It’s the end of the year and we’re enjoying a festive drink with some of the NearForm Operations team (Damian Beresford – Technical Director, Colm Harte – Technical Director and Hélène Haughney – Chief Operations Officer) to reflect on the year past and look ahead to what’s coming in 2020.
What was 2019 like for your clients?
Damian: It varied, but overall it was quite challenging for our clients; the pace of change in technology is relentless and 2019 was no exception. Users’ expectations are continuously increasing to the point where differentiation through customer experience is a matter of survival. Juggling legacy systems and business-as-usual investment with innovation investment continue to be a big challenge. It’s tough out there!
Hélène: Productive! Our clients are amazing and they have such great plans. They are inspirational when it comes to what they want to achieve. We’ve seen large digital transformation projects come to fruition and we have been really successful with our Capability Building offering. It’s been very rewarding seeing organisations move from a strict scrum-led approach to finding their own agile way with some help of course from NearForm!
Colm: During 2019 I encountered some clients struggling with delivery of digital projects. Clients were typically at the early stages of a digital transformation – often initiated in partnership with a consultancy firm. This started them on their transformation journey but they are now finding it very challenging to take ownership and adapt to these new ways of working. As a result, it impacts their delivery.
What was 2019 like for you personally?
Hélène: A great year I have to say. I moved into the COO position and took on an amazing team of Technical Directors. We doubled in size in Q2 and Q3 and are innovating at speed in all areas. I love working with this experienced team of technologists and we just keep adding really talented engineers who deliver repeatedly. I may have spent a bit too much time in the air but I am going to relax for Christmas with my family.
Damian: Good overall, it was an interesting year. Quite a bit of travel, consulting with clients, listening to their challenges, helping them strategise, diagnosing problems, helping them craft a plan, and then working with our operations teams executing that plan. For me, helping clients on their journey of change is very rewarding.
Colm: A successful year overall, helping our clients deliver effectively against their goals and seeing the impact of a transformation on their business is very satisfying. This work is very challenging and demanding which makes my job much more interesting!
Technology-wise, what trends have you seen in 2019 that will continue in 2020?
Colm: One major trend is many of our clients are investing in moving their legacy Enterprise solutions to modern Web applications to enable them to capitalise on new routes to market. I expect this trend to continue and it’s one of the reasons why we have focused on project learnings and innovation in NearForm Operations
Damian: In general there are many, innovation is everywhere. For me personally, there are 3 technology trends that really stick out from my engagements this year: 1. JAMstack architectures, 2. Full-stack serverless and 3. AI-assisted personalisation. We’ve learned a lot about these this year and expect to be doing more and more in 2020.
Hélène: Everyone wants their solution delivered quickly! At NearForm we can accelerate to deliver an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in less than 12 weeks! This is what our clients are looking for. Clients also expect an experienced team that can deliver a solution that doesn’t compromise on quality. I also see clients looking for more architecture oversight and advice. It’s often a neglected area for many reasons – be it lack of skill sets or delivery pressure takes over – but we are being asked more and more to review architecture or to help define a solid, working architecture practice.
What are you looking forward to in NearForm in 2020?
Hélène: I am excited to see what new clients we will work in 2020. We broke into North America this year so it will be interesting to see how much more this will develop in 2020. We are still scaling up our team so it will be great to see how much more talent we can add in!! We plan to produce a lot more content around real-world digital transformation problems and realise the challenge it can be for some non-technical organisations. We have big plans around customer experience too. Personally, I want to delve more into capability building and see how many more Enterprises we can help with modern technology and processes that we know can work for them. It’s going to be busy!
Colm: I look forward to the ongoing challenges of helping new clients deliver complex solutions to their customers in a scalable and maintainable manner. I’m excited about continuing to codify our learning allowing us to accelerate our client projects. Helping clients with technology, process and capability is complex and there is no one-solution-fits-all. So, dealing with the uniqueness of each client and tailoring our approach accordingly is an ongoing challenge. It’s a challenge that I find personally rewarding and learn a huge amount from.
Damian: Aside from working with our clients, partners and our exceptional people in NearForm Operations; I’m really looking forward to going to market with our Solution Accelerators. We plan to open source Orion (our content and engagement hub) at the end of Q1 which we feel is a game-changer for enabling content-driven user engagements. We will also release a reference architecture for full-stack serverless in Q1. There’s more coming also, the NearForm Operations team continue to innovate and will learn from real-world problems into 2020 and beyond.
What lies ahead for your clients in 2020?
Damian: It’s a mixed bag really; some clients will look at technology as a business enabler throughout their organisation (‘Digital Transformation’), and others will focus on a theme of exceeding their customer expectations. Some will simply focus on knowing their customers better. For others, 2020 will be a matter of survival – that may sound harsh but it’s reality – disruption is everywhere. Others will be the disruptors and they will have different challenges.
Many of our clients have progressed from having problems everywhere to now being able to look at opportunities everywhere. It’s going to be great helping them further in 2020. To generalise, technology in the service of customer and employee experience is a trend that will never end!
Hélène: A lot more work with NearForm :) Some of our clients will reach a point of maturity with their digital teams and will move to the next level of capability building where we will help them to create a bespoke organisation that works more efficiently. For other, new potential clients, they often need someone to help them assess what they need from technology and services. Either way, they know they can expect excellence from the NearForm team.
Colm: Our clients face an increasingly competitive market, where there is a constant need to innovate and adapt in an ever-changing technology landscape. This dynamic and demanding new world is now a reality for our clients and adapting to it is often their biggest challenge. Understanding this new landscape and identifying how to succeed is the focus for our clients.