Five Metrics to Track the Performance of Your Quality Assurance Teams and the efficiency of your Quality Assurance strategy

Why Quality Assurance and Engineering?

A product goes through different stages of a release cycle, from development and testing to deployment, use, and constant evolution. Organizations often seek to hasten their long release cycle while maintaining product quality. Additionally, ensuring a superior and connected customer experience is one of the primary objectives for organizations. According to a PWC research report published in 2020, 1 in 3 customers is willing to leave a brand after one bad experience. This is where Quality Engineering comes in.

There is a need to swiftly identify risks, be it bugs, errors, and problems, that can impact the business or ruin the customer experience. Most of the time, organizations cannot cover the entire scope of their testing needs, and this is where they decide to invest in Quality Assurance outsourcing.

Developing a sound Quality Assurance (QA) strategy

Software products are currently being developed for a unified CX. To meet the ever-evolving customer expectations, applications are created to deliver a seamless experience on multiple devices on various platforms. Continuous testing across devices and browsers, as well as apt deployment of multi-platform products, are essential. These require domain expertise, complimenting infrastructure, and a sound QA strategy. According to a report published in 2020-2021, the budget proportion allocated for QA was approximately 22%. 

Digital transformation has a massive impact on the time-to-market. Reduced cycle time for releasing multiple application versions by adopting Agile and DevOps principles has become imperative for providing a competitive edge. This has made automation an irreplaceable element in one’s QA strategy. With automation, a team can run tests for 16 additional hours (excluding the 8 hours of effort, on average, by a manual tester) a day, thus reducing the average cost of testing hours. In fact, as per studies, in 2020, approximately 44 percent of IT companies have automated half of their testing. 

A thorough strategy provides transparency on delivery timelines and strong interactions between developers and the testing team that comprehensively covers every aspect of the testing pyramid, from robust unit tests and contracts to functional end-to-end tests. 

Key performance metrics for QA

There are a lot of benefits to tracking performance metrics. QA performance metrics are essential for discarding inefficient strategies. The metrics also enable managers to track the progress of the QA team over time and make data-driven decisions. 

Here are five metrics to track the performance of your Quality Assurance team and the efficiency of your Quality Assurance strategy. 

1) Reduced risk build-on-build:

This metric is instrumental in ensuring a build’s stability over time by revealing the valid defects in builds. The goal is to decrease the number of risks impacting defects from one build compared to the next over the course of the QA project. However, this strategy, whilst keeping risk at the center of any release, aims to achieve the right levels of coverage across new and existing functionality. 

If the QA team experiences a constant increase in risk impacting defects, it may be because of the following reasons:

To measure the effectiveness further, one should also note the mean time to detect and the mean time to repair a defect.

2) Automated tests

Automation is instrumental in speeding up your release cycle while maintaining quality as it increases the depth, accuracy, and, more importantly, coverage of the test cases. According to a research report published in 2002, the earlier a defect is found, the more economical it is to fix, as it costs approximately five times more to fix a coding defect once the system is released.

With higher test coverage, an organization can find more defects before a release goes into production. Automation also significantly reduces the time to market by expediting the pace of development and testing. In fact, as per a 2020-2021 survey report, approximately 69% of the survey respondents stated reduced test cycle time to be a key benefit of automation. 

To ensure that the QA team maintains productivity and efficiency levels, measuring the number of automation test cases and delivering new automation scripts is essential. The metric monitors the speed of test case delivery and identifies the programs needing further testing. We recommend analyzing your automation coverage by monitoring total test cases. 

While measuring this metric, we recommend taking into account:

  • Requirements coverage vs. automated test coverage
  • Increased test coverage due to automation (for instance, multiple devices/browsers)
  • Total test duration savings

3) Tracking the escaped bugs and classifying the severity of bugs:

Ideally, there should be no defects deployed into the production. However, despite best efforts, most of the time, bugs make it into production. To track this would involve the team establishing checks and balances and classifying the severity of the defects. The team can measure the overall impact by analyzing the bugs of high severity levels that made into production. This is one of the best overall metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of your QA processes.  Customer-reported issues/defects may help identify specific ways to improve testing. 

4) Analyzing the execution time of test cycles:

The QA teams should keep track of the time taken to execute a test. The primary aim of this metric is to record and verify the time taken to run a test for the first time compared to subsequent executions. This metric can be a useful one to identify automation candidates, thereby reducing the overall test cycle time. The team should identify tests that can be run concurrently to increase effectiveness. 

5) Summary of active defects

This includes a team capturing information such as the names and descriptions of a defect. The team should keep a track/summary of verified, closed, and reopened defects over time. A low trajectory in the number of defects indicates a high quality of a product.

Be Agile and surge ahead in your business with Trigent’s QE services 

Quality Assurance is essential in every product development, and applying the right QA metrics enables you to track your progress over time. Trigent’s quality engineering services empower organizations to increase customer adoption and reduce maintenance costs by delivering a superior-quality product that is release-ready.

Are you looking to build a sound Quality Assurance strategy for your organization? Need Help? Talk to us. 

5 ways QA can help you accelerate and improve your DevOps CI/CD cycle

A practical and thorough testing strategy is essential to keep your evolving application up to date with industry standards.

In today’s digital world, nearly 50% of organizations have automated their software release to production. It is not surprising given that 80% of organizations prioritize their CX and cannot afford a longer wait time to add new features to their applications.  A reliable high-frequency deployment can be implemented by automating the testing and delivery process. This will reduce the total deployment time drastically. 

Over 62% of enterprises use CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines to automate their software delivery process.  Yet once the organization establishes its main pipelines to orchestrate software testing and promotion, these are often left unreviewed.  As a result, the software developed through the CI/CD toolchains evolve frequently.  While the software release processes remain stagnant. 

The importance of an optimal QA DevOps strategy

DevOps has many benefits in reducing cost, facilitating scalability, and improving productivity. However, one of its most critical goals is to make continuous code deliveries faster and more testable. This is achieved by improving the deployment frequency with judicious automation both in terms of delivery and testing. 

Most successful companies deploy their software multiple times a day. Netflix leverages automation and open source to help its engineers deploy code thousands of times daily. Within a year of its migration to AWS, Amazon engineers’ deployed code every 11.7 seconds with robust testing automation and deployment suite.  

A stringent automated testing suite is essential to ensure system stability and flawless delivery. It helps ensure that nothing is broken every time a new deployment is made. 

The incident of Knight Capital underlines this importance. For years, Knight relied on an internal application named SMARS to manage their buy orders in the stock market. This app had many outdated sections in its codebase that were not removed. While integrating a new code, Knight overlooked a bug that inadvertently called one of these obsolete features. This resulted in the company making buy orders worth billions in minutes. It ended up paying a $460M fine and going bankrupt overnight.

A good QA protects against the failed changes and ensures that it does not trickle down and affects the other components.  Implementing test automation in CI/CD will ensure that every new feature undergoes unit, integration, and functional tests. With this, we can have a highly reliable continuous integration process with greater deployment frequency, security, reliability, and ease. 

An optimal QA strategy to streamline the DevOps cycle would include a well-thought-out and judiciously implemented automation for QA and delivery. This would help in ensuring a shorter CI/CD cycle. It would also offer application stability and recover from any test failure without creating outages. Smaller deployment packages will ensure easier testing and faster deployment. 

5 QA testing strategies to accelerate CI/CD cycle

Most good DevOps implementations include strong interactions between developers and rigorous, in-built testing that comprehensively covers every level of the testing pyramid. This includes robust unit tests and contracts for API and functional end-to-end tests. 

Here are 5 best QA testing strategies you should consider to improve the quality of your software release cycles:

Validate API performance with API testing

APIs are one of the most critical components of a software application. It holds together the different systems involved in the application. The different entities that rely on the API, ranging from users, mobile devices, IoT devices, and applications, are also constantly expanding. Hence it is crucial to test and ensure its performance. 

Many popular tools such as Soap UI and Swagger can easily be plugged into any CI/CD pipeline. These tools help execute API tests directly from your pipeline. This will help you build and automate your test suites to run in parallel and reduce the test execution time.

Ensure flawless user experience with Automated GUI testing

Just like an API, the functionality and stability of GUIs are critical for a successful application rollout.  GUI issues after production rollout can be disastrous users wouldn’t be able to access the app or parts of its functionality.  Such issues would be challenging to troubleshoot as they might reside in individual browsers or environments. 

A robust and automated GUI test suite covering all supported browsers and mobile platforms can shorten testing cycles and ensure a consistent user experience. Automated GUI testing tools can simulate user behavior on the application and compare the expected results to the actual results. GUI testing tools like Appium and Selenium help testers simulate the user journey.  These testing tools can be integrated with any CI/CD pipeline. 

Incorporating these tools in your automated release cycle can validate GUI functions across various browsers and platforms.

Handle unscheduled outages with Non-functional testing

You may often encounter unexpected outages or failures once an application is in production. These may include environmental triggers like a data center network interruption or unusual traffic spikes. These are often outlying situations that may lead to a crisis, provided your application cannot handle it with grace. Here lies the importance of automated non-functional testing

Nonfunctional testing incorporates an application’s behavior under external or often uncontrollable factors, such as stress, load, volume, or unexpected environmental events. It is a broad category with several tools that can be incorporated into the CI/CD cycle. Integrating automated non-functional testing gates within your pipeline is advisable before the application gets released to production.

Improve application security with App Sec testing

Many enterprises don’t address security until later in the application release cycle. The introduction of DevSecOps has increased focus on including security checkpoints throughout the application release lifecycle. The earlier a security vulnerability is identified, the cheaper it is to resolve. Today, different automated security scanning tools are available depending on the assets tested.

The more comprehensive your approach to security scanning, your organization’s overall security posture will be better. Introducing checkpoints early is often a great way to impact the quality of the released software. 

Secure end-to-end functionality with Regression testing 

Changes to one component may sometimes have downstream effects across the complete system functionality. Since software involves many interconnected parts today, it’s essential to establish a solid regression testing strategy.

Regression testing should verify that the existing business functionality performs as expected even when changes are made to the system. Without this, bugs and vulnerabilities may appear in the system components. These problems become harder to identify and diagnose once the application is released. Teams doing troubleshooting may not know where to begin, especially if the release did not modify the failing component.

Accelerate your application rollout with Trigent’s QA services

HP LaserJet Firmware division improved its software delivery process and reduced its overall development cost by 40%. They achieved this by implementing a delivery process that focussed on test automation and continuous integration. 

Around 88% of organizations that participated in research conducted on CI/CD claim they lack the technical skill and knowledge to adopt testing and deployment automation. The right QA partner can help you devise a robust test automation strategy to reduce deployment time and cost. 

New-age applications are complex. While the DevOps CI/CD cycle may quicken its rollout, it may fail if not bolstered by a robust QA strategy. QA is integral to the DevOps process; without it, continuous development and delivery are inconceivable. 

Does your QA meet all your application needs? Need help? Let’s talk

QE strategy to mitigate inherent risks involved in application migration to the cloud

Cloud migration strategies, be it lift & shift, rearchitect or rebuild, are fraught with inherent risks which need to be eliminated with the right QE approach

The adoption of cloud environments has been expanding for several years and is presently in an accelerated mode. A multi-cloud strategy is the defacto approach adopted by multiple organizations, as per Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report. The move toward cloud-native application architectures, exponential scaling needs of applications, and increased frequency and speed of product release launches have contributed to increased cloud adoption.

The success of migrating the application landscape to the cloud hinges on the ability to perform end-to-end quality assurance initiatives specific to the cloud. 

Underestimation of application performance

Availability, scalability, reliability, and high response rates are critical expectations from an application in a cloud environment. Application performance issues can come to light on account of incorrect sizing of servers or network latency issues that might not have surfaced when the application is tested in isolation. It can also be an outcome of an incorrect understanding of probable workloads that can be managed by an application while in a cloud environment. 

The right performance engineering strategy involves designing for performance in mind and fulfilling performance validations, including load testing. This ensures that the application under test remains stable in normal and peak conditions and defines and sets up application monitoring toolsets and parameters. There needs to be an understanding of workloads with the potential to be moved to the cloud and ones that need to remain on-premise. Incompatible application architectures need to be identified. Load testing should be carried out in parallel to record SLA response times across various loads for those moved to the cloud. 

Security and compliance

With the increased adoption of data privacy norms like GDPR and CCPA, there is a renewed focus on ensuring the safety of data migrated from application to cloud. Incidents like the one with Marriott hotel, where half a million sensitive customer information like credit cards and identity were compromised, have brought the need to test the security of data loaded onto cloud environments. 

A must-have element of a sound QA strategy is to ensure that both applications and data are secure and can withstand malicious attacks. With cybersecurity attacks increasing both in quantity and innovative tactics, there is a strong need for the implementation of security policies and testing techniques, including but not limited to vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and threat and risk assessment. These are aimed at the following.

  • Identifying security gaps and weaknesses in the system
  • DDoS attack prevention
  • Provide actionable insights on ways to eliminate potential vulnerabilities

Accuracy of Data migration 

Assuring the quality of data that is being migrated to the cloud remains the top challenge, without which the convenience and performance expectation from cloud adoption falls flat. It calls for assessing quality before migrating, monitoring during migration, and verifying the integrity and quality post-migration. This is fraught with multiple challenges like migrating from old data models, duplicate record management, and resolving data ownership, to name a few. 

White-box migration testing forms a key component of a robust data migration testing initiative. It starts off by logically verifying a migration script to guarantee it’s complete and accurate. This is followed by ensuring database compliance with required preconditions, e.g., detailed script description, source, and receiver structure, and data migration mapping. Furthermore, the QA team analyzes and assures the structure of the database, data storage formats, migration requirements, the formats of fields, etc. More recently, predictive data quality measures have also been adopted to get a centralized view and better control over data quality. 

Application Interoperability

Not all apps that need to migrate to the cloud may be compatible with the cloud environment. Some applications show better performance in a private or hybrid cloud than in a public cloud. Some others require minor tweaking, while others may require extensive reengineering or recoding. Not identifying cross-application dependencies before planning the migration waves can lead to failure. Equally important is the need to integrate with third-party tools for seamless communication across applications without glitches. 

A robust QA strategy needs to identify applications that are part of the network, their functionalities, and dependencies among applications, along with each app’s SLA since dependencies between systems and applications can make integration testing potentially challenging. Integration testing for cloud-based applications brings to the fore the need to consider the following: 

  • Resources for the validation of integration testing 
  • Assuring cloud migration by using third-party tools
  • Discovering glitches in coordination within the cloud
  • Application configuration in the cloud environment
  • Seamless integration across multiple surround applications

Ensure successful cloud migration with Trigent’s QE services

Application migration to the cloud can be a painful process without a robust QE strategy. With aspects such as data quality, security, app performance, and seamless connection with a host of surrounding applications being paramount in a cloud environment, the need for testing has become more critical than ever. 

Trigent’s cloud-first strategy enables organizations to leverage a customized, risk-mitigated cloud strategy and deployment model most suitable for the business. Our proven approach, frameworks, architectures, and partner ecosystem have helped businesses realize the potential of the cloud.

We provide a secure, seamless journey from in-house IT to a modern enterprise environment powered by Cloud. Our team of experts has enabled cloud transformation at scale and speed for small, medium, and large organizations across different industries. The transformation helps customers leverage the best architecture, application performance, infrastructure, and security without disrupting business continuity. 

Ensure a seamless cloud migration for your application. Contact us now!

Is Conversational AI Right for Your Business?

Alex is desperate to get his vehicle tire replaced ahead of the long drive early the next day. The local tire store is closed for the day and opens late morning. Looking for options, he logs into the tire company website and is greeted by a new avatar.

Emma: Hello, I am Emma, here to help you. What are you looking for today?

Alex: Hi – I need replacement tires for my SUV.

Emma: Sure, I will be glad to help with that. Please select your vehicle make from the options provided ……

A few minutes later, Alex signs off, thanking Emma. He just placed an order for express delivery of two spare tires for his SUV to be delivered by 5:30 am. He is relieved. He can now catch a good sleep before he sets out on his long drive the next morning. 

In today’s world, while humanity sleeps, smart AI bots stay awake and keep your business ticking, answering routine questions, taking queries, recording service requests, or even helping complete a sale. With little or no human interaction from the business. An incredible upgrade to customer experience –unimaginable just a few years ago. That is the power of Conversational AI. 

As businesses transform digitally, they find that conversational AI for customer experience (CX) are viable options that must be considered.  

Read more: 5 Points to Evaluate Before Adopting AI in Your Organization

Key elements of Conversational AI

Conversational AI is an interesting blend of tech Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), deep learning, contextual awareness, and Art. It allows bots to converse like human beings by recognizing speech text, understanding context, understanding multiple languages, and creating as close to human interaction as possible. Art brings a human touch, elements of empathy, mannerism, and contextual personalization, making it seem very real.

Conversational AI comes in two flavors: AI chatbots that are predominantly text-driven and AI voice bots that serve voice responses. The realism in voice (personal language preferences, dialects, and tonality) brings a new stickiness level to the CX instance. 

Unlike older generation chatbots, Conversational AI bots are not script-based, rule-driven programs. The AI element (especially in voice bots) aims to ‘understand’ unspoken emotions and customize the menu’s responses to ensure a more meaningful experience. 

Technology components

Conversational AI technology includes NLP, machine learning, dialog management – which might need NLU (Natural Language Understanding) – where unstructured customer inputs are mapped based on context and keywords to something that can be interpreted. It then gets presented using NLG (Natural Language Generation). 

The process uses orchestrated responses for conversation flow, using the client’s history, context, and past responses as required. For Conversational AI voice bots, ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) and TTS (Text to Speech) routines need to be integrated with necessary customization and training. This throws up unique challenges as language, and human interactions have cultural elements that vary widely across geographies. 

Successful deployments of Conversational AI are driving a change in the business rationale for its consideration. Initially, the business case for AI Chatbots evolved around reducing the human resource costs required to provide 24×7 Customer Service. However, when implemented correctly, it reduces people costs, saves on training, unlocks efficiency, and increases sales – a priceless return on investment!

Examples of successful conversational AI deployments

  • Financial Services: PwC, a globally reputed Big 4 Accounting firm, deployed AI-powered NLP-based chatbot to answer queries on HR, finance, and business process policies. Available to 10,000 employees in one region, PwC frees up the HR team to focus on more strategic issues and less on routine matters. 
  • Airline Sector: Lufthansa’s Elisa, Nelly, and Maria are the airline’s trained AI chatbots that go beyond answering routine questions from passengers. These chatbots will even connect a passenger to a live speaking human agent when required. The passenger doesn’t need to wait in line, and the agent has a complete context to address the query quickly.
  • Services & Utilities: Bluehost is a leading hosting services company with a chatbot well equipped to handle most client queries. This includes billing details, pending bills, current plans, renewals, and some others.
  • Insurance Industry: Geico, a leading insurance company, has its now popular and friendly AI virtual assistant, Gabby. Gabby is also in constant learning mode as it trains on customer inputs and queries to improve further. 
  • Fashion Industry: Sephora is a popular fashion brand that is an early adopter of conversational AI chatbot tech. The bot throws up a quiz for a new visitor, which it uses to customize recommendations and create a user profile. The bot allows you to apply various products to your selfies to visualize how you look in them. The popular bot is now rolled out across multiple platforms, including FB Messenger.

Not a panacea

Understanding customer process, system maturity, and knowing which customer touchpoints to automate are critical. If AI is introduced in a hurry before all customer interface contexts, workflows, and escalation paths are clearly defined or understood, it can create chaos and do more damage than good. 

Make sure you ask for the latest version of the AI model from the vendor, understand the road map, and consider the best for your deployment. The AI models need to be trained for your specific business context, product categories, and business logic. Also, test internally or do a pilot for early adapters and measure feedback to see the response before full-fledged large-scale deployment. Remember, AI is a tech solution and will not fix a broken business or client process.

Watch our video to learn more on improving your capabilities for AI/ML testing

Conversational AI is here to stay. Apart from all the apparent benefits stated in this article, the bot is a goldmine of data that can help conceptualize targeted campaigns and build memorable engagements if mined correctly and integrated into CRM. As other related technologies improve (such as gesture tech), expect AI chatbots to become a ‘must have’ for most businesses.

AI deployments are soaring in the business world at multiple touchpoints – from websites and social media platforms to apps and HR systems catering to customers and employees. 

Start a conversation with Trigent today

Conversational AI ensures your customer experience goes up a notch. Find out at what customer touchpoints in your business you should consider deploying conversation AI and how best to implement the solution. Ask our retail gurus at Trigent. We have developed AI solutions for our customers in the healthcare, banking and finance, transportation, and logistics industries. Benefit from our experience. We are optimistic this chat will help drive an entirely new conversation with your customers.

Over 70% of customer interactions will rely on chatbots in 2022. Delight your customers with Conversational AI. Let’s talk

Identifying the Best Cloud Architecture for Fast Content Access, Optimized Bandwidth Usage, and Content Security

The importance of identifying the best Cloud architecture

Massive volumes of data consumed through multiple devices have forced the media industry to revisit how they manage content. Personalization is the expectation now and at all times. It has given birth to many operational challenges compelling media companies to transition from traditional broadcasting to a digital distribution model. Cloud solutions play a critical role here, helping the industry build a robust ecosystem to manage everything from data creation to consumption while ensuring flawless user experiences.

TVU Networks has witnessed a whopping 243 percent increase in SaaS use in 2021 compared to 2020 due to the rapid adoption of cloud-based and remote workflows. As per a joint report1, ‘The show goes on in the cloud’ by PwC and Microsoft, production delays and the under-delivery of episodic content lead to over $3.5 billion in lost ad revenue for broadcasters and underlines the severe impact it could have on the industry. 

While a lot of groundwork remains to be done, Media and Entertainment (M&E) businesses that were once hesitant to embrace emerging technologies are now eager for a digital transformation. The pandemic has already thrown them a curve making them realize the importance of moving away from legacy production systems towards a more dependable cloud infrastructure to stay afloat in a socially distant environment.

Media & Entertainment companies are now transitioning with Intelligent cloud transformation

Entertainment companies are doing everything in their power to deliver content the way their consumers want. While media segments like video games and streaming enjoyed good returns during the pandemic, others have suffered. 

M&E companies are now transitioning from big screens to bite-sized content, breaking free of the limitations of legacy production systems. The conversation is now around technologies that can demonstrate greater value and ROI. 

Intelligent cloud transformation has emerged as the Holy Grail for M&E companies while they attempt to accelerate innovation and increase revenue. The focus is now to automate routine tasks, explore digital delivery chains to augment revenue, and harness technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create content libraries

The cloud in media has emerged as a viable solution to reach out to consumers and monitor how consumers engage with the content. Jennifer Cooper, Global Head of Media and Communications Industry Strategy & Solutions, Microsoft2, points out, “The disruption created by COVID-19 has agitated the industry into accelerating innovation and digital transformation in areas that were previously only in planning stages of cloud migration. The stage is set for an industry-wide metamorphosis.” 

Need help with identifying the best cloud architecture to accelerate content performance and increase revenue? Let’s talk

Why is IT modernization a top priority today?

Online video consumption has grown considerably, with viewers resorting to smartphones and tablet PCs for their entertainment needs. Today, everything from animation and visual effects to high-definition videos and high-resolution audio creates colossal data that can be overwhelming for legacy IT architectures. 

Some of the top challenges companies are currently facing include:

Evolving expectations of consumers – The discerning consumers now expect greater flexibility and choices from an industry that is already having a hard time dealing with the dips and spikes in viewership. It has become crucial for M&E companies to deliver content across a wide range of channels and formats. Cloud computing is now inevitable for companies to manage their volatile demand. Those like the Walt Disney Company quickly shifted to the cloud to digitally transform their content production, media supply chain, streaming, and data analytics process. They also built up a virtual studio to collaborate with artists across the globe.

Faster time to market – M&E companies have understood the only way to stay competitive is to produce and distribute original content in an agile but cost-effective manner. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) models like OTT streaming and subscription-based services are on the rise raising the US household average to nine paid subscriptions across music, videos, and gaming. Cloud deployments are the smart choice since they allow M&E companies to store, manage, and deliver content digitally and shift workloads seamlessly across public and private infrastructures.

Rising costs – Low-cost OTT (over the top) companies that cater to consumers directly via the Internet have struck a blow to the bottom lines of traditional M&E companies. These highly cost-sensitive times aim to unlock trapped value and cost efficiencies by moving away from legacy silos and inefficient workflows. These companies are now turning to cloud computing to minimize sunk costs associated with content storage and delivery.

High streaming performance – Even a six-second delay in streaming an ad can cost M&E companies a lot of money. Thanks to the growing number of subscription-based services that allow ad-free viewing, it has become highly challenging to grab and hold viewer attention. As these companies ensure minimal delays and downtime, the cloud enables architectures that support high performance and availability. The intense competition in the streaming space has led to several mergers, with the latest duo to seal a deal being WarnerMedia and Discovery.

A remote workforce – When businesses went into survival mode during the pandemic, they had the additional stress of managing a remote workforce. In an attempt to rise above the unprecedented volatility, ViacomCBS5 came up with a unique hybrid work model for its employees to enable them to spend some of their workweek time at home. The rationale was to cater to customers and take care of the employees. ViacomCBS created a cloud-based hub to automate workflows, lower costs, and optimize delivery over any distribution channel. M&E companies have been deploying cloud solutions to keep the business running via cloud-based telephony, messaging, and conferencing.

Enhancing capabilities with cloud

Despite the initial apprehensions of getting on to the cloud, forward-thinking companies like Netflix are now comfortably using the cloud to enhance their capabilities. The cloud infrastructure helps broadcasters adjust their sails as they work towards post-COVID norms. Apart from providing a single platform for all applications to broadcasters and M&E companies, it also enables greater operational efficiency and integration. 

You may also like: 6 Cloud Migration Mistakes that Businesses Need to Avoid

If you are still unsure about having cloud architecture, we give you a quick lowdown on its numerous benefits. 

Scalability to manage complex needs

To deliver content to any device at varying connection speeds, M&E companies need to format multiple video files with streamlined workflows that encode, transcode, and securely store content. The complicated workflows call for excellent scalability. Legacy applications are incapable of handling them since they are resource and labor-intensive which leads to high maintenance costs. On-premises streaming does not offer the required computing capacity and bandwidth to deliver content seamlessly. 

On the other hand, cloud infrastructures empower companies to host rendered files for delivery. Since cloud servers are present worldwide, content is delivered via the closest hub, minimizing streaming latency. Cloud infrastructure also proves to be cost-effective since companies can simply add more cloud resources to scale up services rather than purchasing anything upfront. 

Sony Pictures Imageworks is a classic case that turned to Google Cloud Platform to enhance its capabilities and augment its infrastructure. Steve Kowalski, VP of Systems Engineering for Sony Pictures Imageworks6, explains, “In the past, we had to expand our on-premises infrastructure to support those peak periods. We’d try to rent 10,000 or 20,000 extra computer graphics rendering machines to get us through 10 to 15 weeks a year of peak production activity. We’d need extra graphics workstations for the 150 or more artists we added during peak periods. But the companies that rent the equipment typically want much longer time commitments.”

Greater control through data management 

Every M&E company needs to understand the complex behaviors of its audiences. The smart ones resort to cloud computing to ingest and manage big data and get insights to drive audience engagement and loyalty. This large volume of data, both structured and unstructured, helps companies optimize supply chains, monetize content, and improve user experiences. 

The cloud offers scalability to on-demand data analytic tools to extract and transform data required to make data-driven decisions. With millions of active users in several countries, Spotify has managed to grow its number of subscribers by 29% in a year by embracing the cloud. It can now iterate quickly based on data insights by moving its 1200 online services, data processing DAGs (direct acyclic graphs), and 20,000 daily job executions to the cloud.

Ensure security and compliance at all times

In addition to customer data, M&E companies need to safeguard digital content from piracy. We read about cloud security breaches frequently, but these breaches often occur due to companies’ flawed policies and technologies. 

Instead of doubting the potential of the cloud in providing a safe infrastructure, M&E companies must invest time and effort in finding the right service provider to minimize the attack footprint. Security breaches are often the result of errors in configuration and unpatched vulnerabilities and can be easily avoided by choosing the right service provider. 

CineSend, a provider of secure video storage, encoding, and delivery solutions, has scaled to deliver cutting-edge video experiences and support its customers with cloud adoption. Its scalable cloud-native solution has empowered it to attain 1,000% video streaming business growth in 2020. Most importantly, it has built a secure video streaming platform that allows it to encrypt customer data at rest while letting customers host their events remotely.

Embrace cloud technology with Trigent

As a trusted partner for several industries, including the M&E, we can transform your business by enabling faster content delivery and greater engagement. Our services will empower you with insights to ensure quick decision-making and enhanced operational efficiency. 

Discover a whole new way of managing your infrastructure with our technology partners by your side. Call us today for a business consultation.

References

  1. https://www.techrepublic.com/index.php/article/the-cloud-becomes-a-delivery-mechanism-for-the-media-and-entertainment-industry/
  2. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/alliances/microsoft/azure/show-goes-on-in-cloud.html
  3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-ott-devices-and-services-market-report-2021-2026-featuring-akamai-technologies-amazon-apple-brightcove-google-hulu-limelight-networks-microsoft-netflix-roku-tencent-301436184.html
  4. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/cloud-computing-market-234.html
  5. https://variety.com/2021/film/news/viacomcbs-return-to-work-bob-bakish-1234928556/
  6. https://cloud.google.com/customers/sony-pictures-imageworks 

AI in Media: Redefining Customer Experience with Immersive Stories

Artificial intelligence has become an important milestone in the digital transformation journey of all sectors, including media and entertainment. With the buzz it has created, it is no surprise that the adoption of AI in media and entertainment is a game-changer for the pioneering and the digitally inclined. It plays an immense role in the way content and experiences are curated and delivered at scale today. 

The next era of the Media industry is defined by customers’ increased demand for immersive, live, and shareable experiences. Consumers now wish to get more engaged, better connected, and closer with the stories they love – both in the digital and physical worlds. Companies have started empowering these experiences through emerging technologies. Big data and artificial intelligence will create the most dramatic change, redefining how the industry can connect with all stakeholders and drive growth.

Modern enterprises are now deploying AI tools and technologies to ensure effective decision-making and agile responsiveness to market changes. While over-the-top players like Netflix have already adopted a data-first approach, many others are still trying to attain AI success. The road to full-fledged AI adoption is not devoid of challenges. AI can be only as good as the data you have. Every effort must be made to efficiently manage different data types, including audience, operational, and content data.

As workflows and processes continue to become AI-enabled, we analyze the media and entertainment landscape to understand the impact of AI adoption.

Customization to optimization – the role of AI in media & entertainment sector

AI plays an important role in enhancing the user experience across all the six segments of the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry: Films & TV, social media, journalism, gaming, music, and sports.  

Customer-focused experience with content personalization 

AI powers recommendation engines to predict what content should be promoted and when based on customer viewing data, search history, ratings, and even the device customers use. A classic case in point is Netflix’s landing cards1 helping the streaming website customize what you watch through personalized targeting. Images of lead characters are seen while scrolling to understand popular choices based on the cards people click. 

Machine classification algorithms for improved search optimization

AI also plays a significant role in search optimization thanks to machine classification algorithms that help in improving the categorization of movies. Users can search based on categories instead of individual titles to enable quick searches and smooth navigation. Streaming websites have enhanced streaming quality with AI since it helps them predict future demands and position their assets strategically to help users enjoy high-quality streaming even during peak hours.

Music streaming companies like Spotify and Apple Music rely on machine learning algorithms to segment users and songs to offer personalized recommendations and playlists. Natural Processing (NLP) gives them an edge by providing information about songs and artists from the web. AI has also been helping musicians generate lyrics and compose songs.

Enhanced news reporting with robot journalists

AI has a coveted place in social media and journalism too. While social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are using it to offer personalized products and services, Forbes and Bloomberg have been using robot journalists Bertie and Cyborg respectively to create storylines based on their parameters and data.

The Washington Post, too, gave us a taste of the future of journalism with its Heliograf2 that covered the Olympics. However, the Chinese news aggregation service Toutiao took it to the next level by creating an AI-enabled reporter Xiaomingbot that churned out a whopping 450 articles during the Rio Olympics in just 15 days.  

Gaming and customer-specific advertising

As the supply of mobile games continues to exceed demand, companies are now using AI to estimate customer lifetime value (CLV) to bid efficiently in advertising for users, focusing only on those who would enthusiastically engage with their products. AI is also helping animators bring exciting characters to life for a multitude of virtual reality games and movies.

 Improved entertainment quotient in sports broadcasting

The perennial popularization of sports brings new fans, players, and subscribers into the sports and gaming fold. AI satiates them with entertaining shots and angles during live telecasts and enhances the experience by broadcasting exclusive footage captured by drones.

Laying deeper data foundations for successful adoption of AI in media

AI has forayed into virtually all functions and areas to add value in a highly competitive market. As competitive pressures intensify, it has become more critical than ever to fast-track your AI initiatives and reap their benefits. But as with every other digitalization endeavor, AI adoption too brings along unique challenges.

Here’s what you can do to overcome them and lay deeper data foundations for successful AI adoption. 

Assess AI maturity 

M&E businesses are now shifting from B2B to B2C business models due to the direct-to-consumer delivery and consumption trends and hence are currently operating on massive amounts of data. In order to make complete sense of this data and drive decisions, data silos need to be removed first. A fragmented approach is not going to work and should be replaced with a data-first approach.

Organizations often get caught up in a quandary, wondering if they should modernize the data architecture first for their AI models to rest upon or build a model and modernize only that part of the required data. However, the right approach would be to invest in a sound strategy for your target data architecture that relies on proven models to avoid pitfalls and rework. Data management should be a top concern for organizations to interpret and get actionable insights.

Focus on people and processes 

Data sources will continue to increase, causing greater challenges for data management and project management. So while building your technology stack, it is equally important to invest in people and processes that would be at the helm of things while progressing up the AI maturity curve.

AI leaders believe in including technologists and data scientists in business teams to give them the visibility to understand business challenges. It is essential that business leaders, values, people, and culture are aligned to enable successful automation and AI adoption. Only then would human employees be able to work alongside robots and AI-powered machines to build capabilities and deliver value.

Adopt a continuous improvement approach

AI is not a one-time endeavor but will continue to evolve with time. To achieve enterprise-wide AI, it needs to be perceived as a transformational initiative that must be implemented across all front-end and back-end processes.

A comprehensive picture of ROI based on revenue and costs for different functions and processes can give organizations the clarity to track value and identify areas that need to improve. M&E companies are integrating established AI processes into finance, HR, and other functions to garner cost and operational efficiencies.

The future of entertainment looks AI-centric

AI is undeniably transforming the media and entertainment sector, empowering them to make informed decisions based on critical data analysis. It will navigate disruption and drive growth in all spheres by addressing data gaps and helping M&E companies become more agile. Clearly, AI is impacting everyday entertainment in a big way, and it’s time organizations harnessed its power to fine-tune their forward-thinking strategies and explore new avenues.

Discover the power of AI with Trigent

The technology experts at Trigent have been offering robust AI-enabled solutions to M&E companies based on data from diverse sources and powerful algorithms to enable a superlative user experience while giving them insights into customer behavior. 

We help build excellent AI capabilities and advanced features to deliver content in the most effective manner. We can help you build high-quality datasets to get the best results in diverse settings and drive impact at scale. 

Call us now for a business consultation

References

  1. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/netflix-data-personalisation-watching
  2. https://futurism.com/the-future-of-writing-chinas-ai-reporter-published-450-articles-during-rio-olympics 

Apple’s ARKit: Unique features delivering an immersive experience

Augmented Reality (AR) has emerged as a new communication medium that provides a wide range of processing devices’ motion tracking capabilities. In this article, we will discuss Apple’s iOS ARKit platform’s unique features that enable an immersive experience for users.

Features of iOS ARKit

AR isn’t only the joining of computer data with human detects. It is a lot more, thanks to the below-listed features:

  • Location property for creating and updating at specific points on the map
  • 3D views of amenities with AR with real-time 3D portraying, adding all the animation and textures
  • Optical or Video technologies are used to accomplish the way of augmentation.
  • Depth camera for a secure facial recognition system. Face ID will open 30% quicker, and those applications will dispatch twice as quickly in iOS 13.
  • Motion capture: moving moments of things by applying a similar body development to a virtual character.
  • AR is experienced in real-time conjoint, not pre-recorded. Data analyses, join a genuine activity with computer designs don’t consider AR. Therefore, amalgamating real and virtual.
  • Gauge lighting to help progress among Virtual and Real Worlds
  • ARKit produces information in meter scale, 3D virtual item anytime will be secured to that point in 3D space.
  • Augment Reality application improvement will encounter a total change with ARKit and recent iOS development highlights.

A little more about AR and the ARKit

The concept of AR dates back to 1950, while the term was coined in 1990 by Boeing researcher Tim Caudell. AR’s ability to recreate human sensory fuelled its increased usage in many applications.

After the launch of Google Glass, tech titans like Microsoft, Niantic, Sony, and Apple took up the initiative to leverage AR in new ways. Apple’s ARKit harnesses its library to offer features like collaborative sessions, mapping of physical 3D space, multiple face tracking, stable motion tracking, etc.

Now is the time to build a digitally driven experiential future with this booming platform of ARKit. Let’s join hands to inspire creative thinking that fuels tomorrow’s innovations.

AR has demonstrated a clear return on investment while offering businesses the means and ways to connect and converse with their customers. At Trigent, we help you create immersive experiences that are intuitive and data-rich while putting your customer needs at the core of every initiative. It’s time you embraced the many possibilities AR has to offer to unlock moments of delight for your customers. Allow us to help you push the standards a little higher.

Call us today for a consultation.


Bandwidth Testing for superior user experience – here’s how?

The Bandwidth Testing process simulates a low internet bandwidth connection and checks how your application behaves under desired network speed.

Considering a scenario where a specific application’s home page always loads in milliseconds in office premises this may not be the case when an end-user with low network speed accesses the application. To enhance user experience and get to know the application load times at specific network bandwidth speeds, we can simulate it and identify specific component/service call which is taking more time and can be improved further.

How to test bandwidth

Prerequisites:

Bandwidth speed test can be done using Chrome browser. You should set your ‘Network’ panel in the chrome browser as per the below requirements.

Setup:

  1. Go to Customize and control Google Chrome at the top right corner and click More tools, then select Developer tools
    • Or press keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + I
    • Or press F12
  2. Then click the ‘No throttling’ dropdown and choose Add… option under the Custom section.
  3. Click Add custom profile
  4. You will need to enter profile name in order to click on Add button. For example, ‘TestApp 1 MBPS’.
  5. Fill in the Download, Upload, Latency columns as below and click Add.

Example for 100Kbps:

Download (kb/s)Upload (kb/s)Latency (ms)
10050300

Example for 1Mbps:

Download (kb/s) Upload (kb/s)Latency (ms)
102451250

Example for 2.5Mbps:

Download (kb/s)Upload (kb/s)Latency (ms)
2600150030

Configuring Chrome is a one-time affair. Once Chrome has been configured for bandwidth speed test, use the same settings by selecting the profile name [TestApp 1 MBPS] from the No Throttling drop-down.

Metrics to be collected for bandwidth testing:

  • Data transferred (KB)
  • Time taken for data transfer (seconds)

Using Record network activity option in the Chrome browser, you can get the above attributes.

Note: Toggle button “Record network log”/”Stop recording network log” and button “Clear” are available in the network panel.

It is best practice to close all the non-testing applications/tools in the system and other tabs from Chrome where the testing is performed.

Steps for recording network activity:

  1. Open Developer Tools and select the Network tab.
  2. Clear network log before testing.
  3. Make sure Disable cache checkbox is checked.
  4. Select the created network throttling profile (say ‘TestApp 1 MBPS’).
  5. Start recording for the steps to be measured as per the scenario file.
  6. Wait for the completion of step and page is fully loaded to check the results
  7. Data transferred size for each recorded step will be displayed down in the status bar as highlighted. The size will be in byte/kilobyte/megabyte. Make note of it.
  8. Time taken for data transfer will be displayed in the timeline graph. The horizontal axis represents the time scale in a millisecond. Take the
  9. Maximum time. Take approximate value from the graph and make note of it.

Here is the sample screenshot taken for login process of snapdeal application page in which specific js component (base.jquery111.min.js) loading took 4.40s and also while searching for any product searchResult.min.js took 4.08s which can be improved further for better user experience.

This Bandwidth Testing Process helps in every possible way to improve user experience by identifying specific component or API calls which are taking more time to load and it helps developers to fix those specific components.

Your application’s performance is a major differentiator that decides whether it turns out to be a success or fails to meet expectations. Ensure your applications are peaked for optimal performance and success.

Improve page load speed and user experience with Trigent’s testing services

Trigent’s experienced and versatile Quality Assurance and Testing team is a major contributor in the successful launch, upgrade and maintenance of quality software used by millions around the globe. Our experienced responsible testing practices put process before convenience to delight stakeholders with an impressive industry rivaled Defect Escape Ratio or DER of 0.2.

Got a question? Contact us for a consultation

Rich-Immersive Experiences Driven by AR/VR

The recent pandemic has taught us a lot, and among the lessons learned the biggest was the one on social cohesion. It taught us how important it was to restore the in-person sentiment albeit digitally to keep the customer experience delightfully engaging even in these trying times. Brands like Whole Foods for instance, recently went digital to empower customers with that familiar in-store feel. 

Retailers are now adopting advanced tools and technologies with AR/VR (augmented reality) and (virtual reality) at the helm to offer rich, immersive experiences to their customers.

AR/VR in retail – The ground reality

There are countless examples of AR/VR changing customer experiences dramatically for the better. While AR digitally displays information to make sense of the real world, VR helps us understand and experience environments that could otherwise be costly or risky to experience physically. As per the ‘Seeing is believing’ report by PwC, virtual and augmented reality will reach $1.5 trillion and 23 million people globally by 2030 taking the number of people working with AR/VR support to 23.4 million.

AR and VR are adding immense value to the retail sector making way for more immersive storytelling. Jeremy Dalton Head of PwC’s AR/VR team in his book, Reality Check: How Immersive Technologies can Transform your Business says, “AR sacrifices full immersion for a direct connection to the physical world.” It can be helpful in revealing hidden information such as the components that go inside a product. “VR offers the best of all worlds: the ability to create a believable, engaging, and easily repeatable scenario but without the associated cost, disruption, or danger of the real thing,” he adds further.  

The product launch of OnePlus Nord in July 2020 was the first product launch in the world that used the power of AR, and the live cross-continent VR product launch of Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE wowed one and all. Brands are now looking for more creative ways to integrate AR/VR into their marketing mix. Nike Japan too recently took the imagination of fans to the next level with Create with Air Max – an AR-powered coloring book that allows them to decorate black and white drawings of the shoes and watch their 3-D images float in real-time. 

The retail landscape

A rich, immersive shopping experience is now becoming a retail industry standard. Retailers can absolutely shake up customer experience through AR/VR by personalizing offers and empowering customers to visualize their favorite products in virtual settings. Says Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner, “Gartner expects that the implementation of 5G and AR/VR in stores will transform not only customer engagement but also the entire product management cycle of brands. 5G can optimize warehouse resources, enhance store traffic analytics and enable beacons that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones.” 

As per the global forecast to 2025 by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the VR market is predicted to grow from USD 6.1 billion in 2020 to USD 20.9 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 27.9% while the AR market is projected to grow from USD 15.3 billion in 2020 to USD 77.0 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 38.1% from 2020 to 2025. 

Research by Vibrant Media had revealed earlier that 67% of media buyers are keen on using AR/VR in their campaigns while GetApp indicated that 1 in 2 consumers in the UK are willing to use AR technology for shopping. With Apple rumored to be working on the next big thing – a VR headset and AR glasses – AR and VR clearly seem to be on everyone’s mind as they build digital transformation roadmaps. 

AR and VR together are contributing towards rich, immersive, unforgettable customer experiences. They empower retailers to offer:

Virtual try-on – Prominent fashion labels Gucci and Hilfiger embedded AR into their apps to offer customers greater clarity while shopping by allowing them to digitally superimpose clothes and accessories onto themselves using their smartphone camera. The ability to scale products on their bodies or in their homes gives them better judgment and helps make informed buying decisions.

 IKEA Place app, for instance, allows customers to virtually place their true-to-scale 3D models in their space to give them the exact feeling of size, design, and functionality. In a crowded retail marketplace, this ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience could be the game-changer you may be looking for. 

In-store experience – It’s something customers are unable to enjoy in current times and a little attention can go a long way. It is the key to forging deeper connections. Retailers need to include AR/VR displays, kiosks, magic mirrors, smart carts, virtual store assistants, and digital fitting rooms depending on the products they sell to make the shopping experience efficient, enjoyable, but contactless. Remember how Levi’s came up with the co-watching video app allowing friends to share screen and shop together? This makes the whole experience not just engaging, but very emotional and intimate. 

Personalization – AR/VR allows unprecedented personalization. By employing marketing strategies that work well for mobile, desktop as well as web platforms, retailers can now offer 3D graphics-rich content for better customer engagement. Retailers can now offer more personalized products, and catalogs with detailed views keeping the individual preferences of customers in mind. Personalization also increases the likelihood of the customer returning to the same retailer for more and the possibility of product returns is also less.

Social media marketing – Social media filters are being used frequently now and Facebook investing heavily in AR/VR is proof that immersive experiences are now part of social media engagement. When used correctly on social media, AR/VR can help create new trends, increase impulse buys, and improve brand engagement. 

Customer engagement – VR has been helping brands offer simulated experiences to customers through different initiatives such as the one by Volvo where they offered a virtual test drive to customers. This initiative provides the brand a fresh engagement touchpoint to connect without having to wait for them to come down for a visit. This kind of positive engagement is just what is needed as we embrace the New Normal.

Productivity – A study published in The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology stated that warehouse pickers could complete orders 37% faster using an AR tool. DHL now has expanded its AR-based ‘vision picking’ program to its warehouses across the globe and those who are already part of the program are seeing 15% greater productivity. Time and cost savings in warehouse operations would mean faster fulfillment of orders, fewer complaints, and lower operational costs.

Create a magical customer experience with Trigent

AR and VR have demonstrated a clear return on investment while offering retailers the means and ways to connect and converse with their customers. At Trigent, we help you create immersive experiences that are intuitive and data-rich while putting your customer needs at the core of every initiative. It’s time you embraced the many possibilities AR and VR have to offer to unlock moments of delight for your customers. Allow us to help you push the standards a little higher.

Call us today for a quick consultation.

Cloud Migration in Retail – Why retail should dovetail cloud for success?

The year 2020 has been a year of learning for all industries. The unprecedented scale and reach of the pandemic encompassing the world impacted every region and industry. Retail in the United States is no different. Sales dropped from $5.47 trillion in 2019 to $4.89 trillion in 2020 due to the virus and restrictions to curb the pandemic. The prevailing condition demands that the retail industry, like every other industry, initiate or increase its speed of adopting technologies that enable businesses to face the new normal.

Cloud migration plays an essential role in this transformational journey. A major driver set to act as the backbone, enabling the adoption of technologies and delivering desired business results. The global retail cloud market that stood at $11.89 billion will touch 39.63 billion by 2026, emphasizing cloud as a significant driving force that will propel the retail sector in the future.

Here are some of the factors that make the cloud migration a lucrative proposition for retailers.

Cloud retail solutions for in-sync operation

Many brick-and-mortar stores or offline stores still depend on legacy systems. Dependence on legacy impacts the integration of various business operations such as inventory, shipping, development, and POS. Cloud migration enables retailers to get the different business operations in sync and get a consolidated view of all departments and locations in real-time. A real-time view of the inventory, shipment, and other business processes enables an in-sync seamless functioning across the organization.

Superior Customer Experience (CX) and convenience with application migration to cloud

The experience-driven economy has furthered the emphasis on personalization. Not only is there a demand for superior, seamless experiences, but users also want these experiences to be personalized. 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides personalized experiences. Retailers are well placed to provide to their customers what they demand. With a gold mine of customer and sales data, retailers can utilize cloud-enabled computing capabilities to analyze data. Cloud allows retailers to get a unified view of data from multiple sources, enabling the retailers to make data-driven, timely decisions. Moving to the cloud also boosts the performance of web applications ensuring that users do not abandon the site due to slow performance and a poor experience.

Cloud migration strategy for scalability

Many reasons impact the sale of products. It could be the launch of a new product from a renowned brand or end of season sale that causes a spike in sales. The retail industry is also impacted by peak demand during particular seasons, such as the holiday season. As per Adobe Analytics, online retail sales grew 32.2% from 2019 to touch $188.2 billion during the holiday season. Similarly, the sales could also dip owing to low demand and other factors. Cloud migration helps retailers to prepare for such eventuality. Cloud-enabled systems can be programmed for scalability, meaning they can be automated to meet the requirements in case of a surge and limit the use of resources in case of a dip. Retailers can also save big on infrastructure investments and costs by using many cloud service providers’ pay per use model.

Retailers are looking for technologies that can immediately impact their business. They are either already experimenting or looking to build solutions that enhance customer experience and drive growth. Cloud works as the perfect catalyst in this transformational journey for retailers as it powers agility and provides the platform to build modern apps faster and at scale, anytime-anywhere.

Explore the latest trends in technology that are shaping the future of retail. Learn how Trigent’s expertise can help you conquer the cloud and get an edge over the new normal.

Incorporate the latest capabilities in cloud technology with Trigent’s team of certified cloud experts. Our suite of cloud services encompassing cloud advisory, cloud-native application development, cloud architecture, migration services, and cloud management is equipped to support you at every stage of your cloud journey.

5 Ways to Improve Customer Experience with AI in Retail

From the very beginning, businesses have always aimed to deliver the finest customer experience. Conversations between brands and consumers got more personal with time and modern technologies provided them the much-needed platform to connect and communicate. So much so that brands now know you like the back of their hand. Businesses worldwide have been leveraging AI in retail to offer a personalized experience to consumers. They are now talking to you through AI-powered chatbots.

As consumers continue to juggle priorities at home and work amidst the pandemic, their expectations have gone through the roof. Time is precious and they are willing to indulge provided you anticipate their needs and fulfill them in the most efficient manner. As Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research recently wrote, “Customers expect more from customer service organizations. They expect you to value their time, to make engagement easy, and to deliver answers and resolutions in a highly personal manner and in the context of their actions and journeys.”

Clearly, AI and automation have become customer service fundamentals of the modern age. Chatbot conversations, automated answers, customization are all driving factors. The AI-powered BMW factory in Germany stands testimony to the growing popularity of AI in the retail industry. The company has leveraged it well not only to ensure flawless perfection in its production processes but to also achieve 100% reliability for the cars that roll out from this particular setup.

Veritone’s The State of Artificial Intelligence report predicts groundbreaking advances in machine learning and AI and expects 75% of commercial enterprise applications to use AI.

If you wish to level up your game, it’s time you transform customer experience with AI and chatbots. Here’s a quick sneak peek into the world of AI and chatbots and how they will transform retail.

1. Personalization with AI

AI has made it possible for retailers to predict the shopping behavior of consumers. They know what they like and exactly what’s on their mind. From wishlists to recommended products on Amazon and movies on Netflix to music on Spotify, they follow their digital footprints all the time. And that’s not all; they are now curating personalized content too. So now consumers are more pampered with promotional messages and customized deals targeted directly to them.

2. Data-driven predictions and insights

AI is bridging the gap between humans and machines like never before. Predictive models are being deployed to improve efficiency – be it to reduce energy consumption based on usage or avoid machine breakdowns by reminding consumers of car maintenance. AI gives a perspective on things ensuring growth in savings, performance, and efficiency.

3. A smarter world

As per Statistica, the number of digital voice assistants will touch 8.4 billion units by 2024 underlining their immense scope. Almost 60,000 smart devices support Alexa and the United States alone has more than 110 million virtual assistant users thanks to the increasing use of smartphones and other smart devices. Virtually everything from homes to vehicles is now connected and in turn, monitored.

Voice-based searches are now part of our daily life and our best bet for digital searches on the go. Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa have raised the benchmark for voice-based applications that are breaking new ground in different sectors including retail, banking, fashion, IT, eCommerce, and healthcare. In fact, the voice interface is expected to be a driving factor for the retail sector as most retail applications will have voice assistant capabilities to enhance experience and engagement.

4. Enhanced customer support

Chatbots will ensure that customers do not suffer even during non-working hours. While driving business revenues, they bring down operational costs and offer complete peace of mind to consumers. Juniper Research expects the number of successful retail chatbot interactions globally to go from 2.6 billion in 2019 to a whopping 22 billion by 2023.

5. Greater conversions through conversational commerce

Walk-in customers that were now forced to be at home due to the pandemic made contactless conversational commerce a runaway hit. Customers that used self-service as the first point of contact with a retailer were now eagerly lapping product catalogs through WhatsApp and Facebook, and other platforms. Omnichannel presence has now become the key for greater customer satisfaction and ‘my shopping my way’ has become the new mantra. Consumers now want to talk to their brands and have engaging conversations.

The LivePerson’s 2020 Consumer Preferences for Conversational Commerce report said 85% of global consumers are getting on to messaging brands and 75% were ready to spend more on brands that came up with the messaging option. Explained Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson, in the press release, “The evidence is clear: AI-powered messaging experiences are more in demand than ever before.

Consumers around the world are clamoring for them, and they’ll even spend more money with brands that give them what they want. Brands that embrace conversational AI and infuse it with human qualities like empathy, love, and understanding will outperform their competitors and reach the cutting edge of customer service, marketing, and sales.”

Challenges of AI adoption in Retail

The potential of AI and chatbots however remains largely untapped despite its popularity. As per a U.S. Census Bureau survey, only 2.8% of companies in the U.S used machine learning indicating the achingly slow speed of technology adoption. Of course, things have changed radically now due to the pandemic. According to an exclusive study by Isobar based on inputs from 1350 global CMOs, 64% of them had completely or moderately changed their CX strategy to respond to changing needs in the Covid-19 crisis. While the focus remains on eliminating friction and pain points, building differentiation has become extremely important.

Successful AI adoption needs an understanding of what AI can and cannot do. AI will no doubt require skills that enterprises may lack as of now. Besides, there is the anxiety of adopting something new and the nagging fear of the unknown. Enterprises need to take into account both tangible and intangible benefits to determine the return on investment. No doubt AI will eliminate jobs but it will create many more jobs too. Gartner terms AI as a net-positive job motivator that will create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million jobs.

It is important to collate quality data that can help identify patterns, prevent errors, and lead to more positive outcomes. Data and skill deficits are in fact major hurdles to the successful adoption of AI. But with a little training and planning, AI adoption will prove to be a perfect investment.

Take the technological leap with Trigent

As consumers move from bricks to clicks, we urge you to embark on a journey of digital transformation with us. AI is the disruption modern organizations are gladly embracing to improve their bottom lines. At Trigent, we’ve packed tons of experience and value into easy-to-use intuitive solutions that can be easily deployed in your enterprise.

We will help you tide over implementation challenges and equip you with AI know-how. We will assess your needs and help you choose the right type of chatbot for your business. We will also help you create your own roadmap to ensure better business outcomes and a delightful customer experience.

Allow us to be your partners in progress. Call us today.

Technology Trends that will Reshape the Retail Industry

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The pandemic has pivoted the world to everything digital. Everything-from-home became the new norm, and we have reimagined new ways to function over the last two years. It is no different for shopping – eCommerce came to everybody’s rescue. Although online shopping is not new, it took center stage. Consumer-facing technology saved the day, and digital payments, telehealth, cloud-native apps, etc., are now mainstream in the AI-driven world.

Adobe recently revealed comprehensive insights on consumer spending and eCommerce based on some of the top retailers’ eCommerce transactions in real-time. The Black Friday sales figures touched a whopping $9.0 billion, a record high indicating an increase of 21.6% compared to last year. Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights, stated, “We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices, and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that are usually purchased in-store.”

Digital penetration is now irreversible and will continue to navigate retail trends through 2022 and beyond. Here’s a quick lowdown on technology trends that will reshape retail in the future.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will ensure an immersive consumer experience

Retailers leverage augmented reality to shift the focus from features and benefits to an immersive retail experience enabling young and restless millennials to choose better. While apparel companies went all out with their AR fitting rooms to help choose according to body type, beauty technology leader Sephora came up with magic mirrors in stores and mobile apps to enable consumers to see how the myriad make-up treatments and colors looked on them.

On the other hand, IKEA allowed consumers to place catalog items at scale in their homes to make better buying decisions. In a technology-driven world, the augmented reality and virtual reality market are predicted to touch 16.1 billion by 2025 globally, underlining a 48.8% CAGR for the forecast period 2020-2025.

Having tasted a shift in consumer behaviors, One Aldwych Hotel in London, in collaboration with Dalmore Whisky, treated their consumers to a distillery experience with VR. They offered a VR whisky cocktail that allowed them to visit the distillery, albeit virtually to see the barrels and the water and the fields that went into its making. To ensure deeper engagement and take out the loneliness from virtual shopping, brands now allow you to co-shop with your friends by helping consumers share product views and experiences. Popular brand Lego has created digital shopping assistants to make the whole experience a lot more exciting. These assistants even make personalized gift recommendations to take the digital shopping experience a notch higher.

After launching its Shopify AR to help businesses curate more immersive shopping experiences, Shopify also confirmed that interactions with products having 3D/A.R. content have a 94% higher conversion rate compared to those without it.

Retailers are also becoming more experiential, indulging in what we call ‘retailtainment’ where experience becomes immersive and memorable. For instance, Marvel invited fans into their cinematic world through interactive displays and real-life movie props at their touring Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Virtual Assistants for 24×7 Customer Service

Retailers are leveraging chatbots and virtual assistants to interact with their consumers while robots lurk outside warehouses to manage inventory. AI-powered voice recognition technology is also playing a significant role in adding value to the whole shopping experience.

Retailers are also deploying mobile CRM to engage consumers with offers, discounts, reward points, loyalty programs, style alerts, etc. According to Forrester statistics, 50% of teams saw an increase in productivity after using mobile CRM. An IDC study predicts AI-powered CRM activities could increase global business revenues by $1.1 trillion, drawing attention to the extensive role AI plays in driving customer conversations and influencing customer behavior.

Hybrid Apps enable retailers to reach a wider audience, grow the market

As consumers continue to rely on smartphones for all their needs, hybrid apps play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between brands and consumers. They are pocket-friendly and work exceedingly well for small businesses too. Brands are now relying on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to engage with customers.

Hybrid apps have caught the fancy of retailers because they are a multi-platform app development option, unlike native, that focus on a single platform. Hybrid apps have a single code that applies to both Android and iOS, saving developers valuable time. Besides, it is also advantageous as developers can maintain, update, and upgrade by making changes in just one set of code instead of multiple code sets, delivering an at par customer experience across platforms.

Social Commerce and influencer marketing will enhance reach and value

A recent survey revealed 41% of respondents admitted to shopping online for stuff they would normally buy in stores. The recent introduction of Facebook shops is a classic example of the growing popularity of social commerce in the personalized shopping arena in the digital world. Social commerce is now becoming an integral part of e-commerce and is clearly here to stay.

With social commerce on the rise, the influencer game is stronger than ever. It has now transitioned from selfies and clever photo edits to unique influencer video content that connects, educates, and entertains. IGTV, Instagram Reels, and Instagram Live are all playing a major role in helping brands build solid digital communities through shared interests. Fitness experts for instance conduct live workout sessions on Instagram Live and then publish the same on IGTV for those who couldn’t tune into live stream.

Contactless is the buzzword now

A safe, seamless, frictionless experience is what we need. Contactless payments, contactless delivery and pickup, seamless checkouts, 1:1 in-store appointments, contactless checkout and delivery, and click-and-collect services are all crucial steps in that direction. Also, the fear of contamination has encouraged retailers to deploy drone technology to ensure the fastest delivery. Retailers are working in tandem with fintech companies to build better transactional models for quick, contactless payments.

Contactless mobile payments are in high demand, especially in this period of crisis. Consumers carrying their cards tend to spend more than those with cash in their wallets which often limits their purchasing power. Contactless payments are not just a fad but have greater staying power for the sheer speed, security, and convenience they offer. Those who have failed to adopt them have lost business. As per the 2020 Holiday Spending Insights Report by NMI, 43% of consumers avoided retailers that did not offer contactless payments. Tap-to-pay cards are popular, so are mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Make your retail business future-ready with Trigent

The retail environment is changing at a rapid pace. Clearly, brands are going out of the way to redefine the possible and are winning the game in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to go omnichannel to provide best-in-class experiences to consumers across touchpoints because the online and offline worlds converge.

Serve your customers efficiently by accelerating the adoption of the latest developments in technology. Capitalize on Trigent’s market experience to incorporate the best practices and implement solutions right the first time. With its comprehensive suite of IT Services offerings, Trigent is your go-to partner for all your IT digital evolution requirements.

Contact our Solutions Specialists today. Request a demo now.

Improve the quality of digital experiences with Performance Engineering

Quality at the heart of business performance

“In 2020, the key expectation is fast, reliable, and trustworthy software.” *

As businesses embrace the Agile/DevOps culture and the emphasis on CI/CD is growing, quality assurance is seen as a standalone task, limited to validating functionalities implemented. When QA and Testing is an afterthought in an Agile/DevOps culture, the result is a subpar consumer experience followed by an adverse impact on the revenue pipeline. Poor customer experience also directly impacts brand credibility and business equity. While UI/UX are the visible elements of the customer experience, product, or service performance is a critical element that is often neglected. Performance Testing identifies the gaps that are addressed through Performance Engineering.

Small steps, significant gains – the journey towards Performance Engineering

The deeper issue lies in the organization’s approach towards quality and testing – it is considered an independent phase rather than looked upon as a collaborative and an integrated approach. Performance engineering is a set of methodologies that identifies potential risks and bottlenecks early on in the development stage of the product and addresses them. It goes without saying that performance is an essential ingredient in the quality of the product, there’s a deeper need for change in thinking – to think proactively, anticipate early in the development cycle, test and deliver a quality experience to the end consumer. An organization that makes gradual changes in its journey towards performance engineering stands to gain significantly. The leadership team, the product management, and the engineering and DevOps at different levels need to take the shift-left approach towards performance engineering.

Make Performance Engineering your strategic priority today

Despite the obvious advantages, performance testing is typically a reactive measure that is addressed after the initial launch. However, organizations need to embrace performance engineering measures right from the design phase, start small, and take incremental steps towards change.

Covid-19 has rapidly changed the way consumers behave globally. Businesses caught onto remote working; consumers moved shopping, entertainment, banking, learning, and medical consultations online. Consider the quantum jump in usage triggered by the pandemic.

The dramatic increase in the use of digital services has covered decades in days.**

Companies that adopted scalability and performance centric design have moved swiftly to capture the market opportunity.

With multiple user-interfaces across sectors being the norm and the increasing complexity of digital experiences, it is critical for businesses to get it right the first time in order to gain and retain customers’ trust.

As cloud migrations continue, whether rehosting the app on an IaaS or rebuilding a new approach, performance engineering ensures that migrated systems withstand sudden surges in usage. According to a Sogeti and Neotys report, 74% of the load testing infrastructure is operated in the cloud today. Cloud infrastructure providers ensure reliability but they may not be aware of the performance metrics that matter to the business and their impact. As organizations move from monolithic systems to distributed architectures provided by an assortment of companies, corporate leaders need to recognize the importance of performance engineering and embrace it to deliver the right solutions for the first time.

Our approach to Performance Engineering philosophy

At Trigent, we put the customer experience at the heart of planning the entire testing cycle. Our performance engineering practices align with ‘metrics that matter’ to businesses in the DevOps framework. While testing identifies the gaps in performance, the onus of architecting it right lies on the DevOps engineering team with proactive inputs from QA and Testing.

Performance engineering is also a way of thinking, the ability to plan for performance at the time of design, right at the beginning. As for quality, besides testing for functionality, anticipating potential bottlenecks helps us assess the process in its entirety in the beginning.

Asking some of these customer-centric questions early on shifts the perspective right at the outset. Ask them early, and you’re on your way to a performance engineering culture.

Parameters that matter

‘Will my application meet the defined response-time requirements of my customers?’

Consider an app that doesn’t respond within the expected standards of the customer; the chances of that application making it to the customer’s phone screen is pretty slim.

‘Will the application handle the expected user load and beyond?’

An application that tested well with 10 users may fail when that number is multiplied by a thousand or two.

We take the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders, consider parameters that matter to the customer, and assess impact early on.

Customer experience matters

Performance Engineering takes into account the overall experience of the end-user and their environment.

Asking pertinent questions such as ‘Will my users experience acceptable response times, even during peak hours?’ or ‘Does the application respond quickly enough for the intended users?’ does well to anticipate potential pitfalls in network usage and latency.

‘Where are the bottlenecks in my multi-user environment?’

Understand the real environment of the user and their challenges to provide a quality user experience.

Early Focus

The non-functional aspects are integrated into the DevOps and an early focus on performance enables us to gain insights into architectural issues.

‘How can we optimize the multi-user application before it goes live?
‘How can we detect errors that only occur under real-load conditions?

Quick course corrections help optimize performance and make the product market-ready. Besides faster deployment, quality assurance gives our clients an added advantage of reduced performance costs.

Architect it right

‘What system capacity is required to handle the expected load?’
‘Will the application handle the number of transactions required by the business?’

Important questions like these focus on architecting the product for performance. As part of the performance engineering methodology, our teams consistently check and validate the capabilities at the time of developing the product or scaling it up. We take the shift-left and shift-right approach to anticipate, identify, and remove bottlenecks early on. Getting the architecture right enables us to deliver and deploy a high-quality product every time.

Performance engineering done right is sure to improve the planning-to-deployment time with high-quality products. Plus, it reduces performance costs arising out of unforeseen issues. A step-by-step approach in testing makes sure organizations move towards achieving performance engineering. Talk to our experts for scalable performance engineering solutions for your business.

Learn more about Trigent software testing services.


Reference:
* The State of Performance Engineering 2020 – A Sogeti and Neotys report
** Meet the next-normal consumer – A McKinsey & Company report

Trigent Software Proud to be Named on Clutch 1000

Here at Trigent Software, we know it can be tough trying to juggle business success and staying up to date with all of the latest and greatest software innovations. That’s why we’re dedicated to IT outsourcing and offshore development! We enable organizations to adopt innovative digital processes and customer engagement models and outstanding results.

In light of our success, we’ve earned recognition for our custom software development prowess, and have earned ourselves a spot on the Clutch 1000! This is a list of the top B2B service providers, reviewed and vetted by Clutch’s verified research. We’re number 179 on the list, out of over 1000 custom software developers, but the only service provider featured from Fayville, Massachusetts!

We’d like to set this time aside to thank our wonderful customers for helping us achieve this award. They participated in client interviews with Clutch analysts to gauge our impact on their day to day business. They ranked us on the basis of cost-effectiveness, attention to project deadlines, and our overall quality of service. In reflection of those scores, we’ve been given an amazing 4.8 out of 5-stars! We’re so happy we’ve been able to meet our clients’ expectations! Please take a look at a recent review below:

For those who might not know, Clutch is a B2B market research firm that employs a unique ratings methodology to compare companies across sectors. We’ve also been recognized by Clutch’s sister platforms, The Manifest and Visual Objects. The Manifest, a site where companies can be identified as leaders through business metrics, list us on their directory of top software development companies. Visual Objects, a platform that features top firms and their visual portfolios, names us among their top custom software developers.

Thank you one and all for making this award possible! Please drop us a line if you’d like to start a project today.

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