Inspiring innovation: How Colorado tech leaders empower employees to think outside the box

May 31, 2019

Behind every great tech product is a team of talented and dedicated engineers — and behind that team is a leader with the creative vision and innovative spirit to help them bring that product to life.

Today, we’re shining a light on two such leaders to learn more about the exciting projects their teams are working on this year, and to better understand the role they play in empowering those teams to think outside the box, embrace new technology and come to the table with fresh, innovative ideas.
 

Bounteous tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via bounteous.

Leveraging its collective expertise in strategy, design, engineering, analytics and marketing, Bounteous partners with businesses to help them elevate their brands’ digital experiences. Director Of Digital Experience Platforms Gaetan Marmasse gave us a glimpse into some of the exciting work his teams are doing now — and how he encourages employees to think outside the box.

 

What are the biggest or most impactful tech projects your team is working on this year?

We’re seeing two major trends in our practice this year, and I’m excited our teams are able to bring our ideas and talent to the table.

The first is React applications and how we can elegantly make them “friendly” with some of the experience management systems we are specialized in. We’re essentially bridging the gap of fast and efficient modern web delivery with easy maintenance and authoring for marketers using the platform.

The second major impactful tech project we are working on this year is e-commerce. We have several tracks of work right now where we are taking a commerce platform and making it headless so that a content management system can render the experience. We believe a commerce engine is strong at commerce things, but maybe less so at content management or experience delivery — and the other way around, too. CMSs are not meant to handle deep, heavy commerce capabilities. By using both engines to do what they are best at, we can deliver amazing experience-driven commerce for our clients and their customers.

 

We rely a lot on internal support and knowledge sharing to make sure a bunch of bright minds can bring something to the conversation.” 

How do you encourage your team to think outside the box when it comes to new projects? Are there any new technologies you’re eyeing for the future?

I always encourage my team not to get too entangled in what they know, especially when most of what they do is based on a platform. It is important to always take a step back and look at other technologies that would bring value to the project. On top of that, we rely a lot on internal support and knowledge sharing to make sure a bunch of bright minds can bring something to the conversation. For example, running daily technical office hours and monthly architect roundtables helps us to think about new approaches when a new project comes up.

Everything is going at 1,000 miles an hour in this industry, especially when it comes to technologies. New tools and frameworks come to life and die in a matter of days, but it is important to explore and have enough for an opinion. I am personally excited about all the new things that are happening around cloud infrastructure, especially lightweight, scalable, containerized applications with things like Docker and Kubernetes. We are also dipping into Progressive Web Applications, which, in my opinion, can be significantly impactful for e-commerce experience and being able to still browse and shop on your mobile device, even when going offline.

 

Inspirato tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Inspirato.

Inspirato brings the luxury and service of a five-star resort to the comfort and space of a home through its members-only vacation rental and hospitality platform. VP of Software Engineering Daniel Stowe explained how he empowers his engineers to drive scalability, performance and continuous delivery by encouraging innovation and collaboration across teams.

 

What are the biggest or most impactful tech projects your team is working on this year?

Inspirato rapidly delivers innovative solutions that continue to solidify our position as an industry leader in luxury hospitality. As our platform has expanded, so has our focus on scalability, performance and continuous delivery. We are currently executing on two particularly exciting tech initiatives.

The first is the standardization of our UI architecture and frameworks. Eight years of development and innovation have resulted in a diverse set of front-end frameworks that were instituted for specific challenges at the time. We have recently formed a talented UI engineering team that was tasked with architecting and implementing the latest client-side technologies to standardize the UI layer of our application suite. This includes the best-of-breed JavaScript library ReactJS, which allows for building reusable modular components with high performance baked into every project.

The second is breaking up our monolith into microservices. As we align with business value across initiatives, we are breaking apart our code base to support continued growth via autonomous microservices. We have designed a message-driven, consistent architecture to accommodate our scalability, performance and continuous delivery needs. Technologies driving this initiative include nServiceBus, Kubernetes, Jenkins, Spinnaker and RabbitMQ.

 

We also have ‘innovation sprints’ to empower the team to come up with new and innovative ideas; several of these ideas have been embraced by the business and are in production today!”

How do you encourage your team to think outside the box when it comes to new projects? Are there any new technologies you’re eyeing for the future?

Inspirato has a dedicated architecture committee that is composed of software engineers from each of our development teams. This provides a collaborative environment that can be leveraged when designing technical solutions for new initiatives. We also have “innovation sprints” to empower the team to come up with new and innovative ideas; several of these ideas have been embraced by the business and are in production today!

 

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