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A Case for the Nigeria Police Force: Reformation Through Technology

by Ofe Ivharue

‘Reform the Police’ is a chant that has made headlines worldwide over the past few years, and even more this year especially in Nigeria. Reformation would first start from the internal processes within the police departments and move all the way out. In a world driven by technology, reformation would mean a transition from the old way of doing things to a more efficient, tech-driven way. This new way is sure to automate a lot of mundane tasks within the force, improve transparency, and allow for better service.

We have highlighted some reformative technologies that will do the Nigerian police force a lot of good:

 

Digitization Technology

Police reformation using BR

Policing in this digital age will definitely call for digitalization especially in the areas of data collection, reportage, and storage. By going digital, the Nigerian police force can convert all paper forms needed — from arrest to release— into digital forms that can be accessed on any digital device, which would ensure that everything is properly documented and transparent. With this, reporting crimes can happen a lot quicker as officers can complete paperwork from any crime scene and have them updated in real-time for processing. The file, once digital, can be easily referenced if needed; take an instance of a repeat-offender getting arrested in another location, officers in that location can easily pull out the case file and have knowledge of the offender’s previous crimes.

 

Centralized Digital Technology

Police reformation using BR

The beauty of a central system is in the transparency it offers. When all forms generated are uploaded to a central system, it becomes easy for the top officials in the police force to track cases and get real-time updates on activities in the station from anywhere in the world. Arrest and release forms can pass through the chain of command for approval, and even be signed digitally without any need for the officials to visit the station. 

 

Identity Verification Technology

police reform

When making an arrest, the need to know ‘exactly who a person is’ becomes necessary. It will be unfair for an impersonator to go scot-free after committing a crime while the impersonated gets a criminal record that might taint their reputation. Hence the need for identity verification to ensure the person to be arrested is exactly who they say they are. Using ID verification technologies, police officers can match the information provided by the suspect/criminal at the point of arrest with the information in a different database— say a national database — that can serve as a source of truth. For example, officers can match a person’s face with the image in the NIN or BVN database. This way, police officers can be sure of who has been detained (or about to be detained) in any cell nation-wide.

 

Case Management Technology

police reformation using BR

A case management technology will offer a robust system to digitally transform the processes of tracking, investigation, monitoring, and collation of data within the police force to allow for a more efficient and productive workflow. This system will harmonize all the information that is pertinent to a case and offer all the necessary tools for a proper follow-up. Another great benefit of this system is in its offer of analytics. This system will be able to churn data into presentable formats which can be used by the police force to analyze trends and answer questions like where and when crimes occur mostly, ensuring that every opportunity to arrest a suspect or stop a crime is maximized.

 

Workforce Management Technology 

Police reformation

The technology solutions in this group can play numerous roles including serving as a tool for holistic staff enumeration necessary to weed out ghost workers, like excommunicated officers or impersonators, that pad up the payroll records and receive paychecks for no work done. This technology can also serve as a payroll automation tool that will ensure that salaries are calculated effectively and go out as at when due so police officers can smile to the bank and be more motivated to do the good work. Finally, this technology can even go further to automate the processes of re-evaluation and re-training of the Nigerian police force (as is a demand for reform) which can be enforced as a requirement for deployment or reinstatement so that only certified police officers are put on duty.

 

Technology can do all these and even more, all aimed at reforming a willing Police Force. Certain solutions like BioRegistra are built for this purpose and come with amazing capabilities that will go even further to digitally transform the force for optimized results. With enabling features like mobile capture so that arrests can be documented on a mobile device outside the station, offline capabilities so that there are no limits to reportage, geofencing to pinpoint the exact location of an arrest, and so much more.

 

See how BioRegistra can foster police force reformation

 

 

 

How Technology is Changing Revenue Management in 2020

by Ofe Ivharue

What is a Revenue Management System (RMS)?

Essentially, a Revenue Management System is a software solution, which allows you to carry out important revenue management tasks more efficiently and effectively. It will make use of data from your organization, clients, and from the market at large, in order to help you to make more informed decisions. Revenue Management Systems are groundbreaking software helping government’s entities or organizations make an immediate impact on revenue management. It offers a complete suite of integrated applications for forecasting, revenue collection, revenue monitoring, etc. This software offers a comprehensive revenue forecasting system which enables interactive multi-year financial forecasts, historic trend, and statistical analysis. It is also an easy-to-use solution that allows the capability to create accurate and credible forecasts, along with the tools for efficiently managing, monitoring, and improving the forecast process.

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5 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Digital Data Collection Today

by Ofe Ivharue

The ability to collect and analyze data effectively is increasingly important to businesses. Companies gather, examine, process and build reports on large volumes of data. Traditionally, they set up mail surveys, telephone interviews, door-to-door interviews, face to face conversations, and paper forms formats as methods to collect information. With the ongoing digital transformation—this is changing many business operations at a high speed and a great deal of processes that were executed manually are now accomplished using a digital approach.

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Changing The Face Of Data Collection In A Post-COVID World

by Ofe Ivharue

Learn how your organisation can safely collect data; rightly use the data; and ethically share the data, while doing your part to flatten the curve.

Click here

 

Data will always be important whether the whole world stops because of a pandemic or people are too busy trying to get their lives back on track after a pandemic. Even in moments like that, data will play a key role in helping us make the right decisions. There is no stopping data or limiting its essence.

 

The first few months of the Coronavirus pandemic saw a growth in the amount of data collected either to calculate the rise or fall of the virus, to better understand the impact of the virus globally, to be privy to the mindsets of people during that critical moment, to project the future of the global economy, and so on —  all to make impactful, informed decisions. Global organizations like WHO used data to understand the infection rate and behaviour of the virus which gave the world a better grasp on the risk factors and what next to do.

 

On a national scale, data collected during the pandemic empowered world leaders to do so much including;  plan and allocate resources; strengthen border security through sorting systems that separated the infected from the uninfected; make effective lockdown decisions; carry out efficient contact tracing; and so on. Countries that were intentional about their data collection were able to respond appropriately with regards to the pandemic and their citizens.

 

We championed a nation-wide survey to aid the course in Nigeria and get the opinions of her citizens during the first wave of the pandemic in the country. See results here.

 

On a smaller scale, organizations – small, medium, large and multinationals – carried out internal and external surveys to gather data to make big decisions like how best to serve their customers and clients from afar, what next to do to remain relevant in the changing market, how to navigate the uncertain future with their current finances, and so on. Data single-handedly saved a lot of companies and ensured business continuity. 

 

The list goes on and on, buttressing the importance of data at any point in time. 

 

However, even as COVID-19 increased and expanded the demand for data collection, usage and sharing, it also created a behaviour shift that affected how data will be collected to stem the spread of the virus. The need to collect data without the risk of physical contact started the clamour for contactless biometric technologies that would allow organizations to capture biometric data while adhering to the stipulated safety measures — 3 feet apart, no physical contact, no surface contact, crowd control, and a whole lot like these.

 

In the areas of the usage and sharing of this data, the usual measures that guided data ethics still reigned supreme amidst the chaos of the pandemic, so that data would not end up causing more harm than good in combating the crisis.

 

Now, in what we would like to call a post-COVID world, the importance of data still stands albeit the pivotal change in the collection process and a little more stringency in the usage and sharing of the data within ethical boundaries and compliance rules. Organizations that are not aware of the nitty-gritty of this pivotal change, sadly, will fall behind other organizations in today’s rapidly changing digital economy.

 

As a leading organization in the data collection space and leaning on our track record of helping other organizations adhere to regulatory compliance with data collection, we will be discussing these pivotal changes and proffering effective solutions to aid your organisation to navigate the digital economy for the best outcomes

 

We will raise the following points;

  • A step-by-step approach to collecting real-time data while being compliant;
  • Use cases of architectures in multiple industries with positive outcomes as a result of data-driven decision making;
  • Intelligent decision-making support systems and expert opinions on how to use data to inform practices in your organisation to reduce risk/failure;
  • The best data-driven solutions to fit everyone’s needs.

 

Let’s begin 

(Register for our on-demand live webinar coming up on the 19th of September)

 

The Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Blameless Digitalization Strategy

by Ofe Ivharue

The world is fastly becoming digitalized, and familiarizing yourself with the fundamentals of a digital strategy will help you in your business. With more than 80% of internet users using smartphones or some form of tech, having a digitalization plan for your business will keep you updated with the latest trends. It will also give you access to a plethora of digital channels to do business on. 

However, without a plan to build on, your digitization efforts can crumble. That is why we created this digitalization guide to help you effectively digitize your business.

This article is the only guide you will need to develop your digital strategy. No matter the industry you are in, you can consider this article a cheat sheet to form the foundation of your digitalization strategy. But first, what exactly is a digital strategy?

What is a digitalization strategy?

A digital strategy is unlike a traditional business strategy that focuses on a long term plan and budget. This is because technology is an ever-evolving field, so creating a business strategy that spans over three years is unrealistic. 

So, a digitalization strategy focuses less on a time frame and more on:

  • Creating policies
  • Prioritizing goals
  • Entrusting roles to people who can make the right digitized decisions.

The scope of a digital strategy

A digital strategy is not a one size fits all plan. There are various technology sectors and your strategy should take all of them into consideration. Here are a few scopes your digital strategy should cover:

  • Email: Your strategy should take everything email marketing into consideration. This includes email newsletters, trigger-based emails, etc. It should create roles for email correspondence and assign people to these roles. Lastly, it should identify the steps for growing your mailing list and ensuring data protection and privacy for your consumers.

 

  • Social media: There are many social media platforms, but chances are your business doesn’t have to be on all of them. In this sector, your plan should:
  • Identify the social media platforms relevant to your business.
  • Outline your social media strategy
  • Create roles for social media management and assign individuals to the roles. 
  • Outline how you intend to handle a negative encounter on your social media channels.

 

  • Digital marketing: Digital marketing is a significant sector of your digital strategy. Take into account your search engine optimization (SEO), PPC, affiliate schemes, paid and sponsored ads, etc. 

 

  • Website: In this sector, your plan should identify:
  1. Your key website features.
  2. How content is curated and created for your website.
  3. The specific roles for website management and assign relevant personnel to said roles.

These are just a few areas your digital strategy should cover. In each area, your strategy should;

  • Pinpoint the benefits of using any of these technologies in your business
  • Access the current performance of the chosen technologies.
  • Have a place for technology recommendation as tech evolves.

A step-by-step guide to writing your digitalization strategy

 

1) Identify your ‘Why?’

The first step in creating your digital strategy is to identify why your organization exists in the first place. This will help you write a spot-on brand story with a strong message.

2) Define your goals

Next, using the SMART method (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) define your digital strategy’s goals. 

3) Create your buyer persona

Knowing your customers, their likes and dislikes is a surefire way to sell your products/services effectively. Creating a buyer persona helps you learn more about your intended consumers and how best to sell to them. Here are the steps in creating your buyer persona:

  • Use surveys and interviews to carry out market research.
  • Then, use the data you get from your market research to build your buyer persona. 
  • Give the persona you create a name. This humanizes them.
  • Add their goals based on your product/service offerings. 
  • Include challenges they might want to overcome by patronizing your brand.
  • Add hobbies, interests, and priorities to the persona. 

4) Map out your consumers’ journey

Mapping out your consumers’ journey will help you better understand how they interact with your business. Here are a few questions you should be asking:

  • On what platforms do our consumers encounter our business online?
  • What contact points are relevant when a consumer is deciding to go with our brand?
  • What factors deter consumers from using our brands to fulfil their needs?

5) Identify important channels

This next step references back to the scope we mentioned earlier. You only need to be on the digital platforms relevant to your brand. Therefore, do your research and find out where your target market is. Then, make sure your strategy focuses on those channels. 

6) Create your content strategy & content calendar

Creating your content strategy is a significant step in your digitalization strategy. Content is king, and by creating a plan to engage and convert your potential consumers on the critical channels identified in step five, you are ensuring you get your desired results.

A few tips in creating your content strategy:

  • Take important dates into account, and identify how they could be tied in with engaging content.
  • Create a list of potential content ideas your consumers could be interested in.
  • Section your ideas into a content calendar. This will ensure you adhere to your content creation schedule. 
  • Ensure you include benchmarks, employees in charge of creating and publishing your content in your calendar. 

7) Create plans for your available resources

Next, create a detailed plan on how you intend to use your available resources in your digitalization strategy. Resources like time, money, human resources, and others are crucial to the success of your plan. Creating a detailed plan on how you intend to use said resources would infuse clarity in your plan. 

8) Measure

Finally, you need to use the data you will get once you execute your digitalization strategy to measure. Go through your goals and measure how well you achieved them. Then, recycle this data to create an even more effective strategy for your brand. 

 

In conclusion

This guide is a step by step process, so following it as such will ensure you are on track to creating an effective digitized strategy for your brand. Remember, a plan is essential for any success. Creating a digitalization plan will ensure your business sees positive results. 

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About the Author
This article was written by Ana Mayer, a project manager with 3+ years of experience. While projects can do without her participation (which means almost never), she likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Online Writers Rating, Best Writers Online review website. Such work gives her the opportunity to write articles on the most relevant topics of today.

 

How Process Automation can Improve Small Businesses

by Ofe Ivharue

Process automation isn’t only for large Companies; neither is it merely about robots. Small businesses also benefit from using software to create repeatable tasks with even fewer errors and human intervention. 

You can either manually program your automation processes or use Artificial Intelligence. Incorporating automation into your small business can help increase productivity and lower costs. It can also help generate leads, gather analytics, and improve customer satisfaction.

So if you’re thinking of how process automation can improve your small business, here is how:

Improves Email Marketing and Personalization

Email marketing is a handy marketing tool for both big and small businesses. Over 86% of marketers have seen a measured improvement from personalized email campaigns. Email marketing campaign ROI can be as high as 3,800%. So for every dollar you spend, you can receive $38 in profits. However, it would help if you had a successful email marketing campaign to pull the numbers. Using automation for your emails can help.

A small business can use process automation to auto-reply and personalize emails. When customers message you through the online contact form, you get an immediate response. A swift customer response makes it more likely for you to convert them into a lead. 

Additionally, personalization is another essential aspect of any email marketing strategy. To be able to send out personalized emails, you need to have some information about the customer. With the use of AI technologies, you have a better idea of their interests and behavior. Such customer behaviors are based on how they interact with your platforms. Once you’ve gathered such information, you can send personalized emails using automated processes. Personalization involves addressing customers with their names and including relevant information. And it is bound to convert more potential customers to loyal customers.

Improves Customer Experience and Support

An increase in online sales has prompted businesses to upgrade their customer support platforms. Since online customers don’t have physical interaction, it’s essential to simplify sales processes. Several customer service processes, like orders, shipping, and post-sale, follow up, can be automated. From these processes, you can collect data to fine-tune consistent customer experience.

AI technologies, like chatbots, can enable you to reply to customer inquiries with ease. You also do not need any human interaction. For instance, a customer may create an account and have challenges logging in. A chatbot can guide them through the password or user name retrieval process. Such tasks are repetitive and, benefit from process automation. Thus, you can solve more customer problems, improve satisfaction, and customer retention.

Improve Collaboration within Departments

If you want a harmonized and productive workforce, team collaboration is essential. When several individuals are working on a project, they all need to be on the same page. But there are instances where delay occurs and likewise potential miscommunication. With the aid of automation and communication software, you can streamline your work. The project data shared is consistent. It’s also unambiguous, and open to all to make their inputs in real-time.

It is also excellent for small businesses because even with small office spaces, you can get more recruits to work remotely. The reason is that automation tracks team members’ responsibilities across geographic locations. Your small business can even go entirely virtual. Therefore, you get to save on overhead, such as rent space and office equipment.

Improves Cost and Savings

Sometimes, small companies incur a lot by hiring employees to perform labour-intensive tasks. You also find out that even with the large workforce, little value is added to the business. Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks equals having a small yet productive workforce. Your employees don’t have to be scattered all over doing even mundane tasks.

They can focus on tasks that need creativity and innovation for product development. On the other hand, automation helps streamline the time-consuming and repetitive tasks. While employees have more time to focus on their responsibilities, automation enhances productivity. In turn, you can lower your overhead cost and increase your profitability.

Improves Level of Accuracy While Minimizing Human Errors

Process automation enhances the accuracy in small business operations. You can eliminate human computation errors that may occur in tasks like invoicing, order processing, and inventory management. Sometimes, your team gets overwhelmed handling administrative and customer service related tasks. Having to juggle so much work, they are prone to make errors that can delay projects.

With automation, small businesses cut down on potential errors. These errors could occur when it comes to repetitive and time-consuming processes. For instance, essay writing review site Best Writers Online handles several clients’ information. The client information needs updates from time to time. Rather than enter such information manually and run the risk of having errors. You can make use of automated software to update that information automatically. And you are confident that the data is error-free and updated quickly.

Improves Compliance and Ensures Best Practice 

All small businesses must follow government policies like tax or customer information privacy. Also, other industry regulations and best practices need to be adhered to. For instance, licensing, systems update, and ethical ways of doing business. Failure to comply with required practices could amount to paying a costly fine.

With process automation, you can ensure that workers remember to follow specific procedures. And likewise, comply with industry standards and regulations. You can also incorporate these rules into the workflow management to ensure compliance at all levels.

Improves Data Gathering for Future Campaigns 

Small business automation enables you to gather data for future marketing campaigns. Useful customer information is collected from social media, surveys, and feedback forms. However, manually collating such data can be a challenge to handle and track.

With automation software like Google Analytics, you can gather and track data in real-time. The automated system you’ll need depends on your business type and long-term goals. 

 

Conclusion

There are several aspects of your small business that need a quick and simplified way of doing things. Process automation has several benefits for such areas in small businesses. With the right tools, employees can focus on providing quality products and services. While automated software takes care of other tasks that need repetitive imputations.

You can also provide a personalized and improved customer experience by up-scaling processes. Thus with budget-friendly software, you can improve on quality and increase your ROI.

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About the author

Nancy Williams is a writing specialist who is currently working for Best Writers Online —service for writers— and as an editor at review service Online Writers Rating. She is working to make better herself in her blogging career. She is constantly trying to find new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden limits.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Identity and Access Management Matters Even More Than We Think

by Ofe Ivharue

The world as we know it has become almost completely digitalized with new forms of technology and technological advancements discovered daily. Along with these advancements comes a need to properly collect, collate and store identity information in a secure manner. This need is prevalent in organizations of all forms and sizes.

The above need is what is known as Identity and Access Management (IAM) and can be defined succinctly as the set of processes, data (information) and technology required for managing and using digital identities. Tools required for Identity and Access Management include the likes of single sign-on,  multi-factor authentication and profile management.

Single Sign-On ensures that users are permitted to use one set of login credentials in order to access numerous systems and applications, thereby giving them ease of access between systems.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes use of general information about a user, or sometimes, a ‘One Time PIN’.

Profile Management works best for organizations who intend to ensure that their client/customer database is up to date and easily verifiable.

 

Businessman standing in front of a keyhole Premium Vector

The importance of IAM should not be underestimated, and here are a few of the benefits to show us why: 

Easy access anywhere, anytime

In this digital age, people need their identities more often than not to enjoy certain services and resources without limits. IAM makes it possible for authorized individuals to gain secure access to platforms using their verified proof of ID from anywhere and at any time.

Enhanced productivity

IAM automates the entry of new personnel and facilitates access to all components of the system on which the company operates. This allows reduced delivery times when it comes to access so that operation is not delayed. IAM standardizes and even digitizes the most crucial aspects of managing identities, authentication and authorization, and this would save a firm a lot of time and money

Better knowledge/information sharing

IAM systems can facilitate collaboration and knowledge/information sharing among business units and applications. Enabled knowledge/information sharing will ensure better functionality, shared calendars, shared data, and integrated contact lists. The IAM system will also greatly improve user access, and ensure federated access to external systems. Through the utilization of authentication standards set by the organization, the IAM system will allow information sharing about user identity to grant access to resources. All these can provide the organization with a competitive advantage over competitors that can’t offer an equivalent level of ease and expediency; enticing customers, employees and related parties to collaborate with the organization.

Ensured Brand security and regulatory compliance

There will be no risk of security breach irrespective of whether a connection is made from multiple identity providers. IAM enables strong authentication to keep your organization safe and secure. Detailed confirmation of all identities entering the system is performed, in addition to allowing various licenses to limit access levels. At the same time, it observes through analysis, fraud detection and alert functions that indicate a possible real risk. IAM ensures that online information and credentials are properly collected and managed, helping organizations meet industry compliance guidelines and requirements.

UX optimization

Remembering so many usernames and passwords to access social networks, banking apps and other services on the Internet can be a challenge for people. Thanks to IAM, people can get one identity that provides access to numerous systems.

 

In short, IAM is a reliable system that employs technology to support digital transformation. Software that provides agility, security and satisfaction to a company’s customers. Imagine a world where sensitive personal data is completely secure from system hacks and breaches. We’re not quite there yet but with Identity and Access Management, we’re not too far off from Technology Nirvana.
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About the author: Eddy Okaro is a driven and passionate writer.  For 3 years, he has been a content contributor on various topics; with technology being at the forefront of his interests. His vast knowledge on diverse subject-matters puts him in the spotlight as the go-to source for prolific content.

 

 

The True Purpose and Result of Agile Problem-Solving: A Seamfix Developer’s Tale.

by Ofe Ivharue

Being a software engineer can have its bittersweet moments. Sometimes you write code and everything works once; other times you spend days debugging an otherwise ‘small code’ only to figure out the problem all along was an invisible leading or trailing whitespace. In some cases you simply restart your system and BOOM, code is working! Talk about village people yeah. It goes without saying that your approach of problem-solving, coupled with your level of patience and agility, are key ladders in getting over that Trump wall.

The real software engineers, especially the ones who love to play around in the backend, know that the true test of your application is in the production environment after you have deployed the application for your customers or end-users. Unfortunately, this is also the environment where the most interesting problems occur. I am sure you may have noticed (assuming you are a real engineer) that there is often no amount of planning or testing that can guarantee 100% freedom from íssues’ in production. Production is to test what Thanos is to Hulk, and certain issues require an assembly of avengers to get through.

Certain production problems are sent from the pit of hell, and we experienced this from the front row while recently delivering on an implementation for one of the top telcos in Nigeria. There was chaos; there was confusion; there was drama; there were prayers; there were sleepless nights and tired faces; there were tons of intense brainstorming and development sessions to stir up new ideas; there were experiments and server restarts. Simply put, the entire scenario had the makings of a horror movie. We had everything but solutions.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein.

Our problems were aplenty. Following our migration to a new set of infrastructure, we noticed the resources (CPU and RAM) on our windows servers were spiking frequently with no obvious increase in traffic requests from the end-users. This spike in resource utilization was typically followed by servers grinding our applications to a halt. It did not stop there. The database which houses all the subscriber data was acting up and experiencing a lot of locks. This is the human equivalent of stuffing your mouth up with an equal-sized orange and trying to drink water at the same time. We also observed that certain servers were experiencing more traffic than the rest. Other more stubborn servers simply refused to start up.

 

 

I wish that was all. The longer the problems stayed unresolved, the longer our reputation took a hit. The customer was furious, to say the least, and the onslaught of escalations from the field did anything but douse their frustration. How do you explain to your customer that users cannot log into the application you built for them and you do not know why? How do you explain that you had one job to ensure that customers were onboarded with ease and you somehow managed to mess it up even without trying? I still stutter at the thought of it.

Our first real step towards solving the problems decisively was coming together as a team, without privilege or assumptions, to define the problem and identify its symptoms. We brainstormed around each problem and identified the possible options for resolution.

The first item we opted to resolve were the spikes in resources especially during peak periods (9 am-5 pm). The first logical step was to ensure that the components which receive the traffic from the client were optimally tuned for high traffic load. The touchpoints here were the software load balancer which distributes the requests from the client and the application server which houses the applications servicing the requests. The former was fine, but the application server (called Wildfly) was still running on the default configurations which come out-of-the-box.

We had assumed all along that the app server tuning we usually apply to our app servers were in place. We later discovered that this was omitted during the initial deployment of the app server some months earlier due to a misconfiguration in the deployment pipeline. We tuned the application server by increasing the number of input/output (IO) threads available for processing requests on the server and also increasing the number of requests allowed by the application server for processing.

Finally, we increased the minimum and maximum heap sizes of the JVM (this is the part of RAM allocated to your app server for its memory needs), retaining the same values for both configurations in a technique called GC adaptive sizing. Adaptive sizing forces the garbage collector (GC) to run more frequently, thereby freeing up more memory space for your application to do more work.

The issue persisted! The spikes continued as CPU utilization consistently hit 100%. Initially our first thought was that this was purely a CPU-related issue, and had nothing to do with RAM. However, on combing through the server logs, we discovered a series of GC-related errors indicating that GC had exceeded its overhead limit. We discovered that the error is thrown when the JVM has spent a lot of time on garbage collection without reclaiming significant memory space.

This led us to believe that either we had a memory leak or the adaptive sizing configuration on the JVM was causing more harm than good. The latter meant that GC was occurring too frequently and contributing heavily to the CPU spikes. We proceeded to reconfigure the JVM heap sizes, setting a low value (2GB) for the minimum heap size and scaling the maximum heap size to a relatively high value (8GB). This new configuration brought some respite to the application server as the spikes drastically reduced, with the CPU utilization shuttling between 60% and 85%. We then applied recommended GC optimization settings previously used in our setup for a similar client in the past.

Not long after we celebrated this small win, the CPU spikes started again. At this point, our line of thought was to look ‘inward’ towards a memory leak in one of our applications. The application server has 19 applications deployed on it, and anyone of them could be the culprit. We removed all applications from the server and monitored the performance. Next, we proceeded to add the applications back one by one, each time noting the effect of each deployment on the system’s CPU.

This way we were able to narrow down to the defaulting application, which was the application responsible for processing subscriber data. We identified a need to deploy the application to a dedicated application server, and scaling to multiple instances of the application server. The results were remarkable, as the stability this time around was sustained over a longer period of time.

While we were investigating the application layer, we also had investigations on the performance and efficiency of the database happening in parallel. A deep dive into our application server logs revealed a significant number of database connection issues which had persisted for days, fueling the need for database-related optimizations. The database administrator advised that the ideal number of connections for the enterprise database in use was 700 connections.

Considering that we had 27 instances of the application server each with 20 and 100 minimum and maximum connections respectively, our configurations needed to be reviewed downwards so as not to exceed the optimal 700 connections. We allocated a buffer of 50 connections (out of the 700) to reports and queries, then split the remaining 650 connections among the 27 instances (minimum of 10; maximum of 24 connections). This configuration helped ensure we do not overwhelm the database beyond its optimal capacity going forward. Subsequently, we applied the configuration across all instances.

We had succeeded in stabilizing the environment by tuning the application servers for high load conditions and optimal garbage collection. We had also tuned the database configurations in our application server configuration file to ensure that database optimal performance and uptime were guaranteed and the database was never to be a bottleneck. Next, we turned our focus to fixing a lingering validation service error which had become a thorn in the customer’s flesh.

The validation service is an application which embeds several machine learning models used to achieve biometric quality checks. It is a high compute engine which works with a collection of functions packaged as dynamic-link libraries (DLLs) and as such is accessed by a Windows program. The service was frustratingly erratic and barely starting up. The application was deployed in a standalone, server-embedded mode and the logs were barely useful. We applied all the performance tuning done on the other application servers, with very little success recorded. We deployed more instances of the application in a bid to address possible load issues on the server. That too proved abortive.

 

 

We took a heap dump of the java process and analyzed it using JDK’s JConsole tool. Still nothing. We took a step back to retrace every change that had occurred on the application between the old and new infrastructure. This thought process highlighted that the Windows OS version in the new environment (Windows Server 2019) was different from that of the old environment (Windows Server 2012). We had carried out our developer and load tests on Server 2012.

 At this point, we resolved to move the application back to an available Windows Server 2012 box. This worked!! We instantly created more instances on the box and internally logged the Windows 2019 server issue as a technical debt to be treated in the near future.

In summary, these were the key changes made to stabilize the situation:

  1. An increasing number of IO threads (50) and thread buffer in Wildfly (500).
  2. Setting request limit configurations in Wildfly undertow to the desired number of requests (2500). Undertow is the webserver embedded inside Wildfly.
  3. Adding GC optimization configurations.
  4. Scaling JVM min and max heap size to accommodate traffic demands without using adaptive sizing.
  5. Tweaking database pool size configurations — removed initial pool size configuration; reduced minimum pool size to 10 (from 20) & maximum to 24 (from 100).
  6. Reverting applications to OS versions where they were initially tested. In our own case switching back to Windows Server OS 2012 from 2019 did the trick.
  7. Taking a heap dump and analyzing to identify possible memory leaks.

 

Our CEO Chimezie Emewulu, said it best, “there is no big red button that solves all issues but a series of micro-optimizations that work together to achieve a bigger whole”. I couldn’t agree more.

In retrospect, there is this overwhelming satisfaction that comes after such periods of daunting problem solving as an engineer living up to the art, of course, we would rather not have the problem occur in the first place as there is even more satisfaction in keeping your customers happy at all times.

However, situations such as ours help emphasize the need to foster a learning environment especially in fast-moving deliveries like we have in the telco space. And yes, the team proceeded to have a comprehensive retrospective where we scrutinized every touchpoint in our implementation process and documented all learnings to ensure that such situations do not happen again.

Many thanks to all the avengers!

One Game-Changing Truth World’s Top Telecommunications Companies Might Not Know

by Ofe Ivharue

This is not common knowledge:  Just like self- driving cars are changing the transportation game, automatic airtime recharge and data top-up will change the game for the telecommunications industry forever. The question now is, who will be the first to hit the mark?

 

The telecommunications industry has already established itself as one of the most significant sectors in the world, and as humans’ needs for telephone and Internet services continue to grow, the industry is forecasted to expand even more than we can imagine. 

The necessity and clamour for the services that the telecommunications industry offers have already been established, but when it comes to determining who to go for, customers are spoilt for choice. In the competitive telecommunications industry, the main condition to maintain brand life is to win customer loyalty — their positive word of mouth referrals alone is enough to gain more customers.

Sure, subscribers factor in the corporate image, service quality, trust, and other business features of the different brands when in the consideration phase; but in this digital world, where artificial intelligence is transforming every and all, one feature that would stand out especially for the 21st-century subscribers is the telecom operator’s ability to ‘Automate for Convenience’.

 

Automate for Convenience is a made-up term that defines business’ move to automate mundane processes through digitalization technologies, offering customers a convenient and easy way to avail themselves with products and services with only a few button-clicks on their mobile devices.

 

The 21st-century subscribers are exposed every day to the wonders of transformative technology and how easy and more convenient life can get. With the “Hey Siri call mom” to the “Alexa, launch Netflix” way of life, applying artificial intelligence —  the single most transformative technology of this century — to technologically driven solutions is no longer up for debate.

AI is here to automate the telecommunications space and has already begun. Two processes that scream transformation are the processes of Airtime recharge and Data Top-up.  The airtime recharge and data top-up processes have seen some digital transformation over time; from the rigid recharge cards with pin codes to a more flexible USSD code recharge. But does innovation stop there? Not even close. 

Again, coming back to self-driving cars, Siri and Alexa; the big idea is the permission to not move a muscle and still get things done. People are always on the go, and when they are on the phone, they want a seamless experience which would mean no sudden cuts or pause to top-up.

 

So; how about a system that saves subscribers the hassle of having to manually purchase airtime, data, or other related prepaid and postpaid services. A system whose only duty is to monitor the airtime and data usage of a subscriber, waiting for these to reach a preset limit. A system that immediately triggers a top-up directly from the subscriber’s bank account within less than a millisecond of the airtime or data hitting the preset limit.

 

To subscribers, this would mean; no need to pause and move a muscle to log on to a mobile banking app or dial a USSD code or insert logical pins to top-up. Airtime recharge and data top-up will be done unconsciously and subscribers need not run out ever. Now, that is like the self-driving cars of telecommunications.

The benefits of this system to your telco will be endless. Just think about this: subscribers “never running out of airtime or data” would mean a continuous stream of revenue for your telco. Not to mention the wow factor that would retain current subscribers and attract new ones.

Artificial Intelligence is here to change the game, and soon, there will be an intense race for automated airtime recharge and data top-up systems. The winners would be the smart telecommunications operators that started early.

Are you ready to hit the mark? It’s time to meet AutoTopUp.

 

Click here to learn more.
Contact us at Support@seamfix.com

 

 

Going Digital: Changing the Trajectory of Your Business Growth Chart with Data-Driven Decisions.

by Ofe Ivharue

the business world today, Data is considered King, and for all the right reasons too. The 21st-century business market place is a data-driven environment and data is at the core of every decision-making process. Data empowers business owners with facts, statistical numbers and trends useful to manage the day-to-day business activities, growth strategies and finances of the organization and those who do not have it will be racing against their competitors in a blindfold.

We could go on and on about the importance of data and never be lost for reasons. However, just as it takes the right king to lead a nation right, it takes the right data to make the right decisions. Hence, It is possible that even an organization with a houseful of data can come crashing down. With so much information out there, business owners must be able to filter through the chaff and get the right data to leverage on — only then can they make the best decisions for growth.

The right data should have the following characteristics:

  • Must be from an authentic source.
  • Must have integrity, which means it must not be corrupted.
  • In the case of sensitive data, the right data must have access control, which means unauthorized personnel cannot access it.

The ever-increasing need for data is the reason for the equally rising need for optimal means of data capture, which is a major pain point for most business owners. However, the emergence of new technologies has simplified this process which has brought about another saying ‘Go Digital or Go Home’.

This is because it is a world where some of the fastest decisions have to be made and manual means of data capture will only slow down this process.

The Role of Digitization in the Data-Driven Decision-Making Process

Simply put, digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format. To any business owner eager to make data-driven decisions with the right kind of data, digitization is the key. Digitization is one way for businesses to go completely paperless and begin using digital forms to collect useful information for analysis. This drastically reduces the amount of time taken to gather data and improves the workflow. Basically, digitization is that thin line between an efficient data capture process and a counterproductive one.

Today, emerging technologies are aiding business’ quests for digitization. One of such new-age technologies includes Data Collection Platforms, offering businesses a perfect escape from the shortcomings of paper forms by enabling an easier and quicker collection of clean and verifiable data.

The benefits of data collection platforms are endless. Some of which include:

  • Saving organizations money (cost of buying paper, printing, transporting and even storing).
  •  Ensuring clean data by eliminating entry errors during the digitization process or data loss during transcription.
  • Allowing for massive reach and scale.
  • Empowering organizations to carry out real-time analysis for quicker decision making.

Choosing the right digitization platform for your business

As business owners come to the fast realization that paper forms are not doing their businesses any world of good and go about seeking options for digitalization through digital forms, many digitization platforms are springing up to match the growing needs for digital forms.

As a business owner making the same choice, you would be truly spoilt for choice. However, since there are different kinds of businesses with equally different needs for digital forms, it is important to have an overview of what you should be looking for when deciding which data collection platform to adopt.

Here are some options below;

Mobile Enabled

As a business owner, the foremost feature you should always consider when choosing a data collection platform is its ability to work on mobile devices. Your forms should be able to go anywhere with you and your customers and even fit in their pockets. This will be valuable to businesses that send out field agents to collect data.

Offline Capability

For business owners with a large customer base distributed in remote locations, it should be considered a priority that your choice data collection platform should work perfectly in the absence of network connectivity. This allows for massive reach and nationwide inclusion.

Flexible Form Builder

Making a decision to upgrade your paper forms to digital forms means your form should be exactly how you want it to be and should reflect the style of your business. Hence, you should ensure that your data collection platform is flexible enough to allow you to create your forms and configure them with any requirement you need from your users. Requirements include the type of data needed — textual, images, fingerprints,eSignatures and so on.

Easy Integrations

Your choice digitization platform should take data collection a step further by enabling you to integrate with your existing business workflow. With this, there will be no need to start restructuring your business processes and this helps ease the manual burden from you and your staff.

Real-time Analysis

Collecting data to make data-driven decisions can go the extra mile if the process is faster than that of the competitors. Achieving this speed with data collection platforms can only be possible if the platform is embedded with quality reporting and analytics tools to analyze data in real-time. The ability for speedy data analysis at the point of need will enable proactive decision making rather than reactive and improve operations at a faster pace.

Making the right digitization decision with BioRegistra

True to her quest of empowering organizations to grow with data, Seamfix is powering a platform that digitizes the end-to-end processes of data collection and verification. With 12 years plus of innovation and over 15 local and global recognition and awards, Seamfix has successfully digitized millions of documents, captured and verified over 100M biometric identities.

Our data capture and form digitization solution, BioRegistra is a market leader in data capture and analytics and offers all the robust features explained above critical for a well-implemented digitization strategy. BioRegistra is currently in use by hundreds of organizations in Nigeria and across Africa within various sectors — manufacturing, security, banking & financial services, NGOs, public sector, etc.

As business leaders, it is key that you champion incorporating reliable data acquisition into your business strategy to scale higher than the competition and consistently surpass your customer expectations. The good news — we can help you achieve that, and more!

Visit www.seamfix.com/bioregistra or call us today on +234–1–342–9192 to schedule a demo.


 

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