Archive for Matt Rankin

Building Meaningful Relationships Through IoT Driven Customer Engagement

We all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with our customers. Consumers want to know the products they buy are reliable. They want to see value from the services they pay for. They want to know the companies they’re doing business with are trustworthy, helpful and honest. Whether it be through social media, sending out newsletters and surveys, hosting webinars and seminars, or other activities, most (if not all) companies employ some sort of process or platform for engaging with their customers. With the emergence of new technology and the rise of smart devices companies are now positioned to take customer engagement to the next level.

How Can the Internet of Things (IoT) Help Your Customers?

What if you could help solve your customers’ problems before they have them? What if you could make meaningful recommendations and provide targeted guidance to your customers based on how they’re using your products? What if you could always be connected to your customers? You can, with the Internet of Things.

Based on data from the State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016 report from Verizon, IoT is having a large impact on how businesses are engaging their customers. Here are a few key points taken from the report.

  • 72% of organizations feel IoT is critical to their competitive advantage.
  • 76% of early movers in manufacturing say IoT is increasing insight into customer preferences and behavior.
  • 54% of early movers in healthcare are using IoT to enrich products and services with information
  • 81% of early movers in the public sector believe their citizens increasingly expect them to offer enhanced services using data from IoT.
  • 77% of retailers are seeing IoT change the customer experience.
  • 84% of retail early movers say their customers value exchanging information to improve their experience.
  • 83% of early movers in financial services say customer relationships are increasingly driven by ongoing service agreements rather than transactional product sales.

For me, one of the more interesting statistics was that in the public sector 81% of early movers believe citizens increasingly expect them to offer enhanced services using data from IoT. Using smart devices and sensors, data can be processed practically in real-time so that decisions can be made on the fly to enhance services. This information can then be relayed back to cloud servers to provide insight and drive policies to further enhance services while cutting costs. Soon customers will come to expect these types of enhancements, and companies that don’t follow suit may lose customers to competitors that are early movers. With more and more private sector companies across an array of industries leveraging IoT to engage their customers, are consumers going to begin expecting services enhanced by technology from all businesses? I believe many already do and that the trend is on the rise.

About Matt:

As a senior in BlumShapiro’s Technology Consulting Group, Matt has over 7 years of experience with Microsoft .NET software application development, including solutions for web, client/server and mobile platforms.

 

Matt Rankin IoT CTA

What to do When There’s No App For That

It finally happened. You have a great idea to streamline a business process or improve customer engagement when you discover that there’s NO app for that. What do you do? How do you build it? The answer is, it depends. It depends on the technical requirements, the target audience, your budget and the platforms and devices you want to target.

Traditionally for modern apps there are 3 approaches

 

Native Apps

A Native app is a mobile application developed in a programming language such as C# for Windows, Java for Android or Objective C for IOS to target a specific device. There are frameworks and tools like Xamarin that allow you to develop native apps with a single codebase in a single programming language targeting multiple platforms, but such tools are not required to build a native app.

HTML5 Apps

HTML5 apps are applications delivered from the web that look and feel like native mobile applications. They run in the browser, and can be accessed like any other web page (open browser, type in the URL, etc.). A responsive website is an example of an HTML5 app.

Hybrid Apps

As the name implies hybrid apps are part native app, part HTML5 app. Hybrid apps can be delivered via an app store and are stored on the device much like native apps. However, unlike native apps hybrid apps are served up through a browser (more specifically a browser control in the application) and are developed using web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Recently a new type of app has entered the mobile ecosystem. These apps can be developed without writing any code, and can be made available to users within your organization. As such, I’ll refer to these apps as Organization Apps.

Organization Apps

Organization apps are internal line-of-business applications published to users within your organization. Apps developed with PowerApps  from Microsoft are a great example of this type of app. With PowerApps users within an organization can connect to business systems like SharePoint, OneDrive and MS Dynamics CRM to create powerful web and mobile applications which can be made available to other users within the organization.

Another great example is Composer 2 from AppGyver which allows users to connect to business systems like Oracle and Salesforce to create applications for their enterprise.

With so many options for developing mobile applications it can be tough to decide which approach to take. Here is a simple chart covering just some of the many things that should be considered when making the decision on the development approach.

  Native App HTML5 App Hybrid App Organization App
Cost High Moderate Moderate Low
Connectivity Online/Offline Mainly Online Online/Offline Mainly Online
Distribution App Store Web App Store Internal to Organization
Device Access Yes No Yes No
Development Time High Moderate Moderate Low
Developer Skills C#/Java/C HTML/CSS/JavaScript HTML/CSS/ JavaScript None
Cross Platform No Yes Yes Yes


How We Can Help

Fully understanding the requirements for the app and how it will be used will be critical to the apps success. Understanding the security and accessibility of the app is also crucial. At BlumShapiro we have the expertise to bring your app idea to fruition. Talk to us about your app idea to get started.

About Matt:

As a senior in BlumShapiro’s Technology Consulting Group, Matt has over 7 years of experience with Microsoft .NET software application development, including solutions for web, client/server and mobile platforms.

What to do CTA

Stop Phishing Emails in Their Tracks: Four Tips to Spot Phishing Emails

lockIf you’ve been on the Internet over the past decade you’ve likely been on the receiving end of at least one phishing email. Phishing is when a hacker tries to disguise themselves as a trustworthy source in order to obtain sensitive information from you; be it your social security number, credit card number, usernames, passwords or other personal information. Every day, as hackers become more and more sophisticated, people fall victim to these scams. Here are four tips you can use to spot and avoid a phishing scam.

  1. Check the sender’s email address. If you receive an email from ABC Company, you should expect the sender’s email address to come from the same address as the company’s website. For example, let’s say you receive an email from ABC Company, and you know ABC Company owns www.abccompany.com. If the sender’s email address is abccompany@yahoo.com, it is likely a fake as it is from a Yahoo domain. That said, it is also possible for hackers to spoof an email address to make it look legitimate. If you’ve never had contact with the person emailing you before you should always be cautious. As a general rule, unless an email is digitally signed, it is possible it was spoofed. A digital signature includes a unique signature from the certificate, along with a public key proving to the recipient that you are not an imposter.

    2. Always be suspicious of emails with generic greetings. Hackers send thousands of phishing emails in the hopes they’ll get a few fish to take the bait. They don’t always have the time, or likely the knowledge, to personalize each individual email and often send in large batched with generic greetings. As such, always be cautious with opening any email which starts with a generic greeting like, “Dear Customer” or “Dear Friend”.

    3. Always be suspicious of any email requesting “urgent” personal or financial information from you or your company. If you receive an email with words and phrases like “Urgent” or “Action Required” make sure you are diligent in checking its legitimacy. Be sure to check the sender’s email address if you receive this type of email. If the email is from a government agency (has a .gov email address) such as the IRS it is likely a phishing scam. In our experience, no government agency, especially with their initial contact, will request your personal information via email.

    4. Avoid clicking on any links in the email. Hackers may include links in the email taking you to fake websites to try and get information from you. The fake website may look like a real business website, or a website for a legitimate company, but the URL will be slightly different. For example, paypal.com is a real site, but www.paypal.somebusiness.com may be a phishing site Hackers tend to also mix in links to real websites along with links to fake phishing sites for a more sophisticated attack. As such, it is best to manually type in the URL or use a search engine to try and find the real link.

Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated each day. Always keep your guard up when opening strange emails and going to new websites. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when you open your inbox to avoid being reeled in to a phishing scam.

About Matt:

As a senior in BlumShapiro’s Technology Consulting Group, Matt has over 7 years of experience with Microsoft .NET software application development, including solutions for web, client/server and mobile platforms.

Matt’s past experience includes freelance web development, and running his own business in web application design and development. Matt joined BlumShapiro in 2012 as a staff consultant, and won the Rookie of the Year award his first year at BlumShapiro.

 

Phishing Post CTA (1)

5 Minute JQuery Image Slider

The image slider, such a common need and yet sometimes so hard to find. There are tons of good sliders out there made with JQuery. Some are hard to use, others aren’t. Some can only do a portion of what you need while others are so massive they are hard to customize. With this post I intend to show you, in under 50 lines of code (HTML, JS and CSS) how to build a simple slider that you can use on your projects. The code can easily be extended with JavaScript/JQuery, and through simple CSS can be customized to fit a div or go full screen (as this example shows as this was my need). This is the five minute image slider! Comments have been included in the code to explain what’s going on.

The images provided are not owned by me but rather are the result of a quick image search on Bing. These should be swapped out for your own images. In addition…

This code is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Tested in IE9, IE 10, but should work in most/all modern browsers.

 

<!DOCTYPE html>
<head>
	<script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.9.0.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
	<script src="http://code.jquery.com/ui/1.10.0/jquery-ui.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
	<style type="text/css">
		body {
			margin:0; /* remove the default margin */
			padding:0; /* remove the default padding */
		}

		#slides, #slides img.active{
			min-height: 100%; /* important; sets the hight in this case full screen */
			min-width: 1024px; /* a minimum width set to a standard screen size */
			width: 100%; /* important; sets to full screen */
			height: auto; /* this just sets a full height */
			position: fixed; /* tells it to not move */
			top: 0; /* top corner */
			left: 0; /* left side */
			display:block; /* display as a block element */
		}

		#slides img {
			display:none; /* normal images are hidden */
		}
	</style>
	<script type="text/javascript">
		function slide(div) {
			var $active = $('#' + div + ' .active'); // we add this class to images that are going to show
			var $next = ($('#' + div + ' .active').next().length > 0) ? $('#' + div + ' .active').next() : $('#' + div + ' img:first'); // get the next image
			$next.fadeIn("slow").addClass('active'); // set the class on the next image
			$active.fadeOut(function () { // a pretty little function which removes the class from the currently active image
				$active.removeClass('active'); // remove .active
			});
		}
		$(document).ready(function () { // where the magic happens
			setInterval('slide("slides")', 5000); // swap the image at X interval
		});
	</script>
</head>
<body>
<div id="slides"> <!-- notice I put the div name as a param in the slide() function -->
	<img src="http://www.onlinegames.cat/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/halo-4-1.jpg" class="active" alt="" />
	<img src="http://hdfreewallpapers.com/walls/2012/07/13/gears_of_war_4-HD.jpg" alt="" />
</div>
</body>
</html>

 

Enjoy!