Ahead of the curve: How ThoughtWorks fosters emerging technologies

by Katie Fustich
June 29, 2018
ThoughtWorks
image via thoughtworks

As one of the top technology consultancies in the world, ThoughtWorks is well-versed in the past, present and future of technology. On a daily basis, ThoughtWorks helps clients both large and small solve their toughest challenges through a blend of creative thinking, technical insight and positive social impact.

ThoughtWorks’ Head of Technology Jonny Leroy sat down with Built In NYC and explained that everything starts with the company’s “three pillars.” Pillar one, he said, is building a thriving and economically viable organization.

“Pillar two is championing software excellence and revolutionizing the technology industry,” Leroy said. “And then our third pillar is fostering social and economic justice [around] the world. And what's most interesting to us is the intersection between all of those.”

It is these three pillars that have bolstered ThoughtWorks’ success since its founding nearly 25 years ago. While technological advancement has exploded in that time, the company has managed to remain on the cutting edge.

We are able to see what technologies are bubbling up from the ground, from real-world uses."

“One of the main techniques we use to stay on top of [new technology] is the Technology Radar that we put out twice a year, which looks at what's happening across all of our projects globally,” explained Leroy. The Technology Radar is a bi-annual report on the latest in techniques, tools, languages and frameworks and platforms, with opinion and analysis from industry experts. “We are able to see what technologies are bubbling up from the ground, from real-world uses. Out of that, we are able to summarize key themes and trends and cut through the hype.”

On the horizon, Leroy and the team see several crucial trends emerging across technologies: “Looking at the areas where we’re seeing big changes, I think the first one is scale,” he said. “Most [companies] are looking for scale in terms of the amount of customers they can service, the amount of problems that they can solve and the amount of people on the planet that can be serviced.”

Next up: data. “We really talk about intelligent empowerment, both in people and businesses,” Leroy said. “Or how organizations can use data to not just replace people, but empower their employees, their decision making, their customers and society at large.”

Finally, Leroy said that user interactions are evolving in a range of unique ways, from chat boxes to augmented reality.

ThoughtWorks
image via thoughtworks

When it comes to implementing new technologies into their clients’ products, Leroy explained that ThoughtWorks keeps one foot rooted in the present, by asking what cutting-edge technologies are ready for large-scale implementation, and the other foot in the future, by asking how can this problem be solved like never before.

This ethos is evident in several of ThoughtWorks’ recent projects. In partnership with Xenex, ThoughtWorks helped develop a “germ-zapping robot” that will help reduce the spread of infections in hospital settings. ThoughtWorks worked with REA Group, one of the largest real estate portals in the world, to help scale operations drastically. In collaboration with IAG, one of the most prominent insurers in Asia, ThoughtWorks helped the company cut down on its client response times and improve its overall client-facing presence. These solutions all incorporate creative, tech-based problem solving while making a positive impact in the sphere of social good.

Naturally, a company like ThoughtWorks wouldn’t be what it is without its people. Though an individual employee might work on a range of problems and projects during their tenure with the company, Leroy points to the company’s holistic hiring process. “We're very much looking for people who want to join ThoughtWorks for the long term,” he said. “We look for poly-skilled people; people who bring a range of skills or are invested in learning more skills, and then getting them the opportunity to move around between industries, between challenges, between technology stacks.”

We're very much looking for people who want to join ThoughtWorks for the long term."

For those eager to learn more about all ThoughtWorks is shaping, the team recommends attending its annual XConf, making its way to North America for the first time this July. This gathering, now in its eighth year, showcases the best of ThoughtWorks.

“It's very practitioner focused,” Leroy said of the conference. “Technologists of all walks [attend].” This year’s North American conference is set to hone in on the concept of “digital organizations,” whether they be technology companies, startups or more traditional enterprises that are re-imagining themselves as a digital organization.”

While other firms may be content to tow the line and keep their work in a safe and dependable range, ThoughtWorks is using its place as a technology influencer to identify and empower the coming tech. By taking the initiative to incorporate new tech into their products, ThoughtWorks helps foster the next generation of innovative, socially-conscious tech.

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