Seventhman Blog

  1. Five Questions You Need to Ask Before Building Mobile Apps

    "mobile apps"If there’s one thing entrepreneurs need to know, it’s this: Mobile is not a trend.  Rather, it’s a new mindset and everyone, from your employees to customers, will expect your brand to be on their mobile devices.  There is no room for disappointment this time.  The problem kicks in when you become too ambitious with your mobile app project.  Just because you find your idea interesting doesn’t mean you should assume the same reaction from your target audience.  Did you know that most mobile apps fail to deliver because those who built them did not spend time validating their products with real users who would be willing to pay?  Before you even shell out thousands of dollars and countless man hours, you have to ask these questions:

    1.  Is there a real need?

    Don’t be tempted to launch an app just because it looks ‘cool’.  There must be a real purpose.  Does your app solve a problem?  Start with this in mind.

    2.  Who are you building it for?

    You have to segment your target audience, whether you’re building a mobile app for new or existing customers.  It’s all about context and the benefits that will drive higher conversion.

    3.  How will it look like?

    You don’t have to come up with something totally disruptive just to make your app look innovative.  There is such a thing called as user experience and sometimes, making things simpler and faster works better than all those fancy graphics combined.

    4.  What type of device will your app run on?

    With the explosion of smartphones, tablets and phablets of all resolution and screen sizes, you have to consider the type of device your app will be running on.  For the same reason that many major brands are implementing responsive web design on their sites, studying the demographic behavior of your target customers will help a lot.

    5.  How do you build it?

    Ideas are just as good as the air you breathe if they’re not turned into reality.  You have to be realistic about your budget for building a mobile app.  Who will work on it?  You can either look for local talents or outsource work to trusted experts.

    The final goal you must aim for in terms of developing for mobile should be gaining customers’ loyalty and productivity among your team.  Gartner recently predicted that more than 2.3 billion mobile devices will ship worldwide this year. This tells you one thing – Mobile is the new normal of how we connect online.

    What will guarantee success for you then if you decided to build one?  The answer is really simple – as in keeping your end users in mind.  Their experience will spell your app’s success.. or failure.  The key here is to keep on improving what you will come up with, on promoting what works and ditching what doesn’t.

    You have a great idea, no doubt.  Are you ready to execute it well?

     

     

     

  2. Five Signs That Your IT Project is Doomed to Fail

    "IT project failure signs"If there’s one truth you need to know about IT projects, it’s this:  They’re not created equal.  There are countless stories where all efforts went up in flames even before the software went live.  The risk is multiplied by ten if you’re an entrepreneur who knows little to nil of what your project is all about.  Just how can you spot signs that your IT project is failing?  When prevention is better than a cure, you need to check your project’s health and be proactive in looking for red flags – so you can walk away and minimize damages.  Besides, your business depends on it too.

    Making Decisions Smarter, Faster & Intuitive

    Last time, I have shared with you my thoughts on rapid iterations, to have a radical approach so you can fail fast and small.  The trouble is that you think it’s just too late to quit and so you struggle on a long and winding road that seems to lead you nowhere with your IT project.  The early signs that your project is doomed are really hard to measure objectively, but it’s not easy to spot if you keep an open eye and see these signs:

    1.  Lack – As in lack of interest among your team or stakeholders, lack of speed in moving the project forward, lack of good communication, lack of metrics, lack of detailed plans, lack of consistent management or lack of success in each milestone you’ve set..

    2.  Scope Creep – In relation to the first item, the project takes more resources, money and time to get done than you have originally planned for.

    3.  Testing Later (or Never) – You have a great idea and testing if it works is essential to its success.  You should test in all scenarios and gather data, whether it yields good or bad results.  There’s little to zero involvement with real users (or representatives in multiple departments for bigger companies).

    4.  No Plan B – Just like in life, things can go wrong.  If your IT project don’t have a recovery/risk management plan, you’re up for a big trouble.  Many who failed were too excited to go live only to hit serious downtime without ever having to recover.

    5. 80/20 – As in 80% issues and 20% resolution.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something is wrong when more problems pile up instead of being resolved.

    For the same way that these signs are contributing to the wide gap between IT and business, you must see signs of distress where your IT project is concerned so you can take action while there’s still time.  You may even invite an expert to give you sound advice so you can make informed decisions without having to lose a lot.

    Now, the only thing you have to deal with is your ego.  Are you willing to let go of that idea when dire circumstances are calling for it?

     

     

     

  3. Can IT and Business Bury the Hatchet?

    "IT Friction"Can we all just get along?  Sometimes, you can’t help asking this question where it concerns the IT department and the rest of the business.  Whether it’s an issue of mistrust, communication or mindboggling bugs – business owners are simply lost as to how to deal with the issue.  This gap is a major money drain that adds to loss in productivity in the workplace.  When things get awry, end users of technology used in the company hate calling their help desk.  In fact, that’s the last thing they want to do.  Does it have something to do with the IT stereotype, of introverted technophiles working in secret?  Is it a culture clash that makes charismatic business leaders steer clear of IT?  Whatever the answer is, there’s only one truth here: There is a huge gap.

    Going Back to Where It All Started

    Last May, I shared with you my insights on the three inconvenient truths about IT and business. Let’s dig in deeper this time.  No matter how modern a company’s business is, how well-supported it is with new technologies and trends like the  BYOD (bring-your-own-device) movement, the expectations between IT and business is a major mismatch contributing to the friction that’s getting bigger each day. According to a study made by Forrester (commissioned by BMC) in December 2012 – there are significant gaps in customer experience.  Business users of all types are  solving things on their own or getting it elsewhere, even when they reached out to IT for help.  We all know that user satisfaction is important in business.  The thing is that even when IT asks for ways to improve with their surveys, little to no action is done to make things work.

    Inspiring a Culture of Change

    Do you think that the old system is to blame?  In the beginning, businesses were totally dependent on IT no matter how limited the technology is.  Then came the internet and tools on how to make things faster at a lower cost.  Business leaders are simply taking things on their own because their needs weren’t met when they started working with IT.  Not all users have the same demands and expectations so understanding the culture of each user is a must.  Gone were the days when the service desk is just a point of contact.  They have to be trained to excel in customer service.  If the IT management will be more accountable on each solution they provide, they may even automate certain processes within the business to help regain loss in productivity.  Everybody wins then…

    IT Problems Don’t Have to Cost Your Business Big Bucks

    The real trouble kicks in when you’re dealing with numbers.  Let’s say company X employs thousands.  Majority of their requests go to the help desk – whether they are working at the office, semi-mobile or 100% mobile.  When users can’t work because of IT issues, they lose valuable time.  Frustrations can pile up.  While automation has helped counter this,  together with implementing user-friendly support (tutorials, remote help, live chats, blogs, forums) – only through proactive and timely communication will the gap heal in time.  Having a Plan B when things go wrong can help too, so long as there is a real commitment to continuously improve existing technologies and system with one end in mind: Positive Impact to Business.

    How can you innovate IT? Start with common sense, like keeping things simple.  It can go a long way, would you agree?

     

     

     

  4. SaaS: Innovative Solution or Inevitable Trap?

    "saas"You probably have encountered the term SaaS and wondered what exactly it is.  Short for ‘Software as a Service’ – this is a model in which an application is managed by a certain provider, paid for on subscription basis and accessed by users over the internet.  In fact, you might have been using it right now without ever knowing that you’re one of the many who have driven the growth of Saas.  There’s your popular iTunes, iCloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft to start with.  There are many more notable service providers on the list.  Sometimes, these are referred to as ‘on-demand’ software that you can use for business or leisure (or both).  In the end, it’s all about convenience, customization, flexibility, collaboration and accessibility that turned SaaS applications into an integral part of how we do computing these days.

    The Pros and Cons of the SaaS Model

    For businesses, the major benefit is the cost savings of a subscription model vs. the large expense they will incur just to run and maintain an on-premise IT infrastructure.  With the cloud comes a whole new world of possibilities, especially when you need to scale bigger, implement faster and run your business 24/7.  Trouble is, along with these benefits come the risks.  There have been talks lately on data security breach and government access to your private data which may adversely affect cloud providers in the U.S.  Despite all the best packages around, system outages do happen and the last thing you want is a downtime.  With the rise of many startups in the SaaS scene, the worst case is not having an exit strategy when that provider goes out of business.

    SaaS: The Beginning of an End?

    It is quite mind-boggling to learn that something this forward is getting a nasty bite where revenue is concerned.  Just read this blog recently and the first few lines got me hooked: “Marketo filed for IPO with impressive 80 percent year-over-year growth in 2012, with almost $60m in revenue. Except, they lost $35m…”  There’s something wrong in this picture.  One reason I can think of for this major loss are serial switchers, those who will jump from one vendor to another because there are simply too many right now and most are offering freebies.  Why would you upgrade to a paid account when you can get something this good.. for free?

    When the Software Landscape Looks Greener for Small Businesses  

    Opinions are split though when it comes to the future of SaaS.  There are those who say that this model is ready to take off.  There is a push towards a single-sign up for multiple applications and more businesses are shifting from paper trail to going digital this time.  Who wouldn’t want to work on something that delivers functionality without having to do patches and updates themselves?  This may be great news for small businesses who, years ago, don’t have access to world class software.  Now, they can compete with  big brands on a fair game.

    Wouldn’t it be right to say that SaaS is the greatest equalizer of them all?  No matter who you are, you now have a cloud of opportunity waiting to be explored, thanks to powerful and affordable software solutions out there.

     

     

     

  5. How to Make Software Implementation Faster and Hassle-Free

    "rapid software implementation"Speed is essential when it comes to IT projects.  Your clients don’t want to wait that long for you to come up with an innovative software that will help their business.  These are tough times, where the fast beats the new and budgets are down-sized.  As the software industry is expected to come up with something useful in a snap, there is a shift towards new methodologies that steps away from the conventional way projects are managed – to set developers free from rigid project timelines which are unacceptably longer than they used to be.  Should you speed up the software implementation process?  Does that mean sacrificing quality over speed?

    Focusing on Real Metrics

    What is success?  You have to define this when it comes to achieving specific goals and outcomes.  Having this early consensus can help in coming up with best approaches in building a software that really works.  There must be a meaningful collaboration among businesses and developers to make sure that there is little room for error due to poor planning.  Trouble is, people are focusing on the wrong thing where software implementation is involved.  We don’t simply have the luxury of time to wait for two years to come up with something cutting edge these days.  We may have reached an inflection point in tech and things are happening faster.  You need to kick those old tires and come up with a better system that works – or you’ll be left behind.  You have to focus on priorities and make sure to map your project based on these.

    Collaboration is Key to Successful Software Deployment

    Sometimes, software developers are lost as to whether they should please the C-Suite or the end users.  There are a million things that can satisfy.. or not.  Most often, when software projects fail, the managers blame the technology or the vendor.  If only IT departments and business stakeholders collaborated, they wouldn’t have come short of expectations instead.  Total success demands that the two work closely together, given that there is low tolerance for delays and extra costs.  What is the point of developing something when real metrics of the outcome haven’t been talked about?  If you want to solve the client’s unique requirements, you have to adopt sophisticated ways of creating custom software solutions that are not time-consuming.

    Best Practices for Rapid Software Implementation

    While there’s no one-size-fits-all way of addressing this issue, these have worked well for Seventhman and we’re sharing these tips to help you deal with complex software projects:

    1.  Never force a client to change.  Rather, come up with a product that can rapidly adapt to how the client’s system operates.

    2.  Always involve the client in each stage of software development.  The earlier you get the feedback, the more time you save when pursuing multiple milestones – simultaneously.

    3.  Get the software up and running quick to make users get the feel of a fully-functioning system.  This helps you get feedback in less time so you can continuously improve the end product.

    4.  Don’t make the whole experience a hassle to your clients.  There’s no need for them to test something that you have tested already.  Instead, make them review and validate that the software  has met their needs – from system configuration, migration, work-flow to integration with what they currently have.

    5.  Allow room for adjustment.  After your software went live, allow 90 days for you to make a list of what needs changing.  Then, you can make those final changes.  At this time, you must have a 100% running software that comes with support, documentation/licenses, and minimal bugs/risks.

    This is just a roundup of what clients should expect and what vendors must deliver when it comes to software development.

    If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to turn your dream IT project into a reality.. or someone who’s lost on how to deal with complicated software projects – Simply Ask!  How can I help you achieve that vision?

  6. Are You Ready to Disrupt and Innovate?

    "disruptive innovation"If no one has come up to challenge the old, we won’t even have new market and technologies today.  Thanks to disruptive innovation, businesses are continuously finding ways to improve in a volatile market with fast-changing trends and shifting consumer behavior.  Last time, I invite you to innovate processes and that’s not without a reason.  Truth is, if you don’t have anything of value – people won’t notice you.  Simple.  If you want to shape the future and create a lasting impact in the tech world, you simply have to create something that will disrupt the market with cutting edge tools.

    Identifying Opportunities for Disruptive Tech

    With the consumerization of IT comes this great potential to improve productivity.. at lower costs.  We are living in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) age, there is a need to bridge the gap between work and play – to make people’s lives easier.  The most disruptive technologies of them all are the ones that completely change how we communicate and live.  Take for example the case of cloud computing.  While USB flash drives replaced downloadable digital media like CDs, DVDs.. the cloud got rid of having a local physical storage for data.  Now, people can access their files, anytime and anywhere.  No matter what your business prefers when it comes to innovation, keeping an open mind helps a lot if you want to move forward.

    Do You Have the DNA for Disruptive Innovation?

    Let’s take the case of the software as a service.  The most important question of them all is how can small players disrupt the market that is currently dominated by the Silicon Valley big wigs?  As I have mentioned before, the greatest challenge in the tech world is developing new business models based on open source/freeware.  In the race for the next big thing, the last thing you want is for your ideas to be stolen.  For the same reason, new software is often sold with proprietary licenses, protected by intellectual property rights.  It means that you can’t share or improve this openly with others.  There will always be security and privacy risks where innovation is concerned.  In this sharing economy, maximizing profit for all while allowing the adoption of new tools, software, and technologies is still a work-in-progress.

    Taking a Leap from Idea Generation to Execution

    Be a leader, not a follower.  You often hear this when it comes to creating a new product or service.  You know that those who are in the mainstream may not be interested in what you’ve come up with and you’re smart enough not to listen to them.  You have been smarter to ditch your traditional business metrics when it comes to measuring the ROI of what you’ve just created.  You’re even wise enough to match the right people with the right ideas, without ever falling into the pitfall of copying what top companies have come up with.  You may not be the next Google or Apple, but that’s totally fine.

    In the end, what matters most is coming up with a product that delivers on the details… and keeping your promise to customers.

    How can you enter the market at the right time, for the right potential customers to accept the innovation you have built?  That’s the real question.

     

     

     

  7. An Open Invitation to Innovate Processes, Not Products

    "innovation strategy"We can’t deny the impact of mobile and cloud technologies on how we work these days.  As flexibility becomes the new normal, organizations become more agile in making sure that everyone is productive, even in the changing nature of the work place.  Indeed, this ‘work anywhere’ mentality has empowered businesses, big or small, in North America and beyond.  With changing work styles comes an open invitation to innovate where collaboration is concerned.  What’s keeping us from building something better then?

    The Biggest Obstacle in the Tech World

    A global research conducted by Citrix shows that one in five small businesses in the US, Canada and Australia are achieving productivity gains of over 30% by allowing people to work whenever, wherever and however they choose.  Almost half agreed that social collaboration drives better results, and widespread accessibility to quality technology helps people and businesses collaborate better.  Still, there are plenty of room for improvement where the tech community is concerned… if only people will trust each other to come up with ideas that will help solve pain points where work is concerned.  Problem is, exposing your ideas in the open invites others to steal them.  To create healthy competition that will encourage innovative juices to flow is still a work-in-progress.. for the same reason we still see under-developed applications and intellectual property violations.

    Developing an Innovation Strategy that Works

    From the inception of the buzzword, everyone is out to ‘innovate’.  But most of the time, they often end up having an unclear vision on developing and executing an innovation strategy that works.  In the race to come up with the next big thing, many businesses are lost when it comes to their real purpose.  In the middle of the race, you start looking at your product/service as another ‘me too’ copy of the best thing out there.  Before you know it, what you invented becomes another book collecting dust on a shelf.  To come up with a bright idea shouldn’t only be something that you’re passionate about, but it must also be grounded in reality.  It must be adaptive.  You have to measure your success rate and minimize risks.  Think of possibilities as you connect the dots between ideas so you can come up with a fully-scalable solution..

    Emerging Technology vs. Disruptive Technology

    To Be, You Have to Become.  Confusing, I know.  What I meant here is that if you want to be a startup, you have to think and act like one.  For the same reason that you want to come up with consumer applications banking strongly on user experience, you have to become someone who can deliver just that – to come up with something that’s technologically feasible, business viable, and humanly desirable.  It won’t really matter if you’re working with emerging technology, of new and reliable ones.. or build something disruptive that will shift how people will collaborate in the new workplace.  What’s important is your commitment in making sure that you come up with something that will generate profit – because the survival of your business depends on it.

    Are you ready to come up with something innovative and useful this time?  I’m leaving you with this question.