Why Data Encryption is Important For Your Business

Data encryption is the process of translating data into another form, or a code. It is only accessible to people with specific access to a secret key (formally called a decryption key) or password. Encrypted data is referred to as ciphertext and unencrypted data is termed as plaintext. Currently, encryption is the most popular and effective data security method used by organizations of all sizes. There are 2 main types of data encryption:

Symmetric Key Cipher: This is known as a secret key algorithm where there is a singular method of decoding the message that must be sent to the receiver before the message can be decoded. There will be a common key that will be used to encode and decode which is best suitable for individual users and closed systems.

Asymmetric Cryptography: This method uses two different keys (a public and a private key) that are interlinked together mathematically. The keys are large numbers that have been paired and synced with each other. They are not the same number, hence the term is known as asymmetric. You can share the public key with anyone, but the private key must remain confidential. Both can be used to encrypt a message, but the opposite key is used to encrypt and decode that message.

Why is data encryption important?

The main objective of data encryption is to protect and secure confidential digital data as it is stored on computer systems and seamlessly transmitted using the internet or other computer networks. Data privacy is very important especially if it’s going to be transmitted through the internet. The old form of data encryption standard (DES) has been replaced by modern encryption algorithms that play a critical role in the security of IT systems and communications.

These algorithms ensure confidentiality and drive key security initiatives like authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation. Authentication allows for the verification of a message’s origin and integrity provides proof that a message’s contents have not changed since it was sent.

Apart from protecting sensitive data from being stolen or compromised, data encryption also helps prove that the information is authentic and comes from the point of origin it claims to come from. It can also be used to verify the actual origin of a message and confirm that it hasn’t been altered during transmission.

In general, there are two distinct ways to you use data encryption:

1. Encrypting when it is “in transit” means you send your data somewhere else via the web, email, or anywhere other than just on your own device. When you encrypt data in transit, you are effectively using encryption to try to deter people from listening in on your conversations. The most common form of this encryption type is web traffic. A lot of websites, specifically financial, social media, and email websites now use this by default. Malware and viruses are kryptonite to any computer and/or website and they should be dealt with before you actually get one.

2. Encrypting when it is “at rest” means when it is stored on your device, which could be an integral part of the device, like a hard drive, removable drive, or a thumb drive. All of the major operating systems and familiar software applications provide the option to encrypt files and folders on your device. When you leverage this option, you must make use of a password that allows you to unlock and decrypt those files.

What are the risks for data encryption?

The speedy increase in encrypted traffic is altering the security landscape drastically. About 85% of CIO’s believe that their security defenses are less effective since they were unable to inspect the encrypted network traffic for attacks. Around 90% of the CIOs have or expect to suffer from a viable breach in which encrypted traffic is used to hide the attack. Encryption technology could be a helpful tool to keep out unwanted attacks but there is a possibility it could be a curse too.

In a nutshell, it is essential for the businesses to aggressively inspect the two security risks – tangible threats that include malware, and threat indicators such as signs that a malicious/risky party is scanning the network for vulnerabilities. Data security experts need to check encrypted traffic from all aspects of their business and audit the information from every session to understand the full ‘transaction’ of a particular piece of traffic.

Reasons why encrypting your data is crucial

Information / Data is the most valuable asset you own, and business owners should be aggressive when it comes to protecting it. Here are some reasons why you should encrypt your data:

1. Your customer’s contact information can be used to redirect payments to a different bank account

2. A good hacker can place orders for goods which your company is liable to pay for by making use of your supplier account details

3. An unused, locked, or ost or stolen mobile device containing sensitive information can be easily stolen through information like cached domain passwords, stored Wi-Fi passwords, and passwords saved in web browsers

Healthcare is a great example as they have taken serious measures to ensure that all patient data is secure. HIPAA plays an important role in healthcare and others should follow their lead in trying to secure their data.

What is the cost of data encryption?

Most organizations will never put a financial price on the protection of their data and that of your customers. The inability to protect data can destroy a company’s reputation and no one wants to work with an organization that may allow sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands. Experienced data security experts like SDI however, can easily help you out with encryption options that will suit your organization’s needs.

The cost depends on the company size and the level of encryption needed. Good companies can make a more cost-effective solution based on your needs all while still protecting your data from threats.

Whether it’s protecting your email communications, stored data, some type of encryption should be included in your lineup of security tools. While data encryption may seem like a daunting, complicated process, it is necessary and there are experts to help you.

Top HR software options to help you improve operations

How can HR software improve operations?

Increase Productivity Decrease costs Reduce Errors Stay Compliant Accurate Metrics

Before all the amazing software advances came along, if HR departments wanted to keep or track electronic records of their employees, the only option they had was a basic HR system hosted on-site and accessible to a select group of people. It was very limited and difficult to use. It’s why many businesses are switching to software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to make operations more efficient.

Today, HR departments have many functions that serve as a supportive background for the company by offering everything from skilled and talented labor to management training services, employee enrichment opportunities and so much more making the old technology obsolete. So it has become essential for HR companies and HR departments to leverage specialized software and tools that can manage and automate all their processes to effectively handle and manage all aspects of the labor force.

What are some of the benefits of HR software:

1. Productivity The most exciting benefit that HR software can provide increased productivity within your HR department. Implementing HR software can automate a huge number of HR functions, most notably payroll and benefits administration which helps your staffs to concentrate on your core business. This lets your HR workers focus on other core activities like attracting new hires and employee training strategies.

2. Reduced Errors Human errors are common and can result in serious complications both financial and legal. Even a misplaced decimal point could cause serious issues, but leveraging HR software reduces the amount of error to a bare minimum. HR software helps to automate all the common processes such as payroll information and attendance management to streamline the entire process. One of the biggest issues with payroll is security. The right software will have a secure client portal because this is necessary to reduce errors and security risks.

3. Compliance As mentioned above, errors can cost you a lot. Large, small, and mid-sized companies must all comply with a number of laws and because of that, managing the information of your employees can be tricky. HR software provides easy methods for managing all aspects of your business including compliance-related information.

4. Metrics Businesses must constantly review their own internal information and come up with strategies based on their inner workings and competition. HR software usually includes HR metrics tools that allow you to accurately gauge issues such as turnover rate, hiring costs, overhead etc. This leads to better decision making about how to proceed with various operations.

What are the top HR Software options to improve HR Operations?

1. BambooHR BambooHR is definitely a more compact HR software system that helps to govern different aspects of the recruitment and employee administration workload. With the availability of unique and useful HR management features, Bamboo is also the flagship product in this category. BambooHR designed with SMB’s and medium businesses in mind offers premium functionality within several affordable packages.

They provide a streamlined coworking experience for both employers and their employees. This tool has features like applicant tracking, time off tracking and complex leave management, payroll, performance administration, and helps you draft all popular reports with neatly categorized information. The price point is also pretty nice because it’s on the more affordable side.

2. Zoho People Zoho People is an amazing HR management software product which has been crafted as a comprehensive online HR package. It centralizes and secures all of your employees’ data and enables a true self-service portal where they can access information and have their requests approved instantly. Zoho People provides 360-degree insights and manages your workforce on the go with more attractive time and attendance features. This is also a lower cost option for HR departments.

3. Dayforce HCM Dayforce is good to go end-to-end workforce management suite developed by Ceridian Software. This HR software is considered to be one of the most advanced human capital administration systems, as it provides accuracy, agility, and visibility with payroll processing, time and attendance. This also has features that take care of all the hiring and onboarding processes.

Dayforce HCM streamlines the employers’ and employees’ experience by making the entire HRD records accessible on all devices. This software offers very sophisticated features and has a more moderate price point. It may not be the most expensive but it’s not the cheapest either.

4. SAP SuccessFactors Choosing a scalable HR software solution is nowhere close to an easy task, and a vendor’s reputation plays a major role in making the right decision. SuccessFactors is a leading and corporate-friendly suite by SAP which could be a perfect choice for you. SAP SuccessFactors is a hassle-free tool powering core HR needs, talent acquisition, and workforce analytics within a single dashboard.

With tremendous ability to track attendance, payroll, performance, benefits, recruiting, and onboarding this is one of the favorite HRD assistant software out there. The price is on the higher moderate side. It’s definitely worth it for companies with a lot of employees.

5. Kronos Workforce Central Kronos Workforce Central is one of the most reliable HRMS which focuses on engaging your employees, controlling labor costs and overheads, increasing productivity, and minimizing compliance risk in various corporate environments. With this system, you will get a single, automated solution to manage your employee schedules, and have access to all the important information. Kronos helps managers to make data-empowered decisions at any time, as this is available to use on the desktop and mobile devices. It’s a fairly inexpensive option too.

6. PeopleWorks PeopleWorks is a cloud-based human capital management software that streamlines HR processes through automation. This enables enterprises to handle their end-to-end human resource responsibilities and streamline all HR processes. The software holds a featured set of functionalities to facilitate recruitment, workforce management, payroll management, talent management, learning and development, and core HR responsibilities. Businesses can easily adapt to their changing requirements and handle all their functions in a single platform with their integrated modular approach. This is also a cheaper option.

7. iCIMS Talent Acquisition The iCIMS Talent Acquisition Platform offers cloud-based HR software that enables users to manage the entire candidate lifecycle. Some notable features are social media distribution, job posting, and career site search engine optimization (SEO). This tool also provides paperless workflow management that allows users to manage their compliance, assign and manage tasks effectively. This software is one of the more expensive options. It’s only useful if you are going to use almost all of the features it provides.

8. Recruitee Recruitee is a top-notch integrated cloud-based recruitment management and applicant tracking system (ATS) designed to assist start-ups, SMB ’s and midsize HR teams in organizing and managing their hiring process effectively. The product features include business branding, job posting, candidate sourcing, applicant tracking recruitment analyzing, and lot more.

This package enables the HR personnel to create customizable hiring workflows with drag and drop interface making it easy user experience. If hiring is your primary concern, then Recruitee is the right fit for you. It’s got a moderate price range which is perfect for mid-sized companies.

9. Namely Namely is an exclusive and premium cloud-based solution for organizations seeking a single comprehensive system to manage their human capital. This HR software solution helps midsize companies manage compliance and streamline everything starting from payroll, benefits and talent management.

Namely is a great fit for mid-sized companies. It’s also really useful for companies who are concerned about software fitting their unique needs. Namely is complex and has a lot to offer and can bend to your companies unique and complex infrastructure. Since it is quite complex it’s also a more expensive option.

10. ADP Workforce Now ADP Workforce Now is a robust HCM solution for companies with more than 100 employees. Their features include human resources management, payroll, benefits, talent management, compliance, time & labor management, and analytics and benchmarking. This fully integrated suite is built on a single DB, which automates data synchronization and thus helps the users to minimize manual administrative tasks exponentially. ADP Workforce Now also integrates with other HR and business applications via the ADP Marketplace and APIs. It’s one of the more expensive options but definitely worth it.

Can I create custom HR software for my business?

There is never a one-size-fits-all solution for any business. Every business has its own needs and requirements and sometimes those can be quite unique. When a company cannot find the right HR software available in the market to meet their unique needs, the option is to invest in a customized HR product can look attractive. Having it custom means every single function works specifically with the way your HR department functions. It will work and look exactly the way you want it to.

The first step is finding the right software development company to build an HR software that fits your business like a glove. Digital experts like SDI have ample experience in creating custom software solutions by understanding the entire structure of your business by innovative and out of the box thinking.

Whether you choose to go with an available HR software solution or planning to customize your new HR management software remotely, make sure about options use of the right strategies and tools that personalize, automates, and reduces the labor and cost. If you are ready to get started or wanted to learn more about options contact Rob LaPointe at rob@sdi.la or 408.802.2885.

Minimum Viable Product and why it is important in app development

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the first merchantable version of your product designed with minimal but sufficient features for early adopters. It also validates the assumptions of usability and demand based on which the final product is to be developed. To prevent loss of time, money and expectation, the minimum viable product (MVP) concept can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. To help you understand more, we will split MVP into three different components:

A. Minimum Yet Sufficient Features The minimum viable product has to be made with minimum resources but still works properly so that people can truly see the use of it. It should contain minimum yet sufficient features that give your customers the feeling that it is worth it to buy and/or use.

B. Viable The term viable is of great importance while explaining the definition of Minimum Viable Product as it drastically differentiates an MVP from a prototype. It is essential for a product to be alive and capable of working before being launched as an MVP to validate the assumptions and user expectations.

C. Validate The Assumptions Entrepreneurs do build their products based on certain assumptions like market, demand, and utility. Meanwhile, an MVP is designed in such a way to validate or invalidate these assumptions based on which the final product is built. The main objective of this development technique is that it assumes that early users can see the vision or promise of the final product and provide the feedback needed to guide developers forward.

What Are The Benefits and Disadvantages of Starting With an MVP?

Benefits:

The major benefit of starting with a minimum viable product before jumping into full app development mode is you can gain a complete understanding of your customers’ interest in your product without fully developing the app. You can find out whether your product will appeal to customers with less effort and expense. App development costs can be overwhelming but you don’t have to spend all the money and time creating a full-featured product that may or may not succeed in the market. In a nutshell, adopting with MVP technique will:

Bring extensive focus towards the product’s core value proposition and efficiency

Reduces consecutive rework

Create relationships with your customers at the very early stage

Reduces your budget exponentially

Disadvantages:

The minimum viable product approach still requires a decent amount of upfront work and effort in order to get reliable customer feedback. It might require consecutive development efforts for various product releases, which demand revisions based on the customer’s feedback. Team agility is a major factor to make your MVP approach successful.

SDI has extensive experience in helping serial entrepreneurs, first-time founders, product owners & existing business owners to build their MVP’s with an agile development approach. Companies like SDI make sure that each product development iteration is driven intelligently to meet your customer’s needs from the beginning.

Some Examples of Successful Minimum Viable Products

Here are some of the companies that got their MVP right and what they did to go on and launch some of the hottest products in the market:

1. Facebook What the MVP version of Facebook did was connect students together via their college or class and allow them to post messages to their boards. Even though this idea already existed in Friends Reunited and other social platforms, the simplicity, and user-friendly navigation of Facebook’s approach gained them huge traction amongst the college graduates which proved unstoppable and successful. After this MVP, they tirelessly added features according to user’s feedback and trends that made them an undeniable daily utility app for the users across the globe.

2. Airbnb Slashing out the middleman and providing short-term renting option is the key mission statement behind the invention of Airbnb. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia lived in an apartment in San Francisco and they had difficulties paying their rent. That’s when they decided to give it a try and fulfill one of their dreams to start a business and now Airbnb has grown organically and exponentially. First releasing a simplistic way to list your place and for people to book.

3. Groupon Vouchers and discounts are pretty old concepts but Groupon took this idea of sharing, socializing, and discounts to new heights. They started their MVP with a simple WordPress website and regular PDFs and emailed them to the early subscribers. The test proved successful, and the company then built its own voucher system and backend, driving it to the success it is today.

4. Zappos Zappos was founded by Nick Swinmurn who went into shoe retailing with no stock. He just took photos of the shoes that he wanted to sell in stores and if customers ordered them, he then physically purchased and sold them. This proved to be a great way to test a market if you don’t have access to the product, but have an MVP model you think will definitely succeed.

5. Dropbox Dropbox’s MVP approach goes 1 step further because they didn’t make any product at all. Instead, they pretended they had it by creating an explainer video of the product. It was to check if their file-syncing idea would attract people. They avoided the risk of developing apps, creating infrastructure and investing huge amounts of money. Instead, they revealed their product idea and practically overnight, they attracted over 70,000 people who mounted up with emails and wanted to get the product right away.

What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Developing an Minimum Viable Product?

A minimum viable product is a simple concept but often misunderstood by entrepreneurs and business owners. Introducing a new product to the market is very risky. In order to minimize the risk factors, an MVP is created but unfortunately, despite their efforts, some business owners still fail at this stage. Here are 2 common mistakes that you should avoid when developing your MVP:

1. Hiring the Wrong Team The development team you hire resembles the heart of your MVP. If your hiring decision goes wrong, you will have no chance left to make your idea successful. Hiring an improper and inexperienced team can be an MVP’s downfall since developing a minimum viable product requires a fast-paced team of software developers, business analysts, software designers, and project managers. Also, their accountability plays a major role.

2. Skipping the Prototype Phase Prototyping aka proof of concept is a major and instrumental phase that helps you focus while you develop an MVP. This is a visual representation of your idea that brings your idea to life and is influential in dispelling any doubts the investors might have about the product. Some of the main features of prototyping include:

Interface architecture: This phase focuses on building the base structure, as well as the information and the interaction foundation of the application you are planning to develop.

Low-fidelity interactive prototyping: This phase includes the development of low-fidelity mockups to map out your application’s information that includes interactive elements.

High fidelity interactive prototyping: This is a visually appealing phase which includes high-fidelity graphic images and will have a lot of interactive elements that allow you to navigate in and around your application.

Production design: This is the final phase of your prototype’s lifecycle. With this phase, the consolidated user feedback will be implemented. To make the transition into development smoother and easier, your prototype’s graphical elements will be prepared for SDLC.

It is sometimes very hard to distinguish what an MVP actually is. To make your road to success smoother and easier, minimum viable product development would be the best approach. Start aligning your customer expectations and business needs today by partnering with the industry experts – SDI by reaching Sakshi Sharma at sakshi@sdi.la or 408.621.8481

How to get your mobile app development completed and to market fast

How to mobile app development done quickly

Conceptualize your idea Understand your target market Prototype the functions which match what users want Virtualize development and test environments Design and user experience must be perfect Proper testing Stick to the plan

In this fast-paced world, the mobile app market is expanding drastically. The Google Play store has well over 3 million apps and the Apple Store is home to over 2.2 million apps. More and more businesses are adding a mobile app to their repertoire. Mobile app marketing is becoming more competitive than ever. To ensure visibility of your app in such a huge arena, you need to be more specific about the methodology being followed for mobile app development. To create a successful and featured mobile app you need to follow a systematic and defined process to app development.

Mobile app success is an exciting journey and not a one-step process. Businesses strive over time to refine their mobile app to better meet the needs of their customers and accomplish success. Being a business owner, you will most likely know when you want the mobile app development to be completed so that you can launch it. If you really want to be on time, you must have an app development company which follows a process-oriented approach starting from requirement gathering to app store submission. Let’s deep dive into the strategies you need to handle during your mobile app development.

What are the steps to creating a successful app for my business?

Many times people dive head first into their mobile app development with no strategy or clue about the process. This is especially common for those who are building their first app. They also tend to ignore and dismiss some really important factors which could lead the app to success. The lack of planning can lead to complications which in turn destroys their momentum, the app to market time, and costs more money, time and resources.

Here are some strategies that could help you in making your mobile app development journey a successful and ensuring you are quick to the market.

1. Conceptualize your app idea:

Great apps were built based on great ideas. Conceptualizing your ideas plays a critical role in mobile app success. In this phase, you should:

Identify a problem which can be resolved by your app – There should be a valid reason for any app to exist. For example, Uber was developed with an objective to offer convenient, cost-effective and safe riding experiences to its users. Like this, your app should possess a concrete objective to resolve a real-time problem.

Decide the features of your app – If an app fails, it happens during this phase. It is advisable to only use a couple of the most important features your app has to have. Keep the other features for a later version. This significantly helps speed up the mobile app development phase and gets you to the market much faster.

Decide your revenue model – When you are building an app, it is important that you understand what the best way would be to monetize your app. There are many options but you must analyze many different factors like target audience to determine the right course of action. Once you do, make sure you stick with it.

Defining the target market & audience – It is essential to define your target audience in advance even before starting to develop the app, it could prove highly beneficial. This ensures every decision you make is about what your users will like most.

The app should provide users with tangible benefits and also provide them with great experiences that keep them engaged.

2. Collaborate

Current agile development methodologies like scrum, encourage ongoing collaboration in application requirements definition and development between end users and the software team. The more you keep the end users actively engaged in the mobile app development process, the less you will have to worry about the app drifting from businesses expectations. When you meet business expectations dead-on the first time, your apps can be placed into production without delays or complications.

3. Prototype

There are multiple prototyping tools like Marvel, Moqups, and Invision that enables users and developers to see the flow and layout of the app. Whenever you incorporate a new app element, create a working prototype for end users to test drive and comment on can be incredibly useful. It is advisable to make adjustments in earlier stages of the mobile app development process than right before the app is scheduled to be completed.

4. Virtualize development and test environments

It is time-consuming to configure physical hardware and software for app testing and development. A better approach is to use your own virtualized development and test environments so that the developers can have dedicated test and development systems. With virtualization, the strain on your database administration process will also be reduced since the configuration and deployment of virtual systems are quicker.

5. Work on usability as much as technical features

Many data errors and end user trouble reports are generated because of poor navigation and screen or design elements. Giving ample time to usability and technical design (UI/UX) can go a long way toward ensuring that your users enjoy and play with your app without uninstalling it due to the frustration they face.

6. Don’t forget quality assurance

It is important to thoroughly test an application from a user experience and technical performance standpoint. Firms are still seeing 50% of programming time being committed to software maintenance which happens because apps fail or don’t do what they are expected to do. This can be achieved by designing apps that work correctly for the first time and every time, thereby freeing up maintenance staff so you can redirect those resources into new mobile app development. However, keep in mind app maintenance will always be needed because technology is always changing and it will need updates.

Know What Your Customer Wants Before Building Your App

If you want consumers to use your app every day, making it an integral part of their daily lives. To make this happen and be successful, your app must offer something a consumer finds useful and easy to use. This means it should have the ability to provide more than a piece of one-time-use information that could easily be accessed on a website. Keep your customers engaged and help them to think out of the box while they use your app.

For example, the Starbucks app allows its customers to pay their bills directly and gives them reward points based on every penny they spend. Users of all kind expect a sense of personalization and as a business owner, it is essential to capture this in your mind and coordinate with the software solution providers like SDI in accomplishing it.

Is it worth it to pay more for app development?

Think about some of the most recent products or services that you’ve bought. Whether it’s a bike, cell phone, or cleaning services, there are different pricing concepts depending on certain parameters. This is the decade where almost every business is gearing up their mobile strategy. Even though it seems pricey and may not be reasonable for every business, you get what you pay for. If you want the mobile app development and design team to build your app correctly the first time, it’s not going to be cheap.

If you have a glance over at the Apple and Google Play Store, you’ll see over a million different apps which were built by independent developers, yet many of these apps will never earn a penny. You can’t expect to build a featured app for just a few dollars. Of course, that doesn’t mean spending a ton automatically means success because it doesn’t. Focus on getting results and getting your objectives accomplished instead of being super stringent on the budget. Also, be careful if a quote sounds too good to be true it probably is. You should know what the proper pricing is and how to avoid development scams before you look.

Developing a mobile app for your business is an investment, which can pay off immensely. It is the most powerful promotional channel, client base, e-catalog, online-shopping marketplace, consulting service platform there is. It’s vital to open new horizons and effectively handle a higher level of competition. Formulating your mobile app development this way helps reduce as many hurdles as possible, will keep your time to market schedule as accurate as possible, and lead to a better app launch. Partner with SDI – Silicon Valley’s top-notch mobile app development experts with more than a decade of experience across all industry verticals. Talk with our experts today and get a free app quote at: +1.408.802.2885 / +1.408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la