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The European Union (EU) rolled out the General Data Protection Regulation- (GDPR) on May 25, 2018, bringing stringent reforms in data protection policy for residents of the European Union (EU). The goal of the GDPR is to provide individuals with robust data rights so that they are aware of and have control over how companies are collecting, storing and processing their personal data.

Why the EU adopted the GDPR?

The EU had the 1995 data protection directive in place, but it was before social media existed and before the Internet became a second home for people. The EU adopted the GDPR in April 2016 to supersede the obsolete directive that failed to address today’s public concerns over data security and had negligible non-compliance fines.

What Key Changes the GDPR brings to Protect Privacy and Data Breaches ?

Increased Data Security via Pseudonymization and Anonymization

The GDPR aims at safeguarding individuals (formally called as data subjects in the GDPR) against cybercrimes, like data loss, theft and unauthorized access. Under the GDPR, data controllers and processors have a mandatory obligation to use pseudonymization or complete data anonymization for stored data of people in the EU, so that no unwanted person/organization can track your personally identifiable information.

Explicit Consent before Processing your Data

The GDPR requires all organizations, except law enforcement and national security agencies, to seek explicit consent before collecting and processing personal information of data subjects. As per the new data protection framework, silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity will no longer be acceptable to constitute consent. Besides, the language in the consent form has to be plain and intelligible. Data subjects are also enabled to withdraw consent at any time they want.

Right to Data Access and Data Portability

The new data protection law improves data transparency and empowers data subjects by providing the right to data access. Data subjects can ask companies what personal data they hold on them and whether or not that data has been processed. If yes, then where, for what purpose, how it was processed and who gets to see it.

Data controllers and processors are required to provide a detailed copy of the actual data with other details in a structured, commonly used and machine readable form. Data subjects also have the right to data portability, meaning they can transmit their personal data for free to another controller, wherever relevant, in a simple and plain language.

Breach Notification

In the event of a data breach that poses high risk to the rights of data subjects, data controllers are required to notify their supervisory authority and the data subjects about the data breach within 72 hours. The GDPR exempts data controllers from the breach disclosure requirement only if a data breach is unlikely to have a high risk to data rights. But, they are still required to document the data breach internally, so that they can produce it whenever their data protection authority (DPA) asks for it.

Extended GDPR Jurisdiction

Extra-territorial GDPR applicability is one of the biggest changes in the new data protection law. So, no matter your company is established inside or outside the EU, if your business collects and processes data of EU data subjects or monitors them, you have to be GDPR compliant.

Right to Data Erasure and Rectification

EU data subjects are also enabled to have their personal data completely erased when withdrawing consent for reasons, like data being obtained unlawfully or not being relevant or not being used for the original purpose. The GDPR also provides data subjects the right to get their incomplete or inaccurate personal data rectified.

Hefty Penalties for GDPR Compliance Violations

Under the GDPR, any business catering to EU residents will become a subject to supersized fines if it fails to show full compliance with the GDPR as of May 25, 2018. A GDPR breach can cost a company up to 4% of it annual global turnover or €20 Million, whichever is greater. Hefty penalties for non compliance are highly likely to deter businesses from not adhering to the GDPR requirements.

With the GDPR coming into force, we can assume that data privacy breaches, like the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, will not surface again, at least for the EU now. However, as with every policy, the GDPR is also not untouched by loopholes, which could still help unscrupulous companies to circumvent the GDPR. At this moment, we could only hope that the GDPR helps improve data security exactly the way it was intended for and eventually benefits the whole world, not just the EU.

Do you think that the GDPR has all that was required to stop privacy and data breaches? Do you foresee the GDPR spillover to the other parts of the world in near future? As always, your views are vital for us, please share them in the comment box below.


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DevOps has taken a center stage in software development in recent years, with more and more software-powered organizations embracing it to outperform competition and stay ahead of the growth curve.

DevOps is not a job or title or profession, but a cultural shift to unify development team (Dev) and IT operations team (Ops) to accelerate the delivery of a quality software, market it faster and maintain almost 100% up time. The software engineering culture of every company is different, and so does its way of adopting DevOps culture. However, no matter what DevOps strategy you adopt for your business, it must enable you to look at a bigger picture to keep pace with fast changing customer demands, provide innovative customer experiences and quickly respond to requests.

How DevOps goes a Step Further from Agile

Agile methodology is very well known in the software development world for making the software development process much faster and adapting to the changing customer needs much easier than Waterfall. Agile methodology brought the concept of building a software in small iterations, and eliminated the need of extensive pre-planned specifications.

However, one important thing that Agile largely missed was to bridge a gap between the Development team and the Operations team. Simply put, Agile provided the agility to development, but lost on operations, which still delayed the development process and releases.

DevOps was born out of this need to bring software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) on the same page. As both the teams work in sync and think from each other’s point of view, they have a common goal to achieve: the success of the entire project, not just of their part.

The DevOps Software Development Cycle looks like Something Showed Below.

In order to develop a quality software fast and ensure successful deployment, DevOps involves processes such as automated build, test automation, continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous improvement, continuous monitoring, configuration management, application and infrastructure monitoring, virtualization and containerization.

To perform these processes, DevOps heavily relies on automation tools, and without them, it becomes like a boat without oars. No matter however skilled the oarsmen are and however collaborative efforts they can make, they just won’t be able to move the boat without oars, right? The automation tools are the oars of your software boat here.

Key Advantages of DevOps Culture Adoption

As per the 2017 State of DevOps report by Puppet, high performing DevOps have achieved.

  • 46 times more frequent code deployments

  • 440 times faster lead time from commit to deploy

  • 96 times faster mean time to recover from downtime

  • 5 times lower change failure rate (changes are 1/5 as likely to fail)

Short Development Cycle

DevOps engineers build a software and test it in short cycles. Also, as developers and IT operations work in tandem with increased collaboration and communication, the small batches of engineered code is quickly moved to production. Besides, an automated technique of building and testing of code called continuous integration (CI) helps quickly push updates to customers.

CI lets developers to merge code changes in a central repository, after which automated builds and test runs takes place. This makes it possible to catch bugs much earlier, and therefore saves lot of time in moving the code to production. CI refers to the build stage of software development release and ensures that customers get the value they desire.

Fast Releases

Since software is developed in short cycles, deployment happens at a much faster rate. So, the release time that usually takes 3-6 months is significantly reduced to a daily release build cycle. A new feature that customer needs can be marketed much faster as a direct result. Continuous delivery (CD) is a software development practice that automates the release process so that customers get new updates in a quick and reliable manner. Besides, developers deploy code changes as early as possible by releasing small batches to production. Therefore, it significantly cuts down the time it takes to validate and release new software updates.

More Stable Software Deployment

Having to work with the development team much before software deployment makes the operations team have a stronger understanding of the database and system architecture. This leads to more stable deployments. Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which means writing code to manage configurations and automate provisioning of infrastructure, allows better testing and quality control, more efficient and predictable deployments, and decreased recovery times. IaC also simplifies the Cloud migration process while ensuring security and efficiency.

Meets Client Expectations

As customers get to interact with QAs and see some form of working software at the end of and during each iteration, they provide quick and valuable feedback. The QA team then communicates with the development team to work on client feedback. As a result, the development team easily makes necessary changes along with bug fixes in the next release, and therefore meets customer expectations and keeps them satisfied with the product.

Innovative Customer Experiences

As software development teams collaborate with product owners and customers as well, they have a clear understanding of their needs. Therefore, they feel encouraged to experiment and find innovative solutions to address those specific customer needs. Also, as most of the tasks are automated, team members get more time to identify areas where products and services can be improved. DevOps culture makes a big difference when it comes to end-user experience.

Responsiveness to Change

One of the top virtues of DevOps approach is that it allows to constantly adapt to a rapidly changing market environment. Since what is popular today might become obsolete tomorrow and it’s also not possible to define all the requirements at the very time a new idea is brought up, having the ability to adapt to a change becomes paramount to stay relevant and ahead of your competition.

DevOps model enables developers to introduce a change at any given point of time, even after the product is completely developed.

Reduced Failure Rates

No software is free of failures. But Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) in DevOps plays an important role in reducing failure rates. As all team members continuously assess and iterate to enhance products and services, chances of failures become slim. Besides, unlike previous models, short release cycles ensure that not hundreds of changes go in one big release, which greatly reduces the chances of failure. A continuous aim to identify issues and make changes to resolve them makes DevOps culture a big success in software development business.

Makes Employees more Productive and Happier

Automation plays a big role in increasing productivity of DevOps engineers. The time that is saved from performing manual tasks is used by developers to produce higher quality code faster. They also get time to use their creative minds to find interesting solutions to customer-side problems, and help improve the app/software sometimes even beyond customer’s expectations.

Happier employees is also a gift of DevOps culture. As different teams don’t do a handoff job and increasingly communicate and collaborate with each other, no contention related to their different roles occurs during the software development and delivery process. They think and work from each other’s perspective to reduce bottlenecks and focus on developing a great product that keeps everyone including all team members and customers happy.

There is no denying that DevOps is the future of software development. A cultural shift that encourages collaboration and communication between teams and automates the development and deployment tools is certainly a big stepping stone towards achieving a lot in a short span of time and satisfying all customer needs. However, to make DevOps a success for your business, you need to figure out effective ways to implement it, as DevOps is not a job but a culture that is personal for every team.

For any queries related to DevOps and agile software production, leave your comments in the comment box below.

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Application requirements have changed drastically in recent years. For any application to succeed in this era of cloud computing, big data and IoT, going reactive is increasingly becoming a norm.

Today’s users embrace applications that have milliseconds of response time, 100% uptime, lower latency, higher throughput and scalability. However, these features are nearly impossible to achieve by using yesterday’s software architecture that enabled applications having tens of servers, long response time, hours of offline maintenance and gigabytes of data. There’s now a need for systems that are built for distributed environment, and which can deal effectively with petabyte of data and cloud-based clusters running thousands of multi-core processors.

This is a major reason why many businesses are adopting Reactive Systems for building applications that provide high-end user-experience and help beat the competition.

Let’s get into details of what Reactive Systems bring on the table for your application and how they work.

Top Four Traits of Reactive Systems:

Responsiveness

If an application user doesn’t get timely response, they will go somewhere else because they are not getting the value they expect from your application. Having a reactive System prevents that by responding in real-time. Besides, such systems are capable of detecting errors quickly and fixing them effectively. Being able to provide consistent response times helps comply with tighter SLAs of today, grow confidence in end users and make your app highly interactive.

Responsiveness heavily relies on two other aspects of Reactive Systems: Resilience and Elasticity. Let’s see how.

Resilience

If a system is not resilient, it will not be able to respond under failure, making responsiveness a lost feature of your app. By using replication, isolation and delegation, you can have a Reactive System that is resilient and responsive even under failure. When components are isolated from each other, they can fail and recover without leading to the failure of the system as a whole. Delegation allows another (external) component to take the responsibility of recovery of each component, whereas replication ensures high-availability whenever required.

Elasticity

As workload can vary from time to time, your application should have the ability to stay responsive even under high workload. According to Reactive Manifesto, “Reactive Systems can react to changes in the input rate by increasing or decreasing the resources allocated to service these inputs.”

Isolation of components from each other and no sharing of resources pave the way for replication. Which translates into running multiple instances of a component at once and splitting the inputs between them. The inputs become asynchronous messages, allowing instances to independently receive different messages. All the instances only deal with the messages they receive, and do not show concern for ordering of a message in relation to other messages. Also, there’s no need to care about how other instances are dealing with their messages.

As a result, it becomes possible to scale up or scale down as many or as few instances of a component running at once as required. This property of growing or shrinking as needed is referred to as “elasticity”.

Message-Driven

Reactive systems are message-driven and use asynchronous message-passing to create a boundary between components. This brings the much-needed loose coupling, isolation and location transparency in the systems. With a boundary established between components, failures go as messages.

Due to this message-driven nature, the system responds in a sensible way when any component comes under stress. The component can’t fail, so it sends a message to the system, telling the fact that it needs other components to reduce its load. This feature is called back-pressure. Message queue monitoring and action-taking ability makes the system capable of managing load, elasticity, and flow control.

How Loose Coupling boosts Performance of Reactive Applications?

Going reactive means using a set of design principles to create cohesive pieces of software that solve individual problems efficiently through “separation of concerns” and “loose coupling”. The architecture of Reactive Systems is so designed that multiple individual components of the software conflate as a single unit and react to changes.

To better understand, let’s take an example. A software that has tightly coupled components would look something like this.

It might be your hard work, but it will not be able deal effectively with a change. All of them would probably fall if anyone of them moves out of the place. So, if your software does not have components that are independent of each other, they won’t be able to work properly in the absence of others.

Now, look at this.

Well, this is made of small reusable components that can be arranged in different ways to solve different problems.

But, think about the effort and the cost that will take for converting it into something showed below.

Besides high cost and time, this might also prove to be a headache for your technical team.

The Takeaway: even if your software architecture has small, reusable pieces, it’s not enough to effectively deal with a change, as new requirements may demand a complete rewrite of huge parts of your system.

Now, look at this.

The picture says it all about how easy it is to change from one shape to another. All you need is to add some toothpicks and balls or remove them to create a different shape. Since the balls are totally decoupled from each other, they can be easily linked with any other through a common interface (the toothpick).

Such a software architecture design makes it possible to effectively react to a change and solve different problems through resilience, elasticity and responsiveness. The picture has its limits and just serves as an example to make it easier to understand what do we mean by decoupling or loose coupling.

What Reactive Programming holds for Reactive Systems?

Reactive Programming is a popular method of writing codes to create components and compose workflows in Reactive Systems. The programming method is event-driven and helps increase utilization of computing resources on multicore and multi-CPU hardware. Besides, developers using Reactive Programming find it easy to deal with asynchronous and nonblocking I/O. What makes Reactive Programming a good fit for developing Reactive Systems is the removal of explicit coordination between active components.

Below are some links to case studies of businesses going reactive, and thereby boosting growth

How America’s largest telecommunications provider Verizon is drawing benefits from going reactive

UK’s online gaming leader invests big on reactive to drive personalization

Walmart sees 20% hike in conversion rates after going reactive

Wix.com user base grows from 5 to 50 million after going reactive

The idea of going reactive is not new as dates back to 1970s. However, it’s only been in the past few years that the emergence of new tools and technologies have helped developers turn the idea into reality by composing complex tasks with ease. Going by the context of multicore, Cloud and Mobile architectures, the future of modern web is reactive. Business giants, like Netflix, Slack, Microsoft and Facebook, have already started to power themselves by going reactive, with many more businesses awaited to jump on what has now become the bandwagon.

For any queries related to Reactive Systems and Reactive Programming, get in touch with us using the comment box below.

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The world of finance is set for a big change. Two disruptive innovations, Cognitive Computing and Blockchain, have attracted some serious attention in the finance world for the potential they have showed to revolutionize finance industry. There’s also pressure mounting on financial institutions to adopt new technologies for more competence, new customer experiences and efficiency savings.

Dutch bank ING, Dubai-based Emirates NBD and Deutsche Bank are among some financial services leaders which have already earmarked hefty amounts for strengthening their digital capabilities by using the power of cognitive computing and blockchain. The IBM Watson Platform has also created a lot of buzz to help remove the complexity of financial system by providing an “insight as a service.”

How Cognitive Computing and Blockchain are Shaping the Future of Financial Services?

Cognitive Computing, a term coined by IBM, simulates the functioning of human brain in a computerized model. The goal of cognitive computing is to use self-learning algorithms that use data mining, predictive analytics, pattern recognition and natural language processing that mimic human-like intelligence.

Deep learning algorithms and neural networks play a crucial role in development of cognitive systems that can acquire knowledge from the data they are exposed to by mining data for information. The system learns more and become more accurate as it gets exposed to more data over time.

Implications of Cognitive Computing for finance industry

Financial institutions have very large sets of data at their disposal, but they have not been able to take full advantage of them for years. “We all have mounds and mounds of data, but getting data to produce insight, that is the holy grail", said Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America Corp, during the Fintech Ideas Festival.

Banks cater to millions of customers of different income, age, location and needs. However, customers often get fed up with financial institutions targeting them with products that don’t suit their requirements. Cognitive computing could play a big role here to end such stereotypical approaches for targeting customers.

Using cognitive technology, financial institutions can unlock the power of unstructured data, understand different requirements of customers and treat them as individuals, not faceless entities. Relationship building is another strong advantage that banks can pull using cognitive technology.

Cognitive computing provides a way to determine an individual's personality via historical data and analysis. Therefore, financial institutions can tell an advisor the type of engagement strategy they need to devise to interact and build relationship with a particular customer.

Having such an ability increases the chances by many folds to sell right products to different customers and drive value out of the relationship. Besides, cognitive systems do not require human efforts to interact, engage and advise customers on the investment options that are most likely to bring them good returns.

What Blockchain Holds for Finance Industry?

Blockchain is another revolutionary technology that could see high adoption rate across various sectors, not just financial services, in coming years. Blockchain was used to create the first ever cryptocurrency, called Bitcoin. It’s now widely believed that Blockchain will become the future of transaction processing in financial services.

Click here to learn how Blockchain works

Blockchain is a decentralized ledger of transactions that are cryptographically secured. Every transaction is stored in a block and each block is linked to the preceding one using advanced cryptography. As new transactions happen, new blocks are generated and linked to preceding ones in a chain of blocks that can’t be reversed or deleted.

“Blockchain is so profound it will do for trusted transactions what the internet did for information,” said IBM Corp's president and chief executive Ginni Rometty. Rometty also described blockchain as one of the most transformative technologies for finance.

Use cases of Blockchain in Financial Services

Cross border payment is currently an expensive and slow process. Blockchain has a great potential to expedite the international money transfer process and significantly cut remittance costs, from 5-20% to 2-3%.

Smart contract is another most promising application of Blockchain technology, allowing to execute commercial transactions and agreements automatically. Also, there’s no need to pay a middleman to provide products such as Letters of Credit and enforce the obligations of all parties in a contract. Smart contracts provide exciting opportunities for trade finance as well.

Blockchain also gives rise to identity management, removing the complex know-your-customer verification approach that banks follow to identify their customers. Currently, official identity documents and some form of face-to-face checking is required to avail a loan, buy a house, settle a car insurance claim, etc.

Once identity management moves to Blockchain, users will be able to choose how they identify themselves and and have a control over who all can see their identity.

User registration still needs to be done though to create a digital identity, but only for once. The user will not have to register again for every service provider who is also connected to the Blockchain. Digital identity saves a lot time and cost that goes into information and document exchange between multiple parties.

Narrowing down the gap between finance and technology has become the need of the hour for financial institutions to stay competitive and meet increasing demands of customers. Many financial institutions have already started to ramp up investments in Cognitive Computing and Blockchain technology development to offer innovative and effective solutions to customers. That said, it’s right to say that the finance industry of today will look very different by 2030.

Do you really think that the advent of Blockchain and Cognitive Computing will reshape the future of finance industry? Is there any fear associated with the adoption of the two disruptive technologies in financial services? As always, your views are vital for us, please share them in the comment box below.

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The Internet has revolutionized our lives in every possible and positive way we can think of. Although the Internet has become an inextricable part of our life, making it much convenient for us to shop online, renew car insurance, hunt for a job, or research for things that matter to us, there’s a dark side attached to it as well, i.e. loss of private information.

Do we really need to worry about our personal information that rests precariously on the Internet?

If you are a regular Internet user, you must have come across several websites asking for your personal information, like date of birth, email address, phone number, marital status, residential address, etc., before providing you the access to their content and offerings.

However, have you ever pondered over the fact that many of them don’t need your personal information to do business with you, but they still ask for it. And in many cases, users provide their personal information, thinking that their private information is safe as such websites strictly adhere to their privacy policy.

But in reality, your personal information, including bank details or credit card numbers that many people use to shop online on retail sites or mobile apps, is still subject to data leak or data hack. Whatever we do on the Internet, we leave a digital trail that can be exploited by data hackers or data miners. There’s also no denying the possibility of your data being sold by unscrupulous websites to book their profit.

We take emails as safe as the message content is protected by encryption technique. However, no encryption is used for the “metadata” that goes with the message as it’s required by the internet routing system. The metadata can reveal vital part of our private information we share through emails.

The big reason we need to worry about data security breach and hack attack is that our confidential information could go in wrong hands, putting us at the risk of fraud, identity theft, unsolicited selling and marketing, blackmail, etc. Since mobile is increasingly becoming the central medium of accessing the Internet, it’s also important to highlight the repercussions attached to it in terms of personal data extraction and misuse.

How do Mobile Apps get Access to Your Personal Data?

If you have ever installed an app from Google Play Store, you must have agreed to its endless “Terms and Conditions” before starting using it. Chances are high that you have never read them in full, like many of us who prefer to skip the long list of permissions Google Play apps, before accepting them.

By agreeing to “Terms and Conditions”, you actually allow those apps to get inadvertent access to your confidential information like contacts, messages (including bank transactions and one time passwords), photo/media files, device and app history, etc. It becomes important here to understand whether free apps are attempting to make money from in-app purchases or selling your data.

Think about a picture editing app that asks for permission to access your phone camera and media files. Well, it makes sense as the app requires the access to your mobile camera and media files in order to edit pictures saved in your mobile or to click a new picture it can edit. However, aren’t permissions required by a photo editing app to access unnecessary content, like contacts, messages or phone call details, enigmatic? There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be wary of such apps, right?

Many app developers also integrate third-party libraries that allow push ads and other content of external entities on their apps. Since attackers can easily exploit poorly written code of an app or third party libraries, chances of your personal data to be compromised increase by many folds.

Lesson Learnt: Several app developers or data miners can easily access and misuse your private information on the pretext of fulfilling app functionality and providing good mobile experience.

Measures Internet Users must take to Safeguard Privacy and Security Online:

  • Always use an effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software on a computer for entering account or other sensitive information, like bank details.

  • Before revealing your private information to a particular website, read the privacy policy carefully. And, if the site agrees to not share your data with external parties in exchange of money or any other benefit, then only give them your personal details.

  • Never enter confidential information on sites that do not have “https” in the beginning of their URLs. “S” means secure. Also, you should log out from secured sites after finishing your transaction.

  • Never use free hotspots for online banking or online shopping. Free, public wi-fi is too luring to ignore, but you never know who else is watching and tracking your online activity.

  • Cloud storage is also quickly picking pace, but it’s important to go for vendors that provide full protection and data backup against hack attacks.

  • Beware of unknown downloads as websites like torrent downloaders and streaming sites could pose a data-leak threat via ‘drive-by’ downloads. Without your knowledge, such websites download sniffers and keyloggers in the background that act as malware and track your keystrokes. To block such downloads, use an antivirus solution with a firewall.

  • For safe Internet browsing, keep deleting cookies from time to time. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is also a good measure to keep your IP address and user data protected by routing all your data through a proxy server.

  • Update privacy settings on social media sites and search sites, like Facebook and Google. As per default privacy settings, your information is shared publicly. You can allow your personal information to be seen by fewer people or those you trust by making changes under a “settings” menu option.

  • Use strong passwords and regularly change them. Never reveal your passwords or other confidential information on texts, emails or phone.

  • Phishing attacks have become common. So, if an email appears to be suspicious and asks for your personal details, check the company details before furnishing it with the information it’s asking for. It could be an attempt to divulge your personal information for misuse. Also, never use your work email address for personal use.

  • If you often make purchases online, don’t save your payment information for future purchases.

Data broking is a fast growing industry and generates approximately $200-billion per year now. It’s true that we value the convenience the Internet has added to our lives. But, it’s also true that the Internet has become a double-edged sword now and could hurt us if not handled with care.

What according to you Internet users can do more to avoid their personal data being misused or hacked? How big do you think data security breach threat is? Your views are highly welcome, please add them in the comment box below.

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We would all agree that learning is pivotal to achieving any goal in the world. However, the set goal could only be achieved fully if the learning is interesting, engaging and motivating. Textbook learning is gradually losing its ground as learners find it boring, offering them no to little visual element to be able to actually see what they are learning. Many studies have also proved that we remember less of what we read and more of what we see.

Now, think of how quickly and effectively we all had started learning playing games, like Hopscotch, Four Square, Jump Rope, Badminton, and many more. Not did only we learn those games well, but enjoyed and had loads of fun too. Having agreed upon this, we could say that gaming is one of the best ways not just to learn something, but improve concentration, cognition and participation rather than merely reading out a book.

This is one of the top reasons why Gamification is quickly turning out to be a paradigm shift in learning space now. Gamification is a technique that uses game mechanics for even non-gaming activities, like elearning. Game-based learning products are becoming more and more popular everyday among e-learners because they are interactive, engaging, motivating, and have the fun element involved, which learners widely miss in traditional page-turner courses.

Let’s gain insight into crucial factors that make gamification a boon to elearning.

How Gamification Aids e-learning

#1 Makes e-learning Interactive and Entertaining

Image source: eLearning Industry

For a learner, it’s very important to feel excited about what they are learning, which is often not the case with traditional e-learning methods. Gamified e-learning scores big here by bringing in fun and interactive elements.

Learners feel excited to take up new tasks and perform them successfully without getting bored or feeling demotivated. When learning becomes fun and exciting, learners get the feeling of immersion, which also gives them the ownership of their learning.

KnowRe is one such gamification tool that lets middle and high school students learn mathematics in a fun-filled environment. The math program also has interactive learning map to show the students’ performance and motivate them to reach their full potential.

#2 Gives a Sense of Achievement

Image Source: Christening - WordPress.com

Having successfully passed a level in a game fills players with a feel-good-factor, which further motivates them to keep playing and making new achievements. Likewise, gamification in e-learning also helps learners get a sense of achievement after passing a level, which impels them to score more points and move to a higher level, thereby making gamified learning engaging and captivating.

Ribbon Hero, a game developed by Microsoft, lets people to learn MS Office by completing short and relevant tasks, like formatting or inserting graphs. Since tasks are short, it doesn’t take learners too long to complete them, which gives them a sense of achievement related to their learning progress and fuels their motivation to reach and pass higher levels.

#3 Better Learning Experience

Gamification gives learners the freedom to learn without having to worry about failure. If they fail to pass a level, they have the option to try again without any negative aura of having previously failed surrounding them. Therefore, game-based e-learning provides a positive learning environment where learners feel enthusiastic and interested.

Image Source:Opiskelijankaupunki

To cite an example, Duolingo lets people to learn a language by taking challenges related to speaking, listening and translation. Since learners are not experts, they are highly likely to fail at some level. However, the interesting point is that they can always start over and try again without having the feeling of being a failure or looser. Such a learning environment keeps the learners positive and motivated to keep trying and succeed in their bid to learn a language.

#4 Gives Rise to Microlearning

Learners find it difficult to grasp complex concepts through one entire course. Gamification comes handy here as it divides e-learning courses in small segments that usually take learners about 3-5 min to complete. So, learning becomes a step-by-step process wherein learners feel motivated to fulfill prerequisites that are required to unlock new learning segment. Gamified rewards, like badges, points, etc, nicely connect learning paths to help complete the learning process in a much easier and effective way.

Image Source: GSV Capital

For example, curious.com has nearly 25,000 lessons on virtually any topic. Based on your area of interest, it sends you mini lessons on daily basis to help you achieve your monthly learning goals. Learners get to build their Curiosity Quotient (CQ) by taking up micro lessons everyday for 30 minutes or 15 minutes or even five minutes.

#5 Provides Feedback to Keep Track of Learning Progress

Gamified learning helps learners keep the track of their learning progress by providing them feedback. As a result, learners quickly learn from their mistakes and complete their learning journey much earlier than traditional elearning. Feedback is a very important factor in any field to let learners figure out what’s going wrong with their efforts, and quickly find a fix to improve and perform better.

Image Source: SlideShare

Salesforce with Nitro/Bunchball is a tool that provides real-time feedback to employees to have better product knowledge and deliver strong performance. Immediate feedback on employee behavior also helps employees make the best of their targeted campaigns.

#6 Long-term Knowledge Retention

Image Source: Capytech

Use of work role simulation or life-like situations in gamified e-learning allows learners not just to effectively acquire new knowledge, but fit it in the long-term memory as well. Findings of a research conducted by Professor Traci Sitzmann, at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, have also showed that playing video games helped players acquire 11% higher factual knowledge level, 9% higher retention rate and 14% higher skill-based knowledge level.

Having gained knowledge imprinted in long-term memory makes gamified e-learning way better and effective than traditional page-turner courses.

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MCDONALDS: TILL TRAINING GAME is designed to use a simulation of the new till system. The game features a realistic setup which contains restaurants, characters resembling customers and a narrative to take orders and deal with different customers. The game has proved to significantly improve the long-term knowledge retention rate of employees by allowing them to deliver customer experience in an environment that seems real.

#7 Causes Positive Behavioral Changes

Gamification can also be used to encourage behavioral change and instil the desired attitude in learners. Gamified e-learning appreciates and rewards learners for their good behavior via reward points, certification badges, etc. Behavior is one of the major factors for any person to grow and become successful in their respective fields, which could be effectively attained through gamified learning.

Image Source: EnGaming - WordPress.com

ClassRealm is a gamification tool that allows teachers to encourage better behavior patterns and creativity. Students get to learn positive behavior by helping out their classmates, and get rewarded for exhibiting the desired behavior.

Major Factors Driving Growth in Game-Based Learning Market

  • More positivity in corporate sector towards gamified learning has been driving the adoption rate up for sometime now.

  • University and college students are finding edugames as an excellent platform to learn complex things effectively in a fun-filled and motivational environment.

  • Increasing popularity of language learning apps, predominantly English and Chinese.

  • High demand for early childhood game-based learning.

  • Widespread popularity of brain trainer games.

  • Decline in legacy learning technology and upsurge in modern learning technologies like gamified learning.

Different Types of Game-Based Learning Products

  • Social games

  • E-learning courseware

  • Online audio and video content

  • Mobile games

  • Wearables for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality-based e-learning

A new report by Metaari, a commercial analysis firm that tracks advanced learning technology, gives figures to understand how the game-based learning market is faring worldwide and how much it is expected to grow in coming years. Check below.

Game-Based Learning Products Market and Forecast

  • The current global growth rate of game-based learning products is 20.2%.

  • Revenue generated from the sales of game-based learning products touched the $3 billion mark in 2017.

  • Global revenue to be generated through the sales of game-based digital learning products will surge to $8.1 billion by 2022.

Gamified e-learning is radically transforming the learning landscape and firmly setting to become the learning technology of the future. Furthermore, the emergence of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual & Augmented Reality, Machine Learning and Cloud Computing, looks promising to rapidly lift up the adoption rate of game-based learning products in near future. At this juncture, it won’t be a hyperbole to say that integration of game mechanics and new technologies could bring gamified elearning to the mainstream in the next 10 years.

Would you like to gamify your e-learning course to bring out the best in your employees? What according to you is the most fascinating benefit of gamified e-learning? Your views are vital for all our readers, please share them in the comment box below.

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Blockchain is one of the most discussed buzzwords among tech entrepreneurs of today. Although the concept of blockchain was first introduced in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta, the tech community started to realize its incredible potential after it gave birth to the first cryptocurrency and digital payment system, called Bitcoin, in 2009.

What led to Bitcoin’s success the most was a digital decentralized system that made peer-to-peer transactions possible without requiring an intermediary, such as a bank, for verification. Each Bitcoin transaction is verified by network nodes (members on the network) to prevent double-spend and added to a chain of blocks, called a public distributed ledger. The so-called Blockchain is nothing but this immutable growing chain of encrypted blocks.

For the better readability and navigation, here's a summary of what industries or applications we'll cover in this article. You can choose and jump to a topic of your interest or simply keep scrolling down the whole article as you read:



How Does Blockchain Work?

Image source: Red Piranha

Once a block is generated after grouping transactions in it, miners compete against each other to find a hash that is accurate for that particular set of transactions. Once the correct hash is found, the miner distributes it, along with the hash of the previous block, throughout the network. After consensus of other members, the block is added to the most recent block of the block chain.

Each block in the blockchain is linked to the previous block and can’t be deleted or edited once added. Even a slight change in the block that was already verified and added will change the hash of the block, which the network will identify as duplicate and prevent the attempt to double spend. The blockchain has a complete record of transactions right from the genesis block to the most recent one, which makes it transparent and highly secured.

Two types of Blockchain: Public Blockchain and Private Blockchain

Both public blockchain and private blockchain have similar functionality, except the fact that the identity of participants remains anonymous on a public blockchain. Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ethereum Gold are the examples of public blockchain where users can perform transactions without revealing their real identity.

Private blockchain, on the other hand, allows access only after identifying and knowing the identity of users. Private blockchain are of more use to banks and payment services as it enables them to retain some degree of control and revenue potential. For example, NASDAQ uses private blockchain.

Blockchain technology was initially predominant in financial sector, but imaginative entrepreneurs are now developing more blockchain applications besides the currency. This blog attempts to explore areas other than cryptocurrency where we are likely to see possible uses of blockchain technology in coming years.

Blockchain Applications Apart from Cryptocurrency

Energy

Blockchain is a very promising technology for the energy sector, as it removes a centralized authority for delivering energy transactions across a distributed network.

Using a blockchain platform like Ethereum or Ethereum Gold, a “smart contract” can be easily created between energy buyers and sellers to autonomously and securely regulate both supply and payment. If the customer fails to make a payment for energy consumed, the smart contract will automatically stop the power supply until the payment has been made.

Smart contracts are also capable of balancing supply and demand to effectively manage microgrids, virtual power plants, storage, etc. For example, the Brooklyn MicroGrid project by LO3 Inc. provides a blockchain-based decentralized system to energy providers to sell locally-produced electricity to their neighbours who don’t have solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The project creates a local, neighborhood-powered grid that can be operated parallely to the main grid.

So, even if the main grid goes down, the microgrid will keep providing electricity to homes. It’s like turning homes into connected power stations. Besides, real-time metering of energy generation and consumption, and sending data across the network via Internet of Things (IoT) lead to collective and effective energy management.

Blockchain projects are also happening in European Oil and gas sector for faster transactions with reduced costs. Energimine is another blockchain initiative that aims at reducing global energy consumption by allowing individuals to buy and sell #Energy through its peer-to-peer marketplace using green energy tokens.

Distributed Cloud Storage

Another blockchain application that will help businesses is Distributed Cloud Storage. Cloud services, such as Dropbox, Amazon, and Google drive, are currently being offered as a centralized solution, which means that you have to trust a single party to keep your data safely. However, blockchain technology gives rise to distributed cloud storage, which makes it possible to keep your data with multiple parties, not just one. It also allows to rent out excess hard drive space, which will increase the currently available size of cloud storage by many folds and reduce the cost to store data.

Storj is a company that provides blockchain-based, end-to-end encrypted, distributed storage. It first encrypts your data, and then sends out to a network, as a measure to prevent data breach issues. Only you have the access to your data.

Blockchain technology also supports the concept of decentralized applications (Dapps), which can communicate with multiple servers or devices on the same network from any geographical location. Dapps can run concurrently on both the client side and within a blockchain based distributed network. The client side of Dapps is connected to the front-end and user credentials, whereas the blockchain network takes care of the processing and storage requirements.

Smart Property

Image source: Lets Talk Payments

Blockchain technology also facilitates the creation of “Smart Property”, which tells who is the actual owner of a property, like car, phone, etc., without requiring a verification from any central authority. So, if an authority questions the ownership of your physical or non-physical property, you can simply show them numbers of blockchain confirmations that you are the rightful owner.

Blockchain is currently more feasible for electronic property, like computers, as they can be designed to respond only to their blockchain-designated owners. Autonomous cars can also be designed to respond only to their rightful owners, not strangers or thieves. Only the holder of the correct cryptographic token can activate the car’s engine.

Blockchain technology and IoT will have to go hand-in-hand to make the concept of smart property a reality. If a report by Cisco is to believed, nearly 50 billion devices will come online by 2020, which if turns out to be true will make the role of blockchain technology very crucial in recording transactions and increasing coordination between devices.

Blockchain Internet of Things (IoT) Use Cases:

  • Connected Vehicles

  • Smart Appliances

  • Supply Chain Sensors

Healthcare

Blockchain technology holds great promises to revolutionize healthcare sector. Health industry has been long facing health data management challenges, like patient consents, data siloes, data ownership, information governance and conflicts arising from changes made by multiple sources. Distributed ledger technology can address those concerns by making patients’ data fully secured and providing them full control over their sensitive information, such as mental health data.

Blockchain could resolve Medical Woes

A decentralized system makes it possible to exchange a patient’s medical history, like blood group or a disease that the patient was earlier diagnosed with, with every health organization in a secured manner. So, if a patient was rushed to a hospital they didn’t have a previous relationship, a lot of time will be saved in understanding what disease the patient is suffering with and what type of care they need, which in most cases proves to be life-saving. Patients can also restrict their medical information to only a few members of the blockchain.

Blockchain technology also provides a fix for removing discrepancies and errors from active medication lists, a problem that is rife worldwide. If a patient has been prescribed a new medicine that they have discontinued as advised by another member of the care team, the blockchain provides the power to the patient to not let the edit to be added to the chain.

Also, if a patient has been prescribed a medicine that it identical to the medicine recommended by another doctor, the blockchain will recognize it as duplicate and prevent the patient from taking the same medicine. If a patient wants to discontinue a medication, a notification to a primary care will spark a discussion over the potential health issues the patient can face due to removing the medication from the health record, which could keep the patient from discontinuing the medication.

Since blockchain makes it possible to keep individuals and their records together, issues related to misidentification of patients can also be dealt deftly. Blockchain has numerous positive implications for health sector to ensure cooperative and long-term management of patients across multiple care settings. IBM Watson Health and the FDA have already collaborated to understand how blockchain technology could help the health IT infrastructure to grow and become more advanced.

Machine Learning

Image source: Google Sites

Machine learning (ML) refers to algorithms that make computers capable of learning from data to make predictions or take actions. Businesses are now increasingly feeling the need of automating their systems using machine learning AI. However, the major roadblock to achieve so is the requirement of tremendous computational power. This is where blockchain fits nicely by providing distributed computational power to solve machine learning computations.

TensorBit is a good example of how blockchain technology could be used to solve machine learning problems. Unlike Bitcoin where miners solve hash functions, TensorBit encourages miners to solve machine learning problems and artificial intelligence computations that many companies are looking for.

Besides, it’s API notifies companies about the amount of computational power that is being used to solve their machine learning problems. So, you only pay for the computational power that is required to solve your machine learning problem.

The Proof of Work Concept

TensorBit ensures that the work is not fake and does not have more work than required for a particular machine learning problem by using the proof of work concept. Such an initiative helps find quick solutions for machine learning problems without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up isolated high performance machines. Therefore, it could bring down the time to build actionable machine learning models, like training a self-driving car, from days to hours to seconds.

Currently, ML based batch data analytics takes place in the cloud, which is a centralized architecture. Fog computing has also become popular among IoT networks as it improves performance by a big extent. However, these architectures face challenges of accurate content distribution at every node. Blockchain could be the key here as it allows to create one trusted copy of the database to every participating node. Every entry in the blockchain database has to pass a consensus protocol and can’t be modified once added, which makes every copy trustworthy.

Digital Identity

Image source: SlideShare

Blockchain technology also has use cases for digital identity creation, which provides individuals greater control over who accesses their information and how. Blockchain technology could also remove the complex know-your-customer verification approach that banks follow to identify their customers. It makes it possible to prove your identity to anyone in the world by showing them your list of digital identity transactions.

There is no risk of lost identity as the decentralized model keeps your ID everywhere in the network, therefore the failure of one element will not break the entire chain.

Travel

Image source: TravelCarma Blog

Blockchain technology could also prove to be a boon for the travel industry by allowing seamless management of flight, accommodation, transportation, and tour reservations through a smart contract-based DAO (distributed autonomous organization). Smart contracts make it possible for travelers to always stay on top of their travel plans by easily tracking, orchestrating, and updating changes in travel details.

Travelers are often concerned with document security in a foreign country. Using a blockchain based decentralized storage, travelers can store their important documents that are required during their travel in a secured way. Besides, they can make payments using a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, or exchange it with any of the fiat currencies without a hassle.

Blockchain also addresses the issue of double bookings as every transaction in the blockchain is recorded using timestamping after a consensus from the members in the network, and they can’t be reversed or edited once recorded.

Mitrav is one blockchain-based travel app which makes it easier for travelers to find like-minded people to travel with and easily book hotels, restaurants using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. The app aims at reducing the culture and communication gap by providing multiple language support. A smart contract-based chat feature in the app also allows to reach an agreement with other travelers and agents. You can also send payments using the chat feature without worrying about currency exchange and rates.

German airline giant Lufthansa has also partnered with “Winding Tree”, a Swiss blockchain travel startup, which provides a decentralized, public, B2B blockchain marketplace for the air travel space, enabling blockchain-based travel booking transactions. Travelers get direct access to travel service providers without requiring an intermediary, like Expedia or Booking.com, making the travel cheaper and efficient. Many more blockchain-based travels apps are slated for the future to make traveling a different experience altogether.

Digital Notary or Proof of Existence

Image source: blocknotary.com

Another interesting application of blockchain could be digital notary, which means a decentralized system that obviates the requirement of a central authority to certify documents. A user can simply upload a document and get a cryptographic proof for existence. Blockchain has the timestamp feature which allows users to prove the existence of something at a stated time. As blockchain is a distributed database, it certifies your document after a sort of consensus from other nodes in the network.

“Basically, by inserting the cryptographic hash of the document in a transaction, when that transaction is mined into a block, the block timestamp becomes the record’s timestamp”, says Manuel Aráoz, a Buenos Aires, Argentina-based developer, who built Proof of Existence as a decentralized method of verification, a kind of cryptographic notary service.

There seems to be no end to the applications of blockchain technology, with many more lined up as commodities, gaming, gambling, E-voting, job market, media & content management, real estate, social networks, ridesharing services and many more. More on more tech startups are now accelerating on this disruptive technology to create new business models and bring new possibilities to their businesses. A lot still needs to be done though in the next few years to bring blockchain to the mainstream.

Which application of blockchain technology would you like to see in the future? Do you want to add more to the discussion? Please share your views in the comment box below.

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Digital marketing has long surpassed the advantages of traditional marketing, and it’s not an overstatement to say that digital marketers will have complete control over the customer experience in coming years. The rise of digital marketing is highly attributable to increasing use of mobile devices across the globe, currently driving nearly half of all the web traffic.

Our digital marketers offer personalized experiences to users to enhance engagement and turn them into loyal customers. Digital marketing is not about just pushing customers to buy your products or services, but offering them content that helps them solve their problems. It also involves using techniques that increase a brand’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Without a doubt, digital marketing is a great means of identifying prospective customers who exist on the Internet, like social media.

Techniques our digital marketers use to help your business touch new heights:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO helps improve your site’s rankings on major search engines, like Google, Yahoo, Bing. SEO is divided into two categories Off-page SEO and Onpage SEO.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO means working on your website to help it rank as high as possible on SERPs. On-page SEO involves:


Keyword listing, Meta Descriptions, Meta Tags, URL Structure, Body Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, etc.), Keyword Density, Image SEO and Internal Linking.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO means working off your website to help improve ranking of your site. Off-page SEO involves link building via guest posting on reputed and high domain authority (DA) websites.

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Like SEO, ASO is for app stores. A plethora of apps comes to app stores, like Google Play or iOS App Store, on daily basis. Without ASO, chances are high that your app will be lost somewhere way down without downloads. ASO helps move up you app in app stores so that users can find them easily.

Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising

Pay-per-click means running ads and you pay only when your ad is clicked. PPC helps target particular audience when they enter specific search terms. They see your ad as “sponsored result” on the top or side of a search engine results page (SERP).

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the quickest way to reach customers with your offerings. We create engaging, relevant, informative, and entertaining email marketing campaigns to produce fruitful results.

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing has become pivotal to digital marketing as people are increasingly using mobile devices. Mobile marketing involves SMS, MMS, in-app marketing, etc.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Most of us now can’t imagine our lives without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Social media is a great platform to market content as it significantly helps increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation refers to the using tools to automate marketing actions. Our marketing team uses cutting-edge tools to automate repetitive marketing tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions.

This article is a part of the Evon Technologies: Startup Accelerator series. For our other service offerings, please choose any of the below:

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DevOps were largely brought to the fore in IT departments after the success of agile software development and the advent of cloud computing. DevOps bridge the gap between software development and software operations by enhancing communication and collaboration between development team and IT operations team. The reasons DevOps are high in demand now are that they help increase software development speed and facilitate greater business agility.

Our DevOps break software development into smaller development cycles, which leads to faster development. We use tools such as Git and SVN for maintaining the different versions of the code. We also use tools like Ant, Maven, Gradle in order to build/package the code into an executable file good to go for testing.

Different Stages of DevOps are:

  • Plan (JIRA, HipChat, Slack, Confluence, iRise)

  • Code (Microsoft Visual Studio, Bitbucket, GitHub, Electric Cloud, SVN, Eclipse)

  • Build (Grunt, Microsoft Visual Studio, Maven, Gradle)

  • Test (Selenium, TestNG, JUnit)

  • Release (AWS, Azure, Jenkins, Docker containers, Puppet, BMC Software)

  • Deploy (AWS, TFS)

  • Operate/Configure (Splunk, New Relic, Ansible, Chef, Salt, Otter)

  • Monitor (BigPanda, Ganglia, New Relic, Wireshark)

Our DevOps ensure that clients get instant updates as and when they happen, with high quality delivery. Clients get competitive advantages, like reduction in time to market, quick response to change and automation of advanced processes and tools.

This article is a part of the Evon Technologies: Startup Accelerator series. For our other service offerings, please choose any of the below:

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We offer Quality Assurance (QA) services to guarantee a level of quality for the end client. QA is more than testing and has to make a big contribution to the overall quality of the final product.

Our QA team members maintain the quality of the system as per the specification and business requirements. They put emphasis on three main things:

  • What a product will do.

  • How it will behave.

  • How it will interact within its surroundings.

Roles of QA Professionals at Evon Tech are:

  • Understand Software Development Life Cycle and Software Testing Life Cycle

  • Conduct analysis of system specifications

  • Verify and validate all of the deliverables

  • Review documents on regular basis

  • Carefully understand all the features

  • Write all the test cases for the system

  • Prepare a report of the bugs and discrepancies in the system

  • Plan based on past results of test execution

  • QA team has their own automation framework build to test using test scripts

  • Maintain and update test scripts.

  • Perform testing for alpha, beta and live environment.

  • Communicate and coordinate with developers for a qualitative deliverable

This article is a part of the Evon Technologies: Startup Accelerator series. For our other service offerings, please choose any of the below:

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Tech Frontrunners

Being a tech startup accelerator, we understand very well that a bandwagon technology of today might be obsolete tomorrow. Which is why our team of more than 275+ experts keep abandoning technologies that have become outdated and upgrade to the ones that are the present and the future of the technology. Such a proactive approach works in our favor by allowing us to always keep pace with ever evolving technology world and avoid being a laggard.

90% of our Developers are Full Stack Developers


Our full stack developers are familiar with all the components needed to run a software, therefore help build a better product in less time.

Owing to years of experience in software development and commitment to refine strategies for every part of the web development process, our full stack developers keep all three layers of web development process covered:

  • Presentation Layer ( UI)

  • Business Logic Layer (Backend and Data Validation)

  • Database Layer

Our full stack developers are proficient in:

  • Server, network, and hosting environment

  • Front-end code in one or more languages (Angular, Ember, JQuery, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java, SASS, Core JS)

  • API/back-end code in one or more languages (Ruby, Java, Python, etc.)

  • Relational and nonrelational databases (Oracle, MySql, PostgreSQL, MongoDb, etc.)

  • User experience

  • Big Data Tools (Hadoop, Spark, Hive, Hbase, etc.)

  • Quality assurance

  • Security concerns throughout the program

  • Project management and Client coordination

Full Reactive Development Team

Our team of reactive developers creates reactive systems that are:

  • Highly Responsive

  • Resilient

  • Scalable

  • Event-Driven

Reactive systems are created by writing codes that react to changes as they happen in real time. Our reactive programmers first model data and events as observable sequences, and write code that reacts to changes in those sequences.

One of the top virtues of a reactive system is that it stays responsive even when there is a sudden rise in load. Reactive systems automatically react to changes by increasing or decreasing the number of resources as per requirement. Besides, they achieve scalability on commodity hardware and software platforms at a low cost.

To develop reactive systems, we use advanced Reactive Extensions (Rx) libraries for various platforms and languages, including .Net, Java, JavaScript, Swift, Android, iOS, Angular, React Native, Vue.js, etc. Using latest technologies, we ensure to update data on the fly so that users can see changes in real time.

This article is a part of the Evon Technologies: Startup Accelerator series. For our other service offerings, please choose any of the below:

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Incepted in the year 2006, Evon Technologies has come a long way as an offshore technology partner to clients all around the globe. With more than 10 years of experience now as a technology startup accelerator, Evon facilitates staff augmentation and helps startups find business solutions for all their needs by providing services in four major areas:

Evon understands that gone are the days when a large application was attached to the use of tens of servers, seconds of response time, gigabytes of data and hours of outage because of maintenance. Evon provides what the current digital arena asks for:

  • Reach varied mobile devices

  • Provide millisecond response times

  • Handle cloud-based clusters running thousands of multi-core processors

  • Ensure 100% Uptime

  • Deal effectively with data in Petabytes

We take great pride in calling ourselves a technology frontrunner, as our ability to provide latest technology solutions has helped business clients world over carve a niche for themselves and stay competent.

We believe in exceeding client expectations and not just meet them via collaboration and consulting. As far as data security is concerned, we have a proven track record of more than 10 years where there’s not been a single incident of intellectual property breach. We strictly adhere to data security policy and strengthen the client-relationship bond with trust.

We understand that Tech startups may have nothing to begin with can seek the complete package of services from Evon to shape their ideas into a reality. However, if you have a specific requirement for your business, you can avail a particular service from us as well to make your project a success and increase ROI. Please choose below to explore our offerings:

Product Development

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Industry-4.0.png

The new buzzword for industry is Industry 4.0, which refers to the fourth industrial revolution. Owing to IT advancements in the past decade, Industry 4.0 is believed to significantly evolve the supply chain and production line in manufacturing industry. Before we start discussing the next big frontier of industry, let’s catch a glimpse of three industrial revolutions that happened previously: Mechanization, Mass Production and Automation.

Mechanization was the first revolution in the history of industry, bringing machines to perform certain tasks. The second was Mass Production and became possible due to electricity and Assembly Lines. The third industrial revolution was automation, thanks to the advent of computers, allowing machines to perform a particular task repeatedly without human effort.

And now, we have yet another revolution “Industry 4.0” aka “Digital Factory” or “Smart Factory” or “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT). Let’s understand what Industry 4.0 is all about and how it will shape the future of manufacturing industry.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Explained

The term “Industry 4.0” was first introduced as “Industrie 4.0” by the German government in 2011 to enhance the production and growth of German manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0 paves the way for smart factories in which machines improve processes to a much higher level through automation and self-optimization.

Industry 4.0 uses new IT technologies, like Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of things, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Simulation, Autonomous Robots, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Although the virtues of Industry 4.0 were initially believed to be a boon only for the physical production of goods, they expand the reach to planning, supply chain logistics, product development and service as well.

Essential Components of Industry 4.0

IIoT

Industrial-Internet-definition-by-GE-Automation.jpg

IIoT is an abbreviation for Industrial Internet of Things and it’s different from IoT (Internet of Things). IoT allows a smart device to connect or communicate with other devices through the Internet. IoT is mostly about consumer-level goods, like cars or home appliances, that send and receive data via Internet to bring benefits to users.

In a nutshell, IoT connects the physical world to the digital world. With IoT, home appliances can be automatically turned on and off when you’re home and when you’re not home. Therefore, it reduces unnecessary usage of home appliances and cuts down your monthly electricity bill.

IIoT or Industrial Internet of Things, on the other hand, is a sub-segment of IoT, used for industrial purpose, like manufacturing, supply chain monitoring and management. Industries across the globe, such as aerospace, oil and gas, transportation, healthcare, energy and mining, are increasingly adopting IIoT to handle critical machines via sophisticated sensors.

IIoT uses more precise sensors than that of IoT as system failures could lead to life-threatening and other emergency situations. That IoT is related to consumer-level devices, the risk originating from failure is much lower when compared to the failure of IIoT. Using cutting-edge devices and location-aware technologies, IIoT takes manufacturing to an all new level and ensures flawless supply chain management.

Big Data, Data Mining and Data Analytics

Image Source: ResearchGate

Without a shred of doubt, Big Data will play a big role in the success of Industry 4.0. Manufacturing industry generates large volumes of data as a result of Machine to Machine communication, cyber-physical worlds, cloud based software applications, Augmented Reality (AR), etc. However, this data will be of no use unless big data analytics is applied to draw actionable insights.

Big Data Analytics not only helps identify trends and patterns, but improves plant productivity as well by making it possible to examine time differences between data transmitted by different robots. This valuable information helps find a fix to improve efficiency. Besides, data analytics enables to identify flaws in product design at a very early stage by collating and examining part-per-million defect data. So, data analytics provides a way to identify anomalies or issues in new product design before customers identify them after buying from you.

Furthermore, data analytics helps calculate maintenance cost of machinery, thereby making it possible to plan and execute the process in an effective manner. Big Data Analytics will play a critical role in gaining valuable insights to reduce business costs and boost productivity.

Artificial Intelligence

Image Source: HCL Technologies

Manufacturing industry was the first to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for product assembling and packaging. AI, too, has a very important role to play in Industry 4.0 as it facilitates machine learning, allowing machines to learn and make predictions based on experiences.

AI has a lot to do with data as cyber-physical systems communicate with each other and humans by sending and receiving data in real time over the Internet of Things. Collection and analysis of large amounts of data optimizes the manufacturing process and revolutionizes mass production. Besides, AI-powered machines are capable of performing tasks 24 hours a day, which gives a significant boost to productivity.

Collaborative Robots or Cobots

Image source: CATE Srl

It’s no secret that manufacturing industry has been using robots for many years to replace human labor, boost productivity and cut down costs. However, Industry 4.0 brings to the table the concept of collaborative robots aka Cobots. Cobots were first introduced to the world by a 1994 General Motors initiative led by Prasad Akella of the GM Robotics Center and a 1995 General Motors Foundation research. Taking the concept further, Universal Robots developed its first cobot in 2008 in a bid to enhance quality production.

Unlike robots that replace humans, cobots work and collaborate with humans to produce the desired result, without posing any threat to human safety. Cobots are lightweight and are equipped with sensors to ensure that they avoid touching humans forcefully or causing injuries to them.

Many manufacturing industries are now jumping on cobot bandwagon to boost quality production with human supervision, and Ford is one of the popular examples of that.

Augmented Reality (AR)

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Image Source: You Tube

Augmented Reality (AR) is known to make our existing reality more meaningful, which manufacturing industry could use to expedite the entire production chain. AR helps create simulation models and allows to see information on tasks that are being performed. With the help of AR devices, it becomes possible to see what can’t be seen otherwise, like a virtual screen appearing in front of you to provide instructions on how to perform a particular task. AR provides a brilliant way to bridge the knowledge gap in workers, which makes them more efficient and productive.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing will play a crucial role in Industry 4.0 to harness the full potential of robotics and artificial intelligence. The key to easily and effectively manage workloads across the full spectrum of devices created by Industry 4.0 is to integrate compute services with a cloud platform. Since Industry 4.0 produces humungous amount of data via IIoT, cloud technologies become important to analyse and visualise it.

For example, Rolls Royce teamed up with Microsoft to utilize its Azure IoT cloud suite in a bid to make aircrafts more efficient and bring down engine maintenance costs. Using Azure IoT Suite, Rolls Royce collects and aggregates data from different sources and different geographical locations.

After collecting data, Rolls Royce puts into use the Cortana Intelligence Suite to extract useful insights into engine health, air traffic control information, route restrictions, fuel usage, etc. As a result, the British luxury car and aero engine manufacturing company has been able to improve operational performance and increase fuel efficiency.


Conclusion

The fourth industrial revolution has already begun, and benefits of using new disruptive technologies are increasingly becoming evident for the industry of today. Many tech giants, including AT&T and Google, are venturing in Industry 4.0 solutions to welcome the change that seems very promising for industry. By covering the essential IT components of Industry 4.0, one can add more value to manufacturing business and touch new heights.

What are your views on the future of Industry 4.0? Do you think if there are any risks associated with the much-hyped change? If yes, please share them in the comment box below to add a new dimension to the adoption of Industry 4.0.

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There are so many virtues associated with Marketing Automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but many sales and marketing departments are still unable to notch up the best for their businesses. And, one of the top reasons cited by marketing experts for that is not integrating marketing automation with CRM. By not integrating these two technologies, many sales and marketing teams deprive themselves from understanding what works for each other and tracking every step of the buyer’s journey. Consequently, they bring roadblocks to quality lead generation and shrink the opportunities to have better conversions.

Before I begin shedding light on how marketing automation and CRM integration boosts conversion rates, let’s have a quick insight into what marketing automation and CRM are.

Marketing automation allows marketing departments to easily automate and analyze routine marketing tasks, like social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, digital ads, landing page visits, etc. As a result, they get to focus better on lead generation and offer personalized content based on user response. Marketing Automation has become a bandwagon almost all marketing departments are now jumping on to generate more leads than ever before. Some top examples of marketing automation software are HubSpot, Pardot, SharpSpring and Marketo.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), on the other hand,h complements marketing strategies by making it easier for sales team to convert marketing leads into paying customers. CRM tool, in a nutshell, serves as a database for storing marketing leads with their meaningful data, and help manage both existing and new customers. Some top examples of CRM software are SugarCRM, Odoo, Agile CRM and Nimble.

Let’s now move on to the most important aspect of this blog. How does marketing automation and CRM integration open new avenues for higher conversion rates?

Marketing Automation and CRM Integration a Boon to Your Business

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Image source: Blogspot

Helps You Devise Marketing Strategies that are Highly Likely to Work in Your Favor

By integrating marketing automation and CRM, your marketing team can easily track the efficacy of their marketing decisions. Being able to track how customers are responding to your marketing material paints a clear picture about what is working for you and what isn’t. For example, you can see what sort of emails coaxed your customers the most to become interested in your services or what type of social media campaigns got you most leads. Having such an insight helps you build on what worked the best for your and devise effective marketing strategies business.

So, you can effectively run marketing campaigns and ads that suit the requirements of your customers and help them improve quality of life by going for your products or services. Marketing automation and CRM integration also allows both sales and marketing departments to keep a track on every lead from the top of the lead funnel to the bottom of the sales funnel.

Enables to Increase Conversions via Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing means turning cold leads into buyers. And, this mostly becomes possible after you integrate marketing automation with CRM. Marketing teams can put colder leads on nurturing tracks to ensure they find your content interesting and relevant. Cold leads may not immediately get converted, but if you let go the hold over them, they become likely to buy from your competitors over time. That’s why lead nurturing is so important.

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Image source: HubSpot

If you keep contacting prospects systematically, it helps them build trust in your brand over time. The integration foundation allows marketing teams to understand unique interests of cold leads and treat them differently. Lead nurturing requires marketing team to have a better understanding of needs of prospects and targeting them with information that they want at each stage of their buying process.

A market study found that 80% of new leads never become sales. However, lead nurturing provides nearly 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost. Lead nurturing is like forming a relationship with leads, not only to sell them just once, but improve your ROI via upselling as well.

Helps Sales Teams get their Hands more on Quality Leads

Integration of marketing automation with CRM especially becomes important when it comes to differentiate between qualified leads and unqualified leads. Let’s understand, how?

Image source: Stampwood Limited

Marketing automation software allows marketing teams to automatically fetch all the information about how the leads interacted with marketing, like their social media engagement, page views, forms completion, queries, buying behavior, etc. When marketing teams enter leads along with their behavioral information in CRM, sales teams find it easy to draw a distinction between leads that are highly likely to be converted than those that are not. This is also called lead intelligence.

As a result, sales team dedicate most of their efforts to engage with qualified leads and improve conversion rates. Most CRMs allow to filter information, like leads that visited your site more than five times in past 30 days, or the ones that didn’t visit your site at all during the same time span. Such results help increase the efficiency and productivity of the sales team by encouraging them to spend more time on the leads from whom the marketing team has received positive response on their marketing material. Simply put, the more the focus on qualified leads, the better the conversion rates.

Speeds Up Sales Process

Since all marketing and sales report sits at one place, it becomes much easier to know where prospects are in the sales cycle. This in return helps expedite sales process. Sales people are also able to determine the best time to contact a lead in the nurturing process with appropriate content, thereby reducing the time it otherwise takes to convert a lead.

Another important aspect of marketing automation and CRM integration is the fact that it allows sales team to get involved in the development of a marketing campaign. As a result, marketing team is able to offer better and result-oriented content to its target audience, a factor that also speeds up sales process.

Without a doubt, marketing automation and CRM integration offers a plethora of opportunities to sales and marketing team to increase ROI via higher conversion rates. Many businesses are adopting this practice to boost their sales and get a competitive edge. It’s very hard to find a reason that why a business should not bank on marketing automation and CRM integration.

What’s your thought on the efficacy of marketing automation and CRM integration to boost conversion rate? Do you want to add more to what’s already being discussed? Please share your views in the comment box below.

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Information technology (IT) departments face many challenges while working on two solutions: Staff Augmentation and Managed Services. Although both are reliable solutions, making a choice between them to achieve your goals could be a difficult task if you don’t already understand how they work and suit different project requirements. Read further to have a better understanding of which one to choose to fulfill your vision and mission.

Staff Augmentation

Many IT departments prefer to have their own in-house teams for development projects. But, often arises a situation when the in-house team couldn’t fill a gap because of lacking some additional skills that are required to complete a project. This is where staff augmentation comes to their rescue. In staff augmentation approach, an organization ropes in qualified workers from outside to work with its in-house team to cover skills gaps for a specific project. Staff augmentation helps meet deadlines without compromising on the overall quality of the project. Using extra resources via staff augmentation also saves significant costs that are associated with hiring internally.

Firms that provide staff augmentation services helps businesses assess their needs and hire as many employees as required. And, since their is no full-time employee commitment with staff augmentation approach, employers can easily increase or decrease the number of employees as and when changes occur in requirements. With staff augmentation, you can zero-in on identified area to solve a problem. Let’s have a look at all the advantages of staff augmentation.

Advantages of Staff Augmentation

Cost Effective

Staff augmentation saves a lot of money that is spent on hiring, training, providing health insurances, retirement plans, taxes, and many more. You easily get access to employees with specific skills that your in-house team members lack, that too without having to spend money on recruiting and offering employee benefits. You only pay for the number of hours you extra resources have worked for. Therefore, you save a lot of money that is otherwise paid as full-time salaries year-around.

Staff augmentation service providers have a database of skilled and certified candidates to meet your specific project requirements. So, you also don’t need to spend money on training them. Only training that is required is to acquaint them with company domain and processes, so that they acclimatize easily.

Staff augmentation also helps cut costs of advertisements, job postings and administration to hire candidates with specific skill-set.

Better Control

Staff augmentation allows you to have a better control of your project all the time. You always stay in-sync with your resources and closely monitor their activities. If you come across any efficiency related issue, you can take effective measures before it’s too late, therefore you never lose on productivity. Besides, you can delegate what you feel is important to a resource you know is best suited for.

Staff augmentation also allows you to make better use of your existing resources. When an organization outsources a project, the company it has outsourced the project to has complete control over how the resources will be used. The company may or may not use all the resources for timely completion of the project. Staff augmentation, on the other hand, enables to keep a proper check on the activities of every employee and make the best use of them.

Scalability

That you may get a project of large size, scalability comes as a handy feature of staff augmentation. That ability to not say no just because of large size of a project always proves fruitful for your business. Also, being able to deliver diverse services enhances your brand value, and delivering quality solutions raises the bars of client satisfaction.

Flexibility

Staff augmentation approach also offers flexibility as it doesn’t let seasonal factors or employees leaving your firm to have an adverse impact on your business. Online retailers especially feel the need to cope with seasonal fluctuations as many employees go on vacation. By going for staff augmentation, they can always keep the number of IT staff in control and effectively deal with staff shortages and unexpected attrition.

Offers a New Perspective

With staff augmentation, you get a fresh perspective about how things are going. It’s very unlikely for a short term employee to participate in office politics and have a negative impact on efficiency. Instead, the efficiency and discipline the staff augmentation employee brings to your workplace could encourage your in-house staff to improve their performance too. The temporary employee also helps you understand the project in a better way by providing you an objective outlook from a new perspective.

Staff augmentation brings a lot of advantages to a business, but it’s not the only way to get your projects done. Another option that is also used by many organizations to fulfill their project needs is Managed Services.

Managed Services

Managed services means outsourcing IT operations to a service provider. A managed service provider (MSP) takes all the responsibility of resource allocation, management, monitoring and problem resolution. As a result, an organization that adopts managed services gets to focus on more important aspects of its business. Let’s gain an insight into all the advantages managed services has to offer.

Top Advantages of Managed Services

Reduces Costs related to Infrastructure and Complex IT Solutions

Since managed services approach does not require you to hire resources internally, you free yourself from the need of setting infrastructure for them, which reduces business cost. We all know that hardware and software components of IT systems keep evolving from time to time. As a result, businesses with limited budget may find it difficult to keep pace with them. However, going for managed services allows them to reap the benefits of latest IT solutions at a reduced cost and offer their clients top-notch services.

Control over Service Levels and Performance

Since both the client and managed service provider agree on a service level agreement (SLA), roles of both the parties are clearly defined. SLA clearly describes what services a managed service provider will provide and what the minimum response time, liability protection, payment structure and performance standards would be. Therefore, a client gets a better control over service levels and performance by paying a fixed amount every month.

MSPs also offers 24*7 support at no additional cost. Having access to one single point of contact for IT support also saves time, money and resources.

Allows to Focus on Core Competencies and Business Goals

MSPs have highly skilled technical resources to proactively maintain IT environment and infrastructure of clients. Therefore, it becomes possible for internal team to have improved focus on core business functions. Be it hardware, on-site data center, application monitoring, MSPs keep everything covered. An MSP acts as an extra arm to your internal teams, and takes the burden of devising IT strategies and solutions to meet your unique business and technical requirements.

Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

MSPs also provide backup and disaster recovery solutions, so that you never lose your important business information. Most MSPs have specially designed networks and data centers to ensure reliable backups and faster recovery, both locally and from the cloud. IT managed services also provides protection from hackers, malware and downtime. MSPs have cutting-edge resources and information to quickly identify security issues and take preventative measures to mitigate risks before it’s too late.

Enhances Global Expansion and Growth

Many MSPs are capable of deploying infrastructure and other services globally as they have global facilities. As a result, an organization can save a lot of money that is required to hire additional resources in order to support expansion. If you choose an MSP with a presence in a region where your business is likely to grow, you will easily get support for IT infrastructure, applications and operations. MSPs also offer scalable services and only charge you for the level of support provided at a given time.

Staff augmentation and managed services have their own advantages, but one needs to assess their needs, budget and other requirements before choosing between them to brace their business. Both the IT solutions are highly reliable and helps IT departments not just save huge business costs, but benefit from latest advancements and technologies as well.

What do you think about the future of staff augmentation and managed services? Which one suits your business requirements the most? As always, your views are vital for us, please share them in the comment box below.

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No matter what type your business is, data analysis always plays a vital role in providing you a competitive edge and bring innovation in the way you do your business. Collating data to discover new business opportunities and meet customer expectations is not something very new, dating back to the decade of 70s. However, what has significantly changed since then is the amount of data growing everyday, its diversity and analytics techniques to make sense out of it.

The term Big Data was coined considering the abundance of data that exists today in structured, semi-structured and unstructured form. According to a new report from IBM Marketing Cloud, 90% of data that exists today was created in the last two years alone. The report further adds that nearly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day from numerous sources, like social media sites, business apps, public web, sensors connected to Internet of Things, etc.

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Image source: LinkedIn

In contrast to previous times when rudimentary data analytics was used to make future decisions, advanced big data analytics of today allows business managers to have real-time information and make immediate decisions. There is no denying the fact that big data analytics has become the need of the hour to understand hidden patterns and correlations, identify target audience, uncover new revenue opportunities, boost marketing efforts, offer better customer service, and improve productivity. Let’s understand in detail how information derived from big data analytics can help you get competitive advantage over your rivals.

How Big Data Analytics enables You to Beat Competition

Allows to offer Personalized Experiences

Acquiring customers is not enough to compete with your rivals. You also need to understand the needs of your customers and optimize their buying experience. Since customers interact a lot on the internet and look for products they want to buy in near future, big data analytics allows you to identify them and offer them what they want, not something they are not interested in. Doing so increases the chances of a customer to buy a product of their choice from you by many folds.

Having a good insight into a customer’s personality, attitude, buying behavior, etc. helps you make them feel personally valued, which increases their trust in your brand. Having valuable information of customers readily available paves the way for business managers to devise effective strategies and improve conversion rates. If you have a website for your business, you can use big data analytics to personalize the content in real time to meet diverse requirements of consumers based on their sex, nationality, etc.

Click here to read about “How Will Big Data Impact Effective Lead Generation for better Conversions.”

Enhances Productivity

Big data analytics also helps organizations enhance productivity. For good productivity, it’s important to understand production volume patterns, correlation with demands, and patterns from unstructured data, like social media feeds, blogs, videos and other sources. With big data analytics, it becomes possible for organizations to get useful insights from both structured and unstructured data, which in turn helps expedite varied processes and boost productivity.

Besides, many organizations are now using big data analytics to analyze employees’ performance. As a result, they are able to improve office productivity. By using devices like motion sensors, employers can keep a track of employee activity and understand them better, which in turn helps managers devise strategies to encourage them and improve productivity.

According to a study by Evolv, data analysis has proven to be a great way for getting insights into employees’ behavior and increasing productivity in the workplace. Max Simkoff, co-founder and CEO of Evolv, says, “CIOs have been charged with leveraging the right products to increase employee productivity. Unfortunately, much of that work revolved around guessing what employees wanted and what they didn't. With help from big data, it appears that far more insight can be gleaned from employees’ behavior and, in turn, improve their job performance.”

Helps Understand What Works for You and What Doesn’t

One of the best advantages of big data analytics is to be able to learn about the efficacy of your marketing efforts. For example, marketers can determine which sort of content has been most effective at moving leads through a marketing and sales funnel. Similarly, they can also deduce what’s not working for them. Therefore, business managers can devise marketing strategies based on what’s most likely to become propitious for them and boost ROI.

Small businesses can also see how popular their brand is becoming among customers and keep on improving their products or services to keep growing the list of loyal customers. One of the major reasons cited by most businesses to use big data analytics is to improve business operations. If there’s an operational problem, a real-time insight into errors will help take quick actions to fix it, thereby not allowing the operation to fail or force your customers to go somewhere else.

Reduces Business Costs

Big data analytics also helps businesses save significant costs. By putting big data analytics into use, the supermarket chain Tesco successfully brought down its annual refrigeration cost by 20% across 3,000 stores in the UK and Ireland. With the help of IBM's research laboratories in Dublin, Tesco got useful insights into gigabytes of refrigeration data, which helped the company uncover that refrigerators in many of their stores in Ireland were running at lower temperatures than needed.

Niall Brady, IBM's research engineer for intelligent buildings and energy analytics, said, “We developed a set of key performance indicators [KPIs] that looked at data aggregated every month over a year. Without knowing anything about how the refrigerators should perform, we could identify when they were behaving in an anomalous way.”

In a nutshell, big data analytics has enough potential to serve the purpose of automated decision systems to let managers know any cost-cutting opportunity and swiftly act on it.

Helps Improve Risk Management

Big data analytics enables to not just offer better products and reduce costs, but manage operational, technical and financial risks as well. Hacks, frauds, policy breach, etc. are some of the risks that could be taken care of by putting big data analytics into use. Unlike previously when it was difficult to analyze fraud patterns, identify unscrupulous traders, etc, it’s now possible to have highly effective risk management programs by using big data analytics.

Financial institutions are at the highest risk of frauds, which is one of the major reasons why most banks now use big data analytics to monitor all transactions in real time and preempt suspicious activities. CFOs across many sectors now rely on big data analytics for efficient risk monitoring and prepare for worst-case scenarios. Palantir Technologies, a data analytics company which has clients including the FBI and CIA, is also helping Wall Street firms to detect frauds. The crux is the fact that big data analytics could definitely provide you a competitive edge by allowing you to manage risks and prevent money loss in a much better way.

For big data analytics, there are many tools available in the tech market. You can choose the one that best fits your requirements. To ease your quest, you can click here to check out “7 Tools for Successful Big Data Analytics.

Considering all the virtues of big data analytics mentioned above, it’s worth saying that businesses can reap many benefits that were not possible before. Data is like currency, but it’s only useful when you can make sense out of it and incorporate the wisdom earned into your business processes, marketing campaigns, customer service strategies, they way you react to changing trends, etc. It’s no hyperbole to say that big data analytics is the key to outperform competition and cash in on new opportunities of growth.

What are your thoughts on the potential of big data analytics to help businesses get a competitive edge? Have you ever used big data analytics before to give a boost to your business? Your views are highly welcome, please share them in the comment box below.

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PHP, an abbreviation for Hypertext Processor, is an open source, general-purpose scripting language. The programming language is widely used for web development across the globe, and currently powers more the two hundred million websites, including Yahoo!, Facebook and Wordpress.

It’s good for PHP developers that so many frameworks are available in the tech market for PHP development. But, it also often leads them into quandary when it comes to determine the best one. Although the decision to choose a PHP framework heavily relies on its functionality and other factors to suit specific project requirements, one PHP framework, called Laravel, has been widely adopted in many cases. As of now, there are 33,119 stars for Laravel on Github. In this blog, I am offering an insight into advantages that make Laravel the most preferred choice of PHP developers.

Top Reasons behind Skyrocketing Popularity of Laravel for PHP Development

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#1 Artisan

Laravel generates code using a built-in tool called Artisan. Since developers have to mostly interact with Laravel using a command line, Artisan is a great advantage as it rids the need of performing repetitive and tedious programming tasks manually. Artisan allows developers to generate controllers, model, etc.

# 2 Pre-Installed Object Oriented Libraries

One of the top reasons why Laravel gets edge over other frameworks is object oriented and pre-installed libraries. These pre-installed libraries are not available with any other framework, but Laravel. For example, Authentical library, which apart from its easy implementation, offers advanced features, such as checking active users, Bcrypt hashing, CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) protection, encryption, and password reset.

Besides, individual modules that form Laravel are based on modern PHP principles. As a result, developers get more freedom to build even responsive, modular, and handy web apps.

# 3 Blade Template Engine

Laravel’s Blade templating engine is one of the best features it is so popular for. It’s html template used in laravel. The templating engine is highly intuitive and makes it possible for developers to easily work with even the typical PHP/HTML spaghetti. Most frameworks use php tags to call variable from controller, like 1111Screenshot from 2017-07-06 14:56:58.png. However, blade templating uses 222Screenshot from 2017-07-06 15:00:51.png to print variable. It make work effortless. Inbuilt lightweight templates in Laravel makes it much easier for developers to create amazing layouts using dynamic content seeding. Besides, a way to incorporate CSS and JS code with solid structures adds a new feather to the cap of Laravel.

#4 Database Migration

One of the toughest challenges that PHP developers face is to keep database in sync between development machines. However, Laravel migration system makes it a doddle for developers. Using Laravel migration you can develop the database of the application without having to recreate it every time changes are made. Therefore, the risk of losing development data cuts down by many folds. Changing the structure of the database is also possible using migrations, and the code to be used is of PHP, not of SQL.

If you wish to transfer files from local to server, then migration will help build tables using simple command: 333Screenshot from 2017-07-06 15:21:30.png. You can also make new tables using migrations.

#5 Eloquent ORM (object-relational mapping)

The Eloquent ORM of Laravel comes with simple PHP Active Record implementation. Web app developers are able to issue database queries with PHP syntax instead of SQL code because of it only. The ORM makes use of industry-standard conventions to lessen configuration. A corresponding Model exists in every table in the database to allow the developer to interact.

#6 Authorization

Laravel provides excellent authentication techniques and brilliantly configures almost everything. Be it organizing authorization logic or providing control over access to resources, Laravel is the best among all other PHP frameworks. Laravel's To authorize actions, Laravel uses two primary ways: gates and policies (they act as routes and controllers). Laravel also provides Middleware, which makes it easy to verify HTTP requests before sending them to the controller.

Some user cases where we have had to resort to using middleware are as follows:


  1. To confirm the incoming route request API key. Assuming you are building an API.

  2. Rate-limiting a service call.

  3. Change the site language based on locale.

  4. Enable site-wide maintenance.

  5. Sniffing bot traffic.

  6. Logging.

#7 Security

Web development with Laravel is highly secure. It uses salted and hashed password, which is basically Bcrypt hashing for storing user passwords. The built-in LoginController and RegisterController classes, Bcrypt is automatically used for authentication and registration. Pre-enabled tools in Laravel provide protection against injection and xss attacks, which makes complex coding for site security unnecessary.

#8 Intuitive Syntax

Laravel’s principles have been adopted from a universally acclaimed book “Clean Code” by Robert C. Martin. The book describes easy ways to create and maintain code.

Syntax of laravel is very easy to understand. Let’s look at this example of pagination: FRScreenshot from 2017-07-07 10:37:46.png

Pagination here is set to 5 and Role is the model here. It’s basic pagination, very easy to understand.

Let’s take one more example: FR222Screenshot from 2017-07-07 10:38:13.png

Here findOrFail is being used to return a single model instance. In case of no result, a ModelNotFoundException comes out, which is easy to handle with a pretty view page.

#9 Excellent Documentation

Laravel has excellent documentation, written by Taylor Otwell, the founder and main developer of Laravel. Without a doubt, Laravel has the best documentation among all other PHP frameworks, which makes the framework even more credible for trying out hands in PHP development.

#10 Larcasts

Another important factor that makes Laravel better than other popular frameworks, like Codeigniter, Yii, CakePHP, is Larcasts, which provides both free and paid video tutorials on how to use Laravel. The production quality of videos is top-notch and they make learning Laravel very easy and meaningful. If you visit the official website of Larcasts, you will see, “Laracasts is the defacto educational resource specifically for working developers building the web with PHP and JavaScript. It's kinda like Netflix for your career!”


Unit Resting and easy Routing also make Laravel stand out. Apart from the ones I have mentioned above, there are many more features like easy app structure that contribute to making Laravel a top choice for PHP development. This framework has no looking back since its inception and continues to grow popular among developers and businesses for its awesome features.

Click here to learn about : 7 Frameworks for Automated PHP Testing

Have you ever used Laravel for PHP development before? If yes, do you agree based on your experience that Laravel is the best PHP framework? Please share you views in the comment box below.

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We are almost halfway through 2017, and it’s always exciting for web developers to know which programming languages have been the best picks lately in the programming world. In this blog, I am unveiling 10 most preferred languages in 2017 so far. Please note that the top 10 languages I am going to list below are strictly based on GitHub’s recent data and TIOBE Index for June 2017 - the most credible sources to track the popularity of programming languages.

Let’s Begin!!!

Java

Java, an open-source language that’s been around since the 1990’s, allows developers to “write once, run anywhere”. So, you can run compiled Java code on all platforms without having to recompile. Java is the product of Oracle corporation and is widely used for creating server-side applications, video games, mobile applications and smart TV applications. Since both large and small businesses use applications written in Java, this language is high in demand and ranked among the top ones by Tiobe Index and Github.

Java is also used by most Android app developers. Some top Android app examples of Java are Temple Run, Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds. It doesn’t end here as Java is also used everyday by many airlines, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Java’s Growth in 2016: 63%

Python

First released in 1991, Python is a widely used open-source, high-level, general-purpose and dynamic programming language. Python has witnessed most of its growth in the past five years (7.0%). Python is popular among developers for readability and easy learning. Whitespace indentation in Python allows developers to delimit code blocks without using curly brackets or keywords, which emphasizes code readability. If you are new to programming, you can pick Python as it is one of the most beginner-friendly programming languages.

Some of the top applications that have been built using Python are YouTube, Reddit and Instagram. You can also use Python for scientific computing, web development and 3D rendering.

Python’s Growth in 2017: 54%

Click here to learn why Django is the best Framework for Python

PHP

PHP is also an open-source and very popular programming language used for server side scripting. Although PHP was primarily designed for web development, it’s also used as a general-purpose programming language. PHP first came out in 1994 and originally stood for personal home page. It’s now taken as the abbreviation for Hypertext Preprocessor. Since PHP has a low learning curve, new programmers can also develop web applications in quick time.

PHP powers more than two hundred million websites, including the popular ones like Yahoo, Facebook and Wordpress. Developers can easily deploy PHP on most web servers on almost every operating system and platform.

PHP’s Growth in 2016: 43%

JavaScript

JavaScript is a high-level, dynamic, and interpreted programming language, which is widely used to make web applications and add interactive elements to the webpages. The programming language allows developers to create animations and have better control over the web interface. All modern web browsers support JavaScript without forcing you to install plug-ins.

JavaScript has been the top language on the TIOBE index for a few years, but it’s currently ranked seventh in the list of top 50 programming languages. For many developers world over, JavaScript is the numero uno language for front-end development. However, the advent of Node.js made it possible for developers to use JavaScript for backend as well.

JavaScript’s growth in 2016: 97%

C

C, a general purpose programming language, is considered to be grandfather of all modern languages. Emergence of C dates back to 1970s and it has served as the base of many of today’s languages such as Java, C++ and Python. Although learning curve of C is large, using C makes it easier for developers to pick modern languages like Objective C, C++, PHP, etc.

C helps developers get complete control over software and is considered to be the backbone of many of today’s most popular operating systems such as Windows, OSX, and Linux. Flexibility of use for memory management is one of the top virtues of C. The TIOBE Index currently ranks C at the second position, whereas Github ranks it at the ninth position.

C++

C++ is a general purpose programming language which could be considered as C with more features. In contrast to C which is used more for operating systems, C++ is used for higher level applications like accounting software or video game engines. C++ also offers support for object oriented programming, which is not the case with C. Many developers see C++ as the best pick for building web browsers, computer graphics drivers and financial trading algorithm.

Call of Duty, Halo, and Fifa are some top examples of C++. Since C++ is robust and fast, many Wall Street firms use it to trade thousands of shares in no time. Using C++ will help you get the qualities of both high-level and low-level programming language.

C++ growth in 2016: 43%

Ruby

Ruby is a general-purpose and object oriented programming language that gives rise to fast development and use of fewer lines of code. Although Ruby came out in 1990s, it rose to fame after the emergence of Rails, a high-in-demand framework for Ruby. Ruby on Rails is apt for extremely intuitive web development. A dynamic type system and automatic memory management are other virtues of Ruby. Mostly startups and mid-sized businesses use Ruby on Rails because Rails is often used as a website prototyping language.

Similar to Python, Ruby is also easy to learn. Ruby is ranked fourth on Github and 10th on the TIOBE index. Metasploit and Twitter are two popular examples of Ruby.

Ruby’s growth in 2016: 66%

C#

C#, developed and released by Microsoft in the early 2000s, is a general purpose, object-oriented programming language. C# is an evolution of C and C++. Therefore, if you have previous experience of using C and C++, learning C# will be much easier for you. C# is used for numerous Microsoft products that are powered by .NET framework. You can also use the programming language for standard Windows software development and server side web applications.

C# is not as popular as Java or PHP is, but it’s been rising in popularity every year since its release. Since Microsoft is the creator of C#, the language is used to run several Windows products, like Bing and MSN.


C# growth in 2016: 88%

Swift

Swift, a product of Apple Inc., is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language that debuted in 2014. Apple developed Swift for iOS and OSX applications.. Ever since Swift came out in the tech market, it has witnessed tremendous rise in demand. Swift could be a good choice for creating an intuitive app since it adopts the best of C and Objective C. Swift is minimalist, powerful and simple.

Swift’s growth in 2016: 262%

GO

Go is an open-source programming language created by Google in 2007 for simple, efficient, and reliable software development. GO is also popular for web servers, APIs, minimal web application frameworks, etc. Although GO is currently ranked 15th on the TIOBE Index, I have included it in the list considering it was ranked 65th on the TIOBE Index a year ago. The language has skyrocketed in popularity and is now ranked 10th on Github.

With GO, you get C-like semantics, modern data structures, memory management and high performance with fast compiled binaries. TIOBE Index also announced Google’s GO as the most popular programming language of 2016.

Click here to know about companies using GO around the world

GO’s growth in 2016: 93%

All the languages listed above have been the top choice of developers in 2017 so far. However, before you choose a language to kick start your programming career, carefully analyze the needs and requirements of app development, web application or web design.

Have you ever used a programming language before for a development project? If yes, which one? Which programming language suits your need and interest the most? Please share your views in the comment box below.

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Be it a website, app or any other form of software, the toughest challenge that most businesses face is to find right talent, hire them and retain them in-house. Startups, especially, have a limited budget and can’t bear the high cost of hiring experienced developers for specific requirements and managing their IT requirements. These are the major reasons why many businesses, regardless of business size, go for offshore software development - A panacea for all software development woes.

Offshore development is synonymous to outsourcing your development project to a company or freelancers located in some foreign country, like India, Ukraine, etc. The best part though is you still control everything from within your organization, that too with reduced costs and more time at your disposal to focus on other core activity of your business. Also, there are many free project management tools available in the tech market, like FindNerd and Trello, to help monitor development process and collaborate with offshore developers for the best outcome.

You may have a great business idea for an app or website, but without access to wide skill-set professionals, it’s very difficult take your idea to fruition. This is one of the major reasons why offshoring has become very popular in countries like US and UK. Software talent in these countries is very expensive and the cost of training and retaining them is also too high. Let’s take one by one the benefits of offshore software development that largely outweigh the benefits of having an in-house development team.

#1 Significant Cost Savings

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In Western Europe or North America, the cost of hiring software developers is approximately 90% higher than the cost of hiring offshore developers. It’s no secret that outsourcing your project to a software development company saves 20 to 40% of your total expenditure on your production cost.

You need not to bear the high expense of paying fixed salaries. Outsourcing allows you to hire professionals and pay them based on the task they have performed and the number of hours they have spent on it. By deploying a good project management tool, you can keep complete track of resources that have been assigned and their activities towards the completion of your project.

Another cost advantage of outsourcing is that you free yourself from buying expensive IT infrastructure and set-ups. Thus, you can use your capital for other important business investments.

#2 Improved Focus on Business and Customer Base

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Having outsourced your IT requirements to an offshore software development company, you find ample of time to focus on other core areas of your business, like marketing and branding of your business. You can devise new ways to boost your marketing and sales effort so that you have a good user base after your software enters the market. Being able to focus on other core areas of your business, you get a competitive advantage in the technological race.

#3 Hire Talented Professionals You Can’t have In-House

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Technology has become very diverse, and so as software development project requirements. And, it’s not only expensive to hire wide skill-set professionals, but finding them and roping them in is the toughest call in the first place. Offshoring comes as rescuer here by paving the way for you to hire nothing less than the best for your software development project.

Most of the offshore software development firms have a large pool of resources and technical expertise readily available to fit even the toughest software development and testing requirements. It’s just one time investment after analyzing your specific requirements and project size. Besides, there is no headache of recruiting, hiring, training, and housing employees for short-term projects.

#4 High Quality

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Since your project is being taken care by expert designers and developers who use latest tools and technologies, the quality of the project is always on a par with international standards. If you are not satisfied with something, you can always ask the offshore development company to redo so that it precisely meets end user requirements. By outsourcing your project, you can ensure that your software delivers accurate results and is in line with current market demands.

#5 Infrastructure and Environment

For developers, it’s very essential to have right IT infrastructure and environment to give their best. Most offshore software development companies are serious about their job and have sophisticated infrastructure and favorable business environment. As a result, productivity and efficiency rise by many folds.

#6 Highly Secured

Another advantage is the fact that most offshore software development companies offer high-tech security. They provide complete security to your confidential data and property.

#7 Timely Delivery

Software project requirements are often very complex and may require dozens of people working on different parts. Therefore, it becomes very difficult at times to figure out the accurate number of people you need to hire for timely completion of your software project. Besides, if some of them leaves in between, the team size shrinks, resulting into low productivity and pushing the deadline further. However, same is not the case with outsourcing. A good offshore software development firm provides you the actual number of people your project requires for timely completion.

To ensure timely delivery, you should choose a firm that has a good project management system, like FindNerd, as it helps track resources and keep a check on productivity on day-to-day basis. Besides, you would only pay for the number of people who actually worked on your development project.

Offshore software development has emerged as a very lucrative option for businesses to reduce overhead costs and get a quality product developed, that too on time. There is no need to have an in-house development team when an offshore firm can arrange everything your project needs at economical prices. If you are also looking forward to get a quality product developed through an offshore software development company, let us know in the comment box below or click here.
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Managing a project and taking it to fruition is one of the toughest challenges for project managers (PMs), regardless of business size. But the current digital arena is powerful enough to help PMs cover all sort of necessary project management paraphernalia. A good project management tool helps PMs keep project aspects in sync and meet project goals. Some standard functions of a project management tool are task management, collaboration, overview dashboards, tools to communicate with team members, scheduler, and administrative controls.

However, it often becomes perplexing for PMs to choose a highly efficient project management tool as the tech market is flooded with them. That said, I am offering an insight into 5 project management tools along with feature comparison so that you can choose a project management tool that best fits your project requirements.

5 Project Task Management Tools List - Free Online Feature Comparison

#1 Wrike

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Wrike, a winner of FinancesOnline Best Project Management Software Award for 2016, is known for both high speed and efficiency of work. Multi functional group collaboration and effective management from a single location make Wrike a top choice for an online project management tool. A Wrike user can also view tasks, activities, and updates across projects or down the subtasks in real time using the mobile app. Wrike analytics offers insights from real-time data to help you anticipate and find swift fixes for future delays and problems. It is best suited to small and large organizations, and it’s free up to five users.

Some Excellent Features of Wrike are as follows:

  • 3-pane layout provides important data on one screen

  • Allows to share view and share project data with Tags and Folders

  • Task management tools to monitor individual and overall progress

  • Activity Stream pane to track team activities and use of @mention to engage team

  • Drag and drop to share task priorities with your team

  • Time-tracking to know the exact number of hours spent on a particular task

  • Real time updates

  • Easy reporting via excellent analytics

  • Document collaboration

  • Workload management

  • Email integration

#2 Active Collab

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Active Collab is one of the most popular project management tools for users who have to juggle between multiple projects. It provides a dashboard to track updates and figure out what tasks you need to take up next. Active Collab’s all-in-one calendar allows you to set your own custom dates and events. Be it team collaboration or meeting deadlines, Active Colloab has all you need to flawlessly and effectively manage a project. The project management tool comes free for the first month and then charges $25 per month for 5 members with 5GB space. You can upgrade for more members and storage as well.

Check out Active Collab’s Top Features

  • Generates reports on open tasks, the team's workload, or the estimated time for completion.

  • Allows to organize tasks into lists and sort them using filters for people, labels, or due dates.

  • Project collaboration.

  • Provides each user a dashboard to see their tasks and deadlines.

  • Dropbox integration allows to share Dropbox files on projects and with your team.

  • Multiple language option breaks regional language barriers and gives rise to ease of use.

  • Invoice management.

  • Time tracking and desktop timer app.

  • Email notification and advanced time report.

  • Trello importer allows to copy Trello projects into Active Collab.

#3 FindNerd

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FindNerd, a product of Evon Technologies, is a free-to-use and awesome project management tool for efficient project management, collaboration, task tracking and resource management. The stand alone PM tool features minute-by-minute resource tracking and automatic status alerts. The PM tool is mobile friendly and allows to plan and monitor project tasks and milestones from any place. You can use FindNerd for free, and get access to all the excellent features that make the backbone of a high-efficacy project management tool.

Exciting and In-demand Project Management Features of FindNerd

  • Resource management allows to plan and allocate resources based on availability and load.

  • Time tracking.

  • FindNerd emphasizes collaboration by allowing to share queries, documents, information, etc.

  • Analytics allows to generate reports on hours logged, activities performed and resource utilization.

  • Enables efficient workflow by paving the way for setting and agreeing on terms, billings and approval hierarchies.

  • Task and bug management allows to prioritize, monitor, filter and move with easy drag and drop feature.

  • Keeps you updated with status alerts.

  • Add quick sprints, timelines, members in no-time.

  • Easy setup allows to set up a project in seconds with minimum details and scale as you go.

  • Invoicing feature enables to prepare and keep track of invoices and transactions with in-built workflows.

#4 Jira

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Jira is another popular project management tool, especially among agile teams for project planning, tracking, releasing, and reporting. Jira allows PMs to gather insight into important matters by collating user stories and case studies. The project management tools enhances team performance by providing access to real-time, visual data. Jira comes at $10 per month for up to 10 users. For on-premise solution, Linux and Windows installers are available, though you can also opt for the hassle-free JIRA OnDemand.

Have a Look at Important Features of Jira

  • Agile development.

  • Project time tracking.

  • Jira also offers cloud-hosted version, which is painless to set up.

  • Jira’s flexible dashboard helps create a personalized view. Besides, you can share the dashboards to keep a track on team wallboards and generate custom reports, and track project status.

  • GitHub integration.

  • JIRA’s Query Language (JQL) allows to develop advanced queries.

  • Sprint planning.

  • More than 800 add-ons and plugins.

  • Customizable workflows help you easily create the process that fits your team.

  • Planning tools.

  • Portfolio management and automatic notifications.

#5 Asana

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Asana is popular among PMs for communication and collaboration, though it’s not as fast as Wrike is. Fast-growing local businesses mostly use Asana, but some big players, like TED, Uber, The New Yorker, and Salesforce, have also tried their hands on it. Asana allows clear communication where there is a need to deal with remote teams. Asana is compatible with multiple devices and free to use for up to 15 people. Whereas, Asana Premium comes for $ 9.99 per member per month.

Exciting Features of Asana are as Follows:

  • Task tools allow to break work into manageable pieces and plan a day with a prioritized to-do list.

  • With Subtask feature, you can also break up a task into smaller parts.

  • For communication, Asana enables team members to comment directly on a task and mention team mates.

  • Automatic status updates.

  • Team pages feature helps PMs to see team’s projects in one place.

  • Calendar feature allows to have the correct idea of when work is due.

  • The hearts feature allows team members to give their approval to new ideas about what to work on next.

  • Time tracking.

  • Enhances team collaboration, even for geographically separated teams.

  • Bug tracking.

Having a project management tool in place has become the need of the hour for many businesses, especially when the competition is so high. I hope the free feature comparison of the five project management tools above will help you decide on a tool that suits your goals and project requirements the best.

Have you ever used a project management tool before? If yes, how was your experience and what extra feature/features would you like to have in your favorite project management tool? Please share in the comment box below.

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