The Gaps Between Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are Blurring – Interview with Cogniteq
Techreviewer spoke with Mikita Kot, CEO of software development company Cogniteq. The interview is a part of a series on web development. Learn more about Cogniteq on their Techreviewer profile.
Please, introduce yourself and your company. What does your company specialize in?
My name is Mikita Kot and I am the CEO of Cogniteq, a custom software dev company with offices in Belarus and Lithuania. The company joined the software development market in 2005, and now our team includes 90+ developers. We provide a wide range of mobile and web app development services, with a focus on IoT and healthcare.
What industries, regions or types of businesses are you focusing on?
Our key customers are SMBs and enterprises based in Europe, the USA, Canada and Asia. We also work with startups, offer MVP development services and provide further support in building and launching their products.
Our expertise encompasses (but is not limited to) the creation of IoT products, eLearning apps, AR/VR software, video broadcasting solutions, etc.
You have a lot of experience in developing machine learning and artificial intelligence projects. Can you share a bit about the current demand for ML and AI development?
We have a lot of projects related to ML and AI. And the demand for such products keeps growing. Especially we see an actively increasing demand for solutions that combine AI and IoT technologies. The gaps between Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are blurring and these technologies complement each other incredibly. While IoT-part of the solution deals with devices and provides a massive amount of data, Artificial Intelligence promptly selects real-time insights from that data and brings the ability to make informed decisions without human involvement. I saw that Gartner also estimates that over 80% of enterprise IoT projects will incorporate AI by 2022. I absolutely agree with this assumption and the company plans to invest resources in improving the knowledge of developers in this direction.
What do you think makes your company different from competitors? What are your main competitive advantages?
Compared to other companies we sell expertise rather than the time of developers. We participate with clients in refining their business idea and adapting it to the realities of the future software solution that would help them meet their business objectives. Working as a one-stop-shop company, we consult, devise architecture, create stunning and appealing UI/UX. In short - we bear accountability for the end result and our expertise helps us achieve this outcome most quickly and efficiently.
We value our customers and work on building absolutely fair communication and transparent business processes.
How has COVID-19 affected your company? What challenges has the pandemic added to your and your team daily work?
We take care of our employees. Their comfort and, of course, safety is among the top priorities for us, and that’s why all team members work remotely. We’ve managed to adjust all our processes promptly, so our productivity has not deteriorated.
How has the pandemic affected your clients?
At the very beginning of the pandemic, many clients put on hold projects due to uncertainty on the market. Shortly, the demand for our services increased significantly, especially in spheres such as IoT, healthcare, and e-learning.
Even though many competing software development companies lost business, our track record and clients' trust as a reliable supplier helped us increase the number of new projects within our partners as well as acquire new clients.
Has COVID-19 influenced your marketing strategies? What are the main sales and marketing channels do you use to find new clients now?
Most of our customers contact us because they got recommendations from other companies with whom we had worked before. And we are grateful for their recommendations and confidence.
Also, we have a strong sales department to attract new customers and actively develop marketing direction to promote our services online. This year, we began testing various digital channels for receiving requests - paid advertising, directories, and content. We just started using all these marketing tools so we analyze their efficiency to find those most appropriate for our company.
Projects & Clients
What are the key drivers of cost in software development?
Salaries and employee perks form the greatest portion of the cost in any software development company. The market for the best talents is highly competitive and constantly pushes the salary level upwards. We have to meet the conditions of the local labour market. This is inevitable since our assets and resources are expertise vested in our employees. So we do our best to ensure the most competitive salary level for our developers. Fortunately, we are based in Eastern Europe. So we can hire the most talented developers and still offer reasonable rates for our clients.
Moreover, we invest in management resources to optimize our processes and be more effective/productive to our clients. This also requires substantial investments.
What are the key factors that you consider when making a project estimation and proposal for a new client?
Project estimation is the responsibility of our presale department, which is also actively expanding now. We believe it’s highly important to involve a tech specialist (architect or developer) at the start of the presales stage, to minimize the risks of under-/overbudgeting, misinterpretation of requirements and expectations of the client, etc.
For larger projects, we always undertake a Discovery stage. This allows us to clarify the client’s business goals, to determine whether the desired solution really meets their needs and will bring the value the client expects. For us, it is crucial to be 100% honest and transparent with our clients, as many want to invest quite substantial amounts in software development.
What are the top challenges your company face in the software development process most often and how do you deal with them?
The most significant challenges are always connected with unclear business objectives. In this case, the most important thing is to help clients to specify the requirements and the expected results from the very beginning.
Also, we quite often deal with legacy systems where documentation is incomplete. Over the years of working with such cases, our software engineers and business analysts developed algorithms that help deal with this challenge effectively.
What are the criteria for the success of a software development project?
We see the following points as the components of success:
- a well-conducted discovery stage, with a verified idea for the solution
- a clear specification
- accurate planning of the project’s development with a backlog
- transparent communication with the client’s team
If you have all these components, you can expect that your project will be successful and your client will be fully satisfied with the results.
Can you provide an example from your company’s experience to illustrate?
Yes, sure. It was an analytical app that we built from scratch. The solution was aimed at enabling companies to create surveys, conduct comparative data analysis online and offline and further use the received results for their business purposes. The app also allows users to store graphs, internal indicators, and market data.
We created a demo version of this solution, which turned out to be very successful. Our client has already started customizing this app for smaller companies and selling it. So, I think this is a good example of a project that is quickly bringing real results.
But if you want to get more information about successfully realized projects, you can visit our website and have a look at our portfolio.
From your experience, what are the best practices to attain client satisfaction?
We always follow certain principles: to be honest and transparent, to preview possible risks and tell our customers about them, to be fully engaged in our client’s ideas and business goals. Also, I think it’ll be fair to add - to believe in the success of the project, not just augment the client's team with our developers but rather provide a solution to their business problem.
How do you assess the role of research agencies like Techreviewer in bridging the gap between clients and service providers?
The market competition for software dev companies is rather tough. So, we believe that the more opportunities you use to tell your potential customers about yourself, the better. Techreviewer is a reliable source for clients to get information about service providers that they can rely on.