How 4 Colorado tech companies stay on the cutting edge — and where they're headed next

by April Bohnert
June 18, 2019

Few industries evolve faster than tech, which is what makes it both an exciting and challenging field to be part of. To stay at the forefront requires a constant balancing act of taking risks that might lead to the next big tech innovation and sticking to the tried-and-true technologies that continue to outperform their newer and flashier counterparts.

We talked to four local companies to learn more about how they keep their tech ahead of the curve, how their businesses have evolved over the years and which new tech trends they're eyeing for the future.

 

WorldPay tech innovation Colorado
Photo via WorldPay.

Powering more than 40 billion payments annually, Worldpay’s technology processes over 300 types of payments in 120 currencies around the globe.

VP of Product Ray Moorman shared how changing trends in payment technology and shifting demands from partners has helped guide the company as it launches new product initiatives.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve as a business? How have you adapted or evolved the business to stay ahead?

The key for us is focusing on the jobs that need to be done by our partners and our merchant customers, and looking for new and creative ways to complete those jobs and solve business challenges. We grow when our partners and merchants grow, so our focus is really on how we help merchant and financial institutions, both large and small, run their businesses.

A great example of how we have evolved our business to stay ahead is our investments in both card present and card not present payment acceptance. We need to be able to continue to serve both brick-and-mortar customers as well as e-commerce-based merchants and more and more omnichannel customers who demand an integrated and connected experience.

 

We grow when our partners and merchants grow, so our focus is really on how we help merchant and financial institutions, both large and small, run their businesses.”

What new technologies, tools or trends are you excited about or eyeing for future initiatives?  

We are super excited and well positioned to continue fueling our company growth as more and more payments continue to shift from cash to card as well as from card present to card not present and mobile.

 

The Trade Desk tech innovation Colorado
Photo via The Trade Desk.

The Trade Desk’s data-driven advertising platform offers brands and media buyers a range of tech solutions for managing advertising campaigns across all formats, devices and channels.

Director of Data Science Tammy Greasby gave us a glimpse into the ways different areas of the business are driving innovation and what excites her most about all the data she has at her disposal.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve as a business? How have you adapted or evolved the business to stay ahead?

Tech does move really fast. At The Trade Desk, we take a really collaborative approach to product development and I believe that really enables us to stay ahead of the curve. For example, on the data science side, we may read about a new algorithm and think about ways it may improve our products or help us create new ones. On the business and product side, we spend a lot of time listening to feedback from our customers and ensuring the features we create support them. Likewise, engineering is heavily invested in efficiency, enabling us to do so much more with our rich data set. Lastly, we have our AI Guild — a lab group specifically set up to help us continue to innovate and stay ahead of new methods and technology.

 

At The Trade Desk, we take a really collaborative approach to product development and I believe that really enables us to stay ahead of the curve.” 

What new technologies, tools or trends are you excited about or eyeing for future initiatives?  

I’m constantly surprised by how big our data is, so advances in AI and cloud computing are really exciting to me. As these technologies continue to improve, it allows us to use more sophisticated models on even more data. We are no longer limited to “models” that need to run in databases. Also, even though it’s not new anymore, I still love the emphasis on experimentation in feature development. Some of my favorite conversations are around new features we are testing and the right way to quantify the value they create.

 

Vendavo tech innovation Colorado
Photo via Vendavo.

Vendavo helps B2B businesses unlock their commercial potential and optimize their sales and pricing strategies, delivering tech tools that power improved digital experiences that drive profitability.

CTO David Edwards said fostering a culture of curiosity has played a critical part in driving innovation at Vendavo, and they go to great lengths to ensure employees have time to stay curious.  

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve as a business? How have you adapted or evolved the business to stay ahead?

The key to staying ahead of the curve and leveraging new technology is to foster a sense of curiosity — not just in product and engineering but across the entire company. Espousing a culture of curiosity directly supports one of our core values, “Innovative Wisdom,” which builds upon our experience and expertise to achieve better outcomes.

Last year, for example, we introduced the concept of an Innovation Week, which essentially amounted to the suspension of normal engineering activities for one week while teams of people self-organized around the pursuit of grassroots innovative ideas. These kinds of investments often have a huge impact on the curiosity of individuals and the contributions they make throughout the year. Three years ago, Vendavo was predominantly developing on-premise enterprise applications, but today, we are very much a SaaS company with modern cloud-native architectures.

 

The key to staying ahead of the curve and leveraging new technology is to foster a sense of curiosity — not just in product and engineering but across the entire company.” 

What new technologies, tools or trends are you excited about or eyeing for future initiatives?  

A core architectural principle that we have embraced and promote across engineering teams is the idea of building evolvable systems, which has ushered in a microservices-based design philosophy. This kind of thinking becomes much more important for companies, such as Vendavo, that have been in business long enough to witness the rapid pace of technology innovation.

Microservices give you a way of drawing boundaries around emerging technology without incurring the risk that typically comes with a broader rollout. For example, our newest cloud-native platform running on AWS has introduced a Kotlin/Micronaut stack for some microservices, while the remaining services use a more familiar Java/Spring stack. And perhaps one of the most exciting areas of investment centers around our data engineering efforts, specifically in working with data at scale to support not only the broad portfolio of data-hungry applications, but also the underlying AI algorithms that bring intelligence to our products.

 

Illfonic tech innovation Colorado
Photo via Illfonic.

Illfonic is an independent video game development studio, whose past titles and collaborations include “Friday the 13th: The Game,” “Dead Alliance,” “Star Citizen,” “Evolve” and more.

CTO Paul Jackson gave some useful advice for staying ahead of the technological curve.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve as a business? How have you adapted or evolved the business to stay ahead?

Give new technologies a little time to mature before switching to them, but don't cling too much to your usual ways and end up like Kodak. Also, don't blindly follow trends, and definitely do not apply them where they don't necessarily fit. The simplest solution is often the best. At Illfonic, we've automated repeated workloads and built the automation tools in project-agnostic ways. This obviously makes for a lot of reusable parts and tools.

We also have a fairly large code framework that lives between the game engine and the game-specific logic. All common systems live there, so, for example, we can have matchmaking working in a matter of days instead of writing it again over the course of months.

 

Don't blindly follow trends, and definitely do not apply them where they don't necessarily fit. The simplest solution is often the best.”

What new technologies, tools or trends are you excited about or eyeing for future initiatives?  

AMD is really pushing the core limit and minimum clock speeds up, which is pretty critical for what we do. Code compile and render times are noticeably reduced by this, and those affect our entire team.

 

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