How to Start a Custom Software Enhancement Project?

Custom software enhancement is often confused with custom software maintenance services, because the line between these two terms may seem blurred sometimes. You need to know that software enhancement includes advancements in features, platforms, performance, usability and design. Through enhancement your software application becomes faster, more efficient, more usable, more useful, and more desirable. It’s the next step in your software’s evolution, that’s why you need to know how to prioritize the changes.

Step 1: Get an idea on where to start your custom software enhancement project at.

Create a database of requested changes where users of your solution can offer what they wish to see in the upcoming version of your software. In addition to this, you can approach your most valuable clients/users and ask them directly what kind of new features they would like to add.
Afterwards, ask the development team what kind of functionalities they would add.

They may speak in favor of:

Upgrading the software to be compatible with new database releases;
Adding new statistical analysis and visualization tools;
Adding a new tab to the dashboard;
Improving the search function; etc.

Step 2: Evaluate the information and take a decision.

As with all business decisions, it’s a cost/benefit problem. What is the benefit of adding a feature? What will it cost (including the costs that will result from not adding the feature)? Calculate how much it will cost to add it.
Tip: Usually the cost is calculated in hours that have to be spent by developers to develop a feature.

Analyze the information you got from the users of your platform and identify those missing features that will have a tangible business impact on user experience. It makes no sense to add a feature from which only a few will benefit.

At first, pick those features that have the most benefit for the smallest cost. Resources are often limited, while requirements and desires are not, that is why it is so important to prioritize correctly.

An accurate estimation of a custom software enhancement project may be a herculean task. These questions will help you estimate the project:

1. How will your existing solution be affected by modifications?
2. Do you need to build the new feature from scratch or does something similar already exist in the system?
3. Can you reuse the existing code?
4. Will modifications require the testing of the whole system?
5. How many developers are needed to make modifications?
6. How much time will it take to develop, design and test new features?

The bad news is that you can miscalculate the time and effort required. For instance, the development of a new functionality might take longer than you expected and result in higher production costs.

In order to avoid this kind of errors it is better to entrust your custom software enhancement project to an experienced team of software developers who know how to:

• Thoroughly analyze existing software documentation
• Analyze the architecture of the existing software application and offer structural changes
• Analyze and make changes to the existing code
• Perform software security analysis

Custom software enhancement cannot be made by a low-skilled developer. That’s why you need someone who has experience in adding new features to a code written by someone else, who can understand not only how to build in new functionalities, but also to see the business essence of the system.

One of the most important things in software enhancement projects is to clearly prioritize the requirements and take an approach to incrementally work on one function or feature at a time. Your users will thank you for the changes they’ve asked and waited for.

Telecom Solutions

You Need to Know about These Innovative Telecom Solutions

Telecom network operators have always relied on technology but have often taken a conservative approach, valuing stability from established systems above improvements through innovation. Faced with a rising tide of user expectations from the flood of OTT services, MNOs have now shifted their priority to streamlining their operations, improving the customer experience with real-time, agile telecom solutions.

To stay competitive, network owners and not only, will look beyond their traditional technology suppliers and seek out innovation.

Here are some innovative telecom solutions and technologies you need to be aware of:

SDN Solutions

SDN (software-defined networking) is a new architecture for data networks in which the emphasis is shifted from hardware to software. Being able to control networks through software allows for the streamlining of many IT tasks. Speed and automation are thus relevant for the development of IoT and cloud networks.

According to CM Research, SDN technology is disruptive, because the network can be controlled by more players than ever before.

A closer look at SDN solutions reveals that there are open source as well as commercial solutions available on the market. NOX, POX, OpenDaylight are free, while Big Data Fabric, Virtual Application Network, and Contrail can be purchased.

5G networks

The emergence of 5G (fifth generation mobile networks) is around the corner. 5G will provide faster speeds, greater coverage, as well as less latency in comparison with 4G networks. This is essential for the connected things of the future, such as VR, holograms, driverless cars, or drones.

Even though the industry consensus holds that 5G technologies will become publicly available by 2020, companies such as Verizon and Ericsson have announced that field trials will be run in 2016.

SK Telecom (the first to roll out 4G) has completed a successful 5G system field test this April. Park Jin-hyo, who is the senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s network tech, said that the company plans to lead the development of 5G technologies and services and be the first one to commercialize it.

Huawei is not far behind. This May they have completed the first phase of key 5G technology tests as a part of field trials.

Solutions for smart cities

New opportunities for growth can be found in the development of solutions for smart cities. There is a municipal demand to operate cities more effectively by implementing platforms that allow to manage and monitor city lighting or video surveillance systems.

Citizens wish to have technologies that make their lives easier at their fingertips. As consumers, they inspire companies to create innovative telecom solutions that, for example, allow payment for parking or public transportation using one’s smartphone.

A UK based company offers an app that lets its users pay for the parking and it also allows to extend the parking duration remotely.

An innovative telecom solution allows commuters in Singapore to pay for the bus and train tickets with their phone. The technology enables data transmission between a mobile device and a contactless card reader.

To enjoy the service, customers have to purchase NFC (Near Field Communication) SIM cards and turn on their devices’ NFC function to make payments or top-ups.

This telecom solution allows to get rid of both cash and travel cards when paying for the transportation.

Mobile Money telecom solutions

GMCS (Global Mobile Consumer Survey) has demonstrated that from 2014 to 2015 mPayment (mobile payment) technology has increased in 4 times. eMarketer estimated that the total value of mobile payment transactions will grow 210% in the US in 2016. This happens thanks to the support from customers, governments and central banks.

Mobile money telecom solutions can be used by operators for a range of mobile money services, such as money transfers, international remittances and mobile payments.  Business of all types, from coffee shops to digital stores are implementing point-of-sale systems that allow customers to pay using mobile devices, therefore it is anticipated that the mPayment method will soon be adopted by many users around the world.

Innovative telecom solutions are going to predetermine the direction of the development of the entire industry. Companies that invest in the capabilities, technologies and relationships to foster changes now, will have an advantage for many years to come.

Insurtech is Going to Energize the Insurance Industry

Insurtech will help the insurance industry to adapt to the digital world. The transformations taking place in the financial, mobile, IT, and other sectors are leaving insurance lagging behind. But insurance companies realize that IT requires more attention. A report found that insurance companies’ investment in insurtech, and replacing or improving information technologies generally, was expected to grow by 5 percent in 2015. That is noticeable compared to an average 3 percent in 2014 and 2 percent in 2013.

It has become harder to define the insurance policy with the appearance of drones, driverless cars, and IoT devices. Insurance is affected by the disruption in the hospitality business as well. Have you ever thought about of what gets covered by insurance if something happens in an apartment rented using Airbnb? What about what happens while in a car ordered on Uber?

When the lines of coverage are blurred, what is left is a grey area of confusion or a gap in protection, which can have drastic effects on customers. The good news is that this ambiguity can be relieved with the help of technology.

Industry Challenges

  • Regulation

Insurance companies are heavily regulated, which means that it is difficult and costly for a young company to comply with all government policies.

  • Process

The process of getting insurance is time consuming and often involves a lot of red tape. This can discourage new customers from getting a policy in the first place.

  • Agents

If people are able to get their insurance online without a broker’s help, this may make agents nervous. But technology can actually help brokers in their jobs, and increase their bottom line as well.

  • Brand recognition

When it comes to life or property, people tend to trust companies with a good reputation, therefore it is hard to convince someone to entrust their belongings to a company they don’t know.

What can be changed?

  • Re-connect with customers

The relationship with customers has to be rebuilt. Clients have to see insurance agents as trusted advisors who are helping out with the most precious assets, such as life, family and wealth. The first step is to start talking to your customers in an accessible way and within a space where they are already the most comfortable. With the changes in technology, people communicate differently, and have a very short attention span. Adjust to their lifestyle by, for instance, sending them short text messages instead of calling to remind them about renewing a policy.

  • Re-build the system

Innovation is brought on by small things, even the most basic customer engagement must to be improved. Build channels to communicate directly with your customers. Focus on designing applications that revolve around communication, transparency, and simplicity. According to a study,computerization and online transactions are one of the most important factors when customers choose an insurance company.

At DAS Solutions we developed insurtech products that allow brokers and producers to complete insurance requests and sell insurance products to the client directly, while all operations between them and the insurance company are completed seamlessly by the software. This includes estimate generation, client ID validation, and automatic document generation based on the insurance product purchased. Get in touch to have a discussion about how we can optimize your business processes with a custom software solution.

Insurtech Perspective

Many big insurance companies are investing in IoT startups. With customer permission, devices such as smartphones, smart watches, drones or digital home thermostats which record data could be collected and analyzed by insurers. The adoption of new technologies might enable insurers to start influencing their customers’ behavior, for example by suggesting they go to the gym or indicating not to drive in certain conditions.

Insurtech is going to help the insurance industry grow further. For that brokers need to tackle existing issues head on and start using emerging tools to their advantage. By communicating with clients in ways that meet their needs and expectations, insurance companies will build loyalty among consumers.

How to Use Mobile Banking Apps Securely?

While the amount of people who are using secure mobile banking apps increases every year, customers of online banking set themselves up for security threats, frauds, and other forms of cybercrime when using their smartphone.
According to a 2014 Deloitte report cited by Tripwire, 61% of people who do not use mobile banking apps said that security is their primary concern. So how big are the chances that someone can break into your bank account really?

In 2014 a malware called Svpeng has been detected in the U.S., the U.K, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and India. In the States the malware blocked the user’s phone and asked for $200 to unlock the smartphone. Once Svpeng got into the phone it began to look for applications from a range of financial institutions. The Trojan did not steal money or credentials, but rather it looked as if it was gathering statistics on mobile banking apps usage.

In Australia and New Zealand, a malware called Android/Spy.Agent.SI has been detected on Android devices this year. This time, the malicious software was able to steal a person’s bank details and even knew how to bypass 2-step authentication procedures. With all information in hand, fraudsters could easily transfer funds to a different account. Most importantly, the malware had not come from Google Play. The user would have had to deliberately install the application from other sources online, which means that security options had been changed by the phone owner so that applications from unknown sources could be installed. The takeaway: Don’t root your device and then install banking apps on it!

It is useful to know that iOS or Android smartphones don’t allow users to make admin-level modifications natively. Additionally, a verified market is available for downloading applications such as the App Store or Google Play. Mobile banking apps should also be secured by SSL security technology . Many large companies put their applications through source code obfuscation. This means that it will be more difficult for an intruder to figure out the source code.

Even though a lot of security features are currently in place in many apps, mobile banking applications still have security challenges that must be tackled. Security is one of the main concerns for financial institutions. People who wish to use mobile banking also need to keep security in mind. Finally, here are some useful security tips:

1. Don’t use mobile banking apps on a rooted or jailbroken device
2. Don’t download apps that did not undergo a vetting process (by either the App Store or Google Play)
3. Use secure Wi-Fi connections whenever possible
4. Put a password on your smartphone.

By following these recommendations, you will minimize security risks and diminish the odds of falling prey to cybercrime.

Are You Using Instant Messaging to Chat with Clients?

Instant messaging has been a part of daily routine for years. IM delivers many benefits, such as: ease of use, video streaming, screen sharing, real time communication. It is handy for companies that have offices in different countries. If your company decides to use instant messaging for internal and external communication with partners and clients, make sure you do the following in order to avoid common annoyances and even threats that come with some IM systems:

  • Take control over instant messaging

Ideally you need to have a custom enterprise IM for communication. All instant messages sent and received by employees can be then channeled via a central server, archived for future reference, encrypted and subjected to security processes and policies. Contact us, if you wish to keep your business safe from malware and hackers.

Otherwise, you can use a known IM with tools that were designed for enterprises. Use features that track history and back up messages to create a knowledge base for future reference. Don’t forget to utilize encryption technologies so that anyone who tries to access your messages sees only encrypted (gibberish) text.

  • Minimize the risks

Lower the risks of using IM by verifying the domains that can send and receive messages. The system administrator can block the source of potentially malicious messages. If the company policy forbids the transfer of files to unknown recipients, the risks associated with the loss of confidential information, are mitigated. This is especially relevant in the financial and insurance industries, where data confidentiality is particularly critical.

  • Educate employees

Most importantly, employees need to be aware of security risks. Develop an instant messaging usage policy and make sure that it gets followed. Employees need to understand clearly what kind of information they can provide to clients and partners by IM and what sort of documents can be sent by email. Training end-users to be more skeptical about the messages they get must be part of the strategy.

Instant messaging is the preferred communication channel when it comes to brief conversations with prospects, clients and partners. IM bears risks and requires thorough management to be a safe tool.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team.

Is a Voice Recognition Banking System the Future of Online Banking?

With a voice recognition banking system you will finally be able to forget passwords, card verification numbers and PINs. Latest biometric technologies now allow you to use your voice to log in to your bank account.

Today customers are using web or mobile banking applications to check their bank accounts. The financial brand has conducted a research during the last 5 years and examined the analytics data from over 100 banks, financial institutions and credit unions. They found that over 85% of customers log in to online banking, check their accounts, spend 2-3 minutes on the platform, and log out.

Recent innovations in voice recognition banking systems provide secure access to both information centers and accounts within seconds. In such a system the customer’s voice is verified against prerecorded and stored voiceprints, solving the problem of forgotten passwords once and for all. Also a voice recognition banking system brings more accessibility to blind or partially sighted people, which is a significant benefit in itself.

Barclays introduced a voice recognition banking system in 2013 for some of its customers. The solution reduced the authentication process by an average 20 seconds. At the same time, it minimized identification and authentication issues on the customer support side. As a result, customer satisfaction levels increased.

Banks will soon be able to give their customers the possibility to check accounts and make transfers by talking into a device. This has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, customers will be more focused with a voice recognition banking system in place. It  may be more difficult to attract customers with ads as customers likely won’t check their bank’s online banking system as often as they do these days.

A voice recognition banking system will provide a lot of data for analysis that hasn’t been available previously. For example, data on the customer’s voice tone, location, or average speech tempo will now be available. Based on this knowledge, banks and financial institutions will be able to sell more high-end products such as financial planning tools, loans or consultancy services. When the customer is in a good mood they might be more willing to discuss an offer.

Dan Miller, a senior analyst at Opus Research, notes that in the long run, other industries such as insurance companies and telecom companies (but also government agencies or even retailers) will take advantage of a voice-based authentication system to serve customers in the most personal and efficient way. This is probably the best time to make a decision and offer your customers an innovative tool to log in to your system.

What do you think about voice-based authentication systems? Can you think of other benefits of such a platform? Share in the comments!

A SMS Gateway that Gets Your Business Going

The average smartphone user might think that SMS communication is either outdated or dead. It may seem that way taking into account the plethora of apps that bombard us with notifications, messages, updates on a daily basis. But this is not the case when it comes to communication between businesses and customers. SMS has proven to be the most effective and most resilient tool for B2C and B2B marketing. In fact, customers are much more likely to read a text message than an update from an app. One major reason is that it is really hard to ignore a SMS message as it comes straight on your screen (as opposed to becoming a ubiquitous notification in the corner of an app). Keeping this in mind, a SMS gateway platform is a solution that allows one to send thousands of messages per second to your customer base.

A SMS gateway platform is suitable for a range of operational tasks and it will help your business stand above the crowd. A couple of advantages of a SMS gateway:

  • A SMS gateway can be used for advertisement campaigns, reminders, updates, verification procedures.
  • Mobile originated SMS are used for subscriber responses to advertising, radio/tv broadcasts, contests, confirmations.
  • You can schedule SMS campaigns to be sent during the time that will drive more engagement.
  • You can personalize messages so that they look more relevant to the recipient.

Marketing your services and products with the help of a SMS gateway platform is going to bring your communication with customers to a more personal level. Also it is going to show you real-time results, because the platform will give you the opportunity to analyze:

  • How many people received your message;
  • How many subscribers responded to your campaign;
  • What the responses were;
  • What kind of campaigns work best and what sort of campaigns don’t work that well;
  • How many recipients unsubscribed; among others.

SMS marketing can help create engaging campaigns, reinitiate relationships with old customers, and drive traffic to your website and social media pages.

A SMS gateway platform can be easily integrated with your marketing and notification activities. It offers you the possibility to get your message across in a world where customer’s attention span has drastically decreased. If you are not using SMS to reach your customers, you are losing a simple and effective tool to increase sales and your brand’s exposure. Contact us today to discuss our SMS Gateway and solution for your business.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team.

Mobile Applications Used in Business: Convenient and Simple

Mobile applications used in business improve the workflow inside the company, and have a beneficial impact on customer service and customers’ loyalty. More and more small and mid-size businesses understand the mobile trend and the fact that they need more than a website and a profile on social networks. Customers are overloaded with information and you need to add value to catch their attention and win their affection.

Mobile applications used in business are a necessity, because they can:

• provide customer service (e.g., banking or shipment tracking apps)
• give value added benefits (e.g., retail apps can use a reward program)
• bring convenience (airline apps allow you to change your flight or buy another ticket quickly)
• send push notifications to let your customers know about a promotion you are running
• bring additional revenue (your company can sell the premium version of the application)
• accelerate mundane tasks
• provide access to information when the employee is not in the office (e.g., access to CRM and databases).

A survey conducted by Canvas has shown that employees used from 1 to 5 business mobile applications in their work in 2014, while in 20% of the companies surveyed, employees used more than 10 apps in their work. Canvas has found that companies are saving a lot of money by using mobile applications that reduce manual processes. Also they have found that signature and image capture are the most popular features in business.

There are many mobile applications used in business, however if a process has to be simplified then it is close to impossible to find an application for that in an app store. In this case you need a nice and intuitive custom application developed with your process in mind. Let’s say it takes a lot of time to do a certain task, because the employee has to be outside the office and has to fill in a lot of vital, accurate information once he or she is back. If the task is completed on the go then the information stays error-free and it takes less time to complete the task. If your staff uses a custom enterprise application, then you will outperform your competitors.

Your business can streamline business processes, eliminate paperwork and make your customers loyal. Contact us to get an estimation for your custom mobile app.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team. 

A Mobile CRM for Real Estate Will Keep You on the Go

Office based CRM tools are offering a lot of useful information about your prospects and clients, but once you are out of the office you lose access to it.

A mobile CRM system for real estate agents boosts flexibility and increases sales. By using it you will always be on top of the game.

Increase deal closing rate

According to research conducted by Innopl Technologies, companies that use mobile CRM systems have better sales rates versus those companies that use only desktop CRM.

The sales cycle becomes shorter because a CRM can be customized in many useful ways. For example, an agent can show high-quality pictures and the layout of the building he discusses with the client during the meeting. Having access to all the information makes the agent more confident, which ensures that the he closes the deal.

Improve planning

Manage your leads, appointments, and documents effectively with a mobile CRM designed for real estate and get access to crucial information at any time from any place. After a fruitful meeting a mobile CRM platform lets you send contracts and other documents even before you get to the office.

Higher management can also benefit from a mobile CRM system because they can create reports to track the team’s performance even when they are on business trips. Any problems can be identified and eliminated at an early stage.

Keep in touch with your past clients

A mobile CRM will help you keep in touch with your past clients. You can send them warm birthday or Christmas wishes. Convenient reminders on your mobile device will be useful in your everyday work. Next time your clients decide to sell their house, they will contact you, because you managed to keep the relationship alive.

A mobile CRM for people who work in real estate is not an option, it is a necessity. It allows to keep up with the market and stay in touch with clients and prospects. Contact us if you are interested in custom mobile CRM for your business.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team.

Data Visualization

This is What You Are Losing by Not Using Data Visualization

Data visualization is a life-saver especially when it comes to business analytics and planning. It makes it possible to find relevance among millions of variables and communicate hypotheses to others. Of course, data visualization requires complete, valid and organized initial data for it to be useful, otherwise the visualization may lead to misconceptions. But here are three critical things that you are missing out on by not using data visualization tools at all.

  • Data visualization helps grasp large amounts of information quickly.

In business, data visualization is used to demonstrate trends, gaps and anomalies. Using data visualization instead of dry presentations of numbers makes a report clear and eye-catching. The report becomes comprehensible and replicable. Visualizations are also more persuasive in comparison with textual format, which is so important in the business world and beyond.

  • Collaboration is improved by data visualization.

New ideas are born through communication. When a team sees the trends and dynamics presented visually, they can come up with more creative solutions to existing problems together. A study conducted by Mindlab International revealed that employees are 17% more productive when they use visual maps and other illustrative techniques.

  • Data visualization assists in the decision-making process.

Once the data is analyzed it provides business leaders with insights on business opportunities. It may demonstrate changes in customers’ behavior. For example, when a bank’s retail loans rise as a result of a successful social media marketing campaign, they can be replicated and aimed at other target groups as a source of growth.

Personalizing data visualization tools allows one to insert relevant charts on a dashboard in CRM or on the intranet site. It also allows for the creation of unique and attractive visuals for customers. Providing interactive data visualization on websites can increase traffic and time users spend on site. Ultimately, using data visualization in your business processes is not hard. All one needs is a good set of data to be visualized, and a devoted team of software developers who can help you in the quest for greater performance.