London-based content and technology 7digital is showing some interesting results from its developer program ‘Innovation Time’.
Launched in the UK in 2004, 7digital’s download store and mobile applications give consumers access to over 17 million tracks across Europe and North America. That’s nice for consumers, but the company also looks after developers with open APIs for licensed and non-commercial use.
7digital also likes fosters the work of its developer team by providing two days a month for work on their own projects.
The developer programme started in March 2011 and to date, over 80 projects have been produced with 53 of those have been published to GitHub for use for by other developers, 18 have been fully developed and adopted into production and a furher 18 are in the pipeline.
The apps have been developed to address a range of demands from ways to improve customer experience on the site such as a search function, to improving internal operations like the identification of site issues before they become risks.
As developers are often first to spot problems before they go haywire, it’s a sound investment to let them have some free time to explore. It certainly seems to be paying off for 7digital.
Rob Bowley, Head of Development at 7digital thinks that this is a good commitment in innovation. He says,“Most people seem to misunderstand the nature of innovation. If you’re even slightly aware of your history regarding invention and discovery you’ll see a large proportion came about by happy accident, mostly when trying to prove something completely different. Our approach is to find and nurture talented people and then give them the space to try things out. Not only has this resulted in a significant benefit to 7digital through progression, it’s hugely motivational for our developers who can feel empowered to make a real difference.”
To go with these impressive results, 7digital has announced the launch of its Technical Academy for graduates and new developers. It’s part of a move to expand its own development team and hopes to equip budding developers with skills to work in the industry.
The Academy takes fresh graduates and rookie developers and puts them through a thorough six-month training programme.
Each apprentice is assigned a mentor and takes part in pair programming in their assigned teams as well as participating classroom sessions.
The classroom sessions are taught by senior developers, external tutors and industry thought leaders, with the two days’ innovation time to work on their own pet project. Once the programme has been completed, graduates become 7digital developers, further growing the talent in the 7digital team.
That sounds like a fair investment in the company’s own future as well as supporting new developers who get to learn from old hands.
With tech industry leaders bemoaning the state of computer science education in the UK, it’s good to see companies taking the initiative, even if it’s to their own benefit. The skills that are learned on the job are extremely valuable and well, there’s also the chance that developers will at some point move on to other things.