All posts by Jules Pancholi

Sequence Matters – so why is it the least discussed characteristic of business success.

In my experience, most entrepreneurs and I include myself among this slander can appear to be a bit all over the place. Why, because, as a wise man @patrickwhite told me it’s a characteristic of any new venture -whether it’s a new business or a new project or campaign- that on first look everything matters. But if everything matters, nothing does (to misuse the quote). Then what makes the difference between success and stress is being able to prioritise That rings true with my experience and therefore I’ve come to the conclusion that the sequence in which we do things is really freaking important, and that while wheeling out trite terms like ‘go fast and break things (later retracted by Zuckerberg to scale fast from a stable infra!). the purpose of our brains and experience is to apply not just creative thought but a deliberate and thoughtful sequencing to things. Developers know this – it’s a core part of the hierarchy of operations that underpins most development but in marketing, product or business we so often let everything become critical. And we barely talk about it.

Let me add some more colour. I’m a fan of Agile marketing, and www.growthdrivendesign.com (GDD), and this post should build on my previous one about GDD here. None of what follows is in conflict to following structured agile processes and enabling the flow of creativity that should follow from that but the sad fact is that unless you are extremely talented on the creative side and you hit a zeitgeist, build it and they will come strategies just leads to the proverbial tumbleweed scenario for your project or venture.

I don’t want that for you-you don’t want that for you!

A classic response to the ’fear of the tumbleweed’ is to whip out the whiteboard and the copy of the Lean Start Up or other methodology and embark on a frenzy of activity that too often can still lead to the same results with a product or creative focus becoming dislocated from the methodology and leading to, for instance in healthcare 90% of sites having less than 100 visitors per month (my stat based on reviewing 1000’s of sites) and 92% of Apps having less than 1000 installs. That’s a waste and that’s not a result of either the Lean Start Up or Agile both of which are good and helpful IMHO.

So I’d argue on that back of that that something is missing in bridging the gap between strategy and execution. We at @nitrodigital see that most often in the healthcare sector but I can assure everyone that it’s an issue that is prevalent in many other sectors and enterprises of all sizes. We used to say at Skyscanner that Travel is the death row of start up ideas, so many try, so many fail to scale while in healthcare we regularly see large top-tier global strategies come apart at the gritty end of local execution. Both are endeavours born of a genuine desire to change (there is still plenty wrong with travel and with healthcare and we need ideas to solve for that) but too often fall at the point of execution. Maybe that’s just life and part of pushing boundaries and innovation. Maybe not.

I’d like to argue that for any given venture (or project) there is a specific operational hierarchy that works alongside Agile / AB testing / etc the discovery of which will slant the odds in favour or success and give you a viable roadmap for success. That’s just a road map, you might say. To me, it’s more than that it’s a hierarchy and is multi-dimensional implying consideration that activities started earlier in the roadmap need to continue to be integrated and decisions made to stop scale or continue them.

Let me give an example of using a website. Yeah it’s a website, yeah that’s so old school but I had this graphic to hand and it’s easier than creating a new one!

This particular example is a healthcare one where ROI is indirect the detail of the steps in this diagram is less important than the principles that I’m trying to demonstrate and that I’ll come to later (for the purpose of this post only – of course detail matters in execution).

This diagram shows a typical sequence we would advocate for in executing a Life Sciences website. The goal is to build advocacy through the delivery of a value adding service. To get there, in this case, cannot be achieved by leaping to the end. So this diagram illustrates the sequencing of a series of achievable steps in an order of operation that works through distinct phases in periods of time.  In this case, the initial period is dominated by research, planning and the shipping of an informational MVP, the second phase, Community, in this case, is about activating users through acquisition activity across bought, owned and earned channels and seeking to gain feedback from users. Establishing validation of needs and value. The last phase I’ve called Experience here and that’s about delivering meaningful, tangible engagement and value, developing trust and advocacy.

You might be lucky and be able to skip to the end but in my experience its tricky and therefore sequence is important.

What’s also important is resources or budget. In may projects words like investment and capex get thrown about without consideration of sequence to engineer scenarios where more is invested up front and less at the back end. Sure that makes everyone’s life a bit easier at the start but does it contribute to better results? I often find that it is inevitable that the good ideas and effective ROI activities rise out of steps along the sequence but that in many cases too little powder is left in the armoury to scale into them. Again that is why the sequence is important. Spend something at the front to get your research right as part of your planning phase (this is critical) and your planning and infrastructure in place but have more in reserve to scale into. Your product must be so well aligned with user needs based on your clear understanding of them and the value you need to create for them so that as far as possible your product does your marketing for you before you spin up media, which you will almost certainly need to do.

As a side note please don’t hold that planning information back from your partners or colleagues though as that does not bring out the best in people or lead to effective resourcing.

Does that example make sense? Does it resonate?

I hope so. Here are some principles:

  • Sequence matters – the in which you do things is important and while it’s part a matter of discipline in agile execution it’s also an expression of the experience of your team.
  • A North Star or vision of where your roadmap is heading is vital. Choose it and stick to it until something tells you otherwise.
  • A resource commitment to match the ambition that scales over time not decrease is equally necessary as supporting successful services should not come at the expense of innovation at the later stages of the sequence.
  • There is a sequence for your project that is unique to you. The sequence will spawn an operating hierarchy that in turn will have its own taxonomy and goals.
  • Staying true to your course is hard and it will involve sacrifices, confusion and the careful weighing of opportunity cost. Start up’s know this well, it’s an expression of survival, it’s less keen in corporates but no less true over time. Be careful not to be ruled by the fog of war. Sounds over the horizon are information input, filter them as fast as you can and don’t let them distract or become the centre of attention.
  • Deriving your sequence needs to be collaborative but someone has to own the decision whether you are a CEO or Product Owner. Own the complexity, accept that as the hierarchy becomes more fractured so will your ability to put things in neat boxes. You’ll inevitably have to get used to going deep on specifics.
  • Ultimately everything matters at some point in time but understanding what point in time is the critical thing, IMHO so that at any given time you can say clearly what is the most important thing right now.

That’s it (for now), has anyone got any ideas for me to improve or expand on this? If you’d like to discuss please reach out. This post is derived from my experience across many companies but the team @NitroDigital have a huge amount of healthcare and wellness experience and would love to help you bridge the gap between strategy and execution… which to my mind requires being incredibly clear about what your vision is and the sequence you will execute your roadmap in.

Thanks for reading.

Jules

Bridging the execution gap to business transformation using Growth Driven Design

As part of the design and development portion of our ‘full-service service’ offering, for the past 15 years, we’ve been building websites, apps, and other assets for Life Sciences companies. Using what we’ve learnt in the wider world of e-commerce and marketplaces our pitch has always been akin to this…..

‘If we both want to be successful’:

1. We need to go on a journey together that will last for longer than we all think and will require us to start small and build up, increasing both the investment, range and complexity of activity over time….

2. We understand that strategies based on ‘build it and they will come’ just don’t deliver results consistently enough. Especially in a world where products are marginally (albeit often critically) differentiated and HCP’s, patient and consumers are busy.

3. We believe successful execution doesn’t rely on trying everything at once but by following a tried and tested order that allows us to think, plan and act with measurable purpose.

Sounds logical right?

So why do so many projects end up being a race for the finish line with almost all energy and budget expended on the launch? 90% of Life Science built websites have less than 1000 users a month (including the corporate sites and US brand.com sites – based on data from thousands of sites). It always reminds me of the scenes at the end of a sprint race where the runners are hunched over or lying on the ground exhausted –  except in our case, there is still a marathon left to run (in the form of visits, engagement, conversions etc…).

This problem has perplexed me. I hate waste and this is a waste. Not just of time but of money and resources. It impacts agencies ability to demonstrate the value that clients deserve and expect and more importantly stymies the very genuine impact that I believe digital can have on the healthcare system in terms of improving patient care, healthcare professional education and delivering Life Science companies business objectives.

There are of course many reasons for this; lack of overall digital strategy, limits of the channels within the regulatory environment, the complexity of user behaviour, inappropriate budgets to the task, lack of digital infrastructure, training etc. All of which is true in various ways.

Part in frustration, part in intrigue I decided to take the Hubspot Growth Driven Design certification and it’s prompted a lightbulb moment that, if you’ll tolerate me’ I’d like to expound upon.

For the past few years, we’ve successfully applied formal agile process to project delivery where possible. We’ve continued to operate ‘waterfall’ where clients have insisted but more often than not the predictable stress on all sides ensues. That’s not to say we don’t deliver, we do and the team regularly go the extra mile.

I’ve come to the conclusion that while the execution methodology described at the start of this post is solid we need a better framework for setting up the project, managing ideas through the process and establishing the ongoing nature of the collaboration that is required for success. I’ve found Hubspot’s’ Growth Driven Design methodology really helpful for doing that and I’d like to share why.

For those of you who have not come across it yet check out https://www.growthdrivendesign.com/

In summary, Growth Driven Design (GDD)  ‘is a smarter approach to web asset design that eliminates all [I’ll say many, not all] of the headaches and drives optimal results using data.’

 

I particularly like this diagram from their site:

Growth Driven Design methodology works in a way that will be very familiar to agile practitioners with distinct Strategy, Launch (MVP) and Continuous Improvement phases.

Here’s why I like it.

1. It acknowledges that it’s strategy first even if it is ‘just’ a website. If you haven’t done the research then your starting hypothesis is going to be further off and you’re going to have to work extra hard making the asset work

2. It’s evidence backed. The diagram above neatly summarises almost everything I’ve learnt about website development in the Life Sciences industry. Ie. we build sites, there is little marketing to the site, a couple of years later disappointed by the data we rebuild the site because of an assumed, but unclear cause.

3. It’s data-driven, any action has a target or outcome set and the investment in it assessed compared to the results, with the before and after being faithfully recorded in a helpfully provided spreadsheet (you might prefer your own services) to capture the learning points.

4. It’s creative – by structuring the process of ideation and sprint planning time can be dedicated to idea generation based on the data from the last sprint.

5. You create genuine collaborative momentum around it

6. The courses for practitioner and agency are really very good, delivered in video format by the superb Luke Summerfield in a series of consumable and actionable videos.

7. It’s not just about websites, yes that’s in the language but it can (and should) just as easily be applied to creative projects, apps, events, campaigns, media….

8. You can organise around it, by, as we have, ensuring that everyone in the company is either qualified or is in the process of doing the courses. By asking clients to take it too we are creating organisational norms and nomenclature centred around Growth Driven Design and making clients true partners and participants.

9. It’s faster and people are more satisfied with the outcome. In a recent survey of 350 project engagements comparing GDD to traditional site build process, time to launch is cut on average by 40 days. Also, 74% of GDD clients said they are satisfied with the process compared to 62% for traditional.

All makes sense right? To most of you veterans, there will be few surprises here. The nuance is in the combination of the application of the framework with the tools it provides to set up collaborative working in a manner that is both easy to understand and executable and particularly the training.

We’ve done lots of successful agile development and marketing projects and in writing this I’m not claiming that Growth Driven Design is a panacea but in my opinion, it does raise the chances of successful delivery and creates greater value outcomes.

In addition to that, and here’s the key point’ when well executed it can play an amazing role in supporting clients digital transformation. This is important, not least because it’s a hot topic and a great business opportunity but mainly because this is a significant part of the value a client can derive from a well-executed Growth Driven Design project, especially in the Life Sciences when the ROI model for our digital activity is often less tangible than in traditional e-commerce.

Let me expand on that. Successful Growth Driven Design project execution relies on both client-side and partner side teamwork and collaboration. In order to achieve that shared learning of each other’s processes, skills, tech stacks and objectives are going to be required. This necessarily means skills will be transferred. Now if you take a traditional consultancy or agency model where the objective is to provide surge skills and keep resources allocated to a client with the consequent billing that’s very counterintuitive to the business model. My point is clients don’t really want that, that does not add value over and above the value of the outputs from the work done.  These, of course, may well and should be valuable in themselves but true partners should add value to each other as well as delivering awesome projects. That’s how we think at Nitro and our experience of delivering Growth Driven Design especially within defined time frames bears that out. Successful execution in our opinion implicitly requires the mutual transfer of skills. That fundamental point is the one that requires a genuine commitment to at the start alongside the successful execution of an agile methodology.

Don’t take my word for it.

In a recent 5 month project for a Life Science brand here are a few quotes (anonymised to protect the innocent)…  

‘We have driven the organisation to start believing in GDD.’

‘Our project has progressed much better and further than other agile projects set up in [company] and is very visible.

‘We raced past the rest of the business’

‘[The organisation transformation we have enabled] is pretty damn impressive. No one in the group knew anything about this and it is now part of the organisational language

‘Nitro have been a key part of that [digital transformation] and I would endorse that’

If you’d like to find out how we can help transform the way you execute digital projects in Life Sciences or Wellness companies or riff on the Agile or Growth Driven Design we’d love to hear from you. https://nitro-digital.com/contact/

jules@nitro-digital.com

PS: before you ask – yes I did pass the Growth Driven Design test and no I’m not telling you my score. Despite my 21 years of digital marketing and development experience, I did not get 100%… which just goes to prove we can all learn!

Giving Our All at Nitro Digital

We normally post about market developments, our latest projects or to offer a point of view. I’d like to depart from that slightly to share some thoughts on an organisation we feel passionate about, not in an earth-shattering, “this is so innovative” sort of way, but more as an expression of our company culture and a set of attributes that I believe are important in forming a well rounded organisation.

We operate in the digital marketing services industry and, let’s face it, it’s an industry—advertising, in particular—that has come under scrutiny in recent months for its lack of transparency. That said, marketing agencies can still make ethically based choices whilst striving to build a profitable, long term and sustainable business.

We choose to work in healthcare because it allows us to contribute  to the improvement of human and animal well being. I’m not for a moment saying that we are the be-all and end-all in this sector and I’d happily prostrate myself in honour of the many healthcare and life sciences professionals who I have met over the years doing much more worthy work in clinical care, research and product development and education. I hold a strong belief that technology and marketing skills can make a huge difference to making health care delivery more efficient. I like refer to our small role in this as “marketing with meaning”,  i.e. we choose to work in the healthcare sector rather than consumer goods, like, for example, Coke.

That leads me to talking our approach to “giving” at Nitro. I believe giving is an important part of an organisation’s culture, both internally—in terms of sharing knowledge and effort selflessly—and also externally, in terms of “small acts of kindness” to those less fortunate. Obviously, that has to be pre-dedicated by being profitable since we are not externally funded but, where we can, I believe strongly that we should give something back. We are also a relatively small organisation that has to manage growth, service and investment demands so let’s just call this a direction of travel as opposed to a “wow, look at all this, have a pat on the back” moment. I believe we’ve been making a contribution that is scaling, and I’d like to share some examples of that. I hope that one of our most significant efforts will be the placing of 1% of our equity aside for the creation of a charity fund (in the event that some liquidity is achieved for it in the future)—an idea we are unashamed to have stolen from the likes of Google and Salesforce.

On a business level, over the years, in terms of product development, through our ULTRA (Unleash the Right Advocates) suite of products/services we’ve collaborated with hundreds of health care professionals (HCPs) to help them tell the story of their endeavours. And we continue to refine our products to best serve the needs of HCPs and patients alike: watch this space.

As a company, we participate in different fundraising days throughout the year. In the UK office, at Christmas we donned Christmas jumpers for Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day. In March, we wore red for Red Nose Day; the company matches the original amount we raise.

 

red-nose-day-2017-1

Corin and Vassia wear red for Red Nose Day

 

On an individual level, many of our team personally perform charity challenges, and Nitro supports them in various ways. Earlier in the year, several people participated in Run for Your Mind in support of the charity Mind. Our commercial director, Andy Stafford, recently ran an Ultra Marathon to fundraise for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s CharityYou can support him here.

andy-stafford-fundraising-race

Andy’s charity race

Which brings me to the organisation I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Over the past years—and on the back of amazing leadership by friends Rob Hamilton and John Readman—Nitro has been participating in an effort to raise funds for the wonderful charity 1moreChild by attempting to ride to Australia one 4-500 mile leg at a time. Other colleagues have contributed by travelling to Jinga, Uganda, where the charity is based and setting up computers, broadband and teaching basic computer and internet skills. I’ve recently returned from a trip there with Bonamy Grimes, Katie Hollier and Jamie Waller—all strong supporters of the charity—whose amazing efforts along with other corporate and private sponsors make the existence of the charity possible.

I’d like to tell you a bit about the incredible work the charity does.

paper-dart

Paper dart toy — all they have

1moreChild provides food, accommodation, mentoring, tuition, support and safety to 280 children in Jinga who are either living in the street or in difficult family circumstances. For context, Uganda is a country with a very highold-shoes birth rate and a strong tribal culture, and Jinga is a town with many social issues, as well as being one of the sources of the river Nile.

It’s also a town where around 3-4,000 children are homeless, literally sleeping beneath verandas, and with few, if any possessions. Even where children have achieved a place at 1moreChild (or one of the other charities active in the area), the only items available might be clothing similar to these used boots, or toys, like these two dirty darts or the very old bicycles being ridden below. It’s not a place where basic subsistence includes a daily trip to Starbucks.

children-holding-bicycles

Children on old bicycles

boscoWithin this context 1moreChild does an incredible job. Led locally by Bosco and his team and from the UK by founders Harry and Hen Ferdinando what they achieve is the definition of compassionate, culturally sensitive direct action. More mentoring and enablement than charity, this is a lean operation that makes the most of scarce resources.

To give some examples of both the challenges and the opportunities to improve not just survivability via food and shelter but life skills and confidence the charity organises football games. Football is a huge part of life for the childrenchildren-playing-footballand 1moreChild organises community games for the children both in the homes and those outside of them. Football matches provide an opportunity to feed many children (up to 400 at a time) who would not otherwise get any protein at all. In Uganda the logistics around this are no small challenge; for example, the older children transport food by wheelbarrow from one house’s kitchen to the feeding station 1 km away.

transporting-food-wheelbarrow

Children transporting food

Education—specifically, getting those children into school who been unable to attend—and establishing a sense of pride and confidence in their work is a huge part of 1MoreChild’s modus operandi. Nitro has been supporting some of the older children by providing computer equipment, onsite network support and tuition, and covering the cost of the charity’s broadband. This in itself, though important and achieving results (see the photo of one of the senior boys Geoffry using his computer skills) is a second order problem compared to the provision of safety, food and accommodation. I cannot stress enough how far a small amount of money can go: just US$50 a month can support a child’s education, mentoring, accommodation, food and clothing.

geoffrey-sitting-at-computerMy recent trip proved to be heart-warming and heart-rending all at once. Heart-warming, because I got to see how vibrant, happy and hopeful children can be in challenging circumstances and without so many of the things we take for granted. Heart-rending, because these children are desperately poor and have had lives that, even having met them, I can only imagine. One child I met was scarred across his neck where his father had tried to slit his throat after having murdered his mother and sister … apparently they were possessed. Against that backdrop I can still barely imagine the work and decisions that the team at 1moreChild has to do and make on a daily basis.3-children-green-faces2-children-yellow-faces The trade-offs they have to make: do they fix that window in the house, or create a place to store computers in the girls’ houses, or take another child off the street? It’s easy to say ALL, but that’s not possible with the resources available so it’s an either-or situation. Which would you choose? This is why fundraising is so critically important. So my commitment is as an organisation that we’ll continue to give. My request for anyone who reads this is to please visit 1moreChild and consider giving too. It really is money well spent, as I hope the pictures I’ve shared in this post show.

 

2017-Nitro Digital-vision-graphic

2017: The Life Sciences Marketplace and the Imperative for Change

Let me start the year not with a retrospective, but with a call out to what we want to build at Nitro.

First off, it’s worth stating what we believe, or rather hypothesise:

  • That a fundamental shift must occur in the way the life sciences industry approaches marketing.
  • That this is necessary in order to make healthcare sustainable. Life sciences companies are major contributors to R&D, and their participation in society is not only necessary, but vital.
  • That the companies that are best placed to contribute will not be just those with the right drug at the right price, but those which, having got that mix right, are then able to combine it with collaborative HCPs and a layer of digital and communication services that support either real work outcomes, professional collaboration or patient care.
  • That the way to achieve this goal is not simply using sales reps as glorified delivery men and women. I’d go further, and say that few doctors want to see reps anymore for product information alone.
  • That creating a new promotional and educational distribution model for the pharma industry is not easy, nor is there a single silver bullet. Healthcare is, so far, reluctant to see the rise of an Alibaba or Uber in its sector; perhaps it will come, but perhaps the system is too fragmented, complex and non-commoditised for that. (although, if you continue the Alibaba analogy, that would make it ideal for a bit of disruption. . .which brings me to my next point nearly).
  • That everyone wins if a more efficient, digitally enabled, two-sided market emerges in healthcare.
  • That technology is essentially borderless and has the power to effect global change in our industry as much as it has in others.

We started Nitro 15 years ago based on these beliefs. We believe them now. Achieving a solution to the issues created by the challenges above has proved elusive, but I genuinely believe we have developed the scale and expertise in what is an ever moving tech and process stack that means we can take major steps forward in 2017 towards helping our clients find more efficient, tech-enabled ways of engaging with HCPS, patients and other stakeholders for better healthcare overall.

Of course, the journey will not be competed this year, or the next, or perhaps ever. But maybe that’s part of the fun of it.

So, all that being said, we think we have—through some deep and testing experience—a clearer idea of what the makings of a two-sided marketplace for life sciences looks like and what this means for the sales and marketing model for the sector. We refer to this as life sciences social closed loop marketing (CLM), and at the heart of it is a powerful combination of a BuzzFeed-esque content marketing model, a tech stack configured to cope with the regulatory and global nuances of our industry, and a data-driven understanding of customer experience and the means and modes of acquisition and retention. Ultimately, to us it’s about helping life sciences companies build up their own proprietary distribution channels.

Here’s what it could look like:

Life-Sciences-Social-CLM-diagram

In our opinion, life sciences companies need to work iteratively (emphasis on iterative collaborative working) to build the following business processes and tech stack to compete effectively in the world that awaits us.

  • A Content Engine that contains the people, processes and tools to deliver high quality, targeted, relevant (to the audience’s needs) and consistent content in a variety of media types. It should produce creative and ethical content backed by science, and conforming to modern internet content marketing techniques: think Buzz Feed meets the BMJ! Notably, the resulting items should be incredibly timely and published more frequently. There should be a mix of interactive, service-based and information communication, most of which will be curated and created by KOLs. This content engine is not just about production, but also technologies that facilitate the creation, curation and publishing of content, like Nitro’s own proprietary ULTRA Buzz system, the Veeva Vault or web services like Grammarly.
  • A Multichannel Publishing System, whether it’s an owned media one using a CMS-like Drupal or Adobe’s Creative Cloud, or using earned platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • An Acquisition Strategy, since we know from having built thousands of sites that ‘build it and they will come’ just doesn’t work in the life sciences sector. Marketers, therefore, must (in our humble opinion) have an effective user acquisition strategy in place using a mix of media tailored specifically to their target audience’s needs, to be able to reach them where and when they want to be reached. Nitro’s media effectiveness database assembled using over a decade of data-driven experience allows for easy budget optimisation across a range of disparate media channels and across a full range of therapy areas.

All of the above creates visibility for your online assets, but as the cost of media in our industry is relatively high, it’s critical to provide an engaging interaction and to extend the ROI beyond the first visit. To encourage this ‘stickiness’  you’ll need:

  • A Measurement/Analytics plan, as well as a Customer Experience and Data Management strategy, whether it’s gathering feedback through net promoter score usage or other surveys; data from interactive services,; creating cookie-dropped user tag lists; email capture or sign up; or analytic services such as Google or Adobe using their respective tag managers. This activity is primarily to ensure you deliver and can measure the value you are providing but also about allowing you to segment and augment data so that you can:
  • Pull data back into and sync with your CRM (Veeva, Agnito, Salesforce) (data extension strategy) and enable your KAMs and other colleagues to leverage it, and;
  • Critically—and so far largely absent in our industry—a retargeting strategy utilising not just valuable and relevant high frequency content (see 1 above!) and email, but also cookie and data-driven and programmatic retargeting marketplaces. Talk to me any day about the relative ROI of buying media in this way compared to the cost of initial acquisition. This is the realisation of a core internet economy principle, the development by brands of their own proprietary distribution channel.
  • Finally, the output of all these efforts can’t be directly about shifting ‘drug product’ through share of voice (through that last point plays an import role in acquisition). It’s about (again, in our opinion) building genuine advocacy through listening, responding and partnering. This builds trust and will at scale be reflected in content creation which if you follow the logic through will create a virtuous circle fuelling the company’s content engine (see the diagram above!). Beautiful!

So that’s it in a nutshell. It’s not a simple vision, way more complex than just content and communications but, if successful, way more valuable for all concerned. It would be amazing to build a company that delivered on this.

That’s our plan. 2017 and beyond.

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!

Nitro Digital 2016

2016 – Our Busiest Year Yet?

Hello! It’s been a while since we last wrote but only because we’ve been very busy with some exciting new developments. We are brighter and busier than ever with the opening of a new office in Canada, the hiring of even more A-players to our global team and a successful launch of a great new product for our client. We thought now was a good time to tell you all about it and explain why we think that 2016 might just be our biggest year yet…
Continue reading