Thursday 20 July 2017

IoT for SMEs (1/5) – Money Matters

IoT is daunting term in any board meeting for many companies big or small. Although the disruptive technology is making waves with bigger corporation especially in the B2C consumer electronics sector, Several Medium and Small companies still have inhibitions towards IoT. 

Even today, many business owners are still resisting the push towards fully incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) devices into their company. However, the network of devices that constitutes the IoT is set to grow at a staggering rate over the next few years according to study conducted by McAffe. With that note, welcome to the 1st part of the IoT for SME blog series.

IoT is at our wrists (quiet literally in our palm) when we use a Fitbit to record and transmit data when we exercise and sleep. IoT powers smart appliances present in some homes today be it Air-condition, refrigerator etc. where we can control them remotely via a smartphone app. So why not use IoT when it comes to business automation, especially for SMEs?

There could be several factors which affects this decision, some of them are:

1. Money

2. Expertise / Knowledge

3. Money!

While knowledge can be acquired online with zero cost, often the idea of spending thousands of dollars on IoT for a small business is a definite NO. 

Let’s put a pin on the Cost at this moment and we shall come back to that once I finish my argument on how SME could ride the wave of IoT.

Remember the time when ATM is used to run out on cash (alright this still happens in some developing countries), however not so much in developed countries like Singapore. Let’s take an example of how DBS addressed this situation. DBS Singapore– adopted to IoT, real-time data collection at a quite early stage. From the data DBS analyzed the withdrawal patterns to understand varying demands of cash in different locations, days and hour of the day. It succeeded by minimizing the number of empty ATMs up to 80%.

Saves Cost, Time and more

The IoT encompasses a vast and intricate network of devices, each collecting valuable data about their users. Imagine the avatar movie of connected trees? Yeah something like that. 

This data gives SMEs an opportunity to measure and analyze the landscape of consumers, Allowing them the facility to have constant updates on their consumer’s behavioral habits. This is god sent for SMEs, especially with less budget to waste on operating expenses, IoT saves time, resources and operational costs.

Singapore Government comes to the rescue for SME

Don’t have necessary investment for IoT for your business? Don’t worry the government got your back on this. Government grants can help you with funds necessary for your IoT implementation.You can check here about  the various government grants that are available for SME /Small businesses seeking to innovate their business technologically. 

One of the interesting option would be ICT for Productivity and Growth programme . This grant encourages piloting emerging solutions in the areas of sensor, data analytics and robotics and subsidises 80% of the qualifying pilot project costs, up to $1 million! Yes, your heard it right. Read more on The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) site and on the provided links to learn more, if you need a consultant to help you with identifying IoT solutions, please click here to contact us.

   Srivatsan Aravamudan

   Telephone:+65 62689551
   Fax:+65 62689858
   Business Analyst - Snr Software Consultant.


Monday 17 July 2017

IoT Recipe for Dummies

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of everyday objects — physical things embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity enabling data exchange. Basically, a little networked computer is attached to a thing, allowing information exchange to and from it.

There are mainly three components of IOT

a) Hardware - made up of sensors, actuators and embedded communication hardware

b) Middleware - on demand storage and computing tools for data analytics and

c) Presentation - easy to understand visualization and interpretation tools which can be widely accessed on different platforms and which can be designed for different applications.

For example, how nicer it would to check the status of your living room light and turn on and off the light without the need to be physically present in that room? Apart from laziness there could be several uses of this scenario. Another instance would be users with limited mobility who may have a difficulty in even reaching their light switch. Current light operating solutions are costly and often complicates the user environment.

I was particularly curios to develop a minimal cost option using IoT and so I created this sample project to turn on /off a LED light from anywhere using internet. 

I can almost feel your excitement, so without further delay here is the recipe for achieving this.

List of items you need.

1. ESP2866 Wi-Fi serial transceiver module

2. Arduino Uno microcontroller board

3. Led lights

4. Wi-Fi connection

5. Bread board

6. 1 KΩ resistor.

7. Jumper connecting wires (Male to Male and Female to Male).

8. Decent amount of patience. 

Now use these easy to follow steps to configure this:

1. Install the Arduino IDE – it is an open source software. Download link 

2. Install the ESP8266 Board Package:

Arduino -> Preferences -> Additional Board Manager’s -> copy paste the URL ->

3. Now, restart Arduino IDE. Then continue: Tools -> Board -> Boards Manager. Search by ESP8266 Community. Click on the result and install it. Restart Arduino IDE again.

4. Give the wiring connections as shown.

5. Connect Arduino to system. Download this code  and upload the sketch by clicking on upload button. Remember to give Wi-Fi name and Password. In the Serial Monitor (Top right corner of IDE - search icon – Click) you will get the IP Address of your ESP8266.

6. Change the IP Address in the downloaded code and flash the code again to ESP8266.

There you go, Enter IP address on browser. Now you can On/Off the LED from your local network. By Enabling Port Forwarding mechanism on your router, you can control this globally. Isn’t that amazing, few simple steps and viola a cutting-edge solution within the reach of anyone with a little bit of technical expertise.

Now the good news is, this does not limit to lights. Any electrical appliance can be controlled via this mechanism. The not so good news is, as every device is sending data frequently, Studying the data and extracting the information becomes the mammoth task of the day.

In Conclusion:

There is no denying that IoT will soon become a part of our day-to-day life. However how much of IoT integration will actually be helpful to the customer would be a major question. Organizations are implementing IoT just to get into the space and claim that their products are using latest technology. Often these terms are used for marketing alone. We must understand the people and their needs before implementing IoT related solutions.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding this project please feel free to write to me.

Vivek Sundarrajan
Full Stack Developer / Software Consultant

Email :
Skype : psibertech-vivek

Monday 10 July 2017

Software Outsourcing Hacks (7/7) – Complete Checklist

I welcome you to the last article in this series. If you are tuning in for the first time, I suggest you to read the previous articles here, as this series builds on itself.

Software Outsourcing Hacks (1/7) – Going High or Low?

Software Outsourcing Hacks (2/7) – Baby in a month

Software Outsourcing Hacks (3/7) – Walking on Water

Software Outsourcing Hacks (4/7) – Scoping for Unknown

Software Outsourcing Hacks (5/7) – Technology Stack

Software Outsourcing Hacks (6/7) – Rock, Paper, Scissors

As this is the closing article I would like to provide you some practical hack while outsourcing a software project to a supplier. Technology suppliers or Tech consultants are hard to evaluate so to make it simpler for you, I am going to provide you a check list of questions to be asked during the supplier evaluation process. These are generic questions, you may take some of them during the first call with supplier, some using a questionnaire and some during face to face meeting. 

The reason we do this is to have several layers to our evaluation process and not to overwhelm the supplier and turn them off completely.

Sustainability questions:

Technology is changing by the minute and lot of tech companies are going through an unstable period. You want to ensure the companies are sustainable through the development process and long after the implementation for maintenance and further assistance.

1. How long the company has been in software development business?

2. Do they offer services to local and offshore clients?

3. What are the key services?

4. What is their key expertise?

5. What is the company’s business model?

6. What is the company’s financial situation?

Resources questions:

Resources questions can be both about the human resources i.e. the team as well as about the infrastructure which would enable them to provide you the software developing services.

1. Number of employees and their designations?

2. What is the experience of the employees in development or other core areas of expertise?

3. Do they own any certifications?

4. Is the company ISO certified?

5. What kind of trainings the company provides for its employees?

6. What is the company culture?

7. What is the technical strength of the company?

8. What are the software tools used in project development?

9. Does the company have any partnership with market leaders and software providers like Microsoft?

10. How do they keep up latest technical advancements?

11. Does the company have necessary infrastructure to scale up for the project?

12. Does the company outsource or sub contract?

13. If the company subcontracts, then how does company ensure the quality and completeness of the project?

Track record questions:

Its better to understand about the company by understanding the existing clients they have and projects the company has delivered.

1. Who are the current list of clients for the supplier?

2. What are the projects delivered?

3. Does the company provide any contacts for reference?

4. What is the customer feedback about the last 3 projects?

5. Do they have repeat clients or one time clients?

6. How long is their client relationship lasts on average?

Process Questions

These questions help you to understand how exactly the supplier go about developing the software.

1. What is the supplier’s development process?

2. How does quality is accounted for?

3. What are the different models they are aware / practise?

4. What is the current project management tool they use?

5. Could they use your current project management model?

6. What is the reporting and escalation process?

Costing Questions

1. What is the pricing model used for budgeting the project?

2. What are the exclusions and inclusions in the pricing?

3. What are the recurring costs?

4. What is the payment schedule?

5. Are there any additional charges like Tax?

These are the basic questions that can help you narrow your software development vendor. Choosing the right software supplier is important in successful outsourcing of the software development. If you have any questions regarding development of your next project, Please contact me here.

   Srivatsan Aravamudan

   Telephone:+65 62689551
   Fax:+65 62689858
   Business Analyst - Snr Software Consultant.


Thursday 6 July 2017

Software Outsourcing Hacks (6/7) – Rock, Papers, Scissors

Software Development Outsourcing Hacks - Rock paper scissors
Welcome to Software outsourcing hacks - a blog series in which we discuss software development project outsourcing tips and tricks. If you are new to this series, I suggest you to have a look at the earlier blog posts here and here.

Software development outsourcing has always been around and yet it’s one of the most daunting task of the Project Manager. 

To choose the right supplier in the sea of pesky, aggressive emails, phone calls and Skype connection requests which won’t take NO for an answer is a painful process. 

Don’t you wish it could be as easy as Rock Paper and Scissors? Let me assure you, it is easier when you pay attention to these basics.

The Rock - Cost

We all have done it! choosing something purely based on cost. Cause that’s the rock, that’s the most important entity that we are answerable to stake holders. And when the cost is lower everyone is happy, well except for the supplier. Yet, you must resist!

It is important to know your budget when you are outsourcing software development project. Often, I have seen clients starting with a project with no idea of what their budget is.

1. When you have no clear idea of how much your budget for the project is, then you rely on the costing provided by the 3 different suppliers.

2. When you choose one of the supplier purely based on the cost, you don’t consider the pros and cons of the supplier.

3. If you do choose the higher cost supplier based on cost, hoping that cost would translate to quality then you are making a huge assumption.
Studies say there is little or no difference between the service offered by suppliers who quote medium cost and higher cost

Hence, it is important to look for quality and compare the quality when you are choosing between 3 suppliers. Find out their strengths, their experience, track records and clarity of the proposal.

The Paper - Partnership

Low cost, affordable solutions, quick turnaround, experienced team are the slogans which suppliers would identify themselves with. While these are important elements, the most important aspect is you are picking a development team, a partner to work for this project and probably for projects in the future. Even if you think you don’t need any future contracts with the supplier, think about maintenance of the project that you are outsourcing. Surely you don’t want people with “do and forget” approach.

Choose a partner instead of one time supplier. Even if you think you have found the “one” for your project, try to re asses the supplier in terms of quality, communication with in the team, their development model, approach to problem etc.

The Scissors – Research

Judging the supplier by their website is like judging the book by its cover. Remember there are hundreds free and paid templates which can make the site look cooler and high tech. Probably the only thing you can conclude from the site is their UI/UX and ability. Perhaps look at the blog and their technical / non-technical contents.

Go deeper and understand more about the company, the culture and the people. Look for review, and past clients and the quality of the solutions. Is the supplier flexible with changing requirements or rigid and focus on cost implications alone? is the supplier dependable?

Finally, meet them face to face or have skype calls if you both are not from the same location. Ask your questions to the real people. There’s nothing that can replace face to face talk. I wish you all the best in choosing the right supplier for your next software development outsourcing. If you have questions please feel free to contact me here.

   Srivatsan Aravamudan

   Telephone:+65 62689551
   Fax:+65 62689858
   Business Analyst - Snr Software Consultant.


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