How 5 Colorado tech execs stay ahead of evolving trends — and where they're leading their teams next

by April Bohnert
March 27, 2019

Innovation is the fuel that drives tech businesses forward, but what — or rather, who — drives tech innovation? For many local businesses, it’s their leaders at the top and it’s a job that requires a passion for learning, a neverending desire to push the boundaries of their industries and, of course, a curious team that’s always up for a new challenge.  

We caught up with five local tech leaders to learn more about the tech that excites them most, the projects their teams are working on, and the tactics they use to stay ahead in an ever-evolving tech-driven world.

 

Prologis tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Prologis

Leveraging more than 768 million square feet of global industrial real estate as well as leasing, logistics and tax management support, Prologis works with some of the world’s leading businesses and brands to make sure their products get where they need to go on time. Working at the intersection of tech and the physical world, CTO Sineesh Keshav shared his vision for the future of his industry and the projects his team is working on to bring that vision to life.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

I have found that the best way to stay ahead is to build a network of diverse thought leaders and leverage that network for healthy discussion and debate. I try to surround myself with technology savvy individuals, and I learn something new almost every day.

One of the technologies that I am excited about is the replacement of digital computing with quantum computing and the possibilities that exist for enhancing the human experience coming out of it. I also fancy what I think will be the continuing abridgment of the physical and digital worlds. It has big implications for us at Prologis given how, at the core, we deal with physical assets.

 

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

We are focused on a lot of digitization projects that make us more effective and efficient as a business. We also are working on some innovative big bets around the use of technology to make the customer experience more engaging and fulfilling. For instance, we just opened Prologis Labs, where we co-innovate with partners around this theme.

 

Honey tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Honey

The internet can be a treasure trove of discounts and coupons for online shopping — if only you can find them. Honey makes it easy with its automated coupon-applying browser extension, cash-back rewards program and price watching tool, all of which aim to help consumers save money on the brands they love. Jud Valeski, the general manager of Honey’s Boulder office, explained how his team leverages the consumer data they’ve acquired to develop new tools and tech strategies.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

We stay ahead of the curve by spending time on unknown and mathematically challenging projects. Doing so keeps us on our toes.

Large-scale data transmission rates and machine learning are the two notable areas in this regard. Google Cloud Platform gives us access to frameworks — such as DataFlow, Spanner and BQ — built up from Google's own scale challenges. We also work with a variety of ML engines to train and run our models as we explore the depths of our data, which we use to help people find the most savings possible online.

 

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

Honey saves tens of millions of people time and money, and the result is a vast ecosystem of shopping dynamics and behaviors. We are leveraging our experience with shopping to gain an understanding of what “online reputation” means throughout the system so that we can continue to make it easier for people to shop online. Our Boulder office is heavily focused on back-end software engineering, leveraging Scala and the GCP framework suite — and we're hiring!

 

DispatchHealth tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via DispatchHealth

DispatchHealth delivers on-demand, on-site urgent care services, giving patients the power to request care from board-certified medical teams to their home, senior care facility or office. Senior Vice President of Technology Fred Katona shared how he continues to push himself and his team to explore new technology — and new ways of thinking.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

To stay up-to-date on new technologies, I’ve made listening to podcasts and reading blogs a part of my daily routine. I also make a point to actively talk and listen to other tech leaders in the industry. I’ve found it helpful to apply some of their solutions to DispatchHealth’s tech problems.

Some of the more exciting things we've been continuing to lean into are in functional languages and frameworks. After switching your mindset out of the object-oriented mode, functional coding seems more compact and increases runtime performance by reducing memory usage and being able to expand horizontally. Other than that, I've seen the technology cycle through different modes of thinking and I'm happy to see things moving back to the server.

 

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

We've spent a lot of time building internal products. This year we are focusing outwards to build for external users so that we can support individuals in the healthcare space who want to deliver the right level of care at the right time. We also have a large initiative around efficient logistical models for delivering care.

 

Ombud tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Ombud

Ombud helps operations and sales teams collaborate, share information and make more informed decisions with its machine learning-driven decision management platform. VP of Engineering Craig Wu explained how creating a foundation built for change helps his team move fast and stay ahead as tech evolves.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

The tech landscape is in continuous motion, so the technical decisions made today will often need to be reviewed, modified or replaced at some point in the near future. Tooling, tech stack improvements, framework replacements and new technical innovations and enablers are continually being introduced. The focus should be on principles and practices, architecting your solutions with the appropriate levels of modularity, and adaptiveness to more efficiently support changing needs.

On the JavaScript front, we made a wise decision several years ago to invest in React. It has become a key piece of technology that allows us to move quickly and handle complex interfaces, not be opinionated about the data source, and — with the recent release of Hooks — allowed us to standardize front-end patterns, which has always been a challenge. DevOps continues pushing our stack towards containerization, leveraging Kubernetes for orchestration and scale, and architecting our platform to support purpose-fit technologies as we grow our product.

 

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

Machine learning is an exciting growth area for our product this year as we develop NLP and Word2vec models that operate on our existing content to enhance our intelligent content suggestions, document ingestion and search automation. Ombud is also investing heavily in our publishing capabilities to enhance our ability to export content into native file formats, as well as integrating with Adobe Creative Suite.

As an intelligent content collaboration platform, we will continue to build more advanced features into our own rich text editor, which is based on Slate, an open-source library. By creating our own editor, we have the freedom to advance content creation capabilities for our customers.

 

Documoto tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Documoto

Documoto’s software keeps the world’s machines working by making it easier for equipment owners to get the information and parts they need. Its enterprise cloud software enables equipment manufacturers to digitize their parts catalogs and technical support and create e-commerce storefronts, making their products — and the information needed to keep them working — available online. With a major technology overhaul on the horizon, CTO Cuyler Jones gave us a glimpse into some of the tech his team is playing with right now.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

We pride ourselves on continual learning. We’re constantly experimenting with new technologies, new modalities and potentially more efficient ways of solving problems. As we learn something new, we spend time teaching it to each other, often in brown bag lunches or meetings. Currently, we’re very excited about Elixir, Rust and WebAssembly.

 

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

We are embarking on a major technical initiative at Documoto! We’re engaged in a complete ground-up overhaul of our entire digital publishing platform, and we're leveraging Elixir, Rust and WebAssembly to enable web-based 3D content, new search capabilities and full APIs for our customers. We’re also completely revamping our UI and UX with entirely new semantics and usability to ensure that our customers can leverage value from our platform on day one.

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