CTO and co-founder of Qudini Fraser Hardy talks about his career in IT
Cloud platform Qudini provides a service for retailers to tailor the in-store experience for their customers, such as handling in check-ins, queue management and analysing data. Qudini’s CTO Fraser Hardy discusses the company and the tech challenges it has faced.
What is your role and who do you work for?
I’m the CTO and co-founder at Qudini. We started the company five years ago after winning a hackathon and it’s now grown to be one of the leading customer management platforms. We provide a cloud based appointment and queue management software for mostly retailers.
What has been your most interesting project to date?
Qudini has been by far the most interesting project I’ve worked on as I’ve been involved in every step of development from the initial [phase] to where it is now with all the new features we’ve added along the way. We’ve got a really innovative team and by listening to what our customers want and making improvements to the product we’re able to stay relevant.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
I would say growing our team further is definitely a challenge. The job market for developers is extremely competitive at the moment and there seems to be quite a skills shortage.
Our main focus is ensuring we’re building a great place to work and also making sure we’re able to pick up new technology and keep things interesting for the engineering team. The company was started at a hackathon and these are great events we’re planning to do more of internally to keep driving innovation. Technology is changing so quickly at the moment so you need to keep on top of the latest trends and how it can help the business.
What technology were you working with ten years ago?
10 years ago, I was working with ASP.NET and also doing some work on J2ME apps for the Nokia N95 Symbian phone. I was finishing off my degree and mobile app’s were really starting to take off. This was how I first got into mobile development where I built a fitness tracking app for the S60 and used its in built GPS to track running routes, distance and speed.
What is your favourite technology of all time?
I think it has to be the smartphone. The first smartphone I bought was a Nokia 3250 running Symbian. Although it was pretty basic at the time I could tell having app’s and the world of the internet in your pocket was going to be a game changer. The release of the iPhone really confirmed this and I’ve really enjoyed the journey of mobile apps so far. Now I can’t live without a smartphone and is a massive part of the success of our company too.
How will the IoT affect your organisation?
As we work with retail stores we’ve seen a lot of interest in things like BLE beacons and other means of indoor location sensing. It’s certainly something we are keeping up to date on and have put together some proof of concepts with IoT devices. At quidni we’re always on the look out at new technology and especially anything that can be used to make people’s life easier and improve customer journeys.
What smartphone do you use?
I use the Apple iPhone 7. Even with the annoying lack of headphone jack this phone never lets me down allows me to stay productive on the move.
What three apps could you not live without?
Living in London, I am a heavy user of Citymapper. It has completely changed my way of navigating around a city and I love what those guys are doing at the moment for transport. I listen to all of my music on Spotify, and having automatic playlists is awesome for helping me concentrate on difficult coding tasks when I need to block out the surrounding distractions. Slack has become a really key tool within our business. I’m often on the run, so this lets me keep up to date with my team and ensure nothing is missed. We also use bots in slack too to make our lives easier.
What new technology are you most excited about a) for your business b) yourself?
I’m really excited about AI and home assistants/automation at the moment like Amazon Echo. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time of that assistant helping you in be productive in everyday life. I think this will also be applicable to business too. Data is a big part of what we do, and providing that data to allow our customers to take actions that improve their productivity is key to what we do. In future the most exciting is for those actions to happen automatically based on a range of factors, and AI is going to be key to this.
If you weren’t doing your job you do now, what would you be doing?
I love the outdoors and used to do a lot of sailing, surfing, skiing. I’d probably be doing something that allows me to do that more often and be enjoying the outdoors more. However I’m not sure how long that would last before I wanted to get back to coding and building the next thing.