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Development | 11th March 2019

How we learn new technologies

We love to learn new technologies, it’s both exciting to us on a personal level and beneficial to us on a commercial level. The more new technologies we learn the more opportunities we can offer our partners; it’s a win win.

However, there are so many new, exciting and emerging technologies that if we dedicated our whole day to learning them we still wouldn’t be able to learn enough. In order to use our time effectively and to learn the right technologies we use our tech radar.

Choosing the right technologies to pursue

This is where our tech radar comes in, we keep a Trello board full of technologies that are split into different categories. As a team we spend time together to decide which of these technologies need our attention now and which need our attention in the mid to long term.

How we determine if a technology is one we need to work on now, compared to the mid to long term is driven by a few different factors:

Projects in our pipeline
Our partners' needs
Our own needs

Projects in our pipeline

We will look to see which projects we have in our pipeline, and evaluate if there is a need to learn a new technology that would be beneficial to our partners' business. Being proactive in this way allows us to trial new technologies in a test environment first.

We have made a pledge to not let technology dictate a project, but a project to dictate the technology. This means that we will always choose the right technology for a job. If we are aware of a new technology that would be beneficial, but it hasn’t yet made it into our in-house trials then we will weigh up the risk reward, before embarking on implementing a new and potentially complex technology into our partners project.

We take the time to explain technology stacks, where we currently are with them and how they can better serve in different scenarios.

Our partners' needs

As we have an interest in the on-going support of partners' business, this is another factor in how we choose which technologies we learn. 
We maintain our partners backlog and work with them to determine the next round of development and also to forecast new features that are to be released into their project. With this in mind, it gives us time to pull items from our tech radar that we feel can better serve these projects.

Our own needs

We also look at technology to trial that we’re interested in, that may be technology that we take a personal interest in collectively or one that members of the team are particularly interested in trialling for future adoption.

For example, right now we’re trialling building AR for Facebook, this isn’t a partner request but is one that we’re interested in learning. Our partners will then be able to benefit from our experiences and utilise this technology, if needed.

Our tech radar is planned into three month phases, but remains flexible to having new items placed onto it and other items moved out as business needs dictate. We will always be testing new technologies and trying to push the boundaries to enable us to deliver better solutions to our partners.

Hero image by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Written by
Jeremy King
Jeremy is a Director at New Socks Media.

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