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Why It’s Worth Overcoming the Complexities of IoT— featuring Forrester Research

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to be a hot, evolving space that many companies want to become involved in, but don’t fully understand. Because it is not a singular “thing”, IoT can be complicated because there are so many different ways to interpret it and apply the insightful information that it can provide. IoT is more of a “framework” that can be immensely different depending on how it is used. One of the additional challenges that make IoT so complex is that there are various stakeholders involved that can potentially benefit from IoT-driven intelligence. Common departments span across the company commonly including IT, Manufacturing, Finance, Marketing Operations, and Facilities.

Is it worth overcoming these complexities? Here’s a Ness video featuring Frank Gillett, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, who discusses why it’s worth trying to structure IoT into an easier and straightforward process. “What I tell people is, it’s really helpful to simplify IoT down to something you can explain to your mother…” says Gillett. In this video, he also points out three important value props that IoT provides — that either wasn’t possible before or were too expensive.

Ness Conducts Nessathon in Slovakia and Romania

TEANECK, NJ – Oct 26, 2018Ness Digital Engineering, a global provider of digital transformation and custom software engineering services, recently brought the latest iteration of its Nessathon-2018 (a hackathon for the Nessians) to its Technology Innovation Centers in Kosice, Slovakia; Timisoara, Romania; and Iasi, Romania. The hackathon event received an enthusiastic response from employees, and 14 teams participated to showcase their innovative ideas and creative thinking.

The Nessathon was focused on one central theme: ‘How to Build Accelerators for Software Delivery.’ The event was aimed at challenging Ness’s highly-talented software developers to generate innovative ideas for new solutions that can further add value to the services Ness provides.

The 14 competitive teams demonstrated their ideas to a panel of four judges from the participating centers. A team from Kosice emerged as the Nessathon winner. The team built an accelerator that automates and enhances the regression tests selection process. Not only did many new ideas emerge from this event, but the winning Kosice team also received passes to the AI World Summit, held from 10 October to 11 October, plus a trip to various tourist destinations in Amsterdam. A team from Iasi and a team from Timisoara also received passes to the AI World Summit as runners-up in the event.

The winning team commented, “Nessathon was a great experience and a source of knowledge. It’s indeed an exclusive platform to showcase the talents of the Nessians across the Technology Innovation Centers in Kosice, Timisoara, and Iasi. All of the participants shared a passion for exploring new opportunities to build accelerators for effective software delivery. It was really exciting to compete with our colleagues, and we are equally proud to be winners of this event.”

Emil Constantinescu, Senior Software Engineer from Ness’ Timisoara center, who was one of Nessathon jury panelists, noted, “The overall energy and variety of the projects was great. Teams came up with compelling solutions to address significant business problems. As a jury member, I congratulate each of the teams and the organizers who did a wonderful job in running the event.”

“I am thrilled by the kind of ideas we have generated, and it has proved time and again that such hackathons are breeding grounds for Ness to cultivate talent and ideas,” said Anand Subramanian, Senior Vice President – Delivery and Global Head of the Engineering Automation Practice at Ness. “This hackathon is an important initiative in our Engineering Automation practice. We’re looking forward to the next Nessathon-2018 at the Ness Hyderabad Technology Innovation Center.”

 

About Ness Digital Engineering

Ness Digital Engineering designs, builds, and integrates digital platforms and enterprise software that help organizations engage customers, differentiate their brands, and drive profitable growth. Our customer experience designers, software engineers, data experts, and business consultants partner with clients to develop roadmaps that identify ongoing opportunities to increase the value of their digital solutions and enterprise systems. Through agile development of minimum viable products (MVPs), our clients can test new ideas in the market and continually adapt to changing business conditions—giving our clients the leverage to lead market disruption in their industries and compete more effectively to grow their business. For more information, visit www.ness.com.

Media Contacts
Vivek Kangath
Senior Global Manager – Corporate Communications
Ness Digital Engineering
Mobile: +91 9742565583 | Tel: +91 80 41961000 | DID: +91 80 41961027

 

6 Ways to Inspire Your Design Team

Experience designers are tasked with designing products, processes, services and environments with a focus on the quality of the user experience (UX). Typical of most mainstream designers, we’re creative-types who thrive when working on our own time and at the mercy of our “creative flow” and inspiration. The challenge we face, as most UX designers will assert, is the pressure to deliver solutions to keep pace with the next wave of what technology will allow. At Ness, we work hard to feed our developers with the designs they need while also adhering to the creativity high-standards we have set for ourselves.

What can often be the case, though, is the notorious absence of inspiration just when it’s needed. So how do you not only get your own creative juices flowing but also inspire your design team? Here are six suggestions:

  1. Start the morning off right

Check in with your team each morning to start the day together. Share stories from the previous evening, plans for the upcoming weekend, or just have coffee together and complain about the weather. It helps build a relationship beyond work and sets the tone for collaboration and open communication. This helps to eliminate the barriers that sometimes exist between colleagues in the work environment. A design team that feels uninhibited will produce more ideas.

  1. Turn the walls into your canvas

Dedicate a wall in your office for your team to keep adding visuals that can serve not just as general inspiration, but also as a jumping off point when they’re looking for future ideas. Satisfyingly symmetric patterns, breathtaking photography, a well-curated color palette – anything goes. For specific projects, work with your team to set up a mood board that reflects the desired theme and direction and let it help guide the team’s thinking.

  1. Find inspiration, share inspiration
    A key to design, like most professions, is to keep learning. Whether it’s a video with an interesting point of view, a motivating TED talk, or an app with a great interface, if you find something that makes you look at design differently, chances are it’ll do the same for your team. Share what you find, encourage your team to do the same and take the time to discuss, debate and learn from each other.
  1. Take a step back

Give your team direction, but don’t micromanage. A study by PayScale revealed that 72 percent of workers who feel empowered to make decisions on their own said they are satisfied in their jobs. This satisfaction, in turn, can lead to a stronger sense of responsibility and better performance. Show your team members that you trust them to do good work, and they won’t disappoint you.

  1. Err and let err

Celebrate your team for their wins, and also encourage productive conversations about learning from mistakes. Make sure your feedback is constructive and encouraging; if they’re scared to fail, they’ll be scared to experiment. Here’s an added bonus: history has ample examples of great ideas being born out of errors such as the slinky, penicillin and chocolate chip cookies.

  1. Take a break

Working on the same project for a prolonged period can cause fatigue and hamper the ability to churn out new ideas. Encourage your team to do something different, alone or with colleagues – whether it’s cocktails after work, a trip to a local museum or maybe just a walk around the city or office park – make sure you encourage enriching experiences even in the middle of big projects. This will pay off in the long term by helping your team gain inspiration and a fresh perspective before coming back to the task at hand.

Maneuvering through a field like UX design can be tricky, but these simple tips can help you maximize your team’s performance and experience while also minimizing “creative fatigue” and burnout to help achieve better overall results.

Is Testing Technology Improving as Fast as the Technology Itself?-Part-2

Part 2: Applying new testing methods to the latest technologies

In the first part of this blog post series, I outlined How the process of testing is accelerating. In this second part, I am excited to share some ways we are applying these testing methods to various digital technologies and use cases.

Microservices and APIs

Traditionally, the primary focus of any test automation approach was around front-end user interface testing. However, with large monolithic applications now being broken down into microservices in pursuit of efficiency, each (micro) service must be functionally tested as a whole to ensure that the hand-shaking between two services is maintained and validated. That means API and service test automation are in high demand and are areas in which we do a lot of work. It’s always a unique challenge as you help a company modernize, and we often have to use service virtualization to create mock services to simulate functionality that hasn’t been developed yet or to replicate components or functionality that are hard to access in a live environment. All of this increases confidence in the quality and helps us test – and then lock down – functionality. (We will then look to automate the test in a subsequent phase).

We are also continually giving APIs a good testing workout – whether we have inherited them, are integrating them, or are designing them ourselves – using our version of globally-accepted Best Practice standards. API maturity is now expected from all clients, and we help new clients adopt those standards quickly.

Device Testing

In the era of digital transformation, new technologies and competitive pressures have forced companies to innovate to give their customers the best experience possible. To deliver those experiences, we need to test products across all the devices and channels which will consume them. In days gone by, we had drawers full of mobile devices from all over the world, but now we make use of advances in Device Farms and Emulators.

The emulators that our developers and testers use locally are far better than those I remember from the early days, which were more testing in hope than expectation. But now, when running SMOKE and Regression tests, we use a cloud-based Device Farm like SauceLab (the world’s largest) to give us results back on the tests we have designed for a long list of variables (new and old devices, form factors and operating system configurations).

Open Source

Open source tools have always been the choice for non-production testing and are more easily embraced by our clients than for testing legacy production (i.e. live and still working) platforms. At Ness we are product neutral, so we are enthusiastic supporters of all the evolving platforms that make free community tools available to those like us building next-generation digital propositions. We practice what we preach, and we won’t adopt paid-for licensed testing tools unless it’s an imperative within an engagement. We use open source tools whenever possible for non-production testing.

For live platforms of a certain vintage, there is an understandable reticence to modernize something that might be slow and cumbersome but is still working; in that scenario moving to open source tools occurs alongside some more significant and urgent improvement.

Big Data and IoT engagements need specialized testing

As organizations adopt Big Data and Data Analytics, they are setting up data lakes and processing huge volumes of data that have been collected from various sources, including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Unlike traditional database testing (where all the data is structured), the data in a Big Data lake is usually structured and unstructured. In order to accommodate testing in this new world of enormous data volumes, the provisioning of suitable test environments is both essential and challenging.

Infrastructure testing and testing data before it even gets to the storage environment is yet more of the “shift-left” mentality, which means we are planning the test strategy early in the process so that everything that follows is more efficient and manageable. Knowing what you will be testing, what you are looking to find out from the test, and what success looks like are all factors in consolidating a test strategy before you fill a data lake. We don’t want to test all of the data. We want to test the useful data, the outliers, the changes. We want to find patterns that reveal insights. We want to test less but test it smarter and more intelligently.

Key questions we need to answer are: How do I get the data into my development or test environment in the first place, and do I have enough visibility to be able to maintain quality with such a huge volume of data involved?

The Internet of Things is one of the fastest growing technology areas and has created another area in which testing has become a key factor. IoT’s mesh of various inter-connected “things” over the Internet creates complexity. With this complexity, it becomes imperative that each of these distinct entities is thoroughly tested for functionality, quality, performance, security, and accessibility, and that now inextricably covers the hardware and the software components of the IoT. We need to do that with the same testing maturity and coverage that we have in normal everyday product development.

Together, Big Data and IoT challenge us with a new dynamic in the variety of forms and structures. Everything in this field needs organizing differently and more astutely than in less sophisticated times to generate value. This is a change in technology and business mentality.

Security

Of course, data security is a business-critical issue. With companies facing the changing nature of internal and external threats, Ness partners with pure specialists in this field where security is of paramount importance. The time, energy, effort, and cost of staying ahead of this field are intense, and we always want to pull in the most knowledgeable resources.

Service Design and Business Process Assurance

This modern approach is to truly step into the shoes of a modern user and try and accomplish something they would do. This is where we are using Service Design techniques to modernize what was previously known as Business Process Assurance. Traditionally this has been done by business analysts on the client side to map out the workflows they use within the company.

However, incumbent (some might say legacy) businesses are tackling digital transformation and having to change the way their processes work. To be more customer-centric and much less attached to their own internal, silo-based workflows (to which customers understandably react badly), companies are increasingly open to new workflow design and tests from partners like Ness.

Certain steps within a single flow might well be used by many other workflows, so it’s not easy, and we need to demonstrate expertise with coolness under pressure, sharp thinking and a steady hand. We need to keep testing ALL the related flows to keep the speed and quality assurance in place. If one small change (improvement) is made, it needs to be tested across the flows with a view to all business function users being able to understand the change and enjoy the improvement.

This is a new wave of sophistication (more intelligent, agile “shift-left”). Ness is part of the wave and is helping clients with their internal transformations in pursuit of digital excellence.

In summary

Across all of our digital transformation engagements, Ness helps customers adopt new methodologies, including transitioning from traditional to Agile development methodologies for those who haven’t completed that part of the journey. We set about implementing continuous testing with modern, Quality Engineering methods and frequently embed the DevOps tool chain to improve predictability indicators of product quality and increase the occurrence of hassle-free product releases. Testing is a crucial factor in a company’s digital success story.

In our pursuit of simplicity in a technology world of increasing complexity, we have consolidated all the knowledge, experience and learnings set out in this overview into NessQ, which is a framework for building automated test cases. It is an accelerator to jump start test automation capabilities and is an integration of world-class open source tools for web, mobile, API, accessibility and security testing.

We frequently win new business because we can demonstrate such a solid approach to building and testing digital propositions. Proactively suggesting ways to fix failed tests is something we are renowned for, and I get plenty of calls from non-client CIOs asking me how quickly Ness could put in place a better test strategy than one causing stress somewhere in the world. Sometimes, fixing a testing strategy can be a high-impact, lower risk entry point for companies that are pushing digital transformation into other parts of their business.

Either way, I feel pride that our team has been through this whole journey many times. We are always looking for ways to further the modern test strategy. Whether it’s been global leaders battling to efficiently integrate data from numerous, organically acquired Learning Management Systems, or digital pure play companies determined to keep improving test efficient by 1% every month to reach zero defects, we have learned the lessons – and continue to learn new ones every day. We enjoy sharing them in new conversations springing up from unique and unexpected sources all the time.

Frequent Use Cases for IoT – Featuring Forrester Research

In today’s globalized world, everything is interconnected; and now even more so, thanks to IoT, which connects billions of physical devices to the Internet. Many business leaders consider IoT to be just the beginning of how technology can transform the way we do business. So, how can companies use IoT to support their businesses? Here’s a Ness video featuring Frank Gillett, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, who discusses IoT use cases.

IoT is complicated because on the surface many people think it’s vertical—since marketers often sell it in a vertical way. But in reality, IoT has an enormous business value in specific use cases and a strong universal value proposition that applies to many companies, irrespective of the industry. For example, building management and energy management—these are areas of concern for nearly every company. There are many other things like predictive maintenance, asset performance management, preventive maintenance, and so on; these IoT value propositions apply to many companies. “When we look at IoT, each company is going to find that there are multiple use cases that apply to them and a couple of them might be truly specialized,” says Gillett.

Is Testing Technology Improving As Fast As The Technology Itself?- Part-1

Part 1-How the process of testing is accelerating

It is self-evident that technology is advancing quickly. Every company wants to gain as much commercial value as possible from these advancements, and the expectations of both employees and customers are that they should have access to “the latest” tools. Every company has to decide which new digital technologies to adopt to satisfy this demand. The technology products companies develop and launch are integral to their futures, but they must also be inextricably linked to a rigorous approach to testing and Quality Assurance (QA). Confidence and capability in one without the other is potentially disastrous, so testing processes are now as high profile and critical as the engineering processes.

In the era of Microservices, APIs, Big Data, Mobility, IoT, Blockchain and AI, let’s take a look at how and why these new movements affect testing and how Ness is addressing them.

In Part 1 of this two-part blog post series, I’ll share some observations about how the testing process itself is changing to support faster release of digital platforms and products to market:

QA is changing

In the testing domain, I see the industry becoming more focused on Quality Engineering (QE) versus just Quality Assurance.

Back in the formative years of Agile, we got used to two-week sprints for development followed by two weeks of testing the code in the next sprint. There was a real split between rudimentary “what works/doesn’t work” testing of the code and then, much later on, testing for performance, usability, security. It was quite linear and waterfall-like and not at all in the spirit of the Agile manifesto which focused on “early and continuous delivery of valuable software… with a preference for the shortest timescale.”

Quality Assurance (QA) is really a remnant of the waterfall development lifecycle era and geared toward long delivery cycles with a natural inclination to “test when done.”

With the modern urgency to release products and applications faster, traditional QA has become an impediment to product companies because the process is too slow and QA frequently becomes the main bottleneck in the process. Working out where to gain efficiency led to the emergence of Quality Engineering (QE).

QE is taking QA’s place

Where Quality Assurance is the overall process (the quality system) of ensuring a final product meets specified requirements, QE is the approach used to define, maintain and improve that system. It is a more ambitious, prominent, and muscular version of what has gone before, and it signifies a monumental “shift-left” where the subject of testing and quality arises much earlier in the timeline of software creation.

QE’s emergence has everything to do with the pursuit of speed in getting new features to market with confidence. Quality Engineering is all about managing testing much earlier: test often, test fast, fail fast, fix fast and automate as much as possible to speed up testing even more.

QE’s role in testing today

By testing earlier, things have become more agile and much smarter. We now test smaller packets of completed code and are therefore able to make adjustments more economically than in the old days when it felt much more like we were testing everything all the time.

With modern approaches like Test Driven Development (TDD), Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD), and Behavioral Driven Development (BDD), there is an increasing benefit to surface QA much earlier in the development life cycle. QE delivers that benefit with a fixed eye on increasing efficiency through the automation of tests–and isolating what has been tested, so we don’t need to test it again.

Now that we are testing as we are developing, our automation test suite is growing all the time. This means that at the end of every sprint, we can now run an entire automation program to see if anything has broken: we have automated regression testing. Automation points towards increased certainty and quality predictability that everything still works. It removes the frailties of manual testing, which sometimes caused confusion when changing things that already passed testing.

A New Type of Engineer Emerges

With the new emphasis on testing (and test automation) much earlier in the cycle, there is a growing demand for a new kind of engineer: a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET).

SDETs are developers themselves. They understand code and development practices and have the technical mind set to write, run and automate test cases. Crucially, they also have the skills to find reasons for failed tests AND adjust the code to fix the failure. I can tell this new role is helping Ness scrum teams move with even greater speed and efficiency.

This is a new career path for test engineers to follow. In training and building out our SDET capabilities, we are cross-training test automation engineers, so they are able to automate processes for thorough testing and develop code on their own. They are playing a contributory role in the creation of all our new software. We know we are in esteemed company, because SDET was originally a Microsoft term and is now popular with Facebook, Amazon and Google as they strive to release at speed with high quality.

As was the case with Agile and then DevOps, Ness has always been on the leading edge of implementing practices that facilitate faster, quality software releases. It’s a priority for us because we know speed and reliability create an advantage for our clients when they release new products. Over the years, we have also gotten very good at training and scaling new capabilities across our engineering teams, so we can deploy new practices quickly. In Part 2 of this blog post, I’ll share perspective on how we’re using QE approaches to support various development opportunities in IoT, open source, and service design, to name a few.

Click here for part 2

Aim to Achieve 3 Levels of Business Value from IoT – Featuring Forrester Research

While the business value of IoT looks simple at first, at a higher level it can achieve much more than just cost savings. A lot of decision-makers start to build a narrow business case focused on cost savings but do not look downstream all the way to their customers and ask themselves how they can add some IoT capabilities that will let them create a higher level of differentiation and reimagine their value proposition beyond just saving money. So, what level of business value can businesses achieve using IoT technology?

Here’s a Ness video featuring Frank Gillett, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, who discusses how businesses can attain 3 levels of business value from IoT. In this video, Gillett clearly states that companies must move beyond the focus on cost savings and find a new way to differentiate products and services and reimagine their value proposition. “For a product company, think from the beginning to the potential downstream,” says Gillett.

Reality Check: Looking At Use Cases For AI, IoT And Blockchain

In an article for Express Computer, Moshe Kranc, Chief Technology Officer, Ness Digital Engineering delineates the hype surrounding the hottest new technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain and its long-term impact of these technologies. According to him, one useful way to sift through the hype is to focus on use cases: what real world problems can a given technology solve better than any other existing alternative?

read more »

Hlavní myšlenka ze SAP NOW Week 2018

Nedávno uskutečněná konference SAP NOW Week 2018 si dala za cíl inspirovat české firmy možnostmi chytrých technologií a ukázat jim, jak se stát moderním podnikem.

Během čtyř dní se na akci vystřídalo přes 800 účastníků a v šesti tematických blocích zaznělo kolem sedmi desítek odborných prezentací. Když přijde řeč na moderní firmu, nemusíme hned zmiňovat umělou inteligenci, strojové učení nebo internet věcí. Moderní firmu určuje to, jak dokáže reagovat na okolní svět tím, že správně vyhodnotí a „zpeněží“ data, která má ve svých IT systémech.

Základem úspěchu každé technologické inovace není jen skvělý nápad, zákaznická aplikace, nový produkt či služba. Klíčová je schopnost propojovat data a procesy s lidským kapitálem a využívat potenciál, který se nabízí.

Na konferenci jsme v našem výstupu nastínili, jaký konkrétní potenciál vidíme u výrobních podniků. Tyto postupy se dají ale do jisté míry zobecnit a jsou přenositelné a aplikovatelné i v jiných odvětvích.

Ve zkratce, pokročilý systém plánování (APS), doplněný o naše letité zkušenosti a možnosti využití SAP PP/DS, je schopen plánovat výrobu velkého počtu dílů – často v různých výrobních cyklech, s různou rychlostí výroby a použitou technologií.

Dříve byly implementace APS velmi složité a náročné na zdroje. Dnes to úspěšně řešíme s novým průmyslově specifickým modulem SAP Manufacturing, který je součástí systému SAP S/4. Ten využívá časově nepřetržité a heuristické plánování, pracuje s vysokým počtem algoritmů a proměnných.

Výsledkem takového plánování a monitoringu v reálném čase je zkrácení doby výroby a celkové zvýšení produktivity.

  • Zkrácení průběžných dob výroby
  • Snížení zásob
  • Zvýšení produktivity
  • Sladění různých plánů v rámci celé firmy
  • Zvýšení dostupnosti kritických dílů
  • Lepší proveditelnost plánů a cílené plánování
  • Umožní se soustředit plánovačům na aktuální problémy a úzká místa ve výrobě

Kladete si správné otázky?

I když svoji firmu dokonale znáte – a často paradoxně právě proto – bývá užitečný nezávislý pohled a identifikace příležitostí, kde technologie mohou uvolnit potenciál dělat věci jednodušeji a efektivněji. Pro začátek stačí v obrysech vědět, jak na tom vaše firma je, a pak si položit správné otázky.

  • Umíte správně vyhodnotit možnosti rozvoje – zdroje, vazby a procesy, jejich dopady atd.?
  • Jste schopni efektivně shromažďovat a propojovat data, abyste z nich dokázali vyčíst to, co vás může posunout dál?
  • Jak rychle reagujete na změny trhu, upravujete interní procesy a jakou zákaznickou zkušenost poskytujete svým klientům?
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