Startup Summer with Howard Diamond

Startup Summer

Startup summer

Popularity surrounding startup companies and culture is at an all-time high.  There’s a hit HBO TV show called Silicon Valley, and a clothing line at Banana Republic called “The Startup Guy .” And now, there’s Startup Summer!

Startup Summer is an internship program for college students looking to pursue a career in entrepreneurship. In addition to top-notch financial, technical, and managerial expertise from some of the entrepreneurs in the startup community, the program offers immediate exposure to startup culture. The everyday interactions with these CEO’s who know what it takes to make it are what make this experience so unique. They provide students with the necessary tools and advisement in order to build their own startup.

In addition to the one-on-one interactions students get with the head honcho’s, they also attend a series of startup seminars. As a sponsor of Startup Summer, MobileDay hosted an event Monday evening where students came to listen and learn from our CEO Howard Diamond. We were impressed by the questions the attendees asked, and the active participation.

Check out the blog written by the Startup Summer participants.

How to Make a Reliable App

reliable app

 Making a Reliable App

What’s one of the most important qualifications for a reliable app? Stability. Nobody wants to deal with a buggy app that causes a frustration overload. A mobile application with poor stability quickly leads to abandonment. According to research from TechCrunch, mobile application crashes and freezes are the leading types of problems encountered by users who experienced a problem with their mobile app.

Plan for all Possible Outcomes

In reality, there are so many factors that go into developing a mobile app, that it is hard to plan for all possible outcomes. Our friends at Pronq by HP outline a few popular approaches to avoid development crashes, such as surrounding your code with a Try/Catch Block, and implementing an exception handling strategy. Both methods possess potential temporary solutions but fail to eliminate the exception on a long-term basis. Bottom line: neither approach can ensure 100% coverage, so the work does not stop there.

There are several digital libraries for reporting application crashes. Application Crash Report for Android (ACRA) is a popular crash report library among Android users.  It allows the application to catch and report an error and its details moments before the application crashes, even if a user doesn’t proactively report the error. While ACRA is an effective tool, it contains potential drawbacks and considerations.

HP AppPulse Mobile is another tool that provides application crash tracking. AppPulse Mobile reports a crash and directly correlate the crash to the root cause user action.

At MobileDay we use Crittercism for app performance monitoring. The tool performs root cause analysis of problems, and prioritizes business critical issues. It is absolutely essential for our app to perform reliably, and without this tool we wouldn’t get a real-time view of app diagnostics and crashes. We’re able to act quickly and prevent issues from arising rather than reacting quickly when they do arise!

Other Reliable App Strategies

We know that practice makes perfect. We’re constantly improving, undergoing application-testing every day to make sure our users’ work lives run smoother. MobileDay offers consistent application functionality, optimal security protection, and lightning fast customer response times so we can make our user experience as ideal as possible.

Our testing procedures to ensure stability are extensive. Every employee in our company is involved with testing the application – we go through training to learn how to effectively test and how to report problems with our conference calling app. One favorite test is adding an email account to the phone and syncing 4,000 contacts with meetings every few minutes – we use this test to find out how the app acts when the phone is bogged down with tons of information, simulating a busy business professional’s experience. If the app is anything but flawless, it’s reported and addressed right away.

Simple Conferencing

One touch conference calling

Stability is an essential component of an effective app. No matter how awesome the app features are, if it experiences frequent crashes or slows down with too much information, it cannot possibly be relied upon. MobileDay works hard to make sure that our users can steadfastly depend on dialing into their conference calls with one touch, because otherwise they’d have to *shudder* dial all the numbers themselves (now that would just be silly)!

 

Deploying Simple Enterprise Apps

Standing-Desk-01

The terms “Simple” and “Enterprise” are rarely spoken in the same breath, but at MobileDay we’ve learned how to bridge the gaps with our simple enterprise apps and infrastructure. We know first-hand that many enterprise apps can be a headache for users and even worse for IT, so from the beginning we set our sights on building simple enterprise apps that are easy on the end user, trivial for our customers’ IT departments to manage, and cost effective for us to maintain while making changes rapidly.

It’s not always easy being free

At the core of MobileDay’s app strategy is that it’s a free app available for iOS and Android. It syncs with the phone’s existing calendar, and enables the user to start dialing into conference calls within seconds. With no purchase required, no separate enterprise version, no registration process or complex configurations, the simplicity of MobileDay probably seems straightforward, but in reality it has taken us a lot of work to accomplish this. In addition to the free app, we have created MobileDay Advantage, an enhanced version that unlocks Dynamic Dialing seamlessly for everyone in an organization.

To make this possible, it’s necessary to build intelligence into the cloud. We host everything with top-tier vendors like Amazon, MongoLab, and Redis Labs so that our infrastructure “just works” and we can focus on building features and deploying them quickly on a daily or weekly basis. We’re obsessed with data so that we learn quickly and accurately from our mistakes as well as successes, capturing real-time app metrics with Localytics and Crittercism, and monitoring our cloud with New Relic, Pingdom, and JumpCloud. Dialing rules are pushed on the fly so that customers can take advantage of them without requiring an app update.

Being able to iterate quickly also enables quick reactions to customer and user feedback. We have a close-knit agile scrum team operating strict two week sprints with the option of multiple cloud and app deployments limited only by the Apple review cycle on the iOS side (typically around a week), and this means that an idea we get on a Wednesday can be planned that Friday, built the following week, tested, submitted, and released the week after. Doing this for a mobile app is great, but doing it for a widely deployed enterprise app is even better and is a welcome (if sometimes surprising!) relief to our customers who’re used to cumbersome processes and lengthy turnaround times for the features from their typical “enterprise” apps and vendors.

Security & Privacy, our two best friends

Finally, security and privacy are both crucial for an enterprise app that both the user and IT can trust. Plenty of apps start out scraping and syncing every piece of data they can get their hands on and either bury it in legalese or then scale back with tricky configuration options in response to bad press. We took the opposite approach,  taking a hard look at how much work we could accomplish on the device, the bare minimum data we could sync to our cloud to achieve the functionality we need, and then constantly refine and limit it further as our features evolve. We only send very basic dial-in number and aggregate usage metadata to our cloud to enable syncing the proper dialing configuration to a device and all the in-depth parsing of calendar events and contacts, use of location information, and any information about the actual calls made by a user remain securely in memory, in the app, on the device. This usually requires more work  to build, but we know how critical  it is to our customers.

Internal security is another top priority when developing an enterprise-ready app.  We may do many things like a startup, but we put the jokes aside when it comes to privacy and customer data. We use strong two-factor authentication for all systems that touch customer information, perform regular audits and security scans of both our mobile apps and cloud. We run a very closed-loop DevOps program where the same engineers who build and test code also deploy it to production, maintain it, support it, participate in our on-call rotation, and see any issues through to resolution and future process improvement. For us DevOps is total synergy of development and operations under one team with the exact same priorities and ownership of the outcome.

We’ve done something pretty special by making simple apps with enterprise clout that users actually WANT to use and IT departments actually WANT to deploy. We’re constantly learning and if you’re a MobileDay user we’d love to hear what you think!

Three Tools to Decrease Customer Response Times

Customer response time is one of the most underestimated strategies to grow your tech business to the next level.  When customers only have to put forth a minuscule amount of effort to talk to a support team, their loyalty increases and impression of the company improves drastically.  Whether the interaction is one on social media or an inquiry that takes some concentration to deal with, it is important to maintain a response that will meet or, preferably, exceed expectations of the customer.

Adam Toporek, author of Customers That Stick, found that 96% of customers who reported a high effort customer service experience were disloyal to the company in the future, and that 2/3 said they will not spend money with companies that require a high amount of effort to reach.  Accoring to the article “Consumers rarely get the two-way dialog with brands they want on social media” in TechJournal, studies from the Lithium Network Conference found that Leading-edge technology and a mature, strategic approach to measurement can help companies realize the full potential of responding and interacting with customers. 

There are a variety of tools businesses can use to organize and execute their specific response time goals. MobileDay’s use of VictorOps, FreshDesk, and Pivotal Tracker enable us to be as efficient as possible.

 

Freshdesk

FreshDesk helps organize and prioritize email inquiries from customers and creates the ability to forward certain emails to certain employees, as well as canned responses to respond quickly to common questions.

 

victorops

VictorOps has given MobileDay the ability to page specific employees based on the knowledge and expertise needed to answer a customer.  With certain tools and an emphasis on getting back to customers, MobileDay has achieved an average response time of 3.5 hours and that increases with paying customers, executives, and social media responses.

 

PivotalTracker provides a way for MobileDay to implement agile methods to craft the roadmap of the product.  We have several touch points with the customer including: Facebook, independent blogs, Twitter, Google Play Store reviews, Apple App store reviews, and customer support tickets. Different people handle these touch points, and Pivotal Tracker is the centralized location for us to submit requests internally. These requests are then received by the engineering team, and the priorities are laid out. This creates an organized system of internal communication that ensures delivery of the most desired features for our customers.

 

The use of these tools is critical to MobileDay’s short response time. We work hard to make sure all of our team members are fluent in the tools, and that they use them consistently.  Prioritizing inquiries, the right person being notified of a problem, and seamless internal communication are our keys to success.

MobileDay Advantage ensures that our clients have a Dedicated Success Team that is available 24/7. This requires us to have systems and procedures in place to make sure that if something comes up, not only will somebody be there to react, but it will be a person who has the skills to address the issue immediately.

Download MobileDay for iPhone or Android, or contact sales for more information on MobileDay Advantage