July 15, 2021No Comments

HOW UNIT TESTS CAN IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?

In this blog post, read about unit tests, components of the testing pyramid, and how test-driven development saves time and costs. 

Has your development team ever told you that they won’t write unit tests as it takes too much time? Or you found yourself in a situation where the test coverage of the code was lower because software developers wanted to make everything cheaper and faster? 

Undoubtedly, the testing unit is time-consuming, and it takes more time than writing the code without unit testing. 

In the rush of sprints and deadlines, unit testing is often skipped. As a result, you risk bugs in the code and defects that can negatively affect your business goals. But test-driven development can help you avoid the headache, save lots of time and money in the long run. 

But first of all, let’s answer an existential question: why do we need testing?

Actually, for several reasons:

  • To ensure that the product we develop meets our client’s requirements and expected outcomes.
  • Check that we hadn’t broken anything in the system while introducing changes to the codebase.

When the software becomes more complex, it can be more difficult, time-consuming, and boring to identify bugs. So, to make fewer mistakes and accelerate the entire development process, we use automated testing, where both developers and QA engineers write tests.

As you’ve already guessed, unit testing is part of the automation process. 

In this blog post, we will show how unit testing can benefit your business and share the insights gained in 5+ years of software development testing. But before it, watch our 10 minutes video.

WHAT IS UNIT TESTING?

As the name suggests, unit testing revolves around the concept of “unit,” which means a small and isolated part. Unit testing is one of the many different types of automated testing. There’s no formal definition of “unit testing” as such. Still, Wikipedia defines it as “a software testing method by which individual units of source code—sets of one or more computer program modules together with associated control data, usage procedures, and operating procedures—are tested to determine whether they are fit for use.” 

In other words, unit testing is a method when the smallest part of an application is being verified independently from other parts. 

Unit testing doesn’t come cheap. However, an excellent test realization will pay off in the form of detecting and fixing bugs quickly and delivering higher product quality. 

By and large, what’s important to remember about unit testing, is that it takes some time but, at the same time, saves time on testing during the development process. 

So when does your project require unit testing?

  • You have complex features.
  • Your project will scale and grow over time.
  • You want to predict your project’s time to market.
  • You don’t want to spend a lot of costs on fixing bugs.

The more of these points match your project, the more you need unit testing. 

HOW UNIT TESTING SAVES TIME & COSTS

Given that software developers write unit tests themselves, it’s faster to create and easier to maintain them. You get a return on your investment each time developers compile their code. 

Test-driven development encourages developers to create unit tests before they start writing the code. It allows you to automatically check the code for defects, thus preventing bugs instead of fixing them. 

In other words, with the help of unit testing, you can find errors at the unit level earlier on, so the cost of fixing them will be much lower. 

A case study that involved software engineers teams from Microsoft and IBM concluded that “teams experienced a 15-35% increase in initial development time” when they used the TDD technique. They also found a quality improvement, and in the long run, TDD saves the time that would have been required to fix problems.

Boby George and Laurie Williams, both working in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, ran an experiment where 24 programmers were split into two groups: one used TDD and the other the linear approach. As a result, “92% of developers believed that TDD yields higher quality code, 79% thought that TDD promotes simpler design and 71% thought the approach was noticeably effective”.

These statistics give a strong indication that test-driven development leads to higher quality code and simpler design.

Further in this article, we’ll describe more ways your project can benefit from unit testing. 

HOW TO WRITE GOOD UNIT TESTS?

But for now, let’s focus on the anatomy of a unit test. A suite of quality unit tests allows you to refactor code without breaking things and adding features without creating new bugs. 

How to write good unit tests?

Simple: Keep the test code simple. Avoid "if" statements and stick to the AAA (Arrange - Act - Assert) pattern. 

  • Arrange - set up a test environment.
  • Act - take actions that are required for the test.
  • Assert - check the results of the test. 

This pattern improves the structure of the code and makes it easier to read and understand. Make sure to always start writing a test with the Act element. 

Isolated: Never write tests that depend on test cases. Otherwise, you risk getting confused about which test in the chain has caused the failure. By creating isolated tests, it's easier to keep your tests focused. 

Fast: Most unit tests should take only a few seconds each to run. If they're taking several minutes or longer, then they affect the team's productivity, and developers will be less likely to run them regularly and consequently. This ultimately reduces the value of the unit tests.

Well-structured: Each developer reading another developer's code should see what each unit test is doing. If tests are hard to read, developers are more likely to misunderstand them, leading to bugs. But that's not the only reason we advocate creating well-structured and readable tests. Unit tests form code documentation. So for the team to reap the rewards of all the specs, they need to be readable. Some tips on how to make your test better-structured:

  • Give each test a descriptive name (including the code being tested and the expected behavior).
  • Follow good code formatting conventions.
  • Use meaningful variable names.

Reliable: As mentioned above, keep unit tests simple and use clear naming. A unit test must be failure-free no matter how many times you run it. If a test fails when it should pass, then you can't trust the result. So what can cause test unreliability:

  • Have interdependent tests;
  • Run the test by relying on assumptions about the system or environment;
  • Waiting for something to finish in the system or environment before checking the tests.

It's worth noting that unit tests are written by developers who have a deep understanding of the inner workings of system functionality. So if the test fails, the reason might be the required changes or implementation problems. 

TESTING PYRAMID

The test pyramid was first mentioned in Mike Cohn's book Succeeding with Agile. He recommends that applications should be covered by unit tests which is the foundation of our tests. Then we write integration tests, and the peak is made from UI tests. These are all of the type functional and automated tests.

Testing pyramid: test-driven development

Very simple description of three levels of testing pyramid:

  1. At the bottom of the pyramid is unit tests. These are the majority of tests you have for your codebase. As already mentioned, unit tests are great for testing small pieces of a codebase. However, they aren't enough to ensure the quality of a codebase as they don't test the app's interactions with the outside world, and this is where integration tests come in.
  1. The middle tier of an automation pyramid is integration tests. These are tests designed to verify external dependency in software applications. This can be integration with a Database, with a Framework, with third-party external software systems, or even with inter-software components between different layers. Integration tests should not be run as often as unit tests.
  1. At the top of the pyramid is the end-to-end tests. These tests are what they sound like: check that your app is working from start to finish and ensure that the entire system functions as expected. End-to-end tests verify the frontend integration with the backend—this level of test pyramid from the end-users perspective and how they would interact with the app.

HOW TO REDUCE PROJECT EXPENSES WITH UNIT TESTS?

To show you how unit testing looks like in practice, let’s take SCRUM methodology for two reasons:

  • It has iterations;
  • It operates in story points.

Story points are units of measure. A number is assigned to each story to estimate the total effort involved in bringing a feature or functionality to life.

Iteration is just a fixed amount of time used by the software development team to deliver the functionality. 

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT UNIT TESTING

As the first example, let’s take a standard iteration for the team that doesn’t write unit tests. We’ll use 12 story points as the delivery goal for the team just for the ease of calculations in the future. We’ll consider the 1 hour the developer spends on writing her code, and a QA engineer spends 1 hour on testing this code. 

If developers don’t write unit tests, they need about 10-20% of their time to design the features they will build. They spend 50-60% of their time on actual software development, and about 20-40% to fix bugs. 

QA’s time is distributed a bit differently:

They spend 50-60% to design test cases. They also spend 30-35% of their time on supporting developers to test half-made features. And they 10-15% on checking previously designed test cases to make sure that everything runs smoothly. 

Product development without unit testing

This 10 - 15 % has to be transferred to the next iterations to ensure that the developers didn’t ruin anything in the code. 

If we take 10% of the QA time and add it to all the future iterations, the QA team won’t be able to do anything but regression testing after ten iterations. 

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT WITH UNIT TESTING

At first, it will be difficult for your product team to start doing unit testing. You may expect that their performance will decrease, and they may deliver less than with unit tests. We can see them delivering six story points during the first sprints. Over time, your developers will improve their skills of writing unit tests, and they will start delivering more until they reach the plateau. 

From the developers' perspective:

The developers will spend almost 20% of their time designing the code. Since we're doing fewer features, we also spend less time coding them. So the developers spend around 30-40% on writing code. And also, they spend about 20-30% writing the unit tests. As a result, since we're doing fewer features and doing more testing, we spend only 10-20% on bug fixing. 

Product development with unit testing

In the first case, where the team doesn't write unit tests, they will start suffering from regression issues, and their velocity will decrease. 

While in the case of unit tests, the team's velocity will continue being more or less the same after reaching the plateau. My point is that the more time you invest in unit testing, eventually you will benefit from it in the long run.

Teams velocity in both cases with and without unit tests

Completed work in both cases with and without unit tests

BENEFITS OF UNIT TESTING

Unit testing is an essential part of the agile software development process. Unit testing allows developers to check the performance of each unit and avoid defects in advance. Throughout the product development lifecycle, unit tests save your time, costs and ensure better code quality. 

Benefits of unit testing

Save development time

Unit tests can be set to run either a one-time check at a specific time or instantly in real-time to review changes. Thus, unit tests help developers identify bugs immediately at the software construction stage and prevent the transition of these bugs to the following stages, including after the product launch. With fewer resources and time spent on finding bugs, teams can save costs of fixing the bugs later in the development lifecycle. This will also bring value to end-users as they won't deal with a buggy, poorly performing product.

Contribute to code quality

Unit testing inherently increases code quality as it forces developers to write their code more efficiently and thoroughly. Unit testing also accelerates the process of finding bugs. If any changes in the code break the system, developers instantly find the cause and come up with a solution instead of running through the codebase to identify the issue.

Provide quick access to code documentation

Nobody likes writing documentation. Unit testing provides documentation of the system that allows developers to learn what a unit provides functionality and how to use it. But if there's a new developer on the team, she can look at the unit tests and get a general understanding of the built software.  

Also, when we write technical documentation after we have developed part of the software, by the time we have all the documentation ready, the product will no longer be relevant since it changes all the time. Technical documentation should be dynamic. Therefore, when unit tests generate technical documentation, consider it a bonus since there is always a description of the work done in real-time.

Reduce costs in the long run

Using good unit testing tools means you reduce the overall cost of a project. Detecting an error in a unit significantly costs you less than detecting and fixing the error in the later stages of software testing.

CONCLUSION

Test-driven development has many advantages. We focused only on those which can be easily measured and compared. Of course, each project is different and has its requirements and specifications.

But in any case, the cost of writing unit tests pays off in the future because the price of changes that need to be done later without automated test coverage is much higher. 

Curious about software development and testing services? Leave a comment below, or feel free to contact our team.

July 6, 2021No Comments

SEXTECH STARTUPS: THE FUTURE OF WELLBEING

In this blog post, discover what some of the biggest obstacles and opportunities that sextech startups face in today's reality are. We also shared tips on how to succeed in sextech if you have a product idea.

What seems to be the norm for one person may be unacceptable for another. Unfortunately, it also creates challenges for modern businesses. We use the same social media networks, banks, and all of us use Google both for work and personal needs. The reality is that these platforms decide what's acceptable and what's not and what businesses can use them. 

Sextech startups are related to the category banned from advertising, even if the products solve real problems associated with sexual wellbeing. But despite this, femtech is an industry related to female sexual health and is forecasted to increase to nearly 50 billion dollars by 2025

Many investors also see market opportunities for sextech. For instance, Gerda Larsson, co-founder and managing director at The Case for Her, says she started investing in sextech "after identifying it as one of the solutions that could tackle the global taboo surrounding sex and female sexual pleasure. Tech gives people the opportunity to explore, nurture and innovate around pleasure and what that means to you."

Angel investor Laura Behrens Wu says: "My investment in sextech shouldn't be viewed any differently than investments in other types of healthcare, like Headspace or Calm  — and that's a huge, established market. Investors who insist on segmenting out one aspect of our bodies, just because it makes some people uncomfortable, may regret it in five years."

Out of natural curiosity, we've decided to dig deeper and understand why on Earth, in 2021, we're still talking about the stigmatization of information vital for one's health and how we can help people who want to step on the path of making a sextech product.

Related Article: What is Sextech and Why is it Such a Big Opportunity?

THE BIGGEST BARRIERS FOR SEXTECH STARTUPS

Let's start with the main barriers that prevent many entrepreneurs from entering the industry:

The industry is not taken seriously 

There's still a massive corporate block when it comes to sextech; many people think of porn, robots, VR, and AR experiences. That's not entirely true. Sextech encompasses any technology designed to enhance sexuality. This can be anything from Bluetooth-enabled vibrators and apps for addressing sexual and health concerns. But the industry continues to be ignored and perceived as taboo.

Advertising bans

If you talk to a sextech expert or an entrepreneur, one of the main concerns they will name is the inability to advertise their products on social media. 

Unbound CEO Polly Rodriguez told TechCrunch that sextech products had been silenced by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. 

“Not being able to advertise on them is a big deal because, in addition to the policies being biased and gendered, it prevents those founders from being able to reach potential customers.”

Indeed, a phallic cactus advertising an erectile dysfunction medication - approved—a hand holding a vibrator - not approved. Sextech startups Dame Products and Unbound have launched a website, “Approved/Not Approved,” where you can also play a guessing game of sexual wellness products.

Payments processing

Finding a reliable payments provider is a vital initial step for any startup. But if your product is considered controversial to someone, things can get tricky. Our team has faced such an obstacle when developing a dating platform for our client. They’ve had to battle to integrate payment gateways into their website. It turns out, creating a software architecture was relatively uncomplicated while integrating a payment provider into a dating platform wasn’t.

HR Process

When we talked with Ola Miedzynska, CEO & CO-Founder of S x Tech. She also named an HR process among all the mentioned obstacles for sextech startups. If you're in the sextech business, recruiting a valuable content creator or an experienced salesperson can be a tough nut to crack. As it turned out, a lot of specialists don't want to be associated with the industry. So, Ola's advice is to be open to remote solutions, think global, and hire international professionals. 

Financial constraints

Every new business idea requires one vital thing: money. For young businesses to raise money - they have to be more reactive in what they do and how they do it. But we're in sextech, and things are not typical here. Even when the idea is exceptional, many companies in sextech don't receive investments because of the reputational risks. Fortunately, things start to change. There are a few crowdfunding platforms that already take sextech products: Crowdcube, Republic, Indiegogo

For instance, in 2020, a $25 million Vice Ventures Fund was launched with a mission to "conquer stigmas and strive towards superior returns by investing in good companies operating in "bad" industries." An Israel fund Intimate Capital plans to raise $20 million and invest in developing sextech solutions. 

NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SEXTECH INDUSTRY

If you have an idea of a sextech product and want to enter the industry, we've good news for you. In comparison with such industries as fintech, healthcare, or retail, sextech is small, and almost everyone knows each other. So it's easy to find the right people and network. You can easily pitch your idea and receive constructive feedback from the early voices of the sextech environment. What other industries can boast of such a tight-knit community?

Speaking about successful sextech startups, here are some products that come to mind first. Among them are apps that receive significant investments in the seed rounds (most of which are run by female founders). 

CORAL

Coral is a pioneer in the sexual wellbeing market. It’s an interactive app for couples of all gender expressions and sexual orientations with lessons, guides, and real stories to improve sexual life. You can also read the story by Isharna Walsh, founder of Coral, and how she came up with the idea of a sexual wellness app. 

WOMANIZER

Womanizer is a globally operating company with offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, and Ottawa. They patented Pleasure Air Technology that provides women with new orgasmic sensations due to touchless clitoral stimulation. In 2020 British singer Lily Allen announced her partnership with Womanizer to raise awareness of self-love and care. This is an excellent example of a celebrity endorsement. 

FERLY

Ferly is an audio guide that brings together sessions, workshops, quizzes, and stories all together on one app to help users explore and understand how they feel about sex. It's a London-based startup that raised £1.5 million in 2019 from top-tier investors, including Michael Acton Smith (co-founder of Calm) and Sophia Bendz (former Global Marketing Director at Spotify).

TIPS FOR SEXTECH STARTUPS TO TRY IN 2021

If you want to hear more about the future of sextech, watch our panel discussion. Our guests have been in the industry for a long time, and in this video, they give many handy tips on launching a sextech startup.

Speak to people who are already in the industry

Network. Network. Network. And a little bit more networking. Sextech has a relatively small community. It’s easier to reach those who’ve been there for a while and expand your network. Follow sextech experts on LinkedIn as they usually post upcoming events and conferences, which we strongly recommend to attend (even online). It will give you a better understanding of ways to improve and promote your brand. Here are just a few big names in sextech to follow: Bryony Cole, Cindy Gallop, Calandra Balfour, Ola Miedzyńska, Dominnique Karetsos, and many more. 

Have a passion for the industry

Don’t do it if you don’t have passion for your product or the sphere. If you concern about sex education, sexuality, wellbeing and have an idea of how technology can positively impact it, you’re in the right place. But be prepared to face the conservative realities of our world and prove that your product is worth a shot. 

Don’t be afraid to pitch

If you don't have a product or a prototype in your hands yet, don't be afraid to pitch it. Tell about your idea, including your vision, solution, market opportunity, business model, marketing plan, and the team behind your product. Even if you're still a solopreneur, grab your audience's attention and help them get a sense of who you are and how you will grow your team. 

Find yourself a guide person 

Sextech is all about the community. Get to know the industry and find yourself a mentor. 

Educate customers 

Create a community around your brand and educate at every step. It’s all about educating your customers about how sextech products can enhance their lives.

In the nearest future, the apps designed for sexual well-being and education, sex therapy will be regular for our everyday life. Breaking taboo in sextech is a slow process of teaching and putting products into our daily lives. Today you have every chance to disrupt this industry and become among the first to start a sextech revolution. 

ON A FINAL NOTE

Sextech is gaining momentum, and you have all the chances to launch a successful product if you have a passion for it. So, summing up, if you about to enter this space, don't forget to:

✔️ Network and become a part of the community. 

✔️ Pitch your products even if it's still at the idea stage. 

✔️ Consider an option to work with international teams, as not everyone will eagerly work with sextech. 

✔️ Educate yourself and your customers on the importance of sexual well-being and how your product can improve their lives for the better.

✔️ Get to know the industry and find yourself a mentor. 

Have an idea of a sextech product but don’t know how to start? Or maybe you lack designers and software engineers ready to grow your product? Tell us about your project, and our team will turn your idea into a viable product.

June 14, 2021No Comments

Product Drama Podcast #12: The Story of PayFac-as-a-Service

Payment Facilitation as a Service, or as it is commonly known, PayFac-as-a-Service, offers software platforms the ability to monetize payments and onboard new users. 

In this episode of the Product Drama Podcast, Caleb Avery, CEO of Tilled and founder of a PayFac-as-a-Service approach, shares how he created this service and was the initial idea behind it. 

Behind the Scenes: 'Tilled' and PayFac-as-Service

Caleb was in the payment business for over a decade. He founded his first payment business while in college and started selling payment services door-to-door.

As he started growing his business, he and his partners began to make payment consulting services for larger companies. As a result, they found out that a lot of their customers were frustrated with the technology, price, and support of existing payment processing providers. That was a starting point when they decided to create a solution that would reimagine the entire payment facilitation and experience.

Key Takeaways From the Episode

We asked Caleb how he came up with the idea of a payfac-as-a-service and what it was like working with MVP scope. We also talked about assembling a team of developers, what lessons he learned while building his startup Tilled, and more.

Here are some quotes from Caleb:

“Customer discovery is a huge part of the MVP scope”. 

“You have to challenge yourself to continue thinking differently, especially when people are giving you feedback. It’s not always positive feedback. When you go out to fundraise, you may have to talk to hundreds of people, and 95 of them are going to tell you ‘no,’ 15 are going to tell you ‘it’s a horrible idea.’ But you have to continue to press on and have faith that this is a great idea and I am going to change the world, and I am confident in my vision of what we are building”.

“The best thing about the customer discovery process was that the customers didn’t feel like our company was selling because they didn’t have a product at that time.” 

“You can’t tackle every problem right at the gate. You need to figure out the smallest of the MVP that you can get out to the market and get customer feedback. Only then you continue adding features and iterate on your product”.

The book of this episode is “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel

We hope you'll enjoy this talk and find some valuable insights.

If you want to find out more about how to build a FinTech startup and grow it from an idea to a fully-fledged product, watch this episode.

June 7, 2021No Comments

How to Identify and Manage Technical Debt?

  • Are your costs to maintain systems increasing?
  • Do you find it challenging to hire people to work on your project?
  • Does it take longer now to add new features than it did a year ago?

If the answers are positive, this could mean that your organization's technical debt is growing and hamper your company's agility. 

Watch a story about Jim and how he struggled with technical debt.

What is technical debt? 

The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University defines technical debt as "the tradeoff between the short-term benefit of rapid delivery and long-term value." 

Another perspective comes from Atlassian: "technical debt is the difference between what was promised and delivered." In other words, it's prioritizing speed and delivery over a perfect code. 

Research by Stripe suggests that "the average developer spends more than 17 hours a week dealing with maintenance issues, such as debugging and refactoring". 

Let's go back to Jim. He had to add new features to a software system, and at that moment, he had two options: either opt for a faster but compromised solution or take more time to finish the task but later rework the product in terms of resources and time.

Technical debt works the same way as financial debt. If you don't repay the loan, it continues to compound until the loan principal ends up being much higher than the original amount.  

The bottom line is that the longer you ignore technical debt, the more software entropy can occur.

Technical debt is not that bad. Almost every business has some degree of it. After all, the end-users do not notice the technical debt, so the companies often overlook it. For some time, this does not affect the functionality and quality of the product. But having tech debt can turn against your business if you won't keep the "we'll fix it later" promise, get back to it later and do it properly. 

Causes of Technical Debt

It’s acceptable for growing companies that need to release a new version of a product as soon as possible to test the waters, collect user feedback or analyze market needs.

99 % of projects have a certain amount of technical debt. The rest of them have not been released yet. 

But you need to be careful about software technical debt and know how to manage it; otherwise, it can lead to some negative consequences. The more tech debt accumulates during the software development process, the more it can negatively affect the business and slow down the next release. So what causes technical debt?

  • Business pressure to deliver the project to the customer earlier than it was estimated.
  • Poor planning and prioritization of product backlogs when design and development start without proper requirements analysis. 
  • Poorly or hastily written code, when each developer writes code as they see it without adhering to specific coding standards. 
  • Legacy issues continue to generate a cost for the business.
  • Lack of technical documentation. Documentation doesn’t need to be comprehensive: it could be wikis, collaborative documents, or code comments. Well-written and structured documentation allows developers to understand how a system works faster and speed up building new things. 
  • Lack of automated tests, including unit tests and end-to-end tests. Often, developers neglect to create automated tests until the end of the project. As a result, it’s harder to fix bugs and deploy changes that won’t break the build. 

How to manage technical debt?

In a rapidly changing world, it is impossible to create a perfect product. The product teams should accept that there are no ideal products; there are under-analyzed ones. No matter how intelligent and talented team members are, a problem can always arise.

To properly register this debt, it is better to break it down into sources of origin, for example:

  • versions of libraries and applications used;
  • security problems;
  • architecture errors;
  • potential places for code improvement;
  • warnings from compilers, interpreters and runtime platforms.

Technical debt isn’t something that can be effectively dealt with once and for all. Based on our experience, we suggest five ways to manage tech debt:

Refactor your code 

Refactoring is a systematic process of optimizing code and improving the internal structure without creating new functionality. In other words, refactoring is transforming a mess into a clean code without altering its external behavior. 

Refactoring doesn’t mean adding new functionality, rewriting code, or fixing bugs. Refactoring aims to transform dirty code to reduce the overall technical debt and make your code more efficient and maintainable. 

Measure technical debt

Technical debt in software engineering is difficult to measure - there’s no single metric to do it. It would help if you created metrics that make it easy to track technical debt. These metrics are specific to each project. We suggest tracking the impact of technical debt using business metrics, namely:

  1. Cycle time: the length of time it takes to finish the task. The average cycle time shows how your developers perform from the first commit to the finish line.
  1. Your current situation: use tools such as SonarQube and Coverity to measure the current state of your software technical debt and technical debt ratio (TDR). The TDR is a proportion between the price you pay to fix a software system (remediation cost) to the price you pay to assemble a new one (development cost). High TDR scores mean that software is in a deplorable state of quality.
  1. Developer happiness: let’s be frank, if your developers are increasingly annoyed while working on a project, this could mean that there’s higher-tech debt in the system. 
  1. The number of bugs: after each iteration, we measure how many serious bugs are left unfixed. It allows us to plan bugs fixing activities for the next iteration. We also track the amount of opened bugs vs. the number of closed bugs. It allows us to be clear of whether our team is moving in the right direction regarding code quality. 

Use Pareto Principle

If you don't know how much time you should dedicate to evaluating existing technical debt per iteration, we suggest using the Pareto Principle. Assign 20% of your engineering activities to technical debt and 80% to daily tasks. In this way, the majority of the time, your team will devote to the main functions and manage the technical debt effectively.

Remember about unit tests

Writing and conducting unit tests more frequently is a way to eliminate regression bugs and recover from technical debt. With unit tests, your development team will improve the code quality, identify bugs more efficiently, and automate the testing process. 

Treat technical debt as part of your business strategy

Research by Gartner says that companies that have a strategy for technical debt will ship 50% faster. 

Embed technical debt into your project roadmap. It would help if you had a strategy on how much time you’ll spend paying off tech debt: fixing bugs, reviewing code, and reducing the overall debt to build a more resilient product. 

Agree with your development team on how much time you want to devote to managing technical debt. For instance, you might prefer your team focusing on the health of the codebase each sprint or quarterly. Alternatively, you might decide on delivering new features to be the first on the market, then perhaps growing technical debt may be the right decision for you. Establish a clear definition of done in your team, including quality metrics. 

Is technical debt that bad?

Yes and no. We are used to considering software technical debt as something scary and unacceptable. In a perfect world, it is. But the reality is that tech debt is part of every digital project. Technical debt is like credit cards: sometimes, they are helpful and come in handy. They allow you to get something faster than you could without them. 

"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." Reid Hoffman

According to Martin Fowler’s technical debt quadrant, it is necessary not to define whether technical debt exists but rather to learn how to identify it. 

  • Deliberate & Reckless: you know that you are making a design decision that will inevitably create technical debt. It's a rarely practiced strategy. The development team feels the business pressure to deliver products faster knowingly violated best practices. 
  • Deliberate & Prudent: "acting with or showing care and thought for the future." This quadrant is about being aware of taking a technical debt. 
  • Inadvertent & Reckless: "things you really should have known but didn't." A team with industry knowledge should be able to avoid this type of tech debt. 
  • Inadvertent & Prudent: when you are doing something new, you inevitably reach the point when you say: "If only I had known this before, I would have done it differently." No amount of analysis can predict what you'll learn over a software product lifetime. 

Summing Up

  1. Technical debt can be your ally if you need to buy time and ship a product faster to the market. 
  2. The best option is to avoid debt, but you are unlikely to succeed.
  3. Don't consider rewriting the entire system as the only viable solution.
  4. Tech debt decreases productivity, so try to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
  5. Don't confuse tech debt with a typical mess.
  6. Don't chase the perfect product. 

Technical debt is holding you back? Let’s fix it. 

Get started

May 20, 2021No Comments

SexTech Panel Discussion: Barriers & Perspectives for StartUps

Join our sextech panel discussion with industry experts to learn more about the challenges and opportunities for sextech startups and the future of the industry.

When people hear the term sextech, their minds often jump to AR, VR, and robots. However, this industry is much broader. Sextech goes far beyond toys. It encompasses all areas of the sexual wellness space, from health to education. It involves businesses and technology designed to enhance sexuality. In the nearest future, the apps designed for sexual well-being and education will be normal for our everyday life. A growing number of entrepreneurs and sextech startups have started to shift the conversation and normalize the idea of sexuality.

Today we are going to talk about a sector of the tech industry that is often swept under the rug. 

But first, let’s take a look at what the numbers say:

The industry is slowly but surely gaining momentum. While there are still many obstacles and challenges for companies in sextech, we can say with confidence that new opportunities are also opening up for them. 

In this video, we bring together experts to talk about technology, sex, and business. 

Meet our panelists:

Jason Maskell, entrepreneur and startups inspirer, who helps them understand where should they move, Founder of ‘Life Force Hub CIC’ and ‘Crowd Capital Limited’

Calandra Balfour entrepreneur, business mentor, author, and member of Women of Sex Tech, founder of LoveGivr, Risk To Live, and Lust!

Ola Miedzynska - CEO & CO-Founder of Sx Tech (the only conference where deep tech connects to the Internet of (sex!) things!) developed extensive experience supporting startups for over 9 years, a researcher in multiple technology trends. 

During this discussion you’ll get answers to the following questions:

  • Why is the sextech industry still shrouded in taboo and stigma? Will this situation change somehow soon?
  • What are the biggest barriers for sextech startups? What brands managed to overcome some of them and successfully launched their products? 
  • How to successfully commercialize an idea of a sextech product today and enter a new market?
  • What are the strategies to find investment opportunities for the product?
  • How to educate users and raise awareness about your products?

We hope you’ll enjoy our talk! Click the video below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Brands we’ve mentioned:

Satisfyer

Womanizer

Dame

Coral

Mojo

Vibio

Lily Allen & Womanizer collab

May 19, 2021No Comments

Product Drama Podcast #11: Credit Unions in the Digital Age

Banking and wine are probably two of the oldest businesses on the planet. In this episode, we cover both. Our guest Kirk Drake is a leader, author and serial entrepreneur focused on credit-union technology. We talked about how to help credit unions compete in the digital age, enhance their creativity, and forge better connections with their members. 

Here is a quick rundown of what you will find in this episode:

  • How can credit unions get in on the fintech phenomenon?
  • What credit unions and wineries have in common?
  • What is BrandBucket and how it can help early-stage startups? 
  • How to write a pitch so that your mom gets instantaneously what problem you solve and how you do it?
  • What is an archetype workshop and how can it benefit your business in the long run?
  • How “Ongoing Operations” encourage credit union startups to experiment?
  • What is a strategy scorecard framework and how it can assist you in aligning an organization around a common mission and vision?
  • And much more!

Apart from a bunch of insights for startups, Kirk also shared his list of must-read books. 

We hope you enjoy our talk! Click the video below and share your thoughts in the comments.

May 12, 2021No Comments

How to choose the right technology stack for your business?

In this blog post, learn what is the most important thing to consider when developing a new software solution and how to choose the right technology stack for your business?

When building a house, you use various “building materials”. The same with your digital product, you use different tools to build functional websites and applications. 

You’ve probably heard about JavaScript, Python, or even PostgreSQL. These different technologies are combined for different needs and form the technology stack. These technology stacks are what breathes life into the software products. 

The decisions regarding your future tech stack are going to influence your:

  • application’s performance and scalability; 
  • the speed of creating your product; 
  • ability to find the right developers to take care of your software;
  • the cost your company will pay for the project support and maintenance. 

The real question is how to choose the right technology stack for your business? Don’t worry, this guide will help you.

What is a Technology Stack?

First thing first, let’s define what a tech stack is. 

A tech stack refers to a set of programming languages, frameworks, and libraries. They are used together to help you create a website, a mobile app, or something that needs to be scaled up to serve millions of users. There are many technologies. Here are just some of the most popular: Python, Ruby, React, JS, Swift, WordPress, PHP, AngularJS, Flutter, Apache, C++, MongoDB, Node.js, and more. The tech stack is when I stack all these on top of one another to have an operating system, web frameworks, databases, and backend servers. 

The coding and programs that the developer chooses affect how users will interact with an app and how many people will be able to get access to it simultaneously. In other words, a tech stack defines what an application is and what it can be. 

The technology stack consists of two equally important layers: the frontend (client-side), and the backend server-side.  

The Fundamentals: Frontend and Backend

A frontend developer is responsible for linking the design and technology together. In layman’s terms, everything that you click, swipe, drag, and drop on a website or app is client-side. 

Let's quickly go through the core elements of client-side programming:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a big part of frontend development you can’t live without. It’s a language that communicates with our web browser and dictates the structure of every page on the web. 
  • JavaScript (JS) is more than just a language. It’s an entire ecosystem that embraces frameworks, server-side development, and more.
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is how developers add styling and effects to web pages. 

Backend engineers design software architecture and logic. They write all the code that happens on the server-side. Picking the right backend stack is very important in the early stages of a project. When building a house, you don’t start with the marble facade or decoration. You start with a foundation and walls. 

The backend consists of programming languages, frameworks, servers, and databases. The server side is invisible for users but it's the part where engineers develop and customize business logic and build software architecture. 

Server-side is an umbrella term. It consists of the following elements: 

  • Programming language is a set of commands and instructions that are used to create logic for apps and websites. Ruby, Python, Java, C++ just to name a few.
  • Frameworks are quintessential to web and mobile app development for countless businesses across the world today. Finding the right backend framework can be quite crucial for developers to ensure optimal performance and scalability.
  • Whether it’s on-site or in the cloud, the server acts as the lifeblood of the network. They provide resources that networks need to run, including storage, security and encryption, and databases. Apache, Nginx, and Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) are examples of web servers.
  • The database is a digital space to manage all the customer and product information. Any time you’re searching a hotel, product on online stores, or any other information, the database is responsible for accepting that query, processing the data, and returning it to the website. MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and MySQL are common databases. 

Top Software Development Stacks

Although there are no two similar projects, some technologies are often used together. To save you time and money, you can use proven tech stack models.

MEAN

The MEAN tech stack is one of the most popular tech stacks. The letters m-e-a-n stand for MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, and Node.js. 

  • MongoDB (NoSQL database).
  • Express.js is a backend web framework.
  • Angular.js is a frontend framework.
  • NodeJS is an open-source, cross-platform server. 

MEAN stack can be used for developing complex mobile and responsive web applications. 

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a model-view-controller (MVC) framework. Large, monolithic sites such as Basecamp, Shopify, Dribbble, GitHub use RoR. 

Ruby on Rails facilitates the software development process thanks to its “gems”. Ruby gems represent software packages and libraries, including information about code and documentation. Gems allow developers to work more efficiently, reduce time spent on the product’s creation, debug code more easily and not reinvent the wheel for each new project. 

RoR is highly scalable and can be integrated with MySQL.

Criteria for Choosing a Right Technology Stack for Your Business

Project Requirements

This might seem obvious but believe me or not, many businesses still want to keep up with state-of-the-art tech trends and get the next “Facebook tech stack” for their project. When it comes to software development, this is not quite the right approach. Before choosing the right technology stack for your business, you need to understand the size, complexity, and business goals of your particular project. Not the other way around. If you choose the technology stack without a thorough analysis and strategy, you face the risk of financial loss or poor app performance. 

Here are the basic things to analyze before choosing technologies:

  • A go-to-market strategy
  • A platform for building an app
  • UX goals
  • Load requirements
  • Future scalability 

Your project is unique, with specific business logic and requirements. So, when deciding its technology stack, don’t be a copycat by following someone’s strategy blindly. 

Development and Maintenance Cost 

After you’ve highlighted your product business and tech requirements, it's time to decide on costs and expenses. Namely, how are you going to get a solution up and running on a particular budget? For this, you need to understand the technology’s total cost of ownership (TCO), which is broken down into three components: talent costs, license costs, and maintenance costs. 

Average software developer salaries

You can check the hourly rate and the average cost of any developer in different regions using Upwork, Fiverr, Indeed, Glassdoor, and PayScale

Here's also a survey conducted by StackOverflow on programming languages and salaries:

License costs

Each year you will have to pay for licensing the technology you choose. While there is an open source software that is technically free, there are still costs associated with it such as implementation, innovation, and support. On the other hand, you pay for the licensed technology and benefit from a more customized product. Additionally, you get improved security, greater scalability, ongoing support, and better functionality. 

Maintenance costs

The other side of developing a digital product is the maintenance cost. What will it take and cost to support this technology in the future? The more customized your solution is, the higher your maintenance costs will be. For example, these costs usually include:

  • Buying and maintaining servers.
  • The time system administrators will spend on managing and adapting the system.
  • Support services from the technology provider. 

Size of community 

Perhaps the most underestimated criterion when choosing the right technology stack for your business is evaluating the community of customers and developers around it. This one is very important as it directly affects how much information is available about the implementation of technology, the number of developers ready to work with it, thus making your product viable. The easiest way to check the strength of the developer community of a specific programming language is to check GitHub, Stackoverflow, or LinkedIn. 

1. GitHub. Enter the necessary tech query in the search, for instance, Ruby, and follow such parameters as a number of repositories (projects), topics, and users. So, as you can see, Ruby has 345k projects, almost 1 thousand discussions, and 20k users. 

ruby

2. StackOverflow. In the left-hand corner of the logo, click the menu icon and select Tags. On this page, you can see several questions, activity per day, and a week. If necessary technology is not displayed on the first page, you can use search. Also when you move the cursor at the technology, you can see the number of watchers (followers). 

StackOverflow

3. LinkedIn. You can also use this platform to estimate how many developers are working in your region/country or other locations. What do you need for that? Log into account, click on search, write a query, for instance, Flutter, choose "people" and then use filters, like locations and titles to narrow the results.

Scalability 

A system is considered scalable when it doesn’t need to be redesigned to sustain effective performance during or after an increase in workload. Scaling is not only about technology. It is also about how fast you can change or modify features and bring new developers into your team. There are two kinds of scalability:

Horizontal scalability, which means an ability of an app to handle more requests. Think of it as a railway system: to transport more goods, you add locomotives to increase your capacity. 

Vertical scalability, which means adding new resources to an app to increase its capacity without damaging the overall performance. 

Security 

Top security is the major concern for any digital product. No stack is 100% secure. You better go with the one that has a good reputation and can withstand breaches and cyberattacks. Most technologies have special security guidelines to follow. So if your product stores user data, you need to have solid authentication and authorization. 

Here’s a short checklist on how to choose secure technology:

  • evaluate how you’ll be able to control users’ access to the technology. 
  • make sure that you can control access and permissions at an object level, feature-level, and field-level
  • ensure that you can track who made which changes and when.
  • allow only authenticated users to have access.
  • consider technology providers with a strong reputation. 

Frequency of updates 

Before choosing the right technology stack for your business, check how often it gets updated and when was the last update. But how to understand that the technology you choose is being updated the way it should be? Where’s the golden mean? If a framework is updated too often, it’s most likely that it is in the active development stage. So it will be reasonable to pick something less volatile. At the same time,  you don’t want to pick something that has not been updated for more than 3 months. An actively developed technology is constantly updated with new patches and hotfixes.

Age of technology

Pay attention to the version of the framework you are going to use. The general rules are the closer the framework version to 1.0, the more functionality designed by the original developer is implemented. The further away from the 1.0 version framework is, the more market adoption it has. Between 0.1 and 1.0 there have to be some systematic constant incremental updates.

If it is less than 1 and the software is being actively developed, I’d recommend you to look for more stable alternatives. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use this framework. However, there’s a high chance that developers may decide to introduce some breaking changes, and you’ll have additional expenses to keep your software updated. 

Tech Stacks Behind Famous Projects

Besides their innovative business models, these companies invest heavily in the technology that powers their products. Here are a few examples of tech stacks of famous brands for your inspiration.

Netflix

Netflix serves over 6 billion hours of content per month, globally, to nearly every country in the world. Building a system that can scale to that volume of customers while delivering high-quality video requires significant engineering effort. 

Pinterest

Pinterest began as a small startup and has grown to a company that has over 450 million monthly active users.

Shopify

Merchants of all sizes use the platform to power sales and at its peak, Shopify serves almost 80,000 requests per second. A driving factor behind the success of Shopify is its comprehensive tech stack.

Technology Stack and Product Development at CXDojo

At CXDojo we choose tech stacks for projects based on the unique requirements and needs of the business. Therefore, each project has a different tech stack. For example, for our client, a Ukrainian online store for selling merchandise for kids and parents, we are currently building a new tech stack. We’ve started by identifying five eCommerce frameworks: Magento, OpenCart, Bitrix24, Shopware, and Shopify

We created a comparison table (according to the criteria that are described above) and filtered those that are most suitable for our project. We shortlisted three frameworks: Magento, Bitrix24, and Shopify. Further, we compared these three platforms based on the requirements of the client’s future MVP.

Shopify and Magento have the largest communities, while Bitrix24 has a more closed environment. 

Bitrix developer's salary is lower than the one of Magento and Shopify. We also decided to exclude Shopify since it doesn’t support some integrations necessary for the client’s online store. 

We have prepared a comparative document, where we provide all the necessary information about Bitrix24 and Magento. So far, the choice is up to the client. 

Wrap Up

If you choose the wrong technology, you may have negative consequences for your business. Among them unnecessary costs, long time-to-market, problems with attracting new clients or investors, and high reputational risk. 

Summing up, when choosing a technology for your project, don’t be guided by its low price, popularity, or novelty. In addition:

  • Don’t limit yourself and do everything using only one best technology. Perfectionism can kill your software systems. Choose the right technical solution for every task in your project.
  • The framework allows you to speed up the launch of a software project. However, make sure to check the availability of good documentation and clarify the period of support for the framework, so that there is no trouble with a complete rewrite of your system in 2-3 years. 
  • Technology and programming languages are not the core of your project's success. When choosing the software development stack, always keep in mind the specific requirements of your project. The right processes usually guarantee the “right” result. Remember, 2-3 months is the maximum for launching the next iteration of a software project. 
  • Choose a trusted and experienced software development company that approaches both from technical and strategic. 

Start Building Your Own Technology Stack

March 17, 2021No Comments

How to Improve Customer Experience In 2021?

In this blog post, learn how to improve customer experience and build long-term relationships with your customers by understanding their needs and solving their problems.

Technology advances and the rapid growth of customer touchpoints mean that customer experience strategy will change and become more complex. Tactics and approaches that worked last year, might not deliver the same outcomes today.

For users in 2021, a seamless and intuitive experience on the website or app is a must and one of the key indicators in their willingness to recommend a certain product. 

Here’s a short test that will help you find out whether your product provides a good customer experience. 

  1. Did the users achieve their goals after interacting with the product?
  2. Was the process intuitive and pleasurable?
  3. Did users enjoy interacting with the product?

If the answer to all the questions is “yes”, you are on the right track. But it's important, to be honest with yourself.

CX in 2021: Statistics & Facts

Yes, customer experience is still king, but it's evolving. Consider this:

According to a recent survey, business professionals name CX their number one priority for the next 5 years.

Customer experience: top priority for business in the next 5 years
Source
  • CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, more than ‘brand’ and ‘price’ combined. (Gartner)
  • 48% of consumers have left a website without purchasing because they felt it was poorly curated for them. (Accenture)
  • 75% of people expect to get immediate info when they use their smartphone. (Google)
  • 76% of shoppers use their mobile phones to shop because it saves them time. However, only 12% of shoppers felt it provides them the most convenient shopping experience (4x less than desktop). (Dynamic Yield)
  • 64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers simpler experiences and communications. (Siegel+Gale)
  • By 2023, 25% of organizations expect they will integrate marketing, sales, and customer experience (CX) into a single function. (Gartner)

Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers. Thus, customer expectations are rising; they want every interaction with a product to be a great one. With the pandemic and its impact, customers’ priorities and expectations have changed. They want a seamless and consistent experience across a variety of communication channels and highly personalized customer service.

Let’s make it clear the good and bad of customer experience in 2021:

GOOD CX

  • Customer-centric
  • Personalization is the king
  • Friendly, empathetic experience
  • Value-delivery at the right price
  • Product improvements according to the customer feedback
  • Technology is not the priority but a way to enhance the experience

BAD CX

  • Ignoring customer feedback
  • Compromising customers’ personal data
  • Unresponsive and slow support
  • Poor website/app navigation
  • Ignoring “mobile-first”

So, what’s happening in customer experience in 2021 and beyond? Let’s find out. 

How to Make Customer Experience Better In 2021?

Unfortunately, many companies still believe that creating a quality product equals providing an exceptional customer experience. That’s not always the case. You can create a bug-free product, using the latest technologies, but fail to manage a particular communication channel and as a result, make it harder for customers to communicate with your brand. In this case, we’re talking about digital customer experience or DX. While CX is how your customers perceive all of their interactions with your business, DX is how they interact with your brand on digital channels (websites, apps, and emails). It’s worth noting that we no longer live in a world where customers separate their experiences in digital and non-digital terms. They want to easily access products in any possible and most convenient way.

4 ELEMENTS OF DIGITAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

So, let's take a look at a few steps that will help you to improve customer experience:

  • Adopt mobile-first approach
  • Use of emerging technologies
  • Embrace cloud solutions

1. Adopt mobile-first approach

Ok, let’s admit it: we can’t live without our smartphones anymore. Gone are the days when the desktop and PCs were the most popular ways to access the web. 

It's easy to see how much you use your device daily for your business and personal tasks. So imagine how your customers are using them to find businesses like yours. If you're not using a mobile-first approach for your marketing and customer service, then you're seriously falling behind.

In fact, 57% of customers won’t recommend a product with a poorly designed website on mobile. In addition, if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50% of customers will abandon it, even if they like the business.

Mobile-first is often discussed in the context of a future requirement. But the future is already here. Think about how much you use your smartphone for your business or personal tasks. So do your users. As a customer, would you rather have them try to zoom the content on your smartphone screen or have a seamless mobile-first experience?

customer experience: mobile-first google
Source

Mobile-first is often considered to be a design-focused project. But it goes far beyond it. You need to consider everything that can enhance the mobile experience and improve customer experience.

  • Make navigation friendly with easily clickable buttons 
  • Compress and resize images
  • Address your page load speed
  • Ensure everything is easily readable 
  • Don’t forget about the voice search (Siri, OK Google)
  • Ensure videos are responsive

Even Google ranks websites higher when they take into account a mobile-first. So if you're still not adapting the mobile approach, you can count on it being lower to rank.

2. Use Emerging Technologies to Improve Your CX

The CX landscape is getting more competitive. To stay relevant and ahead of the competition, many companies embrace technologies like AI, chatbots/voice assistants, VR/AR to enhance the personal experience of their customers. 
According to Oracle, these technologies will have the biggest impact on the business in the next five years:

customer experience: emerging technologies that impact your business

How AI Transforms Customer Engagement?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the way that companies interact with their customers. AI plays a crucial role in understanding how businesses operate and transforming businesses in general. 

The following are some of the key artificial intelligence market statistics:

  • The retail industry is expected to experience significant growth, with 80% of business executives claiming that their businesses will adopt AI technology between 2020 to 2027. (Fortune Business Insights, 2020)
  • 22% – users who say they prefer to speak to voice assistants than type. (Pew Research Center)
  • 75% – senior IT executives from different countries who agree that adopted AI technology will enhance network security (Statista, 2019)
  • 25% of business executives state that adopting AI technology has fully enabled their business processes. (PwC AI Predictions, 2021)
  • 50% of business executives said that using AI has helped them achieve their cost savings goal. (PwC AI Predictions, 2021)

Here is a brief recap of how AI is changing digital customer experience and how you can address it in your initiatives.

Create personalized recommendations

Artificial Intelligence can help analyze customer’s purchase decisions and create personalized recommendations. Imagine how difficult it would be for an online store to provide personalization? AI allows us to analyze customer preferences and recent shopping behavior to suggest related products for the customers. 

For example, Adidas and its “Complete the Look” recommendation feature. The sportswear giant partnered with AI platform provider Findmine to automatically generate complete outfits.

adidas and "complete my look"
Source

Integrate Chatbots To Improve Customer Service Experience

When you visit a brick-and-mortar store, an assistant can help you find the right product or pick up an analog if a specific product is not available.

But, when you visit an online store, it can be exhausting hopping from one page to another trying to find the right thing. In this case, chatbots can provide your customers with the right support. 

A chatbot is an AI program that is designed to simulate communications with customers by engaging directly with them through chat windows, messaging, or voice applications.

Take Sephora Assistant as an example. Customers can receive beauty tips, tutorials, and even video clips. Sephora bot will also help to find the products used in the tutorials and suggest the best products from any category.

sephora assistant chatbot
Source

You can use chatbots according to your business needs: from a simple bot that will say “Hi” to your customers, to a complex one that will have a conversation with them.

Here are just a few cases when a chatbot can come in handy:

  • Answer questions and inquiries
  • Collect feedback efficiently
  • Find products, check recommended items
  • Process requests
  • Assign customer request to support teams
  • Resolve complaint 
  • Make a reservation 
  • Confirm orders and track the shipping
  • And much more!

But don’t forget that it’s easy to start focusing way too much on new tech trends and forgetting the main purpose of your business - meeting customer needs and delivering value. So before investing in emerging technologies, think about how they will benefit your business, namely:

  • What will it offer your customers?
  • Which problem does it solve for them?
  • How will it enhance their experience with your product?
  • Where these technologies fit in the entire ecosystem of customer touchpoints?
  • What value will these technologies bring to your business?
customer experience: AI-chatbot

For instance, you can’t replace every interaction with a chatbot. In some cases, you will need to show more empathy and ensure a human conversation.

The chatbot needs to use plain language to engage with customers. Also, it should quickly direct customers without any frustration.  

3. Embrace Cloud Solutions

Having the latest technologies to drive your business and digital product strategy is great. But sometimes, in pursuit of trends, we forget about basic things. 

Cloud-first is the main philosophy behind many digital transformation initiatives. The cloud is the main helper for most companies in their journey to become more fast, flexible, and scalable.

cloud adoption drivers
Source

Cloud is more than just a technology infrastructure. It provides a simplified environment to support business initiatives and realize the value of developments, such as:

  • Generate better insights;
  • Understand customer’s needs, wants, and preferences;
  • Power better decisions faster;
  • Accomplish in minutes what used to take days;
  • Facilitate rapid development, testing, and deployment to live production environments;
  • Help marketers anticipate and respond to constantly changing consumer behaviors and preferences. 

Let's see how exactly the cloud can help improve your customer experience:

Provide hyper-personalization

We used to perceive a service to be personalized when calling customers by name or foreseeing their preferences. Hyper-personalization brings customer experience to a higher level by understanding customers’ problems and immediately providing a solution. You may wonder how it relates to the cloud? The thing is that nowadays your entire data is on the cloud, which makes it possible for brands to make the most of it. To provide a better customer experience, the cloud allows companies to analyze this data, segment customers based on their behavior, interactions, and preferences. Knowing how your customers behave and interact with your product creates the opportunity to reach them easier, faster, and more individualized. 

Increase speed to market 

Speed to market is another advantage of cloud technology. As an example, let’s have a look at Moleskine, a leading brand in notebooks and writing accessories. While they were heavily dependent on their brick-and-mortar stores, they recognized that customers’ shopping behavior and habits have changed and quickly adapted to the market needs. The company wanted its online presence to be unique and provide the same personalized experience as in the offline stores. They utilized Oracle Commerce Cloud and within 6 months launched an e-commerce platform to sell their products in more than 30 countries.

moleskine official website

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to beginning a digital customer experience journey. All customers and industries are individual and your approach will depend on your target audience and their demands. 

A big volume of customer touchpoints that exist in today’s digital world means that customer experience is even more complex. At first, in-store experiences were replaced with e-commerce. Then social media and mobile-first appeared. Now businesses adopt voice-assistants and AI systems. What comes next, who knows? But one thing is obvious, the platforms and to engage customers in the digital world will increase in the future, making your digital CX crucial to your ongoing success.

You might view each of these digital touchpoints in isolation but it will only slow your ability to respond to customers in a timely and effective manner. As a result, your customer will get a bad experience. To customers, the channel is irrelevant as they jump from one digital channel to another. To keep ahead of your competitors, improve current product engagement, you need to deliver great and personalized experiences at each of these touchpoints. In 2021, try to invest more in building long-term relationships with your customers by understanding their needs and solving their problems.

Contact us to learn how to effectively improve your customer experience thus increasing retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue.

March 11, 2021No Comments

Product Drama Podcast #9: How to Lead a Startup During a Pandemic?

In this episode, how to lead a startup during a pandemic, how to be a better leader, how to choose which features to build, and much more.

Have you ever been in a situation when during a trip, or after a party, we had to share expenses with friends? I bet you did. We all had at least once in our life this eternal problem of splitting expenses fairly.

The newest Product Drama episode features Joshua Johnson who is a co-founder of MyPay Circle, an app that helps people who are doing group activities to break down their expenses and make them easier to manage. The app is in the beta version and we talked with Joshua about what it’s like to work with a startup during uncertain times.

You’ll also learn about:

  • How did their team continue working on the product during Covid-19?
  • How to choose what features to build?
  • What to do if there’s no feedback from the users on the new features?
  • How can sport help to become a better leader?
  • How to get on track with your product as the situation in the world stabilizes?
  • What makes a good leader?
  • How to use social media effectively?
  • And much more!

We also mentioned Elon Musk, Kanye West, Warren Buffet, and what it takes to create from nothing to something that will bring value.

“Entrepreneurs, artists, and creative shape everything that we do”.
It’s a very inspirational episode which you don't want to miss!

Click below and enjoy!

The book Joshua mentioned:

I Got Kanye Confidence

March 4, 2021No Comments

Product Drama Podcast #8: Remote Product Management

What a year 2020 has been. It has revolutionized the way we work and our lifestyle in general. Remote office at home has already become a new normal for most of us. In this episode of the Product Drama podcast, we talk about remote product management in a post-pandemic world, the benefits and challenges of working from home, and the future of product management. 

Clement Kao, product manager at Blend and a co-founder of Product Manager HQ joined us to share his experience and thoughts on remote product management. He talked on two different dimensions: the one as an employee at Blend, and another as a leader at Product Manager HQ. We also talked about:

  • How to become a successful remote product manager?
  • What is Zoom fatigue and how to avoid it?
  • What does the future of remote product management look like?
  • How to be productive when working remotely? 
  • And much more!

Here are some quotes:

“You need to be thoughtful in terms of reaching out to people but also give them space”.

"How do we want to want to make sure that everyone's in sync on what are the kinds of work that we're doing without necessarily feel like we're micromanaging?"

“There are so many workflows that won’t work unless you make your products talk to each other”.

“One of the challenges of product teams is not understanding high-fidelity of who is the user and what is their pain”.

“The future of product management is not yet determined and there’s still a lot to happen”. 

"Product manager always serves customers, business stakeholders, and development teams".

We hope you’ll enjoy our talk! Click the video below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Check out:

Blend

Product Manager HQ

The state of product analytics in 2020, and how to move forward

Find Clement on LinkedIn

541 Jefferson Ave. Ste. 100
Redwood City, CA, USA 94063

4a bakulina st. Ste. 48
Kharkiv, Ukraine 61000

4a bakulina st. Ste. 48
Kharkiv, Ukraine 61000

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