Welcome to our special interview series, where we talk to people who have been there and done that. In this edition, we have Ajinkya Mulay, who is the Head of Blue Ocean at GiBots. Let’s dive into his story, the obstacles he faced, his successes, and the important lessons he has learned throughout his journey of Technology based transformation.
With technologies like Generative AI taking the world by storm, businesses are under more pressure than ever to keep their tech up to date and use the newest tools and solutions as technology continues to advance at an unparalleled rate. Enterprise technology improvements are crucial for businesses looking to maintain their competitiveness, increase productivity, and simplify operations. These improvements, however, could potentially come with significant challenges, like budgetary constraints. We’ll talk about the numerous difficulties that companies encounter when updating their enterprise technology in this interview, as well as explore methods and best practices for handling these updates efficiently. Whether you work in IT or are a business executive, this debate will give you insightful information about the world of enterprise technology updates and give you the skills and expertise you need to compete in the fast-paced digital environment of today.
As we all know, technology plays an important role in everyone’s life, and to solve new-age business problems, we can’t look at the same old technologies. Technology upgrades help in many aspects, like UI/UX, speed, and security, with fewer implementation cycles. Here are some examples of the cons of remaining with older technologies:
Scalability issues may arise for older systems built with monolithic architecture, but if your tech stack is updated and you switch from monolithic to microservice-based architecture, it will benefit you in a big way.
Building Responsive Applications on all devices and OS would have been exceedingly challenging as front-end design was only reliant on HTML and CSS. With less coding and quicker delivery, frontend technology advancements like HTML5, SCSS, Bootstrap, Material UI, and Service Workers (PWA) will meet these challenges very quickly. In short there are many benefits of being always on the latest technologies.
- GIbots used to work on which tech stack earlier?
In 2016, we were using the PHP Laravel framework and MySQL as our backend database.
- I understand that you were pivotal in changing the tech stack from PHP to Mean stack, how did you do it?
We were utilizing PHP and MySQL to build a product, as I indicated earlier, but after some time, it started to become a barrier when we tried adding new features and managing unstructured data. As a team, we made the deliberate decision to move the product to the new stack, but it was not an easy choice because we were not putting much work into the migration, which slows down the creation of new products. But after that, my technical team and top management held a brainstorming session where we identified the pros. and cons of this decision, We have already decided to use a MEAN stack after having shortlisted new stacks to migrate to, conducting research, speaking with users of the stack, and considering the product plan. We developed a migration plan after the team had unanimously approved and finalized the MEAN stack. Since we are switching from SQL to NoSQL, creating a MongoDB schema was the first thing we did. Then, because our PHP stack had previously been monolithic in nature, we opted to employ a microservice design for our backend. To determine how many microservices we should have when we begin migrating, we performed a logical breakdown of our monolithic architecture. And this is where my contribution comes in: I wrote the first MEAN stack program and structure for the platform on which we started migrating and completed the entire migration in a few months.
- What are the technologies Gibots is working on/leveraging presently and how it is performing?
As mentioned earlier, currently we are using the MEAN stack as our base, which includes Angular 14, NodeJS, Node MongoDB 6.0, and Express JS. We also use Python to solve problems related to AI/ML. The platform also uses Redis for caching. We are pioneers in deploying our solution on the cloud (AWS, Azure, etc.) using Docker images on the Kubernetes cluster.
- How did you see the technology change in the company throughout the years?
The business never loses sight of technology. We review our stack every quarter and assess any improvements that have been made as well as the addition of new features in accordance with the product strategy. For instance, our front end is currently using Angular 14, although we were using Angular 2 five years ago when we transitioned to Angular we added other layers over the years, such as document digitization based on AI. In the product, we introduced a caching layer utilizing Redis and an NLP layer for categorization and Atlas for databases as a service and added an analytical engine to the solution. We recently integrated with chatGPT to generate automated code and new innovations in technologies will keep coming in where we need to think ahead and keep moving forward and adopting these technologies. We have been constantly on the lookout of technology changes and we were very conscious and planned the upgrades that we need to do on the platform this goes through a rather quick approval process to ensure bureaucracy will not cripple our platform growth.
- What are the problems you face while changing the technology or upgrading the technology department?
Any upgrades are first uncomfortable, but understanding what advantages we will experience in the long run always helps. Knowing the new technology is the first issue we encounter when it is implemented, thus learning the technical details of the new technology might be difficult if there isn’t a team member with experience who has already worked with it. A major issue that will arise in the first few months after a technology upgrade is, in my opinion, the team’s acceptance of the change. To get around this, I first built a straightforward prototype with a folder structure. All the vital tools needed for this stack, which facilitates streamlined development and deployment, have been identified. VS Code Studio as a code editor, Postman as a rest client, Swagger for API description, MongoDB Compass for GUI querying, and Jenkins for creating CI/CD pipelines are a few well-known names. Other developers have held thorough sessions with the team on each subject and component of the new stack after gathering information alongside me, which aids in quicker adoption.
- As you lead the whole tech team in the company, how do you leverage people skills for completing the task?
Every member of the team brings a unique set of abilities and talents to the table, whether it be expertise in client communication, troubleshooting complex issues, problem-solving techniques, or specialized tech skills like front-end, back-end, etc. Taking all of this into account, we examined the talent required and gave the assignments accordingly. Additionally, we offered training that will aid with task completion. We have developed a customized syllabus for each technology and divided it into basic, intermediate, and advanced levels as part of our organization-wide knowledge management program. Each level is connected to the assignment, and after review, the team is given access to the different course levels. This program’s knowledge foundation places equal emphasis on soft skills and technology.
- What is the issue you faced while managing the team and how do you manage them?
Since each member of your team is unique, a variety of difficulties arise on a daily basis. The difficulty is that a new fresher who has recently graduated from college joins the team and needs to be brought up to speed in order for him/her to get valuable expertise and assist the business in solving this issue. We also give them access to specialized training materials and assignment links. We must always communicate with them at regular intervals in order to understand their perspectives and take appropriate action. We also have weekly 1-on-1 meetings to provide correct counseling regarding their daily routines, etc. People may find it difficult to focus on learning new, advanced skills at work, gradually affecting their performance. We attempt to hold workshops on cutting-edge technical subjects each week to address this issue and keep people informed.
- What is the message you want to convey to the younger generation/upcoming talent?
I always tell youngsters that we must continuously improve ourselves and to achieve the same, we should read at least one blog per day about new technological advancements. We should approach every challenge with a positive outlook and vigor. Any technological challenge must first be broken down into a plan of action that will ultimately address the problem more quickly and most importantly be the first one to take the step and be the leader in technology upgrades.
In today’s fast-paced world, upgrading technology is crucial for businesses. It brings scalability, improved user experience, efficiency, security, and a competitive edge. By embracing technology upgrades, businesses can adapt to market demands, drive innovation, and achieve long-term success. Regular evaluation, improvement, and adoption of the latest tools are necessary for staying competitive and maximizing growth potential.