The importance of security can never be understated in today’s age of big-time security breaches, where cyber-criminals strike at will. However, the enterprise app development team needs to make sure that the security does not impede usability, or in other words, security is not self-defeating.
Most apps and solutions tap into the corporate database and handle sensitive data, including personally identifiable information. The implications of a breach can be ruinous and even sound the death-knell of the company. However, at the same time, today’s demanding workforce and highly pampered customers seek intuitive and easy-to-use apps. Customer satisfaction is critical to the survival of the app.
The conventional approach to security is akin to adding more number of locks to the door of a house. While it makes it difficult for thieves to penetrate such a house, it also makes it difficult for the occupants themselves to enter. In the digital world, forced to log in every time, forced to log in first into the device, then log into the software, and then enter a transaction password, being forced to change all these passwords once every two weeks, being said the password is not long enough or was used previously, and more, all strengthen security, but are major irritants and impede usability greatly.
Here are some ways to balance the security-usability conundrum, or ensure security does not end-up self-defeating the very purpose of the app.
Implement Security by Design
The best approach to security is “security by design” or co-opting security during the development process itself.
When security is embedded into the planning, design and implementation phases, developers may code with security in mind, use secure frameworks, and co-opt security testing a part of the app development process.
Adding security layers at a later stage makes the entire process awkward, and hinders usability. Often tweaks have to be affected, and well-written code redone. The analogy is to manufacturing a door with a single tamper-proof deadbolt lock built-in, as opposed to adding multiple locks after the door is installed, to get the same strength.
Collaborate with all Stakeholders
App developers need to collaborate with security experts and business managers, to assess the security risks and determine the best solutions to solve underlying security issues.
If bringing the security and development team together is a challenge, establishing common ground is an even bigger challenge. Developers seek to make things as easy as possible for their customers or users. The security team remains obsessed with the safety of data, often with the attitude if someone has to wait a few extra seconds to access the data, so be it. They remain oblivious to the implications of the harried customer moving on elsewhere rather than wait or put up with a convoluted system. Google usability studies reveal even a tenth of a second delay in an app’s performance adversely affects the user experience.
A collaborative team effort, where every stakeholder is part of the prototype, design, and testing tasks make finding a common ground and workarounds easy. For instance, with a security team in the mix, developers will no longer have to figure how to securely connect to the enterprise every time they build an app. Inputs from the security team would help them build a secure connection, VPN or otherwise, which may even be reused for other apps. In the same way, security could design a secure way for users to log into these apps.
Opt for Hardware-Based Authentication
Developments in hardware technology offer an effective antidote to security vulnerabilities, without having to compromise on usability. A case in point is Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner and compatible Android systems. By deploying such hardware-based security and authentication, users do not have to wrestle with irritating passwords, and developers are spared the cumbersome work in securing data and authenticating users through the application code. It also leads to faster development lifecycle and a much cleaner code.
Limit Availability of Sensitive Data
If data is not there to be stolen, it won’t be stolen.
Businesses would do well to reconsider their business model and limit the availability of data online only to the minimal extent required. Hypersensitive data may be stored in impregnable silos, using military grade authentication, quite contrary to the much-touted logic of eradicating silos to facilitate big data analytics. Only the data required for analytics may be released, on a need-basis.
Developers could also make use of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). SIEM collects security log events from numerous hosts connected to the enterprise servers, to identify normal patterns. An abnormal usage pattern triggers alerts, and even lockdowns, safeguarding the data. At the same time, normal, routine usage is allowed unobtrusively. The challenge lies in the complexity of configuring the SIEM.
Leverage the Power of Simplicity
Leverage the power of simplicity. Simple apps, with a minimalist design, and lean coding are not just easy on the users but contain lesser vulnerabilities. Such a set-up also minimize the chance of users doing anything to compromise security. A case in point is Amsterdam-based Usabilla putting in the minimal security necessary, and nothing more for its consumer feedback service. The simplifying services and features encouraged users to follow the right path rather than take actions having potential security implications.
Hire Competent Developers
Often skills gaps, poor planning and poor understanding of the business model by the developer aggravates the usability-security conundrum. Hiring competent enterprise app developers, who have considerable experience and exposure to the business, who are able to work closely with business managers, and who are able to deploy the best tools and techniques of the trade, is the key to develop highly intuitive apps, which are highly secure at the same time.
Infince to Exhibit at The Small Business Expo, New York and Boston
WHITE PLAINS –April 17, 2018– Infince will be exhibiting during The Small Business Expo ( America’s biggest event for entrepreneurs and business owners ), in New York on Thursday, May 3, 2018, and in Boston on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Infince will be located at Exhibitor Booth 521 in New York’s Javits Center and Booth 420 in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center.
Infince delivers the three IT-essentials for business: run-your-business software, secure cloud hosting, and concierge IT services, on a single tightly integrated platform. Created by Fingent, a leading developer of cloud-based technologies, Infince gives a business instant access to a complete, reliable, fully supported, and secure IT infrastructure, even if they don’t have any in-house IT expertise. Perfect for today’s “deskless” worker and employees who BYOD.
Software: Infince offers a turnkey library of free, open source, enterprise software, including customizable CMS, ERP, CRM, and marketing automation software; and enables unified access to popular SaaS services, all of which can be activated or deactivated on demand. This integration greatly facilitates onboarding and offboarding of employees. A business’ internet domain, email server, and website can be set up with a few clicks. Out of the box, each user gets a suite of business office software, email, chat, secure file sharing, and productivity tools, including video meetings.
Cloud: Unlike other cloud providers who have complex configuration options primarily catering to software developers, provisioning cloud resources on Infince is easy-to-do and easy-to-understand. Infince lets a business owner grow and manage their IT infrastructure themselves, in economical bite-sized increments. All employee files and communications are secured and inaccessible to search engine companies.
Services: Infince offers a variety of service options including online help desk and expert application technical support, self-help support, configuration assistance, server management, and affordable custom programming services.
Cost and Pre-requisites: An introductory starter package supporting up to 10 users is offered at $50 per month, and it requires no annual commitment. As a “thin client,” virtual desktop, Infince can be run from anywhere there is available internet service and on any device with supported browsers: from Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones, to PC’s and Macs.
“Infince is a complete and worry-free cloud offering that lets a business adopt technology quickly, with integrated support, and lets owners stay focused on achieving their core business goals.” said Stephen Cummings, SVP.
Easy to use and simple to deploy, Infince makes it economical for a small business to get big business technology. For more info, see infince.com.
So your company has recently purchased an Enterprise Software that will help the organization run. But did you check whether the technology solution provider has provided a maintenance plan along with it? Or, have you researched whether the software builders are competent when it comes to after-sales support? Like a vehicle that requires maintenance, software is no different. It is imperative to include a maintenance plan when you buy a software solution because:
Corrections and bug fixing
A fully-functional software might not display errors and bugs in the beta stage until it is put actively in the environment. A maintenance contract will ensure that these bugs and bad codes are fixed. It also covers the systems for major repairs and advanced problem solving that otherwise would cost more money and time.
A software solution is adaptive since it evolves with use every single day. With changes on a daily basis, your software might need an upgrade, update, and even change in modules. Plug in these changes can along with the maintenance team that knows the ins and outs of the software. It also keeps the software up-to-date and increases its lifespan in the company.
Since technology is growing each day, the addition of new hardware to the systems is inevitable. A maintenance contract from your software provider can help in addressing compatibility issues with this newer hardware. It would help one tackle with ease, any modification of the existing system.
Some vendors provide one or two free upgrades and patches in their maintenance contract that help in keeping your software on par with the latest trends. These upgrades might include some major overhaul or issues raised by other users.
Saving IT expenditure
A smart move in any business is to save money before earning the profits. Having a maintenance contract does cost a little extra but covers important bug fixes, routine upgrades, and critical problem-solving. In a way, it fixes an annual price on the IT expenditure and removes the chance of any unforeseeable expense that might occur due to the software.
Re-engineering the software
As a part of preventive maintenance, the software can be re-engineered and restructured to adapt to the changing conditions. This type of maintenance is mostly used as a preventive measure to avoid problems that might occur instead of fixing existing problems.
Staying ahead in the race
As you evolve and grow, so does your competition. Your enterprise software plays an important role when it comes to staying in forefront of the competitors or fulfilling the requirements of tech-savvy customers. A regular maintenance can help with adapting to time. Also, changes in business patterns and legal government rules can be done easily under a contract.
Remember each technology solution provider will offer various types of maintenance. You will have to first identify what are the requirements of your business and what type of maintenance will suit them. Secondly, check if the contract is worth the price with respect to the coverage and the background of the provider. See what are the different maintenance features provided. These may include the number of updates provided in a year, availability of support team in need of emergency, and turnaround time for problem-solving.
Robert Glass has a very well-written fact about maintenance that goes like this – ‘60% of software’s cost is maintenance, and about 60% of the maintenance cost is an improvement.’ Established and genuine software providers not only offer complete software solutions but also maintenance services that encompass all the said points that help run a smooth business.
With the internet, especially mobile internet now a way of life, businesses are going overboard developing enterprise apps. A 2015 Gartner survey reveals 79% of enterprises increase their mobile spending by 36%. These numbers are increasing every year and for good reasons.
Here are the basic reasons why enterprises are going overboard, developing mobile apps for their internal and external stakeholders.
1. Enterprise Apps Improve Productivity and Efficiency
Very few businesses can get away with slack in today’s highly competitive business environment. Enterprises looking to remain competitive have no option but to go all out in improving internal efficiency and boosting employee productivity, and enterprise apps contribute in a big way on both these fronts.
Enterprises apps increase employee productivity, help to optimize business processes to bring in process efficiency, and unlock insights which drive new business models. It facilitates a lean business model, with greater transparency, facilitating operations with reduced inventory and just-in-time inventory fulfillment practices.
Often, employees hit a roadblock in their quest to do something by being unable to access the required data. Enterprise apps make it easy to retrieve data. Moreover, one of the important pre-requisite before developing enterprise apps is removing data silos and fostering transparency, for apps to retrieve the data in the first place.
Mobile apps simplify what would otherwise be convoluted and even confusing processes. Armed with an app, the employee would know exactly what to do and how to do, without the risk of errors or procedural delays.
The single biggest drag on employee productivity is searching for information, preparing reports, and other routine “maintenance” tasks. Enterprise apps automate most of these processes, leaving the employee free to work on their core responsibilities.
2. Enterprise Apps Empower Field Workers
Today’s businesses are extremely mobile. They often work from multiple locations and have no option but to become go-getters, reaching out to customers at their site rather than expect them to visit their premises. The importance of sales and service has also increased manifold. A vast number of businesses, from delivery services to long-haul truck drivers, and from airport mechanics to courier companies, have agents or technicians on the field.
Until recently all these businesses were constrained by lack of real-time access to their technicians. Scheduling remote work was hit-and-miss, with the site visit depending on many variables with the main office having no control or visibility into what is going on.
Smart devices, such as tablets and smartphones, powered by enterprise apps, not just allow remote workers to remain connected to their office, but also offer real-time insights into the process. They feeding first-hand data from the ground to the enterprise system, and get analyzed data, in a recursive cycle, to gain unparalleled insights. At the customer end, full transparency and visibility into the field workers movements make the wait for service to arrive less agonizing.
Sales executives get all insights related to the customer he or she is about to visit. Their mobile app taps into all relevant data, subject it to real-time analytics and makes it available in easily consumable formats. Likewise, the executive, during the course of the meeting, can crunch data, make follow-ups, make commitments, or show projections, instantly, without having to make follow-up visits and lose the momentum.
It gets better. With IoT soon coming into the mix, remote devices can communicate with the main office, sending signals on what exactly is wrong, allowing field service technicians to make the site visit with the right tools and spares, sparing the need to make re-visits. Likewise, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technology enable even rookie field service technicians to perform complex tasks, with support from experienced hands situated even in another continent, with AR powered enterprise apps offering seamless connectivity.
3. Enterprise Apps Increase Engagement and Sales
Customer facing enterprise apps drive sales and improve customer satisfaction manifold.
E-commerce apps make it easier for customers to buy. Often customers, wanting to buy a product, are put off by the complexity of the whole process, or the need to take time out to visit the e-commerce website. The easy-to-use mobile app makes the product available in just a few easy and convenient swipes. The same convenience holds true for reaching out to the company to make inquiries, and log complaints or support tickets.
4. Enterprise Apps Unlock New Insights
In today’s information heavy age, all businesses end with up tons of data. Such data could be a source of competitive advantage if subject to analytics, to derive actionable and relevant insights. Much of the big data is unstructured in nature, in the form of MS-Word documents, emails, videos, and embedded sensor data. Using intuitive enterprise apps powered by highly intuitive analytic tools, business managers and executives may subject such data to backend analytics, and gain actionable insights, allowing them to make more informed decisions that take guesswork and “gut-feelings” out of the equation.
An automated data analysis and presentation system collect data from a variety of sources, from shipments to warranty claims, and from failure analysis reports to bills, analyze the data automatically, and offers the insights to those who benefit from it. It requires custom apps to establish the data flow, make the required analysis and personalize the presentation mechanism.
For instance, when a customer enters a store, the executive who engages with the customer enters the customer’s name or telephone number into his app, which runs on a tablet or smartphone. The intuitive backend gathers all information residing internally, including purchase history, customer support ticket information and more, and also access the latest social media information to understand current taste and information. Such information is processed in real time, analyzed to identify the product range, price range and other preferences of the customer, allowing the executive to showcase relevant products and offer deals that really strike a chord. Without an app, powered by analytics backend, such information would be near-impossible to obtain, and definitely not in real-time.
5. Rolling out Enterprise Apps is Pandering to the Market
As the adage goes, “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Mobility is an idea that has gained currency and is now well entrenched. Today’s sophisticated users, both internal employees and external customers prefer simple interfaces as a means to deal with the underlying complexity, and they see intuitive web apps as the solution. Businesses who does not invest in enterprise apps stand the risk of alienating their stakeholders.
While conventional web-based interfaces may offer a solution to a limited extent, the changing nature of business and internet, especially the increasing number of people on the move make mobile apps expedients. Most users today anyway expect a higher level of usability and performance than what a web-based interface can deliver.
The best enterprise software is reliable, robust and up-to-date. Blindly rolling out apps left, right, and center, for the sake of it does no good. The enterprise app strategy succeeds only when there is clarity on what an app actually delivers that other touch points cannot, and then executing the app development process well, with an easy interface and powerful functionality. It helps to outsource the app development process to a competent agency who has experience and expertise in the work, and for whom developing an app won’t be a distraction from their daily routine.
Stewart Butterfield is on a high as he’ll ever be. Slack, the cloud-based team collaboration tool, he launched in August 2013 is now the fastest growing workplace software ever. Butterfield is however, no stranger to software success, though, having co-founded several companies before Slack, most successful of which was Flickr, the popular image sharing website.
The unprecedented success of Slack raises several pointers to the future of enterprise software development.
Identify Genuine Needs
Butterfield attributes this success in developing enterprise software to his ability to identify and fulfill genuine needs. In an interview with Peter High, in Forbes, he explains the secret of successful software, using Slack as the case study.
Slack started off as a need to fill a void for internal communications in Tiny Speck, one of Butterfield’s earlier company. The partners used to communicate over IRC, which actually predated the internet. To overcome the limitations of IRC, of not being able to communicate if a user is not connected to the server in real time, Butterfield developed a system to log messages so people could catch up when they got back online. Slack germinated from this core.
New technologies, new markets, and new business models would obviously create new needs. The future of enterprise software development lies in identifying such needs and working towards fulfilling it.
Facilitate Rather than Disrupt
Gone are the days when enterprises tweaked their systems to comply with what the software demanded. In today’s highly competitive and fast-paced business world, enterprise software development needs to mirror how work takes place, and also needs to be flexible to facilitate different streams and rapid changes.
A key reason for Slack’s unprecedented success is the suite taking care of everything a normal run of the mill chat programme often overlooks. A search functionality was added to the database containing chat logs very early. Another key intuitive feature is compliance or features such as digital loss prevention, required as part of the regulatory environment. There is also a checklist feature.
Slack is also flexible and adaptable to suit the actual on-the-ground requirements of the workforce. It recognises the necessity of an employee having a different relationship with different people, and caters to having multiple groups, with flexible relationships. Slack facilitates an unlimited number of teams with an unlimited number of shared channels across those teams. People can be members of more than one team, based on communities, practices, employee resource groups, workplace location, and more.
Enterprise Software is Becoming Increasingly Collaborative
Technologies such as GitHub and others facilitate a collaborative development process. However, today’s enterprise software development demands deeper collaboration, right from the conceptual stage. Taking active suggestions and feedback from stakeholders, especially end-users, ranks high on the list of best practices for successful enterprise software development.
Slack took feedback and user involvement seriously. Apart from actively reaching out to users through Twitter and other social media, Butterfield sent out user research teams to sit with customers and get insight into how Slack is working.
The Team Matters Just as Much as the Technology
Slack’s impressive growth has been paralleled by the company growing in size. The sustained success of software development depends largely on the team being able to focus on its core cultural attributes, even when there is heavy churn, and a majority of the team members are new, at any given point of time. It is equally important to have a sustainable and meaningful mission, to keep the team motivated. Butterfield’s mission is: “to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
Successful enterprise software development teams are highly mission-driven and set high standards of performance. They emulate professional sports teams who analyse the tape of a game for feedback on improvement. Rather than blame people or circumstances, they focus on making improvements the next time, making software development a continuous cycle, rather than a one-off project.
The Low Code Revolution is On
Enterprise software development is in the middle of a “low-code” revolution, with companies increasingly choosing solutions that require little to no manual coding. Colin Earl, the CEO and Founder of Agiloft, defines low-code software as a system configurable to meet business requirements with just a few dozen lines of code or less, apart from the API code, to integrate other systems.
Low-code systems accelerate the development process, reduces costs, and also removes uncertainties associated with enterprise software development. Low-code systems also enable quick re-deployment and rapid changes, essential in today’s fast-paced world. Such low-code platforms are generally highly scalable as well, catering to global conglomerates and a small mom-and-pop shop, at the same time.
By embracing the low code trend, companies can better their performance and improve the functionality of their enterprise software, without having to invest in infrastructure.
Butterfield estimated the market for Slack at $100 million when he first pitched the concept, and the company has already exceeded this revenue in under three years. There is nothing preventing you from developing such highly successful enterprise software. All you need to do is partner with us. Our highly experienced and talented software developers make the perfect accessories to understanding your business requirements and developing cutting edge solutions that make life easy for your workforce, customers, and other stakeholders.