4 Chicago CTOs to know: What our tech leaders are working on this year

by Andreas Rekdal
May 12, 2016

Chicago's highly diversified economy is one of its biggest strengths as a tech ecosystem. Since Chicago entrepreneurs rub shoulders with experts in every industry imaginable, the city's tech companies run the gamut of verticals from finance and healthcare technology to web hosting and design services and digital media.

We spoke to the CTOs of some of Chicago's most exciting tech companies to get a sense of what they're working on. Here's what they had to say:
 

Talha F Basit on lessons he's learned about working in Chicago...

"There is lots of great talent in Chicago. You don’t don’t need a development team in the Bay Area. In fact we are finding there is a lot of great talent that after going to the Bay Area are eager to come back to Chicago. Be creative in how you source for candidates. And always hire for horsepower over experience. Today’s technology landscape is changing rapidly and having smart people that are willing to learn new things will serve your needs better in the long run."

Read more here

 

Ryan McElrath on the biggest technological hurdles his team has faced...

"Over the years, we've faced a number of situations where high-profile customer web sites needed to scale to handle heavy traffic spikes. This included NFL teams in the Super Bowl and e-commerce sites featured on popular shows such as Oprah Winfrey, NBC Today Show, and ABC's Good Morning America. More recently, we hosted WeatherTech.com's e-commerce site successfully through its third consecutive Super Bowl commercial as well as the Belmontstakes.com site last June when American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and the site immediately spiked to over 80,000 concurrent users.

Because of our expertise in both web development and hosting, we're uniquely positioned to help customers handle these types of high-traffic events. Many believe it's just a matter of having a lot of servers or capacity to handle these situations, but it usually comes down to the programming and database optimization and load-testing in the months and weeks prior to the event. Careful and diligent preparation is key."

Read more here

 

Erin Karam on the biggest tech projects her team is working on this year...

"PreparedHealth's mantra, 'be prepared,' is a core tenet that drives our roadmap. We developed a virtual Care Coordinator to help deliver on the promise. Her name is DINA — which stands for DIgital Nursing Assistant. We are working to make her smarter every day by teaching her when and how to chime into conversations with patients, their families and/or teams of caregivers. We are training DINA to predict risk and intervene based on a number of factors. She'll be able to interject and shine a light when things are going downhill, and be ready to step in with educational content and preventative care measures to keep us healthy for the long term."

Read more here

 

Anthony Tassone on how browser-based communication is a game changer...

"We are watching WebRTC take over the world. For anyone who doesn’t already know, WebRTC is, very simply put, a free, open project that provides browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple APIs. Voice and video in the browser is changing the way we communicate. 

"We originally built a Java Swing app. It needed to be installed on desktops and was difficult to debug and improve the stability of. We moved to an HTML5 front end while partnering with OpenFin and have never looked back. This partnership has put our front-end on the best possible foundation now and for the foreseeable future."

Read more here

Images via participating companies.

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