In the latest instalment of our interviews speaking to leaders throughout the world of tech, we’ve welcomed Kamil Walkowiak CTO and VP of R&D at cux.io, an app for UX Automation, behaviour and user experience analysis, currently operating in 102 countries.
Kamil is the author of the UX Automation concept and teaches companies how to create more "observable" websites. Kamil has also been running a boutique software house since 2014, where he has successfully worked for European startups from T-Mobile to Deutsche Bahn accelerators.
Tell us about the business you represent, how did the idea come about to found your enterprise? What is the vision?
A few years ago, my wife and I had an enlightening chat about her work. She detailed the process of market research: how she learns from people, how she manages observations, and how it leads her to conclusions about customer services. I, an introvert engineer, was immediately fascinated by the idea of transforming these processes into an online environment.
Back then, there were tools for quantitative analytics available on the market. But no one really questioned what stood behind the numbers. I myself always wanted to know why users of my apps are behaving the way they did. Why don’t they click on the buttons I designed for them? How does their journey look like before they get to the point, I was leading them to?
Together with my wife, we've built the very first version of an analytical tool that was aiming to help uncover and understand what users really do on the web. We started collecting all events users perform and snapshots of the visited pages to visualize the data.
Visits recordings were designed to enable our customers to observe every move of their users. Quickly, we've started to land accounts with tremendous traffic. This led us to aggregating collected data and visualize it in a form of heatmaps to see how users interact with selected pages in general.
What notable IT challenges have you overcome?
I would have to say: data processing in general. Starting from receiving events from thousands of websites and then pre-modeling and persisting data, so it would be accessible in real-time no matter what our customer needs to know about their users.
Today we’re receiving more than 100 GB daily. This means that we must be very cautious and farseeing in approaching even minor changes or upgrades. Also, maintaining such a large amount of data and traffic is not an easy feat.
How has your business adapted during the Covid-19 pandemic?
All along, we’ve been a remotely functioning company. Paulina and I were living and working in Berlin (Germany), the engineering team was stationed in Wrocław (Poland), and the rest of the staff was allocated in various locations.
One could say, we were kind of prepared for what was coming. With procedures in place, tools, and specific company culture, we were already adapted to spend more time at home.
The only exception was the longer meetings! We've allowed ourselves to talk not only about work, to show support to one another, and to simply be with our team. Other than that, I would say, we didn’t need to introduce any changes.
What are your plans to expand your service?
There's this conclusion that comes from our observations: many companies are at a loss when it comes to reading and understanding data. More than often, they use data to justify already made decisions.
We would like to turn the tide by teaching entrepreneurs how to use data to make decisions, instead of reasoning them. Therefore, we introduced pilot programs where we onboard companies on how to effectively use cux.io and how to connect data with other sources. Also, we are aiming to help them create comprehensive analytical strategies.
Being the CTO, what does your day to day responsibilities look like?
I’m not only acting as a CTO but also a co-founder of cux.io, so the spectrum of my responsibilities is exceptionally broad.
Usually, my Mondays are stacked with meetings. Starting with the weekly kickoffs with the team, where we're establishing goals for the upcoming week. Ending with a feedback session where we review our strategy, long-term vision, and business goals.
The rest of the week depends on priority objectives. I’m shifting my focus between building relations with business partners and customers, keeping an eye on our infrastructure, and long-range planning of the engineering and developer teams tasks. Also, I am constantly trying to make time to laser in on creating innovative and experimental solutions.
What advice would you give aspiring CTOs and entrepreneurs?
There are two things that need mentioning. First and foremost, you need perseverance and patience. If you believe that you have a good thing going, you'll need to be vigilant and resistant, because the obstacles may occur more often than you think.
Second of all, be careful with building teams. Choose not only people who are skilled, but also the ones that you have chemistry with. It's especially important in the early stages of your business – when teams are small, you need to surround yourself with people whom you can rely on, who are experienced but also are a pleasure to spend time with.
Oh, and one more thing! The third piece of advice, which may actually be the game-changer. Be transparent no matter what. It's the key to build trust and loyalty within your team. Remember, they are not here to close tasks and tick their work off – they are in the same boat as you!
How do you think the role of CTO has evolved in the last five, ten, fifteen years?
It’s hard for me to capture the evolution of this role, as I've worked with a variety of companies: from one-man shows to multinational enterprises. I would say that the CTO role depends on company size and structure.
For example, in early-stage startups, the CTO usually writes code, plans architecture, builds infrastructure, and – if all being well – sometimes gets involved in business making. With company growth, this role transforms and focuses more on delegating responsibilities and concentrating on a more strategic approach.
What new challenges are CTOs facing today?
I believe the most challenging factor to be communication. Our reality has changed, we can work from all over the world. If you'll add to this mixture an increasing number of notifications and constant alerts, you'll get quite a communication noise. We must be very observant to find valuable information in this chaos.
For me, everything else is just a natural progression. Computers are getting smaller, phones are working faster, and we’re producing more and more data every day.
Customers want answers now. CTOs must find a way to not only process data faster, but also deal with greater amounts of it than even months ago. But again, it’s just the natural course of events.
What do you see as the hottest trends within your industry today?
I’m trying to really cautiously approach the topic of trends. Usually, people tend to mismatch trends with the flavours of the month. For example, years ago there was this trend to move everything to NoSQL databases, today it's blockchain. In the end, those are just tools that may solve one problem better than the other but are never a cure-all.
I like to have a bigger picture of what’s happening and try to automate processes. My favourite quote of all is: if you have done something twice, it means you can automate it.
I'm a big fan of cloud infrastructure's evolution over the last few years – the shift from time-consuming building processes to achieving the same outcome with just a few clicks is amazing.
The same goes for marketing automation, which saves us time by reducing the number of tasks we have to do manually. And last but not least, the UX Automation. Tools like cux.io are now able to pre-analyze data and come up with ready-to-implement answers to users' problems.
Do your technical teams or do you use log analysis as part of your role? If you do, how do you find this helps day to day operations?
Of course! Every single part of our infrastructure leads up to a different level of logs. We analyze them and search for anomalies. This is especially helpful in the prevention of any unexpected app behaviours.
What can we hope to see from your business in the future?
Innovations! We're prepared to provide faster and more accurate answers to questions about users of any digital product. In the meantime, you can register for a free trial at cux.io, follow us on social media and understand how we can help improve your product.
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