How Coding Skills Inject Innovation Into Company Culture

Lean-startup work culture seems to be attracting large corporations in their quest for innovation and desire to embed innovative thinking into their company’s DNA. Partially this has been achieved through establishing innovation and incubator’s labs. Unfortunately the lack of good software engineers together with not enough programming classes in traditional schools makes the innovation mission troublesome.

Jana Vecerkova, founder of edtech organization Data4You explains how developing programming skills can succesfully grow job-ready talent. Further she illustrates how her coding bootcamp can help employees in large organizations to shakeup their innovation thinking through learning to program and agile approach.

What drives big corporations to edtech startups and does it assist them to meet the innovation needs?

‘The trend in the past decade has been for many graduates to prefer getting their first job in a startup rather than applying for the previously prestigious corporate graduate programmes. This generation is used to being encouraged to show their creativity and they feel that the corporate culture does not present them with many opportunities to drive change. At the same time, the corporations are losing a big number of the most innovative employees who realise that they are not supported in implementing improvements to the existing processes. This is quite a challenge for the corporate HR departments as they need to adjust their ways of appealing to potential candidates not just at the salary or benefits level but in terms of the actual job content.

What edtech startups and specifically coding bootcamps are bringing to the market, is the opportunity for both fresh graduates as well as employees who feel stuck in their jobs, to upgrade their skillset in a short time period of typically three months. We have also a category of students that we call employee-innovators. These students choose a coding bootcamp for similar reasons that employees used to be interested in MBA programmes. With the digital revolution transforming the traditional jobs at an unprecedented pace, these people feel that if they do not understand "tech" at a deeper level, they will be left out sooner than later. Many of these students are interested to return to their jobs as long as they are given an opportunity to utilise their new skills. However, this typically presents another challenge for most corporations, which in general do not support such transitions. We see a big opportunity for companies who welcome the new reality and enables employees to utilise their innovation potential without limiting them to their rigid job description and by allowing them to take time off to upgrade their skillset. ‘

Road-block To Innovation Culture

Besides growing the code-ready workforce edtech startups are sometimes called to individual consulting projects. One of the major road-blocks to innovation in large organisations is the embedded business culture where rewards accrue to those that play it safe. Working through changing the major structural elements takes time so when a company needs fresh point of view or solve a business issue through agile programming, edtechs are helping organisations to set up better functioning innovation labs, which serve as an open discussion space for solving cross-departmental issues.

Dealing with Change in Large Legacy Platforms

Facilitating the connection between consulting and businesses, enables edtech startups to keep in close touch with the latest corporation’s innovation needs and reflecting this in their trainings. We see the innovation needs are typically oriented at the business process automation, system integration,document imaging, database streamlining or other custom projects. Most frequent challenge is any form of upgrade in large legacy platforms such as a banking software.

The mainstream way how such legacy systems deal with changes is accummulating requirements and updates in big chunks, followed by long periods of stagnation resulting in unchanging business. The new wave of implementing changes requires agile programming with the focus on continuous improvements instead of long waiting periods, while incorporating the feedback from all departments.

Weaving Creativity into Database Work

Daniel Palacios, Coding Bootcamp Praha student from Chile, worked in several large international companies where he helped finance departments with specific data reports generated by traditional spreadsheet software. ‘I was lacking the user design expertise which would help me to present and share this information within customizable interface as opposed to manual file distribution. Throughout the programme I learnt both frontend as well as backend languages, which gives me flexibility to better present information and work with databases creatively.’ Notes Daniel.

Programming for Automation

Another Coding Bootcamp Praha graduate Daria Grudzien has a background in cognitive science and was originally drawn to programming due to the connection to AI and neuroscience. During her marketing stint for a mobile accessories company she noticed that most of the marketing campaign work involved around repetitive mundane data tasks. This lead to draining all her creative energy and triggered her decision to learn programming so that she would be able to develop basic marketing automation tools.

Conclusion – Sending The Right Message

There is a big opportunity for large organizations to inject innovation into their company culture by supporting their employees in developing coding skills across different departments. Not only does it help if everybody understands how each bit fits together but the mindset of empowering employees to succeed in the tech-savvy world also sends the right message. Such message will signal they are open to innovation and will attract the desired talent.

Written by Michala Kalfírtová

- January 2018 -