Friday, 16 March 2018

From Idea to Market-Ready: Understanding the Mobile App Development Process

Want to create a mobile app but don't know where to start? From idea description to marketing tips, here's how to navigate the complex mobile app development process.
The process of creating a mobile app is not limited to coding. It involves many stages, including idea description and clarification, communication with a software development company, cost estimation, prototyping, design, back-end and mobile development, release and marketing.
Yes, it’s complex – but the game is certainly worth the candle!
According to GeoMobile, users spend three hours, 23 minutes a day in apps (compared to 50 minutes on mobile web and a little over two hours spent on PCs). Whether you plan to deliver the ultimate experience to your mobile customers or build an app-based business, you’re on the right track.

The App-Making Process: 3 Steps to Success

1. Idea description and requirements analysis

Contact a software development company and give a general description of your application. For example, “I need a food ordering app, like Domino’s, with the restaurant menu displayed on the home screen."
The software development company will then prepare a ballpark cost estimate using the app you referred to as a reference. The cost of building a restaurant app depends on various factors. These include the country you outsource the development work to, the size of a development company, platform choice, the pricing model, the scope of work, etc. No software development company will give you an accurate estimate based on your general description – and that’s where the requirements elicitation process begins. Be ready to meet your Account Manager and tech lead in person/on Skype to decide on your app’s feature set – that is, the list of features that will help your customers pick a meal, place an order and make a secure payment.
Together with the vendor, you’ll choose the target platform. As a rule, it’s Android and iOS, so you’ll have to build two native apps to ensure seamless experience on multiple devices. Also, you need to decide on a pricing model. Building a food ordering app is not rocket science, so you’ll probably sign a Fixed Price (FP) contract and be able to plan software development costs in advance. Depending on the complexity of your project, the communication part may take up to several weeks. In the end, however, you’ll have a detailed technical vision listing all the functional (what your app should do) and non-functional (how the app is going to do it) requirements for your project.
If you’re going to take the Fixed Price approach, make sure the tech vision covers all the features you’d like to enable in your application. If you realize you want to add extra features to the scope in the midst of the development process, you’ll have to sign a supplementary agreement and pay for those features separately. According to your FP contract, you won’t be able to review your team’s work until the very end of the dev process.
As another option, you can sign a Time & Material (T&M) contract and be more hands-on with the project – that is, prioritize the app features on the scope, review the work at the end of each sprint (which usually last for two to four weeks) and conduct face-to-face and phone meetings with your team. The T&M model is more suitable for complex and knowledge-intensive mobile app projects dealing with cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence or augmented reality. However, your cost will be harder to predict. 

2. Mobile app design and development

The user interface (UI) part of an app is just the tip of the iceberg. The mobile app logic is enabled by a server, which is built with web development technologies like PHP, .Net, Ruby, etc.
Here the “app logic” term refers to many things, including live chat (your customers might want to message call center employees or delivery personnel directly), social features (including the integration with social networks, comments, ratings, etc.), referral/customer loyalty program elements (invitations, bonus points and discounts) and payments. Also, you’ll need a web-based admin console to update menu and pricing information, manage locations, track orders and define delivery area.
A great mobile app is a set of modules which can be developed and deployed independently. Going back to the food ordering app example, it will feature multiple modules like communication, social features, payments, delivery service and chain management.
How do you know what features will prove useful to your customers? You can only tell once you try, so you probably should start with a Minimum Viable Product (aka the very basic version of your app), conduct testing and expand its feature set based on user feedback.
Finally, there’s the design part. Your design decisions should be based on a through user research; you might even get a bit more technical about it and create simple app wireframes in Balsamiq before you address a mobile app development company to explain your idea better. Together with a user experience (UX) designer, you’ll figure out how app screens should be connected to each other to help your customers place orders in the most convenient way and make sure the design meets the App Store and Google Play requirements.

3. Mobile app marketing

Four to five months later your app will be ready to launch – and here comes the hardest part: app marketing. Although apps now consume over 90 percent of the total mobile time, most smartphone owners use just 30 apps on a regular basis. These include Facebook and Instagram, mobile games, educational apps and business tools.
Marketing the app to customers who attend your physical restaurants is one thing; what if you’re operating an online food delivery business only? Obviously, you need to create some buzz around your project before the app goes live. Be sure to allocate a sufficient marketing budget (expect around $30K-plus) to do the following:
  • Think of an app feature that will help you stand out from the competition (something like Domino’s Zero Clicks will do).
  • Build a simple WordPress promo website with an explainer video and information about your project. Then start a Google AdWords campaign to get some traffic and encourage users to subscribe for updates.
  • Run a blog documenting the app making process and share news on social media.
  • Start with an MVP and conduct early tests to refine your product.
  • Plan a soft launch to test your business model.
Easier said than done, right? With the average cost per install (CPI) in the USA hitting $ 1.64 (iOS) and $ 1.91 (Android) last year, marketing a new app on a tight budget is a real challenge. Perhaps you can draw inspiration from Eat24 – a food delivery company that decided to advertise their services on adult websites and won big.

How ‘Mobile-Only’ Audiences Stack Up To ‘Multi-Platform’ Audiences
While consumers are still using multiple platforms — such as desktop and mobile — “mobile-only” users are on the rise. In fact, “mobile-only” users surpassed 30 percent of users in almost half of the markets studied by comScore in 2017 for its “Global Digital Future in Focus” report.

“Global digital landscapes continue to evolve in often surprising ways,” Will Hodgman, EVP of International Sales at comScore, said in a press release.
With the rise of mobile, merchants are adapting mobile to their omnichannel strategies. In fact, 70 percent of the top 10 tier of merchants offer geo-aware apps. And 100 percent of the top 10 tier of merchants offer product purchases through apps, according to the PYMNTS OmniReadi Index.
— Google and Facebook dominate the top five app charts around the world — In the U.S., for example, the top five apps are Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, Facebook Messenger and, now, Snapchat. Advertisers are taking note of Snapchat. Advertising intelligence company Media Radar estimated that advertisers will spend around $1.7 billion on Snapchat campaigns this year. Nike has already released a pair of new Air Jordan sneakers on Snapchat last month — and the shoes sold out in just 23 minutes.
— The size of mobile audiences grew almost universally — In fact, “mobile-only” audiences are second to “multi-platform” users, according to the report. In the U.S., for example, the reach of “mobile-only” audiences increased by 4.6 percentage points, while Mexico saw 9.0 percentage point growth. Mobile is important because just about everyone in the world had a mobile device as of 2016. About half of those devices were smartphones — the fastest-selling gadget in the history of gadgets. By the year 2020, about 80 percent of the adult population will own one.
— Apps account for more than 80 percent of mobile time in the markets studied in the report — In the U.S., for example, 88 percent of mobile minutes were spent in apps. A new report, for example, shows that the mobile app economy is healthy and shows no signs of slowing down. App Annie recently released its annual end-of-year retrospective report, finding that there were 175 billion downloads globally in 2017 — a 60 percent growth from 2015. In addition, consumer spending has more than doubled, exceeding $86 billion, while time spent in apps increased by 30 percent, with each user spending nearly 1.5 months in apps per year.
— India, Indonesia and Mexico have large and mainly exclusive mobile audiences — There is an almost even divide on the relative overlap of mobile users with desktop users in India, Indonesia and Mexico, suggesting that mobile has created new digital audiences in these countries more than other nations with large mobile audiences. The news comes as India overtook the United States to become the world’s second largest smartphone market in 2017. According to news from a report by Canalys, smartphone shipments in India grew 23 percent year over year in Q3 2017 to reach just over 40 million units, making the country the world’s second largest smartphone market after China.
— Video growth was led by — but not only on — mobile devices — More specifically, minutes spent on watching online videos grew three times as quickly on mobile devices than on desktops over the past 12 months — which is an opportunity for marketers. In the Reedeux CONNEXT app, for example, consumers can use it to connect to goods through interactive programming, which can be done via a separate mobile device — or, in some cases, directly through the television the customer is watching. The company has already partnered with Samsung’s U.S. business to integrate its CONNEXT app with the South Korean electronics giant’s phones, laptops and televisions, while also showcasing these products on television shows.
While it may seem that the shift from time spent on desktops to mobile has shrunk the desktop marketplace, the comScore report offers an important caveat: “Many country / category desktop audiences [in fact] remain larger, with corresponding considerations in reaching and marketing to these users.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Things to Make Sure of Before Publishing Your App

by michael kordvani from

Everyone wants to release apps these days. With the proven success that many app developers have experienced over recent years, it’s not surprising at all that multiple people want a slice of this pie.

The trouble is this pie is already highly saturated, with many fingers pulling and poking for a bite. That doesn’t mean you can’t release successful apps of course, it just means you need to be completely prepared before you publish your app to the relevant app store.

To help make sure you are ready to release your app, we’ve come up with some things; a checklist of sorts, that you should consider before you make that final plunge. After all, the first impression your app makes will leave a lasting impression on all of the users that encounter it. That means if it isn’t ready and is flawed and unusable, you’ll find yourself falling victim to bad reviews - and that’s the death of your app before it’s even began. So, what exactly can you do to put yourself in the best position for success?

Starting at the beginning
Before you think about releasing an app, you need to make sure you haven’t wasted your time creating something that has been done a thousand times already. This step is something you should do right from the start, before you even write a single line of code.

Research your idea or concept and see how many apps already exist that do what you’re offering. If the answer is quite a few, then perhaps think of ways you can make your app different, or adapt the idea to something else. Or, worst case scenario - scrap the idea completely.

If it turns out there isn’t a single app in existence that resembles your idea then maybe you should stop and just think why that might be. Is it because nobody has the genius mind you have to think of the idea? Or is it because the idea just isn’t something people want?

Monetization Strategy
Before you progress further, you should decide on the monetization strategy you’re going to implement. Again, this is something which is best done during the very early stages of app development.

You could do this later on, but if you decide right from the off that the best chances of success lie within a freemium model - implementing these features from the beginning will help your app grow with this strategy rather than feeling like an afterthought. The most popular strategies to consider are:

  • Free (With ads)
  • Paid
  • Freemium
  • Subscription

Figure out which one would suit your app best and then integrate it correctly and efficiently.

You’ve worked hard and created this awesome app. You’re about to upload it and then you realize you’re only offering it to English speakers. Sure, it’s a widely used language, but what about everyone that doesn’t speak English?

Adding full localization into your app design, including graphics, texts, strings etc will seriously benefit you in the long run. Don’t settle for something like Google Translate for your foreign translations either (unless it is your only available option). Instead, offer people a free trial or an ad free experience or a paid version for free in return for them translating your content for you.

APK Size
The last thing we’ll look at before we get into the fun stuff is the APK size of your app. The APK is basically the file which contains all of the information needed to install your app onto someone’s device. The smaller this file is, the happier your users will be.

Sure, we live in a world with 4G data and WiFi everywhere, but people want things quick, especially for people who are still struggling along with a 2G data connection.

To reduce the size of your APK, consider ways to shrink the size of your images (without losing quality) and if need be, host a lot of your content on an external server which can then be downloaded within the app after installation. This ensures you don’t lose those users at the first hurdle.

Okay, now onto the fun stuff…

Screenshots & Video
Your app isn’t finished just because you’ve polished it, ensured it is suitable for multiple languages, got a great idea and have the APK ready to upload. In fact, your store listing is incredibly important and can make or break your app.

The first thing you’ll want is some really good screenshots. They need to be high quality, showcase your app and showing off the features and strengths. Half a dozen really well thought out screenshots can instantly improve your chances of success.

Add a video too. Statistically, users are more inclined to watch a video and then go on to download the app, providing the video is well designed. You’ve done most of the hard work already, so now you just need to cross the finish line. Invest in a high quality video.

Other than your screenshots, the thing which will draw any potential users in is your app icon. This will be displayed on the users device after installation and it will be what catches their eye in the app stores. You don’t want to upload a poorly designed graphic here else you’ll seriously ruin your chances of success. The hard work you have put into your app design will benefit with an eye-catching app icon, trust us.

There is one more point we haven’t mentioned because it should be something routinely done before even thinking of uploading your app, and that is testing. Before you launch your app, you need to test it on multiple devices (or emulate different devices if you can’t physically use anything else) and make sure it works and there aren’t any bugs - or at least any glaring bugs which will ruin the app for people.

You can also do a soft launch which is restricted to a particular demographic or location, test the waters and see what feedback you get. You could then implement any necessary changes and do a worldwide launch to yield stronger results. It all depends how patient you are.

Ultimately there are many things you need to do before your app is ready for release, but if you follow the steps mentioned above then you’ll be well on your way to ensuring success is as good as it can be. It’s never guaranteed, but if you take your time and don’t rush, you put yourself in a much better position

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Digital Nomad Adventure: Traveling with Hacker Paradise

Remote workers are taking over the world. Toptal’s COO and cofounder, Breanden Beneschott, has been traveling since Toptal’s inception. After living in Bangkok for a year myself, I’m now moving back to Miami for a girl. But before I head home, there are more adventures to be had. She’s coming to travel with me, and until she gets here, I’ll be on a special mission from Toptal.
On a two-week assignment to the up-and-coming Vietnamese town of Da Nang, amid sunshine, sand, waves, and the Vietnamese people, I’ll be working from my laptop alongside a ragtag group of roaming geeks that calls itself Hacker Paradise. They’re hopping around Southeast Asia, changing the way remote workers live, and Toptal wants a man on the ground to see what they’re up to.
the digital nomad experience

What is a Digital Nomad?

Brothers and sisters, have you heard the Gospel of the Digital Nomad? It continues to spread far and wide. I was converted when I decided to move to Thailand with just some savings and a dream of a job that would let me work from anywhere. Believing in the value of my skillset, and confident that companies like Toptal were looking for people like me, I put my faith in the remote-worker fellowship and took the leap. I joined Toptal as a Technical Editor shortly thereafter, and since then I’ve been happily plugging away at my keyboard from such destinations as Laos, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and all over Thailand.
People around the world are freeing themselves from the shackles of convention; on the beaches and the mountain tops, roving laptop-jockeys are pioneering a remarkable revolution, completely upending the way people live and work. Clients and employers are seeing the light, too, giving rise to new freelancing opportunities and enterprises like Toptal, and allowing people to build a promising career without sacrificing a fulfilling and vigorous life.
The nomadic lifestyle is not a vacation, though, and working from the road can be difficult and isolating. There remains an impermeable barrier between the work world within the computer, and the real world outside of it. Beset by local language and cultural barriers, relieved only by backpacking dude-bros who are decidedly uninterested in buckling down for a few billable hours, lasting collaborative connections can be hard to develop without staying put for extended periods.
Yet there is so much richness for the mind and the soul, so much intellectual stimulation and inspiration to be found on the road; it’s a genuine shame that we can’t build on it in the work we do, and with those we find around us. Making that dream a reality is the goal of Casey Rosengren and Alexey Komissarouk, founders of Hacker Paradise.


As their website proclaims, Hacker Paradise is a, “traveling community of developers, designers, and other creative types.” It had its beginnings in the summer of 2014, when Casey Rosengren, Developer and Digital Nomad Extraordinaire, found himself working from the jungles of Costa Rica.
As he told me, “Many of the people who visit Costa Rica are hard-partying backpackers, and I wanted to be around a group of people who were more serious, and working on projects they were passionate about.” So, he decided to do something about it. He struck a deal with a local hotel owner who was eager to fill his empty rooms with guests, and searched for a partner.
He found one in Alexey Komissarouk, an Israeli developer and fellow University of Pennsylvania alumnus. Alexey had recently received news that his US visa, which could only be renewed via randomized lottery, had not come up in the latest selection. He would have to leave the country soon. “I had always talked about wanting to travel and work,” he says, “Now I suddenly was offered a chance to do exactly that. The visa lottery was just the final straw.” Seizing the opportunity to become a digital nomad, he flew to Costa Rica, where he and Casey started recruiting hackers to come work from paradise.
The first Hacker Paradise, a 12-week stint on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, took place during the fall of 2014. It was a great success, with two dozen participants coming together from all over the world. Before it was even over, Casey and Alexey were planning the next one. This time, to kick things up a notch, they would take the show on the road.
The second installment of Hacker Paradise is currently ongoing; starting in February, the group spent a month in Da Nang, where I joined them for two weeks. Then they took to the skies in twos and threes, to regroup in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali. In a couple weeks, they will move one more time, to Chiang Mai, Thailand, for the final month of their Southeast Asia tour. Along the way, participants may come and go as they see fit, and many join together for side trips between, and during, stops.

How it Works

Hacker Paradise creates an ideal environment to work alongside other digital nomads while traveling. It is not a holiday, so those who apply must have something to work on. While the venture is designed by developers and is geared towards the technical community, other creative types are more than welcome.
The application is a straightforward process that involves filling out a brief form, doing a short Skype interview, and placing a down payment to reserve your space. Once your spot is confirmed, you are responsible for getting yourself to each location.
Your Hacker Paradise experience is flexible; if three whole months on the road is outside of your scope, you can book as little as a week or as much as a month at a time, and you can extend as you see fit. Some participants even attend for a week or two in one location, head off to travel on their own, and rejoin at a different location for another dose of geeky goodness.
The daily activities are only minimally structured, and in each location, people organically find the best ways to make things work. Dedicated co-working spaces are booked in each location, but those who prefer to roam further scout out cafes and bars, quickly unearthing the spots with good Wi-Fi, plugs, and coffee. For those interested in mentorship or extra accountability, check-ins are held every morning to discuss the progress people are making. A weekly Demo Day is organized, where everyone who wishes can showcase what they’re working on before heading out for a big group dinner.
For team communication, Hacker Paradise makes use of Slack, where news of newly-discovered local wonders spreads quickly.
When you’re ready to close your laptop and take a break, the opportunities to unwind with your newfound friends are endless. On Slack, one can always find something going on, whether it be a game of frisbee on the beach, a day trip to some nearby ruins, a rock climbing excursion, a few hours exploring the town, or even just a bite to eat at the local noodle stand. I’m pumped to find a local gym, where I can use the equipment for a dollar a day, and even find myself surfing, one choppy morning, for the first time in my life.
Casey and Alexey, with the help and labor of their inestimable program manager and logistical powerhouse, Nicole Kelner, organize at least one day trip for the whole group in each location. In Da Nang, they take us down the coast, to the ancient town of Hội An, complete with a morning boat trip to the Chàm Islands for breathtaking coral reef snorkeling.
traveling arounf the worldGathering for the trip to Hội An
In the evenings, it is easy to find someone to get dinner or drinks with. Unwinding after a days work, the intellectual conversation spills forth, often building on the work people have done that day, or picking up where the conversation left off the evening before. New ideas are struck upon, and opportunities for collaboration are fomented.
demo day group dinnerDemo Day group dinner

Hacker Paradise Traveling Daze

The day I land in Da Nang, I am greeted at the hotel by Casey, who takes me to À La Carte, a swanky hotel where the nerds have infiltrated the ritzy rooftop bar. Commanding a quintessentially enviable view of the South China Sea, we work here for several hours, before heading out to the beach for a game of Ultimate Frisbee under the setting sun. It’s a full and satisfying first day, perfectly balanced between productivity and adventure.
hacker paradiseWorking at À La Carte rooftop bar
During the days that follow, I plan and book flights to India to meet my girlfriend, familiarize myself with the local cuisine, and work – a lot – publishing articles, corresponding with authors and coworkers, solving problems. This is an oasis of geekdom, and I am surrounded by some of the brightest people I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from.
Who are these paragons of work-life balance? The guy who left his job at the Googleplex to start multiple successful companies. The girl who coaches lifecoaches on how to lifecoach. The MIT graduate who asks me how I would solve the problem of describing a concept for which no word exists. (He wants to solve this problem with software; I tell him a good editor is all you need.)
On a sunny afternoon, I work from the beach bar with Pedro, a Portuguese architect, whose screen always seems to have some monumental CAD design rotating on it. (“Here’s a museum I worked on in Dubai,” he says during one Demo Day, flipping nonchalantly through a slide of a massive building.) He comes from the world of universities and research institutes, where the papers you’ve published are the measure of your worth as a human being. He explains to me, in detail, how the h-index, academia’s de-facto quantification of how much you deserve to live, is completely hackable, and is eroding the the quality of the academic community and the work it produces.
One morning, starts redirecting everyone to a Lizard Squad page. It quickly becomes apparent that Google’s Vietnam domain has been hacked. Manu, a developer from Austria, is the first to track down the registrar data, and determines that the certificate has been hijacked through social engineering on the previous day. (Later, Manu offers to write an article on machine learning for stochastic optimization of power plants, causing me to salivate into my curry.)
Another day, I find myself getting lunch with Jay, who thinks everything I say is hilarious and so, naturally, is one of my favorite people to hang out with. Jay has built some useful tools and licensed them to a few big clients, and now roams around Southeast Asia at his leisure, learning Thai and Vietnamese, and dreaming up his next product. I get the impression he’s the kind of guy that can conjure success out of thin air. We eat at Tam’s Pub and Surf shop, which Tam has plastered with pictures of American tanks and GIs. Half the photos feature Tam herself as a girl. In the laid-back tourist-town of modern Da Nang, it is easy to forget that so much violence has occurred here, but during the height of the war, the US airstrip at Da Nang is said to have been the busiest airstrip in the world. Jay and I talk history and the changing landscape of the world, over gigantic greasy cheeseburgers that would comfort the most shellshocked marine.
Tam in front of the American tanks
The best measure of a group’s constitution is how they react in a difficult situation. A brainy debate on the everlasting superiority of Emacs might help determine who is the 1337est nerd of all, but when things suddenly get serious, all the hotkeys in the world won’t do an ounce of good. Fortunately, Hacker Paradise brings together natural team players. When one of our members, Emma, has a medical emergency and goes to the local ER, the entire group pulls together to make sure she gets the best possible care from the hospital, and the unwavering support of her newfound hacker family. Casey and Alexey take charge of organizing the group. Others immediately step up to provide translation services with the doctors, manage Emma’s care, and sleep at the hospital to keep a watchful eye on her. After a few days, she fully recovers, and is released from the hospital. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. We are still little more that strangers, but it is good to know we can count on each other.

Quân from Hanoi

One of the greatest rewards of working with Toptal is getting to work with people all over the world, and glimpsing what life is like where they are from. My colleagues on the editing team live and work in the US, Bosnia, and Bangladesh, and I’ve published authors from São Paulo in BrazilAlexandria in EgyptZagreb in CroatiaDar es Salaam in TanzaniaNanjing in ChinaSzeged in Hungary, and Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m always eager to ask questions, and learn what’s going on in other parts of the world.
A few weeks before finding out I’m headed to Vietnam, I happened to publish an article by Toptal developer Quân Lê, about class reloading in Java. I enjoyed working with Quân, who lives in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. I’ve always wanted to visit Hanoi. I get in touch with Quân and tell him I will be in town.
I make it to Hanoi a few days before Vietnam’s biggest and most important celebration; the lunar new year, Tết. Being a dumb Westerner, I have presumed that Tết is a massive festival, but it turns out it is a time for family, when shops are closed and the streets are empty for several days. Nevertheless, Quân takes an afternoon off to ride his motorbike into town and hang out. I cling to the back of his scooter, in the oversized pullover I didn’t realize I’d actually need, and we ride around Hanoi’s dense and historic Old Quarter. We stop at a famous ice cream parlour, and chat about juicy topics like religion, Marxism, politics, and money. Quân is only the second Toptal person I have ever met face-to-face. He is cool.
picture by sword lakeQuân and I by Sword Lake
I tell Quân I will come back again after I leave Hacker Paradise, when the obligations of Tết are not placing so many demands on his time.
When my Hacker Paradise assignment ends and my two weeks in Da Nang draws to a close, I am given the opportunity to make one final connection. Some Hacker Paradise guys plan a trip to Hanoi, and it happens to coincide with the day I return there myself. We arrange to meet for dinner in the Old Quarter, and Quân joins us.
This evening will always be special to me. Surrounded by newfound friends, I watch our differences be dissolved by our commonalities. With the relentless acceleration of the information age, and the ease with which people from completely different cultures can make connections, borders are becoming obsolete. Soon, perhaps, they will be but a backwards relic of the past. Sitting on the floor cushions in Hanoi, eating delicious bún chả, my friends from the Americas, Europe, and Vietnam - from Toptal and Hacker Paradise - discuss everything from JavaScript to Vietnamese, from the history of Google Chrome to the history of the Khmer Empire, and I believe I can see the future.
Quân and Hacker Paradise at dinner

Final Thoughts

As this digital nomad blog post is being published, we are excited to inform our community that Toptal has become the main Hacker Paradise sponsor. We are certain that our two awesome organizations together can lead to amazing things. We will continue to support and encourage Toptal team members and freelancers to become digital nomads and explore the world, and to boldly code where no coder has coded before.
Hacker Paradise is open to anyone who is eager to learn and grow, from veteran developers and designers to those who are just starting their careers. However, just as Toptal accepts only the top 3 percent of freelancers, Hacker Paradise also strives to maintain an exceptional community of members, who are motivated and intent on being productive. That is what makes it so worthwhile.
The gang in Da Nang was populated primarily by people from Europe or the Americas, but I’ll boldly speculate that it will reach even further, bringing even more disparate people together. At Toptal, I am reminded every day that there are incredibly talented and thoroughly cool geeks in all corners of the world, who will only enrich the Hacker Paradise community. The internet age is doing wonders to help people from all backgrounds connect and understand each other better, but to really break down barriers, there is nothing like traveling together.
Hacker Paradise will be making it’s next move, to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in late April, 2015. Casey and Alexey are already planning the following installment, eyeing Berlin, as the next nexus of nomadic nerd-dom. If you’re interested in joining them, go ahead and apply. Adventure awaits you!
I’m writing from a hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, my girlfriend waiting patiently for me to close my laptop and head out to tour the magnificent ruins of Angkor. After leaving Vietnam three weeks ago, we met in the middle of the night on the other side of airport customs in Kolkata, India. This is the first time we have travelled together, and we are both learning a lot. When it comes to testing a new relationship, there is no better way to get to the point. Fortunately for me, the adventure is only getting better.
I’m grateful to Toptal and Hacker Paradise for paving the way for people like me to have such rich experiences. The world is a gift to be shared. Wherever you are, I hope we cross paths someday.
computer setup

“Blockchain is the real deal”: JP Morgan Unveils Report on Crypto’s Economic Advantages
Image result for “Blockchain is the real deal”: JP Morgan Unveils Report on Crypto’s Economic Advantage

JP Morgan Looks to Crypto’s Future with Optimism

In a recent report entitled “Unlocking Economic Advantage with Blockchain: A guide for asset managers,” JP Morgan makes the case for blockchain’s use in legacy business and asset management, which includes the bank’s take on blockchain’s adoption timeline.
There is a growing realization that distributed ledger technology — popularly known as blockchain — will bring a radical shift in the way we think about financial assets and the way the financial industry will operate in the future,” the report begins.  Co-authored by management consultant Oliver Wyman, the writeup “[argues] that asset managers need to get off the sidelines and take the initiative to understand and embrace blockchain.”
As such, JP Morgan presents “a guide to how the technology may evolve, the impact it may have on asset managers and the action they can take.”  The first section of this guide details “Four Anticipated waves of blockchain deployments,” which are:
Information Sharing (2016-2019): In this stage, blockchain technology is used to store and share data, either within a single organization or between multiple organizations.  Blockchain will be tested in current working environments for proof of concept and feasibility of use cases.
Data Solutions (2017-2025): At this second phase, JP Morgan sees blockchain being integrated into business solutions to foster an environment for storing and managing data.  This integration will allow entities to reduce operational friction and improve existing infrastructure. When user interest and confidence is high enough, blockchain platforms will move from working alongside existing infrastructure to replacing it entirely.
Critical Infrastructure (2020-2030): Now, blockchain adoption is at full throttle.  At this point, it will be “adopted by market participants as [the] main infrastructure for critical functions.”  This could include replacing the outdated asset, payment, and/or transaction infrastructure and setting a new business standard for efficient data management.  Certain iterations of the technology will still be centralized at this point, though, for the convenience of access rights, deployment, standards, etc.
Full Decentralized (no date forecasted): The era of a truly decentralized economy.  Blockchain would replace certain centralized models, infrastructure, and systems with a decentralized solution.  This means completely peer-to-peer digital asset exchange and a legal framework for overseeing asset ownership and transfer using blockchain technology.  In essence, blockchain and cryptocurrencies become so ingrained in daily life that they become as normal as the internet or smartphones today.
The report continues to discuss the benefits blockchain offers to asset managers, including frictionless data management and solutions.  JP Morgan sees cost advantages, as well, wherein cutting out unnecessary processes and more efficient data aggregations mean lower costs for managers.  In the near future, the firm sees operations, IT, portfolio management, and finance sectors reaping the rewards of blockchain the most.
Additionally, revenue potential will increase for managers and businesses with access to improved data sources and liquidity mechanisms.
Towards the end of the report, JP Morgan implores managers “on the sidelines” to get off the bench and get into the game, claiming that those who will benefit most from this disruptive technology are those who get in early and work towards solutions.
JP Morgan Blockchain
Its authors also devise a “playbook” for chief officers of companies looking to work with blockchain, stressing the deliberation on the following:
  • Assessment of and education on the potential of blockchain in your organization
  • Guidelines for your organization’s vision and ambition going forward
  • Blockchain’s position on your leadership team’s list of priorities
  • An environment that fosters transformative approaches and innovative thinking within your tech teams
  • An external adoption/engagement approach

Some Takeaways

Back in February, JP Morgan said that cryptocurrencies could one day be integral to a diverse and well-balanced financial portfolio.  Last week, the bank publicly announced that cryptocurrencies pose a threat to its financial model.
Now, the institution is fully vetting the potential of blockchain to asset managers and business entities alike, a sea-change of sentiment from an organization whose CEO called crypto a “fraud” last year.  Recently, Jamie Diamon retracted this statement, and complementing his remorse, he endorsed blockchain technology for its wealth of potential.
This report serves physical testament to the increased interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies we’ve seen over the past year.  Coming from one of the largest and most respected financial institutions in the world, the endorsement should further legitimize crypto to its skeptics.  As the arch of adoption continues forward and up, official reports like these, whether from the private or public sector, will be crucial for educating the public and dispelling misinformation and myths about blockchain and its abundant potential.

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