What does it take for a digital product development firm to successfully navigate ten years through a rapidly shifting tech landscape? As a newcomer to the company, I wanted to find out.
Since joining Presence, I have been curious about our journey, so I pulled up with our CEO, Jason Monberg, and our Head of AI, Kevin Rohling, to learn more. In this post, I hope to share some insights about our evolution, discuss the challenges of the tech industry, and share observations on successfully sailing through the next ten.
A Glimpse into the Past
A decade ago, Presence opened our doors in San Francisco and began building a reputation as a quality player in digital product development. Even then, the industry was crowded, so we carved our own niche and built a reputation for delivering high-quality, innovative products that successfully launched.
Another key to our success has been our focus on business value. From the beginning, Presence has been a unique player in the industry because we don't simply "build," we become partners in development who guide product delivery to support company goals.
Presence CEO Jason Monberg, recalls our work with Advent, one of our first large clients, as an early partnership that set our company on a trajectory for more sophisticated, innovative endeavors. We helped their team rebuild and extend a complicated customer experience that helped push their stock up by seven points when they revealed it at their annual conference. Years later, we continue to take pride in enabling our partners' successes.
Purposeful Innovation: The Guiding Light
As technology evolves and new product consultancies come and go, Presence has continued, anchored by purposeful innovation and passion for emerging technology. Focusing on positive impact projects like renewable energy, land management, or education reform has added energy and meaning to our work.
Presence employees take pride in developing exceptional products in future-thinking industries, from intricate system architectures and Salesforce implementations to advanced clean tech platforms and innovative mobile applications.
Evolution of the Tech Industry: A Decade of Rapid Change
Looking back, the tech industry has undergone groundbreaking change, including the rise and fall of numerous technologies, methodologies, and trends. We've experienced the mobile revolution, the big data boom, the rise of machine learning, the rebirth of virtual reality, and the blockchain frenzy. Each trend had its high points and validities, but the enduring companies were those that could differentiate fads from genuine, sustainable innovation.
As Jason puts it, "We've lived through a lot of tech hype. It has helped us discern real value, genuine innovation, and be exceptionally careful about how we recommend technology to our clients." With experience comes perspective. Whether we’re leading full project development for a critical product or augmenting a team with our engineers, PMs, or automation experts, our experience allows us to bring a wealth of product wisdom and intuition. It’s one reason our partners say we’re “not just a consultancy, but a true partner.”
Challenges in the Tech Industry
The rapid evolution and saturation of the tech industry came with many challenges. Here are a few that we learned from:
Adapting to Emerging Technologies
As Jason mentioned, "We have ridden the wave of nearly every front-end technology shift over the last ten years, from Angular to React, native to multi-platform. Keeping pace as front-end technology evolves is critical." It requires a culture of continuous learning and adaptability to stay ahead of the curve.
Remaining Relevant in a Saturated Market
Another key challenge for any tech company is standing out in a competitive industry. For Presence, the answer is in discerning genuine innovation from tech hype, while consistently delivering high-quality products with real business value to our partners.
“We’ve seen many technologies touted as the next big thing: AR/VR and blockchain are two of the most recent. They inevitably recede into the general noise of technology, as their use cases remain narrow. With the advent of LLMs and generative AI available for general consumption, there are an enormous number of obvious and powerful ways to apply these AI technologies. We recognize the importance of AI and how it will be applied to digital products moving forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done in establishing cost and benefit balance for our partners,” says Jason Monberg.
Hiring and Retaining Top Talent
As Kevin Rohling, our Head of AI, points out, "Finding top talent, especially in emerging technologies like AI, is a significant challenge. Retaining them is even tougher." Fostering an inclusive culture that encourages innovation and learning is critical for companies that find and keep great people. From the beginning, Presence has cultivated a collaborative and growth-focused team dynamic that promotes competitive compensation and supportive hybrid work environments. Our team regularly meets for virtual and in-person events to strengthen professional relationships.
Peering into the Future: The Next Decade
What’s ahead for Presence? Continuing to solve business problems with technology at the forefront of commercial technology, including renewable energy platform technologies and ever-expanding AI/ML applications. We’ll continue to learn from the changing tech landscape and continue to do what we’re known for; designing and developing complex, innovative digital products. Looking forward, we’re certain the next decade will bring new challenges and changes. Here's how we think we (and everyone in tech) will need to flex to accommodate:
Embrace AI and Machine Learning
Kevin suggests, "AI is set to transform the tech industry, and companies that do not recognize and invest in it may find themselves left behind." He predicts that AI will change both the products and services tech companies offer and their internal operations and processes. Nearly everyone in tech is grappling with responsibly absorbing AI and ML capabilities. We’re doing it by expanding on our previous AI/ML work, developing proof-of-concept projects, in-house AI/ML applications, in-house AI talks, and structured learning paths.
Focus on Sustainable and Ethical Tech
The increasing awareness of the global environmental crisis and its societal impacts makes it clear that companies must transition to more sustainable and ethical technologies. In addition to being good for the planet, it’s good for business. The 2023 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report shows that this green transition will drive the strongest macro trends in job creation. Some of the most successful and innovative companies we’ve worked with are leading the charge in renewable energy, from automakers to climate heroes like Vibrant Planet and solar leaders like Borrego and Anza Renewables. Sustainable tech has a robust future.
Prepare for New Regulations
More than ever, technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives, and with that comes new regulatory and privacy issues. As Eric Müller, our Chief Information Security Officer, reminds us, security and confidentiality are critical. Over the next ten years, we expect that protecting users' data and privacy will become even more urgent and challenging.
The Way Forward
Tech is, and always has been, the leading edge of humanity’s brightest ingenuity. The future of tech is a challenging, thrilling landscape. Navigating it successfully will require a culture of continuous learning, a focus on genuine innovation, the ability to distinguish oneself in a crowded market through reputation, and the foresight to anticipate and adapt to future trends. These qualities have supported Presence’s first decade, and as we head into the next, we remain committed to creating the innovative products of tomorrow. We look forward to sharing this journey with our partners, clients, and fellow tech companies as we navigate this rapidly evolving tech landscape together.