Behind The Scenes: An In Depth Look at Life as the Software Development Manager

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jason Koo, Software Development Manager – Devices Integration at Tealium, to get an in-depth look at his role, his inspiration and his keys to success.

Tell us a little bit about your role as Software Development Manager – Devices Integration at Tealium and how you got started in the martech industry.

As the Device Integrations Team Manager I keep tabs on the direction of technology advancements so that we’re aware of what new integrations we should be looking into next. I was drawn to this industry by the unique software development challenge of providing actionable data to vendors, with low overhead, all the while protecting user privacy.

What does a Software Development Manager – Devices Integration do?

Most engineering managers at Tealium are, what I like to call, working managers. Working in the sense that most of us spend a good part of our day programming alongside our Engineering staff. In addition to coding, we’ll handle administrative tasks, meeting & coordinating with other teams, getting resources for our teams and generally trying to keep everything moving as smoothly as possible. If we were a football team, a Software Development Manager would be a combination of the Coach + Linemen. The linemen part being the one trying to hold off the flood of emails, meetings, and other requests that can slow down development.

What kind of device integrations do you create and strategize on?

Software support for the most popular products generally comes first. But we juggle client needs, leadership, vision and general feedback when deciding what integrations to work on next.

Why do you think some companies struggle with their device integrations?

Most companies want to implement mobile and IoT integrations, but many aren’t sure how their products can be extended into these spaces. These companies, I believe, need to reach out to their clients more. Customers always have ideas on how a product or service could be improved.

What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made around device integrations Tealium has or integrations in general?

Provide as many dev options as possible. Early on we tried to make the integration libraries as simple to implement as possible, relying on remote configuration features for clients to adjust their integration setups post build. Conceptually this sounded great, but what we discovered is that most clients have 3rd party services develop their apps, instead of building them in-house. These subcontractors often didn’t have access to the clients remote configuration options. Understandably this caused some frustration when these developers could neither see the data coming in from libraries or make slight adjustments to the data collection.

How did you determine what integrations are best for the market and what your customers need? Do you let them guide the integration offerings?

Several different factors come into play a) customer need, b) current trends in software languages and c) higher level leadership direction.

Why is it important for companies to have a Software Development Manager?

Leadership is important whenever you have large numbers of people working together, so it’s no different when you have a group of Software Developers.  

What do brands risk by not putting their customer first? And thinking of them in their company’s integration strategy?

It should be very apparent in today’s marketplace that any company that doesn’t put their customers first is going to see those customers going elsewhere. With social-media playing such a central role, any misstep instantly results in a hit to the brand. Providing meaningful ways to communicate directly with clients should be considered to both prevent mishaps and to address them quickly when they occur.

What’s the one thing that keeps you up at night?

The pace of technology. There a lot of smart people working on many different technologies. Keeping up with all these developments is both exciting and challenging.

What brands inspire you with their mobile or other device integrations?

Domino’s. They didn’t just make a webpage to make ordering pizza easier, they also made a killer mobile app, integrated with social media services, experimented with drone delivery, and they even let customers use emojis to make food delivery a simpler and faster experience. They didn’t just take on one digital touchpoint, they’re addressing and leveraging all of them.  

What’s one word that best describes how you work?

Nonstop. There’s a lot to do. Here at Device Integrations we build all the integration libs, handle our own QA, do most of our own documentation, handle dev side customer service, do our own technology research, and even build & maintain the company’s conference app – all with one of the smallest Engineering teams!

What technology do you use everyday that you can’t imagine living without?

Git. A distributed versioning control system allows anyone (even clients), at anytime, to jump in and add code to a project.

What do you believe is the secret to success?

Adaptability.  Everything is in a constant state of change; the market, technology, customer preferences. If you don’t keep up, you won’t be successful for long.

What is one thing you would say to brands who aren’t putting their customer first? And don’t know how to get started even thinking about customer obsession in regards to device integration?

If you’re not thinking about your customers, someone else is. The first step, I believe, is to listen to your customers. But don’t just provide avenues for clients to come to you, that’s sort of minimal effort and everyone inherently knows that, one should explicitly go out to them, engage with them and try to experience your own products from their shoes.

Thank you Jason! Be sure to be on the lookout for more inside looks and in-depth chats with the team here at Tealium.  

 

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