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

 

One-Touch Dialing – make life a little bit simpler

The guardian

One-touch dialing is all about productivity and making life a bit easier.

Previous to joining MobileDay, I recall a time when I was at my house getting ready for work and suddenly realized that I was already 1 minute late to a conference call. Panicking, I had to open my email and furiously search for the conference number. It was some obscure number coupled with a pin number AND a password. And I couldn’t find a pen to write it down. I finally found some lipstick and wrote the information on the mirror, and by the time I finally got into the call, I was about 5 minutes late and half crazed. Not the most productive conference call I’ve ever been part of.

MobileDay enables people to calmly dial into conference calls in the shortest time possible, without the use of lipstick as a writing instrument.

I found an article titled “How mobile enterprise apps allow micro-moments of productivity at work,” and it immediately brought to mind the effortless simplicity of MobileDay.

As the article says, what may at first seem like an insignificant micro improvement in productivity may in the long run add up and make a big difference. Not to mention that sometimes the improvement takes you from frantically scrambling for something, ANYTHING, to write with, to being reminded of your call and effortlessly and joining by pressing one big green button. Micro improvements may often times be overlooked because they seem so straightforward or obvious. In reality, if an application provides a micro improvement, it is likely an incredibly elegant application that has been very carefully developed to seem effortless.

A study cited in the article from Salesforce.com relates the three most important considerations when developers are building apps for “micro-moments.” They include: the user experience, design, and concept. The idea behind “concept” is that it’s called “micro” moment for a reason. A simple app should not overwhelm the user with all of its features, but should solve one problem, and do it well.  The concept of the app should be clean and uncluttered so that the user can understand in a heartbeat what the app is intended to help them with.

I find apps to be helpful not because they drastically revolutionize my life. I have a singular need, and my favorite apps solve the precise need in the shortest time possible, without trying to push other functionality that I’m not seeking. I happen to know that lots of people have the same pain that I experienced in the lipstick incident.

Gotta love apps that make life a little bit simpler!

 

Salesforce.com Recognizes Latest MVPs

Salesforce.com Spring '13 MVPs MobileDay App for SFDC Integration

Last week, via their blog, Salesforce.com released their Spring 2013 list of distinguished MVPs:

“It’s that time again to recognize a fresh crop of Salesforce MVPs. This marks our 7th class of MVPs, and the talent just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Not only do we have 24 brand new MVPs, we also have 22 that have been re-rewarded MVP status and will be serving another year with us!

The MVP Program has been around since December 2011, and recognizes exceptional individuals from within the Salesforce Community for their leadership, expertise and ongoing contributions. These individuals answer countless questions and tweets, write helpful blogs, lead user groups, submit top ideas, write and share complex formulas, share best practices and much, much more!” (click here to view the original article)

New Spring ’13 MVPs

Brent Downey (@brentdowney)

Peter Churchill (@britishboyindc)

Chris Zullo (@chriszullo)

Kevin Poorman (@codefriar)

Ryan Ozimek (@cozimek)

James Loghry (@dancinllama)

David Habib (@DavidJHabib)

Ehren Foss (@ehrenfoss)

Eric Dreshfield (@ericdresh)

Gorav Seth (@goravseth)

Jackie Travieso (@JackieForce)

Maria Belli (@JustAGirlyGeek)

Kevin O’Hara (@kevino80)

Launa Saunders (@LaunaSaunders)

Mary Pustejovsky (@mpusto)

Edward Schlicksup (@SchlicksupE)

Kayla Longe (@seriouslykyla)

Steven Herod (@sherod)

Thomas Taylor (@tet3)

James Garfield (@James__Garfield)

David Cheng

Kathy Lueckeman

Jonathan LaRosa

Andrew Fawcett (@andyinthecloud)

Re-rewarded Spring ’13 MVPs

Ankit Arora (@forceguru)

Cory Cowgill (@corycowgill)

Adam Bataran (@AdamBataran)

Aiden Martin (@amartin_nl)

Amber Neill (@amber9904)

Andrew Gross (@MrNeatHawk)

Andy Ognenoff (@aognenoff)

David Pier (@davidpier)

Deepa Patel (@HalakConsulting)

Elizabeth Davidson (@eliz_beth)

Geraldine Gray (@GeraldineGray)

Jared Miller (@jaredemiller)

Jason Atwood (@JasonMAtwood)

Jason Paquette (@PaquetteJason)

Jason Venable (@TehNrd)

Jennifer Phillips (@CRMjen)

Judi Sohn (@judis217)

Justin Edelstein (@JustEdelstein)

Marco Casalaina (@amrcn_werewolf)

Matt Lamb (@SFDCMatt)

Nik Panter (@nikpanter)

Scott Hemmeter (@arrowpointe)

We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the Spring 2013 MVPs, and encourage them to try MobileDay Sales - our newest version of the app that works with Salesforce to save its users valuable time.

Take a look at what Salesforce MVP Jeff Grosse (@CRMFYI) had to say about MobileDay’s new features in his latest blog post, or download the free MobileDay app in iTunes or Google Play.

 

Top 6 Blogs for Frequent Flyers

I am somewhat of a road warrior, where I am in my car a lot. Personally, I travel by airline a lot less for business now being in a startup with an eye on the budget. Technology is an equalizer here. Web applications, mobile apps and the internet on my smartphone and my iPad provide me with the business tools to get work done.  Frequent flyers for business have an equal need to remain productive when mobile.

In my own experience I found that life on a plane is not that difficult, rather, it’s the planning, scheduling and work in between that can get our of hand.  Here are a few notable resources for frequent flying business people to help become more efficient when not ‘wheel up’.

business_travel

The Middle Seat Terminal - @middleseat
The Wall St Journal’s frequent flyer blog provides industry news, booking strategies including this great guide to when it’s worth paying for flyer status.

The Points Guy@thepointsguy
All the latest miles and frequent flyer credit cards deals plus hotel and airline reviews to help you maximize the return from your frequent flyer miles, credit card points and hotel points.

UPGRD@upgrd
Two dozen travel bloggers review their experiences, top-tier travel amenities, and how to leverage your points to get the upgrade for cheaper.

FlyerTalk@flyertalk
The world’s most popular frequent flyer community provides blogs and forums to discuss the latest industry news and rewards programs

Road Warriorette @RoadWarriorette
Besides reviewing frequent flyer programs, this blog reviews luggage and other travel accessories, covers travel etiquette and questions about TSA security screenings from a woman’s perspective.

Frugal Travel Guy@frugaltravelguy
Rick Ingersoll, the Frugal Travel Guy, provides hints and tips on “seeing the world at prices you can afford” for both leisure and business. Which rewards credit card has no foreign transaction fee? How do you spend a week in Cape Town on rewards points alone? Read his blog to find out.

BYOD: Mobile Device Management (MDM) Matters

The use of personal devices in business continues to be a growing IT trend. Some call it the “Consumerization of IT”, where employees make a personal choice on what hardware they desire to use to do their job, be it a laptop, smartphone or other. Some experts view this as boon for IT hardware expense reduction while others see trouble ahead in the form of data security and unnecessary additional expense due to managing those initially rogue devices. The shared value is usually around employee productivity. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) leads to Bring Your Own App (BYOA) as a personal device choice leads to more personal choices on which apps make an employee more efficient. Giving the employee the choice on which device to use provides a level of satisfaction and freedom to work how, where and when they want, a clear indication of why this trend is so prominent.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is software that helps IT teams monitor, manage and secure any mobile devices a company, including those brought by the employees. Distribution and configuration of devices and apps are now centrally managed to control the security risk and ultimately the cost.

There are a lot of companies that develop and provide MDM software to manage the increasing number of mobile devices used by employees. Of them, here are 6 popular choices for a CIO or IT manager to choose from.

MDM company and analyst information via – Solutions Review

mobileiron

  • Overview: Positioned in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software 2011, MobileIron is solving the problems CIOs face as business data and applications move to smartphones and tablets. The MobileIron Virtual Smartphone Platform and the MobileIron Connected Cloud are the first solutions to give IT and users real-time intelligence and control over mobile content, activity, and apps in order to secure the enterprise, reduce wireless cost, and improve the mobile user experience.
  • Gartner: “MobileIron launched its product in September 2009, and has seen very quick growth in sales, mind share and market share, outselling most MDM platforms in the past year. Built from the ground up, it is solely focused on mobility management, incorporating the Virtual Smartphone Platform (VSP) architecture to support security, data visibility, application management and access control. It does not provide encryption or VPN capabilities outside of what is provided on the device. MobileIron was one of the first vendors to combine MDM with network service management.”

Airwatch logo

  • Overview: AirWatch is the global leader and innovator of enterprise-grade smartphone security and mobile device management solutions. Positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software 2011, AirWatch helps to deploy, secure, track and manage an enterprise’s entire fleet of Android, Apple iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Windows 7 devices.
  • Gartner: “Has done a good job scaling its business during the past year…one of the more innovative companies, adding features before most of its competitors.”
  • Forrester: “AirWatch boasts both strong on-premises and hosted MDM and WLAN management solutions.”

Good logo

  • Overview: Good Technology combines award-winning enterprise-grade mobile security and control with an exceptional user experience, allowing enterprise and government employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate on iPads™, iPhones®, Android™, Windows Phone and other leading smartphone platforms. Good opens new possibilities for maximizing business and personal productivity by providing secure, easy-to-use, and instant mobile access to email, collaboration, application, document editing and device management capabilities on iOS and Android devices. Good also enables secure mobile application and secure, custom social media platform development.
  • Gartner: “Good for Enterprise is a mobility suite that supports mobile collaboration with strong support for security and management. The main components of the suite include: Good Mobile Control, for MDM; Good Mobile Access, for secure access to corporate data; Good Mobile Messaging, for secure wireless email. Good Technology’s MDM and security capabilities are sold as part of the entire mobility suite (i.e., not sold as individual products) and require the adoption of Good Mobile Messaging product for wireless email, including Good’s email client. It replaces the email server’s native mobile support. Through its native email client, it enforces separation between corporate and personal data; however, many MDM capabilities are available in the email client only. Good Technology provides the strongest implementation of containerization for the email client, on iOS, Android and Symbian devices. It also supports data leakage prevention (e.g., prohibiting the saving of email attachments outside the container).”

symantec logo

  • Overview: Symantec Mobile Management provides strong and complete policy management across the widest range of mobile platforms. Functionality around centralized control, user enrollment, configuration management, application distribution and helpdesk management facilitate comprehensive lifecycle management of devices irrespective of the type and ownership. In addition to MDM, Symantec’s mobility portfolio helps secure remote access using strong authentication and helps to protect information using encryption, data loss prevention and anti-malware. As these capabilities are built on a scalable platform used to manage thousands of endpoints, enterprises can enable large mobile deployments confidently and efficiently.
  • Gartner: “Acquired Odyssey Software after the end of the evaluation period and will fully integrate its console and mobile DLP solution into the Symantec security solution, SMM. SMM provides Symantec’s first competitive entry in the MDM market.”

zenprise logo

  • Overview: Zenprise is the leader in secure mobile device management. Only Zenprise protects all layers of the mobile enterprise, keeping organizations secure and compliant. Zenprise MobileManger™ and Zencloud™ let IT say “yes” to mobile device choice while safeguarding sensitive corporate data, shielding the network from mobile threats, and maintaining compliance with regulatory and corporate policies. This gives IT peace of mind, lets executives take their businesses mobile, and makes employees productive while on the go. Whether delivered as an on-premise mobile device management server or cloud solution, Zenprise MobileManager lets you manage the device lifecycle across every major platform—iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. And do so with the industry’s easiest-to-use solution.
  • Gartner: “Zenprise has done a good job in increasing visibility among midsize and large companies during the past year, and continues to innovate and lead in vision for the MDM market.”

MaaS360 logo

  • Overview: Fiberlink is the recognized leader in software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for secure enterprise mobile device and application management. Its cloud-based MaaS360 platform provides IT organizations with mobility intelligence and control over mobile devices, applications and content to enhance the mobile user experience and keep corporate data secure across smartphones, tablets and laptops. MaaS360 helps companies monitor the expanding suite of mobile operating systems, including Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Named by Network World as the Clear Choice Test winner for mobile device management solutions and honored with the 2012 Global Mobile Award for “Best Enterprise Mobile Service” at Mobile World Congress, MaaS360 is used to manage and secure more than one million endpoints globally.
  • Forrester: “Despite being a relative newcomer to the MDM space, Fiberlink’s single pane of glass, web-based console and experience with and commitment to security and compliance in the cloud computing arena has earned the vendor traction with the US federal government and a place on customers’ shortlists.”
  • Gartner: “Fiberlink’s MaaS360 Platform is a pure MDM cloud services offering, for organizations aiming to support both corporate and personal devices. Existing embedded platforms (BES, EAS and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler) are included in MaaS360 management via a single “cloud extender” agent that is deployed in the LAN.”