If you’re reading a review of the summer blockbuster you’re about to invest $12.50 in, “exciting” and “unpredictable” are encouraging words.

If you’re discussing the progress of your critical software development project, not so much.

Without proper Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), excitement and unpredictability may be exactly what you’re used to getting from your software development processes.

By providing clear, controlled processes and tools for designing, testing, and deploying software, ALM can replace excitement and surprises with predictability and repeatable, successful results. By making your software development process less “exciting,” you free up the mental and emotional capacity of your organization to stop stressing over the process and start envisioning the innovations that can drive your business forward.

Not what your development team should look like

Software engineering has evolved as a discipline over the past 70 years, and modern ALM is the end product of that evolution. By leveraging the lessons learned and best practices encompassed in ALM, your business will simply see better and faster software development, but will also gain some perhaps unexpected additional benefits.

1. Breathing Room for Innovation

If IT spends too much time on maintenance and project overruns, it can only focus on co-developing a handful of innovative technologies or projects with other business units. Worse, it could be forced to deal with more projects than it can realistically handle, and all of them will suffer as a result. With the poor planning and requirements that result from such an environment, you’ll get stuck in a continual game of catch-up, putting innovation on the back burner.

“I think the new kitchen might have a wait.”

ALM brings together all impacted stakeholders to ensure that projects proactively address all needs and that the organization is working as a cohesive team. Development teams can thereby respond quickly to both customers and stakeholders, freeing up time for future innovations.

Innovation starts when your key people have time to explore original ideas — nobody envisions a beautiful new addition to a house which is currently on fire. A good ALM process provides the breathing room that is essential for fostering collaboration and enables a focus on innovating for the future rather than scrambling to fix the mistakes of the past.

2. Maximized Efficiency

When everyone is on the same page, projects run more smoothly. Time spent rewriting software because of misunderstood requirements is time wasted — and that time loss leads to frustration for both your development teams and your business stakeholders. Applications implemented without an ALM process frequently don’t sufficiently involve end users and other stakeholders in the process, which can lead to features that aren’t aligned with user needs, time-consuming re-releases, delays, and unnecessary maintenance requests. With appropriate ALM processes, requests can quickly be gathered and integrated into the product as it evolves, reducing excessive back-and-forth discussions and the delay between envisioning a feature and seeing it as a working reality. Misunderstandings of requirements or goals are caught earlier in the development process, before they can do damage to the project timeline and your team’s mental health.

The efficiencies that ALM brings aren’t isolated to IT; these benefits also spread to other business units that interact with IT (in other words, all of them). Developers spending time re-engineering code that was based on missed requirements are unhappy and wasting time — but so are business stakeholders who are re-explaining requirements they thought they’d made clear in the first place. Driving an effective software development process makes effective and efficient use of everyone’s time.

3. Stability

Change is inevitable in both business and technology. Today’s cutting-edge software is tomorrow’s obsolete legacy system. In this environment, it is critical to have a consistent process for dealing with change. Although specific applications, technologies, and business requirements will always be changing, the procedure for successful implementations doesn’t have to. With this stability of process, you’re building a solid foundation for innovation and for delivering what is promised when it was promised.

4. Continual Improvement 

As with any process, both quality and speed can increase with experience. Mature ALM processes are easier to follow, and experienced analysts, project managers, and trainers can guide new team members once the initial adoption curve of ALM is overcome. ALM is not a one-time benefit; it is an approach that builds continual improvement directly into your software development, ensuring that your processes continue to evolve and improve alongside your business.

5. Enhanced Talent Recruitment and Retention

When best practices have been laid out and people have well-defined roles, friction is minimized. Your software development teams can get their excitement from working on (and envisioning) new innovations for your business, not from panic attacks about whether production will go down again today. This environment creates a network for referrals and enables key contributors to be happy and satisfied with their output and work. With ALM as a focus, top talent will be drawn to your organization — and will want to stay.

Attract developers with The right stuff:
These guys happy when things were well-planned and uneventful.

And key talent is the cornerstone of innovation. That’s why Apple and Tesla spend massive sums of money trying to bring in the right people. It’s why Facebook and Google fight over the top talent in the San Francisco Bay Area. As your ALM maturity improves, a virtuous circle is created in which a healthy and creative development environment attracts top talent — and those talented team members apply their expertise to evolve your processes even further.

Innovation occurs when IT is working as a well-functioning machine, not as a source of drama. Give your team members the tools and processes they need to make the software development process predictable and “boring.” They — and your business stakeholders — will be able to focus on creativity and innovation for your business, leaving the explosive excitement to Michael Bay.

For more information on how Technossus can help you drive innovation and efficiency through ALM, see our ALM services offerings or contact us here.

Technossus has always been proud of the quality of our software development processes and the business results they allow us to deliver. Today, we’re especially proud to announce that we have been certified by Microsoft as an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Gold partner, adding Microsoft’s seal of approval to that of our satisfied clients.

Technology is our passion; we love staying current on the cutting edge and identifying how the latest innovations can be used in new and creative ways to solve real world problems.  But raw technical know-how alone is not enough.

“No matter how brilliant your developers are, if you aren’t supporting them with modern application development methodology and tools, you aren’t enabling them to deliver at the peak of their potential,” says Kevin Castle, Technossus CTO. “Done right, ALM provides a framework that empowers developers and connects business stakeholders to ensure that expectations are met and projects can be delivered successfully and reliably.”

As a software development & systems integration consulting firm, delivering the business results our clients expect on time and on budget is not just a priority for Technossus— it’s the priority.  So we’ve taken best practices from Microsoft and other industry leaders and integrated them with our own hard-earned experience to continually evolve our ALM processes. And now, through our ALM assessment, strategy, and training services, we are bringing that expertise to our clients.

“We’ve had great success in delivering software solutions for our clients, but some projects belong in-house and in the hands of clients’ own IT,” says Ravnish Bhalla, Technossus CEO. “Using our knowledge and experience to help our clients evolve their development processes enables us to be a better partner. Our goal is to see our clients succeed, and our ALM services are one more way that we can help make that happen.”

With gold certification, Technossus joins a select group of companies (less than twenty in the United States) recognized by Microsoft for ALM expertise. In addition to ALM, Technossus also holds Microsoft certifications in Application Development as well as Systems Integration, and provides consulting services across the Microsoft technology stack, mobile application development, and cloud computing.

Learn more about Technossus’ ALM offerings here.

If you want to innovate in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, you need to get to market as quickly as possible — or someone else will beat you to it.

You don’t always have the luxury of checking off a 15-point list and hoping that you have something that works by the end of your development process. This is especially true in the tech sector, where software can achieve success or failure in less time than it takes people to get tired of SXSW.

More and more companies are turning away from linear development methods such as Waterfall and turning to the Agile and Scrum implementation methodologies to stay ahead of the game. Read Technossus CTO Kevin Castle’s full article here.

For this quarter’s innovation project, the Technossus team successfully combined two innovative technologies — Google Glass and IBM Watson — to create an intuitive healthcare diagnostics tool.

Using Xamarin tools, we developed a Google Glass app in .NET Framework over the course of one week. We utilized the best parts of Google Glass — hands-free services, the embedded microphone, and Internet connectivity — to transcribe spoken language into text, which was then connected to IBM Watson’s back-end expert healthcare data services. This allowed users wearing Google Glass to get answers to complex medical questions by using nothing more than natural voice queries.

The Inspiration Behind This Project

The idea for this app came from observing how physicians and first responders have used Google Glass and IBM Watson separately to advance the healthcare field. For example, Google Glass has been used for visually guided disaster and mass casualty training, lending support to physicians and first responders in situations in which hand-operated devices were unavailable. This approach is intended to improve users’ performance, decision-making, timing, and education in the field.

IBM’s recent upgrades to Watson created a personalized healthcare resource by adding cloud API and evidence-based learning. Now, Watson can respond to unique inquiries from healthcare professionals or patients and offer possible diagnoses, solutions, home cures, recommended actions, etc. And if integrated into healthcare settings, the system could save time, improve diagnosis accuracy, and provide more up-to-date healthcare information than any individual could retain.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and WellPoint, a private healthcare company, have already begun testing Watson’s diagnostic powers in matters related to lung, prostate, and breast cancers. After teaching Watson millions of pages worth of in-depth, complicated medical information, Watson’s success rate for diagnosing lung cancer was 90 percent — a vast improvement over the 50 percent success rate for human doctors.

The Combined Power of IBM Watson and Google Glass

Our team saw potential in combining these technologies in hopes of assisting medical professionals in a hospital or first responder setting — especially those who don’t always have the time or resources to research medical questions, injuries, or symptoms. Now, with the use of this application, users can ask questions in intense healthcare settings and get answers back from IBM Watson’s extensive internal knowledge base within seconds.

Our hope with this innovation project was to push the boundaries of these technologies and adapt them to be beneficial to healthcare professionals.

By combining the non-intrusive portability of Google Glass with the data-packed intuition of IBM Watson, we were able to create health information technology that can assist healthcare professionals in entirely new ways. And a system like this has the potential to improve patient outcomes, cut costs, reduce treatment times, close the healthcare personnel gap, and increase educational resources.

Technology is playing an exponentially larger role in healthcare and shaking up the major players in healthcare software solutions. That’s why, at Technossus, we’re constantly striving to be one step ahead of everyone else with our projects and products. We’re pushing the boundaries of mobile and cross-platform development in professional and enterprise settings, using both established and emerging technologies in ways that others might not think of.

A recent study by SmartAsset ranked Orange County, California as one of the top regions in the U.S. for pay in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) professions.

Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, SmartAsset looked at 40 different STEM professions, including computer programming, in over 400 of the largest metro areas in the country.  They found average STEM pay in Orange County to be $93,437, closely following other top California STEM cities, including San Francisco and San Jose.

And while many of the most recognized STEM successes have come from the technology arena, the research revealed that in general, math and engineering professionals earn $130,000 on average in the metro areas studied.

The article also recognized Technossus as one of the notable STEM employers in the Orange County area. In addition to incentivizing job candidates and employees, Technossus continues to be involved in local programs to encourage young people to pursue study and careers in STEM, including sponsoring and mentoring a team of UC Irvine Computer Science undergraduates as they pursue their senior project.

For the full article, go to:  https://smartasset.com/career/the-best-cities-for-pay-in-stem.

Strategic partnership offers the best in collaboration tools, customized software and technical consulting services.

Los Angeles, CA and Irvine, CA (PRWEB) February 24, 2015 

Incentive, a leading provider of a complete, socially powered enterprise collaboration platform for mid-market organizations and enterprise teams, today announced a strategic partnership with Technossus, a technology consulting and software solutions provider. This partnership enables small to mid-sized businesses to easily identify and integrate software and consulting services that enhance business operations, internal collaboration and information sharing.

As part of the partnership, Technossus’ clients will be able to leverage Incentive’s social collaboration platform, enabling businesses to communicate effectively and store knowledge in a secure central repository that is easily searchable and retrievable. Additionally, Incentive will offer Technossus’ suite of consulting and integration services and extensive experience in enterprise applications to its clients. The partnership will also include joint participation in programs related to social collaboration and technology integration, including hackathons, trade shows, events and awards.

Technossus will also leverage Incentive’s API to develop custom applications, which will be available to joint customers as part of the Incentive suite. Technossus recently adopted Incentive and implemented a company-wide rollout.

“Our partnership with Technossus is another step in our ongoing effort to make Incentive available to as many SMBs as possible, demonstrating that true collaboration can best be achieved by integrating your company’s formal knowledge with your people’s informal knowledge – all in one place,” said Rickard Hansson, CEO and founder of Incentive. “Technossus is a fast-growing, forward-thinking organization, and we look forward to working together to deliver exciting technology solutions to our clients.”

“After using Incentive within our own business, we quickly realized our customers would greatly benefit from the improved collaboration and productivity this tool offers,” said Kevin Castle, CTO of Technossus. “We are eager to identify new opportunities together in our commitment to find technology solutions for modern businesses.”

Incentive is making social collaboration and intelligence sharing secure by offering airtight data privacy, protection and control of business information. All content – whether a wiki, blog, document, IM or video conversation – is centralized, making it accessible by every employee through a simple, intelligent search. Incentive’s platform enables an effective way of achieving a more productive and collaborative business environment.

Technossus provides software services including technology consulting and technical services to design, build and maintain software systems primarily for the healthcare and life sciences industries. In the past two years, Technossus has ranked as one of Inc. 5,000’s fastest growing private companies in the U.S.

About Incentive

Incentive is a leading provider of a complete, socially powered enterprise collaboration platform for mid-market organizations and enterprise teams that want to achieve improved profitability, increased efficiency and accelerated business results. With an easy-to-use interface, Incentive’s platform enables businesses to capture, collaborate and secure knowledge all in one place by tapping the power of their employees – the collective brain trust – to be better, stronger and faster than their competitors. Designed for organizations using Microsoft apps and architecture, Incentive allows users to take advantage of existing workflow apps, storage systems, and document management tools such as SharePoint in one central location, with single sign on and intelligent search. Its features include wikis, blogs, micro blogging, document collaboration, file sharing, instant messaging, video conversations, social behavior UX and API-based platform for app development. Founded in 2008, Incentive has helped thousands of customers worldwide accelerate positive business outcomes through improved collaboration and communication. The company has headquarters in Los Angeles and Malmo, Sweden. For more information visit incentive-inc.com and follow on Twitter @IncentiveInc.

About Technossus

Technossus is an Irvine, CA based technology consulting and software services company, dedicated to partnering with clients to develop custom solutions for business transformation and growth. Since 2008, we have provided enterprise-class software development, systems integration and advanced technology guidance to clients in a number of rapid growth industry verticals, enabling them to increase agility, enhance productivity and improve business performance. Our highly collaborative engagement involves understanding our client’s unique operational goals and challenges, and combining emerging technologies with structured delivery models to develop customized, mission-critical business solutions. For more information, visit technossus.com, and follow the company on LinkedIn and on Twitter @technossus.

Entrepreneurial media platform IdeaMensch recently interviewed Technossus CTO Kevin Castle and got his take on, among other things, what makes a great leader, which technology trends fascinate him, and the importance of making lists.

Read the full interview here:  IdeaMensch – Kevin Castle

Technossus began using “Incentive Winter 2015,” Incentive’s new version of their socially-powered enterprise collaboration platform, as part of a company-wide initiative to convert from using multiple LOB applications to a single, unified tool for collaboration and knowledge store.  The updated version includes new and enhanced features, including improved video chat functionality, Microsoft Azure-powered private and hybrid cloud options, and improved app management.

“At Technossus, we needed a single repository that enabled us to communicate effectively and store knowledge that’s easily searchable and accessible to all, rather than individual e-mail inboxes,” said Harrison Spain, Director of Software Development at Technossus. “While there are many other systems out there, Incentive stood out in many ways, including performance, familiarity, simplicity and ease of use.”

For the full press release, click here:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/01/prweb12463802.htm

“Acquiring preemptive knowledge about emerging technologies is the best way to ensure that we have a say in the making of our future.”
– Catarina Mota

As we begin a new year, business and technology leaders are reflecting on the year that has passed and what to expect in 2015. There are no shortage of predictions – from the conservative to the grandiose – making it challenging at times to filter out the fluff and find the solid, research-backed forecasts that guide our development decisions and enable us to provide real value to our clients.  That’s why we appreciated a recent Forbes article presenting a roundup of enterprise technology predictions from key analysts and industry thought leaders.  We present here some of the links and share our own perspectives on the trends they highlight.

 Top 10 Trends in Business Intelligence in 2015 (Tableau)

Over the past decade, we’ve seen business Intelligence (BI) evolve from a consulting buzzword to an essential tool for enabling enterprise decision-making and strategy.  Tableau’s list highlights the expansion of business intelligence across enterprises: Analytics are becoming more powerful (cloud analytics), being used for more purposes (i.e. social analytics), and appearing on more devices (mobile). Where once BI meant canned dashboards crafted exclusively for the C-suite, analytics are becoming part of the toolset of users across the entire enterprise, and up and down the corporate hierarchy.  For 2015, the expectation is analytics of everything, for everyone, running everywhere.

Enterprise Tech Predictions for 2015 (Business Insider)

Business Insider’s seven tech trends mirror the priorities and challenges we are already seeing with our clients:  Enterprise-class mobile applications are becoming an expectation rather than an exception, but with mobility comes an increasing need to focus on security and governance.  The old governance model of locking everything down is a non-starter (BYOD is here and isn’t going away) but at the same time enterprises must ensure that their data and assets are protected.  Whether it is HIPPA in healthcare or PCI in finance, adherence to industry standards is a start, but increasingly represents the beginning of a security journey, not the end.

In addition, big data and cloud computing’s expansion will only accelerate in 2015 and beyond, posing an additional question for security (but perhaps providing an answer for some IT departments as they conclude putting trust in Amazon/Google/Microsoft’s security is a lower risk than attempting to secure their own).  As Business Insider notes, competition is fierce:  Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains a dominant player, but we saw a noticeable shift in interest towards Microsoft’s Azure in 2014.  Amazon won’t be standing still in 2015, however, and Google’s offerings are also coming up fast.  This makes for an exciting time to be a cloud consumer, and we expect all players’ offerings to evolve rapidly both in feature set and capacity as competition drives the pace of innovation.

 2015 CRM Predictions to Fire up Customer Success and Growth (ComputerWorld – Eric Berridge)

Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, declares “You will win or lose customers based on your digital experience” and we have to agree. As the digital surface area on which organizations connect with their customers has expanded from simple websites to include mobile, social networking and rich online functionality, the bar is being raised on expectations for UI/UX and providing a unified, positive digital experience.  The latest generation of young consumers expects every digital interaction to be as easy to use as their smartphone and as friendly as their favorite social network.

And the same expectations are coming from employees as well.  Enterprise social networks (ESNs) have had many false starts, but have matured to the point that enterprises are no longer asking “if” but rather “when” and “which” to complement and ultimately replace LOB tools that have reached their maximum utility.  Within our own organization we’ve implemented Incentive, an ESN that has significantly improved employees’ knowledge sharing and “connectedness.”  We see great opportunity in this space going forward, as ESN’s mature further and offer even greater features such as messaging, audio/video conferencing and other collaboration tools.

2015 Technology Predictions for CIOs (The Enterprisers Project)

The Enterprisers Project highlights cross-platform development as a key trend, and our experience backs up their claim. Toolsets such as Xamarin/Angular /jQuery have evolved significantly and now present real options for build-once development that has few, if any, disadvantages versus native development.

2015 Predictions: Microsoft Believes in Clouds Everywhere (Virtualization Review)

Chris Van Wesep, director of Product Marketing for Microsoft, describes Microsoft’s vision of cloud computing for 2015 and makes a key point:  “The benefit of [connected cloud services] is that application development and deployment activities can happen regardless of the destination cloud (or clouds), enabling application mobility and customer flexibility of choice.”

As Van Wesep notes, enterprises and users care about services and functionality, not about whether they are being provided on-premise or via the cloud. Creating a seamless and consistent user experience will be a crucial component of enterprise technology development for 2015 and beyond.

2015 Predictions: EMC Spins Off VMware, Azure Catches Up to AWS (Virtualization Review) 

This Virtualization Review article has some bold predictions on EMC, VMWare and ServiceNow, to which we’ll simply say – we’ll see!  But the second point of Azure’s growth matches our experience as noted earlier:  interest is clearly growing and Microsoft is definitely betting their business on winning the cloud wars.

Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2015 and Beyond (Gartner)

Gartner isn’t satisfied with just assessing 2015 trends – their predictions extend to 2020 and beyond (spoiler:  sadly, no jetpacks or flying cars anticipated).  Their emphasis on a growing focus on customer experience innovations rings true, and the specific example of retail businesses utilizing technology such as messaging and internal positioning systems (IPS) is one we’re already seeing implemented with some of our own clients.

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015 (Gartner)

Gartner hits by now familiar themes with their Top 10 trends:  computing everywhere, advanced and pervasive analytics, and growth in cloud computing all resonate with other commentary and our own experience.  Gartner goes beyond the virtual, however, and highlights both the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) market and an assessment that shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow by 98% in 2015.

Microsoft Business Predictions for 2015:  IoT matures, Cybersecurity Bulks up, and Machine Learning Gives Businesses a Big Advantage (Microsoft)

Microsoft’s Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, also highlights IoT as a key trend to watch, noting that Microsoft has seen a 430% increase in Bing searches for “IoT” in the past 12 months.  In addition, she expresses Microsoft’s belief that machine learning is maturing and will see exponential growth. We’ve found the Azure Machine Learning platform to be a compelling offering and have identified a number of interesting use cases, so we look forward to seeing machine learning technology continue to evolve in 2015.

The Enterprise In 2015 (TechCrunch)

Alison Wagonfeld, partner at Emergence Capital, also sees many of the same trends growing and maturing:  IoT, enterprise mobile apps, and consumerization of IT feature prominently in her predictions.  She also predicts that 2015 will be the year Google Glass finds its killer use case in healthcare applications – a domain that we are actually working on with clients ourselves.

While new enterprise technology predictions and trends continue to flare-up and flame-out, the major themes that built momentum in 2014 – namely, mobility, cloud, big data and analytics, optimized user experience, and underlying it all, security – will be the areas we will continue to closely monitor in 2015 and beyond.

Las Vegas, NV A hand-picked, five-person team of Technossus’ best and brightest developers headed to the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas along with over 700 other coder-types from around the world to compete for over $100,000 cash and prizes at the 2015 AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon.  This year’s challenge at one of the largest competitions of its type?  Build a completely original, technically sophisticated, fully-realized mobile app solution.  In a day.

This year’s team – consisting of Technossus developers Harrison Spain, Chris Woolum, Jay Esguerra, Aurelio Agundez and Chris Dinh –  quickly found their spot on the floor of the massive Rain Nightclub inside the resort and got down to serious hacking, give or take a few short breaks for caffeine re-fuel and Nerf Gun wars.  In addition to the $25,000 grand prize for Best Overall App, teams were able to compete in mobility-focused Accelerator Challenges with emerging technology themes like Connected Car, Home Automation, Wearables and Social Collaboration.  The teams had at their disposal a variety of gadgets and gear from sponsors, as well as support and encouragement from mentors and AT&T architects who regularly work on APIs such as M2X and WebRTC.

After speed-coding through the night, Team Technossus submitted “WeVerse,” built on the Microsoft Windows Universal App platform and featuring Couchbase, AT&T SDKs, Sponsored Data, Digital Life, WebRTC, and Advertising APIs.  The social collaboration app enables the user to create an online “watch party,” and invite people from anywhere in the world to join in and watch their favorite show or movie, while participating in live video chat at the same time.  Love watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and so does your brother in New York?  Love chatting about it even more?  WeVerse lets you to watch together as if you were in the same room.

Of the 600 entries submitted, the team made it into the final 20, earning the chance to present the app on the main stage to an audience of tech industry leaders, mentors and peers.  “We put together an entry that seamlessly combined many technologies and integrations, creating a fantastic user experience in 28 straight, intense hours of development,” said Technossus’ Director of Software Development Harrison Spain shortly after the presentation round.  “We’re excited that WeVerse was so well received by everyone we managed to get in front of, and to be able to present as one of the top teams in a competition like this was an amazing opportunity.”

The icing on the cake – Team Technossus beat out over 100 other teams to win the Windows Universal App Accelerator Challenge, taking home a check for $10,000.  Jay Esguerra, Technossus’ Product Development Practice Manager, attributes the Microsoft Challenge win to the amount of technical implementation involved in developing and presenting the app. “Microsoft appreciated the level of polish and completeness we brought to WeVerse, and we’re honored to have received their top prize at this event.”

Summing up the weekend, Chris Woolum, Technossus’ Emerging Technology Practice Manager and WeVerse main stage presenter, said, “AT&T did an amazing job in putting this hackathon together and we can’t thank them and Microsoft enough for giving us the opportunity to prove that Technossus has some of the best developers in the industry, building some pretty amazing things.”

For more photos of the Technossus team in action, check out our Facebook and Google+ pages.  For more info. on the event, see these roundups:

Sleepless nights and Red Bull: Welcome to this 36-hour Vegas hackathon

CES 2015: AT&T Wraps Biggest Hackathon with Focus on What’s Next

Sixth-annual Hackathon competition hits Las Vegas

It’s a new year and time to get hacking!
The Technossus development team is fired up to be heading to Las Vegas today to compete in the AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon, January 3-5 at the Palms Casino Resort.  We’ll be joining other teams of developers from around the country for two intense days of building and coding a mobile app solution with help from top sponsors and access to some of the best technical experts around.

Check out the AT&T Hackathon website for the full schedule and more details on the specific challenges at https://devsummit.att.com/hackathon, and be sure to check back here and on our Twitter page @technossus during the event for live updates, video and more!

Go Team Technossus!

The business model for hiring and retaining software developers is all too often reduced to a pure volume equation that trumps quantity over quality in a quest for the lowest bidder.  But as software becomes an increasingly integral part of modern society, it also becomes a means of creating competitive advantage for businesses that recognize technology as more than just a cost center.  Capitalizing on this opportunity requires abandoning the ‘developer as commodity’ perception ingrained in many executive suites.

How Did We Get Here?

No one will dispute that at its core, creative software development requires a highly specialized skill set. The most successful developers possess a relatively rare combination of technical acumen, focused discipline, communication skills to translate abstract concepts, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to turn a vision into working reality.

In the early days of the Internet (think Al Gore and ‘Information Superhighway’), programmers needed to possess these traits in abundance to navigate through the uncharted territory of a newly dot.com world. At the time, forward-thinking companies that invested in technology and software development sought out in-demand technologists who essentially did it all – programming, configuring, networking, installing and testing – and did it well.  It was a boom time, and developers were duly rewarded for their unique and important contributions to this newly connected world.

But as the 90’s drew to a close and the dot.com bubble burst, the craft of software development was forced to adapt and mature.  Standardized methodologies and patterns emerged, and software toolsets for enabling development grew more robust with each new release, making it easier and certainly much faster to design and develop the more easily managed solutions that were increasingly being demanded by the market.  Sensing opportunity, large global consultancies jumped on-board, and the offshore development model gathered steam, with “body shop” vendors offering a seemingly endless supply of developers an ocean away to churn out code not only cheaply, but literally around the clock.  The notion that software services could largely be commoditized began to take hold in the mindset of corporate America.

So What Happened?

As many predicted, the software industry is now experiencing the fallout from this emphasis on buying bodies instead of value. The number of large software development projects that fail every year is at an all-time high, due in large part to functionality issues, low quality, and poorly managed expectations and risks.  According to a recent McKinsey study of 5,400 companies, 66% of large (>$15 million) software projects went over budget, 33% went over schedule, and 17% delivered less overall value than predicted.  Another study found that 17% of large IT projects went so off course that they threatened the very existence of the company.

While it’s easy to point the finger at the companies that continue to promote and profit from these practices, the paying customer is also responsible for perpetuating this emphasis on volume.  Limited technical knowledge, shifting priorities and intense budgetary pressure have in equal doses contributed to the ongoing marginalization of the developer role.

So What Now?

We are now entering another exciting technology renaissance, and as in those early days of the Internet 20 years ago, software is the driver of this groundswell of innovation and advancement.  On one end is “the cloud,” or rather, “the clouds,” with industry titans Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others making an everything-as-a-service world a reality.  And on the other is the collection of devices that power business and our lives – what was once on the desktop has long since hopped to the laptop, then into our hands, and now our wrists, with other body parts sure to follow.

The good news is that this myriad of emerging technologies is opening up fresh avenues for competitive advantage, creating entirely new, disruptive businesses and even industries that were inconceivable just a few years ago.  But as in those early days, navigating these complex waters is not for the timid – rather, it requires the ability to fuse business opportunity with technology capability not just as a vision, but as a functional outcome that delivers results to society as a whole.  In short – not a commodity.

Businesses seem to be slowly getting the message.  According to a recent study from Dice.com, although the biggest need among employers of developers continues to be for core programming skills, this is quickly changing as this next generation of technologies realize their promise.  Through the first half of 2014, demand for senior level developers with knowledge of emerging technologies actually outpaced the need for core developers, and this shift is expected to continue.

And so the tide is turning, and the organizations that embrace this paradigm shift earliest will be those that reap the most benefit – both the companies that recognize and promote talent, and the consultancies and contractors that renew their focus on delivering real business value as opposed to just lines of code.

Along with our CEO, Ravnish Bhalla, and clinical lab professional Matt Watson, I was privileged to attend the 20th Anniversary Meeting of the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) last week in Washington DC, and connect with many great folks doing pioneering work in the field of genomics and molecular health. This year’s theme, “Realizing the Dream of Precision Medicine,” was on full display with dynamic sessions on science, practice and policy related to molecular pathology, and a rich variety of corporate partners and exhibiting companies presenting next-generation offerings.

One unmistakable trend was the explosion of interest in bioinformatics. AMP itself took a major step this year and established an Informatics Subdivision; informatics will now join Infectious Diseases, Hematopathology, Solid Tumors, and Genetics as specialization areas for members. Both in the program sessions and in the exhibit hall informatics was on full display as a key area of focus. Bioinformatics leaders exhibiting included GenomOncology, Omicia, NextCODE Health, BioDiscovery, Bina Technologies and more.

The most exceptional software isn’t of much use without data to work with, of course, and sequencing and testing equipment providers were out in full force as well. From industry titans Illumina and Life Technologies, to focused players such as RainDance Technologies, HTG Molecular, and Cancer Genetics, the exhibit hall was packed with the latest technologies and platforms to enable the vision of “precision medicine”.

In walking the floor of the exhibit hall, I was struck by both the pace of innovation in the field and the sheer complexity of the myriad devices, data sources, software solutions and tests on display. Each clearly offered a potential piece of the diagnostic puzzle, but at the same time, with each new device or widget comes a new challenge of integrating it into existing laboratory workflows and technologies.  It is clearly a challenge that won’t disappear anytime soon, and I expect “integration” to be a big theme of laboratory management and optimization in the coming years. Perhaps we’ll see AMP 2015 be “Realizing the Dream of Holistic Diagnostic Integration.”

So stay tuned for next year. Our team at Technossus is certainly looking forward to it…

We here at Technossus are rejoicing as Microsoft made another move towards making .NET an open source platform.  What this enables for any .NET developer is both immediate and far reaching.  We can immediately begin to consider .NET in multi-platform environments, rely on Xamarin as a long term solution for mobile application development, expand our service offerings in Azure to allow for .NET applications in Linux deployments, and many other exciting possibilities.  We are proud to be a Microsoft Gold Software Development Partner and to have the ability to leverage these new releases for our clients.

As we increasingly adopt AgularJS as the technology du jour for front-end web development, we are keeping our ears and eyes open for information on what’s next with the framework.  The battle drums for Angular 2.0 can now be heard just over the horizon and the ranks are quickly forming both for and against the next iteration of this toolset.

The most recent reveal by the Angular team at the NG Europe conference earlier this week revealed some drastic changes that immediately polarized the comunity.  The loss of some of the basic components of Angular 1.X such as controllers, directives and $scope will mean a necessary rewrite of any application using the current framework to get the benefits of an upgrade to 2.0. The new architecture is also meant to play well with Google’s programming language AtScript, which means yet another departure from the status quo.

With the release of 2.0 more than a year away, I don’t think there is a need to panic just yet.  Google is playing it smart by announcing some of the major changes early to give developers time to absorb and adapt.  Regardless, it will be a technology to continue to watch and evaluate as more information is released.

For more information, see:http://angularjs.blogspot.com/2014/10/ng-europe-angular-13-and-beyond.html
Harrison Spain, Director of Software Development
harrison.spain@technossus.com

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