Modernizing Customer-Facing App DevelopmentModernizing Customer-Facing App Development

This Pulse survey of 100 IT and engineering leaders uncovers how companies are prioritizing and optimizing customer-facing application development.

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How do you deal with feature creep and avoid shipping a feature set that is too narrow in its application, is not in high demand, and doesn’t generate enough customer base.

Top Answer : I'm really proud of the way our product management team has gone about this. We're really lucky at QuickBase, and most SaaS platforms are, because not only do you have all the input from customer success and from your customer advisory council and from salespeople and from market analysts and so on and so forth, you actually can look at how people are using the platform. You can see it because the data is all instrumented, which is awesome. The challenge is however, you have a ton of data to sift through and you've got to ultimately prioritize it.  The team has done a very effective job. They've built a QuickBase application that basically starts taking all that input and then what they do is, based on these problems, they try to delineate. Let's say it comes to 20 problems we aspire to solve. Then you have to stack rank, what are the 20 problems that you want to solve most acutely? And how do you do that? If you think of those as the rows in our table and our QuickBase tab, then the columns are really a view on what we think are the biggest priorities in the next year or two. We think about things like if expanding in the middle-market and above is a bigger opportunity for us, or are we really focused more on small business, or would we rather think about accelerating our growth in this segment. And we do this regularly, we ask ourselves, okay, are these still the right criteria based on the business strategy that myself and the rest of the senior leadership team have come about. Based on those criteria that we define, we then have a sense of, okay, these are the factors. And then we go through a robust discussion of how you weigh those factors, followed by a robust sort of evaluation criteria type discussion where we'll take this specific requirement and score it across these five factors that we've defined. And then let's debate. When that weighted average score comes out, let's really debate. Do we feel right about it?  You get to a place where you have a stack rank and then the line comes into place. The line is basically the cut line of, we have resources to reasonably commit to the stuff above, and we aren't going to be able to do this stuff below. You have to decide what's going to make the most sense and you have to be pretty ruthless about it because otherwise you really end up in a world where you're peanut buttering and you're dabbling, and you're not really sort of creating the breakthrough of innovation that customers care about because you are halfway on a bunch of stuff. You ultimately have to make decisions that serve the best interest of everybody in an impactful way. And that's going to mean some other thing that is also really important, we're just not going to get to it. We'd rather do one thing well than two things poorly. At an annual user conference, one of our customers pulled me aside and she said, “I heard about these announcements, and I'm really disappointed. You chose to do this.” The feature set was in the area of making end users' experience with QuickBase more visually delightful, easier to use all that kind of stuff. I was able to explain that we thought long and hard about it. The tradeoff was between getting a feature that makes your experience as a builder better, or making an experience where you can deliver something that your user is more delighted with. On the margin, it's a tough call, but I'd rather have a builder be in a position where they may not have what they want for your job right now, but where your users love what you deliver even more. And she was, she was like, that makes total sense. I totally buy into that. I'm really happy you made that choice in that way. It just reinforces the importance of always talking to customers and explaining what you're doing and why. Product management is a really hard job. You're making really hard decisions, prioritization, trade offs all the time. And you know, nobody's going to be happy all the time. I've found that the best way to address that is to try and build as many relationships as you can to just get feedback and tell people why you're making those decisions. Because by and large, they're going to give you a really good insight as to, “okay. I understand the tradeoff and I do it the same way,” or they'll tell you, “no, you totally missed the boat,” in which case that's a different problem.

Thinking about the architecture of applications, we've seen for a while now that monolithic applications have been unbundling into microservices. What is the future of microservice architecture?

Top Answer : The term microservice is another misused (or misrepresented ) term in Industry. While the concept of Microservice was conceptualized in Netflix, you have to understand that Enterprises run a lot more services than any of these product companies do. If you start breaking the services into micro services, you will get more services to manage.!The monitoring, recovery of these services becomes more difficult as the number of services grow. The unbundling of monolithic services need not necessarily require you to break your service architecture into micro services, you can also apply domain driven design for services, that will help you build a more flexible architecture without having to support many micro services.

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If these companies were affected then the foundation of computing could be at risk. If you could manipulate at the hardware layer via the firmware, BIOS, ect then a threat actor could weaponize well below the operating system which brings in to question the integrity of the entire computing stack and everything above it.  The firmware and bios are like the rebar and concrete for a building. If that foundation is weak then the entire structure and anything dependent on it is at risk. We cannot underestimate the potential or the severity of these companies being potentially affected by the SolarWinds hack and what that means for the foundational computing hardware they provide to the world.  What do others think ?  How could this impact your organization ?   Big tech companies including Intel, Nvidia, and Cisco were all infected during the SolarWinds hack - The Verge

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How Flexible is Your Customer Identity Solution?How Flexible is Your Customer Identity Solution?

In this survey, tech execs share some of the most common features and benefits they look for in a customer identity and access management (CIAM) tool.

Pulse Weekly Executive Briefing: Data ManagementPulse Weekly Executive Briefing: Data Management

Pulse does weekly deep dives into new products in enterprise industry. This week, we look at Data Management with Quilt Data.

Tips for IT/engineering leaders on how to meet business expectations, speed, and deliver as quickly as possible?

Top Answer : Keeping pace is particularly challenging when you have a small team. What I’ve done that I’ve found success with is applying gamification.  Before, my team suffered from a lot of delays, which affected the business.  Now I have a leaderboard for every task in the sprint planning, where performing a task accrues you points.  There are some other rules and details, but essentially, what this does is motivate and incentivize individuals on my team to not only come to work to get paid but also to feel a healthy amount of competitiveness amongst themselves and want to strive to do more in less time.  I’ve witnessed amazing results.  This has significantly increased my team’s productivity and our performance.   We’ve been able to deploy rapidly and complete a lot more tasks than ever before, even more than the tasks we had originally planned!  This kind of motivation ignites people. Before, when I ask my team who wants to own a task, no one would fight for it.  Now, they show so much interest.  “Robert, I want to do it!” “Robert, I could do it better!”  “Roberto, I can do it faster!”