“Giants are not as strong and powerful as they seem. And sometimes, the shepherd boy has a sling in his pocket.” - Malcom Gladwell
This September noted provocateur and Evangelist of Everything Outlier Malcom Gladwell gave an excellent TEDx talk on the unheard story of David and Goliath in which he concluded with the quote above.
In it, Gladwell defies convention instead of reinforcing the classic underdog tale of the young shepherd armed only with a sling. Gladwell asks what the David and Goliath story was truly about and concludes that David was no underdog. Rather, David was the perfect warrior with the perfect tool to defeat towering opposition and force an army into full retreat.
In part one of this two part series on Creating a Viable Mobile Strategy for Small Business, we’ll discuss why this is the time to take what seems obvious to you mobile. In the second post, we’ll focus on how to get you there.
It’s a Great Time to Be a “David”
When David descended into the Valley of Elah 3,000 years ago, he knew what he was doing. It was that everyone else was obsessed with conventional thinking to see the utterly predictable coming. There are many Goliaths still striking terror into the current business landscape, but never has there been a better time to be a shepherd with a sling.
Right now, products like Aereo, Apple TV, ChromeCast and Roku have begun the systematic dismantling of the cable television business. Don’t believe it will happen? Just ask the music industry how their hubris allowed web and mobile devices to shrink their business model 64% in less than 15 years. Even the tallest of giants can come crashing down.
Kings of the Digital Age
Over the last decade, we’ve seen one company go from a trusty search engine into one of the nation’s 50 most profitable businesses. We’ve seen another go from an idea hatched out of a Cambridge dorm room to over five billion dollars annually. We’ve just watched a third go public as the de facto SMS of the internet with a market cap of over $25 billion in the last month, all of which have been validated by Wall Street.
In the spirit of Malcom Gladwell, Google, Facebook and Twitter were never underdogs. They were clearheaded ideas in the face of adversity and marketplaces that already had supposed victors. Those companies and those ideas were perfectly suited for their time and place and with leaders and a clear vision on how to succeed.
The modern sling of business is reaching customers through the web and mobile technology. True, not all of us are destined to become kings of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, but small businesses are more capable of taking on anyone now more than ever, if they have the courage to do what they are already doing to pinpoint success.
You have an idea and the industry expertise. Shockoe can provide the tools to accelerate your idea in the digital world.
Do you have the courage to do what you know will help launch your own digital kingdom?
Shockoe: Contact Us
Shockoe: Business Services
As the world watches the tragic aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), all of us at Shockoe Mobile Application Development share in the grief as we see the extent of the destruction. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors, loved ones and first-responders affected by this storm.
While we live half a world away, this week our thoughts have turned to wondering “how can we help?” We are proud to see the business community generously donate to the efforts and wanted to do our part.
So if you or your business are planning a mobile development project in 2014, Shockoe will donate two percent of the total mobile strategy value to help survivors in the Philippines. This fundraising effort will apply to mobile strategy engagements signed with Shockoe before December 25th, 2013.
If you are interested in participating or learning more about this fundraising effort, please see the contact page and enter “Code for Charity” into the message field header.
To learn more about our mobile strategy, see the services section of our website.
Thank you and let’s work together to help those devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Shockoe: Contact Us
I recently had the opportunity to switch a client app over to making use of the (relatively) new Titanium ListView. The ListView is a high performance UI element designed to display templated sets of data in an ordered fashion, making use of some arcane optimizations that I can only assume involve black magic to beat out the performance of a table view by an order of magnitude. Coming from TableViews, the switch over to ListViews was somewhat jarring, differences in view structure, event structure, and the unique quirks of these view elements made the transition a somewhat challenging process. Here’s a few interesting things I learned in the process.
Everything is structured.
Everyone has a few guilty little lapses in structure when making an app. Why bother redesigning a view for one specific case when I can just add the new view elements at run time? ListViews will have no part of that. Each template has a static set of views, and after creation, the elements in a given row are unchanging. The only way to change the information contained in a row is to push a new data object to the row, and the only way to add another view element is to modify the template. This requires a rather significant shift in how you develop for list views, as ad-hoc development and spaghetti code just doesn’t work with list views.
There are no row events. Only list events.
This was one of the most distinct differences in developing for ListViews as opposed to TableViews. Where Table views expose all of the events available to their child elements to you, ListViews expose a solitary ‘itemclick’ event. As the name suggests, this event is triggered when the user clicks on an individual list item. From there, you need to sort out what to do with the individual item, figure out which subview triggered the event, and proceed from there as you would with any click event.
Quirks, limitations, and tradeoffs
One major consideration with using a ListView is that they are in active development, and as such have a number of quirks and limitations, not all of which are documented. At one point, I had been debugging an app crash that produced no error messages, and realized that simply changing the bindId of one of the subviews of a template fixed it completely. Additionally, there are a number of little styling quirks (for instance, you can’t presently style the separator color or the section header/footer), and a I mentioned earlier you cannot change the contents of a row without rebuilding and replacing it. As with all new view elements, you need to weigh these drawbacks against the benefits before you’ve spent the better part of a week developing with a view element that just won’t work.
The core benefits of list views are, as I see it, performance and maintainability. The forced structure of list views require you to declare all of your view elements up front, to run all of your events through the same functions, and structure all of your data in the same way, making a well designed ListView much easier to understand and maintain than an equally well designed TableView. Additionally, the performance isn’t even comparable. Before switching over to ListViews, we were lucky to get twenty items into our lists. Now, we can easily load more than 500 at a time. That kind of performance difference speaks for itself.
On the heels of a major upgrade to their mobile software, Apple recently unveiled their newest version of the world’s the most popular tablet. The new “iPad Air” is a thinner, more powerful version of the company’s flagship device. But will the combination of the sleek new operating system and more eye-appealing tablet translate to the enterprise as the new go-to tech for the workers on the factory floor to the board room?
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa recently said that demand for PCs has declined. So does that mean that Apple, Windows and Android based tablet devices are replacing PCs as work devices?
One of the tell-tale signs of health of the PC industry, the back-to-school surge, was actually the worst single period for new PC sales since the global economic collapse of 2008. While Kitagawa expects the PC sale slump to level out in the United States, tablets and Android devices in particular are seeing a big jump.
“Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” Kitagawa stated. ”A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”
While Android’s price point might appeal to new consumer entrants to the space, what about at corporations? Reuters reports the real showdown for enterprise should come between Apple and Microsoft. Carolina Milanesi, another Gartner analyst — who is a little more frank about the competitive benefits of devices — said that “the iPad Air will compete with Surface Pro. Not some rinky-dink Android tablet.”
We wrote last month that Apple’s iOS7 made technological advances that will resonate with the enterprise, specifically around security. Interestingly, security might not be a determiner at least among upper management and might have more to do with ego. Many analysts believe that the iPad will remain the preeminent product among those in upper management.
“They [senior executives] will continue to prefer the Apple devices over their competitors; even over the Microsoft Surface 2 devices that have been released recently,” Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy told Computer World.
“There are some IT shops looking at the Microsoft devices and thinking ‘these might be a nice IT-friendly device’. However, the reality is when looking at these new tablets, the lightweight iPad Air, you are going to see senior people in the organisation continue to bring these into businesses and ask or demand for them to be supported by the IT department.
“I don’t see shift to Microsoft Surface replacing the iPad, particularly at the executive level.”
But there are only so many executives in the enterprise and the power of mobile devices at the front line stands to make a more profound impact on the business. So when considering moving away from PCs to extend the tablet within the enterprise at the factory floor level, Microsoft might be the more attractive option for CIOs when it comes to their staff. The old do as I say, not as I do trope might apply here. Matthew Oakeley, global IT head of Schroders, told Computer Weekly in an interview that he does not think the iPad will ever be a true corporate device throughout the enterprise.
“I bet a lot of people bought iPads for work but don’t use them for work,” he says.
“The real problem is that, if you run a Microsoft Windows estate, you want something that can talk to it.
“At an event I asked Steve Ballmer: ‘When are you going to solve the iPad problem? When are you going to make it that the iPad can talk natively to Microsoft?’
“And he said, ‘Probably never; we are not friends.’”
Microsoft has made an empire on strategic plays like the one Ballmer is said to have outlined for Oakeley above. Because Microsoft software is so firmly entrenched in the enterprise space, there’s no reason for them to leave their high ground by creating iOS connection points. Surface devices are quietly helping Microsoft hedge their bets against Apple’s dynamic and attractive product explosion of the last ten years. Still Apple’s growth has been largely consumer driven and doesn’t have the history of twenty years of software developments tailored to enterprise that Microsoft offers.
So who will rule the enterprise? As Microsoft VP Frank Shaw demonstrated, both sides have valid arguments for why their tools should be the standard, but in the end it is going to be a matter of perspective. Hopefully, an organization will look at what set of functions matter most and will work best for their corporate culture. Both sets of products have their merits and knowing one own’s unique organizational needs will be the key to making what might be a better/best decision for an organization.
Those are the decisions that we at Shockoe help our customers to determine every day.
How can we help you with your plans for a mobile enterprise?
On October 30, 2013, Richmond, VA mobile app developer, Shockoe was honored by the Richmond Venture Forum, along with eight other startup companies for their innovation in the small business world. Between 65 to 70 companies submitted applications for the “RVA Companies to Watch” competition, eventually paired down to the final selection of eight companies. Four winners were selected as “Growth (1.5+ years)” while another four represented “Emerging Startups (under 1.5 years).” Shockoe was categorized as a “growth company” with four years of mobile app development and consulting experience in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The competition highlights the impact of local and state-level initiatives that have driven entrepreneurs to the region. In a Forbes.com article from September 2013 entitled “10 Up and Coming Cities for Entrepreneurs” by Patrick Hull, Richmond made the list for its booming tax incentives coupled with the level of talent surrounding the Richmond area from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond. The nine other global cities rounding out the list include Moscow, Sao Paulo, Kiev, Sydney, Raleigh/Durham, Santiago, Austin, Singapore, and Bangalore.
Shockoe.com made a splash at the event, introducing a themed live voting app allowing event-goers to select their favorite company of the eight to win the ultimate award of the evening-the Bright Future Award. Shockoe ended up tying Emerging Startup social media referral service, Refersal for the evening’s favorite company among the eight.
We at Shockoe.com are excited to announce that we have been selected as of one winners of the “RVA Companies To Watch” by The Richmond Venture Forum We will be honored in their Growth category on October 30th at Richmond’s Hippodrome Theater at their annual event!
As winners of this award we wanted to invite you to come celebrate with us!
Being named in this group is an honor in itself, but Shockoe might yet be named as the event’s Bright Future Award winner and we would love your help to do it!
We at Shockoe know that being selected to this prestigious group is really an affirmation of the vision of our clients and partners. Organizations that have worked with us are the winners, as they have seen the potential of mobile technology through harnessing legacy systems, or as stand-alone tools. It has been rewarding for us to help organizations meet business goals through mobile and web development, ranging from budding entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. Our clients challenge us with an eclectic array of projects whether they be gaming apps to in-store kiosks to vehicle tracking systems and everything in between.
Each fall, the Richmond Venture Forum hosts the RVA Companies to Watch event to highlight early stage businesses which they believe contain the potential to become significant contributors to the regional economy. Companies selected must have an innovative product, service or business model that distinguishes themselves from other businesses in the industry.
Past winners of the RVA Companies to Watch awards include Ledbury, CarLotz, Plan G, HDL and Intelliject. Some former winners have used this event as a means to raise capital, find new clients or as a platform to raise awareness about the hard work their companies have done. During the event at the Hippodrome, winners will have five minutes say a few remarks about their business and how Richmond has been important to their growth. At the end of the night, audience members will vote for one company to win the coveted Bright Future award which was won in 2012 by Plan G.
While the Richmond Venture Forum’s October event is a chance to highlight all of the entrepreneurial efforts of the region, we want to pass along this along as a personal invitation to you. We at Shockoe see this event as a chance for you to join us in celebrating our clients’ hard work and vision in helping us to achieve this honor.
We hope to see you there!
UPDATE: Now you can vote for your favorite company by going to http://rva.shockoe.com or downloading the RVA Companies to Watch app on the Apple store or Android Play
What: Richmond Venture Forum’s RVA Companies To Watch event [website]
When: October 30, 2013, doors open at 5:30PM
Where: The Hippodrome Theater
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Mobile technology is changing the fundamental interactions between business and customers in meaningful ways not foreseen a decade ago. Even a traditional business model, like car rentals, has been disrupted by a rapidly expanding company with what seemed a niche idea, due to the flexibility that mobile technology gives consumers.
Why can’t the same principle apply in the home rental space?
Homes.com is part of the fifth-largest real estate listing portal network with over three million homes represented in the United States and that’s the question that they asked us at Shockoe.com.
Since then, we have been working with Homes.com to enchance their collection of iOS and Android apps. One of the first joint projects was released on October 16th to great acclaim. Homes.com’s industry knowledge guided the thoughtful design and solid codebase that Shockoe supplied and the brand new Homes.com Rental app is averaging 4.9 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 5/5 stars on the iOS App Store in just a week’s time. And as a recent study showed, app ratings are now more critical to rankings, thus exposure, than ever before
So how did Shockoe and Homes.com do it?
The new Rentals app was built with today’s sophisticated renter in mind. The app is the first in the market to offer current commute times for points of interest such as user’s place of employment, gym or shopping, tailoring the app to today’s ever busy consumer. This of course hits the three keys to mobile real estate: geolocation, geolocation, geolocation.
Now, on-the-go consumers can easily browse an expansive database of rental listings on the Homes.com app, which has built-in extensions to Homes.com’s sister site ForRent.com. ForRent.com is the exclusive provider of apartment listings on the Rentals app. Homes.com developed the smartphone app for effortless use on both iOS and Android devices and included iOS7 features such as natural navigation gestures.
“With year-over-year rental search traffic growing on Homes.com by more than 514 percent on mobile devices, our first priority in designing the rentals mobile app was to create an optimal shopping experience for renters,” said Brock MacLean, executive vice president of Homes.com. “The new app allows consumers to customize searches, instantly view and save listings, and connect with agents or property managers. Whether a renter is searching for a place to celebrate, create or unwind, the place to find it is Homes.com.”
The mobile app enables potential renters to tap into current listings filtered by user preferences. Filters run from standards like price, size and type of residence to many extras like fireplaces, parking or (a mobile first for the industry) pet-friendly rentals. Map searches are made simple with slide and tap navigation, all while referencing a geo-targeted map for an easy view of points of interest throughout the search experience.
How did Shockoe create this for Homes.com in such a short timeframe?
From the beginning, Dominion tasked Shockoe with building the revisions in the Appcelerator Titanium codebase to create an amazing user experience across multiple operating systems and devices while improving overall app performance. Rebuilding a unified codebase for Homes.com within Titanium offered Shockoe.com a chance to make big changes to simple usability and interface aspects of both mobile app experiences. For example, the older version of the mobile app made dynamic selection difficult in the area overview map.
Due to past experience, the Shockoe development team decided a whole new map design was necessary since the map function is a crucial. While it sounds daunting, we know it would end up being a major time saver since the redesign would be built just once in the Appcelerator Titanium toolset. The new map function would then be instantly reflected across both iOS and Android versions for multiple form-factors and the functionality could be re-used and applied to other projects down the road for Homes.com.
Shockoe has been a longtime partner and evangelist of Appcelerator. The cross-platform nature of Titanium enables us to meet deadlines and budgets that would be impossible had we designed for each platform separately. Our experience with Titanium makes an already accelerated schedule even shorter.
We at Shockoe look forward to collaboration with Homes.com and their sister site ForRent.com in coming up with new and interesting ways to help the companies enhance products and tie themselves together in the mobile environment. With an economical foundation on which to fortify their ability to acquire and cross-sell their customers in the mobile space, look for many more good things to come from the teams at Homes.com and ForRent.com.
How can Shockoe help your business take a great idea and make it a disruptive force in your industry?
Download the new Homes.com Rentals apps – [Google Play] [Apple App Store]
As one of North America’s top online real estate destinations, Homes.com® Rentals inspires consumers to dream big. From affordable houses to luxurious estates, condos, apartment rentals and more, Homes.com features nearly 3 million property listings and a user-friendly format, making finding your next home easy. Visitors to the Homes.com blog will find a collection of rich content and posts on DIY projects, painting, organization tips and more, providing the ultimate resource for everything home related. From finding your first apartment to buying your first home, upgrading, downsizing and everything in between, Homes.com is an inspiring and engaging partner in every phase of the home buying or renting process.
Homes.com is a division of Dominion Enterprises, a leading marketing services and publishing company headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. For more information, visit www.dominionenterprises.com.
As one of the nation’s leading online home search destinations, ForRent.com® inspires renters to discover their next apartment, loft, townhouse, or condo. ForRent.com features rental listings in a user-friendly format, making finding your next home an easy exploration. Visitors to ForRent.com’s apartment living blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest boards will discover relevant content and can join the conversation surrounding their home decorating style, rental tips and more, serving as the complete resource for renters in every part of their living experience.
The recent launch of Apple’s new iOS7 has many talking about how the new version of the operating system was the final death knell of Apple’s skeuomorphic roots, but beyond the style and sleekness of the upgrade, the enterprise should see the feature dense iOS7 as a major force in driving enterprises to mobile.
Security has and will continue to remain a major concern for the enterprise, but as Q2ebanking.com’s CSO Jay McLaughlin recently stated, the iPhone is by far the most secure device to try and integrate into the enterprise — as long as users aren’t jail-breaking the device.
“iOS 7 presents new vulnerabilities in the fact it contains new code, technology and features,” McLaughlin told TechRadar.com. “Once discovered, you’ll see new exploits created – many of which would be used for jailbreaking purposes – which inherently breaks and destroys the strength of Apple’s underlying security model for iOS. […] Historically, Apple has tightened its security within iOS with each subsequent release, adding stronger encryption, Data Execution Prevention, ASLR and the new A7 processor’s ‘Secure Enclave.’ As such, when in a non-jailbroken state, the iPhone is one of the most secure consumer devices.”
Here is eight features of Apple’s iOS7 that will change the business world for the better:
Stronger Security through TouchID & Activation Lock
One of the biggest drawbacks of extending the enterprise to mobile is the multitude of security threats to which mobile devices can expose an enterprise. TouchID made news when in less than a week a computer club in Germany demonstrated there are ways to bypass the TouchID system.
Even so, ComputerWorld’s Michael deAgonia writes that it is still a groundbreaking advancement for mobile.
“I’ve already decided [TouchID] will be a game-changer. In concert with new Activation Lock features in iOS 7 — GPS tracking can’t be deactivated and access to the iPhone is blocked without entering your iCloud username and password, even after a device wipe! — it’s hard to see this as anything but a major win for security.
The hoops someone would have to jump through to hack into the phone — lifting fingerprints, making a fake print using latex — are complicated, if they even work at all. For me, this doesn’t change its usefulness; it’s just a reminder that no security function is 100% foolproof.”
Weak passwords, disabled security locks and misplaced devices are what keep security-minded companies up at night when thinking about extending mobile in the enterprise. While not perfect, fingerprint-based authentication in concert with the Activation Lock and device wipe capabilities can allow companies to quickly intervene in a potential security violation before sensitive data is compromised. Better to wipe a $200 smartphone quickly than expose a business to tens of thousands, or even millions of dollars to a potential data breach while a would-be hacker fiddles with latex fingerprint molds.
Simplicity With Enterprise Single-Sign-On
For the busy folks on the front line delivering packages, checking manifests and entering patient data and all the while jumping between programs to do so, the repetitive authentication for each transaction can become major deterrent in the use of the products, or at the very least the secure use of them. What if that worker could log into a CRM app and then jump into an order-tracking app without another sign-on? iOS 7 allows users to take their corporate credentials across apps, even including apps from the App Store. This reduces the need to remember and enter a number of different passwords while also keeping data secure.
Opening Up on Managed Open-In
Would you like an employee accidentally tweeting the Q4 forecast numbers? Probably not. Thanks to Managed Open-In, companies can force their employees to open email attachments in specific corporate-managed applications rather than an app of the user’s own choosing. So, even without a containerization solution to protect corporate data, enterprise information technology departments can keep business data in business-related applications on the mobile device. The business can then dictate to the user the open in options by app or user account, providing a lot of management flexibility.
Private Server Conversations With Per-App VPN
Per-App VPN allows information technology departments much more granularity in access to back-end systems. Only specific apps can gain access to a corporate network, so unmanaged or unapproved apps can never gain access to sensitive data within the enterprise. As well this restricts the ability to remove data from unapproved applications thanks to Managed Open-In. This feature greatly improves user experience and firewalls privacy so that non-business data is unable to touch the corporate network. One of the major benefits to business? Since this can quickly create barriers between SAP and Facebook, Per-app VPN makes Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) a much more realistic goal for enterprise.
Mobile Device Management Software Made Simple
iOS7 includes a new MDM protocol to streamline third-party MDM solutions. For large businesses, the need to keep hundreds or thousands of users up to date with supported versions of software can be daunting without management software. Corporate-owned devices can be automatically enrolled in an MDM solution during activation, automating much of the custom commands, fonts and wirelessly set-up managed apps.
Giving iWork Mobile to Get
Microsoft made a kingdom into an empire by licensing their end-user productivity tools. Now, just like Google Drive did, Apple is giving away iWork with Cloud capability in their latest release. This move won’t push blue chip companies to defect in droves from Microsoft’s enterprise licensing program, but for smaller businesses this strategic investment on Apple’s part could help them justify the cost of equipping Apple devices while simultaneously extending on one set of productivity tools between laptop and mobile device.
Keep the “Property” in “Intellectual Property” Through App Store Volume Purchase Program
Enterprises can now buy apps and books for their iPhone and iPad-using employees and keep the to those apps or books to transfer them to other workers. For a handful of users, this might not seem like much, but those 99 cents start to add up quickly when it comes to thousands of users or expensive B2B apps or books or other such pricey materials. Previously, companies had to go through a painful process of buying redemption codes to hand out to employees to go out and download the apps on their own.
Microlocation through Apple’s iBeacons
Apple’s iOS 7 supports low-cost transmitters that can work with an iPhone or iPad to collect location data, even if there’s no location system installed in a workplace or other environment. The system works over Bluetooth 4.0 and can be used to interact with an environment just by passing through it.
Major League Baseball has been a staunch supporter of the practical for Apple’s new tech for a few years now, and they have been off and running with how to use the iBeacon technology since last winter. So far, MLB has created an experience to populate a ballpark guides stadium specific information and which prompts users with different results based on where they are located, be it prompting the ticket bar-code at the entrance for the ticket-taker or popping up a coupon for a free soda once one smells the aroma of hot dogs.
“We’ve been looking at customizing the app based on where you are within the stadium, but GPS is notorious for not working indoors, especially when you are in a building made of steel,” MLB iOS developer Marc Abramson told Mashable. “Instead, we are incorporating Apple’s new Bluetooth and iBeacon technologies for iOS 7 and couldn’t be more excited about the potential.”
“Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” Abramson said.
On the factory floor or in a busy transit center this sort of device/environment interplay could change the way the user interacts and experiences their environment.
These eight features are just a few of the many advances that Apple has made with their revolutionary iOS7 product. Beyond what we wrote about above, there’s plenty more worth mentioning: Multi-Tasking APIs, AirDrop and PDF annotations are but a few.
The advance of mobile technology inside the enterprise will lead to major innovations for businesses and with the introduction if iOS7 large organizations have even less reason to put off extending to mobile.
We wrote months ago that organizations who move quickly but cautiously will be the ones that reap the largest long-term benefit for their business. That said, Apple has addressed many of the major concerns for caution in the competitive marketplace with the introduction of technologies like Per-App VPN and ESSO. Extremely secure yet game-changing technology is now available to the enterprise and iOS7 has done enough that smart enterprises will use these security, locational and MDM advances to propel their business forward in the next year with the largest gain at a fractional risk.
Any young organization that experiences explosive growth invariably runs into many of the same problems. Building a scalable infrastructure while offering the best customer service are two challenges that faced Shaka Smart Basketball Camps, LLC as they strive to provide the best basketball experience for its campers and parents each summer since 2009 in Richmond, Virginia.
Smart is the head coach of the surging Virginia Commonwealth basketball program, the college basketball Cinderella story of 2011 and the success of his program has driven greater attendance to his summer camps in the Central Virginia region. With the added campers came scalability concerns for the staff in 2011 and 2012 and with more campers in store for 2013, the team had to huddle to come up with a winning result.
The mission of the basketball camp is to “encourage self-esteem and a love of fitness and nutrition” through a fun and informative week-long camp. As part of that mission, the camp’s curriculum teaches its attendees lessons about practical financial responsibility through a camp “bank account” that the children can use to purchase items from one of a number of the camp’s stores.
For Shaka’s staff, registering each camper, tracking who was in attendance each day and the unique challenge of monitoring the balances of each camper’s “bank account” across a five day basketball camp presented problems. Keeping up with the swelling number of campers over the past few years with a paper process found difficult and time consuming.
After last year’s camp, the staff needed a better way to supply right-time account balances, perform inventory control, provide updated balances to the staffers at the camp store and then offer reports for parents to reinforce the camp’s lessons of fiscal responsibility. To accomplish this, Shaka Smart Basketball Camps teamed with us at Shockoe Mobile Application Development to come up with a solution for the staff. To meet the team’s needs, we created a back-end database built to automate inventory control, track camper attendance, and track camper account balances all while providing an intuitive front-end display on iPads for camp staff to quickly learn and efficiently access the system. The devices were then integrated with Square payment software to make payments as simple and accessible as possible.
Last week was the camp’s first of three weeks and was the first real test of how smooth and scalable the application could be for the staff. So how did it work?
With the new application, registration went more quickly, attendance was efficiently tracked and there were no discrepancies in balances at the various camp stores based around the location of the camp, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center. Reports were then provided back to parents on how their children spent their allowances during camp for additional reinforcement of sound financial management.
With the new application in-hand, Smart’s staff of administrators and educators were able to focus on what matters most, teaching children the fundamentals of basketball while establishing a healthy lifestyle resulting in a win-win for everyone involved.
ABOUT SHAKA SMART BASKETBALL CAMPS, LLC
Founded in April of 2009, the mission of Shaka Smart Basketball Camps LLC is to encourage high self-esteem and a lifelong love of fitness and nutrition through fun, high-quality basketball instruction and games. The camp provides a wealth of experiences for its attendees including both current and former Virginia Commonwealth University basketball players, youth coaches from around the nation, conditioning experts, medical staff and VCU graduate assistants from the Center for Sports Leadership. This year, the camp will run for three week long sessions providing instruction and learning to hundreds of campers. Learn more about the camp at coachsmart.com.