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HCLSoftware: Fueling the Digital+ Economy

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We sat down with Jason Gary – CTO, Vice President Engineering and Innovation with HCLSoftware Digital Solutions – to hear his thoughts on how Volt MX is driving the future of application development, and his advice for professional, new and aspiring developers.

Can you give us an overview of Volt MX and the unique technology it offers?

Jason: Volt MX is a really interesting product offering from HCL and unique within the set of products that we have. It’s a complete application development platform. “Complete” is a strong and loaded term in IT but if you think about it, it really does everything.

It has a backend that allows you to proxy, manage, configure, create, lifecycle your APIs, and a connectivity system that allows it to connect to and aggregate a variety of other backend sources. It has a frontend IDE that allows professional and citizen developers to build all sorts of different kinds of applications. On top of that, it allows you to be multichannel: you can take code and decide what deploys to an iOS device, Android, web browser or kiosk.

The “MX” in Volt MX stands for “multiexperience,” the true strength of the platform. It's just an incredibly flexible product.

“Complete” is a strong and loaded term in IT – but if you think about it, [Volt MX] really does everything.”

Why should developers — college students training to become developers or experienced professionals – learn Volt MX?

Jason: There's a bunch of advantages. I think for all developers, Volt MX is a great way to have a single destination, a single way of building.

As a software developer just starting your career with Volt MX, you don’t have to learn a multitude of languages and platforms necessary to develop a multi-platform application. Writing a multilanguage, multi-technology stack application is a lot to expect of an entry-level developer.

The nice thing about being an experienced developer is that you more than likely have built multi-platform applications, and probably have a great deal of experience of both backends and frontends. But even if you’re a full stack developer, isn't it easier and faster to write once and deploy multiple times? Of course it is.

With Volt MX, you can write everything in JavaScript and deploy it to multiple platforms. You can also integrate some of the native iOS and Android capabilities and the skills you may have as an experienced developer.

What would you say to a developer that wants to learn Volt MX on their own versus getting a Volt MX certificate?

Jason: There are many different types of learners. No matter what kind of learner you are, Volt MX has the kind of education that will work for you.

There’s certainly a large swab of developers who value formal training and want to really understand something before they dive into it. There are also some developers that struggle with structured settings and certifications.

We offer some incredible series of tutorials and formal training, and the culmination of that is a certification. We also offer integrated tutorials in the product. For those who just want to download, jump in with both feet and go, we offer those sets of capabilities along with access to things like certification. I would strongly advise that our formal training really gives you a holistic view of how to use the product and get the most out of it.

“No matter what kind of learner you are, HCL Volt MX has the kind of education that will work for you.”

Why should a developer choose to specialize in Volt MX over other app developer platforms?

Jason: The multiexperience, multichannel element is obviously incredible. Our competitors have amazing products and I'm not going to speak ill of them. Volt MX has this incredibly strong backend which some of them don't necessarily have–and almost all of them require developers to learn something very specialized for that platform. Volt MX doesn’t use proprietary languages or specialized implementations of languages. If you can bring your JavaScript skills, you can create anything, on any device, even down to wearables.

And we're continuing that journey. We’re adopting a simple formulaic language on top of JavaScript that's first available in Volt MX Go, and we're eventually going to extend it to Volt MX. It allows you to use what is effectively Excel's formulaic language to be able to do incredible things on top of the JavaScript skills you already have.

What are two key features of Volt MX that developers should be excited about?

Jason: As a native application, it's a wild moment that I can write in a language I know very intimately, JavaScript, and have it working on iOS and Android in half an hour. Beyond that, the thing that I believe really should excite most developers, especially full stack developers, is that after you've done these things in the IDE and created amazing interactive experiences, you can actually build that backend in the exact same platform and make it performant, integrable and have this complete holistic solution.

Are there any industries or sectors that come to mind where you think Volt MX would be particularly valuable or in high demand?

Jason: There aren’t a lot of industries that don’t need multiexperience application platforms, whether you're in retail, or manufacturing, even the financial sector and healthcare. We’re seeing a tremendous emphasis on multichannel, multiplatform and cross integration. There's value in having a multiexperience platform with an amazing backend that allows you to do incredible things with integrations and API's and a strong IDE, and build once deploy to multiple channels, even to native app stores. It's just an incredible set of capabilities for multiple industries.

Can you share any success stories that come to mind when you think about Volt MX and how it’s made a significant difference for businesses or project outcomes?

Jason: We have a large manufacturing customer in EMEA who were really struggling with providing access to information for their employees when they were operating some of these large machines in their manufacturing chain. Instead of relying on a bunch of paper manuals, they adopted Volt MX as a B2E solution.

This makes information available at the fingertips of hundreds of clients, all centralized with geospatial awareness to accurately identify the full scope of any issues and provide relevant data. Employees can get tailored assistance on kiosks embedded in the very machine they’re operating.

As our developer community grows, what advice would you give those who struggle to get people invested in a product like Volt MX?

Jason: I think there are two things. My first piece of advice is to access our free account in Volt MX cloud and use them. You need to be able to demonstrate value quickly.

The second thing I would emphasize is persistence. I would highly encourage developers both young and experienced, if you really believe in the platform, you're excited about it, go show people your enthusiasm and be persistent about it.

You’ve had a successful career holding a prominent role within a global company like HCLSoftware. What advice would you give to both new and experienced developers to be successful?

Jason: In any career, people fall into it and believe it's a job, and that's a mistake. I had a good friend who was a physician. He got to the mountaintop of where he wanted to go, and then he stopped being enthusiastic about medicine. As fast as the medical field changes, there's nothing that moves faster than technology and computer science. If you don't really believe in what you're doing, you're not going to go anywhere in your career.

As a CTO of a half a billion-dollar business, you may assume I never code–but t hat's not true. I code constantly and not just for work. I try new things. I’m constantly looking for new ideas and new things to do. I believe in my career, and I look at computer science as not just my job. Computer science is my passion. If you really, truly want to move your development career forward, don't stop coding.

How do you see the future of app development? How do you see it evolving with platforms like Volt MX?

Jason: It’s funny. I saw an article a couple of weeks ago saying in five years there will be no software developers. Who's going to code the AI engines?

When I started developing software in the late 70s and early 80s, there were no forums, no internet, there was no place to turn. If you had questions, you had books and you just tried it. Then the Internet came and had places I could ask questions and go and look for answers. Now AI is shaping the future of app dev, but rather than replace developers it can assist and complement development, eliminate manual tasks and increase productivity.

The other thing I would say is that the usability of our tooling in Volt MX is excellent today, and we're on a journey right now to make it better. And I think you're seeing a lot of our competitors in the application development space trying to make it easier to find the tools you need, when you need them, in your tool of choice and be able to apply them quickly. You're going to see a lot of that sort of ergonomics around UX and the developer experience inside the tooling both get better and better.

I think there's several things that we're going to see happen in this space, and we will take the lead at HCLSoftware in driving it first inside Volt MX.

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Digital Solutions | August 10, 2023
Interview: HCL Volt MX Hackathon winner, Vishal Vats (Part Two)
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