Monthly Archives: February 2017

Top 15 Trends in iOS App Development That You Should Be Aware Of

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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trends for ios developers

 

The Apple App Store continues to break records in terms of revenues. According to an official report, developers made a cool $20 billion+ from the App Store last year. If the 30% cut that Apple keeps from the earnings is added, the cumulative revenue from the App Store in 2016 comes to nearly $29 billion. Apple’s mobile platform is also by far the more (in comparison with Google’s Android) ‘profitable’ – with revenues from iOS apps being, on average, 4X higher than that from Android apps. Of course, for sustaining strong revenue and profit figures, developers have to constantly update themselves, and adapt to the latest tools and technologies. Over here, we will have an overview of the most important iOS app development trends in 2017:

  1. 3D gaming and augmented reality

    For all the hype and anticipation about virtual reality and augmented reality in recent times, 2016 was mostly a year of research on these technologies. This year should see iPhone developers increasingly utilizing augmented reality add-ons to make their game apps more interactive and immersive for end-users. With GPS tools growing stronger and more reliable than ever, VR and AR have every chance of becoming the go-to tools from next-gen 3D game development.

  2. More thrust to IoT applications

    Announced in 2014, Apple’s HomeKit platform has been a source of interest for general enthusiasts and professionals alike. The platform is already integrated by many developers in different types of home automation apps, and this usage is all set to grow further in 2017. In general, Internet of Things (IoT) should take off in a big way over the next 6-12 months, with ‘connected cars’ and ‘smart homes’ being right at the fore. There are a lot of growth opportunities in this domain, and leading mobile app developers are likely to get into it.

  3. Swift 3.0 to remain the chosen language

    Ever since Swift went open source (in December 2015), its adoption figures among developers have spiked significantly. The arrival of Swift 3.0 in June last year also confirmed that the language has indeed overtaken Objective-C (as per the latest TIOBE index) in terms of popularity. Recent surveys have revealed that the third iteration of the Swift programming language is indeed the most developer-friendly version. As such, it is likely to consolidate its position as the ‘language of first preference’ among iOS developers.

  4. The importance of a great UX

    It was important before, and it will remain absolutely critical in future. To be successful, an Apple application has to deliver seamless user end-experience (UX) – with the help of smart, navigation-friendly designs and layouts, great graphics and high-quality animation (if required). For ad-supported applications, the advertisements must not interfere with the users’ activities. Developers should also stay away from making false claims about apps in the store descriptions. Right from ‘discovering’ a new app on the store, to downloading and using it – the entire thing must be one smooth journey.

  5. Revival of Beacon technology

    Since its launch, not much of significance has been done with the Cupertino company’s proprietary iBeacon technology. Things should, however, change this year – with steadily increasing interest levels among iPhone developers, and strong demand levels from smart home owners. In particular, the low-energy Bluetooth (BLE) technology will enable people to simply use designated mobile apps to remotely manage household electrical appliances (with built-in GPS). What’s more, the Beacon technology will also facilitate the formation of more localized and effective advertisements by retailers – which would be distributed/pushed out to targeted buyers through the latter’s handsets. In both the household and the commercial spaces, Beacon apps are set to find their own niche.

  6. Greater emphasis on security

    At last year’s WWDC event, App Transport Security (ATS) was made mandatory for every newly published iOS application. This was in addition to the two-factor authentication rule – which has, let’s face it, become fairly mainstream now. The concerns about mobile app security and probable data thefts/losses are, however, growing…and to counter that, stronger, more varied data encryption standards are expected to be used by developers worldwide. The data transfer tools and methods should also grow more robust. Users often store important and sensitive personal data in mobile apps (or on the cloud) – and developers have to ensure that they can do so without a worry.

  7. Home automation platforms to grow

    Technology is supposed to make lives easier – but it can also become rather complicated. Simply consider the scenario where you have to individually control a large number of smart home tools and equipments, and you will get the picture. This, in turn, brings to light the importance of platforms like Amazon Echo and openHAB. In 2017 and beyond, the usage of these smart home platforms will continue to surge, together with the launch of a large number of ‘connection apps’ – that will offer 24×7 connectivity with appliances, kitchen equipments and even pet animals. The recent Volvo-Microsoft deal also promises to bring on-the-go Skype support to drivers. Smart connectivity hubs are likely to become more common than ever before.

  8. Cutting-edge App Store Optimization

    The competition among iOS apps is increasing all the time. On last count, the App Store had in excess of 2.2 million applications – and it is not the easiest task for developers to make their products stand out in the crowd. They have to understand and implement updated App Store Optimization, or ASO, strategies – from creating detailed, easy-to-understand app descriptions, to selecting a good app name, choosing the best app icon, uploading the required app screenshots, and including the important keywords in the description. What’s more, the ASO has to be done on an ongoing basis. The year is 2017, the competition is big – and developers cannot rely on ‘once and done’ marketing strategies.

  9. Revival of the iPad

    The glory days of the iPad in 2013-14 are long gone now. However, the increase in app development activities involving iBeacon will probably push up iPad sales this year. In the first quarter of this year, more than 13 million units of the iPad are expected to be sold – a jump of 44% over the 2016 Q4 figures. Developers, hence, should always make sure that their new applications have properly customized versions for the Apple tablet. In its absence, a fairly large chunk of potential users can be lost.

  10. Analytics and feedback

    Apps are created for the random Joe who owns an iPhone – and if he does not like a new application, he will uninstall it, it’s as simple as that. In every category, there are several apps that have similar core functions – ensuring that there is no dearth of substitutes. To keep user-engagement levels high, developers have to closely monitor app analytics (has to be integrated into the application). All feedback, ratings and reviews have to be studied carefully too, to learn about the improvements/bug fixes that have to be made. Mobile app companies are all in a race to provide top-class customer services – to ensure the success of their products.

  11. More games. Better games

    Nintendo brought the wildly popular Super Mario Run to iOS last December, and the repercussions were huge. Super Mario had a big role to play in pushing up the December sales figures from the store to beyond a staggering $3 billion – and according to experts from the field of iPhone app development, Nintendo has just showed to other third-party game developers that they too can strike it big on the iOS platform. Between now and 2020, iOS games (particularly 3D) are likely to increase at an exponential rate – and the quality/innovativeness of most of these games will be right out of the top drawer. For all its customization options, Android is still nowhere close to iOS in terms of stability – and its high-time for iPhone developers to take advantage of this fact.

  12. Autonomous devices and iPhones

    Although last year’s iPhone 7/7 Plus are off to a steady start (adoption rate of 2.7% within the first fortnight for iPhone 7), they are – till now – marginally less successful than the iPhone 6/6Plus from a couple of years ago. Contrary to predictions though, there are no chances of the iPhone’s market share dropping off – particularly since that they are increasingly being connected and used with Mac systems, Apple TV, smartwatches, and a lot more ‘paired gadgets’. At the same time though, autonomous or standalone Apple gadgets are also increasing. A classic example of that will be the Apple Watch 2 – which is far less reliant on the iPhone than its predecessor. App makers, not surprisingly, are getting actively involved in making custom apps for Apple Watch.

  13. Rise of enterprise apps

    Much like how websites became a must-have for businesses in the late-90s, enterprise apps have emerged as essential tools for present-day entrepreneurs across the world. Users can reach out to potentially huge volumes of prospective customers with the help of well-made, user-friendly iOS enterprise apps. The importance of mobile shopping apps and digital wallets has also been increasing over the last couple of quarters. From establishing a strong presence in the mobile space (for greater brand familiarity), to getting business leads and managing expenses – dedicated enterprise apps will perform a lot of functions this year.

Note: By the end of this year, at least 50% of all companies in the United states will have more than 10 enterprise apps – presumably for making day-to-day operations more efficient, and establishing an agile work environment.

    14. Staying updated with the latest dev tools

The tools and frameworks for iOS app development are always changing…always becoming more advanced. The onus is on the developers to constantly update themselves about the latest tools, and use them in the best possible manner. For starters, a complete familiarity with the Xcode 8 IDE (latest version available: Xcode 8.2.1) is essential – along with the iOS 10.3 platform. For beta test distribution of an app, TestFlight is easily the most suitable network, REST APIs can be tested with Postman, Cocoa Pods is ideal for dependency management, and Fastlane ensures continuous delivery of applications. There are plenty of other high-end iOS tools and frameworks available, and developers need to be prepared to learn constantly. If they don’t know what is available to them, how can they possibly use them?

    15. App monetization opportunities

It has been known for some time that Apple-users are, on average, more likely to spend money on apps – than their Android counterparts (this also explains the presence of a larger proportion of free apps in the Play Store). In the final quarter of 2016, revenues from the App Store were close to $5.5 billion – more than $2 billion more than the returns from the Play Store during the same period. In the next couple of years, expect iOS developers to implement smarter app monetization strategies in the software they publish. Clearly, there are scopes to earn big (although 6 out of 10 developers still fall under the ‘app poverty line’).

IoT, GPS integration, iBeacons, advanced security standards and AR/VR are expected to be the key drivers behind the development of successful iPhone applications in 2017. Developers from app companies (as well as the ones who work freelance) need to work according to the trends discussed above – to enhance their chances of surviving and thriving in this domain. It’s a challenging field, but things can be worked out!

Top 14 Digital Marketing Tips For Your Mobile App

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Digital marketing of mobile apps: Tips

 

It’s only a matter of time before the total number of mobile applications in Apple App Store and Google Play store (combined) touches the 5 million mark. At the start of the year, the former already had 2.2+ million apps, while there were more than 2.6 million Android apps available for download. With the rapidly escalating competition in the app marketplace, it is no longer enough for developers to simply come up with ‘good’ apps. Discoverability/Visibility remains a big issue, there are plenty of ‘zombie apps’ in the stores – and researches have shown that, only 4 out of every 10 people actually bother to search for apps in the stores. The onus is on the app makers to market their products well on the digital platform after launch, to generate awareness and maintain steady download figures. Let us here take a look at some useful mobile app marketing strategies:

  1. Use press releases and news articles

    You need to, obviously, explain how your app works in the store description, using relevant keywords. However, people would see that description only AFTER they have arrived on the app’s download page. You can increase the chances of that happening, by publishing informative press releases (on both free and paid channels) – each highlighting one or two core functionalities or benefits of the application. If you release an update of an existing app, make it a point to publish a news article regarding that. The focus should always be on letting as many people as possible find out about your app.

  2. Have a website

    There was a time – sometime around the mid-90s, when a product could be successful without the support of a dedicated website. Things have moved on radically since then – and at present, an app simply must have its very own website. Mobile app developers can collaborate with web developers to create nicely-designed, responsive, user-friendly websites – with all the relevant information about the concerned app present in it (often, a single-page website is enough). Include the app store link(s) of your software in the website, and make it easily visible. Users, once intrigued, should be able to check it out.

  3. Trailer videos

    Call them trailers or demo videos – they are extremely useful ‘first-look’ tools for your mobile application. You can create a series of short (45 seconds to 1 minute, maximum) videos of your app – explaining the signup process, the in-app navigation, the UI/UX, the settings and other key features. Ideally, you should also include audio – to make it easier for viewers to ‘understand’ your app. Consider creating videos with a host (or a couple of them) discussing the various nitty-gritties of your app. From Youtube and Snapchat, to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even WhatsApp – there are so many social media channels where you can share these app demo videos.

Note: Twitter’s Vine was fairly popular among app developers to showcase their software (with 6-second videos). It was, however, discontinued last October.

  1. Pay attention to initial reviews

    The first 7-10 days after your app becomes available for download at the store(s) are crucial. This is the time when the first set of users will leave their ratings and reviews – and you need to consider them very carefully. If the early reviews are unfavourable, consider that as a red herring – and try to find out about the thing(s) that the users are not liking. Make the necessary modifications and release an update as quickly as possible. You can do all the internal testing and bug-fixing you like prior to launch – but it is, at the end of the day, the final users who can say whether your app is any good or not.

Note: Good reviews and high-ratings also work as great word-of-mouth publicity for your app. If that translates into high initial downloads, the chances of your app getting featured at the store(s) go up.

  1. Blog about your app

    Leading mobile app companies typically have a blog section in their company websites – and they typically publish post(s) about newly-released applications. In addition, you can also consider pitching ‘guest posts’ about your app on other well-known, high-traffic tech blogs (that’s the trick here, to choose other blogs that belong to the same domain). Avoid adopting a strong promotional tone in your post – and instead, keep your write-ups informative, easily formatted, and easy to read. At the end of the post, don’t forget to put in the download link of your app!

  2. Ask for reviews

    People who download your app out of their own accord will – in most likelihood – leave their reviews. However, you need to be more proactive, and ask around for reviews on the social media space. Both Facebook and Google Plus have plenty of pages/groups/communities for review exchanges (for iOS apps as well as Android apps) – where you can post your app, and request reviews from fellow-members. Keep in mind that you have to review others’ apps to in return. Otherwise, your review requests might start getting ignored.

Note: Phase out this review exchange strategy gradually, as your app captures a steady target audience, and authentic reviews – from final users – start coming in.

  1. Review through social media

    Ah, social media integration – that must-have feature of practically every mobile application. Android and iPhone developers should make sure that users can post reviews directly through the app – instead of having to go to the app store again for doing so. The app website should also have social media tabs, through which ratings and reviews can be posted. The benefit of this is two-fold: first, people can easily interact with friends (Facebook connections, Twitter followers, etc.) directly through the app. Secondly, sharing opinion about the app itself becomes a lot more straightforward.

  2. Have social media pages

    On Facebook in particular, create a dedicated page for your new app – and start posting little tidbits (including screenshots) about it. Promote your app’s FB page extensively, so that you have a high number of ‘page likes’/followers – that will, in turn, mean you have a large enough digital audience to interact with. After launch, keep posting interesting details about your app (with or without images) on a daily basis. Developers should also actively ask for reviews, suggestions and feedback from the users. Under no consequences should people feel that your app has ‘gone static’, and there is not much happening about it. It’s all about creating, and maintaining, a good buzz about your app.

Note: Try to come up with engaging post ideas. The more the number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on your posts, the better will it be.

  1. Get in touch with app review sites – There are many reliable sites – large and small – that publish app reviews on a regular basis. Pitch your software to such sites, and request for a review (note that, these review requests are different from the social media review exchanges explained earlier). Once the review is live on their website, you can share it on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the others. One note of caution though: don’t try to spam by posing as a third-party reviewer!
  2. Participate in competitions – In 2014, an airport dating app called ‘Stopover’ created a big splash right after it was released. The app – which was available for both Android and iOS – helped its owner bag the ‘Rising Star’ prize at the Talent Unleashed Awards (with none other than Steve Wozniak speaking good things about the app). Similarly, if you are confident about the quality and performance about your product – you should push it out to as many app competitions and contests as possible. If the app indeed manages to bag a couple of prestigious awards, the news will spread.

Note: You should also try to get your app included in the ‘top-XX…’ lists, published by several leading e-magazines and tech journals. That will give a further thrust to the overall digital marketing endeavours.

   11. Implement and monitor app analytics

The total number of downloads is not the only metric that you need to monitor about your just-launched application. According to reports, close to 30% of new apps are launched/used only once after download (many of these are soon uninstalled). That. in turn, brings to light the importance of high-quality app analytics tools that would help you monitor detailed app engagement and stickiness figures. Knowing the analytics will also help you stay aware of the user-distribution and the device-distribution of your application. You will be able to customize your marketing strategies accordingly. If you find that the app is indeed being discarded soon by users – find out the underlying problem(s), and sort things out.

   12. Start paid ad campaigns

There is Facebook Ads, there is Google AdWords, and there are paid advertising options in LinkedIn as well. For the first few weeks after your app has been launched – run simultaneous ad campaigns on multiple platforms, to quickly bolster the visibility, traffic and (hopefully) the download stats. Make sure that the ad groups and ads are optimally planned, and the bids are chosen carefully (choose ‘negative keywords’ to minimize chances of unwanted clicks). You can even consider collaborating with other developers to advertise related apps together. The expenses will be shared, and there will still be chances of conversions.

  13. Go for newsletters and email marketing

Bulk SMS campaigns might not be as effective as they once were, but email marketing is something you should definitely consider for your new mobile app. Create newsletters to highlight the main talking points about your software, and send it to a focused audience group (email platforms like MailChimp makes this extremely easy). Avoid sending mails too frequently though (that would irritate readers) and track the engagement/clickthrough rates of these e-newsletters. Do not make your emails seem too generic or overtly promotional. Once again, the communication has to be personalized and mostly informative.

  14. Hire a digital marketing partner

For a full-fledged, ongoing digital marketing campaign for your mobile app, you should ideally avail the services of a professional online marketing company. Many of the top app companies across the world double up as app-marketers (for their clients) as well. Do some research on the web, create a shortlist of the best digital marketing companies, check out their plans and packages (and of course, rates!) and hire the one that seems the best.

There are close to 3.575 billion internet users in the globe (nearly 47% of the world’s population). Not having a digital marketing plan in place would be akin to losing a large chunk of this audience – many of whom are smartphone-owners. Follow the strategies we have discussed over here, and help your app gain a nice early momentum (and sustain it too) among users.

Digital Revolution 2.0: 12 Things About The API Economy You Should Know

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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API economy trends

In a recently conducted study, it was found that close to 78% of all mobile applications would not exist in the absence of backend APIs (i.e., their core functionalities will be affected). The importance of the API economy in the context of software development has been increasing rapidly for some time – with 2017 being dubbed as the ‘Year Of The API Economy’. It can be safely said that we have entered the second major digital revolution (the first, of course, being the arrival of the World Wide Web in 1995), with APIs changing the faces of businesses and driving the growth of IoT applications in particular. In today’s discussion, we will take you through some fascinating facts about the thriving global API economy:

  1. Robust adoption by businesses

    For entrepreneurs who wish to innovate, modernize operations, leverage competitive advantages and in general stay ahead of the game, API strategy implementation is no longer just an option. According to Gartner, by the end of this year, 3 out of every 4 Fortune 1000 companies will have their very own public web APIs. What’s more – these APIs will be the medium for at least half of the total volume of B2B collaborations/communications. Businesses which do not upgrade themselves are bound to lag behind – something that is pretty evident from the fact that, more than 51% of the companies in 2000’s Fortune 500 list have disappeared. It’s an ‘adapt or perish’ scenario.

  2. From code lines to APIs as products

    Modern APIs are, in most cases, reusable, and that gives them additional value. These language-agnostic interfaces emerge from being just lines of code, to tools that can be used across multiple projects. That, in turn, allow IT companies to ditch the traditional ‘project-first’ approach in favour of an environment where ‘managed APIs’ are treated as valuable assets – which are reusable, developer-oriented, and highly reliable. As the precise requirements change from one project to the next, app developers have the opportunity of customizing the API products to implement the desired features. The entire operating model undergoes a change for the better, with accelerated project development times.

Note: Just like the software they are integrated to, APIs too have their own SDLCs (software development lifecycles).

     3. The ‘API Building Blocks’

Working with a viable API strategy can seamlessly transform a business into an interactive platform – which expand and share the overall ecosystem and the resources both within and outside the organization. The transformation takes place with the help of three sets of building blocks. First, there are the ‘Business Model Building Platforms’, which expose data, analytics, resources, algorithms and other proprietary assets, enabling key capabilities in the process. The ‘Digital Business Models’ help in the creation of value from external sources, through the upgradation of business ecosystems (including networks of people and things). Finally, there are the ‘Business Ecosystems’ for delivering innovative, customized solutions by systematically leveraging the overall business model.

      4. Huge spike in data volumes

By 2020, the total volume of big data is expected to gu by nearly 1500%, compared to the 2005 volume. However, it is not the spurt in big data that poses a problem per se (there are plenty of storage resources available on the cloud) – but the actual management, maintenance and security of this data. APIs help in smooth implementation and usage of of these resources in a manner which is actionable for enterprises, and completely safe. With an API strategy in place, delivering data-oriented, ‘useful’ solutions to customers becomes that much easier.

     5. More than cloud computing

Many web and mobile app developers tend to think of APIs as simplistic tools meant to serve one purpose – integration of cloud computing inside applications. While that is obviously true, the justifications behind API-making do not stop at that. A properly optimized API strategy should boost wider asset syndication by enterprises (to users both within and outside businesses). Seamless cloud computing is one of the micro-functions of APIs…on the macro-level, they drive innovation, build new capabilities, and help in expanding business reach.

    6. The need for smarter API management

New things bring with them new challenges – and APIs are no exception to this. A mis-managed API strategy is not likely to yield any favourable results, and can, in fact, be counterproductive (e.g., mounting expenses). The API management issue is further compounded by the fact that – the customers of an API tool might be totally third-party entities (i.e., not a part of the existing partner network of a business). During the development phase, due attention has to be placed on API prototyping, testing and performance assessment. A company also needs to be careful about how it markets a new API solution to prospective clients…in most instances, third-party app developers. Right from ensuring high discoverability and proper scalability, to API authorization standards and lifecycle management – the task of API management encompasses everything.

Note: Detailed documentation of APIs is also essential, as is the gradual creation of developer communities online.

  1. Importance of establishing a strong internal API economy

    A company creates and markets APIs, someone involved in mobile app development uses it up, a buzzing ‘external API economy’ is created – and that’s the end of that, right? Well, it’s not quite that straightforward – and companies have to first focus on creating a robust ‘internal API economy’ – that would help them break out of the many limitations imposed by traditional legacy systems. The key purpose of this internal economy is the decentralization of app-creation processes, and ensuring accessibility of data across all tiers of an organization. For this to happen, entrepreneurs have to switch over to an IaaS (IT-as-a-Service) model – and the pool of in-house developers have to increase. These developers will be the ‘internal users’ of APIs, and they will be enabled to innovate more on their own projects. APIs have the potential for a lot of external value-creation – but first, they have to be successful internally.

  2. Highly mature API development cycles

    A piece of software can be as innovative as possible – but it is of little use, if it is not user-friendly. With an eye on that, companies are increasingly focusing on coming up with API platforms that are completely customer-centric (i.e., are designed according to the preferences of target customers). This approach, in turn, is instrumental in making the overall API development cycle – the API SDLC, if you will – to become more and more mature. The ‘Maturity Model’ of cloud APIs can broadly be said to have 4 stages. At the base, there is the ‘Descriptive’ stage, where developers react on the basis of past data. Above it is the ‘Predictive’ stage, where the attention shifts to anticipating future events. Next up is the ‘Prescriptive’ stage, and now the API providers have to specify future actions and how they are to be handled. Right at the apex of the maturity model is the ‘Cognitive’ stage, where things are all about automated learning and auto-adjustment to events.

  3. A new set of business assets

    We have already briefly highlighted how APIs are fast emerging as important tangible assets for businesses. However, with APIs heralding in Digital Revolution 2.0 – enterprises have more new digital assets to consider and manage. The API management software should be mentioned first in this context – since they pave the way for digital platform deployment, data protection, and a host of other key responsibilities. The ‘intelligent business processes’ curate and add scalability to partner-delivered solutions, and they are also important assets (they ensure the ethical handling standards and API compliance considerations as well). The APIs themselves – which share data, algorithms and pre-specified resources – bind the entire infrastructure together.

  4. Main components of API strategy

    A well-formed API strategy is implemented through three main building blocks, as has already been pointed out earlier. Let us now turn our attentions to the components that actually make the strategy. First of all are the business-to-business (B2B) servers that are operated through APIs. The second component would be the existing (and evolving) in-house tech architecture – ranging right from systems and devices, to cloud applications and web-stored databases. The multitude of endpoints (where APIs are executed) are vital too – particularly since the API environments tend to be highly fragmented. Updated enterprise-level data can also be sourced from social media portals, making the latter a cog in the API strategy plans as well.

Note: With the help of APIs, businesses are increasingly reaping the benefits of real-time information-sharing and knowledge-dissemination.

     11. The API culture

One of the biggest upshots of the growth of API economy has been the increasing willingness of companies to expose their data/resources to third-party users (traditionally, enterprises preferred to work in somewhat ‘closed’ environments). For the launch of software ecosystems and refurbished business models, bimodal IT systems are being integrated within existing architectures. The day-to-day operations are witnessing a shift in focus – from projects/products, to deployment of business model platforms. Experts from the domains of web and mobile app development have the additional responsibility of getting familiar with new asset management lifecycles, asset-sharing and intellectual property handling, and new-age risk-management tools. The API culture is upon us…and it is shaking up businesses, from the ground up!

     12. The manifold uses of web APIs

From two-way cloud connectivity, to connecting one on-premise system to another – web APIs are being used by businesses for a multitude of purposes. Advanced ecommerce services require a smart integration of online reliability and superior contextual information transfer to customers – and APIs play an important role in delivering that as well. The most common application of web APIs is, however, their integration in custom mobile apps that offer backend-as-a-service (BaaS).

The API economy has well and truly revolutionized businesses across the world, by shortening (at times, obliterating) delivery gaps, establishing new enterprise models, and providing innovative, personalized solutions. Interestingly, it has also empowered new startups to hold their own against much more established competitors (the fairytale success stories of WhatsApp and Instagram – both acquired by Facebook – bear testimony to this). In fact, the API economy is not only pushing in Digital Revolution 2.0…it is as remarkable as the Industrial Revolution, in the context of software technology!

 

Jailbreaking Your iPhone: To Do Or Not To Do?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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ios jailbreak pros and cons

 

There is a lot of buzz about TeamPangu working on a stable Pangu10 jailbreak tool for devices upgraded to iOS 10.2.1. The Yalu jailbreak tool – launched by Luca Todesco – is also currently available for download. While the announcements of these tools have met with a fair share of eagerness among iPhone/iPad users – the general level of interest in jailbreaking iDevices seems to be on the wane (a #win for Apple). A survey found that the overall percentage of jailbroken Apple devices had fallen to less than 10%, and was sliding further down each quarter. The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, Apple has been ‘opening up’ its mobile platform (not to the extent of Android though), helping people to customize their phones without necessarily going for jailbreak. The lack of proper information and myths about jailbreaking also play an important role. In today’s discourse, we will take a tour through 6 points why you should jailbreak your iPhone and 6 points why you should not:

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #1 – It’s legal

    Unlike ‘iPhone unlocking’ (the act of breaching phone contract to bring in multi-network availability), jailbreaking an iPhone does not come with any probable legal repercussions. Doing a jailbreak is all about getting more access to the phone software, and making more customization options available. If you do a jailbreak and start downloading apps from third-party sources (i.e. other than the App Store), you are not going to be charged or fined!

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #1 – License and guarantee nullified

    There might not be any legal connotations of jailbreaking your iDevice, but Apple sure does not like you trying to make tweaks to its native platform. Keep in mind that all End User License Agreements, along with guarantees, are rendered null and void when you jailbreak an iPhone. It won’t be serviceable at Apple Stores in future (unless restored to original state) either. There might be certain security-related issues as well, and not all jailbreak tools are equally trustworthy. Think about your jailbreaking requirements carefully, and then take a call.

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #2 – Wider tethering opportunities

    A jailbroken iPhone can be easily paired (tethered) to a wide range of compatible devices – phones, tablets and computer systems. This, in turn, can pull up the overall utility of your iDevice significantly – particularly when it is free of the ‘mobile hotspot restrictions’ placed by the network. Generally, the tethering done after doing a jailbreak is secure enough.

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #2 – Risk of shady apps:

    With all due respect to the merits of jailbreaking, the process is akin to opening the security gates of Apple – leaving the platform susceptible to bad applications. Mobile app developers have cited many cases where installing a malicious piece of software has resulted in iPhones getting ‘bricked’. The problem is compounded by the fact that, such harmful apps can be uploaded by any hacker – and there are chances of some of them not being found and reported soon enough. After jailbreaking, you have to watch what you download on your phone. At every step.

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #3 – Excellent customization

    From graphics and text, to skins, background images and of course more apps – there are loads of ‘new features’ to be enjoyed in a safely jailbroken iPhone. The stock look of iOS is impressive enough and has several options, but in a ‘rooted’ device, the alternatives are much wider. You can give the whole display and layout of your handset a makeover from time to time. Certain native iPhone apps (which you hardly use) can be removed too. Why stick with a ‘good but boring’ display?

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #3 – Jailbreak after every update

    Jailbreaking your iPhone is not a one-shot game. After every iOS update Apple releases, users have to re-jailbreak their phones (provided that they have installed the update). The task is not as simple as it sounds – since updated jailbreaks do not become available immediately (as was the case with iOS 10, the waiting period can roll into several weeks). If you are going for a semi-tethered jailbreaking option, you will have to do the jailbreak each time you restart your phone.

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #4 – Greater functionality

    If you know your way about handling a jailbroken phone, you can certainly make it more useful (and even secure) than before. There are interesting little ‘tweaks’ available, to free up storage space, change things in the control panel, add information to the lock screen and provide handy gesture shortcuts. Reliable third-party firewalls and proxies can be installed as well.

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #4 – Potentially damaging for developers

    If you want iPhone app developers to do the hard work and come up with engaging new applications on a regular basis – you will probably think twice before jailbreaking. When you venture beyond the ‘walled garden’ of Apple, and there are hundreds of ‘pirated apps’ that become available for download at external app stores. The developers do not get any revenue whatsoever from such pirated resources – and widespread piracy discourages them from continuing to make high-quality apps. In a nutshell, piracy results in considerable financial loss for developers.

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #5 – The gaming factor

    There is a fairly large number of emulator ROMs available – and you can download them on your iPhone only after the latter has been jailbroken. These emulator applications – when of the desired quality – can transform your device to a full-blown PlayStation 4 or Nintendo console, enabling you to check out the latest games (before custom versions are released in App Store). Do remember that installing and using the third-party emulator ROMs are likely to result in violation of copyright clauses.

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #5 – Uncertainty about performance

    Theoretically, jailbreaking can improve the performance of an iDevice, but there is no way of ensuring from beforehand that things will go as planned. Even if you are extremely careful while doing the jailbreak, it might well happen that certain apps and widgets become non-functional in the ‘tweaked iPhone’. What’s more – there have been reports of users experiencing lower battery performances, increased frequency of screen freezes, crashes and lags, and a greater overall instability, following an iOS jailbreak. On average, 90%-95% users are happy with the ‘out of the box’ features that Apple provides, and there are valid reasons for that.

  • Jailbreak ‘YAY’ #6 – Thinking beyond Mail and Safari

    Jailbreak tools help you move beyond the default Apple apps installed on your handset. For example, you can specify web pages to open on Firefox, instead of the Safari browser. The Sparrow email client can be used as a substitute of the native Mail app. In fact, these third-party tools can be set as the default in a jailbroken phone, bypassing the native apps altogether. A properly done jailbreak allows you to interact with your iPhone in a more personalized manner.

  • Jailbreak ‘NAY’ #6 – Loss of data, maybe?

    In 2015, more than 225000 Apple accounts were hacked into by the KeyRaider malware. According to mobile security and app development experts around the globe, jailbreaking an iPhone exposes the device to similar such attacks and security threats. Even if you don’t chance upon a malware, there can be bad applications that affect the speed of your device, hog a lot of memory and bandwidth – and as a result, have to be uninstalled soon enough. Jailbreaking is risky, there are no two ways about it.

To sum up our discussion, there are plenty of apparent advantages when you jailbreak your iPhone. The restrictions and safety-nets put on by Apple disappear, and you can install any type of apps, from any source (while ensuring that they are reliable, of course), change the look and feel of the device, and even enhance its functionality. However, you will also be bidding adieu to the phone warranties, and will be making the handset open to security-related issues. The final decision is yours to take – and you need to consider both the pros and the cons of iPhone jailbreak closely, before taking a stand.

 

 

(Note: Please note that, at Teksmobile, we do not recommend jailbreaking in any way. No one in our team has a jailbroken iDevice. This article only tries to help you decide whether it will be worth jailbreaking your device).

Top 12 Tips To Make Educational Mobile Games For Kids

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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The importance of education technology has been increasing steadily over the last few years. Parents and teachers worldwide have given their thumbs-up to custom mobile games which have distinct (and valuable) learning elements. A 2016 survey reported that, in 1 out of every 5 households, kids in the 8-9 age group had access to cell phones. The figure swells to a whopping 60% for children between the ages of 10 and 12. What’s more, close to 55% children report that they are completely at ease while using mobile gadgets. A vast majority of these kids use apps and games – and that, opens up the opportunity of using interactive educational apps as a viable supplementary learning tool. In what follows, we will provide useful tips to developers on how to create good learning apps and games for the young ones:

  1. Relate the app’s content with school syllabus

    Unless you are working on a GK application (even that should have labels), the knowledge your application should not be in vacuum. For instance, if you are making a maths or an English-learning application, find out what the kids learn in each class (i.e., the school syllabus), and design your app accordingly. The app should ideally complement the classroom teachings – offering an easy way for children to understand and remember topics better. Do not simply drop new ideas in a vacuum…kids won’t find it interesting, and would gradually stop using the application.

  2. Think game. Learning comes later

    How can you make your educational game app more engaging? Simple enough – just don’t make it seem like ‘just another’ boring learning software. Do adequate brainstorming to come up with interesting (and simple) gameplay ideas, and find out how these ideas can actually be transformed into smartphone and tablet apps. Once you have the game prototype ready, it will be easy enough to add questions and other learning elements to it (i.e., it should be a ‘guided exploration’ exercise). In other words, in a children’s learning app, the ‘learning’ bit has to come last!

Note: For junior school kids, racing games are a tried-and-tested favourite. Think about mobile racing game ideas, with different characters and scenarios (single player and multiplayer). These games work best with quiz-type questions.

     3. Make the splash screen short and sweet

A bright and colourful splash screen is an absolute must for your app for kids. However, you also need to make sure that the splash screen does not linger on for more than 8-10 seconds. If it does, the little ones are bound to feel restless and might end up not using the application at all (kids are bound to be impatient, right?). Avoid making the home screen too elaborate either, and do not include too much under ‘Settings’. Children should be able to launch your app and start playing at once, without having to go through long texts and many customization options.

    4. Taps & swipes are great; Drags & pinches aren’t

A 5-6 year old child will neither have fully developed motor skills, nor will they be familiar with advanced interaction methods with mobile apps. That’s precisely leading app developers advise against the usage of drag-and-drop gameplay methods in learning apps for children. Screen-pinching is yet another activity that should not feature in such applications. Go with simple tap and swipe gestures – your target audience will find it easier to use, and the engagement levels will be a lot higher.

    5. Make things larger-than-life

Children love fun, surprising, out-of-the-world stuff – so don’t hesitate to include such elements in your mobile application. You can have panda races in the desert, bear races, princess rescue missions, gold-digging games…things which will intrigue the young ones and keep them from being distracted. Stay away from including any inappropriate displays, however (in shooting games, avoid showing violence in any form). Don’t let the narrative of your games become mundane anywhere – only the most interesting kids’ apps become successful.

Note: Consider adding famous fairy tale/cartoon characters in learning games. Most children already know about them, and that builds an air of familiarity about your mobile app.

  1. Competitions and reward schemes matter

    And that too, in a big way. A little kid has to be constantly motivated/coaxed to use your educational app – and what better way to do that, than offering them in-game currencies (stars, coins, points, etc.) at regular intervals (say, for each correct answer). What’s more, mobile app developers should ideally make games with multiplayer options. A child should have the option of challenging his/her friends and showing off his/her knowledge by beating them!

Note: Single-player games should also have a competitive feel about them. Players can either race against system-generated opponents, or against time (or both).

  1. Include multiple types of games in your app 

    For a kid, variety is a big thing. No matter how beautiful the graphics and UI of a game is, children are bound to find it monotonous after some time – if they do not get the chance to check out other types of games. That, in turn, can result in the active user-base of your app to drop off. To tackle this probability, it is highly recommended to create apps that contain a large number of ‘different games’. A child should be able to play one game for some time, and then hop over to another one – without any chance of boredom setting in. Ever.

  2. Do not distract the kids

    Background music, fun popup questions, audio messages, notifications – all have important roles to play in boosting the overall appeal of a mobile application meant for school kids. However, the developer has to ensure that such ‘bells and whistles’ are not likely disturb the li’l users – when they are playing a game, or reading a story, or participating in any other form of in-app activity. If you are working on a free app for kids, double check to make sure that the included advertisements do not, in any way, encroach upon the gameplay areas. Users should also have the option of disabling these ‘bells and whistles’, whenever required.

  3. Be wary of digital wallet misuse

    In all fairness, a 4-5 year old child can’t be expected to understand the value of money. In case the app you have designed has in-app purchase options (and it should, for additional engagement) – make sure that kids have no chance of accidentally making payments to buy stuff, without the consent of elder ones. Do not add any random tabs/buttons on the screens, tapping which would lead to money being deducted from credit/debit cards or digital wallets. IAP is a valid channel for mobile app monetization, but it should never be misused.

Note: Staying on the topic of security, an educational mobile game should protect the privacy (all types of personal information) of the kids. The name, age, location or any other information should not become accessible to unauthorized third-parties at any time.

    10. Platforms, devices and compatibility

Close to 9% of the 2.2 million+ apps in Apple App Store are educational applications. In Google Play Store too, the competition is similarly intense. App makers generally prefer to customize their learning apps for any one of the platforms and release it. This allows them to factor in initial reports, feedback and complaints (if any) – before porting the application to the other platform. It depends on individual developers/app companies whether to start out with the iOS or the Android platform (Windows Phone has much lower competition, and should be considered later). The backward compatibility of the app (that is, the oldest version of the platform it can work on) also has to be clearly specified.

In addition to platform compatibility considerations, you also need to finalize the devices that will support your app. A recent research found that, more than 30% of preschool kids in the UK are regular users of the iPad (with tablet-usage starting at the tender age of two!). Making your game compatible with smartphones and tablets are, hence, a no-brainer – and there should also be a custom version for desktop systems. Kids, after all, should be able to play on their computers too!

    11. Delight the parents

Of course, the educational app you launch should have many ‘wow-factors’ and nice surprises for the young ones. However, these can weave their charm ONLY AFTER the app has been downloaded on a device. And who takes that download decision? That’s right – the parents! Make sure that your application has enough features to delight the moms and dads of children (and the teachers!) – so that they feel that using it will indeed benefit their toddlers.

    12. Test the apps. And then, retest them

Just because you are making apps for unsuspecting kids – that does not mean you can do a half-baked job with the animations, illustrations, screen transitions, and other visual elements. Every element in the app should be in coordination, and in a smooth flow – delivering a great user-end experience (UX) to the young learners. Remember, if there are glitches, they would be reported promptly to parents and your app might be uninstalled in a matter of minutes. After all, there is no dearth of alternatives at the stores.

Above all, app developers need to be honest to themselves, while working on mobile games for children. Create apps that actually have considerable learning value, instead of simply churning out spin-offs of successful games created by others. A good kids’ app is one that indeed helps in learning endeavours, and is not a cheap revenue-earning tool. Don’t forget to add a unique USP to your app too!

Education technology in general, and educational apps for kids in particular, are expected to become even more popular in future. Not surprisingly, many app companies across the globe have started creating custom m-learning games – and you can create one too, by following the above tips.

 

 

Dear Entrepreneurs, Why Should You Stay Away From Toxic Employees?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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Toxic employees are bad for organizations

 

They can be more productive than the average worker. They can be the very life and soul of your organization, joie de vivre spilling over from them all the time. But they might be ruining the very spirit and morales of your company, tampering with the effective teamwork and camaraderie that your firm used to be known for. That’s right, we are talking about the so-called ‘toxic employees’ and the reasons why as a business owner, you need to steer well clear of them.

Why Avoid Toxic Workers?

If an employee is consistently in the top bracket in your company in terms of productivity and performance, why bother weeding him/her out? On the surface, it might seem that as long as targets are being achieved and surpassed, it hardly makes a difference if a worker is snooty, or too self-absorbed, or boastful, or a gossip-monger. Dig deeper, though, and the problems will become apparent. Harvard Business School conducted a study in 2015, where it was found that keeping a toxic person on the payroll puts a burden of >$12000 annually (which is more than double of the amount (s)he adds in terms of productivity each year). What’s more, typically the work done by toxic employees tends to be of inferior quality, and in the long-run, of little use. Keep them in your company – and you will be in a ‘lose-lose’ situation.

Of course, if the toxic worker(s) at your company are slacker(s), you need to drive them away as soon as you can.

The Need To Keep Your Workforce Free Of Toxic Employees

Let us now move deeper, and highlight the main reasons why toxic employees pose a threat to the well-being of your company over time:

  1. Toxicity is contagious

    And so are toxic workers. They affect their colleagues in a negative manner, often causing the performance levels and morale of the latter to drop significantly. In the same HBS survey cited earlier, it was revealed that toxic workers increase the probability of others displaying misconduct (leaving you no choice but to fire them) by as much as 46%. A single toxic person can poison your entire manpower – and you certainly do not want that.

  2. Disregard for responsibilities

    There is, typically, considerable daylight between the personal goals of a toxic employee and your overall organizational goals. That, in turn, often results in him/her having a complete disregard of the important responsibilities that you might have delegated to him/her. The only thing such a person will be after would be personal goals (even if they come at the expense of the company performance). The moment you leave office, you can rest assured of that employee making a quick exit too!

  3. The horrid quality of work

    If (s)he is not a slacker, a toxic worker will hugely impress you with his/her speed of work. Tasks will be completed well before scheduled deadlines, assignments will be done within time-frames you would have scarcely believed possible. It’s when you sit down to review their work that the nasty surprise will hit you right on the face. To achieve the amazing speed, toxic employees tend to compromise on quality – and the output they finally serve up is generally not good enough. Such half-baked work results in client-dissatisfaction, and often, another employee has to clear up the mess (or the same person has to be told to redo the work). You want people who can work quickly AND deliver quality, right?

Note: Of course, there can be a small section of workers who work quickly and are above reproach from the quality perspective as well. Such ‘over-dedicated’ employees have the risk of burnout pretty soon – due to the unnecessary stress they subject themselves to. The onus is on you – the boss – to make these workers understand that they can relax just a bit more.

  1. Bad for teamwork

    An overconfident, boastful worker makes others feel inferior; a gossip-lover puts everyone on the alert; a snob is typically aloof of the going-ons in his/her team; a know-all behaves coldly to the arrival of newer members. One thing is common for all types of toxic employees – they pollute the team they are in, and are very difficult to converse with normally (if others cannot interact with him/her, how is teamwork going to proceed?). For sustained robust team performance, members need to be comfortable while collaborating with each other. Toxic workers break down the entire system.

  2. The ‘I-Will-Do-All’ and the slacker

    Forget the gossips and the back-biting for the moment – the very manner in which toxic employees work can cause unpleasantness among other workers. There are people who have scant regard for the abilities of their team-members, take on entire tasks all by themselves (no task-delegation involved), and ends up making a royal mess. Such ‘I-Can-Do-Everything’ mentality can also come from an overwhelming introvertness – when a person hesitates too much while trying to communicate with others.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the slacker – the con artist who manages to shirk every bit of responsibility, pass on all tasks to others, are often absent (although not for the reasons they give to you!), and often use the company’s internet for personal browsing needs. They typically come up with new and innovative plans to avoid working at workplace – and interestingly, they often tend to get away with it as well. However, if you decide to look the other way as a slacker goes on his/her merry way – it won’t be long before the other employees start expressing a rightful feeling of reproach. After all, they are the ones who are ‘carrying’ the slacker – and they have the right to voice their opinion!

  1. Overdependence on everyone

    You want employees who praise your company. You conduct ice-breaking sessions to ensure that new entrants can feel confident while asking for help/guidance from peers or senior colleagues (establishing a mentor-mentee relationship). Sadly, the toxic worker exploits this situation too. (S)he would typically be nagging everyone at the office floor for help – simply because (s)he won’t take the trouble of figuring out the solutions themselves. Things might be even worse if a toxic employee is actually inept…and does not know how the tasks have to be done (lying on the resume, maybe?). Such apparent helplessness and constant cries for help have two important effects – the project-work gets significantly slowed, while the mentors become distracted…and over time, disturbed. In addition, you will never be able to rely on these workers, since they do not seem to be able to rely on themselves.

  2. Exodus of other employees

    A toxic employee does not deserve a handsomely-paid job, but there is a less than 1% chance that (s)he will be sacked due to toxic behaviour. On the other hand, these workers can force other, perfectly good workers to leave your company. If several people complain about the quality of the work-environment of your office, pay heed to such reports – and examine the scenario more closely. When multiple people have grievances against the same person, they typically have genuine reasons for it too. Good manpower resource is a mighty important asset – and your company cannot afford to lose it for a single toxic individual.

  3. They cannot care less

    Staying in their own bubbles and resisting all types of change – these are two things that toxic workers are absolute masters at. They cannot be bothered to help out colleagues (although they would be the first to seek assistance), and typically justify their position by saying that “it’s not their job”. That’s a very dangerous stand to take, since it can cause serious alienation on the work-floor, along with a slow-growing feel of animosity. Such toxic persons are not interested in building up the productivity levels of others in any way. It’s only about making themselves look good.

Note: Interestingly, many toxic employees are sticklers for following every single rule and regulation at your workplace. Behind their false show of discipline, there are many instances of breaking the rules and/or twisting them for their own benefits.

  1. Waste of billable hours

    There are many toxic employees who are lively and energetic – just not in a good way. They have enormous stocks of hilarious jokes to share at the coffee-vending machine, seem to know something secret about everyone at office (and (s)he’s more than eager to share the information!), and are viewed as ‘fun people to be around’. The problem lies in the fact that, most of their ‘fun activities’ happen during the office hours – and you, the unsuspecting entrepreneur, end up paying these people for practically nothing. Neither do these toxic workers have any focus or direction, nor do they respect the fact that other people might be trying to concentrate. They won’t work, and they won’t let others work either.

Note: These ‘fun’ toxic guys are smart enough to cover their tracks though. They are at their most jovial when your back is turned – and whenever you are on the watch, they are at their attentive best at their workstations. Don’t fall for the pretence!

      10. Scant regard for legal affairs

In my experience as a software entrepreneur for close to 11 years, I have come across many toxic individuals. Most of them have been people who are looking to have a easy time at office – people whom I have had to fire over the years. If you are not similarly watchful too, the toxicity might well grow into something serious. A shady guy might share/sell confidential company/project information to third parties, use the company credit card (you had trusted him/her with it) for personal purchases, and might even take a chance with the expensive tools, gadgets and equipments lying about in the office floor. If someone keeps getting away with toxic behaviour, (s)he has every reason to believe that an act of stealth will not be detected either.

Getting Rid Of Toxic Employees

Wouldn’t it be just great if there were no toxic workers in your organization to start with? You might well think that, at the time of the interview, you can ask candidates about previous instances where they had displayed effective teamwork and leadership qualities – and judge whether they are toxic or not based on their responses. Unfortunately, it is easy enough to lie during interviews (arranging for a false reference ain’t tough either!). You must be careful at the time of recruitment – but even so, there is every chance of some toxic elements slipping through the filter.

Identifying toxic behaviour and firing the guilty workers on the spot is not at all easy. In many countries, individuals can move to court if they are suddenly sacked, while terminations tend to have an effect on the spirit of other employees as well. Lastly, and probably most importantly, if a toxic worker has been giving you the numbers – you might feel hesitant while deciding whether to fire him/her or not.

As the reports from the Harvard Business School survey showed (and backed up by Jack Welch), weeding out toxic employees is of paramount importance for the well-being of your organization. However, this process cannot be a one-shot, sudden affair. Instead:

  • Record the toxic behaviour

    A large section of toxic workers are aggressive sociopaths, and they won’t shy away from having a backchat with you – as soon as you inform them about their misconducts. This makes it advisable to first document all the instances of such toxic behaviour carefully. You need to have sufficient proof before you call up the guilty party.

  • Try to amend their ways

    No one wants to lose a high-productivity worker, right? Make an attempt to correct the ways of a toxic employee – by providing additional training sessions, more stringent quality standards, regular queries to increase accountability, and even surprise visits to his/her workstation (what better way to find out whether (s)he is chatting on FB or working on the high-priority project you had assigned?). Have a 1-on-1 chat with the toxic person, inform them about the problem, ask how they can rectify their behaviour, and if they need any type of help (not a pay-raise, please!). Firing should always be the last option.

  • Phase out the toxic employee

    If nothing else works, you WILL have to get rid of the toxic individual(s). Be systematic about the entire procedure. Introduce wholesale modifications in your workplace – and launch new activities that involve extensive teamwork and collaboration and expertise and sincerity (say, code reviews or paired documentation challenges). Toxic employees will gradually find themselves shunted to a corner, and would, ultimately, be forced to leave.

The Final Word

In a Career Builder survey conducted a few years back, 1 out of 4 respondents stated that toxic employees put an additional $50000+ financial burden on companies, on a yearly basis. For 40% of the respondents, the figure was ~$25000. It is pretty much evident that toxic behaviour at work is not worth putting up with – since doing so leads to overall cost figures shooting up, while the performance of other workers also takes a hit. Toxic employees are bad for your business, and you need to avoid them like a cancer. Period.