Custom Platforms

Digital Product Development & Platforms Engineering

Enabling new business models by co-executing on successful agile product teams with our clients and partners

We partner with businesses who aim to future-proof themselves by digitally innovating on their business model

what we do
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At Icreon, we undertake every aspect of your digital initiative: from the planning and architecture, to design and UI, integration and implementation, testing and quality assurance to training and deployment.  We approach software in a variety of ways to ensure that we're maximally engrained into your business and the challenges you're trying to overcome.

To truly drive change and create superior technology, we practice 'ROI engineering', a methodology that ensures we're driving the maximum business value while optimizing costs, timeframes and risk to the business.

We leverage an approach that balances best-in-breed software development practices with the reality of effectively managing your IT costs. How? We focus on delivering excellent quality though design and engineering. We then assist your teams in adopting practical agile methods that reduce the time, effort & waste created during your product development process.

The future of building digital products

Developing software in the enterprise is more than engineering an end product. It's about helping your internal teams have a customer-centric view when thinking through the future of the business. Today, that means continuously delivering delightful experiences to customers and stakeholders.

What makes Icreon's Product teams Unique?

Digital innovation is redefining the market by having a true pulse of the market's needs. Icreon employs expert product managers, software architects and global product developers who are experts across software platforms - Java, Microsoft (.NET), Open-Source (Python & PHP) & frontend stacks (Angular & React), making Icreon a serious product development partner for those who are serious about building a product-driven business.

And while there are a number of technologies and frameworks we support, Icreon's product teams are unique for saying no to a number of other technologies. Today, because there is so much diversity in the technology tool-space, a critical aspect of building custom software is knowing what NOT to utilize, and forgoing tech-fads that are short-term favorites. This type of thinking enables clients and partners to invest confidently in their own technology and product teams, knowing that there won't be a dearth of tech talent or that they'll be left with an unsupported platform moving forward in the future.

Discover what Agile Excellence looks like
thoughts

See the baseline themes we employ when building custom digital platforms for and alongside our clients

Thoughts and Considerations

Cloud-scale

Preparing for high-availability platforms that can rapidly grow & mature

Performance

Optimizing technology to ensure that its resilient under the heaviest of workloads

User-first

Making software that prioritizes the needs of customers and stakeholders

Modular

Developing architectures that are loosely coupled and can be extended continuously

Self-service

Enabling customers and stakeholders to manage their own digital footprints

Growth-Facing

Driving organizational and brand growth by innovating on digital sales channels

Integrate-able

Architecting features and components to play friendly with legacy & third party systems

Cognitive

Leveraging the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence to create better experiences

Secure

Fortifying digital ecosystems against malevolent external (and internal) threats

Docker
Java
Kubernetes
Mongo
Mulesoft
MySQL
Neo4
Net
Node
Oracle
Pentaho
Python
Salesforce
Selenium
Swift
Tableau

Platforms we leverage to accelerate Digital IP & Product Development

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The Importance of Digital Prototyping in Product Development

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Product Development is Evolving

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The Coming Renaissance in Product Development

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Create Better Products Through Design Thinking

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The Importance of Digital Prototyping in Product Development

In today’s dynamic world, innovation is fundamentally a continuous process. The ever-increasing pace has made the threat of disruption as the new normal. And to secure market share, one has to develop an effective strategy to complement the innovation.

Digital prototyping is an indispensable stage of innovation. It provides a test-run of your ideas in a controlled and economically feasible fashion. Eliminating redundancy, it allows you to focus on the core areas and implement pertinent variations.

What is a digital prototype?

A digital prototype is a simulation or sample demo of a product/service that allows one to assess the applicability of the product by testing the underlying hypothesis and virtually scrutinize the digital product before it is developed into a minimum viable product (MVP).

Cloud technologies and open-source platforms significantly relax the financial constraints and allow the test-run in a cost-friendly manner. Thus, digital prototype development incorporates low costs but provides invaluable insights.

At Icreon, we work across diverse array of industries to help our clients in removing operational bottlenecks by dealing with the precise technological pain points. Solving problem statements with intelligence and creativity, we aim to maintain long-term relations with our clients.

What do you need a digital prototype?

Prototyping is a rewarding process not only from technological viewpoint but also from business aspects. Providing a compelling vision and define the scope spectrum, prototyping enables you to test your theories and understand the weak ends. It is an iterative process that is the building block for a robust product.

It involves:

  • Understanding user interaction by testing with the ‘actual’ users.
  • Pragmatically validating your base assumptions to gauge feasibility.
  • Recognizing any design issues to eliminate redundancy and focusing on relevant aspects.
  • Collecting data to refine the product.

This process provides feedback from your target customer base. Thus, enabling you to improve and to adapt the digital product based on stakeholder requirements. It mitigates product risk by filtering the design flaws and, thereby, allowing you to rectify them at an early stage. It shows you how capable is the proposed solution to solve the problem statement and provides information required for long-term developments. In a time-sensitive scenario, prototyping can also aid to prioritize design requirements. Prototyping involves testing at granular levels to construct the digital product that resonates with the stakeholders’ needs. For instance, Amazon established a strong, ubiquitous foothold in the online marketplace by placing stakeholders’ needs as its key element.

Prototyping could be further granulated as horizontal and vertical. Horizontal prototyping provides a holistic view of the system, clarifying key components, focusing on user interaction and usually used at first leg of function definition stage. Vertical prototyping works with testing these key components for effective integration and usually used at latter stage of function definition stage. Thus, prototyping provides crucial data that can transform the product into a successful innovation.

Icreon understands the power of data-driven decision making. This data could be in varied forms. Thus, we work closely with our clients to precisely comprehend their requirements, constraints and deliverables. With strong belief in the transformative power of technology, we help businesses become more profitable, more efficient and more agile.

How to build a digital prototype?

While building a prototype, you must remember that it is an iterative process. With time, modifications will be made to ensure viability and to adapt to the changing needs. The initial stage majorly involves educated guesswork. With further inputs and analysis, the prototype is given depth through design elements, system constraints and user requirements.

Building prototype requires seamless integrations across teams and tools. Using content management systems (CMSs), you can ensure collaborative information management and knowledge sharing.

Stakeholders’ requirements should be the driving force of the digital prototype. The design framework should incorporate all the relevant touchpoints to ensure customer satisfaction. Serving customers successfully not only provides customer retention but also lowers cost in the long run. Focus groups, market research and surveys are common, productive methods to understand customer needs. Once the prototype is made and tested, the empirical data obtained will help you better understand the customer review and enhance your product features through the required adjustments.

With prototyping being an iterative process, funding is an important consideration. To maintain economical balance, businesses should invest smartly and in an agile manner. Business model vary for each company and its respective projects. With a clear vision, structured approach, and risk assessment, businesses can have a sound business model to avoid repetitive funding and avoid financial overheads. Digital prototyping is cheaper owing to affordable community software and open-source platforms. Strategic use of partnerships and industry networks can further guard financial risk.

Digital prototyping is an effective tool for you to explore blue oceans while improving your strategies in the current domain. For instance, Icreon worked with a client in the retail business of the specialty tools. The client wanted to explore new streams (B2C) against the operational one (B2B). We worked with our clients to assess the e-commerce platform and conduced comprehensive analysis to develop the digital prototype. After testing, we concluded that both the streams could work harmoniously, thereby, diversifying the company’s streams and maximizing revenue.

To keep up with the velocity of market, certain projects have to be completed within the minimum time frame. However, quality of output should not be compromised by the constraint of time. At Icreon, we understand the dual relation of time and quality. For one of our clients in the sports management domain, we developed a mobile application to showcase the most relevant features with myriad of information. We granulated the requirements of the clients and developed the framework of our action. The application was fully functional within 90 days, operating in English and Spanish, and available across multiple operating systems namely iOS, Android and Windows.

Product Development is Evolving

Development is evolving rapidly to meet the needs of the expanding high-quality software required for every business out there. Organizations are currently adopting multi-platform software for real-time systems, distributed computing infrastructures, business intelligence, and mobile applications.

But to implement an effective software development and design strategy certain trends need to be considered and implemented. Trends such as HTML5 web applications, mobile apps and websites, app stores, and cloud applications are going to be central to the future of business technology.

According to Gartner, spending on business software is expected to grow 6.8% to $320 billion in the USA this year, after rising 5.2% in 2013. In order to prosper, companies must invest a portion of their revenue on integrating HTML5, mobile apps and cloud applications in innovative new approaches to software.

The Future Lies In HTML5 Web Applications

HTML5 is the future when it comes to the world of web application development, whether it is for smartphones, tablets or desktops.

According to Ken Dulaney, Vice President of Gartner, "increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the [Bring Your Own Device] BYOD trend gains momentum." HTML5 (despite a few issues to sort out) is one of the most effective tools for building multiplatform web applications.

With HTML5 tools, brands can build web and mobile apps with a single codebase. The flexibility of HTML5 apps to run on multiple device types is a major cost saver and strategic advantage for companies. These multi-platform apps can run on a variety of Operating Systems (OS) and device types.

Cloud Applications for Everyday Business Needs

Many organizations have already embraced cloud strategies and it has become the integral for apps, content and for syncing across devices. "Over the past 12 months, the cloud has become an easy choice for mainstream organizations, "says Andrew Brabban, Fujitsu UK's Director of Application Services.

With cloud applications, companies that would normally require enormous amounts of start-up capital may only need a fraction of what was previously required to successfully develop, host or distribute software applications. According to Mr. Brabban, "there will be a focus for cloud services in three areas: management, integration and aggregation."

Organizations could also potentially use cloud applications for a variety of business processes. A majority of applications like generic word processing software, to customized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web applications can be fully hosted in the cloud. The cloud would not only reduce the cost of hardware, but upgrade costs would also be minimized.
Google Apps is a great example of cloud based applications. Google's offering has already gained substantial adoption from small businesses, boasting more than 50 million users, from over five million businesses.

Enterprises Must Consider Mobile

More and more people are depending on their mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for everyday tasks. They are being used for ticketing systems on buses and trains, to purchasing products, watching videos, and keeping an eye on the stock market. The Cisco Visual Networking Index, projects that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016.

Organizations are also using mobile apps to connect with clients and create tools for frontline or remote workers to access customer databases, fill in timesheets or manage inventory. For organizations to achieve all of their mobile objectives, they must have a thorough understanding and practical mobile strategy.

Successful enterprise technology companies such as Workday, which specializes in HR software, have strong mobile strategies that are central to their success. Consumer apps have heavily influenced the design and development approach to enterprise software. Today's business tools look drastically different than the clunky software systems that used to require an archaic CD-ROM to install.

Instead, enterprises are using custom app stores to distribute apps. There is also the option of creating web applications with HTML5 that can be accessed on tablets, smartphones and PCs with no need to download. These apps come with offline functionality, run directly in the cloud, and can be accessed instantly through a browser like Chrome or Firefox.

What All This Means for Brands

Mobile computing, cloud services and HTML5 usage will play a leading role in the software design and development of almost every industry on the planet. Forrester accurately sums up the future needs for all tech or non-tech companies by stating that a great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it's a make-or-break point for businesses.

The Coming Renaissance in Product Development

Thanks to cloud and mobile technologies, enterprise software is experiencing significant disruption. IT teams can provide application access to thousands of workers all through the cloud. Employees can download and update software through custom app stores built specifically for their company.

As it now stands, we are on the crest of a wave that will alter the traditional approach to software in the enterprise.

The Evolution of Business Software

For the first time ever, Salesforce which is a cloud based software company, cracked the top ten list of enterprise software vendors worldwide. Once dominated by Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle, cloud players such as Salesforce are disrupting the world of software in the enterprise.

Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings that provide access to powerful applications in the cloud on multiple devices, are shaking up the approach to enterprise IT and business software applications. Workday is another example. Following a successful IPO in 2012, Workday has carved a deep path in Human Resource and recruiting software.

Companies like Salesforce and Workday pride themselves on the technical ease-of-use and aesthetic interface design. Such concerns were often sidelined by the traditional leaders in business software.

A Case Study in the Next Generation of Enterprise Software

Salesforce CEO and Founder Marc Benioff, described his vision of creating the most intuitive enterprise software out there. And his strategy not only permeated the approach to software development and design, but also the very distribution model for selling access. SaaS models are emerging as the next iteration in software for the enterprise.

While logged into Salesforce, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was Facebook or LinkedIn. The interface is derivative of many social networks, which helps to minimize the learning curve for new users. There is even an app-store for integrating apps like Google Drive and an Apple Calendar or downloading custom apps that an enterprise makes available.

Workday, which specializes in HR software, modelled one of their newest products for recruiters by emulating the look of "eBay and Kayak." The company also uses the SaaS model. For the most recent version, it took less than six hours to install for over 400 companies at once.

Computing Has Evolved, and So Have Users

Most technologists have heard of the Consumerization of IT, the Open Cloud, and the Post-PC era, but what does this mean for business users and enterprise IT teams?

When it comes to the average American, they understand and discern quality software experiences with serious prowess. Not too long ago, this would have been an amazingly incorrect statement. But as of 2013, the average American spends 60 hours per week on a digital device and the average household owns an average of four different devices.

For employees that use refined tools from the app stores for productivity and business, they will avoid poorly designed business software. While they will use the enterprise software for mandatory tasks, they may be using their own personal apps for other functionality.

A New Model for Distribution and Upgrades

Even the way in which an IT team distributes applications across an enterprise, has evolved to become more intuitive and dare I say 'consumer-friendly'. Dense spreadsheets, endless columns, and a cramped display for data-input fields, are no longer acceptable (if it can be helped).

While certain comprehensive applications require the ugly yet functional interfaces that are well-known to back-end systems. For instance, logistics systems cannot help but present information in the way that melds with existing workflows and a need for lots of data entry.

But even that aspect can be fixed through innovative design techniques, and approaches to things like 'smarter transitions' and user experience.

Enterprise Software with a Consumer Look-and-Feel

In a New York Times blog post, Quentin Hardy describes how "the new style of development is likely to make the products look more like consumer software." He gives the example of Workday’s usage of their own application for searching internally for potential positions. Not only can employees easily search for available jobs, but they can share the job postings directly to LinkedIn and Twitter.

More and more, enterprises across all industries are seeking consumer friendly ways to make the most out of their business software.

Create Better Products Through Design Thinking

Enterprise software products have never been known for being photogenic. Run a quick Google Image search, and you’ll find it extremely difficult to find screenshots of a CRM or an ERP platform. Instead, what you get are word clouds about software features, vague flowcharts and brand logos.

Many would blame the nondescript, blocky nature of enterprise software for this problem, but the reality is much different.

Wordclouds and flowcharts are not a solution for ugly enterprise software, but are instead a symptom of one of the biggest issues plaguing enterprise software development today—an issue that we refer to as “Feature Thinking."

In the past, when we've thought about what differentiates SaaS, we would think in terms of features. Features are a great way of quantifying the value of a product, but they can actually harm a SaaS project when used as an end goal. Why? Because people don’t use SaaS for its features. Good enterprise software should be more than the sum of its parts.

To sell a beautiful, rustic brick house, it would not help to post pictures of individual adobe slabs or glass panes or roof shingles—even if the shingles were made of state-of-the-art material. More importantly, a builder would never let materials dictate the way they decided to build the house. Just as homeowners want a home that complements their lifestyle, end users want software that makes their job easier. In the grand scheme of things, the bricks don’t matter, the shingles don’t matter, and the individual features within your SaaS don’t matter. What matters is the way different elements combine to form an experience that best serves the end user.

When we see these vague wordclouds and flowcharts that are supposed to communicate the value of enterprise software, what we’re really seeing are lists of features. That’s why they’re ineffective, and that’s why we need a different approach to SaaS development that doesn’t revolve around feature fulfillment.

The answer here lies in "Design Thinking," a process which jettisons Feature Thinking and seeks first to determine the wants of the end user. By keeping user desires as a guiding light, Design Thinking allows developers to create SaaS products that are both helpful and intuitive.

In 2007, Intuit implemented the ideals of Design Thinking in their "Design for Delight" approach. With a focus on customer empathy, a “broad-to-narrow” approach, and iteration with customers, this user-based methodology has been a part of their development process ever since. In addition to new visual improvements, Intuit has gone so far as to track user eye movements and heat maps in order to improve overall experience.

The most intriguing facet of Design Thinking is that it blurs the line between product design and product functionality. In some ways, it can be more difficult to create a product using this methodology because it requires a deep understanding of what the user wants, and then requires the foresight and execution to fulfill those wants in software form.

Design Thinking offers some of the best solutions to deal with the current realities of SaaS development. Every time we at Icreon have focused first on what the end user wants, we’ve been able to come up with more innovative, more useful ideas that ultimately speak for themselves. What’s best is that this approach is flexible, and works in small and medium-sized business settings just as well as it works in the enterprise setting. By ditching the idea of features and specs as an end goal and implementing Design Thinking, businesses can kill two birds with one stone: They create SaaS that is intuitive, and which also translates smoothly into a visual setting.

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