Monday, 3 April 2017

How Can Enterprise Application Integration Benefit Your Business?

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Enterprises of all sizes, from small to large, rely on a variety of software applications to execute critical business operations on a daily basis. In order to communicate with internal and external teams, maintain relationships with customers, acquire business intelligence, and carry out other business objectives, enterprises have had to rely and acquaint themselves with multiple software programs.

The issue here comes from the lack of coordination between the different applications. Some businesses turn to enterprise app development to create custom applications that maneuver around the issue, but to truly get passed it, you have to integrate enterprise applications into a single interface.

What Is Enterprise Application Integration?

Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) enables data flow from programs by creating an interface that allows applications to communicate with each other. By bridging the gap between different software programs, EAI helps organizations exploit the full potential of their technology. Its implementation results in a well-rounded view of an organization’s business model, enabling higher operational efficiency.

How Can EAI Benefit Your Business?

The goal of EAI is to combine data generated by different programs to streamline business operations and create a more efficient business. It helps businesses remain flexible in terms of infrastructure. As we covered earlier, enterprises usually purchase a variety of software programs for alternate business operations. Some of the applications that EAI can target are related to:
Ecommerce Optimization
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Human Resources Data
Internal and Marketing Communications
Supply Chain Management (SCM)
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Business Intelligence and Analytics
Because intercommunication in the above processes is not automated, they can’t communicate with each other, leading to inefficiency. And now, here’s how EAI can be of great benefit for your business:

Simplified Exchange of Information

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As the ‘integration’ part of its name implies, enterprise application integration allows the integration of different software programs. Naturally, what follows is a simplified flow of information between separate software programs.
If you think of the interface created by EAI as a single point of data access, those within and connected to the enterprise can access the combined data, eliminating redundancies that come with separate and detached systems. The outcome is a consolidation of data that’s not only easily accessible, but also a big time saver.

Automated Business Processes

Similar to a simplified flow of information, automated business processes are a natural byproduct of EAI because it streamlines operations from various applications. The combination of processes allows you to figuratively ‘kill two birds with one stone.”

Simplified Technological Processes

Not everyone can be tech savvy. It’s no great surprise that some people have a harder time that others adjusting to new technologies. This problem is magnified further when new applications and existing software don’t mesh well together. By combining the information and functionality of multiple programs into a single user-friendly interface, EAI reduces the complexities of technology that some people struggle with. As such, instead of learning various systems and applications, one need only familiarize themselves with one.

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Improved Efficiency

By nature, the single interface that EAI creates greatly improves efficiency. Organizations no longer have to go back and forth between applications when completing a task; they can quickly locate information in one simple place.

Picture an employee seeking to use information from one application for another. Without EAI they have to go back and forth between both, risking inconsistencies. These can be a missed word, number, or anything else that may arise out of human error. With EAI, on the other hand, everything is consolidated in one location. Easy, simple, and efficient.

Wrapping Up

Enterprise application integration is the answer to the question you didn’t know you had. With it, an enterprise can:
Manage the flow of information in a simple manner.
Automate business processes and streamline operations.
Reduce the complexities associated with new or challenging technologies.
Improve efficiency with a single interface that reduces the impact of human error.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Rise of Enterprise Cloud Apps

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We live in a time of technological advancements. Drones are delivering packages from Amazon, self-driving cars are taking to the highways, advances in natural language processing are gearing up to shake up the world of smart digital assistants, and cloud computing lets us store unimaginable amounts of information on remote servers.

Enterprise Cloud Applications

Let’s begin with a brief overview of enterprise mobile apps and enterprise app development. Enterprise apps differ from consumer apps in that they’re predominantly productivity-focused. More often than not, they’re created by enterprises to streamline tasks and create an automated environment. In the past, enterprises wanting to develop an app would need to contact vendors, complete an RFP (request for proposal) process, and jump through numerous other hurdles. Things are much better today. Now, organizations can go to a cloud marketplace and submit their app without the worries that previously troubled them. And, if for any reason they’re not pleased with the app, they just need deactivate it.

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This simplified development process, with less involvement from vendors, was formerly reserved for consumer apps. It has, in turn, taken pressures off selecting the optimal cloud strategy and led to the consumerization of B2B enterprise mobile apps. As a matter of fact, Oracle, the world’s largest software company announced in 2016 that all of its apps would be moving to the cloud. Moreover, a survey found that 75% of enterprises with greater than 1,000 employees have at least one app or platform running in the cloud, and 90% of all companies today either have apps running in the cloud or are planning on doing so in 2017.

Enterprise Cloud Applications in the Public Marketplace

The growing consumption of enterprise cloud apps has led to an increase in both the number of enterprise mobile apps moving to public cloud marketplaces and ease of enterprise app consumption. This shift in the enterprise app development process has been largely driven by Amazon Web Services (AWS), a pay-as-you-go suite of cloud computing services that make up an on-demand computing platform. AWS is an easy and affordable solution to cloud computing, and one that reached an all time high in popularity in 2016, with 57% of companies running it in the cloud. In fact, AWS is actually more popular than Microsoft, Google and IBM’s clouds combined.

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The Demand for Enterprise Cloud Applications

As we covered earlier, developing enterprise apps on the cloud is much easier than the on-premise alternative. Not only easier, but cheaper, and as we’ll cover in the next section, safer as well.

The Security Misconception

There’s a big misconception about the cloud and security. Many believe the cloud to be unsafe because it’s ‘the cloud,’ an abstract concept that most don’t fully understand. In other words, because data is stored on servers and hardware that are largely out of their control, people believe that it’s more susceptible to breaches.

In reality, and as this post explains, “Offsite cloud applications typically require more stringent firewalls, access credentials and security protocols than onsite stored data. With onsite stored data, security protocols tend to wane because they nest behind a local firewall onsite. On the other hand, offsite cloud applications must adhere to much more stringent security protocols, to make sure business owners are comfortable storing materials offsite and to make sure that access to those materials remains muted from the outside world.”

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The Takeaway

“What’s happening in the market is cloud—it’s just the way the industry is going to be going forward,” says Dan Miller, Oracle senior vice president for ISV and OEM. It’s safe to say that if you’re going to embark on an enterprise app development journey, the cloud is the way to go.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Your Guide to Choosing the Mobile App Development Platform That’s Right for You

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Mobile apps are for everyone. The common man can use them for directions, the tech savvy young adult to streamline work by utilizing voice technology, the protective mother to keep watch over her children, and now more than ever, by enterprises looking for innovative ways to tackle specific business issues. The difference between the populous and the enterprise is that the latter must bypass the common app store, venture into the backend world, and try their hand with an enterprise app development platform.

Mobile App Development Platforms
At its most basic, a mobile app development platform is software that enables developers to build, test and deploy apps. It can made in-house or purchased from a third-party vendor. When made in-house, it can include tailor-made customized features, and when purchased, it’s features differ from vendor to vendor. Some platforms are also technically ‘codeless’ and facilitate the development process. These platforms save time, money and resources with reusable components and templates, but make sacrifices in the form of customizable options. Codeless platforms also require minimal developer expertise and knowledge of programming languages. They ease the development process and are especially useful for in-house developers who want an app but don’t have enough resources for an expert.

‘Purposeless’ Enterprise Mobile Apps
Enterprise apps are as diverse as their non-enterprise counterparts. While by no means purposeless, some enterprise apps have a less defined purpose than those filling specific niches in the workplace. These ‘purposeless’ apps can range from informing you of the lunch specials in the corporate cafeteria to letting you know when the vending machine down the hall is out of your favorite drink. In the end, they still help the business by saving time that could be better spent working, but their purpose isn’t as business-centric as other apps.

Enterprise Mobile Apps for Productivity

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Here’s where the purposeful apps that boost productivity come in. To start things off, why are enterprises developing apps? Take a look at these stats to find out:

● 39% of employees agree that enterprise apps make the workplace more efficient
● Enterprises gain an average of 240 hours per employee each year by utilizing mobile apps
● 66% of enterprises are expecting to increase their investment in mobile apps within the next three years

The takeaway here is that enterprises are investing more in mobile apps because they increase productivity, enhance task performance, and are a key ingredient for business growth. They can be external and benefit a company’s customers by providing loyalty programs and instant support in the form of a chatbot, or internal and solve the daily work needs of a company’s employees by managing inventory, tracking orders, generating leads, and much more. The possibilities are literally limitless because each business has its own set of needs and can develop a myriad of apps for each need.

Enterprise App Development Platform Considerations
The first consideration to be made is what type of app you want. Is it for internal or external purposes? What will it do? Once you answer these questions you can move to the next consideration, which is choosing between an in-house platform or one provided by a third-party. The codeless platforms we covered earlier also come into play here, and their use is called rapid mobile app development (RMAD). They make apps that are ‘good enough’ to address internal issues, but shouldn’t be used if you plan on developing a client-facing external app. Next comes mobile platform. Because different platforms require different operating systems, cross-platform capability is also something to consider. The two most popular mobile platforms are Android and iPhones, which use the Android and iOS operating system respectively.

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After you choose a platform it’s time to decide on an app type. Native apps are designed and coded for a specific platform, and can tap into the device-specific hardware such as the camera, flashlight, microphone, compass, etc. Web apps are like mobile versions of websites that load within a web browser. Their scope is more limited, but because they load within browsers, work across devices. The combination of the two creates hybrid apps that are built with cross-compatible web technologies, and native code for improved performance within each platform. Last but not least are a new type of apps called progressive web apps (PWA). These are similar to hybrid apps in that they combine the best of mobile and web, but are inherently different. They’re built using an app shell that keeps the app’s user interface and content separated, and service workers that allow for offline use. Read more on PWAs here. Something else to consider is method of deployment. Do you want a cloud-based service or an on-site deployment? Cloud-based services tend to be easier and faster because everything is kept online and can be accessed from multiple locations, but on-site deployments bypass cloud-based subscription fees and offer more control.

To wrap things up, keep in mind that enterprise mobile apps are rapidly becoming a must-have in the world of business. They increase productivity, streamline tasks, and create efficient work environments. But before embarking on your enterprise app development journey, take time to think of the considerations we went over today as you decide which development platform is best for you.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Why Top Companies are in Search of Mobile Apps for Business

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Top companies around the world are embracing enterprise mobile apps for business solutions. 57% of these are providing, on average, two to ten apps for their employees. 66% are also expecting to increase their investment in enterprise app development within the next three years. Take heed and read why.

External and Internal Enterprise Apps

Enterprise apps come in different shapes and sizes. They can be made for internal purposes and benefit a company, or for external purposes and help a company’s customers. Internally, they streamline tasks and create a more efficient work environment. Externally, they play a vital role in branding and maintaining customer loyalty. What’s true for both approaches is that the app should solve a problem.

External Enterprise Apps

A company benefits when their customers benefit. This appeal has drawn many enterprises to develop external apps to be used exclusively by their customers. They can be used to:
Ensure loyalty through reward programs and promotions
Provide instant support through a chatbot
Gain customer insight through usage statistics
Present product in a visual way
Improve communication
Provide service information

The idea is to present your company and brand in mobile form – the preferred medium of communication for the growing majority. ExxonMobil, an oil and gas corporation, saw the mobile trend and developed an interactive app that provides information about career opportunities. Take advantage of this trend and find the best way to communicate with your customers.

Internal Enterprise Apps

Enterprise mobile apps used internally solve the daily work needs of a company’s employees. They can be tailored for small and large businesses alike. SAP, a multinational software company, took notice of the growing enterprise app trend and launched an enterprise app store that they’ve since started enrolling customers in. Research also shows that by 2017, 25% of companies will have their own enterprise app store. Types of apps to consider:
Inventory management apps
Production order tracking apps
Sales execution apps
Lead generation apps
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) apps
If there’s a will there’s a way. You can even have a carpooling app if you’re part of an environmentally conscious company, and looking for innovative ways to help users live sustainably.

Choosing Which Enterprise Apps to Develop

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No one knows a company’s needs better than the employees that work there. They’re the cavalry; they have first-hand experience with the day-to-day activities that it takes to keep a company running smoothly. As such, it’s a good idea to go to them for enterprise app development ideas. They know how to do their job, and if prompted, can come up with ideas on how to optimize their performance.

Figure out how an app could work in sync with what your business offers. Apart from their recruitment app, ExxonMobil also developed a fuel finder app that provides real-time maps and guides consumers to the nearest of over 10,000 Exxon and Mobil locations.

Business Growth with Enterprise Apps

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Enterprise apps have become a big factor for business growth in recent years. You want to stay ahead of your competition. You’re in trouble if they have mobile apps and you don’t. A recent survey from Adobe found that a majority of departments (62%) believe it’s important to have their enterprise app strategy ahead of their competition, and most (66%) believe they’re just on par with or behind their competition. Furthermore, research from on small and large British companies shows that 60% of employees have seen an increase in their personal productivity as a direct result of enterprise mobile apps, with an average productivity boost of 34%.

Increased productivity and enhanced task performance are key ingredients for business growth. In order to grow, a company needs to be efficient, and less efficient operations are a leading risk of not using enterprise apps. Growth can also come from increased business due to happy customers. Keep them happy and engaged with apps developed specifically for them.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Future of Ecommerce

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The adoption of artificial intelligence into the world of ecommerce is bound to make a big splash. Not only because it will greatly facilitate customer interactions, but also because of the changing and growing online retail landscape.
 •  Global ecommerce sales reached $839.8 billion in 2013, and are forecasted to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2018
By analyzing your history and how you shop, it will be able to determine what you’re likely to buy and personalize your shopping experiences to the point where you’ll feel as though you have a virtual personal shopper at your side. This is especially true for our mobile-first world, in which mobile shopping is on the rise. It’s safe to expect enterprise app development to include some form of AI in the near future because it has the possibility to “think” faster than humans and can analyze more data in less time. Moreover, it’s in demand.
 •  70% of US millennials, and 62% of millennials in the UK, say they would appreciate a brand or retailer using AI technology to show more interesting products

Artificial Intelligence and Enterprise Businesses
Gartner, an IT research firm, predicted that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise platform without interacting with a human. Three of the largest tech companies today — Google, Amazon and IBM — have begun integrating AI into their existing platforms. Amazon released the Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled smart speaker, in 2015, Google released Google Assistant, an intelligent personal assistant, earlier this year, and IBM has a host of AI developments including Watson, a cognitive computing system that understands natural language. A survey of 235 business executives conducted by the National Business Research Institute (NBRI) also found that:
   •  38% are already using AI technology
   •  62% will use AI technology by 2018
   •  58% are using AI technology for predictive analytics
   •  25% are using AI technology for automated written reporting and communicating
   •  25% are using AI technology for voice recognition and response
AI’s draw in enterprise business is that it gives computers human-like capabilities (hearing, seeing, reasoning and learning), and in some cases, improves them.

1: Computer Vision
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Computer vision includes recognition capabilities such as image and facial recognition, and is a case in which a human faculty, vision, is improved for the digital world. Computer vision implemented in the enterprise app development process offers some of the most overarching possibilities for ecommerce and mobile apps in general.
   •  Product recognition: you’ll be able to take a picture of a product you like such as a shirt, jacket, etc., and match it with similar styles from different sources
   •  Medical imaging: you’ll be able to perform medical analysis at the touch of a button
   •  3D scanning: you’ll be able to scan an object and upload it to a computer

2: Machine Learning
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Machine learning is a branch of AI that has many implications for ecommerce and mobile apps. It’s made to discover patterns and trends automatically, without being explicitly programmed to do so. Enterprise mobile apps with machine learning can increase conversions by taking a shopper’s buying habits as input and producing a list of recommendations as output. They can analyze behavior, pricing trends, and product demand to come up with a price most likely to lead to a sale.
3: Natural Language Processing
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is another branch of AI that seeks to bridge the gap between what is said and what is meant. Previously ambiguous phrases are translated into applicable search results to provide a seamless shopping experience that mirrors actual human interaction. It aims to overcome the limitations of ecommerce caused by text-based searches and keyword matching. In other words, it has the capacity to understand human error and work around it. NLP offers a competitive advantage for enterprise mobile apps because it will make them “smarter.” Siri, Apple’s intelligent personal assistant, is an example of NLP in practice.

4: Chatbots
In the F8 developer conference that took place earlier this year, David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products, Facebook, said that “bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them.” They use a conversational interface to perform a wide variety of tasks. In terms of ecommerce, chatbots offer online business owners a cost-effective solution to customer service; they can respond instantaneously to many at the same time.

5: Virtual Personal Assistants
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Virtual personal assistants use a variety of previously covered topics and integrate them into one. The most widely known assistants are Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Now. Think of them as advanced chatbots that go above and beyond the call of duty. Someday we might even have a version of Siri or Alexa that has computer vision capabilities and can suggest clothes to wear. Beyond that we have the possibilities of combining virtual personal assistants with strong AI to create an almost sentient assistant that can understand exactly what we say and want.

The Future of Ecommerce is Bright
The influence of artificial intelligence on enterprise mobile apps is growing at a steady pace as “smart” apps are being developed to make ecommerce more efficient. We have computer vision directing us to retailers, machine learning that’s optimizing the shopping process, natural processing language closing the gap between what we say and what we mean, chatbots providing support, and virtual personal assistants taking the reins of our busy lives. A bright future indeed.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Why Facebook Launched the Enterprise Communication Platform Workplace and the Benefits You Can Expect to Receive

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“It’s an app, but I think about it more as a way of running a company”. Says Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
This statement was in regards to Facebook’s Workplace application, which is now available to any company or organization that has a need for it. Workplace is the business edition of Facebook. Catering towards the needs of professionals in a corporate setting is exactly what this enterprise platform sets out to do.
The potential this specific software has is exceptional, considering what the company has already accomplished with the social media world. With around 1.71 billion monthly active users on Facebook, there is a lot of hope and excitement towards how the company can successfully run enterprise integration.

Workplace App Features
Think about Workplace as Facebook’s strictly business and highly professional twin brother. Some of the features the application has are extremely similar to that of Facebook. As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why change things up if the developers have an already successful and popular platform? They didn’t. According to an official Facebook article:
“We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace – whether it’s basic infrastructure such as News Feed, or the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, or useful features such as Live, Reactions, Search and Trending posts. This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”
The capability this enterprise integration has is quite amazing. Chat systems, group interlinking, and analytic tracking allows for adequate collaboration between workers.

How Does Your Business Benefit From It?
Workplace can give employees the ability to unify all parts of an organization while supporting collaboration, flexibility, and creativity. What Workplace does so effectively is offering an extremely effective medium for workers to communicate with one another. Instead of relying on outdated corporate email messaging, Facebook offers users the ability to discuss projects through groups, ideas, and photos.

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Keeping employees connected is another large function of this software. With some organizations having considerable workforces consisting of people in different brands, segments, places, etc. it can be hectic keeping workers in the loop. The enterprise app development of Workplace keeps the needs of employees first resulting in positive business productivity.

How is it Different from Other Platforms?
Facebook Workplace’s biggest competitor was, and continues to be Slack. The biggest advantages Workplace has over Slack are the friendly (and familiar) user interface and the price.
Being the most popular social network in the world, it’s fairly evident that people and workers alike know how to use Facebook, and like doing it. Workplace caters to such a broad audience because there just simply isn’t a large learning curve in getting used to its features. The software strategically mimics the platform of Facebook so that users know the product and are familiar with how it functions. Using the application on the go is a strong component the company offers its consumers. In the discussion of enterprise mobile apps, Facebook already has one of the best messaging applications on the market. A transition of it into a corporate setting will both be advantageous and supportive of business activities.

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Another huge dominance Workplace has is its pricing options. The company offers a $3 price for up to 1k monthly active users, $2 for 1,001 – 10k monthly active users, and $1 for 10,001 + monthly active users. This is significantly cheaper than Slack’s standard pricing plan of $6.67 per active user monthly and their plus pricing plan of $12.50 per active monthly user. This competitive pricing strategy will be hard to ignore for companies on a slightly tighter budget.

No longer just social, Facebook has official spread its wings into the world of business beyond marketing. It’s going to be really exciting to see what Facebook’s version of enterprise integration will turn into.  What’s next for the digital giant? Maybe we’ll be seeing Workplace evolve into a household name in corporate industries, very much like it’s flagship social giant has in the world of online sharing. How would you like to see Facebook evolve its business platform?

Monday, 3 October 2016

How Enterprise Applications are Gaining Momentum

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The Internet has easily become one of the fastest growing, most essential tools for everyday life – to the point it is quickly evolving into something that is completely unavoidable. . Now, more than ever, our entire lives exist in the Clouds, part of a greater enterprise integration model that is quickly picking up steam. Essentially, these models connect devices to the Internet in ways we never thought they could be, or even needed to be connected. Enterprise mobile apps enable people to view wirelessly connected cameras on planes, adjust the thermostat while never leaving the couch and even check the weather on our refrigerator. This is all a greater part of the Internet of Things movement in which eventually, everything in the world around us may be in some way intertwined to the net. Because of this, enterprise app development is on the rise and businesses are shifting their focus to explore ways they can be involved in the future of our technology-driven world.

Getting The Data You Need

Businesses are using enterprise integration to make it easier to understand data and allow teams to view data in a digestible manner. These systems incorporate Cloud based technologies that grant users the ability to access massive amounts of data practically anywhere at anytime. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, every company moving forward can glean a great advantage from this by more deeply understanding their consumer. With so much data, it may be hard to find the real nuggets of gold that will propel you to new heights, but by having enterprise integration services makes it easy to narrow your focus on the data you need for powerful business results.

Integration You Can Wear

The enterprise mobile apps that we see today are often being incorporated into technology we can actually wear. For example, The Apple Watch has more than 10,000 applications and the number is only rising. Wearable technology represents a budding market of the future. And while the apps already have a pretty significant presence on iOS, companies are striving to create additional applications to further the growth of their own businesses. This drive and consumer demand shows the deep level of commitment to the idea that life should be connected.

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Securing The Future

A critical part of any enterprise app development is security. As reported by Gartner, more than three quarters of all mobile apps failed basic, standard security tests in 2015. With this in mind, any application now in development must ease consumers minds in regards security, making it a focal point when in the development stages. With the web of interconnection to people’s personal lives, they must feel secure that their information is being protected at all costs. We trust so many programs and apps to store data that has our finical history, medical history and even personal history. If companies really want us to move forward and allow these types of technologies to be a part of our lives, they must leave the consumers in confidence that their information will not be misused or mishandled. Businesses that will be successful in integration of this technology era are making increase endeavors to tackle the issue and resolve consumer concerns.

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An App A Day

We are now in a shift where applications will take precedent over traditional websites. There is a large focus on applications that can greatly improve customer relations and create an easier way to allow any employee of any level to access the information they may need. Driven by the rise of mobile usage, this shift is one that is natural and will bring new innovations to everyday products and even beyond. We are creating a smarter world that is infusing modern day technology, which seems almost borderline of science fiction. We are seeing microchips in domestic animals, incredibly efficient wind turbines and even self-driving cars.