileLIVE is continuously gaining recognition as a leader in building custom mobility and IoT applications along with providing digital workforce for robotic process and test automation. We are focused on transforming our clients visions into reality, increasing their operational agility, and creating exceptional experiences for their customers.” said Jahan Ali, CEO mobileLIVE. Hussain Qureshi, President, mobileLIVE says, “Getting recognized by the Branham Group in their Branham300 list of top 250 ICT companies, is an accomplishment in itself. I am thankful to the organizers, as the Branham300 collectively builds the “Made in Canada” brand and accolades globally.” Wayne Gudbranson, CEO Branham Group adds, “The companies that comprise the Branham300 have a lot of reasons to be proud of. I am again impressed by the performance of Canada’s technology community. The sector has set another revenue record, as measured by our Top 250 ranking of Canadian companies, which are helping to build our innovation economy.” 2017 marks the 24th annual Branham300 ranking of public and private technology companies in Canada. The companies that made up the list of 2017 Branham300 has collaboratively set a new record of $105.3 billion, with a YOY increase of 9.6 percent; which is almost double the previous year.

mobileLIVE ranked among the Top 250 ICT companies

two girls leaning on graffiti looking at phones
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Pursuit of optimal customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives; with technology allowing customers to be in direct control of their interactions with businesses. From the ease of multi-channel digital connectivity to immediacy in service, the customers are demanding seamless and hyper-personalized experiences that embody simplicity, Do-it-Yourself, and social. Hyperconnectivity is growing at an unprecedented pace and there is a global urgency in embracing “digital-first” strategies. Benefits already being witnessed from digital transformation efforts include: increased market share by 41%, increased customer engagement in digital channels by 37%, more positive employee morale by 37%, greater web and mobile engagement by 32%, and increased customer revenue by 30%. However, growth in this highly competitive digital economy must be lead with a clear vision, in a collaborative culture of highly motivated departments, fueled with disruptive innovations in both business models and offerings. Ultimately, all efforts narrowing down into two strategic streams: Customer Value and Operational Agility In this paper, my colleagues and I share how customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives. What are the key challenges and how they can be addressed to attract, win, and retain customers in this ever-increasing digital economy.

Customer Experience in the Digital Economy

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You know it’s vital, I know it’s vital, so let’s move on and dive right into our recipe for success. True quality comes from quality minded people, and as such, we’ve subscribed to a different angle towards QA, one that differs from the traditional practices. Approach Traditional Quality Assurance often involves extensive work and coding before any testing is actually done. This results in finding more bugs in the software closer to the delivery date. At mobileLIVE, our QA involves Test Automation coupled with Continuous Integration from the start. This approach uncovers the majority of bugs at the beginning of the software development cycle and fixes them as the cycle progresses. The result is fewer bugs to reconcile at the end of the project, which in turn, allows for seamless and easy delivery. traditional QA has manual testing lots of bugs. mobileLIVE QA has test automation, continuous integration, not many bugs Whether you are working in an agile environment or taking a waterfall approach, the overall strategy for high-quality QA remains the same: QA best practices methodologies cycle: test strategy, test dev, test execution, defect management, delivery Best Practices Our approach to QA is what truly sets us apart in an already dense development landscape and we would like to share with you a comprehensive list of best practices that have proven effective time and time again: Focus on the User Experience: Testing at all levels of the project is crucial, but the most important thing to consider is the user experience. If the UX is bad, it inevitably means the quality is not at par. Although this will likely result in changes during earlier levels of development, the user experience must always be at the forefront. Automation and Continuous Integration: Automation is vital because it provides fast feedback, enabling continuous integration – a crucial component of the agile methodology. Automation is also key to reducing costs and improving the efficiency of your team; which is one of the main reasons why QA managers must educate themselves and be willing to implement automation practices. Test Coverage and Code Coverage: Many QA engineers talk a lot about “test coverage,” which gives a good general picture of the quality of the application. However, to achieve true quality, both test cases and code coverage analysis must be considered. For example, even if you achieve 100% test coverage, you need to still aim for at least 90% function code coverage to ensure the best results. The Shift-Left Approach: Typically, testing starts once the coding phase is complete. However, for optimal quality in an agile methodology, you need to shift the focus and begin monitoring and testing right from the inception of the project. This ensures that bugs are detected sooner, which not only saves time and money but also helps ensure a good relationship with developers on the team, accelerates the delivery of the product, and allows for greater test coverage. Smart Testing: Complete and comprehensive testing can sometimes present a challenge since many teams may not have the time or resources to go through every possible combination of cases. However, you should be smart in how and what you test. This means, communicating with the developer to find small test cases that will uncover the greatest number of bugs. Bug Prevention: QA engineers are trained to catch bugs; however, a resourceful QA engineer will also think about how to prevent them in the first place. Traditional QA starts testing at the UI level, but an agile method starts with unit and functional testing and then moves to the UI level. This approach prevents bugs from entering higher levels of development which can cause bigger problems later on and likely delay delivery. Quality Over Quantity: Focus on major critical bugs and glitches initially rather than several smaller ones. Agile Testing Process and Approach Agile is undoubtedly the preferred software development methodology for today’s developers. Agile testing uses the same principles to encompass all elements of software testing from unit to system testing. We recommend using The Four Quadrants of Agile Testing in order to not only meet but exceed quality standards in all aspects of a project. The Importance of Test Automation At mobileLIVE, we practice a culture of automation and thus believe that every development team should be automating all tests when possible. There is no excuse for not automating these tests, as in most cases, doing them manually will cause considerable trouble, lead to additional costs, and create untimely delays. Regardless of how thorough your manual testing is, human error will always be a factor, which is why automating all possible tests is the best way to ensure your results meet and exceed the quality standards you were hoping to achieve. The Value of Continuous Integration In addition to automating all possible tests, Quality Assurance managers must also ensure that all feedback is subject to continuous integration. One of the major benefits of automated QA is the fact that feedback is available immediately, which is why implementing that feedback and fixing bugs at all stages of the development cycle is imperative. Build Verification Tests (BVT), and Smoke Tests should be built into every stage of the project as they are the most comprehensive way to detect problems early on and prevent issues in future builds. The following diagram illustrates Continuous Integration flow from Code Check into Operational Readiness: Continuous Integration flow: sprint teams, git repo, jenkins, build, unit testing, int build, smoke API int testing, app e2e testing, release Key Takeaways Most would admit that agile development is the future; however, in order to exceed client expectations and improve the user experience, regardless of what method you choose, extensive QA isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s imperative. As the development landscape grows denser, our approach with its focus on automation, continuous integration, and the other best practices mentioned earlier will help you to maintain and surpass quality, ensure the highest satisfaction upon delivery, and provide the greatest experience for the user, as well as your development team, as possible. How do you approach QA? We would love to hear it!

Quality Assurance Approach and Best Practices

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Let’s play a game. How many brands do you think I experience in a typical day? Shall we find out? It’s 6:55 AM and I’m awoken by the sounds of Lovely Day, by Bill Withers. A smile inevitably crosses my face as the tempo rises, that is, until I hear my girlfriend yell, “OK Google, STOP!” She obviously is not a morning person. Still half asleep, I wander into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and pour myself a bowl of cereal. As the aroma of the coffee diffuses throughout the house, it peaks the interest of my other half, who joins me for a cup. She mentions that the hardware store is having a sale on the bathroom tiles we liked and maybe “we” should pick some up after work. I tell her I’d be happy to as long as she promises to be ready by 7 PM for the show tonight. She agrees; I’m skeptical. After a long day of reviewing and editing content, making travel arrangements for a conference, and too much time with the accountant, I eventually make my way home. That is, only after a series of text messages caused my trip to the hardware store to also include the pharmacy, grocers, and courier. No matter, for when I pull in I get a little excited to see my girlfriends car in the drive and think she may, in fact, be ready. So you can imagine my disappointment when I saw her on the couch looking particularly comfy in a pair of sweats, a glass of wine in hand. I ask her about the tickets, putting a box of new bathroom tiles in front of her. She responds by handing me a beer and a book on bathroom renovations. Confused, and likely looking it, she then said, “The show is next week, but I picked up some grout, and we can get started on the bathroom tiles tonight ” Oh, a day in the life… So, how many did you count? There’s at least 15, but it probably wasn’t easy. However, if I were to put the words ”Kellogg’s,” “Samsung,” “Toyota,” “Home Depot,” and “Visa” in that story, it may become a bit more evident how often we experience brands, at least, the successful ones. That is because the successful ones lend themselves to our lives, adding value while not drawing attention to itself. This, in essence, is what the customer experience (CX) is all about, and is something that the most reputable brands in the country have perfected. And why shouldn’t they? After all, according to Gartner, CX is the new marketing battlefront, and in two years’ time, 81% of companies expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of the digital experience their customers get. This made me curious, so I decided to dive deep and compiled a list of 22 inspiring customer experience quotes and statements from 28 of the top brands in Canada by “sector” as reported by Leger. Enjoy! “It’s a world of multiple screens, smart displays, with tons of low-cost computing, with big sensors built into devices. At Google, we ask how to bring together something seamless and beautiful and intuitive across all these screens.” —Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google “The customer changes every day, so we need to remain keenly interested in the customer and evolve to remain relevant.” —Mike Motz, President, Shoppers Drug Mart “Our customers are at the heart of our company and our growth strategy. Understanding our customer better means we can create a more consistent experience and offer products, services and promotions that meet the specific and every day needs of our customers and create an incredible competitive advantage.” —Stephen Wetmore, President and CEO, Canadian Tire Corporation “If you see the name Sony on any product, content, or service, it symbolizes our promise to move you emotionally. Our products are designed to have a personal and individualized place in all of your lives.” —Kaz Hirai, President and CEO, Sony “This project (Bear Naked) was born out of a consumer need like most good innovation should be. The consumer need that we identified was what we call a ‘desire for taste exploration.” —Chris Tutor, VP of Strategy, Kellogg “Most people try to solve for what their internal problems are, or a pre-determined view of what they think the experience should be. We want to listen to our customers first, they tell us how they’d like to shop with us, and how they’d like to see us presented to them, and make those changes appropriately.” —Matt Carey, EVP CIO, The Home Depot “The way our customers operate their businesses and live their lives in today’s interactive digital world requires a shift to a hyper-personalized experience. Customers expect us to know them as individuals and provide them with access to more information and visibility. In turn, we have to empower them to take control. This focus has translated into a shift for FedEx in terms of how we approach our business and communicate to our customers. ” —Laurie Tucker, SVP of Corporate Marketing, FedEx “Our Vision at Visa, to be the best way to pay and be paid for everyone, everywhere, prioritizes consumer behaviour and drives every product innovation.” —Derek Colfer, Head of Technology & Digital Innovation, Visa Canada “We knew it was time to reimagine the core bookstore experience. As people and consumers, we are evolving. There are some people who will long for the old-fashioned dusty bookstore, but most people don’t. In the 21st century, people are “phygital”—that is, they do some things digital and some things physical.” —Heather Reisman, CEO & Chief Book Lover, Indigo Books “It is our strategic plan to improve every consumer touchpoint, beginning with the look and feel of the restaurant. Our new Fresh Forward design brings to life what we have always had—healthy, fresh vegetables. We are integrating new technology to make us more accessible to the consumer and leveraging all of this into a new image.” —Suzanne Greco, CEO, Subway “Through these channels, we can provide more details about the characters, unveil behind-the-scenes footage, create interactive discussions with our fans and, ultimately, engage with them to drive our collective imagination further down the road on its never-ending journey. Customer loyalty can only be achieved through sustained, entertaining, and engaging interactions with our fans.” —Patrick Corneau, VP of Sales and Marketing, Cirque du Soleil “I have learned, based on my experience, that everything is dominated by the market. So whenever we are struck by any obstacles or difficulties, I always say to myself: ‘Listen to the market, listen to the voice of the customer.’ That’s the fundamental essence of marketing. Always, we have to come back to the market, back to the customer. That is the Toyota way. So, whenever we’re stuck, we always go back to the basics. Because branding, image, or Lovemarks are determined by the customers, not us. We really cannot determine anything. The customer does that. That is the essence.” —Yoshio Ishizaka, Former President and Current Advisor, Toyota Motor Corporation “I often remind my team to keep our consumer purpose at the center of everything that we do. To me, our purpose centers on caring for people around the world by anticipating their needs, creating solutions and experiences that help them and those they care for live healthy, vibrant lives.” —Josh Ghaim, Ph.D, CTO, Johnson & Johnson “It is through digital transformation, coupled with our WestJetters’ caring touch, that we will be able to provide the ultimate guest-centric service.” —Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO, WestJet “…while the world is focusing on new and shiny disruptive technologies, we sometimes forget about the customer experience. If we start with the healthcare consumer in mind, the gaps in their experience, how it can be improved, and what the key problem statements are, only then will we be able to see how and which technologies are here to enable a transformation.” —Eugene Borukhovich, Global Head of Digital Health Incubation and Innovation, Bayer “Engaging and marketing to our customers in new ways is key to building shopper loyalty and encouraging repeat visits, and it is the foundation of our retail brand strategy.” —Pat Lizotte, Director of Marketing Strategies, Petro-Canada “In a culture where usage is the primary goal, the primary focus is on ensuring customers are unblocked and the product is constantly being simplified to make it easier and easier to use. This focus is so central to the work we do that it takes priority over adding new features.” —Brad Anderson, Corporate VP Enterprise Mobility & Security, Microsoft “There’s no one-size-fits-all audience.” —Magen Hanrahan, VP of Media and Marketing Services, Kraft Heinz Company “This new model will be powered by data, analytics and audience insights, providing creative solutions as we continue to connect with new generations of consumers.” —Yin Rani, VP of Integrated Marketing, Campbell Soup Company “I must say that if you’ve got good customer insight it’s an excellent starting point. However, I think it is a mixture of getting customer insight, understanding where you currently stand with certain metrics, and what you need to do to build on these metrics. All these put together contribute to building a customer culture within any business.” —Carol Sheppard, Customer Experience Research Manager, Molson Coors “The client experience is everything, end-to-end, from the point that you first establish interest and awareness and are sharing initial thoughts, to the long-term, sustained relationship where you are coming back and back because you want more and more services from the person offering it.” —Diana O’Brien, Global CMO, Deloitte “All that insight (data and analytics) allows us to understand the final clients of our clients a little better,” —Jérémiah Bousquet, Digital Transformation Leader, Airbus It is our hope that these quotes/statements from some of the brightest minds, behind some of the most prolific brands, will inspire you in your journey to create the most memorable customer experiences. Do you have any inspiring customer experience quotes? We’d love to hear it.

22 Quotes on Customer Experience from the Top Brands in Canada

Test Automation: customer experience, time-to-market, OPEX reduction, Repeatable Accuracy
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Daniel Park is Head of Digital Experience for a large enterprise. Among his many ongoing projects, he has recently been tasked to launch a “mission-critical” venture that has the promise to change the way the organization interacts with their customers. However, before Daniel can begin, he needs to choose which vendor to partner with. While evaluating the vendor options, he notices that Vendor A has a history of performance inconsistency, delayed launches resulting in blown budgets, and have on more than one occasion produced products riddled with bugs and glitches – even after launch. However, the same could not be said for Vendor B. Time and time again they had proven their reliability, speed, and accuracy in project completion. They also had a track record of creating some of the most well received and engaging user experiences around – all delivered on time and on budget. Intrigued by the dramatic differences, he noticed a simple yet extremely valuable difference between the two. Vendor A employed manual testing in their development, while Vendor B opted for the automated approach. This made his decision much simpler in selecting Vendor B; after all, who would want to work with a team that invariably costs them time, money, and compromised customer experience. Today, I’m hoping to make the choice of adopting test automation that much easier for you. Test Automation – The What and the When Test automation is a method of software testing that utilizes tools and/or frameworks to control and monitor the execution of tests and compare real-life results with predicted or expected outcomes. Fortunately, the far-reaching implications and benefits of test automation supersede this definition. However, before I delve into why you need to adopt test automation in your organization, allow me to share what you should automate, when you should do it, and what is best left alone. Test Automation What and the When WHAT TO AUTOMATE. Test cases that are: Mission-Critical, Executed repeatedly, Tedious or difficult, Time consuming WHEN TO AUTOMATE. It’s best to automate test when. Customer experience matters, Time-to-market is critical, OPEX reduction is desirable, Repeatable accuracy is preferred WHAT NOT TO AUTOMATE. It is best NOT to automate: Subjective tests, Frequently changing requirements, Ad-hoc tests At mobileLIVE, test automation is a part of our DNA. Whether we are working across the complete mobility ecosystem, full product lifecycle, functional or non-functional 360° coverage, or even if just an evaluation across specialty domains, we test early and frequently knowing that defect prevention is preferred to defect detection. This mindset of test automation and continuous integration has served us very well. Although it is impossible to automate all tests (we know, we tried), the following framework helps us ensure the most optimal level of automation: Technology Facing Automated Unit Testing Automated unit/functional testing per check-in,Get quick feedback on your dev check-in (merge) Technology Facing Automated Non Functional Testing Performance testing, Load testing, Memory management, Security and maintainability, Interoperability and compatibility, Scalability and reliability Customer Facing Automated and manual Functional Testing Create test cases for stories, Verify stories and bug fixes, Write automation scripts for passed stories, Add automation scripts to test framework Customer Facing Automated and manual exploratory Testing Exploratory scenario testing, Usability testing, User acceptance testing, Customer experience testing Remember, when automating tests it’s important to determine exactly which test cases should be automated first. I recommend basing this on those that yield maximum ROI. Test Automation – The Why Talk of test automation is nothing new; however, it seems to be a growing trend among development teams large and small to opt for automated testing over manual testing. Which begs the question – why should you invest in a culture of test automation and continuous integration? Well, I can actually give you several reasons, none of which are “because it’s a trend.” ROI: Manual testing takes too long and becomes cost prohibitive when it comes to multiple agile releases/sprints, multiple platforms, OSs, screen sizes etc. Reliability: Automated testing is faster and more reliable when running repetitive standardized tests which cannot be skipped, but could result in an error when manually tested. Accuracy: Even the most careful tester will make mistakes during monotonous manual testing. Automated tests perform the same precise steps every time they are executed; all while recording detailed results. Coverage: Automated software testing can increase the depth and scope of tests to help improve software quality. Lengthy tests that are often avoided during manual testing can be run unattended. They can even run on multiple machines with different configurations. Continuous Integration: Tests can run automatically whenever code changes are checked in and notify the team or the developer if they fail. Features like these save developers time and increase their confidence. Morale Boost: Manual testing can be mundane and executing repetitive tasks with automated software testing gives your team time to spend on challenging and rewarding projects. Team members improve their skill set and confidence and, in turn, pass those gains on to their organization. The aforementioned are just a few of the benefits that test automation can provide a development team. However, it should be noted that not all test automation tools are created equal. The second most important decision after choosing to automate your testing is which platform to use; and if you are anything like us, that platform needs to be simple and intuitive, be able to test solutions across the digital ecosystem, and provide timely insights and real-time reports. For us, our preferred technology partner is UXPLORE. UXPLORE – Test Automation Done Right UXPLORE is an innovative Robotic Automation Platform that automates testing using bots (a digital workforce) to improve user experience and reduce operating expenses. The platform enables all users, both technical and non-technical, to easily create and deploy bots instantly, without a need for coding. All possible human actions to various digital interfaces (web, mobile, cloud, IoT) are pre-coded, and bots are trained by creating a sequence of these actions. UXPLORE bots work around the clock to automate testing; much faster, cheaper, and with higher accuracy than humans. If you are looking to deliver exceptional customer experiences , reduce time-to-market and operational expenses, improve accuracy and team productivity, then test automation is no longer a “nice to have,” rather, an imperative.

The What, When, and Why of Test Automation

happy customer using digital tools to for a better shopping experience
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Brandy, a Generation-Z consumer, comes across an Instagram “like” by her friend for a featured dress. She likes the garment and is interested in purchasing it in a different colour. She decides to go online and compare prices, and while browsing, she is prompted to download the retailers’ app, which would result in a 10% discount off her first purchase. However, after comparing prices, downloading the app, and moving the dress into her “shopping cart,” she abandons her purchase thinking the dress isn’t the one for her.Retailer App ExperienceA few days later, Brandy finds herself visiting the local mall in search of a new outfit for the Easter weekend. As she passes by the store location of the same retailer chain, she receives a notification on her smartphone offering her a “no obligation” discount subject to her visiting in-store to play an Easter Egg Hunt.using augmented reality she finds the Easter egg in store to earn the discountExcited to get in the Easter spirit and play the egg hunt in store, the retailers’ app on her smartphone intuitively prompts her to activate the “AR Buddy” mode so that she can begin the game, just as she would if she were playing Pokémon Go.As she browses the store through the lens of her smartphone, she excitingly finds and “cracks open” a virtual Easter egg that entitles her to an instant rebate of $20 towards a purchase within the next three days. At the same time, she also notices the blinking icon of the retailer’s online cart, which still has the dress she selected a few days earlier. While on the fence before, with the added discount she thinks that buying the dress now makes for a great deal that is difficult to pass up.virtual Easter eggHaving placed the order, she is then given the opportunity to like the same dress on Instagram, entitling her to an additional $10 off her next purchase. Thrilled with the bonus promotion, she earmarks another dress she has come across while searching the store for the Easter egg, thinking to herself, “I’ll get this dress next time with the extra discount.”PRO-Gamification And that is how Personalized-Retail-Omnichannel Gamification (PRO-Gamification) works. From the moment Brandy logged into the app, the retailer’s back-end services platform started tracking her shopping experience. The social network API, merchandising catalogue, analytics engine, and Business Intelligence services all worked in tandem to track her clickstream, cart abandonment, and in turn, were able to predict Next Best Actions (NBAs). The fact that she compared prices hinted at her sensitivity to product pricing, and as something the analytics engine could hone in on, it predicted a higher statistical likelihood that if offered a discount or promotion, she would convert.When Brandy passed by the retailer’s brick-and-mortar store, it gave the retailer an ideal opportunity to get her attention. Beacons placed at the store entrance helped the mobile app sense her proximity and signalled the retailer’s back-end services to deliver a targeted promotion as a push notification. Given the season, however, this was no ordinary promotion, which immediately caught Brandy’s attention. The egg hunt provided the perfect reward mechanism to convert her into a paying customer. The cart history with the dress she had selected earlier helped “firm up” the purchase by avoiding manual searches online or the need to ask a sales associate for help.Furthermore, beacons located strategically throughout the store helped her “find” her Easter egg in proximity to items she would likely prefer to buy – something determined by the analytics engine based on her prior search. Beacons also enabled the mobile app in helping her locate and earmark the new dress in the online catalogue. In fact, now she is almost tempted to purchase the other dress directly from the store’s Point-of-Sale (POS) as she can take advantage of the extra $10 promotion because it is her next purchase anyway.Brandy’s entire journey, from searching online, purchasing, and sharing her positive experience on social media not only triggered “impulse buys” in real-time, but it also turned her from a prospect into a repeat customer and brand advocate. And now that the retailer has established predictable behaviour markers, they can personalize her future shopping experiences.Quick links to key sections Gamification, Past and Present Gamification as a Unified Marketing Strategy Towards an “Everything Digital” Approach Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling The Value of PRO-Gamification in Retail Gamification, Past and Present Gamification in retail is not a novel concept; however, with consumers being more connected than ever before, the notion is quickly becoming an imperative. With the rapid increase in digital connections leading to increased speed and convenience across all aspects of life, the question now raised is how and where to deploy resources for digital initiatives effectively and efficiently and how to apply them towards gamification. Digital transformation itself has evolved into a priority stack comprising the Internet of Things (IoT), Design Thinking, and Artificial Intelligence, and retailers need to act accordingly.Simply put, gamification is the use of elements of play and reward to affect and influence user behaviour; and with this evolved stack, it is quickly becoming the new retail battleground to win and grow customer base.So why does it work? Well, at its most basic level, it can trigger positive emotions, mainly those associated with play and reward. And if you have followed our past article on customer experience, you know these emotions are fundamental in capturing user’s attention and commitment to a purchase transaction.Take me back to quick links Gamification as a Unified Marketing Strategy Although the gamification of shopping experiences is not yet mainstream in the retail paradigm, it can be applied towards any product or service, regardless of the stage in the customer journey. Not only that, but the process can be easily adjusted, regardless of requirements, and can be scaled to almost any budget as part of a strategy to lead potential customers towards the desired goal along their journey.At its core, the appeal of gamification is to provide the users with a sense of control. Similar to a game where participants get a reward – a new character or power-up for example – for completing a level, gamification taps into our brains inherent reward mechanism, thus helping to reinforce a specific habit or behaviour.For putting together a bundle of products or services, this technique has proven hugely successful.The modern consumer is short on time, especially when it comes to processing the volume of content required to select and purchase the right collection of products or services. By turning that identification into a gamified experience, the natural attention of the user is enhanced. This method also drives higher customer engagement and increased brand loyalty through the implementation of such customer-curated collections. This also has a positive impact when you are rewarding your customers with loyalty points for activities – such as store visits, product videos watched, products reviewed, or purchases made – and provides far more information on consumer habits and the shopping cycle across multiple channels, which can, in turn, drive future sales.According to a set of recent surveys on mobile POS and retail gamification, retailers plan to use enhanced gamification features, incentives, and loyalty program tactics in their mobile strategies. Furthermore, some studies suggest that a substantial number of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store, and that customer experience and engagement are one of their top customer relationship management priorities. However, such undertaking cannot be effective or profitable without carefully implementing a gamification framework with the following key points in mind:Moving towards an “Everything Digital” Approach Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling Take me back to quick links Towards an “Everything Digital” Approach New ways to interact over digital channels give you new opportunities to engage with customers at an unprecedented level. For example, there was once only the need for call centres to handle remote purchases and support, but with the advent of smartphones, apps can now serve customers directly. This has also allowed for a significant shift in customer experience and expectations due to new devices like wearables, voice-based assistants, and even augmented and virtual realities. It is essential to appreciate that in a digital transformation (and, for that matter digital business) all contexts arising from functions, processes and interactions are in fact interconnected and should be treated thusly.Customers now expect interactive experiences on these new devices rather than relying on conventional methods of accessing content. With the help of big data analytical capabilities, retailers can turn enormous structured and unstructured data into actionable customer insights. “Big data” with the right analytics can enable retailers to develop enriched 360°customer profiles, establish customer-centric KPIs, and develop more targeted offers.Retail Presence in the Digital Domain Specificity of interactgital domainion is extremely important within digital experiences. For example, studies have found that the app conversion funnel is wider at every point of contact than conventional and mobile web. In particular, app users were found to browse four times as many products than those on mobile web; indicating that app users make for more loyal and dedicated customers. From that larger base, customers are almost twice as likely to add items to their basket in an app than in a mobile browser.Applications and targeted interactions not only convert a higher percentage of your customers, but they also bring in more revenue per transaction. Controlling this environment can allow you to engage customers through verbal responses, videos, images, reviews tailored to personalized elements such as buying history and browsing behaviour within mobile apps, on social media, as well as in direct interaction with you. In fact, each channel can yield multiple touch-points to track individual customer engagement and sentiment as shown below:browsing behaviour within mobile appsIn-APP Operation in Mobile/Web APP are Functionalities Used, In-Cart Abandons, Flows Completed, Daily/Monthly Activity and in Conversational Interfaces are Views/Verbal Queries, Emotions Exhibited, Topics Queried, Effort and Interest. Social Media Sentiment in Numerical Metrics are Followers and Fans, Number of Mentions, Inbound Links, Blog Subscribers, Retweets, Social Shares and in Engagement Metrics are Positive Sentiment, Negative Sentiment. Direct Communication in Brick-and-Mortar are In-Store Visits, In-Store Purchases, Web-Cart Conversions, Tie-ln with Campaigns, Location Data and in Call Centres/Support are Tickets Responded, Completed Survey. On top of that, IoT has made it possible for all connected devices and touchpoints to affect the customers daily life. It integrates data gathering sources, assembling data strategy and analytics for better-informed decisions; designing products, experiences, and businesses with a focused human-centred approach, all while identifying patterns and providing personalized experiences. Web and mobile are no longer the most significant source of data generation; rather, it is being generated by the apps we use and by the way we interact with smart devices including wearables, cars, cameras, and routers to name a few. According to recent studies digital businesses will be leveraging IoT for in-store experience in addition to mobile and web channels with less than 20 billion connected devices today to 30 billion in 2020 to 80 billion in 2025.Leveraging Mobile App-Centric Touchpoints According to a recent survey, mobile touchpoints remain relevant as the gap between, consuming analytics content on a desktop computer versus a mobile device, has all but vanished. This diminishing gap is even more apparent between smartphones and tablets. Traditional means of data delivery and presentation cannot be taken for granted. Instead, innovation is necessary for finding new ways to harness strategic data assets with cutting-edge tools for faster and better-informed decisions.Digital transformation does not change the value proposition for mobile innovation, in what I call the “Triple-A” of mobile analytics: Anywhere, Anyplace, Anytime. Via app Software Development Kits and Application Programming Interface (APIs), any data, whether structured or unstructured, big data or small data, on-premise or in the cloud, can be captured.Mobile App-Centric TouchpointsThe digital economy demands a mobile-first approach to maintain the strategic value in order to turn insights into action.Take me back to quick links Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Personalization is a growing trend that enhances the customer experience, and its core is the ability to identify and remember the customer uniquely. This allows retailers to make interactions more accessible and more intuitive, as well as target the customer based on their specific behaviours. You must analyze and realize what the customer wants most – convenience.Limitations of Third-Party Analytics Tools Popular analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) help identify user behaviour through cookie-based tracking. However, one should note that cookies are site-specific, and therefore subdomain or cross-domain tracking needs additional effort. Since cookies are not shared cross-domains, every interaction of a single user across different devices is recorded as activities by unique users in the absence of user identification. For instance, a visitor researching a product on your website decides to subscribe to your newsletter a week later and purchases a product a month after that. All of these interactions count as the activities of three different users. Therefore, third-party analytic frameworks end up being completely ineffective in identifying unique customers who choose to use multiple devices or browsers across visits to a site.Generating Individually Identifiable Analytics Integrations between identity management solutions and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) or automation tools make it possible to link existing, anonymous consumer data to known user records once a user accesses a site via a registered session on-site. Using probabilistic models, the user’s identity data will be passed directly from the identity management platform to the DMP and attributed to the correct user based on the site ID match – even across devices and domains. A User-ID in Google Analytics is a unique set of alphanumeric characters that is assigned to a user to identify him/her across multiple devices uniquely.Considering the previous scenario after implementing User-ID verification, and the same visitor performing the same actions can now be recognized as a single unique user:User-ID makes it possible to implement cross-device tracking because it associates sessions across multiple devices to a single user instead of multiple unique users By setting up User-ID, you can gain access to cross-device reports in Google Analytics User-ID will help you understand the relationship between multiple devices and engagement between sessions, which is essential when developing new marketing campaigns and their gamification To track users across multiple devices, you need to assign custom User-IDs to site visitors by changing in the analytics tracking source code. However, you would also need to add code that would pull any session-specific (login) IDs from the authentication system and send to Google Analytics as the User-ID. Finally, to view and analyze data from sessions in which a User-ID is detected, new views can be created showing cross-device reports.track users across multiple devicesThese reports can provide much-needed insight into user engagement on multiple devices with multiple sessions. They can also be considered as a breakdown of the activities users participate in during each of their sessions, which can further enhance game and level design for retail experiences.Take me back to quick links Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel The interdependencies of all the channels available must be understood thoroughly because customers want consistency across channels. For instance, customers want to continue their shopping experience where they had left off whenever they switch between channels. In the retail scenario, brick-and-mortar stores are associated more with customer service. This face to face advantage obviously shifts when specialized cross-channel journeys are considered, such as searching online but purchasing in-store, and vice-versa. For instance, you may find that limited sales are occurring via social channels and wrongly conclude them as ineffective. But, when viewing the entire journey across channels, you may discover that social channels are in fact a critical influencer of sales.The result of appreciating such consumer behaviours have a profound impact on marketing strategies, especially when the customer is no longer viewed within a single channel. Rather, each channel must be considered a driver for conversion in a different channel, and loyalty or fulfillment in yet another – all as a part of an omnichannel (interdependent) journey.Multi Channel Vs Single ChannelThis creates a clear, single view of the consumer, which will enable you to interact across all available channels. Taking advantage of better customer information, delivering consistent quality of service, and personalizing the customer experience, you can evolve your customer-centric business plan-of-action and enable all your channels.Analytics for Decision Support The most prevalent method of data storage for business is in silos across a variety of new and legacy systems. This lack of consolidation makes gleaning meaningful and timely insights difficult, if not impossible. Moreover, the analytical approach used by most companies is channel-specific, hindering them from getting a complete picture of the end-to-end customer journey. Remember, consumers are constantly producing data about their likes and dislikes, channel preferences, product choices and more; and to capture it, you must be prepared to glean data from website visits, email opens, social interactions, forms completed, purchases and so much more.Choosing to view this data in channel-specific silos can be misleading. To reach customers with a level of relevance that grows conversions and loyalty, you must first understand your customers. Advanced analytics, though at the heart of this approach, is more than just a new name for business intelligence. With advanced data architectures, you can now store new types of data, retain that data longer, and join diverse datasets together to gain new insights, not only to describe and summarize results but also to create possible futures based on-time-sensitive decisions and to predict likely outcomes.Advanced analyticsDescriptive Analytics are used when Summarizing Results and tool used Data Aggregation and Data Mining. Predictive Analytics are used when Making Educated Guesses and tool used Statistical Modelling and Simulation Techniques. Prescriptive Analytics are used when Making Time-Sensitive Decisions and tool used Heuristic Models and Optimization Models Insights gained from big data analytics, improve the customer experience at every touchpoint through high-performance services, fast feedback and customized offerings. Today’s advanced big data analytics can allow you to unlock new insights in real-time, enabling you to proactively offer products and services to your customers at the exact time they are most likely to subscribe, buy, or respond. This will lead to a proactive retention approach through analyzing mobile/web interaction, social media sentiment as well as direct communication based on combining customer churn prediction and marketing action optimization.You can go beyond “actionable customer analytics” to automatically determine what marketing action should be taken for each at-risk customer to achieve the maximum degree of retention possible – and create a customer experience that is unparalleled in the industry.The Role of Machine Learning in Analyzing Customer Behaviour Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligenceare extremely useful in deciphering the data captured from each customer interaction and can be used to predict the likely outcome of each event several steps down the line. For example, outcomes may be customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction concerning a product sale or call centre incident. Based on the sum of these calculations for the customer, or the customer segment, the system will determine and recommend the highest probability actions to take for marketing, sales, or support scenarios.Machine Learning in Analyzing Customer BehaviourOne of the main applications of machine learning – to drive customer engagement – is in market segmentation. In the absence of labelled real-time data, a subset of these techniques (called unsupervised learning) is very useful in advertising, implementing strategies for customer engagement and so on. By intimately understanding the intricacies of measuring and analyzing the customer experience throughout the journey, you can apply advanced diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics that – when combined – provide additional insights into business-level problems. While unsupervised learning allows for a wide degree of applications in making sense of data without labels, it is only advised if some level of association can be made across customer data. The low-hanging fruit for a machine learning use-case is likely to spawn from historical and labelled data available to you.However, not all Machine Learning models are optimal for a given set of problems and associated data. For instance, supervised learning techniques constitute a different mechanism of deriving insight from existing and known (training) datasets. This can be thought of as a teacher supervising the learning process.When it comes to decision making, Machine Learning can not only provide insight into what actions to take but also into what actions that should be avoided. The value of Machine Learning, therefore, lies in spotting connections between channels that would otherwise go completely unnoticed and then surfacing those connections for you to take action. This can come in the form of automated recommendations and gamified experiences that increase the chances of consumers purchasing additional products, or as follow up marketing activities like an email offer for one of the associated items.Machine LearningAll of this data is ingested by several algorithms powered by statistical and Machine Learning techniques for suggestion and decision support. Approaches use both supervised learning (e.g. classification, regression) and unsupervised (e.g. dimensionality reduction through clustering or compression) machine learning techniques. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime use similarity/proximity-based algorithms to generate recommendations based on (video-to-video views) in a “Because You Watched” section. A personalized video ranker algorithm, or PVR, selects the order of videos in genre rows, using an arbitrary subset of the Netflix catalogue. These short-term trends are powerful predictors of videos that Netflix customers watch for example, especially when combined with personalization.Occasion-Based Campaigns The use of occasion-based campaigns, be it for your catalogue or targeted and personalized advertising, can be a powerful tool for decision support as well as customer engagement and retention. At the individual customer level, NBA can be identified based on the offer acceptance rates of similar customer types and their willingness to convert during specific events or holiday seasons.Occasion-Based CampaignsWith each customers acceptance or rejection of an offer, the system can then update and adjust the NBA algorithm and predictive model. In essence, the ability to learn, adapt, and predict customer responses to your actions during specific events or occasions can significantly increase the likelihood of new customer acquisitions as well as retention of the existing customer base.Predictive NBAs and Branched Futures The customer journey in an omnichannel experience is considerably different than that of traditional multichannel. Studies have shown that almost 60 percent of online customers now expect retailers to approach them with value propositions ‘relevant’ to them – which would undoubtedly also be true if the same personalization experience were available to customers at bricks-and-mortar stores. Customers no longer want to review a generalized list of products and service offerings. Rather, they prefer insights into how features of those products and services will add more value to their day-to-day lives and why they should choose yours over a competitor. Knowledge transfer is best achieved through a gamified experience that is sensitive to choices made by the customer and the nuances that can be derived from the social setting in which those choices were made. Using this paradigm, “multiple-future” scenarios and storylines can be designed such that a set of choices, though not evident in their relationship between retail channels, can, in fact, be cross-linked.In the case of Brandy, her journey began online with social media, followed by a click-through to the mobile app. And though the order placement was still done online, her physical presence at the retail store acted as a catalyst. Similarly, a different scenario can also be mapped to a journey where the transaction occurs at the brick-and-mortar POS, but the catalyst is online searches and social media interactions. The ability to map and transition between journey points from channel to channel is at the heart of predictive NBAs, and the main driver behind interactive retail gamification.Take me back to quick links Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Omnichannel interactions can provide the customer with constant communications across their journey, one where the conversation history and context travels with them from channel to channel. But the context for omnichannel experience is non-trivial to maintain across many disconnected communication channels, from chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp, to email, SMS, mobile and web chat. In the case of a Telecom Operator as an example, true omnichannel would mean giving the operator the ability to interact with the right customers, in the right places at the right times, all without having to sacrifice context. Omnichannel APIs can easily transfer the conversation from a chat app to in-app or web chat, from an email to SMS – or any other combination whether the customer is looking to upgrade a wireless device, change a plan, or request support. The operator can provide customers with a set of choices for where they would like to continue the conversation or get notified of a reply later on.AR/MR-based Interaction Perhaps the most significant opportunity for omnichannel marketing is the ability to create virtual versions of real products so consumers can enjoy an ultra-realistic shopping experience. While conversational interfaces are proving to be invaluable in engaging the user to intuitively access content and assist in decision making, such interfaces are limited to text- or voice-based chatbots. However, conversational interaction for Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR) will be fundamentally different due to the enriched content rendered within an arbitrary 3D space. Free from the confines of a 2D “flatland,” the UX of the future will demand digital content to be more than what is currently accessed over the web. UX designers and developers will need to prepare content generation and digital assistants for verbal, as well as gestures, to interact with the users; not just by displaying audible or visual content, but by introducing key micro-interactions through evolutionary storyboarding that trigger the user’s active thought process.AR Vs MRIn AR, Real world remains central to digital experiences, enhanced by virtual details. In MR, Interaction with and manipulation of both the physical and virtual environment. It is estimated that approximately 67 percent of people who enter a fitting room in a store will likely make a purchase. Using technology to overcome this physical hurdle, Dressing Room apps use such technology that can allow people to virtually “try on” clothes, all without setting foot in store. After selecting a product on the virtual shelf, customers can select their size and the size of the garment to get a better idea of how the clothes will fit – which adds another dimension to gamification.Furthermore, the recent success of AR apps such as Pokémon Go has presented new possibilities in how such technology can be beneficial, especially if Brandy’s journey of the egg hunt is taken into consideration. Retailers can use similar tools to boost local customer engagement through AR mobile apps that encourage loyalty rewards.The Role of Proximity-Based Beacons and IoT Devices Beacons are battery-operated wireless devices that transmit Bluetooth signals to nearby smartphones. In the context of retail, beacons reach out to customers that have Bluetooth enabled and the right retail apps downloaded onto their phones. Beacon technology is a new way to engage with consumers and provide incentives for shoppers to enter a particular store, stay for a while, and make purchases. Their continued rise in popularity is expected to help reinvigorate brick-and-mortar retailers, offering customizable shopping experiences to customers that cannot be replicated online.Proximity-Based Beacons and IoT DevicesRetailers strategically place beacons around their store. The beacons connect to a customer’s Bluetooth enabled smartphone app. It sends a signal to the phone and the app is opened. The retailer can provide the customer with a wealth of information. Take me back to quick links Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling We are creatures of emotion. As such, naturally, the best gamification experience would create a sense of fun, happiness, and excitement for us. However, this is only possible with a quantitative measure of such sentiment, corresponding motivators and expectations, and the game mechanics that influence them. Analytics can be combined with customer data to predict behaviour and personalize gamified experiences in real-time. This can be achieved with a combination of:Your merchandise catalogue Potential customer’s presence proximity to your store Available inventory in that store The user’s past behaviour and current patterns These elements can provide insight into a customer’s needs and suggest possible products and services to address those needs in real-time. A text message, email or in-app notification could be pushed to the customer’s device (if known) with promotional offers to help them with their purchase.Establishing a Story Stories are fundamentally engaging and have grown into a safe harbour for us to experience loss, or more accurately, perceived loss. Based on the Freudian hypothesis of recovery and loss, such dramatizations enable the engaging power of stories and their application in gaming.Web and game developers have drawn on story-based strategies to enhance engagement with their audience. This strategy can draw on elements of game-play to optimize interaction with marketing and branding campaigns. Fundamentally, game-playing structures revolve around the theme of winning and losing, and create a perceptual “tension” of loss if a particular action is not taken. And this deep-rooted similarity to the very structure of emotional experiences is interpreted by the human brain as a potential risk that must be addressed by putting in the necessary effort. The outcome is automatically interpreted by the brain as an accomplishment.Building a Rewards Program We love being rewarded, whether in the form of discounts, points, or bragging rights. Rewards are naturally a part of retail because completing a purchase can already feel like we have walked out triumphant with a prize in hand. Building on customer engagement and brand loyalty by developing a tiered rewards program can further enhance this sense of reward, where customers can perform certain actions to inch their way towards a highly desired milestone.One style of a rewards program is to gain loyalty points. You can make use of such loyalty programs to encourage shoppers to make purchases. When a certain number of points are earned through purchases, they can be redeemed for discounts or virtual cash to spend at the store. At other times, such discounts could even be offered immediately to prospects just to get them “in the door.” However, the timing of the offer, the relevance of the reward, and the perceived value must be immediately obvious to the buyer, yet subtle enough, so it does not appear as forced.Making Games Relevant to Customers’ Locale and Timing Today’s customers rely heavily on social media to discover new products and brands and use mobile messaging apps to get feedback from friends about potential purchases. You can get customers to download your app by integrating social features and seamless sharing. For example, clickthrough and downloads can be achieved rather easily by deep-linking social sub-apps (e.g. messaging platforms) to the main app or its download location on the smartphone’s store. Once downloaded, the gamification of retail experiences can take shape rather organically. However, it should be noted that gamified promotions are only as good as the person they are offered to, the timing they are offered in, and the location they are offered at.Take me back to quick links The Value of PRO-Gamification in Retail While undoubtedly influential on Brandy’s behaviour, the “Easter egg hunt” should not be mistaken for gamification; instead, it was just a brief component within an elaborate and interactive implementation of PRO-Gamification. This gamification will lead you to a sustained stream of recurring sales, increased customer loyalty, and new and personalized customer engagement – precisely what consumers are demanding from their brands. The trick is in how you gain insights into customer behaviour, use location and timing cues to trigger customer engagement, and test new promotional strategies, while keeping the overall experience as relevant and meaningful to customers as possible.PRO-Gamification will empower you to generate more customer engagement across all channels, gain valuable insights into your behaviour, and bring more bodies into brick-and-mortar locations – but it does require careful planning and execution. That is unless you are the consumer, in which case, it is all just fun, happiness, and excitement.To win, you have to play. To implement the new retail imperative

PRO-Gamification: Defining the Future of Retail Experiences

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I love technology; so much so, that I have made a career out of it. I see its potential, and I see it as the answer to many questions and problems that we as a society face. Technology is not meant to complicate our life; rather simplify it, streamline it, and enable us to do more. And it is these experiences with technology that are at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, not the complicated mechanisms behind it. It was Steve Matyas, CEO, Staples Canada, who once said “the customer doesn’t care what happens in the background,” and he couldn’t have been more right. Experiences define a brand; not products, services, or the technology that powers them. Essentials in designing experience Putting technology aside for a moment, at the forefront of any new idea or development should be the user experience. In order to do that accurately, you must go through the journey of these three essential aspects of design thinking: Empathy (with users to design human-centred experience) Ideation (generating ideas to best deliver on the user’s purpose) Experimentation (prototyping and refining with user feedback) These three essential aspects have far-reaching implications when it comes to developing new products and services because they help realign your development and design efforts with the true goal of technology – enabling the user. Instead, there seems to be a common thread in trying to integrate every last bit of technology into products and services; almost as if creating the tech equivalent to a Swiss Army knife. Except, much like the offerings of a Swiss Army knife, users don’t often find themselves in need of a mini saw, a corkscrew, and a Phillips head screwdriver all at the same time. The trick is in integrating technology so that it takes a backstage role; one that supports the requirements of the user, while propelling them forward, intuitively and seamlessly to their next step – not yours. Disruptive Technologies are artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality, internet of things When looking at some of the most elegant and memorable experiences provided by the Googles and Apples of the world, and you’ll begin to notice a commonality – simplicity. This simplicity isn’t found in the technology behind it, on the contrary, it is among the most complex and sophisticated to date. Instead, it is the experience for the user that is simple, which is why it’s so effective. Investing in the fundamental truth of humanity The customer experience needs to be viewed as an investment, one that will help ensure that your business can compete in not just future markets, but current ones. Here, however, we see many falling behind; and choosing to view the customer experience as a cost centre, rather than an investment in their success. And yet, time and time again we see the most successful brands prioritize experiences over technology. Why? Well, when was the last time your app wrote its own 5 star review or recommended itself to friends? Assuming that by now you have begun to realize the value and far-reaching implications of experience design, it is important to note that we are talking about a dynamic factor, one that invariably changes along with the people who experience it. To assume that your users are the same people that they were yesterday, would be a gross oversight. People evolve, and it should be this evolution that is at par with your technological development. What needs do your users have today, and what do you anticipate them to be tomorrow? By taking measures to understand their behaviour, preferences, and needs, it is paramount that you embrace a fundamental truth of humanity – we are always evolving. To stay relevant and consistently provide your customers with expected experiences, you need to be constantly defining and redefining what is important to users of every generation. Continuous Monitoring of the Evolving Behaviours, Preferences, and Needs You would be making a potentially devastating mistake by leaving something as powerful as user experience up to chance. After all, good or bad, your users will have an experience with your brand, so why not take the effort to ensure that you are providing your customers with the best one possible? As I mentioned, experiences are feelings, which then get stored as memories, and much like a hard drive, we have the ability to recall these memories, ultimately dictating the emotions we feel when we think about them. So let me ask you, are you confident that your customers are having a memorable experience or are they simply being asked to accept the one you are dictating?

Technologies Come and Go but Experiences Last a Lifetime

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Voice command technology has mostly been used in smartphones and computers in recent years, but today it’s becoming increasingly common for voice assistants to be incorporated into virtual and home assistant devices, consumer products, appliances, customer service offerings, e-commerce, and more. In fact, as the technologies required to operate voice assistants continue to improve, so too will it become increasingly common for consumers to expect this level of interaction from the brands they support. Most of us are already using voice commands on their smartphones, and it’s expected that this technology will be installed on over 7.5 billion devices by the year 2021. At the 2018 CES event in Las Vegas, there were numerous new prototypes and products that integrated voice assistant technology, proving that this trend is sticking around for good, especially in the world of e-commerce.Just look at recent news surrounding Amazon’s Alexa, whether she’s “losing her voice” for a Superbowl ad or the now infamous “laughing incident”, consumers are becoming more familiar and reliant on voice assistants. But as different brands and e-commerce companies find creative ways to implement voice assistants and more consumers become familiar with the technology, more companies are going to have to seriously consider how to integrate voice commands into their own customer products and experience, which is being revolutionized by this fun and interactive technology.The Current State of Voice Assistants: Web Searches, Questions, and Voice Command Calling We’re all familiar with the concept of voice assistants thanks to the voice command technology that modern smartphones are equipped with, such as Siri for Apple devices, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s S Voice. In fact, in 2017 the Pew Research Center polled internet users and found that 42 percent used virtual assistant technology via their smartphones, whether it’s to ask questions, set reminders, locate goods and services, or initiate calls.One of the major reasons why we use voice commands is the convenience that the technology provides, allowing us to multitask more effectively by allowing us to use our devices without having to type or look at the screen. The same Pew Research data showed that 80 percent of voice assistant users liked the idea of not having to touch their device. Talking is also more natural than writing, and significantly faster: whereas most people can only type 40 words per minute, they can say upwards of 175 words in the same amount of time. Nonetheless, the use of voice command devices is still largely limited to smartphones, computers, and home assistants. Moreover, there are only a few basic reasons why most of us use the technology, with common voice command examples including:Research dataTasks Canadians like to do with Digital Assistants are finding directions 58%, ordering food delivery 40%, making restaurant reservations 40%, making/managing shopping lists 36%. Technology Evolution and the Rise of Home Assistants In the last couple of years, tech companies like Amazon have been finding innovative ways to use voice technology, ultimately giving birth to the voice command home assistant. These virtual assistants include devices like Alexa by Amazon, Samsung’s Bixby, and Google Home, and we use them to find answers to questions, get weather or traffic updates, control various features around the house, order takeout, and much more. These devices have convenience as their number one goal, requiring only addressing the device to activate it, and then pose a question or initiate a command. For instance, a popular voice command for Alexa is “Alexa, show me my photos,” at which time the voice assistant will access the photos on your smartphone and display them.Popular Virtual Assistant Devices are Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and BixbyTechnological Developments are Expanding the Potential of Voice Assistants Voice command recognition algorithm technology is still in its nascent stages, and new developments are happening all the time that are making voice assistants more appealing and easier to use. Plus, these developments are also increasing the applications for the technology, which is why the use of voice assistants will only continue to grow in the coming years. For example, natural language processing has taken some major steps forward in recent years, and since 2012, Google alone has reduced its speech recognition error rate by over 30 percent. Another major development that’s making voice assistants more viable is the cloud because devices can use remote servers to process information and requests rather than a device’s own processor, and this makes the technology far more powerful. Finally, artificial intelligence and machine learning mean that voice assistants can improve themselves over time by learning from previous interactions, and this also means that devices will get better at remembering user preferences and histories.Voice command recognition algorithm technologyFactors that are improving voice assistants are development of cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning, emergence of new developments and applications, reduced speech recognition error rate. Unlocking the Possibilities: How is Voice Command the Future of Customer Experience? Voice assistant technology isn’t limited to virtual assistants and mobile devices, and there are a number of applications where this technology is currently being implemented to enhance customer products and experiences. For example, voice command technology is a natural fit with home appliances, and companies like GE, Whirlpool, Samsung, LG, have already partnered with Amazon (Alexa), Bixby, as well as Google Home to manufacture microwaves, washing machines, cooking ranges, refrigerators, and other smart appliances that are voice activated and can provide consumers with interactive customer experiences. In fact, you can use your digital assistants to get your stocks up in the refrigerator, clean your dishes, do the laundry, and more using the smart connected appliances. However, this technology isn’t limited to in the home as we’ve seen from the insurance company Lemonade who is using voice assistants to provide incomparable customer service, and they’ve created an AI bot named Jim who can process claims and approve payments in record time. As more developments happen in this field in the coming months and years, voice-enabled devices, items, and customer service offerings will only continue to become more ubiquitous as well. Recent studies by MasterCard and Mercator found that 21 percent of voice assistant users in the US use the technology for more complex e-commerce and banking functions. The same study also found that users are becoming more trustworthy of the security and privacy settings of these devices, which will open more options for banking, telecom, and retail. Here at home, Google reported that 73 percent of Canadians would like to complete tasks by speaking to a digital assistant, and according to Tractica, by 2020 there will be over 1.6 billion digital assistant users. Although most voice assistant use still resides in the realm of smartphones and home, there will be newer ways to incorporate this technology into products and services. To stay relevant, we need to start incorporating the fastest growing consumer technology for 2018 or risk getting left behind. Looking to add some voice to your experience? Let’s Connect

Voice Assistants: Empowering e-Commerce Customers To Do More

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Depending on which study you read, you’ll find failure rates for large IT projects range anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. Whatever the number, it is an astonishing figure considering the strategic importance of many IT initiatives in today’s world. Which begs the question – how can you improve project management and create a scalable framework by utilizing the best attributes of the Agile and Waterfall methodologies?Let’s take a look together.Agile and Waterfall—Preeminent Management Methodologies Project management is difficult, even under the best conditions, with software development projects potentially offering the greatest challenge. Neither business needs nor technology stop evolving, which means projects need to be managed in a highly fluid environment. That’s why it’s vital for your development teams to have a well-defined project methodology in place. By following a structured and scalable framework, project managers can effectively manage the complexity and variability of IT systems as well as the software application(s) being developed. This serves to drive benchmark success and reduce the risk of costly rework.Two of the most popular project management methodologies are Agile and Waterfall. Both of these are solid, mature methodologies and are popular for diverse reasons. When it comes to choosing between the two, neither is inherently better than the other; rather, it is the project itself and the team that is executing it, that should dictate which methodology is selected.In choosing between Agile and Waterfall, consider the situation, tactical goals, the composition of your team, and your culture. Even if your organization supports a particular model, there are usually opportunities to enhance your chosen method. You should tweak or blend the two methodologies to align with your unique needs, handle new challenges, and keep pace with the larger mandate.To clarify the opportunities and obstacles of both Agile and Waterfall, let’s begin with a deeper dive into each.The Agile Model Agile development uses an iterative, incremental approach that emphasizes the rapid delivery of an application in complete and functional components. If all planned work for the project cannot be completed in the current cycle, work is reprioritized, and the information is used for future iterations or “sprint” planning.Agile practices are best suited to projects that require constant improvements and need the flexibility to adapt to the varying requirements. As tasks are groomed, they can be evaluated by both your development team and the client in order to amend and meet the changing requirements. The multiple development cycles can be executed, with deliverables prioritized by business value.The objective of each cycle is to deliver a shippable product that can be demoed to provide feedback and shown as evidence of progress. Any recommendations are directed to future iterations. Agile offers the prospect of ongoing improvement and is highly flexible. In today’s fluid market, where software development needs to be fast and efficient, Agile offers an attractive option.Advantages Speed: Working software can be delivered quickly and at a consistent pace. Flexibility: The process adapts to changes as they occur, which allows for immediate client and end-user feedback that can be used in the next iteration. Predictability: Since every cycle is of a fixed-time period, project timelines are easier to predict. Value-focused: Development is often more value-focused, which helps fulfill specific end-user needs. Challenges Continuous testing: Testing is needed throughout the project, which can stretch resources and increase costs if not complemented by continuous integration and automation testing. Frequent collaboration: Active customer involvement can add to implementation time and expense if processes are not adapted across your organization. Scope definition complexity: The iterative nature of Agile development can create complications in defining the project scope if iteration goals are not defined properly. Self-organized team: Team members need to possess and exercise multiple skill sets to help each other and remove internal impediments as much as possible. The following visual demonstrates key recommendations to overcome the aforementioned challengeshow we mentor and remove impediments because we have1. Manageable Team size. 2. Single funnel and decision making. 3. automation and seamless integration. 4. collaboration. 5. self organising team. 6. time bound cycle. 7. tool. 8. quick daily update.The Waterfall Method Known as the traditional method of software development, the Waterfall approach is a fixed, linear methodology that comprises sequential Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) phases. Since each phase is sequential, after a step is completed, rework is typically required to enable your developers to revisit an earlier step to alter the project or its direction.The methods linear approach makes it simpler to manage and understand. Projects with established requirements to deliver new product(s) with multiple dependencies are good candidates for the Waterfall method.However, because of the Waterfall methods rigid structure and strict controls, there is little room for modification or error on the part of your team. Therefore, a project acceptance criterion and a detailed plan must be established from the start and followed carefully.Advantages Well-documented: Each phase calls for comprehensive documentation, which makes it easier to leverage code of previous projects and develop a solid base for upcoming projects. Firm deadlines: A defined starting point and a fixed evaluation process for each phase make it easier to estimate costs and meet timelines. Well-organized: Clearly defined projects with sequential workflows help simplify status updates to all your project stakeholders. Challenges Difficult to modify: Since testing and feedback don’t occur until late in the project, modifications and improvements can be complex and costly to implement. Lack of foresight: Since requirements are often unknown when a project is initiated, designers can’t always foresee problems that may arise out of the implementation process. Thus, Waterfall requires that key team members—and especially the project manager—have worked in similar circumstances. Delivery speed: Due to the sequential approach, your team can’t produce a shippable product until all project phases (SDLC) are completed. Evaluating Best-Fit Project Types With its linear model and clear specifications, it might seem that Waterfall may require less time with better control compared to Agile. This is accurate to some degree. However, with Agile and Automation Testing, products can be launched anytime, helping to accelerate time-to-market and revenue generation.In terms of evaluating between Agile and Waterfall, neither is intrinsically superior. Depending on the scope, structure and scale of your software project, you’ll usually find one methodology more relevant and useful than the other in specific scenarios. The characteristics of a project help determine which methodology will work best.Choose Agile when: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is more pressing than product completeness. Clients have the opportunity to revise the project scope of future deliverables based on market condition and response. You have flexible and expert developers who can think independently. The product is planned for a market with rapidly evolving requirements or standards. Choose Waterfall when: The end product design and features are clearly defined and determined. Clients have a clear vision and are not expecting to modify the project scope drastically once it has commenced. Product completeness, rather than speed to market, is vital to success. Optimizing Your Return on Investment While the idea of following a designated methodology for completing a project makes sense, what happens when your unique project requires elements from both Agile and Waterfall? Simple, you take the best of both worlds and use a hybrid model. For example, we have used agile sprint-based development in Waterfall methodology and it has provided our team with the opportunity to review the outcome after every short cycle of development.Ultimately, understanding the opportunities and obstacles of these methods will make you and your team better equipped to implement a scalable framework to deliver complex IT systems that meet sustainable growth. Here at mobileLIVE, we’ve successfully delivered hundreds of projects using a combination of Iterative Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban methodologies, all tailored to the clients’ unique needs.The above image clearly demonstrates the scalable approach by leveraging the three methodologies namely Iterative Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban. At the time of backlog grooming, the stories are assessed, and right methodologies are chosen to develop the enablersRemember, while the method in which a project is executed is critical, ultimately what really matters is winning business and consistently delivering high-value software that meets end-user performance demands. Reach out to us today and learn how we’ve helped our clients streamline development without sacrificing on value for the end-user, all the while exceeding quality, one time, on budget – every time!Interested in learning which approach is right for you? Let’s Connect

Agile or Waterfall: Which Approach Is Right For You?

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Unless you have been hiding under a rock, the odds are that you have heard about the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence and the transformational impact it is going to have on our lives. Certain parts of the euphoria remind us of the dot-com bubble from the ‘90s – when the technology hype hit its peak. There seems to be intense excitement at all levels, from CEOs and analysts to grassroots developers; all are expecting Artificial Intelligence, or AI technology, to not only dramatically change our lives but the world. Well, we really can’t blame them, given all the excitement created by the billions of dollars being invested in the Artificial Intelligence domain. With all the stars perfectly aligned, perhaps it is best to “peel the onion” a little bit in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what AI really is, why now and why all the hype, and how AI technology and AI companies can dramatically change the Telecom Industry landscape, in particular.What is Artificial Intelligence and why the hype now? AI is essentially humans teaching machines how to learn and mimic their intellect.Quite like a toddler- who learns by experience, constantly absorbing information, decoding it and understanding patterns – we feed machines huge amounts of data that create their own algorithms and constantly tweak them to meet their objectives. Over time the program gets smarter and very human-like, i.e., less artificial and more intelligent.ICT & big dataDuring the past few years, some factors have led to AI technology coming closer to unleashing its true potential – mainly, a ton of data becoming available along with faster GPUs for processing it.With billions of things getting connected to the web, there is a tsunami of information being generated. Since the dawn of time until 2004, around 5 exabytes of information have been created and captured. To put that visually, try and imagine a stack of books that spans from earth all the way to Pluto and back 80 times over. Impressive, certainly, but over the last decade, the amount of data being captured has exploded with 90 percent of the world’s collective data reportedly being generated in the past two years alone. And now thanks to advances in processing speeds, computers can make sense of all this information faster and more efficiently.Because of this, tech giants and VCs are pumping the market with cash and new applications and investing into AI companies. China alone has already invested $109BN in this space, and the race between countries is heating up. The reason being that 15-20 percent of the global GDP is forecasted to be linked to AI-related industries by 2025! Mind numbing, isn’t it?IoT solutions1100+ New startups raised 1st equity since 2016, $15.2B Equity funding in 2017 alone, a 141% jump from the previous year, 300+ Companies entered incubations in 2017, 3x more than 2016. Source: CBInsights How is Artificial Intelligence different from Predictive Analytics and Big Data? Are there financial benefits of investing in all three? Often, people inquire what is the difference between Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning. They want to have the ability to differentiate between the three to ensure adequate allocation of resources and to set right expectations with all the stakeholders..Big Data: Collection of “data sets” which are large, complex, and difficult to process using on-hand database management tools.Predictive Analytics: Practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and accurately predict future outcomes, trends, and behaviour.Machine Learning: Machines performing tasks that normally require human intelligence (visual perception, decision-making, learning, etc.). This takes into account the entire context of the situation.big data analysisIn a nutshell, creating Big Data lakes for gleaning insights and learning is the foundation in which all corporations must invest. Using Machine Learning, the self-learning engine to unlock value from the data, organizations can then extract insights, predict outcomes, and perform human-like tasks. Investment in all three, i.e., Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning is quickly being elevated to table stakes. Business and IT teams need to work “hand in glove” to prioritize the required output. On the inverse, we have found that working in isolation leads to converting the proverbial haystack into a bunch of needles rather than finding the one insight which is critical to business.Should we bet on AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? Everyone seems to be deploying them, should we invest in them now? These, my dear Watson, are the wrong questions to be asking! The metaphorical cart is coming before the horse, if you would. The correct question should be, “How do I use technology to solve my business problem quickly and efficiently?”First, however, let’s dive into both RPA and AI to distinguish the two. The goal is to bridge the journey from Human to Digital labour in the most efficient way. Given the pressures on the bottom line, “Digital Labour” is no longer a consideration, rather, a mandate for most companies across the world. RPA and AI are the two unique sets of tools used to traverse the journey from one end of the spectrum to the other, i.e., Digital Labour = Cognitive Computing (AI) + RPA (Digital work).Robotic Process AutomationBasic RPA consists of automating entry-level transactional, rule-based and repeatable processes. It involves working with structured data and within well-defined parameters in order for the bots to complete the tasks autonomously. However, digital labour is automation driven by self-learning and adaptive technologies. It involves self-learning, digestion of super data sets, hypothesis generation, and evidence-based learning. All fun stuff!Most companies and businesses we speak to love the concept of AI and want to jump right into it. However, it is a journey of realization, meaning you need to ask yourself some questions first. What really are the use cases? Can you articulate the pain points? Can you clearly quantify benefits to help determine whether AI and/or automation is necessary? It is then that collectively decided on which is the best course of action and implementation.What are the telecom specific use cases of AI technology? What are the financial benefits? The telecom industry is at a crossroads. No other industry is driven as much by bits and bytes while at the same time faces disintermediating challenges for the same reasons. Business models are changing, customer expectations and behaviour are constantly evolving, legacy economics and paradigms are becoming untenable. This is why 2014 was the first year when the total global revenue of telcos had marginally negative growth. From then on, every investor relations call is bombarded with questions on increasing revenue, reducing OPEX and CAPEX, and here is where AI technology opens up an opportunity for AI companies.Capital Reduction ($10-12 BN savings over a decade)Between the three telcos in Canada, the collective annual capital spend is ~$10BN to grow and sustain their respective networks. Using this run rate would peg the capital spending over the next decade to be at ~$100BN, even when not taking into consideration a spike of an estimated 40 percent due to an increased spend on 5G and fibre deployments.Given that the lifecycle of technologies has reduced considerably – CDMA lasted 25 years, HSPA possibly 10, and LTE even less. It’s time to recuperate that investment cycle is reducing. In the meanwhile, cost of electronics has gone down, and most of the capital effort is spent on the optimization of networks and installation.At last count, 70 percent of capital cost to upgrade from one technology to another was spent on labour and infrastructure, and only 30 percent on the actual OEM related electronics. That would technically peg the telcos as infrastructure players, vis-à-vis, a pure play telco. However, AI and other combinatorial techs can be leveraged to reduce that labour cost for optimization significantly. A lot of the OEMs have started providing their own software for SON (Self Optimizing Networks), but that would really be akin to asking the wolves guard the sheep. Telcos need to have their POV and build on it over time, to ensure basic hygiene and best practices are kept in-house. Also, predicting usage of subscribers by geography and ensuring the network is dimensioned correctly will not be done on the side of the desk of engineers, rather, through deep scenario analysis and planning, considering all parameters. Lastly, optimization of spectrum auction pricing can be done using game theory and decision trees. Given the appetite of operators to spend billions on it, we expect a healthy dose of AI to be used to save thousands of consultant hours and save millions (if not billions) of dollars in the process.We estimate at least 10-15 percent ($10BN) of the capital envelope can be reduced using cognitive technologies holistically across the process.OPEX Reduction ($3-5BN savings over a decade)Predictive Maintenance: The ability to fix problems with telecom hardware (such as cell towers, power lines, etc) before they happen and by detecting signals that usually lead to failure. This significantly reduces downtime and dramatically improves Customer Experience and churn metrics.Video Analysis: Instead of sending field workers to check on-site hardware periodically, AT&T has invested heavily in drones and in AI to analyze video data captured, which proactively raises flags for the field team to go in and fix issues.Self-Driving Networks: In the future it’s likely that governments might ban humans from driving cars as it is a reckless or unnecessarily risky activity. Similarly, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be done away with the Network Engineers! A perfect world really would be where networks would run themselves; away from our grubby, inefficient hands. This provides an opportunity for cost-cutting and efficiency gains. Ideally, we should not need so much staff to manage operator networks. A lightly staffed network powered by an economical but sophisticated AI will look more desirable than ever. That is truly aspirational today, but something to work towards.Customer Service ChatBots: Every telco customer calls in four times a year at an average cost of $15/call for password resets, billing inquiries, or changing plan details. This OPEX of ~$2BN/year across the three operators can be dramatically slashed by using chatbots which are equipped to do the same. Automating 10-15 percent of the customer service inquiries, routing customers to the proper agent, and routing prospects with buying intent directly to salespeople will make a material impact on the bottom line! Further, leveraging NLP, sentiment analysis and text to speech virtual customer service agents could be used to replace humans, with the customer not being able to distinguish one from the other. That could be a tangible reality in 5-10 years’ time; taking the cost down from $15 to 15 cents per call.Speech and Voice Services for Customers: Allowing customers to browse, explore, and buy content by spoken word rather than remote control (e.g., DISH network and Amazon’s Alexa partnership).Security and Fraud: Detect fraudulent activity in credit-card transactions or identifying web traffic to the website and customers, looking to exploit network and infrastructure vulnerabilities.Revenue Enhancement I algorithms can help combine historic patterns, psychographic analysis and behaviour (plus “look-alike” patterns) with ongoing real-time engagement to provide relevant, targeted, contextual experiences for consumers. The outcome will be upselling recommendations and offers, helping improve the conversion rate of offers, and enabling incremental wallet share. The same algorithms could be potentially leveraged to predict subscribers willingness to pay a particular price for a product, estimate product price elasticities, and quantify sales leads likelihood to close.How do we tackle AI as an organization? How much investment is required? It is best to use a good framework to get the ball rolling organization-wide. Some frameworks that we have used in the past include:Cognitive strategyCognitive StrategyHost an innovative workshop that showcases the potential of cognitive discovery, With perceived value in the forefront, identify, and rank use cases, Who? How? What? Dive into the current state of the use cases while being sure to include areas for improvement (scale, errors, non-blue etc.), Present a finalized cognitive strategy to key stakeholders for approval based on prioritised use cases.Detailed AssesmentDetermine detailed use cases and a variety of scenarios, Establish concrete user personas of user on the cognitive automation platform, Define content source(s), type of content, system interactions and integrations required, and system of record, Determine what operational requirements are needed to support the solution (Operational Management, Operational Reporting etc.), For training and configuration purposes, identify all required attributes and level of content annotationsSizing and Investment CaseEstablish criteria to estimate the beneficial impact on the organization, Determine the size of this potential business benefit – both quantifiable and non-quantifiable, Establish a high-level solution concept overview, Estimate the required investment required, Detailed solution blueprint, Build and train, Deploy and maintain, Confirm and validate benefit of investment case with key stakeholders, Conclude investment case for approval and fundingWe understand that AI can be intimidating and complicated, which is why we encourage you to engage us for a better understanding of the foundational capabilities, needed to get an AI program up and running. From building use cases, decision-making paradigms, economic impact analysis, choosing governance model and platforms to be deployed, we have gone through the process a few times. Every business is unique; we look forward to learning more about your specific needs to determine how we can accelerate your digital transformation.

From Self-Driving Cars to Self-Driving Networks: Rise of AI in Telecom

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What makes an idea powerful? Simple. Ideas are powerful because they are living things, which have an ability to not only evolve and change but change the lives of those around it. mobileLIVE started as an idea, one that continues to evolve each and every day, but remains true to its vision of being a “Canadian Centre-of-Excellence” at the forefront of development, testing, and experience design services.mobileLIVE has achieved 100% customer retention and is recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, Top Mobile Technology Company, and Fastest-Growing Company in North America. Consisting of nearly 300 diverse team members, we have successfully designed, developed, integrated, and tested 1000+ innovative digital transformation solutions for some of Canada’s most iconic brands. This is who we are and what we are known as today; however, the story of mobileLIVE has much more humble origins, and it began with just one man.The year was 1998; Microsoft just became the biggest company in the world, mobile phones resembled bricks, and a young electrical engineer, by the name of Jahan Ali, immigrated to Canada to pursue his Masters from the University of Toronto. Like many new immigrants, Jahan had his fair share of hardships, but he did not let new surroundings stand in the way of his dreams. In 2001, he not only graduated but landed himself a prestigious job working for Motorola. It seemed as though everything was coming together.A leader by nature, Jahan found himself growing restless in his role, despite having made significant contributions to not one, but two, major patents integral to Motorola’s success. It wasn’t a lack of money or recognition that was causing Jahan’s discontent, rather his unwavering vision; a dream of creating a Canadian Centre-of-Excellence and become the number one company for every customer it serves.In true form to dozens of entrepreneurs before him, Jahan left his successful career at Motorola and began mobileLIVE in the basement of his home. However, like most great ideas, its realization was easier said than done. From initial capital required to launch his company to competing against offshore trends for retaining market share in Canada, Jahan faced many challenges, but his innovative strategies and sheer determination kept mobileLIVE on an explosive growth trajectory.The Incredible Journey Stages in digital transformationStartup Phase Jahan had to find a way to distinguish mobileLIVE in an already dense digital realm. Noticing an industry pattern, primarily focused on OPEX and CAPEX reduction, Jahan saw an opportunity in certifying devices for telecom operators before launch and in response created Canada’s FIRST-EVER third party lab for smartphones and IoT (Internet of Things) certification. The lab was a huge success as it negated the need for telecoms to build their own sophisticated and expensive testing facilities. True to his nature and his vision for mobileLIVE, Jahan did not stop there.Service Expansion Jahan noticed an increasing trend in offshoring of software development to reduce costs. Disturbed by jobs being shipped out of a country that had given him so much, Jahan decided to further expand mobileLIVE services in the custom development of mobile and web apps while challenging the offshore model. mobileLIVE started offering reduced total-cost-of-ownership by building modular and reusable software frameworks, practicing user experience driven solutions, and developing iteratively with higher velocity. This was very well received and became the turning point in mobileLIVEs’ success and in moving jobs back to Canada.Product Development With a taste for success, Jahan wanted to further diversify the mobileLIVE portfolio in response to the growing importance of a digital workforce, artificial intelligence, customer experience, and process automation. At the same time, he realized that all the major automation products were being produced in the US and Europe, but none were being developed here at home, in Canada. This inspired him to align with Government of Canada’s innovation agenda and launch mobileLIVEs’ Robotic Software Factory, a product of 100% Canadian research and development. The robotic automation software is designed to emulate interactions of humans with a system interface to handle standardized, repetitious, and rule-based tasks. This not only proved valuable for testing user experience across ecosystem but also opened the door to process automation that could provide business with consistency across channels, lower operational costs, and improve team productivity. Within a year of launch, three major brands began to utilize this tool as an essential part of their automation strategy. This helped to solidify mobileLIVE culture as one of automation, with the end goals always being lower cost and enhanced customer experience.Accelerating Digital Transformation In the current phase, mobileLIVE has established itself as a tremendous force in accelerating digital transformation with specialization in experience design, web/mobile/cloud/IoT applications, analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation. The offerings of mobileLIVE have evolved alongside the digital landscape by providing solutions for customers and end-users designed to simplify, not complicate the experience. Each and every day our team renews their promise to our clients; of ensuring that their initiatives will go to market with an unprecedented focus on the end-user, exceeding quality, on time, on budget – every time!mobileLIVE Values From creating the FIRST-EVER third party testing lab for smartphones and IoT in Canada to helping pave the way for national pride in the area of robotics and system automation, mobileLIVE continues to evolve while remaining true to our vision. And despite how much we have changed over the years, we have always taken a customer-obsessed approach in everything we do, and that carries from our clients to their end-users. We do this by creating not only simple, intuitive, and enjoyable experiences for the end-users, but by developing modular, scalable, and adaptable frameworks, bolstered by a collaborative and unique delivery model, designed around building customer intimacy.As one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, for the second consecutive year, we remain focused on our clients’ success by transforming their digital landscape, increasing their operational agility, and creating exceptional experiences for their customers.We are mobileLIVE, and our story has just begun.

A Digital Transformation Brand Developed & Integrated in Canada

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It has been more than four weeks since the “FOR SALE” sign has been up on a house I drive by on my way to work. The house is in a well-known suburb within the western region of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where properties have been sold rather quickly in the past. It is priced on par with current market rates and does not suffer from any defects or design flaws. So why has it not been sold yet?Certainly, there are indications of a cooling trend in the Canadian real-estate market, but they are nowhere near alarming. This got me thinking whether there is something more at play than just a “downturn”. Real-estate is uniquely positioned because although it is consumer-driven, it constitutes a vital, highly expensive, and life-changing transaction. However, a paradigm shift in consumer trends to abandon bricks-and-mortar retail in favour of online shopping, as well as the onset of digital transformation, may also shed some light on a growing expectation not only for convenient and instantaneous access to rich and personalized information but also to land a “better deal” than in the past.Ultimately, can digital transformation of real-estate help current professionals and organizations differentiate themselves from the competition in these times of change?Why real-estate needs digital transformation? According to analysts, the salability of a property heavily depends on its Days on Market (DOM) index. Factors – such as seasonal variability, condition of the property, whether it was staged to sell, buyer’s availability to see a property, as well as seller’s lead time to allow in-person showing – can have a significant impact on DOM.digital transformationImmersive technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Realities (AR/VR) can drastically improve this index by providing convenience and enhanced experiences to buyers, agents and sellers alike, and making way for digital transformation. AR/VR can save considerable time and expenditure not only for potential renters or buyers, but also for sellers and realtors during times of potential downturn where buyer-to-seller and buyer-to-agent ratios drop significantly. Thanks to immersive tech like AR, MR, and VR, potential buyers can soon be able to move freely in their future residence or office virtually, just by putting on a VR headset or by watching an AR representation of it on their smartphones or tablets. And perhaps this technology that combines VR and AR might just be the key to harnessing immediate success in the real-estate market in today’s highly volatile environment.What are immersive technologies? Since its inception by Laurence Manning in his late 1930’s science fiction stories, VR (and its close cousin AR) has only recently gained massive popularity. Technological progress and digital transformation has allowed the improvement of immersive User Experiences (UX) and reduction in costs, thus favouring their democratization – but the UX for AR and VR can be considerably different.VR is a three-dimensional, computer- generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a user. A range of devices (e.g. headsets) can be used to stimulate vision, hearing, and touch in order to create the illusion of a virtual reality that is created using a computer. AR, on the other hand, is an enhanced version of reality to add digital information on top of a captured image or video. AR is typically available in mobile apps that use a smartphone camera to capture videos of the real world, and then superimpose a layer of information on it, including text, images, and virtual 3D objects. But recent advancements have been able to combine the characteristics of VR and AR to give rise to immersive Mixed Reality (MR) experiences such as those possible with the Microsoft Hololens.How does VR or AR concretely fit into the digital transformation of the process of sale or leasing of residential or commercial real-estate? The experience for potential clients wanting to visit a property could be of two types: Either remotely (by visiting the real-estate broker’s website,) or in-person with or without a real-estate professional to guide these virtual tours. To simplify the visit process, visitation developers can leverage AR and VR experiences by capturing 360 Videos of a property being offered, as well as creating its virtual model at a small fraction of the cost of physical staging and refinishing. Such modeled spaces can then be imported onto 2D media for AR experiences or presented as VR content using virtual headsets.Enhanced customer experience through virtual visits and staging 90% of households today begin their real estate search on the Internet, with more than 50% of searches made on mobile devices. To enhance the user experience on the realtor’s website, a virtual presence of the property through VR and AR can highlight Points of Interest (POIs) that allow potential buyers a better understanding of the property. However, unproductive physical visits despite appealing POIs can result in the added cost of sale if buyers are unable to correlate their “imagined” property compared to how it really looks in real life.While these technologies cannot offer the guarantees of a sale, they can undoubtedly allow customers to refine their search. This reduces the number of unproductive visits to the benefit of generating and following more serious leads by realtors. Customers can also make more educated selections from a realtor website using technologies that create immersive experiences, as they provide a spatially richer experience than mere photos or videos. Potential buyers can then decide much more easily whether specific properties are “worth the visit” for them.Analysis has shown that around 50% of potential buyers can request on-demand (or same day) access to a property for viewing in a “buyer’s market”. While some mobile apps today have enabled on-demand availability of real-estate professionals, the actual viewing availability of the property can drastically impact the potential sale. By leveraging immersive technologies, realtors could at least generate interest for a deferred visit by offering an instant VR experience without the need for immediate physical access to the property. This also benefits real estate professionals, who will no longer be required to organize visits just to generate interest in a property. Instead, they can offer potential buyers with an immersive virtual experience of the property visit.Furthermore, market trends in some areas in the last five years suggest that 1% to 3% of investment in home staging can bring an 8% to 10% increase in sale price for a residential property. This means that for staging a typical property (e.g. a residence in a suburb of Toronto, Canada) valued at $800,000 CAD, an upfront staging cost of up to $24,000 CAD may be incurred in some cases. And there is an inherent risk of the staging not being on par with the buyer’s expectation or tastes. Such upfront costs could be eliminated (or reduced to a fraction) by the use of virtual remodelling and staging of a given property until the buyer interest can be assessed. Potential savings could also be passed onto buyers where little to no physical staging being required, and this may incentivize them just enough to close the deal.In fact, builders and realtors will need to start leveraging storytelling techniques to communicate “the art of possible” during virtual and in-person showings with these technologies. Storytelling can allow seasoned stagers or graphic artists to work remotely with realtors to virtually “stage” a property based on potential client feedback in real-time, which may further help in making the sale.Why Real-Estate needs digital transformation?For instance, potential buyers looking for a “fixer-upper” may wish to visualize the property with the appropriate refinishing. Those looking to purchase a new home based on a design by the builder may want to visualize the finished home through a 3D immersive experience. And those adamant on specific looks of the property – for instance, wanting a wooden floor with oak finish instead of porcelain tiles currently offered with the “base model” – could gain enough confidence to make the purchase with the upgrade. Similar experiences can be offered using virtual staging objects, such as curtains, furniture, and lighting to facilitate purchases from partnering hardware and upholstery providers.Better analytics to drive decision support Analytics is also an important aspect of using immersive technologies since they allow realtors to gauge the client’s interest in a property, as well as that of the personalized experience. Popular analytics providers are able to offer some web-page related KPIs, such as pageviews, sessions, and exits. However, these technologies and experiences can provide realtors with deeper insight into specific aspects or features that are requested by potential buyers. For instance, a customer requests to see what a living room might look like with maple hardwood floor along with crown molding on ceilings can be captured digitally and provide useful data for prediction and next best actions.Analytics from within VR and AR environments could also shed direct insight into nuanced buyer behaviors. For instance, the mere fact that buyers spend more time viewing a particular property within the virtual tour could indicate their interest in this and similar properties. The time spent within specific virtual sections could indicate potential problems with the property that need to be resolved in order to make a sale. This data, however, can be segmented not only at the demographic level, but also from geographic, seasonal, and behavioural points of view to better drive decision-making.Putting it together VR and AR technologies can help realtors make a stellar first impression on both homebuyers and sellers. These technologies can solve common communication and timing challenges with the prospects and lead to a digital transformation in the field of real estate. As we observed, VR and AR can help realtors and support professionals spend their time effectively and efficiently allowing targeted and personalized experiences. They can also substantially reduce unneeded staging and scheduling expenditures, and opportunity costs due to unproductive showings which can be directly passed to the consumer, thereby incentivising them to close. By helping customers visualize what is possible through VR or AR, eliminating non-productive viewings, and reducing overall costs of preparing a property for sale, the real-estate industry has a real opportunity to revitalise itself using immersive technologies and digital transformation.While some software companies have started exploring this market, adoption of their solutions and products are not mainstream yet. However, we believe in the next 3-7 years, AR and VR experiences will change our lives in the same way that the web has done in the last 3 decades. And the time is now for real-estate stakeholders to give serious thought to these technologies. In order to stand out from the competition and better meet the expectations of buyers, current market players will have to adapt quickly. Investment in the adoption of 3D modelling, VR demonstration, and AR staging tools is therefore of tremendous value for builders, real estate agencies, and sellers alike. However, the end prize just might go to those who take the first step and differentiate themselves by transforming their digital engagement and experience.

Is AR and VR bringing about Digital Transformation in Real Estate

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Digitization is sweeping across many industries, creating an unparalleled demand for companies to innovate, experiment and deliver capabilities faster. Increasing speed and agility isn’t just a desire—it’s imperative for survival. You need to adopt a more flexible and efficient approach to software delivery—one that eliminates the barriers and exploits the dependencies between development and operations. And for that, you can adopt a DevOps culture.In a DevOps environment, your entire team is responsible for delivering both new features and stability. Instead of simply creating code and turning it over to an operations team to put into production, responsibilities are balanced more equally, with procedures in place to make sure both teams have insight and visibility into application performance.Not surprisingly, DevOps practices continue to gain in popularity. According to data from DevOps.com, the adoption rate increased substantially from 2015 to 2016, from 66 percent to 74 percent.What’s driving the shift? Long lead times to get software into production make it difficult for companies to provide cutting-edge services and enhance the customer experience. To keep pace with the market demands, IT teams must build, deploy, test, and release software in ever-faster cycles.DevOps cycle. build, deploy, test, releaseHere are six reasons why you should consider adopting a DevOps culture:1. Accelerate innovation With an integrated operations and development team, applications can be developed and deployed much more rapidly. This is vital, since business success today hinges largely on an organization’s ability to innovate faster than the competition. Since change sets are smaller, problems tend to be less complex. DevOps engineers can take advantage of real-time performance data to quickly grasp the impact of application changes. And software fixes are faster because team members only need to check the latest code changes for errors.2. Improve collaboration Rather than attempting to eliminate the difference between the two disciplines, a successful DevOps environment promises to build a bridge to make them work better together. The software development culture then, continuously focusses on combined achievement rather than individual goals. When your software and operations teams trust each other, they can experiment, research, and innovate more effectively. It’s no longer a matter of tossing application code over the wall and hoping for the best. Your development environment becomes progressively more seamless as all team members work toward shared goals.3. Increase efficiency Automated tools and standardized production platforms are key elements of DevOps best practices which help make deployments more predictable and free your IT staff from tedious repetitive tasks. With automated testing and integration, developers need not fritter away their time relying on code integration processes to complete.Acceleration and development platforms offer additional opportunities for improving efficiency:Scalable infrastructure, such as cloud-based solutions, help speed testing and deployment processes by increasing access to hardware resources. Compilation and development tools help shorten development cycles and speed product delivery. Continuous delivery workflows can help produce faster and more frequent software release. 4. Reduce failures The shorter development cycles associated with a strong DevOps approach promotes more frequent code releases. With these more modular implementations, your teams can expose problems in configuration, application code, and infrastructure earlier. DevOps also keeps team members engaged throughout the life cycle of a feature or application, resulting in higher quality code. Fewer fixes are required because developers look for and eliminate potential problems as they write code. According to a recent State of DevOps report, organizations that adopt a DevOps culture have 60 times fewer failures than those not implementing a DevOps approach.5. Accelerate recovery time Because DevOps deployments are more targeted and isolated, bugs are easier to spot and in turn, fixes are often faster and easier to implement. Your team will mostly need to check the latest code changes to be able to resolve an issue. Resolution times are inherently faster because the responsibility for troubleshooting and fixes remains contained within a single team. In fact, research shows that high-performing DevOps teams recover from failures 168 times faster than lower performing peers.6. Enhance job satisfaction Rather than rule-based or power-based culture, DevOps promotes a more performance-based company environment. This reduces the bureaucratic obstacles and fosters sharing of risks. The result is a more contented and productive workforce, which helps boost your business performance. Developers and operations engineers generally prefer a DevOps environment because they can work more efficiently and wear more than one hat. They gain a better understanding of where their role fits into the larger scope of IT and within the business as a whole. This makes them more marketable and more valuable.Fast software delivery is crucial in today’s digital age and a DevOps culture is the driver of this process. It enables your business to accelerate go-to-market services and roll out new features quickly and efficiently. While adopting DevOps is not a simple process, when done correctly the investment will pay dividends far beyond the initial effort. With greater speed, security, and stability, a DevOps culture could be just the transformative shift you need to gain an important performance advantage.Let’s Connect to help you gain the DevOps advantage!

6 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a DevOps Culture in Your Business

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Pursuit of optimal customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives across all industries because technology is allowing customers to be in direct control of their interactions with us. From the ease of multi-channel digital connectivity to immediacy in service, customers expect frictionless and hyper-personalized customer experiences that embody simplicity, Do-it-Yourself, and social. Likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are also not making it any easier by setting standards that customers expect every business to match.Without a doubt, the importance of Customer Experience has grown to become equal, if not more than products and services offered. Brands who focus on improving customer experience by mapping the evolving customer behaviors and preferences, applying human-centered approach, innovating collaboratively, and executing with agility – easily differentiate themselves and excel onto a path of greater success.But let’s be clear, customer experience does not belong to any one department. In fact, it requires intense collaboration from the entire organization. Everyone working “together” towards a common purpose for the sake of the customer, who only recognizes us as – one. From a customer’s perspective, it primarily involves customer-facing functions and touchpoints, however, there is a myriad of business challenges that we need to manage in an effort to achieve the desired customer experience.To bring it all together, below is an infographic capturing shared – customer expectations and business challenges – in a digital economy.Customer Expectations & Business Challenges in a Digital Economy is a graphical representation that depicts the unique Customer Expectations and the associated Business Challenges faced in trying to meet them.From the structure of the organization (People, Culture, Processes) to the disruptive technologies (AI, Machine Learning, AR/VR, IoT, Conversational Commerce) involved, we need to sync up with evolving customer behaviours and deliver beyond their expectations. It’s not going to be simple, but we must, in order to attract, win, and retain customers in this ever-increasing digital economy.

Creating the Optimal Customer Experience via Digital Transformation

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His name is David…not Tom, not John, and definitely not Donald! He is in his early forties, a technophile, practical in nature, and employed as a Senior Manager. He enjoys buying new gadgets, but being a homebody doesn’t eat out, nor travel for vacations. Yet, his shopping app kept sending him options on where to dine out today and where to take his next vacation.After patiently ignoring it for a month, he finally uninstalled the app and now goes around sharing his negative sentiments on how poor his experience was. The irony – app creators convinced David enough to get him to download the app, but either missed gathering enough information about him during registration, or never bothered analyzing his behavioural data. Result – a lost opportunity for loyalty and advocacy because they failed to recognize him as an individual and personalize his experience and customer journey to suit his needs and preferences.Let’s be honest, David is not the only one out there who seems to be getting frustrated. Even you and I expect to be recognized as individuals. Even more so, when there is enough proof advocating benefits of personalized marketing – it’s critical for current and future success; it improves brand loyalty and customer experience; it influences what customers purchase and drives revenue; it raises conversions; it has a higher click-through rate than traditional ads and so on…yet, many brands are failing to prioritize it.Thanks to AI-driven automation platforms, many of us are progressing well into achieving personalization through UX and UI. I carefully used the words “progressing well into achieving personalization” because personalization is clearly – a continuous process – and not just a one-time effort.Trying not to sell you a platform here, in a nutshell, automation platforms take signals from multiple data sources including location, demographic, psychographic, behaviour, lifestyle, interests, device, and browser information etc. Analyze customer patterns, do the segmentation, evaluate intent, and trigger next best recommendation based on an individual’s needs, preferences, and expectation from the customer journey.How does automation help in personalization?But collecting information from these data sources and analyzing them is the heavy lifting intelligent algorithms will do for us. What should we be doing to ensure success in the personalization process to create an unforgettable customer journey?Here’s my list of quick reminders Data Sources It all starts with understanding the evolving needs, lifestyle, social, and behavioural patterns of our customers throughout their journey. So, let’s ensure all data sources are integrated, to achieve a unified view. This sets the foundation for segmentation exercises and mapping of customer journeys, and without it, we won’t get far.Micro Segmentation This is a crucial exercise, where we define users in segments such as demographics, geography, behaviour, lifestyle and then feed our personalization platform. Here on, with the help of the platform, we will drill down these segments into micro-segments for e.g., behaviour (usage patterns, price sensitivity, etc.). We’ll have greater success if our one-to-one marketing and UX or UI efforts are based on the value and relevance of these micro-segments.Customer Journey Mapping customer journeys is only the beginning. We have to keep working our way towards optimizing and improving customer experience in real-time, throughout the journey. Remember, we need to win all stages and ultimately reward our efforts by achieving loyalty and advocacy.Key Moments Like they say, “we live in the moment” …be ready to catch that key moment in real-time. As soon as our customer sends out a signal of their intent, our library of content should be ready to match the context and trigger right away for best results.Mobile Experience Prioritize mobile-first experience. Customers expect always-on, frictionless digital experience across touchpoints and if we’re still struggling to create an intuitive, contextual & DIY mobile experience, then we are surely missing out…big time!Addressable Name Depending on the channel of engagement, start personalizing by name, it’s the very basic step. Generic greetings just don’t do it, especially when we are attempting to create personalized experiences. Let’s build an emotional connection right off the bat.Messaging Whatever the medium, a hint of customer knowledge in the message does improve engagement. We surely want customers to know, that we have recognized them as individuals. Be personable, but don’t scare them by displaying too much personal information. That’s still creepy.Timing Timing is key. Simple steps in understanding customers time zone, the best time of responsiveness, or behavioural pattern, will make a huge difference in response and message effectiveness. Our objective here is in reaching out when customers will respond most favourably.Team Assemble a strong dedicated team to manage personalization. It’s integral to the process. Create a team of creatives, digital marketers, and IT. Empower them with tools and decision-making authority, so that they can maintain the required agility in this process.And last, but not the least…Continuity As pointed out earlier, personalization is a continuous process of learning, improving, and achieving. Don’t be shy in evaluating response, refining, and attempting again to achieve the desired results. Start small, measure, improve, and keep growing!What’s on your list for achieving personalization?Let’s Connect if you want to set up/improve your personalized experiences.

How Can We Ensure Success in Personalized Experiences

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The more enriched an experience, the more dopamine is released into our brain and more profound is the interactivity associated with it. The feel-good factor or the user experience (UX) of any product, platform or service is the quintessential key to deliver a prolonged and definitive image of the brand in the mind of the customer. But how we create that indelible mark in the user’s mind or what technological advancements will lead to enhance the effect, undoubtedly needs our attention as we progress towards the UX of tomorrow. Can artificial intelligence lead Chatbots distinctly be the buddies in changing the future of UX?Let me first take you through what is at the heart of past and present UX paradigms, what has made the UX of yesterday and today successful, and what technologies have been employed in realizing it.Cave drawings, tapestries and even written manuscripts provided a UX, wherein storytellers, oracles and poets would “hard-code” their messages. These technologies were to take a life of their own through the ages, with abstract content engaging its audience’s imagination through reflection and thought. Whether sculpted, drawn or written, its purpose was to convey an intended natural meaning, even when done so artificially in hindsight.Progressive Advancement in UX With the advent of modern computing in the 20th century, engineers attempted to “hard-code” computers to interact with users. It was limited and primitive by today’s standards, but it was something new! Even when projecting into a fictional future, HAL 9000 from Space Odyssey, the original Robocop, and Star Trek’s LCARS voice interface were deliberately designed to sound and feel mechanized. They meant to convey a sense of artificiality to the viewers of the 60’s through 90’s, and for a good reason. Human-machine interface grabbed attention of that era’s audience simply by the virtue of novelty; it needed to be dichotomized from human-human interaction.However, with the changing times, it is not the same today where the term “AI” is taken for granted. We have moved along in our expectations of what AI should be capable of. Today’s chatbots and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems – therefore – are not meant to sound or feel mechanized and boring. They actively engage users by sounding more “human.” And it will be far more interesting in the immediate future. That will be the time of ontology in its truest form, where intelligent systems will actively drive the user, and not the other way around!We are soon entering the age of evolved chatbot customer experience that will concurrently span a multitude of modalities – not (just) text. It will rely on voice interaction, mixed-reality graphics, gestures, and cybernetic interfaces, all topped by AI concurrently performing linguistic and behavioural analyses. Undoubtedly it would be a truly enriched and immersive user experience that will know how to grab the user’s attention at will.A Time of Multimode User Interaction Now that we are steadily stepping onto the time of ontology, with intelligent systems driving the user to take his/her decisions, it’s time to audit and learn how certain existing content presentation techniques, UI designs, and UX methods might stand the test of time. And the role advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented/Mixed Reality (AR/MR) will play in harnessing their true potential.Human language, when textualized, is just one mode of communication. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have made great strides within this modality. Supervised machine learning techniques, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs) can now extract relevant information from text if trained to do so for a given set of contexts (domains.)By introducing Neural Networks and Deep Learning techniques, NLP systems can even be made to classify the intent more holistically – and in a limited fashion can readily uncover the underlying sentiment behind the textualized content as well.Deep Learning and natural language processingBody language, tone of voice and selective vocal emphasis are still additional modes of communication that needs consideration. These added modalities can provide far greater cues into the intent and meaning behind linguistic expression. Recently, two teams from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, and Instituto Politecnico Nacional de Mexico have independently published research papers validating the methods and practical efficacy of Multimodal Sentiment Analysis (MSA) by adding information from video and audio content along with established NLP techniques. And it is the author’s opinion that MSA will gain considerable traction in terms of the practical application of NLP in chatbots.NLP in chatbotsFurthermore, incorporating physiological biometrics to this analysis (e.g. either non-intrusively or using wearables) can make machine learning systems even more effective and efficient. For instance, adding heart rate, voice fluctuations, and posture can provide substantial information about the user’s intent. Adding these subtle modalities can propel an interactive AI much closer to realizing true ontology; to not just do what the user seemingly asked for, but what the user may actually have wanted or needed.An Era of On-Demand Mixed Reality Even in current times, people tend to own more than one device and can switch between them part-way through their task. Studies have shown that up to quarter of users can switch to a tablet from their smartphone and more than half switch to a laptop midway through any given activity. With the advent of new and more creative tools, it is only reasonable to expect that omnichannel UX will require absolute consistency in the age of multi-device use-cases.UX therefore will not be limited to a simple “flat 2D screen” interaction but rather involve AR/MR as is the case with devices such as Microsoft’s Hololens. AR/MR computing platforms will need to include any given device they identify, and interoperate with it at run time. Therefore, such platforms will have the capability to recognize and connect to environmental sensors when entering a room, or identify and interact at run time with smart outdoor cameras for enhancing the user’s perceptual UX. Individual applications will not need to re-implement any lower-level interfaces and would bring in a fine seamless interaction for the user.game scenario of Microsoft HololensPhoto by Microsoft / CC BY 2.0 However, simply immersing a user into graphically rich, and detailed contextual content may not be enough to keep them engaged in the long haul. Can you quickly recall the mechanized voices of fictional AI’s of the 60’s-90’s? Agreed, they sound boring by today’s standards – but were novel and “hip” during their respective eras. The same may be the eventual aftermath of AR or MR once the “novelty honeymoon” is over. To ensure that the users truly benefit and remain engaged, humanizing the digital experience will be as necessary tomorrow as it is today for UX and UI, and more.Humankind’s initial experimentation with the art of myth and storytelling, though synthetic, is in fact the oldest known technique to share experiences through analogy. It is this technique, that remains at the heart of humanizing the digital UX. With the abundance of content existing on the web, being different will continue to be critical. Creating a story around a given product and inviting users to become a part of it might be the easiest way to engage them. Perhaps, in the era of MR/AR, such storytelling will be of vital importance to let the user immerse into the experience – thereby staying engaged throughout the UX.Conversational interfaces may also prove invaluable in engaging the user to intuitively access content and assist in decision making. Currently, such interfaces, or UI – though effective – are limited to text- or voice-based chatbots. However, conversational interaction for AR or MR will be fundamentally different due to the enriched content rendered within an arbitrary 3D space. Free from the confines of a 2D “flatland,” UX of the future will demand digital content to be more than what is currently accessed over the web. UX designers and engineers alike will need to prepare AI for verbal, as well as cues to interact with the users via augmented reality or mixed reality; not just by displaying audible or visual content, but by introducing key micro-interactions through evolutionary storyboarding that trigger the user’s active thought process.game scenario of Microsoft HololensCombining conversational paradigms and on-demand storytelling to create engaging UX will require an abundance of information processing power and storage capacity, whether onboard an AR/MR device, or distributed across a network of devices and appliances. And certainly, it will require substantial content generated at run-time in addition to existing pre-processed and raw data. The key demand for businesses and social networks of the future will be in how to restructure and optimize their content and UI experiences so that it is served readily through AR/MR interfaces. It will not just be flat UI, image and text on a website; but disparate content and metadata that can be rendered on-demand in the form of virtual objects within an augmented voxel space as part of a storytelling experience through AR or MR.Artificial Intelligence Personified Let’s take a closer look at how content and data served through various AI led technologies will change the perspective of UX designers, budding technology entrepreneurs as well as mature technology professionals’ understanding of the UX and its future. We have already witnessed the explosion of chatbots and smart machines within the market due to their versatile applicability in implementing conversational AI. App fatigue may further fuel the growth of chatbot assistants – so as to delegate sifting through apps and content based on their utility for a user’s specific personality, needs, and habits. Additional drivers in favour of chatbots are top brands who are directly integrating them into their customer experience channels starting from direct marketing through customer service and support, to direct sales – thereby increasing efficiency.Business and social websites too publish their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) collectively. Yet they also include chatbots to fetch the underlying content from a single source on demand structured data repository within a Content Management System (CMS). However, such hard-coded content may not necessarily connect with users in a way that a natural dialogue would. In an age, where we are rapidly advancing towards conversational commerce, businesses and individuals alike will need to ensure that they are ahead of the game in capturing their audience. This can only be achieved if they can repurpose abstract information to generate responses from raw data – not such that AI chatbots create their own language – but that they are capable of dialogue with their audience to connect at a personal level.game scenario of Microsoft HololensHowever, such chatbots – might always be tainted with the perception of bias towards the business they are designed to generate. Instead of succumbing to the business of bots, users of tomorrow will demand independent aggregator assistant bots not linked to a single platform, but capable of automatically analyzing the user’s needs, all available products and services, their price and value, and act as an advisory assistant without vendor bias. Development and productizing of such “untethered” buddy chatbots are the next big opportunity for the start-ups and businesses of today.Enhancement of the resulting UX can be exponential if additional modalities are included within the user interaction. Consider that upcoming trends for UX point to the proliferation of AR/MR in the immediate future.Putting it all Together In the pursuit of advancement, we forget sometimes what really drives the technological continuum. As social beings, we do not really embrace technology for technology’s sake. We do so to enrich our interactivity and enhance our experiences. It is no secret therefore, that the more targeted and emotionally uplifting the UX and UI, the more rewarding is its perception by the human brain. Only then is it able to capture a user’s attention and imagination – irrespective of technology used to create that UX or UI design.In the coming years, it will become even more important for product and UX or UI designers to include the “human” element. In the next few years, conversations are the next layer of UX and user interaction. Chatbots in their current state might not be able to handle the required complexities arising from the expectations of today’s users. Advances in machine learning have certainly improved the adaptability of current chatbots in the UX. But the art of storytelling dependent heavily on contextual nuances and creativity are still very much beyond the scope of current technology. In the age of conversational commerce, it will become crucial to consider the dynamics of natural conversational dialogue, and impartiality of presented information to truly capture the attention of the user.how artificial intelligence helps human robot interactionThe future of UX will indeed be extremely interesting for those of us who witness it in full swing. With a rich plethora of immersive content, interactive UI designs, and customized experiences available on-demand and with additional advances in human-machine interfaces to directly link the human brain to information access peripherals, such interactions can eventually become part of the user’s active thought process. But until a time, humans practically become cyborgs, “un-tethered” buddy chatbots rendered as human-like guides within AR/MR environments may act as the user’s “inner voice” so as to assist in decision-making – via conversational discourse as well as through micro interactions in the UX journey. Perhaps taking the form of the user’s own “mirror image” to look and sound familiar, or that of the user’s idol so as to be more convincing, such personifications of AI, with help from augmented reality or mixed reality, may be key to the UX of tomorrow.Want to learn more? Let’s talk

Buddy Chatbots, AR/MR, and UX: the User Experience of Tomorrow

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“Machines will take over nearly half of all the work done by humans”, claims an Oxford university research. Another prediction says, “90 percent of the world’s population will soon be jobless owing to the fast development in the field of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, analytics, and robotics.” The panic that robots taking over our jobs is going viral!Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in a recent interview anticipated that, robots will replace a lot of workers and therefore they should be taxed to bring in funds to socially support displaced workers. Some governments across the globe are also working to facilitate the Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme to support people who are distraught by automation. While it’s true that robots are all around us these days, considering them as a threat, is fairly incorrect.Way back in 1964, Westminster in Colorado got its first automated gas delivering robot. John Roscoe, short stop convenience store owner, bought an electric box that would let a clerk inside the shop activate any of the pumps outside. It was not before the 1970s when self-serve pumps started gaining momentum. Pump makers eventually added automation systems to let customers pay at the pump. By 2000’s, task specific robots took over the gas attendants role in pumps all across.Automation changed outlook With self-serve pumps in actions, the cost of overall fuel dropped down because you’re not paying for the gas attendant’s salary. People, in turn, started investing their savings in learning and inculcating various other soft skills and value addition roles.Also, if statistics are to be believed, in the 1970s, 14 percent of men held four-year college degrees and 8 percent of women in Colorado. However, by 2015, it was up by 32 percent of men and women. So automation, in a way helped to transform a pool of people whose mindset was fast cheap labour jobs to professionally skilled jobs.While pump attendant jobs went away, new jobs like software coders, engineers, sales staff, and project managers propped up. The pump owners too utilised their savings in building small convenience stores and marts in the pump vicinity. This in turn, employed some others to work as clerks, sales staff, and cashiers in these small shops.Even today, despite the number of jobs that technology is fast eating over, it is creating better avenues of income as well.New doors open up with automation A new study from Redwood Software and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) explored the trends in robotic automation in 23 countries over the past 20 years to quantify their impact on GDP per capita and labour productivity. The analysis revealed that, robotics now adds more value to the economy in comparison to the traditional industries, therefore, fuelling job growth.Interestingly, history has also shown us that factories that have used automation in their manufacturing or production phases have cut down prices of the overall product, making it more affordable in the market, and increasing demand for more production. While some others generated more profit to pay higher wages, bringing in more employment and quality in production.Amazon is a brilliant case in point of this phenomena. Over the past few years, the company has invested heavily in automation, from 1400 robots to the present over 45,000 robots working in its warehouses. The new hire rates have also not changed, during the same period of time. But the company has been able to provide unique customer experience all across its business touch points.Have you heard about brand influencers? US based company Influential One, which partnered with IBM Watson, analyses and understands the integrity that people have with various brands via their social media interactions. The company then connects people and brands to earn money by being “brand influencer”, a new category of job aided by AI understanding.With automated apps and IoT led devices, taking over our lives, new avenues will surely open up to bring in new dimensions to the workforce. Jobs in various categories like VR/AR personalised entertainment, Nanotechnology, E-marketing, Space Economy, Senior Care, Sharing Economy like AirBnB, Uber, etc., Renewable energies, Coaching, Organic Data Analysis, Chamberlains and Stewards, jobs that demand human contacts like Nurses, Counsellors, Psychologists, etc., Genetic Engineering and more such positions will eventually prop up.Just being modern Luddites, afraid of losing work and place in a society led by robots is not a good sign. Automation will always bear a symbiotic relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Human Intelligence (HI). Therefore, let’s keep the evolution of human history in mind and keep working towards a brighter future!

Are Our Jobs at Risk with Automation?

DX 2.0 is IoT, Data, Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence
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While we were still working on mastering Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC), Digital Transformation aka (DX) itself has evolved into DX 2.0 representing the priority stack – Internet of Things, Data, Design Thinking, and Artificial Intelligence (IDDA).It’s all happening – thinking Internet of Things with all possible connected devices and touchpoints in our daily lives; integrating data gathering sources, assembling data strategy and analytics for better informed decisions; designing products, experiences, and businesses with a focused human-centered approach; and making artificial intelligence predict patterns, automate and personalize experiences.Let’s take a deeper dive…The new chief of data generation Mobile itself, or for that matter mobile and web, are no longer the chief of data generation – its Internet of Things (IoT). Data is not only being generated by the apps we use but our interaction with almost every smart device including; wearables, cars, cameras, routers, places, social, etc. representing the enormous universe of opportunities and tons of yummy data all around us. With less than 20 billion connected devices today to 30 billion in 2020 to 80 billion in 2025, digital businesses will be leveraging IoT and not limiting themselves to mobile and web only.Data is king, big or small Data, big or small, remains to be the king in DX economy. Data is the most valuable currency; our gateway to growth. Data is being generated at a phenomenal pace and by 2025, Digital Universe is estimated to create 180 Zettabytes of data in the world annually. Unfortunately, many businesses are still managing data poorly – leaving it scattered, unclean and unfit to use. Imagine the opportunities being lost here. We need to declare an urgency in hiring employees or partners who master data, can help implement data strategy and analytics to fuel growth.The human centricity The Design Thinking approach of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing is centred around humans. Thanks to 918,202 UX Designers all over the world, not only the quality of products has just not improved dramatically but the incredible design thinking approach is being applied to almost everything – even business operations. Realizing that businesses are run by humans (employees – or at least till robots take over) design thinking approach is being used to enhance team collaborations, processes, innovations, performance, and satisfaction. This in return is benefiting customer satisfaction and business growth.Magic of artificial intelligence Artificial Intelligence is the magic wand in achieving automation and personalization. Implementing robotic process and test automations along with bots socializing and assisting, AI is not only saving time and cost but increasing agility and accuracy as well. At the same time, AI is working through basic segmentation, to prediction and personalization based on customer preferences and behavior patterns, all the way to unbelievable autonomous vehicles. By 2029 Artificial Intelligence will actually read at human levels, understand language and be able to communicate at human levels, at a vast scale.Digital transformation is a journey; not a destination and we at mobileLIVE believe, DX stack has evolved into IDDA from SMAC. However, it’s not one or the other rather both stacks – SMAC & IDDA – need to be conquered to continue growth in this ever-increasing digital economy.What do you think?Join the conversation @mobileLIVEInc #DX2.0

Core Digital Transformation Stack has Evolved

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It’s 1975, a customer walks into a Nordstrom store in Anchorage, Alaska to return a set of tires. The clerk, saw the price on the side of the tires, reached into the cash register, and handed the man $145.It did not matter that Nordstrom had never sold tires.Nordstrom was and continues to be an upscale clothing store. The customer had bought the tires at the store that occupied the same retail space prior to Nordstrom moving in. But in those 2 seconds while making a decision, Nordstorm’s philosophy kicked in and the staff did what they were trained to do – “Ensure that the customer experience was optimal”.Times change, mediums of communication change, but legendary stories such as this one have become the cornerstone of CX philosophy of many a companies, including ours. Apple, Nordstorm, Lululemon have all continuously shown us that the magic unleashed when the entire organization is collectively able to optimize every touchpoint with the customer – telling the same story, creating personalized, focussed, and iconic experiences.Challenges make way for opportunities The challenges and opportunities are now amplified with the boundary between digital and physical getting blurred. Managing and improving this phy-gital (physical-digital) customer experience delivers real benefits to companies that successfully execute customer-centric strategies. McKinsey predicts that companies with great digital experience will have 30-50% increase in measures such as likelihood to renew or to buy another product, making the case for investment even more compelling.Revolutionary, multi-sensory initiatives To adapt and change, companies have to embrace a design thinking approach anchored not on technology but on ease, effectiveness, and emotion. CX is becoming not only omnichannel but more multi-sensory, complex to design and immersive (AR/VR). It’s heralding us into a new era.Take this example from the retail industry; a 100 year back when someone walked into a store more often than not the shopkeeper knew the customer, their choices, socio-economic status and based on it made recommendations.Fast forward to 2017 and it would be hard to find a service agent in a big box retailer to save someone’s life; let alone talk about a product. Here Big data and IoT is being used to recreate the experience from a century back. Providing customers relevant, targeted, and focussed recommendations based on their buying pattern of the last few trips and using IoT as the last mile. Its essentially providing the customer the required information to help influence their decision-making paradigm in the 2 seconds when they are making it.Beacons help track customers in the aisle and while they stand pondering on the type of noodles they need to buy – in real time based on inventory and promotions a recommendation is pushed to the end customer’s phone. Revolutionary!But it’s only the beginning. Imagine two friends go shopping for a tent. Spotting one they like, they both crawl inside to check the capacity. But there’s something unusual about this scenario: One is in Toronto, the other in London. And neither is anywhere near a sporting goods store. Virtual reality, along with its first-cousin augmented reality, offers retailers the opportunity to transform how people shop! Mobile Apps and Websites, will soon become “so third quarter 2016”.Transformatory DX will empower CX Customers, stoked by these transformatory digital experiences are going to ask for more and organizations will have to deliver. Incumbents across all sectors from retail, mining, telecom, finance, healthcare, and others will continuously need to redesign and transform significantly. This transformation does not need to be radical each time if their current operating model puts the customer’s needs and wants at the center of a digital transformation strategy; enabled by redesigned customer journeys and agile delivery of insights and services.

Future Proofing Your Customer’s Digital Experiences for Growth

Illustrated characters of Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y, and Z
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Believe it or not, Gen-Y (also known as Millennials) is already the largest generation in the Canadian workforce and I’m sure so is the case in most countries. They were being ignored for their lack of income and spending power. However, it has become glaringly obvious that Gen-Y is a gigantic population, holding significantly powerful positions in the industry, and growing their spending power.But wait, it doesn’t end there. The first wave of Gen-Z has graduated and already entered the workforce. Dubbed as the first digital-native generation, extremely tech-savvy, masters of multitasking, risk-takers, and truly global, are already contributing significantly in the digital economy.By 2020, both these generations will collectively account for the largest prime target customers. While past decades have been built on the axiom of “better, faster, cheaper”, Gen-Y and Gen-Z take stock in other values.So let’s take a look at what these generations want.They want immediacy Immediacy is key with them. The era of “better, faster, cheaper” has evolved into an expectation of “NOW!”. They have short attention spans and it should come as no surprise, if you lose these generations due to lack of convenient access to your offerings, slow content loading, slow response time, or poor user experience on any touch point. They know they can demand immediacy because of the multitude of options out there, while multi-tasking comfortably through several screens at one time.They want mobile-first experience With immediacy comes mobility. Growing up with digital devices, these generations are natural with technology. While Gen-Y adopt new technology a lot more quickly compared to previous generations, Gen-Z is born among digital devices and have no intentions of denying their device addiction. It is therefore critical for businesses to design platform relevant, intuitive, and contextual mobile-first experiences. Trust me, their mobile device is always at an arm’s length if not already in the palm of their hand.They want hyper-personalized experiences The biggest differentiator of Gen-Y and Gen-Z compared to previous generations is their craving for hyper-personalized experiences. Individuality is big with them and they want personalization from all brands. They want to be recognized, valued, and provided custom solutions to suit their individual needs. Start empathizing with them and build their trust. With integration of social listening, advanced analytics, design thinking, and machine learning – every business should be able to offer hyper-personalized content and experiences.As compared to their predecessors, Gen-Y and Gen-Z’ers are reshaping customer experience management at a much faster pace. Already a gigantic population, true digital-natives, holding significantly powerful positions, and growing spending power – these generations should be at the heart of every business transformation to compete in this ever-increasing digital economy

Who is Reshaping Customer Experience?

A downtown city landscape overlaid with network connections and a large white letters spelling 5G
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I still remember how each generation of mobile network provided something different, something new, and caused us (myself included) to wonder what was around the corner.1G first generation of wireless cellular technology for voice calls1G or the first generation of mobile networks were analog technology; characterized by vast energy consumption. Sure, we could make voice calls, but the quality was terrible, security was non-existent, and given its speed, there really wasn’t much else we could hope to do with it.2G network was slower, but shift from analog to digital2G was undoubtedly a massive upgrade from 1G as it was the shift from analog to digital – an effort that was spearheaded to ensure a more reliable and secure communication channel. Not only that but 2G gave way to features like text messaging, conference calls, and roaming.3G network technology enabled calls, texts and access the internet3G is responsible for most of the features we all come to expect from our mobile networks and are common today across the globe. Web browsing, email, data sharing, instant messaging and more all became a global phenomenon. This generation also saw a rise in streaming services.4G fastest connection to mobile Internet experience4G brought with it fundamentally new technology, not unlike the leap from 1G to 2G. Suddenly we had high speed, high capacity, and enhanced security that was able to deliver diverse applications like cloud computing, 3D entertainment, telephony, mobile payments, and a plethora of others, all without compromise.However, we are on the cusp of a new era of mobile networks. Heralded as one of the most exciting breakthroughs of the century, we are at the dawn of something magical that will change the way we travel, the way we communicate, what we do for entertainment and the way we do business.5G promising next generation technology, future of connected word5G technology promises to be more than just the next generation but a new point in history; one that will enable a future of a connected world, unlike anything we could have imagined.Curious as to what that will look like, I’ve gathered some incredible use cases and capability displays. The video below proves how 5G speed is superior to 4G in terms of latency. Here’s a hint, 19 milliseconds can change everything! But what about business? Let’s take a look at how this superior network promises to enable enterprises large and small to create new services, deliver new and innovative products, and allow for efficiencies and possibilities in such areas as Connected Automotive, Smart Manufacturing, Connected Energy, Wireless eHealth, Smart Cities and more. The possibilities seem limitless, ushering us into a world that was once thought only possible in the movies. But this isn’t fiction; this is our fast-approaching reality. Cloud virtual reality and augmented reality are poised to disrupt the world of entertainment, but to what extent is still hard to imagine.You would be wrong to think that only the world of entertainment will benefit from this leap forward. Let’s look at how one of the key players in this technology envisions making the 5G network a commercial reality. We have travelled down the rabbit hole and are looking into what is seemingly an alternate universe, one where the impossible is becoming harder and harder to find. We are only skimming the surface of what this amazing technology can do, and as it stands right now. The only limitation moving forward will be our collective imagination. I think 5G is the magic wand we all have been waiting for.

5G Future: A New Generation of Possibilities With 5G Technology

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What do Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, and even the iPhone have in common? Aside from being groundbreaking, disruptive, and wildly successful services and products, they all share a respective point of origin – they all began as an MVP.MVP or Minimum Viable Product is a concept publicized in Eric Ries’ Lean Startup that emphasizes learning in new product development. It can be defined as a version of a new product that carries “just enough” features to engage and satisfy early adopters, from which feedback can be gathered and learned from for future development.airbnb, instagram and uber MVPsTypically, any new product development is a costly endeavour – that is, until enterprises started to borrow from the startup playbook. Now, and through the utilization of MVP, organizations can develop quickly, reduce their new product development costs, de-risk their investment, test the concept in the field, learn from their users, and iteratively add new features.Today, you are not only going to learn how to develop and plan an MVP but how to do so with the help of the Design Thinking process to put an unprecedented focus on what matters most – the user.Why Design Thinking? When it came to new product development, typically, resources were allocated towards projects that “sound like a great idea” and because of that, were given time, people, and budget to explore. Sadly, and as I am sure many can relate to, this has time and time again proven to be an inefficient waste of valuable resources.Fortunately, there is a new school of thought, one that doesn’t say “that sounds like a good idea,” or at least, doesn’t until the question “where’s the proof that this is a good opportunity to spend resources on” is answered. This is where Design Thinking comes in to play on the innovation lifecycle.design thinking in innovation lifecycle. explore problem, test problem solution and execute product/market fitDesign Thinking plays a crucial role in the initial part of the innovation lifecycle by helping find the “customer/problem” fit: what’s the right problem to be solved for the target customer segment? In this phase, the goal is to “invent the future” by discovering the unmet needs of the users and the unsolved problems he/she wants to be solved.But how exactly does Design Thinking help with defining and planning an MVP? It first helps by exploring the customer/problem fit in order to find the right problem and “do the right thing.” And that is done by empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing.Design Thinking for MVP Validation1. Identifying & Understanding Business Needs Everything begins as a small idea for something new or innovative. But how do you know the idea is valid or worth investment? In other words, how do you know your business value proposition is, in fact, valuable?One of the hallmark characteristics of Design Thinking is its emphasis on collaboration, specifically, involving everyone related to the business, from designers to developers and from business owners to the market at large. By inviting them to work together, it provides diverse perspectives on the concept being proposed and can help identify the market and business needs behind the idea to determine long-term goals of the product, solidify a shared vision, affirm the reasoning behind the project, and define success criteria.Through this collaboration, organizations can leverage the unique knowledge of different stakeholders and customers to discover the most valuable opportunities and to create a sense of support and ownership for the project that will not only accelerate its implementation but minimize the risk of failure while improving the potential for innovation.2. Identify Users & Discover Opportunities Aligned with your business value proposition, identifying users and their unique needs is mission critical. After all, it is bad business to build something that nobody wants. So how do you make sure there will be users for your potential solution? How do you identify them? What are their needs?User and Business GoalsDesign Thinking is also known as human-centred design and as such, requires working with clients, stakeholders, and customers to bring real user outcomes. With this user-centred approach, it emphasizes on not only understanding the user but identifying their current experience, goals, and needs in order to help determine what the real problem(s) is/are. This is achieved through a combination of quantitative and qualitative user-research methods specifically designed to answer the key questions about user behaviours, preferences, habits, and value proposition. The value of this approach is that it prevents the False-Consensus Effect, which is a bias in which people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others. While hard to admit, it is prudent to remember that “you are not the user,” and it is worth investing time and effort in understanding the context of ‘real-users.’3. Decide what Features to Build By now, you should have identified your users, their unique needs, and your business value proposition. However, you may have also noticed something else happening in tandem – your idea has started to turn into something a lot more tangible. When that happens, you know it is time to visualize and begin designing the core features.Collaboration during the brainstorming process is vital to finalizing the list of core features to be developed. This list should be based on collected opportunity statements, a detailed product roadmap based on a breakdown of the proposed features, and finally a matrix that prioritizes them. Keeping the end-goals in mind of both the user and the business, reviewing the product from different points of view, and utilize the diverse expertise available to you will all aid in you not only making the right decision but “doing the right things.”Design Thinking Workshops specifically employ tools, methods and techniques to bring out the best ideas through a collaborative way. They are quite different from typical meetings and discussion sessions where power-distance relationships, personality types, and organizational culture often gets in the way of collaboration.4. Build a Prototype, Test, Learn & Iterate Building a quick prototype is the best way to allow users to test the concept and provides valuable information to designers, developers, and product managers on how the users will interact with it. Once done, you then iterate on that prototype accordingly to user feedback before building your actual MVP. This has proven to be the fastest, most cost-effective way to build and validate the product concept before spending a lot of time, money, and effort to build and launch it.It is stated by IDEO, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings!”Explore customer problems and design thinkingexplore a customer problem with design thinking methodEmpathize. Identify and understand users and business needs. Define. Identify user’s goals, pain/gains and discover opportunities. Ideate. Decide what feature to build. Prototype. Build a prototype, test, learn and iterate.While the MVP consists of core features, it is essential to remain nimble. Products must evolve based on the market and user’s needs down the road. It is through tests and feedback that you will learn if assumptions about your product idea are indeed valid. However, sometimes (and in some cases, often) it will turn out your assumptions are not validated based on the feedback, or they may just be in fact, wrong. But don’t worry – this isn’t a bad thing. You want to fail early and fail cheap on your way to building a better product.Design Thinking for MVP & Beyond Digital products and the ecosystems they call home are dynamic, constantly evolving – much like the users, their needs, and expectations. And it is in this environment that we see the unparalleled value of the design thinking methodology and its user-centred approaches, early user engagement, and collaborative nature flourish. By utilizing design thinking to address the real needs of the users and in turn, “do the right things,” this practice will make all the difference in not only delivering innovation and value to the market but has the power to transform an organization and its people.By now, you know how to create an MVP utilizing Design Thinking, but that is only half of the equation. After you establish what you want to test with your MVP, you then must choose which MVP validation method will provide you with the most reliable and actionable data from real-life users; techniques, that we will cover in an upcoming article.

Design Thinking: Turning Minimum Viable to Most Valuable Product

humans and bots team up
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Chances are, you’ve already heard of the Future Workforce or the Intelligent Digital Workforce, which essentially is a newer way of referring to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). For the sake of clarity, let’s quickly define it and move on to why you need to adopt this disruptive approach.RPA is a practice of automating existing repetitive, high-volume, and complex tasks with the help of software “bots.” The bots emulate human-like interaction with multiple systems without changing the current IT landscape.Another way to look at it is, while humans focus on creating the intellectual value for you; the bots carry out the mundane work much more efficiently and cost-effectively. The best part, you’re always in control of scaling this digital workforce up and down as and when required.When first introduced, process automation was met with resistance, however, since then it has proven itself to be industry agnostic, and the initial cost of setup is typically dwarfed by internal cost reductions and the significant ROI.As one of the first steps in digitizing your business, automation will bring control, efficiency, and profitability across operations while you focus on implementing other growth strategies. Keeping the above in mind, let’s get into some RPA success stories that were implemented by UXPLORE; one of our preferred partners in automation.Case Study 1: Trade Spend Analysis & Sales Insights A leading CPG distributor serving all major retailers in Canada used to gather weekly sales data at a store level manually. The data was then cleansed and mapped to product SKUs. Trade spend analysis were performed and shared with stakeholders.On average, it took 2-3 days to perform this process manually.manual process vs robotic processManual Process.Log into retailer portal to download raw sales data. Repeat for all retailers. Check for data validity and escalate to retailer if any issues. If raw data is valid, clean and transform data. Map data to item code / SKU. Aggregate sales data by SKU. Perform Analysis by SKU. Generate Reports company / brand partner. Share Trade Spend Analysis with each company. “This manual process takes me 2 – 3 days to finish the whole process”.And now the software bot does it in a few hours or on the same day!automated robotic process for automationAfter implementing Process Automation.Bot gathers sales data per schedule. Bot automatically repeats for all retailers. Apply data validation rules to accept/reject files and auto-escalate. Automatically clean and transform RAW data. Map retailer code to standard item code for each row. Aggregate data at item level. Perform Analysis by SKU. Auto-generate PDF reports for each company. Distribute weekly Trade Spend Analysis and Sales Insights to each company. “Well, with Automated Process give me same day or overnight for that”.Distributor’s success:A fully automated workflow except for escalation management 100% accuracy and a 50% reduction in the time cycle Increased bandwidth of Financial Analysts Case Study 2: Purchase Order Management A telecom operator with more than 200+ suppliers and 1000s of active POs to manage daily needed to ensure that all orders were coordinated, acknowledged, and accurately tracked.On average, it took 8 hours to perform this process manually.manual process time spanManual Process.Log into Email. Check if any new emails from any suppliers. Save attached PDF. Process the PDF. Lookup PO In SAP. Update PO status with details from supplier. Check for any anomalies. Escalate to Procurement Manager for follow-up. “This manual process takes me 8 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in less than an hour!robotic process time spanAfter implementing Process Automation.Bot monitors incoming emails. All received emails are handled. PDF attachments are stored automatically. PDF attachments are processed. Relevant POs are automatically retrieved in SAP. PO details and status updated per information received. PO is audited per predefined rules post update. Trigger escalation if applicable. “Well with Automated Process, I can do it in less than an hour”.Company’s success:Near real-time processing of POs, improving handling time by 90%+ Same day escalation when required 100% accurate and up-to-date PO status in SAP Case Study 3: Hiring – Offer Generation, Onboarding, and New Hire Integration A fast-growing talent recruitment firm that regularly hires a large number of employees and contractors needed a way to streamline the process once the hiring decision was made.On average, it took 2.5 hours to perform this process manually.Manual Process.Hiring Decision. Generate Offer. Email Offer to New Hire. Receive Offer Acceptance. Notify New Hires Manager. Background Check. Setup New Hire in HRIS. Email Account Setup. Setup Payroll. Request Access Cards. Send Welcome Email to New Hire. New Hire Day 1. “This manual process takes me 2.5 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in 8 minutes!After Implementation Process AutomationAfter implementing Process Automation.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “Well with Automated Process, takes less than an hour”.Recruitment firm’s success:Increased team capacity by replacing 80% of the manual process 100% accuracy of employee master data Significantly improved new hire experience through response time Case Study 4: Time & Attendance Record Tracking & Validation A leading technology-services provider (this is us actually; mobileLIVE) delivering hundreds of enterprise-grade projects needed to find a way to manage their resources efficiently; more specifically, they needed to accurately track the time spent on projects to ensure revenue and margin assurance.On average, it took 6 hours to perform this process manually.Manual Process.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “This manual process takes me 6 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in less than an hour for us!After implementing Process Automation.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “Well with Automated Process, I can do it in less than an hour”.Our success:Fully automated workflow with no manual effort or intervention 100% follow-up rate with all notifications sent within minutes and multiple times when required Significantly increased HR capacity to focus on more value-added initiatives Small Step – Higher ROI While you may view process automation as a means to increased profitability and efficiency, in reality, it does much more than that. By teaming humans and bots together, you are relieved of time-consuming, repetitive, but essential tasks. Instead, you will find more energy to focus on implementing growth strategies and business-critical decisions.

Robotic Process Automation: Bots Team Up With Humans

TDD, DDD, BDD, puzzle pieces, fitting together
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Software development is saturated with frameworks, methodologies, and processes; most of which come with the promise of better development. Just ask any developer, and they will likely only be too happy to share their favourites or suggest which method you should use. Are you looking to implement a large project successfully? They could suggest a method. Are you trying to avoid discrepancy between design documents and what is actually implemented? They know a framework that’s perfect for that. And if you wanted to ensure your project has minimal regression and is maintainable over time, then they certainly know what process you should follow. But what happens when the complexity of your projects grow and faithfulness to just one method doesn’t provide the benefits and value your project (and the user) deserve? As we learned from the hybrid cloud , very often the best solution to a complex problem is a combination of several.Today, I am going to share with you how to tackle difficult and complex development in the agile space using not one method, but a hybrid combination of three specific ones.The 3 Methodologies The promise of better development through a hybrid solution of multiple methods works – but you can’t utilize just any three. They need to be complimentary, they need to pick up where another falls short, and they all need to provide their unique value that assures predictable and productive outcomes. In short – the perfect combination is TDD, DDD, and BDD.Test Driven DevelopmentTest Driven Development, or TDD, is a process of developing software where a test is written prior to writing code. Once that is done, developers will work towards writing just enough code to pass the test, and then begin refactoring.Domain Driven DesignDomain Driven Design, or DDD, is an approach to development that connects the implementation to an evolving model; placing the focus of the project on the core domain (sphere of knowledge), the logic behind it, and forces collaboration between technical and nontechnical parties to improve the model.Behavioural Driven DevelopmentBehavioural Driven Development, or BDD, is a refinement of TDD and DDD that aims to streamline development through narrowing communication gaps, creating a better understanding of the customer, and allowing for continuous communication. Simply put, BDD is a way of combining business requirements with code and allows you to understand the behaviour of the system from a business/end-user perspective.While those above are all standalone and beneficial frameworks in their own right, as I mentioned earlier, the demand for more complex development is and has proven itself too much for any single one – but not all three.A Hybrid Practice the intersection of TDD,DDD and BDD provide a hybrid approach to development which assures predictable and productive outcomesCombining methodologies in order to reach the desired outcome seems like a great idea – especially in theory. However, it isn’t enough to just combine these methods and hope for the best. Aside from having organizational buy-in and a shared understanding of these concepts singularly amongst your teams and its members, the most crucial step is to understand when and where to utilize these frameworks to ensure maximum output.So where do we begin?Well, knowing that the first step to solving any problem is to truly understand the problem you are trying to solve, the only logical place to begin from is the outside in.Thinking Outside In (BDD) Before a single line of code is written (or even thought of, for that matter), you need to begin by understanding the problem you are trying to solve, how the problem was created in the first place, and perhaps most importantly, what value you project the solution to have. In this discovery phase, it is best to make use of open-ended questions to determine what specific pain point you are trying to alleviate, who and how will they benefit from it, and what impact will it have on the organization.At this point and if done correctly, you should have a good understanding of why this development is beneficial and a clear vision of what to build. So far it has been BDD taking us to this point, now it is time for DDD to take over.Thinking Big Picture (DDD) What is the best way to tackle a large development project? You break it down into smaller, more manageable segments, or in the case of DDD – domains. When you split the project into smaller domains, you can have segregated teams handle the functionality of that domain end-to-end. And to best understand those domains, you enlist the help of domain experts; someone that understands the problem and that realm of knowledge more than anyone else.Typically, the domain expert is not the one who is responsible for developing the solution, rather, DDD collectively is used to help bridge the knowledge gap that usually exists between these experts and the solution that is trying to be realized. Through models, context, and ubiquitous language, all parties involved should have a clear understanding of what the particular problems are and how the ensuing build will be structured.Thinking Inside Out (TDD) I know what you are thinking, “at what point do we start writing code?” Well, the answer is now, but before you do – you need to write a test.As previously discussed, TDD is a practice where you write the initially failing test first that defines a function, and then you go back and try and write the minimum amount of code for the test to pass; followed by refactoring to ensure acceptable standards.But why did we wait so long to write code? We are still talking about development, aren’t we? Yes, of course, we are still talking about development, but we are talking about quality development, and that means bug-free development. In broad terms, there are two types of bugs:The ones that cause your system to crash The ones that show the wrong results By taking the above-mentioned hybrid approach to development, you will find that TDD helps you mitigate and avoid the first type of bugs; with BDD and DDD helping you avoid the latter – which also happen to be the most expensive to fix.Moving Forward As the complexity of your projects grow, the only way to maintain the viability of your build and ensure success is to have your development practices grow with it. While the individual practices of TDD, DDD, and BDD are all valuable in their own right, it is the point in which they intersect that will provide the real value moving into the future.Now, if you are faced with a large project that demands zero discrepancies between design document and implementation, requires minimal regression, and is maintainable over time, you can suggest an approach to that; more specifically, a hybrid approach that utilizes these three methods.

The Value at the Intersection of TDD, DDD, and BDD

test automation best practices with digital gears
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If I was to be writing about the benefits of test automation, rest assured you would be reading all about the enhanced reliability it provides, its laser-like accuracy, and far-reaching coverage. And of course, I would certainly make sure to stress how it can drastically improve product quality, reduce time-to-market, and perhaps most valuable of all, bring with it a high return on investment.However, I am not writing about the benefits of test automation, although they are indeed impressive when all laid out like that. Instead, I have chosen to write about something that is arguably much more valuable than the benefits of test automation to your business – and that is how to achieve them. And just like most things done well, it requires the right procedures, the right strategies, and of course, the “right” best practices.Today, we are going to dive into what those best practices are so you can not only get the most out of your testing efforts but deliver the highest ROI.which test cases to automateDetermine which test cases to automate First off, you need to accept that it is impossible to automate all testing. We know, we tried. But in knowing this, it makes selecting which test cases to automate all that more important.In essence, the real value of test automation comes from how many times any given test can be repeated. If a test is only to be performed a couple of times, it is better left to test manually. As a rule of thumb, test cases that run frequently and require large data sets to perform the same action are ideal candidates for automation.Here are some perfect examples of the types of tests that can benefit drastically from automation:Tests prone to human error Repetitive tests that run across multiple builds Tests that require numerous or diverse data sets Tests that are effort or time intensive when done manually Tests that run across different hardware, software platforms, and configurations Tests that are simply impossible or not feasible to run manually Test Automation ProcessDivide your efforts based on skill level While it is nice to think that everybody is at the same skill level on your QA team, the reality is that it is seldom the case. Considering this and the fact that test creation is at the crux of test automation, it is vital to divide your efforts accordingly based on the skill level of your team and the tool selected. Allow me to elaborate.If you have chosen to use an open source tool, then your automation engineer must have adequate coding skills to utilize it fully, or even at all. However, that isn’t to say that junior engineers can’t use test automation. Depending on which tool you select, such as certain proprietary ones, then QA engineers of all skill levels have the ability to create test scripts with minimal training or guidance.Another route for filling any skills gap or lacking infrastructure that may exist is outsourcing certain aspects of the process to a skilled and experienced partner. This can include everything from strategy, proof of concept, script development, infrastructure setup, and even workshops and hands-on training.choosing the right test automation toolChoosing the right test automation tool Some would say that selecting an automated testing tool is essential for test automation. We’d argue that it is selecting the right tool that makes the real difference. However, a quick Google search will show you that the market abounds with hundreds of different test automation tools to choose from.So where do you begin?Here are some basic guidelines to consider when selecting which tool is right for you:Flexibility: It is unlikely that your team is all at the same skill level which is why you need to select a tool that can be utilized by everyone. For example, if you lack the expertise to write automated test scripts, you will want to make sure that the tool provides an alternative, like the ability to perform keyword testing.Supportability: Tools available are usually platform and technology dogmatic, meaning that you will not often come across a tool that will support multiple platforms and technologies. Determine what you are testing and across what operating systems and then determine which tool best supports your efforts.Reusability: One of the most significant benefits of test automation is its ability to reuse tests which is why you need to choose a tool that can do just that. Does it allow you to create tests that are not only reusable, but maintainable, and even more important, resistant to UI changes in the application?your data quality mattersIf you want good tests, you need good data Perhaps one of the most boring and time-consuming aspects of test automation is the creation of test data. Sadly, the fact that it is boring does nothing to diminish the importance of it.Creating test data, more specifically, well-structured test data is an undertaking that is undoubtedly worth your time and effort. When you set a baseline of good quality test data, it becomes much easier to write automated tests through the entire development lifecycle.When it comes to your test data, one of the best practices you can implement is to use external data sources. The reason behind this is that by using external data, it makes your tests not only easier to maintain but more importantly, reusable. When this is done, you can easily add various testing scenarios with the data file being extended through new data, all without any edits to the original automated test.Test Automation ProcessShift-Left for maximum results In order to maximize your test automation efforts, you need to begin your testing as early as possible and as often as is required; or, as many know it, you need to Shift-Left.The Shift-Left movement is one that is seeing testers and developers begin their testing efforts much earlier than was historically done. The reason being is that when testing begins earlier in the project lifecycle, the more bugs and glitches can be found. Tests like automated unit testing can even begin on the first day of development and used to gradually build your test suite. It doesn’t require an extensive or complicated explanation to realize that when bugs and glitches are detected earlier, it is much faster and cheaper to fix them than in the ensuing production or heaven forbid, deployment.If you are looking to produce higher quality products, reduce your time-to-market, and garner a higher ROI, then I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest test automation as the solution. However, the solution of test automation is only of value when it is implemented correctly and utilized using best practices. And while not every business is the same, nor are their uses for test automation, the aforementioned best practices can all be easily adapted to help you maximize your automated testing efforts.

“The Best” of the Best Practices for Test Automation

reasons for not choosing test automation
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My daughter recently asked me if I would take her to the toy store. I had just come home from the office after a long day, and all I wanted to do was relax on the couch and watch TV. I told her I couldn’t, the reason being that I was “too tired” but I would gladly take her tomorrow. She, reluctantly, accepted my answer and went about her business, likely to pose the same question to my wife.This is an example of an excuse, masquerading as a reason. I had no real reason preventing me from taking her; I just used me being tired as justification. Fortunately, the consequences of my excuse were virtually non-existent; my daughter only had to wait a day before she got what she wanted. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many of the excuses we make, especially in business, where most opportunities aren’t as persistent as my daughter.Today, we are going to look at some of the most common excuses companies make for why they have not already implemented test automation. And while many of these excuses may sound familiar, or have been echoed within your own organization’s walls, the main takeaway from this is not the excuses themselves, but the benefits of test automation that you’re missing out on by making these excuses.test automation too costly“The cost of test automation is just too high!”In business, the number one excuse I hear for not doing something is the expense. However, interestingly enough, not incurring said expense usually comes at its own cost; often, a much higher one.In the case of test automation, I usually hear test managers claim that the cost of implementation is just too high. This is understandable, after all, at first glance investing in automation or in an automation testing company may seem cost prohibitive – especially for smaller organizations. However, when implemented properly and utilized correctly, test automation will typically pay for itself through decreased labour, reduced time-to-market, and by allowing your teams to focus on more critical initiatives like customer needs and product functionality and improvement.Test automation best practices“I don’t really have a need for test automation.”Perhaps the cost of test automation isn’t an issue for you. Maybe, you believe that your business simply wouldn’t benefit from such an initiative or by looking into the possibility of hiring an automation testing company – which is a fair point. Why would you want to incur any cost if there wasn’t a sufficient need to justify it?Test Automation ProcessBut let me ask you, does customer experience and the perception they have of your brand matter to you? Would your organization benefit if it was able to not only produce better products but bring them to market much faster? What if you were able to reduce the operating expenses of your business, without sacrificing growth and profitability? How about ensuring that you can repeatedly and accurately run tests that help to ensure the highest quality products?If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, then you certainly do have a need for test automation, one that won’t only delight your customers but improve your operational agility.test automation not for us“I don’t think test automation will work in my industry.”Of all the excuses I have been given as to why an organization is reluctant to adopt test automation or hire a test automation company, “I don’t think it will work in my industry” is undoubtedly the easiest to refute.The truth when it comes to test automation is that it is, in fact, industry agnostic. That means test automation can be successfully implemented in any repetitive and predictable test environment, regardless of the industry. I personally have been involved in successful test automation implementations in Telecoms, Banks, as well as Healthcare, however, from Manufacturing, Insurance and other Financial Services, Media, Entertainment, and Automotive, examples of successful and profitable test automation implementation abound.prefer manual testing“Manual testing is better.”In my experience, it is a bad practice to have a dogmatic allegiance to any one method of doing anything, especially when, if the circumstance is right, a better alternative presents itself.In truth, when it comes to testing, there simply is “no better than the other,” just different, in both approach and application. Manual testing undoubtedly has its place, like for one-off tests or ones that require human observation, however, when it comes to time-consuming, tedious, repetitive, or missional critical tests; test automation can not only help brands develop quality software faster, but it also allows them to do so at scale and a fraction of the cost. Typically, the best testing strategy is one that utilizes both manual and automated testing and finds a happy medium that is uniquely tailored to your business.Test AutomationI told my daughter the reason I couldn’t take her to the toy store was that I was tired, and that was my excuse parading as a reason. And the rationale behind doing it was that there were no significant consequences. However, by now, it should be clear that many of the excuses for not adopting test automation are not so consequence-free, and the sooner you start to accept them for what they are, excuses, not reasons, the sooner you will be able to make an accurate assessment as to whether test automation is right for you.

The High-Cost Excuses Preventing Test Automation

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“Imperative” is not a word to be thrown around lightly. It stresses upon the vitally important, the critical, and perhaps the unavoidable. At the same time, imperatives needn’t be intimidating for they help shape the world around us as we know it. Likewise, Digital Transformation isn’t a choice anymore for any business. It’s imperative because the economy demands people, technology, and business to be unified; to pursue innovative and agile operating models; find newer ways of accelerating growth and profitability. But then, like anything worth achieving, this transformation also requires the right approach and the mastery of three critical outcomes: Experiences, Productivity, and Empowerment.Experiences Despite popular belief; it isn’t only about products and processes, but experiences. Why? Because experiences define the brand, its reputation, its ability to stick, and its possible recommendation. Emotions remain long with us even after the screen has dimmed, and the power turned off. So good or bad, customers and employees will have an experience with your brand, why not make all the effort in turning them into your competitive advantage.Productivity Everyone wants to achieve more; which is why it’s not about choosing to be productive, but how. It’s about how to free men and women from the shackles of repetitive and mundane tasks. It’s about how to reach new levels of speed, accuracy, and cost-efficiency; all while liberating talented minds to focus on what matters most. Adopting intelligent and scalable approaches ensure not only enhanced productivity and reduced time-to-market, but also a more meaningful employee experience.Empowerment To achieve something you never have, you have to do what you’ve never done. The future will demand a lot of firsts and if you are not prepared to learn, to innovate, and to take your ideas to the next level – then be prepared to be left behind. It shouldn’t be about living in the future, but inventing it. So, invest in yourself, your empowerment, and most importantly – your future.Success in this transformation isn’t complicated. It’s a choice. A choice to be better than yesterday; a choice to perfect experiences; a choice to be more productive; and a choice to empower your future.

Digital Transformation: How We Approach Tomorrow, Today

SCRUM
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One evening I was having drinks with some colleagues after work and, as should come as no surprise, the topic made its way to Scrum – more specifically, what was the best advice we’d ever heard on the subject.“If your team looks good, you look good,” said Oscar looking around the circle for approval. We all nodded in unison as it became Lin’s turn to chime in.“Always experiment with your process- nothing is permanent.” Another piece of sage advice we collectively agreed with, as Phil tried to flag down the waitress. It was my turn.“Never confuse movement with action,” I solemnly said. It didn’t get the same quick reception as the others; however, slowly, the group began to nod in unmistakeable agreement.“Yes,” exclaimed Lin, “that is brilliant! Where did you hear that gem of Scrum advice?”I looked around the circle of my peers and with a smile said, “Ernest Hemingway.”Putting aside the source of this counsel, including the fact that it was never intended for Scrum and that the person who penned it never even used a computer, I have yet to come across more sound advice. That is because confusing movement with action is the same as confusing output with outcome; two valuable measures in the Agile methodology.Output can be considered the story of what you produced, such as velocity and volume. However, where output falls short is in addressing the value of what was produced. For that, we have outcome, which is arguably a more appropriate measure for development as it helps to quantify the actual performance and success of the processes we put in place. Sadly, we see Sprint Reports, Burndown, Burnups, and Velocity Charts all relating to output, likely because outcome is harder to interpret. Which begs the question – how do we ensure we work, and more importantly, deliver, on both?While the four Scrum events admittedly seem to showcase output over outcome, the latter is still present and teeming with value – that is, if you know how to find it. Today, we’ll show you how to do just that by extracting what output should be gathered from each event as well as the often overlooked, but no less valuable, outcome.Daily Scrum Daily ScrumAt the heart of the Agile framework is the Daily Scrum or Daily Standup. These short, 15-minutes meetings are designed to improve communication, with all members arriving prepared, punctual, and ready to answer some variation of the “three questions” we’re all too familiar with.In the Daily Scrum, the output can be considered:Looking for anything that is stopping the team’s current effort and reporting these impediments back to the team Once established, it is imperative to devise an action plan to deal and ultimately remove these impediments What stories are completed and what will the team be working on that day The outcome, on the other hand, should be:An updated sprint backlog. This should be done by keeping it in front of you during the Daily Scrum, so you can determine how impediments will affect it and adjust accordingly Improvised plan to meet the sprint goal that is based on the team’s updates It is imperative that each sprint has a sprint goal that can act as a catalyst for inspiration and instil a sense of achievement in the team. When trying to achieve value and not just velocity, you’ll likely find that teams function better and work with an increased sense of collaboration.Sprint Planning How is Sprint Planning done?The Sprint Planning event is one that focuses on two main questions:What needs to be and can be delivered in the Sprint? How will the work needed for the execution of the Sprint be achieved? Answers to the above are derived from the Product Backlog, past product increments, projected capacity, and past performance. However, when dealing with output and outcome, it is usually the Product Backlog that yields that most information in the Sprint Planning phase.The output from Product Backlog includes:A shared understanding of the items to be taken into the next Sprint Ensure that definition of ready is met for all the stories Concerning outcome, the Product Backlog yields:That stories in the Sprint are fully understood by the team, increasing the probability of achieving true value The team becomes clear on the value and acceptance criteria of the stories, including the rationale behind it The team clearly defines ask and have prerequisites ready to estimate the story, sorting out all assumptions before development Items are more refined and prioritized based on customer impact and business justification By the end of the Sprint Planning, the team should be able to explicitly state the desired outputs and outcomes to the Product Owner and Scrum Master, as well as how they intend to accomplish them in the upcoming increment.Sprint Review Sprint reviewDuring everybody’s favourite Sprint Review, the efforts of the team are assessed against the sprint goal. The team will showcase what they have accomplished; however, this shouldn’t be limited to merely output.Typically, a Sprint Review takes the form of a demo, with the team ideally having completed each Product Backlog item. Generally speaking, the success of these meetings is based on the simple output of:The Product Owner reviews and accepts the delivered product increment or provides feedback Seems a little sparse if you ask me, but when you dive into the outcome of the session, you start to see some real value brought to light. These outcomes include:A strengthened partnership between stakeholders and the development team. The focus should be on the experience, not the demo Feedback on the increment produced in the sprint with a particular emphasis on the stakeholder’s needs in the backlog and how the feedback will be incorporated into the stories A team-wide agreement on changes to scope based on feedback, along with the timeline of the planned release, with a focus on how it will impact the vision of the project At the end of the Sprint Review, not only should the team have a revised Product Backlog that helps define the next sprint, but it should also act to clarify that valued outcomes are on par with output.Sprint Retrospective Sprint retrospectiveOften the most misunderstood of all Scrum events is the Sprint Retrospective. This is designed to afford teams the opportunity to inspect themselves and create a plan of action for improvements moving into the next Sprint. It is also an excellent opportunity to review and assess output and outcomes.The output from the Sprint Retrospective include:What issues arose in the last sprint Develop an action plan to fix them Develop a proactive approach to prevent them from happening The most important and yet, usually overlooked outcome of this event is one that can be found in a core Agile principle – to at regular intervals, reflect on how to become more effective, and then fine-tune and change behaviour accordingly. In other words, Continuous Improvement. This includes looking for technical debts to upgrade the code base and working with Product Owners to clean and maintain the Backlog.If asked what sounds more compelling, a company that increased its velocity by 300% or increased its share price by 30%, the answer is obvious – 300%. However, this point beautifully illustrates the importance of asking the right question, because while 300% is more compelling, an increase in 30% share price is by far more valuable. When working in Scrum, it is essential to ask the right questions to not only get a more accurate picture of the development but to determine if you are confusing “movement with action.”

Scrum Methodology: Why Focus Needs to Shift from Output to Outcome

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Time and time again, the strategy that is delivering great customer experience, driving business, and seeing some of the most significant returns is personalization, and in the digital world, smart personalization. Gartner predicts that e-commerce businesses that personalize their customer experience successfully could see profits rise by up to 15% by 2020. Apart from the vision, strategy, and talent, you need the right tools; and much like a carpenter is crippled without a hammer, our modern business landscape is growing ever reliant on personalization engines.The goal of smart personalization is to make decisions easier and experiences more enjoyable, so I thought I’d do the same by compiling a synopsis of 21 smart personalization tools, all in one convenient location. While many of the features presented may overlap, each offers its own unique value, a value I’d encourage you to discover if you also wish to deliver an excellent customer experience. Just read below to uncover which personalization engine is the best fit for you.ppersonalization tool- attraqt behavioural targetingCapitalizing on the fact that humans are visual creatures, this software takes a more visual approach to behavioural targeting, focusing on product sequencing to analyze – and ultimately optimize – what customers are looking at in order to increase the conversion rate tangibly. It also offers search services in over 40 languages, making it one of the few to have such broad, global implications and is an obvious choice for companies looking to expand their market internationally.Barilliance Customer ExperienceThis software is set on improving the customer experience by analyzing and personalizing shopping not just while the actual shopping occurs, but even when it doesn’t work out. Leaving the website without a purchase or even cart abandonment where items don’t go all the way to a transaction, are part of this data gathering process. This coupled with retargeting emails, product recommendations, and real-time website personalization make Barilliance a great option to up your personalization efforts.baynote omnichannel experienceModern commerce is all about omnichannel, which is part of the reason that Baynotes cross-device personalization engine is so appealing. Their solution works with existing systems and utilizes powerful algorithms to not only identify shopping behaviour patterns, but collect that data, analyze it, and in turn, deliver highly targeted responses. The behaviour data that is collected then helps brands gain a single view of their customer, like, where they came from and why; irrespective of the device the journey started from.bouncex marketing stackBased on the simple principle that it is impossible to market to your visitors if you don’t know who they are, BounceX offers a full segmentation stack comprised of sophisticated cohort rules that hyper-targets each unique visitor into strategic segments. It then couples the visitor’s data with their behaviour on-site, enabling for precise and targeted campaigns.Product recomendation engine Bunting“You can sell more by getting personal” is the stance that Bunting takes, and given the plethora of features in their cloud-based personalization tool, I’d have to agree. Built for marketers, by marketers, Bunting offers Product Recommendations that can be tested to determine which is most efficient, Personalized Content, Urgency and Social Proof, and Cart Abandonment targeting that can help you increase your conversions.Episerver Digital Experience Cloud This is another comprehensive package that integrates not just with catalogue and purchasing aspects of a website but also works with third-party systems for search, PIM, and more. It uses machine learning to improve its efforts over time, ever increasing the degree of personalization. This truly omnichannel platform is designed for the modern consumer, and with its new expandable add-ons, brands can further customize this tool to their specific needs.Everage Real time personalization platformThe dream of every marketer is to achieve 1:1 customer engagement; and Everage promises to do just that. Combining customer data with advanced machine learning and in-depth behavioural analytics, Everage for E-Commerce Optimization allows you to systematically understand and interact with each visitor to your site or app; one at a time, in real-time, and at scale.Email personalization software exit intelligencePower and price are two of the most significant selling factors when it comes to Exit Intelligence, a marketing tool that is primarily used to catch visitors before they leave your site. With their expertly managed pop-up software, this mobile-first tool provides gorgeous designs, reduced bounce and abandonment, split testing and targeting, and is easy to install. All this makes it particularly useful for design thinking experts, developers, and other stakeholders in the team to create a highly personalized customer experience. Plus it comes with an ROI tracker, so you’ll always know how your investment is paying off.Revenue optimization software granifyWhen it comes to personalization, the more granular that you can go, the better. Granify, a machine learning powered platform allows business to get specific with the data they are after. From in-depth shopping behaviour right down to “mouse hesitation,” Granify tracks over 400 specific micro-behaviours to give business a truly unique view of their customers.Limespot personalization toolA powerful combination of linguistic analysis technology and machine learning, LimeSpot is designed to not only target content but to understand it. Personalizer is their AI-powered option that helps to deliver personalized recommendations, upsell, and cross-sell, while, Approach, is a customized email campaign engine design to increase sales by targeting recipients with the products they are most likely to buy.monetate personalization softwareWhile the goal of business is to make things as easy and effortless for customers, that isn’t to say that important and valuable efforts like personalization need to be complicated. Monetate brings more than a decade of experience and over 300 brands in their portfolio to back up their platform that boasts 1:1 personalization, product recommendations, and an easy, customizable segmentation engine that builds and runs tests to ensure your automated messages are the type your audience is looking for.Optimization and personalization tool omnicinvertBefore you can optimize your marketing efforts for your buyers, you first need to understand them. With Omniconvert, you can do both at the same time. They claim to be the only tool that allows brands to survey, test, message, and segment all in one place, however, while that is undetermined, their premium support, 5-minute installation, top-notch security, and 30 day money back guarantee all make this tool a great option.online reatrgeting software optimonkBringing surgical like precision to e-commerce personalization, OptiMonk utilizes onsite retargeting technology that presents targeted popup overlays to your visitors. Not only that, but it also includes the ability to capture contact information like email as well as segment visitors based on a variety of categories like Cart-Contents, Engagement, and Page Stay Duration and then automatically provide personalized, relevant content.Omnichannel personalization tool personyzePersonyze uses the power of AI and powerful targeting to create tailored experiences for your audience. Giving the user the ability to set their target audience based on a list of 70 “out-of-the-box” characteristics as well as custom-defined ones, Personyze goes beyond just website personalization, offering recommendation engine, email personalization, targeted banners and pop-ups, as well as A/B testing features.personalized ecommerce software PureClarity Anyone should be a little hesitant when a company claims to be able to increase online revenue, especially by a specific number like 26%, however, given the features of PureClarity’s platform, it may not be too far off. Combining AI and Big Data, this tool provides personalized site searches, personalized merchandising, personalized email marketing, and analytics; all in one platform that is packed with hundreds of segment variables.Richrelevance personalization cloudA global leader when it comes to omnichannel personalization, RichRelevance is a highly acclaimed tool utilized by more than 200 multinational companies, all of whom trust it to deliver relevant and innovative customer experiences across web and mobile. Using machine learning and 125+ pre-built algorithms, this tool can learn and respond in real-time to customer behaviour and activity in order to provide them with the most relevant recommendations and content.Ad personalization software softcubeFew people in business can argue the power of video when it comes to customer engagement, and it is this fact that Softcube hopes to capitalize on. Powered by AI, Softcube boasts the ability to create videos showcasing your products in use automatically. Using an expansive video library and advanced neural networks, videos are effortlessly produced and can be showcased across a variety of platforms.Steelhouse personalization tool review This software gathers first-party data in real-time, looking at search terms, purchase patterns, location, and other useful metrics to create an image of the customer. Not stopping there, SteelHouse also offers users the opportunity to create unlimited target segments; opening a new realm of possibilities for targeting. Users of DemandWare are also now able to enjoy increased integration with SteelHouse software thanks to a strategic partnership between the two companies, further adding to the power of the platform.Perosnalization software for product discovery unbxdWhile many of the entries on this list offer a specific tool for enhanced personalization, UNBXD boasts a complete “product discovery suite.” This includes an impressive commerce search feature that provides enhanced product discovery and recommendations, all while subtly guiding customers in the direction you want. Perhaps the most unique offering by this tool is the ability to provide recommendations at the shopping cart, which can dramatically increase upselling and cross-selling.Content personalization software webengageOne-to-one marketing just got easier thanks to WebEngage and their personalization module that comes integrated with a complete multi-channel marketing suite. So what does it include? More like what doesn’t it include, for it provides journey mapping and user profile creation, cross-device segmentations, geo-fencing and more, all working towards a single customer view. It also offers real-time user tracking with attribution so you can utilize those channels that yield the best results.machine learning based personalization tool yuspA personalization tool is only as effective as the features it has in proportion to the needs a business has. In regards to Yusp, you’d be hard pressed to find a feature it doesn’t have. This personalization engine boasts Product Recommendation, On-Site Personalization, Search Personalization, Mobile Personalization, Email Marketing Personalization, Personalized Couponing, Cart Abandonment Email, Social Personalization, Online Ad Retargeting Personalization; and if you can believe, more.Personalization, in all of its proven glory, is not to be considered “an effort for next quarter,” “an idea we’ll review next month,” or “something our customers just aren’t interested in yet.” Instead, it needs to be celebrated, much like the customers it is geared towards. With the possibility of providing tailored, unique, and personalized experiences, the question isn’t going to be when will it happen, but why hasn’t it already?P.S. while my list is extensive, I’d encourage you to search out options I may have missed and also share it with me.

21 Smart Personalization Tools to Improve Customer Experience

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Business innovation and the opportunities they create is how enterprises distinguish themselves from one another. It is how they do things better, how they create value, and ultimately, how they pass that value over to the customer. Business innovation isn’t a box you can check off and forget about, rather, it is a continuous effort that is empowered by technologies and methodologies that are available at any given moment. Today, that technology is artificial intelligence.Many of you are likely familiar with the AI enablers to follow; some having worked with them first hand. Others are likely familiar with the applications, however, may not have known that artificial intelligence is playing an important role in the background. Regardless, my point is to inspire you to think differently about AI and how it can impact your business. Like many new technologies, the full potential of AI is being realized slowly, and it only takes someone exploring the possibilities around them to discover something new.Enablers of Innovation Big Data Here is the thing about Big Data – it’s big. I’m talking massive. Big Data has to be so in order to reveal patterns and associations, and predict trends accurately. However, while humans do have the capacity to discover patterns and predict trends, it is an impossibility at the scale in which modern enterprise demands. For AI, on the other hand, it is impressively suited to glean through large data sets in order to quickly and most of all accurately derive actionable insights.Internet of Things The Internet of Things was bred out of convenience and personalization, which only stands to reason why AI will only help to continue its widespread adoption. Building internet connectivity into a wide variety of devices is one thing, however, allowing those devices to communicate with us and coordinate with each other will only lead to greater shopping, home, entertainment, and professional experiences.Enablers of InnovationDeep Learning When talking about artificial intelligence, the word that stands out most is intelligence, and a hallmark of that is the ability to learn. Deep learning does just that, by utilizing artificial neural networks to act as a human brain would, analyzing and learning all without the aid of a computer programmer. This ability to “think” on its own is a driving force behind such innovations as autonomous vehicles, which is great, as keeping a computer programmer in the trunk of your car isn’t a feasible option.Reinforcement Learning Reinforcement Learning (RL) is an important type of Machine Learning where “machines” learn how to behave in an environment by performing actions and seeing the results; not unlike students in a classroom. This behaviour can be learnt based on a reward mechanism, once and indefinitely, or keep on adapting as time goes by. RL algorithms can converge to establish an ideal behaviour baseline, especially for robotics, autonomous driving, and process control.Probabilistic Programming One of the fascinating things to rise out of AI is the feasibility of probabilistic programming. In simple terms, this programming allows for problems to be solved in nonlinear time. What does that mean? Well, traditional simulations used for problem-solving only arrive at the results at the end; however, the probabilistic programming can look at the conclusion first and determine how those results can be achieved “going backwards.” This has far-reaching implications, from customer service to financial forecasting.The above are the enablers that bring the latest and most advanced business applications to light. However, what’s arguably more important are the opportunities that AI can bring to your business, and here are some of the most exciting ones.Applications & Opportunities Autonomous Vehicles The automobile market is enormous, however, despite what you may think, it is still a limited market. That is because while anybody can buy a car, not everyone can drive one. That is, they couldn’t before Artificial Intelligence came along. People who are blind or suffer from certain physical limitations will soon have the ability to go anywhere thanks to this new technology. The use of these Self-Driving Vehicles (SDVs) in logistics is another innovative application and this tech is already being tested with prodigious results.Robotic Process Automation While we hope everyone loves what they do for a living, the reality is that even the best “dream jobs” have their periods of boring and monotonous work. In fact, some jobs seem to be exclusively filled with such processes. But it doesn’t have to be. AI fueled Robotic Process Automation (RPA) currently replicate basic rule-based tasks, much faster, accurate, and cost-effective than humans, and will eventually constitute the epitome of an Intelligent Digital Workforce.how Artificial Intelligence can help your businessLogistics & Delivery A product is only of value if it reaches the hands of the customer, and this principle is why logistics and delivery is so crucial to business success. Integrating AI in your supply chain management can unify your data; analyzing and providing insights across the organization as well as streamline the customs brokerage process. However, it is in predictive analytics that we see the most significant value, through its demand prediction, route optimization, and network management.Customer Service Whether they have made a purchase or not, and regardless of how far along in the buyer’s journey, any good enterprise needs to ensure that the customer’s demands are met. However, given the multitude of touchpoints on that journey, this can be difficult. For AI, however, it can act as a “gatekeeper” throughout the experience handling simple questions like inventory, availability, or straightforward exchanges and refunds, which frees up staff to focus on more complex and sensitive issues.Chatbots Thanks to AI, chatbots have grown more sophisticated, and in many ways, are almost indistinguishable from humans. In fact, chatbots are often a better alternative than using traditional CSR. Instant response to inquiries, reduced service time, fewer errors, increased customer engagement, the ability to handle simple transactions, and proactive customer interactions are all within the grasp of these bots. And if you can think of a scenario that wouldn’t be improved with AI, then you have just found an instance for a human CSR to take the lead.Customer Relationship Management CRM systems were in and of themselves a considerable business innovation, one that continues to yield results for sales teams. However, given the less than stellar success rates of such implementations, AI is poised to do what sales teams and CRM alone can’t. From transcribing and analyzing calls to qualifying, engaging, nurturing, and following up with leads via email, AI is positioned to not only do more for the enterprise but the customers they serve.Payment Services Life is filled with some certainties that go beyond death and taxes. For example, if your house is anything like mine, you regularly need milk, fruit, toilet paper, and a variety of other “staples.” AI, as your own personal “butler,” can make those authorized payments and arrange for shipping to your home when your supply is getting low. Anyone with kids will quickly see the value of always having the essentials on hand.Translation Whether you are a business traveller or looking to branch out into new international markets, one of the most significant barriers to not only business but people is language. However, thanks to AI, more and more companies are expanding into new markets, no longer encumbered by language. And while technology has made the world a smaller place, I believe it is AI that will help empower true universal communication.Behaviour Prediction Anyone in business knows that the customer is the most important thing, which is why perhaps so much time is spent trying to guess what they’ll do next. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, however, these predictions have gone from guesswork to a science. AI and its ability to analyze massive data sets give the enterprise the ability to learn more about their customers, such as their shopping habits, preferences, and even churn rate, so that they will not only be able to foresee what the customer will do but can ideally influence it.How can Artificial Intelligence help my business growDecision Making When asked the key to their success, it isn’t uncommon to hear powerful men and women give credit to “trusting their gut.” And while this may be your best option in certain situations, the modern business landscape is unlikely to be one of them. Artificial Intelligence has given enterprise the ability to weigh the variables, judge potential outcomes, and make the best decision based on the relevant data. And while not as sexy as “trusting your gut,” AI-powered decision making is likely to be a lot more accurate and yield better results.Intrusion Detection While technology has enabled us to do more, it has also caused us to be more conscious and aware, especially when all our new capabilities can potentially leave us vulnerable to digital intrusion. Current defence against cyber attacks are generally of a responsive nature; however, with AI’s help, this can be switched to proactive. With AI, an enterprise can set a baseline of normal activity on their network, and as a result, more accurately recognize potential threats if they deviate from typical behaviour.Content Creation Content isn’t just a way for an enterprise to get their message to the customer, it is a way to provide that customer with value. However, AI is increasing the efficiency in how we do that by allowing us to deliver personalized content to the user and by helping inform our strategy through insightful data analysis like which type of content will perform best. Creation aside, AI already does aid in the distribution of content, allowing for more efficient and documented campaigns.HR & Recruitment HR and recruitment are by nature a very “people” laden vertical; however, that should be no indication that AI integration isn’t applicable. HR is filled with numerous rule-based tasks that could be done much better by AI and RPA. Let us take onboarding for example. Typical onboarding would take an HR associate 2.5 hours to complete from hiring decision to sending the welcome email, while an AI-fuelled substitute could accomplish the same in just 8 minutes.Digital Marketing Marketing is usually only effective when the right message gets to the right audience, more specifically, on the right channel. Thanks to AI, with its ability to analyze large data sets and to automate processes like distribution of marketing materials, targeted messaging across channels is becoming easier and more effective than ever. This will help ensure that marketing dollars are spent in more effective ways and can also help to tailor messages that are appropriate for whatever stage of the buyer journey the customer finds themselves.Manufacturing Robots are already par for the course in many industrial sectors, however, that is for their physical capabilities, but today, AI and its ability to reason, theorize and forecast is what has the manufacturing world excited. From improving predictive maintenance, reducing supply chain forecasting errors, and reducing energy costs through demand forecast, the benefits of AI in manufacturing directly impact the bottom line.Few moments in history are marked by the presence of a technology that is so adaptable, has such widespread potential, and that can impact as many verticals across as many industries, as AI. With businesses investing more each year and with jobs like Data Scientist topping the list of “Best Job” three years in a row, the relevance of AI should be clear. However, while the intelligence behind AI is artificial, its applications and use are as real as they get, and there will be nothing fake about the business innovations yet to come from this important technology.

15 Business Opportunities Enabled by Artificial Intelligence

scrum myths busted
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Words can be funny; more specifically, how the same word can have incredibly different meanings for different people. Take the word scrum for example. For 95% of the population, that word either elicits thoughts of people in jerseys all huddled together about to restart a game, or holds no meaning at all. However, when you change the ‘s’ to a capital, to us, the word Scrum takes on a whole new meaning.Scrum is on the mind of many engineers, managers, and especially software developers; however, with any widely spread practice, it is usually only a matter of time before misconceptions, misinformation, and myths begin to infiltrate. What’s worse, is that for many, we don’t even realize it is happening.To separate fact from fiction and in hopes of empowering us all to practice Scrum in its purest form, I have taken the liberty of compiling five of the biggest Scrum myths that many of you may be familiar with but might not know them to be false.Myth: Scrum Master Leads the Daily Scrum Myth: Scrum Master Leads the Daily ScrumOne of the biggest myths that I have come across happens at the Daily Scrum; and if you have been around as long as I have and attended as many Daily Scrums as myself, you’ve likely seen it too.Let me know if any or all of these sound familiar:You attend a Daily Scrum, and the entire team is giving their updates to the Scrum Master The Scrum Master gives his or her input and suggestions, trying to micromanage the efforts of the team The main focus of the Daily Scrum is on the Scrum Master The meeting lasts for more than 15 minutes If you answered yes to any of the above, then first off, allow us to tell you that what you witnessed is NOT a Scrum Master leading a Daily Scrum; at least, not how it should be.The goal of the Scrum Master is not to lead the team, nor do they have any such authority. In fact, the presence of the Scrum Master isn’t even mandatory for the meeting. According to the Scrum Guide, the daily scrum is entirely owned by the Development Team; however, the Scrum Master is responsible that the meeting takes place. This includes sending calendar invitations, choosing the time that works best for everyone, instituting soft penalties for being late, and ensuring all impediments are noted so that they can be resolved later. Remember, the goal of the Daily Scrum is merely a chance for the team to all get on the same page and agree upon a strategy for the following 24 hours. Ideally; within 15 minutes, all the work from the previous day is discussed and analyzed while the work to follow is plotted.Myth: The Scrum Master Must Resolve Every Problem Myth-Scrum Master Must Resolve Every ProblemDifficulties, problems, issues, complications, hurdles, setbacks, and snags are just par for the course when you are in the midst of development. Actually, that’s just life, but I’ll leave that conversation for another day.The Scrum Guide, which should be considered holy text for development teams practicing Scrum methodologies, clearly outlines all the various duties that a Scrum Master is expected to fulfil. And one of those is to remove impediments to the Development Team’s progress. I know what your thinking, “Doesn’t that statement seem to validate the myth?” I agree, it looks that way, but the key thing to remember here is the word “impediment,” which many developers assume to be any and all problems that come there way during a sprint.An impediment, when taken in a Scrum context, should be considered problems that are interfering with a Development Team’s progress that lie OUTSIDE of their capability to resolve. This notion is closely related to one of the most fundamental concepts of Scrum: self-organization.Development is an often precarious, usually unpredictable, and almost definitely a complex undertaking; however, the use of a teams expertise to collectively solve problems is crucial. Some examples of issues that may arise that deserve the attention of a Scrum Master includes:Team member falls ill Hardware issues Absent Product Owner Bugs and glitches in the production environment Problems with the development environment Internal conflict between team members Remember, the capacity of a Scrum Master is to solve problems that the Development Team cannot. So if you’re unhappy with your lunch order, you missed your train into the office, or your significant other is giving you a hard time, it is best to save those problems for someone else.Myth: Velocity Equals Value Scrum velocity and valueThe short answer; no. However, as that wouldn’t make for good reading, I feel I should elaborate. But first, let us make sure that we all have a clear understanding of what is meant by Velocity and Value.According to Scrum.org glossary (because where else would you go for all things Scrum), Velocity is defined as “an optional, but often used, indication of the average amount of Product Backlog turned into an Increment of product during a Sprint by a Scrum Team, tracked by the Development Team for use within the Scrum Team.” As such, velocity can be an incredibly useful metric for predicting the volume of items that can be delivered in a Sprint, or comparatively, how many Sprints will be required to reach release.Value, on the other hand, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” Now, when most people think of value, their minds normally turn to money, so for the sake of this point, let us use it as a proxy and a valuable product as being able to increase revenue or decrease cost. In the context of Scrum, value is only created when the product or increment reaches the customer; they find it useful, and they start benefiting from it.Now that we have two clear definitions of velocity and value it should be clear that they are very different things and one is not indicative of the other. One (velocity) is a tool that a Scrum Team can utilize to self-manage during the development process, and the other (value) is simply a means of the customer assessing the usefulness of the product.Myth: Sprint Review is a Demo Scrum Myth-Sprint Review is a DemoDevelopment is by no means the easiest of work, which is why the opportunity to showcase and demo your increments to Stakeholders can be so rewarding. However is the Sprint Review really the time to do it?Do any of these sound familiar:You gather for the Sprint Review, and the Stakeholders are on one side and the Development team on the other; not unlike a middle school dance There is very little input from Stakeholders (often because they weren’t invited to) The mouse and keyboard never actually make it into the hand of a Stakeholder None of the Stakeholders present are actually going to use the product The Sprint Review gets referred to as a ‘Demo’ If you answer yes to any of the above, then there is a good chance your definition of a Sprint Review may is bit askew. But rather than tell you why all of the above is wrong, let us draw a comparison to how a Sprint Review should look:Development team and Stakeholders should appear indistinguishable to an outsider The Product Backlog holds a distinguished spot and is continuously adjusted as new insights are uncovered Participants are invited to offer up their ideas, feedback, and suggestions actively The Increment is presented not just by the Development Team, but by the entire Scrum Team – including Product Owner The Product Owner assesses the Product Backlog and discusses progress and expected completion dates If you think the latter sounds more productive than the former, you’d be right – and the Scrum Guide would agree with you. For it emphasizes that Scrum Team and Stakeholders must collaborate about what was accomplished in the sprint and based on any changes in the Product Backlog, discuss next best actions to optimize value.Myth: In Scrum, There is no Planning Scrum Planning MythFor some Scrum Teams, the word “Plan” or “Planning” is considered taboo. Certain Scrum Masters may refuse to let their team look past the current Sprint. And from the outside, many seem to believe that Scrum Teams are aimlessly working away trying to create products without a sense of direction or overarching aim. However, despite popular opinion from the outside and some misguided souls within, planning is, in fact, a crucial part to Scrum – and there is no better way to prove it than by the numbers.The Scrum Guide mentions the word ‘Planning’ a whopping 19 times! And the word ‘Plan’ a still impressive 9. And in case you were wondering, use of those words at no point are preceded by the words “You shall not.”So what are some examples of planning in Scrum?During Sprint Planning (see the word ‘Planning’) Scrum Teams work together to plan (see, again) what will be performed during the Sprint. This plan is then captured in an albeit flexible Sprint Backlog that is aligned with an overarching Sprint Goal in order to provide direction and focus The Daily Scrum is about planning what the Development Team will do for the next 24 hours During the Sprint Review, the Sprint Team and Stakeholders inspect the work completed and based off of it, plan what can be done next to optimize value The above are just a couple of examples of planning that are imperative to the success of any Scrum endeavour. And while flexibility in approach is undoubtedly of great appeal and one of the most valuable aspects of Scrum, it should never be thought that Scrum Team efforts are lacking specific intent.While earlier I made the distinction between scrum and Scrum, in reality, they have a lot in common. Both involve groups of people in what often looks like an unorganized mess; however, they are all ultimately working towards a shared goal, passing the ‘ball’ backwards and forwards while the team marches ahead. And although it is unlikely that the Scrum we are all familiar with will result in us wearing matching jerseys, it is always important to understand that you are a part of a team and to succeed and win at the game; you need to understand the rules.

5 Myths about Scrum Methodology, and the Scrum Master, Busted

by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human
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The challenge with the customer experience is that it is ever-evolving, and all too often we are seeing the seemingly infinite demands of the customers met with the finite limitations of people. So how can brands meet these demands? When you take into account Gartner’s statement that “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human,” the answer becomes simple – technology. And there are none that exist that are so perfectly poised to improve nearly every facet of the customer experience like artificial intelligence.So how is AI changing the landscape of the customer experience? Simple, it is empowering more personalized, self-serve, and scalable experiences.Personalization using AIShopping Experiences Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the food was so-so, but the service was unparalleled? The type of place where you are always greeted by name when you walk in; they know what table you liked to sit at, and usually have your drinks on the table shortly after sitting down. It is this familiarity and personal touch that keeps people coming back, and it is this same feeling that is driving customers to specific brands. The only difference is that it is AI powering this experience rather than a waitress.In our lifetimes, each of us will generate thousands of gigabytes of data, which seems impressive; however, it is only valuable if analyzed. Sadly, this is where our human limitations come in, along with our ingenuity, since just because we can’t actually do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. AI and machine learning are being used to comb through big data to provide the customer with an unrivalled level of personalization. This includes product recommendations based on previous purchases to websites changing their appearance in real-time to adapt to a customers browsing habits – even going as granular as adjusting to their reading level. When AI-powered personalization is implemented, not only is the customer experience improved but so is the conversion to purchase, driving new and repeat business.Behaviour Prediction through Artificial Intelligence Human beings are brilliant, mainly in part to our brains, which is the most complex structure in the known universe. With it, we cannot only absorb the information around us, but for the most part, we can take that information and process it, put it in context, and use it to realize patterns and make predictions. This has proven incredibly useful not only in our survival as species but in business, as the ability to predict what the customer wants and will do next can often mean the difference between success and failure. It is here again, however, we find ourselves faced with our limitations, as the ability to analyze, process, establish patterns and make customer predictions at the scale that modern business demands are simply an impossibility. Fortunately, what we can’t, AI can.The only thing better than giving the customer what they want is being able to predict that want before it is expressed, and AI can do just that. Analyzing behavioural patterns, trends in the market, and user experience across multiple channels through Artificial Intelligence can lead to not only accurate predictions, but instills a feeling of value and of being understood by the brand, all of which help to develop loyalty and retention, as well as being a natural pathway to upselling and cross-selling.Product Discovery Few would argue that the most desired action a customer can take is to make a purchase; after all, sales are the driving force of business. Still, there is a lot that goes on before that action can take place, and looking at it from a logical perspective, the next most crucial step to making a purchase is discovering what exactly you want to purchase – sometimes without even knowing you want it.Does this sound familiar: you walk into a store “just to browse,” however, after an interaction with a skilled sales associate, you end up walking out with a bag full of things you didn’t know you wanted but are ultimately happy you purchased? Well, replace that sales associate with AI, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of the capabilities of this technology. AI can hone in on the wants and needs of the customer by analyzing their previous purchases and search history, and make recommendations accordingly. With time and relevance being perhaps the hottest commodities in the life of the consumer, AI-powered product discovery can not only streamline the process and lead to upsells and cross-sells, but also garners goodwill with the customer who now only sees products and services that have been predetermined to be relevant to them.self service using AIImage Credit: Amazon Go The New Standard When discussing the notion of customer experience, the conversation should always begin and end with the preferences of the customer. There was a time not long ago when these preferences included a very hands-on approach from brands and their representatives, whether it was in product discovery, sales assistance, or customer service. However, today, we have seen a dramatic shift, one that considers the customer opting for a more self-service experience – an experience ultimately powered by AI.There is a growing belief that a phone call is not the best way to resolve a customer service issue – and I’d have to agree. That, of course, isn’t to say customers don’t still have issues; instead, these new, tech-savvy generations prefer to solve their own problems, turning to online forums, FAQs, chat, and bot services. To adapt, brands need to recognize this new, self-reliant customer and offer them a human-free, digital-only experience. Failure to do so will not only result in a negative CX but will invariably impact the businesses bottom line.Rise of Chatbots The goal of every brand should be to try and provide value to their customers through the experiences they have with them. However, this poses a problem with humans limited capabilities and customers seemly limitless demands. One solution to this problem, if you couldn’t have guessed by now, is AI, more specifically, the use of AI-based chatbots to act as assistants to your customers.First of all, chatbots inherently enhance the customer experience through their timelines and efficiency. Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows chatbots to understand customer questions and respond to them with precise answers, all without having to dial-in to a call centre or wait in a queue. Not only that, but they can also make personalized recommendations in real-time based on historical data. Finally, chatbots ensure a consistent level of service, a fact that cannot be guaranteed when you have a human being on the end of the line or chat.Customer Service Roles It is truly awe-inspiring to imagine all the capabilities of AI and how much it can do for us, especially in the world of business. However, that should never wholly discount the roles humans play in the customer experience, more specifically, customer service. Today, we see these roles have evolved, but they most certainly have not been eliminated.The use of AI in customer service is gaining prevalence, specifically, with AI-based chatbots and virtual assistants that result in an automated, fast, and ultimately hassle-free experience when it comes to lower tiers of service issues. This has not only proven profitable and more efficient for an enterprise but also tailors to the preferences of the customer who demand immediate solutions. As a result and despite people’s fears, the consensus is not seeing the elimination of customer service representative jobs, rather, their evolution, one that is seeing them handle more complicated, difficult, and comprehensive support issues, giving the customer more time and attention if that is what they want, or their issue deserves. Ultimately, delegating more straightforward tasks to AI means premium human customer support can handle the more valuable and elaborate matters; ensuring the customer experience is a pleasant one.Customer Touchpoints A customer touchpoint is any point of contact between a brand and a customer where they engage to exchange information, provide a service, or handle a transaction. While this definition seems pretty straightforward, it starts to become a little complicated when you account for our modern marketplace that sees an ever-increasing amount of ways for brands to interact with their customers. However, this is where AI really shines, for the implementation of AI can help lead to a unified experience, regardless of the touchpoint chosen by the customer.Thanks to AI, whether a customer has an issue at 2pm or 2am; if they are reaching out from their cell-phone or desktop, or whether they are located in Toronto or Munich, the ability to provide a seamless and holistic experience for them is within the grasp of enterprises.Continued Learning Among the many advantages of AI is the fact that it is always on. It is on to assist customers in their product discovery, it is there to help them make a purchase, and it is present if and when an issue arises that requires brand support. However, as a complementary feature of always being on, by nature, that also means that AI is continuously learning, improving, and making itself better, which in turn, facilities a better customer experience.With AI in place, from the moment a customer, potential or current, logs on to your site, browses your catalogue or interacts with your app, it is watching, learning, and recording what happens. As a result, the next time a customer logs on, things will look different, more personalized, more specific to that unique customer. This allows for more concise and targeted marketing efforts which save time and money on the brand side and exponentially increase the customer experience by only providing tailored and relevant information.How to scale services using AIInventory Management One of the fastest ways to hinder your customer experience is through poor inventory management. Can you imagine the frustration of going through all the effort of finding what you are looking for – and even after it is clearly displayed – you discover that your choices are out of stock?Inventory management, interestingly enough, exists on a single contradiction – keeping enough stock to ensure orders are met and business keeps moving, but not enough that it impacts cash reserves. This is where AI comes in to automatically monitor the stock, uses machine learning to analyze bulk data and forecast demand within the supply chain, and in some cases, even implement robotic automation in the procurement process. After all, the key to a happy customer and a superlative CX rests in the ability of the customer to get what they want when they want it.Cost Effective The aim of every business is to ultimately build and expand; however, doing so is not without its cost. For a company to successfully grow, they must have an infrastructure in place that can handle the increasing volume of sales, inventory management, and customer service issues. Typically, that would require the hiring of more staff; that is unless you have the power of AI in your corner.AI empowers businesses to scale up their customer service at the push of a button (or several, but you get the idea). Imagine, you launch a new product, and at the same time, you release a new and interactive FAQs that can solve thousands of customer concerns. Then you switch one server to another and now have a mighty fleet of chatbots who are ready to respond to the onslaught of customer inquiries instantaneously. Couple this with the ability of AI to continuously learn and you can now easily branch out into new geographic markets, no longer encumbered by language barriers. And the best part – you only have to train them once.By now it should be clear that technology such as AI has already begun to revolutionize and change the landscape of the customer experience – as it should. Customers today are by no means the same customers of yesterday, and as such, the same level of attention, service, and accommodation is just not on par. The truth of the matter is that customer demand is ever-increasing; which is all the more reason for AI to fulfill those needs.The future isn’t about AI replacing humans; instead, it is about AI empowering humans to do more, and the sooner you realize it, the happier your customers will be.

10 reasons why your CX needed AI starting yesterday

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Have you ever driven down a road that was incredibly uneven or bumpy? Did you ever get frustrated trying to install a piece of software on your computer? Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and had lousy food and even worse service? If you said yes, then you have been a victim of poor user experiences that you haven’t forgotten. While UX is a crucial element in both the digital and physical world, it is in digital that we see the value of UX skyrocket, and that is for one reason – choice.People will often drive down a bumpy road because it is faster or will eat at a restaurant with bad service because it is the only one in town; however, they won’t settle for a subpar digital experience. Why? Simple – quick and easy access to your competition. The internet and technology have torn down limitations and empowered the user to find what they want. What does this mean? Well, if you cannot provide your user with the experience they are looking for, rest assured, somebody else can and will.So what’s trending in User Experience? That was my question, and fortunately, I am lucky enough to work with a room full of UX designers, creatives, and researchers who could help me find my answers. Here’s our pick of 17 UX trends.User Journey Simplification Although trends in UX are ever evolving, a constant that will never fall out of fashion is simplicity. When users interact with an app or site, they typically have a goal in mind that they’d like to accomplish, and if any aspects of the design impede, hinder, or delay achieving that goal will only lend to a bad experience. Simplifying the journey isn’t just about making the next steps from point A to point B easier, but it is about making those steps more intuitive, and where possible, minimizing them. This is why linear flows, with their clear beginning, middle, and end, and progressive disclosure, making information visible when needed, have gained such popularity.Simplifying the journeyImage Credit: Uber In-App Gesture Paired with Animation Today’s market is seeing more devices being introduced that are gesture reliant, which sounds ideal, but not without its hurdles, mainly, the lack of physical interaction, such as a “button click” that indicates input. For this reason, developers have started relying on animation to provide the user with feedback and guide them through a smooth, memorable, and “natural” experience.In-App Gesture Paired with AnimationImage Credit: Dribbble| Full-Screen Experiences Modern devices are not only devoting much more real estate to screens, but those screens are among the highest quality available. So what does that mean for developers? Simple – more space to play with. However, the fact that these devices are capable of so much visually will also work against you if your media is not up to par. Images and videos that appear pixelated will only serve to lower the expectations and the experience of the user.Full-Screen ExperiencesEmotional Experiences Brands have long known that the most effective way to interact and create memorable experiences with users is through emotions. However, this year we see emotional intelligence actually being integrated into the mobile experience to make it not only more enjoyable but more engaging. This technology allows users to better express emotion, provides them with a natural way to interact with a UI, and can even mimic emotions in UI feedback. Today, we are seeing technology becoming an expressive extension of our personalities.Emotional Experiences in AppsImage Credit: Apple Biometric Authentication The ideal UX is always a near perfect blend of form and function; however, in our world today, the coupled considerations of security and privacy cannot be ignored. Fortunately, this has provided the perfect opportunity to not only enhance security but also do away with one of the most cumbersome parts of personal devices – passwords, and the solution is biometric authentication. The technology behind biometric authentication is not new; however, we see more widespread adoption along with the evolution of the technology, with touch ID being replaced with facial recognition.Biometric Authentication in app development Image Credit: Biometric Updates ; Dermalog Conversational Design Few things are more natural for a person to do than converse using their voice and as technology has made it possible, we see a rise in conversational design and interfaces. However, while conversational interfaces are unlikely to replace GUI completely, we see an integration of the two. For example, chatbots are regularly integrated as assistants into messaging platforms, and progression in natural language processing is giving way to completely voice-based interfaces to develop conversational design. As a byproduct, the need for copywriting for this type of interface has never been more important, as the words and exchanges between device and user need to be selected carefully. After all, the difference between a memorable bot and an ineffective one is personality, and that is what UX designers and other stakeholders can achieve through conversational design.conversational designAdvanced Personalization There was a time when the bar for personalization was when a piece of correspondence included the recipient’s name; however, as the user has evolved alongside technologies like conversational design, that simply won’t cut it anymore. One of the most exciting uses of personalization is utilizing the fact that people carry their mobile devices when travelling and providing them with useful and relevant information that corresponds to their location. Technology is also allowing the personalization to go one step further by actually adapting the UI to the user’s requirements, such as language, poor eyesight, or colour blindness.Advanced Personalization in app developmentAugmented Reality While conversational design has the potential to change the way we interact with our devices and applications, augmented reality, or AR, has the potential to change the way we view the world – through those devices. For many, their first exposure to AR was in the form of a game, Pokémon Go; however, thanks to Apple and Google releasing AR frameworks, we are seeing a surge of these applications. From immersive games that allow us to turn our devices into a lens through which to view (and play in) the world to solving real-life problems, like being able to measure the size of objects without using a traditional physical measuring tape, AR is poised to be a helpful and engaging trend.Augmented Reality in UX3D Effects Developers have long understood that the greater depth and more immersive the experience, the more memorable it becomes. That is why many are opting to shed their 2D habits and push technological and processing limits by creating more 3D effects. However, it is important to remember that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Accessibility needs to be accounted for on par with the user experience, and thus, in order to implement this trend correctly, it will likely require a delicate balancing act of form and function, but the excitement of adding another dimension to how we design in digital is hard to ignore.3D effectsImage Credit: WebDesign Trends ; 3D websites Expressive Typography The goal of a brand is to engage and communicate a message to its customers; however, all too often, one of the most fundamental ways of communication, words, or rather, the style in which the words are written, is often overlooked. Thankfully, that is looking like it is changing as more and more designers are embracing typography. Large, unique, and in many cases, hand-drawn fonts are quickly becoming the norm, as typography is becoming a more sought-after aspect of design and development. Utilizing this practice can allow brands to distinguish themselves further, ultimately enabling the typeface to become an expressive element of the message, especially when combined with animation, as well as encourage prolonged reading for the user.Expressive Typography in appsBright and Vivid Colours Looking to influence people? By now you probably know that emotion is the route to get there; however, what you may not have known is that colour, much more than words and images, can help facilitate whether a person has a positive or negative user experience. Fortunately, the onset and ready availability of display technology such as 4K have made it even easier for designers to implement a dynamic and much more impactful colour range. And almost symbolically, the direction is towards bright and vivid colours, almost as if to cut through the bland and dim designs of years past.Colour usage in appsImage Credit: awwwards Creative Menus Anything other than the most basic user experiences will all have one thing in common – options; however, it is the way in which those options are presented that can make a huge difference and possibly pay huge dividends on user-interaction. And while depending on who you ask, this couldn’t come soon enough, it seems the classic, yet dated, hamburger menu is on the way out in favour of more inspired, experimental, and design-driven alternatives. We are seeing more and more designers embrace horizontal menus, progressive disclosure menus, and utilizing unusual typography.Creative Menus Image Credit: Shiny Demos ; Charlotte Wood Design Usability Engineering Have you ever heard of the human-computer interface or HCI? You should, as that is the way in which users interact with technology; which at its core, is a cornerstone of user-experience. However, in today’s fiercely competitive market, more developers are turning their focus to usability engineering, which is a discipline that blends a firm knowledge of computer science and psychology to approach the development process. Usability engineering is done hand-in-hand with users to ensure a deeper understanding of functionality and design requirements, such as utility, learn-ability, efficiency, retain-ability, errors, and customer satisfaction. Given the direction of the market with AI, AR, VR, IoT, and voice, this more in-depth understanding of what resonates with the user through Usability Engineering has never been more valuable.Usability Engineering Image Credit: Fuzzy Math Content Focused Experiences There has begun a shift recently that is seeing UX turn away from design elements that are intended to merely impress and solely relying on UX designers, and instead, focus on what is arguably more important – the content. Utilization of flat design and minimalism are all meant to remove the distraction and help shape a more content-focused experience for the user. In this situation, UX designers take the role of ensuring that nothing impedes a user experience of the content. To follow this trend, UX designers must implement a distinct visual hierarchy, designed to ease content comprehension; utilize functional minimalism by removing unnecessary elements for more precise focus; and whitespace, which gives the content “more room to breathe” and improves the user experienceDevice-Agnostic UX Design There was a time not that long ago when everything was designed for desktop, with mobile seemingly an afterthought. However, today we see a progression towards more mobile centred design, and yet, that still doesn’t do enough in our ever-changing digital landscape. With the rise of the Internet of Things, we are shifting from mobile-first experiences towards multi-device experiences. At its core, this trend is all about creating a continuous interaction and digital experience, regardless of the device. For the user, they have a task in mind, and the way in which that task is accomplished should solely be based on the most convenient and relevant medium on hand, be it a phone, computer, smart speaker, or car. In order to achieve true user experience, it needs to be device agnostic.Device-Agnostic UX DesignAccessible and Inclusive Design No matter the industry you work, there is a global shift underway in which is seeing people becoming more socially aware, and this is causing a push towards more inclusive and accessible designs. And while yes, admittedly it is a fool’s errand to try and design something that is truly universal and is equally enjoyable to use for everyone, it is still no excuse to utilize all existing technologies and practices to make someone’s life easier. This includes reframing from using triggering or inconvenient elements for the sake of design, accepting that your users aren’t cookie-cutter and diversity is the norm, that you test using users from a variety of backgrounds, and utilize a diverse set of designers. Remember, inclusion and accessibility isn’t a barrier to innovation, rather a stepping stone to universal design.Image Credit: CAL Design Collaboration in Design To think that UX designers are the only players in the UX game would be a gross oversight. That is because marketers, product managers, designers, developers, copywriters, and even the user, all play a role in shaping memorable user experiences. By collaborating through the process and practicing design thinking, not only is empathy and experimentation added to the process but all of the aforementioned can give one another feedback and work towards establishing a collective understanding. The result is not only better experiences being crafted but does so with such intent and diversity that the previous point, accessibility and inclusive design, almost definitely becomes a byproduct of such collaboration. By identifying shared goals, continuously opening the lines of communication, and being open to new perspectives and constructive feedback, the world of UX promises only to become more lucid as time progresses.Collaboration in Design Image Credit: Stormid Considerations For UX Designers Going Forward Experiences are surely evolving alongside the technology that empowers them. As is clear from some of the trends mentioned above, we do not only see a global shift in UX but one of global citizenship that is purposely taking into account the diversity of the user through design thinking, like through conversational design or usability engineering. And while impossible to predict the future, we do know one thing about the direction of UX – it will continue to have a direct impact on the top and bottom line of your brand.

17 Trends for UX Designers to Create Unforgettable User Journeys

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Socrates was an ardent critic of the written word and his most famous pupil Plato once wrote that “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written.”Daryl Zanuck, CEO of 20th Century Fox in 1946 once predicted that “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”And Thomas J. Watson, CEO and Chairman of IBM in 1943 once infamously said: “There is a world market for about five computers.” We know how that turned out.What do the above examples show us? That very often some of the most important, transformative, and disruptive innovations can have an uphill battle from their inception; usually associated with false assumptions, and sometimes from unlikely places. And while the above examples are from a time past, our present day is not immune to misconceptions, misinformation, and false beliefs. Case in point – Robotic Process Automation or RPA.Simply put, RPA is the practice of taking routine, repetitive, and rule-based tasks and automating them with software “bots” to perform just as a human would. This can include automating processes in financial operations, human resources, IT, procurement, and data and analytics to name a few. While robots have long been used on the factory floor, they have evolved, and now software bots have infiltrated offices across the globe through RPA tools. However, much like the written word, the television, and the computer, there are still many who are yet to embrace this technology due to false claims and myths that abound on the subject.Today, I am going to dispel those myths once and for all.RPA Is Just Physical Upon hearing anything with the word “robotic” in it, most of us will turn to metal machinery, perhaps a long mechanical arm or a powerful torch fusing together two pieces of metal. This isn’t surprising, especially when those specific uses have been implemented in the automotive industry for decades. However, that is a very limited view of RPA, for the key word to note is “process,” and as you should all know, business is filled with repetitive tasks and processes that can’t be done through a solely physical output.Myths about Robotic Process AutomationWhile the applications are many, one such area that organizations are seeing real value by implementing RPA is in the hiring process. For example, UXPLORE has automated everything from the Offer, Onboarding, and Integration process for their clients. Normally, it would take 2.5 hours for an HR associate to onboard a new hire; from hiring decision to a welcome email. However, by automating the process, that time has been incredibly reduced to just 8 minutes.Robots Will Replace Humans One of the most popular misconceptions about RPA is that we humans, or at least, a good number of us, would eventually be out of a job. Well, that is only partially right.RPA isn't about the loss of jobs but the creation of an industryAs with every emerging technology, this is both true and untrue. There’s no denying that something like the automobile put wheelwrights and blacksmiths out of business. However, it also created a new industry for auto repair and manufacture. Also, the creation of the internet created a whole new suite of jobs and skill sets for the jobs it may have made redundant, such as video rental store clerk. RPA is a new change that will affect some occupations while at the same time creating new opportunities, the same as every other emerging technology before has done.RPA Only Reduces Cost Unquestionably, one of the greatest appeals of RPA is the potential for vast cost savings. After all, bots don’t get paid, don’t get sick, and can work 24/7. However, yet again we see this misconception being caused by a narrow scope of RPA.Time, accuracy, and in some cases physical safety can all be substantially improved upon with RPA. And this value not only supports business operations, but the effect can be felt right down to the customer experience. RPA improves accuracy, process quality, and response time, which means a greater experience for the customer. Not only that but by capturing data for analysis, they are able to provide a more tailored experience for the user. By handling simple, frequent questions, it can leave the humans free to deal with more complex, challenging customer support issues that require comprehensive, sophisticated, and empathetic responses. It also doesn’t hurt that bots can be scaled up or down, making it ideal for seasonal operations or periods of high-traffic.rpa process for accuracyRPA Is Just a Trend Technology, like fashion and music, can be full of trends that are wildly popular one moment and fall to the wayward, however, that in and of itself is one of the hallmark characteristics of a trend – they are short-lived. RPA, on the other hand, has been used for decades as a physical technology, and in recent years, as a software solution. Needless to say, it is only picking up steam.Let’s take a look at the once-popular customer service model of offshoring. This was done to save cost as labour was typically much cheaper overseas. However, that fact doesn’t hold true anymore, and as the cost of labour rises, companies have been scrambling to find a better way. And the better way for an ever-growing number of companies is RPA, and the benefits and savings are as real as the satisfied customers. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), RPA can yield companies a “cost reduction of 35-65% for onshore process operations and 10-30% in offshore delivery…[and] an investment recovery period as short as 3 months…” So tell me, if something is more efficient and saves you money, why would you stop doing it?RPA Is Expensive and Not Worth the Cost of Investment RPA is a business initiative and one that should ultimately be sought out to not only cut cost but improve efficiency. However, like any initiative, RPA is not immune to initial upfront investment for implementation.cost of RPAFrom the build phase which includes the provisioning of IT infrastructures such as physical/virtual machines and databases to consultancy costs and partnerships, an RPA initiative undoubtedly comes with a price tag; however, that is taking a very narrow perspective. That is because typically, the initial cost is usually dwarfed by the rapid internal cost reductions and significant ROI. When you think about it, implementing RPA is essentially tripling your capacity, as bots don’t begin at 9 and end at 5. Due to this fact alone, I have seen organizations yield a 50-100% and higher ROI within the first few months of implementation.RPA Won’t Work in My Industry While the idea of using RPA to lighten workloads, improve efficiency, and reduce cost should be appealing to anyone in business, many are still uninformed of the real potential this once burgeoning technology has now that it has made its way into the mainstream.Let’s take insurance, for example, an industry that is continually trying to balance and mitigate risks and reduce costs in order to turn a profit. However, with today’s customers demanding faster, more personalized service, the old system of doing things wasn’t cutting it. The same can be said for the banking industry.Healthcare is another, with RPA quickly taking over patient scheduling, claims processing, billing, and data entry. Of course, let us not forget telecommunications, manufacturing, distribution, and utilities. In the last decade, RPA has made huge leaps in providing real value across industries, and as the technology grows and improves, its uses will only evolve and become more commonplace.RPA Is Only for Large Organizations There was a time when I would have said yes, RPA is only for large organizations, and that primarily had to do with the upfront costs such as purchasing a “boxed” solution or hiring the appropriate IT support. However, thanks to cloud technology RPA is now a viable option for businesses of all sizes.RPA is now a viable option for businesses of all sizesTypically, if your organization, from HR to customer service, is faced with repetitive and rule-based tasks, there is likely a place for RPA. According to Energias Market Research, the global RPA market is expected to reach over USD 2.8 billion by 2023, which translates to a compound annual growth rate of 33.3%. While certainly an impressive figure, I believe that it will only be realized by the steady adoption of RPA by small and medium-sized businesses driven by inexpensive implementation costs and high ROI. Keep in mind though, that in order to adopt RPA effectively, you need to assess its viability and ensure you have the right tools and alignment in place.Office Work Can Be Completely Done With RPA Across the globe, organizations of all sizes are utilizing RPA to increase accuracy, save time, and reduce cost; and while RPA is literally built to do just that, it does have its limitations. RPA is ideal when dealing with repetitive and rule-based tasks; however, when you start to use it for more complicated and non-standardized processes, it becomes a much more challenging process.Even processes that pass the feasibility of RPA may not be an ideal candidate to automate; specifically, if the process itself is not efficient. When you automate an inefficient process, all you will be successful in is speeding up your inefficiency. The best approach is to redesign your process prior to automating or change it accordingly during the design phase of delivery.A Truth Worth Remembering Robotic Process Automation has come a long way from its inception and use on factory floors. Today, it is being utilized for more “white collar” tasks, and as the technology further develops, we are seeing it transcend industry and provide real value to not only business but to the customer. However, before you can utilize RPA in your strategy, you first need to understand what this technology can and can’t do, and in order to do that, you need to stop believing the myths and realize what RPA really is – the future.

Robotic Process Automation: 8 Myths Debunked

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Hi there, it’s me, your customer. The one you spend millions of dollars – on mobile apps development and otherwise – trying to connect with during the waking hours? Ya, that one. Well, guess what? I am connected. But perhaps the term “connected” is misleading. I prefer to view myself as “empowered.” And if you want to connect with me, you first need to understand what this empowerment is, and I won’t lie, it borders on superpowers!Don’t believe me?What else would you call my ability to add items to my partner’s shopping list while sitting in a meeting? Or delighting my family by booking a long overdue family vacation while waiting for my train (which was late, as usual)? What about paying bills while waiting for my kids to perform at their school concert, only to capture photos and videos and then instantly sharing with friends and family all around the globe?How about streaming music on long drives, and even changing the destination at the drop of a hat, all while never getting lost? I don’t ever really need to know where I am going. Instead, I can figure out both the journey and the destination along the way. My life is an adventure, one where I can simultaneously order toilet paper, crush candies, and reply to emails whether I am in the office or Switzerland.Being able to accomplish anything from anywhere at any time is pretty incredible, isn’t it!? The digital experience I get through my mobile takes me far and beyond. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, whether I am in the bathroom or the boardroom, I am connected.But am I connected to you?Please don’t mistake my empowerment for entitlement, and it doesn’t matter if you agree with my level of screen time or not. You only have two choices; you can either judge it or learn from it, and if engaging with me is important to you, I suggest the latter.So what do you need to learn from these digital experiences?Well, for starters you need to learn the tools I use, for, after all, it is my device that keeps me connected. But you need to go deeper than that if you want to truly connect with me. You need to know how I prefer to learn, discover, and how I make decisions. What I like and don’t like. What I want from my digital experience. You need to unearth what is important to me and what values drive my decision making. How do I like to be engaged? What keeps me loyal? And what a sucker I am for speed, comfort and convenience! That is my expectation from my digital experience.Think I am asking a lot? Don’t.I know you are collecting data on me as you work towards bettering the mobile apps development you’re tasked with, and I don’t mind it, as long as you use it to improve my life – my experiences. You should already know where I live, where I shop, what I buy, and maybe even what I do for a living. You probably know when my birthday is, how many kids I have, what new car I am interested in buying… so do something extraordinary with it!I have given you the keys to the kingdom, a direct line to me. Stop viewing mobile as one of your marketing strategy channels and start viewing it as the KEY to your marketing strategy. Mobile has given me the convenience, the personalization, the value, the power, and the digital experience I prefer; and that won’t change because I am not willing to give it up.But like Brad Jakeman, the marketing guru behind such illustrious brands as Macy’s, Citigroup, and currently Pepsi, says “The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers.”Thanks, Jake, you nailed it.We consumers will continue to be connected, the only question is, will we connect to you?

I’m Connected but am I Connected to You?

voice bot saying: how can i help you?
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If millions of years of human evolution have taught us anything, it is that people have always preferred the use of voice to interact. However, for decades it was agreed that the technology “wasn’t quite there yet” to be used with machines. In the interim, nose-to-the-phone model of personal computing became the defacto standard, and no one really questioned it. Things have really begun to change in the past few years as Apple Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Talk gained momentum and their QoE is a welcome relief.The pleasant-sounding demeanour of voice assistants being used beautifully masks the complexity of the underlying technology and is exactly what was needed for mass market adoption. Now we finally have a relatively inexpensive purchase which has an iconic experience and the ability to increase commerce. I am told, Amazon Prime Echo users have a propensity to spend $200-300 more per annum than their Prime counterparts not leveraging these devices. Secondly, conversational commerce – the intersection of messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Echo) and shopping, is finally getting critical mass. For the first time ever, more than 50% of the 10+ trillion digital messages in 2016 were anchored on these conversational messaging platforms vis-à-vis email.My son and I adore our Amazon Echo, and Alexa has become the 5th family member in the house! We find it anchoring us to the home base, more like a throwback to the 1950’s when the house started becoming rearranged and anchored to where the radio or TV was. We have moved our echo from the kitchen to my son’s bedroom to the basement and now back to the kitchen, where we believe it really belongs. As it stands, a report from PwC states that 59% of people between the ages of 18-24 interacted with a voice assistant at least once a day; compared to 65% of 25-49 year-olds. Based on my personal experience and the rapid rise in fan-base of these devices I am estimating that by 2025, nearly 60-70% of all interactions with machines would have transformed significantly from where it stands today- mind reading, gesture control, and voice interaction would be the name of the game. What we are seeing is the 1st phase of the proliferation of these devices and the ubiquity of them will really depend on how quickly the following 4-5 things can be addressed by the OEM’s:Make them conversational Today, my son and I nearly bark at Alexa rather than converse with it. The “Alexa Voice” feels like it needs to be “used” as opposed to just “conversed” with. Nobody wants to feel like they are scolding someone to try and find out what the weather is.Less of an assistant, more of an advisor Wouldn’t it be great if these devices proactively spoke to me, as opposed to waiting for me to start an interaction? “Sachin don’t have that ice cream” or “Sachin time to call a cab” etc. Ideally, the future of voice assistants would be laden with proactive features.Continuity Have the ability to leverage AI and ML to give context to a conversation and ensure it is continuing from where it left off as opposed to starting from scratch every time. These two fields are expanding daily, and voice assistant technology needs to be utilizing these developments as quickly as they are had.Secure and Private Ensure that there is some form of KYC as these personal devices are exposed to larger audiences. The dichotomy of near field and far field needs to be sorted and quickly.Ability to understand emotions and react Have the ability to understand and emote, as well. As they always say, it’s not what you say but how you make me feel that really counts.Never the less, we have come a long way from 1956 when a 16-year-old Victor Scheinman first invented a speech to text transcription device. We could have reached where we are today, a lot earlier but finally, we have the right business reasons and motivation to continue evolving it and growing it! With Amazon Echo, Echo dot, Echo look, Echo show…the list is going to grow very very quickly as access to the software becomes universal and less elitist!!!Can’t wait for it to be omnipresent!

Voice Assisted Commerce: The Gateway Drug for CX Designers & OEMs

omni vs multi channel
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In the relatively short time that human beings have been on this planet, we have seen a lot of things fall to the wayward and into extinction. In some cases, it was animals like the Dodo bird, the Caspian tiger, or the Baiji dolphin; in others, it was our creations that became outdated like dial-up internet, 8-track cassettes, or what’s even more relevant today, the Single-Channel experience.Anyone in the world of tech, retail, sales, marketing, or digital business is familiar with the buzzwords Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel experiences, except, these should no longer be considered as buzzwords. Yes, both of these strategies have stood the test of time and have proven their value in improving revenues and customer experience, especially in comparison to the ones who are still hanging on to a Single-Channel strategy.But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. First, allow me to establish what exactly these two strategies are because I have entered many discussions where differentiation of both is completely misunderstood.Two Strategies – One Customer A Multi-Channel strategy is what the vast majority of companies today are practicing. Much like the name suggests (multi, or “more than one”), it means employing catalogue, social, online, marketplace, and retail, ultimately providing the consumer with a choice of multiple channels to engage with a brand. In this scenario, each channel operates independently, with its own native goals and tactics, to drive the customers’ journey.Multichannel strategy: online store, social, catalogue, retail, marketplaceOn the other hand, Omni-Channel strategy (where omni represents “all”) also utilizes multiple channels to interact with customers just like multi-channel; however, it is here that the similarities end. An omni-channel experience is one that “unifies” all channels to provide a continuous experience for the customer.Unlike multi-channel, which is very channel based in its individual efforts and strategy, omni-channel is more cohesive in nature, with the ultimate goal of providing a seamless experience, no matter where or when the customer chooses to engage and/or convert in their journey.Omnichannel strategy: online store, social, catalogue, retail, marketplaceSo now that I’ve established what both multi-channel and omni-channel strategies are, let’s see them in action.Mark’s Multi-Channel Journey While out for drinks one night, Mark notices his friends’ watch and is quite taken by it. So much so that he decides to take out his phone and look at the manufacturer’s website. While scrolling through their product line, he is met with a pop-up that offers him a 10% discount on his first purchase if he subscribes to their mailing list. He enters his email, and even goes as far as selecting a watch to purchase, however, realizing he is at a bar with friends and it may not be the best time to buy, he abandons his cart and puts his phone away.The next day Mark receives a welcome email from the manufacturer with links to their social pages and product catalogue. He decides to visit their Facebook page, and upon arrival, he is greeted with another offer for 10% off his purchase through the Facebook Shop if he “Likes” their page. As he scrolls through he finds the same watch he likes and again, puts it in his shopping cart. However, still a little groggy from the night before, Mark isn’t quite ready to commit, so he closes his computer and decides to get on with his day.multichannel buyer journey: mobile, web, retailA few days later Mark is walking through the local mall when he comes across a retail location of the watch manufacturer. To his surprise, he notices the front of the store is covered in signage indicating that there is a sale and all watches are 20% off. Taking this sale and his unexpected arrival at the physical store as a sign, Mark decides to enter the store and buys a watch.By the time Mark gets home, he receives a “Thank You” email from the manufacturer on his recent purchase. A few days after that, and still very happy with his new timepiece, Mark is a little disappointed to see his social media feeds continuing to be retargeted with ads for the same watch he just purchased.As you can see, Mark’s Multi-Channel journey took him across different opportunities to not only interact with the brand but to purchase from whichever channel he felt most comfortable with. For Mark and his journey, it was all about choice, one that was ultimately his to make as to when and how he would purchase. Unfortunately, some of the other channel teams never received the data about Mark, and thus, valuable resources were wasted trying to retarget him.Mark’s Omni-Channel Journey Now let’s take a look at what that journey would have looked like if it was through an omni-channel strategy, and I’ll start right after he puts his phone away at the bar.The next morning Mark is awakened with a welcome email from the watch manufacturer. The email reminds him that his 10% discount offer is still valid and also provides a quick link to his abandoned cart if he wishes to complete the purchase right away. However, he chooses to ignore this email and gets on with his day.Omnichannel buyer journey: web, social, call centre, mobile, email, retail, catalogue, direct mailAfter a few days of Mark’s inactivity, the manufacturer’s preset tactics switch gears. Instead of sending Mark the same discount offer that he seems to be ignoring, they display a mix of retargeting ads and customer testimonials on his Facebook feed, a tactic they hope may give him more confidence in making a purchase.Three days later and still unmoved, the offer gets amped up. They send Mark a personalized email invitation to experience the watches first-hand and take advantage of the special 20% discount at one of their retail locations. He accepts the invitation, visits the store, and ends up making a purchase.By the time Mark goes home with his new watch, there is a “Thank You” email waiting for him. Soon after, the manufacturer reaches out to Mark on social media, requesting a product review, which he responds to positively. In the meantime, ads across all social media for the watch have stopped; only to be replaced by watch accessories made by the same manufacturer.What’s the crucial difference between Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel? Omni ensures a continuous and seamless progression throughout the journey.How Do You Decide Which Strategy is Right for You? Before choosing between multi-channel and omni-channel, it is important to acknowledge a couple of things. First, and as should be clear by now, they are not the same. Secondly; and this one may come across as a bit abrupt, but, omni-channel is a superior experience.Reason being, that omni-channel strategy provides the customer with a consistent, intuitive, and personalized experience that they expect but (with a capital “B”), choosing an omni-channel experience also means – investing heavily in your organization’s capabilities. What does that look like? Well, for starters you’ll need a deeper understanding of your customers, an enhanced technical infrastructure, advanced employee skillset, and most of all, a shared vision to not only kick off the initiative but to fully realize its potential.In a multi-channel initiative, all channels work independently of one another, allowing for modular implementation and upkeep. This can allow organizations to get their feet wet first, so to speak, and prepare them for an eventual shift to omni-channel. The major downside with multi-channel is that consistent branding and communication can prove difficult with so many disconnects between channels; often leaving customers feeling unhappy through conflicting experiences.While both have their benefits and challenges, it is up to you and your objectives to determine which strategy is right, and in some cases, even feasible, to implement. Remember, a non-functioning or disjointed omni-channel strategy is essentially the same as having no strategy at all. So if you are looking to make the leap towards omni-channel, ask yourself:Do we have the vision and team alignment to make this successful? Do we have the required talent, skillsets, and compensation model? Have we identified the right mix of tools to support our transition and implementation? Do we understand the implications of data integration? What to Remember The channel strategies have evolved alongside customer expectations. Today, customers are empowered to do more, and as such, expect more from their brands in the channels and avenues they can interact with them. In the journey of digital transformation, we already know that the future lays in experiences; however, the only question left is how seamless, intuitive, and memorable will yours be?

Multi-Channel or Omni-Channel Experiences: Which is Right For You?

hybrid cloud: private cloud bridging with public cloud
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Most people are familiar with the term hybrid; although it is usually in relation to cars. Fortunately for the sake of my point, it will do just fine. Now, by definition, a hybrid is the result of something new being made by combining two different elements, and in the case of hybrid cars, it is an electric and gasoline-powered engine. This provides the user with the fuel efficiency of an electric motor with the power and convenience of a gasoline one. However, it isn’t only cars that are enjoying the benefits of combining two different elements to create something new and better, for the world of IT has constantly been melding together concepts, principles, and methodologies in order to have the best of both worlds. Today, we are going to dive into one of those combinations known aptly as the Hybrid Cloud.What is a Hybrid Cloud Strategy? According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a hybrid cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability. Inferring from this definition, a hybrid cloud strategy is the use of these multiple infrastructures, including an organizations’ own on-premise IT and data centres, to achieve IT goals. When you allow workloads to transition between public and private clouds as needs and costs change, a hybrid cloud model can empower organizations with enhanced flexibility and more data deployment options. So whereas a cloud-first strategy prioritizes the cloud for all IT functions, a hybrid strategy uses a combination of infrastructures to provide an organization with the benefits of each without limiting themselves through adherence to one.Benefits of a Hybrid Cloud Strategy Gartner estimates that 90 percent of organizations will have adopted a hybrid strategy by 2020, and when you look at the benefits, it is easy to see why. Both public and on-premise deployment boast their own unique advantages; however, they also come with their own drawbacks. That is until you combine them.Simply put, a hybrid cloud strategy is ideal for organizations of all sizes who prioritize security, are positioned for growth, and who have high data demands, mainly because it addresses all these factors and more. Here are a few of the advantages of a hybrid cloud business strategy:Benefits of a Hybrid Cloud Strategy10 advantages of hybrid cloud.flexibility, scalability, cost-effective, enhanced security, network performance/reduced latency, backup and disaster recovery, more opportunity for innovation, agility, speed to market, risk management.A hybrid cloud strategy is also incredibly useful for organizations who work with dynamic or changing workloads. Take for example an order entry system, one that sees a spike in demand around the holiday season. This situation would be a prime candidate for a hybrid approach as they could have the application running in a private cloud, but can utilize cloud bursting from a public cloud during times of peak demand.How to Build a Hybrid Cloud Strategy One of the greatest benefits of adopting a hybrid cloud strategy is that you can customize it to the needs, present and future, of your organization. In other words, there isn’t just one type of hybrid cloud; rather, there are multiple approaches and combinations. However, in order to establish a hybrid cloud strategy, the following requirements must be available:A public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform Creation of a private cloud, either on-premise or via a hosted private cloud provider Sufficient Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity between environments Private clouds must be properly architected to attain compatibility with public cloud Now that I’ve established the prerequisites for hybrid implementation, it begs the question as to what exactly it would look like – and there isn’t one answer. One option is an organization could invest in cloud management software, providing them with a single platform from which to manage public cloud applications and on-premise infrastructure. Another option is the vendor-native hybrid cloud strategy, where you take your on-premises infrastructure or data centre and connect it to the public cloud in order to leverage its benefits.Regardless of your approach, the beauty of a hybrid strategy is that it allows organizations to tailor their infrastructure to meet their specific needs. However, like most things in life, there are steps you can take to help ensure your hybrid cloud initiative gets off to a good start:Integrate new cloud services with existing on-premise infrastructure so you can have access to all necessary applications Implement security measures to control and restrict the flow of vital data Use a virtualization layer, or hypervisor, to deploy existing applications in such a way that it works seamlessly on-premise and on the cloud platform. This will provide an easier approach to lift and shift between cloud and on-premise infrastructures When possible, develop future applications using container technology tools which can reduce dependence on cloud platform vendors and allow you to use on-premise and different cloud platforms in unison Automate tasks whenever and wherever possible, especially repetitive manual ones Develop and monitor KPIs (deployment frequency and speed, failure rate, time-to-recovery) so as to ensure a winning strategy using the hybrid cloud model The key to constructing a successful hybrid cloud is found in the selection of hypervisor and cloud software layers that are uniquely compatible with your desired public cloud. This allows for proper interoperability with said public clouds API and promotes seamless migration between the two.Hybrid Cloud Implementation: Challenges and Solutions As is true when implementing any new strategy or practice, challenges can often arise. However, being informed, and more so prepared, for these occurrences is the best way to ensure a smooth transition to utilizing a hybrid model. Here are some common hurdles and helpful tips to work through them:Security Risks – Data in a private cloud is secured, however, a hybrid cloud may require different security platforms to safeguard sensitive data. By selecting the right platform, developing a deep understanding of the data requirements, and with the right partnership in integrating your network solution, security risks can be minimized. Integration and Maintenance Cost – Integration of public cloud with private cloud, on-premise infrastructure, or integration with various cloud providers can prove challenging. It adds a greater complexity from not only the management and implementation point of view, but it can also make tracking resources and computing power across multiple environments difficult. Technology and DevOps Process – A hybrid cloud strategy requires greater prudence in selecting technology and solutions which can work across a variety of environments. When this isn’t accounted for, all too often I see lifecycle management and deployment slow down. However, turning to an expert in your rollout can help provide the best possible solutions and technologies such as containerization using Docker/Kubernetes/Openshift and automate application build and deployments by ensuring proper CI/CD process is implemented. Among the most popular technologies in the field right now include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, HPE OneSphere, and Amazon Web Services through their recent partnership with VMware software. Hybrid cloud strategy is the way of the future for any organization that’s looking for flexibility, affordability, enhanced security, improved access and communication, and customizable solutions for IT needs. However, like any new strategy, this can be intimidating when experience is lacking. Don’t hesitate in reaching out to an expert to help develop and implement a hybrid cloud solution that isn’t only tailored to your specific requirements, but is designed to drive your business forward.

The What, Why, and How of Hybrid Cloud Strategy

tech summit attended by many people
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I had the pleasure of being invited by Genesys to be a part of the Toronto Tech Summit’s panel discussion on “How AI is Shaping Society,” late last week. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation along with my awesome fellow panelists (from IBM, Element.AI, Inegrate.AI and RBC) and the crowd was extremely engaged! In case you missed it, here are some of my answers to the questions posed:Q: How will Artificial Intelligence change the way we interact with each other? Now that we’ve seen the new Google Duplex (and Microsoft Xiaoice) and its ability to interact with humans, what does this mean for the future of human-to-human conversation and interaction? Are we going to see this technology as a proxy for talking to people?“Technopanic” is not a very new concept. When cars were first introduced, people claimed it would lead to the destruction of the concept of “families.” When telephones came in, it was the destruction of “civil conversations,” and with calculators, it was the end of “memorizing.” None of that has really happened. We have evolved our lives and made them more productive if anything else.Our tech fortune tellers generally have the habit of going overboard with the extremes. With AI transformation, I honestly believe some things will change dramatically, and some will evolve slowly. The drudgery of making phone calls to dispute charges from Telcos, banks or to set up appointments will be a thing of the past with AI technology.Human-to-human interaction will go from being one dimensional, as we know it today, to a hybrid one where assistive technologies would optimize outcomes. For example, I could very well see Chris (the moderator) using one of the futuristic devices in a crowded fish market in Mumbai haggling over the price of shrimp in the local dialect. I was in the UK a few months back, where one of the billboards read the tagline of a company, “when your heart stops beating we keep tweeting.” Human interaction is going to definitely change, but for the better. It will be more efficient and more productive when you want it, and stays the same when you don’t.benefits of Artificial IntelligenceQ: Why does AI have to be explainable or auditable?There are software companies who create applications that help to better understand if inmates from jails are ready to be paroled. Based on their scores, judges chose to parole them or put them back behind bars. However, as data science and analytics is not completely foolproof a bad decision, however unintentional, could very well equate to years of additional jail time! From what we hear, people of colour are 77% less likely to get bail than others. Just one single KPI, independent of the type of crime they might have committed. Now, this inherent bias has made it to algorithms, and we clearly hope that software is explainable and auditable to essentially undo cases such as these.Q: What is the longer-term impact of assistive AI technologies?I have a tendency to look for historical similarities when things happen, and with AI, given the potential magnitude of sweeping changes, we only have a handful of inventions which come close. The direct outcome of assistive tech is that due to higher efficiency and productivity of the bots and AI-powered contraptions, a lot of jobs will be lost. Fortunately, a lot more will be created, and most importantly every job will change. However, the secondary changes are far more difficult to predict. For, eg. When you look at the transition from “Horses” to “Cars” in the early 1920’s, there were three important secondary outcomes, which no one really could have envisioned:impact of assitive AI technologiesSince cars went by billboards a lot faster than horses; companies started using logos rather than their full names. A new stream of advertising started, more centred around brand recognition Cars were more expensive than typical consumer products, and hence people had to take credit from banks; which had never really happened until then. A new stream of banking called “Consumer Credit” was born Globally, 25% of total agriculture land was used to produce hay; used to feed horses. When the population of horses started to reduce, people started growing wheat, leading to a surplus of wheat and a subsequent dramatic drop in prices. As the downstream value chain of farming wheat was highly inelastic – a lot of farmers went bankrupt, and so did the rural banks they were associated with. As rural banks began to collapse, it caused a cascading effect which led to urban banks going out of business and accelerated the slide of the stock market – already in recession – which lead to the Great Depression For me, the most important point is that we have to be agile, adapt, and evolve. Over 40-years, all goes well, but over the short term, we will have to pivot and pivot quickly when needed, to continue existing and thriving.Q: Will AI foster cross-cultural relationships that are unencumbered by language barriers or will AI take the world in a darker direction?Absolutely. We are going to be spoilt for choices of tools to break through language and cultural barriers. We are hopefully going to find ways to verbalize what’s in front of the visually impaired, and we are going to find means to fight cancer or diagnose it at a much earlier stage and solve the problem. Life is going to get a lot easier in a lot of different ways, and it will also lead to a bunch of different paradoxes fuelled by AI.paradoxes fuelled by AIWe are going to get lazier but healthier…get dumber but more productive…hyper-capable but helpless…and there are murmurs of the world going into darker spaces too. I wouldn’t say that’s not outside the realm of possibility. However, it’s not as extreme as they make it out to be in The Terminator series or other such sci-fi movies. If you have to take it to an extreme and talk about what would happen when one creates super intelligent machines beyond general AI, then it’s possible that they would think of us as we think of ants today. We don’t want to harm them, in fact when we see them, we try and avoid them by sidestepping them. However, when their objectives and goals are not aligned with ours, we don’t think twice before annihilating them. That is definitely a possibility, but I believe we will never get there, and this is why.In years from now, what do you think will happen even if there are rumours of a company from the bay area coming close to cracking the code on super-intelligent AI. How do you think other superpowers would retaliate? This is a scenario where winner takes all. A six months lead equates to possibly 500,000 times more productivity in this domain, once the end product is ready. Could it lead to the 3rd World War? Perhaps.Q: What is the most promising application of AI recently that has the potential to positively impact society? It could be on a business, individual, or social level?In the 1600’s Louis XVth apparently loved his food. So much so that he had 500 people source vegetables and fruits from around the world. Fast forward to the 21st century and “commoners” like you and I have access to a better variety and quality of food items from Loblaws and other grocery stores. All this thanks to Louis XVth himself; not to mention globalization, better supply chain, etc.Likewise, today we have to be geographically located in a developed country to get access to the best doctors in the world. However, because of AI and mobile devices, the democratization of the best healthcare diagnosis and medical assistance to remote communities will happen over the next 2-3 decades; something that 30-40% of the world doesn’t have today. It’s going to have a far-reaching beneficial impact on millions of lives!Q: Name one type of AI application which will fail?Well, great companies with bad management fail, and sometimes vice versa happens too. Its hard to put a finger on what will succeed and what may not; however, Cambridge Analytics did go out of business, so there you go.Wondering if your business is a candidate for an AI acceleration? Let’s Connect and discover the possibilities of how AI can transform your business.

How Artificial Intelligence and AI Transformation Shapes Society

designers and developers brainstorming on glass wall
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Have you ever had one of those unforgettable travel experiences that you just couldn’t help but talk about upon your return? Glad I’m not the only one; however, today I would like to share a particular experience with you, one that may not be what you’d expect. I say that because my excitement wasn’t caused by the country we travelled to, the city we explored, or the attractions we visited. Rather, it was the hotel my family and I stayed at that left such a lasting impression and quickly became an attraction in and of itself. Perhaps I should explain.Over the years I have stayed at many hotels; however, this particular experience quickly became unique from the moment I completed the reservation. Like most people nowadays, I make my travel arrangements online, and while receiving a confirmation email is nothing new, in this instance, I also received a link to download the hotels’ app; an action which entitled us to a discount. Never one to pass up a deal, I downloaded the app, received my discount, and patiently awaited my departure – but things got interesting way before that.A week prior to my departure, the app sent me a series of photos of local attractions that I scrolled through and either liked or disliked. After just a few short moments, it started suggesting personalized activities that my family and I might enjoy, even giving us the option to purchase tickets. The following day I was sent a list of popular restaurants located near the hotel and was given the opportunity to easily make reservations. The day after that, I received a long-range weather forecast for our destination, one that included the weather the day of our arrival and continued for the duration of our trip. It even suggested that we packed sunscreen and may want to consider bringing something warm as the temperature was expected to drop in the evenings. Finally, the day before my departure I received another alert that included a suggested packing checklist to help ensure that nothing was forgotten. Thinking to myself that this was already a distinct travel experience, I was nowhere prepared for what happened upon my arrival at the hotel.The moment my family and I stepped through the front entrance, we were greeted by a welcome notification on my smartphone. In a highly intuitive fashion, the hotel app guided us through the check-in process; one that we could easily complete ourselves. How easy? Well, let me put it this way; instead of a concierge guiding us to our room, my daughter took us there by interacting with a virtual assistant (in the form of a teddy bear no less) that walked along the walls of the hotel corridors. We didn’t even need a key to unlock our room. Imagine arriving, checking in, and walking into your hotel room all without having to speak with hotel staff.It wasn’t the check-in experience alone that captivated us, rather, the experience continued on to our room itself. It allowed us to personalize our surroundings via the app, including the art on the walls, the temperature of the room, and even the curtains. We could request toiletries, order room service, control the television, and arrange for a wakeup call, all from my smartphone. It gave us the wonderful feeling that whoever designed the hotel had us in mind. The experience left my family and I feeling empowered as if we were in complete control of what, when, and how we wanted things to be. And that wonderful feeling is just one of the many benefits that come along when your process is driven by Design Thinking and Innovation.Design Thinking: What is it? The definition of design thinking, simply put, is an iterative approach to problem-solving, one that intentionally takes into account and utilizes different perspectives, knowledge, experiences, and skills to create practical solutions and drive innovation. While this may sound like a rather haphazard approach to design, in reality, it is very process driven and like any process, involves a sequence of steps to be carried out in order to achieve a goal:Design Thinking Process1. Empathize.We understand the people who we are designing for, We are solving problems for them not for us – so we avoid assumptions, We conduct interviews, observe, and listen in context, We map the end to end journey.2. DEFINE.We transform our empathy findings into INSIGHTS to define the need, We stay away from an “everything to everybody” mindset, We then come up with Problem Statement – Point of View (POV), We turn problem into opportunity by How-Might-We questions (HMW).3. IDEATE.We brainstorm a range of crazy and creative ideas along and in teams, We learn from each others ideas and go beyond obvious solutions, We transform abstract ideas into concrete solutions, We storyboard each concrete idea into homogenous and lucid stories.4. PROTOTYPE.We create prototypes to test number of ideas quickly, We test rapidly rather than deciding on the direction too early, We enable audience to imagine what their experience would be like, If fail, we fail quickly and cheaply, and lean from people’s reaction.5. TEST.We use prototyping to test and validate our understanding of the problem, We prototype as if we know we are right and test as if we know we are wrong, We only show and do not tell, letting users explain to get the feedback, We revisit assumptions based on raw feedback from users, and.6. ITERATION.At its core, this human-centred approach to innovation looks to align the needs of the people (Desirability), the possibilities and potential of technology (Feasibility), and finally, the requirements for business success (Viability). Aside from the innovative and disruptive products and services that can be created via Design Thinking frameworks, what is truly beautiful about the process is that it is not limited to any specific industry or area of expertise.Design Thinking in Hospitality: Intercontinental Hotels, USA Travel for business is almost as old as business itself; however, ask anyone who has done so and they will likely tell you that working out of an often cramped hotel room is less than ideal. So how would a hotel go about providing a better working environment for those travelling for work while not alienating those that are travelling for pleasure? This is exactly the problem faced by Intercontinental Hotels Group, however, before they could solve it, they first needed to understand the needs of their guests.Younger workers are tech-savvy, independent, entrepreneurial, and most of all, demanding. And as a result of research, sensory data, surveys, and interviews with potential customers, it was found that what the hotel chain lacked was informal, flexible experiences; energizing and uplifting spaces; peer-style customer service; personalized choices; and intuitive and integrated technology to control it all.The result was Ignition, a new meeting and working experience located in the lobby of Crowne Plaza hotels. Some of the more notable amenities include workspaces ranging from single person pods to a 10-person “apartment” that can be booked by the hour, food and beverage on demand – that even come on a specialized design square plate to fit perfectly next to a laptop – and a brand new “Host” role within the organization to help business travellers in a variety of capacities, including delivering food, sourcing restaurants for meetings, and more. Ignition was designed to keep travellers in a state of heightened productivity, all part of the brands promise of “Making Business Travel Work.”Design Thinking in Banking: Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia Taking a simplistic view, one could say that a banks’ customers fall into one of two categories; business and personal. So how would a bank go about creating richer, more exciting experiences between those two, more specifically, the merchant and the customer? Easy – you find the place where these two meet.Commonwealth Bank of Australia wanted to help customers and businesses build stronger connections and they believed that the best way to do that would be an innovative and different form of payment. After conducting research in Australia, Germany, and the UK, they learned a number of things that would impact their design moving forward. First, they saw that the ideal platform should support the full spectrum of human behaviour around payment. Second, the platform should add value by bettering relationships between banks, merchants, and customers. Lastly, they learned that the payment experience should be customizable, working one way in a luxury retailer and another in a gas station. The results were Pi, a new retail business platform, and Albert, a portable payment device.Pi can easily be implemented by larger merchants into their existing network, while smaller merchants can grow their business using some of the powerful tools provided. Albert offers a large and intuitive touchscreen that not only can handle current card methods of payment but can also adapt to future methods, even eliminating the need to swivel a screen from cashier to customer.Design Thinking in Telecom: ETB, Colombia How does a 130-year-old telecom stay relevant in the 21st century, all without alienating its loyal customers but still appealing to the new, tech-savvy generation? Simple, they practiced a design thinking mindset.ETB, Colombia’s oldest telecom, decided to leverage their already highly recognizable brand and created a blueprint for a complete overhaul of their retail spaces, one that would appeal to a new generation without neglecting their current customer base. However, in order to do that, they needed to transform and design their public spaces (stores) and give them a more personal feel. This included new warm and bright retail outlets, self-service kiosks that eliminated waiting in line, as well as a facelift of the brand with a new colour palette and brand guide.The result was a complete and scalable blueprint for the next generation of stores, services, and roles within the organization.Design Thinking in Retail: Burberry, England How does one of the most iconic fashion labels in existence increase an abysmal growth of 2% per year? A difficult question, until you apply the design thinking process, at which point it becomes quite clear – you need to connect with the new generation (Millennials) of consumers, and do so in a way that appeals to them. That is the “what,” but now comes the “how.”In order to grow revenue, the company understood it needed to connect with the “digital demographic,” one that reaches for their phone any time a want or need arises. Innovating off the brands’ core heritage, they crafted a marketing strategy that connected the values of a younger customer base, that was “cool and innovative,” and one that would convince a new generation to become loyal customers. As such, the label created personalized campaigns, invested in their social media presence, and was the first of any luxury brand to reach 1 million followers on Facebook.The result was an increase in revenue to $3 billion annually and a transformation into one of the most digitally innovative fashion brands in the market today. All of this came from simply empathizing with their end users and taking a human-centred approach to their marketing efforts to directly relate and reach their desired demographic; digitally – which is exactly where they’d be.Design Thinking, Agile, and Lean: Complementary or Conflicting? All too often we see organizations blindly following frameworks and methodologies because they have a problem they can’t solve. And most often, in doing so, they will negate themselves from other viable solutions, simply because they are adhering to a single approach. It is here that the problem lays.The idea of a particular right way of doing things is slowly being disregarded as more and more people realize that there is nothing to be gained from dogmatic adherence to any one method. So instead of asking lean or agile or design thinking, it needs to be understood that these processes aren’t mutually exclusive, and perhaps a better statement would be agile and lean and design thinking. A recent presentation by Nordstrom Innovation Lab very neatly combines the core principles of Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile Execution into a unified strategy.The lean mindset is what drives business to continuously learn through experimentation until they discover the right answers. It helps dictate what to build, all while improving the work that delivers the greatest value. Agile, on the other hand, is all about achieving the best outcome through technology. It is about how IT and development teams can continuously deliver value, adapt to changing needs, and produce the highest quality of work. Lastly, design thinking helps to tie it all together by understanding limitations, recognizing and capitalizing on the opportunity, and exploring all the possibilities from a human-centred point of view. When applied in unison, these methodologies can help any team create solutions that deliver the desired outcomes; as long as iteration is continuous.

Design Thinking: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

An illustration of the Angular Logo
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Very few, if any, are truly self-sufficient these days. That is to say, we don’t typically build or produce things for ourselves; rather, we rely on a network of producers and service providers to help us get through our day to day lives and perform many critical tasks and functions. Another name for this reliance is a dependency, and much like we have come to rely on certain services to achieve the outcomes we desire, similar types of dependencies exist in the software engineering world, and those dependencies have to be made available by some mechanism generally called Dependency Injection, and that is what I’d like to discuss today.What is Dependency Injection? Dependency Injection or DI is generally thought to be a very complex topic, but in truth, it’s quite simple and easy to understand, even if you’re five, as this example illustrates:How to explain dependency injection to a 5-year-old?When you go and get things out of the refrigerator for yourself, you can cause problems. You might leave the door open, you might get something Mommy or Daddy doesn’t want you to have. You might even be looking for something we don’t even have or which has expired.What you should be doing is stating a need, “I need something to drink with lunch,” and then we will make sure you have something when you sit down to eat.Source: StackOverflowDI is a technique under the Inversion of Control (IoC) principle/pattern. In this mechanism, a centralized object is made responsible for providing all the services or things on which our application blocks depend. The application blocks define the list of services or items they need, and they don’t have to worry about how to construct or instantiate those services and how to dispose of them if they’re no longer required.Angular’s Implementation of DI In the Angular framework, DI is one of the core mechanisms, taking care of instantiating and loading dependencies for all components, directives, and services.Angular automatically creates a centralized Injector that is loaded when the application bootstraps. The injector looks for all defined dependencies and maintains instances that can be reused, inside a container, generally referred to as DI Container.But how does the injector know how to load or create an instance of a dependency? Angular has something called Provider, which “provides” that information to the injector. When you require a dependency, be it a service, function, or value in your application, you have to register a provider in the application injector. The injector will then use that registered information to instantiate and load the dependency whenever it is required.A component that depends on a service named `AppService` Considering the constructor here, as soon as code reaches a point to instantiate this component class, it informs Angular about the dependency. The Angular process checks if the injector has an existing instance of the dependency. The injector looks for an existing instance in its container and creates one if not, and finally returns the instance to Angular by keeping a reference in the container.Note: The type of dependency is NOT optional, you have to tell Angular about the object type so it can create its instance when needed. In this example it’s the AppService type.In this example, we have only one dependency, whereas, in practice, it can be more. When Angular finally receives the instances of all the dependencies from the injector, it then calls the constructor with those service instances as arguments, of course, in the same sequence.There is a small caveat in this example; we provided the service reference to Angular using the component’s providers’ collection. If we use this approach, we are telling Angular to get a new instance of the AppService for each instance of the component. But that probably isn’t what we needed, right?Hierarchical Injector The Angular’s root or centralized injector is a hierarchical injector, which is one of its most exciting features.It means if we provide a service for one module or component, the instance of that service will be available to all the descendants of that module or component. In an Angular application, there are multiple places where we can “provide” a service:AppModule: If we provide a service at this level, it will act as a Singleton service, i.e., one instance for the whole application, unless we override this for a sub-module or component.AnyOtherSubModule: If we provide services at this level, Angular will create a child injector automatically, which will inherit from the parent injector. This child injector will be responsible for maintaining instances of the services provided for this module and all its children (modules, components, directives, services, etc.) unless we override this in a sub-module or component.AppComponent: Providing a service at this level means one instance of service is available for AppComponent and all its children, but not other services or AppModule. Angular will again create a child injector inherited from parent injector to maintain instances of services at the AppComponent level.AnyOtherSubComponent: As in the example above, one instance of service will be available for one set of instances of this component and it’s children (if they exist). This will also be handled by an automatically created child injector for each instance of the component.Note: None of these patterns are wrong. It will vary depending on the application needs and whether you want one Singleton instance of a service or you want separate instances of the service for each component and its descendants.In real-world applications, most of them will have child injectors being created by Angular to manage service instances and provide them whenever needed. Since Angular creates these child injectors automatically, Angular handles all the clean up as well when those child injectors are no longer required.The @Injectable Decorator We’ve talked about injecting services into components, directives, and pipes, etc., but haven’t talked about injecting services into services. Look at the example below and guess if it has an error:LoggingService: A simple class that maintains a collection of log itemsCounterService: Another class with a few methods, and depends on the LoggingService classAppModule: @NgModule with both services declared above listed in the ‘provider’s’ collection There is a problem in the example above and Angular will report an error similar to the one below:The class ‘CounterService’ cannot be created via dependency injection, as it does not have an Angular decorator. This will result in an error at runtime.Either add the @Injectable() decorator to ‘CounterService’, or configure a different provider (such as a provider with ‘useFactory’).This is a very common misconception about the @Injectable decorator. Since the CounterService depends on the LoggingService, we have to tell Angular that CounterService is “injectable”, which means it depends on some other service and that other service will be injected “into” this service. So we have to add the @Injectable decorator before the CounterService declaration like below.The important thing to note here is that no error was reported for LoggingService because it doesn’t depend on anything for instantiation.For the sake of performance, consistency, and avoiding any future errors, it’s a best practice to add @Injectable decorator to all service classes. For instance, if we decide to inject some dependency in the LoggingService in the future and forget the @Injectable decorator, Angular will throw the same error.To fix the above error, simply add the @Injectable decorator to the CounterService class.CounterService with @Injectable decorator The Super Power of the @Injectable Decorator The amazing @Injectable decorator has another fascinating usage. We can use it to provide a service at the root injector level, which makes this service globally accessible to all modules, services, components, pipes, etc. No matter where your service resides in the code, you can make it globally accessible by passing in a special object to the @Injectable decorator like below:@Injectable decorator with config to provide service for root injector Voila! Our service is now globally accessible and can be injected into other modules, services, and components without providing it anywhere else. And one very important benefit that we get here is that our service is now fully tree-shakable.By default, Angular CLI generates services with this pattern and recommends having @Injectable decorator being added to all the services. As mentioned earlier, it’s a best practice to have it with all service classes, but it is up to the application requirements and use cases to choose for other available options and patterns.As of Angular 9, the Angular team introduced two more value options for the `providedIn` property, listed below:‘platform’: Since we can have multiple Angular applications running on one page, for instance, if you have a micro frontend architecture, you can share services across applications using this value.‘any’: Use this value to instruct Angular to create a global instance of this service for all eagerly loaded modules, and a separate instance of this service for all lazy loaded modules that inject it.Take Away In this article, we saw how Dependency Injection works in an Angular application and how we can utilize the injectors and providers to get instances of our services based on our requirements. However, this topic is broad and I have only skimmed the surface. But I hope that my simplistic approach was able to provide you with a broad understanding of Angular DI and inspired you to consider it for your next development.

Angular: Dependency Injection and the function of Injectors & Providers

A data visualization of COVID-19 spread in Europe
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Data visualization was always an important, albeit niche subject that only the most diligent number and statistically driven businesses and technology practitioners cared about. And then suddenly, the tragic and globe-spanning events of 2020 have made data visualization a mainstream staple. Across the world, eyes are glued to screens, watching bar graphs, line charts, and geographic maps with close intent. Now more than ever, it’s essential to skillfully understand data visualization from the perspectives of both a reader and creator and to be able to understand the various narratives that visualizations can convey.What is Data Visualization? Data visualization is defined as the graphical display of data and information, primarily for the purposes of data exploration, communication, or sense-making. This critical distinction separates data visualization from just being graphic design and aesthetics. That’s because it’s also about constructing the right relationship, context, and indicators to communicate to your audience effectively. Data visualization is just as much about usability as it is about being visually appealing. While a typical audience might be more familiar with charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization also includes infographics, gauges, and other forms of visual expression such as iconography and illustration.Why Visualization? It Makes Biological Sense Organizations that can gather and act quickly on their data will have a competitive edge in the marketplace due to the speed at which they can make informed decisions. Typically, when encountering data, people use the slow and inefficient cerebral cortex in the front of the brain, responsible for logical thinking and cognition. Choosing to visualize the data shifts the balance towards the fast, automatic, and unconscious processing performed by the visual cortex. With increased efficiency and speed comes increased knowledge, as it becomes easier to isolate new and emerging trends, find patterns, or identify outliers in a data set.Why Today? Today, we have more data circulating than ever before, with publications referring to the modern era as the age of ‘Big Data.’ Forbes estimates that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, which is only increasing. There is an ever-growing amount of business, technological, and user data captured every day, and it presents compelling opportunities for organizations to interpret and make practical use of it through visualization.Data visualization’s biggest strength, the ability to create a coherent and human narrative out of hard numbers, is increasingly evident in the age of the 2020 global pandemic. Epidemiologists are encouraging everyone to ‘flatten the curve,’ turning a simple line chart into an artifact that embodies our hopes, fears, predictions, and the responses of the entire world: not bad for a few lines and dots! Understanding data visualization during this unique time will provide you with exciting use-cases and examples to study from, as organizations across the world are utilizing various visualizations to convey different narratives.How to Start Visualizing 1. Understand Your Audience: The first step in visualizing your data is to determine and define the audience that will be consuming your visualization. Whether your audience understands the subject at hand will determine the granularity of visuals and the specificity of labels.It can help you think about what decisions you’d like to drive in your audience through your data visualization. Is it an infrequent and significant decision, like purchasing a house, where detailed comparisons are necessary? Or is it more tactical, like a weekly sales performance review that only requires a few metrics? Determining this will inform the visualization elements, such as thresholds for target metrics, or colours, to indicate urgency.2. Choose the Right Visual: There are an incredible amount of visualizations, variations, and types to choose from: bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, are just the tip of the iceberg. To determine the correct type, consider the relationship between the items in the original data-set.bar graphs, line graphs, pie chartsA temporal visualization like a line or area chart may be the best fit if it’s data captured over a period of time. A geospatial visualization such as a heatmap or tree graph will communicate more effectively if it relates to a location. Periscope features a handy flow-chart that can help you get started in selecting the right visualization for your needs.3. Provide Context: Visualizations without context can be challenging to interpret, so titles, labels, and text can help provide your audience with a functional understanding of the visualization.functional understanding of the visualizationEnsure that labels have the proper weighting, that the title should be the most prominent, that the axis labels should be legible and balanced, and that bolding should be used sparingly for emphasis.In addition, a legend or annotation can go a long way in improving the usability of your data visualization.4. Ensure Accessibility: Ensure accessibility with your visualization so that it’s usable and understandable by everyone in your audience. Don’t use colour as the only visual cue; instead, combine both text, colour, and patterns with helping communication.Play around with shapes and sizes that don’t directly represent what’s being conveyed, such as different line styles and text sizes. In addition, always label the data directly, as adding data explanations in labels makes it harder to see, and adds cognitive load to the reader.Visualization Best Practices Clarity and Data Accuracy: Data visualization appeals to our unconscious and intuitive visual perception. However, the data represented should still hold up under critical scrutiny. Points of data should retain their original values: it can be far too easy to manipulate data with a visualization that skews itself towards a particular narrative or exaggerates a comparison. Since visualization is meant to be a resource for analysis and sense-making, this should be avoided, and the integrity of the data should always be preserved.Visual Encoding: Part of the visualization process involves encoding the data points into a visual form through the use of shape, colour, angle, size, and various other visual attributes. By modifying these, you can make distinctions in the data and present it in a more complex format. For example, colour can be utilized to indicate focus, quantity, categories, or even add additional layers of meaning to your visualization, such as red for a negative value. The best data visualizations make creative use of visual attributes to add further context for understanding and analysis.Labels and Axis: The above principles also apply to the labelling and text that accompany a visualization. For clarity and accuracy, any axis in a bar graph should start at a baseline of 0 to keep the integrity of the data presented. Labels should not be rotated as to ensure their legibility and clarity.Data Visualization Future Trends: An emerging trend in data visualization, powered by digital technology, is user interaction and control. A few examples are outlined in Google’s ‘Material Design,’ such as progressive disclosure: the ability of the user to reveal pieces of information that they select or interact with. In addition to this, direct manipulation of a visualization through panning, zooming, and scrolling is also finding frequent use today. These controls are often accompanied by filters or toggles that manipulate the data visualization for analysis purposes. Implementing these controls can be an incredibly effective way of allowing your audience to interpret further and make sense of your visualization.An exciting take on this involves turning visualization interaction into a curated experience or interactive game. The New York Times featured an interactive visualization that allows the user to guess the trends in causes of death and match their results to the real data. The Washington Post features a simulation and modelling of various virus outbreak scenarios, where the users can even re-run each simulation and compare the resulting curves and graphs accordingly. The interactions here provide an additional layer of understanding by letting the user examine their biases and assumptions and tackle complicated and unwieldy topics by ‘humanizing’ large numbers.Take Away Never before has data visualization been so relevant. While it may be more mainstream now, it still follows the same principle that has guided data visualization since its inception: turning hard numbers and vast amounts of data into a narrative that is actionable, comprehensible, and human. As long as organizations follow best practices, understand the data, and preserve its integrity, they’ll be able to leverage visualization far into our data-filled future.

Understanding the Story of Data Visualization

A woman in a wheelchair holding a credit card as she uses a laptop
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“For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient. For people with disabilities, accessibility makes things possible.” – Judith Heumann, U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.The above statement was made back in 2012. That would suggest that for the better part of a decade, experts have been highlighting the importance of accessibility. However, you need only look around the web and at a few applications to see that it hasn’t been generally adopted.For example, eCommerce would typically identify the target user while developing their web store. This list should include people with special needs, but how often does it? Implementing good governance around web accessibility ensures that people with specific disabilities can access your web store, walk through the product catalogue, and ideally, make a purchase.If eCommerce companies lower trade barriers and enforce accessibility, their growth rate and trade percentage will undoubtedly increase. Following accessibility standards in web applications has been shown to help increase market growth 10x faster than without following the accessibility standards. The graph below shows the web Accessibility compliance for the period of 2008-2020.ai companiesWeb Accessibility AdaptabilityThe below map highlights one of the biggest challenges to web accessibility: one-third of countries don’t have standards or guidelines in place. For example, most of Europe has taken a proactive approach to accessibility, helping them adapt much faster than most. However, other parts of the world are a little slow in following the trend, lacking a defined and enforceable law to develop accessibility features in all new web applications development.ai technologyCountries, including the USA, Canada, and the EU, have already passed legislation to ensure digital accessibility on certain web applications. Here’s a high-level breakdown of what that looks like:USA – Federal, state, and local government websites are committed to fulfilling WCAG AA level compliance of accessibility standards. CANADA (Ontario) – Private or non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees and all public sector organizations must meet AA level by January 2021. EU – Is enforcing accessibility standards for any new website development since 2019 and is planning to make accessibility standards mandatory on public sector web applications from 2021. Consideration on Web AccessibilityThere are some important considerations that must be taken into account when developing a web application to enhance its accessibility standards:Web applications should always be keyboard friendly All the images should have “alt text” in the app Contents in the app should be easily accessible for all users with or without disabilities It’s a myth that making eCommerce websites accessible needs a lot of development effort, expert knowledge, or a substantial financial investment. In reality, it only requires new ways of thinking and some extra effort on top of your current development. Plus, there are many free tools, guidelines, and assets available for the development community on how to implement and follow accessibility standards in web applications.A Few of the Benefits of AccessibilityOrganizations and brands are always searching for new and better ways to connect with their customers and expand their business. And when they create products and applications that help and accommodate users with disabilities, it gives this marginalized group a feeling of being part of society and that they haven’t been overlooked. By keeping accessibility standards in mind throughout the process, from development to testing, we can build accessible applications for people with diverse disabilities and eventually result in the following:Avoiding legal complications: In many countries, it is mandatory to follow accessibility prerequisites and develop a product that follows accessibility standards before launching it for end-users. Also, testing is compulsory to meet accessibility compliance. Potential growth in the business: According to research , 23% of people with a disability never go online, versus 8% without disability. Thus, designing and developing applications that follow accessibility standards will help in potential revenue and market growth. Accurate search results (Improving SEO): If developed to AA standards, web applications should have rich content and excellent user experience. This will help it not only become discovered more easily and quickly but will inherently improve your SEO. Better User Experience (Improves usability for all types of visitors): Increasing the accessibility standards of our eCommerce stores will be beneficial to any user who uses the application. Following the accessibility standards make eCommerce web applications more user-friendly – it’s that simple. Writing higher-quality code: Websites that are developed WITHaccessibility standards as a top priority are more valuable to the developer and client as they tend to contain a higher-quality of code. Accessibility should be a part of the project discussions at the very initial stages. Accessibility implementation should be considered mandatory for every element/component from the start of development; that way, developers will know what they need to include and how to build it.Not following this practice will lead to more work at later stages of the lifecycle, which not only increases cost but impacts the deadlines.Common Accessibility Mistakes made by Developers and DesignersAccessibility is an essential factor for application developers and designers to produce high-quality web stores that can provide real value to its users, including those with special needs. Web stores or applications must follow these sets of accessibility standards .While developing a web application, designers and developers will often encounter varying sets of mistakes, a few of which may include:Missing alternative text for images and any other non-textual content Not marking up headers and lists in HTML (and then using CSS for designing) Developing a web application that’s dependent on mouse/cursor to explore the site (rather than making the functionality accessible through the keyboard) Missing captions and/or transcripts for audio/video like broadcasts Missing proper colour contrast; an integral part of making a site accessible Developing a website that meets the accessibility standards without having enough knowledge of accessibility guidelines results in wasted of effort Take AwayIf eCommerce businesses tear down accessibility barriers and design their web stores while considering the users/customers that have a disability (permanent or temporary), they will likely notice something – their business begins to grow. Not only that, but they will also be providing a long-overdue right to a very marginalized group of people. In short, web accessibility benefits us all. And while there may be moments in your journey to becoming accessible that prove challenging, in the long run, following this practice is not only good business, but it makes you a good person.

The Impact of Web Accessibility and ADA Compliance on eCommerce

A pair of glasses in front of a computer with icons for the seven essential qualities of a developer
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The job of the developer is, in many ways, a tireless one. Few could argue the importance of their work, its tangible impact on business initiatives, and how widespread their involvement can be across an organization. Yes, a developer has the potential to do a lot of great things for a company, its staff, and customers – that is, assuming you have a good one.You need only ask someone who has been involved in development work to know that not all developers are created equal. Which begs the question – what does a great developer look like? Today, I hope to paint you a clearer picture of the ideal developer as I share the 7 essential qualities every developer must-have.1. They pick the right tools Much like a carpenter wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, choosing the right tools matters for developers. This applies to not only what you want as an application’s stack, but what you use to implement the solution and track issues when they arise. Make the right choice, and having sound knowledge of these tools can make a tremendous impact on how a developer performs.web development toolsLet’s look at a use case. Choosing an inferior debugging tool at the start would result in a developer having to spend an enormous amount of time and effort tracking and debugging issues. Hence, before jumping headfirst into development, take a step back and explore all the tools available to you. Your selection should complement your technology stack, reduce manual efforts, and substantially improve development performance.2. They keep their code clean The term “Clean Code” is a familiar one among developers and their peer circles. There are books written on the topic emphasizing the importance of various clean code approaches and illustrating how to bring these methods into practice. In a nutshell, the Clean Code philosophy states that the developers should write code that’s self-explanatory, easy to maintain, and easily understandable. Poorly written code is a nightmare to manage but can even result in total project failure and redo from scratch.The Clean Code philosophy dictates that code should be as concise as possible. It makes optimizations easier as well as results in smaller executable build size. Therefore, from naming conventions to the right number of code comments, bringing Clean Code principles into practice increases the developer’s productivity, contributing directly to project success.3. They are problem-solvers, with a can-do attitude Every developer should possess a good set of problem-solving skills. That’s because it’s commonplace for developers to come across multiple programming problems while building just about any solution (site, app, design).programming issues bugs & problemsThe software system development cycle faces a wide variety of challenges to keep the system’s performance, design, and user experience up to the required standards. But with the right tools, algorithms, and excellent analytical skills, a developer can come up with innovative solutions for any complication they face. Having excellent problem-solving skills, confidence to achieve, and a can-do attitude towards any challenge make that developer a valued resource in any organization.4. They are willing to adapt The world of technology is growing and changing rapidly, with the introduction of new and the evaluation of existing technology happening every day. For example, JavaScript was mostly unchanged until a few years back, but now it’s evolving at a fast pace after and becoming a crucial tool for digital application development. This need of the hour resulted in an overwhelming demand to modernize the language to match the standards of others in the software industry. That’s the reason not only JavaScript has transformed, but a lot of new frameworks and libraries have been introduced.This change in technology demanded JavaScript developers to be more adaptable to keep pace with advancements. A flexible personality can easily adjust to the evolution of technology or processes. Adaptable resources are the key to any organization’s success as its culture keeps evolving to meet the rapidly changing demand of the technical market. That’s why developers need to keep up to date with the latest technologies and vary their role according to the needs of the day, and in some cases, the hour.5. They are efficient through optimization Writing optimized code is a rare skill, but not an impossible one. It’s something that usually comes with experience, practice, and exposure. This method has a significant impact on the performance of your application. Therefore, if an application is taking time to load, then the developer likely needs to optimize.After the performance, things like SQL query optimization, caching, response optimization, SEO, accessibility, user experience, etc., comes into consideration, which also profoundly impacts the success or failure of an application. If a user finds it hard to land on the website or face challenges to navigate what they want to do, it means your business might lose a client or customer. That’s why, while developing a software system, developers must consider optimization parameters and design the application in a way that best serves its users.6. Aim for success at the start What sort of a developer do you wish to be? While I can’t answer that accurately, I can say with confidence that it isn’t a bad one. Do you see yourself as reckless but fast, or an individual who believes in planning with proper architecture in place and delivers quality work by being slow and steady?software development processSure, from a shallow perspective, immediacy might seem more attractive than a slow approach. But it will result in a product that is buggy and difficult to maintain. Considering the cost, it is a better option to move ahead with a plan in place, follow standards and software development patterns, and develop a sturdy application. Remember that the end goal is to deliver an application that meets the client’s aspirations and serves the purpose to its users.It is an excellent approach to take some time at the start, plan the things, choose the right architecture and design pattern, set the standards to be followed in the code, and think over your solution and algorithms then implement it.7. Self-evaluate along the way Once there was an architect who designed a library that was praised by all for its magnificence. The structure started to crumble because the architect did not consider the books’ weight soon after opening the library. The same is valid with software development, as a developer needs to take into account the most basic details and evaluate the application on all fronts.A developer needs to test code, discover issues, and fix them with the development of every feature of the software. Self-evaluation of the developed feature results in less technical debt and fewer bugs in the later stages of the development life cycle. Make sure not to release code that is buggy or, in the words of our metaphor, always take into account the weight of books.Take away By now, I hope you have some clarity on what makes a great developer. And whether you are looking to hire a developer, or are one and find yourself looking to improve your skills, consider what you read today. And just as Rome was not built in a day, one can not bring these habits into practice overnight. Quality takes time, whether you are talking about software development or professional development.

7 Essential Qualities A Developer Should Have For Web Development

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Salesforce Commerce Cloud(formerly Demandware) is a user-friendly and seamless eCommerce platform that offers a suite of features intended to transform the experience of how brands connect with their customers at every step of their journey. Salesforce B2C Commerce plays a considerable role in the worldwide market. In 2017 alone, 540 million unique shoppers made a purchase online through a Salesforce Commerce Cloud-powered website, and those sales equalled $21B. Impressive!But what makes this platform so widely adopted and heavily used? Today, we will dive into exactly what makes Salesforce Commerce Cloud so great, and many argue it has caused a B2C commerce revolution. Enjoy.Key Features of Salesforce Commerce Cloud Key Features of Salesforce Commerce CloudCommerce Storefront: The B2C Commerce Storefront is an eCommerce module where brands can customize the user experience. The Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA) is based on mobile-first best practices helping brands to build and launch sites quickly and easily so they can get their products in front of their customers.Merchandising and Marketing: Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Salesforce Commerce Cloud has immense power, giving merchandisers a broader scope and capability to craft and provide their customers with the best-personalized experience. These capabilities help brands fuel eCommerce growth with features that empower product pricing, catalogue management, promotion management, and site search.Multi-Site Management and Localization: Brands that have an international presence need localized sites for greater success in specific areas. Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a powerful internalization feature that helps brands to develop geo-specific sites or add features to existing websites according to the local cultures, currencies, and languages. Having localized websites also benefits regional marketing efforts. They can quickly build and launch websites with the help of a global reference storefront.B2C Commerce Extensions: Through B2C Commerce APIs, brands can integrate with different third-party applications and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to enhance and bolster the marketing efforts of the eCommerce store. Commerce extensions help brands introduce their business to new and diverse markets that might have otherwise been inaccessible.Benefits of Salesforce Commerce Cloud Benefits of Salesforce Commerce CloudPersonalized Experience Boost – Salesforce Einstein AI: To improve usability, Salesforce Commerce Cloud has its own built-in Einstein, which utilizes artificial intelligence to help quickly create better experiences for your users. It does so through predictive analysis of available data to give users better search results from the available product catalogue. For most, this uncompromisable as it’s generally accepted that only the best-personalized experiences earn your business more customers.Mature Marketing Process: Marketing is a crucial element when it comes to eCommerce. Within the boundaries of the Commerce Cloud, merchants can manage and share product information, images, and promotional content across various social media platforms. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud can also be used to customize user search criteria based on different merchant policies.Enhanced Mobile Experience: Today’s consumer world is all about smartphones and all the things they can empower us to do. The list of things you can do is quickly overshadowing what you can’t do on mobile. That’s why the eCommerce industry introduced mobile storefront to give customers easy access to do online shopping, where they want to shop. At present, we’d say Salesforce Commerce Cloud brings the world the best option for a mobile-friendly eCommerce store. It lays great emphasis on the mobile-first approach, providing optimal shopping experience to users.Internationalization: Due to multi-site management features, Salesforce made internationalization incredibly robust and easy. It allows organizations to manage multiple storefronts for multiple locations across the globe from a single back-end platform. By having an excellent technical grip over Salesforce Commerce Cloud attributes and features, one can effortlessly manage multi-currency, multi-language, and multiple eCommerce processes.Scalability: This requirement comes up in any eCommerce or enterprise-level website when the business wants/needs to expand and extend its scope to more markets worldwide. Salesforce solves this problem by providing you with the scalable instance associated with your storefront from which you can easily upgrade your system without impacting user experience.Single platform: Salesforce Commerce Cloud has one feature that it is extremely proud of and makes a point to emphasize, and it’s empowering merchants to run their business across multiple channels from a single platform. Salesforces Omni Channel Module allows merchants to perform many operations such as order management, inventory management, sales, and marketing campaigns as a single SaaS solution.The Advantages Salesforce has over its Competitors There are few competitors in the eCommerce industry that could challenge the power and prestige of Salesforce Commerce Cloud. A few notable mentions include Magento, Bigcommerce, Weebly, and Virto Commerce. Having said that, there is still a great divide between Salesforce and the rest, as it seems Salesforces already have the solution its customers and the development community need, while its competitors are still trying to figure it out.Salesforce Commerce CloudThe capabilities of Salesforce Commerce Cloud are extensive enough to give the development community unprecedented control over creating a web store. You could develop one using Salesforce Commerce Cloud, without having to wrap your head around the in-depth technical aspects of the platform, such as databases or networks. Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers multiple features (as should be clear now) that stand out from the competition, such as multi-store management, channel management, shopping carts, and inventory management. Another significant thing about Salesforce Commerce Cloud is that it is a SaaS platform, meaning the development community won’t need to worry about maintaining its infrastructure. This platform is an easily manageable and user-friendly tool with outstanding customer support and community behind it.Take Away It should be clear that Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a powerful, mature, and a scalable platform with amazing features for merchandisers. From having multiple storefronts to an unprecedented level of scalability, and a lot more, there is much the eCommerce industry should be thankful to Salesforce for. And as the world continues to shift to and react to the current situations, the need for such a platform will only grow, much like we’ll all retailers will have to do. Fortunately, Salesforce will likely grow right alongside them.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud – A Revolution in B2C Commerce

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Your digital identity is arguably more valuable than cash and is used by online operators for ordering products and completing the transaction in a buy flow system. While convenient, on the flip side, the online availability of personal information isn’t without risks. Hacks, breaches, and even full-blown identity thefts are still quite common, and it’s even more imperative to mitigate such risks during an era of digital transformation.The concept of Digital Identity Verification is a byproduct of the internet, digital transformation, and, in its simplest terms, is when companies verify the identity of the online customers and clients they do business with. This can be done through digital identity verification software tools available in the market, such as Onfido, Jumio, IDology, and Acuant that can authenticate scanned copies of documents like passports, driver’s licenses, and other nationally issued ID from authoritative sources or proprietary government data.Today, I hope to give you all, especially companies undergoing digital transformation, a buy flow centric crash course on Digital Identity Verification, including what it is, what it looks like, why you need it, and some of the challenges and benefits associated with verifying your digital identity.Enjoy!What makes up a Digital Identity? All the information about someone’s digital identity can be categorized into two groups with a few examples provided:A person’s digital attributes:Birth date Email addresses Bank details Biometrics (fingerprints, eye scan, 3D face map) A person’s digital activities:Search queries Purchase history Comments, likes, and shares on social media Forum posts The Digital Identity Verification journey The Digital Identity Verification journey starts with the creation of a user’s identity and its distribution over the network, preceding the following steps:The verification of identity to ensure all identity traits are correct. The use of identity with: The authentication to check a person’s ownership of some assets. The authorization of role/access rights based on identity. The authentication attributes get shared with multiple parties. The last step in this journey is to revoke identity from the system when digital identity information needs to be removed/ deleted.Why is Digital Identity Verification necessary? Almost all businesses are going through digital transformation in one way or another and moving to digital, e.g. banks, retail, telco, and more. Companies are now using digital infrastructure to carry out their online operations to get people connected with what they want. Still, many companies are continuing to physically use identity checks, such as when one needs an in-person verification to open a bank account, get a new phone number, or notarize a document. In today’s rapidly growing online era, this is not a scalable solution; slowing and limiting digitization. Digital Identity Verification can speed up all these processes and helps remove issues such as remote location access and geographical boundaries.Digital Identity Verification for Buy Flow Buy Flow or Shopping Flow refers to online shopping, where users must complete some steps to buy their desired products directly from a website.Digital verification systems are a must-have technology in the buy flow process as most eCommerce businesses are moving towards digitalization.However, like with anything worth doing, there are some challenges associated with relying on digital identification, but by the end of this piece, I think you’ll agree, they are dwarfed by the benefits it brings.Challenges of Digital Identity Verification in Buy Flow Challenges of Digital Identity VerificationData availability and management Issues: Tracing a customer’s identity is an integral part of the digital verification process. It requires data to be cross-checked and matched for accuracy, including the collection of personally identifiable information (PII). The data is necessary, but can often leave customers feeling uneasy. Giving out your necessary credentials and personal data on something like a credit history can open up security risks, exposing personal data to a genuine threat of digital malice.For not only service standards but adequate security to be achieved, companies need to adopt security solutions for storing customer’s data online. All the personal data and documents should be cross-checked with the official databases provided by applicable authorities. In the absence of such sources, it will be challenging to perform verification checks for authentication or, for that matter, to refuse access. Ensuring the best possible security and handling risk management will require identity expertise in multiple data collection methods for online ID verification. It’s paramount that users have control over the data collection methods and should know how their personal identity traits will be used for online validations.Obstacles in determining the accuracy of Digital Identity Verification: To create, maintain, and grow your customer base, it’s crucial to have accurate, efficient, and customer-friendly verification in place. This helps to ensure your brand comes off as a trusted service provider. To achieve this, you need a dynamic identity verification system that can handle large audiences while performing verification repeatedly. Applying Know Your Customer (KYC) processes to prevent frauds are also very important in this regard. To handle all these things, you also need tangible resource investments at the back-end to maintain secure platforms.Enhancing digital trust and customer experience: Your customers have been exposed to and likely already have several online identity verification systems that they use. However, having complex and suspicious data collection methods, risky transactions, and unfriendly user interfaces can put off new and existing customers alike very quickly. Establishing trust is vital for achieving long term success in the digital world. You must always be providing the right solutions for the right users and should be willing to extend a helping hand if required quickly. To achieve success, your selection of online identity verification tools must provide usability in the following aspects:Providing users with ownership and data security Perform regular verifications for the consistency Safeguard the clients against potential cybersecurity threats Risk and compliance management for business growth Catering to data protection and privacy regulations: With an increase in the usage of identity verification applications, there are also continuous changes in regulatory requirements associated with them. Customers are more concerned about how their personal data is collected, screened, and stored. This means that firms providing the Digital Identity Verifications need to keep up to date with changing regulations and policies. International standards and regulations are being formed to stay on of advancements and technological changes. As such, security standards must be updated and compliant with the latest data protection policies rolled out by the regulatory authorities.Benefits of Digital Identity Verification in Buy Flow Benefits of Digital Identity VerificatioProtects your business against criminal activity: Hacking and identity fraud are commonplace in the digital world, which is why businesses need to protect their customers and themselves. One of the key advantages of Digital Identity Verification is that it helps keep your online business safe against such malice by identifying your users’ personal digital traits to ensure that their transactions are legitimate. Identity verification provides a better user experience with a sense of safety against all online threats, which will eventually result in better customer experience and loyalty.Helps businesses comply with AML and KYC rules: Online businesses need to be AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and KYC (Know Your Customer) compliant to prevent the flow of dirty money within their systems, not to mention avoiding the risk of a hefty fine and damaging their reputation. A practical and straightforward way for businesses to prevent this from happening is to have a sound, reliable system in place to verify their customers’ digital identities.Improves customer experience and signup rates: Digital Identity Verification helps to improve the overall user experience, leading to an increase in signup rates. Digital identity verification is a real-time process, so it makes the processes quicker and smooth for customers. If you have a sound digital identity verification system in place, it can verify users within seconds. That means customers are no longer required to submit the hard copies of passports or driver’s licence for a signup process, which takes days if not weeks in some cases. Instead, customers can get their identity verified right there and then.Reduces operational costs: A significant advantage of using Digital Identity Verification is that it saves operational costs for the business. This goes on to further protect not only the business but the customer as well.Take Away Much like I promised at the beginning, by now, you should have a reasonably solid understanding of not only Digital Identity Verification, but what it is, why you need it, and some of the challenges you can expect on your way to the benefits it surely brings. However, as the world is shifting undeniably towards digital, the sooner enterprises start to make this transition, the better off not only they will be, but their customers. Because, as should be clear, Digital Identity Verification does much more than provide good customer experience, it gives a sense of security for both the company and its customers – and that’s just good business.

Impact of Digital Identity Verification on Buy Flow

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A Customer-First Experience sounds great, and really has a nice ring to it, but how do you design your application to be UX first? Now traditionally, web applications were tied to the features and roadmap of a single monolith solution. In order to change that, we need to not only shift that paradigm, but we needed to reverse roles; and for that, the concept of Decoupled Architecture was introduced.Decoupled Architecture is a type of computing architecture that enables computing components or layers to execute independently while still interacting with each other through well-defined protocols.So what’s unique about it? Well, in Decoupled Architecture, every component is an independent business unit that consists of its own logic and data and performs its tasks independently of the others. Most of the time, we use Decoupled Architecture for complex applications to allow layers and components to be completely sovereign from each other. This architecture enables developers to develop, test, and deploy application modules independently.3 Design Principles for a Well-Architected Decoupled Solution1. API-First in Decoupled Architecture: What is API First? It is on-demand, stateless services that your frontend application can call to retrieve content or perform a specific transaction. The API is designed to meet the expectation of the customer. However, with legacy solutions, these same APIs were designed based upon a journey. For example, Perform Step 1 before 2 and Step 2 before 3 etc. What if you wanted to start at step 3? That would not have been possible before. But with API first, the services are broken down into modules facilitating the ability to adjust and decouple itself from the service journey to animate the user experience.2. BFF in Decoupled Architecture: Nope, not Best Friends Forever; BFF means Backend For Frontend in this context. Imagine this is your computer and orchestration service layer for your web application. From time to market perspective, this allows the frontend team to develop the user experience in parallel with the backend team who become the underwriters with the service contract owner being the user. Consequently, that outcome becomes reusable and trustworthy because it’s consistent regardless of which form or mutation it undertakes. Allow your frontend application to focus on enriching your user experience and decouple itself from the management of the complex business rules.3. SaaS in Decoupled Architecture: Decoupled Architecture also allows the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) strategy. In this scenario, we move everything to the cloud, so the data is accessible from anywhere. Even some of the companies move their data and services to different geographical locations. So they are available from a nearby data center to achieve efficiency. This pattern aims to provide scalability, availability, and concurrency of data and services.Decoupled Architecture and its Benefits Decoupled Architecture and its BenefitsBelow are a few of the developmental advantages an organization can achieve by following decoupled architecture as a core development principle:Independent UI component framework Decoupled architecture is one of the best solutions to build diverse experiences Independent Deployments: Deployments are faster and smaller Deploy faster with segmentation without risking functionality Scale your web applications and improve your maintainability Improve online rendering performance Reduce negative experiences with fail and hide independent handling Decoupled Architecture and its Challenges Before deciding if Decoupled Architecture is right for your organization, consider the following that could pose some challenges:Performance is a challenge and usually, overall response deteriorates. In the case of distributed components and layers, latency increases as compared to in-memory architecture. It needs an extensive thought process to design a network layer: Since everything is now in independent modules, components, or layers, so you must careful while handling communication requests between each element. In such scenarios, developers have to write extra code in the network layers to avoid barriers. Redundant code in decoupling can result in code duplication in different modules. Testing is very complex in a decoupled environment. decoupled environment.No one could argue of the shift we are seeing towards Customer-First Experiences; however, achieving them is easier said than done. Fortunately, with Decoupled Architecture, you can make your code more manageable, scalable, and consistent, all while curtailing the total cost of ownership to get your product to your user faster and with confidence.

Decoupled Architecture: UX Designers Making Customer-First Design

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Today, technology has advanced to such an extent that we can deliver True Personalization by providing value to the customer while yielding profit to the business.But what is True Personalization?When a customer purchases something, you would typically send a follow-up email, thanking them, and the journey would stop there. But it doesn’t have to.Let’s say, after a few days of that initial follow-up email, you send them tips on how to use the product in different ways, along with some of its associated benefits. After all, what customer wouldn’t want to learn about their recent purchase and how to maximize the use, benefits, and enjoyment? But you aren’t done yet.After a week or two, you send another message with a special offer on a different product that compliments the customer’s previous purchase. This data-activated approach to marketing significantly increases online sales while reducing marketing spend and effort across various channels.And that is what poses one of the biggest business problems today – how do we provide personalized offers and experiences that provide value but don’t come across as intrusive?A diagram depicting the combination of segmentation and automation in personalizationType of Personalization Product Personalization is showing relevant products based on the demographics, infographics, and psychographics of the customer. Product Listing Personalization is determining the order of products shown to the user, based on a perceived value from previous purchases. Search Personalization is the ability to customize the search results of a particular query. It also can achieve instant keyword and product recommendations, and personalized search page ordering. Content Personalization is the presenting of personalized, onscreen content based on specific data gathered about the visitor, on-page, subpage or widget on any page, e.g., most relevant content determined by the user interests. Marketing Personalization is the sending of the most relevant offers in your marketing communications. If we are to believe the research published by McKinsey & Company, then the value of True Personalization will be in the trillions. In fact, just adding up, Retail, Banking, Insurance, and Telecom is estimated to be $2T+.A graph showing the combined value of the retail, banking, and telecommunication industry at two trillion dollarsAlthough there are multiple tools for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Resource Management (MRM), there is not much orchestration of data happening across channels as these systems typically work in silos.The time has come for businesses to start asking themself if they are giving the customer what they want when they want it, which can be seen in not only their offers and related content but how it is tailored to their customer.Only a few companies have deployed True Personalization, which can provide massive opportunities. It can even be deployed in a systematic way beyond digitals channels. Tools like Augmented Reality/ Mixed Reality can improve product and service experiences in different environments, enhancing in-store visits.The customer’s view on personalization Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. This is interesting when you consider that Forbes says 80% of businesses believe they provide excelle