Looking back at the year, I am both proud of what we accomplished and hopeful for the future of our company.
stable|kernel was founded April of 2013 and we ended that year with two employees and a bit of pocket change. As 2014 ends, we have eight talented and dedicated people. I am so impressed with their unwavering work ethic and their dedication to the team.
I’d like to say a little bit about each one of them before I go on to talk about what we’ve seen this year in software development and what I think it means for the future.
I’ve met very few people who are as honest and humble in their quest to become better at their job and everything else in their life as Jesse Black. His progress is nothing short of remarkable and I don’t see that stopping. Jesse inspires me to be open to change and improvement.
I’m thankful to have such a caring person in Charlie Cates managing our team because I know he is able to keep the ‘now’ in check, plan for the future and still understands that at the end of the day, we are all people and not robots. Charlie inspires me to highly value our company’s greatest assets – the people that work here.
So calm and collected, you’d never know Brian Harper was as hard-working and talented as he is. I’ll have to tell you that he is simply an incredible mind, because he never would. Harper inspires me to exercise humility and be proud and confident in my work.
Eric Jeffers continues to surprise me with his talents. This guy is pure ambition and talent. For someone as young as he is, Eric is able to step into big-time client meetings and impress people who have decades of experience. Eric inspires me to always stay thirsty and never be afraid of what comes next.
If there was one guy I’d be okay with being my boss, it’d be Ross Hambrick. Ross demonstrates exceptional patience – no matter the circumstances, he is able to stop and smile. I’ve seriously never seen the guy in a bad mood. Ross inspires me to slow down and work at any problem that might arise and be graceful in the face of overwhelming odds.
One of the people that has me the most hopeful for the future of this company is Sarah Woodward. She is constantly expanding into areas she is unfamiliar with incredible bravery and inquisitiveness. I’d bet on Sarah to accomplish anything. Sarah inspires me to stretch the boundaries of my comfort zone by trying new things and taking every new opportunity when presented.
The foundation of our company is Jason Russell. Jason is someone I have looked up to for a long time. He is aggressive and competitive, but is one of the most compassionate people I’ve met. I feel so fortunate that Jason and I believe in each other and I’m never afraid of the future with Jason as my partner. Jason inspires me to balance my work and family life, showing me that excelling at work and maintaining a quality family life at the same time – two things that are most important to both Jason and I – are not only possible, but actually drive each other.
Lastly, although not on the payroll, none of this would be possible without the support of my wife, Neely Conway (and the rest of our team’s significant others!). I could fill up pages and pages of praise for the strongest person I know, but all you need to know is that this company exists because of her support. The quality of character we require in members of our team assures me that the significant others of all stable/kernel employees are valued in the same way.
The State of the Mobile Applications Industry
The goal of mobile applications is evolving. In 2014, mobile applications became more serious tools focused on tackling important problems – not just posting filtered pictures to friends’ news feeds.
It has always been my belief that computers exist to make human tasks “better” – where better can mean more efficient, more substantive or more consistent. In this last year, I’ve seen mindsets shift from “let’s just get something on a phone so we look relevant” to “this task or set of tools would be best enhanced by a mobile application.”
Many clients have come to us with similar ideals. We work with some companies that were founded before modern computers even existed, yet, these companies have embraced mobile applications as an important part of their offerings, not just as a check-the-box add-on.
I’m proud that our team, besides excelling as implementors, is able to dig into the industries of our non-technology focused clients and build insightful suggestions for how to increase those companies’ value to their stakeholders using our expertises. This is my favorite part about being a consultant – we get to immerse ourselves in two or three new industries each year.
This concept of appreciating and respecting other industries and their goals is central to our company’s success. The mobile market right now is a bit crazy, but no matter what happens, the ability to have such a powerful, connected device in millions of people’s hands will continue to be important and a valuable investment for any company. (Up until we have powerful, connected devices in millions of people’s BRAINS. And you better believe stable/kernel will be writing software for those devices, too.)
Because of this, I think a personal shift I’ve experienced this year is understanding how mobile development isn’t an isolated industry. We are an enabling industry. Sure, devices will get more pixels and processing power, but true innovation in software development is being driven by other industries’ needs.
For example, advances in computing now allow us to embed web servers in devices ranging from air conditioning units to coffee makers. Who would have thought 20 years ago, that the protocol for communicating to real-world objects would be HTTP?! This year we’ve worked on three projects for connecting mobile devices to appliances, and we have another two in the queue. I’d wager that the renaissance of the mobile golden age is upon us, and that is due to the progress in the “internet of things” world, not mobile hardware and software itself.
You can see this writing on the wall with the evolution of the SDKs we use to develop software. Apple’s HomeKit and HealthKit will guide standards for bringing our mobile applications into the ‘real world’. This kind of connectivity will improve our lives – from decreasing health insurance premiums and extending our life span to improving the utilization of energy resources.
While some of the work we do at times may be silly or trivial, overall, the type of work people in our industry do is important. And for all of the trivial and silly code we write, we are still bettering our skillset so that when the opportunity comes to create something of value, we’ll be able to step up to the plate and deliver.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
As we approach the new year, I think it is important to step back and appreciate our industry. It is often said that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, and I do believe that, but nowadays we are all giants. For every line of code you write, many others worked hard to create the compiler, libraries, machine code translators, processors, screens and everything else that goes into our software’s existence.
All of these things are built on concepts and tools that are decades old, that have evolved for just as long due to the hard work of so many. Today, in one line of code, we can move information across the world in fractions of a second. That is something to admire.
We can all contribute in some way – whether that is an online tutorial, some open source code or just sitting down and teaching someone something. It is the tiny victories and the sharing of those victories that has got us to where we are today, and will get us where we will be tomorrow.
We’re all connected in some way, and I hope that this is the first thing crosses everyone’s mind when their IDE fires up in the morning.
After all, tomorrow, someone else will be writing one line of code that you helped make possible.
Have a great holiday and a great new year.