Mobile Monday Detroit Reviews Connected Technologies in 2016, Previews 2017

In its’ annual year-end wrap-up, Mobile Technology Association of Michigan’s Detroit Chapter of Mobile Monday Michigan reviews the impact of Connected Tech in 2016 and attempts to forecast 2017

MobileMondayMichigan-LogoDETROIT, MI – As has been the case since 2007, Year 2016 has been another innovation-filled, exciting year of advances related to the use of connected technologies – in almost every industry – globally, nationwide and here in Michigan! And 2017 is shaping up to be another ground-breaking year!

As they have for the last several years, Mobile Monday Detroit will again hold its’ Year-end Wrap-up event “Connected Tech Year in Review & Focus on the Future” on Monday, December 12th at 6:00 p.m. at RIIS in Troy. As it is every year, the format for this event is modified to be much more interactive; audience members are highly encouraged to participate in the conversation that will be led by Mobile Monday Detroit organizers, Randy Nunez of Ford Motor Company and Glenn Everitt of Compuware.

The discussion will review Mobile Monday Detroit events from 2016, as well as highlighting key connected technology innovations and issues that occurred during the year in Michigan and elsewhere, while looking at what we can expect moving forward into 2017. The audience is asked to bring their thoughts, perspectives, opinions and questions as the Mobile Monday Detroit team and audience together reflect on past events to understand the future impact they will have on connected technologies – and all the industries that use them!

Specific topics to be included in the discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Apple vs. FBI: San Bernardino
  • Pokemon Go and Augmented Reality
  • New Connected / Autonomous Vehicle Laws in Michigan
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Battery Issues
  • Google’s New Facility in Novi
  • 5G
  • Virtual Reality
  • Wearable Computing
  • Internet of Things

The event is free to attend but advance reservations via Meetup ARE REQUIRED in order to attend; make your reservation at Refreshments will be served courtesy of our host and sponsor, RIIS. Free parking is available onsite.

Mobile Monday Detroit is sponsored by the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) and RIIS.



About Mobile Monday Michigan:

Mobile Monday Michigan, a subsidiary of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, is a mobile/wireless industry networking and education organization which is a branch of the international Mobile Monday organization. Here in Michigan we currently have 4 chapters (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids) with over 3000 members state-wide.

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MTAM CEO & Members Named to 2016 Michigan ’50 Names to Know in IT’

Representing a broad range of technical disciplines & technology form factors, the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) shows a strong representation on the 2016 Michigan ‘Names to Know in IT’


MTAM-LogoDETROIT, MI – Showing the broad-based, multi-industry impact of connected technologies, the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) and 10 of its’ member firms are among those selected for the 2016 Michigan ’50 Names to Know in IT’ list from Crain’s Detroit Business.

Those selected representing MTAM and its’ membership include:

  • Michael Antaran, Founder/CEO, Marvel Apps LLC
  • Meredith Bronk, President/CEO, Open Systems Technologies Inc. (OST)
  • Barbara Ciaramitaro, Director – Center for CyberSecurity Leadership and Chair – Decision Sciences Department, Walsh College
  • Linda Daichendt, CEO / Executive Director – Mobile Technology Assn of Michigan (MTAM), Co-founder – Mobile Monday Michigan
  • Carl Erickson, Co-founder/CEO, Atomic Object LLC
  • Elaina Farnsworth, CEO, Mobile Comply
  • Tel Ganesan, Founder/Managing Partner – Kyyba Ventures, President – TiE Detroit
  • Jimmy Hsiao, Founder/CEO, Logic Solutions Inc.
  • Fred Jacobs, President – Jacobs Media Strategies Inc., jacAPPS
  • Neetu Seth, Founder/President/CEO, NITS Solutions
  • Krischa Winright, Senior Vice-president, Spectrum Health

A nationally known, state-focused, non-profit trade association for connected technologies, MTAM is focused on increasing demand for Michigan-based connected tech products and services within the state, nationally and globally, while also ensuring Michigan-based firms have the resources and skilled staff they need to enable their growth.

“We’re very proud that this list by Crain’s is reflecting the diversity of Michigan’s IT talent in a wide range of disciplines. Among the MTAM representatives, 6 out of 11 are women, with several ethnicities represented as well. Given the challenges by firms in all areas of technology in meeting diversity goals, I believe this speaks quite well of the progress we’re making here in Michigan, and MTAM is glad to be on the forefront of that work”, notes MTAM’s Daichendt.

“The ‘Internet of Things’ is considered by many to be ‘the new frontier’ in technology so our leading talent needs to reflect not only the diversity befitting such a frontier, but also the wide array of industries being impacted by these connected technologies. It’s extremely important in order to keep Michigan in the national and international spotlight for the work happening here, says Daichendt.

The entire list from Crain’s can be accessed HERE.


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Mobile Monday Detroit to Live-stream it’s 11/14 Exploration of CyberSecurity Careers Via Facebook Live

Statewide High Demand Causes MTAM’s Mobile Monday Michigan Detroit Chapter to Take Advantage of Facebook LIVE-Streaming Technology to Make It’s Event Available Throughout Michigan

MobileMondayMichigan-LogoDETROIT, MI – Due to a high volume of requests from throughout the State of Michigan, the Detroit Chapter of Mobile Monday Michigan will be making its November 14th CyberSecurity Careers event available on Facebook Live starting at 6:00 p.m. Monday evening.

Those interested in viewing the event via Facebook LIVE should “Like” the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan page on Facebook, and then look for streaming to begin at 6:00 p.m. on Monday. The tech team at RIIS will be facilitating the streaming for the Mobile Monday Detroit event.

According to Mobile Technology Association of Michigan Executive Director, Linda Daichendt,  “Once word starting getting out about the event, my email started to blow up with interest from around the state. I was contacted by students, educators and even business owners who were extremely interested in hearing what these highly qualified speakers and panel members had to say, but were unable to make it to Southeast Michigan to attend. We had inquiries from the UP, Traverse City, Kalamazoo and many other areas of the state. Therefore we started looking at what options we might have with a quick turn-around, and decided that Facebook LIVE could meet our needs.” says Daichendt, “Right now it’s an experiment for us, we’ll see how it goes before determining if it’s something we’ll continue in future.”

CyberSecurity is one of the most high profile issues in today’s increasingly connected world. With major companies around the world being hacked on an almost weekly basis, and the Internet of Things offering us the opportunity to bring convenience into our homes thru connected devices, CyberSecurity expertise is becoming one of the most sought-after skills for today’s companies in every industry – and the demand is only expected to climb for many years to come!

Monday’s event will feature a variety of experts to educate us about the diverse career opportunities available in the CyberSecurity field, the qualifications required, and what life is like on-the-job.

Our featured speakers who will focus on the level of demand for CyberSecurity expertise and the types of jobs being staffed will be:

  • Colleen Riccinto, Founder, Cyber Talent Search
  • Hector Acosta, Research & Policy Analyst, Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN)

Panelists who will talk about their experience working in the field include:

  • Jane Harper, Director – Privacy & Security Risk Management Services, Henry Ford Health Systems
  • Godfrey Nolan, Founder/CEO, RIIS
  • Barbara Ciaramitaro, Director for CyberSecurity Leadership, Walsh College
  • Natalie Blackbourne, President, Blackbourne Worldwide
  • Lou LeBrecque, Executive Vice-president, Authen2cate

The event is free to attend in-person but advance reservations via Meetup ARE REQUIRED; make your reservation for in-person attendance at Refreshments will be served courtesy of our host and sponsor, RIIS. Free parking is available onsite.

Mobile Monday Detroit is sponsored by the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) and RIIS.


About Mobile Monday Michigan:

Mobile Monday Michigan, a subsidiary of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, is a mobile/wireless industry networking and education organization which is a branch of the international Mobile Monday organization. Here in Michigan we currently have 4 chapters (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids) with over 3000 members state-wide.

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What You Should Know Before Starting a Mobile App Project

spud-softwareThe Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) encourages our members to submit educational content to the MTAM blog that can help our readers gain increased understanding of technologies, trends, programs, and initiatives taking place in the mobile/wireless (connected) tech eco-system. Below, please find a submission from MTAM member, Spud Software.

If you would like to explore MTAM membership so you may also share your firm’s expertise, visit our website at or email us at


We know that there are a lot of software companies out there competing for your business. You literally have the world at your disposal when it comes to mobile applications, and there are many options for anyone looking into custom development.

So what should you know before choosing a software company to bring your mobile app project to life? Here are a few questions to ask when you’re vetting a potential development partner:

Will you own the code?

Some companies will build you a rock-solid application, but retain ownership of the code. What does that mean? It means that as long as you want to use your mobile app, you have to work with them. The app is not yours, it’s theirs.

Will you own the data?

There are software developers out there who not only insist on owning the code, but they also own your data. So if your company has grown and wants to transition to a new solution, they have control of your data and you may have to start from scratch.

Who is doing the work?

You may have signed a contract with a company down the street, but that does not mean your software is being built locally. Many companies outsource their work overseas. So when you have a question about your mobile app, you may be calling someone in a country outside the U.S. to answer your question.

Who else have they done work for?

It’s easy to find a software company with a flashy website and a lot of promises about what they will deliver, but do they have proven experience? Who have they worked for? It’s important to know if they have the resources and experience needed for your company.

What are your on-going costs?

Does the software company charge a per-transaction fee for accessing data. Do they have monthly or yearly charges just for using your software? It’s important to know what costs you’re agreeing to up front.

Will you own the intellectual property?

You have a great idea or a unique way of doing business. When a software company builds your product, do you have the intellectual property rights, or are they free to rebuild and sell your product to your competitors?

When you choose to work with Spud Software, you can rest assured that you own your code, data and intellectual property. We’re not in the business of holding companies hostage with our software solutions. We discuss costs with you up-front and you know that your work is being performed by some of the best software developers in the business. If you’re looking for a custom mobile app that is 100% yours, contact us and see how we can help you.


Spud Software is a leading provider of programming services, including database and software development, web and mobile applications. Our clients range from automotive OEMs and Tier One’s, to growing healthcare companies, and other local firms looking to take advantage of the competitive edge Spud Software’s industry-leading services can provide. We use an agile development approach which results in accurate software, developed faster and more cost-effectively. We have many examples of how we help companies of all sizes improve their operations and financial performance – fast and cost-effectively. Contact us at to see how we can help your business.


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App Developers: Apply to Participate in Apple’s New Original Series, ‘Planet of the Apps’

Apple Planet of the AppsApple is taking app development to a whole new media for increased visibility – television!

Executive producers, Ben Silverman and Howard Owens are teaming up for an unscripted series about the world of apps and the talented people that drive its innovation. They’re looking for developers to be on the show with the vision to shape the future, solve real problems, and inspire change within our daily lives. “We can really tell their stories as we explore how apps are developed and created and incubated,” says Silverman.

‘Planet of the Apps’ isn’t just a show, it’s a launch pad and accelerator for exceptional developers. Those accepted will have a chance to receive:

  1. Mentorship: Hands-on guidance from some of the world’s best experts in tech and entertainment
  2. Funding: Those who make it to the final round will meet with top-tier VCs investing from up to $10M over the course of the season
  3. Marketing and Promotion: Featured placement in the App Store at the end of the show. Also, the potential to reach millions of viewers around the world on Apple platforms.


Participation in the show is limited to 100 of the world’s most talented app creators. If that’s you, apply HERE.


Applications are being accepted thru Friday, August 26th. To apply, you must agree to have an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21, so you can show us what you’ve built.


The inaugural season will take place in Los Angeles and film over a non-consecutive period from late 2016 to early 2017. If you are not able to take off work during this period, please do not apply. For more information, visit FAQ.

Additional details available at

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Fasten Your Seat Belt – Autonomous Cars Offer a Hot, Fast Ride!

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) encourages our members to submit educational content to the MTAM blog that can help our readers gain increased understanding of technologies, trends, programs, and initiatives taking place in the mobile/wireless (connected) tech eco-system. Below, please find a submission from  long-time MTAM member, Paul Jacobs of jacAPPS.

jacAPPS was among the first members of MTAM, and has been among the most prolific of mobile app development firms in Michigan – despite the fact that they’ve kept their staff to a manageable size. In spite of being only 7 years old, the firm has surpassed over 1000 mobile apps and 24 million downloads for a wide range of clients across the country, including strong relationships with a wide variety of media companies, real estate, healthcare and other industries. jacAPPS was a recipient of the 2015 ’50 Small Businesses to Watch in Michigan’ and has won numerous awards, including a two-time recipient of Corp! Magazine’s DiSciTech awards.

If you would like to explore MTAM membership so you may also share your firm’s expertise, visit our website at or email us at


By: Paul Jacobs, President, jacAPPS

The car industry is hot.  And I don’t mean just car sales.  I mean that there is a growing buzz in the ways that entertainment and content presentation has changed in cars.  On top of that, gone are the days when the auto industry doled out “innovations” whenever they felt like it.  Today, there’s a race to be first and best with new technology and an enhanced driving experience.

Everyone in the game needs to keep pace, or be passed by.

Over the past several months, we have had the honor of speaking at a wide array of conferences, including content-oriented conventions and those that focus on in-car audio entertainment.  Regardless of the setting, everyone in attendance was riveted by all things automobile and the impact on radio and other content providers.

Radio is the longest-running content provider in automobiles, and we have worked in the industry since the 1970s.  So while this post will allude often to the radio industry, the lessons learned and the challenges ahead impact broadcasters, content providers, and mobile app developers.

Just a few short years ago, very few people in broadcasting and other content plays were talking about cars. Today, you can’t hold a convention or company meeting without talking about the “connected car” and its implications on the business.  I’m attending the Podcast Movement conference this week in Chicago – there will be over 1,000 podcasters in attendance, and while they will be talking a lot about how to create a compelling podcast, they are also going to talk about podcast distribution, ranging from iTunes, mobile applications, and of course, the connected car.

The big challenge for content providers and mobile app developers is that the auto industry is moving much faster than ever before – even faster than some suppliers. And they’re looking far down the road – not in the rearview mirror.  The “connected car” is hitting scale, and will continue to grow like wildfire over the coming years. Virtually everything coming out of Detroit, Germany, and Japan will be connected. Scotiabank and BI Intelligence project that by 2020, fully 75% of cars shipped globally will have connected features and capabilities.jacapps 1

This flurry of activity points the way for the car to become another “smart device,” enabling these computers on four wheels to be mobile participants in the rapidly expanding Internet of Things. We’ve been seeing this for the past seven years at CES as companies like LG aren’t just generating buzz for their 4K televisions, but also for a host of other appliances that include refrigerators, washers and dryers, and home security systems, all of which are connected.

But it’s the car that’s becoming the new center of content provider’s universe. All content providers and mobile developers are going to have to work hard to ensure that remains the case. While consumers continue to strongly demand AM/FM radios in their new cars, their desires for connectivity features continue to grow, too. And as Apple and Google invade the dashboard, broadcast radio’s front and center position is threatened, as is the status quo.

Clearly, it’s the smartphone that is the digitally connective tissue that links cars with media entertainment and information. Since Apple opened its App Store eight years ago, changing the face of our communications, the mobile phone and the dashboard have become key conduits. And audio providers have been able to participate in this new journey, enabled by the ability to create mobile apps for stations, networks, and entire broadcasting companies. We’ve enjoyed taking part in this next step in the dashboard story via our mobile app company, jācapps, which launched 100 days after Apple opened its iOS platform to outside creators.

And then there’s the autonomous movement, progressing faster than anyone – including the automakers – might have imagined. BI Intelligence estimates 10 million cars with self-driving capabilities on the road by 2020, raising the question about what “drivers” of these vehicles will be doing to entertain and inform themselves while paying less attention to the road ahead. jacapps2

There is a feeding frenzy in the space.  Google announced their investment in a 52,000 square foot self-driving development center in Novi.  We have the MCity test facility in Ann Arbor.  And just this week, BMW announced their intent to have fully autonomous vehicles on the road in 2021.

In a sign that everyone wants a piece of the action, Rolls Royce has released plans for its Vision Next 100 concept, custom built automobiles that will have autonomous capabilities, all powered by electricity. The voice command system will feature “Eleanor,” named after Eleanor Thornton, the model for the 1911 Spirit of Ecstacy figurine that sits atop all Rolls Royce vehicles. Step aside, Siri.

Things are moving fast, and developers need to keep up, because even the automakers struggle to predict what the “center stack” of the autonomous future will look like and what it will provide. Will dashboards in self-driving cars essentially just become extensions of smartphone content and apps? Will these vehicles be equipped with standard radios like cars have offered as standard equipment for decades? And will passengers in autonomous vehicles be able to consume videos and other visual material as the technology ensures a safe and accident-free ride?

Then there’s the dashboard invaders, led by a couple of small tech companies you may have heard about: Apple and Google. In much the same way the radio industry hops on the hot format bandwagon, the auto industry is no different. Just a couple short years ago, most auto manufacturers were very skeptical of the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ecosystems. And they were reluctant to even consider them in their proprietary dashboard arrays.

Today, most of these same car makers acknowledge that consumers are much more likely to be loyal to the smartphones in their pockets and their purses, than the cars and trucks in their driveways. Thus, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are making their way into new cars today, raising more concerns about the way that radio stations and other audio providers maintain visibility in the dashboard. And you’ll be seeing these dashboard ecosystems in advertisements for auto makers, as Audi, Chevrolet, and others are already featuring CarPlay front and center in their TV spots.

If that doesn’t signal a revolution in the auto industry, nothing will. And that’s why we’re continuing to work hard to keep up with and even ahead of these changes.

The next several years promise to be a wild ride for the automotive industry – and of course, for all of us content providers and software developers.  This isn’t a time to slow down and ponder.  It’s a time to lean forward, experiment, take risks, fix, fail, and succeed.  Standing by the side of the road will ensure that you’ll be passed by.

Even in autonomous cars, it’s smart to fasten that seat belt. 


Postscript: We have gotten many questions about dates for DASH this year. After assessing our conference over the past few years, we’ve decided to take a breather for 2016. As today’s post underscores, the auto industry is moving at breakneck speed, necessitating a “growth year” for this conference to ensure its relevance in the future. DASH will be back, perhaps in a different form, rebooted and evolved. You’ll be the first to know about what’s next for the conference. We truly thank past attendees, as well as those of you who wish to attend DASH for the first time.

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Challenges Facing Development of Connected/Autonomous Cars is Focus for March Mobile Monday Detroit

Mobile Monday Michigan-Detroit Chapter, a subsidiary of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM), explores the challenges automotive and tech industries, along with government, must overcome to achieve the connected/autonomous car future that is so broadly anticipated

MobileMondayMichigan-Logo  DETROIT, MI – It’s impossible to discuss cars today without including connected and autonomous technologies as part of that discussion. The majority of experts indicate that continued evolution of these technologies  is inevitable – and fairly rapid, but what of the challenges to getting there? The convergence of the automotive and technology industries has created never before experienced issues in need of solutions. Add to that the need to consider such realities as infrastructure, federal, state and local laws, staffing (and related training needs), and massive amounts of data management; with these issues and more you start to see a field that may be evolving faster than we’re prepared to handle. Are we ready? If not, how do we get there?

To help us understand the implications of the evolving connected/autonomous vehicle on the automotive industry and all of the industries associated with it, Mobile Monday Detroit has invited two of Michigan’s leading experts in the field to join us on Monday, March 14th at 6:00 p.m. at Walsh College in Troy (Room 199), located at 3838 Livernois Road, Troy, MI.

Joining us as speakers will be:

  • Scott McCormick, President, Connected Vehicle Trade Association
  • Elaina Farnsworth, CEO, Mobile Comply

The event is free to attend but advance reservations via Meetup ARE REQUIRED in order to attend; make your reservation at

Refreshments will be served courtesy of our host and sponsor, Walsh College. Free parking is available onsite.

Mobile Monday Detroit is sponsored by the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) and Walsh College.


About Mobile Monday Michigan:

Mobile Monday Michigan, a subsidiary of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan, is a mobile/wireless industry networking and education organization which is a branch of the international Mobile Monday organization. Here in Michigan we currently have 4 chapters (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids) with over 3000 members state-wide. Information about Mobile Monday Michigan can be found at

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jacAPPS Introduces Android Auto Integrations as part of “App Everywhere” Mobile Strategy

jacAPPS’ breakthrough solidifies radio’s place in the “Connected Car”

Bingham Farms, MI – Leading mobile application developer jacapps has announced the company’s flagship V4 app platform will begin offering support for and integration of Google’s Android Auto, the connected car extension to its Android smartphone platform.

This new functionality will be available as part of jācapps’ App Everywhere™ product and will enable Android smartphone users with an Android Auto enabled car to access apps, including those of their favorite radio stations, from their car’s infotainment system, including the use of voice commands.

Stations with jācapps’ V4 mobile apps will see their apps featured (along with their logos) on in-car infotainment systems alongside other audio apps such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn.

“Consumers’ primary technology loyalty is to their smartphones,” said jācapps COO Bob Kernen, “Android owners want to see their smartphones integrated in their cars’ infotainment ecosystem. That includes messaging, mapping and media choices. jācapps can now enable our clients to compete on more app-driven platforms. That’s the objective of App Everywhere™.”

“As the automotive infotainment ecosystem has evolved with competing platforms from almost every manufacturer, consumer demand has grown, while overall satisfaction hasn’t.  Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are inserting themselves into this environment with the intention of unifying the user experience,” adds Paul Jacobs, President of jācapps.

Nearly 30 manufacturers have announced support for Android Auto, and consumers can expect 2016 to be a big year as more and more OEMs make cars with support for Google’s dashboard platform.

“Apple’s and Google’s dashboard ecosystems have been a major topic of conversation at our DASH Conferences,” notes Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs. “We have made this project a top jācapps priority and I’m pleased we’ve had this breakthrough.  We are excited that Google will accept station branded mobile apps. Now on to Apple!”

jācapps’ mobile apps with the new Android Auto functionality included will enable streaming of the stations’ broadcast as well as access to podcasts and streaming metadata, including title/artist info and album art.

jācapps is the leading developer of mobile applications for radio.  The company has developed nearly 1,000 apps worldwide for companies that include Entercom, Greater Media, Bonneville, Scripps, Emmis, Hubbard and a wide variety of public radio and Christian radio stations.

More information on jācapps Android Auto mobile app development and a video of how radio stations appear in automobiles can be found by clicking here.

For more information, contact Bob Kernen at or at 248-353-9030.

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Beta Testers Needed for MTAM Member App

tagly-betaList-headerMTAM member, IZI Mobile, is currently seeking Beta Testers for a new mobile app, Tagly. Join the beta HERE!

Tagly is an app for following exactly what you want from modern fashion & lifestyle brands. Follow whatever is relevant to you whether that’s Warby Parker for new frame releases or designer Yumi Kim for upcoming sample sales. Tagly is your personalized, fashion-forward social feed. Tagly then learns about your favorites and delivers a custom-tailored collection, twice a day at your convenience, catching you up on the best, and recommending new brands for you to fall in love with. You can also get a second opinion on those new shoes you saw on Tagly, by chatting with friends directly in the app.

Learn more about the development firm, IZI Mobile, at

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Is your firm eligible for a Federal R&D tax credit for the work you do every day?

Part of the work we do at the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan is educate our members, and Michigan’s larger mobile/wireless technology community of technologists and technology users, on matters that can be beneficial to their businesses. One opportunity that most mobile/wireless tech firms & mobile/wireless tech user firms we’ve spoken with are not aware of is the opportunity to qualify for a Federal Research & Development tax credit for the work they do.

To help us distribute accurate information to Michigan’s mobile/wireless community, and all industries where these technologies are being used, we have asked one of our member firms, Tri-Merit, located in Ann Arbor, to provide us with an article that shares their expertise on this subject.


Software developers are very strong candidates for the Federal Research & Development tax credit, due to many of the standard activities involved in software development potentially qualifying for the tax credit. And qualifying for this credit is very important because it may translate into substantial tax savings for your firm!

The information below is intended to assist in identifying potentially qualifying activities and further explain the aspects that need to be considered when quantifying them for the research tax credit. First and foremost, the basic requirement to qualify for the credits is that a project must meet all the elements of the ‘four-part’ test to be eligible.

Elements of the 4-part test:

  1. Permitted Purpose: The project must be intended to be useful in the development of a new or improved business component for the taxpayer. A business component may include a product, process, technique, formula, invention, or software.
  2. Technological in Nature: The project must be undertaken for the purpose of discovering information that is technical in nature. Thus, the activity must rely on the principles of physical sciences such as engineering, biology, or computer science.
  3. Elimination of Uncertainty: The project must be intended to eliminate uncertainty related to the development or improvement of a business component. Uncertainty can relate to the component’s capability, development method, or optimal design.
  4. Process of Experimentation: The project must evaluate one or more alternative solutions through the development, refinement, and testing of different options. This typically involves the use of simulation, modeling or a systematic trial-and-error methodology.

In looking at software developers, it is clear that many of the standard processes they are engaged in can be very R&D tax credit-friendly. However, within the software development umbrella there are several different types of software development activities, each with their own nuances related to the credit, such as:

  • Proprietary Software Product Development

Companies such as Microsoft or Oracle, and firms like them, which develop their own proprietary products that are held for sale or lease are the most straight-forward candidates for qualified software development, as it relates to the research tax credit. The basic requirement is that the qualified research activities meet the ‘4-part test’ requirements.

  • Custom Software Development

Custom software development (i.e. software that is developed under contract as a service for a third-party) can potentially qualify for the credit, assuming the ‘4-part test’ is again met for the research activities.

However, an important consideration for custom software development to qualify is whether the contract the work is performed under passes the exclusion for “funded research” found in IRC §41(d)(4)(H). For the contract to be eligible, two conditions must both be met. First, the payments must be contingent on the development activities being successful. Second, the developer must retain some rights to what is developed.

  • Mobile Apps

A relatively new trend in the software development market is the emergence and rise of developers focusing on applications for mobile devices (such as phones, tablets, etc.). However, as a large percentage of these mobile app developers are early stage companies, the potentially limiting factor here is their profitability and ability to benefit from the credit by reducing taxes due.

  • Web Developers (Website Development)

In general, standard web development (i.e. building a website) is not likely to qualify for the research tax credit. A significant portion of the work is generally related to the aesthetic design, which is specifically excluded from qualified activities, and HTML coding is not likely to rise to the level of technical uncertainty and experimentation required to qualify.

However, there are research activities performed by web developers that may qualify. Specifically, the back-end development of new software applications and platforms such as CRM applications and e-commerce engines utilizing source code developed in a programming language such as C++ or Java, which ties in to a web-based front-end may qualify.

  • Internal Use Software

Software that is developed for internal use (meaning software that is not intended to be sold as a product) is generally excluded from qualified research activities under IRC §41(d)(4)(E).

As with anything, there are exceptions for when internal use software development can still qualify for the research credit. If the software satisfies the following three additional tests, then it could still be eligible: (1) “The Innovation Test” – The software must be intended to be unique or novel and to differ in a significant and inventive way from prior software. (2) “The Economic Risk Test” – The taxpayer must commit substantial resources and there is substantial uncertainty whether the investment will be recovered within a reasonable time. (3) “The Commercial Availability Test” – No commercially available software could be used for the intended purpose without modifications that meet the first two requirements.

Clearly, many of the fundamental areas related to software development can provide meaningful opportunities to explore R&D tax credits. Whether the software development activities are intended to result in a new or improved product, internal-use software, or something else, it is clearly an area of tax savings that should be fully explored.

A significant portion of the activities performed by a company’s employees such as the software programmers, software architects, software analysts, QA testers, and other supporting team members may quality. Because the research credit is primarily a wage-based credit, employee involvement could translate into meaningful tax savings.

Some general examples of software development activities that may qualify for the credit include:

  • Development of specifications and requirements
  • Concept development and ideation
  • Alpha and beta prototype development and testing
  • Design of software architectures
  • Database design
  • Unit, user, and regression testing
  • Developing test cases for functionality and performance analysis.

Additional information about this can be found at

UPDATE 1/7/16:  R&D Tax Credit Now Permanent; a benefit to businesses


About the author, Andrew Lane:

Andrew Lane is a Partner based out of Tri-Merit’s Ann Arbor, Michigan office. For the past ten years, he has been responsible for managing the execution of Tri-Merit’s R&D tax credit studies, including the calculations of qualified research expenses, credit amounts, and the compilation of supporting engineering documentation and reports. In addition, he has been involved in defending R&D tax credit audits at both the federal and state levels, and has presented on the R&D tax credit to multiple state and local organizations from an engineering viewpoint.

Andrew has spent over 13 years involved in various engineering and manufacturing roles, having worked with a broad range of companies, industries and markets. Prior to founding Tri-Merit, Andrew worked with a number of engineering firms as a technical consultant, focusing on improving new product development processes, and manufacturing process development and improvement, through technology. Andrew has also spent years working in various engineering positions, specifically in both the semi-conductor and automotive industries.

Andrew holds a Masters of Business Administration in Finance degree from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from General Motors Institute.


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