Seventhman Blog

  1. Do You Really Need an API?

    "API economy"In a world where software transforms the way we do business, one starts to wonder if small to large-scale enterprises really need an API.. and a real good strategy to make it work.  As we do business in the cloud and use lots of Software-as-a-Service models, APIs aren’t strictly tied up to mobility alone.  If you take a closer look at Amazon, you’ll see how they have built their business by extending its functionality to outsiders.  Then, there’s the OpenStack project.  Perhaps, APIs these days are the Sun of the software galaxy where everyone’s revolving around.  Yet, the challenge of management, distribution and monetization of API still abound for many API-driven tech companies out there.

    The Problem With API

    While I was surfing the Web to get my weekly dose of all things tech, I’ve encountered a post that caught my attention: A Company Without APIs is Like a Computer Without InternetSpot on!  I have to applaud Brian though for mentioning tips on how to engage developers to participate in building all those awesome software – this can be a tough job to accomplish, but doable nonetheless. I believe that you have to set out with a clear objective and define your target market well if you want to launch a successful API strategy.  It’s not just about making money or encouraging innovation.  The very idea of opening up your data must outweigh the risk and cost.  Finding motivated developers with the right technical and social skills is a major hurdle too.  How can you find tech-savvy evangelists who will add value to your business?

    Let’s presume that you will encounter these challenges:

    1. Exposing proprietary data to your competitors – much to their advantage
    2. Opening your API to the public can mean added cost in developing your platform from scratch
    3. Building APIs that developers hate
    4. Delays and backlogs in transition, especially with documentation
    5. Not coming up with a strategy that will make your business stay competitive

    Creating an API Tactic vs. Strategy

    You may argue that the two words are one and the same.  The thing is that in a developer’s lingo, API Strategy is becoming cliché, together with buzzwords like big data and disruptive innovation.  While you may have a strong case for building a strategy in today’s API economy, you don’t need a big plan to move forward.  Instead, what you need is a specific tactic on measuring things. Got it?  There are situations when building a strategy works, like those who want to build a developer community to help with their software initiatives.  In this case, strategy is fundamental to the business.  But, if you only need to focus on supporting your business goals, you simply need a tactic to help drive revenue streams to your business.

    Bottomline: To gain traction where APIs are involved, you need a strong developer support working with the best marketing team who will help get the word out.  The key to your program’s success is knowing who your audience is so you can come up with the right opportunities.  Are you ready to build that rockstar team, open communication channels and share the credit?

    APIs should be empowered both by business leaders and technology.

     

     

  2. Do You Have a Million Dollar Software Idea?

    "software idea"You’ve got an idea. Great!  How do you know if it’s a good one?  There lies the problem among many who are wanting to build a viable software that will sell.  When great ideas are a dime a dozen, so the adage goes, it’s crucial for you to find that million dollar idea (as mentioned on this post from Forbes)  You may have a brilliant idea.. but you want to minimize the risk of getting your startup ready.  If you’re like one of the many who ended up with piles of ideas scribbled on a cocktail napkin, of concepts that never saw the light of day, you’re in for a treat.  I’m here to help you avoid this worst-case scenario where your idea crashes and burns.

    The Myth Busters of Idea Generation

    Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right.  Building your software idea from scratch will start with an awesome coding team.  While adopting the Agile concept of Intelligent Fast Failure where you fail smart, fail small and fail fast so you can succeed faster may help – you have to optimize your ego and take an objective stance in every stage of the software development process.  The key here is to listen to feedback and look at the numbers presented from all the data researched about your idea’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  In short, make that S.W.O.T. analysis count.  Don’t be tempted to mimic the best out there and play it safe.  If everyone’s doing it,  how can you even offer value to the table?  While no argument is right or wrong, you don’t have to disrupt just to innovate.  Most of the time, the most innovative applications of them all are the simplest to use.

    What is the Market Potential of Your Software Idea?

    It might be a shocker to you that majority of businesses fail within five years of starting up.  After all, you want to come up with a software that sells.  You may be on a bootstrapping mode right now and don’t have the time to do proper market research which can be costly.  The Good News?  You can always ask and collect feedback from social media sites – so long as you do it with style.  If you think that email marketing is dead, you might try to reconsider this option.  The trick here is to tie it up with a squeeze page or ‘launching soon’ page that will collect email signups before you even come up with the finished product.  You may even send exclusive invites.  Your job is not only to create anticipation about your product, but testing which approach will work best.  By the time you’re done, you have already built a list of customers on your wait list.  Or, you can always google trends and take down notes.

    You Don’t Need Coding Skills to Start a Successful Business

    You might have heard a lot of debates on this topic online and there are those who will tell you that knowing every aspect of the software development stage is essential.  But here’s what they forgot to tell you – coding is both a science and art, where the very best of us have taken more than a decade of practicing our craft and yet, we’re learning something new each time.  Coming up with a good idea means making sure that there is a market for it, or else, you’re just be wasting time and money.  You might not agree with me here, but when business ideas fail –  it’s not really because the concept is bad, but the execution is.  Knowing who your customers are and solving their pain points should be your No. 1 priority. Your passion and commitment will be tested.

    There’s a good chance that you might fail.. and then, there’s a greater chance that you will succeed.  Do you need help getting there?  Let’s Talk!

     

     

     

  3. How to Sell Your Software Online in 6 Simple Steps

    "sell software"You’ve got a great app or service. Wonderful!  If only you can market it to your target customers.. then, that would be so much better.  How do you sell your software online?  Online marketing is crucial to your success factor and you can get started in so many ways and for the same reason, many cringe on the very thought of doing so.  With new competition popping up all the time, you struggle to find ways on how to increase your chances of getting your product purchased.  If Gartner has predicted that cloud-based business apps and SaaS services will reach $32.3 billion in sales by 2016, how can you join the roster of those who are out there to profit?

    When Traditional Sales Methods Won’t Work

    Don’t get me wrong here, but when it comes to software in the enterprise, traditional means of selling what you’ve come up with won’t work like expected.  One reason for this is that the classic models were based on assembly lines – like building automobiles, manufacturing and so on.  In the world of IT, change happens so fast that just when you think you’re done with step #1, you find yourself scratching your head that you have to redo things all over and start on a clean slate.  Thanks to the internet, your customers are smarter.  They want you to show how you can solve their problems. Simple.  They are also discovering products via influencers, search engines and social media channels.  Chances are, if you get an inquiry, your prospect already knows everything about you and would just like to validate or clarify what s/he has read.

    How Can People Who Hate Marketing Sell the Software They Have Built?

    I believe at some point, everyone got stuck in the how of things, especially when driving growth and sales is concerned.  You probably heard of the word ‘growth hack’ – a popular meme on launching your business to the right audience so you can turn hundreds to millions of them into customers who have the money to buy what you offer.  You’re a software engineer, an entrepreneur, a CEO and marketing is not your expertise.  It’s never too late to learn and you can start with:

    1. Beta Testing – Validate your software and get feedback by launching a squeeze page.  By doing so, you can also invite email signups which you can use for generating quality leads who are interested and more likely to buy.

    2. Free Trial – If you’re just starting out and you haven’t built a solid online reputation yet, you can offer free trial for a limited time for customers to test drive your product.

    3. Freemium Model – You may also offer a free version side-by-side with options to sign up for basic to premium services.  Make sure to make a clear comparison of the features of each.

    4.  Inbound marketing – whatever type of content you wish to share on your website, blog, related websites or social networks.. You have to make sure that you address your customers’ pain points for your product to connect with them in a powerful way.

    5.  Transactional marketing – if you plan to offer a one-shot deal without the need to upsell, you can check out how you can compete on price and feature alone without having to get active in conversations.

    6.  Relationship marketing – I’d rather recommend this even if you don’t intend to upsell.  This is where you engage your prospects and customers in a conversation, building relationships with them in the long run.  This way, you get to increase your influence and social proof over time.

    Before anything else, you must always start with an open mind.  Experiment and mix these six strategies in your hope of generating repeat business and customer loyalty for your brand.

     

    **If you need help in developing your software from idea to completion.. to marketing online, just Ask!

     

     

     

  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. Crowd Testing: Will It Really Work for Your Business?

    "crowd testing"In a world dictated by something ‘faster, cheaper and better’ – the real challenge comes when the quality of a product doesn’t meet expectations.  This may hold true for the case of Crowdtesting, or crowdsourcing software testing.  The only difference is that instead of outsourcing software development task to a small group, you now have access to unlimited number of testers (which can come into tens of thousands).  In this digital age where everything has moved online, crowd testing promises a better alternative to traditional software testing methods so you can keep up with your business and customer demands.  Now, you can easily access large number of talents to help you achieve your business goals.

    Crowd Testing: Is It Really a Better Choice?

    True to the Utopian concept, when you gather enough people who can put in time and effort – you get to achieve a lot faster.  Crowd testing is not really a new idea.  Remember those times when you were invited to test the beta version of a website or an application?  If you signed up, you have already participated in the process. Just take a look at Facebook whose site has been translated into different languages, or Wikipedia whose content has been written by people across the globe.  Both professionals and amateurs have contributed in the process that helped add more functionality to these sites.  We all know that R&D (Research and Development) is not cheap.  But when everyone is contributing to the table, one can only wonder if this is a permanent fix.

    The Case of Quality vs. Quantity

    Those in the business of testing software know that crowd testing is not a force to be reckoned with.  While we see stricter compliance these days, learn that this will not replace the traditional way to software quality assurance.  Businesses are walking a tight rope here.  If they test software in-house, they may just lose sight of unseen opportunities for improvement.  And if they focus on crowd testing only, they may lose their competitive edge.  There is also the issue of credibility to deal with where cheap labor is concerned.  I believe that a perfect solution would be mixing both traditional and new ways of testing to achieve maximum ROI.  This is the only way to weigh both options and come out as a winner.

    How Can Your Business Take Advantage of Crowd Testing?

    No matter how you plan to test on the cloud, you can add crowd testing as a complementary task before the product is released to the market.  This way, it helps catch bugs or defects before product launch.  You may also use it as a form of multivariate test so you can check what needs improving.  The more you test, the more you will learn ways to fail.. so you can succeed faster, I was once told.  If you believe that your product will need a high number of future updates or releases, all the more that you need to use crowd testing.  Overall, it doesn’t hurt to make crowd software testing as part of the normal test process.  It’s all about integration – of certified project managers, experts who can offer proven-results, and standardized methods to  assure quality on each project.

    The next big thing may just be a test away… Who Knows?   If you decide to tread along the crowd testing path completely, I’d say plan your next step very carefully as risks are higher.

     

     

  6. What Does the Future Hold for Enterprise Software?

    "enterprise software"You probably have had enough of these talks about the cloud.  For the uninitiated, the tech world is one giant fog threatening to keep them lost in an unfamiliar place.  For those who have an idea, another question comes to mind:  Are we ever going to see enterprise technology transition to the cloud?  If you happen to talk to those who run large companies with complicated systems, you’d be surprised how they would want to join those who are already reaping the benefits of cloud applications… that is, if only they can have it in a form that fits their interest.  Thanks to consumer technology, traditional enterprise software is shifting slowly into something that works well within the organization.

    Old Concept, New Models

    Does infrastructure matter anymore?  Many may have asked this question amidst the proliferation of virtual environments.  Come to think of it, at some point, all those data collected will occupy a physical space.  For this reason, we have data centers who have been criticized for their carbon footprint ( and that’s another issue I won’t elaborate on this post ).  The issue with enterprise software is this misconception that what worked for consumers will work for businesses.  It’s not really that simple.  There is the matter of security, compliance and management that one needs to consider.  If the risks can be lessened for those who are using software for business, we may see the perfect mix of flexibility and customization that many have been searching for throughout these years.

    The Future of Enterprise Software

    In the age of data virtualization and mobility, you need to know that what’s working for consumers may not really work well for the enterprise.  With the radical changes we see in how consumers are using mobile and social, it certainly affected their expectations of enterprise software.  The future looks promising if…

    1.  User experience is top priority — because no one really uses complex features that are too complicated to use.  Simplicity is Key!  There must be a balance between making employees work easier and giving businesses control over certain functions.

    2.  There’s dedication to continuous improvement — gone were the days when it takes months to years for products to respond quickly to market demands.  Users expect constant improvement that won’t disrupt their productivity.

    3.  The price is right — Enterprise software had been synonymous with hidden costs, vague pricing models and complex contracts.  Buyers will choose those who are into subscription pricing and those who offer perpetual licenses.

    4. One size doesn’t fit all — while building for scale has been a challenge, enterprise software must be tailored to the business using it.  How to customize solutions.. to make it readily and safely available for users on the go?

    5.  Customer engagement is C-Level Priority — business is run by people who will need to collaborate.  You don’t simply put a ‘Like’ button; you add functions that will add value to the team using it.

    The ugly truth:  Many vendors are still in denial and the pressure is on.  But, like many other things, change is coming and businesses have awaken from a deep slumber.


  7. The Makings of a Great Custom Software Developer

    "great custom software developer"Do you believe that a handwriting reveals a person’s aptitude to do the job?  I have recently read a post on Mashable about Graphology, where hiring managers can determine your personality and mental status just by looking at how you write.  But, here’s the reality:  Finding someone with both IT and business skills has been tough for big and small organizations alike.  Perhaps, for the same reason, there are entrepreneurs out there who took on the challenge of learning how to code and make things work.  Most of those who work in IT view their roles as someone who take and follow orders rather than as business partners.  This talent issue is not really new though.  Wouldn’t it be great if you can find developers who are more business-oriented?

    Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

    What makes a great leader?  I believe you can list down key characteristics in a span of a few minutes.  Now, translating that list into awareness so your employee can be more.. is another story.  If you are looking for a custom software developer, all the more you have to watch for someone who is humble enough to acknowledge his/her strengths and weaknesses.. who is flexible and committed to personal accountability.. consistently motivated to work toward goals.. who listens and gives constructive feedback.. and most important, someone who is a great communicator, who can manage change and resolve conflicts diplomatically.  Sounds too good to be true? You’d be surprised to find that diamond in the rough if you look closer enough.

    Five Tips for Hiring a Great Custom Software Developer

    Let’s disperse for a moment this talent-shortage myth and focus on finding the right hire the first time.  The last thing you want is to risk hurting your business by losing precious time and money in the process.  In my years of business serving a diverse portfolio of clients, I have come up with a list of what to look for the next time you need someone to develop a software:

    1.  Go for passion — as in that drive, motivation, persistence and curiosity.  While experience is important, someone passionate about the work is a bigger predictor of success.

    2.  Hire a developer who asks ‘WHY’ — if you want a working software that fits not only at the system level, but the business side of things.

    3.  Pick a developer who loves learning — While having a solid grasp of the basics of languages, frameworks, structures, APIs may be good.. the tech space is evolving and skills become obsolete in a year’s time.  It’s better to work with someone who adapts to new technology when it comes along.

    4.  Choose a developer who understands the system — and not just a piece of what they will work on.  Knowing why there is a need for change can help a lot in making them more productive in their work.

    5.  Just take your time — when hiring, so you can avoid making mistakes.  If you do make one, fire that person fast as someone who is ineffective can disrupt the work flow.

    As always, choose a developer who is not only good at something, but someone who can communicate the process when needed.  No matter how tempting, skip asking trivia questions about programming (even if you think that’s a smart thing to do).

     

    ** Do you need help customizing software solutions?  Just Ask!