What Is SVOD: A Guide To Subscription Video On Demand

Transactional Video on Demand, Premium Video on Demand, Subscription Video on Demand, and new AVOD/SVOD hybrid platforms are engaged in a street fight these days for online audiences. This is the second article in our series exploring the different digital entertainment delivery platforms. We are exploring the entertainment on demand world we live in today, one platform at a time.

Subscription

We started with a dive in on advertising supported video on demand (AVOD); in case you missed it, and want to catch up, you can find it here. This blog’s focus is on Subscription Video on Demand more commonly known as SVOD. Let’s start with a short history lesson.

The History Of SVOD Is The History Of NETFLIX

SVOD as we know it today was invented when Netflix launched their monthly subscription website in the United States in September 1999. Netflix had started in the late ‘90s as a movie rental service undermining the giant Blockbuster Video with a movie delivery service. Customers of Netflix could order a bundle of movies over the internet to be delivered to their homes where they could be enjoyed on DVD. Famously, there were no late fees. You returned the bundle of titles when you had finished with them, and could then go ahead and order more.

The experience wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t immediate. Blockbuster customers on the other hand, would walk down to their local shop (it’s hard to believe now, but they were everywhere), select a title off the shelf, pay $4.99 for library titles to rent them for 2 nights. Or pay $6.99 to rent the latest release for one night. Should you return them late, you would be charged late fees. These fees could be considerable, and consumers hated them bitterly. In a last-ditch move to save themselves before the very end Blockbuster did away with them, but too late. The late fees were also controversial within the industry, as Blockbuster didn’t pay rights holders of those movies returned late a share of those late fees.

In a typical arrangement with a supplier, Blockbuster would pay a revenue share where the distributor would receive a proportion of rental fees their title earned in exchange for providing the rights to rent the movies to the public for Blockbuster.

Netflix correctly identified that customers would likely rent more movies at once if they knew they wouldn’t face late fees should they fail to consume them all within 24 or 48 hours. They also knew that Blockbuster stores often could not keep up with demand for new release titles from the public. While this unfulfilled demand was great for the movie industry, as customers would nearly always select an alternative movie vs returning home empty handed, it was an ongoing source of frustration for the consumer. Because Netflix didn’t rely on physical stores, they were better positioned to meet demands for the newest releases.

In 1999 Netflix blew the industry wide open when they began offering an all you can eat option to the consumer in exchange for a monthly subscription of $9.99. All you can eat options that existed at the time were limited to the Pay TV networks like HBO in the United States, or TMN (The Movie Network) in Canada. Cable and Satellite TV distributors had begun experimenting with video on demand offerings as a means of enriching the value of a cable or satellite TV subscription. These services were new and had tighter inventor restrictions than we are used to seeing today. The amount of movies available for an all you can eat experience was limited by the broadcast schedule of the pay networks, and by the amount of inventory made available to them by the cable and satellite companies.

Netflix on the other hand, had massive inventories of titles available. Subscribers would order the movies they wanted to see from the website which would send the movies to subscribers homes where they could be viewed on DVD, much like they had done with rental. There were some titles available to be streamed directly over the internet – but the overwhelming majority of their content was disc driven, and ready to go to consumers homes after just a few clicks.

After Blockbuster Video declined an offer to buy-out Netflix in the early 2000s, Netflix doubled down on their efforts to be a lean, mean , entertaining machine. They took advantage of the growing availability of high speed internet services in the U.S. and Canada, and began to focus on putting more and more of their catalogue online available to stream. As the rental component of their business declined, and the subscription side leapt forward, Netflix started to become the streaming giant we know today.

I’ve glazed over a ton of details here… In the mid to late 2000s I was selling films to buyers domestically and internationally, and I can tell you the impact Netflix had on the marketplace was dramatic. Every single territory they went into they disrupted. Today, they lead the SVOD, and PayTV, markets globally with 205 Million Subscribers globally. Amazon is close behind, at more than 150 Million Subscribers, and Disney’s SVOD service Disney + takes third with more than 90 Million subscribers as of writing.

Related:- A look at Magento Commerce Cloud

How The SVOD Market Works

There are a lot of SVOD platforms. Easily more than a few dozen of these platforms exist, and compete globally for subscribers. The platform may have been invented by Netflix, but the total market size is such that no one player will own the globe.

SVOD operators offer a mix of content to an audience in exchange for a fee, paid monthly, weekly, or annually. Hallmarks of an SVOD service are: exclusive content, subscription fees, no advertising, with content delivered to audiences over the internet. Platforms typically look to license content on an exclusive basis, to draw audiences in based on the shows they have available. Typically these shows are paid a license fee in exchange for the rights. Some of these fees have bonuses, or are structured with variable payout systems where content providers are rewarded fees based on the number of views their programs receive. SVOD platforms need deep libraries of content to keep their audiences interested, and exclusive access to premiere premium content to prove the ongoing value of the subscription.

SVOD platforms differentiate themselves from one another by pointing to their exclusive content, and the depth of their content catalogue. They court fans of known content franchises, and hype new shows they have bought away from their competitors to attract audiences. Some mega franchises of the past like FRIENDS, and THE OFFICE have such intense, built-in audiences that we have seen the big players spend serious money to secure the rights to these shows – perhaps better put, they pay big fees to take these built-in audiences away from their competitors.

Subscribers pay monthly fees to the platforms in exchange for the rights to view the available content on an unlimited basis without interruption by advertisement, at a time convenient to them, and in high quality formats with robust technology keeping the viewing sessions uninterrupted by bugs. Speaking of robust technology, SVOD platforms live and die by the user experience. If fans can’t find the shows they’re looking for, or can’t view it in high quality, or can’t finish watching an episode without the app crashing, they will leave the platform in search of an alternative.

Operators court potential subscribers with limited trial experiences – often just one week, though some operators will offer more generous monthly trials. It’s essential the app is easy to navigate, that the available content is easily browsable, that suggestions are relevant to the user’s demonstrated preferences, and that there’s enough to watch to keep them coming back after the trial.

SVOD platforms are a bit different from AVOD or TVOD platforms with respect to which devices they need to be compatible with. A strategy which puts their service on all or a large number of devices will give them lots of opportunities to win new subscribers, but because of the high standards expected by audiences with respect to the user experience, the quality of the video feed, and the uptime of the service; this can be a risky strategy for any but the biggest players.

Lessons Learned – Avoid These Pitfalls If Launching Your Own SVOD Platform

Millennial audiences have been conditioned by Netflix to expect premium experiences in exchange for their subscription fees. They expect an advertisement free experience. They expect to be able to easily navigate the mix of content available at minimum by genre. They expect an always-on experience, with all the episodes of a series available to binge in their entirety.

The best of the SVOD services are available on mobile platforms (Apple, and Android) with natively built experiences. Standing out with a premium look and feel will really help manage subscriber retention issues, and take pressure off of customer care. Increasingly, operators are able to take advantage of digital SVOD marketplaces like Amazon Channels, or ROKU Marketplace which aggregate available SVOD services, and promote them on platform to their massive base of users. While these seem like ways to save money versus building your own 10 foot experiences; they can come with significant revenue sharing implications which will need managing.

Don’t over complicate your experience, or your model. Quibi learned this the hard way. Quibi developed an SVOD/AVOD hybrid solution which would offer users an ad-supported experience at a monthly fee of $4.99, and an ad-free experience for $7.99. They tried to push the boundaries by creating content that was only viewable in portrait mode on your mobile device, and all their episodes were shorts. Quibi failed quickly, and hard, despite all the buzz surrounding their launch, and despite the hundreds of Millions of dollars invested in premium content development. While Quibi execs officially laid the blame on COVID-19, that’s tough to swallow considering the substantial growth experience by the SVOD industry as a whole.

Planning On Going OTT With Your Own SVOD Platform? Having Launched One Myself, Here Are 3 Tips:

Invest In Premium Content That Will Command An Audience

The SVOD landscape is very competitive. Your service is going to be competing with the big boys on the block: Netflix, Amazon, HBO Time Warner, CBS-Paramount-Viacom, ABC-Disney; and the other little fish. Every producer with an idea is looking to these major services for investment in their scripts. You won’t be able to compete with the big boys head-on at launch, you’re going to need to be creative.

This can take the form of aggressively courting producers, spending to advertise co-production opportunities, being prepared to take risks. But it can go another way as well. Some of the most successful SVOD services start with hyper targeted content offerings courting a specific audience, spending to deliver premium formats like 4k, and developing a reputation for excellence in a genre.

Examples of this include:

Love Nature – a service dedicated to wildlife content.

Pureflix – a service dedicated to spiritual programming

Muslim Kids TV – a service dedicated to Muslim children with appropriate, educational content.

Fubo TV – a service dedicated to sports programming, which has since expanded considerably.

MetOnDemand – a service dedicated to broadcasting operas

By providing focussed content offerings to niche communities, these services develop a reputation of excellence within their target audience and don’t need to compete with the majors for content. Distributors with focussed content offerings will take new content to these buyers knowing the shows will get a larger audience more quickly and have a higher likelihood of renewal for subsequent seasons than they would be on mainstream outlets.

Related:- Preventing Insider Threats to Your Company

Invest In Premium User Experience

Subscription video on demand is a competitive business. There are a lot of options for today’s consumers, particularly amongst those cable cutters and cable nevers who are stringing together several subscription services to replace the cable experience. This customer is ruthless. If the service doesn’t meet their expectations for ease of use, and 24/7 uptime they will not stick around. Even if you have that ‘just gotta see it’ hit of the year show, once your subscribers have consumed it, they’ll drop you like a hot potato. You need to keep these subscribers on board for as many months as possible to maximize the value of each single subscriber you pay to acquire.

Respect your investments in content, and promotional advertising to win over new subscribers by investing in the best possible user experience you can afford, and continue investing in it. You need to be in this for the long-haul and will need to consistently spend to keep your app stable, and improving with the times. Even if you have to limit yourself to one platform at launch. Do it extremely well.

Avoid The Apple Tax

Did you know that Apple earns ___ billion from the app store alone? Apple takes a 30% cut of your app’s revenues for the privilege of distributing your app in their app store to Apple devices globally. Your SVOD business margins are too tight to operate without 30% of your gross revenues. You can’t, and shouldn’t avoid distributing your SVOD app in the App Store, you need to be creative and clever and you can get around the apple tax. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out – we should talk!

Closing Thoughts:

Netflix gave birth to SVOD, and the Millennial generation have wholeheartedly embraced it. Cable cutters and cable nevers are flocking to these solutions, are willing to subscribe to more than one service, and are willing to swap between providers month to month. This is a competitive landscape, with hundreds of options for consumers.

If you’re considering taking your entertainment product to the next level, like the NY Met have done with MetOnDemand to access that global marketplace, it can be transformative. There is lots of room for new SVOD services, but you need to be prepared for the competitive landscape ahead, and ready to spend aggressively on technology, content, and advertising.

Globally as access to high speed internet improves, more and more potential viewers are coming online. The market potential for subscription video on demand is global in scale. Many users will look to multiple platforms to enjoy their favourite shows (just like they used to do on TV!)

Transactional Video on Demand, Premium Video on Demand, Subscription Video on Demand, and new AVOD/SVOD hybrid platforms are engaged in a street fight these days for online audiences. Next issue we will dive deeper into these streaming wars as we continue our series.

Preventing Insider Threats to Your Company

There has been a significant amount of change across all industries over the last year or so. Among the most notable is the adoption of remote working practices. While most companies were forced to change due to the need for social distancing, many businesses and their employees have since recognized the benefits of adopting remote work for the long haul. It offers a notable productivity increase and a better work-life balance. There is also mitigation of the industrial consumption of fossil fuels, a reduction of greenhouse emissions, and even less commuter pollution – making it a more sustainable approach to work overall.Threats

However, as is often the case, these benefits aren’t without their risks. Taking workers and their systems away from a strictly controlled commercial environment expands the potential for vulnerability. There have been concerted efforts between businesses and cybersecurity experts to help close these gaps. However, one of the underexplored areas of remote working is the potential for insider threats to cause disruption and damage.

With more businesses seeking to make the most out of remote operations, now is an excellent time to review how you can minimize the impact of negative insider influence.

What Are Insider Threats?

Before looking at the potential solutions, it’s important to gain a better understanding of the problem. When the term “insider threat” is used, it can be all too easy to have a kind of paranoid reaction that sees you treating your staff with disproportionate suspicion. The truth is, insider threats to cybersecurity in remote situations cover a few different areas.

Some of the more prevalent include:

  • Worker or Contractor Malice – The majority of cybersecurity issues from within are unlikely to be malicious, but it is still a possibility. This may take the form of financial incentive to steal from the company – either directly through electronic embezzlement or theft of assets such as consumer or business data. It can also involve contractors working with your systems who may have ulterior motives to steal, or simply disrupt operations. In remote scenarios, this risk is exacerbated due to greater worker autonomy and less supervision.
  • Worker Pawns – Your remote workers may not be directly intending to harm your business, but other bad actors may use them as a tool. This can take the form of a cybercriminal sending them an email attachment that infects the system, or even posing as a member of the support team and requesting they undertake actions that give a criminal access to the network. In remote scenarios, it could even be workers leaving their laptops unattended in a public place in a way that allows others to take advantage.
  • Insecure Behavior – There are a lot of unknowns in cybersecurity, but we do know that employee behavior is the most common form of insider threat that businesses face. It involves taking actions that leave the company exposed to data leaks, infection, or unauthorized access. In remote operations, this threat is particularly prevalent as employees are in less formal surroundings and often using their own devices or software.

Related:- Update Your Website with These 7 Easy Design Trends

Embrace Cybersecurity Education

Education is one of the most important tools in preventing insider threats to your company. It helps to tackle a wide range of the issues you face and empowers everybody to be safer.

Your approach here must include:

Threat Recognition

One of the reasons that insider threats are so damaging is that employees and management don’t always recognize when it is happening. This means that by the time issues are noticed, there has already been significant disruption. Work with your information technology (IT) department or a cybersecurity consultant to understand the early signs of threats. Provide all employees with training on how to spot these and how to act.

Employee Reviews

As the workplace is changing, now is an excellent time to review the level of threat risk that your remote employees and contractors present to your business. This doesn’t mean acting invasively or with undue suspicion. Rather, create a persona analysis that establishes risks by role, environment, department, and such. This then allows you to have information about the current risk level of each employee and what preventative measures need to be implemented to suit their situation.

Behavioral Training

You need to commit to providing regular training that mitigates the potential for employee behavior to be the source of insider threats. This shouldn’t just be dictatorial, but rather to help them to understand how their actions can affect operations. Focus on practical steps such as keeping their computers safe through the selection of strong passwords, updating software and operating systems, and using firewalls. Provide them with tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) that they can use away from the office, and guidance on why these work. Don’t make this a one-and-done situation, either. By making it a continual aspect of their development, you reinforce what is expected of them. Apply Vigilance Keeping safe from insider threats is often best applied by creating a framework of constant vigilance. These are tools and processes which are in place to prevent, catch, and respond to issues before they get too unwieldy. This framework should take into account:

  • Policies – Your policies may seem like a simple matter, but they also play a role in ensuring that required security actions are documented and followed through. Ensure that there are specific behavioral, equipment, and network guidelines that are provided to all staff at the onset of their employment. Provide updated versions when their roles or the situation – such as shifting to remote work – change. Make these part of employee performance reviews, too, to cement their importance.
  • Hiring Practices – Vigilance must be applied to who you bring into your organization. One of the key insider threats comes from the insider-as-a-service model, which is when bad actors are part of an organized recruitment network with the goal of infiltrating companies and sharing sensitive data. Each time a candidate is considered for a role or for a promotion that changes their risk persona, there must be efforts to make a fair assessment of their background, their connections, and how this impacts their risk.
  • Network Controls – Since the network is how bad actors access sensitive company data, there must be vigilance concerning access. Where possible, avoid giving direct network access to files. Particularly if employees are working from home or using mobile devices, adopting secure cloud platforms to store and share project work can be an effective solution. This also tracks when files have been accessed or altered by certain employee accounts.

Related:- A look at Magento Commerce Cloud

Conclusion

No business owner likes to think that some of the worst risks can come from within but acknowledging this can allow you to prepare effectively. Familiarize yourself with the threats, and assess how each employee and system plays a role. Education is a key tool in keeping safe, and a culture of cybersecurity vigilance can help to avoid the worst-case scenarios.

A look at Magento Commerce Cloud

The Magento platform comes in three versions, each aimed to cater to a different end-user. The Magento Open-source platform is a free version aimed at small business owners. On the other hand, the Magento Commerce and Commerce cloud solution is meant to cater to the needs of medium-to-large business enterprises. Of the two, the Magento Commerce Cloud is perhaps the most convenient and innovative platform, offering users greater customizability due to its cloud-hosting infrastructure.

Magento

The Magento Commerce Cloud offers the full suite of Magento services to its users. With a scalable platform and easy third-party integrations, Magento Commerce Cloud is the go-to choice for many business enterprises. Compared to other commerce cloud solutions, Magento boasts far more superior features and allows customers smooth online shopping experience.

So what features does the Magento Commerce Cloud offer? Let us take a closer look!

Related:- Update Your Website with These 7 Easy Design Trends

Convergence with Magento Commerce

Commerce features for your convenience

Some of the best commerce features are made available to Magento Commerce users to enable them to manage their online shopping platform smoothly. One of the most innovative features, the page builder tool, allows users to take a proactive role in designing the web interface of their online platform without the need for development expertise. Customers can also be recommended relevant products based on their data that the Magento platform has collected over time and make AI-based inferences on the data.

 

Additionally, users can boost sales by updating content regularly according to varying needs, having the ability to create, preview, and schedule content without needing technical expertise. Customers are also given the option of instant purchase which allows them to skip checkout steps using previously entered information. On top of that, the platform allows automated rules to be set up which drive the sequence in which product suggestions are displayed on the online interface, depending on the up-sells and related products.

Explore multiple channels for growth

The mark of a successful eCommerce platform is rapid and efficient customer support. For this purpose, users must be available at all times, and from anywhere, to attend to the needs of the customers. This involves the need for mobile commerce that lets users keep track of their business operations while on-the-go. Businesses can also expand their reach by not only dealing with consumers but also engaging in B2B eCommerce. Complete with integration with an ERP platform, Magento truly becomes a launchpad for successful online businesses.

Stay efficient and effective

With the help of efficiency and automation tools, businesses can enhance their sales and boost productivity. Using valuable customer data, users can gain a full 360-degree view of the business operations and evaluate key markers of success such as ROI, conversion rates, and customer retention. The platform also allows automatic data consolidation so that all information is stored in the AWS warehouse. This information is always available from the cloud platform ready to be accessed anytime. On top of that, with easy to build reports and creative methods of data visualization, users can estimate their performance in a much better way.

Keep your operations secure

With the Magento platform, users can be assured of the best security and flexibility achievable. Magento is PCI compliant and has a read-only file system that ensures the best data security available to enable customers to place their complete trust with the users. Together with image optimization techniques, bundled third-party extensions, and the availability of Magento Marketplace, the platform is truly built to serve all client needs perfectly.

Related:- AWS Glue: Simple and Serverless Data Integration

How is the Magento Commerce Cloud different?

Magento Commerce Cloud differs from the Magento Commerce platform in a few key ways. The cloud platform is much more customizable, with the ability to be scaled according to the varying needs of the business and offers easy integration with third-party applications. Some of the features that make the Magento Commerce Cloud unique are:

Fully configured environment

Magento Commerce Cloud eases the server administration issues by not requiring users to be equipped with a certain version of the server software, PHP, or even the database software. As long as the users have the right configuration of access to files, there is no need to install any specific versions or additional tools in order to get started with the cloud platform.

Integrated Source Control Management System

The platform comes with support for eight environments so that users can choose their pick when it comes to the development, test, or launch of the online platform. The integration environment set comes with three environments to test in, each environment comes with its own server, caching, and configurations among other things. The integration branch can then be merged into a staging environment where pre-production testing can take place. Once the code is tested and free of any bugs, it can be deployed to the production live site.

Infrastructure-As-A-Service

The platform also allows Magento to be used as a virtual infrastructure for the staging and production environments, which comes equipped with three servers, along with any necessary hardware that a user might require when ensuring reliability.

Update Your Website with These 7 Easy Design Trends

Websites can easily become stale and dated. I know. I just updated our agency’s site to better reflect current trends. (When you’re busy working on client projects, it’s challenging to look after your own.)

trends

For small and mid-sized organizations that don’t always have the budget for fancy and customized bells and whistles, my motto is KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.) The marketing objective is to attract and engage visitors and guide them to calls to action. No design awards required.

Related:- AWS Glue: Simple and Serverless Data Integration

Before I tackled the project, I laid out my goals:

  • Make it cleaner and less cluttered with lots of white space.
  • Make the menu navigation simpler with fewer drop-downs.
  • Ensure there’s a good mix of copy, images, videos, and embedded Slide Shares.
  • Revise the lead call to action to make it more relevant.
  • Simplify the footer.
  • Ensure the user experience is easy and smooth.

I also researched award-winning websites and read what some designers say are the current trends. Naturally, it’s a subjective matter, but some commonalities do exist. Here’s what I discovered:

1. Vector Illustrations

According to the Next Web, “While illustrations have been prevalent on websites for many years, there’s a growing trend of having custom, detailed, and well-executed illustrations grace websites recently, and I’m sure this is a trend that is just getting started.”

Eshley Jackson, in a DesignHill article adds:

“Use of illustration and graphics is another web design trend that the website designers are preferring for its use as an effective visual tool to communicate a brand message. Unlike stock photography, illustrations can be tailored to suit to the tone of a company. This helps a brand stand out in a marketplace. If you imagine how future website designs will look like, include custom illustration as a trend.”

Related:- Role of automation in securing cloud data

2. Whitespace

According to Sylvia Foerster in a recent Business2Community article,

“Having a lot of whitespace throughout your site is not necessarily a new trend, but it will be used more and more, especially in tandem with minimalistic designs. Whitespace or negative space refers to the empty areas around design elements like text or images. Just because it’s called ‘whitespace’ doesn’t mean it’s only white—it can be made up of any background color. The empty space between columns, margins, and lines of text is also considered whitespace.”

Moses Kim at UX Planet agrees.

“When elements fight for attention, none of them is getting enough. When there is a spotlight on one element, it gets all the attention. Depending on the message the UI is delivering, it’s important to give it some space, to let that message sink.”

AWS Glue: Simple and Serverless Data Integration

Data integration is a necessary process that combines data for machine learning, analytics, and cloud application development. AWS Glue is a way to make every step of the data integration process serverless and in the AWS Cloud. It possesses all the relevant capabilities so that analysis can be put to use immediately as opposed to later. These capabilities include data extraction from multiple sources, cleaning, normalization, and overall organization in databases and data lakes. Which method you use depends on the type of user you are and what products you are using.

Data Integration

AWS Glue is at its core an ETL (extract, transform, load) service with workflows that can be easily initiated. The monitoring and management of said workflows are done simply by navigating the AWS Glue Studio interface. Like all AWS services, you only pay for what you use, which means resources running at any given moment.

AWS Glue comes with a robust featureset that, if utilized to the fullest, will go through all the integration heavy lifting. You can focus on the data analysis that comes right after.

Related:- Role of automation in securing cloud data

AWS Glue Features

AWS Glue Data Catalog

This is the prime destination of all your data assets, no matter where they may actually be located. To help control the AWS Glue environment it contains job and table definitions, schemas, and other control information. It uses AWS machine learning and artificial intelligence to recognize patterns to make data queries cost-effective and efficient.

Alongside this, a schema version history is saved so data changes can be seen over the course of time.

AWS Glue Schema Registry

The registry enables the use of Apache Avro schemas to validate and control streaming data without charging extra for it. When data streaming applications are integrated with the registry, you can improve data quality and safeguard against unexpected changes. You can also update or create new AWS Glue tables and partitions using schemas stored in the registry.

Drag and Drop Visual Data

You don’t have to be an Apache Spark expert to create scalable ETL jobs for further distributed processing. AWS Glue lets you use a drag and drop interface to define ETL processes. The code is automatically generated to extract, transform and load your data, in either Python, Scala, or Apache Spark.

Data Replication

Data stored in multiple storage types can have views created on top of them with AWS Glue Elastic Views. You can create the views using an open-source SQL compatible language (PartiQL) to manipulate and query the data. This does not depend on the structure of the data, it can be tabular or like a document.

Related:- Ok Google, What Happened to the Cloud Platform?

Data Preparation

AWS Glue has a built-in feature called FindMatches that links data together that are imperfect matches of each other. It uses machine learning to fix duplicates in your records, you are asked beforehand whether it is indeed a duplicate. The system will start learning from your criteria of match or no match and can build you an ETL job that can help you find duplicates between records.

You are given development endpoints to test out the code that Glue generated for you. This is useful when choosing to interactively develop your ETL code. Custom readers, writers, or transformations can be written by you and then be imported into your Glue ETL jobs.

AWS Glue DataBrew

DataBrew lets you normalize data without code using a visual interface. The UI is point to click and simple for users like data scientists to normalize it without sifting through code. You can clean data from various other locations like data lakes and databases like Amazon S3 and Redshift.

Role of automation in securing cloud data

CIOs say that data automation can be effectively used to handle security. In the current scenario where enterprises have to deal with dynamic threat actors, they should be capable of responding to security issues and lapses within minutes or seconds.

The threat actors and their strategies keep changing; however, the criticality of protecting and reducing attacks on cloud platforms will always remain constant. If the risk is decreased, the attack surface is reduced considerably, which results in a smaller blast radius. It helps reduce costly repercussions in a breach event.

automation

Organizations that are highly regulated should deploy automation to mitigate, identify, and resolve cloud issues. This must be done especially to avoid expensive outcomes. It is very critical in the current scenario, where most enterprises are accelerating their digital transformation journey. They are fast reaping advantages like agility and speed and to ensure business continuity as employees work from remote locations.

Read More: Ok Google, What Happened to the Cloud Platform?

CIOs point out that organizations that implement advanced automation tools for protecting data in the cloud have a competitive edge as they receive immediate alerts and notifications regarding policy violations or misconfigurations.

They can also more easily design workflows that can produce resolutions for human-based processes and implement prescriptive actions that can solve the issues. The biggest advantage of automation is that it identifies if data is being exposed or misused and sets forward a rapid response for the issue.

Automated Remediation

Enterprise leaders say that automated remediation measures are capable of performing actions like updating cloud data architecture, re-configuring cloud services, boosting human-based workflows that are integrated with current platforms, and planning out the workflow activities in other systems.

Such remediation enabled organizations to focus on the highly critical problems while ensuring that normal routine problems are solved and reconfigured accurately, so that data is continuously and effectively secured and minor misconfigurations don’t transform into data leaks.

Leaders believe that when organizations secure their cloud data via automation, they, in turn, become enablers of the cloud. When they invest in automation security services, executive-level leadership becomes more confident and comfortable about sensitive information being transported via the cloud.

It accelerates the widespread adoption of cloud through the industry. Accurately automated cloud security policies are vital to ensure proper deployment and continued enforcement of compliance and security.

In the end, the cloud service provides the required agility for organizations that are operating in the digital landscape and is proven to be effective in deploying workloads compared to conventional cloud data centers.

Read More: The Future of Data Science in the Age of COVID-19

Enterprise leaders believe that the biggest obstacle to the implementation of automation is establishing trust with clients. They need to be assured that the automation tools will deploy corrective measures on non-compliant elements and not waste resources on false positives.

It is important to present conclusive and clear evidence of the outcomes to win the trust of the clients. This is best done via custom scorecards and reports that can be showcased to stakeholders and auditors to prove that all detected misconfigurations were open to the public, and none were misidentified.

Ok Google, What Happened to the Cloud Platform?

One of the biggest cloud platform has experienced an outage that affected the world. Reports from the UK, France, Austria, Spain, Brazil, and North America are among the countries experiencing the crash of Google Cloud. This disruption is affecting numerous services throughout the Google suite, including major platforms like Snapchat, Discord, Gmail, and Nest. The hit to Google’s Cloud Platform affected social networks and even people’s ability to control temperatures in their own homes and apartments. In a public announcement regarding the issue, Google stated on its Google Cloud Platform that the company was dealing with a multi-region issue with the Google Compute Engine.

Cloud Platform

“We are experiencing high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA, affecting multiple services in Google Cloud, G Suite, and YouTube. Users may see slow performance or intermittent errors. We believe we have identified the root cause of the congestion and expect to return to a normal service shortly,” stated by the company.

Rarely lasting as long as this did, the outage is not the only one to occur to Google in recent months. While YouTube experienced downtime this past October, Google’s overall services also went offline in November from a routing problem. In late 2018 and beginning of 2019, Nest suffered from multiple of outages. Although there is no common route of the downtime and outages, reliability seems to be a challenge for the enterprise. After resolving this most recent issue, Google promises its consumers and clients that they will be conducting a “post mortem” and make the appropriate adjustments to prevent something similar happening in the future.

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How Bad Was The Damage?

Despite the damage to Google’s brand, the consequences of the outage spreads to numerous other parties. During the 4 hours of downtime, YouTube calculated a 2.5% decrease in views in an hour. Google Cloud Storage found a 30% reduction in overall traffic. Some Nest consumers were unable to access their air conditioner control settings and some could not even unlock their own homes. 1% of Gmail users had issues with their accounts. Although that percentage may seem small, it renders to be millions of people who could not access their emails, proving extremely disruptive.

After the cloud outage, Google suffered another hit when their phone service went down less than 24 hours later. The phone service, Fi, prevented its customers from receiving or making phone calls. This is the worst kind of outage for a phone provider. Even though Google was able to provide a resolution to the interruption of service, people are furious that their ability to make phone calls during work, travel, and even in case of emergencies was hindered.

The networking issue now resolved, Google’s cloud services’ weaknesses are more apparent to the public making them more weary than ever. With the upcoming advancements to computing architectures, this outage emphasizes how little cloud coverage can stretch. As modern cloud infrastructures have cut the costs of being a technologically advanced business, the dependency on one service to perform increases.

Being the giant they are, this issue is not strictly affecting Google’s own applications. Other businesses that rely on the Google Cloud platform are consequently experiencing outages as well. Most companies the consumers use today have entrusted Google with their backends, and although the benefits outweigh the possible risks, it is important to brainstorm contingency plans.

As internet-enabled technology becomes more ubiquitous in homes, the world grows increasingly networked. Companies are finding it more and more important to curate back up plans in the case that the services they rely on crash. Dependency on the cloud is fine, so long that the companies have a means to consider the risks.

Related:- The Future of Data Science in the Age of COVID-19

What Does This Mean?

Google carries the expectation that they would always be reliable. After the outage, it has become a wakeup call to businesses to have a backup plan in a worse case scenario instance. This unfortunate event for Google further emphasizes the necessity to create an effective disaster recovery plan. Companies can continue to entrust the cloud architecture, as it has proven itself to carry immense benefits. Considering DRaaS to become IT resilient should be at the forefront of companies’ IT agenda to ensure they are protected in an outage.

The Future of Data Science in the Age of COVID-19

The measurable turnaround of public confidence in data science applied for social good since the outbreak of COVID-19 represents an opportunity for data-driven analytics to embed far more deeply in society than was envisaged in the preceding years, with the triumphs and challenges of the COVID-facing public sector data science setting a new benchmark and level of expectation across the commercial sector as well.

However, although there’s reason for optimism that AI-focused data science can thrive in both sectors in the coming years, data science consultants need to carefully evaluate the evidence for this in light of the current global upheaval.Data Science

Nearly all the contributing variables for the coming economic and market environment are in flux; not only have the massively skewed spikes and troughs of the COVID era literally forced a re-write of many analytics and AI-driven prediction systems, but they have also cast doubt upon the last few years of trends and predictions related to the industry3.

Let’s take a look at the few broad indicators we currently have and examine how the wider data science sector might need to reconcile the volatile conditions of 2020 and beyond.

Making Sense of the Blown Gradients after COVID

According to McKinsey, the rout of ‘face-to-face’ society has broken historical analytics models so badly that pre-COVID data may itself have to be considered in a separate historical context, and compensated for in any attempt to maintain a continuum of measurement for year-on-year progression in business cycles.

At the time of writing, post-outbreak data has had less than a year of existence. With no way to know when the post-COVID era will begin (or whether the threat will diminish with the speed of the Millennium Bug or the languorous, decades-long struggle against HIV), it’s difficult to understand at what point a long-term analytical context will emerge that isn’t specifically related to efforts against the virus.

Even if we were inclined to consider the period since the outbreak as a ‘hard reset’ in analytics and forecasting, not only is post-outbreak data insufficient yet to form a base for prediction, but it’s also defined by a number of pivotal factors that are in no way constant or reliable enough for forecasting further years of combatting the epidemic. These factors include:

  • State-led fiscal interventions that give a statistically skewed representation of national and global consumption, productivity and stability.
  • Supply chain interruptions, which have had a significant effect on downstream economic logistics management.
  • Changes in customer behavior that relate directly to the increased short-term and long-term economic insecurity, and which are not in themselves constant or predictable.
  • The ambient effect of the diminution, destruction and/or bankruptcy of multi-billion dollar industries that underpinned the pre-COVID model, such as airlines and hospitality.

There is general agreement, however, on one upcoming scenario in which the data science sector will not only play an important role, but need to negotiate in itself.

The Implications of Recession for Data Science

The World Bank estimates a 5.2% reduction in the global economy in 2020, characterizing the growing downturn as a portent of the deepest recession since WWII, affecting the largest number of countries since 1870. Others, including the IMF and Time, assess the coming decline in terms of a depression that’s likely to last longer than any comparable economic crises of the last 100 years.

Though the effect of furloughs, lay-offs and terminations has not left the data science sector untouched, with a reported 40% of surveyed companies freezing new data science hires, the downward trend is slower relative to the average in comparable fields.

It should also be considered that sector demand was declining directly prior to the outbreak, and that it’s now impossible to tell how that short downward trend might have developed.

In any case, outside of public-sector data science projects either directly or indirectly related to COVID, data science seems destined for a period of reductionism and a focus on essential, proven analytics implementations.

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5 Areas of Expected Data Science Uptake

There is a strong possibility that the customary recovery environment of a late-stage recession will be different from those of the past; and that the inability to quickly reboot into a pre-COVID economic template will elevate data analytics to a more central and enduring position in civic and commercial culture, no matter what the outcome of the crisis might be.

If we do not currently need the new roads, train lines, and other travel-based infrastructure boosts that kick-started the failing economies of the more mobile societies of the past, and if we are unable to re-capitalize (as after 2008) by continuing to inflate the cost of real estate in major cities in the face of an urban exodus and an emerging long-term telecommuting culture, it seems inevitable that money will follow consumers into virtual space — which signifies a massive acceleration of digital conversion and the analytics culture that accompanies it.

For business, this external pressure to migrate from analogue transactions to digital paradigms and platforms is merely an acceleration of what was already occurring in the years leading to 2020.

The following are the key areas where data science is poised to aid in sector recovery and endurance.

Global and National Supply Chain Logistics

The use of AI to model historical and ‘live’ logistics data allows distribution companies to simulate thousands of scenarios, incorporating ad-hoc factors such as state and national restrictions that may come into force or be cancelled according to infection levels and local and national policies.

As with many sectors that depend on predictive machine learning systems, the Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) industry has had to recover from unexpected variations in demand since the late winter of 2020, and is in some cases merging prediction models for the lifetime of the COVID-19 crisis into traditional logistics forecasting systems.

Remote Productivity Management

In the United States alone, the coronavirus crisis is set to force a 733% increase in the number of Americans working full-time from home, with many influential companies now committed to partial or permanent long-term telecommuting, irrespective of societal progress against COVID-19.

Though there are diverse AI-powered solutions to aid remote workers in scheduling, search, and even to improve the quality of teleconferencing, it seems likely that innovations in AI-based remote monitoring will also bring new data streams that can be utilized for performance monitoring at an individual and team level.

The use of data science and machine learning to evaluate employee performance pre-dates the pandemic. Such systems are centralized and can be applied to the remote working sphere via authorized VPNs, with only minor latency considerations compared to on-premises workstations.

One company has experimented with AI-enabled fitness monitors to assess the level of employee stress during remote working under COVID-19. However, depending on the geographic region and its applicable laws, the proliferation of such systems may eventually bring privacy and diverse legal implications into the public arena, notwithstanding an employee’s contractual consent.

Machine learning has been used in a number of evaluative systems for students forced to follow academic courses in ad-hoc online environments — a necessary innovation that may eventually feed into more stable and generalized online management systems.

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Chatbots

Besides providing curated information on the COVID-19 crisis for overburdened health services, chatbots are proving an essential stopgap for companies whose former investment in intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) has become urgent under coronavirus-related restrictions, and for whom negative public perception of AI-based assistants has been relegated by the scale of the current public health crisis.

Thus it appears that increased public tolerance for chatbot-based interaction in core services such as health may be improving the general reputation and uptake of chatbot development on the whole.

The pre-COVID estimate that chatbot sales would grow to US$112 billion by 2023 is now thought by some to have multiplied significantly. However, the current trend towards economic decline also indicates that lower general economic demand could cancel out this trend, leaving the market with similar prospects to those forecast in the pre-COVID era.

The necessity for increased engagement with chatbots represents an unforeseen opportunity to improve both their performance and reputation: as the volume of IVA transactions increases, analysis of the interactions allows their underlying systems to improve in a manner that could not have been foreseen prior to the pandemic — a further boon to chatbot research and deployment.

After-Market Service Through AI-Driven Analytics and Logistics Systems

According to Deloitte, the possibility of ongoing disruption to supply chains, together with diminished spending patterns, constitutes a threat to the hardware technology release cycle, including computing components, smartphones, consumer electronics devices, and a range of business technologies.

This situation could trigger a short- or long-term emphasis on after-market support, where the role of machine learning analytics could transform from a minor industry advantage to a critical edge in a market often beset by low margins.

The much-criticized tendency of manufacturers to abandon software support for older models in order to perpetuate the buying cycle could even transform from time-limited after-market care to the subscription-based SaaS models that have come to dominate the software market since 2015.

Developing a more resilient IT work culture

“Resilient practices” has become the go-to phrase for IT leaders across the world. CIOs are responsible for ensuring the continued operations of enterprises in uncertain times. They are working to enable entire-organizations’ workforce to be remote work compatible at a quick pace. Simultaneously they are pushing for digital transformation initiatives to be the central focus even during the pandemic.

IT

Organizations that rapidly changed gears and navigated the hardship with restructured practices were a testament to the IT industry’s capability to be flexible enough to bounce back from difficulties. For the enterprises which didn’t deploy an agile approach, the situation has been a crash course on how to practice resilience. Each example has contributed to the best practices- for them and other enterprises to learn from.

The pandemic has turned out to be a live, global-scale social experiment for organizations across industries. Leaders acknowledge that conventional methods are not successful in the current scenario, and new behaviors must be developed.

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Ensuring that people are prioritized

CIOs point out that open communication is a critical factor in guaranteeing resiliency in the present scenario. Employees are relieved when truthful interaction is encouraged by the enterprise; satisfied and peaceful employees work more productively. An open exchange will ensure that they are ready for potential changes down the line. It’s encouraged that employees receive positive and negative news from the leadership rather than some other source.

Empathetic leadership is needed; a resilient IT culture encourages putting people first. Emotional well-being was prioritized in the past couple of years, and the notion has gained new traction during the pandemic. A sense of camaraderie is required to ensure better productivity and reduced attrition in organizations.

Keeping connected

Most organizations have increased the number of meetings to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction and seamless connectivity between colleagues. IT leaders are figuring out ways to prevent Zoom fatigue and burnout. Reduced travel hours for employees who were located off-premise, has resulted in longer work-hours in most organizations. Employees located outside of the headquarter locations are forced to either get up earlier or work later to accommodate other colleagues.

CIOs are working to stop the practice, reducing Friday meetings unless an emergency and encourage the time to be utilized for “strategic analysis”. Better communication is necessary, but alternatives must be identified for communicating with internal teams. Leaders propose more meetings, but of shorter durations and end encourage more personal meetings for daily check-ins. Virtual lunch meet-ups have proved to be a suitable medium of catching up, without encroaching on productive work hours.

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Identifying common goals

Leaders say that when the work environment proves to be demanding and challenging, enterprises will be encouraged when goals are set. For the IT industry, the mission sense is best taught via developing business value. When professionals feel invested in the organization and connected, resilience is enhanced.

The agile methodology of building products encourages resiliency and productivity compared to the silo methodology of building projects. It also ensures that IT and business develop common objectives, which helps the organization grow.

5 Top Design Elements to Incorporate into Your Next App

With thousands upon thousands of apps on the market, getting users’ attention often comes down to UI/UX. Stunning designs make apps stand out above competitors and attract users. Giving users an intuitive experience is what keeps them coming back for more.design

Here are the top design elements to consider when developing your next app.

Clean and Uncluttered

App developers should make sure that they incorporate a logic of clear, concise, and uncluttered design. Apps with cluttered or ambiguous interfaces and content are offensive to users. Cognitive load refers to the amount of brain power required to use an application and a cluttered app can require too much stress and thinking for the user. Having a high cognitive load may lead users to abandon the app and look for easier and simpler tools.

Clean design is especially imperative on mobile apps, where the screen is much smaller, and the precision of thumb tapping is often lacking. Show users just what they need to know in that screen and keep extras on other pagers or off the app entirely.

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User Interface Design

User interface, or UI design, is one of the most important aspects of app design. When designing an app, the user and their interests should be used to mold the app around in terms of design. A great designer will go so far as to provide customer inputs into each part of the design. By watching how customers interact with the app, you can evolve and improve the UI making the app increasingly easy and intuitive to use.

Font Adds to Design

Another important design element in app development is typeface. Typeface has qualities that have been embraced and used in marketing psychology and can also be used to increase engagement and interest in an app.

Making a smooth reading experience means effective use of typeface. Designers should make sure that the app’s typeface should be compatible with their respective OS and tablet size. Again, due to the small screen on mobile devices, designers need to be especially careful with font types and styles. While bold, underlines and italics may work on desktop, they may not be seen clearly on a mobile device.

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Personalization Without Too Much Work

Design elements today are expected to contain personalization. Knowing the right time zone or populating the weather or time can make the user feel like the app is personalize to their needs.

Often businesses do this by asking a bunch of questions during the onboarding process. This, however, requires too much work by the user. Rather, only ask for the data you need and find innovative ways to offer personalization to make the experience stand out.

App Design Elements

App development is an ongoing evolution with new technology and ideas happening every day. To provide your customers the best experience, you need the best mobile app talent. Where you are looking for a UX, UI, web or brand designer, the right designer can bring an amazing experience to the user.

App design is incredibly important to users who are looking for apps that appeal to their individual tastes. This is the biggest message of all. Individual tastes are taking control of the market and driving sales that are geared and tailored towards individuals that have unique individual tastes. The appeal of individual tastes cannot be ignored because the individual is shaping the market.