It’s a brand new year, folks – this the 11th in the timeline of my company, Teksmobile. Every year, I wonder whether what I started back in 2006 as a modest-scale startup can grow bigger – and every year, I continue to be pleasantly surprised. 2016 has been a great year for us on a professional level, and we hope to take even larger strides in 2017.
Was 2016 All Good?
Well, mostly. In the first half of the year, the total app count in our portfolio crossed 1000 (a feat I am sure not many other mobile app companies have). Well over 90% of our apps were featured at the App Store/Play Store. SpeedyKey Keyboard – a third-party iOS keyboard app – zoomed up to the position of top grosser at the App Store. Another app called HelloMind – the follow-up to our uber-successful ‘I Can Be Anything’ suit of applications – became the most downloaded app at the Danish App Store. The overseas chapters of Teksmobile (in Sydney, Australia and Sala, Sweden) showed strong growths after their robust starts (in 2014 and 2015 respectively). A couple of troublesome projects – which were on our roster for quite some time – got completed as well. From purely the perspective of company performance, I can say that Teksmobile achieved whatever it set out for at the start of 2016. And then, some more!
But, There Was Something…
There will be nearly 2.7 billion smartphone users across the world in 2017, 1580 million units of phones will be shipped, and the value of the global mobile app industry will soar to $77 billion. Few, if any, other fields of business are evolving as rapidly as ours (a technology or device that is #NEW now is outdated in less than a year) – and it is a constant challenge to keep pace with the change real-time. Personally, I feel that a lot of the work we did in 2016 were ‘reactions’ to the change, and not ‘actions’ that intensified the changes in technology. This year, I hope to see Teksmobile emerge as a ‘driver of change’, and not just a ‘reactionary company’. There are (albeit only a handful) innovative companies who are doing this, and there is no earthly reason why we can’t be equally revolutionary as well.
The Changing Face Of Customers/Clients
In 2016, the number of our total international customers went beyond 400, and thankfully, our services managed to put a smile on the faces of them all. Even so, I detected certain important trends in the client demands over the year. People are becoming more and more particular about the type of software they want (as they should be…after all, they are the ones paying for it). A ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of approach, which might have worked 5-7 years ago – would be a disastrous strategy in the current scenario. At Teks, we have tried to come up with completely personalized app, API and web solutions for our clients in 2016 – and we will continue doing that in 2017 and beyond. A single, unsatisfied customers is a #FAIL for us, and we do not want that.
To The US…And Beyond!
I am quietly confident about the international presence of my mobile app development company growing stronger in 2017. Already, we are featured among the top app makers in Sydney and Australia – and this year, we are hoping to replicate that success in the United States and Canada. Teksmobile (as teksmobile.com) has been present in the US since 2007 – and it’s time it grew big, just like our other international chapters.
Somewhere down the line, we also have plans in the pipeline to launch offices in another Nordic country. But that’s for laters!
More Of Social Networking. Less Of Facebook. More Of Twitter.
Don’t get it wrong – I love Facebook. It’s a wonderful platform for posting pictures (as a traveloholic myself, I keep posting images and enjoy seeing the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ mount!). However, from a more professional point of view – I really believe that Twitter can be a much better platform for investing time and effort. For starters, everything that can be done on FB (sharing app images, posting graphics, writing text posts, etc.) can all be done on Twitter as well. What strikes me as the biggest advantage of Twitter is the fact that, you can directly interact with people – ask questions, respond to queries – on the microblogging platform…unlike Facebook, where getting ‘Friend Requests’ approved is a major hurdle in itself.
In a flash survey in our company, I found that one of the iPhone developers had more than 2000 Facebook ‘friends’, but had actually met only around 200 of them (that’s a measly 10%, probably lower) in person. Somehow, Facebook simply does not allow users to ‘build up relationships’ with others in the way Twitter does. With a clear focus on investing more time on high-quality, mutually beneficial relationships, Twitter will be our go-to social platform in 2017.
And Now, The Theme…
Our theme for 2017 is ‘Be More Productive’ – as simple as that. Utilizing every minute effectively (at times, that’s not possible – but you get the idea) has always been a part of the work-culture at Team Teks – and we will be renewing our focus on that this year. On the office floor, we are introducing things like ‘Silent Zone’, and are encouraging everyone to keep themselves occupied all the time. There can be times when a developer or a graphics designer does not have a project – but those times can be easily utilized by researching…learning more about the latest technologies in development/designing, right?
As the head of the ‘Teks Family’ (that’s how I like to address my team…and credit to everyone, they do work as close family members), I feel responsible about the conduct and performance of my employees in their respective personal lives too. Each of us have taken a new year resolution, that we will try to identify our ‘problem areas’ (oh well, everybody has some!), and ‘improve’ ourselves gradually. Nothing beats becoming a ‘better individual’, at work AND at home.
The Importance Of Mentors
Over the years, my company has been lucky enough to have been able to recruit some of the best young talents in our app development team(s). While most continue to perform well to this day…sadly, a few have slacked off. I feel that a big reason for not being able to sustain performance levels is the absence of a proper guide, a mentor. In 2017, I will be personally ensuring that each member of my team has a mentor and/or becomes a mentor for someone else. The mentor can be absolutely anyone – and his/her sole quality has to be the ability to provide motivation and guidance to people who seek help from him/her. A mentor-mentee culture will work wonders for the self-development of my team-members…at least that’s what I feel.
Putting On The Travel Shoes
Did I say I love to travel? In 2016, I got plenty of opportunities to represent Teksmobile abroad. Early on in the year, I went over to Ballarat (Australia) and met Leonie Spencer, the brains behind the ‘Lifestyle Travel’ application. In October, I attended the Nordic APIs Platform Summit in Stockholm (Sweden). Over there, I spoke in brief on ‘API Strategy Optimization’ – and it was encouraging to find the audience carefully noting what I had to say on the topic.
Cut to next month, and I was off again – this time to Sydney (Australia), where Teksmobile was one of the exhibitors at StartCon 2016. Add these to a few short family trips – and yes, 2016 has been a real travel-filled year for me.
At Teks, we do things as a team – and it wasn’t always only me doing all the traveling. One of our senior iPhone app developers was off to Sweden in the middle of the year, to work with the client over there. In 2017, Teksmobile will be offering return tickets to the best-performing employees, to destinations as diverse as Goa and Bangkok. I love to travel, and I love to see my hard-working colleagues enjoy their well-earned breaks too!
Innovation To The Fore
When WatchKit came along, we were among the first set of companies in the world to start making apps for Apple Watch. With wearable technology rapidly gaining in momentum, we started working on newer platforms. This year, we have planned to focus on API development and IoT projects in a big way. We will be working on RESTful interface designing in particular. On the internet of things front, Teks will showcase its expertise on home automation (end-to-end, attempting to make true ‘ubiquitous homes’) and smart car APIs.
There are innovative things we will be targeting in the field of mobile game development (2D, 3D, virtual/augmented reality) as well. Education technology is something that fascinates (and we have tasted success in that field already, with apps like Story Time For Kids and My First Words). By the second quarter of 2017, we are planning to launch a series of educational games for school students. It’s an ambitious project and the competition is high…but I believe in our abilities.
Focus On Quality. Focus On Quality.
Just as it has been the case in all these years, we will be considering ‘quality’ as the most important factor in every single project we work on. Employees are being encouraged to highlight any distractions (a slow system, an irritatingly slow internet, an over-talkative neighbor, anything!) that is hampering their productivity. Such problems, if any, will be sorted out immediately – and we will make sure that the quality of our work never goes down, under any circumstance.
I feel that the commitment towards quality excellence can be sustained as long as we do not decide to rest on our past laurels. Yes, Teksmobile is a big international brand now, with 1000+ apps and loads of client appreciation – but that does not mean that we can be ‘satisfied’ with where we are at right now. This year, we will continue to look for opportunities to improve our products and overall performances. If we stay static, other companies would soon overtake us.
As a side note, it really made me happy to note that – while all my team-members (juniors and seniors alike) ‘want to be successful’, none of them consider themselves to be ‘already successful.’ That indicates that the hunger to perform better is still there – and as long this remains, Teks will be in good hands.
The Motivation Factor
Carrying on from our emphasis on mentor-mentee culture, we will be bringing in the motivation factor at office as well. From this month, we will have special ‘Motivational Mondays’ sessions on – you guessed it – Monday mornings. These will be short 9-minute sessions, where one member from the team will be helming a motivational session. I was in charge for the first Monday of 2017, and we already have volunteers for the next couple of weeks.
It might sound like a cliche, but we do expect 2017 to be a breakthrough year for Teksmobile. Our mobile app company will be working on plenty of diverse new projects, learning and implementing many new tools and technologies, there will be collaborations with overseas offices…and above all, each employee will become a better, more productive version of his/her former self. Call it Teks Family 2.0!
Before signing off, I would like to wish each one of my readers a very happy and productive new year. For my team….well, let’s make this a milestone year. We can do it!