Category Archives: Nitro

About-Nitro-0

Meet the Nitro Digital team

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with the Nitro Digital team! Here we meet Piotr Sikora (Lead Front End Developer) who talks about cutting edge IT, increasing services for clients, his new book, and connections between breakdancing and developing!

Piotr

Hello and thank you for being interviewed for the Nitro Digital blog!

Firstly, please tell us about your role is at Nitro, and where you fit in the team? How long have you worked here?
Hi all! I’m glad that I can give you an interview. I’m a lead front end developer at Nitro Digital. I started working here 3 years ago (in 2013) when the Polish department was about 7 people in a small office.

Could you say more about your role and the sorts of projects you’re involved in?
Currently my role is related mainly with Front End logic and web technologies/languages like HTML CSS and JavaScript including frameworks like Foundation, Angular, Phonegap etc. I’m a lead developer so I’m looking for new technologies we can use as a team, and I’m supporting all developers in the team. I’m working on the parts of projects which the client can see in a browser – so for example this can be interactive websites, and also mobile apps and email templates.

So looking for ways to improve interactivity and user experience has led you to write a book on Professional CSS3 – tell us about this! Is it very related to your work aims?
Yes exactly it is strictly related to my work aims. I started working on the book about nine months ago. The funniest thing about working on book is the main question of each good developer: “who has time to write a book?” So I had a time to do that because I wanted to share my knowledge with other developers.

This book is for people who want to get more knowledge about CSS. If you are a beginner you can read this book as I’ve tried to explain all aspects of CSS as simply as I could. If you are a pro developer you can find some tricks which I use, and rebuild them for your needs. Hopefully this book will be helpful for all people who wants to know more about CSS.

It’s great to produce something technical that will be useful to all levels. I see you’re a b-boy (break dancer) in you spare time – please say more?
I’ve been a b-boy for about 17 years. I started dancing when I was teenager with a friend from my neighborhood. It was easy for me to start dancing because I trained in Karate for about 10 years and my body was ready for it. Break dance showed me how to use the foundation of dance with my own creativity to create my own style. It made me more aware who I want to be and how can I make myself better in other areas.

I’m still dancing and try to teach kids and teenagers. It gives me big satisfaction that some of my students are now dancing like pro b-boys. I’m a judge too. After a years of passion, it’s great to see how this culture is still evolving and how young people are creative.

So it takes a lot of discipline?
Yes for sure but I’m not so radical right now. When you are a contender you need to keep your training routine. Now I’m making it only for my enjoyment. I’m happy that when I’m dancing in home my daughter is trying to do it too. And she is so happy when she is doing it!

Sounds like you’re someone who’s interested in developing – dance, sport, technology. Is there anything front end you’d like to see in the future, or think will develop? Anything we should look out for?
The technology is still moving forward. Back in the day I was a Flash Developer and I’ve been involved in projects which were based on augmented reality. I hope it will be possible to make it in JavaScript in near future. I’m still trying to be on time and one of things which I like right now is Internet Of Things (IOT). I bought Raspberry Pi about 3 months ago and made a simple application in Node.JS. So maybe it can be a project related with IOT. It’s rather hard to make an application for dancers but maybe some day I will find a way to do it.

Is IOT being used in the healthcare/media sector?
Yes – there are a lot of ideas and products related to IOT and healthcare. This is a rising branch in IT and hopefully it will go a little bit out from IT sector.  I recently heard about projects related with diabetes which helps to dose drugs. As I mentioned this is still a rising branch and I hope it will revolutionise IT. We as developers just need to find the niche and create some extra products in this sector.

The Poland team has expanded a lot over recent times! Are you able to provide different services or projects now?
When I started working in Nitro Digital Poland there were 7 developers on board. All of us were working on our current workflow which was evolving to work on maximising our efficiency. We are still scaling and we are working on culture of work inside our company which is very important to keep the team motivation.

I think that the main difference is that we learned a lot on previous projects. We’re able to provide new products with new technologies and with better efficiency than ever. We have more time for research. We have a great QA team! The team has developed and is the best QA team which I could dream of. They are supporting developers in their work and for sure are the very important support of the development process. I hope that this evolution (almost revolution) will be kept and we will still be working on better projects which will satisfy our clients.

What would you say is your biggest success so far?
The biggest success is that we build so big team is such a short time. In last 12 months we made the Front End team from 3 to 16 developers. It was possible because of great people with whom I work everyday (thanks Marcin, Katarzyna, and all FEDevelopers @ Nitro Digital, Pete and Jules for all of possibilities). I think that this is the one of biggest successes. And I believe that this is just a warm up before something bigger!

Digital Assets Audit

Digital Asset Audits

Let’s face it: Most larger companies don’t have their digital assets in order. Teams across the globe commission their own assets, but a central overview and performance management system is often missing.

What are the typical problems?

Let’s start with a lack of a centralised list of assets. Your company might have thousands of websites, apps, social media accounts and other digital channels floating around the depths of the internet; in many different countries and languages. But a missing central overview of these assets runs counter to any effort of implementing a consistent digital marketing strategy across the company.

Performance and the monitoring of assets is another critical area. How does a company define success for its different digital assets? Which ones are performing, which ones aren’t? And: Is anybody even monitoring the performance? You’d be surprised how many corporate website owners have never looked at their on-site analytics or – worse yet – not even implemented it on their site(s).

Naturally, the bottom line is affected by an aimless array of digital assets without proper oversight as well. For one, the lack of oversight restricts coherent strategic planning as to which areas and assets to invest in and which are sufficiently covered. Furthermore, the lack of performance measurement effectively rules out the possibility to make data-driven decisions based on performance as well as to draw on internal best practices. And a truly unnecessary cost factor are thousands of either underperforming, forgotten or unused websites and domains that serve no clear purpose but still incur hosting fees.

I should also mention a special case for the pharmaceutical industry: compliance. Unmonitored websites with free text forms or unsupervised social media channels are any compliance manager’s worst nightmare.

Asset audits can help

The challenges a lack of oversight creates are clear. But what about solutions to the problem? One research exercise that can help is to conduct a digital assets audit.

From our experience at Nitro Digital, an audit typically starts with a number of different sources that list digital assets from around the company. These lists can be merged together into one master document which can then start as the basis for investigation. Depending on the requirements, it can be necessary to conduct a manual search for assets as well utilising search engines and other methods of investigation.

Once the template with the list of assets is set up, the information we collect can roughly be divided into two buckets: general asset & qualitative information gathered via investigation (e.g. type of website, target audience, language etc.) and the collection of performance, technical and other metrics (such as Alexa Traffic Rank and Moz authority metrics for websites, community size for social assets etc.). Learn more about comparative performance metrics for websites in one of my other posts.

For an individual website, it is in most cases appropriate to determine its status before anything else. Is it live and can be audited for the data we want to collect? Is it behind a log-in? Is it redirecting? Or is it non-resolving and can be classified as a domain without a live website on it?

Another useful piece of information to corporate digital marketers wanting to get a global overview of assets is the asset owner. In many cases this is not known and has to be established via manual investigation within the organisation. It’s a key piece of information, however, as it allows for later follow-up with the asset owner.

Outcomes of an assets audit

Following an audit, you end up with a host of invaluable information. You now have a centralised list of your digital assets (may not be 100% complete, but a great start nonetheless), complete with general information about the assets as well as performance data. This makes categorising and comparing assets quick and easy. Ideally, the audit has also generated full ownership information.

A lot of follow-on projects can come out of the original audit. You could for example create a methodology for scoring the identified assets and then decommission the ones that seem superfluous and invest in the ones worthy of development. Or you could pick certain assets and do a more specific follow-up audit on them, such as a pharmacovigilance compliance audit on all your websites.

Wherever you want to go with your digital strategy, a centralised and comprehensive overview of your assets is essential.

IMG_0369

Nitro Digital at the 1MoreChild Charity in Uganda

About a month ago at this time we were packing our bags to leave for Uganda, to teach senior boys at the 1MoreChild charity some practical IT skills. Full of excitement and massive bags filled with laptops, we arrived in Entebbe late at night and headed straight to our hotel to get rested for our drive to Jinja the next day.

Abdulla, our driver, came early in the morning and after 6 hours of driving, or shall I say being stuck in traffic for the most of it, we finally reached our beautiful guesthouse in Jinja. Harry, the founder of 1MoreChild, came to see us in the evening so we could talk more about the boys and our plan for the next few days. After a couple of beers and lots of laughs, we said goodbye to Harry and headed back to our rooms to get ready for our first day with the boys.

And so it all began the next morning, when we finally reached the house where we were to spend most of our time in Jinja. Sixteen excited boys came to greet us outside, which at first seemed like a lot, but after all the introductions we got to know everybody and it wasn’t as scary anymore. Their eagerness to learn and extreme thankfulness made it very easy for us, as well as the fact that we had two supervisors – Benson & Jimmy, who were with us at all times making sure we are ok.

Gilberto began by covering computer basics, and then Duygu and myself got to the fun part – the Internet. The concept of Google got everybody confused, but by the end of the day it was clear to everybody that google is not some old wizard that can’t be trusted.

After a long day we decided there was not much else we could do and called it a day. Harry and his wife Hen, as well as their 4 lovely kids, took us out for dinner that evening to talk more about our plans and life in Jinja, as well as our newly gained respect for the teachers, even after doing it for only a day.

In the next few days we got to know the boys a lot more, as well as their abilities, so we were able cover a lot more topics. This ranged from creating email accounts and sending emails, to using word and practising Google searches more and more. This was particularly centred on using Google to expand their knowledge about computers when we leave.

It was such a humbling and eye opening experience, and we hope the boys will carry on learning with amazing support from Harry and Hen. For us, this is definitely not the end of the journey. Our Managing Director, Jules, is committed to keep on supporting 1MoreChild. We will be preparing remote teaching plans in the coming weeks, and hope the boys will follow them until we see them again the next time we go.
Please support this great charity too by donating here.

Uganda_V2-01

Nitro Digital head to Uganda to share their digital know-how with the kids

Three colleagues from Nitro Digital are heading out to Uganda today, ready to share their digital knowledge with the senior kids who are supported by charity, 1MoreChild.

Nitro Account Managers, Ruta Salaseviciute and Duygu Ucan and Developer, Gilberto Tomasone, will be spending time with students aged 16yrs-18rs to teach them practical IT skills as well as leaving them with some offline materials so they can continue their learning after our three colleagues return to London. The aim is to share some of the knowledge that we use at Nitro in our everyday work and help these young adults to find jobs in the future by using their IT skills.

1MoreChild provides school fees, three meals a day, school uniforms, clothes, medical care, tutoring, mentoring, and football training to Ugandan children who live in the slum village of Masese.

Set up by Harry and his wife Hen, the charity began by providing support to just one child who wanted to go to school and now they help over 150 children, some of whom have nothing other than their friends within the charity. They currently rent six houses in Jinja, four boys’ homes and two for girls and these homes accommodate some of the children in the slum village of Masese that don’t have families. The children who still live with their families come to the house every day and it has become a place that they all call ‘home’.

As well as support through Nitro, our Managing director, Jules raises money each year on a sponsored cycle from Geneva to Milan with cycling tour company, Ride25, who, with their dedicated 1MoreChild cycling team have raised huge amounts for the charity. We are also extending our digital support for the children by funding their broadband connection and donating some laptops so that they can put what they learn from Ruta, Duygu and Gilberto into practice and have access to a wealth of information via the web.

We are very excited to hear how our Nitro colleagues get on! Please support this great charity too by donating here.

Merry Christmas from everyone at Nitro Digital

Merry Christmas from our MD, Jules Pancholi

Christmas means many things to many people; a time for family, thinking of others, (excess at the Christmas parties!) and giving and receiving gifts. While most businesses wind down in December, from an entrepreneurial point of view, it’s still an important time for the business. Not least because the last quarter of any year always seems to be a mad frenzy of delivery and planning for year ahead. As a starting point for this message, I wanted to publicly thank all our team members and our clients who have worked together, so hard to get stuff done this year. 2014 has not always been an easy year, but I’ve seen some incredible individual contributions, creativity, leadership and decision making, and I wanted to acknowledge how humbled I am by all the people I work with on a daily basis.

Christmas is also a time for reflection – what has been and what is to come. Over the course of the year we’ve opened a new branch in the US, moved to our new engineering centre in the Poland, re-built our project management processes around Agile, opened up operations in Denmark and continued to move from being a solely UK/EU based company, to becoming truly global with projects delivered for clients in Mexico, China, Germany, India and the USA to name but a few. Sometimes it feels as if we are the global, medium sized business that the HSBC advert is talking about.

But we can do more, and I believe that the seeds of our 2015 successes are laid, and will grow, in the proverbial digital flower bed of 2014. We’ve made huge progress on our R&D efforts particularly with our HCP social media solutions – Ultra Buzz and Caduceus – and our real world outcomes of HCP/Patient engagement and collaboration service Ultra Cloud, not forgetting to mention our expanding partnership with Veeva.

So what’s in store for Nitro for 2015? First and foremost, a continued expression of our company values, in everything we do, by living the Lean Start Up methodology and delivering value to our clients and furthermore ourselves.

Second, combining that with continued investments in our R&D efforts around our Ultra and Caduceus product ranges.

Third, the shift in traffic from desktop to mobile and from App to mobile web will impact every product developed or client asset created. 2015 will be the year where social acquisition becomes accepted as a volume channel alongside search. I find this opportunity particularly exciting. Attribution in social is tough and relative ROI compared to search seldom stacks up on the surface, but the evolution of custom audience technologies and the relatively expensive media available across traditional publisher networks premium traffic means that demand in this area will need the development of technologies and marketing strategies that deliver qualified traffic from regulated industries, and I believe we can deliver that.

Fourth, no man is an island. The strength of global enterprise dissipates because they build smaller, isolated digital assets (islands) and in 2015 I believe this realisation will come home to roost. They will have to look at their digital footprint in a larger sense by combining the positive benefits that digital has to offer (more effective SEO, infrastructure, analytic and media buying strategies) with the kind of intrapreneurialism that enables local creative success and market adaptation. The audits of digital infrastructure we ran for clients in 2014 almost follow the same pattern; lots of sites, little traffic except on a few (sub 5%) and poor visibility or UX focus. Wouldn’t it be good for everyone if we concentrated our efforts in 2015, most enterprises are, after all, naturally positioned to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital.

So that’s me off my soap box. Once again a huge thank you to everyone who I’ve worked with this year across all our ventures. It’s been a year for breaking records but let’s smash them together in 2015.

Internship at Nitro Digital

Interning at Nitro Digital

In September this year I started a three month internship as a Digital Content Writer with Nitro Digital. I’m writing this in my final week (sob!) and I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it justice in the confines of a blog post, but here goes…

Backstage access

I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did during my time at Nitro, and I think it’s rare that an intern gets to do as much as I did, and with as much support as I received.  I worked on numerous projects, from internal tasks to big budget external campaigns, all the while experiencing professional life in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.

In the digital world so much goes on behind the scenes that you just don’t get to see unless you’re there in the middle of it. It’s made me really appreciate the amount of work that goes into the websites I casually scroll through, the apps I take for granted and the marketing campaigns I’ve idly admired. We’re so used to these things working as they should that we don’t consider the effort that’s gone into doing just that, and it’s teams like Nitro Digital we have to thank for it.

With Nitro operating in such a fast-growing and enterprising industry, there was never a dull moment. The digital world is constantly developing, seamlessly becoming commonplace in our everyday lives – hence keeping the team at Nitro very busy! Keeping on top of the latest health and tech developments was near impossible, thanks to the sheer amount of incredible stuff going on, but also exciting and very interesting. Writing about them was an added bonus!

Shakespeare wins

In my position as Digital Content Writer I learnt so many skills, like how to write for different audiences, how to edit and subedit, how to write for social media and track the analytics, and tons more. Researching healthtech became part of my daily routine, and new tasks were thrown at me every day. Although some of the more business-focused work was initially challenging, I could appreciate how useful it was for me to pick up on (which I eventually did!)

From my internship I’ll take away not only a great new skillset but a thirst for all things tech and health-orientated. The leaps being made in the industry really are huge and I’m keen to see what the future holds.

However, I do want to point out that even in this tech-savvy world, the written word is as important as ever. Being a writer, you may say I’m biased, but it’s true. Communication in this industry is key. And all communication, even spoken, first has to be put down on paper. Look around you. How many marketing and advertising campaigns would be rendered questionable, if not useless, without the syntax holding them together? And it’s not like those catchy phrases are accidents – again, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Hence my time at Nitro made me appreciate the beauty of writing even more than I did before.

I’m not a barista

All in all, it was incredibly valuable to experience life in a busy agency, and just from being in the office I picked up on so much stuff I wasn’t even working on (not all of it went over my head – yay!) I was put to work on important projects and felt like I was a real asset to the team. Let’s just say it wasn’t your typical making-the-coffee internship!