Heartland Tech Weekly: ‘The world of software jobs is flattening’

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Today’s report about a 6.7 percent drop in software-related job postings over the past five years for San Jose, California should surprise no one. This shift is consistent with two themes that we’ve reported on and points to a tipping point. Have we reached “peak” Silicon Valley?

First, the cost of doing business — from wages, to rents, to costs, is much higher in Silicon Valley and other established tech centers than across the rest of America.

Second, as one industry after the next continues to embrace new technologies, every company becomes a “tech” company. Or maybe they always were, but just not in the strictest sense of the word. Certainly a 100 year-old business like Parker-Hannifin is arguably just as innovative, or more so, than many Silicon Valley companies.

“Although Silicon Valley will almost certainly remain among the nation’s top tech hubs for decades to come, the world of software jobs is flattening — both by industry and geography,” writes Richard Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. “The big winners in coming years are likely to be the lower-cost U.S. metros with fast-growing tech clusters that have attracted a rising share of software job postings in recent years.”

Please send feedback, news tips, or story suggestions to Anna Hensel via email — and be sure to bookmark our Heartland Tech Channel.

Thanks for reading,
Blaise Zerega
Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video from Entrepreneur, “You Don’t Need to Be in Silicon Valley to Grow Your Business.”

FROM THE HEARTLAND TECH CHANNEL

This map shows San Jose, California -- the heart of Silicon Valley -- saw its share of new software jobs fall over the past years.

Silicon Valley’s share of software jobs falls as new tech hubs rise

New software jobs are being created outside Silicon Valley and other tech centers faster than ever. Over the past five years, cities like Seattle, D.C., Detroit, and Austin, among others, have all seen rapid growth in software-related job openings, according to a new report from online job site Glassdoor. Meanwhile, San Jose, California’s share of all […]

Read the full story

This image shows a map of Ohio representing how As allure of Silicon Valley fades, some Midwestern natives migrate home for better opportunities.

Why Midwesterners leave Silicon Valley and go home for better opportunities

Each week, I check in with Travis McCleery, who leads product design for Root, an insurance company that uses data collected from drivers’ smartphones to more fairly price and sell auto insurance. Today, our conversation was about engaging specific designers that work for Silicon Valley tech companies, have Midwest roots, and are ready to move back. […]

Read the full story

5 groups push to increase diversity among Texas startups

Entrepreneurs and investors often lament the lack of diversity in tech in Texas. But a few organizations, and people, are going beyond just talk and are actively working to better even the playing field for underrepresented entrepreneurs. For this piece, Crunchbase News spoke with several Texas-based groups about their efforts to promote diversity in technology […]

Read the full story

This image shows Columbus, Ohio was ranked 28th overall in the 2017 CBRE Scoring Tech Talent Report.

Silicon Valley tech firms power job growth in the hinterlands

The growth speaks for itself. The concentration of tech talent in Madison, Wisconsin increased by more than 30 percent over the past two years. In Fort Lauderdale, Kansas City (Missouri), Miami, and Salt Lake City, there were gains of more than 20 percent. Oh, and Omaha, Pittsburgh, and Columbus, Ohio? They each registered rises of […]

Read the full story

Beyond VB

Pittsburgh reimagines the business district

Much like it reinvented itself after the collapse of the steel industry and the decline of coal, in many ways, Pittsburgh has re-imagined the traditional business district. While there are still business hubs geographically concentrated in some of the city’s neighborhoods, they’ve been joined in recent years by a swath of incubators and co-working spaces that have allowed a wide variety of tech startups to get off the ground in the Steel City. (via Crain’s)

Read the full story

Report: Michigan no longer a flyover state for venture capital

While Michigan has become a hot spot for startup funding, Detroit has been boiling in recent years, according to a new Michigan Venture Capital Association study. The 2017 Detroit Entrepreneurial Study revealed Detroit’s startup community has grown 50 percent in the past three years, now making up a quarter of the state’s fledging companies. Last year, 14 of the city’s 35 startup companies attracted more than $62 million in seed investment, the study found. (via Crain’s Detroit Business)

Read the full story

Tech jobs are spreading to other parts of the country

When we think of tech, we think Silicon Valley. But that could change. Places like Omaha, Nebraska and Philadelphia are becoming promising areas for startups to develop and grow. In this series, we’re looking for cities that might become home to the next big thing. (via Marketplace)

Read the full story

Lonely Photos of Daily Life in the Rust Belt

Greek photographer Niko J. Kallianiotis’s earliest memory of America is from Astoria, Queens, where he witnessed the shocking dichotomy between big-city affluence and homelessness. When his father moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the early 1990s, his mother remained in Athens, and he traveled back and forth. “I was caught between two cultures and countries,” he said. His search for his own identity began here in his late teens. (via Vice)

[“Source-venturebeat”]

This Startup Netted $75 Million to Wring The Most Out of Your Software

Walkme president Rephael Sweary

WalkMe, a company that helps businesses make the best use of the software they already have, now has $75 million in fresh funding to do that. This Series E round, led by Insight Venture Partners, brings total funding to $167.5 million.

WalkMe’s software tracks what users do with their business applications, collects that knowledge, and then prompts them to action when they run into a problem. WalkMe is also designed to help users who don’t have the time or inclination to study new features to use what they need (and not have to learn what they don’t need.)

“Enterprise companies now use cloud, but cloud changes all the time,” says WalkMe’s president Rephael “Rafi” Sweary. “The appeal is it prompts them to proceed in their processes with all the context in place.”

Related: Welcome to the Era of Data Center Consolidation

Fortune 500 company might use WalkMe to help its salespeople use Salesforce (CRM, +1.07%) and then the HR department with Workday (WDAY, +0.17%).

Major WalkMe customers include Adobe (ADBE, -0.88%), Mastercard (MA, +0.36%), AT&T (T, +3.09%), and Cisco (CSCO, +0.82%).

The company, with primary offices in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, will use the money to build its business in Japan, Germany, and other non-English-speaking markets. And some money will likely go to acquisitions, Sweary says.

The company bought Abbi.io, a mobile analytics specialist, and Jaco, which offers visual analytics, earlier this year. Terms were not disclosed. Other WalkMe investors include Scale Venture Partners and Gemini Israel Ventures.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Constellation Research analyst Alan Lepofsky puts WalkMe into a category called Digital Adoption Platforms or modern-day help systems.

The big difference between WalkMe and traditional help systems, according to Lepofsky, is that in the background, this software collects information about user behavior and patterns and guides administrators on how to smooth out trouble spots. “This leads to better employee and customer experiences,” Lepofsky says.

Other companies in this online help space include Appcues, AppLearn, Inline Manual, Iridize, Toonimo, and WhatFix, Lepofsky notes.

[source:-fortune]

Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to Developers

Image result for Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming watchOS 4 update to developers, a little over one week after seeding the third beta and over a month after introducing the new update at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the watchOS 4 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software update.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS 4 features three new watch faces, including a dedicated Siri watch face that displays dynamic information unique to each individual and is perhaps the most significant new feature in the update. There are also new complications for Now Playing and Apple News, and an enhanced Workout app that supports High Intensity Interval Training and new swimming options.

GymKit, a new technology platform, will let the Apple Watch interface with gym equipment for workout data sharing purposes, and the Activity app will offer up intelligent coaching and tailored workout encouragement along with new monthly activity challenges.

Many other small tweaks and changes have been introduced, all of which are outlined in our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

watchOS 4 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers, so non-developers will need to wait until the software sees an official release in the fall to try it out.

[“Source-macrumors.”]

Apple Seeds Third Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to Developers

Image result for Apple Seeds Third Beta of New watchOS 4 Operating System to DevelopersApple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming watchOS 4 update to developers, just over three weeks after seeding the second beta and more than a month after introducing the new update at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference. The new version is build 15R5321h.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the watchOS 4 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software update.
To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS 4 features three new watch faces, including a dedicated Siri watch face that displays dynamic information unique to each individual and is perhaps the most significant new feature in the update. There are also new complications for Now Playing and Apple News, and an enhanced Workout app that supports High Intensity Interval Training and new swimming options.

Gymkit, a new technology platform, will let the Apple Watch interface with gym equipment for workout data sharing purposes, and the Activity app will offer up intelligent coaching and tailored workout encouragement along with new monthly activity challenges.

Many other small tweaks and changes have been introduced, all of which are outlined in our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

watchOS 4 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers, so non-developers will need to wait until the software is officially released in the fall to try it out.

[“Source-macrumors”]

Running out of storage space? Another 6GB RAM phone is in the works

Running out of storage space? Another 6GB RAM phone is in the works

Other than that, OnePlus 5 has a 6GB RAM variant as well. So as you can see, manufacturers are focusing more on making smartphones with larger RAM capacity. Now, another device from Chinese brand 360 Mobiles is coming to join the bandwagon. We say this as a handset from 360 Mobiles has made an appearance on GFXBench.

The benchmark listing shows the phone carrying 6GB of RAM. However, apart from the RAM capacity, rest of the specs of the device are quite average. So most probably, it will be a mid-ranger. The 360 Mobiles smartphone appears to be sporting a 5.7-inch display with the resolution density of 1080p.

Under the hood, the device will employ an Octa-core, 64 Bit processor that is clocked at 1.8GHz. Although the name of the chipset is not specified, it is believed to the Snapdragon 652 since the processor is layered with the Adreno 510 GPU on top. On the software front, the device is listed with Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS.

To remind you, 360 Mobiles had also launched a 6GB RAM phone called the 360 N5 a few months back. The smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 653 processor. There is a possibility that the phone spotted on GFXBench is a variant of the 360 N5.

[“source-gizbot”]

New operating system brings iPad into the world of laptops

Apple’s iOS 11 operating system overhauls the use of iPads and ­delivers many value-adds for ­iPhones as well.

I’ve been trialling iOS 11 Beta and, while it’s rough in places for now, there are big changes.

The iPad finds itself at a kind of crossroads. It’s great as a media consumption device, for watching movies, listening to music, reading, and browsing, and for ­creating on the go: drawing, doodling, writing, as well as photo and basic movie editing.

But it’s not the powerhouse that laptops are and, with iOS, doesn’t offer the versatility and flexibility of Mac OS or Microsoft Windows.

But with iOS 11, Apple has sought to vastly improve the iPad user experience. This starts with the extended dock. Having just four apps along the bottom of the screen is gone. Now up to 13 apps can be added, and Apple has included three more frequently used ones.

The dock is easy to access: it slides up from the bottom. I can quickly access and switch between the apps I use regularly.

With the new dock comes new gestures and accessibility. Continuing to slide up from the bottom uncovers a redesigned control centre.

iOS 11 Beta on iPad.
iOS 11 Beta on iPad.

There’s no need to double-press the home button on iPad. In one sliding action the current app can be minimised and it’s possible to switch to another. Music controls are accessible along with a range of settings, and HomeKit devices. Extra functions can be added in control centre settings.

iOS9 offered “split view” with two apps opened side-by-side. There’s now an additional variation called slide-over, where a column view of an app floats above another app.

While viewing one app, it’s possible to flick up from the bottom and select another from the dock. Drag it upwards and to the left or right edges for split view, or release it just short of the edges to float it.

I could change between slide-over and split view by dragging down on the app.

In control centre, apps are no longer dragged to close. Instead, press down on one of the apps (the RHS bottom of an app worked best), wait for the little “x” to appear on each, and then touch to close. These gestures take practice to get right and persistence is important. But there are keyboard shortcuts, too. Hold down the Cmd key for a list. They include Cmd/Option/D for the dock and Cmd/Tab to switch apps.

iOS 11 also features drag-and-drop within and between apps, but its implementation is limited for now. With Photos open on the left side, and a Note on the right, I could drag images into that Note. But this didn’t work for Pages. There’s work to be done to make these features more universal.

Sketching with iOS 11.
Sketching with iOS 11.

The new Files app debuts on both iPad and iPhone. It offers what many people have missed with iOS — a file system with folders. You can access files and folders on the iPad, on iCloud Drive and a series of other cloud services such as Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. Dropbox support is on the way.

Don’t expect anything like the experience of macOS Finder or Windows Explorer, at least for now. While I could see files and folders, I couldn’t necessarily open them in the Files app. For example, if I chose a Google Drive Docs file, it wouldn’t open in the iOS Google Docs app although I could edit these files directly in the iOS Google Docs app.

It’s best to fire up the apps that create and write these files, rather than access them this new way. There are exceptions. I could easily access and open PDF files on different cloud services through the Files apps.

Don’t expect to store Apple proprietary files in preferred ­places. For example, Pages documents can’t be dropped into OneDrive through the Files app, nor Notes into Google Drive. It’s a controlled implementation of a file access system.

There’s a major change to the photo and video format on iPhone 7 and newer iPads. They are HEIF and HEVC rather than JPEG and H.264. Apple says the change saves up to 50 per cent of space. Images and video are converted back to regular formats when transferring them to a Mac or PC.

iOS 11 on iPad.
iOS 11 on iPad.

But this creates an incompatibility issue with third-party apps if and until they adapt to the new format. In Google Photos in iOS, I got the message “too big or unknown type” when I tried to backup an HEIF image. So in Google Photos (which many iOS users have), photos taken on one Apple device don’t appear on another, although it works fine with iOS Photos of course.

In Settings/General/iPhone, there’s a selectable new feature called “Offload Unused Apps”, which purges a phone of unused apps, although data and documents generated by those apps remain. On my iPhone 6 Plus, that amounted to almost 2GB. Apps can be offloaded manually, too.

If you have a friend over and both have iOS devices, you can share your Wi-Fi with them without giving them a password. You respond to a prompt to allow them on to your network.

Other iOS 11 changes include searching handwritten notes, iCloud syncing of iMessages across devices (which should have happened years ago), marking up PDFs and screenshots, and the start of translations with Siri.

A scrolling app drawer at the bottom of iMessages allows the edition of maps, files and other media to messages. That will include person-to-person payments when Apple Pay works here.

The release of SiriKit to developers means Siri will perform tasks within third-party apps as it is implemented. And augmented reality apps with iOS 11 will allow users to superimpose imaginary objects in the real world, as they did with Pokemon Go.

The update rolls out later this year.

[“Source-theaustralian”]

The A to Z of Choosing the Best Website Builder

Practical Tips for Choosing the Best Website Builder for Your Small Business

If you want to succeed in the modern world, you need to have a website — whether that’s for your business, your blog or your professional portfolio. Thankfully, there are many free or inexpensive web builders available to help you make your website a reality.

For most entrepreneurs and aspiring bloggers, the question then becomes: What’s the best all-around website builder? Which platform is the most cost-efficient, offering the best and greatest number of features for the lowest possible cost? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is: there’s no such thing as a singular “best” website builder. Instead, each platform has distinct advantages and disadvantages, which make them better in some cases and worse in others.

But why is this the case, and if there is no objective “best,” how can you choose which website builder to use?

Specialization vs. Generalization

The main problem here is one of specialization vs. generalization. Some of the best website builders available are ones that generalize, attempting to offer the most well-rounded set of features for the widest potential range of customers. These are platforms like WordPress, which have risen to prominence, in part, because of how approachable they are for people who aren’t sure what they need in a website.

This is perfectly fine, and if you don’t have any special requirements or needs, these types of platforms will serve you well. However, for specific functions, they will always be out-competed by platforms that specialize in one particular area. For example, there are website builders designed for people who want to sell things online, and they outperform many of their competitors in that specific area. The more you learn about website builders, the more you’ll come to understand and recognize how many subtypes there are.

Specialist platforms will always be out-competed in some areas by generalist platforms, and generalist platforms will always be out-competed in some areas by specialist platforms. Depending on your needs, one of these areas will likely be more important than the others — but for you alone. There can’t be a best platform for everybody, because every individual building a website will be working with different criteria.

Practical Tips for Choosing the Best Website Builder for Your Small Business

So how should you go about making your decision?

  • Area of specialty. First and foremost, you need to consider what your most important needs are. Are you going to focus exclusively on selling things online? Or is your main goal to produce the best content you can and build a readership that attracts advertisers? There are many worthwhile goals here, and there’s at least one platform that caters to each subset of goals. Use these platforms to initially narrow your search; though you may want to compare your specialist platforms to generalist ones to gain a better understanding of the overall environment.
  • Usability. You’ll also need a platform that offers usability that matches your skill set. For example, if you don’t know anything about websites and have never built one before, you’ll want a platform that caters to newcomers, with intuitive controls, and preferable, a WYSIWYG editor. If you’re more technically minded, or if you have developers on staff, you might want to go with a platform that allows for more in-depth coding and customization.
  • Adaptability. You might need a platform that offers some specific points of integration, or allows for customizable plugins that cater to different needs. If you anticipate your web needs changing in the future, an adaptable platform is a must.
  • Cost. Obviously, you’ll also need to consider the cost of the platform. If you’re bootstrapping, and investing as little as possible into your new venture, you’ll want a platform with only the minimum features. Not all premium features are worth the cost to upgrade, so pay attention to each pricing structure and decide what’s best for you, specifically.
  • Support. Finally, reach out to some representatives from each of your final candidate platforms. How easy is it to get a hold of them? Are they helpful and easy to understand? Do they seem to want your business? The level of support you receive should speak volumes about the type of company you’re dealing with, and may help guide your decision.

You can create almost any type of website you can imagine using a website builder. The question is, which platform is best to use in doing it? Unfortunately, there’s no single platform that can offer you ultimate flexibility or ultimate efficiency, but if you’re willing to put in the effort to research and evaluate your options, eventually, a clear “best fit” will arise.

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

Life without social media has taught me the virtues of being social

At the end of last year I gave up the technologies that transmit news and social media. But I actually quit the media themselves a year before that. Like all good decisions, it was made in the pub, over a pint with a friend – a neighbour, who also writes for this newspaper (though, like me, does not write not about the news). Until then I would keep religiously informed about world affairs online – via the Guardian, naturally – over breakfast every morning.

It wasn’t that I thought news to be a bad thing per se – though most of it tends to be bad news – but I no longer wished to read it. For a start, I found it was becoming boring. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in the 19th century, long before Twitter and 24-hour news: “If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up … we never read of another. One is enough.” It has all become a bit like a Hollywood movie: same storylines, different characters.

That said, I would often miss the opinion pages, especially those that explored ideas that could benefit the world around us. The conundrum, however, as I saw it was that the technologies behind the new, relentless news were part of the problem, harming journalism itself.

I didn’t like how reading the news made me feel as I ate my porridge. Terrorism! Scandal! Murder! Economic growth too slow! Corruption! Celebrity says something stupid! Downing Street press release says government is doing great work! The big bad world became even badder. I also felt that it distracted me from what was going on around me – my neighbours, the flora and fauna outside my front doorstep, the land under my feet.

No man is an island though, so the big news stories inevitably enter my radar. Donald Trump, I hear, has been saying and doing lots of absurd things, stopping Hillary Clinton from saying and doing a whole other set of absurd things. The liberals, centre-lefties and greens, I’m told, are getting very upset about Brexit, putting it all down to racism and xenophobia – which I’m sure some of it is – forgetting the old adage that “small is beautiful” and silly unfashionable ideas such as localism. I’ve heard on the grapevine that everyone’s been getting hot and bothered about a big, very important election, where one group of people you wouldn’t trust to babysit your kids took on a handful of other people you wouldn’t trust to look after your dog.

Sometimes I unwillingly stumble across news items when starting the fire. The Daily Mail, incidentally, makes great tinder. I often find a copy lurking in a recycling bin, and take it out to burn on the basis that its contents have probably already been recycled enough. The edition I tore some sheets from this morning appears to be full of people trying to be famous for 15 minutes and not, as the Pulitzer prize-winning poet Gary Snyder recommended, for 15 miles.

Friends have told me they think it’s irresponsible not to keep up with world affairs – what’s happening with the Syrian refugee crisis, the escalation of words between the US and North Korea (or somewhere else by the time this is published), or any of the countless ecological crises afflicting the world. Unless we do, they say, we cannot respond appropriately. I understand their perspective, and perhaps they are right, but the world is not going to shift for the lack of news these days.

pine marten
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 ‘On my way home I saw a pine marten shoot into the woods.’ Photograph: Anne-Marie Kalus/Heritage Lottery/PA

Yesterday evening I watched two ant nations warring to death, while I sat above them drinking a glass of wine as the sun went down. On my way to the post office this morning I called in to a neighbour, to see if he needed anything. It was really an excuse to see how he was, as I know he suffers from mild depression from time to time. He told me he was fine for everything, and we chin-wagged for a while. A bit further on, I bumped into another neighbour whose car had broken down, and as we scratched our chins thinking what to do about it, he told me that an old boy I knew had just died. At the post office I overheard two farmers talking about the impact of Brexit on their livelihoods. They disagreed, but they were both laughing. On my way home I found a dead fox on the road, and noticed a pine marten shoot into the woods, off to terrorise some creature that had no idea that this would be its last day of life.

I won’t ever get to read my own online articles – I have to trust my editor, and do – but I do read the selected comments he sends me. Some raise important, interesting points. I ought to respond to a few of the more thoughtful ones.

Vegangirl, from Anonymia, says: “But you can’t live without killing, eating, wearing and using animals. Perhaps you haven’t given that much thought, or perhaps you are not empathetic to the plight of animals and believe they are created for our use.”

Thanks, Vegangirl. I was vegan for 13 years, and detest what we’re doing to the non-human world. But avocados, tempeh and cacao nibs, shipped all over the world using fossil fuels and intensive (or even extensive) agriculture, are not vegan. Shoes made from factory-produced synthetic materials are not vegan. Vitamin pills in little plastic tubs are not vegan. Anything industrial, including industrial agriculture, is not vegan as industrialism is wiping out much of life on Earth.

Another commentator, jbhasathought, from Cyberia, has a thought: “From my perspective, it’s not technology itself that’s the issue, it’s whether or not people are joined at the hip to it.”

Thanks, jb. From my perspective, it is technology itself that’s the issue. Whether you use your smartphone once a day or 50 times, its initial production requires oil rigs, quarries, mines, factories, transport networks and armed forces and prisons to give weight to the contracts militating industrial-scale manufacturing. But, yes, apart from the mass extinction of species, climate change and the hard lives of those who spend their days on the conveyor belts of industrial civilisation, I suppose cutting down your use of tech can save a little bit of energy, and make life for us more pleasant.

Teaandchocolate, from Somewhere, says: “I love the breeze and watching the seagulls soar, but I also love the brilliance of human creativity.”

So do I. But creativity got swept up by technology and it is now lost at sea. In Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry of Truth’s slogans were, “War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” If he were alive today, he may have added: “Destruction is creativity.”

News doesn’t have to be bad. Media organisations such as Positive News – which I’m a supporter of – are pioneering “constructive journalism”, giving a more balanced view of what is happening in the world. I’m told the Guardian is doing the same.

We need more calm, thoughtful ideas and less sensationalist journalism that harms, celebrity news that distracts, and bullshit with underlying assumptions that aren’t questioned. We need fewer people shouting at one another, and more people listening to one another. We need to start talking to our neighbours again, to find out all of the things – good and bad – that are happening to them.

Until that starts to happen, no news is good news.

[“Source-theguardian”]

The state of enterprise UX design in 2017

The state of enterprise UX design in 2017

Think about all the frustrating products you’ve used at work. Expense reporting apps. Outdated CRM systems. Database management tools. In the world of B2B products, UX has historically been an afterthought.

But the status quo is changing. Enterprise UX — which refers to the design of business products — is in the middle of a renaissance. Startups like Gusto, Stripe, and Slack are setting the expectation that business products should be useful, usable, and satisfying. Even large organizations like IBM, GE, and Salesforce are positioning design as a competitive advantage and hiring thousands of designers to reshape processes and culture.

We at UXPin surveyed 3,157 designers, developers, and product managers to gather insight into how business products have evolved — and where they’re headed next. What challenges do product teams face? How are teams structured? Are B2B companies really becoming more agile, or are they still chained to old processes? Here are seven key takeaways from the 2017-2018 Enterprise UX Industry Report.

1. UX design is still new to B2B companies

At companies with more than 500 employees, 35 percent of respondents reported that a full-time UX design role has existed in their company for less than three years. Across companies of all sizes, 53 percent of respondents reported that UX has existed for less than three years.

This shows us that UX design is still a new discipline to over ⅓ of established companies.

In any company, especially established organizations with entrenched processes and layers of management, a new discipline needs to fit into the existing culture to succeed — or the culture itself must change. And changing a culture is no easy endeavor.

Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

2. Design consistency is the top challenge

Design doesn’t scale like engineering.

As teams grow, design processes eventually break. Unless a standard set of tools and guidelines are in place, every new designer may introduce new inconsistencies to the product — slight changes in color, typefaces, or design patterns altogether.

Add in the complexity of B2B organizations, and it’s no surprise that 59 percent of all respondents reported that maintaining design consistency is their biggest challenge.

To eliminate inconsistency and improve scalability, many companies are turning to design systems as a long-term solution. Popularized by enterprises like Salesforce, Microsoft, Intuit, and others, a design system prescribes standards for product development and all the design and code components required:

  • Guidelines — The design principles, code conventions, and editorial guidelines
  • Visual assets — Color palettes, typographic scales, grid definitions, icons, etc.
  • UI patterns — The design and code for repeating patterns in a product (e.g. page layouts, forms, buttons, etc)
  • Governance and maintenance — Who can contribute changes to the design system and how changes get approved
Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

3. Executive buy-in for design is more difficult in larger B2B organizations

A clear correlation exists between company size and degree of executive buy-in. In companies with one to 25 employees, 27 percent reported that executive buy-in is a challenge. At companies with 1000+ employees, that number nearly doubles to 48 percent.

This isn’t surprising — larger corporations are more entrenched in old processes, making it difficult to introduce new ways of thinking. Designers face a tougher time proving the ROI of their work, which makes it harder to change processes for long-term improvements.

Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

4. Most B2B organizations follow agile processes

It is encouraging, however, that the old waterfall style of product development is fading away. Instead of defining all the requirements upfront and completing the work in phases, more teams are now following an agile process where requirements are regularly revisited, work is done in smaller iterations in “sprints”, and the output of each sprint is tested with end-users.

Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

As processes become more agile, they become more collaborative, which can improve buy-in in the long-term as more non-designers get involved.

5. Design systems are the key to scaling UX in large organizations

The iterative nature of agile development, however, requires new types of tools for designers and developers. To keep up with the fast pace, teams need tools that can help them collaborate and deliver consistent work.

Since design consistency is the top challenge, it makes sense that 69 percent of respondents said their companies either have a design system or are building one. The components provided by a design system makes product development a LEGO-like exercise, minimizing inconsistency and improving scalability.

Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

6. Self-education popular amongst B2B designers

Over 65 percent of respondents report learning design skills on their own. This percentage represents the number of people with no formal design education, and those with formal education who continue learning on their own.

The high rate of self-education could be due to the limited amount of formal UX programs. According to UX Mastery, only 132 universities around the world offer a 4-year degree related to UX.

The shortage could lead aspiring UX designers to major in a related field (such as psychology or anthropology) while building up experience through self-initiated portfolio work.

Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

7. Design income and career prospects are promising in the B2B world

Despite the challenges, the future looks bright for designers in the B2B world.

Not only is formal design education not a stringent requirement, but income is also promising.

  • Income dramatically increases when you have three to five years of experience — At this level, three times more respondents earn greater than $100,001 per year in the U.S. compared to those with one to three years of experience.
  • Promising long-term career income — After 10 years of experience, 82 percent of respondents report yearly earnings of at least $150,001 in the U.S.
Credit: Enterprise UX Industry Report 2017-2018

Conclusion

With UX spreading across the enterprise industry, more teams experience the growing pains of scaling design culture and processes.

  • Design consistency, usability testing, and clear requirements remain pressing issues with majority of respondents.
  • Designers per developer decreases as company size increases.
  • Over half of respondents indicated that a full-time UX role was just introduced in the past three years.

Product teams, however, are quickly adapting to enterprise sprawl with more collaborative processes and toolkits. Nearly 70 percent of respondents report using a design system and over 90 percent follow some form of an agile process.

Enterprises are finally facing the reality that business users expect the same quality of experience as consumer products. While transformation won’t happen overnight, the future looks promising. As UX continues to evolve as a core business competency, so too will the processes and platforms that support collaborative product development.

For more insights around team structure, income, design leadership, and more, download the 41-page 2017-2018 Enterprise UX Industry Report.

[“Source-thenextweb”]

SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE LEAVES THOUSANDS OF CUSTOMERS WITHOUT INTERNET

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Users located in the south east of the UK appear to be worst affected / Getty

Sky is experiencing service issues, leaving thousands of broadband customers without internet access.

The company has told the Independent that approximately 32,000 Sky customers are affected.

Users located in the south east of the UK appear to be the hardest hit.

The service issues started early this morning, at around 05:30am, according to DownDetector.

“You might not be able to get online or make/receive phone calls due to a problem in your local area,” Sky has said.

The company has also listed Baldslow, Battle, Beckley, Bexhill, Brede, Brightling, Brookland, Castleham, Cooden, Crowhurst, Guestling, Hastings, Iden, Lydd, Ninfield, Northiam, New Romney, Peasmarsh, Rye, Sedlescombe, Staplecross, Wittersham, Eastbourne, Hampden Park, Alfriston, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Polegate, Pevensey Marina, Pevensey, Seaford and East Dean as affected areas.

The Sky Help Team says it has engineers working to resolve the issues for customers in Sussex.

“Update: East Sussex. Due to extent of the damage. Engineers are still working on repairs. Updates to follow. Sorry for any inconvenience,” it tweeted earlier this morning.

It then followed up with: “Update: Sussex – Engineers have located 7 separate breaks in the Fibre cables & are working to repair damage as quickly as possible.”

The account is also tweeting affected users directly, and has told some of them that its engineers are “preparing cables now for splicing”.

Sky says its engineers are “making good progress”, and that normal service will be restored in Sussex this evening.

[“Source-independent”]