How to Hire a CTO Without the Hiccups

The world is constantly in flux. Businesses close and new businesses pop up. For those of you who are in the midst of building a company or already have one, you may notice that finding a CTO is a lot more difficult than it seems.

What is a CTO and the Responsibilities

A CTO is the Chief Technology Officer of any size company. They focus on managing the technology in the company. Responsibilities vary based on the size of the company. In a larger business, it can mean more meetings and managing people vs a small business where they focus on a specific project and the coding involved with it. Midsize companies can generally be a combination of both.

Some of the main responsibilities of a CTO include the following:

    • Understand and know different coding languages.

      ○ Staying up to date on all the latest technological advances to incorporate into the business is key.

    • Discussing all aspects of the business with the CEO, board members, and investors.

      ○ These items could include many of the subjects listed below.

    • Build a team that will work on a particular project and determines what each person will be responsible for.

      ○ Firing and layoffs is also an important responsibility.

    • Managing the people who are working on the technical aspects of a project.

      ○ This can also mean managing the actual management team of the department as well as be determining the culture and accepted the behavior of everyone.

    • Create a project plan of what needs to be done and how it needs to be executed.

      ○ This means communicating with external vendors about what technology needs to be built and to negotiate terms.

    • Solving problems with the project, deciding what the most important items are and how to fix them.

    • Determine budgets for products that are needed as well as employee pay.

Finding the Right CTO

Great well rounded technological expertise is hard to find. However, there are a decent of them out there, you just have to know how to find them. First, try talking to people you know to see if they know anyone. Connections are always a good option versus reaching out cold to someone.

If you do try to reach out to a CTO cold its best to do your research first. They most likely get a lot of people reaching out to them with the same old tired introduction letter (especially through Linkedin). It can get annoying so don’t do what everyone else does. Contact them with a personal touch. Determine what they like, what their preference of communication is, what they are working on, etc.

The Right Skills

Managing people is a very important skill. Not only does the CTO have to know and understand everything the team is working on but they have to manage every aspect of the team members daily schedule. This knowledge also helps when actually hiring the technical staff. However, when hiring it is not solely about their technical skills, it’s about their personality. They have to fit within your business culture because if they don’t it can hinder the growth of the business.

Of course, if you are a small company looking for a CTO managing a team may not be an important skill for them to have. Although your focus may be on their technical expertise you should still find someone that has the ability to manage people because things change and growth happens so you may want to have a CTO that can handle responsibilities like that.

Getting Investment

Something that is really important for smaller companies looking to grow is having a great team. If you are looking for investment your CTO is going to be key to getting that investment. Your technological team is very important for your brand, identity, and trustworthiness. Investors pay a great deal of attention to your technology and how big you could grow. The CTO must have a vision for the future and where that technology can lead them.

Take all these points into account when you start the hiring process for a CTO. If you have any questions about CTO responsibilities or about technology that can help your business contact Sakshi at 408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la.

Create a Massively Successful Trivia App Like HQ

What does Jeopardy, Family Feud, The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire have in common? They are all successful HQ trivia, game shows. These along with many others have been enjoyed for decades. To this day there is no shortage of game shows out there. Many have been fairly popular and some incredibly popular. You will always see people excited to play in the hopes of winning cash and other prizes.

Games Shows and Mobile Apps

Once mobile apps started coming out it was only a matter of time before trivia game show type ones appeared. Although there are many gaming and entertainment type apps, there is still a gap in the area of trivia. Yes, there are plenty of puzzle and even trivia type games, but we’re not talking about just sitting around figuring out puzzles for nothing.

Playing apps are much more interactive and it is entertaining. One thing about the television is although the people there are involved, those of us watching at home play along for fun but we don’t have a chance of actually winning anything. Imagine being part of a game show on your phone where you can actually win something.

The Introduction of HQ

HQ is a fairly new app but it has become very popular in a short amount of time. It’s a very simple game where people just tap on your answer to the question given. So what makes this game so special. There are multiple unique and fun qualities that make this stand out from the rest.

Users can’t play this game anytime they want. There is a scheduled day and time that this game takes place. Once you sign on at that particular time you will be greeted by a real host, just like on television. The host will introduce the game and go over instructions using witty humor. The host will send out the first question to everyone playing. You have 10 seconds to answer the question. If you get it right you move on to the next round.

Now, comes the best part of this stellar mobile app. If you get all 12 questions right you win real money. Yes, you heard that right, real money. All the users that answer those 12 questions correctly get a piece of the prize. For example, if the prize is $10,000 and 5 people make it to the end, each person gets $2,000. Do keep in mind this game is not easy. The questions do get significantly more difficult. Sometimes only a few people win and sometimes more. It varies every time. The key here is that everyone playing has a real chance of winning.

Millions of people log in to the app to take part because not only is it just fun, but it’s real. There is no cost to downloading or playing either, it’s completely free. With the wild success of this app, there is definitely room for more of these out there because the market is begging for it.

A key to this app besides its exciting features is the user experience and design aka UI and UX. For something like this to work the experience has to be flawless. HQ does have its issues of course, but all in all the experience is pretty great. The game show and/or trivia app that you want to create can be amazing too with the right mobile app development company.

With the right development partner, your app can get created with these 6 steps.

That list is pretty straightforward but there is a lot that goes into mobile app design and development. Discussing the functions and features with your development company at the beginning is very important. Knowing what your audience wants will help in the functional decision process.

This market hasn’t been tapped that well yet. With the introduction of HQ, we will see a rise. You need to get in on the action now. You want to capture people’s attention and do something similar yet in a unique way. It’s not easy but it is doable. All you need is the right design and development partner to help take your idea to the next level.

If you are thinking this is a big project to take on don’t worry, you can start with a prototype that you can take to investors to get funding. It’s a great way to get your project up and running with all the money you need.

If you are ready to make a successful trivia app then contact us at 408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la

How to Hire a Dedicated Programmer

The technology you use is incredibly important but what really makes a business run smoothly is the team behind the technology. Having experienced dedicated programmers on your team will make your business run better and your life so much easier.

Almost every business relies on some sort of technology to maximize productivity. There are so many apps, programs, and custom software that businesses use which can help streamline processes and maximize your ROI. However, as important as these technologies are, the team who builds, maintains and customizes each of them is even more important.

What is a Dedicated Programmer

A dedicated programmer is hired to work as a freelancer or on a short or long-term contractual basis. You can hire an individual person(s) or work closely with a development company like SDI who has over 225 dedicated staff. You can pay for a seasoned programmer on a monthly basis providing your business with a predictable monthly budget expense. With a dedicated programmer, you can accomplish anything you want on your project without any unexpected additional costs for adding more functions/features.

You can usually hire a programmer to complete a project for one fixed price. However, this doesn’t allow you to easily make changes as your business changes and grows. Change requests come at an additional cost so there is not much flexibility. With fixed price development, the programmer is not dedicated to your business so you are oftentimes less likely to get everything you want to be done when you want it. This approach is less flexible and more time-consuming.

The Flexibility

There are no limits on what can be achieved when you have a team dedicated to helping you with your business goals. A monthly contract basically means you pay a consistent flat monthly price. You can call up anytime and ask for any changes or anything else you want to be done with your project. It’s also easier and far more flexible to hire multiple people to work on your software. You can add more resources or reduce the amount of people you want working without penalty as the project moves towards completion.

Pricing and Technology

Pricing varies from company to company and person to person. On average, hourly is between $20-$30 and monthly is about $2200. Be careful about pricing though. You don’t want to focus solely on the pricing. If the price seems too low it’s too good to be true.

It is far better to hire dedicated programmers through a development company because you are protected from fraud most likely going to have more options for experience and pricing. You will also have a team of people at your disposal for greater productivity vs 1 person. This can make things much easier when trying to get your project completed.

Technology options are another reason why having a team is better. Most programmers have expertise in 1 language, but some projects require more than 1. If your business changes then your technology may change as well. Having the option to just say “hey I need a developer who can build this” is simple and easy. A development company like SDI offers all different types of dedicated resources who can be allocated quickly and for short to extended periods of time.

To give you a better idea of how many technologies are out there, here is a quick list.

    • Java • Windows 8

    • HTML • Android SDK

    • Objective C • iOS

    • C • PHP

    • C## • ASP

    • Joomla • .NET

    • Laravel • C#

    • Magento • C++

    • WordPress • CSS

The programming team you hire should have a minimum of 10 years experience and have a big enough team that offers you the experience and flexibility to accomplish your goals. Dedicated programmers should serve as a seamless extension of your business without the high costs of direct employees.

If you are ready to see how an experienced team can help you contact us to discuss your development needs.

Create a Proof of Concept to Land Funding

It all starts with a great idea. You think about it more and more, change and adjust your ideas to create something you believe the world needs to have. Yet, the biggest issue is money. How can I convince people to give me money? It’s the question every person asks when they need capital to build a business or product.

Proof of Concept

One of the most important pieces to getting funded is creating a proof of concept (PoC). This is a visual of how your idea will work in the real world. To prove that it can actually work. Another word for it is a prototype. It is not the final coded version at all, it’s just the designs with clickability. It allows people to actually see how it would work and be viable.

For example. Let’s take a mobile app. You lay out the designs for each screen, then take those screens and make the buttons clickable. This prototype just allows the user to click on a button to be taken to the appropriate screen. No backend functions are actually happening. Nothing moves on the screen at all. It’s simple but allows people to actually see how it will be used. Of course, there are different levels of prototyping which can be used. A development company like SDI can help you determine what will work best for you.

Fancy PowerPoint presentations and diagrams are not sufficient enough. It’s a great sidekick to the PoC but will not gain you any points from potential investors. If you really want to put on a good show, show them a working PoC along will all the projections for it.

However, your prototype shouldn’t be too simple either. You won’t be the only one doing this so you still have to compete against others. Knowing that however, gives you a leg up on them. Yours needs to stand out. You need an experienced team to help you understand exactly how to create an amazing PoC. You can contact Sakshi at 408.621.8481

To give you a better idea how this can actually help you in the real world, let’s take a look at what Nasa did. Nasa recently selected 128 proposals from different small businesses to help with research advancement. Nasa took these PoC’s very seriously and used them to see whether or not what these businesses were representing was actually feasible. Based on that they made their selections. Just imagine being granted $750,000 to build your product.

Breakdown of What’s Needed

When you walk into a meeting with these potential investors, it doesn’t pay to be prepared. It pays to be over prepared. Although a prototype is important, it’s not the only thing you need. Here is a quick breakdown of what you should have.

    1. A brief description about what your project is, which should include the users it targets, the problems it solves, and a personal or meaningful story they can connect with.

    2. The proof of concept which must be working flawlessly. If you can provide each person in the room with an option to play with the prototype that would be beneficial.

    3. Your revenue model which shows exactly how your product will make money, the projected revenue, development costs, maintenance costs, marketing costs, and long-term financial earning and costs.

    4. Survey results from you testing it in the market. It is really useful to have a test market of people who look at your prototype and provide feedback about usability, likeability, functions they find most useful if it solves their problem, and if they would use it.

Do keep in mind too much information can get overwhelming and boring so make sure you keep it interesting. Use personal stories in your presentation. Tell them to imagine a scenario first before starting so they have a story to go with the information. That being said none of this means anything without your PoC. To be completely honest, investors are way more likely to say yes with a PoC than without.

If you have a great idea in mind for an app, website, or custom software that you know should be in the market contact the team at SDI about getting your proof of concept or prototype created.

How to Build an Entertainment App Like Netflix

Netflix has become a giant in the world of entertainment. It’s what anyone building a streaming service strives to become. Most programs now have some sort of streaming app for set-top boxes as well as smartphone apps. Netflix has it all of course, but to get a better understanding of how they started out let’s go over a brief history.

A Brief History of Netflix

    1997 – 2 engineers (Reed Hastings, Marc Rudolph) founded the company. The service gave customers the ability to rent movies online then have them mailed to them.

    1999 – Keeping that same service they launched their monthly fee which gives their customers the ability to rent as many DVDs as they want.

    2003 – They reached 1 million subscribers.

    2007 – After 10 years of growth, they released their streaming service.

    2010 – They started streaming internationally.

    2012 – They aired their first original programming.

    2013 – House of Cards was released which led them to become the first online-based entertainment service to be nominated for an Emmy award.

    2016 – They launched their offline playback feature.

Over the years they have been growing at a substantial rate. Now they have well over 100 million users making over $10 billion in 2017. These numbers are continually growing. They are not going to be slowing down anytime soon. Their constant innovation and understanding of customer needs have helped lead them to the top.

Top Features

Netflix’s website, mobile, and streaming apps have pretty much become everyone’s normal. They all work together perfectly allowing you to resume any program from the same spot no matter what device you are on.

Their vast library of titles has been a major helping hand to this success story. There is no shortage of options to choose from and even though it can be overwhelming sometimes, it’s still something we love to use. They started their original work back in 2012 and have since then been increasing the number of those originals at a fast rate. With around 100 original titles there are still much more to come.

One of their more recent updates have been the ability to watch programs offline. You can watch your favorite titles without using data or wifi. For example, let’s say you have a flight coming up, you simply download the titles while you are on wifi prior to your travel. Now those titles are ready to view while you are up in there. In the menu of your Netflix app, they have a downloads section where you can access all of them.

The User Base

Your entertainment project may not include creating originals like Netflix and that is ok, it doesn’t have to be a part of your timeline. However, building a user-friendly entertainment app has to be done and done correctly. Understanding your audience and what they want is the most important aspect when you start to build an app or when trying to improve an already existing app.

Once you determine who your user base is it’s time to build a list of problems those users could be facing then come up with the solutions for them. For example, Netflix recently realized that parents wanted more things to watch with their kids but they didn’t have very many family-friendly options. Once they realized the problem they came up with a solution then implemented it thus gaining more subscribers. Once you know their needs, wants, and problems you can better define what functions and features need to be there.

The User Experience

Netflix has a pretty seamless experience that most find pretty easy to use. The design and placement of each function must be perfect. It has to make sense and done in a way that allows a user to do what they want in the shortest amount of steps possible.

UI/UX is very important for any app or website because it provides your users with an experience they will either love or be frustrated with. You can lose a lot of users if the UI/UX is not done correctly. Of course, if it is done right it can help build your user base. You can contact Sakshi at 408.621.8481 to learn more about this and building your project.

Building the Brand

Your brand is everything. It tells the users who you are and what you are about. Your marketing efforts and mission statement must reflect exactly that in a positive way. Focusing on your key features in a way that elicits emotions that solve the user’s problems they may be facing is key. The relationship with your customers is incredibly important, especially in the beginning. Those beginning customers can help you build positivity for your brand and spread the word. Making sure you connect with them and listening to them about issues can be invaluable.

Your brand recognition will not happen overnight, it takes some time. Netflix took 6 years to reach 1 million. They used a combination of the tools above and constantly evolved making their success story truly amazing. Your project can also be successful but you have to push yourself to get started and give yourself the time to perfect everything.

Whether you are starting from scratch or have a product already that you want to improve on you can do it with the right design, development, and marketing company like SDI behind you.

Get in touch with team@sdi.la or call us on 408.802.2885 for a free consultation and quote.

The Importance of the Internet of Things and It’s Predictive Capabilities

For those of you that don’t know, the Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us. You are probably using it and not realizing it. It’s been around quite a while but over the last couple of years, it has really grown to become something we can’t live without.

Let’s Define It

The internet! Something almost everyone uses on a regular basis. It’s all about the connection of over 8 billion different devices and the info that comes from them. However, these devices don’t need to connect to the internet which is an important part of the Internet of Things. It does use devices that require internet but it doesn’t necessarily run off of it.

The devices vary drastically as well. It can be a simple device that turns your lights on or something as complex as managing whole cities. It brings digital intelligence to the next level. The human side of things isn’t needed much or at all because the technology communicates with one another like a conversation without a person having to do much.

Here are some examples of how it is being used.

    Smartphones can be used to manage just about anything in your daily life. Everything in your house such as lighting, heating, the coffee maker…etc can be controlled. Do keep in mind that the devices in your house are a part of IoT but the smartphones are not.

    Self-driving cars are completely reliant on IoT as that is how it is able to drive itself.

    Various cities are installing thousands of devices to help the city understand the needs and wants of the people and other aspects.

    Planes that are collecting data from a bunch of little devices that are placed in the engine.

    You can contact Rob at 408.802.2885 to learn more about how IoT can be used.

The Internet of Things for Businesses

There are various ways IoT can help improve a business. It can track products, get details about customers & the company’s internal system to help understand and improve everything that your business does.

The data that these devices can provide is invaluable. If you have heard of Data Science IoT is a similar idea to that when it comes to gathering data. There is so much movement in the business world it can be incredibly difficult to keep track of everything with what works and what doesn’t. Collecting customer data to improve their experience and even something simple like making the lights and AC automatic can make a difference. Probably the greatest thing to happen to IoT is its predictive capabilities.

Predictive Capabilities

The weather is a great example of how IoT can make predictions. It uses various aspects such as wind speed, sun levels, and more to figure out more exact patterns. Yes, you may be thinking well the weather people tell me that already. That is true, but many times what happens isn’t what we were told. IoT can improve this gap in information a lot to make weather predictions more accurate.

You may also be thinking, how does this help my business. You would be surprised how weather can affect people’s behaviors. It can affect what people buy at the store, or if they go to the store versus staying in and buying online. The volume of calls customer service receives can also change based on weather. Imagine knowing what your customers or clients will do before they do it.

Even automakers can use these devices in the vehicle to help predict issues with the vehicles before they even happen. The auto industry is probably one of the biggest areas where IoT is being utilized to help improve driver safety, decrease accidents, and catch possible issues.

A retail store, for example, could use a beacon inside the store that can track each customer as to what they walk past and what they linger at. This information can help determine what the customer is more likely to purchase. What someone eats, what they watch, where they drive to, and more can all be tracked and businesses can use predictive analytics that tells them what they should do.

It is crazy how endless the possibilities are for the IoT. No matter what business you are in, there are amazing ways to gather important and specific data about various parts of your business. Once you have that data, analyzing it can then help you make predictions about things to come.

Contact us to get started on your IoT App, give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la today.

What is Data Science and How to Mine it

What Is Data Science

You may be thinking what is Data Science or I’ve heard of it, but not sure I understand it. Well, simply put it’s gathering data and then analyzing that data. It’s a concept that uses machine learning which uses processes and algorithms to receive data from various areas. It’s in the same realm as data mining. It’s basically the precursor to data mining. First is Data Science then Data Mining.

It’s a big term though because it really does encompass so many things such as math, statistics, visualization, data engineering, scientific method, and more. It is incredibly complicated and hard to truly explain the depth of it.

Companies are constantly in need of data scientists who can do most or all of those mentioned. Their goal for data science is usually to understand customer needs and wants. Once the data is gathered it’s time to understand what it means which can also be quite difficult. Then once you have the answers, you must then use it to make adjustments, keep things the same, or get rid of stuff.

Those that work in this industry are called Data Scientists – what a shocker this is their title. Anyway, those in this industry have to be knowledgeable in computer science, software development/programming, statistics, math, business domains, and more. Although most of these scientists are experts at only one of these things.

Data Scientist type jobs are on the rise because there is a growing need for data analysis. More often than not the volume of data that comes in is too much for 1 person or even 1 computer to handle. Also, when you are dealing with information that is about users it gets even more complicated because of security and privacy. The skills and tools needed to be able to work with this data must be vast.

However, there are also many tools out there that you as a business owner can use to help you mine it. We’re going to focus on Apache Spark since it has a bit of an edge over others.

Apache Spark: It’s about to get a bit more technical so don’t worry if you don’t understand it.

This is definitely at the top of the food chain for data scientists because its focus is on both operational and investigative analytics. Operational is on the technical side because it is about the actual software and languages used where investigative is the actual answers you receive that allow you to interpret the information.

You will generally get people or even tools that are geared toward one or the other so it requires quite a bit of manpower to do both. The question is shouldn’t everyone be able to understand all these different languages to really see the full picture. That would be great in a perfect world but that’s not really the case. The people and tools that can do everything are invaluable, Apache Spark being one of them.

The Positives

As mentioned this is a crossover platform that actually does both types of analytics making it a very important tool. If you are a Java programmer there will still be a little learning curve but since the library is used in Scala its easier.

Not only can Java programmers use this but so can Python, Scala and Crunch users. Spark uses pieces of everything so most users will find something familiar to use. Their data science can be implemented in the API’s that support integration, ETL, and more so it goes beyond just basic analysis.

Negative

It does have a machine-learning library and integrates with YARN, however, right now it’s pretty basic and doesn’t have a whole lot to it yet. It will grow and get better as time goes on so that is something to look forward to.

Stack Exchange and Hadoop

Spark uses stack exchange to dump all of the data in a simple way. Although Hadoop is integrated with the spark it is quite a bit complex. However, if CDH turns it around making it a lot easier because it integrates spark itself.

Anyone Can Use It

As mentioned most people can use a spark, it doesn’t matter if you only know 1 side. It’s pretty straightforward to figure out and you will see things you are used to seeing. If your company is in need of a tool to help you or your technical team, try this out. Data science is complicated enough, it’s good to have a well-rounded tool that looks at all data points and not just 1.

If you need assistance with data science for your business you can contact the SDI team here or email us at team@sdi.la who can work with you to understand your needs.