How Anago’s Mobile Sales Platform Boosts Efficiency

success-story-anago

Anago is a company on the rise. The well-respected commercial cleaning services company consistently ranks among INC magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.

They service the hospitality industry, medical offices, retail locations, religious centers, and even handle event cleanup.

The company is also one of the most prominent franchisors in the country, appearing 68th on Entrepreneur.com’s Franchise 500 List.

Anago branches have opened throughout the United States as well as internationally.

With success, though, came some scaling challenges that made sales and data transparency a hassle.

Systemic Bottlenecks and Opaque Data

Anago suffered from a long sales cycle. Because they serve such a wide range of customer types, they can’t base quotes on square footage and tasks required.

An in-person visit is required where a sales representative meets with a site manager to walk through the location.

After the walk-through the representative would collect information from the site manager, then return to the office and build a quote.

This involved a great deal of back and forth communication to sort out inaccurate information and debate services. The quote was then emailed to the prospective client.

If the client accepted, there was another in-person visit or complex email exchange to get the contract signed.

The system had a lot of flaws. Anago had a hard time communicating quickly with clients, and it was too easy for human error to drag down the quote process.

Tracking data like closing ratios took up a lot of labor hours without satisfactory results.

Also, every layer of complication created another place for prospects to call out of the sales cycle.

Anago needed a more effective process.

Shifting Forms to The Field

As a company known for incorporating advanced methods into their cleaning style, it’s no surprise that Anago wanted a technology-based solution.

They partnered with Concepta to build a management system that connects the office with their sales team in the field.

Representatives can now build quotes in the field, search and generate reports, add notes and further information to proposals, and update existing clients who are interested in additional services.

Prospective clients get their quote immediately, and if it’s agreeable they can sign and submit the contract via iPad.

To address the need for data transparency, Concepta designed the system to integrate with Anago’s CRM and customer apps.

Clients can send instant messages to their sales rep or the office. If there’s an issue, either party can upload pictures to make sure everyone is on the same page.

A Future-Focused Solution

Using the new system closes many of the gaps where clients dropped out of the sales cycle.

50% of proposals are now done through the field app, freeing agents from multiple trips back to the office.

The improved customer experience is winning over clients, who appreciate better communication and faster responses from their sales contact.

Anago’s franchise program benefits, as well. The new high-tech process holds major appeal for future franchise owners, and the company’s value has risen accordingly.

Overall, it’s a system that will keep generating ROI through increased efficiency and higher franchise sales for years to come.

Mobile App Development Company in Orlando

Concepta is one of Orlando’s most renowned mobile development agencies.

We have over a decade of experience helping their partners overcome business challenges, grow revenue, and improve their processes.

For Anago, Concepta created a solution to support all those three goals.

You’ve seen what we did for Anago – now find out what we can do for you! Schedule your free consultation today!

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Does Full Stack Mobile Development Exist?

full-stack-mobile-development

Full stack mobile developers were once the unicorns of the software world. They existed but were so rare and hard to find that they may as well have been mythical.

Companies that outsourced their mobile apps to individual developers had widely mixed experiences (rarely good ones).

That isn’t to say that full stack mobile development is impossible, though. It’s highly functional at a company level. Software development agencies have been expanding their capabilities towards building a cohesive stack instead of simply creating a tool or app.

What It Means to Be “Full Stack”

“Full stack developers” have the knowledge and skills to build an entire mobile app, from back-end to middleware to front-end tools. The list of subject areas includes:

  • Hardware (including device utilities)
  • Operating systems
  • Virtualization
  • Hosting
  • Containers
  • Scaling
  • Package Management
  • Server management
  • Programming
  • Security
  • Frontend development
  • Frontend design
  • Requirements gathering
  • Project management
  • Non-technical communication skills

The developer needs to be intimately familiar with a few options at each level to qualify as “full stack”. They also have to be able to build native, hybrid, and mobile web apps.

The knowledge base doesn’t stop there, either. Full stack developers should keep on top of changing trends in application architecture in order to properly guide clients in their choice of tools.

It’s incredibly difficult for one person to do all these things with any degree of skill. Those few talented developers aren’t going to be found without luck or extensive headhunting.

What’s hard for one person, though, is considerably easier for a software development agency.

Many developers within these comprehensive-minded agencies have the knowledge to build an app top to bottom within a narrow range of requirements.

Where there are gaps in their experience, the agencies have room to employ a mix of specialists to provide full coverage.

Why Full Stack Is Coming Back Into The Conversation

In early days everyone was expected to be a full stack developer.

As computing became more complex and involved multiple languages and toolsets, people began specializing in areas like front end, back end, databases, or mobile development.

What changed is the modern tools and resources that have begun to make it possible for individuals to be capable of building an effective mobile app from the ground up again.

  • Programming languages: Languages like Ruby abstract away complex machine details, letting developers build from scratch with less code.
  • Development frameworks & third party libraries: React, Angular, JQuery, PHP, Node.js, and similar tools speed up development while delivering a better quality app.
  • Cloud databases: With simple, guided setup and management, developers don’t need the same level of database construction skills they once did.
  • Expanded support: Most of these tools have forums where developers can reach out for help. This allows them to use tools they’re less familiar with more effectively.

When a single developer builds an app alone, it can be highly cohesive.

They don’t need to make compromises or balance opinions among a team, so programming is cleaner and more straightforward.

On a more pragmatic note, mobile developers are still expensive and highly in demand.

There’s strong motivation for companies to find someone who can “do it all”.

Stumbling Blocks

Despite the appeal of full stack mobile development, there are inevitably trade-offs.

Aiming for more breadth of skills results in a shallower understanding of each.

Full stack developers generally have limited range within a specific topic, limiting their flexibility.

It’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” situation.

Because of this limited toolkit, apps created by individual full stack developers tend to lack innovation and creativity. Their apps all seem very much alike.

There’s also the risk of lower overall quality. Every developer has their idiosyncrasies and blind spots, and they might not catch their own mistakes.

Some trade-offs seem trivial, but in reality, they can break a project.

The biggest culprit is communication. Successful app development involves next-level communication skills, and that’s something that challenges full stack developers who are busy actually building the app.

Communication takes away from that work, so they may skimp on updates or overlook feedback until they’re past the point where it can be easily integrated into the project.

Full Stack Mobile Development in Orlando

The best use for full stack mobile developers is as a force multiplier on a mobile app development team.

Concepta, one of Orlando’s most renowned mobile development companies, has used this tactic successfully on projects for Anago, The Learning Company, and even Disney.

They employ full stack mobile developers to serve as “architects”, using their wide knowledge base to create a more cohesive final product.

Because these developers know every step, they’re able to spot potential issues and gaps in the team’s skill set.

As a bonus they can fill in for other developers as needed. The team can then be smaller without having to take on new developers mid-project.

Strategies like these give Concepta an edge in creating dynamic technology solutions within a client’s time and budgetary guidelines.  

So, does full stack mobile development exist? Yes, but in practice it’s most effectively done at a company level rather than an individual one.

A fast, high-performance mobile presence is key to staying competitive, even for small and medium businesses. Concepta’s experienced developers have created dynamic apps for everyone from educational companies to country singers. Set up your free consultation to find out what we can do for you!

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How BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is Changing Enterprise App Development

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market is booming. It hit $181.39 billion last year, and experts predict it will double by 2022.

The trend rose in answer to one of the biggest challenges facing executives today: how to digitize economically and with minimum disruption to operations.

Digital revolution can get expensive fast. Global enterprise software spending is estimated to reach $389 billion. That’s doesn’t even account for commercial investment in Big Data.

Experts predict that enterprise spending on analytics equipment and services will maintain its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9% through 2020.

Despite the cost, businesses that take advantage of digitization realize impressive gains.

They outperform their analog competitors in every arena. Using enterprise apps to centralize and streamline operations nets companies a 35% ROI on average, for example.

Digital transformation pays for itself – as long as companies can make room in the budget to launch digital initiatives in the first place.

Enter BYOD. The Bring Your Own Device trend gives companies a way to spread digital efforts through their organization for a fraction of the usual investment.

A 2017 study by TechPro Research found that 74% of businesses either had BYOD policies in place or were working towards adoption.

As it gains popularity, it’s accelerating the advancement of multiplatform trends like hybrid apps. Read on to learn more about BYOD, hybrid development, and the future of enterprise apps.

BYOD Origins

VOIP provider BroadVoice was the first to use the phrase Bring Your Own Device in 2004, but it didn’t see widespread usage until 2009 when Intel noticed that employees overwhelmingly preferred to use their own devices (tablets, smartphones, and laptops) over those issued by the company.

Within three years government bodies like the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had adopted a BYOD policy to meet demand.

The practice stagnated for a few years. It was more convenient and economical, but data plans at the time were pricey.

Employees hesitated to waste their personal data at work. When unlimited data plans grew more affordable, using a single device became more appealing.

Companies like IBM and Cisco wrote BYOD policies, and the trend started the rise that continues today.

The Power of BYOD

Lower costs for better results is what attracts most companies to BYOD.

They don’t need to include device purchases in their IT budget, so that extra working capital can be redirected to building or licensing more advanced enterprise software.

As far as the actual devices are concerned, it’s interesting to note that the average American upgrades their personal smartphones every 22.7 months.

That’s more than twice as often as companies update their office hardware. BYOD harnesses the upgrades employees are making anyway.

Companies end up with more sophisticated technology which is updated more frequently.

The effect on productivity can’t be understated, either. Any efficiency expert will agree that reducing the number of moving parts necessary to accomplish a goal increases efficiency.

In the course of a normal business day people use 2.3 different devices. BYOD cuts that number to one.

Staff are already familiar with their own devices, so software training is faster and there are fewer technical problems caused by user error. Employees have higher mobility, too.

Using personal devices for work reduces the amount of baggage they must take when travelling on business.

Enterprise CIO found that companies with a well-integrated BYOD policy realize a 16% increase in productivity over a standard 40 hour week.

Somewhat less obvious yet also important is the morale boost from BYOD. People today tend to have strong preferences about operating systems.

When employees can use their favorite OS instead of being forced to use disliked device conventions, it makes for a more relaxed workplace.

Plus, staff can claim partial tax credit for their devices and phone plans as work expenses.

Keeping morale high like this contributes to retaining valuable employees, especially those in hard-to-find technical specialties.

Potential Drawbacks

BYOD has been held back by some significant concerns. Some of these surround legal risks, such as the possibility of a device with company software being lost or accidental violations of labor laws.

These are procedural matters best addressed through policy and training.

For example, staff who are cleared for BYOD access should receive training on device accountability protocols and cybersecurity awareness.

Labor risks can be mitigated with productivity tracking software.

Much harder to address are technology-related issues. Without one standard device employers need to consider tech support for multiple devices and OS.

That increases service complexity, which raises price. It’s also hard to find support services who have the breadth of skill to provide guidance for everyone.

The biggest drawback to adopting BYOD, though, is compatibility. Apps needs to work on whatever OS employees are using.

To make that happen, companies end up building separate apps for any device they plan to support.

Their costs for creating new enterprise apps are effectively doubled, nullifying the potential savings from BYOD.

Bridging the Gap with Hybrid Apps

For a while companies were caught between the desire to save using a BYOD policy and a resistance to higher app development costs.

A solution rose for this contradiction: hybrid apps. Hybrid apps combine features of native and web apps to create something that eliminates many weaknesses of both.

They’re essentially a web app nested in a native “wrapper”. This “wrapper” is different for each platform, but the interior web application is the same for every version.

Web applications can thus run on a mobile device and access most of the device’s hardware functions like a native app.

In the past, native apps were always preferred over hybrid when possible. Native apps have full access to device hardware.

Historically they provided much faster performance than hybrid or web apps and functioned better in low signal areas, increasing overall availability.

They feature predictable design and device conventions tailored to each OS.

However, building native apps has major disadvantages. There’s not way to get around the fact that it’s slower and more expensive.

Developers must recreate the app from the ground up for each platform, even though the core functions will be the same.

It isn’t an ideal solution for companies trying to push digitization. The demand for enterprise apps grew five times faster than internal teams could handle last year, in part because of the need to build separate native apps.

There isn’t enough time to focus on native apps – but at the same time, the apps need to perform well enough to add value. Hybrid apps haven’t been able to deliver those results – until now.

Maturing Hybrid Technology

Driven by the dual pressures of demand for enterprise apps and the rising appeal of BYOD, hybrid app technology has advanced in leaps and bounds.

There’s a better selection of open source hybrid frameworks today than ever before (React Native, NativeScript, and Xamarin to name just a few).

Developers have their choice of powerful tools for building fast, responsive hybrid apps.

“Fast” isn’t just a sales pitch. JavaScript engines have been getting better with the result that hybrid app performance is nearing native level.

Today’s smartphones have processors and hardware that outperform those found in yesterday’s computers, too.

All things considered the difference in speed is small enough not to be noticeable for most enterprise purposes.

Hardware access has come a long way as well. When hybrid apps were first introduced they could only interact with a limited number of device features.

Support for new features was slow to appear in hybrid libraries. Now, there are JavaScript libraries that that access nearly every feature necessary for enterprise app development.

Design used to be a problem with hybrid apps. However, the standardization of WebViews by Android and iOS has made design more consistent across devices.

Development is also faster and less expensive since the same codebase can be reused.

The advancement of hybrid apps shifts the balance between risks and rewards for many businesses.

Combined with the SaaS trend rising in tandem with hybrid, hybrid apps solve two BYOD problems: compatibility and support.

SaaS providers can provide hybrid apps for any devices a company’s employees might use.

Because they have the expertise to build for a device, they clearly have the knowledge to troubleshoot the app regardless of OS.

With these changes, hybrid apps are emerging as a leading BYOD solution.

Could BYOD Push Hybrid Past Native?

Hybrid is definitely gaining ground for BYOD-oriented apps.

Some tech leaders have suggested that hybrid has come so far there’s no need for native apps anymore, but that’s a premature statement at the moment.

There are still times when native is the better choice. Hybrid apps can’t handle graphics-heavy games and apps without disrupting performance, for example.

However, for most enterprise purposes hybrid will be fast enough and the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Are you considering adopting a BYOD policy or building a hybrid app but need information to put together a business case? Concepta’s developers have the experience to guide your company’s digital strategy. Schedule a free consultation today!

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Backend-as-A-Service: What It Is, How It Works, and Where It’s Going

backend-as-a-service

As demand increases for enterprise apps, so does the parallel need for rapid development.

Companies are continually pushing their developers to produce apps and other enterprise software faster without sacrificing quality.

BaaS, or “Backend as a Service”, is one tool software developers use to meet those demands.

BaaS Basics

BaaS, also known as mBaaS (mobile Backend as a service) is a middleware approach in which APIs (unified application interface) and SDKs (software developer kits) are used to connect applications to cloud-based backend services rather than building a backend on a client’s own on-site servers.

Simply put: SDKs and APIs connect the frontend to the backend via the cloud.

BaaS takes an “API First” approach. APIs are built first, then serve as the base for building different platforms (like Android or iOS).

Because the backend is provided in the cloud, the client doesn’t need to purchase, build, and maintain their own hardware.

BaaS also allows for management and in-app features like:

  • User management
  • Push notifications
  • Social media integration
  • Messaging/Chat
  • Location services

Benefits of BaaS

Speed

Setting up BaaS is both quicker and easier than building out a traditional backend.

Many tedious or low value tasks involved in backend development are common to most apps.

BaaS seeks to automate most of these. It can be set up in a matter of hours rather than spending weeks writing a regular backend.

Freed of the backend burden, developers can focus on frontend quality. They create the MVP faster, so companies are quicker to realize ROI.

The overall development process is typically half the length of a traditional development approach. In some cases, it’s a mere 25% of the usual time requirement.

Cost

Labor costs for BaaS projects are noticeably lower.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that a shorter development timeline means fewer labor hours, but it isn’t the only relevant factor.

Developers also need a smaller team for projects using BaaS.

The learning curve for the technology is gentle, too, so less experienced team members can set it up while senior developers handle more complex components.

Those higher-paid developers don’t waste their time on repetitive, low-value tasks.

Hardware is another point of savings. Companies don’t need to build new servers; their app data is stored securely by the BaaS provider and accessed through the cloud.

Besides the lower initial investment, companies can scale their app as it grows without adding more hardware.

All they have to do is upgrade their subscription plan.

When everything is considered, the cost of a software development project can be reduced up to 80% using a BaaS.

BaaS to the Future

BaaS is relatively new but growing in popularity with developers as it matures.

BaaS allows easy access to cloud storage, a broad suite of developer tools, lower upfront costs, and the potential for rapid development.

All this makes BaaS a solid option for building reliable, economical enterprise apps on a tight schedule.

There have been some high-profile failures in the past that damaged public trust. Parse is probably the most recognizable.

It supported over 60,000 apps when Facebook bought it in 2013, but by 2016 Facebook announced it was open sourcing Parse in preparation for a shutdown.

Parse hadn’t been able to establish a reliable revenue stream to compensate for the features it offered.

Even before Parse shut down, though, other options embraced profitable business models that allow them to sustain themselves while still saving clients money over traditional backend solutions.

Today’s providers like Firebase and Appcelerator are more reliable than the early options.

With the fear of platform collapse eased, consumer trust in BaaS has returned in a big way.

The global market for BaaS is projected to reach $31.6 billion by 2020. Major companies like Mitsubishi Electric and Avis Budget Group use BaaS for their mobile apps.

Look for increased growth as the general focus on mobile technologies intensifies.

 

Concepta is proud to use BaaS technologies like Appcelerator to cut development timelines and create stunning apps on a surprisingly reasonable budget. To find out more, schedule your free consultation today!

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Application Performance Vs Scalability: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

application performance vs scalability

Performance and scalability are two of the key aspects of software design.

It used to be an acknowledged fact that developers had to sacrifice performance to build highly scalable software, but that isn’t true for modern applications.

Now advanced technologies are available to preserve performance as software scales.

Building for Performance

“Performance” refers to the speed and effectiveness of a system under a given workload within a given time frame.

In layman’s terms, it measures how well software can perform its intended task.

Several factors are included under the “performance” umbrella, specifically:

  • Speed: how much time the system takes to transmit data
  • Throughput: the number of transactions successfully executed per second
  • Responsiveness: how long it takes an application to respond to a request
  • Availability: the percentage of time an application is usable

Achieving an acceptable level of performance is absolutely mandatory when developing software.

If the application doesn’t work, it’s a waste of resources. Internal employees won’t use products that only add to technological complexity.

Customers may download a app if the marketing is effective, but they’ll abandon it after one use. In both cases people will be less likely to download later apps.

Scaling for Success

Scalability” is the ability of software to handle a sudden increase in workload.

The increase could come from a surge in simultaneous users, a rising amount of data being processed, more individual requests for access, or anything else that placed higher demands on available resources.

Scaling can be achieved by “scaling up” or “scaling out”. Scaling up (or scaling vertically) means using better or higher capacity resources.

For example, running an application on a machine with a faster CPU would be vertical scaling.

Scaling up is incredibly simple; the same application can be run on the more powerful machine without changing it.

However, this solution can’t be applied infinitely since there’s only so much more advanced the hardware can get within a reasonable time frame.

It also gets more expensive as it scales into pricier equipment.

Scaling out (otherwise known as horizontal scaling) involves adding more resources to a system by adding more nodes within it.

Running an application on multiple computers as opposed to one machine is a way to scale horizontally.

Because the added machines can be of the same type, scaling out carries a lower cost. It’s easy to do without significant downtime.

Without the proper application architecture, though, scaling out can lead to a drop in performance as the nodes struggle to communicate with each other.

Finding a Balance

While performance is critical, it would be a mistake to label it the priority and regard all other traits as secondary.

Scalability affects performance as an application grows, and applications are usually meant to grow.

Planning for scalability from the start is cheaper and easier- but there’s no need to sacrifice performance when preparing for the future. Apps can be both fast and scalable.

The vast majority of global scale applications (like Google or Amazon) scale out.

They narrow the performance gap by implementing a number of modern technologies.

  • Load balancing software intelligently spreads the processing load over the available nodes, providing maximum availability and throughput.
  • Programming languages like Node.js enable lightweight apps that run on fewer servers.
  • Cloud databases make it easy to add more storage without disrupting availability.

The trick is that these tools must be incorporated into an application’s architecture from the beginning.

The small amount of time building for scale adds to the development schedule makes a huge difference in an app’s performance at scale.

When other benefits like lower overall maintenance costs and longer application lifetimes are considered, there’s no reason scalability shouldn’t be considered in every app that will be used outside a single office.

Performance may be the most noticeable trait of applications, but scalability keeps apps running well under pressure. Considering both during development is just good business.

How big will your next app get? Concepta’s mobile experts have the experience in scaling tools to prepare your company for its next knockout application! Contact us today for a free consultation.

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What is the Difference Between Mobile Web, Native, and Hybrid Apps?

mobile-web

More than 10 years ago, businesses were told that they need to have a website. And so they did. Now, businesses are told to have a mobile app. And now they’re listening. So why do you need one?

As more and more people are using their smartphones to search information on the go, your company needs to be within reach. Mobile users are going to want the convenience of finding you, contact you, and connect with you, so having a presence is vital to your company’s success.

With plenty of options out there, what type of application should you choose? Here, we will discuss the big three: mobile web, native, and hybrid apps.

Mobile Web App

Many companies will choose a mobile web app for its ease, simplicity, and affordability. The main purpose of this application is to display information. Think of it as a no muss, no fuss option. The top reasons for building this app are:

  • Maintenance is faster
  • Development is faster
  • No app store approval needed, so time is saved
  • Will run on all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc)
  • Access is through the device’s web browser so no downloading or installing is needed
  • More code reuse availability if you already have a web application

Native App

For better performance and higher ranking on UX, a native app is the best option. The main purpose of this application is to create an engaging and interactive user experience that is developed for each specific device. Reasons why companies build this app are:

  • Quick response time
  • High performance
  • Specific to each mobile device type
  • Users find apps easily through the app stores and marketplace
  • Content is cached to allow offline usage so wifi connection is not needed
  • Access to all hardware APIs (e.g. geolocation, accelerometer, cameras, sensors, touch id, etc.)

Hybrid App

For those who like the simplicity of a mobile web app but wants the power of a native app, a hybrid app will appeal to both demands. It does not rely on platform-specific APIs from iOS, Android, and Windows Phone so it will run on all smartphone devices. Reasons to build this app are:

  • It is a mobile web app that is compiled
  • Hardware APIs will be accessible
  • Offline support is available
  • Mobile web apps can convert into a hybrid app

Forward Thinking

So, who has the advantage? Native apps, mobile web apps or hybrids? That depends. Are we looking at today or the future?

Hybrid apps are clearly inferior to both native and web apps. Slow load times and reliance on third party programs, such as PhoneGap are signs of a phase out, not of progress. Current technology makes native apps a superior experience for now, but if we’re thinking with tomorrow’s technology in mind, we know this is a temporary situation. A few advances here and there, and native apps may be on their way out. The way it stands, unless the app is Candy Crush or Evernote, it’s difficult to get a consumer to download an app. Even a free app is a commitment. It takes up space. Unless there is special functionality only available with a native app to get them past the “app download phobia” native apps can fail miserably. On the other hand, a web app provides a rich experience while avoiding the download resistance.

If you’re looking for someone to build an app for you or if you still have questions, contact our team.

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