IT Life: TruBe Or Not TruBe?

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Jonathan Chong, CTO of TruBe, talks us through his tech heroes, villains and comic book art

Jonathan Chong is the CTO of TruBe, an app for personal trainers on demand. Jonathan has also held development, mobile and IT roles at Lastminute.com, PhotoBox and National Rail.

What has been your favourite project so far?

Definitely TruBe, by far. Not just because it’s an exciting product and that we’re trying to redefine the health and fitness industry, but also because I joined at a time when there was very little in terms of scope or design. We didn’t even have a technology team or a single line of code. The next stage was very fast-paced as we nailed the first version down, recruited some very talented people and shipped our product, all in six months! I’m incredibly proud of the team, and excited for t everything that’s in store.

What tech were you involved with ten years ago?

Jonathan Chong headshotIn 2005 I was heading up a team of Perl developers and designers. It’s amazing how much technology has evolved since then. jQuery hadn’t even been released, the first video had just been uploaded to YouTube (actually ten years to the day of me writing this), client-side web apps hadn’t yet taken off, and we weren’t living in a mobile, on-demand world. I can’t wait to see how technology will change our lives over the next ten years.

What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?

It’s difficult to say. Smartphones are king now and wearables are only just starting to make headway into consumers’ lives. Whether we shift towards more wearables or even to wearing contact lenses with built-in GUIs, I believe that the smartphone you hold in your hand now will feel as ancient as a desktop computer with a floppy disk drive.

Who’s your tech hero?

I look up to several tech pioneers, each one for very different reasons. If I had to name a few, I would say Ada Lovelace (the world’s first programmer), Vint Cerf and Sir Tim Berners-Lee (fathers of the Internet), Dennis Ritchie (the inventor of Unix and the C programming language), and Steve Jobs (redefined the personal computing industry more than once).

Who’s your tech villain?

I don’t really have one. I strongly believe that if you are fortunate enough to be working in technology, then you have this incredible talent and power to make a difference to other people’s lives, and that you should use that to only do good. Think about how much we have moved forward because of tech, and how much more progress we could make  if we focused on the right things such as healthcare and education.

What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?

For now, it would have to be the Internet and my iPhone, which I use the most, by far. Anything that is kind to the user and is portable will help remove barriers and allow us to complete tasks quicker, giving us more time for anything else that’s important. I think the best is yet to come though; I would like to see technology moving the needle a lot more!

Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?

Apple. Even when it was going through its most difficult time and was on the verge of bankruptcy, it stayed true to its values and has been able to become the company it is today. It Appletakes real courage and conviction to do that. I also admire that it genuinely puts its users first and has its own high standards when it comes to important things such as accessibility, healthcare and being kind to the environment.

What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?

Most technology teams are the fulcrum of their companies; we play an important role in everything a company does. And via our product and systems, we are also consumer-facing. Meeting those internal and external expectations is very challenging. It’s also very difficult to help a company prioritise its roadmap and maintain focus, but if you manage to do that, it becomes a big enabler in allowing IT teams to function.

To Cloud or not to Cloud?

To cloud, definitely. The ability to instantly scale the capacity of our infrastructure up or down is incredibly powerful. I remember a time when if we had to add to our infrastructure, we needed at least a week’s lead time from placing the order with the supplier to the blade being up and running in our rack. And that was if we were lucky! That end-to-end process is now instant and automated thanks to the cloud.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A comic book artist. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, but I guess I didn’t really have enough talent to have that as a career. The only drawing I do now is of architecture diagrams on my team’s whiteboard. I’m not sure which are prettier!

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