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Engineering is the adventure

Tuesday 02.02.2021 Christian Walter
Christian Walter

Christian Walter ist Geschäftsführer und Redaktionsleiter von swiss made software. Bis Ende 2010 arbeitete er als Fachjournalist für das ICT-Magazin Netzwoche, publizierte zuletzt aber auch im Swiss IT Magazin, der Computerworld sowie inside-it.

At AdNovum, choosing the right employees is just as important as investing in the right new technologies to fit the company’s strategy. When both have been chosen well, you’ve laid fertile ground for cutting-edge solutions.

Beat Fluri, Head Technology & Innovation and CTO at AdNovum

“The software we buildis critical to our customers’ businesses”, explains Beat Fluri, Head of Technology & Innovation and CTO at AdNovum. This requires one thing above all else: flexibility. That is why the right mix of staff and a tech stack that’s developed with strategic goals in mind is so critical.

In so doing, Beat Fluri also rejects certain industry myths – such as those myths that largely equate innovation with the use of the most modern technologies around: “There’s no denying that cutting-edge solutions which provide your customers with a competitive advantage also demand the latest technologies. But the crucial part is taking a strategic approach in your selection and application of these technologies in each specific situation.”

Push & Pull

At AdNovum, the introduction of new technologies is based on a push and pull dynamic: The pull comes in through customer requirements, the push is through the company’s own structures and initiatives. The AdNovum Incubator is the place where new ideas are tested. Here, new technologies are explored in a targeted way – to find ways to meet customer needs they don’t yet know they have.

One example of this is a project for the Road Traffic Office of the Canton of Aargau: 330,000 telephone queries a year were straining resources beyond reason. The implementation of a new voice bot with artificial intelligence capable of understanding Swiss German made it possible to process a great number of these queries with limited human involvement: “Ich müest miis Auto aamälde und cha leider sälber nöd verbii choo, mini Mueter hett aber Ziit.” (“I have to register my car and unfortunately don’t have the time to drop by, but my mother has time.”) Although no specific question is being asked here, the sentence can be identified as a request by the customer to send someone to deal with a problem on their behalf. The bot can then tell the customer that they can send someone over.

The AdNovum Incubator is part of the Technology & Innovation (T&I) enabling unit and asks questions such as, “How do we build software? How can we improve the efficiency of our services across all units?”

An example of a pull from the customer is the introduction of OpenShift. “T&I developed basic knowledge of OpenShift. That’s when we received a request from a bank that wanted to use the technology. It was then introduced as part of a collaboration between T&I and the Banking market unit”, Fluri explains. The expertise gained about the OpenShift cluster was transferred into the tech stack, and is now available to all other AdNovum market units.

Career aspirations and opportunities

The key element when it comes to innovation and new technologies is the employees. Here, Beat Fluri shares his definition of the word “innovation” in the context of AdNovum: “The challenges lie in the problems that we solve. The engineering is the adventure.” This attitude allows a much broader range of employees to pursue and enjoy meaningful and fulfilling work.

That’s why this mix of employees is so important. AdNovum includes everyone from the specialist with a great deal of expertise gained over many years working in a particular unit, gaining knowledge that extends far beyond just the technology itself – to the developer who is always wanting to learn new things and loves to jump from one project to the next. “It’s important to communicate with people. That’s how we ensure that career aspirations and opportunities remain balanced. Then we all reap the benefits – every member of staff and the company itself.”

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