Building Logistics Software For The Future: Choosing Platforms.

If you invested in logistics technology a decade ago, you probably lost the shirt off your back, but that has recently changed with cloud computing, IoT, and blockchain. A lot of that has to do with the companies like Amazon continuously disrupting the market, and other companies like Flexport becoming a unicorn with a $1B investment from Softbank.

COVID times have pushed supply chains to the edge of economic prosperity, being the hunting field for investors. Dave Anderson of Supply Chain Ventures says that recently they look at around 300 startups a year. Once high-end software becomes the need of the hour for your logistics company, you should decide where to stick: buy ready-made software or build from scratch. Let’s weigh the options.

How is Bespoke Software Different from Ready-Made Software?

Let’s define the terms from the start:

Ready-made software is something you can purchase, install, and begin to use instantly, like Jira or Photoshop. Such programs are made for general use and aren’t supposed to adjust to your needs. Also, you’ll never own such software.

Bespoke software is a product delivered by the development team particularly for your business and based on your company requirements. It can be modified and updated at any stage of the software lifecycle to meet changing business demands.

  • Framework: As commercial software is targeted at a wide range of consumers, it has a unified design and a standard frame. The main disadvantage here is that it might not meet your company’s unique needs or won’t be able to distinguish your products/services. A ready-made solution may oblige you to change your workflow to fit in. 
  • Cost: The cost for ready-made apps is divided among many users, while the bespoke solutions are paid by the Product Owner. That’s why prices for commercial software are significantly lower than for the development of custom software.
  • Updates: In the case of ready-made software, be prepared to pay for future updates. Unfortunately, you can’t regulate the price and amount of such updates and may end up with an outdated product in case of non-payment. On the other hand, bespoke software updates are shaped according to your budget and needs.

How To Choose a Framework

  • Analyze your workforce availability and pick a framework according to available human resources.

What developers do you have on your side? Suppose you have to decide on a front-end technology, and you have two strong Angular developers. In that case, you should probably work with those. Moving fast can be valuable, and it’s an advantage to have people who are in their comfort zone instead of learning new technology. Also, actual knowledge of the ecosystem is an additional benefit.

Another approach is to discuss your technology with a generalist. Because if you talk about your project with a Node.js expert, guess what they’ll recommend? 

  • Analyze the challenge.

The chosen technology should depend on the problem you’re solving. Are you a technical innovator, or are you building an innovative business solution? If Facebook is built with PHP – that doesn’t mean you should use it too.

Some things are better function with one language than another — for example, Python is excellent for computation and statistics. The majority of software projects can be addressed with a variety of technology stacks. Only a few tasks require specific approaches to succeed. 

  • Examine IT trends and adopt a long-lasting technology.  

Be aware of industry trends, but don’t select them blindly. Check websites like hotframeworks.com, trends.builtwith.com, and Google Trends to understand where various technologies stand, in terms of popularity over time.

Some huge companies – including Facebook, Netflix, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit – use React for their front-end to scale and handle millions of views per day. Apple Music, LinkedIn, and Square use Ember to convert their native applications.

  • Look for support as the framework should be actively backed by the community or a tech giant for mitigating risks. 

Every technology embraces an ecosystem composed of people and tools. Facebook and the open-source community keep investing in the growth of React, and Google is behind Angular. This means that there should be long-term vendor support until the drop (yes, this happens). But the bigger is the community, the bigger is the chance that things will stay around for some time.

  • Read the Docs for better immersion. 

Choose frameworks with plenty and actual documentation. Start with checking the technology’s webpage for how-to videos and blog: how are updates handled? How easy is the update or to migrate? Have there been incompatible versions (like Angular 1 & Angular 2)?

As a modern developer, you should adopt a mindset of a constant learner and continually improve the delivery model to meet your customers’ increasing demands.

The synergy of front-end, back-end, and accelerators such as cloud, open-source tools, DevOps, and security will give you the edge you need. But in many ways, the most critical accelerator is your mindset.  

How To Choose a Technology Stack for Supply Chain Software: Erbis approach.

Aftermarket validation, the most complex part of the project is selecting tools. Often clients turn to our software development company with a vision of what languages and frameworks they want to use. This would be helpful if they were IT engineers, but they aren’t.

Our 10+ years of experience in custom software development allows us to share our thoughts on the topic.

Framework features that matter: 

  • multi-threading & concurrency
  • scalability & clusterization
  • persistence and ORM
  • transaction support
  • inversion of control and dependency injection concepts and practices
  • batch, scheduled and async processing
  • aspect-oriented programming
  • convenient and standard ways of REST services development 
  • security management inside business logic. 

Java

Over the last decades, Java and Java-based frameworks have been a top choice for complex systems development. Java-based back-end applications possess good qualities in extensibility and supportability. Sophisticated TMS and ERP systems may serve for decades, with the owner’s intellectual property well protected and maintained.

Mature Java application frameworks like Spring or Jakarta EE (former Java EE) include all features listed above to build complex logistic solutions.

Java Script

In the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in JS frameworks on the frontend – and, consequently, on the backend. Using the same language on both sides helps to consolidate the team and balance human resources between tiers when needed. Adopting feature-driven development, you can omit bottlenecks when the frontend waits for the backend, and vice versa. 

Choosing popular JS frameworks will probably speed up the creation of your MVP, but sacrifice the functionality Java has. JS frameworks are still getting these functionality implemented, but they’re not mature enough to rely on when developing the Supply Chain management platform. 

Python

Another player on the market is Python. It is an up-and-coming language that has the power to push Java to second place in this decade. Python’s Django framework holds many of the mentioned above features for developing supply chain software. If you want to put on Python for the perspective – this might be the proper choice.

Conclusion

Things are changing quicker than they did 20 years ago. Your chosen technology will probably stay with you for 5 to 10 years: this is a long time, but you need to prepare to switch technologies when the need arises.

That’s why you should think granular, in little packages. To avoid putting eggs in one basket, we at Erbis consider separating services, back-ends, and front-ends into smaller applications and microservices. Contact us (link) to discuss the bespoke solution that can solve your supply chain’s particular difficulties or benefit from a ready-made solution from our partner.

Erbis Recognized by Clutch as Top Ukrainian Developer

Whether you’re an enterprise trying to modernize a legacy solution or a startup looking to deploy an MVP, outsourcing software development can lighten your administrative load. But choosing the right partner is easier said than done. Dozens of service providers offer big promises, and it’s difficult to know which is the right choice for your specific project.

That’s where customer reviews come in. Testimonials can back up the claims of service providers like ourselves, confirming that we’re a valuable partner prepared to tackle your next development project.

We’re honored every time we read a review from clients who attest to our development expertise. Many of our reviews can be found on Clutch, a B2B platform that helps businesses with their outsourcing by showcases detailed reviews left by real clients. 

Clutch recently awarded Erbis with the title of Top Developer in Ukraine, a recognition that comes from their analysis of hundreds of businesses in the region.  We know that this honor was made possible because of clients who trusted us to take their business to the next level.

One such client asked us to augment their onshore development team back in 2015. We delivered an innovative solution to provide the best supply chain data service platform.

Here’s what they had to say:

“One of the most impressive things I’ve observed was Erbis Cloud Services’ ability to grasp our technical requirements and understand our business quickly. Within 2 months, Erbis Cloud Services was up-to-speed on our core platform, coming to contribute to our maintenance work, before we came to rearchitect some of the parts of our platform. This is where Erbis Cloud Services started to shine, from a technical expertise perspective.”

This satisfied client is just one among the many others that we’ve helped with cloud databases, platform development, and design. We encourage you to head over to Clutch and read our other reviews to see if we’re the right partner for you.
We think you’ll like what you find.  If so, chat with us today.

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Challenges Facing the Telehealth Industry

Phones and laptops are now essential medical technology, as doctors’ visits have transitioned from medical offices to patients’ homes. What does it mean to IT?

Cloud communication provider Vonage marks that the former sleepy telehealth industry has jumped more than 2000% in the last month. Their customer, Doxy.me says that 139,000 new health care providers have joined their platform in just one week. They served 1,35 million patients in that week, averaging 170,000 calls each day. Another customer, Doctolib, is doing 100,000 video consultations every single day. Telehealth has suddenly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for major health systems.

The reasons for this amazing spike are:

  • Ready-made solution 
  • Advance technologies ubiquity
  • Social distancing
  • Expanded Medicare coverage of telehealth services 
  • Relaxing of HIPAA guidelines 
  • Long term investment 

The meaning of telemedicine is broad. It’s anything from taking care of a patient’s needs through the telephone to actually having patient-doctor video interactions assisted with devices. Telehealth services can deal with a broad scope of problems, including skin concerns, minor infectious diseases, psychiatry, and minor orthopedic problems like sprains. So whether it’s loading information from your smartwatch, using blood pressure cuffs, or a remote stethoscope like Eko Health has built – telemedicine embraces it all.

According to Vidyo survey, healthcare providers identified telehealth as their top IT priority. Next comes the strengthening of data security and implementing EHRs and patient portals. Two-thirds of respondents said they expect their telehealth budget to grow over the next three years.

Notoriously resistant to reform healthcare system provokes a bunch of challenges which we split by reasons:

Legal:

  • Strong compliance. Meeting government standards for clinical data sharing is a tricky matter. Patients worry that their medical data may be hacked or sold. One mistake can lead a hospital, health system, or practice into non-compliance, which can include substantial fines.
  • Multi-state licensure. For all this progress, 21 states still do not allow to practice medicine across state borders presumingly for protecting their local licensees. Thus a provider who is licensed in California can’t provide services in Idaho. However, we can notice some legislative activity from time to time aimed to allow cross-state telehealth.
  • Parity payments. Parity within the telemedicine context means that if you’re seen via Zoom or in-clinic, insurance companies should pay roughly the same amount. Now many doctors ask the patient to come into the office because they won’t get paid otherwise. Though many providers are slowly adding selected telehealth services to their reimbursement rates, the industry reluctance prevents patients from this novel.
  • Slow adoption. In most countries, hospitals have been slow in adopting telemedicine technologies thanks to low IT budgets, legacy systems, and a lack of workforce. However, today’s telemedicine is increasingly run by startups – such as MDLIVE in the U.S., Babylon Health in the UK, and Doktor24 in Sweden – which have until now faced significant challenges in overcoming resistance from established healthcare systems.

IT:

  • Legacy systems. Legacy objections regarding security, interoperability, and infrastructure should and could be addressed with today’s technology. With moving to cloud-based environments, health systems can worry less about maintaining a secure, extensible infrastructure and instead focus more on improving both patient and financial outcomes. Larger health systems now aim to further strategic imperatives such as improving quality, reach, and patient outcomes while containing costs. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions help enable these results.
  • The urgency of development. The virtual hospitals and self-diagnostic gadgets are part of a wider suite of innovations developed at breakneck speed during the pandemic response. Few aspects of the healthcare industry have left untouched in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic seized the globe. We recommend that organizations look for an open architecture for flexibility and customization, existing integrations into EHR and clinical tools, and a platform with a vast ecosystem of third-party partners. Here you can learn more about Implementing an EHR System to Support Clinical Research that we’ve done for french Pharmaceutical Company.
  • HQ video solutions. Here are the main requirements for telemedicine video providers:
    • The solution must enable HIPAA compliance through 256-bit AES encryption for data in transit and at rest.
    • Seamless integration with EHR and EMR systems. This allows to launch a video visit directly from thу doctor’s workflow and update charts and records in real-time.
    • Ability to work in low-bandwidth environments to bring services to patients in rural.
  • Extra devices. A decade ago, fitness-trackers merely counted steps. Today they measure heart rates, and the latest Apple Watch can create an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. Remote devices for telehealth see a surge in demand. On the horizon are devices and apps for home blood testing or biomarker signals capture later sent to physicians for evaluation.

Social:

  • Awareness and adoption – A year ago, patients would rather wait till the next day to see their primary care doctors; these days, they’d chat with a physician. This pandemic has really pushed a lot of us to try telemedicine for the first time. In their 2019 Telehealth Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power reports that customer satisfaction with telehealth services is high: 851 on a 1,000-point scale. 65% of consumers are more likely to use telehealth if the cost is less than a doctor’s office visit.
  • Low-income population. Broadband access, smartphones, and the digital kit that connects to them remain expensive, which means telemedicine may not be viable for the poor or less tech-sophisticated seniors, who need these sorts of novel healthcare solutions the most.
  • Lack of skills. Doctors and patients both need some education. The relevance of digital skills in the COVID-19 is necessary work that must be done.

Conclusion: Telehealth has helped expand access to care when the pandemic has severely restricted patients’ ability to see their doctors. It is not a solution to the current crisis, but it will be one of its lasting consequences. Today, actions taken by healthcare and IT leaders will determine if the full potential of telehealth is realized after the crisis has passed.