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How to Develop a Dream Product? Product Strategy and its Implementation

08/19/202110 minute read

Do you have a product in mind, but aren’t sure which method or process to dive into? We’ve got you covered! We interviewed Valery Semiletau, Softvoya’s CEO and expert in scrum tactics and strategic product launches.

How does Softvoya develop a product strategy and what approaches do you use  to improve it?

Valery: If we are talking about product development, then everything is simple: we take analysts, develop “Vision and Scope” and proceed to its implementation. If we talk about product development & launch strategy, then this includes a whole range of measures that must be interconnected: financial, development and marketing plans.  Product owners in the industry often make the classic mistake of copying corporate practices for their product strategy and launch,  but if we launch something brand new or want to test an idea, corporate methods are too expensive for startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. We recommend a simple strategy that can fit on a “napkin.” At the beginning stages of product launch, most customers have limited data on market research and hypothesis testing, so without this important data it’s impossible to build an accurate financial plan and ROI to match big corporate budgets.

The most important aspect in a napkin size product strategy is the market you play in.  At Softvoya, this analysis helps us better understand the other players competing in your industry, the total market capacity, the target audience for the product and an analysis of competing web, social, and foot traffic. Based on this information, we can calculate the investment needed for marketing to attract your target audience, but these numbers only answer one simple question: “is there a potential for profitability with this product?”

We recommend conservative strategies for our customers and plan for the scenario if something goes wrong. Of course, we always leave room for the positive. Believe in the best, but plan for reality.

When product owners begin planning their strategy, oftentimes they think the only cost after launch will be marketing expenses. This is a common misconception, because in order to make an MLP (most-loveable product) we need to receive feedback from users after we enter the market. This is an imperative step in the product launch process. When we develop a product strategy, we must constantly analyze it from the point of how it is executed, what new facts are revealed: about the market, consumers, the product we planned to develop. These facts should always influence the strategy: it shouldn’t be a static document, it should always be revised and adaptable.

Are there any features of developing a product strategy during a crisis?

Our concept is the following: when launching a product, you are already in crisis-mode regardless of the market situation. This is where the napkin strategy comes into play. Put the minimum amount forward, then should the product be unsuccessful, only the minimum was put forward.  On the other hand, if the project is successful, you reap the rewards as intended or sometimes exceed the expected.. When launching a product as a startup, we recommend the Lean Startup model start small, spend as little as possible, move in short steps, take into account the changes and adjust the plan according to your users.. Never abandon the plan, change and adapt.

Crisis is always a market reboot, an inevitable stage of development.

When working with an audience, always get down to the level of the consumer and understand how they changed their approach and habits: this way you will understand where the market is headed. A reboot means that some industries are gradually leaving and new ones coming in. Apply a crisis strategy: go in the direction in which the market is being redistributed at the moment. For example, during a pandemic: for some it was a crisis, but for some it was a success. Those who made video calls before the pandemic ended up going where the market was redistributed, and the pandemic was only a catalyst for this redistribution. Now, we can talk about a post-covid period, where everything gradually returns to its normal life. How far has the world rolled back to its starting point? A majority of the tools we used to survive and maintain a semblance of normality are now a habit for us. Video conferencing format has not completely changed: of course, there will be a recession period where people prefer and seek face to face communication and steer away from “Zoom fatigue”, but it will not roll back to the starting point as it was pre-pandemic If your business thinks through the idea and concept correctly and continually adapt and move towards your users, growth will happen regardless.

Why did you choose Agile, Kanban and Scrum as your development methodology?

Valery: When we operate in limited predictability, where the result depends on each individual talent  and their expertise and you need a certain flexibility, the ability to quickly switch and reschedule. This is exactly what Agile accomplishes: it is not the absence of a plan, it is a flexible approach to planning, management and work.

In Agile, a large role is assigned to performers, so we focus on self-organization and self-management. This methodology empowers teams to work efficiently: Kanban, like Scrum and Agile, allows you to work and manage all processes based on facts. Having made a short iteration or task, we get the result, control it and move to the next.

The most important thing in making managerial decisions is the information that you receive.

We make decisions based on analytics, specific data.he quality of analytics directly affects the effectiveness of the decisions you make and the people in charge of making them.Agile allows us to make short iterations and show the result, then receive feedback and iterate, this improves the quality of the decisions…  One way or another, we work for the customer: they can be the end user or a group of stakeholders who are engaged in acceptance and analysis, it can be a Product Owner to allow for incremental improvements.

If you want the product to bring monetization as the end result, you initially need to look at the product not as an app development, but as a launch of a business project. With this vision, we need to plan and quickly respond to find success.

Many product companies have a Product Manager. Is this position needed in the Scrum team and how is it transformed in this framework? What is the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager, what are their goals and responsibilities?

Valery: The difference between a Product Manager and Product Owner is in one word and one methodology: Product Owner is Scrum, Product Manager is PMBOK. This is the same role in different approaches: PMBOK says that the Product Manager manages the product, its development strategy. Their responsibility is to bring the product to market. The Product Owner  may have assistants such as a Project Manager who accompanies the development process. A Product Owner is a definition from Scrum. If we compare their basic functions and responsibilities, then they generally coincide: this is the same person, but from different methodologies. Of course, they differ in some nuances and details, but this is because the methodologies themselves differ from each other. PMBOK initially describes the functionality, requirements and approaches in more detail, when Scrum is less detailed. But there is only one conclusion: Product Manager and Product Owner is the person who is responsible for the implementation of the product’s goals and its value.

Does the investor often agree to the role of the Product Owner, does he want to take it on himself?

Valery: There are always two models: if your customer is a large company, then the investor himself wouldn’t be the Product Owner, it will be one of the company’s employees who works in this direction and knows the domain and processes well. If we are referring to small projects, most likely the company will not have the resources to hire an individual employee. They will want to save money, so they will allocate someone from the company’s leaders, for example, the head of the department or the original idea owner.

What are the requirements for a Product Owner?

  • First, understand how the methodology works.
  • Second, understand the market in which the product is launched to prioritize requirements in order to maximize product value.
  • Third, understand the finances and metrics to measure the team’s performance and the efficiency of product implementation.

Large corporations often ask the contractor to hire a Product Owner, but this creates a problem: the customer’s monitoring tool will be constricted, and the involvement will be lower. I try to keep the Product Owner on the customer’s side: they should be as involved as possible in the product creation process. The customer knows the domain area and understands the market’s needs.

If a customer brings the product owner with the competency and skill, yet they don’t understand Scrum. You’ll need to dedicate time onboarding, building relationships and learning. Once the training period has successfully passed, then you can get a team that will launch mind blowing products for the target customer. This approach is more effective, because the customer’s involvement will trigger creative ideas and unique solutions from the technical side, essentially creating product development synergy.

Let’s talk about pivoting in the product development process. How do you know when it’s time to pivot?

A product reversal is a change in direction and often needed when more information about the consumer or market is needed. Then we continuously create product elements and show them to consumers on the market (or to a limited circle of consumers) to gather feedback. After that, we receive new information, paying attention to market signals and changing situations , and we make a decision to turn in one direction. Agile is based on the principles that pivoting is a continuous practice, it is tied to retrospectives and the analysis of the result obtained: you can go to a conference and get inspired, get new insights, product analytics and decide on a reversal.

Sometimes by this definition we mean something large-scale, but in fact, decisions are made at the team level. This is a question of the product scale: the smaller it is, the fewer the number of people who make decisions based on the new data. In addition to external factors, such as changes in the market, there are also internal ones, when you are inspired by something and want to slightly change your format. The third factor is consumers: they provide feedback on the basis of which conclusions and decisions need to be made. Can you conceptually change a product’s business model quickly? This, again, depends on the scale of the product. In any case, if you move in development with small iterations, then with the same small iterations you do a pivot. Agile is a continuous work with incoming data from consumers, external market factors and the team.

What is a Product Roadmap based on? What should I pay attention to when drawing a roadmap?

Valery: A roadmap is part of a large product strategy. If we create a product and collect ideas from analogs, then let’s be honest: we have no core idea and start collecting “features”, eventually assembling something similar to the car from the  “Mad Max” movie. To avoid this, a core idea is needed. Of course, we get inspired from the markets we study, whether it be from books, articles, or competitive analysis, etc.The core idea allows us to look critically at the incoming information through its prism, understand how to use it and filter out anything unnecessary. If there is no core idea, then the product is just a glorified wishlist. This is why you need a Product Owner, they form the core idea a study the market frustrations.  A product idea is a solution to a consumer’s problem. The Product Owner finds an idea, formulates it and looks for a way to implement it. Using the Agile methodology, the idea builds the roadmap to create a product and rethink it based on new information.  By looking at the product life cycle with this lens, we solve the consumer’s problem, while limiting the cost of investment and being profitable. For this to work, you must always understand the latest in trends, and at the same time, understand your users.

How do we avoid developing unnecessary functionality? Why, when developing a product, the main focus shouldn’t be on new features and current trends, but on solving problems and achieving goals?

Valery: Not everything that is trending is effective, because we can rarely evaluate the results and it lacks the ability to run through the prism of the core idea.You must have a global goal that is decomposed into subgoals and tasks. If you start with features and don’t have a goal, then you are experimenting. Of course, external sources of information are important: how the market lives, what products are launched, but everything needs to be passed through the core idea and the consumer – perhaps your audience isn’t even affected by the latest trends.

How to form an employee engagement?

  • First: the ability to influence the final result. Agile calls for this: through feedback and retrospectives, we empower people to influence the final result of the product.
  • Second: the ability to influence the approaches and practices that you use when working together. If, through feedback and retrospectives, people influence the product, they should be able to influence the organization to operate the same.
  • Third: build processes within the organization and show in practice that no matter what your position and status in the hierarchical structure of the company – everyone obeys the processes in the same way. This way we can increase team engagement and achieve better results.

– Valery, thank you very much for such a detailed and informative interview! It was very nice to talk to you.

– Valery: Thank you! 😊

Dear readers, stay in touch! Every month  we will publish useful and interesting articles about product development from our leading experts in the blog. See you soon 😊 !

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MVP for Software Development: Bring Your Idea to Life with Minimum Efforts

02/11/20215 minute read

In a software world, an MVP became a very popular and effective instrument for launching new products. To ensure a minimum viable product of a high quality, Softvoya provides the customers with the most effective MVP service solutions during all stages of development.

Why is a Minimum Viable Product Important for Software Development Projects?

What is an MVP?

Creation of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the easiest way to prove the viability of a business idea. It is a simple version of a new product that includes just essential features to meet the needs of early adopters. An MVP enables companies to start a product faster with fewer expenses, making improvements after gathering user feedback.

There are 3 main objectives of an MVP:

  • Viability verification. An MVP defines if the product you offer meets market and user demands before the final solution is released.
  • Cost and time reduction. Focusing only on core product features, this approach enables introducing a product quickly with fewer efforts, allowing developers to make adjustments step-by-step.
  • Feedback analysis. When the final product must satisfy all users, an MVP is built for early adopters only, thus gathering feedback from them ensures all adjustments will be made according to reviews of real people.

An MVP for Software Development

In software development, an MVP can be any product: a website, an application or even a CRM-system that is released with minimum efforts and time. An MVP development becomes the most effective way to start any project, as it envisages agile development cycles. The users get it faster, express their opinion and enable improving the product in the next development cycle.

Taking the above into account, here are the main points of an MVP for software development:

Advantages of Using an MVP programming for startups

In today’s world, 9 from 10 startups fail. Here are the most common reasons why it happens:

  • lack of budget
  • lack of market demand
  • development of user-unfriendly solution
  • ignoring customer feedback

When creating an MVP for an app or website, it is rather crucial to define target audience and conduct market research first, then focus on potential problems for future development. Therefore, building MVPs for startups helps companies to find their place in the market and make a profit.

As a part of product development strategy, an MVP programming can help to:

  • Define target audience and find early adopters. Building an MVP for a startup with a ton of features makes it harder to make adjustments in the future. Later, based on user feedback, you can add the desired elements during next steps of an MVP development.
  • Save time and money. An MVP leads to early learning and release with a minimum budget. In the future, you can invest in further product development when the project brings first profit.
  • Attract investors. Despite the final product may look ideally on paper, an MVP is more likely to attract investors as it is still a functioning project.

Therefore, in a world where almost all new projects fail just after their release, building MVP for startups enables companies to avoid risk of negative feedback, reduce costs and save time.

Need MVP?

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Getting Started with Creating an Effective MVP

Although an MVP project has fewer features than fully functioning system, it still requires some serious steps to take:

1. Conduct market research

Start with checking if your idea meets the needs of the market and early adopters. Ensure your project is innovative and interesting by interviewing potential users, and don’t forget about competitors – conduct market research to analyze your closest rivals’ strengths.

2. Define MVP key feature list

List all the features users may need and divide them based on priority. Further, leave only crucial features vital for performance of the initial version and move forward to MVP programming.

Later, more detailed feedback from users is required, so you need to:

  • Choose users
  • Make a list of core features
  • Prepare CustDev questionnaire

After the evaluation, you can move on to build an MVP.

3. Begin MVP software development and testing

Creating a basic prototype is critical here, as it shows whether users really want to install the app on their computers or mobile devices. After CustDev is ready, the development team prepares Technical Specifications and provides a clear picture of the product, as well as estimates cost and timeframe for development.

Basically, MVP development consists of interface design, front-end and back-end development. The aim is to get a high-fidelity interactive prototype of the product, which allows users to navigate through the app/website. For apps, you can choose one platform for development (iOS or Android) or select a cross-platform approach.

When the customer is in touch with the development team at every stage, the process becomes more productive due to immediate feedback and prompt actions towards adjustments. That’s why the use of Scrum is preferable here, as it allows finding product weak points at early development stages. The customer and the development team perform each task from sprint together to monitor the results efficiently and provide proper MVP service solutions during the development process.

4. Learn from feedback

As an MVP for software development is a long process, it should be tested on a regular basis. The aim of it is to collect feedback and make appropriate adjustments to the product in the future.

Crucial mistakes in MVP software development

A minimum viable product creation is about sticking to a plan. Here are common mistakes made when building an MVP for software development:

1. Disregarding market research

One of the biggest mistakes many product owners do is ignoring target audience demands and market peculiarities. Lack of proper research can cost huge financial losses, not to mention time and efforts spent on MVP development.

2. Unprofessional Development Team

No matter what creative technology you use, if you don’t have an experienced and skilled development team the project is likely to fail. To create a strong MVP, your team should consist of professional designers, developers, QA engineers, and PMs to provide effective MVP service solutions, otherwise you may face with the following problems:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Hiring additional specialists/another development agency
  • Poor feedback analysis
3. An overloaded MVP

Adding too much into your project may cause huge money and time losses and the entire process of development becomes meaningless. If it’s hard for you to choose key features, follow an Agile methodology – divide the complex requirements into several simple features and set a deadline for every feature you have.

4. Ignoring the prototype creation

You should provide the users with a functioning product, so it needs to be user-friendly and appealing. Thus, the app/website should have an interactive prototype, reflecting the product information architecture and including interactive elements.

5. Disregarding User Feedback

User opinion determines whether the product will be in demand or not. You should take it seriously: it’s not about simply gathering information, but also reaching proper conclusions. Reviewing user feedback ensures making appropriate adjustments to the project and satisfies user needs.

Wrapping Up

Today, an MVP software development becomes the best method to find out whether the product will be successful on the market or not. Building an MVP means finding a balance between minimum efforts spent and creating a functioning product. Softvoya enables project analysis during all stages of development, providing assistance based on the established strategy.

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How to Build a Succesfull Dedicated Development Team: an Ultimate Guide

02/03/20215 minute read

Today, outsourcing has become extremely popular: striving to reduce time-to-market, streamline the development and find cost-effective solutions, increasing number of companies choose to hire dedicated software development team.

Dedicated Team Model: the Meaning

The dedicated team model is an example of cooperation between a customer and a software development service provider, where the second party provides a team of skilled and experienced technical experts to work on a customer’s project on a full-time basis (that’s what dedicated means here) under the guidance of a client.

When hiring a dedicated team, a client must bear in mind the project tech stack and the skills the recruited specialists should possess to perform their functions properly.

How Does it Work?

This model of cooperation consists of the following stages:

When the Dedicated Team Model is the Right Decision

Choosing this model of cooperation, you get a team of our specialists fully devoted to your project. It enables you to concentrate more on working processes and the most important tasks, when the vendor is in charge of the recruitment, selecting the most appropriate candidates just to address your business requirements. So, you would probably like to use this type of cooperation if:

  • You want to enter a new/unknown market. The team you hire already has specific experience working with projects that might be unfamiliar to you, thus helping to avoid risks of possible issues in-house team may face.
  • Your in-house development market is small. Talents are everywhere – with a remote team, you are not limited by a region you work in and can look for necessary specialists across the world.
  • Cost of local software developers is too high for you. In certain regions, for example in the United States or Western Europe, salaries of engineers are quite high, especially for small businesses. Outsourcing enables you to choose the team size within the planned budget.

In-House vs. Dedicated Team

Despite hiring local specialists may look like an easy and painless process, here are the cases why you may find it less relevant in comparison with the offshore dedicated development team.

  • You have time and budget limitations. In general, small or medium businesses and startups’ budgets are limited, thus they might find it expensive to hire local software developers — For example, in the USA or Western Europe salaries of skilled and experienced specialists are very high, along with the recruitment process and other administrative expenses, such as HR and IT support. Moreover, since finding right candidates for a specific project can take quite a lot of time, especially for complex projects. That’s why the dedicated team approach is the best here — you don’t have to be concerned about search and hiring, as the recruitment process is carried out by the vendor, enabling you to have all potential candidates in the same place, ready to start working on your project as soon as possible.
  • You need specialists with rare/unique skills. Again, one of the main purposes of the offshore dedicated development team is to suit the demands of a particular project, thus all the specialists must possess specific skills, often unclaimed or unusual for a specific region. Thus, it frequently happens that the local IT market can’t offer right specialists. Global market offers various experts of certain skills and level of competence.
  • You need the team to be fully focused on your project. Another advantage of this model is that the dedicated team is entirely devoted to your project and actually becomes a part of your company, being engaged with your business aims and policy.

Advantages of the Dedicated Development Team

Taking the above into account, here are the main advantages of choosing the offshore dedicated development team model:

  • Cost effectiveness. Apart from salaries of the employees, you may face other considerable expenses when hiring in-house specialists, such as HR support, office space and training.
  • Easy recruitment process. Generally, a service provider already has a pool of candidates you can choose for your project. Together with the vendor, you pick the specialists according to the required skills and experience.
  • Devoted team. With profound understanding of the customer’s project and business objectives, the dedicated software development team is fully focused on the client, striving to deliver the best results.
  • Fast market entry. The hired dedicated team possesses broad experience of dealing with various projects, similar to yours, thus protecting you from potential problems freshmen may face during the development process.
  • Allows flexibility. You can easily scale down the team size of your project, asking the offshoring vendor to add/change/remove staff members upon request. Moreover, you are able to adjust the project in terms of scope and priorities, taking into account constantly changing market or unexpected budget restrictions.

Need Dedicated Development Team?

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Time and Material and Fixed-Price Models

The dedicated team model is not the only type of cooperation between a client and the offshoring vendor. Apart from it, we would like to highlight two other popular models — the time and material and the fixed-price. Let’s take a look at them to see the pros and cons of each.

Time and Material Model

According to this model of cooperation, the total cost of the project remains uncertain until it is ready, as the final payment is made according to the actual number of hours spent on development. Although this model enables flexibility in terms of changing the workload and project requirements, it’s still hard to plan the budget, so the total cost might be totally different from the preliminary estimation. Comparing the time and material with the dedicated team approach, the latter allows paying fees to specialists on a monthly basis, allowing the company to allocate the budgets properly.

Thus, the main disadvantages of the time and material model are:

  • It’s hard to estimate the deadline and total budget for the project launch due to flexibility in changing project requirements.
  • The time and material model involves full control on the client’s side to keep pace with all changes made during the development process.

Fixed Price Model

The fixed-price model indicates that the client and the vendor reached an agreement on the time frame and the budget of the project before the development is started. This approach may seem clear and convenient: the vendor takes full control over the development process with minimum supervision and risks from client’s side, however, there is one, but very significant disadvantage — as it’s quite hard to make a precise estimate of project scope, time frame and budget, the development team may face with unpredictable issues during the working process, causing potential risks to miss the deadline and require extra costs.

Here are the cons of the fixed price models:

  • The fixed price approach allows less flexibility than other cooperation models. As the project scope is negotiated beforehand, you can’t change it much. Otherwise, you may face missed deadlines and extra costs.
  • A software development company can overestimate the total cost of the project development in order to cover all potential risks our team may face during the work. As a result, the client might pay more for the project with less actual cost.
  • As the development team must meet the agreed deadline under any circumstances, the end result of the project might сome out of poor quality: when the team is striving to operate on a tight schedule, they often have no time to address the emerging issues properly.

How to Build an Effective Dedicated Team

The process of building a proper dedicated development team can be divided into following steps:

Step 1. Set requirements

Before hiring a dedicated team, you should focus on:

  • Before hiring a dedicated team, you should focus on:
  • Making a project description with main sections and their key functions
  • Choosing service provider
  • Setting a time frame and the budget for product release

Step 2. Create a team

After the draft project plan is prepared, we can move on to team recruitment. The software development manager picks the potential candidates to be approved by the client according to the below requirements:

  • Tech skill
  • Development experience
  • Soft skills
  • General background

Again, the crucial factor here is to find the specialists to fit the client’s project perfectly.

Step 3. Integrate the team into the project

When the team and the roles of specialists are defined, it’s time to integrate them into the project. The key point here is management. You may think that managing remote team work is not as easy as in-house team, but it’s not true — the digital world has no borders, thus you may reach your employees via calls or video conferences on a regular basis, keeping the working processes under close review.

Mistakes you Should Avoid

Having a dedicated software development team at hand may bring huge profit to your software solution and the company in general, although there are still some issues and challenges you should keep in mind if you decide to choose this model of cooperation.

Choose the company without proper research

When you hire a team to develop a massive and complex project, you should be 100% certain that it meets your business demands and objectives. Study the market, make a comparative analysis of software service providers, read user feedback, visit social media pages of the vendors — close examination of the subject will help you to choose the best variant for you.

Limit the search to geographical boundaries

Again, talents are everywhere. Today you don’t have to hire a software specialist just because he/she lives in the same city as you, it would be much better if you expand your search worldwide to find the right person who will perfectly fit to your project. If you are concerned about communication across the team, you should organize calls or video conferences on a regular basis (ones or twice a week) to keep everything under control and create a «being there» effect.

Place price above quality

You should remember one thing: experienced and skilled development specialists cost money, but as a result you will return more than you actually spend. Unfortunately, many companies who search for a development team, frequently look for lower prices. It is not surprising that the outcomes of the developed solution become miserable due to poor performance of the specialists, who often disregard project requirements. Of course, every budget is limited, but remember the purpose you spend the money on — to develop a quality product and gain profit from it.

Lack of motivation

In the light of the above, working with the dedicated software development team is almost the same as having in-house specialists. However, the second type of collaboration allows constant personal communication, so it is no surprise that the remote team may feel abandoned, which leads to lack of motivation. To avoid demotivation in the team, it is crucial to establish contact between the client and the development specialists, paying attention to every employee, remembering names, and making individual plans for development.

Wrapping Up: Key Points

To sum it up, we would like to highlight the following main points of the offshore software dedicated development team model:

  • Offshore dedicated development team has become a great alternative to in-house specialists due to cost-effectiveness and instant access to talents across the world.
  • This approach allows flexibility to project requirements and time frame, but the budget is unlikely to be surprising: the customer pays a monthly fee, formed from salaries of employees and administrative support given by a service provider.
  • The dedicated development team spends all time and efforts on your project, working under supervision of the customer.
  • With no geographical limits, the business owner is able to find the perfect candidates to form the team, bearing in mind the needed skills, years of experience and background.

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Appservice: 2020 in review.

12/31/20205 minute read

2020 brought many challenges this year, urging the world to use more technical solutions than ever before. Our team adapted to all the changes in the new normal and is happy to be a part of a community that provides such solutions.

Facing the pros and cons of remote work, we deepened the expertise in this area to guide our clients through unknown territory. We also welcomed new opportunities to help businesses build the platforms necessary to survive the lockdown.

Throughout, our team continued to grow, as did the business of our clients. While the year was quite tough, there were many bright highlights that we can not miss. Here is a brief snapshot of what kept us inspired and excited for 2021 to come:

Our team has grown

Though this year has cut out some office activities, we’ve managed not only to save the core team but also level up in quantity and expertise. By the end of 2020, our family has grown 2 times. Mobile and QA departments can manage more tasks, thanks to the individual manager’s approach and determining task fulfillment. To deliver cutting-edge products with the highest ROI, we created a small innovation lab where we learn, build, and make technical breakthroughs. Internal project management, agile methodology, and DevOps courses help our team to analyze their work in retrospective, improve the processes, and coordinate future strategy. One of the primary 2021 goals is to have more dedicated people around, so be ready to join our team. We also plan to create educational platform for internal courses to broaden the expertise of our employees.

Company’s expertise expanded

By bringing the best expertise at work, we successfully released 30 international projects. Now the geography of our contracts bounds 7 countries and three continents, including the USA, Asia, and Europe. Our internal processes are fully automated and correspond to Scrum methodology standards. Appservice CEO Valery Semiletau shared his expertise in agile implementation at the IT Home Conference as the guest speaker. We’ve encouraged businesses to adapt to the new reality and go digital. Thus during the lockdown, we’ve helped the local network of healthy food to successfully implement the delivery system within a week. Next year we are planning to produce more turnkey products and broaden our MVP development direction.

Internal CRM system was updated

Developing a customized product is an essential part of company evolution. We released our own CRM system last year. In 2020, during the testing and improvement, we can easily manage contracts, documents, and teams, create marketplaces of service categories, and manage invoices. The product is supported by both mobile platforms and has full functionality as the web version. Next year we are planning to translate the system into English to enter new markets.

New Partnerships were entered

We’ve broadened the partnerships with our American clients, working together on different projects. We also continued to look for new collaborations and opened an office in Russia cooperating with investment company BKS, and released the interstellar Heliosphere website. For this year, we are ready to explore the markets of Europe and open legal entities in the USA.

While 2020 was far from the year any of us expected, in many respects it proved to be a period of growth, learning, and gratitude for what we have. Coming out of it, we appreciate our team, our clients, and the impact of technology more than ever and we can’t wait to carry that spirit through to great effect in 2021. 

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See you next year!

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Digital marketing transformation in 2021

12/17/20205 minute read

2020 showed businesses that being adaptable to changes is the top surviving skill. While the COVID-19 pandemic knocked several industries down, it also boosted digital transformation. A long-term digital strategy for 2021 can help businesses to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. When everyone is online, the question is: “how to spend your marketing budget more efficiently?”

The Appservice team analyzed consumer behavior and took a broader look at marketing trends that will change the marketplace in 2021. 

  1. Mobile functionality first.

Social distancing made it more common for consumers to shop, purchase, and interact with the business via mobile apps. Mobile online traffic share has already reached 76% worldwide. In the US only it makes up around 40%. Mobile app usage has increased to 20% in 2020 and is expected to increase even more. Google and Bing continually update their algorithms, making it essential for websites to be mobile-responsive. Customers would like to have a smooth mobile experience for their needs. 

Helpful advice

Make sure that your business has a user-friendly mobile adaptive website or a mobile app. You can more accurately predict sales from pre-order options in your app. Loyalty rewards, product information, gamification elements, push notifications help a customer to purchase a wider range of products. Don’t forget that consumers use their phones to look up information about something they saw in commercials and when they look for a local business. Double check that your business is easy to find.

  1. Streaming platforms and live-videos

Live-videos and streams are now three times more popular than before. People like to feel engaged with players or people from videos. Twitch – live streaming gaming platform, claimed 65% share of hours viewed (3.1 billion), and 72% hours (121.4 million) streamed against game streaming rivals in Q1 2020. Broadcast presentations of new products or services can be done on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. About 73% of B2B businesses use live video to reach their target audience and report positive feedback. Livestream videos are an effective and inexpensive tool that can help you reach your audience, expand your brand, and drive more sales.

Helpful advice

Think of a strategy for your product’s presentation live promotion, prepare the newsletters and announcements. Warm-up your audience in advance by showing the teaser, and then during the stream, provide some giveaway elements to gain more interest. Rehearse your message – it should be clear and catchy. Offer tutorials and how-to videos to help your followers solve a problem in your industry. Interact with your audience as people are more likely to fall into emotional content and try new forms of performance. 

  1. Influencer marketing

Social media use dramatically increased during the pandemic, and this trend will be lasting. 40% of people reported that they bought a product online after seeing it used by an Influencer on Instagram, Youtube, or Twitter. That happens because native advertising is subconsciously taken as a fact, not as a direct ad. Influencers know their audience well and speak the same language, so it’s easier to build trust in your brand. It’s even better to address micro-influencers, as they are more industry-related, and their audience is more niche and loyal.

Helpful advice

Study your industry influencers and think of a cooperation strategy. Build an in-depth portrait of your buying persona and find a platform where these people spend their time. Use automatic helping tools to find the influencers for your business:

Create a content plan for cooperation and maintain your brand awareness through their messages. 

  1. Video marketing

Here is some statistics that shows why should you use video marketing:

  • According to a YouTube report, the consumption of video content grows by 100% every year. 
  • 59% of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post. 
  • 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
  • Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.

Helpful advice

Video content is easy to memorize, it stands out in the newsfeed, and it’s far more viral than text. Make sure to keep your videos in line with your brand strategy. Double-check fonts, colors, logos, and voice. Don’t forget to put the link to your website while using video platforms. Add video to your website, landing pages, and commercial offers that will improve your company SEO value and click-through rates. Use videos to tell the brand story, to introduce a new product or service, to demonstrate full functionality, to invite people to online events, to show educational content.

  1. Audio marketing

While video content is the king for age groups of 18-35, audio content becomes popular among age groups of 30-49. Podcasting increased its popularity in the last two years, and now there are more than 1 mln podcasts on iTunes only. Voice search has never been so popular. Alexa, Google Home, and Siri can help you to find and order whenever you like. Your task is to think about the keywords for the search.

Helpful advice

Lifestyle on-the-go provides an opportunity for a brand to tell a story everywhere and at any time. You may either make a podcast of your own, inviting guest speakers or showing insights of your company, or search for podcasters in your industry and cooperate. Regular content provides a long way to keep people connected with your brand. Link the podcast to your blog or other social channels to increase the reach and participation of your community. Provide an opportunity to ask questions and leave comments, so you may have feedback and QA sessions after.

  1. Chatbots marketing

Chatbots allow you to have a conversation with your potential customer 24/7 without any additional resources. Customers prefer to communicate with a chatbot rather than with a live person because it provides answers quickly and saves the story of your messaging thus users save their time. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have already implemented chatbots of their own. Save your time and resources – add a chatbot to your website.

Helpful advice

Chatbots can be used for different purposes. They can lead a customer through your sales pipeline appointing the time for consultation, narrowing down customer service issues to a specific category, or answering the FAQ. Try to stand out from your competitors by the manner of chatbot communication, set your conversation trees accurately.

  1. SMM

Dynamic growth in social media presence introduced a huge number of opportunities for brands this year. Creative and original ways of communicating with your audience, either in B2C or in B2B segments, help your brand loyalty and awareness. Pandemic moved baby boomers online. According to the Hootsuite research 2020, 70% of internet users aged 

55-64 say they’ve bought something online in the past month, and 37% are planning to continue doing so more frequently when it’s over. Now Instagram and Facebook allow you to shop online, introducing the shoppable posts. So if you still don’t have a social page for your business – stop missing that opportunity.

Helpful advice

Build connections with your customers via your social media. Communicate, fix main complaints, and help your customers to have a user-friendly journey with your business. Engage the audience to generate their own content via challenges and competitions. Bring back some of the fun in the buying process by using Instagram Live or Pinterest as virtual showrooms. Include baby boomers in your creatives without stereotypes. And don’t forget to track the data from your UTM marks to more productive work on your content.

Digital marketing is a new reality for 2021 that businesses should adapt to survive. Fortunately, several companies including Appservice have deep expertise and willing to help whether you’d like to develop a good-looking website or mobile app, implement a chatbot, connect the streaming platform, or any AdTech solutions.

Don’t hesitate to  get in touch.

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Service Industry and IT trends 2021

11/10/20205 minute read

Service Industry adopted IT services for quite a time, which has changed the way businesses work. Document management, supply chain management, operations management were streamlined by software services, which reduced costs, eliminated unnecessary business processes, and enhanced the efficiency of faster decision-making and isolating problems. Now the organizations are focused on Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC), which are customer-focused.

According to the Market Segmentation, the following sectors that will have the highest growth rate are Managed Services, Professional Services, and Telecom Services.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused uncertainty and profound shifts on a global level. The crisis brought some challenges for companies around the world; the major one is remote work. During the rush of transmitting the workflow from offices to homes, IT departments deployed technologies to maintain business processes during the global health crisis. The massive move will continue to make waves, as many companies reopened the opportunities of flexible working arrangements.

Adopting digital workflows, optimizing business operations, and bringing innovations to meet the needs of a new market will continue to drive businesses around the globe. Flexible work policies necessitate additional technology investment. Modern communications are vital for businesses to function efficiently. That means investment in tech is essential for maintaining productivity levels.

Company size will be one of the significant factors in IT budget planning for 2021. Small and mid-size businesses (up to 1000 employees) will concentrate on upgrading outdated infrastructure and supporting a remote workforce. They will focus on industry-specific apps development, such as catering, education, healthcare. While enterprises will contribute to business operations to support their needs as changing regulations, recent security breaches, communications, and productivity software.

IT investors deprioritize employment sectors as pandemic cuts the hiring need for many companies. Ed-tech, on the other hand, will continue to grow in favor of more pressing needs such as employees’ training, support for remote workers, and distance learning.

Pandemic is driving new business needs to the service industry, thus holding the revenue of digitized businesses within 80% compared to 2020. IT now plays a vital role in connecting the client with the service, including web and mobile apps, educational and sharing platforms, loyalty programs.

Thus software providers may see the increasing business needs of their domain and try to identify the interest in their products and services. The right time and the right message will deliver your offer to the end customer, and Appservice may help you with software development. Appservice company has deep expertise in software development for the Service industry and may help your business become a success.

Have an idea?

Feel free to get in touch.

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