The interview was originally published at ItWiz.pl.
Uptime has been focused on creating custom software solutions since 1992. Its projects have global reach, while offices are located in five countries – Polish ones are in Warsaw and Lublin. Michał Jankowski, CEO of Uptime Development, shared his thoughts on the trends in the IT industry.
At the beginning of 2022 experts exchanged predictions for the upcoming months. One quarter has passed since then. At this stage, is it possible to say which predictions came true and which were missed?
While it is perfectly legitimate and necessary to summarize the past year, I am cautious about the future. Nothing less is expected from the IT industry. Certainly, forecasts generate a lot of interest. However, it is worth keeping in mind that trends don’t come and go along with the turning of a calendar page. Their life cycle is much more irregular. It is a constant process in which it is difficult to draw boundary lines. Large-scale transformations occur more in years than months.
Right. So what challenges will technology companies face?
I could spin a story about innovations that fire the imagination and, at the same time, provide a sense of accomplishment. There are going to be new obstacles requiring brilliant solutions. That’s the essence of programming. However, I do not doubt that our specialists will find a recipe for all the difficulties.
In my opinion, the fundamental challenges for the industry are more prosaic. The recruitment. Staff shortages in the job market have become a kind of meme, which is not always funny. Not much has changed in this respect over the last few years. Every company is trying to patch up the holes ad hoc, but it could use a business turnaround.
What is the solution? To look for passionate juniors without much experience?
Of course, we allow such a possibility. However, training an employee from scratch is a long-term process. And it can be very expensive. It takes quite some time before a mentee is ready to face demanding projects.
There are a lot of self-taught people in our industry who prove it is possible to smoothly make the way from a beginner to a specialist. It’s a matter of determination and the right attitude. There are hundreds of free resources available on the Internet for beginners. Besides, one can develop oneself by carrying out projects and participating in internship programs. There is no shortage of opportunities. Just reach for them.
What skills are most desired by employers?
Each position has its characteristics and thus requires a slightly different set of skills. However, of universal importance are soft competencies. Above all, I would distinguish the enthusiasm to learn and improve skills, the willingness to solve complex problems, the ability to meet deadlines, and openness to teamwork. I can confidently say that someone with these qualities will be appreciated, even if they are just taking their first steps in the industry.
How to encourage a person to work for the company? Are money and benefits key arguments?
The aforementioned issues play a significant role. However, what also matters is the work culture. In the context of long-term cooperation, it may turn out that the organizational structure will be a key factor in determining employee satisfaction.
In our company, we rely on a flat structure. Each project has a designated end goal, but the choice of means and tools used lies solely with the team members. We cannot afford to value opinions based on seniority or personality traits. Each voice is equally important in finding an optimal solution. Thanks to this, employees have psychological comfort and space for development. They do not have to fear that bureaucracy or an overzealous superiority will stand in the way of innovation.
All these factors make the individual have a sense of empowerment and full awareness of their importance. This is also a key to maintaining a positive atmosphere among employees.
We know how to encourage employees. But how to ensure that specialists do not leave the company?
We try to create a workplace that appeals to both reason and emotion. We offer attractive salaries and provide space for continuous improvement of skills. We foster the exchange of experience between individual team members. Moreover, we operate within a flat structure. Everyone has a real impact on decisions made in the project and organizational dimensions. When hiring new employees, we pay attention to their personality traits. We want to make sure that we share similar values and find a common language. This makes it possible to work in a team where everyone likes each other. We also do our best to provide employees with a sense of security and stability.
Any thoughts on salaries trends?
There are many indications that salaries could be even higher than they are today. This is simply a tangible example of how the market economy works. There are more and more vacancies for experienced and qualified specialists, but there are not as many takers as needed. Therefore, the owners of companies try to encourage potential candidates. A generous salary is often the main lure.
What changes brought by the pandemic stayed with you and perhaps will be adopted permanently?
In this context, the example of remote or hybrid work often comes up. However, it is worth noting that already before the pandemic, both models were widely used in the IT industry. However, the restrictions have certainly accelerated progress in this area. To date, many of our team members prefer to work from home. We try to provide employees with the conditions in which they feel most comfortable. We have observed that a flexible approach maintains and even increases efficiency. Therefore, there is no need to push the requirement of working in the office.
How might customer attitudes change in the near future?
Business owners are constantly looking for an area to invest in that will pay off in the future. As a result, they pay attention to the technology potential. To achieve their goals they need professional support. We offer that. We create software that makes work easier, more systematic, and in some areas also automated. Thanks to this, our customers relieve their employees, who can finally focus on what they are indispensable in.
The approach to modernization varies. There are still many companies showing a skeptical attitude. However, there’s no denying that sooner or later they’re going to have to jump on that train before it’s too late.
We need to find a common language with contractors for whom technology is not the natural environment. It is worth broadening the awareness and shaping the conviction that using modern solutions entails real profits and is not a necessary evil.
On the other hand, many companies are naturally aware of the potential of technology. They aren’t afraid of investing in innovations. They often have already completed their first IT projects. Such a customer asks precise questions and perfectly understands the goal we are aiming at. Communing with such conscious contractors will surely further drive the development of companies in our industry.
Certainly, the demand for software will grow. Customers have diverse characteristics, so it is important to maintain a flexible approach.
What will be Uptime’s main area of focus?
Our offering stands on several pillars. The key segments are software development, e-commerce systems, integration services, customer data management, and SharePoint solutions. This first element is the most important for us and we will devote the most attention to it. However, we try to consistently develop in all areas.
How do you use machine learning in Uptime?
We have already had the opportunity to implement many projects using artificial intelligence and machine learning. We have developed software that enables image recognition as well as automated decision-making.
How do your clients approach the use of artificial intelligence in software?
If someone is not familiar with an issue, they usually try to find any connection point in their mind. In the case of artificial intelligence, associations are usually created by works of pop culture. After all, this theme has become a major plot point for many films and books. This narrative is sometimes perpetuated by some companies that tend to use fancy marketing tricks. As a result, customers’ imaginations are sometimes exaggerated and only loosely connected to the reality of our work. Nevertheless, customers rely on our competence and are willing to use solutions based on artificial intelligence, if only we consider them justified in a given situation.
What is Uptime’s approach to AI and ML?
Our goal is to find the solution that works best for our customers. The use of artificial intelligence or machine learning is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. If necessary we are prepared to develop advanced software using these solutions.
Will AI and ML be the leading trends?
Everything suggests that. To stimulate progress, we need to measure our strengths and use our full potential in every area. This will make humans have to acknowledge the superiority of machines in some areas. After all, modern processors have far more computing power than the human mind. Besides, they can work at top efficiency 24 hours a day. However, humans will still be irreplaceable in jobs that require creativity and emotional intelligence.
In the near future, will companies still be able to thrive in the modern business environment without the use of AI and ML solutions?
By all means. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is optional, not necessary. They cannot be seen in the category of universal solutions that will work in every situation. In many areas, you can successfully do without them.
Before making a decision, however, it is worth analyzing the potential benefits. Perhaps changes in this direction are not necessary but would prove beneficial. In certain situations, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning allows you to act more efficiently and economically.