Balancing tech constraints and business solutions

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By Eric Tornquist

August 2, 2020

Software development is at the heart of any organization at any level nowadays. From managing your customer loyalty program to knowing when a specific purchase will reach your inventory, to enabling eLearning capabilities to your team, or calculating the chance that this particular retail branch will perform above quota next month. All these dynamic requirements have a say in modern business and are used in an omnichannel way, available 24–7 and with increased usage of cloud-based solutions that provide elasticity needed in this exponential world.

So, what is the role of a technology provider firm? At Arion, we believe that companies of all sorts do not only require tech solutions… They need tools to solve business issues. And that will translate into a mix of new methodologies, a different understanding of constituencies and how to deal with them, and the right technology development. Technology itself can also require a different approach. Let’s take one example from a recent project.

This customer wanted to innovate and reach better financial returns for their land freight transportation. They operate a large fleet of trucks, trailers, drivers, and warehouses that require perfect dispatch decisions to maximize asset use, customer satisfaction, driver’s efficiency, and state-of-the-art connectivity with customer real-time, online requests. A customer approached Arion with an initial model solution. It was this software language, that database, this timeframe. Our team went back to understand more about customer reality. Their view of competitive advantages. The current focus of the management team and their available time to focus on this new development.

We also went through a series of technology approaches. Finally, a fully new way of reaching results was presented. We suggested Constraint Programming (aka CP), a development paradigm that solves optimization problems (vehicle routing, scheduling, and bin packing to mention some examples). OR-Tools is a complete suite for CP, open-sourced and backed by Google. The architect definition also included extract, transform and load (aka ETL, a data warehousing technique) to separate the current customer database from the set of tools and prepare them for future-proof solutions regardless of the data set.

Finally, in order to add elastic resources, both operational and financial, we selected Amazon Web Services (AWS), using Elastic Beanstalk, RDS, SQS, and Serverless Lambda Functions as infrastructure, where you just pay for computing time and no fixed associated costs. And the customer got the solution in 6 sprints of 3 weeks each. All business issues are packed in a state-of-the-art, dynamic, and future-proof solution. We do not like to tag that as a developer solution. This is digital transformation at work.

Companies today must cope with changing environments both at consumer behavior and talent acquisition strategies. Uncertain times add to the mix, and globalization sets the comparison universe to an extraordinarily complex level. This year, more that 120 billion dollars will be spent offshore on software development. And most of that money is spent on “keeping the lights on”. Just making sure that the systems work.

But what happens to new consumer demands and expectations? According to Everest Group, leading research and advisory firm on Global Services, Latin America is expanding its footprint mainly based on innovation sourcing. That means teams that work on new developments, moving efforts and tools from back to front lines, working on new UI/UX, integration with cloud-based tools, and more than anything focus on product development. At Arion, we deploy services from our two centers one in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a thriving country in South America that has been credited as the best city to live in Latin America and is the #1 IT exporter per capita in the region. We also are set in Medellin, Colombia, the innovation capital of the 2nd largest city in Colombia that brings talent and more costly options. With two locations you immediately get this global flavor that is well connected to customer requirements.

What we have learned during these special times?

Agility is the name of the game. It’s very difficult to predict what is going to happen in the next three months. Companies need to adapt to sourcing changes; teams are learning how to deal with at-home work and remote conversations; technology is quickly adapting to serve a new set of requirements and you see digitalization growing everywhere. But this also requires novel processes, ways to capture the right data, a creative environment, and fast answers. Arion employs design thinking methodology to assess customer requirements and collaborate on the best possible approach.

Digital Transformation is perhaps the best name for this virus. It has clearly demonstrated if companies were prepared to deal with the digital world. At Arion, we work with our customers understanding the full customer journey. And with that, we know which developments need prioritization. What areas should be automated? What technologies to leverage to make sure the customer is the center of everything?

And in an ever-changing world, it’s impossible to be the single source of the solutions. You should be able to quickly partner and enhance your abilities and skills while servicing a specific project. Our Alliances strategy is key to our business success. We have built partnerships with colleagues around Blockchain and Data Science. We became Salesforce consulting partners so we can help those looking for great, readily available tools to put the customer at the center of everything.

How can you engage Arion?

In all our initial meetings we bring senior members that empathize with your requirements, constraints, and dreams. We can do the tech talk and we can also understand business.

If your issue is Scale and Growth, we will work to make sure timing, technical readiness, and experience are met. Sometimes we are asked to perform tests. Then together with our CTO we will review options and get you ready to start. This includes setting the programming environments, connectivity requirements as well as any special security, both digital and legal.

Some customers would like our services to help them define, refine, and execute Product development. Or improve an existing customer journey. In this case, we will understand your business goals, talk about potential technology ways to solve this and look at different scenarios. And then we propose agile methodologies with required sprints. You will get a constant understanding of where we are and what we have accomplished. And if business changes, it will be easy to adapt the process to the new normal.

And then, Software Engineering. Because there is always room to write bad code or good code. We take pride in constantly and competitively looking for the best projects and talent. We can help support performance enhancements, Cloud interactions, API definitions. All that is under the discipline of documented activities, release controls and using team working tools to make everything connected and smooth for you.

We believe in digital transformation. We believe in exponential growth. We believe that working together with our customers improves everyone’s results. Give us a call and let’s talk about your needs.