A glimpse beyond The Great Wall; What defines EmbedIT’s Custom Development Chinese Division?
Exploring #LifeInEmbedIT would not be an adventure if we did not dig more into our very unique Division — Custom Development Chinese Division.
We officially established this division back then in 2008 solely to serve our market in China, and we originated the system in Home Credit in China from our Home Credit Kazakstan.
Due to the fast-growing of the business, we decided to open our office in Ostrava. It was a very small team back then since our office in China did not have a banking license yet, until 2013, we gained the license and The Chinese division especially the team in Ostrava is getting bigger than ever.
We are very lucky today to have two remarkable persons from the team to get into the skin of this division. Meet Petr Dolejší- Head of software development of the Chinese Division and Josef Nevedel as the Team Leader for the Contract Origination team! So, Enjoy the read of the first part of the interview.
Hi Petr, how do you feel right now?
I‘m doing great. Although, it is always a bit challenging for this division in terms of the delivery during the Chinese New Year since many of our Chinese colleagues are out for vacations, but it is all manageable.
So, is there special preparation for this Chinese New Year that your team is doing?
We tried to clean up all the delivery tasks upfront. We do not really expect our Chinese colleagues to be working during the celebration time as well. Also, since most of our Chinese colleagues would be away, it will give us the opportunity to do some infrastructure changes from here, like the installation of the servers since it would require an outage of the tools, etc. So we would be using that period to fine-tune some of the technical stuff that has accumulated over the year. Hence, there would not be any deployments during the time.
How about the peak of the customer itself in there? There must be a lot of demand during this Chinese New Year since during this time, people are buying some gifts, and there are quite a lot of discounts everywhere.
Yes, but it is completely fine. We made some projections for sure. I believe the highest peak would be during the first days of the Chinese New Year. We could also expect that there might be some freeze since the people are not in the office, and that would impact the internal tech support. However, we have prepared ourselves for that. Although Chinese New Year is a peak season, it is not the highest that we have. We have other sales peaks such as Golden Week, or even Singles Day was significant last year. The Singles Days, also known as 11–11, is a Chinese shopping holiday that marks as an unofficial holiday for a bachelor, and this holiday has become the biggest shopping day in the world, and it is growing every year!
So how was our preparation for that 11–11 event last year?
We conduct the performance test for every delivery cycle. Unlike other entities that perform the test prior to the big day, such as India before Diwali, in the Chinese Division perform the test regularly every month, so we are always ready to smash the high volume.
Do you mind explaining the history behind this Division? Why do we have this dedicated team?
Because the country is so big, thus, the requirements, changes, and the time to catch the market are so important, and there is no room for any delays. Also, in terms of the volume, even though we have another prominent homers (countries) like India, their volume is not as huge as China.
What is the biggest challenge that this division is facing?
I would say it is the demand for the new functionalities. If we look at the roadmap, we have big projects every month, for instance: WeChat integration or Integration with Bank of Shanghai, AI Bank, CITIC, etc. We indeed have a high number of new functionalities that we deliver.
How did we divide the team or the responsibility?
We have a stable team, I would say. It used to be a project-based whereby each project has its own analytical and development resources, etc. However, since 2019 we split the teams into specific domains, meaning that each team has the end to end ownership, including the operational part of their application under their responsibility. We have 22 teams at the moment, and the number is still growing, so each team has their product manager, analyst, and so.
What is the long-term plan for this division?
We are now reviewing the architecture of our applications, get rid of the technical debt, and any old-fashion database integration, creating new generic APIs covered application gateway and security layer on top. Most importantly, everything should be service-oriented. At present, we are also decommissioning some functionalities, like the orchestration of the sales process and moving its development directly to the country since the local team itself is bigger than what we have in here.
For comparison, the local IT team currently has more than 800 people. Five hundred of them are working for development, another three hundred for operations, meanwhile on our side, now, it’s roughly 310 people covering both roles of development and operations. The main intention is to make the country more independent so that they can develop sales channels faster. The channels itself are very different and unique, and it can be coded efficiently on the local side using the APIs of our core system.
How often do you deploy changes?
Right now, we have major deployments in four weeks cycle to get all changes implemented, perform the UAT/performance testing, and all that stuff. We are, on the other hand, targeting to shorten it to two weeks cycle. Meanwhile, the Chinese UAT team is doing the testing on every release manually. So, we would like to have it automated as much as possible.
Speaking about the technology, how do you compare to technology between China and Europe?
China is very, very advanced, I would say. If you take the example, how people proceed with their payment transaction in China, almost everyone is using their mobile application, and nobody uses their card. You can even use your face for payments. So now imagine if you buy something, you walk to the tablet that they put it there, face the camera and boom… your bill is settled.
In terms of big data, they have everything connected in a very advanced way. They even have scoring social systems that could justify if you are a good citizen or not, and that would help you to get a loan faster. For instance, if you are crossing the street while the light is still red, there would be a camera to catch you, and it would display your identity right away.
If you compare to Europe, of course, there would be a security-burden towards the society whereby people think that they the right to get freedom without being traced. I know that some cities like San Francisco, they prohibited from implementing these features.
In the next session, we asked Petr about what makes us the best in the market, last year’s proudest achievement, the tech resolutions, etc. Also, we will have Josef Nevedel too!
But, before that, let us wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year! #LifeInEmbedIT