Steps to Build Your IoT Prototype

The Internet of Things or IoT has taken over every major facet of our lives. From research labs, the path-breaking technology has moved out and found a place in our homes, kitchens, offices, gardens, and roads. 

Shortly, connected devices are poised to become more accessible and affordable than ever before. Needless to say, their demand is going to surpass all limits, and businesses dealing in the niche can literally mint money riding the wave. So, if you haven’t yet jumped on to the IoT bandwagon, now’s a good time to do so and understand how this disruptive technology works.

Just like all software solutions, IoT projects also start with prototyping. Your IoT prototype outlines all the required parameters of your IoT deployment. It binds together all the elements of your project- device, user, cloud, and enterprise. But creating a perfect prototype is easier said than done.

In this post, we will be discussing the main steps involved in IoT prototyping. But first, let’s understand how IoT prototyping is challenging.

How Is IoT Prototyping Unique and Challenging?

Prototyping for an IoT product will be different than for other software. When your team first forays into IoT, here are some things they might find disconcerting:

The prototype will not be production-ready: When you prototype for non-IoT solutions, whatever you include in their prototypes reflect in the final products as well. This is not the same with IoT products. The hardware and software in their prototypes and final products may vary widely. Moreover, there are many third-party integrations that are not included in prototypes.

Few ready-to-use components: Unlike other software prototypes, IoT ones don’t have the advantage of readymade components. Your development team will have to start from scratch, building components one by one. Feedback and testing cycles will be longer and usage instructions will need to be more in-depth since users are not very familiar with connected devices as yet.

Software occupies center-stage: IoT hardware takes time to master. But if your software facilitates user onboarding, the user experience can be seamless and smooth. In order to overcome friction, IoT prototypes need to lay special emphasis on user experience.

Products should be high on usability: Sticking a chip into a device and connecting to the web does not comprise IoT. A real IoT product delivers value from the get-go, even if it doesn’t look too pretty. It is made after tracking consumer behavior and action. It doesn’t overpromise and underdeliver, rather vice versa.

5 Steps to Create Your First IoT Prototype

Building your first IoT prototype can be challenging and exciting at the same time. A typical prototyping process consists of four major stages. Let’s take a deeper look at them.

Stage 1: Identify the Goals of Your IoT Prototype

When prototyping an IoT product, it’s essential to drill down into its objectives first. 

For instance, if you anticipate glitches in how your device will interact with real users, tackle that first. Keep it at the focal point of your development process and plan your hardware, software, and other requirements around it.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What will the IoT prototype achieve?
  • What kinds of data do you need to capture for the prototype?
  • Where will the captured data be logged?
  • Where will you put all the UI elements (wireframing)?
  • What kind of discussions do you want to have with your developer teams?

By keeping your end goals in sight, your project will get direction and momentum. Plus, it makes sense to work on these assumptions right away rather than when you’re well into the process and down thousands of dollars already.

Stage 2: Research on IoT Hardware and Components

Once you have identified the pain points that your product will address, it’s time to dig into the hardware components and technologies that will help you achieve the end goal. 

Hardware for prototyping will be very different from production hardware. 

How, you wonder?

Prototyping hardware will be:

  • Flexible: It will be breadboard-friendly.
  • Affordable: It will be low-cost.
  • Modular: It will be compatible with multiple hardware ecosystems.
  • Usable: It can be set up in a short time and comes with built-in tools.
  • Simplistic: It can easily be used by beginners.

As against this, production hardware is more reliable, manufacture-ready, and advanced.

While deciding on your IoT prototype’s hardware, find answers to questions like:

  • Does the hardware have a consistent firmware, platform, infrastructure, and development tools?
  • Is there sufficient resources and domain support around your chosen hardware?
  • How easy are the components to deploy? Can you get your prototype up and running with the components or do you have to go hunting for installation guides and experts?

Be aware that there is a lot of experimentation involved in this step of hardware selection. 

It’s likely that you will create a solution, test it, and end up scrapping it multiple times. Sometimes, it might seem akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, but pursue till you zero into the perfect strategies for your product.

For example, if your IoT product is Bluetooth-based and requires many connections to transfer data simultaneously, you may need to experiment with different Bluetooth devices to find the best connection. 

Front-end and backend functionalities may need to be synced over and over again through different technologies until everything works in tandem. If you give up after a few fails in the initial stages, you may never find your ideal technology and solution.

Stage 3: Design and Acquire the IoT Components

And now, we come to the most exciting stage of prototyping – product creation. We recommend that you start building early so as to spot discrepancies and fix bugs without affecting your delivery schedule. 

There are four basic components of an IoT prototype:

  1. Devices/Sensors 

Sensors and devices collect data from the product’s surroundings. These sensors come in varying degrees of complexity- from basic temperature monitors to complicated video feeds. You need to either acquire or design your own sensors for your IoT product.

  1. Connectivity

There needs to be a channel for the senor-collected data to be transported to the cloud infrastructure of IoT devices. These networks can be cellular, satellite, Bluetooth, WiFi, Wide Area Networks (WAN), or any other type. Whatever be your network choice, ensure that it is leakproof and secure.

  1. Data Processor

Once data reaches the cloud, it needs to be processed to generate some output. The data processing can range from simple (checking temperature range on your smart AC) to complex (scanning the area for unknown intruders). 

Sometimes, the user’s intervention is required for the data processing to complete. That’s where the next IoT component, user interface, comes into the picture.

  1. User Interface

There needs to be an interface through which users can interact with the IoT system. The user interface, users can check into their devices, provide inputs, and extract output. The UI can be a simple touch screen or a complex video feed, depending on the device and requirements.

While designing/acquiring IoT components, keep your end goals in sight. Ensure that the hardware and software components are compatible with each other. During the prototyping, it’s okay to encounter some glitches and failed iterations. Don’t lose heart and keep persevering until you have a full, working prototype in your hands.

Stage 4: Define Data Streams

To take advantage of the massive volumes of live data collected by your IoT device, you need to set up secure data streams. 

There are a number of caveats to defying data streams:

  1.  They should be secure and tamper-proof.
  2. They should be able to collect and tramt millions of data points simultaneously.
  3. They should be equipped to acquire, manipulate, collate, combine, and discard data as programmed.

One of the biggest challenges you’re likely to face is the distributed nature of data. Your data streams will have to collect and assimilate data from varied data sources – sensors, cloud, user interface, and others. 

If your data streams don’t configure data lineage accurately, data processing will take a hit. To do so, you can define data clusters using Apache frameworks. If your data streams are more complex, I recommend you use Kafka or Spark Streaming. 

Stage 5: Integrate with App

Integrating IoT with mobile apps is the last but most critical step of prototype development. Mobile IoT solutions can have unidirectional or bi-directional data transmission/communication between users and the device in question. Whatever be your development model, ensure that the integration is smooth and seamless.

IoT-powered smartphone apps can be of many kinds, ranging from wearable devices (like smartwatches and heat rate monitors), industrial plant monitors (to keep tabs on plant vitals), agro apps (to regulate irrigation rates, etc.) or traffic moderators (for decongesting traffic, assisted parking, etc.).

After you’ve got your IoT product up and running, the next step is to fix the bugs. These errors might be software-related like broken features or code issues, or hardware-related like patchy connectivity or skewed interface. 

Whatever the issues are, take the time to recode, retest, and eliminate each and every bug. Ensure the product holds up to scrutiny by experts and real users alike. If there is a flaw in the core design and coding, you may need to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. 

Sounds overwhelming?

It can be. Coders and developers often like to share a joke that this stage typically called “the last 20%” ends up consuming 80% of the entire bandwidth. 

It’s fair to assume that unexpected twists will crop up during this troubleshooting stage. But since you’re so close to the final prototype, you need to keep the momentum going even if there are a few roadblocks. At the end, you should have a bug-free, full-featured prototype that meets its objectives.

IoT based temperature monitoring prototype

Ready to Build Your IoT Prototype?

Prototyping is non-negotiable when it comes to IoT products. Clearly-defined goals, robust technologies, and rigorous testing can ease prototyping to a great degree. The approach described above can be your compass through the entire process.

Do you have any questions about IoT or prototyping? Leave them in the comments below. For more helpful and insightful information in this space, stay tuned in.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on info@iviewlabs.com and sales@iviewlabs.com.

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

4 Benefits of Using Blazor Framework for Full-Stack Web Apps

JavaScript has disrupted the world of web apps. Using the language, developers can replicate beautiful, user-friendly interfaces on browsers. But what about .NET developers? They don’t really have this advantage.

But that’s about to change with the entry of Blazor by Microsoft. Just imagine, .NET  web apps running on a browser, without any plugins or coding wizardry. Unbelievable, right? 

Let’s learn more about Blazor, the fantastic .NET web framework that has taken the app world by storm. 

What Exactly is Blazor?

Blazor is a markup syntax, using which you can embed server-based code into your web pages. It is comparable to Angular or React, the only difference being that it is powered by C#. Based on the latest web standards, Blazor doesn’t require any add-ons or plugins to work. 

As a result, Blazor bundles full-stack app development with the same consistency, stability, and productivity that .NET provides. Moreover, Blazor is completely open-source since it is implemented through WebAssembly. 

WebAssembly is the secret sauce that makes this magic possible. It is a web standard that converts high-level languages to a simplified form that runs at the speed of native machine codes. Thanks to this groundbreaking platform, code based on sophisticated languages like C# and F# can be run on web browsers. 

Now, let’s read about all of Blazor’s benefits below.

Advantages of Creating Full-Stack Web Apps Using Blazor

Blazor has the same benefits that a modern-age single page application (SPA) like Vue or React offers. Plus, both the client-side and server-side coding can be done using the same .NET technology. This means you can reuse the same classes on both sides.

In short, web apps built on the Blazor framework are fast and native-like. Their code is customizable, secured, and shareable. Let’s take a look at all the advantages of Blazor-based development.

1. You Can Run .NET Code in Browsers 

Until Blazor came out, JavaScript was the gold standard for full-stack web apps. This means back-end .NET developers had no option than to learn JavaScript if they wanted to ace full-stack development. 

With the advent of WebAssembly, the monopoly that NodeJS enjoyed in app development comes to an end. Via client-side Blazor, the same validation code can be used for all in-browser logic.

2. It Is Faster than JavaScript

If you use the client-side Blazor framework, you can develop performance-intensive apps like video gaming and augmented reality easily. Plus, Blazor is pre-compiled into WebAssembly so your server-side code is deployed and run faster than in languages like JS. As the full-stack cycle progresses, the deployment completes and code execution becomes even faster. 

You may not notice the speed difference in simple codes, but the difference is palpable in sophisticated programs.

3. Codesharing Is Possible on Server and Client Sides

Often, the same validation code that is run on the client-side needs to be executed on the server-side. 

For instance, you can tell users that they have entered a non-existent username as soon as they enter it, to save them a round trip to the server. Then, the same validation code is implemented on the server-side just to double-check the user input for the pre-fed username logic.

When you use Balzor, you create a class library with the validation algorithm and add the library as a reference to your user-facing Balzor app and the server-side app. This way, the same bit of code is deployed but without writing the class twice. Naturally, you save a lot of effort and development time.

4. Blazor-Powered Apps Can Run Offline

Blazor-run apps don’t consume too much network bandwidth since the server-side Blazor doesn’t pass data to the server time and again. Once users download the app from the internet, they can use the app completely without web support, with no impact on speed or performance.

Does this mean that Blazor is flawless? To answer this question, let’s look at its drawbacks.

Is Blazor Just Hype?

With a recent roll-out in May 2020, Blazor is still in the infantile stage. It has, thus, quite a few disadvantages that the team hopes to iron out as the framework matures.

1. Huge Payload

As of now, a fresh Blazor project weighs around 2.4MB. Since the entire server-side code needs to be shipped onto the client-side, the payload inflates. This means that even if your code contains a few lines only, the app size can run into megabytes. 

2. Long Initial Load Time

If your users have poor internet connectivity or are working on non-standard browsers, they can get frustrated with long load times. They have to wait out the period when the WebAssembly is downloading and static files on the server-side are being created.

3. Restricted Runtime

Blazor apps are subject to the same browser sandbox restrictions as JavaScript apps. If you’re working with thin clients, you may have to install polyfills to boost runtime. This is not recommended as you can lose many performance benefits of Blazor in the process.

4. Limited Debugging Capability

Client-side Blazor apps have their own custom debugging tab, but it has limited options. So, if your app has complex logic with hard-to-track bugs, you may have to write an initial code for debugging or place a huge amount of code into logging. To an extent, this nullifies the time-saving benefit of Blazor apps.

What is the Future of Blazor?

We wouldn’t be over-optimistic if we forecast a bright future for Blazor. Currently, there is a huge barrier to entry of .NET apps in the webspace. Blazor can help full-stack developers in this area. 

By poising itself as a single UI framework, Blazor demonstrates great potential. We see it growing in this direction and becoming a direct competition to JavaScript. As for the size and speed issues, the Blazor team is working overtime to streamline the programming kinks. We can hope for good news soon.

Do you need more in-the-moment updates on software development? Then, stay hooked to this blog. Also, let us know the topics you would like to read about. Till then, stay safe and software-smart!

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on info@iviewlabs.com and sales@iviewlabs.com.

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

5 Steps to Improve Your KYC with Biometrics

KYC stands for “Know Your Customer.” It refers to the process where a business verifies the credentials and information of its potential and existing customers.

KYC is an essential step to prevent hijacking and tampering of sensitive customer data. It also helps businesses verify customers’ identities and assess their risk quotient.

KYC

Traditional KYC verification has many downsides, including restricted data portability and high costs. At the same time, vendors can’t exactly ignore KYC, especially as online transactions become rampant during COVID-19. 

To overcome the limitations of pen-and-paper identity verification, businesses have started leveraging next-gen solutions like biometrics. Let us talk about the advantages and best practices of using biometrics to streamline KYC. But first, let us understand why KYC is important and what are the issues with conventional KYC.

Why is KYC Important for Businesses?

Businesses, especially banks and financiers, rely on KYC for many reasons. A robust KYC system helps them to:

  • Thoroughly investigate new customers and verify their identities.
  • Prevent money-laundering and identity theft.
  • Assess the loan-repayment capability of clients.
  • Minimize potential security risks.
  • Comply with regulatory requirements.

Companies that don’t follow a stringent KYC procedure can expose themselves to fraudulent customers, insolvency, and reputation damage.

What Are the Drawbacks of Traditional KYC for Businesses and Customers?

Banks and financial institution have eliminated outdated KYC verification systems because of the following reasons:

1. Too Much Customer Friction

Customer-onboarding time has increased considerably ever since laws made KYC mandatory. According to a Thompson Reuters study, a simple account-opening process took 18% more time in 2018 as compared to 2017 since the verification time has stretched. 12% of customers say they got frustrated and switched banks when their bank asked for additional documents to complete complicated KYC.

Not only do customers have to wait longer for basic work, but they also resent the level of documentation they are asked to furnish. Privacy intrusion issues can arise when companies request for personal customer details.

2. High Compliance Costs

Companies are spending too much on legal fees and labor that are required to complete customer due diligence. Every week, 50% of bankers spend 1.5 days on onboarding new clients. The global compliance costs amount to $500 million annually for banks and finance-related businesses. If companies spend 15% to 20% of the total “bank-running” costs on compliance, risk, and governance, their profit margins dip.

3. Variable Data Rules

The list of permissible KYC documents varies from nation to nation. For example, Cyprus has recently updated their KYC requirements. They now demand an in-person meeting with each account holder. 

On top of that, there is no cognizance between companies when it comes to KYC rules. Different banks can ask for different verification documents from different clients. For instance, corporations may have to provide the director’s tax and legal papers. LLCs may be asked to furnish the Articles of Organization, etc. 

Compliance requirements depend on the Central Bank’s dictates. Plus, banks might formulate their own compliance policies. With such fluid rules, it becomes difficult for customers to keep documents handy.

For all of the above reasons, biometric verification for KYC has become popular.

Biometric-based KYC is scalable, company-agnostic, and standardized. The collection of user data is fast, simple, and portable. Moreover, biometric provides more precise and reliable MFA multi-factor authentication) than knowledge-based authentication (KBA) like passwords or PINs. 

Last, biometrics can be based on facial-recognition, voice ID, or fingerprints. By disallowing shared user credentials, biometrics is the most secure authentication system for KYC and AML (anti-money laundering). 

5 Biometric Best Practices You Need to Follow

There’s no denying that biometric KYC is the way forward. However, to use this cutting-edge technology in the best way, you need to follow the tips below.

1. Allow Single-Sign-On (SSO)

Often, users find it challenging to remember multiple passwords. Biometric-enabled SSO enables users who fail to recall passwords, to sign in. Busy, multi-taskers enjoy the convenience and time-saving of SSO. Intel has already leveraged SSO to allow users to log in to multiple systems securely using a single username and password.

2. Integrate Anti-Spoofing features

The biometric system should include built-in security systems that risk-proof your KYC from imposters. Fingerprint scanners require a live finger not recorded finger pictures to complete the scan. Similarly, liveness detection ensures that the customer is a live one. Iris-pattern scanners may require you to move your eyeball or blink to pass the due diligence routine.

3. Include Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

To prevent data breaches, add a security layer by using MFA. It has two components—a custom pin that is system-generated, and personal authentication data (fingerprint, voice ID, iris pattern, geolocation, etc.). Mastercard’s “selfie pay” biometric system double-checks users’ identities by asking them to upload an instant selfie.

4. Take Advantage of Multi-Modal Biometrics

Typically, a single biometric data point is used to authenticate users. But background disturbances can distort voice tags and lighting can impact facial recognition. In such scenarios, authentic users can be locked out of systems. Also, a single data point is relatively easy to penetrate. That’s why some banks use multi-modal biometric KYCs that combine the results of more than one biometric. 

Your access control machines can be equipped with geolocation tracking and face scanners. Your bank locker systems can ask for voice identification along with eye patterns. This way, you can prevent spoofing even if one of your data points is compromised.

5. Be on Top of Trends

Identity verification is a fast-evolving space. Why so? That’s because fraudsters are always one step ahead of the legal system. As new ways of data leaks, account takeovers, and credit card frauds crop up, authentication systems also revamp. So, it is essential that you be abreast of trends in data security domains. 

If you use outdated, weak protocols, you are risking your customers’ financial and personal information. You are culpable for damages that your customers incur for your negligence and incompetence. Apart from the huge legal costs, you can also damage your business reputation and goodwill in the market.

Are You Ready to Improve Your KYC with Biometrics?

With SSN and KBA systems phasing out, biometrics-based KYC is the need of the hour. Since your customer relationships and business reputation are at stake, leave no stone unturned to master biometrics KYC. They offer convenience, cost-savings, and security to you and your customers. 

Leverage all the tips mentioned above and keep a lookout for changing trends. Subscribe to our blog to get free, monthly updates on the latest developments in product development, software innovation, design, and more.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on info@iviewlabs.com and sales@iviewlabs.com.

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

Top 8 Best Practices to Architect a serverless web application

Serverless computing has been gaining momentum ever since it came into limelight in 2015. It’s a native architecture of the cloud which enables users to create, deploy and run an application without thinking of its server. Serverless, in fact, allows users and developers to shift more the operational capacity, increase agility and innovation.  In short, you get limitless computational power with no infrastructure management tasks such as zero maintenance, cluster provisioning, capacity provisioning, etc. 

Top 8 Best Practices to Architect a serverless web app

Why Serverless

Serverless is the need of time. As technology advances, you need to come up with more enhanced web applications with more power and agility which may not be possible traditionally. And, even if it is possible, you need to spend a lot of effort such as building perfect infrastructure, human resources, time and cost. Serverless helps you remain focused on your core products while leaving all other responsibilities upon the serverless provider. All you need a serverless web application and you pay no heed towards its maintenance, scaling up, agility or anything else. You have immense benefits from having a serverless application. 

So, in this article, we shall be discussing the best practices of a serverless web application that every Serverless Architect should know.

Even though there are plenty of tech giants offering serverless services including AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure, and Alphabet’s Google Cloud Platform, but we have taken the example of AWS to make it more comprehensive. So, here we go;

1. The Serverless Function Requires VPC-Enable for Better Security

We have taken an example of Lambda as most of us use AWS Lambdas as an event-driven, serverless computing platform. So, it is important to have VPC-enable functions of Lambda operate from VPC which is owned by AWS. Enabling this, you get complete ability to have your function make a network request to any address.

Lambda is not directly accessible to the public, but with the support of AWS APIs Getaway, we can make accessible for the public. So, be it accessing AWS APIs or interacting with AWS DyanamoDB APIs, you can easily do it after enabling the function for VPC access. So, having have your function VPC-enabled, the Subnet will manage all your traffic using its routing rules. 

2. Creating Event-Driven Architectures

When it comes to creating event-driven architectures, it is important to know the mechanisms and how to enable asynchronous messaging pattern. It applies in both creating a simple queuing and message buffering and choreography pattern that is more intricate even-based. To enable this, you need to use queues or streams.

Queuing is also used for intrapersonal communication. That means when you want to initiate communication between one Lambda function another, then Queuing can be the best for you.

3. How to Implement and Orchestrate in a Distributed, Microservices Environment

You need to implement coordinated transactions using coordinated sequenced invocations across services in distributed architectures. The implementation also allows rollback and retry mechanisms put in place. That is quite different from the traditional database-based ACID transactions. 

When you need significant orchestration logic and looking to utilize more of the orchestrator pattern, not the choreography pattern, then the serverless technology lie AWS Step Functions enables you to create highly qualified and complex workflows with its various AWS services that also includes AWS Lambda. 

4. Understanding AWS Lambda Computing Environment

It is important to understand AWS Lambda and programming model. You need to learn how to utilize Lambda in terms of performance and cost optimization. You learn this using the tutorial provided for AWS Lambda as “Lambda Under the Hood”, “Lambda Layers, the Runtime API, and Nested Applications” and “Optimizing Serverless Applications”. 

5. Serverless Deployment Automation

When it comes to a larger number of microservices and smaller components, integrating automation and code management into your application is critical. Given the fact that early integration will efficiently create, deploy and implement the serverless architectures. Importantly, when you use AWS, you get a wide range of first-party deployment tools and frameworks to properly architect your serverless web application. The tools and frameworks you can utilize from AWS include the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM), the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), AWS Amplify, and AWS Chalice.

Besides, there are various third-party tools and frameworks available to make the deployment of serverless web application easy, they include, Serverless Framework, Claudia.js, Sparta, or Zappa. You are free to create your custom-built framework, though you need to ensure that things such as automation strategy works as per use case, team and workflows. 

6. Identity Management, Authentication, and Authorization 

When it comes to creating a serverless web application, a developer requires planning things such as integrating identity management, building enhanced authorization and authentication functionalities in advance. The utilization of Amazon Cognito enables a developer to deploy these things directly into the serverless web applications. At the same time, when using Amazon API Gateway, the developers can manage things like authorization logic and permit requests straightforwardly. That means you manage the authorization logic at the gateway layer which protects your native authorization being exposed. 

7. Learning End-to-End Security Techniques 

Apart from knowing identity management, authorization and authentication, there are some more important security measures you can learn to create a highly secure serverless web application. Here are some of the top list of things you can consider;

  • Concerns regarding regulatory compliance
  • Ways to validate input and request
  • Metering & Throttling Access to tracking bandwidth and accessing use control based on rules
  • Securing storage and retrieving data as needed
  • IAM execution roles and implementing invocation policies 
  • And, others

You can learn all these things from the AWS tutorial page while creating the application. 

8. Considering Packages Size and Dependencies 

You must take care of package size as having a larger deployment package will slow down the function of the application. Therefore, you are advised to remove all the unnecessary items including documentation and libraries. You can use AWS SDK which enables Java function users to bundle the modules which needed from the SDK. 

Let’s take a look at the example of how using Java Function with AWS SDK create an excellent package;

<dependency>

    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>

    <artifactId>dynamodb</artifactId>

    <version>2.6.0</version>

</dependency>

Here, only the required modules have been used

In case, you are not using Java Function with AWS SDK, you end up creating a larger package with the entire SDK with lots of unnecessary modules. Here’s how it happens;

<!– https://mvnrepository.com/artifact/software.amazon.awssdk/aws-sdk-java –>

<dependency>

    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>

    <artifactId>aws-sdk-java</artifactId>

    <version>2.6.0</version>

</dependency>

Final Thoughts

When it comes to creating a serverless web application, you have plenty of things to learn. Serverless technology is the need of time as people need more services, support, and assistance from technology at the minimum costs. Serverless is the way to cut costs significantly and reward the business with limitless scaling options. Stay tuned for more such information. 

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on info@iviewlabs.com and sales@iviewlabs.com.

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

Adopting right compliances with offshore development partner

What is an Offshore development partner’s purpose? To guide you through the process and to take care of your entire legwork. So you want a company with years of experience developing productive offshore teams.

They are supposed to understand the business, the culture and have seen everything before. Unfortunately, while many companies are calling themselves “offshore construction specialists” or others are providing “offshore outsourcing,” some are far away. 

Let’s look at how to test early doors for an offshore partner – ensuring that they’re genuinely trustworthy and professional – before you’re in too deep.

Offshore Development Partner

Are You Certain You Are Offshoring?

Offshoring and outsourcing are two very different models although they are often used interchangeably. The problem is that as offshoring becomes more popular, outsourcing firms want their pie slice, misleadingly advertising services “offshoring” or “offshore outsourcing.”

  • Offshoring-Building a dedicated software development team in another country (complete with office space, administration and management). Offshoring has many advantages, most importantly the savings and exposure to a vast pool of talent. You own the entire team and they are fully integrated into your company but your Offshore Production Partner handles the administration.
  • Outsourcing-Hiring vendors to cover a power deficit temporarily. These are more like freelancers. They are called in when necessary, but independent of your organization. Workload is outsourced in all industries, typically due to lower costs. And this is always fine. As a result, investing in a great offshore company has major cost benefits.

How to Evaluate Offshore Partners For Compliance

  • Test Their Demonstrated Expertise

It’s 2020: there’s no reason why your offshore partner’s website doesn’t display portfolio items or case studies. These can provide a perceptive view on what your offshore partner can do, and how well they are doing it.

Your prospective partner should be able to showcase their productive offshore development team building experience. The most important information, such as project strategy or relationships, schedules, outcomes achieved, should be highlighted. But check their delivery as well. Do they sound competent and confident, rude and showy, or maybe lazy and insolent?

Keep an eye out for fakes. If an organization really knows their job and accomplishments, they will be able to explain it concisely and make it easy to understand. Rambling words, ambiguous definitions, and unrealistic claims should all be red flags!

Take the time to research their past clients. What kind of feedback do they provide? It’s smart to check online reviews and double client testimonials that you see on their website. This legwork can save you a lot of trouble later.

  • Strike the Quality vs. Cost Balance

While cost saving is often the biggest incentive to offshore your work, it should not be at cost of quality. You don’t want to work with vendors who are cheap but can’t deliver quality work. 

So, how can you ensure that you’re getting value for money when you hire an offshore partner?

The cost of living in developing countries like India and China is lower than in developed nations like USA and Germany. So, you can be rest assured that offshore labor will be lower priced than domestic workers.

Even if you add taxes, utilities, administration, and duties, the grand total can be 50% to 30% lower than indigenous teams. Suppose you land a partner who offers to work for 10% of the domestic cost, you will be tempted to take up the offer. 

But you need to look more closely before jumping the gun. Ask the vendor some questions: 

  • What is the work-cost breakdown?
  • Are there any additional or hidden costs involved? 
  • What are the timelines and quality standards you expect? 
  • Does the vendor have the essential skill set and infrastructure to deliver the quality your expect?
  • Will you be asked to pay for hiring and training new people required for the project?

Get all terms and conditions written in a formal contract and iron out all the kinks beforehand. In this way, you can avoid disputes later and get the most bang for your buck.

  • Proactive about Communication

When your vendor is working thousands of miles away, communication becomes the key to smooth working. You will be surprised to know that one in five offshore projects fail due to poor communication. Clear communication cultivates trust between both parties.

project failure rate due communication

How do you gauge if your offshore partner will communicate proactively once the project commences. You will get inkling about this during your initial communication itself. Do they answer your emails and calls promptly? Do they adhere to the set meeting schedules? Any red flags at this stage should be considered seriously. If the vendor is careless about communication in early stages, they are bound to follow the same pattern later too.

  • Factor in the Culture Gap

Cultural gap can be an impediment to a great working relationship between offshore partners. But there are ways to work around it. The first step is that you need to acknowledge each other’s differences and be committed to bridge the gap.

When we talk about culture gap, it could be as wide as language barriers and as narrow as national holidays. Educate your vendor about the tenets of your culture and ask them to do the same. if the vendor has prior experience of projects in your country, it is a definite plus. 

They will have a pulse around the market condition and audience taste of the area. They will also possess knowledge about the communication protocol prevalent there. All these things become critical when you plan to spend months or even years working together. 

Final Thoughts

This list is by no means exhaustive. We have not touched upon technical competency and hiring, but those factors are already widely explored. It is the finer details covered in this article that we often miss when vetting offshore partners.

To sum up, you want an offshore vendor who is stringent about quality, communication, and commitment. At the same time, they need to have requisite experience and demonstrated performance. If you’re lucky enough to spot such a vendor, it makes sense to hire them even for a higher cost.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

How to Ensure Data Quality for an Analytics Application?

Data quality is of paramount importance for an analytics application. Poor quality data can not only be misleading but also potentially dangerous. Data-driven decisions can get hampered and business intelligence (BI) gets affected if data quality is not maintained.

But the truth is that data quality issue was among the top three problems of BI and analytics users every year in The BI Survey since it was first started in 2002. If the situation is so dismal and its ramifications so profound, it makes sense to look at ways and means of remedy.

Data Quality for an Analytics Application

This post talks about actionable ways by which you can maintain high quality in the data pipelines of your analytics applications.

How Can we Define “Data Quality”?

Data can be said to be of good quality when it fulfills its dependent processes and becomes useful for its intended clients, end-users, and applications. Data quality impacts business decisions, regulatory mechanisms, and operational capacities.

There are five parameters by which we can determine data quality:

  • Accuracy: Is your data accurate and collected from reliable sources?
  • Relevancy: Is the data able to fulfill its intended use?
  • Completeness: Are all data records and values complete?
  • Timeliness: Is the data fresh up to the last minute, especially for time-sensitive processes?
  • Consistency: Can you cross-reference data from multiple sources? Is its format compatible with the dependent processes or applications?

How Can We Maintain Data Quality?

For an analytics application, data quality is non-negotiable. There should be a zero-tolerance policy for errors in data pipelines because this can impact the credibility and performance of analytics applications.

 In such programs, data is the raw material based on which deductions are made and decisions are taken.  If the raw material itself is sub-standard, the outcome will also be of poor quality. Hence, data quality in analytics applications should be a priority.

Below, we have outlined best practices and actionable steps by which you can improve and maintain data quality in your applications:

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  • Data Profiling should be Rigorous

Often, data is collected by third parties or is submitted by multiple sources, which can be a reason for its dubious nature.  In such cases, quality of data is not guaranteed and a data profiling tool becomes essential.

A data profiling tool should check the following data aspects:

  • Format and patterns of data
  • Consistency between data records
  • Anomalies in data distribution
  • Data completeness

Data profiling should be automated and constant. You should configure alerts for instances when errors are detected. A dashboard with KPI metrics of data profiling should be maintained.

  • Avoid Duplication of Data

“Duplicate data” means the same content as an existing data set, in full or partial. Such data sets are generated by different people for different purposes and applications, but their content is exactly the same. The data set is collected from the same source and by using the same collection logic.

The problem with duplicate data is that it creates a cascading effect on all the applications that are using it. If a data source gets corrupted or a collection logic is erroneous, all the duplicate sets get affected and this can impair all the processes that involve the data set. It becomes difficult to remedy all the affected processes and track the source of leakage.

To avert this risk, you need to establish fool-proof data pipelines from start to finish.  Data modeling and architecture of each pipeline needs to be cautiously designed. Have a data governance system in place. Manage data in a unified, centralized system. 

You also need robust communication systems so that cross-functional teams can get a ring side view of what the other teams are doing.  If they detect any data duplication issues, they can raise an alarm instantly and issues can be capped at the origin itself.

  • Gather Data Requirements Carefully

You should document all data use cases, preferably with examples and visualization scenarios. Try to present data accurately. Communicate clearly with the client about their expectations from data discovery.

Keep all data requirements neatly filed and in a shareable mode so that the entire team can access them. You need business analysts in your development team because they understand perspectives of both sides, namely client and developers.  They also perform analysis of the impact that data requirements will have, plus create A/B tests to check all app iterations.

  • Data Integrity Needs to Be Enforced

You need data integrity measures such as triggers and foreign keys for your analytics application. As data sources multiply, you need to house them in multiple locations. Then, you have to reference data sets relatively. Data integrity ensures this referential system is error-proof.

They corroborate processes with best practices of data governance. With the advent of Big data, referential enforcement has become a complex yet essential module. Without it, your data can be outdated, delayed, or erratic. 

  • Lineage Traceability of Integrated Data Should be Easy

When data sets feed into each other, error in one record can offset a chain of errors that can paralyze the entire application. If you build lineage traceability, you can trace the origin of an error quickly and save impending disaster.

There are two aspects of this process: meta-data and data itself. In the former case, tracing is done by following relationships existing between records and fields. In the latter, you can drill down upon the exact data that has been compromised.

Meta-data traceability should be factored in during the data pipeline design stage itself. It is much easier to sift through meta-data than tons of data records. Hence, this mode should be incorporated in your app’s data governance policy.

Conclusion

You need to empower your data control teams to interweave best practices of data quality within your app’s architecture. It is important that you understand that your analytics app will be of no use to end-clients if its data quality is not pixel-perfect. 

Hope you found the post informative. Let us know about the data quality best practices you follow.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

What is Serverless Computing?

We all use mobile phones. Many of us use a fixed data plan that charges us for a threshold amount of data per day or month. Anything above this limit is charged at a premium. Now, it’s not necessary that you will use each byte of data for which you’re paying. In fact, most of the data goes unused.

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(Image Source: aws.amazon.com)

This can be compared to the traditional computing system. Companies had to invest bundles of money in buying costly servers. With the advent of  cloud computing, companies could rent storage space on the cloud  which was cheaper than buying servers, but most companies miscalculated and leased more space than needed.

Now, continuing with our mobile phone analogy. Post-paid or pay-as-you-use plans are the preferred choice of most mobile phone users. You pay only for the quantum of data that you use. You don’t have to shell out a minimum amount, neither are you penalized for overuse.

This can be compared to serverless computing. Developers can code but companies need not purchase servers or rent cloud space. Servers are involved but developers aren’t concerned with them. So, ‘serverless’ computing is not actually ‘serverless.’

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Why Serverless Computing?

The main benefit you get from switching to serverless computing is cost savings that you get. You pay only for the services that you use. The entire infrastructure is maintained by the vendor. This turns out not only cheaper but also scales up and down easily. As your backend services expand and you need more server space, you can easily avail it. You won’t have to shell out on servers, physical space, and technicians to maintain the servers.

There are other benefits of serverless computing:

  • Scalability: Scaling up or down is never an issue with companies that opt for serverless architecture. Their developers can do limitless coding while the server vendors look after increasing or decreasing system capacities.
  • Easy coding: Independent methods to invoke calls to backend can be written easily by developers. With Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), coding is quick and hassle-free.
  • Faster delivery: The turnaround time for code deployment and bug fixing reduces considerably. Developers can do testing and fixing on piecemeal basis instead of rolling out complicated overhauls.

Serverless computing is an extended service provided by cloud providers. Many leading cloud providers are the major players in serverless computing. They include AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, IBM OpenWhisk, and Google Cloud Functions.

Serverless computing vs. Traditional Computing

The debate of serverless versus traditional computing goes on. Needless to say, both architectures have their pros and cons. But there is a lot of propaganda by cloud vendors claiming serverless computing as the trend to follow.

Let us know how the two structures compare vis-à-vis some important parameters:

Cost Structure

This is a no-contest. Serverless computing wins hands down in the pricing area. Vendors charge you for the number of function executions that you make. You are allocated time slots for running a function. The more executions, more will be your bill. But the greatest saving comes from the staff overheads that you won’t incur now.

Networking

Here, traditional computing scores over serverless computing. Serverless systems require you to set up private APIs. Traditional computing lets you access code via regular IPs. Though this can be a deal breaker, it doesn’t affect the overall cost structure of serverless architecture.

Integrations

If your application depends on using third-party libraries such as for coding or cryptography, you should opt for traditional computing. This is because serverless computing will require you to make these libraries and integrations available within the application, which can make it too heavy and sluggish. But here again all depends on the context. For simple applications, serverless architecture can still make sense with one or two in-app integrations.

Multiple Environments

Setting up multiple environments is easy breezy in serverless architecture. You don’t have to bother about setting up different machines for development, staging, and production. So, in the factor, traditional computing takes a rough beating from serverless computing.

Timeout

Some applications or functions require external referencing or have variable execution times. For such functions, serverless architecture is no good. This is because serverless computing has a stringent timeout of 300 seconds (mostly). Not all applications are able to complete their cycles in this duration. Traditional architecture is a clear winner in timeouts department.

Scalability

Scaling up and down is not an issue with serverless computing. It happens instantly and seamlessly. This can be perceived as an advantage by many, but actually it has a downside. Coders are not able to address and mitigate glitches when new functions or executions are instantiated. This means a lack of control over the proceedings which can be counted as a major drawback of serverless computing.

Key Highlights of Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS)

FaaS are not any different from functions in general. They involve lines of code that feed some input into the system. The input is processed and output is produced.

The difference lies in the execution of functions. In FaaS, each execution can exist in a separate container. You cannot expect the files to be available for successive executions. Each execution is independent and stateless.

Another difference is that FaaS cease to exist as soon as they finish executing. The container in which they’re executing gets scrapped while the function is underway.

FaaS can be externally and directly invoked. Sometimes, an HTTP request or message notification triggers FaaS. Most external invokes are raised by other cloud services.

A serverless architecture typically has the following components:

  1. Web server
  2. FaaS
  3. Security token service (STS)
  4. Database
  5. User authentication

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Serverless Architecture: The Developer’s Perspective

Serverless architecture can be a boon for developers. They can save precious bandwidth that they used to devote in server management and administration roles. Their responsibility and liability reduces by a big margin. They can focus on building the application while the server vendors look after the backend services for them.

Conclusion

So that’s serverless architecture in a nutshell. Stay tuned for more in-depth articles on serverless computing and other related topics.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

How to Recruit Product Engineers

Product Engineers are changing the face of the product development domain. They are a step up from full-stack engineers and a level away from product developers. Simply put, product engineers are not plain coders; they code keeping user experience in mind. They not only understand technical stacks but also understand product design. You could call them “jack of all trades.”

How-to-Recruit-Product-Engineers_4

Do you get frustrated when your app’s features don’t reflect your vision? You had a perfect idea, precise product specs, technical resources, and tools, so what went wrong?

You missed the critical link between the design board and the market. You envisioned a product. You conveyed your idea to your designer. He communicated required technical specs to your engineer, who started coding. Where’s the collaboration? Where’s a continuous improvement? Consequently, you have a product that neither delivers ROI nor garners user acceptance.

Why Do you Need Product Engineers

If you have engineers who solve problems using code and product managers who take care of product features, why do you need product engineers? They are the critical bridge between design and development teams. By fostering two-way communication, product engineers ease friction between cross-functional teams. 

They code but with end products in perspective. Whenever presented with a coding opportunity, product-minded engineers evaluate how the code will impact the end product. More importantly, they think about user experience and business goals. They balance product specs with technical demands. The result is a product that meets market needs and business objectives- a win-win situation for all teams involved. 

You need a change in mindset here. Having product engineers in your team will create a pragmatic work culture with everyone striving towards building a winning product. 

How to Recruit Good Product Engineers

Product engineers need to have a blend of coding skills, analytical thinking, and business knowledge. A bit of creativity is a bonus. Plus, they have to be efficient managers and smooth talkers. 

How-to-Recruit-Product-Engineers_3

Step 1: Build a Job Description

Outline the proficiencies you desire in your potential product engineers. List their role and skillset categorically.

A sample job description could be: 

Product engineers will play a pivotal role throughout the development cycle, right from conception to testing. An astute understanding of market trends is necessary for the candidate.  

They need to be aligned with user expectations in a relevant niche. Once product specs are made, they will evaluate specs against market needs and re-align strategy to satisfy budget, time, and market constraints.

Product engineers will also have the responsibility to generate technical documentation and support material before a product is launched. They have to perform prototype testing for functionality, intuitiveness, and market appeal.

Add-on responsibilities can be assistance in the manufacturing process and guidance in packaging and marketing the product.

Read more: How to Manage Distributed Product Development Teams

Step 2: Interview Candidates

Go in for a structured interview instead of a generic banter with candidates. Have multiple screening rounds spread across different days? Screen at least two candidates per day so that you can eliminate unsuitable people early. This will save you lots of wasted effort and time.

Divide the evaluation questions into:

  1. Career goal and inspiration
  2. Academic and professional background
  3. Coding proficiency
  4. Product-based thinking skill
  5. Project communication 

Take time to weigh each candidate. You need an all-rounder who will impact your future products in a big way. Determine a candidate’s worth after analyzing his capabilities carefully. Have a ballpark figure in mind and leave room for negotiation.

Sample screening questions can be:

  • Define our company’s vision and values.
  • Why do you want to join us?
  • What interests you in product development?
  • Explain the layers of full-stack.
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of database procedures?
  • If a product designer lists five desirable features at the end product (give the features), how will you prioritize them?
  • Which setup do you prefer- MVC or some other?
  • What’s the use of the front-end framework?
  • How do you gather user feedback?
  • How important to you is product testing?
  • What team structure do you prefer- full-stacked or layered?
  • How can we scale our teams?
  • What makes a good mentor?

Invite questions from the candidate. Indulge in a discussion if opinions on a question vary widely. Try to gauge the person’s mindset and affinity. Are they concerned only about employee benefits? Do they have genuine concern about delivering classy products? How can they add value to your team?

Your recruiter’s job would include the following:

  • Study candidates’ body language: Make a note of how confident and composed a candidate is. Since this isn’t an entry-level job, you’d expect experienced candidates to not get nervous during interviews.
  • Don’t do passive listening: Listen actively to answers. Jot down your doubts and allow the candidate to clarify or rectify their answers. Reflect on previous answers. Also, refer to them in connected questions. This will show how genuinely a candidate is answering.
  • Make notes while interviewing: Prepare a checklist of must-haves and good-to-haves. Write down your observations succinctly. Highlight each candidate’s unique capability and its impact on the product development process. Summarize the interview answers into brief points. Read back answers to the interviewee and ask if you’ve understood them correctly. By doing this, you can avoid miscommunication.
  • Give instant feedback:  If you find an answer unsatisfactory, call it out immediately. Let the interviewee explain their viewpoint. Once the evaluation is over, don’t leave the candidates in a lurch. Communicate the next steps clearly. Don’t hesitate to end the interview early if you find a mismatch between your expectations and the candidate’s capabilities. 
  • At iViewLabs, we consider recruitment as a vital building block of team building and product delivery. We invest time and energy into it. You can do the same. To save bandwidth, delegate interviewing and screening responsibilities to experienced product managers. Brief them before so that they know what to look for in a candidate. Let them add to the questions and rounds since they are more in touch with the actual development process.

Let us know how you recruit product engineers. We would be glad to assist you with more helpful resources and free consultation. 

If you are looking to build a web, mobile or a cloud product, you can avail of a round of discussion with iView Labs’ tech team. Our developers and project team are always here to help and suggest what is required and necessary for your products.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

5 Effective Ways of Retaining Product Customers

In a saturated marketplace such as ours where competition is stiff, it makes sense to conserve the customer base that you have acquired. It’s a well-accepted fact: if you service the customers you have, you won’t have to go around hunting for new ones. Yet, sales and marketing people exert effort and expenses in generating leads.

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You can sell to an existing customer 7 out of 10 times, but only 1 out of 10 times to a new customer. Plus, acquiring new customers is costly. You can retain present customers at a fraction of this cost, one-sixth to be precise. And here’s the trump card of statistics in favor of customer retention: Gartner states that 80% of all your future ROI will come from just 20% of your customers. Wow, that’s an eye-opener! This means your business can survive (at least break even) just by cross-selling or up-selling to your existing customers. You almost don’t need to onboard new customers.

Are you thinking – this doesn’t concern me, I have a great product and my customers will never abandon me? Then, there’s another bitter pill you’ll have to swallow: no matter how good your product or service is, your customers might leave if they feel neglected. This is why many top-notch products and companies shut down. They just don’t work hard enough to build customer loyalty. In fact, a good 68% of customers say a company’s uncaring or impersonal attitude is a relationship-killer.

The graphic below will prove our point:

5-Effective-Ways-of-Retaining-Product-Customers_2

Source

So putting things in perspective, we have compiled battle-tested techniques for retention of product customers.

1) Deliver Quality Products: The key to gaining repeat business is delivering top quality products. Nothing works as well as a product that wows with its features. Even if your product is marked higher than competitors, it will reign supreme if it’s a cut above the rest.

Let’s illustrate with an example: Two doorstep service providers, Urban Clap and Yes Madame. Both offer at-home salon services at competitive prices. Urban clap is priced higher than Yes Madame. Yet, it is market share is bigger. Why? The differentiator is service quality. UC technicians are better trained, use branded products, and are punctual and courteous. Granted, UC has the first-mover advantage, but it’s managed to keep up and even beat competition just because of its killer services. Although, the great marketing helps, but remember, even the most radical marketer can’t sell a product that sucks. Do ample market research when creating your product strategy. Understand what your audience needs. Have a long vision plus short-term goals. Never compromise on quality when faced with time or budget constraints. This is a non-negotiable area that every successful product company excels at. 

Read MoreIs Your Product Really Solving a Problem?     

2) Nurture Customer Relations: KPMG in their study found customer retention to be the biggest revenue driver for companies. The secret that many product companies don’t know is that loyal customers are their best promoters. Satisfied customers become brand ambassadors of a company. They campaign unknowingly about the superb experience they’ve had with a company or product they’re using. Their genuine, first-hand account is a marketing billboard in itself. You don’t need to hire expensive influencers for generating brand awareness or leads for yourself. Your happy customers are doing it for you. So, provide excellent customer service. Reward your return customers with gated offers, discounts, and resources. Treat them well and they’ll treat you better. Keep in touch with them via email, newsletters, and your website. Feature their stories on your social apps and website. Make them your family. Involve them in your journey and they will stay till the very end. A practical way to do this is to draw a list of customers who buy from you regularly. Reach out to them via exclusive offers and make them feel special. Another good tip: List out subscribers to your newsletter. These are people who show an active interest in your work but haven’t purchased anything yet. To make them jump boat, send a first-time promotion offer or discounted service/product. 

3) Lend a Personal Touch: Personalize all your emails and offers. Rid the assembly line approach of sending mass emails. An Ecoconsultancy survey has proved personalized offers, based on a user’s purchase history and preference, can surge your ROI to the sky. This infographic compares the business returns of companies using personalization vs. those that don’t.

4) Listen to Your Customers: Some product companies just never stop selling. Every effort of theirs is geared towards the cash register. This is hardly effective as customers, existing or new, don’t want to be taken for a ride. You’ll have to give them something in return. One of the best ways to make the relationship mutually beneficial is to incorporate their feedback into your future offerings. Don’t send lengthy questionnaires to customers asking them for their opinion or experience with your product. Keep it short and simple. Encourage specific, precise feedback regarding what they liked or didn’t like. Try to collate points and factor them into your product strategy. Do keep respondents in the loop, reassuring that their feedback isn’t ignored. When you value your customers’ opinions, they become stakeholders in your business.  Your product becomes more aligned to market needs. Your ROI improves and so does your customer satisfaction index.5-Effective-Ways-of-Retaining-Product-Customers_3 Source

5) Use a CRM: A CRM system is a handy way to keep track of how customers interact with your product. Draw up metrics of customer inquiries. What bottlenecks are customers facing with your service or product? Are they content with the after-sales service you’re giving? Do you need to improve in some areas? Deeply inspect issues that are reported by the majority of your customers. These have to be resolved on a priority basis. CRM also gives you a sneak peek into how well your sales or customer service staff are working. Disgruntled employees and lackadaisical post-sales staff can annoy a customer big time. This is a serious red flag for any organization and should be attended to immediately.

Wrap Up

By now, you must have grasped the impact customer retention can have on the sales and success of your business. Work your magic on your current customers. They are the big fish that’ll act as bait for the other fish in the pond.

If you are looking to build a web, mobile or a cloud product, you can avail of a round of discussion with iView Labs’ tech team. Our developers and project team are always here to help and suggest what is required and necessary for your products.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

How to Develop an Effective Product Strategy

A product starts as an idea or a vision. But not all brilliant ideas transform into brilliant products. To convert an abstract vision into a concrete product, one that fulfills its business objectives, requires a precise product strategy. 

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“Product Strategy” can be defined as a product’s journey from the sketch board to the market. A journey needs to have a destination. This can be equated to the user experience a product envisions to give to its users. It needs to have a route. This can be the processes, protocols, and resources that go into a product’s development.  

Why is Product Strategy Essential?

Can you reach your destination efficiently if you don’t know where you are headed? Or which route to take? Or what obstacles you might encounter on your way? The answer is an emphatic NO. You will most likely get distracted en route, or get lost in the crowd, or reach your target too late or too tired. 

Similarly, a product needs to know its end goal and its end users so that it can be termed as a “business success”. There is no dearth of products that were made with great intent but without great knowledge of the market and users. Consequently, they fail to generate desired revenue and are a deplorable waste of time, resources, and manpower.

An astute product strategy gives direction to the product team. It outlines the intent of every step of the manufacturing process. By eliminating guesswork, product strategy gives a scientific algorithm that facilitates strategic decision making. Not based on assumptions but hard facts, product strategy tenets will make your product a profitable investment. 

How-to-Develop-an-Effective-Product-Strategy_2

Source: https://www.myproductroadmap.com/collections/product-strategy-templates 
How to Craft a Winning Product Strategy

People buy products. No. Let me tweak that a bit. People buy products they NEED. If you want more people to buy your product, it makes sense to examine the needs of your users. The more your product aligns with users’ needs, the wider are its chances of success.

Read more: Is Your Product Really Solving a Problem

But the first question that you need to sort is: who are your users? Let’s delve into this right away.

Step #1: Identify Your Users

In a competitive market scenario such as ours, you can’t afford to make mistakes. Your product needs to hit the bullseye in the first go. There is no room for ambiguity.

Create really accurate user personas for all segments of your user base. The more specific you get, the better will be your understanding of their mindset. 

Indulge in market research to examine new users. Send mail surveys to existing users. Ask questions, feedback, and personal experiences from your customers to derive their aspirations.How-to-Develop-an-Effective-Product-Strategy_3 Source: https://www.researchrockstar.com/can-you-name-8-market-research-methods/

Step #2: Identify Their Problems

Once you have a few well-defined user personas, get inside their minds. Learn how they think and what they want. What challenges do they face and what expectations do they have from a product?

Read more: Is Your Product Really Solving a problem

Understand this: Customers don’t want the same old product, packaged differently. The millennial customers especially are discerning and aware. They research products online and offline before reaching for their pocketbooks. Ensure you astutely understand customer aspirations so that you can create a product that is tailor-made to fulfill their needs.

Step #3: Identify the “Sweet Spot”

You know your users. You know their expectations. You know what the competitors are offering. You also know your monetary objectives and constraints. The next milestone is to find a balance between what users want and what you can give them (within budget and time constraints). The common area between user expectations, competitor offerings, and your deliverables is called the “Sweet Spot”. 

Bear in mind: You can’t promise the moon and stars to customers and deliver rocks. But you can’t burn a hole in your pocket trying to cater to user demands which are non-feasible to your business. 

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Source: https://idea-sandbox.com/blog/strategic-sweet-spot/#axzz62Ui2OtEU

Align corporate goals with market demands. Then, include product features that can fulfill both these variables. What you will get is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a working product model with all essential features. The embellishments can come later, as budget and market reach expands.

Step #4: Watertight Your Development Processes

Now we come to operations. Convey your product vision to the entire development team. Don’t silo them. Encourage open communication between designers, developers, and marketers. Conjunction between thinking of all the teams is necessary for the timely, smooth delivery of your product.

Agile development methodology can work wonders in an evolving market such as ours. Integrate continuous development, delivery, testing, and improvement into your processes. Have time-bound, iterative development sprints. Keep clearing backlog from previous sprints whilst working on new requirements. 

Conduct usability testing on real users and observe their interaction with your product closely. Note the bottlenecks they are facing. Improve upon them in the next iteration. Keep improving and keep delivering.

Read more: Ten Secrets to Make Your Product Development a Success

Step #5: Track Your Progress

Don’t get complacent after an initial spurt of activity. Have Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and build metrics to monitor how well your strategy caters to each area. 

Use tools such as CRMs to get first-hand information on your customers’ satisfaction levels. You can leverage agile tenets to integrate user feedback into the development process. Re-align your strategy accordingly.

To Wrap Up

Product strategy is the link between a hazy product vision and a well-defined development roadmap. It bridges the gaps between these two. Products based on an intuitive product strategy are able to make good ROI, capture markets effectively, and get a strategic advantage over competitor products.

Product strategy proves to be a game-changer in the long run. All successful products have a clear cut product strategy as their foundation. Invest in crafting a product strategy so that you don’t have to reinvest in overhauling your entire development later.

If you are looking to build a web, mobile or a cloud product, you can avail of a round of discussion with iView Labs’ tech team. Our developers and project team are always here to help and suggest what is required and necessary for your products.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

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Team iView Labs