Staying innovative is a fulltime job. Embracing emerging technologies is a must, but so is maintaining focus. At icapps, we’ve revamped the way we look at innovation and we’ve determined three key topics that we believe will shape the future.

At icapps, we’ve always strived to be an innovative company. Innovation for us means first of all staying ahead of the game with the technologies we’re using. Every month, colleagues from the iOS, Android and Web departments get together to have a look at what’s new. When big events such as Apple WWDC or Google I/O happen, we organize meetups to determine what the new announcements will mean for us.

The approach allows us to remain at the forefront of anything digital, but in the long term, that’s simply not enough. New technologies are emerging and we want to incorporate them in our business model. To accomplish this we’ve determined three key technology domains that, according to us, will gain traction in the coming years. For each topic, we’ve assembled a task force led by an owner, who can call upon a team of volunteers to help him reach very concrete targets by next year. We don’t just want to look at the new technologies, we want to master them together with our customers by developing real products, starting today.

The topics of the future

Augmented reality (AR) is the first of the three innovative topics. We firmly believe AR will have a much bigger impact on our lives than virtual reality. On the one hand AR development is right up our alley, as we already have a great understanding of the new mobile API’s and SDK’s that allow us to create immersive experiences. Something we already tested in a POC we built with these immersive experiences! On the other hand, there is a large 3D component in AR, for which we’re currently testing tools that match best with icapps’ workflow.

Next, we have high expectations for conversational interfaces. We’re looking at chatbots and voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as they function quite similarly in the backend. There is still a lot of work to be done, certainly when it comes to voice assistants. Can a Google Home device for example be used reliably as a single purpose device in a business environment (with one specific, predefined application), or is it really only a consumer device? For the work we do with chatbots, we’re looking at Oswald. Oswald is a powerful framework that allows for the creation of chatbots in many different languages. In contrast with platforms from Amazon, Google and IBM, Oswald supports the Dutch language natively. On top of that it can be deployed easily on-premise due to its ‘dockerized’ structure. Right now, we’re working on a proof of concept to find out just how much we can offer using the framework.

Finally, we’ll be looking at artificial intelligence (AI). Staying true to our mobile DNA, we will focus on AI in mobile applications. We’re already seeing companies like Apple and Huawei implementing new types of chips in their mobile devices, capable of handling machine learning models. We’re investigating how these new on-device possibilities can improve the applications we’re building. Additionally we’re looking into Machine Learning solutions in the cloud that are targeted towards providing AI capabilities for mobile applications in real time. We firmly believe ‘the right’ implementation here is far more important to us, our customers and partners than investigating everything at once.

Innovation LAB

In order to familiarize ourselves with the newest emerging technologies, and find out first hand if and how they can provide added value to our customers and partners, we created Innovation LAB. The LAB is a playground in which we look at a technology’s possibilities in the broadest possible sense. Each of our business units delegated one person to join the LAB, and every six weeks, these representatives meet up. The team analyzes and experiments with new technologies. Ideally, the LAB gives rise to one new task force each year. New task forces will have their own team and research goals. Their results will proactively be presented to our customers. This approach guarantees that we are not only on top of things, but that we also keep in mind the business relevance of new technologies.  

Putting our words into action

For each of the three key topics, a roadmap has been defined. There are specific targets and deadlines each topic owner has to meet, and we’ve included our sales team in the project as well. Our Innovation Talks will be a central part of this journey in the coming year. We want to organize one lunchtime Innovation Talk every two months, centered around one of the three innovation topics. During these talks, we will show you how icapps is evolving, and share the knowledge we’re acquiring with our partners. Hear more about our Innovation Talks and subscribe.

It’s not enough to just talk about innovation, we want to act and we want to start acting now. We’re aiming for icapps to be an organization with expertise in AR, AI, blockchain, conversational interfaces and of course mobile development, which will remain an essential part of our business.

Would you like to join us on this innovative journey? Then find out what technology can do for your business and don’t hesitate to register for our Innovation Workshops: hands-on sessions in which we will help you identify new technologies and the way they can help you grow.