Jason Howard has been a website developer with Unified Solutions for 11 years and in that time he's been involved in many website and system integration projects. With skills in C#, ASP.Net, React, Sitecore, Kentico and Umbraco, Jason has also borne witness to just how quickly the digital industry has evolved and is always keen on gaining more technological insight, especially on emerging technology such as AI.
I took some time to chat with Jason to find out exactly what his job entails and what he loves about it.
- So Jason, before I start - tell us a little about yourself
Well, what can I say? I'm 47 years old and have been in the IT industry for 26 years. I've been fortunate enough to work as part of the Unified team for more years that I care to remember! But I love the fact we're all one big happy family here.
- What does your typical day consist of?
After battling the traffic which is always a pain I usually get in and make myself a quick cuppa. Then I'll check in with the rest of the team on the projects we're working on so we all know what we're doing. Generally I'll review any customer issues or requirements assigned to me that have come in via our dedicated customer portal. Then working with Andrew, our Professional Services Manager who assigns adequate time, I resolve and/or analyse the project work liaising with the customer where necessary.
- What project (s) are you currently working on?
Primarily I'm focused on a web development project for a new client using Kentico. This is quite a large project which is great as it keeps me busy! Apart from that I'm also looking at enhancements to the websites that support a great new mobile app we created. These websites utilise the React library supported by a .Net web API
- What's been the biggest project challenge you've had to overcome?
Well there have been quite a few challenging projects along the way but generally it really does depend on the customer requirement. We always try to accommodate their needs but sometimes the product doesn't always allow for this or make it very easy. We always manage to solve challenges like these either by putting our heads together to figure out how to optimise the product or by developing a bespoke solution Extending the shop elements in CMS products such as Kentico and Sitecore for example are usually very specific to each client as they all have a different set of target customers with differing needs and demands.
- What's been your favourite project and why?
Well without being too biased, I did really enjoy working with both the Royal College of General Practitioners and Ramblers. Both projects involved me developing websites on Sitecore and integrating with Integra CRM - great projects working with some fantastic people. More recently I've honed my Umbraco skills as I've worked with the team at UK Ship Register to create their 1st website independent of the .gov.uk umbrella. Again this was a great project for me to work on with a forward thinking team from UK Ship Register. The project saw me add several valuable functions to the lovely new design making the website a lot more user friendly. We had some really good feedback from UK Ship Register stakeholders as part of an active consultation exercise that was undertaken which is always good to hear.
- As someone working in the digital industry, what do you see as the biggest innovation/ disruptor over the next few years
Well it's always a bit difficult to answer these types of questions as technology has a habit of developing at a rate of knots and sometimes not in the way you would expect. But I think in terms of innovation I would hope to see the future CMS being just that, a CMS with a simpler interface between systems. I’m very excited to see how AI develops and I see this as being the biggest disruptor in the industry as more and more is done by computers and machines. Having said that, you still can’t replace that human touch especially when it comes to understanding and sorting out customer issues.