Furqan Aziz, CEO at InvoZone tells us about software development.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Furqan Aziz: Undoubtedly, these are strange times not just for adults but for children as well. Family life, work, education, health; everything seems to have been affected. It was an unexpected turn of events with an unforeseen change in the routine, which at times is quite overwhelming. But we are trying to make the most out of quarantine as a family. Besides, we are maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding huge gatherings, and trying a new cookbook, haha, to kill boredom and anxiety. Surprisingly, as a result of spending more time with my family, feelings of connectedness and bonding are strengthened. Even though COVID-19 was an unusual experience, I had a lot of positive lessons to learn from the Pandemic, especially when it comes to your family.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined InvoZone.
Furqan Aziz: After my summer internship ended back when I was doing my undergraduate studies, I was offered a full-time job right away. That’s how my journey started in the IT field. I had worked with leading tech companies around the globe back in the day, responsible for leading multiple projects and teams.
In an unexpected turn of events in 2014, my credit card was charged with an unauthorized payment of around 10,000 USD. I had no idea who had done it, and it was very unsettling for me. So to minimize the attacks that are exploiting the system due to weak cybersecurity measures such as lack of security protocols, or unprotected networks, I strategically planned to start my own company with the vision to protect people from scams through robust security solutions. Eventually, the plan turned into a full-fledged development team with cybersecurity as its core service. For the past seven years, we have been offering innovative solutions for web and mobile development using trending technological advances such as IoT, Big data, data science, AI, and several other technologies.
How does InvoZone innovate?
Furqan Aziz: My clients and employees are equally important to me. I let my team take the front seat by taking complete ownership of a project and encourage them to innovate as a team. Because I believe every one of our team members brings something entirely unique to the table, and that’s why I encourage them to share their ideas in a brainstorming session. It is by putting all those ideas into a melting pot that we achieve what we believe to be truly the best solution to any given problem. You would agree that in today’s dynamic landscape, creativity is very important for success. Therefore, I have a clear innovation strategy that entails how to approach client’s problems. But before bringing something to fruition, we reflect on our experiences. Sometimes clients have very different or unique requirements. We go back and think about the time we handled a similar situation or a client. Using the best tools and even better project management practices, we help our newer clients to meet their business goals. Plus, we reward innovation which helps us get insights from the entire company.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Furqan Aziz: Since we are a software development company, the effect is not as adverse as compared to other industries. Because with people shifting to digital space, the demand for Software Development Companies is increasing. But Pandemic did greatly affect our clients. We still kept providing them the right solutions. Service-based companies have clients from all around the world, and you know how we are usually communicating with clients around the world through video calls. Amid the Pandemic, the way we catered to our clients didn’t change much since this is how we have always communicated before, but I did see a change in the client’s approach towards customer service. We started having more inquiries and software development requests for on-demand services applications. There was a major shift in how our clients saw customer service during the Pandemic. We had more grocery and eCommerce leads than we could imagine, which was evident to how Pandemic has changed the way businesses operate, and customers expect to be served. I conclude that COVID-19 created an opportunity for software development, and customers now need everything at their doorsteps for convenience.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Furqan Aziz: Even though remote work is the new normal, it isn’t for everyone. The only difficult choice that I had to make was to shift towards a digital workforce, which was, obviously, inevitable. Productivity or performance did not drop, but we did face interruptions in projects, probably due to distractions. I am used to working in a highly collaborative environment, and remote work transformed that completely. While working in an office setting, managing and supervising is easier, but when everyone is spread out across different locations, collaboration becomes a struggle, and responses are delayed massively. Not just this, timely technical support becomes out of reach too. But lessons are learned from every experience, whether good or bad. Change is a way of life, and it is consistent and untimely. Therefore having proper transition strategies in times of global crisis is crucial. Plan ahead. This way, you’d be ready when the time of ‘change’ knocks on your door.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Furqan Aziz: We are currently using slack for internal company-wide communication and to stay connected with peers. Besides, we have found Zoom to be an effective tool for meetings, conferences, and HR training. Plus, G-suite for document collaborations. Well, G-suite by far is my favorite, no exaggeration. One top and significant management skill that you need to navigate through the crisis is ‘keeping your team motivated while they work from home.’ Recently, we have been featured as a top B2B firm in Canada in a press release by Clutch, and also, InvoZone’s GoodFirms profile moved to the top position in just a couple of months and all this while my team is working remotely because management maintained the digital company culture throughout and kept everyone sane to give their best.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Furqan Aziz: Two of our top competitors would be SCAND and Outer box. I want to say that I put my team on a pedestal, but then every good company does. So what differentiates InvoZone from competitors; first being our sound development processes, and secondly, value addition, or you can say value-added deliverables. Before initializing development, we, as a team, carefully analyze the requirements and scope of the project in question. Then our Architecture team designs the solution covering every possible aspect while ensuring maximum uptime, low-latency, high concurrency, and fault tolerance protocols. Project managers at InvoZone are well versed in the development approach. Therefore, they ensure on-time delivery without compromising on quality. Most importantly, we follow OWASP’s top 10 standards for security assurance and compliance.
Your final thoughts?
Furqan Aziz: Employee recognition and empowerment are very important if you are to succeed as a team. They just shouldn’t be limited to a physical workplace but should be a part of remote work culture too. I, for one, despise micromanagement. Let your team experiment with new technologies on its own and learn to lead by example instead.