Case Studies: Business-to-Business Services in Tech

The tech industry is a many faceted world, with many different successful industries. As a tech development company, SDI keeps our eye on all of them. But one of our favorite topics is that of B2B services. These are apps, websites, and custom Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that deliberately target other businesses.

They provide support for other businesses in a variety of different ways, including improved analytics and even HR management. One of the things we love about this sector is that these services provide tons of value for the dollar spent. They help businesses grow exponentially, without costing an arm and a leg.

Additionally, a skilled SaaS development team can easily build highly customized systems for individual businesses. Many B2B tech services, including some of the ones that will be written about today, can even be integrated with other software, including custom software. With tools available to the modern business owner, it becomes relatively easy to quickly grow startups, SMBs and even global corporations.

Building a Custom Software for businesses can even lead to a B2B service itself. We’ve built many a custom SaaS system for a specific business, who then turned around and sold it to their competitors as a Subscription Based service. The B2B tech service sector is a thriving industry – contact SDI now to get started.

This article will focus specifically on three Case Studies: Big movers in the B2B sector, each offering three different services: Communications; Customer Relationship Development; and Cyber Security.

Case Study 1: Slack and the Future of Business Communications

Slack is a business chat startup, counted among a few elite startups known as Unicorns (startups valued at over a billion smackaroos). Slack, currently valued at $3.8 billion, has provided communications support for other Startups and SMBs. Slack is also getting ready to release its enterprise edition which, despite a tough fight ahead, promises to be very profitable.

A software that offers communications services seems like a simple thing; but having clear lines of communication is essential to the success of any business with more than two people – and even then you should still look into slack! Additionally, Slack supports Video Conferencing, document sharing, and other collaboration features useful to any organization.

Plus, Slack supports integration with literally dozens of other different B2B services, including industry giant SalesForce (they’ve even hired former execs from SalesForce). Slack additionally supports multiple threads (or channels, as they call them) that can be easily organized along several different lines. A robust search function and native apps for both iOS and Android put the cherry on the cake and make Slack a big player in the industry.

Key Takeaways:

Digital Collaboration Tools are useful to businesses and can greatly improve the productivity of any team. So to a B2B service, they are an extremely valuable feature to offer;

The Search Function. It’s ubiquitous, but vital for any business that produces tons of information (also known as every business); and

Cloud-based is the new thing. It’s more secure, easier for updating and repairing, and more profitable for the SaaS owner.

Case Study #2: SalesLoft, Atlanta’s Startup with the Heart of Gold

About a year ago, this company went to its investors and told them it no longer to support its biggest product, Prospect. One that was worth $4 million. In exchange, they wanted to promote one of their newer products (Cadence). Which only made $75,000 thousand. As in a quarter less than $100,000. As in $3,975,000 fewer than their flagship product.

So what was Prospector? And why in the world would they want to stop it? This service basically went through contact databases on Social Media networks like LinkedIn to generate targeted sales leads. But instead, users of Prospector would use it to mass spam thousands of people, generating nothing but bad press for SalesLoft.

So the CEO, Kyle Porter, went to investors and, amazingly, convinced them he was right to drop their most successful product. Instead, they wanted to focus on their new product, one that used the hottest in tech (like AI and Machine Learning). Cadence uses theses tools to show businesses how they can improve customer relations. And today SalesLoft, thanks largely to Cadence, has received more than $100 million in investment.

Key Takeaways:

Investors prefer honesty. Porter was completely above board when he went asking for money, and VCs loved it. So be honest about your intentions. There is no better way to sink your investment chances than to lie.

Prospector was creating a bad reputation for the company and would have hurt SalesLoft in the long run. In the end, offering services that focus on quality (developing good relations) is better than quantity (as in spamming everyone on LinkedIn).

Case Study #3: Zscaler and Cloud Computing Security

This Web Security company is set to be one of the hottest and highly anticipated IPOs of 2017. Zscaler is one of the few security companies to focus entirely upon cloud security services, as opposed to hardware security offered by many competitors. Why is Cloud Security important? Well, in the words of Zscaler Jay Chaudhry,

“When Business happens in the cloud, you need security in the cloud.”

Basically, Zscaler takes client internet traffic and funnels it through “Gateways,” where the traffic is examined for potential malware or hackers. They made some big headlines this week recently when they identified a fake Netflix App (called SpyNote) that is in actuality a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). That means that all data stored on a device with this app on can (and will) be stolen.

Key Takeaways:

Cybersecurity Startups receive billions in investment. As with security services in the real world, Zscaler controls safe access to the internet. As investor Nehel Raj states

“This is a strategic place to be.”

Like it or not, the future of online business lies in the cloud. Zscaler was an early adopter of this point of view and it will continue to pay dividends for them.

So, to conclude, B2B services provide a way for entrepreneurs and Startups to make a name for themselves, to become a new player in market that is just getting started. Want to jump in? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Create an App like Tarobites

How the Taro App Works (App For Ordering Food Online)

Taro allows you to order super healthy, fresh foods prepared by a professional home chef delivered right to your door, without feeling a hole in your wallet. It is ideal for new couples, people with busy schedules, health junkies and especially for those with little to no experience on how to prepare good meals in the kitchen.

Their local chefs prepare home-style foods, making use of the freshest ingredients, for food delivery. Menus are often released in advance so that the chefs can plan the meals for the entire week. This gives the chef’s the time they need to plan, shop, and of course, cook those wonderful delicacies.

Taro has made it easy for you to learn more about their chefs. You can favorite the ones you cherish the most, and even contact them if you have questions about anything. They specialize in a variety of cuisines (Indian, American, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Mediterranean, Mexican, etc) and numerous diet-specific (organic, low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, etc) dishes to choose from.

Here is what you get when placing an order from the taro app:

The ability to select from handpicked local chefs

There are many amazing seasoned and passionate local chefs from all corners of the globe ready to provide you with scrumptious yet healthy meals. Through the comments and reviews from other food lovers, it will help you decide whom to order from and to favorite them to order from again.

The easiness of planning your meals

Meals are created in small batches each week. The menu for each week is then posted. To plan your meals simply view the menu and your chef(s) schedule. Once you have made your selections quickly complete your order with a single tap and you are done. Keep in mind it is also easy to control the portions you wish to order. You can order your items family style so you can feed your whole family.

Becoming a chef:

Whether you are a home chef, a personal chef, or a caterer if you’re a dedicated cook and desire to bring your creations to other families then become a chef on Taro. You can sell your meals and earn additional income. Taro has a simple form that chefs can fill out and a Taro representative will reach out to you and discuss the details.

Creating an App Like Taro

If you’re in the food business, creating apps like this for ordering food online has to be in two categories. The first category belongs to the one that takes the order for the restaurant and the second plays the role as a facilitator. Generally, an app for this purpose should come with the following features.

1. A superb and Intuitive User Interface: There should be a smooth, attractive and intuitive user interface (UI) to make it easy to use. Efforts should be made to keep the user interface free from irrelevant content.

2. Filtering ability: Mobile apps designed for ordering meals online should come with filtering as a must-have feature; filtering on the basis of online payment options, delivery area, cuisine, and many more.

3. Location based services: There should be an integration of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) based features to track the user’s location for easy delivery. This is a sure way of making the user experience amazing.

4. Tracking of orders: There should be real-time order tracking as a way of allowing the user stay up-to-date with the status of their order.

5. Payment options: Since all the payments are virtually done online, users should be provided with several payment options that will suit them. These options should include; debit card, credit card, internet banking, etc.

6. Smooth checkout: The entire process, from building your food items to checking out should be short, smooth, and hassle-free.

7. Transaction history: there should be an option to view the transaction history to make the process of ordering similar food items easier. This will save users the time of searching name(s) of previously ordered meals or previously used chefs.

8. Extra features: There can also be some additional useful features such as: rating the services, giving feedback, making order cancellations, and many more.

The key to any app is making sure it is easy to use. Don’t pack an app full of features, that can be your apps downfall. You may have a lot of ideas of what to include but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and think about the most useful and necessary ones.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can create an amazing app like Tarobites, call our experts at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or contact us here!

3 Money-Making Tech Enterprise Ventures

The tools necessary to build a massive Internet empire abound. Not only that but a bunch of other factors come together to make Tech the ideal industry for Startups and Entrepreneurs:

♦ Many tools for enterprise development are open-source (free) or dirt cheap, including

    ○ App APIs;

    ○ Various frameworks for rapid development of websites and software; and

    ○ Even design templates for apps, websites, and software.

♦ Other resources (like development partners) abound, especially when you are in or near “Tech Hubs”:

    ○ Silicon Valley;

    Melbourne;

    ○ Boston;

    ○ Tel Aviv;

    ○ London;

    ○ Beijing;

    ○ Mumbai;

    ○ Or virtually any other major population center in the world.

♦ The thing about programing and computing is that it affects everything. Literally everything. Every business, every sector, every industry, every person. This is one of those moments similar to when Steam Power was first made practical, or when Electricity was first harnessed by Alessandro Volta – it’s an innovation that changes everything. As such, there are limitless opportunities for business development.

♦ The last huge advantage for enterprise we will present today is the low cost as compared to traditional businesses. This is obviously not consistent throughout every industry (automating your manufacturing plant will cost more than building a blogging website) but is still a valid point. An eCommerce website or app can go viral and reach a global market for a couple grand; it takes billions for a brick and mortar business to have the same market potential.

So, now that we’ve made our argument that we are living in an Entrepreneurial Golden Age, why don’t we drill down on some specific areas of business our experts think will see the most growth in 2017 and beyond. We will be focusing on Platform-as-a-Service, Retail; and EdTech for New Collar Jobs. We won’t be talking about Alternate Realities or AI in any detail today; for more on VR/AR click here and for more on AI, read about Mark Zuckerberg’s Smart Home AI.

Platform-as-a-Service

More commonly referred to as PaaS, digital platforms are a long-standing internet business. eBay, Craigslist, Angie’s List, all of these are time-honored platforms that connect people to one another. Very basically, a PaaS system is nothing more than a way to connect one user to another. More complexly stated, a PaaS system is a dynamic service and platform for potentially millions of users.

Despite its venerability (and yes, two to three decades in the world of the Internet is an exceptionally long time), PaaS is still a growing market with massive potential. Industry giants like eBay show no signs of slowing down, but the better evidence of this is the fact that relative newcomer Letgo is doing exceptionally well. Since its launch in 2015, Letgo has:

Had more than 45 million downloads;

More than 20 million Monthly Active Users;

Has had more than $20 billion sold on its platform – up from $25 million right after launch;

Has raised at least $325 million in investment since launch, including a recent $175 million investment; and

Is quickly approaching “unicorn” status, or a startup with a valuation of a billion dollars or more.

eCommerce, mCommerce, and the Future of Retail

Brick-and-mortar retail stores are unlikely to go away soon (or ever). First, there will always be people who have an immediate need – like picking up a missing ingredient for that night’s meal, or a replacement part for a broken piece of machinery. Second, many people love the social nature of shopping and will continue to enjoy actually shopping. But, that being said, all but the smallest and most local of retail stores still need an online presence.

This can be as simple as a website, but should be much more robust, allowing users to shop, order, purchase and possibly have delivered products from your catalogue. Look, Black Friday showed record sales for online retail outlets, with sites like Amazon raking in the dough, for a grand total of $91 billion, up 11% from 2015. Simultaneously, brick-and-mortar sales dropped by 10%, as compared to last year.

Additionally, Adobe reported that there were almost 25 billion visits to online sites (including traditional retailers like Target or Walmart). The last big takeaway here is that Mobile was the clear winner for online retail sales, with not quite a third of all online sales conducted on a mobile platform (about $28 billion, an increase of 25% from 2015). Plus, 50% of all visits to online retail sites were from a Smartphone or Tablet.

New Collar Jobs and the New EdTech Economy

Like other innovative inventions, the age of computing requires new skills and new jobs. When Trains became the technology driving innovation, we needed trained Conductors; when the automobile was invented, the need for engineers skyrocketed. Now that computing is altering the world, we are in dire desperate need of Programmers and Coders.

The need for “New Collar” jobs was recently discussed in detail by Ginny Rometty (CEO of IBM), who is investing a significant amount of IBM’s cash in filling 25,000 jobs in coding and programming. But the problem is that the US has been lax in teaching kids this necessary skill. New inventions, such as Kubo, are striving towards teaching kids how to code, and certain states are beginning to recognize that coding should be a core skill, like literacy or arithmetic.

But the market is wide open and there is a huge need for a EdTech software program that teaches coding for all sorts. This includes adults – Coders are needed now, not in 10 years. IBM is even stating that many of their new hires won’t have a college background and may even be trained on job through IBM’s own educational infrastructure.

Time to Get Started

The world of tech can be one with many navigational hazards, but fortunately SDI has the map to success, gleaned from more than 5.000 projects in tech. Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Thrive in an Evolving App Market

There’s been a lot of doom and gloom about the future of the app industry recently. But, in the expert opinion of our analysts, this is much ado about nothing. Yes, the market is changing, but as any entrepreneur and business owner will tell you, markets are always evolving. And they will also tell you that it behooves the clever businessperson to watch for these changes for your chance.

Yes, the app market is oversaturated, but that doesn’t mean it’s Dead on Arrival. Plenty of markets reach this point, where the competition is extremely stiff. But still, companies survive – and thrive. This is where the app market is today: it’s not a time to jump ship, it’s not the time to throw in the towel. It’s the time to pivot, to start something new. Markets shift and evolve; to survive you must evolve with it to survive.

So what are these opportunities? Obviously, we can’t cover everything. And we don’t see every opportunity out there, so if you’ve spotted an opportunity, pick up your phone and shoot us a quick email. We can work with you on how to make your project competitive in the jungle that is the app world. But until then, let’s dive a little deeper into how you can survive in a changing app market.

Focus on Quality, Not Rapidity

Part of the reason for the aforementioned doom and gloom were some recent reports showing an overall slowdown in app growth (11% over the last year). The report also showed that Time spent in apps has actually gone up. But wait, I hear you saying, don’t I want users to spend more time in my app? Well yes, but we have to breakdown the numbers here to get the real story.

Most Smartphone users in the US spend about 75% of their time in just 3 apps and almost 45% of time is spent in a single app. So yes, users are spending more time in apps, but they are spending almost all of that time in just a few apps. This means that dozens of apps are not engaging their users (sounds like an opportunity to sell prebuilt app engagement tools…).

What this means for the app entrepreneur out there is that if you want to build an app, it has to amazing. It also has to fill an actual need, or provide a unique selling point. The best way to create an amazing app is to hire a top notch team with experience. And then it’s about testing, testing and testing. This means both testing the code as well as testing the design. Testing the design with actual Users is incredibly important to ensuring a successful app launch. In other words, don’t skimp on this.

Invest in Digital Support Networks

♦ APIs;

According to the number one hit on Google, an API is defined as

Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact

In other words, an API are the guts that every app is built upon. Owning an API can be an extremely profitable business – as demonstrated by popular APIs like Google Maps, or UberRUSH. With an API business, you could be offering the foundational tool that an app startup needs.

♦ AI/Machine Learning;

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are some of the most well known and popular tools on the Net. AI claim is a huge selling point these days, but building a working modern AI is no easy undertaking. Machine Learning includes the underpinnings of Natural Language Processing (NLP) . IF you want to know why NLP is important, read our recent post about Alexa

Marketing and Startup Support;

Startups are the hot ticket business thing these days, but they need a support network to survive (just like any other business – that whole no one is an island thing). These support services extend to offering things like simple advice, access to investment (plus the tools to get funding), and Marketing services.

It’s All About the Idea

The clear success story of 2016 is that of Social Media and Messaging apps. These apps, frequently lumped together due to the level of integration and similarity, were by far the biggest winners in terms of engagement. This points to several different things, including that the have the secret to engagement.

It also tells us that social networks are going to continue to grow. Indeed some market experts are now openly speculating that Facebook may reach a valuation of half a trillion bucks by the end of this decade. These numbers speak to an opportunity to supply a support structure (Chatbots are going to be huge) and they speak to the chance to create a successful app of your own.

This is because niche social networks are also hugely popular. Sites like LinkedIn target a specific market (professionals) and do a pretty good job of it. So if you want to create an app, think of who and what you know. How do you turn your network into a thriving business?

Want to know more about how start your own successful business in this massive market? Give our experts a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

3 Ways to Build a Social Media Network that Makes Cash

It’s no secret by now – people are into Social Media sites. So much so that time spent in Social media networks in 2016 grew almost 400% in the last year. In 2012, Facebook was worth about $98 billion. Today it’s worth more than three and a half times worth for a whopping 3.5 Billion dollars. For those of you counting, that makes it the sixth largest company in the United States.

Additionally, Facebook’s valuation is expected to grow by about a third for the next two or three years; importantly this is a significantly higher expected rate than either Apple OR Google. To add insult to injury, Facebook is also taking a marketing share from Google. We aren’t done: Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly users, 1.51 billion on mobile. Hell, Facebook, along with the next 3 largest SM networks, have 3 billion monthly active users. That’s half the world folks.

As mentioned above, Facebook is already stealing marketing ad shares from Google. In fact, between the Facebook site itself and FB’s other businesses (WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, and even Oculus, which promises to be an excellent tool for advertisers), the company plans on capturing the lion’s share of Global Advertising.

What defines a lion’s share you ask? Well, excepting China, Facebook believes that it will get upwards of 47% of all digital advertising, and 43% of all advertising in general. In other words, there’s some money to be made here. Yes, there are a lot of social media networks out there; and yes, the competition is stiff. We aren’t denying that. That’s actually why we’re writing this post, to help you create a successful social media network site that makes money.

So without further ado, here are 3 ways to build a money making social media empire.

Network What You Know

Riffing off the old adage for novelists (write what you know), you should build a social network around a foundation. This can be anything from boating enthusiasts, to Stock brokers. I know what you’re thinking: Facebook and Twitter both target basically everyone, why can’t I? Well, Twitter doesn’t necessarily try to target any one group specifically, but they have their own niche thing: 140 characters.

And Facebook? Well, Facebook grew into the giant it is today. IT once only targeted college students. You know who did target everyone? Tom. From MySpace. Plus, Facebook is now so broad, that plenty of users are looking for more specific Social networking sites (i.e. LinkedIn). So, focus on an area you know – and one about which you are already knowledgeable and passionate. It’s the best and probably only way to acquire and continually engage users.

How does this result in money in your pocket? It’s the dirty secret of tech world. It’s how instagram can be worth 20-something billion dollars, without actually making anywhere near that (Which is pretty close to 0). Monthly active users are the name of the game people; the more engaged users your business has, the higher valuation your company will get. Why? More users = more potential revenue generation; after all that data users generate is extremely valuable to marketers.

Mobile is Key

I know, I know, we’re like a broken record over here: mobile this, mobile that. Part of it is we’re just immersed this stuff day in and day out (5000+ apps and websites don’t get built overnight you know). But really, mobility is important. Black Friday ‘16 eCommerce data proves that, with about 50% of all website visits coming from a SmartPhone or Tablet.

But more to the point, 82% of Facebook’s ad revenue in 2016 came from Mobile. 80 cents on every dollar, generated from a mobile device. There’s literally no more effective way to prove just how important Mobile First is in 2017 than that statement. But just in case it isn’t enough, you must also consider the aforementioned 394% growth in time users spent in Social Media and Messaging apps (an almost 70% growth from 2015).

Please, please, please – go mobile. It is literally a necessary element to a modern Business plan.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

We don’t mean hire a diverse group (though really you should, groupthink is a real problem that needs to be avoided if you would like to be successful). One of the keys to FaceBook’s success is its willingness to expand beyond its original business model. From Chatbots to WhatsApp and VR, Facebook has its hands in all kinds of pies.

Owning a Social Media Network provides you with one of the most powerful marketing tools in the digital era. It’s quite easy to promote not only your other projects, but also products that you enjoy. So don’t just stick to building your network; look to creating other tech platforms, as well as opportunities for retail outreach. Remember, Social Media websites make money because of the highly targeted wealth of data; but also remember you have a cultivated target population. Ads don’t have to be your only revenue source!

Want to build your own Social Media Empire? Give SDI’s Experts a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

Why Alexa is the Standout App

The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) represents a significant step forward in both voice recognition (i.e. Natural Language understanding aka NLU) and in the Internet of Things. In fact, it may very well be the final element to connecting pretty much every internet-capable device in the world.

Sure, Apple’s HomeKit made some decent attempts, and is a great SmartHome system. But unfortunately, Amazon and Alexa have taken the cake on this one. It was the star of the show at one of the Tech Industry’s biggest convention, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is watched closely by the best tech analysts in the business, because it’s an excellent predictor of what the biggest industry trends will be.

And Alexa was everywhere. Some estimates place the number of products that were compatible with AVS as high as 1,100 different products. It’s not even contained within SmartHome Devices (like Nest) any longer – it’s now in SmartCars. This is basically Amazon’s seemingly successful attempt to take on the Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) market.

One of the biggest holdups in the widespread adoption of VPA (Siri, Cortana, Google Now, etc) have been issues with compatibility. This is why having so many Gadgets and Devices that Alexa can control is so significant. Alexa represents a significant change in the viability of the business market – for the better.

Prior to AVS, one of the biggest downsides to creating an app for Smart Infrastructures (Homes, Cars, Offices, and so on) was there was no centralized control hub. If you wanted to tell your smart thermostat to turn up the heat and your Smart Security system to lock the front door, you had to tell each separately (oh, dear).

While most definitely a first world problem, it has prevented widescale adoption of many Smart Devices. Enter Alexa, the central control hub for seemingly the entire IoT. But more importantly, AVS is set up so that any Smart device can be reprogrammed with Alexa. Phones, Cars, Tablets, and Homes, all you need is a great app development team.

Amazon has made it very easy for third-party developers like those employed by SDI to build “Skills” apps. These Skills simply replace the app interface installed by the Gadget manufacturer, enabling AVS-control. LIke Mark Zuckerberg’s SmartHome system Jarvis, AVS can pretty much enable voice control on anything with a microphone. From the entrepreneurial side of things, this is a big deal.

How Alexa is Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Alexa is more than just a cool piece of tech. It represents a whole new phase in Human-Computer Interaction. Which means that it’s more than just good news for Amazon. It really opens the door to a whole new host of support and service industries:

♦ As we’ve already discussed, AVS can be installed on pretty much all Gadgets or Smart Devices. This means that anyone can build a Gadget App that is AVS compatible. Alexa is poised to be the key that unlocks the true potential of the IoT; this means that having an AVS-enabled app will be extremely valuable to consumers.

♦ Smart Homes are getting a lot of attention, but the business applications of an AVS app are also massively significant. If AVS can control a Smart Thermostat, it can control a Smart Manufacturing machine. While not yet revolutionary, there is a lot of potential for entrepreneurial growth.

♦ Privacy is going to be huge. Privacy and data collection are always a hot-button issue, with many entrepreneurs making their name (and their fortunes) on encryption and privacy in a world that is increasingly less private. AVS kicks this whole thing up a notch (bam!). By its nature, Alexa has to always be listening to you. To be clear, while it’s always listening, IT IS NOT ALWAYS TRANSMITTING.

More on Privacy

We’re not saying that AVS is keeping track of everything you say. As a matter of fact, Amazon has gone out of its way to ensuring privacy, from only keeping your words saved for 30 seconds, to storing info locally as opposed to on Amazon’s Cloud Services. Nor are we saying that this passive listening is relegated only to Alexa: this is a concern with any VPA, including Google Home and Cortana.

But it’s still an issue that needs to be considered. Already, there’s a significant portion of internet users who are very concerned about privacy – and how to protect that privacy. Because even if Amazon isn’t collecting information constantly now, it may in the future. Amazon doesn’t even need to know about it: if it can connect to the internet, it can be hacked.

Let’s be honest: privacy is a concern, but it’s not a reason to turn your back on tech and the future. Plus, it’s too late already. If you own a smartphone or go on the internet at all, there are tons of your personal data stored somewhere. In other words, there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity in the form of providing apps with the best tech has to offer in security and encryption.

Or you could go even more direct at the problem, developing an app with the sole purpose of protecting a user’s privacy. Either way, SDI is more than capable of helping you build the perfect app for security, the IoT, and AVS. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us! We offer a free consultation and quote, as well as an ironclad NDA so you can rest easy.

How AR and Gadgets are Revolutionizing HealthCare

At SDI, we love working with the healthcare industry. It makes us feel like we’re giving back and helping an industry that can truly change the world for the better. In fact, we talk about the intersection between tech and the world of medicine frequently. Which means that we know what a successful technological application in Medicine looks like.

The last year has actually had some of the most movement in the industry we’ve ever seen. From data management to training tools, tech is truly making it easier for patients to get healthy, for Doctors and Surgeons to be better, and for HealthCare companies to save money and stay in business.

SO, let’s take a look at some of these new fields!

Virtual and Augmented Reality

We’ve talked about how VR and AR can help Healthcare Practitioners, including a post almost a year ago to the day, where it was number 1 on our list of top 2016 app trend predictions (talk about being spot on!). VR/AR are showing some real revolutionary potential, on both the Patient-Facing and Health Practitioner-facing sides.

On the patient treatment side, VR and AR both have the ability to create extraordinarily realistic worlds, and has fantastic potential in treating Degenerative Mental disorders, as well as appearing to have some beneficial impact on PTSD and chronic psychosomatic pain. Another patient-facing VR solution, SnowWorld, has been clearly demonstrated to alleviate Burn Patient pain

We’ve even talked about how VR and AR could completely change how doctors and surgeons are trained (we also talked about how VR/AR would revolutionize gaming, months before Pokemon Go – god we’re good!). Which brings us to this post today – and the upcoming release of the first AUgmented Reality platform for Surgeons.

Touch Surgery is a London-based Medical Tech company that has already developed hundreds of Surgery Training apps for SmartPhones and Tablets. According to the company, they use modern tech tools (Cognitive Mapping, AI, and even 3D Rendering) to create very robust apps (contact us to learn more about how to build an app like this). But for 2017, they’ve extended their services to an immersive AR Platform.

While this hasn’t been released to the public, Touch Surgery is close, as evidenced by the fact they’re debuting it at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This AR platform is a massive improvement over a mobile app – not to knock the apps. IT’s just that this AR platform is capable of training surgeons in an operating room with actual operating tools. Clearly the potential here is pretty massive.

Gadgets

Gadgets offer unique ways to check on a patient’s overall health (and of course general fitness). It’s uniqueness actually makes it a challenge for some developers without the experience that our guys have. But 2016 has seen some new advances that make it easier to build Gadget Apps, and to provide us with some new tools for cool, advanced features.

First up on the list: Clothing threads. Siren Care is debuting its premiere product – a sock. Yep, a sock that goes on your foot. It seems that this company has managed to create electronic threads, similar to what Google is trying to do with Project Jacquard.

The key difference is that Siren Care’s sock focuses solely on tracking the thermal differences of a user’s foot. This data is then used by Doctors to determine when (and potentially why) things went wrong in Diabetic patients. This kind of tech is pretty awesome – and can save lives.

Next up is Watson, IBM’s Supercomputer. [Dr] Watson (or, the Supercomputer formerly known as Chef Watson). Watson Health is a series of cognitive systems – systems that are capable of not only seeing, but analyzing and reporting on Unstructured data. What’s Unstructured data? Data not visible to most current Data Analysis tools – or 80% of all health data.

Watson Health can also be added to a Gadget App can also turn any wearable into a ridiculously powerful health sensor. In other words, Watson has the capability to collect AND understand Health patterns in ways that never before possible. So, if you happen to be in the industry of HealthCare, give our expert Gadget App Developers a call today.

The last product we will discuss today is another Gadget. But the focus is on Fitness and exercise as a preventative, as opposed to devices for treatment of training. This is a gadget from the Finnish company Suunto. It’s newest Fitness Tracker (named MoveSense is internet capable device that has Suunto’s pretty amazing Heartbeat tracker crammed into it, plus allows you to connect to all sorts of other devices.

Fitness trackers are important for people who are trying to get the most out of their workout – without overdoing it and injuring themselves. Tools like this can help people keep better track of caloric consumption and expenditure; this leads to better, healthier eating, as well as an incentive to workout. Finally, the last part of this is that it provides a data record, in case a doctor or PT ever needs to look at your past exercise patterns.

For over 15 years, SDI has specialized in creating unique apps, websites and software infrastructure for industries as diverse as Healthcare, Real Estate and Manufacturing. Want to build your own tech tool? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

Apps for New Virtual Reality Frontiers

It’s a brand new year, which means it’s time for a brand new entrepreneurial venture! The hottest market of 2016 (and probably 2017) were the new Digital Realities: Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed. And we’ve talked a lot about how these new realities will change everything from Business to Gaming.

But every once and awhile, we like to take a step back, to see how new technologies can help brick-and-mortar, non-tech industries. A recent example of this was our discussion on using tech similar to Amazon Go for Mom and Pop Stores. But today, we wanted to focus on how VR/AR is impacting another favorite topic of ours: Cooking and (naturally) eating.

Believe it or not, enhanced realities can make a huge impact on this industry. It will help train the new generation of Chefs. It will help promote modern restaurants. And it will even help promote better eating practices and may help with weight loss.

Learn How to Cook with VR

A very standard part of any Chef’s training is a brief tutelage with a top chef. It often involves spending a lot of money to travel somewhere, like France and Japan (the two countries with the most Michelin-rated restaurants). These apprenticeships often last for 6 months or longer; needless to say, this was often cost-prohibitive for many aspiring chefs.

Enter Virtual Reality Apps. Imagine what it would be like to learn at the side of some of the world’s top chefs. Imagine an app that works with any VR equipment, transporting users to the kitchens of some of the most legendary masters in the world. Already many apps from cooking legends are available, in the form of videos and cookbook apps.

But VR apps for chefs go beyond that. The value of a teaching aide app that immerses users completely within a simulated kitchen is immeasurable. This type of app places a student in the very world of their teacher; VR apps for chefs-in-training take chefs out of the study pooks and place them within an interactive teaching environment.

You read that right: interactive. Using AI tools like those SDI has created, it’s even possible to create a Virtual Personal Sous Chef. This AI can help correct the chef as he is learning new dishes or mastering a new technique. It can even help keep track of how long dishes have been cooking/sitting, what still needs to be prepped, and so on. But things get very cool when you throw in Augmented Reality.

How Augmented Reality is Making New Master Chefs

Smart Homes have been making a splash recently, but Smart Kitchens are only just getting started. Recently, several researchers, scientists, and plain ol’ entrepreneurs have used AR and AI to create amazing cool Smart Kitchens. From Japan, to the University of Washington, these Smart Kitchens use Machine Learning combined with cameras to track movements, direct technique, and even measure ingredients.

The Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan has used cameras and projectors mounted on a kitchen ceiling with AR to provide visual, step by step instructions. This is an exceptionally useful tool, going so far as to overlay lines on meat, directing the chef where they should cut. It even records movements and has small robot assistant that will measure ingredients and let the chef know what (if any) else is needed.

At the UK’s Newcastle University, researchers there created a Smart Kitchen that helps you cook while teaching you French! The language! Additionally, the system uses a series of Accelerometers to track what instruments cooks have picked up, correcting them (in French first, then English) if they have chosen the wrong instrument.

Finally, researchers from the University of Washington in the US use cameras that can judge sizes and depths of a bowl. This system follows chefs around the kitchen, using these cameras to note when ingredients have been added to a bowl, and to note whether or not it was the correct amount. They hope that the system will soon have the ability to detect when an incorrect ingredient was added!

Keep in mind that while SDI doesn’t make hardware, we can easily write whole systems for Smart Kitchens – or we can set you up with an app to take advantage of this growing market.

Other Arenas

There are two other ideas we wanted to discuss, but the tech is still in it’s infancy (which means you could be a pioneer – the rich kind!). This means that the details are sparse, so we will cover both in one section. First:

• Virtual Chow: VR is getting to the point where it can easily simulate even something as complex as eating and taste. While we’re still mastering the tech for Virtual Taste, there are still other ways of promoting your restaurant with VR. Think of an app that has VR recreations of a typical night at your restaurant. Ambience, lighting, Staff, Plating, other Clientele – all of these impact how a potential diner views your restaurant. Why not show them what it’s like before they even stop by??

Secondly:

• Weightloss. Yep – there is good evidence to believe that an app built with the right development principles could prove a significant boon to those who struggle with weight. This can be done by simulating a meal, and stimulating the same chemical receptors activated when we eat. Already, similar tech is being applied in the medical world to injuries as severe as systemic body burns.

In other words, we’re only just beginning to realize just how impactful VR/AR/MR will be on the world. What is clear, though, is that the market is just gaining steam – and that the money’s out there, just waiting to be seized. Want to get your fair share? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How AI is Changing Our World

2016 could be called the year of Artificial Intelligence: from better improved Data Analytics, to Smart Homes, Cars, and more. Every day seemed like the world of tech was making a step closer to true AI, like AI comes a little step closer to being human. Who knows, within the next 10 years we could have something approaching a real life WestWorld!

AI is taking over the world, to the point where our developers are surprised when a project doesn’t involve AI or Machine Learning to one extent or another. But AI is so diverse a term that it can be (and is) applied to any industry, sector, business, etc. So, to celebrate the end of 2016, and to bring in the New Year, we thought we’d cover the biggest areas AI impacted in 2016. Plus, we’ll cover where each area stands today, and what may lie in wait for 2017.

Digital Assistants

AI for Virtual Personal Assistants run the Gamut:

1. Smart Home;

a. This includes Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Both services provide a central location for you to access every aspect of your SmartHome. When you throw in system’s like Mark Zuckerberg’s Jarvis, you get what is essentially a Live-in Digital Butler.

b. Other takes on this include Asus Zenbo, which is like Echo, Home, or Jarvis but moves around the house and uses a digital display to show facial expressions and emotion.

Smart Business

2. Softbank Pepper is a Japanese robot that looks like a half formed albino Cyberman (obligatory Dr. Who shoutout!). Despite its half wax appearance, Pepper uses Natural Language Processes (NLP) to understand human speech AND body language (including gestures). Already, Pepper is being demoed in retail stores as a Sales Assistant.

3. Otto Trucks turn ordinary semi trucks into Smart Vehicles capable of driving themselves. Similar to Google’s Self Driving cars, these Smart Trucks use AI to help them make complicated decisions, faster than a human can. These trucks can also change routes to optimize for efficiencies.

4. Aethon Tug and Fetch Robotics both use AI to help retrieve objects that their users need. Tug’s emphasis is on the Medical industry and is trained to deliver supplies and medicine to Patients. Fetch works in warehouses, following workers around. When a worker needs something the robot can lift it off the shelves and carry it around for them.

Drones

5. We’re starting to move beyond the view that Drones are terrifying heralds of death, (and even beyond them being a tool for creepy stalkers) to having true effectiveness in this area. Amazon is diving headfirst into this and made headlines recently with their drone delivery system. But Amazon is taking it a step further, with recent plans to potentially launch “Airborne Fulfilment Centers” (AFC).

These AFCs are planned to be giant floating warehouse deployed over cities during times of high need (we’re pretty sure Amazon isn’t trying to take over the world, but sometimes you’ve got to wonder). From the patents Amazon filed, it appears that these will use complex Machine Learning algorithms and a complicated Drone Delivery System. The purpose behind these AFCs is to add more value to their business and it brings them into more direct competition with Brick and Mortar Retailers (as does their other project, Amazon Go).

6. But Drones are being built for all types of research. AI and Machine Learning algorithms help programmers create code that has never been before possible. This leads us to my personal favorite Robot on this list, Boston Dynamic’s SpotMini. SpotMini is a research drone: it was built to help scientists in a lab. The drone uses sensors and cameras to help it see, but it’s greatest resource to a scientist is its precise grasping and holding motions. Most robots 5 years ago couldn’t even hold a mug without shattering it. SpotMini can not only pick up, hold and move about with a glass, but it can do it with something as delicate as a wine glass.

7. DJ Mavic Pro is a drone is going to take the place of Action Sports Reporters. Using an exceptionally complicated series of sensors and Artificial Intelligence to be able to make instant mid flight corrections to avoid objects in it’s way; and this is in free movement, not a preplanned flight. This makes it excellent for capturing Action Sports, from tracking a baseball mid-flight to following cross country runners.

So what does this mean for 2017? Well, obviously the first thing is you can’t avoid AI anymore. It’s more than just a passing fancy. It is quite literally changing the foundation of not just the world of business, but everything about our lives. We’re at a tipping point, where historians will look back and point to this era as when it all began.

The question you need to be asking is: can your business afford to be late to this game? Can you afford to ignore this tipping point in history and continue operating business as usual.

The good news is that SDI has spent the last few years preparing for this point, and we have the tools to modernize any business. Still working on turning your idea into a business? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 and we can discuss how AI can turn your idea into a thriving business. Not a phone person? No problem, our can contact us digitally as well.