Leaders to know: 6 NYC tech pros share a glimpse into their current projects

May 29, 2019
ctos
image via shutterstock

To be successful, tech leaders must keep one eye on the present and the other on the future. They need to stay on top of industry trends and make sure their teams have everything they need to complete their current projects — and forecast what’s coming next. We talked to tech leaders at six leading companies in NYC and learned how they’re able to balance often competing priorities.

 

Ilana Brown
VP, Customer Success

VP of Customer Success Ilana Brown has been with hospitality company SevenRooms for almost five years. She’s learned that, while it’s tempting to use the newest and best tools, it’s important to not try too many things at once. She explained how she’s been able to find a balance between trying all of the new incredible platforms while making sure her team doesn’t get “tool fatigue” and overextend resources.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

The primary tech tool we use is Totango, which is designed for customer success teams to help track engagement metrics and health scores, with functionality designed around churn risk assessment. It has huge potential to shift the way we view platform engagement. It teaches us about what people are using, how they access features and what the true impact is on their restaurant or operation. We use this data to uncover opportunities within our organization, with the goal of helping our clients become more efficient using SevenRooms.

As a company, SevenRooms is sitting on a gold mine of data. By implementing Looker, a business intelligence tool, we now have the ability to process that data to push it out at the right time and into the right hands. Most importantly, our customer success managers use it to create enterprise-level reporting for our global client base, helping them be more successful both on an individual and property-wide level.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We recently launched a marketing automation tool, 7X, that is quite literally changing the industry right before our eyes. SevenRooms exists to empower hospitality operators to connect with their guests directly, and make every interaction meaningful. These tools have enhanced our platform and given operators the ability to do exactly that. We'll continue to evolve these products as we learn more about how our clients are engaging with them based on both product data and customer feedback.

 

Mike Brittain
VP, Engineering

Logistics software platform Transfix connects shippers to a national network of carriers. VP of Engineering Mike Brittain explains how he chooses technologies and initiates projects with his team and company in mind.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

The most important thing is enabling software teams to rapidly experiment and deliver changes to applications and infrastructure. Every member of the team should be able to spin up an environment that closely resembles production and make changes that they are confident will be safe to deploy. Any tech that makes that easier is high on my list. Currently, we are looking at moving our apps and services into containers.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

Two important aspects of Transfix’s business in freight logistics relate to predicting accurate prices and pickup and delivery times for trucks en route. Data science is an important and growing function, as is the underlying data infrastructure. This year, we are making a big investment on redesigning real-time streaming data into a new data warehouse that will drive the next generation of our prediction models. Our data engineering team is not just responsible for the streaming and storage architecture, but also the model training platform, which I think is a unique type of role.

 

Reginald Mullin
Director of Engineering

Shapeways, a 3D printing company, has doubled their engineering team and pivoted to a brand new tech stack this year. Director of Engineering Reginald Mullin explains how he and his team have been able to stay nimble enough to make major accomplishments before June.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

To stay ahead in tech, it's extremely important to constantly experiment with new and different technologies and paradigms, and change existing systems whenever those experiments prove positive. This is exactly the approach we're taking at Shapeways, and it's why we've chosen to invest heavily in technologies like microservices, application containerization and elasticsearch.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We're committed to moving our tech stack to microservices. Thus, we're currently building out authentication, payment and tax services, just to name a few. Our ultimate goal is to create a PaaS for 3D printing, and we're well-positioned to do just that in 2019.

 

Kevin Hsu
Technical Account Manager

One of adtech platform Smartly.io’s values is to “work smartly.” Technical Account Manager Kevin Hsu explained how that’s driven his team’s projects.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

I stay ahead by keeping up with the news and blogs — TechCrunch is a personal favorite of mine. With the exponential amount of data we capture now, I'm particularly excited about leveraging machine learning to make data-driven decisions in order to better assist our customers.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We’re working on continuing the automation of manual processes. As one of our company values is “work smartly,” this provides everyone more time to focus on strategy and execution.

 

Adam Blair
CTO and Cofounder

RFID and computer vision platform RADAR uses proprietary technology that provides hyper-precise location information on products and people in stores. CTO Adam Blair explained how his team looks to the company’s values to stay ahead of trends in the space.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

The key is to understand what technology to focus our limited time and energy on, and what technology to leave to others. For our core technology, we define the curve, so staying ahead of it is just about keeping focused on RADAR’s value proposition. As far as new technologies, the ones I’m most excited about are also the ones I can’t really talk about. We have a bunch of new techniques to identify and locate objects in space that we are looking to roll out over the next several years that leverage signal processing, computer vision and other technologies.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We get to bring our first product to life in a real store deployment this year. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a system you’ve worked on actually running in the real world. And honestly, this is somewhat more satisfying because we’ll be able to tell friends and family to go out to a store and “look up,” and they’ll be able to share in what we’ve worked so hard to develop.

 

Cassie Shum
Technical Director

Cassie Shum has been with global technology consultancy ThoughtWorks for more than nine years. As a technical director, she focuses on architectures and a wide range of technologies with an emphasis on mobile and software delivery excellence. She explains how she stays up to date with everything that goes on in the industry.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

I usually stay ahead of the curve by working closely with our accounts. Reading about the latest trends is a big part of my job. I also have side projects that allow me to experiment with new cloud technologies and data engineering practices.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We are undergoing a lot of data platform work (transforming platforms to streaming, RT technologies), as well as mobile and search optimization.

 

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