Engineering

A Technical Perspective from IX Open

If you create software solutions for healthcare, is your company a healthcare company or an engineering company? While there’s nothing that says you need to choose, often a company adopts an identity that permeates throughout its culture. Some folks in the world of banking have struggled for years to find a new identity in the digital age, until ING’s CEO Ralph Hamers famously declared that they were no longer going to be a bank, but a software company with a banking license. Many industries now find themselves in a similar identity crisis.

I recently had the privilege of attending IX Open in both Spain and Los Angeles this year. What really intrigued me was how technically inclined many from the adtech industry are, and how it influences their roles.  While I always had pride in Index Exchange’s engineering-focused culture, I had an opportunity to witness how much of that we have in common with our partners.

I was involved in many discussions at our annual event — only to find myself amongst industry colleagues with similar challenges and interests. Whether it was discussing the role of agile mindsets in our organizations, the latency benefits of building services on our own bare metal clusters or the technical hurdles of complying with GDPR throughout our networks, the depth of knowledge helped me understand how this industry attracts those who thirst for data and the means to use it to solve some of our most pressing challenges. This trend was also thoroughly demonstrated by our speakers this year.

Here are a few ways IX Open paid homage to our engineering focus at IX:

Making Eng the Keynote: Rarely will you see JSON formatted text making an appearance at the keynote presentation of an industry event, but knowing his audience well, Andrew Casale used it as an effective way to demonstrate the key 2% of an OpenRTB request that can make a 400% difference in the revenue opportunity for a given impression. The industry has seen Identity and the Advertising ID Consortium as key entry points to levelling the playing field against the Walled Gardens of adtech, and Andrew’s keynote helped to prioritize this for every customer in the audience.

Talking Data: Jocelyn Gillespie, Principal Analyst at IX, signed off her presentation with a quote from Dr. W Edwards Deming, stating that “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”  She demonstrated her belief in this claim by taking a data-first approach in demonstrating the effect of first price-auction dynamics in private marketplaces. It was refreshing to see how instead of just being sold on an idea, raw data helped provide evidence of improved win rates and business outcomes with first price.

#EngLife: It would be hard to discuss the engineering aspect of the event without talking about Steve Ballmer’s presentation on leadership. His foundation at an engineering-centric organization such as Microsoft gave him great footing for a speech about leadership in an adtech world. He often made reference to engineering culture within an organization, and his analogies between the world of basketball and software development drew nods of understanding and laughter from the building. A contingent of our engineering organization had the privilege of meeting him after his keynote.

The challenges in adtech are not trivial, and it requires an organization that is diligent in investing in technology and people in order to tackle those challenges. While I’m glad to find myself in an organization with an engineering-first mindset, I’m even more thrilled to find myself in an industry that demands it of us.

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