Nest Builds More Security, Flexibility Into Smart Home Products

Nest Builds More Security

The Nest Hello video doorbell and the Nest x Yale Lock have become to be had ultimate week, and the employer announced its new Nest Temperature Sensor because the modern day addition to its smart home lineup.

Owners of the Hello video doorbell can use the Nest app for iOS or Android to peer and communicate with human beings with out establishing their door. The x Yale Lock -- a tamper-proof, key-loose deadbolt -- additionally connects with the Nest app, permitting users to fasten and unencumber their door from everywhere. The Temperature Sensor works with Nest's smart thermostats to manipulate the temperature of the place within the device's location.

The Hello doorbell is to be had at Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe's, in addition to on Nest's website, priced at US$229.

The Nest x Yale Lock is available for $279 bundled with Nest Connect, which links it to a home's WiFi gadget.

The Temperature Sensor is priced at $39, and a 3-percent is available for preorder at $ninety nine. It is scheduled to deliver subsequent month.

Building Nest

These merchandise have the capability to revive Nest's fortunes. The company has been around for seven years, but there were extreme doubts as to its viability.

"It's been a chunk chaotic at Nest since its acquisition by using Google," referred to Ray Wang, primary analyst at Constellation Research.

"It's taken them some time to iron out the lifestyle problems and get new product out faster," he told TechNewsWorld.

The global domestic automation market is forecast to be really worth $fifty five billion by 2022, primarily based on Constellation Research estimates.

The postpone approach Nest has "fallen in the back of on logo cognizance, however Google Home has the better algorithms and APIs, and so it is properly really worth the wait," Wang stated.

Overall, but, Nest can also discover the marketplace hard.

"There are other smart lock programs and gadgets," referred to Michael Jude, research manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

"ADT has some particularly high-quality options," he informed TechNewsWorld.

Still, other options are much less integrated, Jude added.

Not Home? Answer the Door Anyway

The Nest Hello has an HD camera with a 160-diploma discipline of view, a four:three factor ratio, HDR imaging and night imaginative and prescient.

Its HD Talk and Listen function we could owners respond even if they are not at domestic, and echo cancellation offers advanced sound satisfactory.

The doorbell also has integrated prerecorded responses.

It sends owners an alert even when visitors don't ring the bell, and it's miles usually on.

Nest Hello makes use of WiFi 802.11. For safety, it makes use of 128-bit AES encryption with TLS/SSL, plus -step authentication.

Subscribing to Nest Aware allows 24/7 continuous recording for as much as 30 days. Owners can experiment through their entire video records.

Nest Hello works with Google Home devices to announce if someone is on the door. It requires a stressed out doorbell, chime, and the right transformer. Nest recommends professional set up.

Amazon Is inside the House

Nest Hello's major opposition probably will come from Amazon, which currently inked a deal to accumulate Ring, advised Rob Enderle, most important analyst at the Enderle Group.

The Ring solution "has the choice of battery electricity so it's much more likely so that you can feature at some point of a electricity outage if the network has a UPS, and it's going to deploy in locations in which there is not doorbell button wiring," he told TechNewsWorld.

Nest Builds More Security, Flexibility Into Smart Home Products

Further, "Ring ought to sooner or later better integrate with Amazon's relaxed transport answer and Amazon Echo as soon as the purchase settles," Enderle stated. The link to Echo would let people automatically see from in the house who's at the door.

Bandwidth Requirements

Nest Hello, which boasts 1600 x 1200 resolution, requires 800-2,000 Kbps of add bandwidth at the same time as streaming video.

With a Nest Aware subscription, video is streamed to the cloud for at ease offsite storage. Each Nest Hello can add as much as six hundred GB in line with month.

"If you'll use any HD video surveillance device, it'd be clever to upgrade to a stage so one can exceed what that system requires," remarked Enderle. "Otherwise, its capability may come to be compromised when you most need it to work."

Privacy Issues

Nest Hello owners subscribing to Nest Aware gets acquainted face signals, however that raises some privacy questions.

The face-alert function is unavailable in Illinois, because of pending biometric regulation there, mentioned Steve Wilson, main analyst at Constellation Research.

There additionally might be privateness troubles with Nest Hello, he informed TechNewsWorld, due to the fact "customers want to understand wherein their facial scans are being saved and processed. Are they being bought to third parties?"

Nest's privacy policy so far would not point out biometrics or face recognition, Wilson cited.

Limited Compatibility

The Nest x Yale Lock can maintain up to 250 passcodes that owners can hand out instead of a key. Homeowners can create passcodes and schedules for visitors and all and sundry else who calls for restrained get right of entry to. They can set the device to fasten robotically while they're faraway from home, and they are able to screen who enters through the door and when.

Owners use the Nest app to fasten or unlock a door remotely, or to check if a door prepared with the lock is open.

However, the Nest x Yale Lock "turned into built to Google's specs and would not seem to paintings with every other machine," Enderle mentioned. "Alternatives from Schlage and Kwikset are standards-based and work with ADT, Amazon and others."

VR has a number of parents concerned approximately its lengthy-time period consequences

A new document looks at the very limited research on virtual reality and children. For now, the effect is a quite large thriller.

VR has a number of parents concerned approximately its lengthy-time period consequences

We know nearly not anything about the lengthy-term consequences of digital truth on children, and that is were given some mother and father involved.

In reality, 60 percentage of dad and mom say they may be at least "somewhat concerned" their youngsters will face bad fitness effects from the usage of the era, in line with a file released Wednesday with the aid of Stanford researchers and Common Sense Media.

The look at, which incorporates a survey of 3,600 mother and father with at the least one infant below 18, examines the capacity affects -- both proper and terrible -- the technology will have on children. It determined that dad and mom are normally worried about the digital reality, particularly for the reason that there's been little research carried out on VR and toddler customers.

"Kids are often an afterthought when it comes to analyze," stated Michael Robb, director of studies at Common Sense Media. "The research right here continues to be quite underdeveloped, that's a bit regarding given how a good deal greater speedy VR is being adopted into American homes. There's a name to movement for researchers to help higher recognize what each the short- and long-term results are going to be on children, because right now it is like a big test in actual time where we do not really recognize what is going to manifest."

VR, a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment, makes use of a headset to simply delivery viewers or permit them to engage with a placing in a apparently practical manner. It's been used in gaming but has a spread of other applications, from supporting human beings conquer phobias to distracting patients from painful processes.

Still, VR has largely been seen as a gimmick, given the reality that the loads haven't definitely adopted the era -- regardless of the backing of main gamers like Facebook, Samsung and Google. Sleeker, cheaper gadgets ought to begin to trade that. Greater affordability is likewise making it less difficult to conduct studies about the generation's outcomes on health issues like neurological improvement.

"We simply do not know that a lot approximately VR and youngsters," stated Jeremy Bailenson, founding father of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and co-writer of the brand new report. "The quantity of research that take a look at the cognitive improvement problems, you may expect one hand."

Expanding use

Uncertainty is in no way slowing down the spread of VR. One in 5 US dad and mom stated they live in a household with VR hardware, the examine discovered, and 13 percent are making plans to buy a VR tool in the subsequent yr.

That means the majority of mother and father aren't planning to buy VR gear in the near future, however children' interest remains high. According to a have a look at final 12 months, 70 percentage of US youngsters between eight and 15 said they are "extraordinarily" or "fairly" interested by experiencing VR. That choice will likely pressure the acquisition of VR devices in step with the brand new report. In reality, -thirds of mother and father in homes with VR stated their youngsters had requested them to purchase a tool.

Not incredibly, a infant's age is key to how mother and father experience about VR. Just 13 percentage stated VR is appropriate for children underneath 7. By comparison, nearly half said VR is suitable for youngsters under thirteen. That coincides with the age advice of VR gadgets which includes the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

VR developers and researchers warn that greater research needs to be carried out earlier than the technology can be accurately encouraged for children, specially given the truth that development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain hastens in center formative years. That's connected with the improvement of a toddler's operating memory, impulse manage and cognitive flexibility -- or the capability to exchange perspective or tactics to a venture.

This increases questions about how long-time period VR use ought to affect a child's brain improvement and fitness. For example, the mismatch between that specialize in photos that seem like a ways away but are absolutely on a display just a few centimeters away can confuse the mind and reason eyestrain and headaches within the short term. The long-time period outcomes are nevertheless unknown.

Additionally, 70 percentage of dad and mom stated they're concerned approximately sexual content, pornography and violent content material in VR, 67 percentage said they may be worried children will spend too much time with VR and 61 fear the generation will result in social isolation.

"Historically, there's been a quite correct pattern of mother and father having very comparable worries about new media technologies," Robb stated. "The ongoing query that we need to deal with is: How exclusive are the experiences of those matters in VR versus different systems? Given that kids may additionally revel in this content otherwise than they do TV or video video games, we need to determine how correct dad and mom' perceptions are to be involved in these approaches approximately this specific type of content material."

Moderation is prime

When it involves regulating youngsters' use of VR, moderation is key, Bailenson said. Instead of hours of use, mother and father must suppose in phrases of minutes.

"Most VR is supposed to be accomplished on the five- to 10-minute scale," Bailenson referred to within the study.

VR is so immersive that youngsters can have a hard time distinguishing which components of virtual events are not real, the examine stated. That's why Bailenson advises dad and mom now not to let their kids do something on VR that they would not need them to enjoy within the actual global, along with a struggle sport.

That blurring of lines among virtual and actual stories additionally approach characters in VR ought to have extra have an impact on on younger youngsters than do characters on TV or computer systems. Just like adults, youngsters are vulnerable to respond to sensible virtual characters as they could to a actual man or woman, studies suggests.

In one study closing yr, kids between four and six were chosen to either engage with Grover from Sesame Street in VR or on a two-dimensional screen. Those who used VR have been much more likely to deal with Grover as a chum, shown through the fact that they shared greater stickers with him and tested different measures of friendship.

Educational profits

This may have enormous implications for training, Robb said.

"The reality that VR characters are even greater present, possibly extra interactive, approach that children are ready to study even more from a VR individual than they is probably even from a traditional screen," he said, "due to the fact their interplay with Elmo or whoever is going to be that rather more extreme."

VR has been proven to facilitate gaining knowledge of of standards inclusive of fractions, plant increase and other standards-based totally math and technological know-how. Sixty- percentage of parents surveyed said they agree with VR will enhance instructional studies for their kids. That range jumps to eighty four percent for dad and mom of eight- to 17-12 months-olds who already use VR.

"Once you are an owner, you come to be a bit bit extra of a believer," Robb stated.

Although college students are also greater enthusiastic about mastering with VR, research has observed that they do not necessarily learn greater thru VR than through video or laptop video games. For example, in a single look at, a collection presented with a botany lesson in VR had the same studying effects as a group assigned the lesson on a laptop.

The result could be because of the truth that children are so captivated by using the sensory experience that they do not awareness enough on the narrative data.

Long-term effect

Research has shown that embodying an avatar in VR can boom an adult's empathy toward people who are unique from them, decreasing problems like implicit racial bias and evoking empathy for humans with colorblindness.

But VR's capacity to encourage empathy amongst more youthful children will be hard, given they're still growing the potential to take perspectives and remember that others might imagine and feel in a different way than they do. In reality, only 38 percent of mother and father assume VR can help kids empathize with those who are one-of-a-kind from them.

"It may be the case that embodied avatar reports won't be as effective until youngsters expand abilities in social perspective-taking," the have a look at states.

The lengthy-time period outcomes -- both superb and negative -- stay unknown.

"We have just scratched the floor," Bailenson stated. "We have almost no records, and we need information fast."

Jio Juice Teased, May Be a Battery Saver App

Jio has teased the launch of a new product that it's far calling Jio Juice through a couple of tweets. The teasers for Jio Juice mention ‘Beta’, which shows it will likely be an app, probable a battery saver app. As a beta, customers can be required to sign in to attempt it out; after the preliminary checking out is carried out, it is able to be launched to the broader public. Jio has no longer found out any statistics approximately the approaching app besides the teasers on Twitter, and handiest mentions it will be “coming quickly.”

This development comes as the Jio Prime subscription is coming to an quit, and customers continue to be unclear regarding the destiny of the membership service. The Prime subscription changed into announced in February closing year as the company went from a free service and adopted the paid model. Priced at Rs. 99 for the complete year, the subscription involves an quit tomorrow, March 31. Prime customers were to accept additional records at the identical expenses as compared to non-Prime contributors. While it changed into an decide-in carrier first of all, the Prime club price become later automatically brought to the recharge cost when a person attempted to buy a percent, thus making it effectively obligatory.

It is widely predicted the Mukesh Ambani-sponsored operator will make an declaration concerning Jio Prime later this night or day after today. Therefore, it's miles advisable for users to no longer purchase the Rs. Ninety nine subscription because the service will continuously expire day after today. Jio consumer care informed Gadgets 360 that validities of ongoing packs will continue even after the present day Prime club ends, which means in case you've already implemented multiple recharges in your account, you don’t need to fear about being impacted by any future changes to recharges you’ve already executed.

Jio Prime subscription is essential if you need to enjoy the offers the agency provides once in a while, inclusive of the Rs. 50 discounts on recharge packs with each day data allocations. Similarly, the Jio promise to provide facts tariffs 20 percent lower than the closest competitor works out for Prime customers handiest. Moreover, the access to content apps, which the operator values at Rs. 10,000 for the whole 12 months, comes only with plans for which Prime subscription is a pre-requisite. Jio's suite of apps consists of Jio TV, Jio Music, Jio News, and so on. However, despite the club, clients are still required to purchase separate recharge packs with validities to use the network.

China Says Earth-Bound Tiangong-1 Space Lab Will Offer 'Splendid' Show


A defunct area laboratory so one can plunge again to Earth in the coming days is not going to reason any damage, Chinese government say, but will provide alternatively a "first rate" display comparable to a meteor shower.

China's space organization stated that the roughly 8-tonne Tiangong-1 will re-input the surroundings a while between Saturday and Monday. The European Space Agency on Friday gave smaller window among Saturday night time and past due Sunday nighttime GMT.

But there may be "no need for humans to fear", the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said on its WeChat social media account.

Such falling spacecraft do "not crash into the Earth fiercely like in sci-fi movies, but change into a amazing (meteor bathe) and flow across the beautiful starry sky as they race toward the Earth", it stated.

The lab became positioned in orbit in September 2011 and had been slated for a controlled re-entry, but it ceased functioning in March 2016 and area enthusiasts were bracing for its fiery go back.

The ESA stated the lab will make an "uncontrolled re-entry" as floor groups are no longer able to hearth its engines or thrusters, though a Chinese spaceflight engineer denied earlier this yr that it changed into out of manipulate.

The up to date re-entry estimate via ESA is slightly later than its preceding calculations. The organisation stated in a weblog post that calmer area weather changed into now predicted as a high-speed flow of solar debris did now not motive an growth in the density of the top ecosystem, as formerly expected.

Such an increase in density would have pulled the spacecraft down quicker, it stated, including that the brand new re-entry window continues to be uncertain and "highly variable".

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar area programme as a image of the usa's upward thrust. It plans to send a manned undertaking to the moon inside the destiny.

China despatched any other lab into orbit, the Tiangong-2, in September 2016 and is a stepping stone to its goal of getting a crewed area station by using 2022.

Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 inflicting any harm whilst it hurtles lower back to Earth, with the ESA noting that nearly 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of huge gadgets have took place during the last 60 years without harming each person.

The CMSEO said the probability of a person being hit by way of a meteorite of extra than two hundred grammes is one in 700 million.

'Spectacular show'
During the out of control re-access, atmospheric drag will rip away solar arrays, antennas and different external additives at an altitude of around a hundred kilometres (60 miles), consistent with the Chinese area workplace.

The intensifying warmth and friction will cause the principle shape to burn or blow up, and it should crumble at an altitude of round 80 kilometres, it said.

Most fragments will use up in the air and a small quantity of debris will fall relatively slowly earlier than landing, maximum probable in the ocean, which covers more than 70 percentage of the Earth's floor.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, estimates that the Tiangong-1 is the 50th most big out of control re-access of an item seeing that 1957.

"Much larger matters have come down with out a casualties," McDowell advised AFP.

"This thing is like a small plane crash," he stated, including that the path of particles will scatter portions several hundred kilometres aside.

At an altitude of 60-70 kilometres, particles will start to show into "a series of fireballs", that is while humans on the ground will "see a astonishing show", he said.

China will step up efforts to coordinate with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs because the re-access nears, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang advised journalists on Friday.

"I need to focus on that we connect significance to this problem and we've got been coping with it very responsibly according with relevant laws and rules," Lu stated.

"What I've heard is the possibility of big amounts of debris falling to the ground is very slender."

Google Home Now Works With Bluetooth Speakers; Clips Camera Can Capture High-Resolution Images

Google Home Mini

Google on Wednesday rolled out an replace to the Google Home app that enables customers to attach the Assistant-enabled speaker to any Bluetooth speaker. This basically way that the Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max will be capable of play song via your Bluetooth speaker. Before this, simplest Google Cast-enabled audio system will be used to hook up with an outside speaker or institution speakers with the Google Home gadgets. The new characteristic is specially beneficial for a tool like Google Home Mini that way to its length has limitations while gambling song. In any other update, Google Clips digicam now receives the capability to take high-decision stills while manually capturing a clip.

Bluetooth speaker guide changed into a protracted-awaited feature within the Google Home Mini. The organization in a blog publish says, "We delivered this feature to life after hearing how a lot you wanted to amp up the sound with your Google Home Mini." It delivered, "Now any of your Google Home devices can hook up with different Bluetooth audio system so that you can manipulate your amusement revel in sincerely the use of the sound of your voice." Interestingly, customers can now additionally upload existing Bluetooth speakers to a group inside the Google Home app for multi-room audio, which may be useful for Home Max users.

In order to get entry to the new feature, customers will should pair a Bluetooth speaker to the Google Home inside the Google Home app. Once paired, song, or any other audio will robotically start gambling through the connected speaker instead of the speaker. With the multi-room audio function, you may join several audio system around the residence so that Google Assistant will play the audio in all of the rooms concurrently.

Google has also referred to that users will nonetheless have to talk to their Google Home tool and no longer the connected Bluetooth speakers, for queries like asking questions, getting climate updates, and using smart home instructions.

Meanwhile, Google has rolled out an replace to its Clips digicam. Last year in October, Google had unveiled the automatic digicam known as Google Clips, that's designed to seize candid moments of acquainted humans and pets by way of the usage of on-device machine intelligence. As spotted by way of 9to5Google, the update we could Google Clips camera to capture better resolution photographs.

By pushing the shutter button at the Google Clips camera, both manually or within the app's Live Preview option, the captured image gets stored in high resolution. Also, the replace delivered some other characteristic where customers might be capable of pinch to zoom in the app, to get a better observe the snap shots.

Tesla Says Autopilot Was Turned On in Model X Prior to Fatal Crash

Tesla Model X

Tesla Inc has said that a Tesla Model X worried a deadly crash in California closing week had activated its Autopilot device, elevating new questions about the semi-autonomous device that handles a few using responsibilities.

Tesla additionally stated automobile logs from the coincidence showed no action have been taken through the motive force soon before the crash and that he had obtained earlier warnings to position his fingers at the wheel.

"The motive force had approximately five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the overwhelmed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action turned into taken," Tesla stated.

The assertion did now not say why the Autopilot gadget reputedly did no longer discover the concrete divider.

The fatal crash and automobile fireplace of the Tesla near Mountain View, California, involved two other vehicles and delayed traffic for hours. The 38-year-antique Tesla driving force died at a close-by clinic quickly after the crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched an research into the crash earlier this week, did no longer without delay remark overdue Friday. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the deadly crash.

Autopilot allows drivers to take their fingers off the wheel for extended durations beneath sure conditions. Tesla calls for users to comply with preserve their arms at the wheel “always” before they could use autopilot, but customers automatically tout the reality they could use the device to pressure fingers-unfastened.

The NTSB faulted Tesla in a previous deadly autopilot crash.

In September, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt stated operational obstacles within the Tesla Model S played a first-rate position in a May 2016 crash that killed a motive force using autopilot.

That loss of life -- the primary fatality in a Tesla vehicle running in Autopilot mode -- raised questions on the safety of systems that may perform driving responsibilities for lengthy stretches with little or no human intervention, but which cannot absolutely update human drivers.

The NTSB said Tesla could have taken in addition steps to save you the device’s misuse, and faulted the driving force for now not paying attention and for "overreliance on automobile automation."

In January, NHTSA and NTSB launched investigations right into a Tesla automobile, seemingly journeying in semi-independent mode, that struck a fireplace truck in California. Neither agency nor Tesla has supplied any update.

The government probes enhance the danger for Tesla and automakers at a time when the enterprise is in search of federal regulation that could ease deployment of self using motors.

The crash comes soon after an Uber car in Arizona in self-riding mode struck and killed a pedestrian within the first loss of life connected to an self sustaining automobile.

Tesla said past due Friday that "Autopilot does now not prevent all injuries – this type of preferred might be impossible – but it makes them tons less likely to arise. It unequivocally makes the sector safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists."

Tesla said that within the United States "there is one car fatality each 86 million miles throughout all cars from all producers. For Tesla, there may be one fatality, including acknowledged pedestrian fatalities, each 320 million miles in cars prepared with Autopilot hardware."

Tesla in September 2016 unveiled upgrades to Autopilot, including new limits on fingers-off driving.

On Thursday, Tesla stated it turned into recalling 123,000 Model S sedans built before April 2016 which will replace bolts in the energy steering element which can begin to corrode after touch in bloodless temperatures with avenue salt. No injuries or accidents have been mentioned.

Agile Influence on Business

Agile development is a general term that defines software development methods that promote tightly working work teams, early delivery, instant response, interactive development and continuous improvement.

Principles of Agile

There are 12 Principles of Agile: 1. Satisfy customers with the early and continuous delivery of valuable software is the highest priority. 2. Changing requirements should be welcomed, even if they are late. Changes are good if they provide customer’s competitive advantage. 3. Frequent working software delivery, max a couple of months; shorter timescales are preferable. 4. Business and IT units must work together in the scope of the whole project. 5. Engage motivated people in the project. Provide them with trust and support. 6. Consider face-to-face conversation as the most effective way of information sharing. 7. Working software as the main progress measure. 8. Constantly maintain sustainable development with all the participants of the development process. 9. Technical excellence and good design enhance agility. 10. Take it simple and minimize the amount of work done. 11. Self-organizing teams raise the best specialists. 12. The team regularly assesses the progress and decides how to make it more effective with further iterations. Business does not know about all its needs and requirements in advance. This is the Agile's fundamental. At the very beginning of the software development process, there is no complete understanding of how the system should work. Newcomers integration becomes easier with Agile, too.

Agile Approaches

There are 4 main Agile approaches: extreme programming (XP), lean software, scrum, and crystal. XP increases customer involvement in the development process. A customer prioritizes the functions as user stories, that are iteratively delivered through continuous programming, every 1-3 weeks. To the benefits belong minimal documentation, high collaboration, and fast and aggressive delivery model. To launch it, you need people outside the IT department and everyone involved to know XP. Lean software method is derived from lean manufacturing. Its main focus is reducing waste staying at the same level of productivity. The main priorities are: eliminate waste (or muda, as they call it), amplify learning, decide and deliver as late and as fast as possible, empower the team, build integrity in, see the whole. Lean software development requires an extreme level of cohesive work in the team. Scrum is a broad methodology that covers a framework to control and manage iterative work at the project level. With SCRUM, IT team and business communicate via Product Owner. The working parts of the software are shipped every sprint that takes up to 30 days. Scrum provides directs access to the development process for business with an adaptable progress. Crystal method concentrates on communication inside a team. It provides close communication, flexible access to the expert users, personal safety, frequent delivery and reflective improvement.

Agile Statistics

According to the Techbeacon report, 67 percent of the companies surveyed either implemented or are leaning toward the Agile methodology. In other words, more than half of IT companies are using Agile. Surprisingly, the most active Agile-adopters are large enterprises. Agile is the most popular in such industries as High Tech, real estate, banking, discrete manufacturing, and finance. The most popular reasons for Agile implementation are collaboration enhancing, software quality increase, customer satisfaction increase, time-to-market shortening, cost reduction. Three main benefits of the Agile usage are as follows: effective management of changes, increased team productivity, improved transparency. These benefits were found through measuring Agile efficiency through the on-time delivery, business value, customer and user satisfaction, product quality and product scope. There are also challenges with the Agile adoption, like company culture, lack of agile experience and management support, and organization resistance. To sum up, a business can benefit from Agile when requirements change fast, when customer comments are delivered fast, and when it's possible to break work into parts. Here are the real-life examples that prove all stated above: How agile has influenced your business Raphaela, Marketing team lead, has noticed many benefits after Agile integration:

 ● It is easier for me as a team lead to keep everybody’s focus aligned with our overall strategic goals and to ensure that our resources are used for those tasks that have the highest priority. 
 ● Our communication both within the team, cross-departmentally and with management has improved and become more structured. 
 ● Team members seem more motivated and ultimately more productive now, which I attribute to the fact that we have started thinking in two-week sprints. This provides us with a tangible goal that we can work towards and look forward to, rather than just swim in a sea of never-ending tasks and projects. Agile coach, Tushar, mentioned that business became flexible, receptive to feedback, and nimble in the overall structure. According to Steve, a software developer, it is about increasing value generated by delivering the right stuff and addressing issues sooner because of the additional feedback, visibility and steer-ability and because the people doing the work are empowered to make real-time, common sense, "tactical" decisions instead of waiting for information to go up and down the management chain. Maik, an author of The Agile Manifesto Unfolds, said that Agile improved his business with better flexibility (less work in progress with more feedback cycles) and better quality (less bugs that you build new features on). 

What goals did you expect to achieve with Agile? 

 With Agile, Chuck, Agile Project Management Author and Instructor, was trying to achieve an adaptive approach, well-designed for dealing with projects that have a high level of uncertainty. Andre , Agile coach and trainer, wanted to provide consistent delivery of value to the customers with Agile. His main objective was happy customers and happy teams.

What kind of team structure and hierarchy do you have? 

 Fernando with 11 years of experience in development and lead roles, have seen many ways of a team organization. Usually, there are project managers to care of the more bureaucratic, business and financial aspects, like contract negotiation, personal development and major conflict resolution, for example. There is not much hierarchy, except for occasional team leaders, who perform most of a scrum master’s role, keeping up with the team’s activities and sending out status reports and so on. These may or may not share the technical leader role. They may also step in to address specific, timely demands from clients, like prioritizing a proof of concept or extracting an one-time report from the database. The team members themselves are self-managed when it comes to actual project development: they show up for scheduled meetings, they estimate using the agreed methods, prioritize the sprint work items, assign themselves tasks to do, submit and review each other’s changes to source code, trigger and handle quality activities, suggests improvements on the process, etc. Those teams consist mainly of developers, testers and designers. Release plans are presented by team leaders and approved by project managers and product owners, but only after having their feasibility attested by the team members. Hierarchy is not really as important as commitment is, while respect and open communication are keys to making functioning teams 

What kind of team structure and hierarchy do you have? 

 Leon, an Agile Delivery Lead, uses several approaches to his team structure, namely: 

 ● cross functional teams, i.e. a small group of people who, collectively, possess all the skills and knowledge to produce valuable, tested software; 
 ● as little hierarchy as possible, within reasonable constraints of basic corporate governance, operational risk, etc.; 
 ● empowered people, i.e. each team is largely left alone to decide how and what to build. Decades of research tells us that people are the most motivated and perform the best when they are given “Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose” (from Dan Pink’s book “Drive”, read it NOW if you haven’t yet)”. For Ravneet, a founder of Agile school, flat hierarchy works the best. As more levels of hierarchy lead to more delays and more bureaucracy. However, flat hierarchy works best when talking about startups or small organizations. As the organization grows, it becomes difficult for flat hierarchies to sustain. The structures that he has seen to be working best in big organizations are to have a flat hierarchy within one product. This keeps the delays and bureaucracy to minimum and innovation to maximum.

What Agile methodology is the best to choose?

Chuck has chosen an adaptive approach that fits the methodology to the nature of the problem rather than force-fitting all problems to some predefined methodology. He believes that within Agile, there really isn’t a lot of choice:

 ● Scrum is by far the most widely-used methodology for projects 
 ● Kanban is by far the most widely-used for non-project work An important thing to understand is that Agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban are intended to be very adaptive. For that reason, many people consider Scrum to be more of a framework than a methodology. Another important consideration in selecting a methodology is the team and the organization’s readiness to implement it. It would be very difficult, if not impossible to implement any Agile methodology if the team is not well-trained and the organization is not well-aligned with implementing it. The most important thing to save from here is that you should apply and test as many methodologies as you can. Then see what suits better in your environment and team. And if possible make an all-in-one cocktail with your favorite pieces from multiple methodologies.

Does your team like to work with Agile? 

 Adam, Customer Success Manager, says that his team love to show an increment (progress) on each review meeting, gathering feedback from their stakeholders, and improving the teamwork on retro. Working in sprints is a very good idea. You can divide a project into small, manageable parts. But the best part is transparency and visibility of their daily work. Tiago, Head of Product at OLX, also answers positively: “They are not the only ones liking, our stakeholders like as well, since the team are delivering (great) value with a good rhythm”. Peter Kristensen, IT teamlead, sees agile as a great way to challenge bad decisions and get the whole team involved in making better decisions. His main obstacle was the very beginning: “After a while the team figured out that they were no longer evaluated individually by the number of tasks each one handled (and therefore mostly took easy tasks), but by value of the tasks that the team produced. After a while he asked how they felt about it: 

 ● “To begin with it was frightening. Suddenly it was up to us how to solve a problem. But after a while we found that it was much more exciting to work this way“ 
 ● “More fun … and I think we have made better solutions” 
 ● “Confusing when no one told us exactly what to do, but I like that now”
 ● “We are working together now instead of competing to look good individually”

Does your team like to work with Agile? 

 Tushar’s team likes Agile. He came to the conclusion through such metrics: 
 ● Attrition rate has decreased 
 ● Employee satisfaction has upward swing 
 ● Most of our new hires are from referral 
 ● Glassdoor rating has upward swing 
 ● Overall effectiveness has increased many folds. Consequently, productivity and efficiency are increasing.
 ● Employees spend more time on value creation instead of repetitive tasks (they automate repetitive tasks) 

What biggest challenges have you faced while integrating Agile?

As a challenge, Tiago, outlines the team maturity level, environment, and industry. However, the most usual challenges that he has faced were the following:

 ● Team rhythm adaptation to the new methodology while it still needs to keep the product development rolling out. 
 ● Lack of procedures. 
 ● Lack of structured planning and organized meetings.
 ● Difficulties on timing/effort estimation when doing the spring planning (low level of experience/maturity inside the team). The solution or answer for most of all these issues is Time and Routines Andre, Agile coach and trainer, defines culture as the main challenge. There are companies where hierarchy has been established for a long time. As a result, people are used to commanding and getting commands. Abram, healthcare software development manager, encountered such challenges as culture and specific industry. The former came from insufficient support from upper management and buy-in from the key stakeholders. The later is derived from the regulations and cost present in the specific industry. A short budget cannot afford “fail early, fail often”. It’s “measure twice, cut once”. There are downturns & margin level with very small budget variance allowed, and where everything has to have corresponding processes and documented for compliance. 

What major benefits and disadvantages have you found in Agile?

Implementing proper procedures (e.g. daily stand up meetings every day at the same time, no excuses) makes the team getting into routines and healthy habits. This increases the team rhythm. And consequently, motivation, because the results will be visible. Daily stand up meetings help everyone have a big picture of what is being developed and what the blockers are. By defining a sprint time box duration (only to help you know when it starts and finishes), at the end of the sprint you can put your team inside a room and discuss the feelings of the past sprint in order for all of you to have a sense of accomplishment and discuss what should you continue doing (the positive things), what to stop (the wrong things/mistakes) and what to start (to be improved/wish list). Jaimi McEntire, a software development manager in Jack Henry & Associates, defines such benefits as predictable development, constant discussions, less misunderstanding, and constant review if the development effort matches the business needs. The major disadvantages are uneven sprint, not-balanced load. At the beginning of a sprint, the QA team does not have enough work, at the end of the sprint, the development team is winding down, and the QA team has too much work. There are of course ways to address this - the development crew tests at the end, and the (canonical) suggestion is for QA to work on “test scripts” at the beginning. But these have their own issues. Because a team has to bid to complete items, and the sprint is seen as unsuccessful if they do not complete the items, there is a tendency to underbid and sandbag (letting the work fill the time), leading to a decrease in productivity. The constant review and discussion give some developers the feeling that they are being micro-managed. 

What major benefits and disadvantages have you found in Agile?

Lisa, a founder, sees Agile’s benefit in its bias toward action. Work tends to expand to fill the time allotted so with shorter cycles there’s more motivation to continuously get something out the door. The built-in cycles of planning, doing, and reflecting aid the creation of shared habits, so more time can be spent on continuous improvement and less time on meeting logistics. Cross-functional teams are also helpful, and most teams I’ve seen also included a diverse range of ages and backgrounds. A wider range of perspectives can help spot issues and opportunities to better serve customers and the enterprise. A disadvantage is when agile teams over emphasize the short-term, so teams can end up on a treadmill of sorts, always looking only at the next few weeks. From her experience, that tends to come from leaders seeing agile teams as code manufacturing units and not design teams. By focusing on throughput, they’re incentivized to minimize team involvement in anything that won’t go out the door right away. That means complex and creative projects get pushed down the backlog. There can also be an aversion to any type of planning or architecture. It’s true that the future is uncertain and plans will likely change, but in my experience, the lack of a draft vision, roadmap, transition states, and integration plan ends up costing more money due to delays, confusion, defects, business process issues, and customer complaints than the time it would take ahead of time to just jot down a shared plan. Especially when you’re looking to use agile to transform a legacy environment and you need to coordinate with multiple other teams to make it happen. Kirk Bryde, Agile coach, Telstar Agility, believes that the main Agile’s benefits are: 

 ● Giving customers what they really need (not just what they say they want). 
● Faster time-to-market (by incremental and iterative releases - each one getting the customers a little closer to what they really need). 
 ● Higher s/w quality (through automation, and by avoiding bloated releases). 
 ● More predictable release schedules (by fixing the schedule and varying scope). 
 ● Happier customers (by delivering usable s/w early and often, and by keeping customers constantly aware of the status of their projects and products via frequent demos of new features, and by letting the customers drive the product roadmap). According to Tiago, to the other benefits belong: 
 ● increased odds of producing software of good maintainability; 
 ● focus on addressing business goals and actual user needs; 
 ● proper systems engineering discipline 
 ● promoting open culture. 

What metrics do you use to track Agile efficiency? 

 Allen, Agile trainer, believes that the business has to change to accommodate the needs of Agile processes and thinking. At the business level, what matters is agility. The business has to be able to deliver a change at the same pace that they discover the needs for them. To do that, they need to eliminate everything that slows things down. That can involve everything from introducing Agile processes to complete reorganization. The only metric needed is how fast you can get a change into your user's hands (and whether the users are delighted with the change). The metrics should be in tracking how well the company is doing at achieving its goals instead of intermediate measures that assume a particular way of achieving those goals. Let the people do the work and be responsible for how they choose to work. Agile is just a means for achieving company goals by facilitating the people doing the work taking full responsibility for how they work. Alan, Senior Agile Coach and Certified ScrumMaster, sees Agile as about seeking value, about effectiveness. The real value in Agile ways of working is found when we focus on effectiveness. Kirk Bryde, Agile coach, Telstar Agility, says that the best metrics are from direct customer feedback. There's also some leading indicators that can show the likelihood of any trailing indicators (like customer feedback). Paul Oldfield, a team member in Youmanage, believes that rapid implementation of a new strategic direction should be used as a metric: how fast a company produces values or product and how fast it can respond to a change. David, Agile coach, advises to measure the current lead time from when the business discovers it needs to change until the change has been made and is being consumed by customers. Anything which reduces that lead time increases agility. You need to continually ask if you reduce the time to implement a change from the time the business realizes the need to change? To look at the cycle time from discovering the need to when the change is made and users are benefiting from the change can be also used as a metric. Allen, principal in Holub Associates, thinks that speed is a factor. Business agility should be seen as the ability to implement change at the rate that the need for the change discovered. That's the ideal, at least. Most businesses can't do that, so there will be some time slippage. They'll discover a need, and the change will take longer to do than it might in an ideal world. As one approaches the ideal, that slippage reduces to 0. Steve Gordon, a software developer and Agile coach believes that Success criteria and progress should not be on KPIs or Agility, but only on the delivery of quality and value to customers. Where quality or value delivery is problematic, then root causing the problem would get into KPIs and Agility to determine how to address the problem and see if remedies are working. Constantly measuring anything besides progress on the end objectives will inhibit the self-organization, authority and responsibility of the teams, which will in turn inhibit Agility. Rob Walker, a software development director, mentioned that Agile allows business to be lean, and deliver valuable products with little or no waste. The best metric is validated learning. This is obtained by making small testable assertions, testing / validating them quickly, and pivoting with some new, small, testable assertions if necessary. 

Bio: Alexandra is a Marketing Manager for Glorium Technologies, custom software development company with a focus on healthcare.