TechTalks at Zalando Technology

by Ralf Heyde - 5 Apr 2013

Here at Zalando Technology, "TechTalks" (Technology Talk) are weekly get- togethers in which one or two of us present on a subject we’re passionate about to an audience of technologically curious minds. Typically, TechTalks take up to 45 minutes, which leaves enough room for a stimulating discussion at the end. The speaker is not forced to talk for 45 minutes – it’s even ok if (s)he just talks about some fancy stuff for 15 minutes.

Who participates?

Every employee from the technology team is invited to participate either as speaker or listener!

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To be a speaker, just propose a subject to us and we’ll schedule your presentation. Your TechTalk will take place at least three weeks from the time it was scheduled – so you’ll have enough time to prepare - if necessary. We’ll come up with an abstract to make sure your listeners get the message. We also sometimes invite outside guests, from other areas within Zalando or external technical experts.

Why are they so important?

We at Zalando develop all of our software components ourselves. That creates a growing diversity of software running on our platform. Due to Zalando’s spectacular success and rapid expansion, our technology team continues to grow. Similarly, our software components get increasingly complex – especially because of the different conditions in the 14 countries in which we operate.

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As a result, it has become easier to lose track of what cool projects other teams are working on and what new technologies our colleagues are using to solve problems efficiently.

What’s their goal?

The TechTalk is half training session and half discussion platform. How can we use one another’s technological approaches to solve problems more effectively? Our TechTalks allow us to gain insight into the development processes of our colleagues and into how they solved a specific problem. Some of us may adapt a colleague’s solution to tackle similar problems we’re facing.

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Thus, the main idea behind our TechTalks is twofold: (1) to provide every participant with a fresh point of view and (2) to trigger discussions about the technological challenges we’re facing as we’re growing, thereby leading to possible solutions.

5 of our Recent TechTalks

  1. Hadoop: I gave the audience an overview about the technology Hadoop. This technology is used for massive data processing in analysis and storage. We learned that we can scale dividable problems using a Hadoop cluster.
  2. Dealing with Mutable Objects: Sean talked about the mutability and immutability of objects in the source code/runtime and why some approaches are evil in a software development process.
  3. Marketing: Christian, Zalando’s Chief Marketing Officer, explained to us how Zalando’s skillful marketing machine operates. He discussed our advanced marketing strategies in the online and offline spheres. He also provided us with some insight on how exactly our marketing budget is spent.
  4. Kanban for Software Development: Tobias explained to us how Toyota’s Kanban method can be applied to software development. For instance, he showed us how Kanban can accurately detect and eliminate bottlenecks as well as improve inter- and intra-team communication.
  5. Fraud Prevention: Robert, the team lead of Fraud Prevention at Zalando, shed light on exactly how his team detects fraud. This topic was very interesting for many of our developers, because they need to think about eliminating fraud when implementing new features.

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