For the next interview in our series speaking to technology specialists from around the world, we’ve welcomed Applover CTO, Piotr Sobusiak.
Applover is a full-stack digital agency, honoured in 2019 by Deloitte as the "Rising Star" in the CEE region and ranked in 24th spot in the Fast 50 category in 2020.
Tell us more about the business you represent?
We have started as a product company and developed an app that offered a new way of city sightseeing. However, it was difficult for us to scale the product because our business strategy was B2G - we were selling this solution to cities, which was the only source of income.
We quickly realized that software development itself was the greatest challenge for us - not only the programming part but also getting the right team, designing new features, observing how the market changes and reacting to those changes. It was clear that other companies that are starting their journey have similar problems. We already had a team and gained some experience in software development, we even had some inquiries from our network, so we started to help others with their products. That is how Applover started. Now we have operated for over 5 years and accomplished a lot!
Our vision is to be the best software development company that delivers high-quality products used by millions and teams that support our clients' business in the best possible way.
What notable IT challenges have you overcome?
There are various IT challenges, some are more technical and some are more people-oriented. The biggest challenges I had and have are: Hiring experienced developers, leaders, managers and top talents Developing processes that speed up development, increase productivity, improve project management and design digital products Developing processes that let us better understand our clients and their business needs (workshops) Structuring tech departments Scaling up the organization Switching to almost full-remote work (hiring remote people, making remote workshops with clients, etc.).
What are your plans to expand your service?
Mostly we’re focused on just improving the services we are providing. We are at the point where scaling up and improvement are our main goals. We are also looking into some specialization, to specialize in some specific domain. Moreover, we are constantly growing - by more than 100% every year both in people and income.
Being the CTO, what do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?
There are many. But my main responsibilities are supporting development teams and advising our clients (being CTO for our clients, driving value for our customers by picking the right technology). Moreover, I also work with team leaders, manage teams, improve internal processes and workflow, find and maintain the right tools for the day-to-day jobs, to make sure that our developers have all they need to do their job efficiently.
What advice would you give aspiring CTOs and entrepreneurs?
Personally, I believe that putting people first, hiring top talents, collaboration, and trust is even more important than focusing strongly on the digital transformation of your company.
When you have the right team with an innovative mindset, it’s definitely easier to implement great ideas. Don’t hesitate to try new things, experiment and look for emerging technologies because this might be the factor that makes your company stand out from the competition.
How do you think the role of the CTO has evolved in the last five, ten, or fifteen years?
CTOs now have a greater impact on the business than ever. Of course, the role of the CTO will be definitely different in the product company than it is in a software development agency, however in both cases, the role of the CTO has changed as they usually fill multiple roles and no longer focus only on technology, but business, finances, and HR as well.
What new challenges are CTOs facing today?
Technologies now are changing faster than ever, so it’s very difficult to be constantly up to date, especially when you have a broad tech stack in your company. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and how we interact with business (obviously this affected not only CTOs but almost everyone), so digital transformation is evolving even faster.
This new situation may open up new opportunities for some, but it is also very difficult to hire new people when the market demand is so high and keep pace with the digital transformation of the company with the competition. Therefore, I believe that for some CTOs it’s an extremely challenging time as their role is constantly evolving and technology is one of the most important factors for success and business continuity.
What do you see as the hottest trends within your industry today?
As more and more work nowadays is done online, and usually, the distance is no longer a problem (especially in the IT industry) even when working with teams in different time zones, outsourcing IT services is getting much more popular. It is believed that by 2025, the global IT outsourcing market will be worth $397.6 billion.
When it comes to technology, cross-platform mobile development (especially Google’s Flutter framework) is getting immensely popular among our clients. Blockchain technology is still on top and will definitely get more commonly chosen in the next few years. Also, there are going to be more and more tools to make remote work more efficient as there is also a much higher demand for such services and more valuable data about productivity on the market.
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?
Definitely, proper logs are one of the most important things when troubleshooting and tracking bugs and security issues especially in production environments and in case of failure, it’s much easier for us to understand the problem and fix it.
Log analysis and monitoring help us to react much faster, even before clients or end-users will report the problem. Logs are also important for preparing postmortem reports and explaining any encountered problems to our clients. So having logs and logs analysis is important for us when it comes to security, recovering from failure, reporting and improving our products.
What can we hope to see from your business in the future?
I believe that our vision for Applover’s development is right and you can see further development, more recognizable clients and more recognitions such as Deloitte Fast50.
Moreover, I know that as a company we will focus more on giving back to the community and doing something good for the ones in need. We already support the local Polish Cadet Judo Champion, Kinga Klimczak and that is a direction we want to continue with.