Head of Software Development– Meet Antony Black
Software development. What does it really mean to be a software developer? Many people automatically assume that it is an easy task to become a developer. Simply gaining a few technical certificates and voila you are a full developer. However, the reality is different. To become a specialist, you must devote yourself to your studies and most importantly to be analytical and persistent. In most cases, people take their computing programs for granted without even realising the hard work undertaken behind them.
In this article we will meet the Head of Software Development at Zeus Tech Solutions – Antony Black. We will lift the curtain, just a little, to reveal the processes behind your well-oiled case management systems, customised software and add ons, and well protected virtual work environment.
Keep reading to find out more about our amazing colleague, about his past projects with the ALEXA integrations and proclaim bespoke products, and many more interesting stories. Enjoy!
Hi Antony, can you please introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you? How did you decide to become an IT specialist/developer? For how long have you been working at Zeus?
I have been with Zeus for 3 years. Ever since I was young, I was always fascinated with computers and would work developing my skills as a hobby. I then went on to further develop my skills and understanding by attending a software engineering degree at John Moores University. When I joined the company, I had recently left university and started out as a graduate developer. I worked my way up to the Head of Software Development.
Can you describe a typical day?
No one day is ever the same which is great because it keeps things different. One of my consistent daily activities would be running our internal and external projects. In other words, speaking with clients and ensuring they get the solution that is right for them. It also means working closely with my team to ensure the project is delivered in a timely manner.
Another part of my role is research and development. The team at Zeus are multi-disciplined and can develop in several different languages/technologies. Therefore, my job is to review the technology/languages/ integrations available and assess how using certain technology we can drive innovation. A quick example from a project recently finished would be integrating proclaim with Alexa.
What do you love the most about your job? What excites you the most – coding, programming, communication/presentation with clients, etc.
I think it’s hard to choose one thing. I really enjoy working with our client’s finding a solution that best fits and implementing it. It’s great to see something you have worked on being used day to day. The other aspect would be creating new products! We are always trying to push the boundaries of legal technology and this leads to a whole range of different technology and software being used, so having exposure to that is fantastic.
What projects are you working on?
Obviously, I can’t go into details, but we have several Proclaim system flow developments under way to improve our client’s efficiencies, a number of projects integrating web/REST services into a variety of case management systems and version 2 of our “Click to Dial” platform.
You’re also an Alexa “skills” developer. Can you tell us more about the Alexa integration project you have been working on? What was the whole project experience? Who can use it? What industries would benefit from an Alexa skill?
Yes, working on the Alexa project was great. Whilst developing the integration we thought it was best to take the approach of making all aspects as configurable as possible, which in turn makes it quick and easy to integrate our client’s. We can see that having an Alexa “skill” could benefit any company as it gives their client’s a new level of engagement. Amazon is constantly updating Alexa and adding new features. I recently attended their webinar in which they showed off their new “conversations” feature.
Did you enjoy it? What was the most challenging part?
It was fun, when I was first testing the integration. I’ll admit I had Alexa singing a song with me!
I think the most challenging part was adhering to the strict security requirements. However, Amazon ensures that you are adhering to strict security measures to ensure the communications back and forth are legitimate in several different ways, but at the end of the day I got to learn more about cryptography!
You’ve worked on some of the software products, right? Can you tell us a bit about them and how they can be integrated with the Proclaim case management system?
Yes, we are always working or updating our products with new features. As previously mentioned, we have our Alexa integration, we also have a phone integration called click to dial and we have recently been testing our latest product called click to message. Click to message takes advantage of SMS and WhatsApp, which will allow you to speak to your clients via a WebApp and save the conversation directly into your case management system or CRM.
A lot of people are wondering whether COVID-19 affected your role. Was it hard to adapt to work from home or haven’t you noticed the change?
We have always been able to work remotely and most of our team prior to COVID-19 would work from home anyway, attending the office when needed. I do however miss the social aspect of being in the workplace, but we have regular meetings and still speak throughout the day. Everyone at Zeus has really supported each other which is great.
Finally, do you have a little advice for our readers? Can we expect some exciting news soon?
I think my advice would be not to be content with their system. There is so much technology out there that we are only just scratching the surface in terms of capability. We live in a world in which almost anything is possible! There is artificial intelligence that can identify damage on cars, automatically read documents, devices that we can use in our living room that we can get live updates from or potentially update your company with, chat bots that could answer questions.
We are always looking at what’s next and enjoy when our client’s challenge us to develop something other companies have had trouble with.
I think I will end on some shameless promotion which is, why not speak to us and see what we can do for you? If you have moments like “Only if my system did this?” or “What if we could get it to do?” Then why not just give us a call or email and have a chat to see how we can improve your system or build something innovative to help you achieve your company goals?
Thank you for this interview. It was interesting to learn more about software development and the processes behind the end product.
If you find this article interesting and you have queries, do not hesitate to contact us. Zeus Tech will be glad to assist you.