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Ankur Sharma

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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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In this article, we will try to understand in simplest possible way; What is cloud? What are different cloud offerings? How does it work for you?

 

Cloud computing constitutes a broad range of services. Web is the common thread between all of these. So something sitting on your desktop and able to operate on its own is not a cloud service.

 

Key characteristics of a cloud based solution are:

 

  • It is available on demand.
  • It can be accessed through standard platforms like desktop, laptop, mobile.
  • It can be used by multiple people.
  • People can share resources.
  • It can easily handle increase/decrease of user base.
  • Solution can scale up/down easily.
  • Billing for the service can be easily measured.

 

There are different types of cloud computing services commonly classified as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). In a very simplistic explanation:

 

 

  • SaaS – is software delivered over web.
  • PaaS – is platform delivered over web, for the creation of the software.
  • IaaS – is infrastructure (hardware/software) delivered over web as an on demand leased service.

 

 

Let’s take a deeper look at these services.

 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

 

Characteristics:

 

  • It is available through web either as a paid/free service.
  • It is centrally managed and delivered to all.
  • Software users should not require updating software or applying patches.
  • Exposes APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to allow integration between different modules.
 
Where it works?  
 
  • Generic solutions which are used by a variety of users.
  • Solutions that need to be used over multiple channels (web, mobile), locations (home, office, on the way) 
 
Where it doesn't work? 
 
  • Data sensitive applications with legal limitations.
  • Solutions are used by a defined set of users (employees of a specific company)
 
Example – Salesforce.com is the best example of a software delivered as a Service. 
 

Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Provides services to help in development of software products.
  • Provides services and solutions to develop, test, deploy, host, manage software applications.
  • Allows for multiple developers can work on the platform in parallel.
  • Provides capability for failover, scalability, load balancing within the platform.
  • Supports standard API, third party, DB integration protocols.
  • Provides built in support for features such as subscription management, billing for the applications built using the platform.  
 
Where it works? 
 
  • All the all technical stack requirements are met by platform offerings.
  • Automation is paramount in testing, build, release. 
 
Where it doesn't work?   
 
  • Application needs to be portable from hosting perspective.
  • Proprietary languages, technologies, practices would be required.  
 
Example – Force.com is the best example of a platform delivered as a Service. Another very popular example is Google App Engine which provides complete platform to enable development of software applications. If your software technical requirements can be met completely by such platforms, PaaS is for you. 
 
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
 
Characteristics:   
 
  • Resources (hardware and software) are available as service.
  • Allows for scaling up/down dynamically.
  • Have billing/pricing based on usage.
  • Provides capability for failover, scalability, load balancing within the platform.
  • Resources can be shared between different users.  
 
Where it works?  
 
  • Requirements can change dynamically; may go up/down.
  • For people/companies who do not want to invest (both money and labour) too much on hardware.
  • For people who want to try something temporarily.  
 
Where it doesn't work?  
 
  • Cases in which there are too much regulatory, security, legal factors are involved related to storage. 
 
Example – Amazon web services, Rackspace are some of the leaders in this space. People and organizations that want to move to Cloud computing should identify their needs and based on that find the suitable service offering and model that suits best for their business needs. Cloud offers a lot; not everything may be useful for everybody.  
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I am a Sales guy in my present life. Before that I was a project manager, project lead and a developer. In the last 15 years, I’ve been part of many software projects in various capacities; seen some success stories and seen a fair share of failures as well. I’ve been asked to write this article based on my experience with various projects, clients from different geographies. Before I started to write this, I thought of Googling what other people have said on the same topic. I was overwhelmed by the number of articles, studies and research papers I saw. Wow! I wondered if there is anything new for me to say that has not been said already. When in doubt, go to the BOSS (who is always right). He reminded me to write my experiences. So, here I go.

 

Before I actually start on the reasons, let me share one peculiar thing that I found in my study of already available material. Most of the articles and studies available on the subject, focus majorly on the reasons for failure on the vendor’s side. In my experience, I have seen that both the clients and vendors can work very hard to fail the project. So, here’s my angle to attack this story. Developing of software product is a journey that starts from idea to Go Live to maintenance. The cause for failure can be inducted in this journey at any stage by any stakeholder. 

 

I’ve said earlier that right now I am a Sales guy. Every now and then, I get a chance to talk to a new potential client. I get to hear about their ideas for the development of new softwares. In today’s world softwares are not only developed by companies to help in their operations, but to be used by end users directly. These softwares can be in the domain of social applications, entertainment, e Commerce, education and what not. Many a times the client is just a person with an idea and not a company trying to develop something. Most of the time, the idea already have a competitor product available in the market. Most of the time, the person has the idea, maybe has a little money with himself, has no concrete financial plan, but is very passionate about the idea. And the best thing is that more often than not, the person would not have given a deep thought in documenting the idea, giving a shape to it. It is something floating in his head.

 

  • An individual (with an idea)
  • MINUS market research 
  • MINUS documentation of idea 
  • MINUS positioning of idea 
  • MINUS financial plan 
  • EQUALS Recipe for disaster from very start

 

I can see at the beginning only that this project will fail, not in developing the project, but in taking it to a success. 

 

What do I do as a Sales guy? Do not put my hand in it? But I have my targets to fulfill and more often than not I get these kinds of people only. Most of the sales guys will take the project. They will take it for whatever money the client has. Why leave the $$$ that he have, even if one know that those are not enough for his product to be a success. In nutshell, such projects are doomed even before they start, even if the project is developed successfully. In six months after launch, the product will be nowhere to find. And many such projects will never see light of the day. In the middle of the development only, client will realize that his idea was not so great, or his preparation was not so great or he is not as equipped as he thought he is to compete. So, the project is dropped. 

 

So let us now consider that the client is well prepared. He has documented the idea, done the market research, positioned the idea well (or at least have a clear idea of how he wants to do) and most important, have the finances available. I am now diving into the area where all the other researches have already published a lot; on the vendor’s side. 

 

What is the fascination of doing projects in a fixed price? In all these years, I failed to understand clients’ fascination to get the vendors to commit to a fixed price. It is important to say here that I am not against fixed price model, at all. You want a small update to some existing work, it is well defined, fixed price is okay. You want a small application to be developed, it is well defined, fixed price is okay. I have a problem with clients who think they are building a huge project, who know there are multiple different parties and stakeholders involved, multiple different integrations involved, where project is expected to run more than 6 months. In today’s world, industry is not following waterfall model any more. Nobody is spending or willing to spend months in requirements definition and documentation. Nobody is willing to spend months in analysis and system design. Still there are people who want to have full end to end turnkey engagements and expect it to happen in a fixed price model. Please take a note, budgeting a project is different from having a fixed price on a project. Budgeting for a project is paramount, but does not necessarily mean that there has to be a fixed price model for the project. In today’s world, things are changing rapidly. Every 3 months, there is a 2.0 of something. There is a 2.0 of even what and how end users want in every 3 months. The focus in such projects becomes “what is the bare minimum needed to adhere to scope” rather than “what’s good for the product”. When your project is running for a year, the world is changing on the sidelines, and you are bound to be affected by those changes. Such projects will have less scope for flexibility; and in today’s rapidly changing world ability to be flexible and ability to adapt the change is the key. In such a scenario, clients who have huge projects and want to tie vendors in fixed price model are doomed to fail. Vendors will succumb to the clients’ pressures for fixed price model. But such projects will always run into problems. So Dear Clients, we know you love to have a fixed price, but then be prepared to resist your temptations for change, be ready to resist your inspirations from what is happening around you. We know this is not possible. 

 

But the book of software engineering has a term to handle this, “Change Request Management”. It’s a SHAM!!! Believe me, it’s a SHAM!!! Even if the vendors understand it, even if the Client understand it (which happens only in dreams), people spend hours analyzing these, debating these and all that effort goes unaccounted for, and more often than not the debates happen because the first effort is to try and push this idea out or be considered as a Change Request. Hours of effort from multiple people go in establishing whether it is a Change Request or not and afterwards people actually start working on it. A big LOSS, from where I see. Managers are living their life on it. Does the project benefits from it? Project does not, only one or the other party benefits from it. Project does NOT!

 

So, budget for the project, budget for the scope, budget for the modules, budget for the tasks and budget for the people but stay away from Fixed Price. That will give you flexibility to move the budget where you want to focus more. That will give you the flexibility to change and adapt to the changing needs of the world. That will help you to make better decisions in favor of the project. There are better things to hold vendors’ necks for than Fixed Price. 

 

Most clients do the fatal mistake of thinking that just by hiring a correct vendor their job is done. It is not. Do not see this as “offshore development”, see it as a partnership of “onsite-offshore” engagement. It is better to have a combination of team at onsite as well as offshore. Manage some parts onsite and some parts offshore. Outsourcing everything offshore may not be a very good idea. At the very least, have one technical head onsite. If you can’t find one, your vendor will be more than happy to ship one, to be with you to share your dreams. So remember, it is a marriage between onsite and offshore. You need people on your side as well. 

 

Another mistake clients do is to put their entire focus on choosing the vendor company and then letting the company choose the team. Treat yourself not as a client, but as a part of the team. Participate in not just selecting the vendor, but selecting members of your team as well, even in the offshore team. Yes, it is important. Your project is going to be in the hands of these people. The project will be as good as the team is. So, talk to them, select/reject them. Be ready to change them, if required. You do not need a team of all rockstars. You need Horses for Courses. Your project will have different kinds of needs for skills and skill levels. Choose people with appropriate skills and experiences. A good mix of skills and experiences is what required to get all different kinds of tasks done in the project. If you choose the right team, there is a great chance that you will have a successful product. If you do this, you will get a chance to speak to everyone on the team and this will ensure that there are no communication problems (which happen all the time with offshore teams and studies put communication problem as a key problem for failure of offshore projects). 

 

Project manager is a key person on your project. It is very important that you choose the right guy here. He is your eyes and ears in the offshore team. You get the right guy here, all else will fall in place. He is YOU getting your job done. So, pay highest level of attention if getting the manager for your project. At the same time, do not get too many managers on the project. Get more hands who will actually work, produce and only optimum heads to manage them. Getting the balance right, is important.

 

Another aspect to pay attention when you choose your vendor is to know how strong their HR team is. Will the vendor’s HR be able to provide the required skilled people for your project? Do they have the availability of the people? If not, do they have the strong HR processes to get the people on-board quickly? Do they have the training and development processes to get people trained for your project? Look for this factor. 

 

TOOLS is the final thing that you need to make sure success of your project. Make sure that your vendor has and use all the different tools that are required to run an offshore project. You can not do the fatal mistake of treating emails as the tools for your project. You need various tools for communication, collaboration, knowledge base, task management and planning, issues management, resource and effort tracking, code repositories, virtual meetings. If you and your teams does not have these on the project, you will never be able to enforce and ensure transparency. If you have the transparency, you will always be able to make the right decisions to take your project in right direction. 

 

Finally, you do not offshore because you do not have time. You offshore, because that brings optimal cost/quality balance to your project. You have to give time even if you offshore the project. Be prepared to give that time. 

 

You tick all the factors given above; your offshore project will never fail! 

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Kickstarter is a wonderful place for new ideas to get a jump-start. Not only the platform provides opportunity for new ideas and projects to gain some monetary funding to get started, but it also is a wonderful place to gather support, valuable feedback, generate interest and awareness in your idea and get the first level customers for your project. But making it a success is not that easy. Over the last couple of years, I have worked with various campaigns and seen fair share of success and failures. In this article, I would like to touch upon a few potential reasons for failure of such campaigns.

1. If you start from Kickstarter – Many people think that Kickstarter is the place to start. This is not true. It is not a place to start. It is a place to take your idea further, to the next step. So, the best way to go about getting crowdfunding is to first work on your idea on your own as much as you can. Take it to the platform when you can move no further on your own. So, start at your desk, work on the project as much as you can, when you can not move any further on your own, then go to seek help from others. Remember the old saying, “God help those, who help themselves”.

2. Lack of well defined idea – Before any one gives you a penny, he has to understand your idea, then he has to identify with it, then like it, then see a potential in it's success, then only he will spare his penny for it.  As long as things are in one's mind, they are arbitrary in nature. Once these are put on paper, they start getting shape. Same goes for your idea as well. Give it a proper shape. Define it. If your campaign shows that the idea is not concrete, people will not understand it. If they do not understand it, there is no chance they will identify with it. Most of the ideas fail at this stage only. They are not well thought of.

3. Presentation of idea – Once you know what you want to build, the next step is to present it in your campaign. The better you present, more are the chances of people identifying with it. 

  • Video – is not mandatory. But you should think that it is mandatory. “A picture is worth a thousand words”. A video is probably worth a million. Do not take shortcut here. Nobody expect a professional video. A video recorded by a Smartphone is good enough. 
  • Show your idea – Use the video to show your idea and your work, rather than asking people to read about it.
  • Show yourself – Use the video to show yourself (and your team) to the world. People like to know who they are paying to. They also want to show the strength of your team.
  • Use your assets well – Use everything you have in the campaign; videos, audios, images, drawings, sketches and finally texts.

4. Utilization of goals – It is very important to tell people what you want to do with their money. Your goals (and stretch goals) should be specific and so the details of what you are going to do with that money. Be very specific.

5. Just the campaign is not enough – Campaign is not a solitary entity. It needs a lot of help from external sources as well. So, as your campaign runs on the Kickstarter, you need other campaigns to support it as well. You have various options:

  • Create a web page
  • Create social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter. Just creating them is not enough, keep them active. Better to start these one month before the campaign goes live. Through out the campaign period keep activity going on all fronts. Post updates, interact with people, answer their questions.

6. Aiming too high – Are you aiming too high? Higher funding goals are difficult to achieve. No harm in keeping the target low. If get funded once, and deliver on your promise, you have a better chance to get funded on second campaign. So, rather than aiming for a long shot, you can go phase-wise.

7. Preparation for funding – In real life, have unknown people ever given you money. Your answer will be, NO. This applies to Kickstarter as well. People who do not know you will not give you money even if you promise them to take to the moon. So, you have to find people who you know and let your campaign reach to them first. Chances are higher that they will support you. So, target to get money from friends, family and acquaintances first on your campaign. Once this happens, the campaign will gain traction on Kickstarter. This will bring it to the attention of whole community of backers. Then these unknown people will start backing you.

Hope this article helps you in avoiding the pitfalls in crowdfunding campaigns. I wish you all the success in your campaigns and if you need help, just leave a message.

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John has been working in the HR industry for the last 20 years and has worked with various small to mid-size corporations in the US. For the last 6 months, John has been mulling over an idea for a software development product. He has been searching for the available products in the industry and found nothing that satisfies him. He can clearly see a gap and an opportunity for a great product. John discussed this idea with a friend Harry and he also seems to be very positive about it. John has no idea where to get this product developed or how to get it developed and what it will take. Harry has been working in a company which has outsourced a project and suggests John to try outsourcing the development of his idea. John likes it very much and started his search for the right company to develop his idea.
 
Outsourcing the development of a software product can be a great idea and it can yield excellent results in a very cost effective way. But the first step to get product development through outsourcing services is the key to success. This first step is consulting and finding the right partners for that. A great consulting partner can help you in many ways.
 
  • Market research – When you thought about the idea, you must have done a preliminary market research. But a professional consulting partner can help you with a thorough research for your idea. He can help with competitor analysis, gap analysis, product positioning, target demographics and give you a clear picture of how useful your product can be.
  • Converting an idea to a business case – Once you are convinced that your idea has the space and potential to fit in and do well, the next step is to give your idea a shape. The consultant can help, put your idea on pen and paper. This gives a concrete shape to your idea. When it is written, the idea converts to a business case.
  • Identifying the right channel to deliver your idea – Today’s world is full of channels through which you can reach to your customers. Your idea can be delivered through web, social channels like Facebook, applications on computers, mobiles etc. It is a key to understand the strength of your idea and your target demographics. Based on that right delivery channel(s) need to be chosen for the idea. Your consultants will show you statistics for usage of different channels based on demographics (location, age). A professional business consultant will help define that. 
  • Identifying the right technology – Once you know what needs to be developed and how it needs to be delivered, the next step is to choose the right technology platforms to develop it. Do you want to go for proprietary solutions or open source solutions? Which platforms, frameworks, programming languages and databases do you need? An experienced software solution consultancy partner will help you choose the best technology platforms to deliver your requirements through your chosen channels.
  • Finding the experts – Now you know the skills that you require. The next step is to find and hire those skills. At this level, your consultant will act as an effective HR for you and get you the right people to do the job.
  • Planning the execution – Now you have everything that you need to build the project. Its time to plan the execution. Today’s world does not want to wait for an year to get a taste of a new product. If you are going to take an year to bring your idea to world, someone else will get it out earlier. It is the age of MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Do not build too much. Do not try to give everything. Keep your idea lean and get it to the end users quick. Your users will tell you what they want most and build that. Give them what they want and not what you want to give them. Consultant will now put on the Product Manager’s hat and help you plan this.
  • Marketing – You are not building the product for yourself. You got to sell it as well. Your consultancy partner’s job is not complete until he helps you with marketing your product as well. Product development is just a small part; the big part is how you market it. So, consulting is the first and key step to getting an outsourced product developed and it helps you get the right resources for not only development but getting your product out and LIVE!
 
Harry introduced John to his offshore partners, Evon Technologies. John is now a happy client of Evon Technologies and has been working with Evon form last 6 months. The first prototype of his idea was launched in 4 months time, as an alpha release of the product. The Beta launch of the product is scheduled to happen in 1 month. Evon Technologies is providing complete end to end consulting services to John as a one stop shop preventing him to run at multiple places to satisfy his wide range of needs. 
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