Opinov8 statement: We Stand with Ukraine

Opinov8 is a company with a deep connection to Ukraine.

Although we were founded in London, and our headquarters are in the UK, our heart (and main office) and roots of the Op8 team are in Kyiv. We have been successfully operating, growing, and developing together with Ukraine for over the past five years. Most of our Opinov8rs are Ukrainian and call Ukraine home.

We condemn the Russian invasion.

Horrific Russian atrocities are causing immense grief and suffering to all Ukrainians and residents of Ukraine.

The security of our team members is a top priority.

All our Opinov8 family has joined their efforts to help each other and the whole Ukrainian people with finance, safe transfer, temporary places to stay, and other supplies for those who need them.

Everyone wants to do their best to support those forced into tragic circumstances. We firmly believe that every Ukrainian and all friends of the country will bravely and courageously fight to the end and do everything possible for the heroic victory of Ukraine.

We had ceased our operations in Belarus, closed our office, and stopped all investment, hiring, and business development activities there in the first weeks of March. Our Op8rs in Belarus have been offered the ability to relocate to other geographies and were fully supported along the way. We stand against the government of the countries that support the Russian aggressor and their actions.

In collaboration with our clients, we continue to do our business.

We didn't stop working all these dark days as long as our Op8rs could, as personal safety comes first.

This is one of our ways of taking care of our people. Our way of supporting the army and economy of Ukraine in this difficult time.

Our clients oppose the war, as do we.

We are very grateful to all our clients and partners who have expressed support for our associates and continued our business relationships.

However, there is never enough help.

We ask you to continue supporting and caring for the people of Ukraine. Whatever help you can offer, whether by speaking up and raising awareness about the war in Ukraine, volunteering, peacefully protesting, or donating money.

Below you can find the links to trustworthy organizations in need of funds:


Follow and use the #StandWithUkraine hashtag on your social media to indicate your support! Together we are strong! Together we will win!

Cover Story: Ruslan, .NET Developer

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Ruslan, R., our .NET Developer. We talked about how to start a professional career in IT and how various hobbies can help to improve your productivity at work.

Get to know Ruslan a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

How did you become part of Opinov8’s team? What has your career path at Opinov8 been like? 

My classmate, with whom I study at the Academy in Odesa, told me about Opinov8. He said this is a great company that has good internship programs and invited me to apply. My friend also got an internship at Op8 and has been successfully working in the company for about a year. At that time, I had a few projects that I was working on as a freelancer, but it was a good opportunity for me to start a career in such a company, and it seemed very tempting, so I decided to give it a try. 🤞

I was a little nervous, but the interview went pretty well, and I was hired. I remember my first day at work, which I completely overslept 🙈, it was funny and sad, but I had never overslept again from that day on. 😉

As I joined the company, I got to the Opinov8 Academy, where I learned, trained, interacted with other Opinov8rs, and got lots of new skills relevant to me. I didn't study only technology there. I got support when needed from my mentor, Practice Lead, L&D team. During the onboarding to Opinov8 Academy, I got to know about Opinov8r flow and Skill Matrix for my practice, which gave me a clear picture of how I can grow and develop in the company.

We are learning to think and find solutions, instill a passion for independence and a project-based atmosphere.

Like every teammate at Op8, I have my Personal Development Plan (PDP). A PDP is a set of goals that Op8r creates with a PM or Mentor to help target future professional levels based on the skills matrix. I followed it and continued to work hard, studied a lot, read various materials, and watched many training videos. 🤓

In 3 months, I went through an internship, where I learned a lot of the necessary new information. We worked on various internal tasks, and these were real projects, which made you feel that you bring your share to the company’s work. 🚀 After the internship, I was hired for the Junior (J1) position when I successfully passed the performance review. ⚡️ For about the next 3 months, I grew to a strong J2. Now I continue working and studying to grow to the next level. 👨‍💻

It's great that the company has such a system that will allow you to grow and develop and not standstill. This is very important for me, as for those who are just starting their careers, it is nice to feel that the company supports and helps you develop professionally and personally. 💙

Ruslan, .NET Developer

How did you start your professional career in IT? Why did you decide to try yourself as a Developer?

To be honest, I decided to become a developer quite by accident. 👀 In the last years of my studies at the high school, I thought about where I should study next for a long time. I even considered not going to university at all. I really love to cook, and actually, I thought of working as a chef on a cruise ship. 🙃

But one late evening, I stumbled upon developer video tutorials on the Internet. It became interesting to me, and I thought that this was it and I should delve into it. After that, I agreed to get higher education in technologies. Of course, my parents were incredibly happy about this exciting news. 😅

I entered the Odessa National Academy of Telecommunications, where I have already begun to study programming. They give a good knowledge base, but the education was quite superficial. I understood what I liked the most and independently began studying those aspects. After that, I did an internship at one IT company as a .NET Developer, and then I ended up at Opinov8. 🔥

Here I met amazing people, our teamwork environment has an atmosphere of friendship. These relationships motivate us to work harder, cooperate, and support one another. Working together, we learn each other’s strengths and correct each other’s mistakes. When I have a problem and don't know how to solve it, I can always ask for help and find a solution with my teammates. Sharing differing opinions and experiences can help make effective decisions faster than alone. Individuals starting their careers can benefit from such workflow, as it helps them feel comfortable and adapt to the new role more quickly. 🙌

If you could give some practical tips to people starting their profession in IT, what would you say?

I would recommend starting with these points:

  1. English is an international communication language. Knowing language increases your information sources, as most of the information available online for professional use is in English. That will help you code software efficiently and accurately. Also, IT firms usually deal with clients located all over the globe, and the majority of them use English as their medium of communication. 
  1. Soft skills are essential for improving one’s ability to work with others. As more and more job activities become automated, soft skills, which machines cannot yet replicate, have become more important. Soft skills are critical for project success, as you must communicate and collaborate effectively with your teammates. Honing your ability to solve problems and provide excellent client service can build stronger relationships with the team and other professional contacts.
  1. Learning and developing your skills provides significant advantages. Today, even entry-level roles in many industries require base-level qualifications. Not all of us have the opportunity to go to university or take expensive courses. Still, thanks to the Internet, all information is available to learn online for free. Courses are information available on the Internet, collected in one place. For example, you can find the course you like and watch its program. Then independently, step by step, search and study this information on the Internet, watch free video reviews and find the necessary literature at your own pace.
  1. Time management will help you work smarter, not harder, ensuring you get more productive work done in less time. Improved time management increases your focus, allows you to plan your time more effectively, and achieves your goals faster and easier.  
  1. Mentorship can provide numerous benefits. Mentors encourage and enable mentees' professional or personal development. They can provide unbiased advice or opinions using their relevant knowledge and experience. When mentees struggle to perform their job, they can turn to their mentor for support and feedback. With these insights, the mentee can better understand what steps to take and whether to pursue the idea or walk away. Mentors always motivate you to keep moving forward despite challenges. For example, they offer instructions on how to perform particular tasks, develop useful skills, and even how to pass a job interview successfully.
  1. Job interviews on entry-level jobs can provide you with experience and learn new career skills. If you have a job interview but don't have experience, preparation and motivation can help you perform successfully. Even though you don't have a ton of work experience, the more interviews you go on, the better you'll be at talking about yourself. The way you communicate is just as important as what you say during a job interview. You need to practice your communication skills. Also, networking connections with people already in your target profession, such as your alumni or friends, is a good place to start. You can learn from their experience about the guts of the job, challenges this work throws and how to deal with them.

All these aspects above can be obtained and developed in our company. I think Op8 is one of those companies that build employees' skills and encourage development, training, and creating a high-quality, productive workforce. Here I found my first mentor, he is super cool! 🤘 My Op8 mentor helps me track progress, stay focused, gain confidence, and move towards the goals essential in anyone’s career journey. Having a mentor leads to self-discovery and helps me continue growing my career. Through his feedback, I feel how I grow professionally and personally. ⚡️

What is the biggest challenge or most innovative project you and your teammates have had to face so far? 

Of course, different things happen, and various challenges arise from time to time, this is part of our job. 🙃 A while ago, I had a challenge with one task. Remember that I spent a lot of time working on it, but nothing worked out. I asked for help from my teammates, but no one could understand anything either, and no one succeeded. As a result, it turned out that there was no need to do this task. 😑

I was a bit disappointed then, but I realized that it is better to ask as many questions as possible at once, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a sad irony that when we most need to ask for help, most people are reticent in doing so. All of us have likely hesitated to ask a question at one time or another for fear that we will look stupid or weak.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

It's always better to ask whether you want clarification on something you don't understand or need help with something than waste time and do wrong. 😉

What would you say if you had to explain your job to a little kid or granny?

In short and simple terms, I make the computer do what I want. 🤖

What motivates you to do a good job?

I am motivated by professional growth. Knowing that hard work and perseverance will help me achieve professional success keeps me going. When I know that my efforts are following the correct path, it encourages me to push more. 💪

There might be instances of failure or stagnation, such as a difficult task or when something does not work out, but it does not demotivate me anyhow.

Every challenging moment is a part of development.

I am always looking for ways to teach myself new things, find something I do not know, and study it. Success after a failure keeps the fire going within me, no matter the circumstance. 🚀

Do you have any hidden talents or surprising hobbies? 

I am a person who believes in holistic development. Moving on to the same principle, I think the mind and the body also need exercise.  🤓 I like learning new skills, and recently I have been interested in exploring different languages. I studied Spanish and German online some time ago, and I have already cleared the beginner level.

Some time ago, I liked to play video games to get a little kicked out and switch from studying and working, but I realized that I needed something more lively and real. Now, I am getting started playing guitar. Learning to play the guitar greatly improves your hand-eye coordination as it requires very specific muscle movements that your body is not quite used to doing yet. I'm not doing so well yet, but it will become easier and easier to perform if I stick to it and keep practicing. It is a challenging hobby, but it keeps my brain and learning faculties from getting lazy. 

Moreover, I absolutely love cooking. I find cooking very therapeutic and try to plan my meals every day to eat healthily. I add jogging to my weekly schedule to feel more energetic and focused.  I practice standing up working, it improves my mood and productivity, as standing increases attention and encourages completing the task you are working on with fewer distractions.

Also, I am considering trying skydiving. Free-falling through the sky and deploying a parachute creates extremely pleasurable feelings for thrill-seekers. Just the thought of jumping makes my heart beat faster. 😁

What’s one thing you’re learning now?

At present, I am actively learning English. It excites me that I will read original texts and connect freely with people from various areas. There is so much information and meaning that is lost in translation. 

I am studying English on my own through a learning app on the phone, and also we have Op8 Speaking classes. I try to connect to our online meetings twice a week and practice talking with the guys. Our teammates from other countries often join us. Native speakers know what sounds right and doesn’t and can help correct you. I need more practice, as I plan to pass the IELTS exam in the near future. 🤓

Which 3 books would you like to recommend to Opinov8rs?

I enjoy reading and have always been a voracious reader. Although I prefer reading fiction, I make a deliberate effort to read at least one non-fiction book in a couple of months.

So, my list will be:

What is the greatest advice you have been given?

“Never give up” — recently, my friend reminded me of this when I was working on something, and nothing worked out. I believe that this piece of advice is always relevant for everyone. 🙌

Life is challenging, and when you face some setbacks or problems, it can get very hard to stay optimistic. Sometimes you may lose the drive and motivation — giving up always seems like the easiest option. What you need to do is think about why you decided to get it started in the first place. The reason you started and its significance will make you persevere and not give up. Always remind yourself that you are strong and can get through whatever problem you face. 👊

If you could say only one phrase to people starting their professional path at Op8, what would you say?

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions (as much as possible). If you’re going to be afraid, be afraid of what might happen if you don’t.


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com.

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Cover Story: Maria, UX/UI Designer

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Maria B., our UX/UI Designer. We talked about how it's never too late to start doing what you like, how to find ourselves and not be afraid to try something new.

Get to know Maria a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

How did your journey start at Opinov8? What has your career path at Opinov8 been like? 

I joined the company as an intern, and I was the first and only designer at Opinov8! 😎 At that moment, the company existed on the market for over nine months. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t have such a large design team three years ago as we do now! 🥰 I was engaged in various internal processes, such as helping with presentation designs, banners, articles, etc. 

The first project came to us about a few months later, where UX/UI designer work was needed. It was this kind of pen test for Opinov8 and me. 🤓 The company has previously approached external freelance designers for this kind of work, so it was pretty exciting for both of us. 🚀

In half a year, everything started!⚡️ I had several projects with clients, and besides, there was a lot of work on the internal requests of the company. I remember that it was December, and I didn't know where to start because there was a lot of work to do, and it was my most challenging moment in Opinov8. 🙈 

The work became more and more, and we urgently began to look for one more designer. It was incredible because we found a designer who got to work and saved me on December 26th, right on the eve of the Christmas holidays. ✨

Since then, we have had more and more exciting projects, and, of course, our team is expanding and continues to grow. I am happy that everything worked out this way and that I had the opportunity to grow and develop together with Opinov8. 💙

Maria, UX/UI Designer

Tell us about your background. How has your career developed before Opinov8?

Like many of us, I do not work in my specialty. I am a financier by education and have worked in this area for a long time. All this time, I understood that this is not what I want to do my whole life, and this is not my dream job. 👀

At one point, I realized that I couldn't do this anymore, I wasn't excited about my work, and it didn't bring me any pleasure. I saw how my husband works and how he loves what he does and enjoys it. I figured out that I needed to look for another business that would drive and inspire me. 🙌

I started looking for myself and started going to various courses. I tried myself in website layout and many other courses. Over time I eventually came into the design. It was funny because I didn't know how to draw by hand at all, as I thought that you have to draw to become a good designer. 🙃

Over time, I began to delve deeper into the design and found out that designers are different. I started to study many other design materials, and it all began to like me more and more. For me, it was like an entirely new world. I found out how to create websites, logos, draw icons, what is graphic design and motion design. Everything was so interesting and exciting. 😍

Around that moment, I was offered a promotion at work, which was quite a big one. But I understood that if I agreed now, I would be stuck in this unloved job forever. So, I decided to refuse and quit my financial job to change my profession and do what I really like. For about a year, I was engaged in self-education in web design, as it was the most interesting for me. 🤓 I continued studying a lot and took courses where I became friends with a course leader who helped hone my works and create a beautiful portfolio, which helped me get a job at Opinov8! 

What gets you most passionate about your work?

I like a lot of things at my work. One of the main aspects is that my work motivates me to develop and delve into different areas constantly. Even if you do not want to go deeper, you simply will not be able to do your work of high quality. You will need to know as much as possible about the activity for which you are doing the project. The second one is communication with people, so my job teaches me to approach other people. This is valuable to me, not every profession gives it. 😊

What do you think are good habits to stay up-to-date in design? Do you have some tips to share to keep up with trends? 

I think these four must-haves that every designer should do:

  1. Knowledge. You need to develop and monitor the market constantly. Nowadays, various sources write about numerous studies, and you need to watch them perennially. Read articles every day, not only in your field of activity but also in related professions, to broaden your horizons. This will allow you to make a quality product and find you the right solution.
  1. Сommunication. Always communicate with your users. You have to know who they are, what they like and want, their goals and needs. If you don't understand this, then you will not be able to give a high-quality result. You should never forget for whom you are making this or that product or developing some solution.
  1. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions and listen to the opinions of others. If you don't know what to do, you definitely need to know what to do, and users and the team are always ready to help. I realized this with experience, and there are no stupid questions. Therefore, it is always better to clarify and ask something again than to sit and suffer for a long time and, as a result, do something wrong. These mistakes can lead to a lot. It's better always to ask and not waste time and make mistakes.
  1. Test your solutions. Last but not least, you should always test your solution. This applies not only to UX designers but also to all other designers.
Maria-traveling

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your job?

The most popular misconception is that many people, especially those not from the IT sphere, believe that designers are all artists and everyone can draw beautifully. Moreover, it does not matter at all what kind of designer you are, interior designer or web designer. 😂

Everyone considers that design is a very creative profession, and many don't know what to expect from us.  😉 But in reality, there is a lot of logic in creation in our work, especially in the work of a UX designer. We need to follow many aspects of construction, rules, and patterns. 

How does your profession help you in your daily life?

Instead, I can tell you what keeps me from living as a designer. I cannot calmly walk past any advertising. 😁 I pay attention to everything: colors, typography, indentation, what is written, and how it is written. 👀

I ask myself, where are all the designers who make our world more comfortable and nice? 😀

Here is my top list of service areas in Ukraine to fix: 🙈

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? How do you deal when you are overwhelmed or underperforming?

I am motivated by what I do, and I really love what I do. My work inspires me and drives me. Of course, there are times when there are too many things to do, and you get tired, but this is extremely rare, and I try not to bring myself to such a state. 🙃

Therefore, I try to finish my work on time and not engage in any work processes after a working day. I close my laptop and go about my business to somehow switch. I like to read some books, not for work, go for a walk

I came to this with experience, because before I did not know what time management is, it did not apply to me. 😀 Over time, I realized that I needed to set the frames and borders to avoid oversaturation. 

Earlier I could wake up in the middle of the night and think about some task and what else I need to do, who to contact and not forget to say something to someone, and so on. 🙈 After that, you realize that you need more rest and it shouldn't work this way.

If I get exhausted, I try to pamper myself with something. For example, I like to go to lovely restaurants with white tablecloths and numerous glasses. I love to get a massage for stress from time to time, and it is especially good in a set with spa procedures. Lately, I have been getting more and more pleasure from walks in the open air, any park is an ideal place for me. 🍃

What are the top 3 destinations on your must-visit list?

I am more and more attracted to different nature, so I try to choose places for travel accordingly. This year I have been several times in the Carpathians mountains, visited Greece and Montenegro.

About my favorite travel destinations, Italy will certainly be in the first place on my list. This country is rich historically, and it has delicious cuisine and incredible architecture. In short, it is beautiful, tasty, and warm. 😍

Next on my list will be Greece. I have been there many times and will definitely return again. And I think Denmark will also be on my list, it is certainly not as warm there as in previous countries, but there is wonderful nature and architecture. 😌

As for the best places where I would like to go, where I have not yet been, then I would like to visit the USA someday, there is certainly a lot to see, and possibly France. So yes, I have such a small plan for now. 😎

Maria_mountains
Maria-Berlin-cathedral

Do you have a hidden talent or hobbies? What is it? 

I love to cook, it gives me pleasure. But I cook only when I have some free time and desire. I can cook a lot of things, but I have my signature dishes. I love tiramisu and cheesecake, so I love to cook these desserts very much. 😋

Well, I have no hidden talents — everything is in noticeably! 😉

To be honest, I don't have passionate and unusual things as a hobby. I like to do a lot of things but without fanaticism. I love reading and spending some time with my cats, I have two of them. 🐾 I love rollerblading and cycling and often like to ride somewhere around. ⚡️

If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise myself to go early to design and not waste my time on things I don't like. You need to feel yourself and follow the call of your heart. There are so many people in absolutely different areas doing what they do not like and badly doing their job. This is not good for all of us. 

It's never too late to start doing something new and what you love.

Even if you have an education in a specific field, you are not obliged to work in it if you understand that this is not yours at all. It is better to do something else that brings you pleasure than to ruin your life and the lives of others.

If you could say only one phrase to people starting their professional path in UX/UI Design, what would you say?

Do not stop developing in personal and professional growth. If you're only interested in design, then you won't get very far. Try, we have a lot of interesting projects and the opportunity to grow. 🚀

If you could meet any famous person, who would it be?

I would like to meet Donald Norman. He is a researcher, professor, and author of "The Design of Everyday Thingsbook. Norman's work involves the advocacy of user-centered design. His books all have the underlying purpose of furthering the field of design, from doors to computers. I once met with him at a Design Conference in Kyiv in 2019, but it would be great to talk a little more. 😊

UI/UX Design Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I would like to heal people. 🙌

What’s something you think everyone should try at least once?

To be happy! 💫


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com.

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Cover Story: Christina, Senior Recruitment Consultant

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Christina T., Senior Recruitment Consultant. We talked about how to find ourselves, about books that influenced us, about inspiration and people who changed our lives.

Get to know Christina a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

How did your journey start at Opinov8?

Before Opinov8, I worked in a small company. There was a very warm and friendly atmosphere. Since I am a very team person, people are very important to me, and in this company, the people and the whole team were fantastic. But, this was one of those cases where the team could not save the situation related to the management. I realized that I did not agree with some points in the work and decided to leave. 😏

Then my ex-manager recommended me for the role of a recruiter at Opinov8. I didn’t know what Op8 was, and I didn’t know the people who worked there. Literally in a few hours, on the same day, I got a message from Galyna (Head of Talent Management at Opinov8), and it was funny, since we were familiar with her, as we previously worked together in another company, so it turned out that I do know someone there. 😄

Afterward, I met with Christian (Co-founder, Chief Technology & Operations Officer at Opinov8), where we had a very encouraging and inspiring conversation. 🙌 During our meeting, through glass partitions, I watched the guys' work in the office. It was a very calm and cozy atmosphere. I liked how the teammates get along with each other, how they communicate, how they joke, how they help and engage each other. I realized that this is exactly what I needed! 💙

Christina, Senior Recruitment Consultant

How did you start your professional career in IT? Why did you decide to try yourself in a Recruitment?

To begin with, initially, I didn't plan to become a recruiter, even my education in a completely different field. 👀 Having worked for some time in my specialty, I realized that this was not mine. I began to study myself, figuring out what was interesting to me and what I wanted to do. I know that my strengths are soft skills, so they certainly need to be used in my work. 🙌

So, I decided to try myself in Recruitment. I started looking through various vacancies in this area. I came across one exciting position that sounded like a "Recruitment Researcher" in one of the largest companies in IT in Ukraine. Then I had no idea what kind of company it was and what this position represented. 😂

I applied for the vacancy, and after a while, the companies contacted me. They told me what this position was and what the potential candidate had to do at the initial screening. During the execution of the test task, I realized that this reflects what I would like to do. I wanted to deal with different abbreviations, the meaning of which I did not understand then. 🙈 It was interesting for me to know how it works and how it is applied. 🤓 And this is how I got into the world of recruitment as it is. 🚀

What do you enjoy most about the work you do? 

I do like to dive deep into various vacancies and positions. It gives me pleasure to create good positive candidate experiences and spread our corporate culture. 💙 I love to tell people about our company and what we are doing here. 

 I believe the recruiting role is, in some respects, even better than any marketing! 😉

For me, outstanding candidate experience is the core of successful recruiting and hiring. The candidate experience starts from the very beginning. I find it interesting to describe the vacancy itself, make our job application stand out among the others, display it as attractive and understandable, and make it look nice. 🙌

All of the interactions during the recruitment process impact the candidate's exposure to a potential employer. It is crucial for me to run a qualified candidate screen in a non-standard way, always using a personal approach. And the most important rule for me is

Do not ask what you want to hear, listen to what people want to tell you.

In terms of what people are looking for and why they are looking. Yes, these things are important to me, and they bring me pleasure in my work. 🥰

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your job?

Of course, everyone always has misconceptions and prejudices about everything, but this is all very individual. Over time, you start to filter and not pay attention to certain things. I am glad that there are no people in my social circle who have any misconceptions. Many people have great understanding and respect for the work of recruiters. 😊

Extremely important that the company in which you work has not such misconceptions and prejudices. What I like here at Opinov8, that: 

Everyone knows that we are one team, that we are all sailing in the same boat towards one common goal.

When someone has a problem, we don't leave you to deal with it on your own. We will always help and solve this problem together. This is amazing and very valuable to me. 💙

Op8 Pool Party 2021

What are some of the funniest interview moments or situations you've faced? 

Oh yes, of course, there were many funny and even weird situations. But, I would not want to offend anyone. 🙈

I had a funny case once before, in 2014, I was working with the Moldovan market, and I had to make cold calls to candidates. At that time, for some reason, many people left their contact phone number — home number. So, making those calls, I had to communicate, frequently, with the candidates' relatives, with their mothers and even grandmothers, which was so fun. 😂

What’s something you find challenging about your work?

My personal challenge is giving feedback, precisely in the case when the feedback is not positive. It is extremely important for me to tell the truth and provide honest and truthful feedback and not to speak a standard set of phrases in such a situation.

I try to explain why this happened and what should be improved within a specific vacancy if the candidate agrees with this feedback. But in our time, not many are ready to listen, especially concerning culture fit or the general ability to adapt to a team. Of course, I don't want to upset someone, and I try to be objective. I do this with a message to inspire if the person is interested in such a direction of development. 🚀

On the other hand, I frequently ask candidates to give us feedback to find out how the candidates enjoyed communicating with our team and that this works both ways. 🤝 I always share those feedback with our team members who interviewed candidates, as I believe it is valuable information to know the pros and cons.

What activities do you do that help you maintain a work-life balance?

I am a morning person, all my life I wake up early, whether it is a working day or a weekend, I always have an alarm clock at 6 AM. For me, morning is time for myself, as I always have something to do. 🙌

Jogging or other sports activities, as well as some meditation, that's helping me to keep myself in balance. 🤸‍♀️ In the morning, I make sure to set aside time for reading. I also try to read on the way to and from the office and before bed.

Recently I took the practice of keeping a diary, which is funny because I kept diaries all my childhood and really liked it. 😊 But in adult life, you describe things that happened to you during the day a little differently. You prescribe how you felt, why you felt it, and the most important thing is to understand what you felt. 💫 I do this to understand my feelings because sometimes it is difficult for me to name them and understand how I feel in terms of my emotions. I like to re-read my notes and experience the same feelings when you were inspired in some moment or vice versa. As this becomes prevalent in society, more and more people, including my friends, develop themselves and their perceptions. It inspires and makes you understand yourself more. 🧘‍♀️

Also, this summer, I was carried away by my garden. I started to plant various flowers in the garden of my house. But to be honest, not everyone survived, let's say,  the strongest survived. 😂 And of course, my cats, I think this is already the default thing for myself! 🐾 No matter how tired I come home, I immediately recharge, and my strength and energy will again appear. ✨

Who doesn't know yet, I have two of them! 😍 The first one I bought in a market in Kyiv, I remember that when I was trying to determine the most active kitten, now over the years, he is no longer as active as before. 😄 The second one came to me by accident from local children in my home city when I was visiting my parents in Rivne. The children found the kitten somewhere on the street, and no one was able to shelter it. I remember that she was so small, so unhappy and sick that I could not say “no”, so I took her under my arm and took her to my home in Kyiv. That is how we all live together. 🥰

But of course, this is not enough for me either, in addition to two cats and different plants, I admit that I am thinking about how to get a dog, 🙈 but I understand that this is a completely different kind of responsibility. The dog is the next step! 😎

From now on, I recommend everyone to save animals from the street or take them from shelters, because those kinds of animals can change your life! ❤️

Do you have someone or something that inspires you?

No matter how trite it may sound, I am very inspired by books. One is a book by Hal Elrod — “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM)”.  When I read this book, I was very inspired by the author's tips, so they became an important part of my morning awakening rituals. 

Also, at one right moment for me, I stumbled upon another wonderful book written by Marie Kondo — “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. After reading this book, I literally began to be afraid of myself as I started to get rid of more and more various things in my house. I got great pleasure from the look of my home, in which there are plenty of places where your thoughts can roam, nothing distracts your attention, and there is no dust and unnecessary things.

In the last few months, I have become very digital because it is more convenient for me. I prefer to work from the office, and it is a little problematic for me to carry a lot of things with me, so I decided to use my smartphone for all necessary items, such as reading books and keeping my diary. 

But previously, of course, I preferred printed books, because I can't resist the smell of the newly published book and its tactility as such. But, as far as some training or workshops are concerned, I still prefer to write everything down by hand, so I remember the material better. Even now, I am actively practicing as I try to study French. 🍷

I recently caught myself thinking that I am in love with people, and I love the people who surround me. I am insanely inspired by the people who are around. It is impressive that among these people, there are a lot of guys from Opinov8. 💙 These days, I have spent a lot of time in the office, and even after hours, I often spend time with our teammates, which is so great!⚡ 

We really have gathered in one place a lot of interesting people with whom there is always something to talk about. You can always be inspired and learn something new from them, and they can always motivate you to new heights and achievements. 🚀

What keeps you motivated in life and at work?

I will not be original if I say that the result motivates me! 🙌 For example, when you lead an active life and eat healthily, you can see how this affects your health and your body, or when you read and study, you can see how to form your little expert opinion on various issues. 🧐

About a year ago, I realized that it was time for me to change. There were a number of personal issues that contributed to this, so now I try to learn something new every day, open new hobbies and activities and develop myself in different ways in order to be more varied.

When it comes to motivation at work, I am definitely motivated by: 

  1. Feedback. Getting feedback from my managers and team, even if you are not given feedback, do not be afraid to ask for it.
  2. Results. See the results of our work and be a part of something big by finding ways to contribute to important projects. 
  3. Team. Understanding that we are all one unit and that you can always count on helping and supporting each other by sharing knowledge and helping others succeed.

If you could give some practical tips to people starting their profession in recruitment, what would you say?

Today the IT and recruiting sphere is very actively developing, and I would recommend starting with:

If you could say only one phrase to people starting their professional path at Op8, what would you say?

Just try and apply now! Even if you see that at the moment there is no suitable vacancy, write directly to us, and we will definitely come up with something together! 💙


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Cover Story: Ivan, BA Practice Lead

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Ivan P., our BA Practice Lead. He tells us about his incredible work experiences, shared his top must-read books, and talked about amazing hobby that is much more than a hobby.

Get to know Ivan a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

How did you become part of Opinov8’s team? What has your career path at Opinov8 been like? 

I arrived at Opinov8 after working for several years in the banking sector. I remember that someone wrote to me from our recruiting team on LinkedIn with an offer to come to the office and meet an impressive manager. 🧐

I do recall that I definitely did not plan to change my job at that moment. It turned out funny because she persuaded me to come. I don't even remember how she managed to do it! 🙃 But, I went to the office, where I met Viktor Y., Head of Delivery. We had a gr8 talk, and then literally, he sent me an offer on the same day. The offer seemed to be quite tempting. 🤝

It was an opportunity to work with a nice team and interesting projects. In a short time, I became part of a gr8 team of professionals. The willingness and excellence of all the Opinov8rs I met were surprising. They made me want to continue to grow and take root in this company. 🙂

As to my career path at Opinov8, it started pretty quick. From my very first day, I immediately got down to work. I joined the company two years ago as a Business Analyst, and I was the first and the only Business Analyst on the team. I have been leading one big project, which I continue to lead to this day. Of course, during this time, there were many different changes. 

The main significant change was that our team had grown considerably, and now there are 6 Business Analysts on our project! Therefore, I became responsible for the entire ecosystem of our project and became a software Business Analyst, which includes 4 different streams

At the same time, I introduced various other projects that were no less important for the company. Since the beginning of this year, I have become BA Practice Lead. 😎

Ivan, BA Practice Lead

What does your typical workday look like at Opinov8?

Before quarantine times, I usually started working from 10 am until 7 pm. I try to stick to the same schedule with remote work unless I have some important meetings scheduled earlier, such as interviews with candidates. But in general, my schedule is standard, like that of most people. This mode is quite comfortable for me.

Of course, my calendar is quite busy, and it is not always possible to have lunch or just set aside a fixed time. My typical workday is spent between meetings with clients and correspondence with them, having some technical meetings and discussions with my team, supporting them during the day as needed. I also practice, and as I load, I devote 50% of my time to it and devote the rest 50% of my time to our project.

Last but not least, Opinov8 grows in a truly amazing way. So, I spend a lot of time on interviews with candidates. We had fewer than 30 people when I started, and now we have over 200 amazing Opinov8rs!

Some days are heavier than others, but what is never lacking is the fun and atmosphere of friendship. 

My team is very close-knit, and, no less important, everyone can work independently and help each other. We all work with passion and enjoy our workdays, which are full of opportunities. 💙

What is the biggest challenge or most innovative project you and your teammates have had to face? 

If we speak within the current project framework, sometimes communication with the client is quite complex. The difficult thing is that many people inside the client's company are decision-makers, and they pull the "blanket" to their side.

Until a certain point, we did not have a single point of decision-making. Therefore, we had redundant communication on fairly simple issues. But, if the question was challenging, then this communication grew at times. 😕 Now, this process has improved! We have one point of decision-making: we communicate with this point of contact, and then they communicate and resolve all controversial issues already inside their company. 🙃

Also, one of the biggest challenges is when you work in a system that has been in production for more than 15 years, difficulties can appear with “legacy” and with all the problems and issues that come up. Like the old code, basically, the people who wrote this code no longer work for the company. When you want to re-engineer or replace something using new technologies, you face the difficulties that no one knows how it works since there is no documentation. And if this is broken, it will entail many unpleasant problems. 🙄

But all the challenges you face always give you the opportunity to find the way to deliver a better service and go beyond what the client asks. Doing this allows you to develop your personal skills and provide learning opportunities. 😉

Private jet travel 🚀

Tell us about your background. How has your career developed before Opinov8?

Well, before joining Opinov8, I was working in various spheres. I have worked in the banking sector for a long time, specifically that with overdue debt. I was not a Business Analyst, but by the nature of my work, I had to identify requirements, write technical documentation, interact with developers, introduce some new solutions, or optimize existing ones. 

For some time, I worked in consulting, where I was engaged in a cryptocurrency exchange in the framework of consulting. Also worked in a technology startup related to aviation, mainly in unmanned aerial vehicle control. 🤩

And at one point, I found myself in IT. I can't say that I somehow aspired to get there. It just happened that way. I developed myself in different business fields. My experience gave me a smooth ramp-up in the industry, letting me lay the foundation of knowledge I needed to grow in my career. 🚀

If you had to explain your job to a little kid or your granny, what would you say?

I would definitely not explain to a little kid, even more to my granny, what I do! I would definitely come up with anything, any other job, and talk about it, but not about my current one. 😂 

But when people ask me what I do, and I say that I am an Analyst, then immediately comes the counter-question:

What is an Analyst?

Then I answer that I take some data, and in this data look for a certain grain, and if this grain is conventionally repeated several times, I can already build some kind of logical chain. Based on analyzed data, I can build some system that will predict what and why is happening in this particular place at a given time. 👀 You know, as the legendary engineer, W. Edwards Deming said:

Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.

For instance, in science, you don’t want opinions, you want to look at the facts, which must be objective. Your opinion doesn’t count. Whether you like it or not, the Earth revolves around the Sun, and you know it by looking at the facts informed by repeated experiments.

But in any case, I will definitely not try to explain what exactly I am doing to a child or the granny. It will be my secret. 🙃

Travel photo 👻

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? How do you deal when you are overwhelmed or underperforming?

I am one of those people who enjoy work very much. I can spend endless hours doing my things. I like my work because I do not have a processing activity but a project one. I like that everything changes every second. There is no routine around me, accordingly, work does not get boring. 😉

The most passionate days are those that have more diverse tasks. 

One of the things I enjoy most about the way we work is people. It inspires and motivates me to see how all strive to do their best to achieve a common goal. I believe that being one is the basis of every good project. It is a value that allows us to share and acquire knowledge by empowering the entire team, generating excellent results, and growing with them. 🙌

Of course, there are times when I need to switch between tasks when I realize that I cannot concentrate and solve tasks quickly. Therefore, I can do another task or even do something else if I feel that the procrastination starts. 😅 So then, I can read technical literature or watch YouTube professional tutorials about aviation and technologies, if time allows. 😄

Do you have a hidden talent or hobbies?

I do have a hobby, maybe it will not be a secret for someone, but I am into aviation. 💥 For me, aviation is more than a hobby. It’s difficult to explain where the concept of “hobby” crosses from being purely a pastime into something more. Once you touch it even lightly, it sucks you deeper and deeper. ✈️

I am a certified pilot, and I even have my own 2 planes! 👨‍✈️ But, one of my planes is currently under repair, so I fly on leased ones. Of course, this does not happen as often as I would like. It depends on many factors, from weather conditions to free time slots for the plane and me. But still, I try to be professional and systematically maintain my skills at a high level. 😎

My training took almost one year, although you can learn to fly in just 48 hours! Since I am a relatively young pilot, little by little, I fly around Kyiv and adjacent areas within a radius of 150 km. But I have big plans for the future, I want to visit all airfields in Ukraine, and then I will move towards Europe, as there are slightly different requirements for a pilot. 

What are the top 3 destinations on your must-visit list?

I have an old dream to visit America and North and South. I haven't got there yet, but I have long been attracted by their aviation community, which is the best developed in the world. They have the infrastructure that allows you to rent a private jet if you have a pilot's license. So you can fly to all the places you like, and it will not cost as much money as in Ukraine. Also, they host some of the largest aviation festivals, which I have been planning to visit for a long time. 🥰

If you could time travel, when would you go?

Oh, I would definitely be poisoned in the Middle Ages to make sure our story is true. Also, it would be interesting to meet with some historical person, but there are so many interesting people that it is so difficult for me to choose someone specific. 🧐

Which 3 books would you like to recommend to Opinov8rs?

More than recommending specific titles, I prefer to recommend just reading more. I love reading literature about characters and economics. I would recommend: 

If you could say only one phrase to people starting their professional path in tech, what would you say?

I would say that you need to start and do not think too much. Especially if you were invited to Opinov8 since this is the gr8 place to start! 😎


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 BA Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Cover Story: Dana, Senior Programme Manager

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Dana P., our Senior Programme Manager. She tells us about her career at Opinov8 and how to stay motivated and energized when working long hours.

Get to know Dana a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

Do you remember your first day at Opinov8? How was it?

My first day at Opinov8 went great! Firstly, my manager was on vacation 😅, and secondly, I just came to find my workplace and meet the whole team. I didn't understand where to start and what to do, but my team approached me with a bottle of sparkling wine after five minutes 🙃. They encouraged me and said that since this is my first day at work — it should be celebrated! I was touched, I thought this is my company, and I definitely should work here! 😍

Dana, Senior Programme Manager

Tell us about your background. How has your career developed before Opinov8? 

At the university, I studied international jurisprudence and worked in this area for a long time while I tried to find myself. Later I got into the IT world, I started my path in support. I liked helping people, and I quickly solved their problems, and after some time, I figured out who was to blame for all the problems. The developers were to blame — the reason for all my incoming calls and messages! 😂

From that moment on, my path to Project Management began. A bit later, I became the support team lead, where we built a whole service desk and did many other important tickets and tasks. Later on, I worked as a Project Manager in another company, and then I became part of a super team at Opinov8.

I was very tempted by the offer of our manager (Viktor Y., Head of Delivery) as he promised to become my mentor! 🤓 He gave me many opportunities, which was very important for me at that moment. I had the opportunity to develop, choose a team, build processes, and add those that were not yet in the company, and it was really great.

What has your career path to Programme Manager been like? What did you change along the way to adapt to new roles and projects? 

When I started working in Project Management, I realized — this is it, that I had been looking for it all my life, this is my perfect job! From a very young age, I always said that I would certainly be a manager when I grow up. 😉

For other roles in IT, you can easily show the result of your work, for example, written code, but Project Managers do not have this. Few people know what is behind our work. It seems that people who are ready to work in such a position can work either in the Emergency Service or in Project Management. 😅 You psychologically have to be ready to burn and be on fire all the time to solve a million problems and various issues. 🙈

I do really love working with people, and I like to create and develop something new. In this profession, it seems to be the apogee of my happiness. I feel that my temperament and this job are a perfect match, this profession found me, and I found it. ❤️

And this is true since I have something to compare with, I had a varied experience of work in absolutely different areas. I was a lawyer, translator, and teacher. I worked in medical tourism, art gallery, and even worked with the Kyiv City State Administration! 😱

So yes, I searched for myself for a long time, but it was all worth it! All this experience helps me now in my work. From any of these professions, I have learned something most valuable and significant for myself.

Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

What does your typical workday look like at Opinov8?

I cannot say that I am a morning person, but I love various morning rituals to welcome a new day with a smile. In fact, I am more of an evening person, but I start work in the morning since I have a rather tight schedule of meetings with the team and clients. I feel more productive in the evening when the workday is over, and I can have some dinner and continue working again, without haste in a calm and peaceful time.

My working day begins with checking my mail, calendar, and Slack to understand what is happening and where I am needed right now.

The main part of the day is endless meetings. Some of them I could delegate, but as an example, I still run interviews with new candidates. I try to be present at all meetings since I need to understand who can join our team to keep our positive and awesome vibe. 🙌

I also regularly hold One-on-One meetings with 70 people. 🙈 And of course, we have Think up meetings to discuss pressing issues and find out how everyone is doing to keep up-to-date communication. In the late afternoon, I devote time to my manual tasks, answering emails, filling out various documents, and conducting strategic sessions with our Business Analysts to make sure we are moving in the right direction.

Could you describe your role at Opinov8?

It is very important for me to be a part of such a great team and a big family. The values of the company are very close to me, and this is significant for me. There were different situations during all three years of work in the company, but I always felt them. 💙

I really enjoyed winning this year's “The Growth Driver Award” (the annual presentation of awards for contributions to the success of their team and the company overall). This award is well deserved since, in two and a half years, my team has grown from 8 people to 70, so I am very proud of it!

What is the most important thing a Project Manager should do?

He has to make everyone happy. 😉 The manager usually controls: scope of work, deadline, and budget. Of course, these are important things, but I have the main other 3 main aspects:

  1. Client. It is important that the client is satisfied and has positive feedback from your work, then other issues won’t matter as much.
  2. Team. Without the team, the Project Manager is absolutely useless, so the most important thing is to make sure that the team is happy and people have everything they need for their work.
  3. Owners. Of course, when the client and the team are happy, the business is striving, and you get the freedom to create.

To achieve all this, the Project Manager must always keep track of these 3 important points and remember that he must bring his own value, specifically:

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

What is your leadership style? How would you describe yourself?

I can definitely call myself a control freak who will feel calm and confident if he does everything himself. I had to do a lot of work on myself to learn how to delegate. 🤓

When I had 30 people on my team, it was still bearable, but having 70 people is not easy. It was difficult for me to delegate some of the tasks that I have always done myself. 🤪

I am an adamant enough manager. I demand, in fact, from everyone no less than from myself. I have always assumed all responsibility, and they already have a responsibility to me. The team can hear displeasure from me, but only from me. Therefore, they jokingly call me the Mama bear. 😄

What do you consider to be the balance between your work and personal life, especially when working remotely?

Before the quarantine and during the full lockdown, there was no work-life balance for me. I worked 12-14 hours a day, but I realized that my body could not cope with such a load after a while. 🙄

I understand that the only salvation for me not to think about work is to do something physically active. So I decided to go in for sports and other activities to switch a little from workflows. I began doing EMS training  (Electro Muscle Stimulation). It works by sending low-frequency electric impulses to contract your muscles while you’re working out. It is a new way to work out without spending hours in the gym, just 30-minute sessions. And now I want to add some Pilates classes. 💪

One more part of my routine life — massages. I regularly go to massages, as a sedentary lifestyle makes itself felt. Beyond the benefits of massage, I enjoy it because it produces feelings of caring for myself and relaxation. 😌

Also, I started hiking for myself, which was an absolute discovery for me since I am a person who loves comfort, but this is the only thing that can switch me so much. I like to travel to the Carpathians mountains. Nature makes you pay attention to yourself, enjoy the views around and not think about anything else. 🥰

And of course, traveling, now I can't imagine my life without it. Even quarantine does not stop me. Remote work allows me to be anywhere in the world and, at the same time, stay in touch and do my job. During the weekdays, I work as usual, but on the weekend, I can enjoy a different experience and everything new around me. 😎

Given the quarantine restrictions over the past six months, I have lived for some time in Mexico, Turkey, and now I often travel to London.

Altos de Chavón, La Romana, Dominican Republic

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? How do you deal when you are overwhelmed or underperforming?

I am very motivated by my work when I see what has been done and the result of my work. In the same way, I motivate my team. We always thank each other and praise each other for the work done. It seems to me that this motivates you to work every morning when you have a great team nearby, which will always prompt and help, and you, in turn, too. In such a friendly atmosphere, I want to work and live.

Motivation is always about us. It is always inside, you either have it or you don't. 

All the same, it is crucial to rest and go on vacation. I did not understand this before. Taking breaks is very important to manage everything to have some time for other things besides work, otherwise, you will burn out.

What is the greatest advice you have been given?

One good piece of advice related to the work I once received from Viktor Y., Head of Delivery. He said that the client is the kindest and fluffiest only at the beginning of the work, so at this point, everything needs to be done, everything must be prepared, and everything must be signed, because then it will be too late. This is the most sincere and most important word of advice I have ever received. I see confirmation of these words every time.

I was also influenced by a case when I worked in support. I didn’t know many things then, and after a while, I got to know the Project Manager of those grief developers. 😅 Instead of telling me not to meddle in her business, she taught me how to do everything right. I am very grateful to this day, as the wisdom is you need to listen because it is very likely that there is something that you do not see.

If you could say one thing to someone who is just starting their careers as PM and wants to join Opinov8, what would you say?

You definitely need to train your patience. You need to be prepared because you will be responsible for everything since you cannot shift the responsibility to someone else. If something goes wrong, the PM will always be at fault.

I highly recommend PM to come to Opinov8, as we have a gr8 atmosphere and vibe, amazing community, and cool processes. We always have something to teach you, no matter how much you know. And, of course, we have the best C-level management, who will always support you in any situation. Opinov8 is a win-win, both technically and emotionally.

What is your superpower?

I really enjoy accompanying people on their career paths. This is not my direct responsibility, but it motivates me very much, and I am pleased to be near and see their growth. 🙌

How would your friends describe you?

It would be nice to ask them about it! 😅But probably, they would say that I am a real workaholic. I think they are proud of me for the way I go through all the difficult stages of my life. And they would say that I am too kind, but they see me at work! 🙃 

My colleagues would probably describe me completely differently. 😂

Suppose if a zombie apocalypse really happened tomorrow, who would you take on your team (only 3 people) to survive in such conditions?

If I need to choose someone from our team, then the choice is tough to make. I will be glad to see nearby our:

  1. Anton H., .NET Practice Lead — as it seems to me that he will immediately start killing and save the world from walking zombies, despite the fact that he is a very good and kind person, but at the same time, he can act as our Super Hulk! 😁
  1. Viktor Y., Head of Delivery — as I believe he will strategically think about what to do next, how to survive and how to get along with everything! 🧐
  1. Yuri M., Software Architect Practice Lead — as he will be responsible for the strategy and architecture of building our new world after the whole apocalypse situation since he is quite smart and always thinks soberly in non-standard situations! 😎

If I make choices from all over the world, I would like to have an incredible scientist who can find a cure for all these troubles. I would definitely take someone in defense, perhaps some sports person or even a boxer. And Oprah Winfrey, we would chat with her in the evenings and talk about everything in the world. 😄


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Actionable Big Data: How to Bridge the Gap Between Data Scientists and Engineers

Most business leaders agree that big data has become crucial to developing a viable business model in today’s marketplace. But big data alone isn’t enough. Being able to effectively analyze and act on a massive store of data is almost more important than collecting it in the first place. Data scientists are the ones who sort through that data, discovering actionable trends and insights that can take your business strategies to the next level. 

Making big data actionable is a complex process that involves communication between data scientists (the ones who analyze the data) and engineers (the ones tasked with putting their ideas and insights into production). This divide is where problems commonly arise. Getting the most value out of your data means making sure data scientists and engineers can communicate and work together effectively. With that in mind, here are a few tips to ensure a smoother, more coordinated development process. 

1. Cross-training

A shared language and terminology are essential for strong communication and collaboration. Cross-training is one of the simplest methods for achieving that shared language and breaking down the divide between data scientists and engineers. For data scientists, this might mean learning the basics of production languages. For engineers, it might mean studying the fundamentals of data analysis. 

Assigning employees a partner from the other division can help facilitate the learning process, while also helping both departments recognize what changes they could make to help the other team and make their work easier. For instance, engineers might communicate to data scientists that a more organized code would expedite the production process. 

2. Emphasizing the Importance of clean code

As we’ve seen, communication is key. One of the best ways to facilitate communication is by emphasizing the importance of clean code. For data scientists, analyzing big data can sometimes be a messy, experimental process, resulting in preliminary code that can be difficult to understand for engineers. If engineers begin to work from the substandard code, their model software will likely run into problems, including instability and overall efficiency. 

Implementing standardization protocols that consider security parameters, data access patterns, and other factors can keep both sides of the development team happy and expedite the development process. If your data scientists can consistently produce code that performs well within your engineers’ development framework without sacrificing any of the functionality the data scientists need to continue their work, the entire process will run more smoothly. 

3. Developing a features store

Once you’ve established a system for consistently producing clean code, it’s time to productize it. Think of this approach as a way of segmenting features (or independent variables in the data), curating them, and storing them in a centralized location. The intent is better information sharing. Data scientists can retrieve these features when they’re working on a project, and they can be confident the features are reliable and tested. This approach also produces analysis benefits. A features store is essentially a data management layer that uses machine-learning algorithms to analyze raw data and filter it into easily recognizable features. 

Cover Story: Yana, JS Developer

Here at Opinov8, Op8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Yana V., our JS Developer, who is also a lead of the Opinov8 Hobbies Community. She tells us about her career at Opinov8 and how various hobbies help her maintain a work-life balance.

Get to know Yana a little more through this Cover Story and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

How did you start your professional career in IT? Why did you decide to try yourself as a JS developer?

It really happened by accident, I could be a designer now,  but I am very glad that everything happened exactly like this. Today, I can't imagine my life without development and JS. 🥰

I studied at the University of Computer Science. As it turned out, my expectations and reality were different from school computer science and programming at the university. I remember how I complained to my mother that I didn’t understand anything and wanted to quit the university. 🙄

I decided to wait a bit, and luckily in the second year, I found the IT-sphere that I liked — Front-end development. Then I started studying HTML code and I tried myself on the Opencart platform. But, I realized that I could do something better, and decided to find a more interesting area for myself, and found that is JS developing.💘

Yana, JS Developer

What is the main thing you love about working in IT?

To tell the truth, I love everything about working in IT! IT can help people become smarter, innovative, and learn at the same time. Can you imagine something better? I like that the IT professionals need to know information about all areas of activity. How can we develop something if we don't know how? 

At the same time, it is really hard work. Sometimes it seems to me that there is no room in my head for new information. 🤪 I think about work all the time, sometimes I cannot find a solution to a problem and I see this solution in my dreams. 🙃

Have you worked remotely before, what were the biggest challenges you faced? How do you overcome them?

No, I have never worked remotely before last spring. When the lockdown started, I faced real panic because I couldn't imagine myself working from home. Disclaimer: I am a very communicative person! 😅

Quarantine has changed me. I got a bit depressed, as I lack normal communication and physical meetings. But, over time, I adapted to this reality and began to devote more time to myself. I signed up for various programs from photography courses to sport marathons. I tried to keep in touch more online with my team. It made me feel more united and connected. 💙

Sunset view from Opinov8 Kyiv office

What is your typical workday like? How do you manage your time and productivity?

As I mentioned before, working from home is not easy for me. What I learned this year, you should always create a plan and stick to it.  Everything is very individual, but here is a piece of advice that helped me:

How do you manage your work-life balance? What activities do you do to maintain it?

It's too hard for me to stay at home all the time. I try to do sports 3 times a week, as it keeps me fit. I love to start my day with yoga classes, led by our charming corporate trainer. Sometimes it is difficult for me to wake up early, but the feeling of meeting our team members always gives me the strength to get out of bed. 🙃

It is also a great achievement for me that I learned how to make awesome coffee, just like in your favorite cafe, only even better. 😉I started brewing coffee without a coffee machine and now I know how to make an amazing froth, so there is no need to buy coffee, as I know all the secrets of the barista. 😂

Also, I began participating in several interesting marathons. First was a photo marathon, with an amazing community. I was so happy to meet great people with a common hobby. We learned how to take awesome photos for all levels. 

The second was a sports marathon. It was quite challenging, we were shown different types of training and how to do the exercises right. Some I can’t handle, such as where we have to do ab exercises - 200 times at a time. 🙈

Of course, I continue to improve my culinary talents. I really love to cook, and often share my favorite recipes in our Hobbies Community, where I am the leader. 😋

Also, one of the important things for me, that we started visiting the park one day per week with my team. We also started doing various activities online. We even made cakes together, made a florarium, candles, painted pictures, and so on. Fortunately, the digital age has made it possible, and you always feel like a part of the team, wherever you are. 😎

Meetings with a part of the Op8 team in the park

What is your favorite hobby? 

My favorite hobby is to cheer up my friends, tell my life stories and, of course, take pictures on my phone. 

At the university, I had an idea how to make some pocket money. I wanted to take wedding photos on my iPhone, but no one supported me, so I gave up this idea. ☹️ Then I realized that I LOVE taking pictures, so I did not give up this hobby and during quarantine, I decided to take several photography courses. 🤓

During this time of quarantine, we all revised our habits, we all had free hours, which we usually spent on the way to the office and back, now we can use this time to learn something new, or pay more attention to our hobbies, or even start a new one. It's great that we have our Communities, where everyone can share their hobbies and passions, where we can collaborate and be connected with other Opinov8 members. I love to share my knowledge and skills, and I'm glad we have a platform where everyone can learn a little more about each other. 💙

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? 

Every day we know much more than we knew yesterday. Once I heard one very good phrase that is relevant to me: 

If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

What studies would you recommend to someone who wants to make their career as a JS Developer?

If you are thinking about learning JS development, I hope these tips help you get one step close to your dream:

The last point is no less important for me because I felt it on myself. One day I pushed my boyfriend into IT, and then he pushed me to learn JS deeply, which is amazing! 😊


If you wanna join our super-cool JS Developer Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

#bebold #behuman

How to Choose the Right DevOps Tools?

Choosing the right DevOps Tools is a bit more complicated than just looking at a list of top-rated services. That’s because different tools are better suited for specific jobs. Additionally, tools alone don’t make DevOps work, but the right tools can make it much easier to be successful. The following tips cover what you need to know when evaluating DevOps tools for your business.

Understand your unique workflow with a collaboration strategy

Before you start looking at DevOps tools, it helps to establish a collaboration strategy for development, QA, and operations. Understanding how these groups work together and how they address problems gives you insight into what your tools need to do. The collaboration strategy won’t point you to specific tools to use but will clarify what you need those tools to do for you. Before making a decision, you’ll need to examine how well tools work with an organization of your size and how much of a learning curve those tools require. Always keep in mind that a tool you don’t need is not the right DevOps tool. 

The right tools foster communication and collaboration

The right tool depends on your organization, but you’ll need to find communication and planning tools for your team. These tools include collaboration, workload management, instant messaging, ticketing, and documentation. Some tools handle more than one of the previously listed jobs. With many of these tools, you’ll need to use them to see if they work for your teams, so take advantage of free trials. Your organization might find tools like Slack, Jira, Confluence, Trello, InMotion, Dovetail, and others useful.

If you can automate it, you should automate it

DevOps tools aim to eliminate as much of the human element from the workload as possible, which means the right DevOps tools should accomplish this goal. You should look into monitoring tools to track problems and look for potential improvements. Automated testing speeds up the development process. Acceptance testing prevents bad code from reaching production. Automation tools help with Continuous Integration, making it easier to properly test code several times a day as it’s submitted from early bug detection.

Select tools that work for all teams

When your teams aren’t sharing resources, they may end up working against each other instead of with each other. The tools you use should enable development and operations teams to hand off tasks to each other in a loop. The goal is to avoid using multiple tools for the same purpose across different teams. It’s also important to identify how well a tool works within your DevOps workflow. A tool that is excellent in one workplace workflow may be counterintuitive for another business.

Select tools that work with the flow

Avoid tools that only work in production because they step outside of the feedback loop. Feedback is an essential part of the DevOps process. These tools disrupt this valuable source of information. 

Ultimately, it’s up to your organization to determine the right DevOps tools to use. However, a strong understanding of how your organization collaborates, what tools should be doing for your organization, and how to identify which tools work best will point you to the right decisions.

Video calls hygiene. How to deal with sudden pets and family members?

Given the global situation, remote work has become the new norm for all of us. More employees are working from home, more meetings are conducted online. As the corporate world shifts and evolves, video calls become a widespread practice, but it requires a certain level of etiquette to make every meeting more effective and professional.

In the new issue of Opinov8 Tips, we are going to talk with Ekaterina — the Opinov8 Branch Manager in Belarus. Ekaterina regularly hosts clients and candidates' meetings via online platforms, and today she will share with us some practical Tips on Video call hygiene. You will find out how to deal with pets, babies, and family members suddenly appearing in the background and how to create a professional personal brand when you are "meeting" someone virtually.

Ekaterina, Branch Manager

  • 13 year in IT, worked for major outsourcing and product companies all around the world (Russia, Sweden, Great Britain)
  • Copywriting, Recruiting, HR, Business Partnership, Account management background
  • Mommy of 2 plus a cat 😊

I am happy to be the owner of all the triggers that we mentioned in the article's title. I have wonderful children (a boy and a girl), my beloved husband, and an old cat that walks by itself. Triple combo! 😅 

I have been working from home for about 10 years now, with small breaks working from the office. Anyone who works from home (or at least tries) knows that children or pets tend to demand food, water, attention, and all this kind of stuff at the MOST inopportune moment. 🙄 Moreover, they are so persistent that your caller will certainly decide that they have not been fed for at least a week, and it is the right time to call the guardianship service, PETA, or Greta Thunberg personally. 😂 As to spouses, they are a bit calmer, but they can show up in the background with their unexpected appearance or break in during an important call with some intimate question.

How to organize work from home to avoid such embarrassment as much as possible?

1. Divide and rule. 

Try to organize your schedule, so you're not overlapping with your household schedule (as much as possible). If your children come home from school at 1 pm, it is unwise to set up meetings that require 100% concentration during this time, for example.

2.  You're in control.

Another great way to minimize distractions is by preemptively distracting them. Before an important meeting, feed your children and pets, and find them something to do. Some distractions, like TV or video games, are likely to keep kids occupied, but "fun activities" such as these are typically unproductive. Also, it’s possible to keep kids occupied with more productive work, such as homework.

Therefore, the most effective way to calm an animal is to feed it right away. 😉  Cats are busy licking themselves right after eating, and then they get tired and sleep. 

3. Be specific.

Several short periods of silence are easier to ensure than "keeping quiet because mom is working". Every time, warn your family: “I have a meeting that will start at a certain time and last about an hour”. It will be easier for them to understand the boundaries of the “silent mode”. 🤐

Also, you can set a silent timer for them, it will even keep the kids entertained.

4. Use a headset. 

The advice is important, no matter how many people around you. Believe me, the headset significantly outperforms laptop speakers in the function of external noise canceling, and a microphone located closer will make your speech more intelligible and louder.

This is especially important when making calls with native speakers and non-native speakers with different accents. This is simple respect for the interlocutors, making it easier to understand without having to repeat the sentence every time.

5. Silence is gold. 

This is a hackneyed piece of advice, but it has already saved dozens of business reputations. 😊 Always put yourself on the mute if you are not currently speaking. Background noise is common on conference calls, it can be distracting. Even if it is quiet around, your breathing, coughing, and other sounds are distracting. If you unexpectedly receive a “question from the audience” from your family, you will not have to apologize for it to your interlocutors.

It's also helpful to remember at the reflex level where the microphone and camera buttons are ready to turn them off in a second if something happens. Also, use the background blur function if necessary. 😊

6. We are all humans. 

If something is already happening, you do not need to heroically endure and pretend that you do not notice it. Apologize and ask for a couple of minutes to sort out your “issues”. This is perceived as completely normal and much more adequate than completely ignoring the furry cat face in full-screen mode. 😊

7. Be remote.

Laptops have given us mobility, but try not to work in places where all family members can interact. For example, sitting in the kitchen nearby the refrigerator is not a good idea, or if you sit in the only bathroom, I think you should not be surprised that the closed-door will periodically break. 😁 At the same time, a private location does not mean safe from the point of view of non-interference.

If possible choose a far corner, even if it's not very convenient there. 🙃

8. Cultivate an understanding

It doesn't have an immediate effect, but it works 100%. Sure, it looks like the advice given by an English gardener on how to achieve the perfect lawn: “Plant and care for 300 years, but…” 😂

It all starts small. 

Explain constantly that mom/dad is at home, but they are working. Give a visual confirmation of your "arrival" from work — sit on the sofa, this is not so. At least say loudly: "Well, here I am at home!", closing the lid of the laptop! Teach them to respect your work and respect their boundaries in the same way. For example, I never enter the kids’ room without giving a knock, and if I see my husband using headphones, I will first text him in the messenger instead of asking loudly. 

The most important tip is to tell your family what you are busy with so that all above doesn't seem like a ridiculous requirement. Although... the cat perhaps won’t care. 😂

Bonus tip.

If all of the above doesn't work, there is only one win-win remedy — сall your grandmother!⚡️ Or go to a coworking space, especially since a company in Belarus pays for a place in a modern location for all employees if they wish. 😉


If you wanna join our super-friendly Opinov8 team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

How to Use Microservices To Evolve DevOps Pipelines

The microservice architectural style creates a wealth of opportunities for development teams to evolve their DevOps pipelines. Microservices make it practical to break apart larger applications so work pipelines focus on smaller, independently operating services instead of the entire application at once.

DevOps teams can work in broken-out repositories for each microservice instead of needing to stick with the larger workflow. In short, microservice updates work independently of the entire application.

It’s time to split up

Whether you’re building a new application or retrofitting an existing application, your DevOps teams will need to either design with several microservices in mind from the ground up or break up a monolithic application into smaller, independent segments. Structure microservices so they function independently of each other. The microservices communicate with each other to exchange information but don’t overlap in actual work. Containerize each microservice and avoid using shared libraries you will be modifying.

Saving time with relationship mapping

The microservice architectural style untangles services from the entire application, which substantially simplifies the process for relationship mapping. Relationship mapping updates stay contained within the microservice instead of affecting the relationships between microservices. When you’re working with containerized code, you won’t need to worry about an update changing how a different microservice works or breaking the larger application.

Managing reusable code — don’t repeat yourself

Microservices make it easier to manage relevant code, which means it’s easier to keep track of what already exists. Improved code management can be a significant boost to your building processes because it’s easier to build reusable code when you’re only concerned with the immediate microservice instead of the entire application. When you’re working with less code, it's much easier to keep track of what’s already done, so you can avoid repeating code. Reusable, nonrepeated code is faster to update, which will help streamline the pipeline.

Deployment and versioning perks

Microservices can significantly evolve the deployment part of a DevOps pipeline. DevOps teams can stay focused on updates within the microservice instead of being distracted by those concerning the application as a whole. This makes them easier to keep track of and eliminates the need to wait on other parts of the application to update. Fixes and enhancements come faster with microservices. It’s much easier to manage versions with microservices because each microservice has independent versioning. This model is easier to manage and requires less work if you need to revert to an older version because you only need to revert the microservice.

Adopting microservices goes hand-in-hand with evolving DevOps pipelines. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working with microservices is to stick with the same old pipelines. Take advantage of the new opportunities for a better workflow with microservices.

The Best Tools to Check Security Vulnerabilities in a Private Cloud?

Cloud computing makes it easy for organizations to access powerful computing services at scale. By relying on servers, data storage, and networking capabilities stored at a remote location, companies can take full advantage of these resources from a distance, making it possible to build applications, crunch data, and deliver content through high-performing, off-site services. 

Organizations that take advantage of cloud computing often choose one of three cloud infrastructures: public, private, or hybrid. In public and hybrid cloud environments, some or all cloud services and infrastructure are provided by a third party, such as Amazon’s AWS or Google Cloud, and share resources between clients.

Private clouds, on the other hand, are dedicated cloud environments operated at the local level. Often used by large organizations that have a need for strong security or significant computing resources, private clouds can provide a high degree of flexibility, resource availability, and regulatory compliance

Because public cloud environments rely on the security measures put in place by third-party cloud providers, hybrid and private cloud infrastructures must remain vigilant to ward off potential threats. 

Here are three common areas for security vulnerabilities in a private cloud and the best tools to address them: 

Many of the most expensive, dangerous, and headline-grabbing cloud security incidents revolve around data breaches. Solutions like IBM’s Security Guardian Vulnerability Assessment can scan local data infrastructures — such as databases, warehouses, and other big data environments — to identify potential vulnerabilities. By producing a full report on security gaps that hackers could exploit, organizations relying on private clouds can identify and resolve unpatched software, misconfigured privileges, or other unusual activities. 

Proper access management is essential to ensuring that users only have access to authorized services throughout the private cloud. Tools such as Okta, a single-sign-on user identity platform, can protect against cloud security vulnerabilities by granting access to users whose identities have been securely identified. Through centralized access management and multi-factor authentication, private clouds can eliminate the need for users to manage multiple passwords while ensuring that unauthorized users don’t have access to sensitive applications or data.

Viruses, ransomware, and other types of malware remain major threats for any type of private cloud infrastructure. Security solutions such as McAfee Advanced Threat Defense provide proactive protection against malware across physical and virtual devices. Fully integrating with email servers and able to detect hidden threats throughout a wide range of applications and operating systems, comprehensive malware security can help keep critical systems and data protected from zero-day threats and ransomware.

How to fall in love with books and not give up on reading?

We all know that reading is beneficial in both personal and professional lives. Besides being a gr8 way to escape and unwind, reading increases your knowledge, focus, and worldview. But, modern life may seem too frantic for books. The biggest challenge is actually finding time to read more books. 🙄

In the new release of Opinov8 Tips we are going to talk with Ruslana — the Opinov8 UX/UI Designer. Ruslana shared with us her tips and tricks that will help you read more books and find ways to fit more reading into your schedule. 

Ruslana, UX/UI Designer

  • 3 years in Design
  • Leader of the Opinov8 “Book Club” Community
  • 55 books read in 2020 😱
  • Translator of Turkish language

When we talk about reading books, many of us will have associations from childhood and school, when we were forced to read. It lays a negative imprint on memory, and then it is hard to rebuild yourself that reading can be fun.

Back in the day, after I graduated from university, I stopped reading books for a couple of years (or read only a couple in a year). A few years ago, when all sorts of challenges gained popularity, I learned about the one-year challenge of reading books. It brought me back to the ranks of book lovers!

If you are reading this article, it means you care about reading, so I hope that the following tips will help you to love reading ever more and get a new hobby 😉

1. Define Motivation

The first thing to do is to determine what value reading will give you. Some people could become motivated by reading an N-number of books after an argument with someone, but it will not come from within and will not develop a passion for reading. 

You have to find your personal meaning.

Just ask yourself: “What is reading for me?”, “Why do I want to start reading?” and so on. For me, reading is a kind of meditation (if we are talking about fiction). I immerse myself in a completely different world. It is like watching a movie, but much cooler!  Another thing is that reading is about improving and extending vocabulary. The person who reads always has a very pleasant and literate speech and I find my motivation in this fact!

2. Set the goal

I understand that it is hard for a non-reader to count how many books he will be able to read in a year. Just think about what number seems realistic to you personally.

Let's say it would be 12 books per year, so 1 book per month. The average book is 500 pages. 500/30days=16 pages a day! Every person has his own reading speed, but 16 pages can easily be read in 30 minutes. So if you read 30 minutes every day, you could easily make 12 books in a year. Sounds gr8, doesn't it?
😉

Small steps lead to big goals!

Track your success and approach to your year goal with different programs. For those who read books in English I could suggest Goodreads, and for those who read in Russian or Ukrainian — LiveLib would be perfect. Both of them have a nice chart showing how you are moving, you can add books “to read later”, save a list of books you have read to share with friends later. There is a category of people who are motivated by the promise they make to their friends. Declare your goal to read a certain number of books to your friends on Facebook or Instagram, share your impressions of books you read. This can give you extra motivation on the way to your goal!

3. Choose the genre

There is a hypothesis that if after reading 50 pages a book does not impress you, you can safely put it aside and get the next one. 😉

4. Think about the format

Often I face the opinion that reading is only about printed or e-books and audiobooks do not count. However, everyone knows that some people perceive information better visually, while others perceive information audibly. 

I know several people who adore books, but they only go for the audiobook option. So don't listen to anyone. If you enjoy listening to audiobooks, choose them. Soon you will find your favorite book narrators whose voice you like. 🙂

5. Permanence is important

To successfully introduce a new habit to your life, you should tie it to your daily rituals. 

For example, read a couple of pages during breakfast or every time you take transport. If you like walking and audiobooks, try going out for a walk and listen to audiobooks while enjoying the surrounding nature or city views. Introduce the habit of reading before going to bed or even waiting in line at the supermarket. 🙃

6. Seek a support

Find book lovers among your friends and share the books you read. When you talk about a book, you remember it better. 

No man is an island!

At Opinov8 we have a Book Club, where every month we get together and talk about our favorite books, share our impressions. Also, we have the Slack channel where you can always ask for a recommendation or share the latest news from the wonderful world of books!

I hope these tips will help you to start reading. Remember that reading should be fun and interesting, not torture! Hint: instead of trying to power through a book that you're not enjoying, put it down 😉

If you still have questions, welcome to our Opinov8 Book Club! 


If you wanna join our super-friendly Design Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

Tips for Building a Versatile Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

Working with a combination of private and public cloud services in a hybrid cloud solution presents a wide range of challenges with keeping data safe and making sure all of your applications can communicate efficiently. The path to building a versatile, secure hybrid cloud infrastructure involves developing a standardized, tracked, and validated configuration. 

The different parts of your hybrid cloud need to allow applications and databases to communicate with each other. Individual cloud providers keep configuration data under control, but this is a bit more of a challenge with a hybrid cloud because data doesn’t live inside a singular enclosed service. How you organize configuration information makes a difference in both performance and maintainability.

Standardization: making a herculean task manageable

The closer you can keep your organization’s hybrid cloud configuration to a standardized model, the easier it will be to manage it. A standardized or normalized system is easier to maintain than one built under several layers of ad hoc adjustments.

Avoid changing how you manage computing resources between different cloud and application providers. The configuration should handle cloud services like Azure and AWS the same way. Write your code and configuration data as portable as possible.

Machine learning and performance testing tools are invaluable assets you can have on your side when developing a standardization strategy. These tools can identify configuration patterns and which configurations offer the best performance.

Tracking changes: managing configuration like a program

Keeping detailed logs of all configuration changes is part of high-performing hybrid cloud infrastructure. Like with an application’s code, maintain a version history log of the configuration. You need to know who changed what, when they changed it, and why they changed it.

Although standardization is the ultimate goal, it isn’t always realistic to expect the same code and configuration to work in all instances. It’s necessary to track deviations between applications.

Tracking changes is easier said than done when working with multiple teams. You’ll need to account for teams updating different parts of the configuration at the same time. Implementing a role-based access control system helps keep things orderly.

Validation: stopping mistakes before production

You’ll also want to run configuration data through a validation process. Run configuration changes through QA like you would with application code updates. Your organization will need to establish how strict it will be with enforcing standards because more freedom to deviate from the standards requires more validation. Additionally, validation checks will scale as more people can access the configuration.

As part of the validation process, you’ll want to maintain snapshots across versions. Machine learning can also help out in this part of the process.

Data governance: an additional complicating factor

The concept of data governance complicates the hybrid cloud infrastructure because it imposes specific rules and requirements for different regions. Local laws may require that your organization stores information in specific places or entities. 

Your organization is legally required to follow data governance requirements, but don’t let those requirements break your other good habits. The best practice is to build with portability in mind so applications can connect to different databases in a similar, standardized manner.

Building a versatile hybrid cloud infrastructure is an ongoing process. It doesn’t end with a single configuration. It requires continuous development and enforcement of standardization, tracking, validation, and data governance practices.

Cover Story: Opinov8 Co-Founders

Do you know how to create a company with over 200 employees all over the world from a bold idea starting above a garage? We can definitely say that we know now 😀

Meet Opinov8 Co-Founders: Craig Wilson, Chief Commercial Officer, and Christian Aaen, Chief Technology, Delivery & Operations Officer. Even though their daily tasks are very diverse, they are good friends and they built an even gr8er company together. They told us about Opinov8's first steps and how it all started. 

Are you curious to read a bunch of exciting moments they've collected over the years? Find out the story behind Opinov8 and get to know a little more about the personalities of the founders in this article!

Kyiv office 2019

How did you come up with the idea to start Opinov8? 

Craig Wilson (CW): I remember that moment when we discussed the whole concept. It was in the Holiday Inn. We spoke about doing something different from what we were doing before.

Opinov8 means having an opinion on innovation. Both of us have very strong opinions! So having an opinion on innovation was the core of what we wanted to do. We wanted to have an opinion on building products or platforms for our clients. Not just be sitting back waiting to take instruction to build software on demand. Being a Technology Innovation partner, using our company as a platform for our clients.

Christian Aaen (CA): We had the belief that the market needed a bit of a holistic approach to what traditionally has been known as “outsourcing”. We wanted to set business objectives at the center of the client relationship and build from there. Even though we are a technology services company, we do look at technology, as an enabler. We believe it has to be the business that drives the technology solution and technology implementation.

We had a belief that the market would be better served with a technology services company that puts business objectives at the core.

Craig Wilson near the Olympic stadium in Kyiv

Why did you choose Ukraine as one of the main countries for your office?

(CW): Well, it was a natural choice. Christian lives in Kyiv and we have both worked with and in the Ukrainian market for a long time. Things are obviously changing currently with the world situation as it is, and we will continue to push out, but Ukraine remains our center of gravity.

(CA): The reason why I ended up in Ukraine is obviously because of well-skilled engineers and an accommodating culture quite close to what I know from growing up in Western Europe. Those two points remain to be very strong reasons for our continued commitment to Ukraine!

Tell us about your first steps at Opinov8, what was the path you took to get to where you are today?

(CA): Our first steps at Opinov8 started in April 2017. We actually started where I'm sitting now, above the garage. Yes, like Google (laughing). This is the place where the first couple of steps were taken. 

As with many startups, it starts with “3 F’s” friends, family, and fools, and this story is no different. Our very first client was a friend. So the very first code line that we wrote was a deal from a close network. 

As we've been so many years in the business and in the industry we have a good network. The network we have cherished and built up over many years. We have almost broken our backs to not disappoint. So, yes, a good network is really what got us going. 

We saw it as an opportunity to start on a blank piece of paper. Through those many years within the industry and within larger organizations, we saw the impact of older on premise legacy business support systems that couldn’t really keep up with running at scale in a fast changing business environment. We didn’t need to worry about legacy slowing us down, we could take full advantage of cloud service infrastructure and applications and build a foundation that could grow as fast as we can grow the business.

Winter Party 2020

You are bound to run into trouble if you are not thinking through the entirety of the business (not only the business model but also the operating model). You need to have long-term strategic glasses on and you need to be bold

We looked at this and we said to each other: “In five years, we need to build a company that will be able to manage 40% of our people working remotely”. That was built into our thinking, into investments, into systems and processes from the beginning. Little did we know that 3 years later in 2020, one Monday evening in March, it would be 100%... But that's history.

We had an opportunity to do things right — without legacy — and we were quite excited about it!

Also, the fact that we wanted to build an organization that could scale and function so that there was no single point of failure, which you tend to have if everything revolves around one central point or person.

(CW): I remember sitting with Christian in the summer, drawing on a piece of paper, thinking about our branding and the positioning. 

We were thinking about one of the things that we saw in our previous roles. From a cultural perspective, the culture of the organization was tied to the leadership. The world and the company revolved around them, there was a whole ecosystem around them. We definitely didn't want that, we wanted to be able to operate in the business, but also operate out of the business, not have a detrimental, or negative effect on the company, for the company to BE the culture and the people in it

We came up with our core six principles when we were sitting on a terrace in the sunshine one day. Those are still as true today as they were then. They were the first set of steps. We wanted to create a cultural identity for the organization, something to attach to. As much as the systems and processes are important, just as important was our cultural identity when we started.

Craig Wilson and Christian Aaen

(CA): We had very entertaining conversations starting, of course, very informal for quite a while. The “final drop” was when both Craig and I were a part of getting big private equity into the company where we worked. That was a bit of a mental milestone.

We also both had working experiences in organizations that spend a lot of time looking inwards, looking at their own belly button, having competing interests within the organization. Such behavior drives focus away from the market dynamics and responding to what clients and the market demands. We are trying hard every day to enforce focus on the things that matter for the success of opinov8rs and our clients. The aim is obviously to have this approach and philosophy reflected in our company DNA and how we organize ourselves.

What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?

(CW): The hardest part in the early stages is that you absolutely live and breathe every step you take. In our approach, every challenge is completely personal and emotional. 

It's not a job. This is your family, this is your future, this is your universe. 

Anything that goes wrong (and lots of things do go wrong) you take personally. You take personal pride in making sure that they don't happen again.

There are lots of things that were hard. Growing a company is not easy, finding the right people is not easy, keeping the right people is not easy. I think there are lots of challenges that you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis, and they're still relevant today.

(CA): Also, finding the right partners to collaborate with can prove to be a challenge! You do tend to take everything personally, and everything and anything matters. It's getting a little bit easier now because we now have a sizable team of capable people to help “grab challenges”. 

But in the beginning, it was hard, it's everything from the toilet paper to delivery, full-cycle 😉

Friday evening in the Kyiv office, 2020

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?

(CW): I think one of the biggest challenges that we've had to overcome jointly, was when COVID hit last year. We had to, unfortunately, say goodbye to some very smart people. 

At the same time, we sold our activities in Spain. That allowed us to focus our attention. We were testing our strategy, and then very quickly pushing forward again. The biggest challenge was getting through that process. Those were very tough days.

(CA): But it helped us to realize that we have built an organization where our leading people have been with us through all these hard times (and good times for that matter). We got to know each other better. Trust is built, because when the shit hits the fan, the way that people react, says a lot about their character.

It wasn't just us, as business owners, who sat and looked at our entire foundation for feeding our families, were in jeopardy, the money and time that we've invested. I think everyone in the company had a hard time. But as I said, working through that has built more trust and that is, of course, something that we can further build on.

My sister once said to me: “the sum of problems is always the same”. I think there's a lot of truth to that. I'm still worried about a lot of things, but they don't feel as fundamental and life-threatening, as they did back in the middle of March - early April last year.

One of those reasons is, of course, that we have built a team that cares about our company, like we do, which is so gr8!

What are you most proud of regarding the company? What do you think makes Opinov8 different?

(CW): We're proud of a lot of things. I’m proud of the fact that we support and nurture over 200 people and their families. I am proud of the people.

Proud that they have chosen us to be part of their journey

I've seen a lot of individual people in the organization grow and do amazing things, I'm proud of that.

We are fighting like Mike Tyson, we are still very small and relatively unknown. But we can be a heavyweight when we get into a client engagement, and we have done things for clients that 10 million companies “like us” will not be able to do. And I'm proud of that. 

We have a lot of ability and talent. And that's what makes us different. It is that very ability of innovators, to bring their own opinion, exactly that additional 10%. Something more than just being a developer. The way that they think is the freedom they get through the philosophy and our systems and processes. Their ability to have some wiggle room when doing their job. That's what makes us different, and brings that extra value — our secret sauce!

We are not rigid in our controls. However, our systems are very structured, consistent, but there is a lot of space for people to be creative. That is where our added value is. 

So, the ability to give people freedom within the structures makes us different. I'm proud of that.

Celebration of 100 Opinov8rs in a team in the Kyiv office

(CA): Yeah, I totally agree. As the German American economist Theodore Levitt famously said “Organizations exist to enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things”. So it's about combining people and skills in a way that allows individuals to have more impact than individual contribution. That's the environment that we believe we have managed to create.

The other thing is that we're honest, which may sound a bit strange. We're not perfect. We are people, we don't try to hide it. We deal with issues with clients, and we fix problems out in the open. That makes us authentic, I think. That's also what makes us different. And that's also quite something to be proud of.

We don't want people to over-commit and under-deliver. But when we commit, we do whatever it is we can do to meet the commitment we have made! That's not just towards clients, but also towards our people. So we do what we say and we say what we do. This actually sounds very basic, but it is our core belief.

Did you like this Cover Story? To read the second part of the story with Opinov8 Co-Founders, download it here 👇

Download Full Cover Story

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let's innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

Why and how we use requirements testing as a process

Opinov8 is a fast-growing company, and we, Opino8rs, are proud of it! We are always thinking about our future, our growth, and our customers — how could we provide the best service? Obviously, to achieve these goals, we must build strong and scalable processes. Requirements testing is one of them.

Today, we are going to talk with Vadym, Opinov8 QA Practice Lead. Vadym will tell us about one of the processes implemented in Opinov8 — requirements testing. This is a basic and mandatory process for all our projects.

Vadym Krykhno, QA Practice Lead

  • 13 years in QA, experience in building QA teams, and QA practice from scratch. 
  • More than 7 years of expertise in Automation in different languages. 
  • Worked with many global companies in e-commerce, finance, CRM, game, and other domains. 

As you know, requirements are the foundation for any development project.  Projects start with documentation (requirements) and end with it. One of the most vital processes for us is requirements testing. In Opinov8 (for a project with SDLC based on Scrum), we created a few rules when implemented this approach:

We need to test the requirements exactly before these requirements are added to the sprint backlog. On the other hand, it is not necessary to perform these actions at a very early stage because there is a possibility that these requirements will lose their relevance.

Requirements testing before sprint as a process allows us to:

As a result, we can significantly reduce the cost of the project (or sprint, since we are talking about testing requirements as a sprint activity).

How exactly to test the requirements?

Our Business Analysts use a requirements approach based on the INVEST mnemonics described here. However, from the QA practice side, when we do Requirements Testing, we also stick to the following aspects:

1. Correctness.

All statements must be correct, truthful, and make sense. Testing a system for incorrect requirements is a waste of time, money, and effort. How correct is your requirement? Is this really what is required of the system?

2. Necessary. 

Can be traced back to the business problem or business need that triggers it. Does this really cover the needs of the business?

3. Completeness. 

The requirement should contain all the information needed by the developers and everyone else who uses it to do their job. The requirement must include all the details necessary to express the needs of the users.

4. Consistency. 

Requirements must not conflict with other requirements. Are all buttons or error messages in the same style?

5. Testability. 

There must be a way to check if the implementation meets the requirements. Can the requirements be verified? How do you do this, and what data and tools do you need?

6. Logic. 

Is it possible to develop the described functions, we do not have blockers and restrictions?

7. Unambiguous. 

Anyone who reads the requirement must come to a common interpretation.

8. Traceable. 

Is the requirement unambiguously defined so that it can be unambiguously referred to?

9. All possible scenarios. 

Are all scenarios covered in the requirements?

Requirements testing is a top priority to help you get your developing project to a really good level. Timely use of these activities can save the development team time and money.


If you wanna join our super-friendly QA team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let's innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

How to keep a healthy work environment in a remote team

Perhaps, one of the most important elements of employee engagement is a healthy company environment. The work environment impacts your mood, drive, mental health, and performance. Maintaining a positive work environment can increase productivity, especially in remote work, produce better results and make work more enjoyable. But, how exactly can you make a healthy working environment where team members are productive, happy, and encouraged? 

Today, we are going to talk with Inna - Opinov8 Project Manager on Delivery Projects. Inna shared with us her tips on How to REALLY make the work environment healthier in a remote team, both physically and (more important) psychologically. These tips will also help to increase team productivity.

Inna, Project Manager of the Delivery team at Opinov8

  • 8 years in management, almost 4 of them in Project management in IT
  • Previously worked for the Olympics, European Games, one of the core players in the Eurovision Organisation Committee
  • Visited and worked more than In 20 countries

One of the most important factors of delivery is a healthy atmosphere inside the team. When we say this, most people would automatically assume that we mean an environment that is good for our physical health. Actually, a healthy work environment is a whole lot more than that. A healthy workplace atmosphere is one where the team feels comfortable with each other, collaborates to increase productivity, motivation, and engagement.

Given that we spend one-third of our lives at work, the working environment can significantly impact our health and well-being, especially when working remotely. For me, it is super important to work side by side each day with a team that supports each other, loves what they do, and cares about common success. Each team member on my projects has a great and powerful personality, with awesome talents besides work. I love to spend each day in a friendly atmosphere where we help each other, challenge each other, teach each other and develop each other. 😀

Here are some tips from me to keep a healthy environment in a team:

1. Clarity about scope, goals, and delivery approach

I believe to have a good fit for the team you should always be clear as a manager with all aspects of delivery. Each team member should understand:

2. Support

There is no situation we can’t handle as a team! We brainstorm each time when we need a solution to a tricky task and are happy to jump on any part of work to support anyone in a team. 💪

3. Never blaming

We all learn and part of it is our own mistakes. Our goal is to improve based on them, never blaming only support. 

4. Self-development

I love to see specialists grow, reach new goals for self-development, get promoted.  If there is any tool you can use for that as a manager, do it! Mentoring is highly appreciated inside our team. 🙌

5. Share common moments

If there is a chance to grab a coffee together, use it.  For example, we have a tradition to drink coffee in a park with a team on Sunday mornings. It got slow down in winter, but as spring comes — I hope to see more and more team members join. Especially nice to see each other after lockdown. 

6.  Nice jokes 🙂 

I hardly believe that it is possible to keep yourself up to speed and all challenges without a good sense of humor, and my team here is the best. Each time we support each other by a joke, that moment's challenges become much more fun. 😉

Keeping your employees happy and healthy should be a top priority at every workplace. It's important to maintain healthy relationships amongst team members so they can continue to be successful and productive together.


If you wanna join our super-friendly Delivery Projects team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us.

Let’s innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

Onsite contract vs. remote team: which is right for you?

Until recently, if your company needed to hire an outside contractor for a project, that contractor would likely work onsite. The digital revolution, however, has changed that, thanks to the fact that communication and sharing documents is now simple. Today, it is just as common to hire teams who are offsite — and sometimes even overseas — for a project. When it comes to your own business’ project delivery method, keep the following considerations in mind when deciding between an onsite or offshore contractor.

Cost

Reduced cost is a big advantage of hiring an offshore team. Your company can lower expenses, such as for real estate, supplies, equipment and utilities with an offshore contractor. With an onsite team, you’ll need to find extra space in the office for the new team members and potentially cover expenses related to equipment and supplies. Not only that but if you opt for an offshore project delivery method then you may be able to take advantage of overseas talent at a cost that is lower than what is available to you locally.

Communication

Both onsite and offshore project delivery models have their respective advantages and disadvantages when it comes to communication. With an onsite team, you benefit from face-to-face communication, which makes scheduling last-minute meetings and communicating about minor issues much easier. You may also find that face-to-face communication gives you more control over the direction of the project. However, offshore communication is more seamless today thanks to technology. Scheduling online meetings and sending important documents is usually straightforward, especially if you have a contractor that prioritizes communication and transparency.

Expertise

For many businesses, the most important consideration when hiring a contractor is finding the very best one. Whether the best contractor for your project is an onsite or offshore one is impossible to guarantee. It’s possible that a contractor that is able to send its team to your premises will also be the one best able to deliver the very best expertise. However, when your business is open to the possibility of an offshore project team, you have significantly more options to choose from. When you’re willing to look nationally or even globally for a contractor, then you can be more selective about who you hire — and potentially have an easier time finding a contractor that is the very best in the business.

Significant benefits exist for both onsite and offshore project delivery methods. The ultimate decision of which one is best for you will depend on your project’s goals, timeline and budget.

Cover Story: Dmitriy, JS Developer

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In the March edition, we interviewed Dmitriy B., our JS Developer, who is also a leader of one of the Opinov8 Communities  - Sports Community. He tells us about his career at Opinov8, how he works remotely and how sports activities help him manage his work-life balance.

Get to know Dmitriy a little more through this Cover Story and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and become a part of this gr8 adventure!

The first couple of weeks of remote work were really challenging due to self-organization and “fridge” issues 😅. But I pulled myself together and started running instead of the way to the office and back. That became my rescue.

What has your career path at Opinov8 been like? What did you change along the way to adapt to new projects?

My career path at Opinov8 started super exciting for me. I was enrolled in the new German project as a Senior HTML/CSS developer (I know, position name sounds unusual 😀). After 3 working days, our team went to Munich to undergo onboarding directly with the client. 

During the last few years, I have been working on 3 different projects. Each required specific skills and knowledge, but common approaches to adapt were quite similar since we are always using the same development methodology. So every time, adaptation went smoothly due to clear onboarding guidelines and great team cooperation.

Given how fast technology changes, how has your job evolved throughout the years?

Technology change rapidly, and you should always be well aware of the latest trends, especially in Front-End. I was fortunate to work on projects that were using cutting-edge approaches, and it always allowed me to improve my professional skills. I came to the company 2 years ago with a basic understanding of React JS, and now I’m happy that I started the Front-End mentoring practice (including React JS) and can share my knowledge with newcomers. 

Dmitriy, JS Developer

What is the biggest challenge or most innovative project you and your teammates have had to face?

Definitely, the most challenging period was working with the Olympic games project. We have put on tight timelines, and the level of responsibility was enormous. We joined this project just a month before the final release, and we had to be super concentrated and cooperative. Moreover, the release day was right before my long vacation, so it was rather stressful at the moment. But we succeeded, and the benefits outweighed the cost.

What is your typical workday as a remote worker? How do you manage your time and productivity? 

I've never worked remotely before the Covid-19. So, the quarantine became the cause of me going remote. But, to tell the truth, I thought about it before.

The first couple of weeks of remote work were really challenging due to self-organization and “fridge” issues 😅. But I pulled myself together and started running instead of the way to the office and back. That became my rescue.

My typical workday now is quite similar to the office lifestyle. The only difference is that I’m going for a run and workout after every breakfast instead of being a part of the morning traffic. I’ve defined a schedule and try to follow it every day to prevent mess with self-management. I need to split my work into 40 - 60 min iterations to keep focus and avoid overload.

I believe that when working remotely you need to be even more punctual than in the office.

What do you consider to be the balance between your work and personal life, especially when working remotely? 

The most crucial things for me to keep a work-life balance are sport and dividing the day between working and nonworking time frames. Overall, I am happy with my work schedule now. I like that I can manage my time: start working earlier or later, be more active and do more workouts, and of course, spend more time with my family.

What do you most enjoy about sports activities, especially running? How long have you been running and how many events did you participate in? 

Running for me is like a meditation. It helps me to keep my mind clean. And it goes without saying that it is the perfect way to keep fit. My first run was 2 years ago, and since that moment, I’ve participated in 4 official sports events at different distances (5 km, 10 km, and 21 km).

Do you have any tips for staying motivated to run? What advice would you give to someone who wants to start but doesn’t know how?

I am the lead of the Sports Community in Opinov8. Since we have a very young and active team, we have many guys who adore sports as much as I do. Most of us work remotely, but we want to lead a social life, as in the pre “Covid Era”, so we decided to carry out various sports challenges. It’s easier to stay motivated when you need to compete with somebody (or with your “yesterday’s” self).

The first step is the hardest, they said. So, I would like to advise you to start and to find your motivation. Your contribution won’t give you a chance to give up. 

If you could say one thing to people who are just starting their careers as JS Developer, what would you say?

It won't be easy, but it is so interesting! Be patient, and it will pay you back with the results. Good luck, and enjoy your way.


As Dmitriy was saying, being a JS Developer is not easy, but it is really exciting. If you wanna join the JS Development team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com 

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

How to wake up earlier and make yoga a part of your routine

When working remotely, we sit too much and move too little — to compensate for this, we need to find the best balance for both body and mind. Yoga is a perfect exercise to achieve that feat.

The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body, as yoga is for everyone. 😉

Anastasiia T.  — Senior QA Engineer at Opinov8.
Anastasiia, one of the active participants of Opinov8 Yoga Classes (part of Opinov8 Sports Community - a group of people with common values and interests, who collaborate by sharing ideas and experience to drive excellence and meaningful impact). She shared with us her tips on how to wake up earlier and make yoga a part of your routine while working remotely. 🙃

As settling into a daily routine that includes sports, activity isn't always easy. However, it’s helpful to remember that even a couple of minutes of yoga can have positive benefits on your physical and mental wellbeing. So, get ready to find out how to do this. 🚀

“The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin.”  

Rachel Brathen 

My yoga path started just 6 months ago. Like many of you, I thought that I was a night owl rather than a lark. I thought it took too much effort for morning yoga practice, as soon as I tried to get up earlier, I realized how many advantages it gives me. Here are some things that can help you wake up earlier and make yoga a part of your routine: 

1. Have a strong reason "Why?"

Yes, this is the first point and the most important thing. To start doing something new for a long time and constantly, you should have a strong desire. Run, workout, swimming, yoga, etc. It should be your choice and not because it is mainstream or someone tells you that it will be good. 

Tips: Be really clear about what you want to get out of the practice. It will help to develop a habit more smoothly.

2. Waking up earlier — go to bed earlier

We live at a fast pace, we spend a lot of time on gadgets, TV, video games. To be productive during the day and get up early, we should have plenty of sleep. Many types of research show that the time we go to bed and the duration of sleep is significant to our health. 

Tips: For best results, try to wake up the same time no matter what day of the week it is.

3. Try not to drink coffee before going to bed

The stimulating effect of caffeine lasts 3-5 hours, depending on our individual characteristics. Therefore, drinking coffee late at night can cause sleep problems.

Tips: What helps me — I drink coffee no later than 3 pm. 

4. Start small

When we think of big efforts, they are always delayed and tend to start before Monday, after the holidays, next month, next year, etc.

Tips: Try to practice every day for 15-20 minutes. It can help develop the habit. The more you practice, the more you can increase the duration. Consider having a mixture of easy and difficult sessions, as well as short and long practice times.

Morning practice

5. Relieve back pain and tension

We spend a lot of time sitting all day, and the lower back is a sensitive spot. Yoga is a gentle practice that is ideal for maintaining back strength and flexibility. It's also one of the more effective tools for helping reduce low back pain.

Tips: Set an intention for your practice just before you begin to practice. Always end your practice with a final relaxation pose.

6. Improve your mood

Yoga can help reduce depression, decrease stress and boost your mood.

Tips: Set up different sequences for yourself every day based on your needs to help yourself get the most benefits from the practice and keep you from getting bored. Instead of keeping your emotions on a roller-coaster, do yoga, get off that up and down chaos, and level out. 

7. Clear your mind 

One of the controversial issues in our work life is burnout when you are overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. Yoga gives us the tools to calm and clear the mind to experience more balance and peace in daily life.  

Tips: Morning yoga leads to calmness, which then leads to happiness. Start or finish your practice with a short meditation to calm your mind and center your thoughts.

8. Find an instructor and community

At Opinov8, we have a great opportunity to practice yoga online with our team and an awesome instructor :). She always provides several levels of difficulty, and you can choose the most convenient for yourself. Also, we have a yoga chat where we usually share our experiences and find support from colleagues.

Tips: You do not have to be able to do every yoga asana in existence to have an effective daily practice. Incorporating and mastering different poses can help you put together a daily practice that won’t get boring or routine. Always share your results with friends when there is a team of like-minded people around — it's always more fun, and you enjoy the benefits of your yoga session even more.


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

Product vs. Platform development: 5 things to consider

There's a lot for a business to consider when deciding between developing a product or a platform. In short, a product is a consumable or usable piece of software you sell or offer, while a platform is a system that enables a product to work or communicate with another product. Products can stand alone or exist on platforms. The following five considerations can help your business decide which path is correct for your organization at the time, as well as the idealized implementation of what you're creating.

1. Products can become platforms, but platforms can't become products

Creating a platform before creating a product carries a lot more risk than building the product first. From a development standpoint, it is common for a successful product to grow into a platform. However, platforms can't be converted into products. Since products tend to be less work than platforms, it's much better to have a product that doesn't work over a platform that doesn't work.

2. Consider your resources

The scope of the development process is important: it is much harder to build a platform first. Your organization might be looking to build a platform in the future, but currently only has the resources to develop a product. Once having a successful product in the marketplace generating revenue, a business can work on turning it into a platform.

3. Understand the value of a product vs. a platform

How you approach a problem or solution in development can vary depending on the context of the program's value. In this case, a platform creates its value through interactions while a product crates value by selling a feature. Some ideas work very well as a product or platform, but not both.

4. The difference of longevity

Some great products have very long lifespans; however, not every product does. It's okay if a product is only intended for temporary or short-term use. However, any platform designed without longevity is problematic. Platforms should be deeply integrated into the business or customer infrastructure. A platform needs to stick around for a long time, preferably indefinitely. For example, a computer is a product built to last the user for several years. However, the user will use many programs, or products, throughout the lifespan of the device.

5. Be mindful of update ease and frequency

With a platform, you're developing software that needs to be easily updated. It needs to be flexible so you can make changes and improvements quickly and easily over time. While it's a better development practice to design software that's easy to maintain, it is less important with a product that doesn't need to be constantly updated. Your organization should lean towards a product if it doesn't have the capacity to provide a constant update stream.

The decision to develop a product or platform highly depends on the resources available to your organization and the desired business case. When making the choice, go with the option that makes the most sense from a business standpoint.

Cover Story: Anastasiia, Business Analyst

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. In this edition, meet Anastasiia, our Business Analyst, which also won the “Opinov8r of the Year” Award (the annual presentation of awards for contributions to the success of their team and the company overall). She tells us about her career at Opinov8, shared her tips that help avoid doing work twice while working remotely, and told us how travel helps her manage a work-life balance. Get to know Anastasiia a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this adventure too!

Business analysis requires being really picky and finding cases people usually don't think about. I believe in bringing value, BA shouldn't be afraid to ask questions even if they are obvious at first glance and propose possible solutions.

How did your journey start at Opinov8?

Before joining Opinov8, I worked as Business Analyst (BA) on internal projects in another company for 2 years, helping departments automate business processes inside the company. At that time, I started looking for new opportunities mainly because I wanted to try new domains and gain experience working with external customers. Luckily, I found all that in Opinov8. The job position that I hold in Opinov8 right now allows me to communicate closely with teams and customers, gives me a sufficient level of independence to gain my own experience, and use my knowledge to bring value.

What do you love most about your work, and working with people from other countries?

I am passionate about discovering something new, for example, puzzling how the system works or understanding customers' calculation rules in the systems. In a nutshell, I like digging inside the route cause and understand what customers' needs are and why they need them to provide possible solutions.

Business analysis requires being really picky and finding cases people usually don't think about. I believe in bringing value, BA shouldn't be afraid to ask questions even if they are obvious at first glance and propose possible solutions (of course, previously discuss it with the team 😉).

It was pretty challenging to work with people from other countries at the beginning. First, it was language, I was not sure if I described the message clearly enough for others to understand what I am asking about. Another thing was catching up on all the information during calls to reflect all that in requirements later. But as it turns out just a matter of time. Now, it's one of the points I love about my job. 

Apart from work points, I am really curious to talk about traditions and holidays, learn the way they communicate and work, how to spend free time, etc.

What is your typical workday like? How do you manage your time and productivity?

As we work with customers and teams from different time zones, and they could reach out to us when we're away, the first thing I do is checking all the chats and emails. Then goes supporting Dev`s and QA's teams if they have anything and working on requirements. In the late afternoon, jumping on the scheduled meetings.

I have a couple of tips that help me to avoid doing work twice:

Did you have moments or situations in your professional career that made you think you couldn’t make it through, but actually made you stronger? Which were those?

I had such for sure, but once you overcome it becomes not a big deal as you thought before.

Were you surprised when you received the "Opinov8r of the Year" Award? How did you feel when you received an award?

Yeah, it was really a surprise for me. I didn't expect anything like that. To be honest, I've even been stunned for a while. But I believe that I wouldn’t receive any awards without continued support from teams I work with, and Inna V. (Project Manager in Opinov8), in particular, who is always ready to give a hand.

The "Opinov8r of the Year" Award

What do you consider to be the balance between your work and personal life, especially when working remotely?

As for me, work and life balance are when I have time, energy, and will for any activities apart from my job. It could be sport, self-education, meeting with besties, or house choirs, anything that brings me energy and inspiration.

In remote work, the hardest part is to close my laptop on time and switch to 'at home' mode while always staying at home.

Gudauri, a mountain-ski resort in Georgia

What do you most enjoy about your hobbies activities? What activities do you do that help you maintain a work-life balance?

A little bit of traveling and a little bit of sport in my life help me to keep myself in balance. By traveling, I mean not only going abroad or visiting new places. For me, it is any change of scene, but picnics outside the city, small journeys to the neighborhood, or even go outside for a while. I enjoy going to my native town — Novgorod-Siversky, a historic city in Chernihiv Oblast of Ukraine, it is my place of power. Rivers, forest, almost no people around, what could be better to escape from the crowd and have some time for my own.

Yahidna Mountain, Ukraine

What studies would you recommend to someone who wants to make their career as a Business Analyst?

The best way to start Business Analyst practice is to consider an internship program or an intern position. I know that many companies offer such. Practice shows that participating in such programs accelerates your time standing up as BA and provides the real opportunity to try the theory in practice.

Different BA networks are also a cool way to boost your skills and find useful contacts. When I was starting my BA career, I visited different workshops where Senior BAs shared their approaches and real cases in BA practice they faced. I don't see value in lectures where speakers retell the theory, easy access on the Internet, more useful real cases, and solutions that helped.


As Anastasiia was saying, Business Analyst requires being really picky, but it can really be a lot of fun and a lot like getting into an adventure. If you wanna join the BA team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

Best AWS Services to Build a Powerful Cloud Computing Platform

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s leading cloud computing platform. Trusted by millions of customers ranging from NASA to Netflix, AWS makes it simple for companies to build powerful solutions using tried-and-true technology. 

Offering nearly 200 different services that power a broad range of cloud solutions, AWS provides many different flexible, reliable, and purpose-built functionalities to help businesses deliver the ideal solution for any customer.

Here are five of the best AWS services to build a powerful cloud computing solution: 

1. Amazon EC2

The reliable, secure, and scalable computing infrastructure of Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) serves as the backbone of many cloud computing solutions. Through its wide range of highly customizable virtual machines, Amazon EC2 eliminates the need to invest in physical computing equipment and provides flexible, on-demand computing power that enables organizations to build powerful applications in the cloud. 

2. Amazon RDS

As a powerful, scalable, and easy-to-use database solution, the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) delivers a user-friendly database platform that incorporates a high degree of administrative automation. Delivering a wide variety of highly optimized cloud databases, dedicated Amazon RDS instances are powered by some of the world’s most popular database engines, including Amazon Aurora, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

3. Amazon S3 

Built to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere, the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) provides highly secure, flexible, and redundant file storage. Relied upon to power cloud-native applications, disaster recovery solutions, and big data analytics, Amazon S3 is engineered for high durability and is the trusted data storage solution for millions of applications. 

4. Amazon CloudFront

To deploy information across the internet with speed, scale, and security, the Amazon CloudFront fast content delivery network (CDN) is an ideal choice to deliver data, applications, and video with low latency. Trusted by such brands as Canon, Condé Nast, and Hulu, CloudFront’s asset caching, streaming media options, and seamless security make it simple to efficiently distribute dynamic content and software across the globe.

5. Amazon VPC

Delivering a full virtual networking environment, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) provides simple, secure, and highly customizable network security. From secure web hosting to corporate VPN (virtual private network) access, Amazon VPC delivers an isolated IT infrastructure with highly customizable networking configurations.

Taken together, Amazon EC2, RDS, S3, CloudFront, and VPC provide some of the most powerful cloud infrastructure capabilities for leading brands around the world. With more than 175 services available in global data centers, AWS makes it possible for any organization to build the cloud computing platform that best meets its needs.

8 Behaviors you need to quit to be more efficient while working remotely

There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re being productive. Despite what some might believe, being productive is less about time management and more about managing your energy.

So how can you regain control of your energy? Here are eight behaviors that you should quit in your personality and working style to become more efficient and productive while you are working remotely.

Yuliia V. — HR Specialist in Opinov8

“The more you work, the better results you get” — that’s what I was told as a child, and probably most of us as well. However, times have changed likewise the attitude to work.

It no longer matters how MUCH you work rather than what RESULTS in your work contribute. Now, when remote work is not a privilege anymore but a reality for most of us. Now the work-life balance is a must to be more efficient and productive. So, make yourself comfortable, and let’s go.

1. Working long hours

Of course, there is no big deal if it happens a couple of times. However, if it takes place systematically you don’t rest enough, stop thinking clearly and as a result become less effective. It appears a real challenge when it comes to remote work as we don’t need to spend time commuting to the office, springing out of our pajamas right to the laptop. So, to not get into that “overtime” trap, set a clear boundary between your work hours and time for rest, snooze late hours notifications in the corporate messengers and make sure to have enough sleep.

2. Say “Yes” too often

I really like one of the tips produced by Steve Jobs: “Say “No” to 1000 things”. How does it work? You focus mostly on the things/tasks that are important for your development and that bring the majority of the results. If it’s difficult to figure out what you should say “yes” or “no” in your scope of work try tracking the time you spent on each activity and then evaluate how efficient they were.

3. Do everything on your own

There’s an old good saying “If you want a thing well done, do it yourself”. Let’s say a manager running a big team sticks to this rule and avoids delegating. What might happen next? Most likely he/she will burn out quickly due to work overload. So, not to get drowned in the flow of tasks, seek help from your teammates if you fail to do it alone. Delegate tasks to your team showing trust and thus boosting their engagement. It will help save time and allocate it more productively.

4. Strive for perfection

From first sight, it seems to be merit rather than a flaw. Though if to take a closer look here’s what comes. Pursuing to get the things done perfectly they tend to spend more time on tasks, and as a result often overdue the deadlines. Perfectionists often wait for the right time to do the task, but what if it doesn't come? I guess the best way would be to do something as good as you can. Nothing is perfect just because we all have our own perspective of what actually “perfect” is. To avoid procrastination, start doing the task the moment you approach it. As soon as you kick off things will get easier.

5. Multitasking

Hopping from one task to another we tend to lose focus and thus make mistakes which eventually influences the quality. Moreover, when we switch to a new task it takes us some time to penetrate into it. As a result, we fail to complete all of them or spend too much time on them. Instead it would be more productive to prioritize them allocating time specifically for each.

6. Skip automation

Surely each of us has some repetitive tasks in the daily workflow. By doing them manually we waste not only time but energy, which could be spent on some more interesting tasks/projects.  So, a more productive approach would be to devote some time to think on which part/parts of your routine can be automated and how: by means of expert help, purchasing software, etc. The outcomes will more than offset the efforts.

7. Being too focused on something

I bet you have had the situation in which you were so focused on a challenging project or task that couldn’t think about anything else, but it still didn’t work out. When our brain is so busy concentrating on a problem it fails, so to say, “look around” and find the solution. You can help the cause by switching to another activity, a better, physical one, or take some time to reflect. Going for a walk or meditating could not only benefit in resolving the issue but also getting healthier. 

8. Being too serious

Sounds strange but now I’m serious! Most of us often tend to make the matter of things more complex than it is. As a result, the sense of engagement and satisfaction goes down. Treating a new task or a project as an interesting challenge/game will help not only to get joy from what we do but also come up with interesting insights. 

Be safe and work smart!

If you wanna join our super-friendly Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#bebold #behuman

AWS vs AZURE: Best budget build solution

In the age of fast-moving competition and a drying pipeline of venture capital money, solution engineering has become a multi-constraint problem. Organizations are expected to balance innovation and a shoestring budget. However, the right cloud computing platform can ease off some of that tension by delivering instrumental support.

Although both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure offer similar capabilities with respect to computing power, storage and network, a budget build solution should pay attention to the following aspects:

Cost-effectiveness over time

Working on a budget can sometimes lead to a myopic preoccupation with pricing. Organizations may feel tempted to go with either the freebie or the bulk buy option under the guise of cost savings. However, depending upon the solution, both options could be a bad buy. For instance, an ML solution is better served by a plan with a higher-end GPU than one that bundles an expensive hosting service with a low-end GPU. Similarly, in some instances it might make more sense to pay by the minute or pay by the hour.

Tip: Identify the most critical cloud services for your solution before shopping for the best deal.

Hybrid cloud deployment

The choice to process consumer data either on the cloud or limit it to internal servers is an important decision for many organizations depending upon their industry, the proprietary nature of their solution and the regulations surrounding consumer data. If the ability to control where the information is processed is necessary for your organization, Azure can be the better pick. Although AWS also has hybrid cloud capabilities, the offering is relatively new compared to Azure that has its roots in on-premise enterprise software.

Tip: Determine if your solution needs a private cloud infrastructure to satisfy compliance and/or privacy concerns.

Integrations

Increasingly, developers are leaning toward using more open source rather than reinvent the entire wheel. If the solution wants to leverage open source packages, AWS is the way to go. Not only does it offer more integrations — such as with Github — it also empowers Linux users.

Azure has relatively fewer integration options for open source but is now playing catch-up. However, Azure offsets that by providing integration and additional features for organizations that already use Microsoft products. By bringing Azure into the fold of their existing suite of Microsoft products, organizations can save more.

Tip: Assess your solution’s current and future dependencies on various open source applications.

Cloud computing platforms can accelerate development by enabling teams to do more with less. But before jumping into the fray organizations, particularly those on a budget, must clearly articulate their architectural needs.

5 Questions to evaluate a software development company

These days it can seem as though every tech company wants to convince the world that they are the next major industry disruptors. It’s important to be able to tell which of these companies are what they say they are. To help you evaluate the worth and potential of a software development company, make sure you have the answers to the following five questions.

1. Are the experts in charge (and do they work well together)?

The leadership team sets the tone for the entire company. Running a software development company requires a technical expert, a visionary, and an organized head of operations. One person can wear more than one of these hats, but that is a rare occurrence. Whatever the case, you should be able to identify those three leadership characteristics within the company. Don’t undermine the attitude team members take with one another. The chemistry within a leadership team keeps talented minds working toward a common goal.

2. How does the company turn a profit?

Ads, service fees, and subscriptions are all valid revenue models in software companies, but they all exist along a spectrum. A company harnessing data to send their users targeted ads will probably see higher profits from those ads than a company who presents the same ads regardless of what the user’s likely interests are. A company subsidizing their service fees in order to gain a broader user base might forgo profits in the short-term to gain more long-term growth with an abundance of loyal customers. 

3. What is the company worth right now?

Calculate the current value of the company in the same you would calculate the value of any other company. There are three main valuation techniques: the cost approach, the market approach, and the intrinsic value approach. Identify which approach makes the most sense and perform your valuation. Software development companies are companies too. 

4. What are the metrics impacting growth?

In real estate, the cost to own and the cost to rent are critical metrics that indicate whether it’s reasonable to expect growth. Unlike real estate, there’s no single metric across all software development companies. Identify the metric that reflects the behavior of the field in question. A rideshare company might follow a metric describing the percentage of the driving-age population which owns a car and overall satisfaction with public transportation.

5. How are those metrics behaving?

After identifying the relevant metrics, analyze their behavior over the past few years. This history provides a baseline of the market’s behavior and can indicate whether the current economic landscape supports the company’s growth.

Cover Story: Yuri, Software Architect

How Opinov8 engage employees by working remotely

Right now, remote working or working from home has become more than a trend. While remote work used to be offered by some companies as a way to offer a more flexible lifestyle to their employees, it has now become the new norm for most businesses. The pandemic is completely redefining the way teams communicate and work. Working from home is not an option or a privilege anymore. Weighing various options, some companies have elected to continue allowing their employees to work remotely. As a result, we are now watching the work-from-home trend take off all across the globe.

Allowing employees to work remotely has its advantages. But however popular remote work has become, building an effective and productive community of remote workers has its own set of unique challenges, one of which is engaging remote employees. As companies continue to grow accustomed and adapt to the new reality, it is important to ensure that every team member feels valued, heard, and respected. Engagement activities in Communities are very fruitful for workers as well as for organizations. Opinov8 strives to ensure that everyone in our work environment feels supported, engaged, and inspired by those who share your interests and remain motivated despite these unprecedented times. 

The engagement has become one of the utmost prominent priorities for Managers in Opinov8, who are constantly developing effective means to engage the Opinov8rs, who spread out all around the country and world, during these challenging times. The goal was to build Communities among the remote team to bring everyone together and ensure productivity by having an environment where all members can find like-minded people, communicate, collaborate, make friends and deepen their passion based on work or personal interests. One of the biggest challenges of working remotely is the lack of social interaction and personal connection with co-workers. When managing a remote team, it’s important to take every opportunity to foster connections and engagement.

Cover Stories are a space to feature recognized Opinov8rs. We asked some of our teammates, who are most involved in our Communities, how they handle challenges while they work remotely and cooperate with their teams. In this edition, meet Yuri, Software Architect. He tells us about his career at Opinov8, how he works remotely and how sports activities help him manage his work-life balance. Get to know Yuri a little more through this Cover Story! 

How did you become part of Opinov8’s team?

My journey began just a bit over 2 years ago. Opinov8 and the position itself were recommended to me by the Ex-Head of DevOps at Opinov8. At that moment, I was not looking for any opportunities, but Alex was persistent in his efforts to show me the world outside the company I was working for, and at some point, I agreed to come for the interview. I had doubts about the value I can bring to a startup company because all my experience was in the big companies so far, but still, it was interesting to see what the company was like. Usually, small companies are more limited in resources and investments, and it requires more smart decisions than in the enterprise, so it was a challenge. But, after the interview with Christian Aaen (Co-founder, Chief Technology & Operations Officer in Opinov8), all the goals and challenges were clear. Remember that conversation very well: “Do not build an architectural palace” (c). During the interview, I felt health pragmatism, transparency, and clearly what was required from me. The biggest benefit of Opinov8 is that you are unlimited in creativity if it correlates to business strategy. You can be transparent and don’t suffer from it. It is in Opinov8 DNA. It is rare in national companies or companies managed by national managers. The start wasn’t easy, but it is a different story.

Have you worked remotely before? What were the biggest challenges you faced? How do you overcome them?

No, I have never worked remotely before. But, even with an ability to WFH in Opinov8, I prefer to work from the office. The biggest challenge for me is discipline. I am not in a position where I can do the routine work. I am always challenging resolutions, trying to discover something, so hard to push myself.

What is your typical workday like? How do you manage your time and productivity? 

Stand up and fight 🙂 But, if seriously, two points. First, time is all you have, you cannot buy or return it, so don't waste your time! Second, always focus on goals and objectives so that you can handle your time and productivity.

What skills do you think are necessary to be a successful remote worker?

I believe that it is necessary to have the same skills as for the office. Overall, Opinov8's values are very good to describe these soft skills.

How do you manage your work-life balance? What activities do you do that help you maintain a work-life balance?

Work hard - play hard. More stress, more loud and crazy rest. Fighting fire with fire.

What do you most enjoy about sports activities, especially motorcycle racing? How long have you been racing and how many events did you participate in? Why are you doing this? 

Racing was always my passion. I won UASBK two times in Amateur 600, SuperStock 600, once was third in SuperSport 600 classes. Also, I have won several races on the PitBikes in racing since 2017. When Communities appeared in our office, I suggested taking together trial lessons on driving a motorcycle. I love to share my expertise and advice. It's fun to watch the first steps of the guys. Such things really unite, and it is extremely important to be a united team, especially like this.

Cover Story:  Yuri Miroshnichenko

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? What advice would you give to someone who wants to start but doesn't know how?

I would highlight 3 main steps. First, believe and want what you are doing. Second, break big tasks into small, feasible milestones. Third, enjoy the results of each milestone you pass. If you really want it, you will be motivated.

If you could say just one thing to people starting their professional path in tech, what would you say?

Shortly, do not neglect the basics. The IT science background from universities is boring but important. It is constant, changes rarely, and a career path started there.

Cover Story:  Yuri Miroshnichenko

Which tools can help your team innovate faster?

Innovation doesn’t happen overnight. Breakthrough concepts and technologies are often the results of painstaking work carried out after a countless number of empty coffee cups, late work sessions and sleepless nights.

Becoming a driver of innovation also isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Organizations that successfully embrace the creative process to produce new, exciting ideas and products must empower their employees to be as efficient and effective as possible.

To take your organization to the next level, here are some tools that can help your team drive innovation faster.

Build a sense of safety

Fostering creativity requires an environment where employees feel safe to contribute new ideas. Because the creative process is inherently messy, safety is crucial because it gives contributors an opportunity to explore curiosities, make mistakes, and ultimately repeat the trial-and-error process before stumbling upon something great.

Deploying tools to make employees feel safe and secure can help drive innovation. In this instance, these tools are policies and procedures that let employees know they work in an environment that promotes safety and stability. Workplaces where employees feel unheard or face retribution foster an environment where bold ideas don’t have room to flourish. The same can be said for job security — when offering up constructive criticism or suggesting an idea that might initially seem outlandish, it’s tough for an employee to speak with the freedom to explore and make mistakes if they feel a career is on the line. Letting colleagues know that during periods of innovation they’re free to take risks and shoot for the moon in planning sessions can help them work at their very best capacity.

Collaboration is key

Innovation works best for teams when barriers for sharing ideas and coming up with new ones are taken down. In a brainstorming session, for instance, being able to quickly disseminate or display a document can help get everyone on the same page.

Teams must embrace powerful collaboration tools to support the process of innovation. Slack, a popular workplace communications app, integrates with popular platforms like G Suite and Microsoft Office to make it easy for team members to speak, share and create ideas. Having an open communication channel without cumbersome barriers to interaction can ensure nothing gets in the way of a new idea taking off.

Endorse autonomy

Developing new ideas is always better when there’s a team to support their creation. But even the best teams know that effectively working together requires time to ideate, plan and execute without being micromanaged or rushed by outside forces.

Innovative teams require a certain degree of autonomy in order to define the scope of their work and see it through. Left to truly innovate, teams should be given the space and freedom to explore possibilities without being stifled and second-guessed by outside forces every step of the way. This extends to individual team members, who also must be allowed to work independently when necessary to support the creative process efficiently and productively.

CloudOps vs. DevOps: 3 key differences

In the IT world, many experts today are tossing around the terms “DevOps” and “CloudOps” as if they are synonymous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both models share similar attributes; however, users, partners, clients and teams need to get on the same page when it comes to understanding the differences and the varying factors in choosing what works best for your organization.

DevOps and CloudOps: same yet different?

Development and Operations (DevOps) is a system that optimizes the best parts of IT and development teams. DevOps focuses on continuous advancement of processes and tools. DevOps empowers team members to collaborate more effectively across the collective group.

In the world of DevOps, automation is key – delivering agile, repeatable processes to maximize the power of the final product or solution. DevOps fuels an evolving cascade of operational improvement.

Cloud Operations (CloudOps) is simply a different way of “doing” DevOps. Rather than relying on any one set of on-site network server assets, CloudOps leverages powerful cloud-computing tools such as AWS, GCP and Azure. CloudOps is basically the next logical extension of DevOps and both focus on continuous operations, a process that has emerged from DevOps practices into the world of Cloud Ops.

Differences:

Since companies have several choices among cloud-based platforms, CloudOps providers are motivated to compete on quality and price. Rather than worrying about maintaining an expensive network architecture on site, teams can contract with a cloud service to provide all networking/server needs including maintenance, monitoring and expansion of capacity – all at a more affordable price point.

CloudOps providers offer virtually unlimited storage and processing power that can be expanded or contracted based on your company’s needs.

Thanks to the enhanced expandability and scalability of cloud computing, DevOps processes can leverage cloud tech to reduce latency issues and errors. Cloud infrastructure is not specific to any one location (stateless) and can move with agility from one server to another to avoid processing problems.

Other factors to consider

It’s both/and, not either/or: CloudOps is simply a different way of doing DevOps. It complements the process rather than replacing it. Empowering your DevOps system with the powerful tools CloudOps offers can bring together two robust paradigms into one – the product-success/customer focus of DevOps with the speed and scalability of CloudOps.  DevOps targets process improvement. CloudOps seeks to enhance technology and services.

Platform agnosticism: When marrying DevOps functionality with CloudOps, it’s the “job” of the cloud platform to abstract the foundational infrastructure and flexibly adapt to virtually any type of system. Cloud computing – be it AWS, Azure or Google – must follow the DevOps infrastructure rather than lead the process.

Every organization is different: Yes, that seems obvious. However, many organizations sometimes assume they need to invest in CloudOps Solution X or Y because it’s “the next Big Thing.” Often they fail to ask fundamental questions about their specific needs. Are there reasons to avoid CloudOps? Perhaps your company has unique security concerns that require internal server structure. Are there legal issues that may inhibit deployment of a specific cloud platform? Most importantly, are there underlying factors that could result in CloudOps hurting rather than helping your DevOps system? Generally, the answer is “no” since there is such a diverse array of CloudOps solutions available. However, it’s a question worth consideration.

It’s all about the product: No matter how “gee-whiz/cool” CloudOps may be; no matter how awesome the scalable, affordable tools may be, your organization must always keep your collective eye on the prize. Focus on the product. Focus on what steps must be taken to always optimize the release and support for the customer. There’s an old saying: “Keep the main thing the main thing.” CloudOps can certainly augment your DevOps system, but never lose sight of the product forest for the cloud-app trees.

Do your homework: Major CloudOps providers employ major sales forces. That means, their sales reps are experts at – well, getting that sale. That also means, your team may be susceptible to a suave, fast-talking salesperson who promises the pinnacle of CloudOps excellence in their product but fails to deliver after-sale.

You can defend against an overly aggressive sales process by arming your team with data – tech specs, reviews, recommendations and an almost-encyclopedic knowledge of competing CloudOps providers. “Knowledge is power” may be an old cliché. It’s an old cliché because it’s a fundamental truth.

Going forward, the word “CloudOps” will likely disappear as a useful term in the future as more organizations integrate these tools into their DevOps and its presence will be a foregone assumption built into every system. Until then, it’s vital to educate your team, your clients and yourself in all things CloudOps.

Opinov8 Technology Services is a part of the Clutch 100 for 2020

Our team at Opinov8 Technology Services has some exciting news to announce! Clutch Recognizes Opinov8 Technology Services Amongst Clutch’s Top 100 Fastest Growth Firms and Top 100 Sustained Growth Companies for 2020.

Investing in your business is more important now than ever, which is why we’re honored to be listed as one of the world’s top 100 firms for 2020 by Clutch, coming in at number eight — our favorite number!

“We are thrilled to be recognized as one of the fastest 100 Global Companies by Clutch. I am proud of the opinov8 team and all the hard work that has gone into this disrupted year!" — Craig Wilson, Co-Founder, Opinov8

Clutch is the world’s leading B2B ratings and reviews platform! Located in the heart of the historic DuPont Circle neighborhood of Washington DC, Clutch has a dedicated team who independently verifies each and every review that they conduct with verified clients from around the world. Clutch is the gold standard for ratings and reviews for B2B service providers, which is why we’re incredibly honored that Clutch’s 2020 research shows us as one of the best developers in all of the world!

We love to show off our stellar rating on Clutch! We have received a perfect score of 5.0-star reviews from our satisfied clients, a testament to our consistent quality work, including a review from the CTO of AB Dev Labs!

We’re incredibly blessed to be listed among the best of the world’s top service for 2020 by Clutch! We would like to thank Clutch for their recognition of our hard work and we look forward to our continued partnership. 

Please contact us today to see how you can join our many satisfied customers today.

3 Things to avoid in an MVP

A minimum viable product is a straightforward concept: Develop the simplest version of the product that’s still attractive enough for some real buyers, namely early adopters. You get feedback from users with a more critical mindset than in a beta testing program where they might forgive glitches and fail to mention possible improvements. In turn, you still have scope to add new features and improve the product before taking on the expense of pitching it to a wider market.

It can be tricky figuring out which features to include or leave out when developing an MVP. These are three that you can safely exclude.

1. Maybe Features

By definition, an MVP only needs genuine “must-have” features. In theory, it’s a simple process. Take every suggested or potential feature on your project and define it as Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, or Would Like To Have (MoSCoW for short.) The problem is that if you ask the people who conceived or developed the features, they’ll almost always define them as “Must Have”.

You need to ruthlessly pare down the list and get developers to fully justify “must-have” status. Develop a one-line description of what the product does and its unique selling point. If a feature doesn’t directly address that description, it has no place in an MVP.

2. Untested Features

The freedom and flexibility an MVP brings can be a trap, especially if you misunderstand its place in the development process. Use an MVP to test a concept like “track your widget stock on a blockchain” or “AI analysis of your Instagram feed to produce restaurant recommendations.” Finding out if people are prepared to pay for these solutions and whether they use them once the initial novelty passes is a great use of an MVP.

However, this isn’t the place to test whether the underlying technology fundamentally works: You need to take care of that before releasing the MVP.

3. Makeshift Features

Always remember that though an MVP is a stage in a process for you, it’s an end destination for early adopters who buy it. That means you shouldn’t include a feature that plugs a gap to make the MVP “ready” when you know you’ll remove or replace that feature in the final product.

A good way to think of this is a common analogy. If your final product is a car, an MVP of simply four wheels and a chassis is useless: It’s a logical developmental stage, but it’s not a functional product.

Some uses of this analogy suggest a bicycle would be a suitable MVP because it’s a more primitive form of transport. However, a bike not only misses fundamental features of a car (goes long distances without stopping; carries an entire family), but it has features that won’t be in the finished car (works without fuel; works on cycling paths.)

The software equivalent is straightforward: Don’t include anything in an MVP that fundamentally changes what your intended product is or what it does. Doing so completely undermines the benefits of getting feedback from early adopters.

DevOps vs. Traditional IT support: The difference

In the simplest terms, DevOps is a culture that brings together developers and operations/support staff. This can mean cooperating, bridging the gap, or even full integration. That’s in contrast to traditional IT set-ups that keep the two completely separate. Supporters of the DevOps approach argue that it can cut costs, reduce risks, and make an IT operation more responsive.

DevOps defined

Some of the more heated debates over DevOps stem from differing definitions of the term and associated concepts. You’ll occasionally see “DevOps” used to refer to a specific development operations team or department that exists alongside a traditional IT department. It’s up to every company to define their own structure and departments, but this situation isn’t the one that DevOps supporters are talking about.

DevOps as a concept is a counter to the traditional IT support philosophy. That’s where an organization has a dedicated development team responsible for producing software, systems, and solutions. A separate IT operations team is responsible for keeping things running: managing networks, fixing bugs, maintaining hardware, and dealing with any software problems.

In contrast, DevOps brings these two together. How this works administratively isn’t as important as the principle that development and operations work closely together for best results.

Organizational matters

Most commonly, traditional IT setups involve department or teams based on a particular activity, be that software development, testing, implementation, support or maintenance.

DevOps allows for a merged department that brings together the people who possess these various skills; the communed team is now united by a specific project such as developing an application.

Development style

The traditional set-up is more likely to have a new application go through a lengthy development process, passing through different departments in sequence. It’s designed to finish with a “complete” release that’s as near to perfect as possible.

DevOps is more suited to a faster, more agile development process with more frequent releases. The logic is that although bug fixes or feature improvements may be needed more often, DevOps teams can make these changes more quickly. Indeed, there’s more scope for holding back a new feature to test it fully, without delaying the entire project.

The DevOps mindset

The way departments think and operate under different set-ups is something of a subjective point. DevOps supporters criticize traditional IT operations as being too driven by a desire to minimize the risk of failure and too defined by a culture where individual staff or teams concentrate solely on achieving their specific siloed tasks.

In contrast, the argument goes that the DevOps approach accepts that failures will happen and that it’s best if they happen early and on a smaller scale so the damage is limited and the fixes are more viable. DevOps can also mean people performing different tasks will pay more attention to the overall success of a project rather than only caring about their specific responsibilities.

UI/UX for GenZ

Designing a high-quality user interface and engineering a positive user experience are two of the most important components to consider in software development. Intuitive interfaces that allow users to carry out their desired tasks with ease and speed can enable them to get the most out of an application. 

Of course, not all users are alike, which poses a challenge for developers seeking to reach the broadest audience possible. That’s especially true for Generation Z, the first cohort of digital natives who were not raised in a pre-Internet world. To members of Gen Z, applications and devices aren’t new tools to help them get things done: they’re common aspects of everyday life. 

Here’s how to approach UX/UI designs that are mindful of GenZ.

Fast and mobile-optimized

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z wasn’t raised in an age of dial-up where slow speeds were once tolerable because they were, at the time, cutting edge. Instead, high-speed wireless internet and mobile devices were the normal ways to access information online.

As such, Gen Z doesn’t waste time worrying about the distinction between “desktop” and “mobile” — they just want it to work. UI/UX for applications and websites must take these considerations in mind and strive for the fast, mobile-optimized experiences Gen Z has come to expect as table stakes.

Explorative design

The digital natives of Gen Z already know how to navigate tech platforms with ease and sophistication. There’s no need to hold their hand through lengthy tutorials, help pages, or other basic introductions to how a website or application works. They already get it. 

Intuitive UI/UX design for Gen Z should be built with discoverability and explorability in mind. Gen Z is happy to poke around apps and websites to discover which functions and features are living where, and don’t need the entire experience spelled out for them. 

Be shareable and scalable

Gen Z knows how to stay connected through different types of content across a variety of platforms. Whether it’s via an emoji in a text or a video posted to Snapchat, Gen Z users are eager to highlight new purchases, unique experiences, and high-quality content. 

Apps and websites should be designed to capture Gen Z’s attention and make it easy to share experiences with others. Even if an app isn’t inherently “social,” UI/UX designers should incorporate features that allow Gen Z users to share information and stay connected to their peers.

3 Types of TaaS explained

In an industry filled with various acronyms, the “as a service” acronyms represent the hottest trends, pointing in the direction the industry at large is headed. Whether it be SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), or any one of dozens of other XaaS services, these acronyms represent the fundamental shift to cloud and distributed computing that companies are adopting.

A more recent addition to the XaaS club is TaaS, or testing as a service. TaaS involves outsourcing testing to a firm that specializes in re-creating real-world scenarios. There are at least three main types of TaaS you should be aware of.

Functional Testing as a Service

Functional testing involves testing the front-facing parts of an application or website — including the UI and GUI — to see how potential customers will interact with it. This helps companies to see if their application is intuitive, as well as functional, and helps identify potential bugs that are likely to be among the most visible.

Performance Testing as a Service

The second type of TaaS is performance testing. TaaS firms will stress-test an application’s ability to handle multiple users, creating virtual users to see how the application performs under load. This can provide invaluable information for a company looking to ensure their application or website can scale and grow as needed.

Security Testing as a Service

Quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of TaaS, security testing scans and probes your application or website for any vulnerabilities. With more and more legislation putting additional burdens on companies to protect user data, security testing provides an added layer of accountability.

The benefits of TaaS:

TaaS offers a number of significant benefits to development firms and projects.
1. Speed. Because TaaS firms specialize in testing, they are often able to test and find issues much more efficiently than in-house development teams.
2. Perspective. Developers and development teams can sometimes develop tunnel vision, only looking at their product from a specific point of view. Outside firms may approach an application or website from a completely new point of view that enables them to see things that would otherwise be missed.
3. Accountability. Especially in the realm of security, accountability is king. Having an outside firm test and verify the security of an application or website can go a long way toward reducing liability if there is an unfortunate breach.

Without a doubt, TaaS is quickly becoming an invaluable part of many companies’ development efforts. In the years to come, this service will continue to take a more dominant role among the XaaS acronyms.

How Testing as a Service can reduce costs

Take the pressure off your software teams — use Testing as a Service (TaaS) to save money and time

Software is everywhere, and everything is connected. Whether system or application software, there are lines of code — probably trillions of lines of code — right at this moment that are affecting your life (your home, car, job, school, hospital, city, streetlights … you name it). Anywhere and everywhere, above and below the ground and up in the air, software runs in the background for all of us.

Testing all of that software is not only obviously mandatory, but it’s a time- and cost-gobbler. So, as humans do, we’ve developed more and more efficient and effective processes to develop and test software throughout its engineering life cycle. One of these strategies is TaaS (Testing as a Service).

TaaS was developed as a process around 2009 by a Danish software and services company, and once IBM adopted it, it became widely applied. A cloud-based outsourcing model where a service provider (rather than in-house teams) performs testing activities by simulating client-specified real-world testing environments, TaaS has proven demonstrably to effect significant benefits over traditional testing, particularly in cost-savings.

Cost-saving advantages to using Testing as a Service

TaaS can be used throughout the life cycle of software testing, for functional testing (GUI Testing, integration testing (SIT), regression testing and UAT testing); performance and benchmark testing (multiple users access the application simultaneously to determine its threshold point); load and stress testing (where ‘real-world’ / virtual users place an app under load and stress test); and security testing (executing vulnerability scans on apps and sites).

Performing these tests in-house (requiring hundreds of hours of manual QA or real-user monitoring) has become inefficient and costly. It’s a time drain on teams and network systems. The high security for this in-house is internal stress, and the complexity and variability of software makes each approach functionally a new project. TaaS solves a lot of this to achieve scaling, minimize costs and improve the processes and services, while lessening risk and achieving higher ROI.

1. TaaS is a highly scalable model. It’s a cloud-based delivery model, so companies do not need to dedicate internal servers to the testing activities.
2. Pay according to what you use only. You can segment testing processes and re-test, avoiding the need to unnecessarily run parts of a test.
3. Licensing benefits. Systems, tools, hardware, and app licenses for tests are all cloud-managed.
4. Standardization. By improving efficiency and quality, cost savings are built-in to improved results (often a 10-20% cost decrease).
5. Data centralization. The efficiency of having all information and projects stored centrally is time- and cost-saving and allows easy remote access.
6. Learning curve. Processes for testing are always advancing. This stress on internal teams is avoided using an outsourcing model.

The challenge to invent new and ever more complex software is enough for any internal team. Testing is a necessity throughout the life cycle. Choose wisely how your company best makes use of the intelligence of your engineers. If the testing piece can be made efficient in a cloud-based environment through the use of standard tools and processes, then internal teams can devote their energy and creativity to their core competency: inventing new and exciting software.

The next 5 trends in UX/UI to look out for

User Interface and User Experience design trends face the uphill task of keeping online content optimized alongside changes in technology. What makes it difficult is that the changes must also retain functionality for older devices. UI and UX designers need to keep pace with technology evolution to insure their audiences have a good experience with their content. The following five trends in UI and UX are set to shape development and design in the near future.

Designing to browser performance

Designers and developers often find themselves working with computers, tablets, and smartphones that offer them better performance than most users who consume their content. If a website or application looks beautiful, but takes forever to load and offers sluggish performance on less powerful devices, the audience is going to stop using the product. Since UX is heavily invested in "how" a website works, UX designers are looking into concepts like load times, time to interactivity, and first paint in simulated environments. A site may run well on an iPhone XS on a fiber WiFi connection, but an iPhone 7 user on a slower 4G connection may have a sub-par experience.

Using design to improve storytelling

UX and UI are poised to work with content to better tell a story. This isn't just for articles or actual stories, but also involves marketing campaigns and sales pitches. Some of the ways UX is assisting in better telling stories is to use imagery and white space to break up content for easier consumption. UI is working with functional animations and using other visual effects to work alongside content.

Implement load transitions

UX and UI designers have previously ignored the time between actions and page loads as empty space that exists because of technical limitations. However, with the development of new CSS capabilities, single-page web applications, and PWAs, that's really not the case anymore. UI designers can make a more visually appealing experience out of what was previously considered unusable space. As far as UX is concerned, load transitions improve the user experience by letting the user know the next page/option is loading with a visual cue.

Utilize vibrant colors

More recently released desktop monitors, laptop screens, and mobile device displays are more likely to feature better contrast ratios and more visible space, which make vibrant colors more appealing. On older, lower contrast displays, vibrant colors didn't make as much of a strong visual impression, so UI designers would ignore them and stick with established web-safe colors. The newer screens let UI designers create better artistic experiences.

Embrace device agnostic design

Device agnostic design is the next evolution in responsive design. Responsive design emerged to let web developers create a single site for every device class instead of having to build three sites to house exactly the same content. However, responsive design trends used to assume that users on a smaller display would be using touchscreen controls and users on larger displays would be using mouse-based controls. With touchscreen laptops like the Microsoft Surface and tablets with "stylus" input like the iPad Pro, designers can no longer make that assumption. All screen sizes need to be designed with touch capabilities in mind and interactions like mouseover/hover won't be used for necessary interactions. It's essential for website and application designers to keep up with UI and UX trends to find ways to improve their content. Both UI and UX are developing on-going practices that constantly offer ways to improve content presentation.

What to look for in an "Innovation As A Service" offering

Innovation as a Service gives you the creativity you’d find in an agile, hungry start-up but without drawbacks such as financial risk or scale constraints. Whether you’re bringing outside consultants into your organization or outsourcing innovation to labs, hackspaces, and focus groups, look for these five key characteristics in a service offering.

Range & Diversity

You may be familiar with the “wisdom of crowds” theory best demonstrated by the example of a crowd at a county fair trying to guess the weight of a cow or the number of jelly beans in a jar. It’s rare any individual will get the exact answer, but the average of all guesses is often remarkably accurate.

It’s not just the number game that makes this work: that the crowd brings a range of backgrounds and characteristics and thus different approaches and insights to the task, which get combined in the average guess. If you asked 100 architects or 100 elementary school kids to each guess, there’s a good shot almost everyone in the group would be wrong in the same direction. With Innovation as a Service, you don’t just want the largest possible group of skilled people working on your ideas — you want a service that harnesses people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and specialisms to get as broad a range of inputs as possible.

Confidentiality

To effectively develop ideas for your organization, whether internally or externally, an Innovation as a Service provider will often need access and insight to your operations. That means you need absolute trust that they won’t compromise your company’s confidentiality.

Clarity

Ideas and innovations tend to be a bit fuzzy, but an Innovation as a Service provider should make things clear. Look for one who is willing and able to explain their work and results in a way you can understand. Those who hide behind waffle and unnecessary jargon may be trying to exaggerate their abilities and results.

Intellectual property

Make sure you’re clear about who owns the intellectual property for any ideas, processes or inventions created when you use innovation as a service. This isn’t just about whether you are able to use the innovations without further financial or legal obligations. It’s also about where anyone involved in the process gets rights that could later be used in competition to you.

Process

A good provider will have a clearly defined process to make sure their work serves your needs. This can be as simple as a two-step process: coming up with ideas then selecting, refining, and focusing those ideas to solve your problems. The process could be more complex and detailed. Either way, be certain that their particular take on Innovation as a Service achieves your actionable goals.

Doing Many Proof of Concepts, or Rapid Prototyping to achieve decision making in digital products and then “graduating “ these to MVP is a fast way to disrupt your own organization. Allowing for the process to flow and ideation being the initiator, this will allow for Innovation to take hold in your business.

#BeBold #IaaS

Craig Wilson
Co-Founder, Chief Commercial Officer

How to find strong partners for innovation

Great minds might think alike, but they don’t necessarily innovate together. Whether your business is in the early stages of onboarding individuals or is an established company seeking to join forces with another company, connecting with the right partner can help you best achieve your innovation goals. The key principle in finding a strong partner for innovation is this: You and your company’s strengths are likely to be different from the partners with whom you will innovate best.

Think about it. If you both have the exact same strengths and weaknesses, you are more likely to conjure projects that you could have produced all by yourself. When your partner possesses strengths that you do not, you can bridge your combined knowledge, leading to new and better ways of solving customer pain points. Here’s how to find potential partners who are best suited to you and your company:

Identify your core values

Understand that having different strengths is not the same as being polar opposites with your partner. The best partner for your company shares your company’s core values. If one partner sees only technical knowledge as valuable, and the other partner only views comprehension of human behavior as valuable, partners may be disrespectful toward each other’s differences in intelligence. Partners who similarly weight respect, work ethic, communication, and collaboration tend to be good partners in general.

Categorize your strengths

Once you believe you have a compatible partner, you can decide whether the partner will facilitate innovation. Typically, when strong candidates for innovation come into a partnership with you, the expertise between you becomes more liminal. One partner might be proficient in video streaming, where the other partner’s strength is audio streaming. Together, they can build bigger, faster, better streaming platforms. This proficiency at the intersection of different fields (e.g. AI and economics, art and software development, etc.) often creates an environment where elements of those seemingly separate fields fit together to create new services or products. It breeds innovation.

Connect with potential partners

It’s common for people to go out of their way to add potential partners to their network. If you’re looking for a partner with a very specific skillset, seek out and network with companies, researchers, conferences, and social media groups that specialize in that field. When pursuing a more general variety of abilities, announcing to members of your network—through email, social media posts, or regularly scheduled meetings—that you’re looking for a partner with particular proficiencies is helpful in finding a strong partner. Regardless of the method you use, always be sure to clearly articulate the capabilities that the partner should have so that your time is well spent evaluating only the most qualified candidates.

Craig Wilson
Co-Founder, Chief Commercial Officer

5 MVP misconceptions to be aware of

A “Most Valuable Player” on the football field is one who has shown his worth and is considered the true prize of the season for a team. The MVP hopes to be something very similar, and may show early signs, but needs time to develop.

In understanding a minimum viable product (MVP), Agile, Lean and Lean Startup first need to be addressed.

In IT, Agile is a method for project development that prioritizes high-value functions then conducts ongoing tests with users throughout, thereby identifying and correcting errors early on. First pioneered in Japan by W. Edwards Demming for Toyota, Lean is a method in manufacturing that aims to minimize waste. Design a simple system, measure it all, and continuously improve. Lean Startup combines Agile and Lean then brings in customer development. The product is tested against users in Agile. But it’s tested against the market in Lean Startup. Agile avoids creating a product that won’t work. Lean Startup’s aim is to avoid creating a product that people don’t need. MVP is a concept coined and defined by Frank Robinson then popularized after Eric Ries described it in his book The Lean Startup, “that stresses the impact of learning in new product development ... A key premise behind the idea of MVP is that you produce an actual product that you can offer to customers and observe their actual behavior with the product or service. Seeing what people actually do with respect to a product is much more reliable than asking people what they would do.”

The big misconceptions about MVPs

Ideally, an MVP should accomplish three main things: have just enough features; satisfy early customers; and enable feedback for future development. But, confusion and miss-projections about MVPs can get you into trouble. The five big misconceptions are:

1. An MVP is not a draft or a prototype. It’s the first instance of a real product, the beginning of its life cycle and the basis for future iterations.

2. An MVP is not the final version of a product. The ‘M’ stands for ‘minimum,’ so keep it that way. Big ideas are hard to tamp down, but an MVP should be contained even just to one strong feature that can later develop.

3. An MVP is not the best mechanism to raise money. Investors won’t invest in something that is not already on the go with compelling metrics, a following, and early revenue. An MVP needs more time.

4. Don’t assume your MVP is enough to launch an entire business. MVPs are evolving products, it’s in an ongoing process and needs time to mature.

5. If the MVP is not successful, the product is not doomed. MVPs can be what determines if an entrepreneur needs to pivot. So, the MVP can lead to turning off one idea or track and turning on another.

Developing a minimum, bare-bones product allows for the opportunity to discover whether people need or want it. If they don’t, and that ‘great idea’ is flopping on its side, gasping for a bit for air, then change, refresh, move toward a new vision. This is what MVP does best.

What are some RPA tools your team should be using?

Robotic process automation (RPA) tools make it easy for organizations to automate typical workflows. Analyzing a user’s movements through an application’s graphical user interface, RPA tools can faithfully recreate the same workflow that an active employee would be required to carry out on their own. The result is a solution that can automate a wide range of tasks and services, freeing up employees from performing repetitive work and enabling them to focus on more valuable tasks.

While most RPA tools are designed for similar purposes, the market for RPA tools is ripe with different options. Determining the best choice for an organization is often a matter of considering the number of applications the RPA toolset supports, the ease of deployment and its ease of use.

Here are some popular RPA tools that your team should be using:

1. UiPath

UiPath is one of the leading RPA tools for automating desktop and web-based applications. It is available as a comprehensive enterprise platform and as a free community edition. Users can design, deploy and control fully automated workforces that are able to completely mimic a human’s behavior. Built with a simple drag-and-drop interface for easy usability, UiPath offers one of the lowest barriers of entry to building a robotic workforce.

2. Blue prism

Blue Prism’s enterprise software robots are an intelligent, scalable, adaptive and secure set of RPA tools. Built upon the Microsoft .NET Framework, Blue Prism can automate applications across a wide variety of platforms, including mainframes, terminal emulators and web services. Blue Prism provides incredible amounts of visibility and control over digital workers, allowing organizations to get real-time feedback into the performance of any specific workflow or task.

3. WorkFusion

Also available in free and enterprise editions, WorkFusion offers everything from self-service RPA tools to a comprehensive AI-powered enterprise automation platform. RPA Express, WorkFusion’s free platform, enables teams to deploy robotic workers without the need to code. For enterprise users, WorkFusion’s Enterprise Smart Process Automation (SPA) uses AI to digitize operations with the help of machine learning bots and smart analytics.

4. Automation anywhere

Trusted by financial institutions, healthcare organizations and logistics operations, Automation Everywhere makes it possible to deploy anywhere from 10 to 5,000 automated bots. Built with business users in mind, Automation Everywhere offers tools to create, deploy, and monitor bots across the enterprise that are backed up with detailed analytics. Automation Anywhere’s solutions also offer advanced security and audit tools for compliance with regulations like the European Union’s GDPR.

Is an Agile transformation right for your team?

Why do we struggle so much to get things done in the way that best sorts out the task, solves the problem, creates the new widget or accomplishes the goal? We can blame it on something outside ourselves, something monolithic like: Society made me not do it. It’s true. Society today is a lot about consumption, and access to all that consuming is not only on every corner, but constantly at our fingertips through our phones. Maybe we’re not as agile at envisioning something new as we once were 75 or 100 years ago, planning how to bring it about, then building it to completion. Now, we just make a call, and a little drone delivers a fully conceived and developed product within hours to our door. Society made us not do it because we engineered things to free us from the struggles of our forebearers. So … oops? That’s okay. We’re mighty smart, and we have developed methodologies to help retrain us to be creators, accomplishers and finishers so that we can just do it.

What Agile brings to the boardroom

The most popular of these methodologies is Agile, an approach to software development through self-organizing and cross-functional collaboration. In 2007, another monolithic entity, Oracle, acquired Agile Software Corporation and rebranded it as a product lifecycle management (PLM) software. At its roots, Agile is an adaptable process that drives people and software projects to the most desirable solutions. (Its manifesto is enviably simplistic.)

Unlike project management (PM) processes that tend to be more defined and linear, Agile is an empirical and iterative process where teams use data gathered, working in iteration, to build on what’s been done, introducing or changing elements during the process, developing in phases, to create the best end result.

Agile is considered an incremental model, so instead of just one final delivery phase, it divides the project up into increments, each with its own set of stages (requirements, design, development, testing and delivery) before moving on to the next phase. This iterative strategy begins with developing basic features, then, once tested, moves on to the next phase, adding more and more advanced features incrementally with each iteration.

This process strategy is designed to deliver the highest priority items first, satisfying client needs and confidence. Critically, feedback is gathered from stakeholders at each iteration so new ideas can be folded into the next iteration, building a product that has the brightest hope for solving challenges, being the most innovative and ground-breaking.

So, in an Agile methodology

How to get the most from your Agile solution?

The bigger question is, will Agile solve all your software development problems? The answer is not entirely. It’s your job to first assess if there is a block somewhere, a juggernaut that needs work first. For example.

Have you established an alignment between your business objectives and IT, where values, resources (human and budget) and goals are all in sync? Without this, you can incorporate a process like Agile, but you won’t fully engage its potential.

Is your staff fully supported in their adaptation to the Agile process? That might require bringing new talent on board or training or realigning the great talent you already have on your team.

Are your teams empowered, and are they allowed to self-select, self-drive and self-commit to the work being done? This embodies and produces responsibility and accountability.

Perfectly calculated steps, flexible and seamless collaboration, highest value requirements. It's Agile. It's innovation.Agile is not merely PM — it will force you to consider your entire business culture, and what needs to change about that so your team can be fully empowered for productivity and innovation.

How RegTech startups are already saving companies money

RegTech (regulatory technology) is still a new field within the financial services industry, but some already have said it’s the new FinTech. It utilizes information technology “to provide nimble, configurable, easy to integrate, reliable, secure and cost effective regulatory solutions,” according to Deloitte.

U.S. SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar adds that RegTech “also refers to the use of technology by regulated entities to streamline their compliance efforts and reduce legal and regulatory costs,” such as using blockchain and AI tools to “allow the easy and secure transfer of critical regulatory data to multiple federal agencies.”

Growth in the number of RegTech firms shows that the past seven years have been robust in this new arena. The industry has seen a 23 percent increase in the number of RegTech firms in regulatory compliance and risk management alone. Other areas where segments showed a jump in growth of these firms include financial crime (13 percent), identity management (7 percent) and compliance support (6 percent).

RegTech growth factors

Various other factors exist in the financial industry that should drive RegTech startups to continue a trajectory momentum:

How 3 RegTech startups are starting to make the difference

1. Nasdaq acquired Sybenetix, which makes a behavioral analytics app that tracks people in financial institutions. It monitors unusual or suspicious behavior that could be a sign of misconduct. Banks, hedge funds and regulators can also use this technology.

2. AlgoDynamix is a “risk analytics company focusing on financially disruptive events” using algorithms to predict price movements in advance. “Its customers include investment banks and asset managers such as hedge funds, CTAs and family offices. The deep data algorithms underpinning the AlgoDynamix analytics engine use primary data sources (the world’s global financial exchanges) and proprietary unsupervised machine learning technology. The analytics engine detects market anomalies and anticipates directional price movements hours or days in advance of the event. Unlike competitive solutions, Alodynamix’s real-time analysis does not rely on historical data or previous disruptive events.”

3. Suade helps banks run analyses of their own practices, but also then adjust them in compliance with changing regulatory requirements, with a focus on flexibility. With the UK leaving the EU in 2019, concern is high about the future of financial regulation as a result, which could involve multiple regulatory swings. Startups like Suade provide technology that is adaptable in a quickly changing environment. “RegTech is all about minimizing uncertainty,” Suade co-founder Diana Paredes says.

5 Barriers to Agile adoption (and how to overcome them)

Rapid adaptability is crucial to a company’s ability to remain relevant and competitive in the current landscape. Across industries, those who have adopted Agile methods reported better overall performance. However, adopting Agile successfully is still a challenge for many organizations and can demotivate organizations from implementing it.

Companies face five main challenges while adopting Agile.

No buy-in from management

Management can feel challenged by Agile’s iterative development. Executives are accustomed to seeing the entire project plan laid out in detail. They must be convinced that a new, evolutionary framework would translate into business value.

Solution: Run a pilot to demonstrate the core tenets of Agile — improved speed to market, increased ability to tackle black swans, and rapid innovation — to ease the process of management buy-in.

At odds with the organizational culture

Often, organizations are not structured to work in collaboration with cross-functional teams. The top-down structure of units in such organizations further reinforces operational silos. On the other hand, Agile relies on team-oriented work and product ownership to deliver value.

Solution: Agile is not only a technical framework, but it also embodies ideas of organizational change management. Evaluate your corporate culture and create a tailored Agile solution around your organization’s core practices.

Inadequate resource planning

Agile requires quick access to resources — funding, talent, technology — to deliver value on a timely basis. However, traditional resource planning is centered around the waterfall model that offers more structure and early visibility into the project.

Solution: Support is vital. Introduce Agile into core management processes like staffing, procurement, and IT. Not only would the introduction aid product development, but it would also help embed Agile into the organization’s DNA, making it easier to scale Agile.

Inexperience with Agile

Inexperience is a catch-22 situation for traditional companies trying Agile for the first time. How does one introduce Agile without any experience? Even after the team has adopted Agile, they can face many roadblocks when it comes to resolving issues. How does one respond rapidly without the know-how?

Solution: An Agile coach from a similar industry or an internal resource who has worked on another successful Agile team is best suited to help the new team implement its Agile strategy. Once implemented, the coach/internal resource works with them to resolve any challenges down the line.

Legacy system preservation

Organizations often find themselves pegged by outdated, legacy systems. They refuse to part ways with such systems. This dogmatic preservation can prove fatal to Agile adoption because Agile is focused on delivering value rather than keeping up with tedious processes.

Solution: Identify critical dependencies of Agile teams on legacy systems. Then, introduce technological tools that either remove the dependency or liaison with the legacy system to make the data flow smoother and accessible.

Agile, at its core, accelerates product delivery by using empowered, self-organizing teams. However, missteps made during the transitions can derail the transformational journey and lead to Agile being written off. To avoid such scenarios, organizations should take a measured approach toward Agile. By carefully engineering their Agile adoption, organizations can defy business uncertainty and achieve the best possible outcomes.

5 Ways RPA can save your business time and money

Just when you thought it was safe to come back out after the recent ‘Great AI Uprising’ against the humans, now the robots are coming for us again. But it’s okay. They are here to benefit your business with their scalability and adaptability. Even better, they are actually going to save your business time and money, all while boosting productivity and improving accuracy, service levels and agility.

The robot uprising

Bandying about discussion related to artificial intelligence (AI) these days is this idea of RPA: Robotic Process Automation. To tamp down any notion of a cyborg-like war against humanity, RPA does not involve physical or mechanical robots. Instead, it is software running on a physical or virtual machine — very much part of any other business process automation, but, in this case, it follows a defined set of instructions. So, for example, RPA can be programmed for first-level customer support executions to run queries and lay in data from one system to another for invoicing, expenses or refunds.

As we’ve experienced with chatbots, robots are capable of imitating most human-computer interactions to conduct error-free tasks speedily and at high volume. Effectively, RPA automates repetitive computer-based tasks and processes that are otherwise slow and expensive for humans to perform, thereby boosting efficiency for businesses and organizations. Also, RPA, like any other form of machine learning, can be trained to make predictive judgments relating to production. It can beneficially, non-intrusively integrate within existing infrastructures without causing disruption to systems already in place.

How can RPA save businesses and organizations time and money? Consider when staff is used, especially for a considerable amount of their work day, for repetitive tasks that require little-to-no decision making. Replacing some of that lost time with RPA software will certainly make better use of the humans in question. They can then devote more time to higher-level processes that do require decision-making skills that software cannot replace. And RPA can free up time your developers spend on automatable tasks (such as scripting). Here are five places to test robotic process automation in your business:

Accounting: RPA is a cost-effective alternative to managing financial processes. It boosts financial data accuracy by 95 percent, makes the transfer of financial data time from invoices and receipts three to four times faster, and provides overall costs savings of up to 80 percent.

Internal Communications: Walmart, AT&T and Walgreens are using RPA for employee matters. CIO of Walmart Clay Johnson says they use “RPA bots to automate pretty much anything from answering employee questions to retrieving useful information from audit documents.”

Administrative Tasks: David Thompson, CIO of American Express Global Business Travel, says they “implement the use of RPA to automate the process for canceling an airline ticket and issuing refunds.” Also, Thompson is “looking to use RPA to facilitate automatic rebooking recommendations.”

IT Services: RPA can run software testing when it involves multiple applications and monotonous work.

eCommerce: COO at Eggplant, Anthony Edwards, uses RPA for processing returns online.

How to integrate RPA with your existing tools

RPA (robotic process automation) tools are great solutions for automating boring, expensive and repetitive workflows. Built to follow a pattern of user interactions, an RPA can free up valuable human resources by allowing software to carry out tedious tasks related to business processes or software testing. In essence, RPA gives an organization the capability to build a virtual workforce that can run around-the-clock, continuously performing tasks without needing to take a coffee break.

How do we integrate a robotic process

Integrating an RPA into a company’s existing set of tools begins by identifying workflows that involve significant amounts of human effort to carry out multiple, repeatable tasks. Whether it’s data entry, report generation or QA testing, these processes should be easily replicated through repetitive sequences. Once the workflow is identified, the RPA tool can be used to build a sequence that allows for the automated completion of the task.

Take the example of customer relationship management (CRM) software. Relied upon throughout the world by businesses and other large organizations, a comprehensive CRM makes it possible to keep track of customer information and interactions. Traditionally, CRM tools have relied on manual data entry that is prone to human error. When linked to a database, an RPA can streamline the data entry process by logging information into the CRM on a user’s behalf, accurately placing information in the correct fields and solving for common human mistakes like typos.

Where can I use RPA?

RPA tools can be integrated into any application workflow that follows a pattern that’s able to be re-created. In the arena of software testing, for example, RPA tools can be deployed to execute a series of user interactions to fully vet an application before its release. Even if the application is brand new, the RPA can ensure it’s completely functional while bypassing the steps where human software testers would traditionally carry out the tedious task of checking every possible workflow.

It’s worth noting that an RPA is only as powerful as your applications. If there is a slow, cumbersome piece of proprietary software within a particular workflow, the RPA can still be programmed to follow any number of given tasks, but it won’t be able to speed up the application itself. But the process, of course, can still be run without human interaction.

For organizations seeking to incorporate RPA capabilities, any workflow that’s repeatable across any number of applications can be ready for disruption. As soon as a tedious task requiring the same sequence of monotonous clicks is automated with a robot that’s happy to do the job, companies often wonder how they ever lived without incorporating RPA.

How is AI and ML transforming DevOps?

Since 2009, DevOps has been touted as an improved way of handling development. Rather than separating development and IT operations — leaving the creation and deployment of applications to their respective departments — DevOps combines the two disciplines to achieve faster, more streamlined and continuous improvements and developments.

The reality, however, is that a decade out sees many organizations struggling to achieve the goals and benefits outlined in DevOps philosophy, one of these being the automation of as much of the process as possible. Here to the rescue are the two technologies that are poised to help solve these problems: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

DevOps and Artificial Intelligence

One of the challenges to successfully automating DevOps is the ongoing and continuous monitoring of deployed software. For better or for worse, the rise of Big Data means that many organizations simply don’t have the resources to keep up with the sea of data they have access to. Especially in large organizations — where thousands or even hundreds of thousands of users are interacting with the software — monitoring usage data can strain a team’s resources to the breaking point in the best of scenarios, and completely break it more often than not.

AI, however, excels at processing large quantities of data, sorting its relevance, identifying issues that need to be addressed and providing humans with digestible insights. This makes it infinitely easier for a DevOps team to quickly identify and address issues, rather than get mired down in searching for them.

In addition, AI can also be trained to automate much of the DevOps process, freeing up time and resources, while simultaneously speeding up development and deployment.

AI can also significantly improve DevOps security. As security threats continue to arise, cyber attacks often happen so fast that humans can’t respond quickly enough to head off the worst of the damage. AI, on the other hand, can rapidly identify a potential threat or an emerging attack and respond much faster than a human.

DevOps and Machine Learning

While AI is thrown around to describe everything from chatbots to virtual assistants, true AI has the ability to learn, grow, adapt and improve on its own. This is where ML comes into play. ML involves using algorithms to give an AI that ability to evolve, so to speak.

No more programming specific, complex if-then-else statements to try to account for every possible situation an AI may encounter. No more worrying that the decision-making programming will generate conflicts as the if-then-else statements become more complex. ML relies on data to continually train and improve the AI’s ability.

This means that the more an AI is used, the more data it has access to, and the better it will function in its capacity. ML can even help an AI learn from its mistakes by analyzing its responses, why a given response didn’t work and improving those responses in future operations.

AI and ML: the future of DevOps

DevOps continues to hold promise for faster, improved development and deployment for many companies. To succeed, however, companies will need to start implementing AI and ML to keep up with the ever-increasing flow of data being generated, as well as to protect themselves from cyber threats.

How can RPA tools help your team with testing?

In software development, one of the most important — and time-consuming — tasks is software testing. To ensure a product functions properly before being released to the public, developers must carry out several different rounds of test execution, validation and reporting to highlight any areas that need repair or improvement.

Throughout the history of software development, test automation tools have existed to execute common workflows and assist developers in working on the kinks of their product. But these tools have often been cumbersome and expensive, requiring a knowledge of how to code that makes the tools difficult to set up. Many test automation tools also require a certain amount of manual testing, turning a seemingly automated process into a task that still requires human intervention.

The introduction of robotic process automation (RPA) tools has made software testing easier than ever before. Built to follow an automated workflow, RPA tools can be set to automatically carry out software testing on a wide scale without the need for human intervention. Using RPA tools can help teams greatly reduce the time spent carrying out boring and repetitive tasks, which can ultimately lead to human error. By following a structured, rules-based workflow, RPA tools can execute testing at greater efficiency than a human being, freeing up employees to focus on high-value tasks.

RPA tools typically require no programming skills, making it easy for non-technical users to establish a workflow for a digital worker to follow. When testing a user interface or API, the user equipped with RPA tools can simply build a workflow that doesn’t require additional work to carry out the automation. With the help of detailed analytics and reporting, RPA tools can be analyzed and adjusted to ensure testing is occurring thoroughly and accurately.

RPA tools are also incredibly useful for testing because they can be deployed across a wide range of platforms. Instead of having to find specific automation tools for particular operating systems or devices, RPA tools are often flexible and platform independent, supporting web-based, desktop and legacy application testing. Virtual machines through RPA tools also make it possible to scale testing at any time, saving resources while speeding up the testing process.

Many new RPA tools are beginning to employ artificial intelligence capabilities that can continuously improve upon its workflows. Rather than having to manually adjust a specific task, smart RPA tools can refine their behavior over time, making testing an automatic process that can be trusted to run without additional supervision.

How is cloud migration transforming the healthcare industry?

Healthcare organizations manage vast amounts of data on a daily basis. From electronic health records to data analytics, the cloud offers healthcare organizations the chance to store, process and analyze healthcare data with greater accuracy at a lower cost.

Here’s a look at how the migration to cloud solutions continues to transform the healthcare industry:

Enhanced automation

Digital healthcare solutions make it possible to set up automated workflows in the cloud, freeing up resources across the organization. Automated cloud-based data entry, for instance, can reliably and accurately ensure that patient information is correct and secure. Online appointment scheduling enables patients to manage their healthcare needs without the need for human interaction.

Lower costs

Many cloud-based services don’t require an expensive investment in new hardware and software licensing. Because most cloud tools are easily accessible through a web browser, healthcare organizations can run their desired applications on basic systems that don’t require cutting edge processing power. By being able to run on existing devices or new hardware that doesn’t require all the latest bells and whistles, healthcare organizations can save money on costly new equipment like servers. Following a subscription revenue model, most cloud solutions also offer a fixed recurring cost that’s easy to budget for.

Real-time data

Moving healthcare information into the cloud makes it easier to gain new insights as soon as data is collected. While healthcare data has previously existed in its own siloed existence , cloud solutions make it possible to share information with ease across a wide variety of applications. New and comprehensive data, like health information collected from a wearable device, can further paint a picture of a user’s habits and statistics. The result is patient care that’s easier to monitor, maintain and manage in real time.

Improved performance

Hardware and software in the healthcare industry have traditionally seen a slow upgrade cycle. Because many devices and systems are often relied upon for many daily, critical tasks, installing a new device or improving an existing solution could lead to serious downtime that put patients’ lives at risk.

Cloud solutions have changed this equation by placing web-based technologies at the fingertips of healthcare providers. Through the SaaS model, software can be continuously maintained and updated on the back end without the need for any intervention from the end user. Bug fixes and enhanced capabilities could be pushed out overnight, allowing healthcare providers to take full advantage of new technology the moment it becomes available.

Are FinTech and RegTech becoming one and the same?

Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology are so closely associated that the two are practically " built in" to each other, but they are not the same. The intersection between FinTech and RegTech necessitates parallel development, which can make blur the line between the two.

FinTech improves and automates financial functionality, while RegTech handles compliance insurance, risk assessment and activity monitoring. RegTech is concerned with all FinTech, but FinTech is not concerned with all RegTech. Understanding how the two are related is important to understand how they are different.

A confusing history

The reason that some people confuse the two stems from the fact that RegTech exists because of FinTech. RegTech actually began as a subgroup of FinTech, but it has grown into something that extends beyond that original scope. FinTech is exclusive to the banking and financial industries, but RegTech is not. However, RegTech exists because it is necessary for holding FinTech accountable. New technology that collects massive amounts of information has created a wide range of new applications for RegTech.

Parallel development

Because RegTech needs to keep up with changes in FinTech to do its job, it makes sense to develop both at the same time. And because RegTech started as an offshoot of FinTech, it makes practical sense for FinTech to incorporate RegTech in the development process. Additionally, both technologies have a vested interest in protecting information.

Overlapping use

At the core, the reason the two are not the same is RegTech can be applied to more than just the financial industry. This might seem unusual because RegTech started because of FinTech but grew into something more. The overlap stems from both regulators and businesses using RegTech to ensure compliance. While RegTech needs to keep up with FinTech changes, it also needs to keep up with other information technology changes to maintain successful regulation.

RegTech extends beyond FinTech

Though this was not the original intent, RegTech applications extend to other types of data management, including personal information. RegTech's move beyond the financial industry makes sense because governments are regulating how businesses store personal information — like financial information — in regards to privacy, security and use. RegTech is important for security firms and any business concerned with regulatory compliance. Additionally, businesses can use RegTech concepts to interpret and analyze the information they collect to make projections akin to what the financial industry does.

Businesses that work in the financial industry can benefit from the help of experts in both FinTech and RegTech to improve operations and make sure they're keeping up with the law. Businesses outside of the financial industry have much to learn about how to utilize RegTech by looking at its relationship with FinTech.

How can leaders make it easier for their teams to adopt Agile?

3 Ways leaders can increase Agile buy-in from their team

The Agile development technique is attractive because teams using it help push new features to the customer, and bugs are addressed much faster compared to the waterfall method. However, adopting an Agile development environment isn't flipping a switch: It involves changing both culture and program structure to reap the benefits of more frequent updates. Therefore, leaders will find switching to Agile easier if they embrace it as a gradual process.

Start with Agile on the project level

Immediately making every project an Agile project is a recipe for failure. Instead, leaders should start with converting a single project to Agile and — from there — expand one project at a time. Leaders need to learn how to convert a project, so running a prototype or a pilot project will help them understand the conversion process and learn the differences in how these projects need to be managed.

Organize your team and your application

Leaders should organize their team differently to thrive in an Agile environment. Keeping track of who is working on what needs to receive more attention because it's going to change more frequently. Leaders may discover that tools like boards and ticketing systems help keep staff organized and on track. It is also important to avoid micromanaging in an Agile environment. If a developer misses something, you will have the opportunity to address it in the near future.

Program code should also be structured differently to work well with Agile development. It is easier for Agile teams to work with applications that have been branched out and segmented to minimize how much code gets blocked off when making updates; this means you avoid preventing other developers from working on another update. Code compartmentalization is more important than ever.

Keep things moving

Agile development needs to keep its moving parts in motion to succeed, so leaders need to promote a culture where developers get in the habit of minimizing the amount of time they need to block off code from the rest of the team. Encourage employees to finish what they have started since letting code sit unfished can prevent developers from attending to other important fixes. Developers should branch off the code they need to work on, make the changes, and immediately restore that code to the trunk.

Leaders should also accept that while you have the pressure to push new features and updates faster without spending as much time debugging and testing, you also have the capability to push fixes faster too in the event that you do make a mistake. Don't avoid pushing updates that are ready to go because you're waiting for another unrelated part of the program to finish. Shift to incremental improvements, but realize sometimes you will need larger overhauls. Leaders should look into automated testing tools to streamline this process.

Leaders don't want to create an environment that is just "waterfall, but more frequent." If your business is looking to switch its development from the waterfall method to Agile, a gradual, organized transition will yield the best results.

Does the average consumer trust FinTech apps?

In the financial services industry, FinTech is the combination of mobile apps, processes, products and business models provided online, comprised of complementary financial services. The apps, in particular, have become very popular in order for more consumers to do exactly what their behaviors are leading them to do naturally: complete electronic transactions.

About 12 years ago, some of the first FinTech startups were founded to respond to the challenge of making financial systems more accessible and efficient. FinTech apps include that for financial education, retail banking and lending, peer-to-peer money transfer, investment, cryptocurrency and others.

Do we have a consumer confidence picture?

So is there data yet in these early years to suggest whether consumer confidence is there? Possibly.

According to a Juniper Research report, there will be more than 2 billion mobile banking app users by 2020. That number will grow exponentially as reliance on mobile tech continues to advance.

According to Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, “Apps can harness trusted phone features like Apple Pay to reduce checkout friction. [They] can tap into loyalty programs and reward customers for patronage ... Banking apps drive deep engagement and deliver real value, which is why so many consumers love them.”

The reality that there is such a rise of banking apps shows that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using their mobile devices for storing financial data and making purchases with them. So retailers can feel buoyed to target consumers for their own e-commerce solutions.

“Smart retailers will look to the meteoric rise of banking apps as a signal that they should begin the process of asking themselves how an app could help them solve a problem for their customers, while adding retail sales to their bottom line,” Kerr said. “For example, apps can allow a furniture retailer to offer virtual show rooms and the ability to place images of furniture for sale into homes.”

How the great recession of 2008 may have helped: the millennial factor

There remains a lack of confidence, a “lingering distrust in [traditional] banks,” since the financial crisis of 2008. As a result, FinTech startups have flourished in the wake of what most industries see as dark days to put behind them. And it’s millennials (the largest consumer bloc at the moment) who were growing into adulthood and influenced emotionally during the crisis.

“What that underscored for people is that banks can’t be trusted, and your money is only as safe as the government allows you to believe,” said Fundstrat founder and managing partner Tom Lee [3], who worked at J.P. Morgan in 2008. “That’s why millennials today have so little trust in banks, because of what their parents went through.”

“The younger generation will gravitate toward brands that provide the best user experience, the best value, and ultimately, can help them reach their financial goals,” said JMP Securities’ Devin Ryan.

How is cloud migration transforming retail?

Cloud migration is changing the way retailers operate to the benefit of businesses and customer alike. At its core, "the cloud" is a massive off-site data repository that provides convenient information access and incredible data leverage potential. Retailers who make the transition to the cloud are constantly finding new ways to enhance customer relationships.

Replacing the data center

Businesses migrating to cloud-based services are typically moving away from storing information in a data center. Cloud servers offer a wealth of benefits compared with data centers, including streamlined, more affordable server capability scaling. Retailers making the switch to the cloud are blurring the line between physical and retail stores: It's helping retailers treat both parts of their business as a single entity rather than two competing storefronts.

Creating a linked point-of-sale platform

Retailers can leverage the cloud to link Point-of-Sale platforms between online and physical stores. Merged POS helps track everything a customer buys across different physical locations and online sales. This helps retailers create continuity between all their locations, which creates a better picture of customer buying habits for analysis and streamlined customer service.

Revolutionized returns and exchanges

The customer benefits with improved returns and exchanges experiences. Retailers can access sale information for customers from any location regardless of where the customer made the purchase. Therefore, customers can bring a return to any location. The retailer may even track down proof of purchase if the customer lost their receipt. If a customer bought the wrong size clothing online, they can easily return it and get the correct size at a physical location.

Predicting customer behavior

Keeping all your customer data in the cloud makes it possible to better understand and predict customer behavior. The scope of the cloud-based platform means a retailer can analyze customer behavior en masse or on an individual level. This can help retailers more accurately stock their stores and order products for warehouses.

While sometimes a customer just needs to talk to another human being when resolving an issue, cloud services streamline data access so AI-based customer service can handle tasks like automating returns and checking up on orders.

Leveraging data to boost sales

Retailers can use cloud servers to tailor marketing behavior as deep as the individual customer level. Instead of creating ads and suggested purchases based on the history of all customers, retailers can use an individual's purchasing history to create unique suggestions and offers. Retailers can identify a product a customer regularly purchases and send that customer a discount offer if they have stopped buying that product to entice the customer to come back.

Additionally, retailers can create an interconnected shopping experience between online and retail by using "beacons" at physical locations to provide app-based services that mirror customer-specific online suggestions and deals in a retail setting.

If your business is looking to leverage its customer data by combining online and physical store experiences, cloud migration will transform the way you work.

How much should you invest in robotic process automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is already revolutionizing productivity and accuracy in the workplace. However, the amount any business should invest in the technology is contingent on the nature of the business and the limits of RPA. How much a business should invest in RPA comes down to how much work is compatible with automation and how much automation the business can afford to manage.

Automation: incredible yet limited potential

RPA technology works best with simple, repetitive actions. Right from the beginning, there are obvious limitations to what RPA technology can do for businesses. The objective of RPA is to remove talent from boring, simple practices so they can be reallocated to higher-value work that can't be performed by a machine.

A business should invest as much as it can in automatic simple, practical processes. The technology excels at data-entry tasks, increases data-processing speed, cuts down on errors and simplifies auditing-related compliance. Don't look to RPA to handle complex analysis — that's what employees are for. The actual amount a business should invest depends on how much work can be automated, which can vary wildly from company to company.

Stay within management capabilities

While RPA is great at reducing payroll costs for simple tasks, implementing the technology means your business will need to pay people to manage and evaluate automation work. Hypothetically speaking, the RPA software might reduce existing payroll by $500,000 — but it may require paying people $100,000 to handle upkeep and make sure things are working correctly.

Additionally, by being able to process simple tasks faster, your business might find itself with more opportunities to hire additional staff to work, because data entry is no longer a work bottleneck. Therefore, a business needs to consider managing RPA as a cost. Larger operations working with larger amounts of data tend to see a greater return than smaller counterparts.

Don't invest beyond the ROI

RPA technology has an excellent ROI potential for businesses, but that potential will eventually suffer from diminishing returns. There is a limit to what RPA can do. It can reduce payroll costs and generate more projects employees can work on. However, at some point, your business will hit a limit regarding how much the technology has to offer.

Consider this hypothetical example using low numbers for ease of understanding: Investing $10 in RPA might save you $40, but investing $15 in RPA might only save you $50. Eventually, your investment in RPA won't be saving your company money — so finding that point is essential in determining how much you should invest.

If your business is looking to start investing or further invest in RPA, finding the right partners can make all the difference in both identifying the ideal jobs for automation and getting that automation running. RPA offers exciting opportunities for businesses to run better.

5 Things every project manager should know about cloud migration

What is cloud migration? “In the simplest terms, according to PCMag.com, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. [It] goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats”.

So, it’s about storage, but it’s also about communications. Cloud communications blend multiple modalities, including voice, email, chat and video. Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications or other business elements from onsite computers to the cloud.

Getting it right: 5 key tips

Within just one year, 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be operating in the cloud. There’s no doubt that organizations are migrating in droves, and it’s ongoing. However, satisfaction with the experience is low (27 percent). So a strong project manager (PM) can make the difference in planning and implementing a successful cloud migration. And a strong PM should have the following specific skills for managing any project around cloud computing: pricing and ROI analysis; understanding of enterprise architecture; and vendor contract negotiation.

To best navigate a successful migration, PMs should plan ahead to ensure these areas are covered:

1. Choose the Right Cloud Provider

The Cloud Industry Forum recommends using these eight criteria to select your provider:

2. Assess Your Current Infrastructure

You have to match workloads in considering your best strategy, including which migrates first.

3. Plan for the New Infrastructure

Consider these important factors:

4. Consider Various Issues Specific to Your Environment

Think through factors that impact your company’s specific environment such as disaster recovery and related security issues, backups, stability issues and of course budget directives to cover all this.

5. Create the Timeline

You’ve planned the migration including budget considerations. Now you need to create a timeline that suits your needs for migrating, deploying and testing.

5 Unexpected industries where AI is set to take off

There are few among us so inspired they truly change the world. In 1955, Dartmouth math professor and computer and cognitive scientist John McCarthy did exactly that when he introduced the notion of artificial intelligence (AI). Since then, AI has popped its head up and down, almost in mythic fashion. We’ve experienced it culturally in science fiction to the point that it has nearly become something more magical than real. Yet it happened — it became a true business value. Then it had legs and could freely cross the human landscape in ways that, thanks to Dr. McCarthy, have irretrievably changed everything.

If for no other reason, it’s arguably now the key difference in economic development across the world. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated that “artificial intelligence technologies could increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion, a full 14%, by 2030.”

At this point, it's no surprise that AI has come to revolutionize industries such as healthcare (faster, improved health services by mining medical records); automobiles (driverless cars); manufacturing (AI coupled with automation); e-commerce and marketing (chatbots, predictive sales, recommendation engines, warehouse automation); and financial services (algorithmic trading), among others. The innovation it’s causing is breathtaking, as AI is capable of analyzing massive amounts of data to predict quite specific outcomes. The precise strategy that AI offers a growing number of industries is to be expected. Or so you thought ...

5 industries where AI is about to rock the boat

McKinsey AI report revealed a diverse trend in adoption rates of AI by industries. Technology and communications (32 percent), automotive manufacturing (29 percent), financial services (28 percent) — these make sense. But impressive adoptions rates were also on the rise in media and entertainment (22 percent), education (17 percent) and even travel and tourism (11 percent).

So discovering these five areas where AI is about to shake things up is surprising in ways, but the tea leaves were already predicting this.

1. Wildlife preservation

One groundbreaking software program is using data to improve wildlife research. “Wildbook blends structured wildlife research with artificial intelligence, citizen science and computer vision to speed population analysis and develop new insights to help fight extinction,” according to its website.

2. National security

Through its Project Maven, [4] the American military is deploying AI “to sift through the massive troves of data and video captured by surveillance and then alert human analysts of patterns or when there is abnormal or suspicious activity.”

3. Travel

Travel websites use AI to help individuals plan trips, including via chatbot travel AI concierges that do the planning directly.

4. Search and rescue

Drones with AI, available in far greater numbers than first responders, are flying over natural disasters to navigate areas and assess danger.

5. Agriculture

AI communications strategist Jason Behrmann says agriculture is a sector hit hard by labor shortages. “We estimate that Canada will suffer from a deficiency in 100,000 farm workers soon. Adopting AI and related automation technologies is a matter of survival for the agriculture industry,” he said.

How is AI helping teams get more done faster?

Technology makes it possible to communicate and collaborate faster than ever before, but human bottlenecks can still grind any team to a halt. Whether due to disorganization or poor coordination, teams left with meetings that don’t start on time or lack ample preparation can turn a well-oiled machine into a sinking ship.

Many of today’s AI-enhanced collaboration tools are seeking to change the equation. By increasing the amount of time-consuming or confusing clerical work that can be automated, teams can collaborate freely without having to worry about simple tasks that can slow things down. The result is an AI-assisted workforce that’s able to stay focused on their top priorities.

Here are some ways AI is helping teams get more done faster than ever before.

Automatic meeting scheduling

One of the most frustrating and common pain points for any collaborative team is meeting coordination. Juggling an entire team’s worth of calendar entries, appointments and vacation days can make it downright frustrating to find a single time to meet that works for all team members — even if it’s just five minutes to check in. Worse, a last-minute change can topple a carefully scheduled meeting like a house of cards, creating even more confusion and inefficiency.

AI-based interview scheduling tools  are transforming meeting scheduling by automatically drawing from each team member’s availability. Rather than having to email team members to determine available times, AI-based scheduling assistants can coordinate and reschedule meetings on a team’s behalf.

More efficient collaboration tools

Working as a team member frequently means exchanging ideas using many different types of documents, software tools and communication methods. But within many organizations, different teams may speak entirely different languages by using completely different toolsets.

The marketing team’s Slack and Google Docs operation may look completely different from the accounting department’s Skype and Office workflow. When preparing documents or meetings, this mish-mash of different technologies can slow down cross-team collaboration and increase the possibility of distractions, meaning people waste valuable time on tasks that have nothing to do with the actual tasks at hand.

AI is enhancing this experience through enhanced collaboration tools that work anywhere and everywhere. For an increasingly remote workforce, this includes building easy-to-use communications tools that bring everyone together into the same virtual workspace. Tools like real-time language translation and voice control can help teams naturally communicate, reducing potential confusion.

When organizations streamline digital clutter and make it easy for teams to access and communicate in a single space, collaboration becomes more powerful and focused than ever before.

"DevOps As A Service" glossary

DevOps has already gone far to change IT culture. An agile technology combining software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops), it accelerates everything related to software and services, focusing on the concepts of monitoring and automation from integration to testing to post-deployment management. Yet, DevOps as a Service (DaaS) takes DevOps even farther.

DaaS

DaaS is a delivery model for the suite of tools that advance collaboration between software development and operations teams. Effectively, a DaaS provider improves on the idea of the toolchain (discrete, distinct software development tools linked or chained together within specific stages). Instead, DaaS sweeps in and forms into one efficient unit those divergent tools that make up the overall software development and delivery process.

DaaS aims to ensure every step in the delivery of software is tracked (along with associated ongoing feedback) so desired outcomes are achieved while successfully hiding complexities of data and information flow management. In this way, teams can use intuitive interfaces to more effortlessly call on the tools they require in order to best deliver the ultimate business value.

DaaS glossary of useful terms

Here are the top 10 words and abbreviations you need to know about DaaS.

  1. Application Performance Management (APM) – Tools used in monitoring and management of performance and availability of software applications for the purpose of detecting and diagnosing complex problems in order to stabilize service.
  2. Content Delivery Network (CDN) – (aka content distribution network) This is a distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers intended to ensure the best availability and performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.
  3. Continuous Delivery (CD) – Methodology that ensures software is always in a release-ready state throughout its lifecycle.
  4. Continuous Deployment – A kind of CD (not appropriate in all situations) where deployment of new code to production is done automatically.
  5. Continuous Integration (CI) – A method that requires developers to merge their code into a shared version control system (VCS), see below, in order to locate and address bugs and better manage release schedule for updates.
  6. Deployment Pipelines – Process of taking code from version control to readily available to users automatically.
  7. Scrum — Iterative, time-bound and incremental agile framework for completing complex or multiple projects.
  8. Source Code Management (SCM) — This is used to track modifications to a source code repository, including a history of changes to a code base in order to resolve conflicts when merging updates from multiple contributors.
  9. Static Code Analysis — (aka source code analysis) Process of debugging code through examination before a program runs by analyzing a set of code against a set (or multiple sets) of coding rules.
  10. Version Control Systems (VCS) — (aka revision control or source control) The management of changes to documents, computer programs, sites and other collections of information.

These terms are helpful in understanding how, by integrating DevOps tool suites into a unified system, DaaS does improve DevOps goals by coexisting with traditional development and deployment processes — and so, ensuring collaboration, monitoring, management and reporting, while enabling the adoption of more flexible approaches in the changing marketplace.

Are you sufficiently automating your DevOps process?

The big players — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, among others — are now devotees worshipping at the altar of DevOps. We know 81 percent of enterprises and 70 percent of SMBs are adopting DevOps, and this 2019 report indicates trends are only continuing on the upswing.

Automation is DevOps’ secret sauce. Are you there yet?

Organizations are stressed in new ways these days, thanks to the explosion of cloud-based applications. The need to deploy software releases to manage end-user needs regarding security, bugs, new features or unusual activity means that software and operations teams are stretched to their limits, creating internal struggles and strife. This child of Agile — DevOps — is far more than merely the latest flash-in-the-pan … It’s become a critical solution for this collaboration.

Combining software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) is a practice little more than a decade old in software engineering. It’s underscored most strategically by monitoring and automation at every step of the process — from integration to testing, all the way to post-deployment management. Undeniably, the three main goals of DevOps are speed, cybersecurity and collaboration. Supporting all of this is automation.

How to sufficiently automate your DevOps process

The 2018 State of DevOps Report illustrates how organizations are benefiting from DevOps in ways that include lower change failure rates and less time dealing with security challenges, rework and unplanned work. At the same time, DevOps is vastly improving failure recovery, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

However, sufficient automation is required throughout the DevOps process to make these benefits come to life. Speed is the backbone of DevOps, and maintaining a steady sprint is all about automation done well. In this way, you can effectively manage things such as:

What tools should your consulting business be using?

As more companies seek to create a leaner org table by right-sizing staff, the role of a dynamic consulting business has never been more vital and attractive across so many industry sectors.

The “toolkit” consultants used 10 or 5 (or even 2) years ago can’t fully address the needs of today’s client base.

The modern toolkit for consultants is agile, tech-facing and adaptable to sudden sea changes in market trends. Here are some of today's most respected tools.

Marketing automation

Most consulting businesses tend to be smaller shops — perhaps 5 to 10 employees. With such a limited team, marketing automation optimizes hundreds of hours of “grunt work,” allowing employees to focus on more strategic tasks. Digitization and automation of business processes and customer engagement processes launches your consulting business to the head of the pack when it comes to attracting, developing and retaining new clients.

When seeking a new marketing automation solution, look for a provider with extensive CRM agency reach. Providers using cutting-edge tools such as Adobe Campaign Manager can optimize your marketing process by 10X.

User experience design

As you build out your client base, your efforts focus externally on relational contact and solution selling. Few consultants have the time or expertise to develop a game-changing user-design experience. Deploying a vibrant UX solution requires a tool that powers usability, visual design and interaction/data architecture to guarantee a satisfying experience for your clients.

Data analytics

The quest for an optimized data-analytics platform is moving at the speed of thought. To position your consulting business as a thought leader within your sector, you must adopt an analytics strategy that maximizes the latest tech in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Your quest begins with the gathering of relevant data, followed by establishing a data-needs baseline and finally the creation of a robust, predictive analysis platform to solve problems.

Partnering with a provider that can access multiple APIs to streamline this process is essential to your success. Fueling a crystal-clear vision, strategy and tactical model for handling and maximizing data is a passion for quality providers.

Security

All the tools at your disposal as a consultant mean nothing to your client if they cannot depend on your firm to shepherd data in a secure manner.

Cybercrime — as well as cyber warfare — is a disease that’s not likely to leave the world stage any time soon. Consulting businesses are often tasked with protecting highly confidential client information, sometimes with legal or even political ramifications. Ensure your IT systems are armed with the most vigorous architectural design and integration available — solutions such as BiModal platforms that utilize effective DevOps practices.

At the end of it all, your consulting business will only survive (and ultimately thrive) based on your commitment to investigating, obtaining and deploying the best of the best in tech-facing tools.

8 Ways business technology will evolve in 2020

The pace of change in technology is growing. Companies have countless options to improve their technology infrastructure. Consumers take less time than ever to adopt new technologies as well. It’s difficult to identify the best solutions for your company.

Opinov8 puts a finger to the pulse of these changes. We keep our partners abreast of the latest developments. Innovation drives our mindset and services. This enables us to help partners adapt to these changes.

The 8 biggest technology trends to look for this year

Our experts have identified 8 key technology trends for the year. Consider how these developments will affect your company. Then, connect with us to learn how we can improve your technology infrastructure.

1. Headless eCommerce

Consumers and B2B customers have heightened eCommerce expectations. They expect the best experiences on all eCommerce websites. Companies need specialized services to keep ahead of the curve.

Headless commerce is a trend worth noting. It allows developers to deliver any type of eCommerce solution. They use application program interfaces (API) to deliver to any type of device as well. It “adds another layer of data for analysis,” says Forbes. These features allow for proactive improvements to customer experiences.

2. Marketing automation

Marketing automation is critical to modern business. It drives great omnichannel experiences. It transforms the entire customer journey as well. Expect more sophisticated solutions in 2020.

Still, marketing automation is a challenge for most companies. It can alienate customers when done incorrectly. Opinov8 works with partners to lower marketing costs through automation of business processes. We improve customer engagement processes as well.

3. Custom software engineering

Companies need rapid responses to changing customer expectations. Custom software engineering solutions help with this process. Agile methodologies are a popular approach.

But these best practices are changing. Developers must move beyond Agile for more complex software development. Opinov8 has embraced other methods to improve outcomes for our partners.

4. Growing security needs

Most companies lack critical security features. That’s why data breaches have become more common. Bad actors target companies of all sizes. Nobody is immune to the damage they can cause.

Companies need partners who administer rigorous controls and testing. Opinov8 provides effective code management. We support both manual and testing environments as well. Our proactive relationships help clients stay ahead of security concerns.

5. Data, analytics, and AI

Traditional analytics are no longer enough. Companies need automated business intelligence. But many companies lack the infrastructure to support this.

The right partnerships support unique and dynamic analytics models. They automate key processes as well. This allows employees to focus on adding value rather than processing information. Companies who master this in 2020 will have an immediate advantage over their competitors.

6. Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) adoption is spanning industries. These solutions create ecosystems between products and platforms. But adapting cloud platforms to accommodate these systems is complicated. This is especially true as companies try to accomplish more with IoT.

In 2020, companies will launch IoT on 5G networks. This will add new capabilities and make IoT investments more desirable. Companies need the right development resources to make them effective.

7. Blockchain

Blockchain uses a public ledger to manage transactions. It grew in popularity with the growth of cryptocurrencies. Companies across industries are finding more business applications as well.

Blockchain recently fell out of popularity, Gartner reports. But analysts predict it will become a core technology to future digital business functions. IT leaders must be prepared to use Blockchain to achieve competitive advantages.

8. Technology Partnerships

Companies need to think progressively about new technologies. With this in mind, they will turn more and more to skilled technology service providers.

At Opinov8, we engage with our clients at all stages of technology development. We take a collaborative approach to our client’s success. Let’s start a discussion about innovation solutions for your company. Connect with an Opinov8 expert today.

React.js: why the hype?

Today's websites are shifting to feature more dynamic content that parallels experiences users expect from mobile applications. Libraries like React.js are available to alleviate the challenges that come with developing highly interactive websites.

React.js is a JavaScript library built to address the unique needs of a dynamic user interface for a website. It provides a wealth of performance and ease-of-use benefits for developers. Facebook initially introduced the library to the programming community, which now is largely responsible for maintaining and documenting it as an open source project.

Reusable template-style content

Websites naturally split up into several interface components such as the navigation, a sidebar and main content. React.js embraces this concept and splits the page into individual components that can be reused and manipulated as needed. React.js employs templates for each component, and these are easy to build and convenient to reuse.

To make it easier to create the templates, the library uses JSX to allow the developer to write HTML in-line with JavaScript code. Using JSX is much easier than constructing complex HTML through JavaScript's standard capabilities. This can be very useful for actions such as changing a sidebar between holding some advertisements, a messaging client or user settings without having to load a new page.

Faster page reevaluation on changes

React.js utilizes a Virtual DOM to work around the need for the browser to re-evaluate the entire page whenever a component is updated through component isolation. Limiting how much work the browser needs to do helps pages run faster.

Additionally, the library makes it easy to run UI updates without having to make an HTTP/HTTPS call. The virtual DOM reduces dependency on the server calls to make page content adjustments.

Finally, component isolation means changes to one component won't have adverse effects on the others. The downward flow ensures changes to child components won't impact parent components that could break the page's layout.

Live variable storage

The virtual DOM makes it easy to pass data between components. With other methods such as AJAX, it can be very easy for important variables and values to get lost between the page construction, the first update call and subsequent updates.

However, with a Virtual DOM, these values stay in the browser's memory and are ready to be used again without requiring the developers to work with complex variable value-passing methods.

Is react.js the right choice for you?

React.js can make projects easier to manage and faster to operate. Additionally, React.js can be used for single-page/mobile web applications and has a native application framework for iOS and Android apps. The library simplifies the transition toward parity between mobile web and native applications.

If your website would benefit from implementing any of the React.js features, the library is worth checking out.

New front end tech and old back end monolith tech

Micro frontends: where monolithic frontend meets backend microservice architecture

In technology, the concept of a monolith runs the gamut — from application monoliths (single large application with many dependencies); database-driven monoliths (multiple applications or services coupled to the same database, challenging to change); monolithic builds (a continuous integration build for the purpose of getting a new version of any component); monolithic releases (bundled components); and several others.

Organizations can increase their capability by dividing old monolithic systems into manageable chunks according to business requirements for safer, more expedient changes — ergo, backend microservice architecture.

In addition to the issue of poorly planned decoupled systems where the decoupling had not taken into account how the process affects teams (and not merely technology), there also needs to be a focus on how backend microservices impact complex frontends.

Micro frontends: the frontend microservice

A micro-frontend solution is what happens when your newly decoupled backend is now weighed down inconsistently with your business services because of a monolithic frontend (in one app). So, the idea is quite similar to building backend microservices, but it’s about modifying it for client-side development.

A micro frontend mirrors the backend microservice by business domain enabling the frontend to have more concurrent systems for testing, speed and systems in the mind of how the new backend architecture is imagined. The benefits of a newly structured micro frontend may serve your needs.

Benefits of micro frontends

When is this solution best for you?

If you have a team problem: If your teams need to separate for the business services cycle, then they are weighed down by a frontend monolith, which denies them the ability to deploy their unit work separate from the built-in single release.

If you have a scale problem: Micro frontends best serve an organization where the frontend monolith has made it impossible for a team to provide accessible solutions because it’s just grown like a weed that is now cumbersome and confusing.

If you lack flexibility: There are always new systems, tech, apps and processes that could very well influence growth in your organization or product. Micro frontends allow your team to experiment without dragging the entire system down — or, for that matter, deny experimentation because a unified business cycle won’t allow more flexibility.

Opinov8 wins top developer in Ukraine award

Opinov8 Technology Services is proud to announce our latest award: Top B2B Development Company in Ukraine! As a young software development firm, with locations in Malaga, Spain, London, UK and Kyiv, Ukraine. With only 2.5 years of existence, we are thrilled to be recognized for our hard work and quality of service. Outsourcing technology to experts like us can help you get to market faster and be exposed to more modern techniques and technologies.

Top B2B companies award.

Clutch is a B2B platform that conducts market research and uses verified client reviews to provide authentic ratings of firms within the same industry. Clutch analysts use these reviews to identify market leaders based on a firm’s ability to deliver satisfactory products and their expertise in the field. Based on our client reviews, Clutch has given us a near-perfect rating of 4.6 stars!

For Weld Health, Ltd., Opinov8 designed a mobile first application, developing both the front and backend. This app allowed Weld Health, Ltd. to offer booking, planning, and a payment platform. Based on our work, Weld Health, Ltd.’s CEO commented,

“They do a lot of things well, but their work ethic is most impressive: how much they get done and how professionally they do it.”
 

Take a look at another review on Clutch below:

Client's project review posted on Clutch.

If you are still not convinced, take a look at our profiles on The Manifest and Visual Objects, two B2B platforms. The Manifest is a business educational platform that provides shortlists of top performing firms. The Manifest’s research on Ukraine has listed us as a top developer. Additionally, Visual Objects, a verified research platform features portfolio of creative firms, allowing you to preview work before partnering with firms.

In response to our newest award, Craig Wilson, our Co-Founder has commented:

“Being recognized as a leader again is truly outstanding. Our customers are central to our mission, nothing motivates us more than their success which depends on our agility, strong collaboration, and mutual trust. It is all about our customers trusting our ability to decipher the ‘what’ and us knowing ‘how’.”

We would like to thank Clutch for their recognition of our hard work and we look forward to our continued partnership. Contact us today to get started!

Opinov8 is one of the top development firms in Western Europe

As times change and the digital world continues to improve, you have to able to keep up with the innovation, or else you will be left in the dust. Forecasting and carrying out trends are how your company can be relevant and successful. Here at Opinov8, we co-create software products and platforms for our clients in the latest technology areas. Our core principles of being Responsible, Collaborative, Respectful, Adventurous, Innovative and Intelligent set us apart from our competitors. Because of our innovative mindset and ability to stick to our core principles, we have been named a top software developer in Western Europe by Clutch.

Clutch is a platform for B2B reviews that features market research and interviews with clients. Based out of Washington, D.C., Clutch evaluates companies on their quality of work using client interviews that are conducted by analysts. We take great pride in exceeding the expectations of our customers and love to hear their feedback after a project is completed.

Being named one of the top custom software developers in Western Europe is an honor and a great accomplishment for everyone here at Opinov8. Not only are we rated highly on Clutch, but we are also featured on The Manifest’s survey of top custom software developers in Western Europe. The Manifest, a Clutch sister site, contains shortlists of the top companies in a variety of different business segments. Additionally, Visual Objects, a B2B portfolio-sharing website, has reviews of high-achieving companies, and we are exhilarated to be named at the top.

"Our business is built on the ability to innovate through technology for our clients. Being recognized by Clutch as a Leader in our space after only 2 years is truly remarkable. Our people and our clients have helped us to be here and we are very proud of this validation of our progress so far." Craig Wilson, Co-Founder, Opinov8

Being awarded with an honor such as this is one that does not come without the hard work and countless hours spent by the people here at Opinov8. If you want to learn more about our employees and business operations, or have any specific questions that you need assistance answering, feel free to contact us, and we will be happy to help! #BeBold

AI in health care: saving lives and enthralling investors

In his May I/O 2017 keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed an “important shift,” their sea change, from “searching and organizing the world’s information to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).” In his 2016 Founder’s Letter, Pichai laid out his vision: “The next big step will be for the very concept of the 'device' to fade away. Over time, the computer itself — whatever its form factor — will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.”

Recently, Pichai made good on that promise by backing a group of startups that use AI in healthcare technology. One uses voice recognition commands for record-keeping, team collaboration and other administrative tasks, reportedly saving doctors 10 hours a week. Others use the technology for early diagnosis of sepsis, assistance for people with mobility trouble and construction of a platform for wearables.

Google is just the first of the giants to step into the fray. 

When it comes to investing in AI, a great deal has changed over the years. 

2007 saw 31 new deals take place. By 2016, the number skyrocketed to 322 deals, with a total of $3.6 billion invested. For all healthcare IT companies, venture capital funding during first nine months of 2017 alone passed the total for 2016, which was

Fast-Paced Innovation in Health Care

Today, AI works best through perception and cognition using voice and image recognition and ML — learning without humans explicitly programming them to perform that process. AI in health care uses algorithms (a process for problem-solving) to analyze medical data, especially prevention or treatments that could impact patient outcomes. AI programs are working most effectively in fields like personalized medicine/genetics; drug discovery and development; and disease identification and management.

“Putting real-time data in the hands of providers helps them better help patients,” says Deborah Muro, CIO for El Camino Hospital in California, like by developing an algorithm to analyze patients at high risk of falls. Gathering certain types of information, such as how frequently patients leave their beds or use their call lights, can be used to alert nurses to check on patients in order to prevent potential falls, she says.

AI Solutions for Health Care: Now and Later

Both now and on the horizon, AI innovations in health care are more exciting than ever. Consider these technologies:

• Chatbots can take “patient inquiries via phone, e-mail or live chat.”

• Virtual assistants “enable conversational dialogues and pre-built capabilities that automate clinical workflows.” Some can to even detect depression through subtle clues in speech or gesture.

• Robot "doctors" are conversational robots that explain lab results.

• Surgery consultants support workflow and build predictive modeling.

• AI prosthetics refers to when a “bionic hand is fitted with a camera which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand” in response.

• Disease detectors can “identify tuberculosis on chest X-rays,” and some can highlight “areas that might indicate the potential presence of cerebral bleeds.”

By virtue of design, AI and ML solutions for health care will keep getting better. You can expect these technologies to enhance diagnosis and prevention of diseases, help researchers get more out of the data they collect and even empower labs to produce drugs tailored to a person’s DNA. For AI in health care, the future certainly looks bright.

Key aspects of a successful SaaS company

SaaS has become a transformative technology solution and 

SaaS is projected to finish 2017 with over 20% growth.

over 20 percent growth, making it a $46.3B industry. During the last 10 years, companies like Salesforce, Dropbox and LogMeIn have become incredibly successful B2B organizations and even household names. As startups continue to enter the space in search of a piece of this growing market, these businesses can learn a few lessons from the successes of existing SaaS companies.

It’s SaaS, not SaMS

Just as we throw around acronyms like “IBM,” it’s easy to use SaaS as a word and not remember its origins. SaaS stands for “Software as a Service” — but many newcomers in the SaaS space will start as a Software as Many Services. Many businesses that do so will fail, as being a jack of all trades but a master of none is an ineffective way to carve out a niche in the market.

Before LogMeIn offered meeting services and remote customer support, the company did one thing: allowed users to get to their computer from anywhere. Similarly, Dropbox has now integrated with Windows, iOS and Linux and can be used for enterprise cloud storage, but its origins were far simpler: allow a user to save files to the cloud from any device. Instead of taking on the world, successful SaaS companies have found a single need, addressed it and then built from there.

Growth plans should scale

When a SaaS company launches, it is easy to focus on the here and now — what needs to happen to stay afloat this quarter, or even this month. However, as companies find success, this mindset must change. It’s crucial to have a growth strategy relevant to the level of success achieved. If a SaaS company a year after launching doesn’t have a plan for the following year, the company can easily become too shortsighted and fail.

Freemium isn’t a substitute for marketing

The freemium strategy has worked for businesses like Spotify, Dropbox and Slack, which saw incredible growth as users tried them at no cost and later converted to paying customers. However, offering a product for free and hoping it will spread like wildfire isn’t a marketing strategy. If no one knows about your product, how will they know where to find it or what it does? Even if the product’s functionality may speak for itself, people can’t try it if they haven’t heard about it.

Conversion is key

As much success as freemium strategies have brought certain businesses, SaaS companies cannot sustain themselves if all users focus on the “free” part of freemium. In fact, it may be best to limit the number of freemium users until there have been enough conversions to continue supporting free use of the product. Simply put, if sales cannot support the number of free users, your SaaS company won’t last.

Why gaming companies are moving to the cloud

Gaming companies have been promising players that soon they’ll be able to open and play their games on any device at any time. These organizations are making the shift from delivering betting games via fixed machines to cloud-based systems. With cloud storage, casinos and makers of betting games can target new audiences and keep current players engaged in ways they never could before. So far, they've seen considerable success; by the end of 2016, the global online gambling market was worth over $45 billion. Experts expect it to reach nearly $100 billion by the end of 2024, growing at a rate of over 10% each year. 

Here are a few reasons why they’re making the jump.

1. Greater cost effectiveness

Traditionally, in order to stay on top of the market, a game needs to launch across a number of platforms. This requires the game to be coded for various platforms, which takes time and money. 

Not only does this make these games more cost-effective for the company to produce, but it also makes it more likely a player will play, due to greater accessibility. So far, this accessibility appears to have contributed to its growth as well, with the UK, Malta and the Asia Pacific region being the primary contributors to the industry's rapid growth. 3 states in the USA had legalized online gambling as of March 2017, and more are expected to follow suit by 2020, which is likely to accelerate its geographical expansion.

2. Easier updates

Game companies of all types are looking more often at micro-transactions to extend the life cycle of releases. Under this model, 

rather than all at once. By managing these releases from the cloud, these smaller updates can be made available instantly on a scheduled cycle, keeping players engaged and excited about new content. While some may worry about the security risks of frequent updates, experts say that the extensive verification processes used in cloud and other forms of online gambling actually make it more secure than gambling at many physical casinos.

What is more, if a particular game isn’t getting much play in a casino, cloud storage allows for the game to be easily swapped out for another. This isn’t possible with traditional one-game machines, which can lead to dead space on the casino floor.

3. Convenient in-game purchases

Engaged players are repeat players — and repeat players spend more money. With cloud gaming, 

These easy in-app transactions encourage players to continue playing where previously they may have instead simply stopped and walked away.

With streaming and cloud services becoming the norm for movies and television, it’s no surprise that gaming is next. As networks expand and data transfers become faster and more stable, the reason why gaming companies want to take advantage is clear. While cloud gaming may not be the entire future of gambling, it will certainly play a large part in casinos and other aspects of the industry for years to come.

Where Will IoT Go in 2019?

The future looks bright for Internet of Things technology going into 2019. But the industry will likely have to jump a few hurdles along the way. With major corporate security breaches frequently appearing in the news, it's clear to customers they need to be careful about whom they trust with their personal information. Businesses will continue to push new IoT concepts while improving upon existing ones, which have the potential to revolutionize daily life.

IoT security will become more important than ever

As of 2018, the biggest security issue with IoT device is how hackers can exploit lax security on the devices to create botnets for malicious uses. A hacker can seize control of watches, thermostats and hundreds of other smart devices to overwhelm and disable a site or service. Vulnerability means device creators and users alike will shift security focus to all endpoints.

Changes may include forcing users to change default passwords and implementing blockchain to stop unauthorized changes. To combat security issues for small and large businesses, managed services providers will likely start offering IoT-related services as well.

IoT devices will find direction

As exciting as constant innovation can be, the IoT industry has to accept that some smart devices are far more useful than others. The number of smart devices jumped from 20.35 billion in 2017 to 23.14 billion in 2018. The public will likely see many new device types appear on the market. Some will succeed, and others will fail.

Healthcare and manufacturing will lead the charge toward IoT adoption by using devices that vastly improve monitoring, recordkeeping, efficiency, downtime reduction and inventory management. Biometrics will likely expand in use, but people may hesitate to use it because they don't like being constantly tracked. However, people will likely embrace RFID-based devices.

Devices will still be driven by the cloud, but they'll be less dependent on it

As technology improves and prices drop, IoT devices will handle much more of the data processing locally rather than relying on the cloud to do all the heavy lifting. Running most of the data processing closer to the data generation source is known as "edge computing." However, the cloud will still be essential for data management and analysis. Having the devices do more of the work will minimize how much data has to travel to the cloud which is good for both security improvements and traffic reduction.

5G will expand devices out of the home and office

Implementing 5G Internet access will make it more practical to run IoT devices over cellular networks. This change could lead telecoms to get more invested in IoT and connected cars becoming more prevalent. Additionally, " smart cities" that use IoT devices to handle traffic systems, waste management and other operational elements will likely emerge. However, it's only a matter of time before a " smart city" finds itself on the losing end of a cyber-attack.

If your business is looking to invest in IoT devices to improve the workplace, it's best to take a preemptive approach to security and consider which devices are right for your unique needs.

How AI is fueling worldwide disruption in travel and hospitality?

Business has been using Artificial Intelligence for quite some time, but there’s been significant growth in the last few years because of advances in areas like machine learning and natural language processing. No other sector is as poised to leverage the rapid advances in AI as the travel and hospitality industry where consumer satisfaction is crucial to beating your competition.

Travel companies now possess a wealth of information about customers, including traveler profiles, behavioral history, and personal preferences. Applying machine learning to travel data opens up a wealth of opportunities to improve the traveler experience. This makes the travel and hospitality sector well suited to ride the next wave of AI in order to build intelligent applications that take the customer experience to new levels of personalization and comfort.

Since its introduction to the sector, AI’s influence has spread to almost every aspect of the travel and hospitality industry experience. 

The picture demonstrates what ai-based tools can do.

while delivering traveler journeys, hospitality, service, and loyalty programs.

The picture demonstrates that AI-based tools deliver a more personalized experience.

Image source

Let’s examine the major use cases where AI technology is currently being utilized to dramatically change travel and hospitality products and services.

Intelligent travel bots and recommendation engines

‘Chatbots’ have emerged as highly visible examples of machine learning at work in the travel and hotel-booking experience. Their sophistication is constantly improving as the machines keep learning to simulate human conversation using NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques. Lufthansa and Kayak are notable examples of the successful use of chatbot-based automation bringing convenience and efficiency to customers.

Price forecasting and flexibility

Travel agencies and aggregators use machine learning and predictive data analytics to forecast and dynamically optimize their revenue management systems. Algorithms to dynamically identify matching properties, sentiment analysis to identify optimum room rates and real-time segmentation to assure hotel bookings are optimized for the right customer at the right time and price.

Automated travel management

Consumers are expected to make 

The picture presents the info where 70 percent of all digital bookings will be made via mobile devices.

percent of all digital booking via mobile devices by 2019. By automating transactions that don’t add value for both companies and travelers, automation will save valuable man hours and resources. Airline companies use AI to give unprecedented options to manage all aspects of the physical travel experience — like providing real-time updates and support to travelers in case of disruptions.

Customer service and loyalty

The ability of AI to personalize the delivery of content, services, customer support and loyalty programs could potentially transform how the industry markets and delivers services. For instance, innovations like Hilton’s Connie, the first true AI-powered concierge robot, is capable of adapting recommendations of local attractions and activities for each guest.

AI in travel and hospitality: a huge opportunity

A recent McKinsey study found that 

The picture indicates that 70 percent of buying experiences depend on the way how customers are treated.

The travel and hospitality sector has the opportunity to retain and delight customers, and propel growth with new AI-based services for better customer engagement, experience personalization, and AI-powered customer service.

DevOps is key to any digital transformation

Fast, secure, unified — DevOps and your digital transformation

Organizations across the globe are increasingly turning to DevOps in order to speed up delivery of software and services. This agile technology is changing everything  — and no one better understands that the "The Godfather of DevOps," Patric Debois, who created the movement. 

“The cultural aspect of collaboration gives everyone an equal seat at the table; both Dev and Ops are important," Debois said in a recent interview. "The biggest advantage is the insight that we work in a system. We have to optimize for the whole system and not just for the silo. By optimizing for the whole, we are improving for the business, not just for IT.”

What Is DevOps?

In a nutshell, this combination of software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops) is a relatively new practice in the world of software engineering. It centres on the concepts of monitoring and automation, every step of the way — from integration to testing, all the way to post-deployment management.

The DevOps culture brings with it numerous benefits associated with acceleration, including briefer development cycles and more frequent deployment. For organizations seeking change, DevOps is one disruptor that can help them reap rewards.

The goals of DevOps

Essentially, DevOps can be boiled down to three critical ingredients.

First, it focuses on speed. “The goal of DevOps is to create a working environment in which building, testing and deploying software can occur rapidly, frequently and reliably," wrote tech journalist Jason Hiner in a recent article.

Another advantage centers on improved cybersecurity. In a world where breaches make headlines on a near-daily basis, DevOps empowers organizations to better find and fix their vulnerabilities. It also simplifies the process of providing patches and security updates and helps prevent unwanted intruders. 

Finally, DevOps helps IT departments collaborate better. While many professionals focus on a single specialty or skill, this new culture encourages them to put their heads together — a practice vital for success in virtually any organisation.

How DevOps makes the difference for your digital transformation

The key to DevOps is improving delivery of applications and services. The secret weapon is speed, especially as a business tackles the migration of data, communications and services to the cloud.

“Digital transformation strategies are evolving because there are so many technology changes, so you have to react fast," Kamal Anand from Tech Pro Research told ZDNet in an interview.

How do Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google use AI?

Companies across the world are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities at a rapid pace,
and today’s leading technology companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — are no
exception.

Here’s a look at how the big four tech firms are currently using AI:

Amazon

AI is behind many of Amazon’s most popular efforts. Alexa, its voice-powered virtual assistant, uses natural language processing and machine learning to process user queries and carry out actions like ordering products or controlling smart home devices. In Amazon Go convenience stores, machine vision and algorithms make it possible to track when customers pick up items to make purchases without human cashiers. And as one of Amazon’s longtime AI flagships, its product recommendation technology analyzes user purchases to suggest items that customers may wish to purchase in the future.

Apple

Apple’s embrace of AI makes it easier for developers to create apps that can harness machine learning on Apple devices. Through Core ML, developers get access to machine learning tools for common tasks like image recognition. In 2018, Apple introduced Create ML, a toolkit that makes it possible for developers to learn the basics of how to build machine learning models.

With the introduction of the iPhone X, Apple added a neural engine to its A11 processor to accelerate AI-specific tasks. Combined with developer tools, new and experienced developers alike can easily build applications that take full advantage of machine learning capabilities and AI-focused hardware.

Facebook

Facebook uses machine learning to make predictions about a user’s interests . Analyzing the likes, the likes of friends and location information, Facebook takes that information to determine content a user may enjoy through features like Facebook Watch. The extent of these prediction capabilities can also predict other future behavior, like what products a user may purchase, that can be shared with advertisers.

Google

Google’s commitment to AI stems from its interest in deep learning, where artificial neural networks mimic the way the human brain processes information. The company’s interest in deep learning became public in 2011 through its Google Brain project, a neural network designed for image recognition. Google cemented its commitment to deep learning through the acquisition of Deep Mind, the machine learning company behind the Alpha Go, an algorithm-based digital competitor for the board game Go.

Across Google services, deep learning is used in everything from to natural language processing to providing user recommendations. Its open source TensorFlow machine learning programming platform enables users to develop their own neural network solutions. AI is also at the core of Google’s self-driving car efforts, incorporating deep learning algorithms into its autonomous vehicles.

How FinTechs are leveraging the power of social media

FinTechs are embracing social media to tell their stories, engage consumers, and leverage influence. Long-established brands like American Express as well as newcomers such as Clark and solarisBank – and their BaaP (Banking as a Platform) software – are employing creative FinTech banks face a promising but complicated future as economies evolve into cashless societies and banking transactions go mobile. Traditionally, the public’s perception of a bank was that of a strong concrete or brick-and-mortar building filled with trusted, well-dressed professionals, security guards, and a hushed atmosphere that conveyed a serious financial environment. Banking through a mobile smartphone, however, is a completely different experience. And there is no better way to brand that experience than through social media.

Succeeding in the age of influence

American Express, which spent 2.35 billion on advertising in 2015 is harnessing the power of Instagram influencers as #AmexAmbassadors to promote the brand’s Platinum Card to consumers. In the age of mobile platforms, brands like American Express are leveraging social media to sell their products and services through an aspirational narrative crafted by experts and celebrities in fields ranging from food and fashion to travel and photography. The American Express #AmexAmbassador marketing strategy employs a variety of such influencers, from NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal with millions of followers to “micro-influencers” and bloggers who have leveraged their niche expertise in a spectrum of categories, such as interior design and lifestyle management.  

Meanwhile, the Instagram account for solarisBank offers brand-building narratives featuring beautiful views from the company’s headquarters in Berlin, Germany, including rooftop yoga and brainstorming sessions alongside images of homemade pizza and industry events. This focus on community is extended across solarisBank’s other social media channels as well. On Twitter, solarisBank solicits the help of customers in testing the brand’s “consumer lending product” alongside other tweets featuring staff at conferences and recent accolades. SolarisBank blends these narratives on its LinkedIn page with other corporate initiatives, such as promoting open positions and thought leadership assets – all designed to create and leverage the power of influence.

Banking for seamless lifestyles

Whether applying for a loan, depositing a paycheck, or transferring money into a savings account, most customers want a quick, easy experience – especially online. FinTech brands know firsthand that social media channels are deeply integrated into everyday transactions, both professional and personal, placing them in the middle of a digitally oriented cultural shift. Clark, which provides low-cost customized insurance coverage, is at the front line of using social media to promote its seamless, integrated financial platform. Clark is an app similar to the popular money-transfer app Venmo, except that the self-proclaimed “insurance robo-advisor” uses algorithms so that customers can easily manage and purchase a spectrum of insurance products based on their online information. Not surprisingly, Clark uses Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to promote its services and brand.

In addition to creating front-of-mind marketing campaigns, FinTech brands are leveraging social media to monitor and increase customer satisfaction. In a seamless global culture, social media is an extension of a customer’s valuable thoughts, suggestions, and complaints. FinTech brands like American Express, solarisBank, and Clark use social media as an interactive, real-time focus group that provides critical information about the effectiveness, usability, and popularity of their products and services. By tagging FinTech brands with a direct @handle or #hashtag, customers – especially disgruntled customers – will typically receive a follow-up from a customer service representative with hours, if not sooner.

The future is visual

The challenge for many FinTech brands is that their products and services are generally intangible and can’t be pulled off of a store shelf or set on a windowsill and photographed. Social media, however, is often visual, so FinTech brands must stretch their creativity. Savvy FinTech businesses utilize photos and short, accessible videos from events such as conferences and in-house talent at celebrations to contextualize their expertise and industry leadership. Add to these assets social media influencers and effective customer service protocols, and they have a winning visually based strategy. Just think of those colorful and creative American Express cards, intentionally designed to be photographed and shared on Instagram. Yours could be the next sensation. 

Blockchain featuring IOTA

IOTA and tangle: the next evolutionary stage for blockchain and the IoT M2M economy

Many things in the digital world 37 feel connected, and they all should. Devices are connected to many other devices. Our homes, cars, banks, businesses, schools, hospitals, municipalities — all connected, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Even our behaviors are connected to how information is captured and used to refer back to us new information, all based on those behaviors. So, it should not seem alien to start thinking that ideas are all connected too, and as new ideas develop — especially in technology — they evolve from other ideas that barely have taken flight before the other emerges. That’s the case with blockchain and IOTA. In this case, an “iota of a difference” is, in fact, a very meaningful thing.

You’ve probably heard the term “blockchain,” especially of late (even though its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, developed it in 2008). Perhaps you even know what it means in relation to the cryptocurrency revolution. Essentially, a blockchain is a digital and decentralized ledger in which transactions made with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are recorded chronologically and publicly, verified by “miners” to avoid duplications through a complex mathematical “proof-of-work” based algorithms. The beauty of Nakamoto’s design of blockchain for Bitcoin is that is solved the double-spending problem without the need for a centralized server.

That’s not just remarkable, it’s revolutionary.

The blockchain revolution

The great promise of blockchain was decentralization. It does not run using a standard database on just one computer. Instead, it is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network. Distributed processing nodes jointly run it collaboratively, and each node can hold a full copy of this special database. As a result, the database and its contents are more secure since it is near impossible to tamper with it without being found out by others in the network.

Even though it was created for use in tracking cryptocurrencies, think about the possibilities of other uses — any kind of record-tracking and storing of data. It can be used not only in FinTech for borrowing money or buying cryptocurrencies, but also smart contracts, voting, securing property rights in real estate, tracking shipments, managing a database of patient information for health care provider access, more secure shopping, and other potentially groundbreaking applications.

However, blockchain does have its limitations and problems — namely scalability and the transaction fees associated with it. So as it started to feel like it needed expansion, a new idea came about.

IOTA and tangle

IOTA has gone beyond blockchain — one could argue it’s the next step in blockchain’s evolution. First and foremost, it’s scalable and feeless. Without the necessity for a distinct group of miners (who must be compensated), there aren’t the fees with IOTA that plague blockchain. This is part of what’s at the heart of the IoT-loving IOTA. The feeless system fosters exactly the kind of microtransaction environment friendly to the burgeoning machine-to-machine (M2M) economy — one arguably impossible or quite clunky with Bitcoin.

IOTA is also decentralized like blockchain, but in a more authentic, efficient and secure way. It’s the first open-source distributed ledger, thanks to the blockless Tangle — more a web of transactions than a linear block. Tangle works with a quantum-resistant Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) and grows through its transactors, not the miners, so it bypasses blockchain’s current major challenge: its lean toward becoming centralized.

Rather than use the sequential chains of blocks in blockchain, the Tangle is a stream of individual transactions entangled together. To participate, one need only perform a bit of computational work which then verifies two previous transactions — a pay-it-forward system of validations. And the “more activity in ‘the Tangle,’ the faster transactions can be confirmed,” giving it another one-up on blockchain, which slows down as transactions increase.

Testbed for the IoT’s M2M economy

IOTA is the perfect fit for the emerging IoT’s M2M economy of scalable, fee-free, decentralization where data integrity and micropayments are highly prized. And that seems to be proving itself today.

The IOTA Foundation just announced it is now partnering with InnoEnergy, an innovation engine for sustainable energy across Europe, on a smart energy community which will showcase the first smart charging stations and will feature IOTA’s micropayment capabilities. This is a promising start for IOTA and a sure test for its efficacy in the IoT.

Nasdaq says of IOTA that it’s “one of the most prominent blockchain alternatives” and that the IoT “could benefit enormously from a network able to complete high volumes of minute transactions,” which opens up new economic possibilities.

With an IOTA node, machines gain the ability to transact with other machines, manage all economic transactions on their own, making them “economically independent.” And that’s exciting. Soon, a smart device could “pay its assembly, its maintenance, its energy and also for its liability insurance by giving data, computing power, storage or physical services to other machines.”

One day quite soon amidst those connections in the IoT, IOTA’s Tangle may well serve to completely reshape how all those things interact, what they can do to transform entire industries desperate for fast, efficient, trustless systems.

How data privacy developments will change DevSecOps in 2019?

The combination of new technology, a shift in hacking targets and legislation will likely lead DevSecOps to further emphasize data privacy in 2019. The attitude shift will stem from both necessity and a general change in vulnerability awareness. Larger businesses and major device platforms have shifted toward bolstering security over the last few years. This likely will drive DevSecOps to "catch up" platforms and organizations that have been left behind.

The "security through obscurity" mindset is no longer relevant. In order to keep up with the need for better data privacy, DevSecOps will further emphasize automation and push the notion that everyone in an organization is responsible for security.

Using technology to test technology

The many high-profile breaches over the last few years are leading businesses to stress data privacy through security more than ever. Businesses will take a proactive approach to protect data by improving security testing. Organizations are poised to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques in 2019 to test for vulnerabilities far faster than what's possible through human testing alone.

The general shift toward rapid development in software necessitates embracing automatic testing integration. Additionally, more development teams will implement Interactive Application Security Testing to streamline and improve testing.

Changing targets

Data privacy emphasis will lead smaller businesses and platforms to invest more in DevSecOps. As larger businesses observed the financial damage and embarrassment other companies endured in major security breaches, they buckled down and enhanced security to avoid finding their company name in the headlines too. Because larger businesses are no longer easy targets, hackers are shifting their attention to smaller businesses and platforms, which are more appealing now. Smaller businesses and platforms can no longer hide behind larger entities.

The proliferation of IoT devices means they will become an even bigger target for hackers. To make matters worse, IoT security is known to be very weak compared with that of other devices. Additionally, mobile users will also find themselves in the targeting scope as mobile use eclipses desktop use.

Complying with legislation

In 2019, legislation will push a greater emphasis on data privacy in DevSecOps through compliance and anticipation. Major legislation in 2018 propelled data privacy to the legal forefront, but the legal effects will spill over into the following years. Because the web is a worldwide market, the laws in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation and the UK's Data Protection Act will force international businesses to get serious about protecting personal and sensitive information. While the law doesn't apply to U.S. companies, it is reasonable to anticipate businesses will opt in to comply with the laws anyway in anticipation of future legislation.

If your business isn't already taking DevSecOps seriously, there's no better time to start than the present. If your business is already deeply invested in security, staying in that mindset involves keeping up with all the latest trends and closing vulnerabilities before hackers find them.

Project Management vs. QA Lead (like a 'Man vs Food' thing)

Project Management Team vs QA Lead

Over the course of software development, who’s the true champion in making sure your solution is being built correctly: your project management team or your QA lead? Let's take a closer look.

Defining Roles

The project management team takes on one of the most fundamental roles in software development, facilitating the process and overseeing its scope. The importance of defining your project’s scope can’t be overstated: By understanding exactly what work needs to be completed in order to get your product ready to ship, the project management team can establish scheduling, create a process and ensure that the development is being executed.

The QA lead, on the other hand, is responsible for making sure your deliverable is a quality product. This means checking on some of the software development processes, ensuring corners aren’t being cut in order to get the product ready for market. QA leads execute test cases and scripts to demonstrate software functionality and identify bugs, missing features or other issues related to the user experience.

Which Role Wins?

Both roles are essential: Project managers see to it that development work gets carried out, and the QA leads make sure the work gets done correctly. However, it's easy to see how both roles can lead to conflict. And depending on the needs of an organization, it’s not necessarily clear who the winner would be. QA leads can catch issues that end up expanding the scope of development, costing the project management team valuable resources. On the other hand, QA leads can nitpick to the point of slowing down a functional product’s development significantly.

But in an ideal scenario, they’re both winners, coming together in a DevOps scenario to ensure software is built and tested together. Proper quality assurance and product management should work in tandem throughout each development cycle’s sprint, ensuring management and QA testing is automatically built into the process.

Working Together

Agile teams and IT operations work together through a sharing mindset that helps speed up the process by removing silos and encouraging transparency. Speed is enhanced through the use of automation tools that make developing and QA testing faster than ever before. By making the project accountable to the entire team, developers have a better process to ensure products are feature-complete, bug-free and ready to hit the market.

When building software using a DevOps team, the true winner between project management and the QA lead is the product itself. 

Testing as part of the software pipeline

Think back on a time when software was released after long, drawn-out waits. From 2007 to 2016, Microsoft released versions of Office every three years. Now, software releases are fast and frequent. But are they better? Those three-year gaps allowed Microsoft to painstakingly QA test their software for months, if not years. However, Office has now gone the path of other apps, which seem to release new versions weekly, if not more often.

If there's a bug in the code, the solution seems to be simply rolling out another version and hoping it fixes it (and doesn't break anything else). But in this fast-paced SDLC world, organizations must make time for QA testing as part of the software pipeline.

Plan a beta test

If your organization would like to test the validity or build quality of a new product or a significant redesign before it hits the market, consider a beta release. Invite fellow coders and power users to test a piece of software while it's still in the pipeline in order to get UX, UI and general feedback on the product.

This seems to be a logical option, but for many developers, this is easier said than done. It can be easy to say, "Let's just add this one more item before we beta test this," which quickly turns into "Wait, what if we added these three other items?" Planning a beta test following a specific sprint is incredibly important at the onset of the project's roadmap. Don't think that it will happen organically — it probably won't.

How to add testing to agile

With many organizations investing significant time and resources into digital transformations, automation and artificial intelligence are no longer "the next big thing" — because they're here. Even simple apps incorporate predictive technology and predictive algorithms. As a result, testing must follow suit. This is where AI can assist testing in the software pipeline.

AI and predictive technology can run tests far faster than any single person or team could, finding software flaws in minutes rather than days, weeks or months. Exposing these flaws quickly can help developers resolve them before the next iteration, ensuring weekly updates go out with far fewer flaws. This allows the software pipeline to move quickly and smoothly without requiring teams to fix what's broken before moving on to new implementations.

Conversational commerce: increasing brand value

Recent advancements in AI are making chatbots smarter and more human-like than ever before. As a result, customers are warming up to the idea of interacting with chatbots with 44% of respondents of the Aspect survey claiming that they would prefer to communicate with a chatbot instead of a human company representative.

As AI chatbot solutions become more available, early adoption of the chatbot technology becomes a source of competitive advantage and brand value. This article describes ways in which chatbot technology can benefit your sales via a “conversational commerce” approach.

Adding value with conversational commerce

If your company is selling products or services online, you can entrust the entire sales process -- from the initial quote to closing a deal with a customer — to a chatbot. In 2015, Chris Messina, then Developer Experience Lead at Uber, defined such an approach to e-commerce as conversational commerce.

These days, companies can integrate conversational commerce into their chatbot applications simply that excels in sales. As messenger apps are becoming more popular than social networks, integrating sales into them will expose your business to billions of users worldwide. (see the figure). 

Once the AI-enabled sales chatbot is installed, it can help customers purchase items with fewer steps than ever before. To speed up the sales process, a chatbot can mine user preferences in conversation history or refer to the user profile to get information about the customer’s location, gender or hobbies. Unlike a human expert who would have to learn this information manually, a chatbot can process user data in milliseconds, ensuring a seamless buying experience for the customer and a perfectly-matched product to his/her needs.

Conclusion

Thanks to these smart features, conversational commerce to your customers. Early adoption of chatbot technology will help you build a data-driven and innovative company that values the time of consumers and employees. And if you’re running a small company, don’t worry: with the rapid advancements in AI, chatbot solutions have become more affordable for a company of any size.

5 Regtech trends to watch in 2019

RegTech — an offshoot of FinTech that’s short for regulation technology — is quickly blossoming into an industry of significant size and importance. Thanks to new government regulations and an increased desire to use automation to help companies stay compliant, RegTech solutions make it easier for organizations to carry out regulator monitoring and reporting. Because of the sheer number of financial regulations in place around the globe, RegTech helps financial organizations and other industries under heavy regulation avoid making costly mistakes.

Here are five RegTech trends to watch for in 2019:

1. RegTech will cement itself as its own major industry.

In the first half of 2018, $1.37 billion was invested in the RegTech industry — more than all of the investments in 2017 combined. As RegTech continues to break out from the shadow of FinTech and develop into its own mature industry, expect continued corporate interest and significant investments in the field.

2. RegTech will become a cornerstone of risk management solutions.

Starting a new company or entering a new market can carry serious risks, especially in the financial services industry. RegTech makes it easy for risk management teams to greatly reduce the amount of time of a regulatory compliance check, lowering the barrier of entry for newcomers and streamlining a lengthy process for existing companies.

3. Industry interest in the RegTech sector will increase.

As the need for RegTech solutions has continued to grow, so has the awareness of the industry to continue developing solutions with like-minded thinkers. In 2019, more major RegTech-focused conferences have emerged as a way for regulators, thought leaders and industry experts to share best practices and develop tomorrow’s solutions through collaboration and transparency.

4. GDPR will fuel increased demand for RegTech.

Implemented in 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)is one of the world’s strongest large-scale government-mandated data protection and privacy regulations. Companies not compliant with the GDPR can face strict, heavy fines that can seriously jeopardize an organization’s long-term health. While it’s an EU regulation, the global nature of today’s economy dictates that any international company that operates within EU borders must remain compliant with GDPR policies.

5. Future government regulations will drive new RegTech requirements.

GDPR isn’t the only world’s data protection regulation. As other countries continue to implement their own versions of data protection laws, expect RegTech solutions to continue developing around the notion of staying compliant with new federal and international regulations.

Join Amazon and Google — use Artificial Intelligence

For more than 60 years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been the white whale of technology promises. Dartmouth math professor John McCarthy coined the term in 1955, and ever since, one phenomenal claim after another has been tossed onto the discard pile. Finally, AI has found its niche in digital commerce. Giants like Amazon and Google have been its champions, but companies of all sizes can and should employ AI immediately.

What AI can do now

AI’s great gift is machine learning (ML) — learning without being explicitly programmed in that process by humans. Recently, ML has improved, becoming far more accessible. This is a key improvement because the more learning that happens, the more intelligent the process.

Two major areas where AI has taken hold is in “perception and cognition.” This includes a wide array of problem-solving, and voice and image recognition that consumers use daily (e.g., Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant for voice, and Facebook for tagging faces in images). According to the Harvard Business Review, companies employ “ML to optimize inventory and improve product recommendations, [to] predict whether a user would click on a particular ad, [and] to improve customers’ search and discovery process at a Brazilian online retailer. The first system increased advertising ROI threefold, and the second resulted in a $125 million increase in annual revenue.” These are serious results that every company needs to pay attention to.

How AI can help your company

Improved searches: ML studies each new interaction to better understand what a customer is searching, delivering more relevant results.

Personalization and recommendations: By gathering data (e.g., a social media post), AI makes specific recommendations based on that content.

Improved customer interactions and relations: Rather than blasting annoying, irrelevant advertising, AI customizes what and how often customers want to hear about their preferred brands. Through voice recognition, CRM systems answer customer questions, problem solve, and report leads to sales teams.

Dynamic pricing: AI can tweak pricing in real time, depending on the market and consumer behavior.

Targeting potential customers: With 33% of marketing leads left without follow-up potential conversions are lost. With facial recognition on-site (in store), AI gathers data about an individual’s potential product interest.

Driving localization: Through AI’s natural language capabilities, businesses can drive local recommendations.

Managing fake reviews: 86% of purchases are adversely influenced by negative reviews; some of these bad reviews are planted by a company’s competition (astroturfing). ML boosts verified customer purchase reviews while giving preference to those marked as helpful by other users.

It’s easy to build the right AI engine for a company’s digital commerce needs. Making the technological investment today could make your solutions work far better tomorrow.

How IoT is improving the future of healthcare

The future of healthcare is in our DNA. It always has been. Every doctor's visit, every blood test, and every x-ray ever conducted is about one key element: data. Without data, there is no information, no diagnosis, and no recommendations for treatment or recovery. Without medical data about our DNA, we—our minds, hearts, and our bodies—are eternal mysteries to science.

Modern technologies and IoT are not only changing our relationships with our doctors, but also our healthcare plans, and access to medicines and treatments, and more importantly, our relationship with ourselves. 

The image that demonstrates the info about positive changes in healthcare industry thanks to IoT.

changing the world of data. Never in the history of mankind have people had more access to what is going on inside their own bodies than right now.

A new era of medical honesty

Historically, visits to the doctor's office entailed a litany of questions designed to mine patients for important data regarding their calorie intake, exercise routines, sex life, smoking and drinking habits, and general lifestyles. The process was a very personal and intimate experience for patients, as they answered—often inaccurately—probing questions about their health. The truth is that people are very self-conscious about how they live and often lie about how they truly behave because revealing such personal information is, for most people, an uncomfortable experience.

IoT, however, is changing this dynamic. Data doesn't lie. Nor does it judge you for your decisions. Now that wearable technologies are commonplace, people have become accustomed to their vital signs being constantly monitored by digital technologies. In fact, today, people are more inclined to self-supervise their bodies and health decisions, instead of waiting for something to go wrong and then heading to the doctor's office. IoT has created a significant cultural shift regarding the idea of personal responsibility. More and more people are monitoring their own habits and behaviors and changing their lives based on the data in front of them, which presents undeniable truths about their health.

How IoT inspires adherence

What began with those wearable technologies and digital devices that counted our steps and measured our heart rates has now evolved into interactive pillboxes, ingestible sensors, and even smart tattoos with special ink that changes colors based on blood sugar and dehydration levels. This next generation  

The  image that contains the text about the positive influence of IoT.

With these devices, technology is now able to motivate and monitor patient’s ability to incorporate healthy routines into their lifestyles. The sad truth has been that, whether recovering from a heart attack or maintaining proper blood pressure levels, millions of patients every year fail to follow their doctor’s instructions. The consequences can be fatal. However, adherence technology could potentially save countless lives by simplifying and clarifying complex directions and providing real-time monitoring that signals the patient, and even the doctor, when a deviation from those routines requires immediate medical attention.

The connectivity revolution

For decades a major inconvenience and inefficiency in healthcare management have been the siloed collection, analysis, and distribution of information. Because a person’s medical records are private information, that information remains in files that are not shared effectively throughout a patient’s lifetime, or even among various doctors and specialists throughout the course of a particular disease or affliction. The results of these outdated processes are at best frustrating, and at worst a threat to one’s health.

However, IoT and monitoring technologies collect health data in real-time, making it instantly available to both patients and doctors and easily transferable as digital data to anyone, anywhere, in the world. And with new blockchain technology—yes, the same technology that renders bitcoin transactions impervious to hacking 

The image with the text that states that patient's digital data can be 100% secure.

No longer must their condition be documented by a doctor’s illegible handwriting and ferried away in a folder into a massive file cabinet. We live in an age of unprecedented connectivity, thankfully. Life is short and IoT helps us optimize the most precious thing we all have: time.

Testing as a Service

Getting your software ready for market means taking the time to make sure it works properly.

This statement might sound obvious, but it’s serious business: Reports have shown IT departments can spend up to 35 percent of an organization’s IT budget on quality assurance and testing alone. Through DevOps and agile development, being able to find and squash bugs as quickly as possible is becoming essential in order to stay on pace toward delivering the next sprint.

But when following DevOps best practices, things can change very quickly — and the role of QA and product testing becomes more important than ever before.

When an organization chooses not to perform thorough product testing, they’re putting their product at risk and potentially losing customers and income down the line. If a company creates a poor user experience, users may simply elect not to experience a product altogether. And by cutting corners by carrying out less testing, organizations can also put themselves at risk by missing critical security vulnerabilities that can potentially leave their data — and their customers' data — within a talented hacker’s reach.

One of the best ways to take care of your ongoing QA work is through Testing as a Service (TaaS). By handing off the testing work to a trusted technology service provider like Opinov8, organizations can save valuable time and money. Allowing a dedicated team of experts to take care of the heavy lifting frees up your developers so they can continue writing their code. Embracing TaaS puts your product in front of fresh sets of eyes and cutting-edge automated applications, ensuring no stone is left unturned throughout the QA process.

Opinov8 follows best DevOps practices to deliver applications quickly and reduce the risks of defective deployments. Through automated and manual testing environments, organizations can test out any feature, product or platform. As part of a DevOps structure, your organization will have a full view of the testing process, ensuring they understand what is being checked for quality, as well as how and why.

Taking advantage of Testing as a Service means putting quality control into the hands of professionals who know how to run, check and execute any software functions with the assistance of automated tools that speed up the entire process. The result is a product that’s run through a faster and more thorough QA process. This can help complete your product development cycle in less time than ever before.

Fintech: how FinTech is changing the future of loans

Changing the future of P2P loans with FinTech

As financial technology (FinTech) continues to advance at lightning speeds, experts are wondering if traditional banks could soon be going the way of the dinosaurs. We're already using our camera phones to deposit our cheques, moving money between accounts with our banking apps, and paying our friends, entrepreneurs, and freelancers with Paypal and Google Wallet to name a few.

The last great frontier in FinTech is loans. Many people still believe that they need to trudge to their bank to apply for a loan and then wait days, even weeks, to hear if they've been approved. But FinTech is already making tremendous strides in changing the future of loans, especially with the growing public popularity of P2P loans. Keep reading to learn all about P2P loans, how they're breaking down borders created by traditional banks, and why that's a good thing.

What is a P2P loan?

A peer-to-peer (P2P) loan is granted without a bank's involvement. Instead, borrowers are matched with lenders over an online platform. Some of the most well-known P2P loan companies in FinTech are LendingClub, Prosper, Funding Circle, and Jimubox. The practice of P2P loans is sometimes referred to as social lending or crowdlending, too. This type of loan is most popular among small businesses and individuals looking for a personal loan.

The benefits of FinTech loans

FinTech loans boast a wide array of benefits to lenders and borrowers alike, which is why they're the second most funded sector in FinTech after payment companies. As of 2018, P2P loans are already gaining traction with millennials, but international citizens of all ages stand to benefit from these loans as well, whether they're looking to pay off a credit card, fund a medical surgery, or go back to school. So, let's break down the most valued aspects of P2P loans:

These are just some of the many, many benefits of FinTech loans. To see these P2P loans in action for yourself, try them out next time you're looking for a personal loan or extra funding for your small business.

Will crypto bounce back in 2019?

There’s a fable told in one form or another, many times before, about “The Little Engine That Could.”

It was the end of 2017, and everyone everywhere was talking about virtual currency (cryptocurrency). Entire countries were creating their own tokens. Blockchain was the decentralized peer-to-peer technology that would be adapted well beyond the financial world for any kind of record-tracking and data storage — smart contracts, voting, securing property rights, tracking shipments, managing healthcare patient information and more secure shopping. And Bitcoin, the one crypto way out ahead of the pack in the race, reached an astounding value just under $20,000 for a single virtual coin.

Alas, the "little engine" was a little bubble. The market slumped. Bitcoin's value dropped to $5,000 (holding around $3,500 at this moment).

2018 saw the cryptocurrency market struggling on wobbly legs. Fraud and scams dominated the news and the mood. A new study revealed 80 percent of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) in 2017 were scams. And to boot, coin thefts from both wallets and exchanges marred further that bad reality. Adding salt on the wound, malware looks to be more and more a threat. Tough year, 2018.

So will crypto rally in 2019?

Overall, the feeling among experts is encouraging. It’s less fable, more reality. Like anything that matures, lessons are learned. Hope finds new clothes, picks itself up and moves on. There is optimism:

What goes down, can go up, again — it’s about emotional investment. Declining prices and improved technologies have actually fostered some excitement out there for those looking to increase their crypto holdings.

Institutional forces are coming to the rescue. Governments are cracking down on ICOs. And Security Token Offerings (STOs) have been created. (STOs distribute tokens that actually represent a stake in a company's assets.) A lot of big money is pouring interest, especially in Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency as a technology is advancing. For Bitcoin, growth on the Lightning Network advances. The Lightning Network is layered on top of blockchain, enabling fast transactions between participating nodes — possibly fixing the scalability problem. Ethereum also has improvements on the scalability of the platform with an update that will also improve processing times for developers and more. Justin Drake with the Ethereum foundation said of the Serenity update “[Serenity] contains various new radical ideas. Part of it is around a move from Proof of Stake (POS) away from POW. And the other big idea is sharding, so scalability — having a thousand shards compared to just one shard.”

Additionally, the acceptance has broken through of crypto in the power centers of the world. In projecting its focus on the global economy, the United Nations (UN) called cryptocurrency a “new frontier” in digital finance, noting that these digital assets and there foundational technologies such as blockchain will potentially revolutionize business and create remarkable new efficiencies.

And the UN has already dived in to IOTA to “explore how IOTA’s innovative technology — which provides an open-source distributed ledger for data management — can increase the efficiency of United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) operations.” UNOPS is also keeping its eye on Ripple — a new payment protocol exciting the market at the moment.

The future of compliance officers

Follow the soup recipe, sometimes make it better  

A sense of ethics must be innate” for anyone working in compliance, according to Anastasia Savvateeva, the Anti-Financial Crime and AML Compliance Officer for Deutsche Bank France.

In a recent interview, she mentioned she sometimes needs to explain to fledging compliance professionals the difference between compliance and ethics: “I try to explain it as simple as possible: I tell them to imagine they are cooking their favorite pumpkin soup. If they just follow the recipe — it is compliance. If they want to add something to make it better — it is ethics.”

Compliance officers (COs) ensure an organization complies with both its industry’s regulatory framework for corporate governance and its internal policies that mitigate risk, while keeping compliance costs down.

Being political savvy, effective and ethical

Reputation in the C-Suite will remain a cornerstone concern for all COs. In order to stay on top of the challenges they face, COs must meet the needs of success among the compliance community, as well as sustain the favor of the leaders they report to. Therefore, they must strive to meet the following goals:

10 challenges on the horizon

Ten priorities identified for COs came out of Thomson Reuters's annual survey on the cost of compliance and the challenges financial services firms expect to face in the year ahead:

1. Stay current on skills: Assess skills tailored to all business activities.

2. Be aware of personal liability — because 48 percent of firms expect it to increase.

3. Manage conflicts of interest by reviewing governance and control arrangements.

4. Protect data both in terms of cyber resilience, hacking theft or other loss as well as with ongoing GDPR-related issues.

5. Review personal account dealing policies regarding conflicts of interest, market integrity, personal liability and financial crime.

6. Identify relevant product target markets, including cryptocurrencies, binary options and initial coin offerings.

7. Review anti-money laundering approach on all aspects of AML/CTF, bribery, corruption, fraud prevention and sanctions requirements.

8. Anticipate a regulatory investigation and ensure plans are in place.

9. Invest in RegTech, because successful deployment would drive up efficiency and effectiveness, allowing greater focus on value-added activities.

10. Focus on complaints handling regarding needs of vulnerable customers, changes to product governance expectations and the requirement for consistently good customer outcomes.

Top 10 gadgets for Christmas

Christmas clock is ticking and people’s hearts are filled with excitement and an overwhelming desire to find out what presents they will get. No matter what someone’s hobbies or interests are, you still can think about the new gadget that will help to experience all the benefits of living in the age of technological innovations.
Here, we would like to provide you with the top 10 gadgets for Christmas that you should consider adding to your list.

Kindle oasis e-reader

Just imagine what a great present it would be for an avid reader if he could read everything he wanted without going to the bookstore or waiting for a book to be delivered by post for several days. With an e-book reader, you will save your priceless time and money. According to its characteristics, Kindle Oasis is considered to be one of the best e-readers on the market. It’s high-res, glare-free and pretty thin that will make you to enjoy the reading process.

Amazon’s echo plus

Is Siri the only virtual assistant that is on top of things? Not really. Now you can ask Alexa to order lunch delivery, call your friend, keep track of news, check whether it’s warm enough for leaving your gloves at home and even more. Also instead of relying on third-party equipment, echo device can be connected to all smart home accessories and control it. It won’t just become your helping hand but also a stylish room accessory.

Nebula capsule smart mini projector

Gone are the days when it took two people to carry the projector and several months to buy it because of being pretty pricey. How about the portable and more importantly affordable Nebula Capsule Projector that will make your movie night with friends unforgettable? Considering its size, the projector provides good sound and color/image quality. However, there aren’t many alternatives on the market yet, you still can consider buying this Android built-in projector.

Fujifilm instax mobile printer

Is the digital photo better than the printed one? Not always. Unfortunately for most people, physical photos are the thing of the past. But sometimes we do think about hanging some memorable photos on the wall as subtle reminders of those precious and special moments of life. In this case, you should definitely consider buying a portable photo printer that can be easily connected to your smartphone with an app which in its turn will enable you to edit your photos before printing them out.

Anyware solution

Indoor climate monitoring? Preventive Burglar light? Intrusion detection? Energy saving mode? Yes, it’s all about Anyware smart adaptor. If you were dreaming about having a smart living system in one product, then you are about to make the right choice. Isn’t it great to relax and stop worrying about your home even when you’re away? Once this portable device installed, you will be able to run various functions in your Anyware app that is designed to help you in everyday life.

Tile mate

Just imagine how many people are afraid of losing their keys, cameras, smartphones, bikes and how great it is that the solution is found. You can find literally everything you put the Tile on and check its last known location. It’s portable, nice and affordable. So next time when your things get lost Tile Mate is always there to help you.

Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum cleaner

With Xiaomi Vacuum Cleaner there is no need to worry about cleaning the house. With the powerful Laser Distance Sensor, the vacuum cleaner can scan the surroundings in 360 degrees and its scan rate is 1800 times per second which allows the system to build a clear path of motion and create an accurate map of the room. Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner is equipped with a high-quality set of mechanisms to surprise you with cleanliness.

Fujifilm instax square camera

For those who are into capturing precious moments of life in a stylish square format, this camera is the best present. This camera combines the digital image capture and its film output. So it’s not just about photographing wherever you want but also about having an instant retro printed image in your hands.

Whistle 3 pet tracker

Whistle 3 is on the market to track your pet’s location and activity. That’s the perfect present for the pet lovers who will know how many calories their pets burn and whether they need a longer or shorter walk on that day. All this information is based on personalized recommendations for their breed, age, and weight. What’s more, there is a money back guarantee on Whistle 3 Pet Tracker. So, in case you or your pet doesn’t like the device, there is no problem to give it back in 90 days with the full refund of the purchase price.

Nest’s IQ indoor security camera

With the Nest Indoor Camera, you will always know what is going on at your home. Always means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All your recorded data is safely stored in the cloud, so there is no need to worry about privacy. Nest Cam has a built-in microphone and speaker. So you can not only see everything that happens there but also hear and speak. And yes, you can ask your pet to stop lying on a dinner table.

3 Reasons retail brands need cloud technology this holiday season

Back in October 2017, Brightpearl released some critical findings about cloud-based technology that should have retail brands doing a double-take. During the upcoming winter holidays, stubborn retailers that fail to embrace the newest technologies could cost themselves more than $300,000 in unnecessary expenditures. In their survey of 350 retail company heads, Brightpearl unearthed some astonishing trends that can help explain why.

The survey indicated that rather than drafting a comprehensive plan to combat increased holiday demands, companies essentially throw money at the problem in a blind panic. For example, 

a survey for retailers conducted during the holiday season


While temporary staff and a heightened product supply may still be helpful in combating demand surges, cloud technology makes it easy to formulate a clear, well-implemented company-wide strategy leading up to the holidays, which can play a major role in reducing unnecessary expenditures. No need for over-hiring or overstocking in hopes that the problem will simply go away. 

benefits of the cloud-based technology

Here are a few reasons joining the cloud could help your company fully capitalize on this year’s holiday season.

1. Improved Customer Service

During holiday rushes, top-quality customer service is often the first thing to fall apart. Savvy retailers would do well take a page out of Apple’s book when it comes to efficiently dealing with customer transactions. At The Apple Store, all floor staff are armed with iPhones that use cloud-based technology to accept payments, complete returns and send electronic receipts. There’s no need for customers to wait in line at the cash register. The floor staff helps people find their desired product, and staff members are equipped to handle purchases without delay. With this model, Apple doesn’t need to recruit extra employees to work the register — even during the holiday rush. 

2. Better Internal Communication

Using a mobile point-of-sale device allows immediate changes to be made to a store’s cloud-based inventory. Your employees won’t be madly searching in the back for a product, because the cloud will alert them that the last unit has already been sold. In this way, businesses can reduce wasted time and allow employees to assist the next customer more quickly.

Additionally, minimizing the human error factor in store inventory decreases the odds of unnecessary overstocking. Because cloud-based technology can be accessed from anywhere in the world, you can maintain effortless communication between a store’s departments, the company branches, and even the suppliers as you enter the holiday season.

3. Efficient and Cost Effective

5 to 15 percent of retail servers' utilization capacity is utilized

according to an IBM white paper titled Cloud Computing for Retail. In other words, a shocking 85 percent of this computing capacity is being wasted. Cloud technology turns this wasteful dynamic on its head, allowing retail brands to add and decrease incremental capacity depending on demand.

IBM also states 

cloud technology is 90 percent less expensive

for retailers than traditional servers. Indeed, effectively using the cloud means lower installation, maintenance and IT charges for retail companies. Simply put, overall costs are consistently and reliably lower.

All in all, it’s clear that businesses would do well to join the 35 percent of retailers who are "very likely" invest in new technology. If Brightpearl’s figures are indeed accurate, retailers stand to save themselves $300,000 this holiday season — and avoid a great deal of stress in the process. Taking advantage of cloud technology now means retail companies will continue to thrive long after the holiday season comes and goes.

How to prepare your business for cloud migration

The future is now when it comes to cloud migration. Worldwide investment in cloud computing is predicted to double from almost $70 billion in 2015 to over $141 billion by 2019 according to a report by Forbes, so it's vital that rest of the world's companies keep pace.

Bringing your business into the cloud is an excellent move, which shows your commitment to continued growth as a company by embracing new technologies and offering a great array of services to your users. However, preparing for migration is a painstaking process that requires careful planning and strategizing. We'll show you how to avoid migration's pitfalls with this short guide.

Selecting the right cloud provider

The first step in beginning the migration process is choosing the best cloud provider for your business. With so many providers on the market, it's important to weigh your options carefully. While Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are the most popular options in 2017, these cloud providers aren't necessarily the best fit for your company's unique business model.

Getting ready for migration

After you've selected your cloud provider, it's time to start strategizing. Migration isn't a process that happens overnight. Careful planning and strict followthrough are crucial to its success.

First, ensure your staff is ready to embrace the new cloud system. Schedule group training seminars, so everyone can learn together and ask questions in a comfortable learning environment. A certain level of downtime is expected during the migration process, but try to minimize it by preventing confusion among your employees and your users.

During this transition period, the business has to decide which applications and data should migrate first.

It's a good idea to start small by moving a few items into the cloud, and then pausing to troubleshoot for errors and to fully monitor your progress. Networks, servers, and applications don't always behave as expected post-migration. So, allow ample time to make any necessary changes, such as fixing code scripts and renegotiating bandwidth. 

Remember that businesses often use different techniques to migrate everything over.

For instance, internet transfers aren't always feasible for large files. Check with your cloud provider to see if they offer alternative methods, such as shipping the physical drives by mail. 

Time to make the big move

If everything goes to plan, your company's data migration should offer smooth sailing into the cloud. Once the migration is complete, be thorough and diligent in your final assessment. Your data should be fully migrated, working properly, and accessible to your employees and to your users.

5 Reasons companies should consider cloud migration

The air is fine up here: Why your company should migrate to the cloud  

Cisco Systems predicts 

a piece of information about how much data will be in the cloud

 Today, at least 70 percent of all U.S. organizations are using some cloud computing model. As Dallas Business Journal asserts: “It isn’t a stretch to call the approaching cloud migration wave a tsunami. It’s also safe to assume that when that much data, software and storage moves to the cloud, it will sweep your business right along with it — whether or not you’re prepared for the change.”

So, what exactly is cloud computing? Why are businesses, and small businesses in particular, migrating to the cloud in these numbers? More importantly, why isn’t your company?

Defining the cloud and cloud migration

“The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet,” according to PC Mag. “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. [...] It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.” It’s about storage, but it’s also about communications. Cloud communications blends multiple modalities, including voice, email, chat, and video. Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications or other business elements from onsite computers to the cloud.

Businesses and individual consumers operate on different clouds. “

a piece of information about the cloud-based software that businesses use

The benefits: A focus on efficiency and profitability

Cloud migration has many benefits. As explained in Forbes, “the chief benefits listed by organizations that have successfully moved to the cloud include increased efficiency, ease of access, simpler administration and management and overall lower costs.” There are five key reasons your company might want to consider cloud migration.

When it comes to the cloud, the benefits are substantial. You don't want to be left behind. If your company is interested in cloud migration, contact Opinov8 for a smooth transition.

How to prevent a cyber attack in financial services

Financial services biggest target for cyber attack in 2018. Best defense: education, innovation, and risk-management

Eighty-five percent of IT managers in the financial services sector say their biggest technology threat in 2018 is an online attack from cybercriminals — the most notable impact being on existing systems. Fraud incidents, alone, have increased more than 130 percent during the past year. In an October 2017 study on the cost of cyber crime conducted by the Ponemon Institute, as a direct result of cyber attacks, 

Financial services suffer 23% more that last year because of cyber attacks.

 “Whether managing incidents themselves or spending to recover from the disruption to the business and customers, organizations are investing on an unprecedented scale — but current spending priorities show that much of this is misdirected toward security capabilities that fail to deliver the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.” And, as attacks are on the rise, attackers are upping their game. “Criminals are evolving new business models, such as ransomware-as-a-service, which mean that attackers are finding it easier to scale cyber crime globally.”

And new threats are now. Since only after the new year, companies are scrambling with the latest warning “that hackers could take advantage of flaws discovered in chips made by Intel, AMD and ARM, which could affect nearly all computers and smartphones.”

There is no “one-size-fits-all” method for companies to follow to be cyber-secure, says Stephen Martin, director-general at the Institute of Directors in London.

Cyber security is a primary risk to the business, so you need to set a strategy and plan the response.

 He adds, “Shareholders are likely to interrogate boards more frequently on their cyber diligence and will hold them to account for failure.”

Key Findings of the Cost of Cyber Attacks:

Three steps to stave off cyber crime:

CFOs should work with their finance teams to evaluate which data is critical and rank it appropriately.

Once data is evaluated and ranked, it is also important to know where the data lives and how it can be accessed. This might seem like common sense, but a recent EY study found that

Only 40% of companies hold an accurate inventory of their data ecosystem.
Routinely run test scenarios to make sure that protective measures are working and weaknesses are rectified.
AI and ML can accurately predict and identify attacks instantly.

And patching and updating protections to ward off ransomware will make a critical difference.

It’s impossible to completely prevent a breach from occurring, but proactively taking steps to ensure a company is prepared from the top-down to mitigate an attack and manage its impact is the key to reducing company-wide costs and stress.

DevSecOps: Data protection and GDPR

On the heels of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal affecting at least 87 million users and on the eve of the era of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will restrict how personal data is collected and handled, DevOps professionals (whose work focuses on software development and related enterprise operations) are in a whirlwind of immediate crisis and change. These teams are pressured with an urgency to evolve to the field's next iteration, DevSecOps, and toward a “Security as Code” culture.

From the DevSecOps Manifesto:

“By developing security as code, we will strive to create awesome products and services, provide insights directly to developers, and generally favor iteration over trying to always come up with the best answer before a deployment. We will operate like developers to make security and compliance available to be consumed as services. We will unlock and unblock new paths to help others see their ideas become a reality.”

The evolution of operations

DevOps, the first iteration in this evolutionary line, brought down the walls between development and operations, recognizing the necessity for a shift toward a new collaboration to give “everyone an equal seat at the table,” according to Patrick Debois, who created the movement. “The biggest advantage is the insight that we work in a system. We have to optimize for the whole system and not just for the silo. By optimizing for the whole, we are improving for the business, not just for IT.

Now, DevSecOps is in the second stage of this evolution where, seamlessly, IT security teams are immersed in these new software engineering processes, rather than outside of it. This creates a new culture where everyone is responsible for security in a continuous delivery environment. Given the present landscape of data breaches worldwide, this integration of security into DevOps — of bringing the sometimes at-odds IT security and operations teams together with a new philosophy where security is a constant in the entire operations process — serves best to “adapt our ways quickly and foster innovation to ensure data security and privacy issues are not left behind because we were too slow to change.

A need for a global solution

Ours is a new world, one where data protection is not merely for enterprises and high-value individuals. It’s now about everyone everywhere, and they’ve finally figured that out — well, at least the 2.2 billion users on Facebook. Those in data protection who are pushing those in DevOps to this precipice recognize that this perilous new world is a place where existing security models no longer work, and that a fundamental change must become systemic. “We will not wait for our organizations to fall victim to mistakes and attackers,” the manifesto says. “We will not settle for finding what is already known; instead, we will look for anomalies yet to be detected. We will strive to be a better partner by valuing what you value.

There is no longer any doubt that data protection standards as they exist today — which have failed billions of individuals — must evolve in their processes, protocols and regulations, not only at the scale the EU’s GDPR envisions, but worldwide. At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel challenged this reality within the framework of its immediacy concerning much larger social constructs. “The question ‘who owns that data?’ will decide whether democracy, the participatory social model, and economic prosperity can be combined,” she said.

Every two days, we generate as much data as we did from the dawn of time up to 2013, so the solutions will not come easy — and with every passing few days the complications become more and more manifold. Without a new cultural philosophy that tears down current divisions between software and IT security teams, these solutions cannot emerge. And as Merkel challenged, speaking to a global audience, this must be a global solution. The information age has all but eliminated the idea of silos. Populations of people may still live in countries with borders, varying cultures, values, beliefs and languages. However, information and related protection of data know no borders. This is truly international, and it demands a global effort. DevSecOps begins that work and Opinov8 Technology Services is providing a voice and opinion.

Tips for training your employees during cloud migration

A recent survey found that only 27% of 358 surveyed "IT and business decision makers" were satisfied with their cloud migration experience. While cloud computing is undoubtedly the way of the future, there are definitely pitfalls to be wary of along the path to applying a cloud-based model to your business. One smart way to improve your chances of a stress-free, successful migration is to properly train your employees beforehand. Read on to discover our favorite steps for ensuring that no one gets left behind during the big move to the cloud.

Communication is key

Clear, precise communication now will go a long way toward minimizing confusion down the road. If you're planning to move your entire business to the cloud, your employees need to be aware of what "the cloud" means, how it stores company data, and the best ways to avoid security breaches during migration and into the future. 

Invest in employee training

If your current employees aren't well-versed in cloud infrastructure, the impulse might be to simply hire new employees. However, hiring a handful of employees who understand the cloud, while the vast majority of your company does not, is a recipe for disaster. Instead, 

Take time to cultivate cloud-centric skills in your current employees.

who have demonstrated their loyalty to the company and a willingness to learn.

A 2016 survey by Softchoice calleAn image that says that 53% of IT  leaders were struggling to attain the necessary cloud-centric skills for their team.d the "State of Cloud Readiness Study", in which they interviewed 500 business executives in North America, found that 

53% of IT  leaders were struggling to attain the necessary cloud-centric skills for their team.

This fraught workplace climate was largely attributed to an unwillingness by higher-ups to invest in training. When transitioning to the cloud, it is crucial that businesses create a positive work environment by offering thorough and professional cloud training from day one, either in-house or on an outsourced basis depending on your company's needs.

Fill the talent gaps

After fully training your existing employees, you may find there are still holes in your company's knowledge base. At this point, 

Business managers are encouraged to seek out new employees to fill these talent gaps.

Specialized employees, like cloud architects and cloud engineers, are currently in high demand. Be prepared to offer higher base salaries, bonuses, and other perks above your company's normal baseline when hiring for these roles. These experts can afford to be picky, but you can't afford to run a successful cloud-based business without them.

Remember, even after the cloud migration is complete, there is still work to be done. Business executives are advised to continue providing support and additional training to their employees during this transitional time. Always keep your employees aware of the company's plans for the cloud and assure them that they each play an integral, valued role inside this dynamic new sphere. A technology innovation partner like Opinov8 can help your company navigate this important transition — contact us to learn more.

The future of 2018's innovations in media and entertainment

With 2018 peaking around the corner, it's prime time to make some predictions about the future of media and the entertainment industry. These innovative spheres have seen a lot of changes and growth in 2017, and now we're all set to examine which trends we should expect to evolve in the upcoming months. Keep reading to see if you agree, disagree, or want to make some wagers of your own.

Curated content

With the drop in cable subscribers and TV watchers, film and television content is becoming far more curated. Of course, companies like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon have been trailblazing this path for several years already. Indeed, 75% of Netflix's 109.25 million worldwide viewers select shows based on in-portal content suggestions. 

Instead of a drive behind advertising, new episodes and movies now simply appear on our video streaming dashboard, tempting us into pressing "play.” With curated content, it's never been easier or faster to capture an audience's attention.

Multi-platform viewers

Consumers aren't just watching the newest episode of HBO's Game of Thrones. They're live-tweeting it, they're checking for relevant Facebook trends, and they're chatting about it afterward on Periscope. Watching television and film content at home in your pajamas isn't a solitary activity anymore. You're inviting the entire world into your living room. Entertainment providers like Netflix know this, hence they're all over social media too, interacting directly with their subscribers. For instance, check out Netflix US's Twitter account with its 3.86 million followers and you'll see they're launching polls, posting memes, and live tweeting alongside the rest of us. The goal for these providers is to stay relevant and actively involved with their multi-platform viewers.

Bite-sized episodes

A rising trend amongst media pitched at Millennials is "bite-sized" episodes, spanning less than 10 minutes in length. These mini-videos are being serialized on platforms like YouTube, so viewers can watch an episode during their coffee break at work. Media is conforming to our hectic lifestyles, instead of asking us to clear 30 to 60 minutes of a day to tune in.

Mixed reality entertainment

As our last wager for 2018, expect to see more mixed reality media being launched. We can single-handedly thank Pokémon Go for this new entertainment craze. Pokémon Go launched to mass acclaim in July 2016, but as of April 2017, Business Insider reported that the game still attracted 65 million users per month. The game's continued success shows that consumers want to put themselves at the heart of the action, which mixed reality allows with its possibility to transform someone's everyday world into a dynamic gaming universe. Indeed, virtual reality (VR) is one of the fastest growing markets, according to Deloitte

Of course, with the constant evolution of media and entertainment, we're bound to see some developments that surpass our wildest dreams. Stay tuned and keep watching! The innovations of 2018 are soon coming to an electronic screen near you.