Recently Wunder has become three Head of -positions richer. To highlight the company’s core expertise, the Head of Technology, Head of Delivery, and Head of Design have been nominated and started their new roles in December 2021. If counted together, these three persons have an impressive 27-year work history with Wunder. Therefore they have lots of experience and a clear vision of where we are heading in the particular area. Instead of just sharing the Wunder vision in tech, delivery, and design, we decided to invite the new Head ofs’ to a conversation and give them the chance to reveal their professional visions along with their personal Wunder stories.
Just as there is a right tool for each task, choosing the right technology for the digital solution plays a vital role. We are continuing the interview series with Janne Koponen, our new Head of Technology. He joined Wunder as a developer nearly 10 years ago. During the years he has gained a good basis of knowledge in a variety of areas – starting from support and maintenance, and ending with sales, Ops, and green tech thinking; just to mention a few. No doubt, he was the perfect candidate for the role that requires the ability to see the bigger picture, but with high resolution and courage to be a visionary with a realistic view of the surrounding world.
"Technology should always have some positive impact on whatever it is used for."
What responsibilities does the Head of Technology position include?
Basically, it includes everything technology and software development related. My job is to make sure the technologies we have chosen to use in our projects, are used properly and appropriately. Even though I’m a technology enthusiast, I don’t like using technology just for the sake of it. Technology should always have some positive impact on whatever it is used for. Keeping up with the rapidly changing technology landscape is not an easy task. Luckily, I don’t have to do it all by myself. At Wunder, quite many people are interested in keeping up-to-date on the tech they are particularly interested in. I follow global trends, listen to customers’ needs and wishes, and look at what our competitors are doing while still listening to our developers. This versatile information allows me to collect the overall technological vision I see fit for us to follow.
Knowing the technology is just a part of the equation. True innovation can only happen when it’s combined with real-world needs. In addition to working closely with our technical people, I keep in touch with our other departments to make sure our actions are aligned and the technology is there to support and enable the ideas and things that should be improved.
I do care a lot about developer experience. It’s not just about the right tools and practices but also ensuring they can focus on what they do best – coding. Everything else should stay out of the way so they don’t have to worry about such things unless they want to. I believe developers should affect how their code is built, tested, and run. They should have autonomy on these parts of the application lifecycle as well, and I truly hope they do take interest in those areas as well as they are the ones who know their code the best.
What teams and roles are under your supervision?
I steer our three technical guilds – groups of developers that are formed around our competencies and development areas. Tech leads guild focuses on taking ownership of the technical side of the projects and is responsible that the best practices being followed within the project development process. System builders guild works on the backend side of the services by taking care of integrations, data handling, and management. Frontend guild focuses on the interaction and presentation layer of the services.
I also keep responsibility for two teams. IT Operations team which provides internal IT services and support for our employees as well as act on security, cloud, and infrastructure management and provide on-call. And the Silta team works on our internal development platform which aims to deliver a state-of-the-art developer experience and modern, resilient cloud hosting capabilities.
"True innovation can only happen when it’s combined with real-world needs."
What are Wunder tech potentials for the next 1 to 3 years?
Our greatest potential is to strengthen the leadership in Drupal in our target markets, as well as establish leadership positions in other technologies we excel at like NextJS, React, ElasticSearch, Silta, and others. As a company, we already pay a lot of attention to reusability and sustainability, developer experience, and green tech thinking which, in my mind, has great potential.
As with any technology, I see our strength more in what we can establish using those technologies rather than being just a technology provider. However, to make an impact, it requires us to be on the top of said technologies.
What are the threats we might face in the tech area?
The greatest threat to all IT companies is the overall changing landscape of technology. That causes a challenge to finding a competitive workforce (especially) with Drupal.
Another threat is the technologies that become obsolete. Investing heavily in something that doesn’t have a clear roadmap and future for years to come can be a big risk.
How do you see Wunder differentiating from the other companies?
We can offer our clients the “one shop stop” experience starting from research, design, and development to hosting and maintenance. Our cross-functional teams can take care of all the customer needs without involving external services. By building and controlling the whole stack by ourselves we can offer highly optimized solutions.
Another thing that lets us stand out in the crowd is our Silta platform (check the project on GitHub). We have decades of experience hosting Drupal-based solutions and we have utilized that knowledge and expertise to make a platform that can ensure reliable and future-proof service. And Drupal is only where we got started, there is a huge potential for further development. We already have taken a broader view on hosting and made sure our platform is extendable and can host a wide variety of different technologies like microservices and headless/decoupled solutions.
And last but not least, it is the psychological safety level within our project teams and constant willingness to learn and experiment. Every project we build for a customer should also give something new to each project team member. Co-creation together with our customers is something we are really looking forward to.
"I like helping people not only to solve their problems but also to grow and be able to solve those problems by themselves."
Is there a particular Wunder value that motivates you?
Actually, there are several. Being open and curious – because I want to know how things work and what is possible with enough time and imagination. And taking care of each other – because I like helping people not only to solve their problems but also to grow and be able to solve those problems by themselves.
Who are you inspired by in your professional work?
I’ve never had idols or persons I look up to. Instead, I look at people and see what’s good in them, what they do best and try to learn from them. The only two persons I ever compare myself to are “the past me” to see how far I have gone, and “the future me” to see what I could become.
What has been the project that you are most proud of?
I would say Silta, but it’s more than just that. Right after I joined the company, I started advocating improved and unified ways of setting up projects and working with them. Over the years many people have contributed and the scope has expanded e.g. to hosting. This whole process has brought everything together and made it easy to work on any project we have.