“It’s not the idea that is unique but the way you implement it”

In many ways the dream of every wannabe entrepreneur is the same. They all think that their idea is a million dollar one and will top the list of NASDAQ in a short span of time. But the question is how many really survive in this battle?

Let’s take Orkut for instance. Orkut started a few months before Facebook. Even though Google and Mark Zuckerberg had the same idea, how did Facebook excel in the game? Is it really the survival of the fittest theory or was it Mark’s strategy which made him a millionaire? The answer is, Facebook launched with very basic/core features and was able to promote better user adoption.

I recall the words of my mentor “It’s not the idea that is unique but the way you implement it”.For e.g. you’ve been working out at the gym for quite some time but haven’t been able to get the expected physique. Hmm!!! Now that’s a pain, isn’t it?…maybe you didn’t follow a proper diet plan or might have been cheating on your workouts. Anyways the end result is that you wasted your time, energy and money hoping for something which went wrong.

The fact is, people spend way lot of time and money on their product and the launch without getting proper guidance from experts. I mean, what’s the use of having a Ferrari, if you don’t know how to drive or create an impression? In my opinion following are the points which every startup should keep in mind:

1. Market Research

2. Identify your competitors

3. Who will be the end user?

4. Launch timings

5. What makes you different from your competitors?

6. Proper marketing

Eventually, everyone wants to be inspired by the success stories of entrepreneurs who have overcome the obstacles and built a successful business. Recently, I came across an article by Ben Fox Rubin on the Wall Street journal. He mentions the story of Dan Cheung, founder of Spork, who couldn’t match up with its rival app Foodspotting (acquired by Open Table Inc for $10 million). Now here’s an interesting aftermath by Ben Yoskovitz on his company Standout Jobs. He emphasizes on the value of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Having a feature rich product takes much more time and money to build. However, MVP allows the idea to get into the market as rapidly as possible and maximize the value of finances.

After all every fortune 500 company was once a startup 😉

Xminds Infotech Pvt. Ltd. | www.xminds.com |Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Do you need a mobile application for your business to stay competitive?

Number of mobile applications in each stores Google Play, App store, Windows and Blackberry continues to rise with the front-runners being Google Play and App Store. Having a share in the market place, Blackberry and Windows have a lot of catching up to do and that is going to be very interesting the coming years.

Looking at the statistics Google Play Store has around 13,50,000 apps and Apples App Store has around 13,00,000 apps. As a business owner when you glance through the above statistics it can seem that each and everyone (even your competitors) has a mobile application except you.

That’s when you feel that you are left behind while your competitors are eating up major junk of the market share. As a business owner your main concerns would be

  1. Do I need a mobile application for my business?
  2. Building a mobile application is expensive.
  3. Building a mobile application is time consuming.

Users are now moving away from laptops and desktops and are relying more on their smart phone or tablets. From ticket booking, paying bills and buying grocery is just a click away, it is fast and very convenient. As more and more apps are downloaded from the stores, business enterprises are moving towards having their own mobile applications.

Ok! Now you are ready to join the apps bandwagon but then being an entrepreneur you would look into all possibilities and think…

“Cant users access the current website through their smartphone?”

A tricky question and it is important to know if the website is mobile friendly and has been built keeping in mind the compatibility factor with smartphones. If not be ready to face some challenges when the website is displayed in the smart phone.

Keeping these in mind you can build

  1. Mobile Optimized Website
  2. Stand alone App
  1. Mobile Optimized Website

This can be done with minimum fuzz if the current site has been developed using the mobile responsive design. One of the main advantages of mobile optimized website, it will work universally in all mobiles as the Internet browser opens a web page reliably in all the smartphones.

  1. Stand alone app

From a business perspective the stand alone app is much better than a mobile optimized website. The app is always there in the users smart phone and just a click away, no need to launch the web url in the browser which can be felt time consuming now a days. A study suggests that 82 percent of time spent with Mobile media happens with apps. If you are looking to engage customers with your product or service it is better to build a mobile app. You can be constant touch with them through notifications, be it a new product launch or a new service that you offer.

Choice is yours to decide :-)

Why We Love Software Outsourcing…. And You Should, Too!

What is Outsourcing? – Well it is a practice in which a certain company provides portions of its work or assignment to another company to reduce cost. Technology has been revolutionising the way companies work. Whether it is testing, application development, mobile development etc – outsourcing has been useful in solving business problems.

So, why do we love to outsource software development? Is it just to reduce cost? Here are some of the reasons on why to opt for software outsourcing. Let’s have a look.

1. Each company is specialised in its own vertical. Outsourcing allows the benefits of supplementing IT development with skilled developers in an effective way.

2. Lack of manpower or resources can be overcome by a remote IT team offshore. Companies get the option to choose from various vendors based on the reviews.

3. Outsourcing saves the training cost and time provided to new employees.

4. It saves cost as the companies only pay for the service utilised. In fact they can save 40% – 60% of the total expense required to complete the project.

5. Vendors tendency to update their knowledge according to the requirements makes outsourcing another great option to try.

6. Due to the time difference across various geographies the IT vendors have well equipped staff who work round the clock on various assignments, thus delivering the projects on time and maximising efficiency.

7. Traditional outsourcing of software development combined with consulting provides high level of collaboration by filling the minuscule gap in the companies.

The Indian software development industry has been maturing over the years and has evidenced in the rise of high level capabilities across broad range of talents. Every organisation has issues in keeping up to the current market trends, increase productivity, keeping up with their competitors etc. All these issues can be handled by seeking advice from experts who specialise in these areas. Keeping the above points in mind, we at Xminds thrive to help our customers by providing them with full transparency and control over the project development process. We ensure the development and on time delivery of the assignments while our customers focus on their core business activities. We provide them with a broad range of specialised resources and technical skills.

The extent of software outsourcing has been significant and the trend seems likely to continue in the future. We all know that the urge to create is equally strong in all organisations. However, lets not forget that it’s the quality that counts.

Post Penguin SEO – Don’t hunt for links, instead plant and grow them naturally!

It has been a while since we are dealing with the Google panda and penguin update and the minor refresh after that. The Internet is abuzz with news that this is probably the end of SEO marketing. To all those doomsday predictors… this one’s for you!

I agree that Google hates unnatural link building to the same degree as it hates spammy links. But if you were to implement strategies that get natural links, I think you’re in safe zone. I know what you are thinking right now “everyone says natural links, but how to obtain them?” Here’s how to:

The days when you hunted for links are over! Now you have to plant them, water them and grow them “Naturally!”

Before the Google penguin update was made on 24th April,  SEO mainly focused on getting the maximum number oflinks as quick as possible to gain the love of the search engines. It didn’t matter where you get the links or how you get them. All it mattered was if the links were from anchor text keywords. After the penguin update, all these still matter but with on rule: The number of links should be increasing naturally and the nature of the links should not be overly anchor texts. Here are few tips to do that:

Planting the links in the right spots

In order to grow the links naturally, you have to plant them in the right spots. This is where diversification of content comes into play. Diversification of content helps in expanding the spots where you can obtain links. For example, if you are just producing quality articles and including links in them, your reach is limited to a bunch of article directories. On the other hand, produce well written articles, blogs, press releases, great infographics, video content etc and you have an opportunity to spread your links across various platforms. The main advantage of spreading links across various platforms is that your link profile would be organic. Your website would never get penalized for over optimization of anchor text links.

Just publishing different types of content in various spots doesn’t grow the number of links by itself. You need to provide a little support to these published contents to grow naturally. For example, social bookmarking is one popular SEO strategy that can be used to gain extra exposure to any type of published content. You could also share them in the social media sites such as facebook, twitter and Google plus to grab the attention of the social media crowd. Here is a short clip from a video QnA session by Matt Cutts (The distinguished Google Engineer) on this extra promotion Once the extra SEO done to these published content takes its effect, all you have to do is to sit back and watch the links grow naturally.

Natural growth of the links

Now you have great content which is presented to a huge audience. Depending on the quality and catchiness, the content would spread virally into the social media and gets syndicated naturally by other surfers. Each and every share or syndication of your content is equal to a natural link that is generated to your website.

So here is the key to grow links naturally:

Seed = Great, diversified content

Plantation spots = SEO spots where you publish different types of content

Watering the plants = SEO and social media marketing for the published content

Natural growth = Viral social shares and natural syndication

Citizen based Disaster Management Platform by Xminds – CDMP

cOcOn 2012 is an annual event hosted by Kerala Police. cOcOn is aimed at providing a platform to discuss, showcase, educate, understand and spread awareness on the latest trends in information, cyber and hi-tech crimes. This year held at Taj Vivanta Hotel in Trivandrum from 2nd – 4th August, it attracted delegates and presenters from across the nation and from overseas. Xminds was especially impressed to see the number of senior police in attendance: the Chief of Police of Kerala, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and a wealth of other really impressive individuals from the Indian Police Service.

The quality of the presentations was universally high. If we were to single out anybody it would be Federal MP for Trivandrum Dr. Shashi Tharoor. His opening address was noteworthy for its insight but also for the depth of knowledge the MP showed on the subject. Many speaking live and breathe the business of technology everyday. Dr Tharoor evidently has more than tech on his plate but showed a mastery of his brief and for this we commend him for special mention.

Xminds was invited by Kerala Police to present and showcase our Citizen-based Disaster Management Platform – an integrated solution for citizens and emergency services when faced with a distress situation.You can read what The Hindu said about our platform in the paper on 6th August 2012.

Much effort and innovation has going into this turnkey solution and it was gratifying to see the response to the presentation made by  Jagadeesh Vijayakumar and Alexander von Kotze. Xminds now has to wade through a deluge of enquiries from state police forces across the country.

We think this is a nice problem to have!

And if you are reading this as a representative of a Police or other Emergency service and would like more information about this turnkey solution, please do not hesitate to email alex@xminds.com

Software Development – New methods

Traditional software development

In traditional software methodologies we adapt the waterfall, the spiral or the Rational Unified Process (RUP) depending on the nature of the project.

The waterfall approach, the most popular of traditional models, is a disciplined, sequential approach to software development. The lifecycle starts with a requirements phase resulting in a requirements specification. Development continues with design, implementation, verification, and maintenance, with rigid criteria that must be met before continuing to the next phase.

The spiral model combines the features of the prototyping model and the waterfall model and is intended for large, expensive and complicated projects.

RUP is based on a set of building blocks, or content elements, describing what is to be produced, the necessary skills required and the step-by-step explanation describing how specific development goals are to be achieved.

Agile development

Agile Development is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental software development methodologies, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams

Agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning, and do not directly involve long-term planning. Iterations are short time frames that typically last from one to eight weeks.

Each iterations involves a team working through a full software development cycle including planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing when a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders.

This minimizes overall risk and allows the project to adapt to changes quickly. Stakeholders produce documentation as required. An Iteration may not add enough functionality to warrant a market release, but the goal is to have an available release (with minimal bugs) at the end of each iteration.

Agile Project Management with Scrum

In the case of agile development we usually follow the scrum methodology.

Scrum focuses on project management institutions where it is difficult to plan ahead with mechanisms for empirical process control, such as where feedback loops constitute the core element of product development compared to traditional command-and-control-oriented management. It represents a radically new approach for planning and managing software projects, bringing decision-making authority to the level of operation properties and certainties.

Scrum reduces defects and makes the development process more efficient, as well as reducing long-term maintenance costs. We ensure client participation throughout the development cycle. The development phase undergoes meetings like daily scrum, sprint planning meetings and sprint reviews meetings. Our projects comply with clearly defined delivery metrics and Software License  Agreement – SLAs.

Quality Assurance

Quality is ensured across all our processes, interfaces and outputs; in management, core and support processes. It helps us deliver long-term excellence, and ultimately, predictability of returns, to all stakeholders.