Time flies. It seems only a couple days back that we were welcoming 2017 with great fanfare…and lo and behold – the year has almost passed us by! Santa has come and gone in his sleigh (driven by deer, maybe?), the festive season is on in full swing, and in a matter of a couple of days – 2018 will be upon us. It’s a great time of the year..when I can take stock of the year gone by, and start planning for the next year. This was a big year for Teks, and we plan to make 2018 bigger!
First things first though, the Teksmobile brand got a year older (we all did, right?) this year. What started out as a modest startup in the spring of 2006 is now a healthy 12-year old – prospering amidst technological innovations and worldwide appreciation from clients. It has been an amazing journey for me personally – and I trust for everyone associated with the company. Here’s looking at you, dear developers, and designers, and testers, and the backend team, and of course, everyone who decided to do business with us in 2017. You make what Teks is now…and a big ‘thank you’ to you all.
2017 saw us move forward in our quest to strengthen the international presence of Teksmobile. Two new offices – at Seoul and Busan (South Korea) – started operations from the third quarter, with Eric Jinsu Kang heading the team over there as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). A new website for the Korean chapter (Teksmobile Korea) has also been launched (go ahead, have a look). When me and my motley team started out with simplistic Java apps more than a decade back – we had perhaps hoped to, but were not entirely sure about, seeing a day when our company will have offices in 5 different countries (Sweden, Australia, USA, India, and now South Korea). Over the next couple of years, we have plans for more expansion – but that will happen when it will happen. Fingers crossed for that.
On the work front, me and my team have always craved for variety. Same is boring for us (as it should be)…and new challenges, projects where we can really showcase our professional and technical expertise, really get us going. 2017 has been a really rewarding year from that perspective. The array of projects we have worked (and are still working!) on have been well and truly diverse. From a smart travel wallet app and a automotive service app, to a customized travel journal application, an educational game for kids (which also doubles up as a digital storytelling tool), and a ‘find-a-medic’ app – we have worked on them all this year. How about a video-streaming app for the top-ranked fishing and outdoors channel in Australia? Yep, done that too!
On average, 8 out of every 10 of our apps get featured at the app stores. However, if I were asked about the category we are most successful in – my response would probably be ‘apps for children’. As our uber-successful Story Time For Kids application has gone on its merry way of collecting accolades and honourable mentions, My First Words (an audio picture dictionary for toddlers) has cemented its place among our best-performing products. Among our more recent works, Soccerman is off to a fast start, while Minilobes (another learning game app with a twist) also has the potential to become hugely popular. We believe that we are good in what we do (at least our clients keep saying that!) – and evidently, we really excel with our kids’ applications. Who doesn’t love the li’l ones, anyway?
Oh, and did you know, the Story Time For Kids app now has a customized version (Bedtime Stories For Kids) for Apple TV too?
Those who follow this blog (for those who don’t, here you go) would know that I had emphasized on consolidating my company’s position as a ‘driver of technology’ (more like ‘the face of changing technology’) in 2017. I am happy to report that things have been consistently on course regarding that. We are currently in the final stages of creating a full-blown IoT firmware (powered by the LoRa technology), cross-platform development tools like React Native are being used regularly on projects (as and when required), and we have also completed our first successful foray in the domain of ‘smart agriculture’. I feel that it’s high time that we learnt about, embraced and implemented more cutting-edge technologies – in a bid to come up with better, more futuristic software and tools. Delivering more than the clients’ expectations has always been something my team has strived for – and I can safely say that in 2017, we made all of our ‘external employees’ (that’s how I like to refer to our clients) very happy indeed.
Speaking of working with breakthrough technologies, I should also mention two of our new in-house projects – with which we are really trying to push the bar. The first of them is NOLBI (No Language Barrier Instrument) – a tool designed to make cross-language conversations/communications easier than ever before. The mobile app version is almost ready, while an interactive voice response (IVR) system and a voice telephony terminal are also in the pipeline. The biggest USPs of the NOLBI tool will be: a) near-real-time translation services (minimal lags), and b) high accuracy levels. I trust that NOLBI will make life convenient for a lot of people (travelers in foreign lands, particularly) from next year. We are looking for an early-2018 release for that one.
The other project I would like to mark out for this year is Eventify. It is a digital event app building platform – a tool that allows event organizers to create fully customized, scalable, information-rich and user-friendly event applications. The tool went fully functional in the second half of 2017, and was used to create the official apps of the Nordic APIs Platform Summit (Stockholm, Sweden), the Nordic Smart Cities event (Stockholm, Sweden), and StartCon 2017 (Sydney, Australia). Corporate tech events do not come much bigger than these – and let’s just say that Eventify more than proved itself in each of these cases. Expect Teks to partner with, and Eventify to be the creator of, the apps of several high-profile tech events in 2018.
I have been in the mobile apps business for a long time now (am a ‘veteran’ mobile apps architect, if you please!). Over the years, I have overseen, and taken immense pride in, the many #win moments for our apps – when they had bagged important awards and honourable mentions on the international stage. Even so, it still gets me all excited whenever the news of new successes float in. In the final weeks of 2017, the Android version of the My First Words application crossed the 300K downloads mark (the iOS version is also doing very well). Also, the app for StartCon 2017 broke into the list of top-25 applications in the Australian App Store – within 24 hours of its launch. A fair testimony to the hard work, dedication, and sheer expertise of our in-house developers, methinks.
Teks has never been, and will never be, an ‘only-work-and-no-fun’ organization – and 2017 had its share of delightful, fun-filled moments. On a personal front, I was absolutely amazed with the way in which the team had (secretly) arranged for my birthday celebration at office. Since I was scheduled to be out of the country on the actual date, they arranged for the decorations and the cake-cutting and the (real cool!) gifts a couple of days in advance. Every year, I get the feeling that the guys are planning something for my birthday – but, to date, have never been able to second-guess them. One moment you step out of your regular office cabin…and minutes later, you find balloons and ribbons and pom-poms in it! This annual surprise really MEANS A LOT.
We were also off to our yearly off-site tour in May this year. There was plenty of fun and frolic on the beach as the sun beat down and the waves splashed – with many cool games and rounds of candid conversation. At Teksmobile, we do not believe in a rigid, top-down managerial system – and easy interactions are preferred. These off-site trips help a lot in breaking the proverbial ice among the team members old and new – and we will be off again somewhere in 2018. Destination suggestions, anyone?
Our motto for 2017 was ‘be more productive’ – with a particular focus on establishing and fostering mentor-mentee relationships at workplace. Things have gone absolutely swimmingly on that front. Newcomers (there have been quite a few of them this year) have loved the opportunity to get hands-on training and expert guidance from the seniors. The latter, on their part, have been more than eager to share their knowledge with anyone who was ready to pick their brains. In the next year and beyond, we will stick with this mentor-mentee culture…it has indeed done wonders for boosting productivities and lifting employee morales. Maintaining optimal quality of service, working within deadlines, and making each of our customers happy – we have done all that in 2017, and then some more. Wish us similar success in 2018!
We started out with the slightly-delayed ‘employee reward scheme’ this year (finally!). Each member of the Teks Family received a little gift on their respective birthdays – and three of our senior employees were given special awards, for their unwavering commitment to contribute to the company over the years. More prizes are on the offing from the next year – including performance-based awards. The only caveat will be – you WILL HAVE TO EARN these prizes!
So, was everything good about the year gone by? Mostly yes (we managed to finish up a couple of troublesome projects too) – but there was one thing that I found rather disturbing. Over the last decade or so, I have had the good fortune of hiring some of the best talents in the business to work in our company. This year though, there has emerged a trend of new interns and freshers – youngsters I hired for the sole objective of giving them an opportunity to showcase their skills, and also to learn – moving away as soon as the training period is complete. I am a firm believer in the value of employee-retention (there are quite a few guys who have been with Teks from the very start) – and I feel annoyed when people try to treat Teks as just another place to test the waters. Note to myself: will have to be more careful with my hiring policies in 2018. Manpower is the strongest asset of Team Teks – and I don’t want wrong ‘uns getting into the mix.
Me and my team are already looking forward with great excitement to the new year. For starters, we will be finishing up with the NOLBI project (hopefully, it will get the success it deserves) – while work has also started on a subscription-based educational app for junior-level school kids. The app is going to have 60+ games – both single-player and multiplayer – and will cover English, Mathematics and GK topics. Apart from that, we will be carrying on with our regular app/API services, custom web solutions, and game development services – and keep an eye out on the ever-changing technologies, tools and frameworks. More work will be done on the IoT front as well, while making apps for wearables is another priority point. I am confident of having an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ attitude from my team…to make 2018 our most successful year yet.
Before signing off, I would once again like to wish all dear readers the heartiest greetings for this festive season. My 2018 be good for each of you…as well as on us!
Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!
Or is it the other way round?
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