Magellan's Blog

5 Tips for a Successful Mobile App Build

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Apr 17, 2014 8:00:00 AM

5 Tips for a Successful Mobile App BuildWith the sheer number of apps in the major app marketplaces, you better have a pretty compelling app concept if you expect it to be successful. And success starts with the build. These tips will help you streamline your thinking and maximize your efforts in entering the mobile app world.

 

1. Start with a Plan

You’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses here. It’s imperative that you have a good reason for getting into the game at all, otherwise you’ll end up wasting valuable time and money resources with no positive results.

Do you want an app to…

  • Make money?

  • Improve brand presence?

  • Increase customer engagement?

All of these are valid reasons. Just keep those reasons in mind throughout the process.

2. Understand the Features Your Customers Want

Note: I didn’t say “the features you think they want.” This isn’t about you; it’s about providing value to your customers and to attract even more customers.

Don’t guess what your customers want. Ask them. Find out what features would truly be valuable to them and which are just “nice to haves.”

The better aligned you are with what your customers want, the better you can deliver.

3. Keep it Simple

Especially at the start. You can always roll out more features later, once you know more of what your audience wants. But providing too many bells and whistles can overwhelm your user and turn them off of using your application.

Also pay attention to your app’s level of being user-friendly. Is it clear how to navigate from one page to another? Are your features clearly marked?

And then finally, ensure your app is reliable. Part of that comes with using a fault-free backend like our M2 platform, but it’s also due in part to how well your developers tested the software before launching it. If you don’t have access to a developer in the dead of night when it breaks, you’ll irritate customers who will delete your broken app from their phones, so make sure you test, test, and test again!

4. Don’t Overlook the Copy

Even if you’ve designed the next addictive silly game, don’t underestimate the importance of the copy within your app. Proofread everything, and make sure you’ve got adequate instructions and copy where it’s needed.

A sidenote here: do the same with your app marketplace copy. Well-written content here is what’s going to help you market and sell more of your app.

5. Choose the Perfect Partner

If you don’t have mobile dev in house, you’ll need to hire a third-party developer. Mobile app developers are a dime a dozen, so it’s hard to know what makes one right for you.

Start by looking at a developer’s past experience. Ideally, you want someone with who has built similar apps. If you’re building a banking app, the developer absolutely should have experience in that field, since it’s a highly-regulated industry. Next, speak to their customers. Were they happy with the end product, as well as with the process? Would they work with this company again?

Talk to prospective developers about how they work. How long does it take to develop an app like you need? What’s included in the pricing? Are they available for ongoing support?

And then finally: trust your gut. All the references in the world won’t guarantee a developer is right for you, so go with what your instinct tells you.

Even if you’re not physically developing the application yourself, you are ultimately responsible for its success. If you start with a solid plan and objective for why you want the app, choose the right partner to get it developed, and do your part to ensure it’s user-friendly, your app will succeed.

 

 

 

 

Photo: PhotoSpin
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Topics: Mobile Apps

The Next Generation Mobile BaaS Platform is Here

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Apr 10, 2014 8:00:00 AM

The Next Generation Mobile BaaS Platform is HereWhen our executive team is out and about at local Silicon Valley events for companies and start-ups in the mobile-telecom and mobile-application industries, like the recent Telecom Council event we spoke at, we often hear companies and developers talk about what they want and need in a mobile BaaS (MBaaS) platform. Some of the things we hear are:

  • Scalability, managing millions of app users with concurrent transactions.
  • Uptime is becoming critical.
  • QoS / QoE for apps serving up video, audio, and other rich media.
  • Messaging, SMS, PUSH, SIP/VoIP, NFC/Peer-to-Peer, and Bluetooth/connected devices.
  • Security, encrypted: voice, SMS, Email, and IP tunneling.

Many infrastructure as a service companies handle the above in a non-mobile environment, but very few have the capability to handle these core market desired features for a mobile platform.  Magellan M2 Cloud Mobile Service (M2) can do all of this out of the box and much more!  

Magellan’s custom software development customers have been getting these advanced features all along and now they are available for the developer community. Some of the features built into the M2 Cloud Mobile Service include:

Video Platform

M2 offers advanced video-infrastructure capable of uploading any one of 199 different video file formats and transcoding for best QoE on all smartphones and tablets.  M2 allows HD content to be uploaded and then transcoded to be playable on any mobile or computer device.  In fact, M2 can create multiple quality ratings for the video (SD, HD, etc).

The video platform has an included DRM that allows a customer to offer private video, optionally encrypt and secure the video, purchase the video, VOD, and more.

CDN - Content Delivery Network

M2 offers a built in content delivery network.  M2 allows for flash crowd viewing or even steady viewing for media including Video from many different global regions.  A CDN allows customer to deliver high volumes of content in the region requesting the content thereby creating an excellent user experience (i.e., QoE).

Audio Platform

M2 offers an entire audio platform for transcoding, upload, and playing audio.  M2 has 142 built in audio codecs and file formats it understands.  Weather or not your have webinars or other audio resources, combined with the M2 CDN, M2 can deliver to millions of listeners concurrently.

Pictures 

M2 supports 28 different image formats. Besides allowing business’ to create the next Instagram, M2 supports picture augmentation, endless effects, and analytics.  Combining M2 Cloud service with M2 Matric, a company could compete at the same level as Snapchat in weeks.

Scalability

The core of the M2 Cloud service is a large queuing system.  Client machines join the M2 collective when they boot up.  This allows for rapid expansion and no down time.  M2 has been built and deployed for 10’s of millions of subscribers.  

M2 Battle Tested & Reliability

The M2 Cloud Service and M2 has been battle tested over many years with millions and millions of transactions.  Many of our customers have deployed apps without concern or experiencing any outages over the past years.

M2 API - Business Programming Interface ( Web Services)

All M2 based mobile applications and M2 services are available as an API via Web Services ( JSON/REST ) that allows business’ to connect to your service and conduct commerce.  When a mobile app is built on M2, all functionally is available for any partner company.  For instance, ANY company that an M2 customer may want to work with can provide them with APIs.  This is a unique proposition for M2 customers.  Rather than building just an app, M2 customers get an entire platform and ecosystem.

Social Media Links

M2 allows for mobile applications to post links out to over 50 social media networks including FaceBook, Twitter, and more.  Users that click links can be pulled back into your mobile application and your M2 ecosystem.

User Management

M2 allows users to sign up, register via email or SMS or even create custom accounts.  Users can download an M2 based mobile application and register.  Their account can be then linked to other networks via the M2 API.

Group Management

M2 allows for complex grouping of users.  This means that building social media applications where people are creating groups or page follows are easy and the back-end details are already taken care of.

Security

M2 offers encrypted services from the data inside M2, to the communication protocols and on the end user devices.  M2 can be installed and certified in a HIPAA and FIPS 140 environments.

Push Notifications, SMS, and Email

M2 supports push notifications for Apple and Android as well as SMS and email services to communicate and register your users.

Location Services

M2 and M2 Matric support GPS location services along with WiFi, and cell tower/ base- station triangulation.  Furthermore, M2 Matric supports the latest geo-fencing.  Geo-fencing pop ups and notifications can occur when a user enters a certain geographic area; like a restaurant with a special for the day.

Imagine this scenario:

A soft drink company hires an audit company to take photos with a Smartphone of endcap displays and retail shelves to ensure that the company’s products, prices, and signage are correct. The company pays per photograph. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is a solution.

Now consider this scenario:

That same soft drink company gets this data even faster without hiring dozens of auditors. How? The grocery store manager at each location can walk around the store wearing Google Glasses to assess inventory and displays. Not only can that soft drink company get the data it wants, but so can all the other brands whose products are represented in that store.

Sound futuristic? It’s not. It’s now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Mobile Apps, BaaS

What's Your Bring Your Own Device to Work Policy?

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Apr 3, 2014 8:00:00 AM

What's your bring your own mobile device to work policy?When cell phones were still relatively new, many employers banned their staff from using them at work. When apps came onto the scene, companies were even more adamant about their employees not playing Angry Birds during work hours.

But now that tablets are such useful tools at work, and now that there are so many business-related productivity apps, does it still make sense to banish personal technology from the office?

Why Consider a BYOD Policy

There are many reasons why you might consider creating a Bring Your Own Device (to Work) policy (also called BYOD). For one, you spend less on technology. People with tablets and phones tend to want to use their own, so that provides your company with cost savings.

And if people are efficient at using their tablets to create presentations, take notes, or email, who are you to stop that productivity?

Currently, 70% of companies allow personal technology in the office. You can bet the employees at those companies are happier and more productive than the remaining 30%.

Factors to Consider

Simply opening the floodgates to tablets and phones could create chaos, so it’s key that you plan it out. The reasons you want to create a policy around your staff bringing any technology into the office are:

  • Concerns about security: inviting non secure devices onto your network can impact your greater system

  • Distractions: your staff needs to understand that having personal devices does not mean they are free to check Facebook or play games at work

  • Jealousy: for employees who don’t bring devices: do they feel those that do are favored?

Developing a clear plan of action for how you will implement your BYOD policy and enforcing rules will help your strategy be a success.

Start with Security

According to IBM, there are four security options to consider with BYOD:

  • Unlimited access to enterprise systems on all mobile devices

  • Access only to non sensitive systems and data

  • Access, but with IT control over personal devices, apps and stored data

  • Access, but prevent local storage of data on personal devices

You know how sensitive your data is, and can determine which of these is most appropriate. Obviously, if you store client data, such as a bank does, that information shouldn’t be accessible through tablets and phones. But if your enterprise system gives employees access to the internal instant messaging system, that should be available on any device.

Decide What’s Allowed

The purpose of allowing your staff to use their tablets and phones at work is to make them more comfortable with the technology they use, not take advantage of it. While it seems a no-brainer that an employee shouldn’t be on Facebook on her tablet (unless she’s in the marketing department), this needs to be outlined in your policy. Make it crystal clear that social networking, gaming, and personal apps or sites are not to be visited, or the device will be banned.

Have an Exit Plan

What happens when an employee leaves? Normally, you would wipe her computer of sensitive data, but if she takes her device with her, that data just walked out your door. Build into your policy a plan for removing company information from any phone or tablet upon an employee’s exit from the company. Or, only provide access to apps that do not store data on a device.

Roll Out the System Gradually

Test out a pilot of your BYOD plan in one department, or with a handful of staff and assess results for a few months. If you see an increase in productivity and satisfaction, consider a larger rollout. But have someone manage this project. That likely will be someone in your IT department, or possibly HR. Create a communication plan where employees can report misuse of personal technology if it occurs.

As technology speeds ahead, our best bet is to be open to where it takes us. That includes the office.

 

 

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Topics: Mobile Apps

The Risk of Hiring Overseas Mobile App Developers

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Mar 27, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Enthusiastic office worker.JPGBusinesses want to save money. There’s no denying it. But it’s important — especially in the tech world — to know where it’s appropriate to cut costs and where it will cause more harm than good.

Hiring inexpensive overseas developers for your mobile dev is a great example.

You think, “Wow! I can get a top-notch developer in China/India/Fiji for just $15 an hour! This will put us under budget for our mobile app development project. I’ll be a hero!”

Keep reading before you don that cape.

The Real Cost of Overseas Developers

It’s not to say that developers in other countries aren’t completely capable of developing quality work. But the issue often comes in the disconnect: physically, culturally, and sometimes linguistically. When you’re not in the same room as your developers, you can’t ensure they’re on the right track. You find that out — at your company’s expense — when you get to the office and check your email, only to realize they’ve gone in the completely wrong direction for a build.

Culturally, the countries that produce cheap developers (mainly in Asia) tend to have more of a “I need you to tell me step-by-step what to do” attitude. And you don’t have time for that. The last developer you worked with (State-side) took your concept and returned it just as you’d imagined, with little to no input or guidance from you. That’s not the case when you outsource overseas. Provide a sketch of what you want your app to be, and you leave a lot of holes for someone you hardly know to fill in. Is that where your company’s money is best spent?

In truth, that initial cost savings you realize often shrinks drastically once the project is complete. You’ll pay for little tweaks and changes (after all, you didn’t specify that the app screen should be blue), as well as your developer’s own mistakes. You’re not sure what a $15 hour buys you; it might be more like what a skilled local developer could do in 10 minutes. And that’s the financial added cost. Timewise, you’re probably no better off, as it may take far longer than first anticipated to get your communication and expectations aligned.

Other Risks

If you’re concerned about your intellectual property being at risk, that’s a fair concern. After all, not every country has the streamlined legal system the United States does, and you’d be hard pressed to be able to prosecute should your developer steal your concept.

Payment, too, is a risk. Never pay until you get at least a portion of the work done. It’s a trust-based system, but as the client, you are entitled to see work completed before you sign off on an invoice.

Studies show that 30 to 50% of overseas outsourced projects fail, due to misaligned expectations or simply the developer’s inability to deliver as promised. Don’t be a part of that statistic.

Solution: a Local Development Firm

Before you write off US-based developers as too expensive, consider an app developer with a platform such as Magellan’s M2 Matric, which lets you build your own custom app for only $99 per month. The important thing is to find a development firm that can outline all costs, including possible add-ons or change fees up front so that you won’t be bamboozled and end up with a bill that’s 150% of the initial quote.

Because it’s easier to research a US company to see their past work, read reviews from customers, and even hold them accountable for their work, it’s a safer choice to make when it comes to something so important as your mobile dev strategy.

 

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Topics: Outsourcing software engineering, Mobile Apps, Mobile Apps for Small Business, Small Business

How to Market Your Mobile App

Posted by Brenda Stoltz

Mar 20, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Different techno icons flows into modern smartphone. Mobile comm.JPGDespite the fact that there are now more apps in mobile app marketplaces than ever before, many companies are falling short of success. Turns out it’s not as simple as “build an app, and they will come.” Marketing plays a huge role in the success of an app. Without that push, your app will gather virtual dust.

Start with a Solid Strategy

If you’ve designed an app with the purpose of getting new clients and building existing client loyalty, you’ve got to be clear on your purpose and your app’s benefits to users. There are well over 1 million apps in the iTunes store alone, so you better have an amazing app that people can’t live without.

Here is an example of an app that was nominated for a mobile excellence award in 2013. It was a moving company that wanted to create an app for their business to business (B2B) customers.

The challenge was to build an app for a rare event that most people don't even like (moving). The app developer choose to build it around organizing "stuff" since most people don't unpack as soon as they move. They included utilities that are valuable to the user to help them, such as currency convertors, time-zone between their original home and destination, plus the ability to pull in customs documents into the app in case there isn't wi-fi to access e-mail. These are just some of the tools this application provided for the user. Think: useful.

Not only is this strategy useful in the app creation process, but it will also help guide you in marketing your app once it’s available. If you can boil down your app into its basic benefit, use that message consistently in everything you do to promote the app.

Ask for Reviews

Apps live and die by their reviews. Just look at the short-lived success of the Flappy Bird phenomenon. What was built as a fun game went viral, and you can bet reviews played a big part in that.

Here you see a nice assortment of reviews for Boxed’s app.


boxed.JPG

There’s no shame in asking people to review your app. Consider building in a feature that pushes notifications to users occasionally, allowing them to review your app with the touch of a button.

The flip side of reviews is that sometimes you get negative ones. Be sure to address the issues brought up and respond so that users know you’re proactive about ensuring the app’s functionality.

Optimize Your App Store Listing

The simplest place to attract more users is your app store listing. According to Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through app store searches. This makes app store search the most used method for discovering and downloading new apps. You’d be amazed what clear graphics, polished wording, keywords, and regular updates will do. If you’re not the best writer, hire one that can craft copy that will sell. Take plenty of screenshots so visitors get a sense of what your app is all about.

In the example below, you can see that there’s a video that provides an overview of the app’s features, as well as bulleted points that highlight the benefits of using the app.

pipedrive.JPG

 

Also consider offering a free version of your app so people can try it out. Sometimes people are leery about spending money on an app (yes, even $.99!) and will try a limited-feature free version first.

Leverage Social Media

You likely already have an audience for your app: existing customers and social media followers. Be sure to promote its launch on social as a special event — consider giving it away for free for a limited time if you otherwise charge for it. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram — anywhere your brand has a presence (and more importantly, anywhere your prospective customers have a presence), you should be talking about your app.

twitter.JPG

Share screenshots, talk about new features, ask followers what features they want — your purpose here is to create dialogue and excitement around your app.

Make it Simple to Download with QR Codes

If you have a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant, marketing your app in-store is essential. The easier you make it to download, the more users you’ll get. QR codes allow your customers to scan the 2D bar code with their phone and be taken to the download page for your app. Make sure you’ve got ample signage with that code throughout your store. Train your staff to talk to customers about the app and ask them to download it at their point of purchase. You could even offer a discount if they download it right then and there.

Spread the Word Through Blogging

The first step here is talking about your app on your own blog. But beyond that, reach out to other blogs that target your audience and offer to contribute a free guest post. The post might not even be about your app (most bloggers will feel that’s too self-promotional), but you can mention the app in your author byline.

Some blogs offer advertising opportunities, and in this case, you could write a sponsored post about the app.

Issue a Press Release

Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn once your app launches. A press release is a great way to announce the arrival of your app, as well as share a few of the features with readers. Make sure to link to the app store page so readers can easily download the app.


press release.JPG

Remember: marketing your app is an ongoing job, so as long as you want to attract more users, you’ll have to be diligent in your marketing efforts.

 
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Topics: Marketing Mobile Apps

The Importance of Being in All Mobile Marketplaces

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Mar 13, 2014 8:00:00 AM

hand holding smartphone with icons.JPGIn the mobile game, it’s go big or go home. 

What that means for you as a business is this: if you’re going to go to the trouble of having a customized mobile app developed, you should make sure it’s available on all popular app marketplaces. Otherwise, there’s no point in even bothering with the app.

Here’s why you need to have a presence in all the major mobile marketplaces.

1. It’s a Cutthroat Competition

Headlines update every few months on who’s winning the mobile wars. While Apple dominated the industry for years, Android currently has the lead (although not when it comes to tablets). But who’s to say that Windows phones won’t steal some of that market share? Or a newcomer?

The point here is: you don’t care who’s in the lead if your app is available on all platforms. That’s just one less thing to worry about.

2. You Want Your Customers to Be Able to Access Your App

And if you put all your weight into a single platform, you’ll alienate the rest of them. People have begun to expect that an app will be available for their device — or at the very least, Apple and Android.

3. You Can be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

BlackBerry and Windows app stores have a fraction of the number of apps available to iPhone and Android users. That means you’ll have less competition within those stores for cell phone users’ attention.

4. You’ll Find New Customers

Every day, phone users are discovering new brands simply by browsing their app stores. The more marketplaces your app is found in, the greater your reach. That can translate into higher app sales, if you charge for your app, increased traffic back to your website, or more advertising revenue.

5. People Aren’t Just on Phones

There are also tablets and e-readers to consider. Your Android app won’t cut it in the Kindle marketplace, so you’ll need it to be Kindle-friendly in addition to being ready for mobile marketplaces.

6. More Platforms Means More Advertising Revenue

If you make money from in-app advertising, scale is key. You can make a lot more revenue off of 1 million users than you can 10,000. Offering your app across platforms increases your users, and therefore your revenue potential.

7. We’re at the Peak for Downloads

App downloads in 2012 were 64 billion. In 2013, that number was close to 102 billion. While these numbers have skyrocketed in recent years, that growth is expected to slow in coming years. Capitalize on that by expanding your reach to multiple app marketplaces.

8. You Have No Excuse Not to

It used to be time-consuming and expensive to get an app on more than one marketplace. And then, by the time it was approved, that iOS would upgrade and break your app. Now app development services like M2 include multi-platform builds for apps as a standard feature.

More Mobile Apps Stats

Mobile apps statistics seem to change by the hour, but here’s what’s happening right now.

  • Despite Android having slightly more market share in terms of phones sold, companies with apps in the iTunes store sell better. It seems iPhone users might buy fewer apps, but they’re willing to pay more for what they do buy.

  • The sale of apps in 2015 is expected to hit $36.7 billion in direct revenue.

  • The most popular categories of apps downloaded are as follows:

    • Games: 33%

    • Widgets: 8%

    • Entertainment: 7%

    • Social: 5%

    • Lifestyle: 4%

    • Music: 4%

  • 90% of apps across all marketplaces are now free versus paid. This year, 119.9 billion free apps are expected to be downloaded.

If you’re just now considering app development, make multi-platform submission a requirement for the mobile app development agency you work with.


Photo: PhotoSpin
The Importance of Being in All Mobile Marketplaces
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Topics: Mobile Apps, Mobile Apps for Small Business

5 Predictions About the Future of Technology

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Mar 6, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Predictions_0314Ten years ago, not many of us could have predicted that we’d be holding conversations via video on paper-thin devices called tablets. Or that we wouldn’t have to be at a particular computer to access a file. Or that our cell phones would be the thing most of us rely on to get through the day. Or that we’d see a 500+% increase in global Internet users.

Technology is a tricky thing to predict, but it’s still fun to give it a try. What do the next 10 years hold for us?

1. The Barriers to Entry Will Become Nonexistent.

It used to be that you needed some sharp technical skills if you wanted to use a computer in your office. And lots of money. And room. But as we see computers, mobile, social, and cloud converging into one giant ball, everyone’s included in the fun. Even the least technical person at your company can likely use a computer, and he’ll find it even easier in the next few years. Technology is starting to be designed for that person, not the head of IT.

And mobile apps? No longer just a rich man’s game. Even the smallest business can now afford to have one developed. The future will just bring down prices to do so even more.

2. We’ll See More *aaS.

We’ve got Software as a Service. Backend as a Service. Platform as a Service. Services in IT are on the edge of explosive growth, and features that currently require a technical manager to oversee will soon be handed off to companies profiting by providing IT services.

This is an exciting prediction, and it leads back to #1: if you no longer have to worry about the backend your app uses or developing tools for your platform, you can spend more time focused on growing your business.

3. The Internet of Things Will Be Big for B2B.

Right now, the “Internet of Things” is focused on the consumer market. Just look at your FitBit, which tells you how many calories you’ve burned. Or your XBox SmartGlass app for your tablet that lets you interact with XBox on your television. But B2B applications are in the works, and will soon help businesses work more smartly.

Examples have been given of predictive maintenance on large business campuses. Rather than wait until a chiller or other major piece of equipment breaks down, connected devices can alert maintenance crews to prevent unscheduled downtime. Or the oil and gas industry could use technology to find sources of oil without as much experimental drilling. The possibilities, truly, are limitless.

4. We’ll Get a Handle on Big Data.

If there’s a buzzword for 2012 up until now, it’s “Big Data.” Unfortunately, most businesses still don’t know what to do with all the information zooming at them from their customers and technology. But they will. There’s an entire industry being built up around this overload we’re currently experiencing in trying to sift through all this data, and soon we’ll be able to use it intelligently.

If the focus right now is on capturing all that Big Data, the future will be interpreting it easily.

5. Apps Will Replace Software

Enterprises will no longer bother with complex software builds and installations. Why deal with the hassle when apps will be much more agile and easier to implement? Large companies will also get away from the idea of an app or software having to be completely perfect, and will adopt the iterations of Agile software development, which constantly tests and tweaks software rather than waiting until it’s completed.


All of these predictions are believable enough; it’s what we can’t predict that’s truly exciting. What lurks around the corner? What technological advance will once again turn our world on its head? I, for one, can’t wait to find out. What are your predictions?

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Topics: BaaS

The Most Incredible Man I've Ever Known

Posted by D. Scott McGregor

Feb 27, 2014 9:00:00 AM


Greg_Head_ShotThis weeks post is a guest post by D. Scott McGregor. --

As an entrepreneur nearly 50 years, who founded and operated a number of businesses, I've known a few standout individuals. With this post, I'd like to tell a story about my son, one of those individuals and the CEO of Magellan, LLC. He's too humble to ever share this himself but I'm proud enough to do it for him. The story starts as so many do, once upon a time....

The stock market just crashed and the investor’s check bounced.  There was putatively nowhere to turn. The bank account was overdrawn a paltry $34,000. The CEO checked everything. Bottom line, after looking into every possible transfer the company was still overdrawn.

The CEO looked into every possible angle…nada…except…maybe.  The company was to release its major technology in six months…but what if? …he wondered.  He brazenly grabbed the phone, dialed Bell South in Georgia, held his breath, crossed every digit in his body with hope, and the top person he wanted came on.

How do you tell someone you’ll do something when you know damned good and well you can’t?  The CEO crossed his fingers again, breathed in a confidence that wasn’t there and said, “When can we demonstrate our newest technology?”

As Bell South checked their schedule, the CEO knowing they would be out several months at best, said, “OK, can you be here with your system a week this Wednesday at 10:00A.M.?”

Panic!  He replied, “Absolutely!  Thank you, we’ll be there.”

Now, there were just a few minor problems to overcome.

  • He didn’t have the system yet.  It was far from done.
  • He had no money to get to Atlanta.

The chief engineer was a senior at University of California cramming for finals in a week. “Hey,” the CEO said pretended to be upbeat, “We have a lifesaving appointment with Bell South to demonstrate our technology.”

A poignant pause and then he answered, “Great. When is it?”

“Wednesday, next week. Our whole life depends on it.”

Maybe you’d call it an ‘double poignant’ pause.  “Well,” he said, pondering, “Gee, my proctor said it couldn’t be done on a PC but I know it can.  Get Travis and Chris to put together two of the chips that we designed and get them to me.  Oh, yeah, I’ll do it but do you think I could come home Wednesday night?  I have finals the next day.”

Sometimes heroes arise.  Miraculously, both the CEO and the UC senior arrived in Atlanta with the gizmo that was to save the world. The UC senior panicked in front of crowds so demonstrating what he had built was out of the question. Besides, he sweats when in front of anyone.

They found themselves sitting at a mammoth rosewood conference table with the latest of communications technology to tie in others in the middle.  Next to it was the compact technology the CEO had bragged about.  Eight people sat down; the big lady in charge took over with authority.  “Florida, are you there?  OK, Ladies and Gentlemen, with us today is the man I’ve been talking to you about and his chief engineer, who is a computer scientist.  They have with them their latest invention, which is a remote cellular rental device.  Evidently it will print out a bill right here on the table as soon as you put it in the cradle and the bill won’t differ from that on our switch.”  A few laughs from the Florida group, snickers around the rosewood table.  She looked straight at the CEO, “OK, do you want to demonstrate your system?”

Now you have to realize that the CEO had never seen the finished product nor did he know how to use it.  He stood with confidence and said, “I’d be honored to do so.” He pointed to the contraption on the table.  ‘Holy crap’, he thought.   Fighting to keep his emotions from showing he turned to his chief engineer and said, “You know.  This is really the product of our chief engineer, here.  Uh,” …he turned in desperation to the engineer, “Why don’t you demonstrate this for these fine folks?”  …and promptly sat down. He was far enough down the table that they couldn’t see him crossing his fingers, legs and struggling with his toes. He hoped they couldn’t see that his eyes were crossed and he was holding his breath!

To his utter astonishment, the engineer stood up, calmly took off his suit coat, folded it neatly over a chair and turned to the group with arms folded.  “Who is in charge of rentals for Bell South?”

A thin young lady across the table raised her hand.  “I am,” she replied.

“I don’t think I’m going to say a thing.  We have built this to be user friendly, so why don’t you come over here and rent yourself a phone.  Just do whatever it says on the screen.  After you’ve rented it out properly, pass it around the room for all to make any kind of call on it they want anywhere in the world.  After all, it’s programmed on your tab!”  Everyone laughed and the CEO slowly slipped down under the table as far as he could.

The rest of the details are fascinating, but, suffice it to say, they went back to California with a check for $50,000 in their pockets and a contract to dream for…and…the UC senior made it back for finals.  He graduated with honors.

History has called these rare few, “heroes, minutemen, icons, paragons”, and so on.  However, the absolute commitment the UC senior made that day was a call on a core set of values that is virtually nonexistent in the common world.  To this author, and proud Dad, it is enlightening to see that the UC senior, Greg McGregor, continues on in his life, never sacrificing his principles and can always be counted upon.  The rarest quality in this world is the ability to be counted upon.  

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Topics: In the News

The Future of Mobile: Why You Can't (or Shouldn't) Ignore Mobile

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Feb 20, 2014 8:00:00 AM

video_recorder_0214Think mobile will go the way of the VHS tape or the LaserDisc player, into the land of extinction? Think again. We’ve finally latched onto a technology that doesn’t have to be made obsolete to advance; it simply has to offer increasing speed, functionality, and productivity.

Meet the Smartphone and the tablet, two shining examples of why you can’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to joining the mobile revolution.

From a consumer point of view, your Smartphone or tablet represents a tool you probably use to connect to friends, family, and business contacts, as well as stay organized in your life, or let off a little steam (Words with Friends, anyone?). But from the business perspective, mobile offers a sizeable opportunity to grow revenues.

Building an app that complements what you’re doing offline (or on) can create better brand awareness, customer loyalty, and yes, app sales.

Now that I have your attention, let’s look at where mobile is, and where it’s skyrocketing to in the very near future.

Coming to an Office Near You

We tend to think of mobile usage as it relates to consumers, but it’s taking an unprecedented presence in the office as well these days. According to Forrester’s 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends, 48% of workers use a Smartphone at least once a week for work, and 21% use a tablet on the job. That’s a stark contrast to just a few years ago when many companies tried to ban cell phone use so it wouldn’t distract employees.

And they’re not just texting friends at work with their mobile devices. Employees use them for a multitude of work-related tasks, including:

  • Email

  • Word processing

  • Web browser

  • Intranet

  • Presentation tools

  • Web conferencing

  • File sync

If you sell B2B services or products, the door to building a business-related app is wide open for you.

Mobile’s Popping Up in Interesting Industries

Beyond just business use, there are specific industries that show promising growth in mobile usage. According to The Deloitte Open Mobile Survey 2012, healthcare is one such industry. Given the potential market for electronic medical records, it’s no surprise that app designers are jumping on the bandwagon.

Other industries that are ideal for the growth of mobile usage include life sciences, retail, consumer products, financial services, health and commerce. Essentially: there’s no market where mobile doesn’t fit in somehow.

Mobile Means Passive Income for You

Your core business doesn’t have to be selling mobile apps to turn a profit. In fact, of the 8.1 billion paid-for apps downloaded in 2013, you can bet the majority of companies that built them had other primary revenue streams, and that these apps just added to their bottom lines.

By the way, that number, according to Mobile Application Design & Development Trends - 2013, put out by My First Mobile App, is estimated to grow to 21.6 billion paid apps in 2017.

What the Future Holds

While they haven’t built the app that could spit money out of a phone yet, there are some exciting things to come, including:

  • Global connectivity: your phone becomes your command center for your car, home, and office.

  • Mobile payments:  the technology exists; it’s a matter of encouraging adoption at all levels.

  • Mobile cloud: a mobile device becomes an access point (one of many) to data and files.

  • Mobile advertisements: virtually untapped so far, developers need to figure out how to harness the power of those billions of people using apps.

Mobile is going strong, but it won’t wait around for you. If you’ve been considering adding mobile to your existing sales strategy, now is the time to get started.

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Topics: Mobile Apps, Mobile Apps for Small Business, In the News

The Future (and Present) of Backend as a Service (BaaS)

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Feb 13, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Future_small_pub_021314Backend as a Service snuck up on the technology world, just as blogs and social media did to the marketing world. What was only a buzzword even just a year ago is now a force to be reckoned with.

In 2012, the global BaaS market was estimated to be $216 million. Surprised? Don’t be. App developers were clamoring for a solution that kept them from having to build their own backend for years, and turning it into a subscription-style service was inevitable.

But wait, it gets better. It is projected that by 2017 -- just three short years from now -- the BaaS market will skyrocket to $7.7 billion. Wow! That’s 104% growth every year. These estimates speak volumes about how BaaS is — and will continue to be — an integral part of web and mobile app development and maintenance.

It’s Getting the Attention of the Big Guns

The fact that major players in the technology space have set their sights on acquiring BaaS companies speaks volumes about its potential. Here are just a few of the companies who now own BaaS services:

  • Facebook acquired Parse in the Spring of 2013. Many speculate this is another move on Facebook’s part toward developing its own mobile device and operating system to compete with iOS and Android.

  • Around the same time, Intel invested $9 million in FeedHenry and acquired Aepona. No word on what its strategy here is.

  • Lucent Mobile acquired Proxomo Software in 2013 as well. Lucent Mobile hoped this purchase would solidify its foothold in the web and mobile app market.

There have been other acquisitions and mergers of smaller BaaS companies as larger conglomerates see the benefit of folding them in with other services they offer.

Who’s Using BaaS?

While app developers work across all industries for their clients, there is significant adoption of it in the Entertainment industry. That’s understandable, given that in January 2014 alone, there were 105,171 Entertainment apps in the Android app marketplace, outranking all other genres of applications by at least 20,000.

While BaaS services are global, North America is currently the biggest market for BaaS use, according to MarketsandMarkets’ Cloud Backend-as-a-service (BaaS)/ Mobile BaaS (MBaaS) Market - Global Advancements, Business Models, Technology Roadmap, Forecasts & Analysis Report.

 

Developers are finding many ways to utilize BaaS, beyond even mobile apps. They’re also using it for web development, e-reader publishing, and API framework deployment.

But what about you? Is BaaS a good fit? If you’re a developer who uses common dev features like data storage, third party integration, or streaming media, BaaS typically has this functionality already built in, saving you the time and effort of having to build it yourself.

Why BaaS Works

If there’s any question to whether BaaS will be around in a few years, all you have to do is look at the benefits to predict it’ll not only be around, but it will be even better than it is now:

  • Faster time to market

  • Ability to launch and support apps on every mobile platform

  • Completely scalable

  • Encryption and compliance built in

It simply no longer makes sense to create building blocks like content management, data storage, image hosting, geolocation services, and others from scratch when so many platforms and apps use them. BaaS creates a framework with the basic blueprint many apps use, and you customize from there.

All this data about the present state of BaaS as well as its shining future goes a long way to prove that the model for BaaS is successful and will continue to grow as mobile apps become even more incorporated in the business world.

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Topics: BaaS

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