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An Interview with David Oretti, Head of Mobile Products at App Cube

David_Oretti_headshot.jpg "Technology is science, but getting people to use it is an art".


Tell me about your role?

I'm a digital generalist. I love to create apps and other digital projects.
My background is design and user experience, so I don't actually do the
nuts and bolts programming. I conceive and try to create apps that will
give customers a state of the art user experience. This always involves
discussion and joint decision making with my team, which for me is the only
way to approach a project. Some call it Agile methodology, but it's really
just a mixture of passion, knowledge and savvy. It's a mindset, not a
technique or tool.

Why mobile matters?

Apps are pieces of software just like the ones used on every pc, now and in
past, before Apple came up with a catchier name for them. The main
differences are that apps are used on the move, on small devices like
mobile phones, and by tapping an interface rather than a keyboard. In
reality the subtle differences are more strategic. For instance, you can
use geolocation services, build apps for networks and access sensors.

For most people an app is just a tool to work/spend/travel with in new,
more effective ways than in the past. Take air travel - nowadays you can
buy a ticket, check in and retrieve your boarding pass, all by phone. You
can do it anytime, anywhere and without a printer.

It's a paradigm shift.

How would you describe your role to someone outside the industry?

Technology is science, but getting people to use it is an art.

The key elements behind the success of an app are a meaningful digital
strategy and the right vision for digital change. To build any piece of
software you need programmers, but to develop an app with a digital
strategy behind it - something with real vision that is simple enough to
use without instruction and designed so that millions of people will
actually enjoy using it - you need a talented team of digital creative
designers like the one I lead. That's what I do every day.

Tell me about the company you work for and the work they do.

We build apps for digital agencies and for companies without their own
mobile development teams. We are aware that the difference between creating
an app and a promising and legendary one depends on intuition, creativity,
and taste. We try to balance these forces.

How did you get into the Technology industry?

In 1984, at the age of 14, I bought my first modem and connected it to the
BBS, a forerunner of the internet. I developed a passion for 3D design and
worked for four years as a 3D designer. At 28 I opened my first digital
startup. Basically, I'm a digital native, but from another era.

If you could say one thing to 10-13 year old's to encourage them into the industry what would that be?

Buy a modem... no, wait, that was me. Buy a real PC and not a console, not
even a laptop. Start playing games and then ask yourself: "Why am I
spending so much time playing games and basically wasting a whole lot of
time, when I could be writing a game of my own?"

It's like reading books. Books are important; you should read lots of them
in your life. But why not have a go at writing one too? Someone somewhere
once thought the same thing and came up with quite a successful story about
a young wizard...

If you play for two years you'll probably get through about ten games. Or
you could do a year and a half of experimenting and then spend six months
actually producing your own game instead. Just think: one day thousands of
people might be playing it - even your friends! And what's to stop you from
making more?

There are plenty of good tips for success, but for me the most important
one is to always share your pc knowledge with a friend or group of friends.
That way you'll broaden your expertise and get leadership skills you're
going to need later. Never go it alone - never!

What keeps you and the people you work with happy and productive at work?

Meaningful challenges, common goals, no time wasting. Money also helps ☺

What about the recruiting process in the UK?

Here's a message to all those companies that say they are on the lookout
for tech talents, digital gurus and so on: go small. There are a lot of
talented, passionate people working in small companies. They may not come
with degrees, but neither did Bill Gates or Richard Branson. Why not give
them a chance instead of trying to poach talent from big rivals? Take the
risk - it's worth it. The real difference lies in the commitment, not the
schooling or background. True talent always shines through.

What's the next big thing in tech?

The first company to come up with a battery that lasts way longer as long
and way faster will scale the heights and change the world.

Robotics will be a profound revolution, we are already seeing self-driving
cars: in the long run it will all be about robotics and deep learning.

In a short term I think virtual reality will bring some fresh air with
devices like Oculus Rift and the HoloLens. They'll leave their mark -
nothing earth-shattering, but mark nonetheless.

I dream of robotic farmers, house cleaners, cooks, and renewable energy.

There are some nice recent movie about robots, like Automata and Ex
Machina. But if you really want a window onto the future - let's say the
year 2056, 40 years from now - I recommend Robot and Frank. It's an eye
opener.

Interview conducted in 2016 for our Women in Technology Survey, 2016 campaign.