In this interview with our Vice President of Technology, Paul Tidwell looks at projekt202's role within Austin's vibrant tech community.
We’ve seen a big change in Austin’s tech landscape. Is that something you've been keeping an eye on?
Yeah, Austin is very startup friendly, so we don't have any trouble as a community staying on the leading edge. New framework and new technologies are pretty easy to find here. You've got organizations who are very progressive around continuous delivery, continuous deployment, newer languages and architectural patterns. Those are pretty common in Austin, because we're an early adopter startup community, even in the more established companies. That's a pretty exciting environment to be in.
It also typically produces a type of talent that's probably more in line with what you'd find on the West Coast. It keeps companies really progressive; it keeps them thinking about new and better ways to deliver software solutions to the market.
projekt202’s Austin office is pretty well-established now. What is your team doing currently? What has been your focus over the past year or so?
I’ve been here for almost four years and built the team that we have now. We're about 10 people delivering probably about 70% line-of-business solutions and back-office solutions for businesses, and maybe 30% consumer-facing products.
One of the things that companies come to us for, as they move to new UX patterns and they build modern web applications, they leverage our existing talent for boot-strapping these new projects and new frameworks, so that they make the right decisions upfront, so they don't have to learn the hard knocks on their own. They're leveraging our experience that we have started net new Angular projects four or five times a year, and they get that collective knowledge as they're going down that path the first time.
As a leader in Austin's tech community, projekt202 is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the inaugural Austin Design Week Nov. 7-11. It's a showcase of the best in visual, interactive, product, industrial, architectural and civic design, and an opportunity to bring together the Austin design community like never before.
Right now, my team is delivering an omnichannel solution for a major Fortune 50 hardware company, a hardware retailer, that involves native iOS development, four Angular apps, a Node.js service tier that interops with a bunch of enterprise services, all to deliver a kind of exciting, compelling multichannel experience for customers who are interested in redesigning their kitchens, redesigning their bathrooms. It is intended to be a way to grease the skids and help people get started on these projects after getting their creative juices flowing, after watching HGTV and not really knowing where to go next. We're bringing technology to the table to help people in that respect.
We're also starting to work with a pretty big household name around power and infrastructure, and help them build out their data visualization tool that is for surfacing industrial internet-gathered data. They have sensors on turbines, sensors on windmills, sensors on trains, oil refineries, pretty much everything out there. They're gathering all this data and surfacing it through a new platform that they've been developing over the last few years. We're helping them on the data visualization side, building a compelling application for all their internal users, and as a pass-through for their customers.
Those are a couple of the big exciting projects we're working on right now.
projekt202 talks about having technology-agnostic, device-agnostic development teams. What does it mean to be technology-agnostic?
It's kind of a loaded term, because I think some people’s knee-jerk reactions might be that that means lack of specialization. What it really means is being complementary. There's a lot of paradigms in development that are not language-specific. There's a lot of good architectural and design patterns that aren't necessarily predicated in a particular language.
Good principles transcend languages themselves. We effectively hire for a compulsion to learn lots of languages, so we have a lot of developers who are pretty comfortable working in a couple of environments, with different IDs, and different language semantics and frameworks, but still follow those good practices.
As a services company, it's essential to be complementary to existing platforms. Fortunately, in the realm of web services development, service-oriented architectures, the data on the wire is usually a common thread that is not particular to any given language. You have JSON and XML on the wire, and those services don't really care who's reading or who's posting those things onto the network. They're just consuming those elements and adhering them together.
We go into our customer sites and talk to them about their target architecture, where they want to be in five years, what their target landscape looks like, and then have really careful conversations around what the right technologies for the solution at hand are, to help them move incrementally toward their idealized future, but also being sensitive to the existing talent they have in-house, or what they think is complementary to the way that they're already doing things.
The attempt is to not start from scratch or radically reinvent things, but find something that's along that continuum towards their eventual target space.
Also, we really help people make those first steps with confidence. Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of times they're starting to go down a new pathway, and I want to make sure that they're making smart decisions upfront, because those things really quickly become ingrained, good habits or bad.
We can have experiences and conversations that are grounded in things that we've actually done, as opposed to a completely academic conversation based on what we've read on the web. It's about not only bringing value in flinging code, like any other software services company, but also bringing value in the careful consideration of how technology is an enabler for business, and how it fits into your IT landscape.