What is Differential Privacy? What is Differential Privacy?

One of the notable concepts to emerge from Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco this year, has been the notion of differential privacy. As Wired puts it Differential Privacy is the “…statistical science of trying to learn as much as possible about a group while learning as little as possible about any individual in it.”

Read More

Apple TV: Should You Create An App for the Little Black Box? Apple TV: Should You Create An App for the Little Black Box?

The Apple TV has been around for quite some time. In fact, it was introduced back in 2007, when the very first iPhone was released.

But, unlike the iPhone, the Apple TV had a back-seat status of being more of an Apple hobby. And despite numerous incremental improvements over the years, this little black box had still not received much attention from Apple.

Read More

Top 5 Startup Metrics: What Founders Should Be Tracking Top 5 Startup Metrics: What Founders Should Be Tracking

In my latest post for @thinkApps, I discuss the top five startup metrics that founders and product managers should measure and analyze.

When developing a new web or mobile app, you generally start off with some preconceived notions about features, as well as user needs and behavior.

But let’s face it, you don’t really know how users will react. 

That’s why you begin with a hypothesis and try to either prove or disprove it, in order to minimize the risks associated with launching a new product. 

One way to minimize these risks while also gaining a bit of traction is working towards a minimum viable product (MVP). You focus on building out just the core features and then release them out in the wild as your first version.

But once you launch, how do you really know whether the market has taken a liking to your product or not? This is where analytics come in.

Benefits of Analytics

Analytics allow you to collect and analyze large chunks of data from your users, which provide you with insights into what they really think of your app. 

The weeks of labor and sweat that go into building your features get validated (or not) through metrics. 

It’s a way of grading the performance of your app’s features, along with how well your customer acquisition strategies are faring. By gauging qualitative and quantitative data, you can constantly improve your app experience for users.

In this post, we’ll examine the Top 5 Startup Metrics. We’ll also discuss many of the analytical tools out there that startup founders and product managers might want to use.

Focus on Lean Analytics

Before we dive into the top five metrics, we wanted to emphasize that, as a startup founder or early employee, your time is precious, and statistics don’t always present a complete picture. 

Therefore, you need to focus your resources on tracking the metrics that truly reflect the performance and progress of your app. 

Determining which of those metrics you should track is quite simple: they need to be comparative. That is, you don’t want to simply monitor absolute numbers, but instead track conversions from one period to another.

According to Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz, authors of Lean Analytics, startup founders must avoid falling into the trap of focusing on vanity metrics.

The authors point to one type of vanity metric: total sign-ups. It sounds really good, makes you feel good, and the values do increase over time. But, they don’t tell you how active the users are. 

Looking at total active users is a slightly better metric but is still based on absolute numbers as opposed to ratios. 

We can therefore deduce that percentage of active users is a great type of metric to track, as it allows for a time-over-time comparison of how your app is doing. This is what Lean Analytics calls actionable metrics. 

There is a caveat, however, that comes with comparative metrics, which is the need to establish causality. That is, did some action on your part cause this shift in the ratio? We hope to explore this topic further in a future post.

For now, with actionable metrics in mind, let’s explore our first of the top five startup metrics: cohort analysis.

Read the rest of my column, exclusively at ThinkApps.

Beta Testing: The Ultimate How-To Guide Beta Testing: The Ultimate How-To Guide

In my latest article for @thinkapps, I'll be answering a few key questions on beta testing, the difference between alpha and beta testing, and how startups can calibrate a beta testing strategy for success

What Is Beta Testing?

Beta Testing is the last phase of tests your web or mobile app goes through before it gets into the hands of your potential users. 

To put it another way, it’s a final opportunity for you as a startup founder or product manager to catch bugs and improve the UX (user experience) before your app is out in the wild.

Beta Testing vs Alpha Testing

Alpha Testing is considered a form of “internal acceptance testing” conducted in-house by developers and testers.

Unlike the alpha phase, the focus of beta testing is not on designers or developers who were involved in creating the app, but instead on consumers or businesses that are the target user base for the product.

Some projects do invite external users as early as the alpha phase, but it’s generally in a more limited capacity than during the beta phase.

The simulated environment of alpha tests can’t account for all combinations of conditions, whether they be network conditions, device variations (screen sizes/resolutions, different device or OS versions), or use cases not thought of during in-house testing. 

It’s not just the concept but also the execution that will ultimately lead to a great product, and beta testing puts stress on your product differently than the in-house testing of the alpha phase.

Alpha testing has traditionally been said to be more rigorous and systematic, with a reliance on continuous integration tools. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that beta testing should be relaxed. 

When the product graduates to the beta testing phase, continuing the team’s systematic and controlled strategy is just as vital as it was during the alpha.

What Are the Benefits of Beta Testing?

Beta testing provides users early access to a new app (or to new features of an existing app). The process, in turn, provides startup founders and product managers with the opportunity to iron out any problems that weren’t caught during the alpha phase.

Crowdsourcing your testing to hundreds or even thousands of real users in real environmental conditions allows for a greater net to catch any glitches or edge-cases that may not have been spotted previously. 

Identifying and fixing those issues during the beta phase can reduce your development costs significantly, in addition to helping you avoid a potential PR crisis associated with a bad public launch.

Beta testing also provides customer validation beyond technical glitches, providing startup founders and product managers with feedback and analytics as to whether to include specific features.

Read the rest of my article, exclusively on ThinkApps
Source: http://thinkapps.com/blog/development/beta...

Start-up tax breaks passes Australian Senate Start-up tax breaks passes Australian Senate

The Australian senate this week has passed a pivotal tax-incentive as part of His Honorable Mr Pyne MP (@cypyne)'s 2016 budget announcement, which will benefit Australian startups, in place for the 2016-17 financial year. 

Over the next few months, I will be writing a lot of articles covering the National Innovation & Science Agenda (@ideasboomau)

The two-part  initiative will make investing in Aussie startups more attractive for corporations, further encouraging innovation, risk and giving the private sector growth a shot in the arm.

Read More

What is 'The Minimum Marketable Product'? What is 'The Minimum Marketable Product'?

The minimum viable product (MVP) is a powerful concept that allows you to test your ideas. It is not to be confused with the minimal marketable product (MMP), the product with the smallest feature set that still addresses the user needs and creates the right user experience. The MVP helps you acquire the relevant knowledge and address key risks; the MMP reduces time-to-market and enables you to launch your product faster. This post discusses both concepts, and it shows how you can use the minimum viable product to create a minimal marketable one. 

Read More

3 Ways a PM can help the team De-stress 3 Ways a PM can help the team De-stress

With Project deadlines looming, stress is often a factor that project managers have to deal with, especially with the team they are managing, with a clear correlation between the level of stress indured and the quality of work produced, not to mention emotional endurance. Let’s face it, almost every project (most likely every project) is under the pump at one stage or another during the lifecycle, and duress is something, as a Project Manager, you certainly need to deal with. 

With fixed resources, fixed time and budget, things tend to go awry, whether it is a strong dependency of a delivery from one team, a technical difficulty that cannot be resolved, scope changes, resource changes, and your job is to make sure things don’t go belly-up. Negative stress influences teams by de-optimizing their work efficiencies, resulting in lower-than-expected sprint velocities, dampen creativity and constructive thinking, resulting in mental fatigue, resulting in even simple coding errors creeping in.

There are of course specific PM courses of action you can take to address the problems, and this article isn’t about that, it’s more about how you can leverage your influence to act as a mentor, or guru to project positivity, in order to boost the morale of your team. Here are 3 Ways a PM can help the team De-stress.

Read More