News digest from Apr 28, 2023
Best Practices for Implementing DevOps in Software Development Organizations
Software development organizations must use DevOps in the fast-paced world of today to enable the prompt delivery of high-quality software. The goal of the DevOps methodology is to deliver software quickly and consistently by focusing on collaboration and communication between the development and operations teams. Although implementing DevOps in your company can be challenging, you can guarantee a smooth transition by adhering to best practices.
Encourage an environment of cooperation and open communication
The core principles of DevOps center on team collaboration and communication. It’s critical to develop a culture where teams cooperate and communicate well. Promote blameless communication so that people may speak out about problems and errors without worrying about facing consequences. This promotes a culture of ongoing learning and progress.
Adopt Continuous Integration and Delivery
Two essential DevOps techniques—Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)—allow teams to produce software more quickly and regularly. While CD entails automating the release process to make sure that software is always deployable, CI requires routinely merging code changes into a central repository. Adopting these procedures can decrease time to market, enhance software quality, and boost productivity.
Set up automated testing
DevOps requires automated testing, which is essential. It guarantees that the software is of a good caliber and satisfies consumer needs. Organizations can improve software quality while saving time and money by automating testing. Automated testing also aids in the early detection of problems during the development cycle, which lowers the price of repairing them later.
Choose the right measurements and focus on observability
Observability is a cornerstone of the DevOps philosophy. It comprises obtaining and assessing system information in order to identify issues and make improvements. By selecting the appropriate metrics to measure, organizations can identify performance bottlenecks, optimize performance, and improve customer experience.
Reduce Dependability on Manual Labor
Manual labor is often time-consuming, expensive, and error-prone. Automating manual operations can increase productivity for firms by lowering the possibility of human error. Businesses can reduce the time it takes for a product to reach the market, increase productivity, and improve the quality of their products by automating processes like testing, deployment, and infrastructure management.
Specify Security Initially in the development lifecycle
The importance of security must be considered when creating software. Security must be implemented early in the development process to detect and correct issues before they arise. Secure coding techniques must be used, security assessments must be frequently performed, and security testing must be included into the development process in order to achieve this.
Establish Incident Processes and Learn from Them
Software development processes are bound to face incidents at some point. To prevent similar occurrences in the future, it is essential to establish processes around them and learn from past incidents. This involves conducting post-incident reviews, identifying underlying causes, and implementing preventive measures to mitigate such risks in the future.
Prioritize Concepts Before Choosing Tools
The constant influx of new tools and technologies may sometimes lead to losing focus on core concepts. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize concepts before selecting the appropriate tools. By doing so, organizations can make informed decisions and choose the right tools that align with their DevOps principles and goals.
Push for a Self-Service Infrastructure Model and Adopt Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
A crucial DevOps technique known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC) entails managing infrastructure using code. Teams may automate infrastructure management this way, which also lowers errors and raises consistency. Additionally, promoting a self-service infrastructure architecture can improve team productivity and speed up resource provisioning.
DevOps Teams Should Work Collaboratively
DevOps is a team approach that emphasizes collaboration among all teams involved in achieving a common goal. Separating the DevOps team from other teams can result in silos, communication breakdown, and ultimately impact the efficiency of DevOps deployment. Therefore, it is essential to create diverse teams that can work together to develop high-quality software.
Utilize the DevOps Hero sparingly
It’s critical to keep in mind that DevOps requires collaboration and that no one individual should be in control of its deployment. Even while having a DevOps champion can be advantageous, it’s essential to make sure that everyone in the business is dedicated to the effort and is aware of how important communication and collaboration are.
It’s not necessary to automate or alter everything at once
There can be overwhelming and ultimately futile attempts to automate and change everything at once. DevOps must be implemented in stages, starting with minor tweaks and gradually increasing automation and efficiency. This approach might facilitate teams’ adoption of novel practices and tools and ensure a seamless transition to DevOps.
Refrain from Trying New Tools
When seeking DevOps implementation services, it’s important to prioritize core principles over the latest tools and technologies.
Avoid Compromise on Quality for Speed
While efficiency is crucial while developing software, quality shouldn’t be sacrificed.
Continue to Strive for Improvement
A fundamental tenet of DevOps is continuous improvement, therefore it’s critical to keep working to enhance procedures and equipment over time.
Don’t Forget to Document and Share Information
Sharing information and creating documentation are essential components of DevOps.
Although implementing DevOps in custom software development companies can be difficult, companies can guarantee a smooth transition by adhering to best practices.
Source: Tech Bullion
Ad Flap Leaves Bitter Aftertaste for Bud Light and Warning for Big Business
Bud Light’s marketing effort with a transgender influencer has put it “in the center of the culture wars in a way that no company could possibly want to be,” one observer said.
When she was named Anheuser-Busch’s marketing vice president, Alissa Heinerscheid explained in a recent podcast interview, “I had this super clear mandate: We need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand.” Doing that, she said, “means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive.”
But the limits of that mandate, and of how Anheuser-Busch defined “inclusive,” became apparent in recent days, when the company announced that Ms. Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, were on a leave of absence after a wave of right-wing outrage over a Bud Light marketing campaign that involved the transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The backlash and subsequent scrambling provide a lesson in the newly unsettled politics of corporate America. In the past decade, major companies have leaned into liberal social politics that are increasingly anathema to their longstanding allies in the Republican Party and the consumers who vote for them.
Bud Light’s trials this month have underscored the difficulty of straddling that divide. Ms. Heinerscheid’s efforts reflected the company’s aspirations of shoring up years of eroding market share among consumers in predominantly liberal urban areas. Ms. Heinerscheid did not respond to a request for comment.
The resulting furor, however, has led to double-digit sales declines in rural red-state markets, where a broader revolt against transgender rights has become central to Republican politics.
“They’ve stepped into a polarized America,” said Benj Steinman, the editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, an industry trade publication. “They’re in the center of the culture wars in a way that no company could possibly want to be.”
Sales of Bud Light, the largest brand for Anheuser-Busch InBev, dropped 17 percent by value for the week ending April 15, compared with a year ago, according to one industry report. In a statement about the executives on leave, Anheuser said, “We have made some adjustments to streamline the structure of our marketing function to reduce layers so that our most senior marketers are more closely connected to every aspect of our brands’ activities.”
Despite the drop, Anheuser-Busch’s stock has barely faltered and is currently near its high point in the past year, suggesting investors may believe the storm will be short-lived.
“Companies will not end the standard business practice of including diverse people in ads and marketing because a small number of loud, fringe anti-L.G.B.T.Q. activists make noise on social media,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization GLAAD, said in a statement. She noted that a 2020 survey the organization conducted in conjunction with Procter & Gamble found three-quarters of non-L.G.B.T.Q. Americans were comfortable seeing L.G.B.T.Q. people in ads.
The boycott of Bud Light has divided prominent Republicans and campaign organizations, too. Many have rushed toward the latest front in the culture war, including several 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Source: The New York Times
America’s Best Management Consulting Firms
The number of management consulting firms in the U.S. has grown 2.6% per year over the last five years, according to IBISWorld. And they’ve been busy: consulting firms are tasked with guiding companies as they contend with upheaval in a wide range of areas—from economic instability and technological advances to shifting workplace norms and an increased focus on sustainability.
“Dealing with disruption and uncertainty,” says Jack Azagury, group chief executive for strategy and consulting at Accenture, “makes medium- and long-term planning extremely challenging.” But that’s what the best consulting firms do for their clients—and what earned Accenture high ratings in Forbes’ eighth annual list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms.
Through a survey of industry insiders and clients, companies were evaluated within different consulting sectors (such as automotive, insurance, and health care) and the expertise in which they offer services (including leadership, sustainability, and legal and litigation). The firms with the most recommendations in each category were given star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.”
As with all Forbes lists, companies do not pay any fee to be considered.
These are the very real effects of providing good customer service
The interaction may have been more formal, such as calling a business and having your query handled quickly and professionally.
Now, turn this around, think of bad experiences you’ve had with companies: rude staff, disinterested managers or difficulty finding the information you need, such as service details or prices. Individuals are more likely to recall bad customer service experiences, which linger for longer.
Customer service has an outsized impact on business performance, often much more than cost or service options. Good interactions with a customer can grow loyalty and goodwill better than the best marketing efforts. Exceptional customer service is critical for business success.
Nadia Coetzer, Head of Support at PaySpace, presents five data-backed reasons why:
1. Loyal customers attract new customers
Loyal customers are influential promoters and are most likely to convince others to trust your brand. Hubspot Research found that 81% of buyers trust their friend’s and family’s advice over advice from a business, whereas trust for companies or their ads is almost at the opposite level. And a study by Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia reported that “brand loyalty and consumer-brand identification were found to be predictors of online brand advocacy, (which) impacted on purchase intent.”
2. Exceptional customer service grows customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total value a business anticipates from a customer during their entire relationship. In the connected era, this value can dramatically increase or decrease based on service interactions. Research commissioned by Zendesk states: “In 2013, 51% recommended products or services after a good customer service interaction. That same number increased to two-thirds (67%) in just five years.” This pattern also works inversely for bad service experiences. There is a direct connection between exceptional customer service and improving CLV.
3. Highly satisfied customers pay more
There are some products where frugality takes priority. But customers who are happy with a company will, under most circumstances, spend more. Yet this is not a straight correlation, according to a study by the University of Mannheim and the University of Texas at Austin. Exceptional service matters because “only highly satisfied customers are willing to pay more, and very dissatisfied customers are definitely not willing. Moderate levels of satisfaction do not increase a customer’s willingness to pay substantially.”
4. Unhappy customers speak for many others
Exceptional customer service isn’t just about a smile and a helpful answer. While companies take pride in how many happy customers they have, what about the unhappy ones? These guys are the canaries in the coal mine, warning of problems that can lead to customer churn. According to a study by ThinkJar “only one out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn. A lesson here is that companies should not view the absence of feedback as a sign of satisfaction. The true enemy is indifference.”
5. Exceptional customer service Improves productivity
Customer service is not a one-way street. A growing body of research shows that customers and front-line employees share a reciprocal connection. Happy customers encourage less stressed and more productive employees, and less stressed employees lead to happier customers. This was the result of a UNSW Sydney study that looked at interactions at a mid-sized bank. They concluded that service productivity is “positively associated with customer satisfaction.”
How can companies create exceptional customer service? There are two main ingredients.
Firstly, understanding the customer’s needs and expectations. The first step in creating exceptional customer service is to understand your customers’ needs, expectations and pain points. This requires listening to your customers and gathering feedback to learn what they want and what they don’t want. You can use a variety of tools to gather customer feedback, such as surveys, focus groups and social media monitoring. Once you have a clear understanding of your customers’ needs and expectations, you can tailor your customer service strategy to meet those needs.
The second ingredient to creating exceptional customer service is to empower and train your employees to deliver excellent customer service. This means providing them with the tools and resources they need to effectively communicate with customers and resolve their issues. It also means creating a culture of customer service throughout your organization, where all employees are committed to providing exceptional service.
Source: News 24
Nasa engineers find way to keep Voyager 2 interstellar probe fully operational
S National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) engineers have worked out a way to keep what is now the interstellar probe Voyager 2 fully operational for another three years. Voyager 2, and its sister, Voyage 1, were designed and built to survey the gas giant planets of the outer Solar System, but subsequently became the first human spacecraft to enter interstellar space while still operational, and they continue to transmit scientific data back to Earth.
Voyager 2 has five science instruments studying interstellar space. Declining power generating capacity meant that the mission scientists were facing the apparent necessity of having to turn one of these instruments off, this year, to keep the other four running. “The science data that the Voyagers are returning gets more valuable the farther away from the Sun they go, so we are definitely interested in keeping as many science instruments operating as long as possible,” highlighted Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Voyager project scientist Dr Linda Spilker.
The Voyagers are powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG). These, in the case of the Voyagers, use the heat produced by the decay of plutonium to generate electricity. Because, by definition, the plutonium decays over time, the amount of energy produced by the RTG declines over time. Over the decades, mission engineers have been extending the probe’s operational life by turning off heaters and other systems that were no longer needed or were not essential to its operation. (For example, its cameras were shut down after its fly-by of Neptune, as they no longer had any function, and the camera software deleted from the spacecraft’s computer, to save energy.) But the decline in power generation had reached the point at which it seemed that a scientific instrument would also have to be switched off.
However, the mission engineers realised there was another option. The spacecraft has a safety mechanism, which protects its instruments from surges or dips in the flow of electricity (voltage) that powers them. Such changes in voltage could damage the instruments. This safety mechanism involves a backup circuit, which can be activated by a voltage regulator, should there be a fluctuation in the power supply. This circuit can access a small quantity of power from the RTG. That power quantity has hitherto been reserved for this backup circuit. Now this power is no longer being reserved, but is being used to keep all five science instruments operating.
“Variable voltages pose a risk to the instruments, but we’ve determined that it’s a small risk, and the alternative offers a big reward of being able to keep the science instruments turned on longer,” explained JPL Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd. “We’ve been monitoring the spacecraft for a few weeks, and it seems like this new approach is working.”
Now, the question of which science instrument to shut down, to save energy, will only have to be faced in 2026. This problem has not arisen with Voyager 1 (which entered interstellar space in 2012, having visited only Jupiter and Saturn), as one of its science instruments failed early in its mission, so it has been running only four instruments for decades now, meaning it has greater power reserves. But, if the energy-boosting adjustment for Voyager 2 works well, it might also be adopted for Voyager 1.
The two Voyagers were each intended to operate for four years, but they have now been operating for 46 years.
Source: Engineering News
The biggest trends in graphic design for 2023, as predicted by the creative industry
The job of the graphic designer may have changed a lot lately, but the good news is that the discipline is still in demand more than ever indeed. As businesses battle to survive the coming recession, good design will help them stand out visually, connect with their audiences, and create the brand loyalty they so desperately need.
That means the best graphic designers should not want for work in 2023, although at the same time, you may be expected to do more than ever. It’s no longer good enough to only design for print or even digital. There’s also motion, AR, VR, mixed reality and more. The good news is that good design is always good, whatever the platform. So as you stick to the same design fundamentals that have carried you so far, you should be in a strong place.
Trend 1: A revolution in design tools
Arguably the biggest change in graphic design in 2023 won’t be what our designs look like or how they function but how we make them.
Trend 2: Brands look for human connection
In the chaotic, post-pandemic world we’re entering in 2023, people will be craving connection: moments that make us smile, says Kenneth Johnston-Cowley, design director at MadeBrave. “The most immersive way to do this is rich brand photography and film. Can our audiences see themselves in the brand, either literally through photography and film or through tone of voice?”
Trend 3: Designing for a hyper-reality
“Today, designers are expected to be multi-specialised in both physical and digital spaces, and the future is a blend between Al, AR, VR, MR and IRL to create fully immersive brand experiences,” explains Holly Karlsson, creative director at Bulletproof. “These areas are not new, but they are evolving quickly and go way beyond the traditional concept of graphic design. And that makes it an exciting time to be a creative.
Trend 4: Retrofuturism
“Design trends are leaning into what can roughly be described as retrofuturism,” believes Andenew Ayele, associate creative director at ThoughtMatter. He believes the recent rise of ‘Anti-Design’ is a good indicator of retrofuturism and what’s to come.
Trend 5: A fallback to the comforting past
Greg Gibson, chief creative officer at Grizzly, believes the comfort blanket of nostalgia will be big in graphic design for 2023.
“Designers, fatigued by bright/squishy/meta/etc., will embrace familiar and even historical design over the trends we saw this year,” he predicts. “Baroque influence on typography and art, the ’60s or ’70s influence on identity, even ’00s influence on digital experiences will be prevalent.
Trend 6: Emulating Gen Z apps
Ben Constable, motion designer at ShopTalk/DEPT, believes graphic designers will be drawing on the success of Gen Z’s favourite apps in 2023.
“Influenced by the rise of apps like BeReal and the dominance of TikTok, brands will look for an aesthetic that can relate and resonate with how audiences communicate on social media,” he predicts. “TikTok is a fine example of how sound can increase emotional engagement with an audience with its renowned ‘reels’; a combination of sound and media which, in turn, delivers endless amounts of viral content.
Trend 7: Chaotic maximalism
The shift from Gen Y (aka Millennials) to Gen Z has made a big impact on design as a whole, says Katie Klencheski, founder and creative director of SMAKK. “Millennials were all about minimalism, but the design trends that define Gen Z are pure chaos theory meets maximalism.”
Trend 8: Beyond environmental lip service
“One thing we are very much in favour of trending in 2023 is brands and designers taking more consideration towards their physical brand experience as part of their overall brand identity,” says Danny Miller, founder and creative director at High Tide.
Trend 9: Keep calm and carry on (with a twist)
Ellen Munro from BrandOpus thinks the desire for peace will be strong in 2023. “With so much global and local change over the last few years, people are looking for a bit of stability. In these times of uncertainty, brands will be looking to grow the emotional draw they have, retaining loyalty and offering a source of continuity.
Trend 10: Suspicion of branding
One of the biggest challenges facing graphic designers in 2023, believes Philip Koh, director of strategy at Without, will be public cynicism in general. “Branding, already misunderstood by the public as either inane graphics on the one hand or malign consumerist influence on the other, will be regarded with increased suspicion by an audience facing crises on multiple fronts.”
Source: Creative Boom
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Source: Open PR
Calif. Lawsuit Funding Bill Slashed After Industry Pushback (1)
Plaintiffs’ lawyers and litigation funders scored a lobbying win this week as a California bill meant to shine a light on outside money behind lawsuits was watered down.
The Predatory Lawsuit Lending Prevention Act, SB 581, sponsored by state Sen. Anna Caballero, originally required all parties in lawsuits in California state courts to disclose whether outside investors or lenders were funding the cases. A new version, unveiled at a Tuesday hearing, requires disclosures only if ordered by a judge. It also allows the disclosures to be made behind closed doors, rather than in public.
“The bill that was introduced was not what was voted on last night,” said Nancy Peverini, legislative director for Consumer Attorneys of California, one of the groups initially opposing the bill. “This was a big victory.”
The California bill is meant to protect consumers from predatory loans, often offered to cover costs for individuals pursuing litigation and awaiting settlements or court-ordered damages awards. Borrowers in some cases are left with a fraction of that money, thanks to high interest rates and other terms.
A growing crop of litigation finance firms typically invest large amounts of money into commercial cases, or a portfolio of cases, in exchange for a portion of the winnings. Those types of funding arrangements are no longer covered by the bill.
“We’ve narrowed it to the situations where the plaintiff needs some kind of financial support in order to get them through the litigation process and exempted the business-to-business kinds of transactions that help attorneys pay for the litigation costs,”Caballero said at the Tuesday hearing.
The updated version only requires disclosure if the judge has good cause to believe that a litigation financing transaction is in violation of a statute. Even then the disclosure would be shielded from the public.
Peverini said the original bill would be particularly detrimental to low-income plaintiffs, those most likely to get loans, and that disclosure would violate their privacy rights.
Consumer Attorneys of California anticipates supporting the bill after some tweaks to the language, she said.
The judiciary committee unanimously approved the bill and referred it to the senate appropriations committee.
Source: Bloomberg Law
The 3 Most Promising Healthcare Tech Stocks for April 2023
In discussing healthcare tech stocks, it pays to understand what healthcare technology is broadly. Healthcare technology, also known as HealthTech, refers to any technology developed to improve the healthcare system. It encompasses everything from robotic-assisted surgery to telemedicine and Software. Notably, these technologies have been shown to reduce costs across the healthcare system. Indeed, most of us knows this needs to happen.
Today’s healthcare industry is valued at $2 trillion, but is heavily burdened by high costs and inefficiencies. Anything that improves the efficiency of delivering of positive patient outcomes can contribute to lower costs and better outcomes. It’s that promise that attracts investors who see the value in such improvements.
Novocure (NASDAQ:NVCR) is a promising healthcare tech stock working to cure cancer. The company’s Tumor Treating Fields technology is commercialized in multiple countries for specific cancer treatments. Those therapies extend survival in patients with some of the most aggressive, treatment-resistant forms of cancer.
The Tumor Treating Fields technology uses low-intensity, medium-frequency alternating electrical fields to induce replication stress in cancerous cells. Most of us remember mitosis from high school science. Tumor Treating Fields technology stops mitosis in cancer cells, thereby preventing cell division, leading to cell death.
Senseonics Holdings (NYSEMKT:SENS) stock is inexpensive, trading around 55 cents per share, at the time of writing. The company has created the first and only long-term implantable continuous glucose monitor making it novel. The Eversense E3 monitor is a three-part system that continuously monitoring glucose for up to six months. It consists of a sensor implanted in the upper arm, a transmitter worn on the arm, and a mobile app used for readings.
Part of what makes SENS stock promising is the simple fact that it is so cheap and has the potential to provide quick returns. In fact, the consensus price target for SENS stock currently suggests more than 100% upside.
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