The recent transformation and redesign of MARK5 have resulted in an updated user interface on different levels – both aesthetically and functionality-wise.Continue reading
A future perspective on reMARK: reimagining the IT infrastructure Technology evolution has become faster as alterations, change and rapid adaption are the new norm in enterprise software application development.
Within the past decade, enterprise software applications have undergone an impressive evolution thanks to a combination of technology and the demands of users. Thus, causing software providers to rethink their product’s infrastructure set-up and how their customers and users interact with applications. The recent launch of reMARK was a big step in the process of continuously improving our product. However, the evolution does not stop here. We already have new projects planned that will enhance the product technologically in order to make sure reMARK is optimised to fit the needs of today’s enterprise application users in the best way possible. But, first let us take a look at how user demand and behaviour have influenced enterprise applications and IT infrastructure.
The evolution of IT infrastructure and user demands
One could say that enterprise application software in many cases is intended to satisfy the overall needs of large and complicated organisations with advanced business processes, in contrast to consumer software that greatly caters to the needs of the individual user. With the rise of technology like social media and cloud computing, consumer software has in many ways reshaped how we live our daily lives to an extent which is very much unnoticeable. The software we use on a daily basis is typically characterised by flexibility, customisation, always-connected and easy maintenance that align with how we have designed our lives today. Therefore, it is only natural that we see this evolution in how we perform our work, how we interact with enterprise applications and what we expect these applications to do. Business is no longer conducted from nine to five every day – at an office nor at a desk. New expectations are influencing the rise of flexibility and accessibility in enterprise software applications, and it is not just about having access to software; it is the ability to quickly access it and work everywhere at any time. Because of this evolution in user demands, the focus of IT infrastructure has shifted from a technology-centric approach based upon fast computer hardware and high-resolution screens to a more flexibility-driven approach, where enterprise software applications are measured in time-to-delivery, simplified maintenance, user experience, agility and ability to customize the setup for the individual user. As a consequence, software providers must adjust their products and IT infrastructures to accommodate this. But, in many cases, recreating software can be a very expensive, complicated and time-consuming process. Which means software providers need to be able to integrate new functionality or scale existing ones as efficiently as possible in order support and preserve fast time to market and meet customer demands. The easiest and fastest way to integrate different components is not to rewrite them as identical elements, but to provide an additional software layer that can link separate applications together and allow them to communicate and pass data to each other despite their differences. To do this, a middleware software is needed.
Enhancing the reMARK infrastructure
In order to ensure continuous improvement and further develop reMARK technologically to accommodate customer and user needs, Nordic IT is in the process of reinventing and reimagining reMARK’s infrastructure set-up as we know it today. We are currently planning on developing and implementing a middleware software layer which purpose is to serve as a gateway to the central reMARK application by allowing easy data transfer between reMARK sites. This will enable several advantages for customers and end-users. In the short term, we will first of all be able to eliminate the need for remote synchronization which will enable easier configuration and maintenance for customers and users since only one main site and set up is needed. Additionally, the middleware application will support faster data processing resulting in improved user experience. In the long run, the middleware software will be the first step in the process of developing and implementing a web browser version of reMARK. This browser version will allow users to access reMARK through a standard internet browser and users will not need to install the reMARK software on their client platform. Thereby, providing businesses and users more flexibility and easier day-to-day maintenance.
Middleware; a strategic area for Nordic IT
What the future holds for enterprise application infrastructure is nearly impossible to predict and really anyone’s guess. However, it is certain, that business and user expectations to enterprise software continues to change. Which means that integration software like middleware will most likely continue to evolve from being just a necessary piece of software that ties separate applications together, to a strategic area of IT and business that allows software providers to quickly address and adapt to customers’ and users’ demands and expectations. Which is exactly what we aim to do with the new middleware software in reMARK. With the middleware application, we can deliver a browser solution faster and in the long run be able to continuously deliver new system enhancement faster and more efficiently.
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The official reMARK launch
For some time we have been working on a redesign of MARK5 and it is with great pride that we present our new email system: reMARK. We feel like celebrating, therefore we would like to invite you to the official launch party of reMARK on February 22nd, 2019 for drinks and burgers while you get to know reMARK better. The first 50 guests will get a goodiebag.
February 22nd, 2019
15.30: Doors open (Drinks and burgers are served)
16.30: Presentation of reMARK
At Nordic IT’s headquarters on Tuborg Boulevard 12 in Hellerup
Have you ever gotten completely lost when navigating a piece of software? How did it make you feel? It was probably because of limited user design. Good user design in many cases is a deal breaker in order to compete in this digital age. Hence, testing reMARK’s interface against user perceptions has been an essential part of the software development life cycle process. One of the main goals with the redesign of MARK5, was to make the system quicker to adapt and easier to understand by making it more user friendly. The core technology in reMARK may be so good; however, the real value of the system occurs in the moment the user interacts with the system. To ensure users are experiencing this value, user involvement has been of great importance in the way reMARK has been tested. But first, let us dive in to the comprehensive world of software testing.
Functional vs. non-functional software testing
There are many different methodologies and ways of testing software depending on the nature or scope of the project. But, basically software testing consists of several levels within the development lifecycle, each examining the software from a unique point of view within the development process. Overall, software testing methodologies can be divided into functional and non-functional testing methods.
Functional testing is the type of testing that is done against the business requirements of the application which means that the software is tested and evaluated against compliance with its specified requirements and components. Functional testing typically covers the following testing levels:
Unit testing is the foundational level of software testing and in many cases the first round of testing. The aim of this test is to determine whether or not the system works as designed. In this phase a unit can refer to a function, individual program etc.
Integration testing allows for the opportunity to combine all of the units within a piece of software and test them as a group to see if components work together.
System testing is the first level where the complete software is tested as a whole. The goal of this level is to ensure that the system meets requirements and quality standards.
Acceptance testing is the final testing that is completed in order to determine if the system is ready for release and if it is acceptable for delivery.
In contrast non-functional testing is evaluation of a software application’s non-functional requirements. Which means the purpose is to test the readiness of a system. Non-functional requirements are typically those that reflect the quality of the product, especially in the context of the perspective of the end-user. Non-functional testing usually covers:
Performance testing measures how the software application behaves under an increasing load and finding the failure points when the tested load exceeds the limit of what it can support.
Security testing ensures systems and applications are free from vulnerabilities, threats and risk so integrity and confidentiality can be maintained.
Usability testing evaluates the end-user’s usability aspects of the software which means that usability testing examines efficiency, satisfaction, learnability, memorability and user error messages.
Compatibility testing makes sure that the application is compatible with other systems and third-party programs.
So, how did we test reMARK?
Since reMARK is a redesign of MARK5, it is fundamentally the same core technology but with new additions and functionality. Therefore, testing of reMARK has primarily focused around acceptance testing, performance testing and usability testing since one of our primary goals was to make sure that the transition from the old MARK5 design to the new reMARK was frictionless and easy for the existing customers and users. In order to do so, alpha and beta testing methods has been used to carry out acceptance testing before the software was released to all customers. Before reMARK was released for external beta testing, several new designs underwent alpha testing and thereby tested in-house by Nordic IT users. Based on the feedback collected from the alpha testers, bugs and issues were resolved to improve the experience and functionality in reMARK. After the internal tests, reMARK has undergone beta testing where a group of existing customers have used and tested the system in their own environment. Additionally, existing customers have also been performance testing reMARK by stress testing the system to determine reMARK’s reliability under heavy workloads. Through observations, usability testing has been carried out by assigning users with tasks and observing how they complete the task. This was done to get an understanding of how end-users navigate the system and functionality in reMARK.
Obviously, there are countless of testing methodologies out there and ways to test software in order to make sure that the application works with the right outcome when put into operation. However, in today’s age of the customer, building software and designing experiences with end-users in mind is fundamental. Which is why user involvement and feedback from customers has been essential and very helpful in the process of testing reMARK in order to make sure that we were focusing on the end-user’s version of acceptance and not our own.
Are you ready for the next generation of maritime email communication? The wait is finally over!
We are now all set and ready for you to experience the first preview of your new email system; reMARK. The new interface is at the moment undergoing the last user tests since a lot has happened the past months. But, we are now finally at a point where we can reveal what we have been working on. Do not worry, all the great functionalities as you know them are still there, however we have redesigned them and added some new functionality that we hope you will find enjoyable and will effectuate your email communication even more! Get the first sneak peek of reMARK and become familiar with the new system here.
We hope you will be just as excited about the new changes as we are!
Designed to fit the future
Finding solutions to help users in MARK5 work even smarter has been under way!
Needless to say, we are proud to finally announce the introduction of the new generation of MARK5: reMARK. MARK5 has been redesigned, transformed and developed into a new generation of email designed to fit the future requirements of maritime communications. The new design will provide end users with an intuitive and enjoyable user-friendly experience, which will create better workflows and generate even more efficiency with email management. At this point, reMARK is still in beta test, however hard work and many hours have been dedicated to paving the way for the roll out of reMARK. We are very excited and can hardly wait for you to see and experience the final version soon!
We are currently working on further technological enhancements that will provide clients with a new solution where you do not need server installations in order to run reMARK.
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently came into force. Which means that it is now necessary and essential for almost all businesses to consider to which extent their employees and customers are engaging with digital products on a daily basis, and if they are in compliance with the new data security and personal data protection rules. Since we at Nordic IT offer customers a product that may contain personal data, presented below are four current features in reMARK that already help users comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.
Full traceability in Admin tool
According to GDPR you must have a procedure of both how to handle private data as well as who has access. You must be able to justify who has access to the data and how data is used and shared. To accommodate this, reMARK includes a log function through the admin tool capable of viewing all administrative changes. This way you can document how data has been handled and the function ensures that the IT department has full traceability of the emails and data and access to individual emails accounts.
With reMARK all actions are tracked. Administrators and users can view and inspect all actions related to a mail, contact or folder. All actions received a date/time stamp. For example, it is registered when an employee has printed an email or even filed an email into a folder. This gives the team leader full traceability and visibility of what has happened to the data, how it has been handled and by whom.
Delete email, contacts or folders in reMARK
GDPR has introduced the right to deletion of personal data, also known as the right to be forgotten, which means that the data owner has a right to have their data removed from a controller or processor for a number of reasons. In reMARK, this is possible.
But first, you must be granted the permission to delete emails. This can be setup in the reMARK admin tool by the administrator. When this is done, the user is able to delete emails permanently on all accessible email inboxes and folders. Also, a user with administrative rights in reMARK can delete other users’ individual emails or a whole email account.
Auto categories and auto filing of emails containing specific words
This feature categorizes specific emails and allows users to locate them later for processing. In order to comply with GDPR, you can setup rules to file emails into a specific folder. An example of this would be to have a rule-trigger on words that are related to content that contains personal data. Then, these words would be categorized for example in a category called “GDPR – Deletion”. The rule would then be setup to a specific folder that can be secured with permissions. In order for this setup to work, you will need to create the category, folder and rule manually. Emails in such a folder can then be deleted on a regular basis when they are no longer needed to comply with GDPR.
Besides the features described above that already comply with GDPR, we will soon add additional enhancements to reMARK that will give users the possibility to delete emails automatically.
What happens when maritime users go from a regular email system to a system that is developed to fit the needs of the maritime industry?
When users experience reMARK for the first time, a whole new world opens up to them
Usually, users come from an ordinary email system
Which is not in any way fitted to the needs of email users the maritime industy
Here is what you will feel when switching to reMARK:
The first time you open up reMARK it can feel a bit overwhelming
But you will soon realize that the user guides will help you find your way around the system
And once you have gotten friendly with reMARK, you will experience all the useful features
All tailored for the needs of the maritime industry to optimize your workflow
All of the sudden you have a complete overview of your teams’ actions, and you will never reply to an email that has already been replied to by a team member
You will never have to sit and wait while you search for a specific email – it is found in a split second
And you can setup filters suited to your personal needs
The email situation
Since the first email was sent, email users are now sending around 98 trillion emails per year, and before 2019 there will be more than 3.8 billion email users in the world which means more than half of the entire planet will be using email. This is why it is safe to say, that email has not just become an integrated part of everyday life, but also a necessary part of our professional lives. The average office worker receives 121 emails a day (the amount is even higher in the maritime industry)and 86% of the office workers prefer email as their method of business communication.
Although email clearly is a valuable business communication tool preferred by the majority of business professionals, its widespread use in business settings has also resulted in many different issues regarding email usage. For example, a survey by CareerBuilder reveals that 26% of employees think that email is a major productivity killer. For maritime email users, this is even a bigger problem, as they use email as their primary communication platform and therefore receive hundreds of emails every day – far more than the average employee in many other industries. With this volume multiple issues effecting emails can occur and maritime email users can quickly become inefficient if they do not have a maritime software solution that accommodates their needs and workflow.
Related: How to search your inbox effectively
Solve the issues with a maritime software solution
Therefore, the following problems and issues are some that many high-volume emails users deal with and how these problems can be accommodated by a maritime software solution like reMARK:
Too many emails
Receiving to many emails can be overwhelming, challenging and time consuming to organize. In order for high volume email users to stay on top of their email inboxes, it is essential that they are able to automate some processes regarding email management so inboxes do not become productivity killers. This can be done in reMARK by automatic filtering of emails. In reMARK, the user can set up filters and the intelligent system lets the user see only the emails that are relevant to them.
Not enough space to hold all your data
When receiving hundreds of emails and shearing documents and attachments every day, at some point you probably experienced your server filling up or reaching your email quota. However, in reMARK you do not waste server space. In contrast to standard email systems, reMARK does not duplicate or copy emails, documents or data. Instead, the system links to the original email or document. This means that you save a lot of data and storage space.
Slow and inefficient search
If you are an email user in the maritime industry, you have probably experienced that email inboxes can contain a lot of emails, and finding the right and relevant email can be a hassle, if not almost impossible. Therefore, it is a necessity for high volume email users in the maritime industry to be able to search efficiently. reMARK has an advanced search function that allows users to search through years of old data, conduct multiple searches at once and save your searches. Thereby, users are always able to locate what they are looking for instantly.
Missing team features
Do you often work on different projects in teams? Then you most likely have experienced the dreadfulness of trying to keep track of who have seen, replied or archived an email regarding a specific project. In order to accommodate this problem, reMARK has a team functionality and a log-handler that tracks every action towards a specific email, project, client, task etc. Which means that the shared team environment creates a better and more efficient information flow that is timesaving and repeated tasks are eliminated.
Obtain an optimal workflow with reMARK
It goes without saying that even though email brings frustration to many office workers and employees in modern business environments, it is still the most used and valuable business communication platform. Which is why our email is here to stay. However, maritime email users, who receive a larger amount of emails than the average office worker, will need a maritime software solution for managing emails in order to prevent inefficiency and obtain an optimal workflow. Nordic IT has developed reMARK with special focus on the maritime industry to help solving the special email challenges within this industry.
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