[South Africa] Skynamo receives $30million investment from Five Elms Capital to scale operations

Software investor, Five Elms Capital, is investing $30m in Skynamo, field sales app and management platform provider.

Skynamo will use the investment to accelerate adoption of its field sales mobile app and cloud-based management platform, while scaling up operations to improve service to its rapidly growing customer base in the US, UK and Southern Africa. Skynamo serves its customers from its South African and London offices and has chosen Atlanta as its US headquarters.

Skynamo increases sales rep productivity and effectiveness by digitizing paper-based processes, automating administrative tasks, and enabling easy access to customer and product information in the field. GPS technology provides managers with a real-time view of sales activity and sales rep effectiveness in the field, so they can coach their reps remotely. Field sales teams using Skynamo typically double – and in some cases triple – the number of customers they visit per week and increase revenue by up to 20% in the first year.

Skynamo integrates with ERP and accounting software such as Sage, Acumatica, SAP, Xero and Quickbooks to provide field sales reps with the latest product and customer information and order history while on the road or onsite at a customer. Skynamo’s integration capability streamlines the ordering process and improves order accuracy, order fulfillment and time to invoice for field sales teams on the road.

“We’ve backed Skynamo because we are convinced it has the perfect combination of strong value proposition and a relentless culture of delighting both customers and employees to become the leader in field sales technology,” says Fred Coulson, Managing Partner of Five Elms.

Unlike other CRM and sales automation applications, Skynamo is a mobile-first application designed to provide a better end-user experience for mobile users. Mobile-first design ensures data entry is easier – improving the volume and quality of data collected in the field. Offline capability enables users to continue working on their mobile devices even without internet access.

“Field sales reps have been left out in the cold by the technology industry for far too long,” says Sam Clarke, CEO of Skynamo. “By putting all time-saving functionality and accurate information in the palm of their hands via our mobile app, Skynamo transforms sales teams from order-takers to value-adding consultants to their customers.”

“The field sales industry is in a state of disruption; both businesses and field sales professionals need to adopt new technologies to survive the digital shift,” says Stephanie Brown, Partner at Five Elms. “Skynamo is the best platform to help field sales teams become more knowledgeable by providing quick and accurate answers while onsite with customers.”

www.skynamo.com

[Column] Nick Durrant: New app trends that will help businesses succeed in 2020

Mobile apps are reshaping all industries and business leaders need to quickly adopt the latest mobile app trends in order to succeed in 2020. It is also critical for businesses to integrate the latest mobile app development technologies in order to reach a wider target audience and more importantly, to gain growth.

The innovations in mobile app development will impact all the online digital business products globally. According to Gartner, by 2023 more than 25% of the mobile apps, progressive web apps and conversational apps at large enterprises will be built or run through a multi-experience development platform.

Bluegrass Digital CEO Nick Durrant says by merely implementing the right strategy will not necessarily ensure a higher success rate because the mobile app industry is changing rapidly. “So, to keep abreast with the ever-increasing customer demands, it is crucial for businesses to incorporate the latest mobile app trends.”

He says new technologies are gaining popularity making it more efficient to build and maintain apps such as the growing popularity of Facebook’s React Native and Google’s Flutter.

Here is a list of some key mobile app development trends to consider:

Application Performance Management (APM)

APM helps boost the overall app performance and has become a preferred tool of quality assurance testers for the app testing process.

Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM)

EMM helps streamline the mobile computing business processes, it’s a platform that enables businesses to securely authorise mobile devices that are being used by employees on the company network. It not only strengthens the security structure but also helps staff to be more productive by enabling the exchange of applications and data over mobile devices.

Beacon technology

Beacon technology is one of the biggest mobile app trends, it is being embraced by many industries for its location technology and proximity marketing functionality. Beacons are wireless transmitters that make use of Bluetooth technology to send signals.

5G technology

With speeds nearly 100 times faster than 4G, 5G technology will most likely be one of the top trends in mobile app development in 2020. Mobile companies like Samsung and Verizon are already launching their dedicated 5G-capable chips and LG is also planning to fuse 5G services into its devices. With such an array 5G services, mobile app developers need to design apps to take advantage of faster network speeds with enhanced performance.

Wearable devices

Wearable devices such as smartwatches, fitness bands and trackers have been around for some time already. They are changing the way people interact with smart devices. In a report by Statista, it claims a staggering revenue of $33 billion generated by wearable devices by 2019. Surprisingly, many apps still don’t integrate with wearable devices.

Mobile app developers must keep an option to integrate apps with wearable devices. They require a set platform to run e.g. Apple Watch requires WatchOS and Android smartwatches sync with WearOS. Wearable devices will also be less dependent on the smartphone, currently, it still needs to be kept close to the smartphone to function.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has seen a significant breakthrough in new technology in mobile application development. AI has not only made the mobile apps smarter, but it saves the mobile app development company a huge amount of time, effort and money. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the AI market will experience revenue growth of more than $47 billion by 2020.

Internet of Things (IoT)

By the end of 2019, global Internet of Things (IoT) sales were expected to reach $1.71 trillion and by 2020, the total number of IoT devices should reach 20 billion. This convenience has already become a mobile app requirement, developers need to make apps IoT friendly.

Augmented reality (AR)

In 2020, AR integration will be an essential step for the mobile app development industry. Google and Apple used AR platforms for adding AR capabilities to their apps. There are many apps like Ikea that are already using the technology to enhance the user experience. Snapchat and Instagram have already been using AR for some time already, the stickers and animations are only possible through the AR technology.

Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology is already been used by many payment apps for providing trustable and uncompromised safety during transactions. Blockchain has surprisingly entered the mobile payment market and is offering a more secured money transaction option for mobile users. Online banking and eCommerce has evolved enormously, but with the advent of Apple Pay and Google Wallet, customers are gradually shifting to m-commerce.

Payment gateways

Businesses need to integrate a payment gateway into their apps. Mobile giants like Samsung are working on enhanced scan and pay techniques to make mobile payments more convenient. Apple is also working on a peer-to-peer money payment system called Apple Pay.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, AMP is a lean version of HTML to accelerate the speed of mobile pages. AMP enables mobile app developers to create complex websites with fast loading speeds and high performance across all mobile devices.

Google has integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results, it has helped developers reduce web page loading time. With a good AMP score, businesses can now achieve a better conversion rate, reduce the bounce rate and increase user retention. It will also boost the user experience. Google will also soon be providing a mobile search box that will help users find mobile-friendly websites.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a key aspect of all mobile app developments and will continue to dominate this space. Business leaders should explore deception technologies to catch the staff that have defiled the company’s network. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has also increased the risk of mobile apps being attacked. It means mobile app developers need to work on the app security from the beginning and use a different approach.

Also, with more apps including a payment or money transaction feature, means a more robust security infrastructure. Developers now need to embed code encryptions, secure backend and API, and also include trusted payment gateways to ensure user safety over the app.

Chatbots

With nearly 5 million apps available, there are very few that have incorporated chatbots to facilitate better user experience. Businesses need to integrate this trend in their apps to ensure future growth, chatbots are crucial and welcomed by the users. Mobile apps that offer online shopping and food delivery services are integrating chatbots to help consumers get common queries answered without having to contact customer support.

According to Gartner, chatbots will be saving $8 billion for companies between 2018 and 2020. Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant are already much smarter and have many new features that help simplify people’s lives by assisting them in their day to day tasks.

Cloud technologies

To make the app function seamlessly across multiple platforms, businesses need to ensure that their apps integrate cloud technology in their app development strategy. Cloud technology will also ensure streamlined operations, reduced hosting and equipment costs and enhanced storage capacity.

Cloud computing integration also helps mobile apps store large amounts of data more efficiently to carry out complex tasks. Cloud storage platforms like AWS, Dropbox and SlideRocket have made it possible to run an app directly in the cloud, they help in increasing the reliability, speed, processing power and security of the apps and enable apps to deal with large amounts of data.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics can be used to make future predictions by analysing existing data, it uses techniques from data mining, machine learning, AI, statistics and modelling. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook have already enhanced the customer experience by integrating AI to use predictive analytics.

“The mobile app industry will continue to expand at a rapid pace and the competition will grow exponentially, especially amongst mobile app developers. It is therefore critical to understand the trends before developing a new app. One also needs to understand the benefits and limitations of every new technology in mobile app development,” he concludes.

Nick Durrant is the CEO of Bluegrass Digital, South Africa.

[Column] Simon McCullough: Multi-cloud is redefining app development

Let’s take a look at how multi-cloud is changing the app development game and bringing previously siloed teams closer together.

Multi-cloud has moved from tentative experiment to a fundamental component of IT strategies. From developers to security teams, workloads are migrating to the cloud in one way or another, whether you know it or not.

Significantly, cloud adoption has powered a fundamental shift in how organizations think about app development and delivery. This is particularly evident with SaaS-based cloud models, which give businesses the freedom to choose exactly where cloud operations are deployed while also minimizing cost.

Working in a multi-cloud context has clearly spurred more agile and holistic ways of doing business. Take for example the increasingly widespread adoption of DevOps, NetOps and SecOps.

As app development moves from on premises to cloud infrastructures, businesses must rethink how different functions engage with new approaches to software development. All teams have different requirements and ways of working, so it is critical to strike a balance that delivers results across the board without friction or compromise.

Delighting DevOps

A DevOps culture is all about velocity and continuous innovation. The cloud enables developers and DevOps to achieve exactly that by providing a standardised, efficient and centralised platform for testing, deployment and production.

It enables a more fluid development process that matches the pace at which DevOps can crank out applications, without sacrificing stability, scalability and security.

There is always wiggle room for any rapid, last-minute changes related to continuous integration and delivery.

DevOps teams should treat the cloud as the new norm and an extension of their network infrastructure. This means fully embracing public cloud native environments to manage application performance within the cloud, as well as leveraging SaaS models to keep costs low and support innovation scalability.

Keeping NetOps happy

The role of NetOps is changing from teams that own and monitor hardware and software assets, to those focused on building a multi-component network ecosystem supporting a variety of business objectives.

As more workloads move into the cloud, the pressure is mounting for NetOps teams to rapidly adapt and transition from manual tools and slower processes to more efficient systems compatible with agile DevOps models.

NetOps also face pressure to reach automated parity with app development teams. They will soon become an application development bottleneck if they cannot keep up with continuous application updates. Fortunately, the problem is eased with SaaS cloud services. NetOps can now address specific areas of the business where legacy networks limit innovation, and subsequently target more fluid, digital infrastructures to collaborate better with other teams.

Giving security teams confidence

IT operations have KPIs around security and service levels, which can explain their generally more conservative approaches to technology adoption. Given the choice, security teams would operate with zero-trust networks – and rightly so.

In fact, a recent F5 survey focusing on DevOps and NetOps behaviours discovered that security in the cloud was an ‘afterthought’ for many developers, as they prioritise speed over security and reliability concerns.

 It is important to understand that cloud services can work as an extension of security teams, equipping them with the insights and tools required to keep up with the changing threat landscape. They can also ensure the right governance so they can monitor and balance the needs of innovation and control (i.e. via dashboards and reports).

Better together

In today’s software-defined era, cloud adoption can only be positive for business-critical application development. The market not only demands more effective production process, but our application-centric world requires speed and stability of service.

It is important to remember that everyone is working towards the same end goal: supporting the continuous delivery of quality applications to market. Collaboration and partnerships are easier to establish when all parties share the platform that delivers the apps and have access to the underlying analytics to refine and shape objectives.

The right multi-cloud approach and support must be inclusive and treat infrastructure teams, developers, and business users as equals.

Multi-cloud’s cultural barriers are disappearing, and it is essential to collaborate in the cloud or risk falling behind the innovation curve. Make sure you are ready for both the implications and opportunities.

Simon McCullough is the senior channel account manager at F5 Networks