Matthew Lawlor of Spearline takes part in a Q&A session where he shares tips for avoiding firefighting and discusses the future of his company.
Could you give us a brief synopsis of your role?
As well as chief technical officer (CTO), I’m co-founder of Spearline so I was one of the original employees as a computer programmer.
I wasn’t a CTO at Spearline from day one; as the company grew, it’s a role I grew into.
The company was founded by our CEO, Kevin Buckley, and I. He was always more commercial based while I was more technical based so our roles evolved naturally.
I’m still very much a computer programmer, diving into code; it’s still close to my heart.
Being a CTO involves managing the short- and long-term needs of the company and taking a leadership role. Could you describe your leadership style?
I’m the furthest thing from a micromanager that you can get. I think it’s a case of we have a company strategy, we have products and a roadmap to align with that strategy, and we’re very lucky we have hired people who are really expert at their roles.
Once they know the direction the company is going in, and what needs to be done to get there, my role is more of a supportive one to help them find solutions or workarounds to problems that might arise, ultimately one that benefits the customer the most.
How do you motivate your team in challenging situations?
We avoid challenging situations as much as possible. Coming from a start-up company where there were very few employees, I have been in situations where I’ve been up in the middle of the night trying to firefight a problem for a customer.
Now, as the company has grown, we are able to foresee problems from an infrastructure point of view, and from all of our databases and web servers. The Amazon Cloud is amazing for us as we were able to build a solution that’s very reliable and scalable.
If something does go wrong, it’s very easy for us to mitigate against that and provide a solution whereby the customer isn’t affected and we can avoid those late nights firefighting. We do have a 24/7 support team in case anything does go wrong on our customers’ networks which could affect their numbers.
What does the future hold for Spearline and audio quality?
We’ve recently moved into our new headquarters and our goal is to keep growing and to fill and outgrow it. With the projects we have in the pipeline, I see Spearline being the market leader in audio analysis and audio quality measuring, giving insights into carrier performance.
What we do at the moment is we can tell customers when they have an issue (with their numbers), we can tell them they’re having connectivity problems or having audio quality issues.
What we’re doing right now and what I see us doing long term is not going beyond that – telling customers they have audio quality issues because of background noises or audio clipping or latency coming in, and being able to go that extra mile and pinpointing exactly what the issue is.
We did a lot of customer surveying in the past year and we have unique insights to offer as a result. It’s very important that development and innovation are aligned with the customers’ needs so we do try to stay very close to the customer.
We’re introducing a new user interface for our customers.
We are looking at artificial intelligence – we have huge data sets as we have conducted millions of tests for customers.
Each one of those test calls produces a huge amount of data points so we have a big data set that we can apply machine learning/artificial intelligence to and we’re going to use that to help build out the new feature set of the product.
For further information about Spearline, visit: www.spearline.com