Monthly Archives : February 2016

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Successful business meeting with handshake: customer and client.CRM: 10 Ways to Do It Right

CRM: 10 Ways to Do It Right

It’s one thing to have a database full of customers, but it’s another thing to have a database full of customers who actually like you.

Successful customer relationship management is all about getting to know your customers and creating a personal relationship with them that goes beyond a few Twitter promotions.

The idea is to make your customers want your product because you sell it, and not simply because they need it. This kind of brand loyalty goes a long way and it’s definitely something that you have to invest sufficient time and resources into building. Once you’ve built that kind of community around your business, you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

If you’re still in the ‘dating’ phase of your customer relationship development, that’s perfectly fine – as long as you’re on the right track.

Here are 10 ways to know that you’re doing it right.

1. You Know How To K.I.S.S

‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. If you know how to do this, then you’re well on the road to CRM success. Many smaller companies get carried away with their first CRM system and end up choosing a tool with a ton of unnecessary features. Talk to your team first and figure out what you actually need from your CRM, before choosing one based on what you think you need instead.

Once your CRM is up and running with the least possible hassle, you’ll have much more time to dedicate to your customers. I recently wrote a post that will help you to avoid the 10 most common pitfalls when choosing a CRM, check it out here.

2. You Understand The Importance Of Birthdays

It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s always nice to get an unexpected ‘happy birthday’ on the big day. This is a tiny piece of information that you can easily obtain from your customers when they sign up, but it’ll have a huge impact on the status of your relationship. A quick ‘happy birthday’ email or birthday discount will really add a personal touch to your communications.

3. You Provide Your Customers With Quality Content

If you want your customers to trust you then you have to provide them with knowledgeable and credible information. It’s important to show that you have an in-depth understanding of your industry and all of your content (blog/social media) should be created to meet the specific needs of your target audience.

4. You’re Psychic

Well, not exactly, but you do know what your customers want before they contact you directly. How? You simply gaze into your crystal ball/computer screen and do some social media monitoring with a handy tool like Social Mention or Hootsuite.

This is the best way to find out what your customers are saying in real-time; to collect valuable insights into market trends; and to get involved in online conversations about your business.

Also, if an issue does present itself (i.e. an unhappy customer on Twitter), you can nip it in the bud before it escalates and use that info to improve your offering overall.

5. You Care About Your Customers

If you want your customer relationship management to work, then you have to work at it – and this means listening to what your customers needs and fulfilling those needs. What itdoesn’t mean, is bombarding them with irrelevant sales pitches and promotions every day of the week.

As great as you think your product/service is, it’s useless if it’s not useful to your customers.

Interact with your target audience, listen to them, and make them feel valued. What are their pain points? What challenges are they facing? What do they need from you in order to overcome those challenges?

If you work on really understanding your customers, it will make all of the difference when it comes to selling your product – because you’ll be armed with the information to ensure that it meets their expectations from the outset.

6. You Never Compete On Price

A sale achieved by competing on price is always a short term win. Your customer won’t see the true value in your product/service and will jump straight to the next lowest bidder.

If you really feel that your pricing is alienating some of your customers, then you can think about providing another version of your product/service with less features. This is the only advisable method to reduce your pricing. Never compete on price – it just doesn’t work.

7. You’re Different

You need to be able to vocalize the benefits of your product or service to your customers. It’s not just about what your product/service does, it’s about what it will do for them. This is the part where you really need to blow them away and set yourself apart from your competitors.

8. You Say Thank You

Sure, it’s the polite thing to do – but it’s also the profitable thing to do. Customer loyalty programs are a proven way to retain and grow your business; in fact, 62% of Millennialssay they’re essential.

By rewarding your customers for their support, you’ll also improve and solidify your relationship with them in the long run.

9. You’re Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to managing customer relationships; your customers need to know what to expect from you and it’s your job to set those parameters.

For example, if you’re firing out 3 newsletters one week and none the next – then you’re not being consistent. It’s important not to spam your customers but it’s also important to communicate with them on a regular basis.

10. You Keep Your Promises

If you say you’re going to resolve a situation within a certain time period, then do it. If you say you’re going to call a customer back within a certain time period, then do that also. It’s crucial to follow through on any commitments you make to your customers if you want to gain their loyalty, trust, and business for the long haul.

Treat Your Customers The Way You’d Like To Be Treated

The most important thing to remember is that your customers are real people and they have specific wants and needs that they expect you to fulfil. If you can do this, then you’ll build customer relationships that last a lifetime – or at least until you retire and move to Barbados.

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the CRM tips above? Why not share them with us in the comments section below.

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what-security-testing-tools-miss-showcase_image-1-w-720How Can You Maintain Application Security During the Software Development Life Cycle

How Can You Maintain Application Security During the Software Development Life Cycle

We all know how important it is to secure your organization’s Web, mobile and desktop applications, but how do you maintain critical application security during the software development life cycle (SDLC)?

Evolving State of Application Security

During the development process, a large amount of new code is added to applications being developed. Of course, all of us want to write the code as securely as we can. However, the problem is that most of us don’t have the skills and/or knowledge to really know what we are defending the applications from.

In addition, attackers’ techniques are constantly evolving, and there are many attack vectors that don’t directly target your code. Many attacks leverage weaknesses in your IT infrastructure or third-party components to reach your applications, databases or other valuable resources.

In cases like those, solely scanning your own code won’t provide you with the security coverage you need.

Making the Case for Application Security Testing on Cloud

There are many on-premises application security testing solutions on the market, and generally they do a great job. But for smaller organizations or special application security projects at larger organizations, on-premises solutions can be prohibitively expensive. Integrating an on-premises solution into your SDLC can also be complex and frequently requires specialized skills to configure properly.

In these specialized use cases, cloud solutions are the way to go since:

  • No specialized security expertise is required.
  • Configuration is usually straightforward.
  • Certain solutions provide an API that can be integrated into your build and deployment systems.
  • Cloud solutions can be less expensive than an on-premises licensing model.

Taking Your Application Security to Cloud Nine

Take, for example, IBM Application Security on Cloud. The configuration is very basic; you require no more than the website’s URL and access credentials if applicable. It provides an API that can be easily integrated into your deployment system. In addition to performing application security testing on your Web applications, you can conveniently scan mobile and desktop apps. It generates a detailed report that your development team can use to remediate vulnerabilities and report progress to key stakeholders.

By utilizing the API, you can trigger security scans in just a few lines of code. Additionally, through incorporating cloud technology, you can save lots of time and money while still maintaining application security during the SDLC. This is critical because the earlier you detect security vulnerabilities in the development process, the easier and less expensive it is to remediate them.

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iStock_mobilesecurity236309_b9tML7K.jpg.800x600_q96How new security solutions will be a major enabler of the mobile enterprise

How new security solutions will be a major enabler of the mobile enterprise

Within the past few months, we have seen numerous initiatives by enterprise mobility providers to support the growing number of mobile-empowered enterprises.

On January 5 AirWatch by VMware announced its collaboration with Intel Security. The reason for these two giants to team up was to address the most critical points in BYOD security management and empower enterprises to meet modern security requirements more effectively. By joining the Intel Security Innovation Alliance, VMware will provide its customers with the opportunity of sharing sophisticated mobility data via the key feature of Intel’s security system, McAfee Data Exchange Layer.

Alongside this, Intel Security has become a member of AirWatch Mobile Security Alliance in order to help companies focus on improving their mobility rather than dealing with its critical aspects like managing and securing mobile devices.

Given the skyrocketing development of security solutions, we can only conclude that enterprise mobility is in the process of reaching its full potential. More importantly, it will soon be accepted by a larger number of companies, regardless of the industry they are in.

Advanced security solutions as the base of enterprise mobility

One of the main problems mobile-enabled SMBs are coming across is BYOD management. Namely, with an increasing number of employees accessing company networks and sharing corporate data via private mobile devices, security risks rise as well.

This issue is exactly what the integration of AirWatch with Intel Security tries to address. Namely, this alliance solves three main aspects of mobile-empowered enterprise security:

  • Data protection. With Intel’s security solutions integrated with AirWatch, companies will manage to bring their security practices to a whole new level. Namely, they will be able to extend their mobile security across mobile devices, PCs, operating systems, various networks and the cloud.
  • Threat detection. These data protection solutions will also facilitate the mobile information flow into security management tools. This way, companies will be able to always detect the blind spot regarding their security, as well as encourage their security teams to better manage events across the plethora of devices.
  • Security management . Another important goal of this security solution is to protect data regardless of where it is so that users can access it more securely anytime and anywhere.

Regulated industries also expected to tighten security

While enterprises managed to handle security risks by implementing hybrid cloud storage solutions, businesses in regulated industries are still far behind the majority of sectors.

Given the strictness of their compliance requirements, organisations in finance, healthcare and government justifiably hesitated to make such radical decisions like integrating workload mobility and cloud with their IT infrastructure.

In addition to this, a recent study by SecureLink sees the healthcare industry as the strictest one in terms of IT infrastructure requirements. The report points out that the challenges here widely range from managing employee productivity apps, access and audit paradigms.

However, with the rise of new security solutions, the adoption of cloud applications among enterprises in regulated industries has jumped to 71%, according to a Bitglass survey. While industries such as education and communications show a surprising amount of initiative towards migrating to cloud, sectors in regulated industries are also opening up towards using this software.

Apart from the partnership between AirWatch and Intel Security, X-IO Technologies has also announced the addition of AES 256-bit key data-at-rest (DaR) encryption layer to its X-IO storage systems. When used as a part of a much wider data security strategy, this feature will encrypt data while it is stored, thus preventing the loss of sensitive customer data or compromising intellectual property.

The CIO in 2016

Even though every industry is different and the pace at which the companies within it adopt mobility solutions heavily depends on its technology cycle, the truth is that BYOD management has already become somewhat of a holy grail for all CIOs.

With a growing number of security solutions, mobile-empowered enterprises will finally manage to establish solid BYOD policies and control not only the device, but the transmission of data as well.

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cx-picture-100608993-primary.idgeEight game changing digital technologies for Enterprise Transformation

Eight game changing digital technologies for Enterprise Transformation

#1 Machine Intelligence

From optimizing a driver’s route in real-time to recognizing faces in photographs, software is running complex processes that require “learning” of new information from multiple data sources and past outcomes. With the availability of many proprietary and open-source cloud-hosted machine learning platforms, these techniques are becoming available to every enterprise. We will see major adoption of these algorithms and platforms in driving operational efficiencies, predicting failures, customizing user experience, and discovering new revenue channels. With greater emphasis on unsupervised and reinforcement learning techniques, expect automated intelligent customer service chatbots, as well as advances in cybersecurity, genomics, personalized medicine, and drug discovery.

#2 Blockchain

Blockchain is a distributed, transparent, and auditable ledger that establishes trust, immutability, and integrity through cryptographically powered distributed consensus models. It has been independently recognized for its broader potential beyond powering Bitcoin. 2015 saw some breakout platforms and alliances emerge to take this forward in domains such as finance, IoT, and supply chain – including the group led by the Linux Foundation to build an open-source enterprise-grade blockchain.We expect to see the emerging platforms mature and sign on early adopters, and to unleash significant disruptive innovation, especially in the Financial, Government, and Commerce domains.

#3 Containers

A “container” is a packaged runtime environment for an application along with its dependencies and configuration files. Containers enable us to move applications seamlessly from one (cloud) environment to another; allow greater agility between the development and operations teams; and serve as a catalyst for enterprise transformation.The past two years have seen an incredible growth in the container ecosystem, from core technology innovation to rich suites of tools for orchestration, monitoring, and management.

Key enterprise concerns such as security, isolation, trustworthiness of images, audit trails, and persistent data storage have been addressed. Enterprises need to start evaluating and testing containers now, as adopting this technology will require a significant change in skills, operations, and workflows that are historically slow to change.

#4 Adaptive Security and Data Governance

As digital strategies open the enterprise further and drive up customer data collection, security policies will need to be enforced using a dynamic risk-based model. Enterprise security tools will ingest data and signals from endpoint security agents, application logs, external threat feeds, access control systems, and Data Loss Prevention platforms, continually score users and their activities, leverage machine learning algorithms, and adopt security postures needed to suit the complete context rather than isolated events.

Data governance will be a major issue, driven by high-profile data breaches, stringent legislation, and heightened consumer awareness. Enterprises will adopt tools that let them prioritize and designate the governance of their data and resources at the most granular level. Compliance tools that regulate cross-border data exchange will be an integral part of the data-driven digital ecosystem.

#5 Data Lakes

A“data lake” is a platform that can ingest multi-structured data from multiple sources and make it available for applications to consume however they want. Data lakes offer organizations not only a cost-effective way to store a lot of data, but also a way to optimize existing businesses and address new business opportunities. While some organizations have successful data lake implementations, the technology has been immature. We will see the emergence of more out-of-the-box technology options for data ingestion frameworks, data quality, and metadata discovery, along with best practices and guidelines that make it easier for enterprises to implement data lakes, both on-premise as well cloud-based.

#6 Interactive Analytics at Scale

While big data technologies allow analyzing large data sets, they also bring the additional complexity of multiple technologies and different programming paradigms. Enterprise business analysts and decision makers also expect to be able to interactively analyze data. Emerging data platforms will be collaborative by design and will offer a “single stack” interface that allows analysts to focus on the business problem and define their own analytics in a declarative form which the system then translates to a complete processing pipeline. The use of online aggregation techniques will become more mainstream.

#7 Mobile User Experience

We will see a significant focus on user experience as a business strategy, both to grow top-line revenue and to create stickier, long-term user engagement – largely mobile-centric. The app interface itself will fade into the background to make the experience more contextual, intuitive, and action-oriented. Learning the habits and preferences of users to customize the experience and app triggers will be the new normal. Simple and intuitive interfaces will dominate. Maintaining consistent state, interface, and capabilities across multiple devices will be the new normal.Inter-app communication will mature in security capabilities. A significant increase in the offerings and maturity of cross-platform development and testing platforms will move cross-platform apps closer to native apps in experience.

#8 Internet of Things (IoT)

We will see a strong growth of IoT devices in commerce, transportation, infrastructure, and enterprise, growth in deployment of systems that not only sense the world around them but react autonomously, and greater interoperability among devices and platforms. IoT will play in the hacking majors, with at least one major security incident that will be real and with severe consequences. While smart device and sensor manufacturers will benefit from the IoT boom, the true business value lies in the analysis of the sensor data and the business actions that can be taken. Intelligent systems that learn from user behavior, environmental data, and inputs received from other devices will be the biggest winners.

Every enterprise, regardless of scale or domain, should look at leveraging one or more of these technologies to power its digital transformation. We recommend starting from the end-user perspective and creating the ideal digital user experience. Innovate in small increments, get feedback from users, and iterate.

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appTips to Develop Your First Enterprise Mobile App

Tips to Develop Your First Enterprise Mobile App

Connect and chat with your friends, book movie tickets, make your “selfie” look stunning with photo editing tools – there is a mobile app for everything. From a business perspective, mobile apps are the most cost-effective and powerful way to reach out to a vast mobile market and generate revenues. What more! Fast-paced consumerization has paved the way for building apps that make business management and handling day-to-day operations easier. In fact,the enterprise mobile market has seen an exponential growth in popularity among startups as well as Fortune 500 companies in the past few years.

On the flip side, there are many organizations that still fail to harness the potential of enterprise mobile apps. Several companies are still figuring out how they can take the advantage of these cutting-edge mobile apps to streamline business operations, manage projects, and improve revenues. If you have not yet found a reason to invest in this, now is time to do so because the enterprise mobile app market is emerging as the latest trend. There are many organizational and operational benefits of having a mobile application for your company such as optimizing business processes, leveraging analytics,and increasing productivity.

So, if you are considering building your first enterprise mobile app, it is vital to start off with a problem or business challenge, and then move to the development phase. Discussed here are some important tips to help you create a business application that’s worth your investment.

  1. Choose the Right Mobile App Development Platform

    Considering the fact that enterprise apps may be used across different mobile devices, with unique screen sizes and resolutions, it is important to make your app responsive in nature. This means your app will deliver the same look and feel across different mobile devices, Operating Systems and capabilities. For this, it is vital to determine what platforms your organization or employees are using. Based on it, decide on a list of mobile app platforms that you would target – iOS, Android, Windows, etc. Make sure that you do not miss out web-based business apps that are more generic in nature and can be used widely, irrespective of device platform. Cross-platform application development can also be a good option here.
  2. Focus on Task-Specific Apps

    If you want your enterprise app to be successful, make it task-specific rather than trying to do too many things at once. The latter will make your app bulky and you will end up confusing your users with things that are less relevant to them. Therefore, first identify a specific business challenge or problem, and then design an app that targets that particular task. The idea is to focus on fewer things so that your app performs better and faster.
  3. Design an App with Amazing UI/UX

    User experience should be your foremost priority when you design an enterprise app. No matter what superb features you include in your mobile app, unless it delivers a seamless, easy-to-use experience, it will not be successful among your users. A simple and intuitive app that is bug-free and has amazing UI/UX is the key to building a great app. Therefore, focus on improving your employee experience with the app and enhance their productivity.
  4. Iterations to Improve App Performance

    Once you create the basic design and structure of the app, continuously make iterations to add new features and fix bugs. It is only when the basics are built strong that you can easily push out the latest updates of the app. Moreover, your app should also include a feature for the users to report problems and provide feedback. This is a great idea to make further iterations and add brilliant features in the future. As your users will always expect frequent enhancements and updates, you should plan well in advance how to render iterations in a speedier and efficient manner.
  5. Create a Mockup

    You cannot build it all at once. When you are doing it for the first time, it is important that you create a demo of the app and seek recommendations from the decision-maker. There are several wireframing and mockup tools with which you can build a mockup of your enterprise app and show it to your team to give them an idea of user experience, key features, and capabilities of the app. Creating a demo will always help in integrating new features and making iterations that will help build a fantastic product.
  6. Deliver Highest Levels of App Security

    When you build an enterprise mobile app, rendering highest levels of security is most important. This is because the app will deal with critical and confidential business information, and employee data. Thus, you cannot take a chance with factors affecting data integrity and security of your company. When designing an app, security should be your priority. You can integrate key features like encryption, login credentials, 2-step security authentication remote access, etc. to control who can access your app. At the same time, you should strive to improve user experience.
  7. Know the Cost to Build an Enterprise App

    No matter whether you build your enterprise application internally or get it done from an outsourcing company, the steps to create an app are the same. However, it is crucial to determine what it would cost whether you develop it yourself or outsource it. At every stage of mobile app development, you have to incur a cost. When you outsource, developers generally charge for the entire project or on per hour basis. So, before you make a jump in building an application, know the cost of app development.
  8. Support and Maintenance

    Since most mobile app platforms roll out updates continuously, it is important that you regularly update and test your enterprise app on the latest versions to deliver improved and better performance, high security, and a bug-free, seamless user experience. Moreover, as your enterprise will undergo changes, its connectivity with the app will change. You have to be ready to provide support and maintenance for such changes in the long run. Unfortunately, many companies do not have mobile app development expertise internally and they have to outsource their app support and maintenance needs to an outside firm. Organizations should take into consideration the cost of support and maintenance; as well, this is an integral part of building a successful app.Based on these valuable tips, you can build your first enterprise mobile app in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and ensure success.

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