Starting and growing a business are no easy tasks - especially in the modern world, where so much depends on our understanding and proper use of technology. We’ve prepared this short tech dictionary with the most common business-related technological terms (such as front-end development, DevOps and Big Data), to help you identify the advantages you can leverage and the risks you should avoid.
Most modern applications can be neatly divided into two parts: the front-end and the back-end, possibly with each as a separate team, or a dedicated developer. You’ve likely encountered the term “back-end developer”. Their job would be to take care of the inner-workings of the application (often its core functionality) and its database. Technologies commonly used for back-end development include Ruby on Rails, Python, Java and Node.js. We could say that the back-end devs build what’s actually important in an app - except for the fact that what they create would be unusable to anyone but other skilled programmers. That’s where front-end devs come in.
Custom software development
If you need a business website for a hair salon, for example, you’re most likely not going to hire a development team for such a simple job. In fact, there are many tools out there that automate and simplify the process of building web pages (to some extent), enough that many people decide to take matters into their own hands. This approach is only viable for very template-based projects, like blogs and pages with static information and a small number of subpages. If you need a stunning gallery to showcase your portfolio, however, or log-in functionality, it’s best to find a team of experts to do it for you.
The same applies to apps that have to be very fast (either in terms of heavy calculations or loading all of the content users see with no delay), require a complex architecture, or rely on unique functionality. That’s what tailored IT solutions are for. First, a team of experts helps you create a development plan and requirements for your project. Then they use their experience on the market to choose the right tools and processes, and bring your idea to life as quickly and efficiently as possible. If they are software development experts, they’ll make sure the app will be easy to scale and maintain in the future, and they’ll perform proper testing to boost user satisfaction.
UX stands for user experience - everything that goes into the user’s interaction with an app. This includes the UI (user interface, consisting of buttons, menus and contact forms, among other elements), usability (the app’s effectiveness as a tool, user-friendliness and error tolerance, among other things), as well as more general concepts like user satisfaction and fun. A UX designer makes sure the experience of interacting with the app isn’t ruined by bugs and that users understand how to do what they want to do at a glance. This involves deep knowledge of current trends and solutions, as well as an understanding of cognitive science and human psychology.
DevOps is a concept (and a job) introduced in response to negative tendencies in software development. Often, project teams would be strictly divided into programmers and operations experts (people whose job it was to take care of the infrastructure and make sure the app was always running correctly). This approach led to wasted resources, as both sides encountered problems only the other side could fix, and had to wait for that to happen. DevOps experts, on the other hand, have both programming and operations competencies, which gives them the ability to problem-solve quickly and independently.
Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)
If DevOps is the first step towards a more efficient development process, SRE is the second. To implement the DevOps approach, a dedicated expert needs to be hired. While this is perfectly reasonable in many cases, companies with several parallel projects need to hire a number of people with the same skillset, to work separately and possibly solve the same problems. SRE breaks through this barrier by introducing the Site Reliability Engineer as a more of a consultant - a skilled programmer and operations expert who empowers the development and ops teams to solve issues themselves, and only takes a hands-on approach when needed. This means the SRE can share their time between projects, making for a more cost-efficient solution.
When you have a project to develop, it’s often a good idea to hire an entire team for it rather than to piece one together on your on. Many companies offer this service. You’ll find that it often makes sense to work with a team from a different country, or even a different continent. Getting a team from Eastern Europe, for example, might be just what you need - local talent pools, particularly in large tech hubs, are quickly becoming depleted. It’s not easy to find a team of experts with the right set of skills for your project, so casting a wider net makes a lot of sense. Depending on the distance between you and your team, the form of cooperation can be called nearshore software development (when they are not too far away) or offshore software development (when they are).
You might think that timezones would be a problem for offshore teams, but that’s often not the case - in fact, it’s nice to come into the office in the morning and find that your remote team has submitted a chunk of work for you to review. With communication and collaboration tools such as Slack, Jira and the Google Suite, it’s easy to schedule necessary calls and maintain a smooth workflow. A good remote team values trust and knows how to make their work perfectly transparent. One way to do this is by tracking how much time is necessary to complete each tasks. Tools like PM Sentry can come in handy.
Agile software development
Agile development, explained in the Agile Manifesto, came to be in response to oldschool waterfall projects. The waterfall approach required that all meaningful decisions (such as what features will be built) be made before the development even started. This lead to delays, wasted time (e.g. on features that users didn’t like) and even failed projects (it was difficult to adapt to changes on the market). Agile development, on the other hand, pushes forward the idea that nothing should be set in stone. Agile devs use tools like sprints and iterations to divide their work into chunks that can be created quickly (usually within a week), verified, and improved or dropped should the need arise. This gives you, the project owner, much greater control over what the end result of your project will look like.
Along with the increased computing power of modern devices and solutions, human ingenuity invented ways for using amazingly large collections of data. So large that traditional data-processing software couldn’t deal with them, and so more complex solutions had to be created. Big Data allows for market analysis, user behavior analysis, forecasting, real-time data analysis and other advanced analytics on a whole new scale. The sheer amount of data collected is staggering, and rising exponentially, thanks to GPS functionality, cameras, microphones and more in various devices, as well as software solutions for collecting data points. This data is extremely valuable, as it’s used to inform business decisions in almost every industry, both by small businesses and global conglomerates.
Business Intelligence (or BI) leverages various datasources (including data warehouses) to present actionable information for executives and managers. A number of tools and methodologies have been created to help businesses make the best decisions possible in their particular circumstances. Interactive software for running queries, presenting data via dashboards and creating reports is an example.
As you can see, IT jargon doesn’t have to be that big of a barrier of entry into the world of software development. Remember that if something is unclear, you can always ask - we’re happy to share our knowledge and experience and shed some light on our work.
Do you have an idea for an app? Let us know! We’ve been helping small and large businesses turn their vision into reality for years. We can help you choose the right approach and technology, and build a team of experts for you.
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