An interview with Darek Adamowski, Digital Practice Manager, Mateusz Kowalewski, Mobile Solutions Architect, Marcin Kozlowski, Web Development Team Manager, and Rafal Rewiński, Adobe EM Tech Leader about Digital Practice projects and the benefits of working in this area by Katarzyna Domańska, Communication Manager at Sii.
Katarzyna Domańska: When was the practice introduced? It is based on previous experience gained by experts from Sii?
Darek Adamowski, Digital Practice Manager: The Digital Practice has been used since March 2015, but we had already implemented many projects in Sii which provided a solid competence base for it. The Digital Practice is built on the previous experience of local Pre-Sales & Delivery departments, which managed scattered projects, currently falling within the scope of interest of the Practice. For example, in Gdansk, we implemented a large web development project for Berlingske Media, which allowed us to gain a lot of experience in the media sector. The Krakow branch developed a mobile application for one of the local banks. We implemented a number of projects in the field of management experience for a pharmaceutical company.
Mateusz Kowalewski, Mobile Solutions Architect: Some of our mobile projects are based on Xamarin platform, which gives yhe opportunity to write apllications in c#. Thereby we use the previous experience with .net framework in our everyday work.
Katarzyna Domańska: What is current focus of the Practice?
Darek Adamowski: The Practice is based on the 3 pillars of our development. They are: mobile applications, web development and experience management systems. Currently, more than 60 engineers from Sii from all over Poland work for the Practice: from branches in Gdansk, Lublin, Lodz, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow. We also recruit people who work for us remotely: we have an example one engineer in Bialystok.
Katarzyna Domańska: For what clients do you work?
Darek Adamowski: Most of the clients are large foreign companies. Sometimes we implement projects for the Polish branches of foreign companies, but still we mostly work for companies located abroad. So we work with teams scattered around the world, which also gives us interesting experience. For instance, we worked for a customer with one of the teams located in Denmark, one in Ukraine, and the third was us here in Poland. But we are always responsible for the overall implementation of our part of the project.
Katarzyna Domańska: What sample projects can we boast?
Darek Adamowski: We work a lot for the media sector, for which we develop web and experience management systems. It is very interesting, because it allows us to explore the latest marketing tools, look at them from the business and sales perspective.
Recently, we have established interesting cooperation with Scrooge – a start-up application with elements of social-networking, accessible to all, which allows its users to settle expenses incurred at a restaurant, club or during a joint trip with friends or colleagues.
Mateusz Kowalewski: In this case we were responsible for whole project: from mobile applications on 3 platforms, to backend on REST API working on Windows Azure platform. We were very glad that we managed to maintain very high level of code sharing across applications. The additional challenge was the inherited dept of existing Windows Phone application and backend written in C. Wa might say ‘good bye’ to backend, but all data couldn’t be lost. As a result of our work a new application works 10 times faster.
Some of our projects are ‘standard’ – they present data and manipulate them. We have also many much more innovative projects. Some of our applications interact with complex industrial devices, such as flow meters or mobile accessories as power banks.
Marcin Kozłowski, Web Development Team Manager: One of the interesting and large projects was the portal implemented for Berlingske Media. The new version of www.business.dk was based on a new architecture, in both in terms of applications and the server. The framework of Symfony2 helped us to prepare the entire back-end application, including the layer of integration with the editorial system, and premium content management (payments).
Architecture based on the API allowed us to use Amazon Web Services (such as EC2, SQS, ElactiCache). The result of the implementation is a new platform used to create new websites for this client. In addition to the new responsive appearance, the comfort using the website has significantly improved – the page rendering time has decreased 5 times.
Rafał Rewiński, Adobe EM Tech Leader: My branch of the Digital Practice specialises in applications built on Adobe Experience Manager and services related with it in Adobe Marketing Cloud. At this point, we are working with a global company from the pharmaceutical sector, where we implement projects supporting the sale of products through dedicated marketing and in the area of drug research. In addition, we have partnered with a specialised company from the marketing sector for which we provide services in projects, among other things, in the automotive sector.
Katarzyna Domańska: What do you consider the biggest success of the Practice?
Darek Adamowski: There are many success stories. We have built interesting mobile competencies. We create one of the largest Xamarin technology teams in Poland, specialized in Xamarin cross-platform solutions. We also have teams with a unique experience in experience management systems: Adobe Experience Management and FightCore – this is highly specialised knowledge, strongly desirable in the market.
Katarzyna Domańska: What does an engineer get from working for the Practice?
The dynamics of the projects implemented by the Practice is very high, and it gives us more opportunities to develop. We have fixed projects that take, for example, a year, but there are many 3-or 6-month ones. There is always something new going on in such short-term projects, so we need to constantly reorganise the team – ambitious and above-average people are recognised immediately. They are considered for new, larger roles in new projects which appear on an ongoing basis.
Another advantage of working in the Practice is the ability to learn and gain expertise in the latest tools, such as the already mentioned Xamarin – and these are paid tools, not accessible to all, interesting and very up-to-date.
Rafał Rewiński: I appreciate most of all the opportunities that would be hard to get in other areas. We work with the use of a highly valued tool using the so-called Gartner magic square. The Adobe Experience Manager technology, due to wide possibilities and significant licensing costs, is designed for the world’s largest companies. Examples include brands such as Ford, Roche, Sony, McDonald’s, Autodesk, Cisco or Skype. Engineers with knowledge and experience in this area are highly sought after in the world, and also paid well. Among other things, due to the limited possibility of acquiring engineers from the market, we decided to independently train suitably qualified engineers, which is one of my tasks in the Digital Practice.
Marcin Kozłowski: In addition to interesting projects for foreign customers, the actual use of the latest developer technologies and cloud environments, agile approach to project implementation already mentioned by my colleagues, the fact of concentration of domain knowledge is very important. Access to this knowledge is crucial as it provides both development opportunities to all of our teams and allows to achieve a better product for our clients.
Katarzyna Domańska: What are the plans of the Practice for the near future?
Darek Adamowski: We focus on continuous development – in the three main areas mentioned at the beginning. It is not excluded that, motivated by the needs of the market, we will invest soon in new competencies. For now, however, these three areas are crucial for us.
Katarzyna Domańska: And what about plans to expand the team?
Darek Adamowski: During the year, we want to double the team. We need about 20 people in the mobile area and 10-15 specialists in experience management systems. Here interested engineers are encouraged to submit their applications. As the Practice operates throughout Poland, there is no need to transfer to another branch.
We have developed a training program that allows retraining and introduction to the activities of the Practice. We are looking for .net specialists interested in mobile solutions to our mobile team. We do not require experience in the field, but the knowledge of .net technology and business attitude, and readiness to develop in this direction – mainly the ability to talk to clients and communication skills. Java and .net specialists with a flair for close cooperation with business are very welcome in our experience management systems team. So I encourage you to take interest in the activities of the Digital Practice – perhaps it is worth considering new development opportunities?
Katarzyna Domańska: Thank you for the interview and good luck in your new projects.