Divide and Conquer Approach to Quality Assurance

Quality analyst is a high risk, low rewards role of any project. Nobody says that product is of top quality due to QA. On the other hand everybody pounces upon the QA team when the issues are found while using the application.

The waterfall model had given an advantage to QA team to ensure that the product would not launch before it was well tested and gets their approval. This power of right to reject given to QA team empowered the management in delivering well tested products. It ensured that the builds shared with stakeholders meet minimum expectations. It ensured that app is developed thoroughly and provided the scope for the maneuvering of analysts within application to harden sections of the applications.

Quality

However, the agile approach removes this biggest cushion from QA team. During the development phase, the team is at the mercy of the dev team to get the build. The sprints can’t be altered frequently. Even when the build is shared with the team on time, if there are issues which must be fixed, then the build with those fixes needs to be tested THOROUGHLY.

As a delivery manager, I saw this conversation happening frequently within my team.

There are no specifics, because, frankly, that’s what manager wants. But how do we get from this point to a point where we could share a build with confidence?

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Divide and Conquer

The traditional approach of testing has a test case document where each test case is associated with a module and submodule.

However the problem arises when some the basic functionality of the application does not work after making the last minute changes. The traditional approach of testing fails to handle it as it carries too much baggage of test cases. There are just too many test cases to care.

Can we reduce the test cases? Yes, but that would be compromising thoroughness of the testing. Our unique solution helps us to age old method of limiting the battles by dividing the things to be tested on multiple parameters and using them effectively for assuring quality in the ever changing requirements and continuous modifications in code.

Modules and submodules

In the new approach, we continue to write the test cases according to modules and submodules. Modules or components are the major building blocks of applications where the functionalities can be demarcated.

The good testers have great intuition of where to look for in every situation, whether they are given a very small amount of time or enough time to test the entire application. A manager can ensure that the test cases are written to cover the entire application and to capture minutest details. The manager also breaks the application into modules and submodules to help every team member to prepare the plans centered around the modules.

Agility can’t be achieved with strong and heavy armors!

We prepare the test case documents to ensure the quality. However, when it comes to sharing a build in agile model, the test case document becomes a heavy armor which you have to throw away. The sheer number of test cases enforces the manager to take a step back and evaluate the strategy of using it during agile process.

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Adapt to the changes

Instead of going with an approach of All or None (of the test cases), we find a middle ground by putting things in perspective. We create a test case document which must be adaptive. Which means, the test case document should perform the following things:

  1. It should be up-to-date for the use cases
  2. If the time to test and code changes are known, it should be able to give a set of test cases.

Keeping these things in mind, we started setting priorities to each test case:

  1. Highest: no matter when you share the app, this must be tested. These are the core features of the app at their highest level.
  2. High: For a module to be called functional, these test cases must work for that module. It ensures the module level compliance
  3. Medium: these are the usual test cases which we often come across. Validations, special requirements, must have things etc.
  4. Low: These are the lowest priority items and may not be checked often. Basically, regression to these issues may not be visible until we perform the complete run of the test case document.

How does this change anything?

The first thing a QA has to do in the morning is to update the test-case document and update the issues fixed from previous day. This ensures that the document is always up-to-date.

We at Mobisoft, use these parameters to ensure that the app is being tested thoroughly. During the weekly builds, on the day of the build, QA might test only the high priority items from recent changes and highest priority of the application. During the rest of the week, everyday, QA plans some module+sub module+priority combination by collaborating with the Manager and Developers. It ensures that all the testing being done is well planned and documented.

Tags

We have also introduced tags column in test case document to ensure cross module dependency. It is often seen that the changes in one module affect the changes in other module but they do not get captured at all in the test case document. Having tags to link dependency between modules helps capture that information. The tags can be SYNC, NFC, Push Notifications, chat, image upload etc… This helps the QA to test all the modules with similar functionality when the code is copied to multiple places leading to issues at multiple locations.

Summary

Using the priority fields, tags and daily updation of test cases, we ensure that the builds are tested to the specification and overall build quality is maintained throughout the duration of the project.
It helps us restrict the changes, testing to limited areas, and effectively perform bug control operations consistently.
Engagement Managers from the client team being in possession of these documents and reports, can also feel confident about their apps and report to their authorities with better accuracy.

5 Steps for an Awesome Team Building Weekend

We strive for immaculate work – cool mobile products that really make a difference in people’s lives. And let me tell you, building mobile apps with attitude is not an easy job. Hence we introduced a number of benefits to life at tapptitude, making our everyday even more appealing: team breakfasts, vitamin days, rooftop parties and all the must-haves of a relaxing environment to name a few. And as of this year, we decided two team buildings would go well in the mix.

Building

Team building number one was a success, thanks to our colleague Simona, who planned the whole thing and she couldn’t have done it better. We had a lot of fun. And we thought: why not share our awesome experience with everyone else? So here you have it folks – our 5 essential steps for having a tremendously fun team building weekend:

1. Arrive in style

An hour long car ride is usually not something to look forward to, but it was in this case. It was a bumpy ride until we reached our destination – a village called Stana, located in Salaj, Romania – but as much as it was bumpy, it was fun. Once we got to see our home for the next couple of days, we all agreed that it was well worth it. Pensiunea Orgona is a beautiful bed-and-breakfast, spacious and wonderfully decorated, with a substantially big backyard. We made sure to use every inch of it for sporty activities. We made ourselves cozy right away: traditional romanian drinks and strawberries are a yummy way to start off the weekend, especially for little gourmet lovers as we are.

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2. Games – connecting people

We at tapptitude like to keep things fun and creative. So we got the party going by engaging everyone in some fun board games. We put our drawing, explaining, mimicking and most of all, our guessing abilities to the test and played a few rounds of Activity. Any other guessing games you can think of will do the job just as well. Point is to get the entire team involved and for the team members to witness each other in a rather silly and funny manner – less of the office vibes everyone’s used to.

3. Light it up and have a bonfire

If you find yourself in a beautiful outdoor setting like we did, make sure you have all the necessary tools for a bonfire at nightfall: some wood and good mood. When there was nothing more to see of the delightful sunset of the first night we spent over there, we got down to business and built ourselves a high and mighty bonfire. Just big enough for all of us to have a seat somewhere around it, in the grass, and keep ourselves warm. There were stories to tell and jokes to laugh at; we also did some stargazing. It was the perfect way to end the night.

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4. Sporty activities

Well rested and well fed, we started our second day at full speed. We had a mighty breakfast to give us strength for the big challenge ahead: paintball. It was a first for most of us, which only made it more fun. And really people, there’s no better way of bonding than painting each other from head to toe, while running around in the woods.

We kept things entertaining and active by getting everyone involved in some sporty activities: football, badminton, ping-pong, have your pick. We even gave petanque a try. Being the ambitious bunch that we are, we took things a step further and organized a competition with cool prizes. We gave archery a shot and the more skilled of us won vouchers to spa’s or other adventurous activities.

5. Build a cart – tapptitude style

Besides companies treating their employees to a great time, team building activities are designed to improve interpersonal relationships. Chances are, there will be some sort of workshop on the menu, destined to improve teamwork and communication within the team members. Luckily for us, our colleague Simona picked out a really cool one. We were divided in teams of 4 people and we had to build a cart with only a few essentials on hand: 4 wooden tires, some wood sticks, a ball of rope and some tape. The cart had to be reliable enough to have a passenger on, and easy to maneuver for the two people pushing it to the finish line, as fast as possible. When teams manage to compete against each other in a friendly manner, you know you’ve done your job right. Without further ado, here’s what we came up with. Voilà!

How to Navigate Growth as a Product Manager

When business is booming, new challenges arise for getting features to market faster, scaling quickly, and differentiating your product from competitors. So how do you navigate growth as a Product Manager?

Product

As part of their webinar series, ProductPlan organized an online panel to tackle this exact question. I was very excited to join the webinar, along with ProductPlan co-founder Jim Semick and my friend and mentor Rich Mironov.

How to Navigate Growth – Key Questions

One of the great things about this webinar is that the questions came directly from the audience. After receiving hundreds of questions in advance, it was a challenge to choose between them—but we tried our best!

I had the opportunity to answer many of my favorite questions during the webinar, but for others we ran out of time. Here’s my take on some of those standout or unanswered questions:

What is growth?

When thinking about how to navigate growth, we need to start by defining what we mean by “growth.” This term is often overused, and it usually creates more confusion due to a lack of clarity.

The first step is to define what type of growth we are referring to. Only then will we be able to start talking about goals, strategy, and metrics.

In the webinar, we discuss different areas of growth. Here are some of the most common ones.

  • Revenue
  • Profit
  • Users
  • Market expansion
  • Adoption

The key is to have a clear understanding of what type of growth you’ll be focusing on next and how to measure your success so you can work with your team on a product strategy to meet your goals.

Whether you are aiming for a 10% or 1000% increase in revenue, the first step is to define that goal, a metric, and a plan to get there.

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Hardware and software have different development timelines. What challenges and approaches have you seen IoT vendors come across when experiencing rapid growth?

Managing software and hardware timelines is a very common problem facing IoT companies. The challenge is that you can only be as fast as the slowest item in your value chain, and that’s usually the hardware.

Not only does hardware take longer to design and build, but it also takes longer to manufacture and deploy in the field. Product teams need to plan, so the hardware development lifecycle doesn’t become the bottleneck of the end-to-end product.

Here are two possible approaches to avoid hardware bottlenecks.

Focus on a robust build-vs-buy strategy:

In the early stages of your product, it might be more important to validate your concept with as many customers as possible, than to have a finalized and perfectly polished piece of hardware.

In this scenario, you could benefit from having a solid build-vs-buy strategy so you can launch and test with as much off-the-shelf as possible. Once you find market-fit and start navigating growth, you can switch your focus to building your proprietary hardware to reduce size or cost.

Incorporate hardware features now that you’ll use in the future:

From the start, plan and build additional capabilities in the hardware that you can leverage in the future. That way, you “take the hit” of the hardware just once. Then, when the business is ready to launch any new functionality, you can do that by updating only the software.

You can see an example of this approach in Tesla’s cars. They understood that building the hardware would take the longest and that once the vehicles were in the field, it would be tough to retrofit them with new functionality. They added additional functionality such as auto-pilot capabilities in all their models, even if those features were not yet enabled because the software was not ready.

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What is the best way to justify the addition of more Product Managers, as product lines grow within a company?

It’s easy for companies to understand that to build more, you need a bigger engineering team, but sometimes it’s harder for them to understand that to support that growth the PM team needs to grow as well.

The best way to justify more PMs is to articulate it in terms that the Executive Team will understand. That means making the business case that the only way to sustain growth is to invest in a PM team that can tackle the additional “product work” needed to keep up with that growth. Otherwise, the Product team will become the bottleneck!

For example, as your product grows, you’ll need support for internal tools, a bigger sales team, a more significant ecosystem of partners and vendors, etc. Not to mention that growth usually comes with expanding to new verticals and geographies, which requires significant product work to be successful.

As Rich mentioned in the webinar, a Scrum team costs the company around $1MM per year. With that level of investment, it makes sense to arm Scrum teams with Product Management support to ensure the development work is grounded in strategy and customer insights.

What is the biggest challenge in driving growth, especially in a startup environment?

The biggest challenge for a startup navigating growth is maintaining focus. As the company works on finding market-fit, it’s very tempting to chase the next shiny object that promises to bring that next level of growth.

As Jim mentioned in the webinar, companies need to maintain focus and keep all teams aligned on the current strategy. If promising opportunities arise and they don’t align with the strategy, then the Product Manager should raise a flag and advocate for not pursuing that path.

This can be hard to do when influential executives (such as the VP of Sales) are adamant about this new opportunity, but this discipline is necessary for companies to navigate growth.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is the process of monitoring and responding to conversations about your brand and product. Online, these conversations can happen anywhere and between many different kinds of people and the sentiment won’t always be positive. To successfully manage your online reputation, you must both monitor your brand and handle what is being said.

reputation

Monitoring your online reputation involves gathering data from a wide variety of channels, sources and types of media. Monitoring involves gathering both quantitative data (data that can be bounced, like the number of comments, page views and Likes) and qualitative data (data that is uncountable and subjective, like the sentiment in a comment or the tone of a question). There are many excellent online tools that help you to manage this process.

Naturally, you should monitor the conversations on your own platforms, including social media interactions, comments on your articles and emails. You should also keep an eye on influential people in your industry and network. Beyond that, you will need to use specialised tools to find and evaluate mentions of your brand, product and industry, further afield, online. The by-product of this process is that you can find new marketing opportunities in your field because you will be aware of relevant discussions.

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Online reputation management tools

The tool you use for online reputation management will depend on:

  • The size of your company
  • How much you are prepared to spend
  • How much media attention your brand gets

Most small businesses can comfortably manage their online reputations with free Google, Twitter and Facebook tools. Larger companies with a strong online presence need to consider a paid-for alternative.

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Google Alerts

Google is an incredibly powerful search engine and an excellent tool for keeping track of your brand. Even a simple Google search for your company name will reveal a lot of useful information, but it can take a lot of time if you perform the same searches every day.

Google Alerts is an easy-to-use tool that automates this process: you set up Alerts for as many keywords as you want and Google sends you an email whenever a new mention of that keyword appears online along with a link to that location.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your own Alerts:

  1. You need to have a Google account to create Alerts. If you are already using Gmail, Google Docs or any other Google application, you already have an account.
  2. Once you have an account, go to google.com/alerts.
  3. To create an Alert, type a word into the “Search terms” box. If you click “Preview Results” you will see a Google search page for the keyword that you entered.
  4. You can see the properties of your Alert to customise how you receive notifications:
  • “Type” refers to the type of media content you want Google to check; it is recommended that you stick with “Everything” to get the broadest spectrum of results.
  • “How often” determines how frequently you receive notifications from Google.
  • “Email length” determines how frequently you receive notifications from Google.
  • “Email length” determines how many individual search results you will be sent.
  • Finally, “Delivery to” specifies the email address the Alert will be sent to and is by default your Gmail address.

Tweak these settings to suit your needs and remember that you can always edit them later.

  1. Click “Create Alert” when you’re done.
  2. Google will keep track of your Alert and will send you an email when something new is posted online.

Here are some of the suggested Google Alerts which you should look at setting up:

  1. Your company name
  2. The names of your products
  3. The name of your CEO and prominent company personnel
  4. Your industry
  5. Your location, where relevant
  6. Your URL
  7. Your biggest competitors
  8. Your most essential SEO keywords

Online Reputation Management is an essential part of brand management.

How Diverse Drupal Solutions Have Gotten with Time?

Content management systems have traveled a long way and Drupal has subtly risen to the top in the CMS world. At a time, when enterprises are looking to explore the potentials of Content-as-a-Service and cloud CMS is making headlines, it is important for businesses to uncover the benefits of continuously evolving Drupal solutions.

Drupal has the world’s largest open-source community of developers. However, it’s Version 5 and 6 had an infamous duration due to their alleged complexity. It was only with Version 7 that Drupal gained momentum. The current version Drupal 8 has been completely rewritten and a number of businesses are yearning to migrate to this new version. The Drupal founder believes that migrating from one Drupal version to the other would require businesses to seek the help of Drupal development service providers.

time

The reason behind using the services of a vendor is that Drupal has undergone architectural changes with every new version. Leveraging the expertise of Drupal development service providers can enable enterprises to understand the limitations of Drupal 7 such as incomplete Entity API; gain benefits from enhancements in Drupal 8 with respect to mobility and user experience features, for instance; and, explore the abilities of Drupal in the cloud and as a headless CMS.

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Drupal: A Powerhouse for Evolving CMS Needs

When Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal, first launched the CMS platform in the year 2000, little did he know that it would one day become one the world’s largest and most widely used content management systems. Reports by Statista reveal that there are currently 1.71 billion websites in the world and approximately 2.3% of them are built on Drupal. Drupal has not only turned out to be the king of content management systems but there are reasons that justify its ascension.

Other than Drupal, there are other CMSs, for instance, Joomla, WordPress, and Blogger that hosts a number of websites in the world, but these are known for being blogging platforms. Drupal, at the same time, delivers to the contemporary business’ CMS requirements. Its incredible and unparalleled features with respect to storing, managing, and delivering content is one of the reasons that some of the renowned organizations such as NASA, Twitter, Pinterest, Harvard University, eBay, and more use Drupal to cater to their CMS needs.

Besides the commonly known advantages subjecting to security, modules, flexibility, templates, scalability, and so on, the advanced version of Drupal comes with a sea of other benefits. Businesses can leverage cloud-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) website builder, drag-and-drop interface, and preconfigured designs and layouts to create responsive websites on Drupal that deliver omnichannel, personalized experiences to customers across devices. It is also a known fact that Drupal in the cloud when compared to on-premise content management systems is simple. With its multi-site and content-as-service functionality, Drupal offers a preconfigured development environment, which supports full-scale digital content lifecycle management. Enterprises don’t have to worry about performance and scalability, upgrades, or disaster recovery. All such aspects are managed by Drupal and enterprises can focus more on key business areas.

Drupal and the Cloud for Enterprises 

Drupal, an efficient and robust CMS, when used with the cloud helps organizations achieve high business value and more ROI. When it is about deploying Drupal in the cloud, businesses have multiple options to choose from and Acquia cloud best fits the enterprises Drupal CMS hosting needs.

Built on Drupal and hosted in AWS (Amazon Web Services), Acquia cloud offers an environment to:

  • Develop websites on API-first architecture
  • Manage the full digital content lifecycle
  • Build future-ready web properties
  • Converge innovation, customer engagement, and growth

It supports extensive web documentation, offers isolated DevOps environment, and allows complete configuration control through a single dashboard. In other words, Acquia cloud offers end-to-end digital experiences as far as the content storage, management, and delivery is concerned. It also offers the drag-and-drop interface and eliminates the need to write codes, which further makes building Drupal websites fast and simple.

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It is not only fit for providing web personalization solutions but is also a boon to marketers, designers, as well as, the content authors. Recently, Acquia acquired Cohesion, which created DX8, a Drupal website builder that enables enterprises to gain the benefits of the SaaS-based CMS.

Another important Drupal tool that Acquia Cloud has is Acquia Lift. With its upgraded version, Acquia Lift makes running website personalization campaigns seamless. In order to personalize the content, marketers have to point and click, as there’s no code required.

Apart from Acquia Cloud and Acquia Lift, there’s Acquia Content Cloud. This is again a very important Drupal tool that helps organizations leverage the benefits of headless CMS. Let’s discuss it in brief.

When organizations are required to manage hundreds of apps, websites, and content creators, Acquia Content Cloud helps them unify and put everything in sync. Unlike the traditional CMS, also known as coupled CMS, Acquia Content Cloud is headless/decoupled and supports syndication of content across digital channels. Delivered as content-as-a-Service through RESTful APIs or a SaaS-based solution, this headless CMS intelligently simplifies web content management and related aspects.

Acquia content cloud not only synchronizes content across Drupal websites, but it also provides:

  • A unified content repository to manage enterprise-wide content
  • Centralized governance and content workflow, which makes it convenient to remotely manage content editors across web properties
  • Automated maintenance, upgrades, and installations

Drupal Help Businesses Future-Proof the Content Demand and Delivery 

Content management systems have been there since the 1990s but given the contemporary demand for delivering improved digital experiences, it has become imperative for enterprises to revisit their needs for content storage, management, and more.

According to an article published by Forbes, the value for global web content management tools are expected to be worth $14.2 billion by 2024. This is because more and more businesses demand to deploy an advanced CMS to manage multiple content creators and maintain innumerable websites and apps in one go.

Demystifying Conversational AI: Key Trends

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing faster and has reached a new inflection point where it is effortlessly talking to humans. The technology evolution in human interactions began with the origin of chatbots, which initially treated conversations like a game of tennis—talk, reply, talk, reply. With time, they became more humanized to deliver immersive experiences. The rise of voice assistants, on the other hand, turned a new page in the history of AI-human relationship. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant became an integral part of our lives and dramatically changed the way we interacted with them.

AI

Continued advancements in the field of text-based chatbots and voice-driven assistants, combined with other developments that are beginning to show, have led the world to a new subset of AI. It’s Conversational AI. Conversational AI, a megatrend, is expected to grow from $4.2 billion in 2019 to $15.7 billion in 2024 according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. A rising consensus among the most knowledgeable AI scientists and thought leaders is that the conversational AI will outgrow its current strength to help machines interact using contextual learning. Some experts also believe that conversational AI will revolutionize the traditional and mobile applications from the ground up and will dislodge them.

Given the market of conversational AI, it isn’t wrong to say that an epic disruption is around the corner. Across industries, enterprises are discovering the potential of conversational AI and stepping up to keep up with the demands of new digital. Those who choose to adopt a wait-and-see approach face the imminent fear of lagging behind.

Trend Forecast: Understanding Where the Conversational AI is Heading Next

For the record, the smart speaker that plays music or tosses out weather updates on command isn’t conversational AI. Voice assistants and chatbots are only a slice of a much larger pie. So, limiting the power of conversational AI to these dynamics is nothing short of a disaster.

As far as business leaders are concerned, the technology can provide a way to gain customer insights and use this mission-critical information for making strategic decisions. Moreover, with increased access to cloud computing and advanced algorithms, more companies can implement conversational AI to redefine user interfaces and enable conversations as interactive and human-like as possible. A report from Forrester revealed that 57% of companies are already using enterprise bots or have plans to use it in the near future for both B2B and B2C purposes. These reports explain that conversational AI is a bigger ball game and we have barely touched the tip of the iceberg.

The following are the most upbeat conversational AI trends that present impressive use cases and are likely to take hold in the future.

  • Conversational AI is making inroads across industries and will soon provide the kick-start needed to build intelligent interfaces. Intelligent user interfaces combine the latest in design techniques with technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, biometric sensor, computer vision, conversational voice, and auditory analytics.
  • Messaging platform such as WeChat has become truly indispensable for today’s millennial generation. Its rapid proliferation will provide opportunities for companies to interact with their customers using high-performance bots.
  • The popularity of voice assistants has resulted in its commoditization, paving the way for companies to build their own speech-based assistants and overlay other conversational platforms on theirs’. Given this frantic pace of innovation, it’s only a matter of time when businesses across the globe will be optimized for voice search.
  • Machine-to-Machine (M2M) talking is a future phenomenon. Chatbots, of tomorrow, will not only provide personalized customer experience through direct contact but will also interact with fellow bots and other automated response systems.
  • Conversational UX or CUX is the next frontier for digital enterprises. It’s an advanced version of UX design packed with elements such as brand persona development, guided conversations, and personalized content. Moving ahead, businesses will use CUX to improve the quality and relevance of customer interactions on their chatbots and drive conversions.

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Areas Where Conversational AI is Poised to Accelerate Business Transformation

From Eliza, the world’s first chatbot, to today’s cutting-edge virtual assistants, the growth of conversational AI is a subject of mass acclaim. Its universe is finally expanding and so is the number of use cases. We can find conversational systems in our homes, schools, hospitals, call centers, and even cars. By 2020, as Gartner predicts, over 85% of customer interactions will happen on chatbots with absolutely no human intervention. In response, studies have found a big jump in the adoption of conversational interfaces across businesses in North America, Europe, and developing markets including China.

While it’s thrilling to witness the early success, the potential of conversational AI is fairly unexplored. Below are the areas where technology is poised to make moves and lead a seismic change.

  1. Human Resources and Recruitment

    Despite considerable technology influx, hiring new employees continues to be challenging for the HR teams, irrespective of their size. Machine Learning-based software can help recruiters sift out unsuitable resumes and analyze employee calendars to avoid meeting conflicts. Scaling of conversational technologies can further empower this software to make interview calls, manage post-hire activities, and handle employee training sessions among more; thereby eliminating the stress of the HR professionals.

  2. Budget and Cost Analysis

    An intelligent system can help employees smoothly handle complexities associated with the budget and cost analysis. It helps organizations perform explicit analysis, identify spending patterns, and notify when overhead costs blow out. However, conversational AI helps improve financial planning efficiency by fulfilling the promise of human ingenuity. Using enterprise chatbots, employees can interact with computers to track financial flows, find answers quickly, and make conscious changes accordingly

  3. Employee Training

    Its common knowledge that employee training goes a long way in fostering a culture of quality and competitiveness. When employees are trained, they bask in confidence, deliver consistently, and embrace new experiences with resilience. Intelligent assistants can track employee productivity and provide estimations to define potential career advancements within the ranks. With conversational AI at the forefront, it can be simpler to facilitate situational role-play exercises and keep the team abreast of changes to company policy.

  4. Customer Acquisitions and Conversions
    Conversational AI can fuel customer growth in three ways:

    a) by generating leads
    b) by nurturing leads
    c) by streamlining conversions

    The technology can help weed out unqualified leads, pre-screen buyers, and provide insights on products that have a potential for sale. Further, it can automate follow-ups with users who showed interest in a product or a service but couldn’t purchase and direct them to a real person when needed. Chatbots and their 24*7 availability, which happens to be their biggest selling point, can boost conversions by allowing round-the-clock access to information and recommending complementary products that might interest customers. Moreover, they can double down on the efficiency of target marketing and advertising efforts by analyzing conversations and purchase history, and help salespeople understand what customers really want.

  5. Customer Service and Retention

    Using conversational AI via assistants, companies can deliver service continuity to customers and retain them for a long-term. Through web portals and automated phone lines, these assistants can provide value-added content to the users, facilitating brand value in the competitive markets.

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Things to Consider While Planning a Conversational AI Strategy

According to a report, the global conversational AI market is expected to grow at a CAGR of +31% during the period 2019-2025. The rise of this technology will plant seeds of new disruption, sweeping the business landscape. To avoid going off course, it’s important that companies must plan their intended course of action by keeping the following aspects in mind.

  • Define a focused use case: Conversational AI isn’t necessarily right for every business and brute-force approaches are rarely efficient. Leaders must identify business aspects that are ripe for disruption with conversational AI and likely to deliver turnkey value for success.
  • Decide whether to collaborate with a partner or use a platform to build your own interface: It is important to build short- and long-term strategies and decide how and what to build and reach on a mutually agreeable division of assets in question, including data.
  • Discover opportunities for personalization: Adopting conversational AI instinctively will lead companies to build solutions that the target markets aren’t ready for. By focusing on personalization, companies must look to build platforms that suit the needs of the users and keep them engaged.

Conversational AI: A Panacea or a Problem? 

Conversational AI might have experienced a passive beginning but at present, the technology is on a roll. It is opening floodgates of opportunities for enterprises to automate and streamline activities, improve productivity, and transform CX. However, we cannot be blindsided by its rosy picture.

AI has ethical implications that can’t be ignored. Arguments continue to abound as to whether we are leaving humans behind in the AI-driven world. At such a juncture, it’s important that business leaders pursue a meaningful change. They must seek ways to implement conversational AI without endangering opportunities for their employees. Developers of conversational interfaces must commit themselves to transparency and let their stakeholders know, though implicitly, that they are interacting with a conversational system. No matter how uniquely human an AI interface is, there should always be a real person calling the shots.

The Advantages of PaaS: Leveraging a Platform Service

The Platform as a Service (PaaS) market has evolved fast, as businesses begin to look for solutions that help speed up processes and minimise costs. Leveraging a PaaS approach brings with it the necessary flexibility and efficiency that is essential for driving business growth.leveraging

Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is a cloud-based service that enables businesses to build applications fast and efficiently – at a speed that in-house development often can’t match.

In the past, companies built and developed their own applications, demanding talent, server space, software to create programming environments, and security. This meant dealing with large in-house investment, complex software stacks, frequent updates, and hardware maintenance.

What is PaaS?

PaaS is a cloud-based service that eliminates the cost and complexity of developing applications. Platform as a Service is part of a family of cloud tools including Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It provides software development tools, application programming interfaces (APIs) and code to help streamline application development.

PaaS is designed to support the complete application life cycle: building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating. Being a cloud-based service, there’s no need to worry about set-up and maintenance of servers, upgrades and so on. It is up to the vendor to look after the platform, reducing maintenance and other IT costs for users.

What businesses gain with PaaS is a framework they can build upon to develop and customise applications. Creative agencies, consultancies and internal IT teams can leverage PaaS in order to build feature rich applications and services efficiently, accelerating the time-to-market. With PaaS, focus can be shifted to creating the best solution and user experience possible.

A platform usually comes with a set of additional services such as workflow or design tools. More specifically, a typical PaaS vendor provides:

  • A complete development framework
  • A comprehensive software development kit (SDK) and Java or .NET run-time libraries for building applications on a variety of mobile and desktop platforms
  • APIs for embedding into web-based applications
  • Sample code and pre-built applications to jump start development
  • Extensive product documentation and support capabilities

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Why Choose a Platform Approach?

Leveraging a platform helps eliminate the expense and complexity of purchasing, configuring, and managing the hardware and software needed for custom-built applications.

Quite simply, a PaaS helps development teams save time and money allowing businesses to concentrate on building apps and services that add real value to customers. Some advantages of using a PaaS include:

Rapid Time-to-Market

PaaS is used to build applications more quickly than would be possible if developers had to build, configure, and provision their own platforms and backend infrastructure. With PaaS, developers gain instant access to a complete software development environment including sample code and pre-built components.

Minimal Development

Following on from the point above, PaaS services allow for rapid prototyping and development by providing prebuilt backend infrastructure and other resources. A platform offers access to tools, templates, and code libraries which reduce development time and simplify the process.

Cost-Effective Development

A platform eliminates the need to build applications from scratch, reducing the costs normally associated with development. PaaS services are a viable option for companies looking to reduce their current operating costs, develop an application for the first time, or those with limited resources.

Reduced Pressure on Internal Resources

PaaS offers your in-house development team new capabilities, eliminating the need to hire skilled staff or outsource activities. A platform can also help a company reduce overheads since the vendor is the one that is in charge of managing and maintaining the software.

Pre-Built Sophisticated Tools

PaaS lets developers create applications using pre-built software components, reducing the amount of coding. With this, developers can take advantage of sophisticated development software and tools that would normally be too expensive to develop, test and reiterate in-house.

Opportunity for Scalability

The reusable code inside platforms not only facilitates ease of app development and deployment but also increases the opportunity for scalability. This allows businesses to scale and modify their product or processes easily and efficiently.

Develop for Multiple Platforms

The growing variety of mobile devices makes it imperative to build solutions that will work on a range of devices in order to seize all market opportunities.

Most PaaS vendors give you development options for multiple platforms, such as desktop and mobile apps. Using a platform to build one application to be deployed across multiple channels, including a range of connected devices, is a fast and cost-effective approach enabling scalability.

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Future Proofing

With a platform, new features, capabilities and bug fixes are instantiated automatically in the cloud. That way, focus can be on core business initiatives rather than maintaining underlying IT infrastructure.

Things to Keep in Mind…

As you begin the PaaS decision-making process, it is important to understand your business needs in order to find a solution that is a good fit.

When choosing a PaaS provider, keep in mind the following:

Vendor Lock-In

It can become hard to switch PaaS providers after an application is built because it is built using a specific platform and set of tools. Each vendor may not support the same languages, libraries, APIs, architecture, or operating system used to build and run applications.

Although it is possible to switch PaaS providers, the process can be time consuming, labor intensive, and expensive. Switching vendors may even result in rebuilding or altering the application to fit the new platform, so make sure to choose your vendor wisely.

Security and Compliance

In a PaaS architecture, the external vendor will store most or all of an application’s data, along with hosting its code. In some cases the vendor may actually store the databases via a third party.

As such, it can be difficult to fully assess and test the security measures of the service provider. Make sure you are aware of each vendors security and compliance protocols before making a decision.

Making Money with PaaS

Avoid the costly process of custom application development with proven, pre-existing and robust platforms. A PaaS will allow you to expand your organisation’s capabilities, attract new clients, grow your business and extend your value proposition. The cost savings are a nice bonus but fundamentally, enterprise PaaS is about exploiting a competitive advantage through utilising pre-built software.

Leverage a PaaS approach to compliment your business’s strengths and narrow your focus to efficiently building high quality processes and solutions that deliver more value to your clients. With a platform, you can achieve higher margins, generate new business and build your revenue stream.

Private Vs Public Cloud: Comparing The Features And Benefits

Cloud Computing is an integral part of businesses today. Private Cloud and Public Cloud are two popular categories of this transformative network-computing model. For a growing organization, it becomes imperative to learn the difference between the public cloud and private cloud.

Private

However, there is no doubt in the fact that this comparison is essential for all IT and business heads and because of the increasing cloud dependency. Our article aims to cover the key benefits and differences between the two popular cloud: public versus private cloud.

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Difference Between Public And Private Cloud: Comparing The Features And Benefits

Forrester estimates the cloud spending to grow by 20 percent while Gartner predicts that more than half of the global enterprises that are utilizing cloud today will choose an all-in-cloud strategy by 2021. Public and private cloud differentiator services include IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service, PaaS: Platform as a Service, SaaS: Software as a Service and FaaS: Functions as a Service. Also, the infrastructure architecture, the cloud models can take various forms and features, including virtualized, software-defined, and hyper-converged models are some of the cloud solutions and services based on business requirements.

Features & Benefits Private Cloud Public Cloud
Access and Storage 1. Restricted access to one organization at a time
2. Offers a dedicated storage infrastructure, which is not accessible to others.
1. Access is available to multiple organizations at once.
2. Data gets stored on a shared infrastructure.
Location Of The Data Center Allows the organization to decide and choose – an on-premise data center or dedicated location on the service provider’s infrastructure. Location of the data center varies by the public cloud provider’s infrastructure site.
Investment Requires additional investment in the company’s hardware components, like physical servers to leverage private cloud services efficiently. Eliminates the need to invest in any additional hardware or software components.
Upgrades And Management A dedicated administrator is required to manage the upgrades and installations. Further, this makes it easy to integrate their on-premise or on-cloud applications. The service provider performs the management and rolls out of updates without the company’s intervention.
Security Superior security mechanism. It is with the option to implement higher levels of authentication and security for the cloud environment. Offers a standard security protocol that remains unaltered, and cannot be enhanced or customized for different business models.
Customization Allow companies to customize their cloud infrastructure according to their business-specific needs and requirements. Offers a standard operating procedure for organizations
Costs 1. Expensive as it involves additional cost investment to set up on-premise data centers or hire dedicated administrators.
2. It is also a pre-requisite while opting for services
Less expensive as there are no additional costs
Scalability 1. Offers incremental space and infrastructural abilities.
2. Though, Private Cloud is more responsive and offers customized scalability
Offers additional space and infrastructure abilities

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An Ideal Solution

So which is right for you? In essence, both private and public clouds have their advantages and disadvantages. Besides, it ultimately is all about the control that matters while opting for cloud services. We have tried to cover the difference between private and private cloud based on the most significant parameters.

While a large company may opt for a private cloud, and a smaller business might choose a public cloud. However, Hybrid cloud services can offer the best of both worlds. It helps organizations to deploy the most sensitive applications in the private cloud while keeping other forms in a public cloud service provider. Therefore, if you are having trouble deciding. As a cloud application development company, our team can undoubtedly consult and work with you to select the right cloud service option – private, public, and hybrid for your business.

5 Ways Education Sector is Weathering Disruption

As the virulent spread of the coronavirus Education , disruption a series of announcements have been made to completely shut down schools, colleges, universities, coaching institutes, and other educational establishments across the globe in order to enforce social distancing and stop human-to-human contamination. The action, however, has put millions of students at the risk of study loss, and they are left with no resources that can help them continue to learn.

As per a UNESCO report, about 1.54 billion children are estimated to get affected due to COVID-19 closures, and over 111 million girls across the least developed countries happen to be the biggest losers. These large numbers are feared to lose months of learning, and even if the situation gets behind us, the costs of bringing these students back on track will go up sharply.

Education

From the business perspective, the closures have created tremendous financial pressure on the incumbents, endangering their continuity. With no revenue coming in, schools and colleges will eventually be forced to roll out pay cuts and put teachers and professors respectively on the chopping block—a scenario that will contribute to the global surge in unemployment claims.

The COVID-19 situation has hit some uncomfortable chords, but it has also created a ripple effect leading to educational innovation. Since the traditional methods of learning have failed to endure the wave of change understandably, academic institutions have turned to digital mediums to stay active on the ground. Though it’s too early to decide how substantial the results are, the signs suggest that the pandemic-led digitization of the industry will meet unprecedented success.

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Digital 3.0 in Education: Helping Incumbents Combat the COVID-19 Crisis

The education industry has relatively been slow in adapting to digital disruption. With centuries-old, lecture-based approaches, outmoded classrooms, and an entrenched resistance to eliminate institutional biases, they have been far from being frontrunners of change. However, the COVID-19 events have raised the red flags for the industry and pushed its path to digital innovation 3.0. Below, we have discussed how the education sector is responding to the new reality and addressing value chain risks.

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  1.  The Culture of ‘Learning Anywhere, Anytime’ Gains Ground

    As lockdowns have left millions of students stranded, a growing percentage of academic institutions are fostering a culture of digital learning. Online classes have become the most viable solution to ensure an uninterrupted flow of education. Many schools and colleges have built intranet systems and enabled a shift towards video broadcasting tools such as Zoom, Google Hangout, and WebEx to provide learning at home. Moreover, the pandemic-led barriers have prompted educational institutions to use asynchronous learning programs as Discussion Board and Digital Library, with an aim to help students interact with online content, albeit in the absence of a facilitator.

    To further address the challenges of remote learning, a number of institutions have augmented the use of real-time messaging and social media channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube, and are striving to make online learning opportunities optimized for low bandwidth and low latency conditions to ensure education for the hardest-to-reach children. Rapid advancements in the 5G technology are also helping schools and colleges disseminate information with a multiplier effect and embrace the ‘learning anytime, anywhere’ culture, which has largely been evasive in many aspects.

  2. EdTech Firms Grow in Popularity

    EdTech firms have struggled to gain traction in the markets, particularly with the industry’s predisposition towards traditional, in-classroom approaches. However, with COVID-19 causing academic institutions to shut down, EdTech players are set for an inevitable boom.

    In a matter of weeks, we have seen several EdTech companies—Dreambox Learning, Schoology, Sparx, BYJU’s, and upGrad to name a few—aggressively seizing the opportunity and bagging new customers by offering free access to their content platforms. They are increasingly making use of interactive apps to ensure massive engagement in live-streaming classes, providing online tutorials, and innovating around different virtual measures—all to reinforce their position as a bankable alternative for learning at scale.

  3. Exams and Evaluations  Intelligized

    The role of online learning solutions in conducting exams and assessing students’ performances while also minimizing errors and biases has always remained a point of contention. Time and again, experts have spoken about how these digital platforms miss the mark when it comes to ensuring the fair conduct of the examinations. However, with online pedagogy on the rise amidst COVID-19, several platforms, powered by new-age digital technologies, have come to light that effectively square up to the challenge.

    Known as Automated Online Proctoring solutions, they help teachers create online tests in a variety of formats, including skills, multiple-choice, typing, essay, and aptitude-based among more. Using audio-visual analytics and suspicious browsing activity that get recorded during the exam, these platforms monitor conscious and unconscious movements and postures of the students to spot anomalies in a snap, immediately warn or block the candidate, and avoid fraudulent activities to ensure a cheat-proof process. As far as impersonation is concerned, the in-built facial recognition technology authenticates the candidate and provides a confidence score to indicate the right match. In case a variation is recorded, the system quickly responds by restricting access and safeguards the integrity of the test.

    On the assessment front, these automated proctoring solutions come with an intuitive and configurable multi-section window where a grader can toggle across multiple settings to deliver simple and clear assessments. The AI-enabled video interview capabilities further help the user screen and vet candidates based on insights, meaning that any attempt to fudge the numbers and let weaker candidates crack the interview can be successfully foiled within minutes. Besides, the provision to help graders generate comprehensive candidate reports by gauging the performance and using integrity scores comes as a pro benefit.

    Online proctoring solutions have been around for a while, but become a victim of neglect. However, in a world hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, these platforms are experiencing an uptick in market engagement and have found themselves an active role in strengthening the field of digital learning.

  4. The Digital Divide Slims Down

    In the wake of COVID-19 and the subsequent closures, teachers ended up facing the immediate need of conducting online classes for the homebound students. However, a key issue at hand was their digital skills shortage that could potentially hold back the promise of digital learning. Fortunately, the educational institutions were quick to act and accelerated efforts to help their workforces scale and adapt to the new dynamics of work.

    At present, millions of schools and colleges are using a range of online learning solutions to upskill their teachers/professors and empower their roles in sustaining the education system. A slew of digital training sessions, workshops, and webinars are being organized to keep the faculties up to speed with emerging needs and help them ensure the continuity of learning in every way possible. Teachers and school administrators are encouraged to use real-time communication tools for information sharing and enabling relationship continuity with the parents or guardians of the students. Counseling sessions have also been prioritized to instill confidence in teachers, empower them to make a seamless transition, from chalkboards to digital screens, and help them feel secure in the new environment.

  5. Public-Private Partnerships Lead the Change

    With COVID-19 pandemic rearing its ugly head, the global education industry is abuzz with updates of several coalitions and partnerships taking place to make sure that learning never stops. To cite an example, the Ministry of Education (MoE) in China formed a consortium of educational institutions to build a cloud-based remote learning platform and upgrade the existing educational infrastructure, aiming to replace classroom learning with digital learning. Treading on similar lines, a consortium of over 60 educational organizations in Hong Kong came forward to provide educational assets with the sole intention of keeping remote learning platforms up and running.

    These instances are a testimony to the fact that education innovation, in times of COVID-19, is the highest interest of all, and every organization, irrespective of its public or private nature, has come together to help advance the right of education. With the passage of time, the world could see a force of large-scale, cross-industry coalitions emerging to ensure uninterrupted access to education while remaining unflinching in the face of remarkable challenges.

Importance of Graphic Design in Digital Marketing

Graphic design is the most powerful art that has breathed fresh life into digital marketing. This modern form of art has added a contemporary flair to the advertisement profile of every company. It also acts as one of the key components to build brand awareness and influence the customer’s decision-making process.

graphic design

Until the recent past, many entrepreneurs and decision-makers failed to understand the importance of graphic design. Now, there is a huge interest as the two industries are becoming inseparable. So, let’s dive into the concept of graphic designing and the role it plays in the digital marketing world.

What is Graphic Designing?

Graphic design communicates ideas or messages in a visual way. It can be used by any type of industry to convey complicated information in a digestible way.

According to Interactive Design Foundation, ‘Graphic design is the craft of creating visual content to communicate messages. Applying visual hierarchy and page layout techniques, graphic designers use typography and pictures to meet users’ specific needs and focus on the logic of displaying elements in interactive designs to optimize the user experience.

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How Essential is Graphic Design to Digital Marketing?

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano

As an entrepreneur, you will definitely be proud of your business. So shouldn’t your images reflect that too? Will you show up for a red carpet in your sweatpants? Nope. You will dress to impress. Likewise, graphic designs are the red carpet outfit of your business.

Here are some more compelling reasons why graphic design is essential for digital marketing.

Build your Own Unique Identity

When you choose to get help from a graphic designer or a graphic design company, you can establish your own unique tone, style, and differentiate from competitors. As a result of your unique identity, customers and potential clients will also become more familiar with your brand and distinguish you from the crowd.

Design Can Better Convey a Message Than Words

The age-old phrase, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ couldn’t be more true. Graphic design is important for any business that is looking to make a positive and long-lasting impression. When it comes to spreading the message about your business, the design gets the attention first and then the words. Together, they convey a powerful message. For example, in the Apple logo, there is not even a tagline, but the design speaks better than words for the brand.

Improve Sales

It is no surprise that humans are visual creatures. That is why people are attracted to uniquely designed things. Through quality designs, people may get a message that your company will deliver high-quality products or services. They get such types of impressions when they see a unique logo design, business card, and other such designs.

Deliver Brand Message

Graphic designers play an important role in conveying the brand message of your product or service in unique ways. A good graphic designer can communicate your offerings in the form of reports, charts, and illustrations. Moreover, a good creative agency like ColorWhistle can do wonders for your brand and propel it to a great extent.

Graphics Surpass Languages

People can only read this blog if they have a good grasp of the English language. However, no matter what their primary language is, people can understand themes and images. The same is applicable to any kind of image or visual aid. As the internet breaks down geographical barriers, appealing to a multilingual audience is important. Graphic design is one of the best ways to achieve it.

How to Use Graphic Design in Digital Marketing?

Graphic design in the digital marketing field is currently booming. The demand for designers who specialize in creating such types of marketing designs is also on the rise. When you are looking for a team to take on the job, knowing the various types of graphic designs that are widely used for digital marketing will help you find the right specialist you need.

Visual identity or Branding Graphic Design

A visual identity communicates the personality, memories, emotions, and experience of a brand. It acts as the face behind the brand and passes on important messages to the audience. Designers who specialize in visual identity design will create logos, typography, color palettes, and image libraries that will represent the personality of the brand.

Advertising and Marketing Graphic Design

Companies invest in marketing efforts to influence the decision-making process of their target audience. Designers who create graphics for advertising and marketing purposes work directly with decision-makers and marketing professionals. Some examples of advertising and marketing graphic designs are,

  • Postcards and flyers
  • Infographics
  • Newsletters
  • Annual reports
  • E-books
  • Brochures (print and digital)
  • Email marketing templates
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Social media ads and banners
  • Retargeting ad graphics
  • Images for websites and blogs

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User Interface Graphic Design

User interface graphic design or digital designs are created to view on a screen. Designers who create such types of graphics will concentrate on many visual elements like size, color, placement of CTA, and more to give a good digital experience for your target audience. Some examples of user interface graphic design are:

  • Web page design
  • Theme design
  • (WordPress, Magento Shopify, etc.)
  • Game interfaces
  • App design
  • 3D modeling

Motion Graphic Designs

Motion graphic designs were widely used by TV and film. Now, because of technological advancement, this form of art is accessible to everyone at an affordable price. It is one of the most used design formats across all digital platforms. Some examples of motion graphic designs are:

  • Digital advertisements
  • Animated logos
  • Trailers and presentations
  • Promotional videos
  • Tutorial videos
  • Websites
  • Banners
  • GIFs

Industries That Need Graphic Designers

You probably know that graphic design work is required in corporate branding and consultation, marketing, publishing, and web design. But there are other industries that need the help of graphic designers. They are,

  • Education
  • Fashion
  • Mobile app
  • E-commerce
  • Travel & tourism
  • Government agencies
  • Packaging and manufacturing
  • Software development companies

While we have listed some main industries, graphic designer impacts every sector on the planet. For example, if you run a small farm that sells canned apples, the label on the jar is graphic design. If you run a Fortune 500 company that sells gadgets, the advertising, and the packaging design is also a result of graphic design. Graphic design is everywhere. If you understand the impact, you’ll start appreciating it.

Latest Trends in Graphic Design to power Digital Marketing

Marketing your company in the online world can be a challenging task. However, following modern trends in graphic design and applying it can make things easier. Here are some of the latest graphic design hacks followed in digital marketing.