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Future – and present – of app development holds excitement

It’s a pretty great time to be a developer, according to ZDNet contributor Simon Bisson.

“We’re not quite at the end of June, but the first half of 2014 has delivered plenty of new tools and technologies for a new generation of applications,” he wrote. “All three of the major platform ecosystems have made major announcements at their developer events, announcements that go a long way to opening the doors to a truly ubiquitous computing future, merging cloud and mobile.”

This means change for businesses that leverage modern devices in one way or another. While that may sound ominous in nature, it should actually be heralded and embraced. The rise of wearable technology, for example, presents a wide range of possibilities in terms of both customer and employee engagement.

Custom software development is becoming par for the course with most organizations. With a new legion of tools on the way that will continue to redefine workplace and consumer interactions, it will be in the best interest of every company to examine how they can overcome a long-standing issue with mobile apps. Many major businesses are starting to set the pace, and their competitors will be expected to keep up.

Ford making strides towards wearable connectivity
Perhaps one of the largest enterprises to begin examining the true potential of mobility is not a computer or software company, but a car manufacturer. According to ZDNet contributor Jason Hiner, American car company Ford has been working hard to figure out how their products will adapt to the wearable revolution and the subsequent Internet of Things.

“We see [wearable tech] as a great opportunity because people will wear it,” said Ford’s Manager of Vehicle Design and Infotronics Gary Strumolo. “We don’t have to ask them to wear it. We don’t have to build it into the car. As long as it has Bluetooth connectivity we can connect to it like we can connect to a phone, we can leverage our SYNC platform.”

This is the kind of thinking that is going to define success as the digital age continues to move forward. There are some incredible opportunities not only for devices like Google Glass or concepts like the iWatch, but for integrating sensors that monitor vital signs. In Ford’s case, Strumolo said that the information provided by what might be considered “fitness” devices can assist a driver in incredible ways. When the car detects a rise in heart rate, for example, it could automatically start playing calming music and temporarily prevent calls and emails from being received on a smartphone or other device. This can, in many situations, prevent accidents – both for consumers and for those who look to Ford for their commercial needs.

Applications will be key to new experiences
But just having these devices on-hand is not going to accomplish anything. Custom software solutions, designed to work specifically with individual companies, will be crucial to obtain. Part of getting to this point might come from adding the staff members that will be able to assist users properly. But not every organization can afford to bring on new team members, and there are certainly not a lot of companies with the same level of resources as Ford. That is why bringing in experts like those who work at On3 may be the right move to make for many businesses.

But whatever happens, it is clear that organizations have some work to do if they wish to retain relevance.

“Looking at the shape of the IT world, halfway through 2014, it’s clear that the foundations have shifted, even for new entrants such as Google,” Bisson stated. “The old guard has left the building, and new engineers are now leading the ecosystems, bringing new ideas and new ways of looking at the world.”

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How custom mobile app development is increasing productivity

Technologically speaking, enterprises have reached an interesting crossroads. There was once a need for companies and IT personnel to head up the procurement of new tools and services. But now that millions of potential and existing employees are coming pre-equipped with advanced touchscreen endpoints, it is time to figure out the best way to use them.

But regardless of the task that is being streamlined, there is one common thread among the different possibilities – effective user interface design is going to be key. According to Adam Spearing of salesforce.com, there are plenty of questions to ask when preparing to develop enterprise software. Frequently, the best answers come by framing the ideal solutions in a “mobile-first” manner.

Why apps are better than the mobile Web
Another possible route to travel down is the way of the mobile website. Some organizations believe that this is a more cost-effective way to accomplish what an app is trying to do, but there are some noticeable shortcomings – namely in the discrepancies that can be present in screen sizes, operating systems and mobile browsers.

“Micro-moment functions should be short and snappy and not overwhelm users with too much information – one screen to give enough information to make a decision and one thumb tap should be all it takes to take an action,” said Spearing to Guardian contributor Chris Holloman. “Ease of use is crucial, a consideration that all app builders need to balance alongside the users’ desire for a consistent and familiar app experience across all devices.”

Limitless concepts of execution
App-based productivity is not limited to calendar programs and email clients. But many different positions other than traditional office jobs can be benefited by the use of custom software solutions. Healthcare facilities, for example, can take advantage of customer relationship management tools to better serve their patients. ZDNet contributor Brad Bostic refers to this as “healthcare relationship management.”

“HRM holds the ability to ingest and automatically convert [healthcare] clinical diagnostic activities into rich, intelligent profiles for all providers and patients across the continuum of care,” he wrote. “Armed with this 360-degree view of all clinical and business activities, the professionals who run the various entities (e.g. lab, doctor’s office, radiology group, institutional pharmacy, health system) are able to work together in delivering the best patient experience possible.”

Another profession that can see improvement in operations through apps is truck driving. According to Holloman, a London waste management company known as The Green House requires those who drive their vehicles to do thorough inspections at the beginning of their shifts – a process that was once encumbered by pen-and-paper records.

“The company now has a completely bespoke mobile solution for their morning vehicle checks,” Holloman wrote. “Drivers now simply open an app on their smartphone, tap to create a new record, tick the relevant boxes and submit to the system. Nothing has to be typed up, nothing gets lost.”

No matter what industry someone works in, chances are there are plenty of ways that an enterprise mobile app can be leveraged in order to increase productivity – and, by proxy, staff satisfaction.

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3 industries that should consider embracing wearable technology

In spite of all the attention surrounding wearables, there are many that believe this breed of devices still has a ways to go before seeing large consumer penetration. But that is not to say that these tools will not be popular. Rather, they will experience major acceptance in industry first.

Wearable technology still has a precedent to set – the general public, for the most part, is unclear regarding how wearables can be directly applied in ways that smartphones cannot. But members of several professions are already looking at these tools and seeing solutions to problems they might not have even realized they had. This is how wearables will start to be introduced to the private consumer sphere – by seeing how successful they can be when used under a company’s umbrella.

Here are three of the industries that can – and should – look into how wearable tech can be a revolutionary advantage:

1) Health insurance
One of the biggest problems that people have with their insurance is that – regardless of their health – they may feel they are being overcharged for risks that are not incredibly severe. This has led to more than one unsatisfied customer.

But wearables are positioned to possibly facilitate a more accurate reading of a demographic’s overall health in real time – readouts of a person’s health stats can be transmitted from these devices to the company in charge of their account. According to Forbes, certain devices are beginning to be used in this way. Taking this kind of action could allow health insurance providers to provide a fair rate to their clients, even going so far as to provide discounts for maintaining certain vital readings. This same technology can also be used in healthcare to monitor patients and provide continuous support.

2) Airlines
The airport experience is one often marred by long lines and encumbering processes. This can be most frustrating to frequent flyers, who may be irritated that there is no way to streamline some of these steps given their continued business. But thanks in part to biometrics, there is a way to leverage wearable that gets people to their gates faster.

According to Skift, an organization called SITA Lab is developing a bracelet that uses the wearer’s “unique electrocardiogram signature” to enable clearance. This technology and others like it are going to create new ease for many industries, but travel will see some particularly interesting developments.

3) Health & Fitness
Some people will pay top dollar for personal assistants. But what about being supplied with a digital one? People are already buying bracelets that take their vitals, and there is plenty of rooms for gyms to figure out how to capitalize.

By developing a fitness app that can connect wirelessly to rentable wristbands, fitness center patrons can choose and build their own customized workout – one that can adapt itself to their performance and progress. This will provide potential customers with an incentive to choose one gym over another, as it creates a sense of empowerment for people to have some idea of their progress.

One thing is certain – regardless of what wearables are being used for, they are going to require companion applications for smartphones and tablets. In order to fully take advantage of wearable tech’s potential, custom software solutions will be tantamount.

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Apps, wearable technology to have significant impact on workplace

As the world becomes more comfortable conducting their daily tasks through app-based interfaces, the infrastructures to which they are connected are beginning to change. There is an influx of new, different information that can now be leveraged for the first time ever thanks to the advanced devices that have become so common among consumers. This is especially interesting given that these machines are not only being applied to the private lives of their users, but also within the jobs that they work at every day.

This is increasingly becoming the case with another new breed of computer – wearable technology. On both the employee and customer sides of the business equation, there is a growing reliance on mobile apps as well as these new devices. Whether it be a consumer-facing store locator or an enterprise-class shipping tracker, there will have to be exploration not only into how custom software solutions can be leveraged, but how they will be perceived in midst of the oncoming wearables wave.

Analysis reveals extensive influence of apps
People are using software in all sorts of ways that they might not have as recently as 10 years ago. But not only has that changed, it has begun to effect how organizations must look at their data centers.

According to research conducted by Gartner, most apps will be processing and creating information by 2015, but there has yet to be a major push across the board for information infrastructure re-evaluation. This includes everything from performance to the legal complications of possessing and utilizing certain kinds of information.

“The line between acceptable and unacceptable use of consumer data can be very thin, and it gets even thinner as the data collected becomes more detailed and personal,” Gartner stated in a release. “For example, organizations collecting biometric data through mobile apps linked to wearable devices could be tempted to monetize this data by reselling it.”

This is a very plausible reality, as Gartner expects wearable interactions to increase in the near future – the firm believes that 50 percent of total app interactions will be facilitated through wearables by 2017.

Wearable tech on the rise
While there has been little consumer penetration, wearables are already being eyed by companies who see application in their use. By some accounts, this is how wearables will gain mainstream acceptance – first by appearing in the workplace and the offerings of popular organizations. The public will then become interested thanks to the actions of their favorite brand or what they have experienced at their jobs – the latter of these two possibilities potentially taking the form of employee incentive rather than just productivity assets.

“For example, computerized glasses could leave salespeople’s hands free while putting entire manuals before their eyes,” wrote InformationWeek contributor Mark O’Neill. “Imagine also company-wide fitness challenges, wherein employees wear activity-tracking devices that sense their movements and transmit their progress to a central display. Such friendly competition adds fun to the workday and promotes worker health, potentially reducing an organization’s medical costs.”

Regardless of how they are leveraged, businesses have to address the ways in which they can be benefited by custom software development. As technology becomes more commonplace, it will not just be viable – it will be expected.

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Wearables present interesting possibilities for health apps

While some of the biggest names in mobile devices have yet to make their wearable technology offerings officially available for purchase, there are still plenty of machines that are beginning to demonstrate their practical applications. Often, the kind of use that these tools will see initially won’t be comparable to smartphones and tablets, but will instead be leveraged to meet needs not readily-handled by existing assets.

One area in particular that wearables are already experiencing lots of buzz and application in is health. Wellness and fitness are much more easily monitored and tracked with the vital-reading sensors that are proving to be as popular as wristband offerings. People are using these devices to keep themselves – and even their doctors – in the loop regarding the current status of their bodies.

Even if the wearables themselves cannot run applications, that does not mean that there aren’t cases in which they will absolutely need to be leveraged together. No matter where the information is going, there must be custom software solutions put into place to make sure that users get the most out of the services they are utilizing.

Businesses – not private users – generating the most interest
There has been some general acceptance of the notion that wearables – even with their limitless potential – will take a little time to experience real consumer penetration. By some accounts, these machines will see use by companies before being directly leveraged by personal-use customers. While there has been some success in the general marketplace by pitching fitness angles, it is mostly organizations that are clearly seeing the possibilities that wearables can provide.

“The mHealth app market has made some significant progress along the industry hype cycle,” Research2Guidance stated in a recent white​ paper. “It may not be the number one topic on mobile congresses or thought leader events, but over the period of the last two years, the perception of mHealth has become increasingly business oriented. In other words, the mHealth app market has already entered the commercialization phase.”

Specifically, the number of mHealth applications that have appeared for consumption has doubled within the last 2.5 years, according to Research2Guidance.

Specific applications
Judging from the number of mHealth apps alone, there has already been a lot of innovation among those who believe in the power of wearables. These specific health-monitoring devices have proven to be popular and effective in a number of areas – from personalized workout regimens to hospitals that have real-time analytics pertaining to their patients’ well-being.

But with this in mind, it is important to remember that the action of just obtaining these wearables will not solve issues alone. There has to be advanced custom software development in place that can give users a way to actually interact with the devices that they have on their bodies. Because many of them lack the kind of interface that is inherent of smartphones and tablets, there will have to be a user interface design that is complimentary of the desired experience.

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Mobile application development must be a top priority

No matter how strongly it has been fought or consistently it has been ignored, the bring-your-own-device phenomenon has clearly moved away from its perception as a passing fad. BYOD has become a reality of the workplace. It only makes sense that employees want to leverage the devices that they feel the most comfortable using, and it has been widely-recognized that staff members are not – and cannot be – deterred by their organizations unwillingness to allow personal machines in enterprise offices.

“In some ways BYOD is inevitable, with businesses having little choice but to adapt to it,” wrote Information​ Age contributor Ben Rossi. “Just as the consumerization of motor vehicles killed off the company car, so too will consumer smartphones, tablets and laptops eventually end the corporate mandating of employee devices.”

In response to the overwhe​lming appearance of these devices in the workplace, companies need to get serious about developing BYOD strategies. An undertaking of this nature will undoubtedly require custom software solutions to be developed for both smartphones and tablets. Businesses will need to provide their workers with the proper applications in order to foster productivity and create security.

Custom software development critical
One of the biggest problems that companies had during the arrival of BYOD was the penchant for employees to choose their own solutions. App stores for the popular mobile operating systems offer an incredible amount of programs that can be leveraged for productivity, but more often than not these tools are entirely unfit for the workplace.

Third-party apps – most often obtained for free – that have not bee approved by an IT department can stand to do significant damage to a business’s reputation. Software of this caliber is often hastily or lazily programmed, meaning that errors in the code can take sensitive company information and distribute it all over the Web. Even worse, many of these apps are the product of malicious hackers, who create programs that are then bundled with malware. This malware is then allowed onto the device by unsuspecting employees, who then insert company information for their own use.

This has led more than one organization into a disaster scenario. According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, there have been 1,765 reported breaches that have occurred since 2005 as a result of unintended disclosure or malware, resulting in more than 634 million records being compromised.

Functionality key to effective user interface design
But just possessing an enterprise application for use within the company is not enough to prevent rogue IT operations from occurring. According to ITProPortal, a recent study by AppDynamics found that mobile applications have to be presented in such a way that they engage users and encourage them to continue using the platform.

“[The k]ey to this is having the necessary depth of application intelligence in real time so that any problems can be anticipated or rapidly solved,” said AppDynamics founder and CEO Jyoti Bansal to ITProPortal contributor Darren Allan.

But unfortunately, the companies that require enterprise apps the most might not have the tech staff in-house to handle these needs. IT either might not have enough collective experience or are simply low on the employees with the skills to make the programs into a reality. This is where On3 can help out businesses that are trying to retain relevance. By either handling the app-building process or seeking out new workers to manage all software development projects moving forward, On3 can ensure that organizations have the assets that they need in order to effectively conduct daily operations in a protected manner.

It is clear that employee devices in the workplace are not going to disappear anytime soon. Businesses need to embrace this brand of mobility in order to improve their longevity.

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Secure banking apps essential for financial sector

Thanks to the high proliferation of mobile devices, there is a common need among many people to access their important information on the go. This includes – but is not limited to – financial data. Bank customers want to have ’round-the-clock insight as to how their accounts are faring, whether they are checking for signs of identity theft or merely ensuring that a paycheck has been deposited. Many also set-up and manage automatic bill payments through their portable machines.

This is something that financial organizations need to recognize. Their patrons are used to the freedom that smartphones and tablets can grant them, and as a result, they are increasingly seeking out client-facing custom software solutions. According to Gulf Business, recent research by Gartner indicates that 25 percent of the world’s top 50 banks will have their own banking app stores by 2016.

But while there is a clear need for advanced programs to be available for public use, there are large security considerations that need to be made. Banks and other financial offices are high-profile targets for many malicious hackers and other cybercriminals. In order to provide a secure level of service for customers, these organizations must invest in the services that will beget effective software.

Malware threats amplified for banking apps
While there are obvious benefits to providing patrons with easy access to their records, making it too simple or user-friendly can cause serious problems. According to PYMNTS, Kaspersky Labs recently discovered a form of mobile malware that was targeting major banks in the United States and the United Kingdom. The code in question, known as Svpeng, has been described as “financial malware with ransomware capabilities.”

Svpeng works by locking the phone with a message claiming to be from the FBI and demands a payment of $200, to be delivered in MoneyPak cards from Green Dot.

“For now, this piece of malware, allegedly of Russian origin, does not steal credentials, but it is only a matter of time, since Svpeng is just a modification of a well-known Trojan that operates in Russia and is used mainly for stealing money,” Kaspersky stated in a release. “Additionally, the Trojan’s code contains some mentions of the Cryptor method which has not yet been used, so it is likely that it will soon be utilized for file encryption.”

Kaspersky also noted that 91 percent of cyberattacks are geared toward English-speaking targets in the U.S. and U.K., with the remaining 9 percent appearing in Germany, India and Switzerland. It is expected, however, that the scope pertaining to attacks of this nature will begin to appear more frequently in other parts of the world, as well.

Ensuring protection through effective design
There is not likely to be a regression in terms of mobile requirements for modern society. While the concerns pertaining to account security must be present when dealing with bank apps, they cannot deter organizations completely from turning to these solutions.

As such, financial companies need to pair with the right programmers in order to obtain secure customer engagement platforms. On3 has the right kind of staff for such a momentous undertaking, possessing a qualified team of professionals well-versed in the best programming languages currently in use.

In many ways, mobility defines modern society, and companies in all fields cannot afford to fall behind. This is especially true in the banking sector, where clients need access to their account information constantly and consistently. On3 understands this, and has all of the right tools and team members on-hand to make sure that every last requirement is met.

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Mobile use is expected to skyrocket well into 2015

Business applications must have mobile aspects in order to adequately compete for customers and optimize employee productivity. User expectations are that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need. This is why you can expect to see an explosion of business apps and even corporate app stores over the next year.

Attention businesses, mobile is a unique channel, with different requirements for smartphones and tablets, and this channel must be integrated into the overall marketing mix. It is imperative that businesses understand who their mobile consumers are, how they access sites or apps, which devices they use, and what their expectations are for a positive experience.

Did you know:

[list style=”arrow” color=”orange-lite”]

  • Smartphones are becoming the preferred form of web access
  • Tablet use is predicted to generate 10% of all website visits in 2014
  • Tablet users spend more than mobile users
  • Mobile search and display ads are expected to grow 50% by 2015

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On3 understands mobile consumers and can help you take advantage of the ever expanding opportunity.

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Custom software solutions have to be effective

Nobody wants to deal with things that do not work the way they are supposed to. This is especially true of mobile applications. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the incredibly dense penetration of touchscreen devices, there is an increased importance not only on having enterprise-grade applications for both employees and customers, but making sure that they work the way that they are supposed to.

“Users experience a lot of negative emotions and frustrations when trying to complete some digital tasks and apps or web pages are slow to load,” said Dr. Chris Brauer of the University of London in a release from Marketwired. “Our attention span demands have adapted dramatically to the available technologies.”

As such, people are going to abandon software that they find cumbersome. On the consumer end, this means losing brand visibility. In terms of productivity applications that are leveraged around the office, it increases the chance of rogue IT operations occurring and unapproved programs being granted access to sensitive information.

Effective functionality essential for engagement
As the mobile Web continues to underscore its own flaws, custom software solutions are increasingly becoming an enterprise requirement. Touchscreen browsers consistently fail to fully embrace the capabilities of the devices that they reside on – those wishing to take a photo of a document to send out across a company, for example, would have to first use a camera app before uploading the file to the Internet. In a software-defined environment, the camera could be pulled up as an extension of the program itself.

This is just one example of the kind of engagement indicative of successful business applications. People – regardless of their affiliation to a company – want to feel like they are using their devices rather than accessing a website. In a way, its almost like the difference between 2D and 3D. While 2D gets the job done, 3D is where a truly immersive experience is taking place.

One of the specific features of smartphones and tablets that is dictating use is the push notification. According to Colloquy, recent research from Urban Airship found that more than half of those who use mobile applications enable push notifications. In the enterprise sphere, this could mean well-organized reminders for important meetings, or sale alerts on the consumer end. Location services have also proven to be popular. Customers can often be pointed toward a company’s nearest outlet just by keeping their GPS turned on. These are the kinds of assets that organizations need to be mindful of when they pursue custom mobile app development.

Software development may require outside assistance
While almost every enterprise can probably say that they have their own IT department, there is still a pretty good chance that their staff is not equipped enough to take on app development by themselves. Bringing in a development service like On3 increases the chance that an app will be properly built, allowing IT to figure out how best to apply it to mission-critical tasks.

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Custom software solutions key to controlling mobility

Mobile devices have afforded limitless possibilities for organizations. Not all of them, however, are good.

It could be that a company either has no knowledge of or interest in the presence of consumer-grade smartphones, tablets and applications in their offices. If this is the case, the boat is being missed in a big way. The means through which a majority of people work successfully is evolving, and now that they have advanced tools at their disposal – as well as the skills to leverage them – they expect to be able to bring them into the professional sphere. As such, staff members will do just that even in the absence of official guidelines and in the face of restrictions. Without involvement from management and/or the IT department, this can result in a disjointed experience that is rife with digital security weaknesses.

The proper solution is for businesses of all kinds to seek out custom software development services or staff. By providing employees with a secure, immersive interface, organizations will be able to get a handle on the mobile frontier, fostering innovation and success along the way.

Shadow IT operations are inherently risky
Because there is such a natural freedom that comes with tablets and smartphones, people are less inclined to be hesitant of their actions. Shadow IT refers to the operations that occur under the radar, so to speak. These are the program installations, etc. that occur without the knowledge of tech staffers.

According to Mojave lead threat engineer Ryan Smith, the permissions that people often agree to when downloading third-party applications are just one of the reasons to attempt building a cohesive mobile strategy. It is never just one app or entity that is being allowed to access potentially-sensitive information, but also the advertisers that pay to be included.

“Unfortunately, when you give permission to an app to access your private or sensitive data, you’re also giving access to each of the included libraries and their author(s), whether you know it or not,” Smith said to Network World. “This is like entrusting your house keys to your teenage child for the weekend, only to have them immediately make copies for their friends, unbeknownst to you.”

When dealing with company documents, this can be especially dangerous. An employee who downloads a free, consumer-grade email application may unknowingly be sending confidential missives to unknown corners of cyberspace. According to research conducted by Mojave, 78 percent of apps installed by business users connect to analytics and ad networks. This is considered, in every sense of the phrase, a data breach.

Custom mobile app development offers security, productivity
The problem is not the concept of these devices and apps, but simply how they are used. Outlawing them will only drive rogue users farther underground, making the issue even harder to rectify. The answer to this conundrum is to embrace mobility by supplying workers with secure applications. This will not only allow employees to safely complete tasks in a manner that best suits them, but will also create a unified experience that will ultimately put peers on the same page.

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