Category: Products

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5 Strategies Your Start-up Can Implement to Survive an Economic Downturn

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unpredictable business environment where even the most established companies are shifting their focus from growth to survival. For start-ups, the challenges are even more significant. 

Thousands of start-ups enter the corporate race every year. However, only a little over half actually survive to their fourth year, and the startup failure rate at four years is approximately 44 percent. These are daunting numbers even in a normal economy. 

Now consider an economic downturn. Investments dry up as venture capitalists become risk-averse and seek more reliable investments. Most start-ups work with slim cash margins so a slow sales cycle can create a major cash flow crisis. Also, start-ups thrive in an environment of close in-person collaboration. However, in these times of social distancing, that’s not an option. 

Navigating an economic downturn is a daunting task for organizations in the early stages of development. However, it can also be taken up as an opportunity to innovate and implement new ideas that will help organizations come out stronger in the long-run. 

Here are five strategies that can help start-ups weather this economic downturn. 

1. Cut costs 

Start-ups track expenses carefully in a regular economy but during a downturn, it is important to actively cut costs. Eliminate low performing projects, trim employee perks, and carefully consider whether you need a brick-and-mortar location. Enable effective remote work conditions for your team or consider getting a coworking space to save on rent and utilities. 

Even small budget cuts make a difference so eliminate overheads such as underutilized software licenses, free office lunches, and take careful stock of your inventory. If it’s not completely essential to the business, delay or don’t buy. Conversely, negotiate with suppliers on better deals and prices for essentials items. 

2. Go digital 

Optimize operations by going digital wherever possible. As an example, you can improve employee productivity and cut costs by automating the management of your software and hardware assets via a cloud-based IT asset management software. Get real-time information on the location of your IT assets, and ensure that the equipment is in top-shape with automated servicing and maintenance alerts. 

Automating this function also enables employees to easily collaborate both on-premise or remotely while you receive real-time updates. 

3. Hire freelancers 

Start-ups thrive on highly motivated teams and downturn or not, you should not skimp on quality talent. If you cannot afford to hire full-time employees, consider freelancers, contractors, or part-time workers. 

As the economy slows down, there is typically a large pool of talent to choose from due to lay-offs and cut-backs on hiring. You save money by paying them a fixed price or an hourly rate without the added cost of benefits such as healthcare, sick leaves, holidays, and other perks. 

4. Don’t be afraid to pivot 

An agile company is not afraid to pivot with a changing market. Consider multiple businesses that changed course from what they originally planned to do and found success with a different plan. For example, YouTube was originally a sort of video-based dating service, and Yelp was not always the go-to source for reviews — it started as an automated system to ask friends for direct recommendations. 

An economic downturn changes consumer budgets and priorities which is why it is important to consider the new market reality and pivot your business accordingly. This could mean adding more products to your portfolio, changing your product, offering a discount on pricing, or targeting a whole new demographic. A downturn may require an overhaul of your plan but it could be the path to long-term survival and success. 

5. Use government stimulus offers 

Finally, it is important to avail financial assistance offered via government loans or stimulus packages. For example, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a Paycheck Protection Program to eligible businesses. This loan is designed to provide a direct incentive for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. 

Likewise, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation to health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments.

About the author

Rabia Mughal works as a Communications Manager at AssetSonar, a leading cloud based IT asset management solution. An experienced marketing communications professional, she is interested in the impact of digital transformation on modern business operations.  

Products

Having a State-of-the-Art Fleet of Company Vehicles

A fleet of vehicles is at the heart of any company. If these vehicles feature the latest technology, they’ll stand out from the crowd. For 2020 and beyond, let us take a very close look at how having a state of the art fleet of company vehicles is in your best interest.

All-electric

An all-electric fleet of vehicles is a great way to associate your brand with the future. Electric cars have taken off as environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional cars. Mileage on these vehicles increases every year, and you get more distance out of every charge than ever before. Some drivers are concerned about a lack of chargers, but this isn’t too concerning. Have a series of level 2 charger units installed in the company lot or garage. These chargers work incredibly quickly and at a minimal energy cost. Electric vehicles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so there’s no limit to the type of vehicle you can acquire.

Onboard navigation

Another impressive piece of tech is onboard navigation. With a reliable GPS, employees can get their jobs done without worrying about getting lost. While most people rely on their phones for directions, they aren’t ideal for dedicated navigation purposes. Not to mention, this is a dangerous practice when operating a moving vehicle. You’re much better off with an onboard navigation system. It’s easy to program these systems with common destinations for your drivers. They’ll know exactly where to go, and if they run into any trouble, they can easily report this to your headquarters.

GPS tracking

Tracking devices installed on company cars might sound Orwellian, but there are many reasons why such tech is essential for business fleet vehicles. For one, most insurance companies require them for vehicles used for business purposes. Secondly, they help with stolen vehicle recovery. Trackers can also provide data that helps companies optimize their routes and make recommendations to drivers in the future.

Company customization

Last but not least, company customization shows that you are invested and committed to transportation. Featuring your company logo on the side of a vehicle is a powerful move. You can even acquire custom license plates and banners that let other drivers know that it is a company vehicle. This display isn’t to assert your dominance on the road but rather to establish an industry standard at all times. When you have a fleet of hundreds of these identical vehicles, you know that the job is getting done every time.

Parking scheme

A fleet of vehicles needs to be backed by an efficient parking scheme. There’s nothing worse than a congested parking lot full of vehicles. It’s nearly impossible to take out a vehicle in the back, and there might not be enough space during off-peak hours. Look for tiered parking structures or even rotating platforms to make it easy to park and retrieve vehicles. You’ll save so much time when handling the fleet.

At the moment, having a state of the art fleet of company vehicles is a fantastic asset. You’ll be able to conduct transportation efficiently and in style. Look for the latest technology to propel you forward!

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10 Ways to Maximize your Kickstarter Marketing Strategy in 2020

At a very trying time of COVID-19, times are quite tough for businesses, especially startups and entrepreneurs. However, what if there was a way to get funding by putting your project, idea, or invention online?

In this article, we will look at:

What is Kickstarter?

For people who have been living under a rock, Kickstarter is a funding platform where creators can share and gather interest on a particular creative project they will like to launch.

Every project is created and independently crafted while the general public offers to fund them in return for rewards or the finished product itself.  They are the ones that ultimately send the projects into production.

Kickstarter is split into two types of users: creators and backers. Creators are of course the ones who present their project ideas and the backers are the ones who fund them.  To establish a great Kickstarter project, creators need to step up a page to display all the details of their project using text, video, and photos to tell viewers about their project. From there, creators set a funding goal and a deadline, and also need to include different levels of rewards backers can receive by pledging a specific amount because the more the higher the amount they pledge, the bigger the reward.

Kickstarter also has a number of general rules that creators must abide by for their projects. They must create something that can be shared with others; be honest and clearly presented; not be fundraising for charity; not be offering equity; and not involve prohibited items.

Marketing Tips for Kickstarter Campaign

The reality of any Kickstarter Campaign is that it takes a lot of time and energy o prepare, create, maintain, and manage a Kickstarter campaign. There are definitely certain steps that people as project creators can improve their chances of success on Kickstarter. 

1. Do your research

Creators need to research their project before anything happens. The questions that they need to answer before starting their campaign is: how much does it actually cost to make their project? What is the minimum amount of funding they need? How many days do they want to run the campaign? Are there already similar projects?

You need to figure out how much it actually costs because it will help when it comes to creating rewards. They also need to research domestic and international shipping costs. Kickstarter is all or nothing, so companies need to remember and understand that if they don’t reach their funding goals, they do not get any money. If they set the money goal too high, they risk not hitting their goal and won’t get any money and reciprocally, if it is set too low, you may not be able to fulfill your obligations to backers. 

Campaigns can last anywhere for one day to 2 months. Longer campaigns do not guarantee success because companies may have exhausted resources by the time the project wraps up and on the other hand, campaigns that are under 30 days risk not getting enough exposure and can result in less funding. 

Companies also need to do their research to see if there are other similar campaigns because if there are, there really is no point in putting the campaign up because just because something similar that raised a lot of money will not translate into instant success for your project. 

2. Spread the news about your upcoming launch

It is important to spread awareness for the upcoming launch. Having a website is very important because it drives traffic to it. Adding a banner at the top of your homepage with a call to action to sign up is very important so that people could learn more about your upcoming launch. The leads that you receive should be nurtured leading up to launch day with about one email a week. The emails that are sent out should educate subscribers on your product, tell them why they need your product, and explain how Kickstarter works and inform them of when and why you’re launching your project. 

It is also important to build up social media presence and creating advertising campaigns. The more informed subscribers are about your product and upcoming launch, the more likely they are to convert into actual backers once your project goes live. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to run everything and stay on it constantly, so employing companies like Pressfarm can help with public relations and creating everything needed to build a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

3. Email existing and new contacts

Email marketing is a great way to spread awareness for your upcoming launch to new and existing contacts who have shown interest in your product. The main goal is to get subscribers on board with your project and have them ready to spread the word. However, don’t stop emailing when you are live, you can keep sending out emails with important campaign milestones too. But, during your campaign, do not bombard your family, friends, or other subscribers incessantly because it can lead to a large number of unsubscribers. 

4. Make an engaging video

Your video that you create is the main point of your campaign and it is the first thing that people look at. You need to make sure that your video is easily understandable and gets your project’s point across. Longer videos tend to have a lower video completion rate and there is a correlation between a high video completion rate and overall funding.

5. Create an easy-to-read Kickstarter page

Digital content should be written for the people who tend to skim instead of reading in detail. When you do this, you are making your content more digestible and easier to understand. Campaigns should be very visual and get to the point without using too much content. 

6. Make sure your rewards are easy to understand

Keep your rewards descriptions short and to the point. You need to let people know what they are getting, how much they are saving and when they will be getting them. Do not over do your rewards because a campaign with a lot of rewards rarely works and creating a small quantity gives you a chance to introduce new rewards like flash sales, during your campaign.

7. Include multiple images

You should use high resolution, high-quality images for your social networks, advertising efforts, press releases and blog posts. Also, if you will be using any print media, they should also be hi-res images. 

8. Create a Bitly link

You can use Bitly to shorten your Kickstarter page URL and use that link when you are referencing your project. Bitly actually provides great stats because it includes how many clicks you link there and where they are coming from. This information will help decide where to spend the most time promoting your project. 

9. Utilize updates and your backers

You should create periodic updates on  Kickstarter to send to your backers. Write updates when you hit milestones to thank your backers and use them to pass on the message of new stretch goal rewards and drive backers to your social network. 

Your backers already like your project, so they are the ones that will help you and be your biggest advocates. Ask them to help spread the word whether it be word-of-mouth or social media. Make it easy for them to share by including short messages they can copy and paste to share on social media outlets. 

10. Social media is important

Create your profile on the top networks by starting a Facebook Advertising campaign to build an audience base, help build your email list and begin building buzz around the upcoming launch. 

Conclusion

Creating a Kickstarter Campaign is very easy, but getting the right backing and the right amount of money is the hard part. Timing is everything because you want to be the project that people are wanting to back, so you need to see what your competition is. Your product needs to be something that people want and are willing to put money into. These tips are as simple as it comes and used correctly will maximize your Kickstarter Marketing strategy. 

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Various Applications of Blue Hydrogen for the Energy Industry

Hydrogen is the tenth most abundant element on the earth. In order for it to be used at scale, hydrogen has to be extracted from compounds. Blue hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, typically natural gas. One of the mainstream methods used to extract blue hydrogen is known as Steam Methane Reforming (SMR). A considerable amount of carbon dioxide and methane is produced during the production of blue hydrogen. However, around 80% to 90% of the total emission is captured and stored. This process is known as Carbon Capture and Store (CSS). 

The potential for hydrogen to be used at a larger commercial scale is definitely promising and how it could positively impact the decarbonization of the energy sector is clear among industry operators, however, questions remain. Is it versatile enough to invest billions of dollars on? 

Various Applications of Blue Hydrogen 

Blue hydrogen is extremely versatile. It finds several applications across an array of energy-consuming industries. It is speculated that hydrogen fuel will eventually transform the energy industry, making it more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Considering that private companies are being incentivized to reduce greenhouse emissions, this makes it extremely important to take initiatives to start integrating hydrogen into mass-scale production. 

Along with various energy consulting firms in the UK and all around the world, key members of the energy sector are also taking keen interest and making great investments in hydrogen, especially blue hydrogen. 

  • Fuel Production 

Hydrogen is used in the production of fuel in many ways. Typically, it is used to process crude oil. As a result, refined fuels such as gasoline and diesel are produced. It is also employed in the fuel production process to get rid of various contaminants from crude oil or refined fuels. For example, hydrogen is used to remove sulphur from refined fuels, especially diesel. 

Over the years, the consumption of hydrogen in refineries has increased significantly. This is mainly due to the strict rules and regulations, such as the IMO 2020 sulfur regulation, regarding maintaining the quality of diesel by lowering the amount of sulphur in it.

  • Industrial Applications 

Hydrogen has an exhaustive list of industrial applications. It is extremely versatile, which is why it is used abundantly in not only the energy industry but also other core industries around the world. 

One major example is hydrogen’s application for energy production. Specifically, it can be injected into current grid pipelines so that it can be stored for later use. Examples include transport applications or power generation.

Some industrial applications of blue hydrogen outside of the energy industry include its use in the production of ammonia and flat glass. Blue hydrogen is used in metalworking, especially for metal alloying. It can also be used in the direct reduction of iron ore, which is an important process in steel manufacturing. It finds applications in the electronic industry as well.    

  • Energy Generation 

Blue hydrogen plays a vital role in generating electricity more efficiently. It can be used as an alternative to air-cooling methods for the cooling of power generators. However, the biggest contribution of blue hydrogen in regards to energy generation comes in the form of stationary fuel cells. 

Blue hydrogen can be used in stationary fuel cells. These cells are often employed as backup energy sources in buildings and there are major implications for long haul transport and commercial fleets that rely on fuel cells to operate. It is speculated that stationary fuel cells possess the potential to revolutionize the transport industry if they are used for other vehicular options like trains, cars, and buses. 

Blue Hydrogen or Green Hydrogen – Which is Better?

Many industry experts are still divided over the blue hydrogen-green hydrogen debate. 

We cannot ignore the economic benefits of blue hydrogen. While it is true that blue hydrogen is not as eco-friendly as green hydrogen, its current production costs are significantly low compared to green hydrogen. Plus, advancements and growing support for CCS is making blue hydrogen one of the most viable sustainable energy solutions at the moment. Across Europe, many hydrogen-CCS projects are going ahead.

There’s one more factor that must be considered when it comes to the significance of hydrogen for the energy industry – the storage of excess electricity or surplus energy. 

Storing Excess Energy

The energy industry is evolving and more sustainable, energy efficient solutions are being sought after. Unfortunately, certain technological advancements are required to ensure grid infrastructure is able to meet high demand and alleviate storage and demand imbalances.  As a result, many energy companies still favor the use of fossil fuels to produce energy. 

The good news is that hydrogen may be able to bridge this gap between energy production and consumption. There are electrolyzer technologies that are being used at scale today, which can draw hydrogen out of storage and place it into a fuel cell for subsequent electricity production or power-to-liquid schemes.

Author Bio

Pangea Strategic Intelligence’s on demand energy consulting platform facilitates engagements with market-embedded Experts so Clients make better business decisions, faster.

DevelopmentInsightsProducts

How Can a Medical Device Company Stay Competitive in The Medical Device Market

There is currently a period of steady growth in the global medical device industry. Competition-driven innovations have enabled small companies to enter the market and compete with established companies. Competitive analysis consulting firms also play an important role in the success of a medical device innovator. Competitive market analysis delivers an understanding of both the direct and indirect competitive landscape. Using medical device competitive analysis consulting experts, a medical device developer can identify the target market’s unmet needs, underserved market segments and clinical expectations competitors are unable to meet. This supports decision making that attracts the allocation of available resources and can drive accelerated adoption. Competitive analysis consulting experts assess the target market space, strategic product positioning and potential existing technology’s product line extension. Product positioning analysis may include: 

  • Competitive landscape 
  • Competitive pricing 
  • Product positioning analysis     
  • Competitor corporate deep dive 
  • Competitive product and company documentation 

A medical technology that enters the target market and delivers accurate and efficient clinical results at a reduced cost can earn a significant market share. Hospital value analysis committees focus on the value a device delivers in terms of healthcare outcomes, cost and safety.

Medical device companies are now able to achieve the highest possible return on investment with early and extensive exit planning. Medical device consulting firms can identify potential mergers and acquisition targets. They can also identify potential companies for strategic alliances. This allows an innovator a range of desirable exit strategies.

With the full suite of strategic consulting services by medical device consulting companies, a medical device developer can address hurdles presented by reimbursement constraints and compliance-related restrictions. This allows the company to divert its resources to an innovation that has the potential to secure accelerated adoption and the highest return on investment. With strategically informed internal and external decision making, this affords a range of medical innovation to remain competitive.

Harmonize Operations 

A medical company that effectively achieves operational harmony will have the highest probability to achieve successful commercialization. Harmonizing operations can leverage real-time information across the company. This information typically includes end-user procedural preferences, post-market clinical data including cost-effective clinical outcomes data along with research and development effectiveness. This information guides device development.

The medical device company must ensure seamless data sharing across different departments. For this, the company requires the right infrastructure to transfer data. The company also requires high-quality analytics to utilize available data. Medical device consulting firms have the required communication tools and resources to gather, verify and analyze data to develop an improved and cost-effective technology.

Leverage New Markets 

A company can identify a new market or a segment of the market for its existing medical device. Identifying expanded markets can offer longer and sustained competitive advantage. However, the company is recommended to work with a competitive analysis consulting expert to analyze the level of current and future competition in the new market. A company can identify new markets with medical device market analysis by a medical device consulting firm.

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What You Need For Your Next Online Business Meeting

With more of the world working from home than ever before, chances are you will attend or run an online business meeting. And since the majority of businesses usually use face to face meetings, it takes an adjustment to run a meeting online while remaining effective. 

That is why it’s essential to learn what you need for your next online business meeting because virtual meetings require equipment and software you might not currently have. So, in case you have to run your business in the virtual world, even if it’s temporary, follow this guide to set up your tech.

Meeting Software

The central part of any online business meeting is your meeting software, and there are several programs to choose from. Zoom is a popular software choice for businesses to meet with their staff because it’s free and easy to use. That said, Zoom isn’t the only meeting software you can choose for your business meetings.

Here are some other software choices you could download and use:

  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • Join.me
  • GoToMeeting
  • BlueJeans
  • UberConference
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Meet

Be sure the software you pick has the capabilities you need, like screen sharing, whiteboarding, or dedicated sub-rooms for breakout sessions. Each conference software has different amenities, so choose one that works for you and your business.

Also, be sure that your team can easily download the software because each participant will need the software to join your meeting.

Proper Lighting

Using your computer’s camera or your front-facing phone camera is probably your best choice if you don’t want to invest in a third-party camera.

The problem is, you still have to worry about proper lighting because if your lighting is in the wrong place, your staff will have a hard time concentrating on your words. So, you want to gather three LED daylight bulbs and place one directly in front of you, one at 45 degrees to your right, and one 45 degrees to your left.

Be sure these lights are slightly above you, so the lighting isn’t too harsh, and they will give you sufficient lighting for your meeting without distracting shadows.

Up to Date Microphone

More important than lighting is your staff’s ability to hear what you’re saying, and for that, you need a proper microphone. You might have a sufficient microphone inside your computer already, and the best way to tell if your audience can hear you is to test it before your meeting.

If you don’t like the sound coming through your microphone, you want to invest in a standalone microphone. These products have noise-canceling features that block out surrounding sounds so that your staff can hear you better. 

For example, noise-canceling features could block out a residential air conditioning repair Santa Rosa residents might need during a business meeting to stay cool. In fact, that feature would be helpful in any house across the world because sometimes there are loud noises during your meeting and you don’t want the disruption.

The Blue Yeti microphone is a popular model for podcasters and would work perfectly for any online business meeting you conduct.

Bring Your Teams Together

Businesses need to adjust to current times and that means conducting business meetings online. The truth is, it doesn’t take a whole lot of preparation to have business meetings with your staff because you already have most of the equipment you need. 

When you don’t or if it’s not good enough, ordering tech gadgets to enhance your current equipment is a smart investment in your business. Doing so will allow you to conduct business anywhere and in any climate so you can carry on regardless of the state of the world.

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Choosing The Right Data Catalog – 14 Tips For Businesses

When you are selecting a data catalog, this decision is similar (and equally complicated) to the purchase of any other tangible or intangible element. It is obvious that any data catalog would help you understand and analyze previous data sets. However, the ease of getting to the final outcome (the quality) of the data catalog marks the difference.

In the following article, we will discuss how you can utilize various key markers to evaluate the quality of the data catalog. Let’s move forward and explore more about data catalogs.

What Is the Function of a Data Catalog? 

The original purpose of a data catalog is to help a data analyst understand data. With better visibility into the past and existing information sets, the usefulness of this data improves. As a result, the quality of the findings also improve. Simply put, a data catalog is your one-stop solution for data curation and governance. 

Today, data catalogs are being utilized not only for handling data inventory of organizations but also for enhancing analysis outcomes, quality, and handling data assets. In fact, compliance teams necessarily check cataloging to maintain critical guidelines of GDPR and other regulations. Traditionally, data cataloging was restricted to analyzing and understanding data. But now, it has moved towards a community-centric and extensive organizational collaboration approach, which has made cataloging essential for data management.

14 Tips to Choose The Best Data Catalog

When you are selecting a data catalog, it is necessary to ensure that this catalog meets the requirements and fits the culture of your organization. To help you achieve this, we have discussed 14 tips below. Read on.

Data Set Cataloging

The first thing that you should expect your data catalog to do is to support data discovery, including new dataset discovery and the initial making of the catalog. With the help of machine learning, your data catalog should fetch metadata, perform automated tagging, and achieve semantic inference. This is imperative to acquire optimum value from cataloging automation. It can reduce manual efforts and errors. 

Data Set Search

The data catalog should include the ability to search – something which is the basic requirement. Your team should be able to search with keywords, facets, and other related business terms. An NLP-powered catalog can make this task easier for non-tech teams or users. 

Note: The search option should always have a mask to secure datasets that a certain user is not authorized to view or access. 

Operation Cataloging

Any data catalog should have the ability to offer preparation of operations to users. These operations should be integrated into datasets for data blending, formatting, and improvement. This means that the catalog should support multiple operational associations with – data operations to data and many-to-many. 

For instance, one of the mandatory operations would be to secure PII or personally identifiable information of users.

Data Set Recommendation

Recommendations are great for finding data quickly. This is why having a data catalog with recommendations can help you improve the connection between dataset, workflow, and data preparation. This recommendation engine should be equipped to automatically detect dataset relationships and overlapping features of datasets. 

Evaluation of Data Set

Finding datasets is the first leg of the bigger picture. This means that the data catalog should also allow the data analyst to see profiles of data, preview data, find ratings, understand customer reviews, evaluate the quality of information, and check annotation by the curator. 

Access to Data

After checking the data evaluation, data access should be analyzed. There exist multiple types of datasets, which could be connected to the catalog. For instance, tagged files, RDBMS, flat files, graph databases, document stores, text documents, geospatial data, etc. Along with access to these datasets, protections should be placed to ensure compliance and security. 

Catalog of Metadata

Always ensure that the metadata collected in your data catalog is rich in quality.

  • What type of data is sourced related to datasets?
  • What knowledge do we have of processes and data lineage?
  • Does the data contain details of SMEs, curators, etc.?

Asking these questions will give you a clear idea about the quality of metadata cataloging. Once these details are cataloged, it is necessary to ensure the right usage of metadata. 

  • Who is using it?
  • What are the use cases of this usage?
  • What is the frequency of use?

This can help you move towards intelligent recommendations.

Valuation of Data

One of the widely accepted facts about data catalogs is data valuation. The catalog should offer value for data datasets. This means that the information you receive should be able to create some value for the business, and the catalog itself should contribute to the estimation of value. 

Data Security

Proper security governance is necessary to ensure authorization and authentication. Allowing users to securely access data which they are authorized to see and authenticating access to the catalog for complete data security remain a top function of the process of cataloging.

Here, consider the levels of security constraints: row or record level, or field or column level. 

Data Lineage or Tracing

The data catalog should offer transparency to the user to check data lineage. This means the ability to check the source of data, how it was generated, and where it is coming from. It is not uncommon to have breaks in lineage, such as when the dataset is extracted from ETL tools. When your catalog is able to fill these gaps, you can derive the source of the dataset to understand a dataset fully. 

Data Compliance

One of the amazing features that we get with the right data catalog is the ability to maintain compliance. It, in fact, should maintain compliance according to the changing regulations. Hence, when you are selecting a data catalog, look for a catalog powered by machine learning, which will automatically determine metadata and profile assets. This will also contain pre-written procedures for access restrictions and masking. 

Data Quality

When your catalog doesn’t offer quality data, your reports and other models are of no use. For this reason, quality data helps you achieve business-ready datasets. So, the catalog should be integrated to achieve quality data from disparate sources to seamlessly improve the output in the form of reports. 

It is necessary to understand that your catalog will not perform the cleansing, but it can offer you discrepancy and deficiency points, which are likely to create a bottleneck in the quality. You can use this to make amends.

Data Interoperability

Data interoperability simply means the ability to integrate with various tools. This indicates the manner in which your data catalog will integrate with your visualization tools and data preparation software. 

Data Catalog Deployment

Once you have considered all the above factors, check the technical infrastructure support that you need. Whether your culture supports cloud, hybrid, and on-premise deployments, or if you want web-based or server-based implementations. After analyzing all these deployment requirements, run a final check with the data catalog vendor to move in the right direction.

Conclusion 

There are multiple factors that help in deciding the right data catalog. Only after considering all the above requirements, you would be able to arrive at the right point, from where you can evaluate your budget and finalize a data catalog.  Before you make that decision, don’t forget to take note of the consulting offered, along with the future plans of the vendor for transformation. Once you are satisfied with all these factors, you would be able to select the right data catalog.

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Essential Services for Silicon Valley Startups

Running a startup is not easy – especially if you don’t have a proper plan in place. Just like any other business, running a startup comes will numerous challenges.

Most entrepreneurs take up those challenges and create opportunities out of them. They try to make each day as productive as possible.

Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that you can’t have enough time to complete all the responsibilities of your business. That’s where outsourcing comes in handy.

There are several companies that specialize in offering different types of services designed to support startups and other businesses. The good thing about outsourcing is that you get time to concentrate or focus on other important matters.

Below are some of the essential services for Silicon Valley startups:

1. Credit card processing

Every business today – no matter how small or big needs to process card payments. This can be a hectic job particularly if you have many customers. It can eat up a great deal of your time to ensure that everything is done correctly.

However, you can save yourself from all that trouble by outsourcing your credit processing to an expert. Most companies charge a small fee of about 1 to 3%, per transaction – which is reasonable compared to the amount of work they do.

Getting paid on time on time is a bid deal for most businesses. As long as you are able to keep the end of your bargain, then accepting credit cards can rapidly drive the growth of your business.

2. Reliable printing services

Printing is another essential service that is key to the operation of many small businesses and startups. Although most of the operations have gone digital, there are some business aspects that still need documents to be printed out.

This can be time-consuming for a company that has limited resources and employees. The best option is to find reliable printing services in San Francisco or San Jose.

There are many companies that specialize in bulk printing services at fair prices. The most important thing is to know your budget and how to negotiate.

3. Website design services

Most customers expect your business to have a website – even if the business has nothing to do with the internet. Besides, having a website gives an impression of seriousness and commitment to serve customers in a better way.

That’s why you need to create not just a website, but a website that will command respect from customers and competitors.

There are many website design companies that can create a website that speaks to the strengths of your business. Get a list of them and identify one that offers quality services at reasonable prices.

4. Marketing consultancy

Marketing is critical for any business. As such, it needs a lot of planning and strategizing to be able to promote a business effectively. Most businesses find it hard to do marketing for themselves because of the time it requires.

This is the reason why outsourcing can be a great solution for such businesses. Marketing consultancy firms specialize in different kinds of marketing and branding. All you need is to identify a company that understands your business.

5. Accounting

Gone are the days when companies had to struggle with reconciling their accounts to ensure everything is in order. Today, companies are realizing the importance of outsourcing accounting services instead of hiring internal staff to do that.

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Different Approaches for Test Automation for Microservices

Most companies that use DevOps are turning to Microservices for their code development. Microservices are small-sized parts of an application that are focused on completing one task. They are a subpart of a module. These services are independent of each other. Hence they can be tested separately by QA testing companies without worrying about dependencies. Microservices can also be deployed independently. 

All of those are neat benefits. But not everything is great when it comes to microservices. In fact, one of the downsides is that they are hard to test since each has its own codebase, dependencies management, and database schema. Even for local testing, you have to make sure that you’re using the latest code stack., all data migrations are up to date, and that you’re using the correct code branch. 

Since this can be pretty challenging, here are a few ways through which microservices testing can be automated.

1. Full-stack inbox testing

In this, you create the testing environment on a local system. Then you carry out the quality testing on that local system, by testing each instance one by one. The machine is called a vagrant box, as Vagrant is used to creating that environment. 

Benefits

  • Building your virtual machine will take minutes  
  • Pre-built Vagrant provisioners
  • Anyone can test over the internet by downloading the same machine on their laptop. 
  • QA becomes easier. 

Problems:

  • Spinning the machine locally can have unexpected errors. 
  • This system doesn’t scale. 
  • Trying to replicate a cloud infrastructure environment on a local system doesn’t test the same way. 

2. End to end testing 

End-to-end testing is the Quality Assurance for all the parts of the system i,e, services, integration, interface, and network. This type of testing tests the whole user journey, from start to finish. You can also use the 80/20 rule – that is, not simulating all the parts of a real test, just pieces of it.

Benefits

  • It validates all layers of the service, such as the data layer, integration layer, presentation layer, and business layer.
  • It reduces time and costs by decreasing errors. 

Problems:

  • Many companies don’t believe End-to-End testing is useful for microservices as they are not full applications. Hence there won’t be a workflow that tests all aspects of service. 
  • Testing gets complex every time you introduce a new microservice into the architecture. 

3. Unit testing 

Unit testing is done by writing test cases for a particular unit/part of the code. A unit can be one method or a whole module. The basic idea is to divide the repository into smaller components and to test them individually. 

Ideally, unit testing should be done by minimizing external dependencies. Doing so will ensure quality even if the external environment around the unit changes.

Benefits

  • You can use different development languages or frameworks for unit testing.

Problems:

  • Testers may write wrong tests
  • Debugging unit tests often wastes time instead of saving it.

 4. Documentation first testing

Also called the API First approach. In it, you create the API along with its documentation before anything else. The API documentation is made open-source.

Developers APIs are considered “High-level citizens.” Doing so creates a contract for how to make changes to them.  If anyone wants to change API or create their own based on them, they’ll have to review the document to make sure that the new API upholds the standards mentioned in the Original API. 

Benefits

  • Increases Speed to market 
  • It reduces costs. Well suited for cloud development.
  • Many teams can work parallelly based on API definitions in the documentation. 

Problems

  • Setting up the initial API can be challenging.
  • Testing all parameters in API Request combinations can take long
  • Schema updating of the API may cause downtime because of new parameters. 

5. Stubbed Testing

Used for top-down integrating quality testing. In it, you use small codes called stubs for testing. They behave and handle data like microservices but they are just dummies – small, isolated parts of your application.

Software testing companies use stub tests when they need to do QA after taking input from the user. The system can just mimic user behavior.

Benefits:

  • Can test the primary module without the smaller modules (top-down approach)
  • Reproduce complex modules easily
  • Can test without the required response. 
  • Saves time

Problems:

  • Shallower than other methods. 
  • Static methods cannot be stubbed
  • Pointer method signatures not supported.

You can use different tools software testing companies use to test microservices, such as: 

  1. Goreplay: Open-source, a networking tool that monitors live traffic. 
  2. VCR: a unit testing tool that records HTTP interactions for your test suite. 
  3. Apiary: a documentation tool. It can write, mock, and spin an API in 30 minutes. 
  4. Wilma: Service virtualization tool. Combines Service stubs and HTTPS proxy
  5. Wiremock: HTTP based API simulator. Creates an actual HTTP server and mimics web service. 

Conclusion

Microservices testing can be difficult but is an unavoidable part of development. You can change your strategy as per requirement and situation. There is uncertainty in this type of testing, but if you apply tried and tested theories like Stubbed testing, documentation testing, etc., you won’t face any problems. 

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The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Outsourcing Software Development

When a business needs to create, customize, or manage software solutions for their business, they simply don’t have the time, know-how, or manpower to do so in most cases. Thus, many organizations have made the smart decision to partner with a third-party outsourcing provider for all of their software development needs.

Outsourcing software development has a number of significant advantages for companies of all sizes and specialties. The practice reduces costs by not keeping team members as in-house, full-time employees. As they are part of an external team, the hiring company must only pay a flat monthly or hourly rate or pay for the entire project (depending on the contract). Companies are able to scale the number of people on their teams up or down as well, helping to ensure maximum efficiency and use of resources. 

Outsourcing companies, such as BairesDev, give organizations access to niche skill sets and a wide variety of talent that they may not have been able to access otherwise. (Learn more about BairesDev here: https://www.bairesdev.com/software-development-services/software-outsourcing/) These teams keep costs down while operating at maximum efficiency to help companies stay focused on their core business tasks and still accomplishing their software goals. 

The Most Common Software Development Outsourcing Mistakes

Working with an outsourcing company for software development projects is very beneficial for all kinds of businesses. However, the partnership can go awry when the hiring company makes mistakes. This doesn’t just lead to failed projects, but to loss of time, loss of money, and an indefinitely postponed launch of the final product.

It’s very important that companies understand what it takes to have a good partnership with a third-party outsourcing provider. Not only that, but they should be aware of the common pitfalls and how they can prevent them from happening.

Here are just a few examples of the most common outsourcing problems and how to prevent them:

  1. Choosing an outsourcing company based on the lowest cost. – Most outsourcing companies do exist to help cut down on the cost of developing software. The price of hiring talented developers at an offshore or nearshore development company can be a fraction of what it would cost to hire a developer to work in-house.
    However, saving a few extra dollars overall to hire a more inexperienced development team at the lowest cost could have dire consequences. Obviously cost is a deciding factor in making any business decision, but it should not be the only one. Take experience levels, technology offerings, project examples, communication abilities, and the company as a whole into account in all decision making.
  2. Not making communication a top priority. – Communication makes or breaks an outsourcing project. When working with an outsourced team, communication becomes more important than ever. Before a project begins and an outside team is even hired, companies must take the time to fully establish the project goals, the intended functionality, the necessary requirements, and any other important information that the development team should know. After selecting an outsourcing provider, leaders need to decide on the required communication methods and frequency of communication. Thanks to programs such as Slack and Skype, instant communication between teams all over the world is possible. Regular meetings (via phone or video chat) should occur to help ensure that all team members are on the same page and kept updated on progress throughout the duration of the project. 
  3. Setting unreasonable timelines. – While outsourcing companies are able to expedite timelines thanks to the experience and skill sets of their talent, they aren’t magicians. Timelines must still account for any bugs, issues, or additional development requirements that may not have initially come up. If the hiring company sets a due date that is simply unattainable, the project will fail, not be up to necessary standards, or important items could be overlooked. Instead, companies should work with the development team to decide on a fair time frame that works for both the devs and the end-users.
  4. Not having any kind of in-house tech know-how. – Some companies enter outsourcing contracts without having any kind of in-house technology understanding on their end. While outsourcing companies offer their team leaders, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to fully align their work without being able to discuss the logistics with the in-house team. These in-house employees don’t have to be experts, but just having a tech resource available is helpful and will prevent possible communication issues.
  5. Underestimating the importance of quality assurance and testing. – Again, developers are not magicians. While they are experts in their respective field(s), outsourced development projects are bound to have bugs and errors. This is why quality assurance processes and testing are so important throughout the entire Software Development Life Cycle. Some hiring companies believe that they are hiring experts so they should not have to also hire testers and QA professionals. This is simply not the case. 

Software development outsourcing companies are great resources for companies who need to complete development projects but simply don’t have the time, money, or know-how to do it in house. As long as best practices are put into place from the very beginning of the relationship with an outsourcing company, these costly mistakes are avoidable for joint success.