2018 the year in review

, a 9-minute piece by Dev Mukherjee Dev Mukherjee

I usually get this done before the year folds, but with the disruptions that 2018 threw at us I decided to walk away for a bit, reflect, and then write down my thoughts.

2017 was a brutal year for us as we had to make the difficult decision to pause the launch of our flagship product.

2018 also threw another major disruption, this time with the loss of a major customer who decided to part ways after a longstanding relationship.

Anomaly has been focused on transforming into a product business for some time now, in addition to servicing a small group of strong clients. This unexpected detour led us to focus heavily on business development.

The last eighteen months has taught us the importance of cross pollination of skills and ideas, as well as the unprecedented need for documentation and testing. I am proud to say that we achieved all of these in 2018, making us a stronger team that’s focused on product.

A stable team

The year began by seeing Peter Tri Ho join our team. Peter reached out to us following our post on Whirlpool and decided become part of the Anomaly team.

While Brad Mclain was building capacity in delivering projects on Unity 3D, Brendon Lees and myself spent a fair amount of our time skilling up on frontend design and technologies.

Peter’s efforts added to us being able to pick up the pieces and deliver a myriad of projects.

Anneke Gehrmann has been instrumental in ensuring that our business was running as smoothly as possible despite several major disruptions. Anneke also led a massive marketing effort for Wattle, which would not have been possible without the helping hand from her offsider Tara Hulme.

Monstapals

You might have been following our efforts on building capacity in Unity 3D.

We are mighty proud of having delivered our first game for children that aims to teach them about Australian animals.

The very cool Monstapals has been out there on the AppStore and Google Play for at least half the year.

Over this period we have shipped a number of updates for Halloween, Christmas and just general additions to assets and content. We’re also making the cut scene that’s available in game on Youtube, so you can enjoy it over and over.

We would like to thank everyone who has purchased a copy of the game, which goes towards supporting the development of such products. We intend to make gaming a core part of our service offering moving ahead.

Safe Sharps relaunch

Safe Sharps was one of our foundation projects. Built in the early days of Google Maps being available to developers, this is the fourth major revision of the product.

Funded and managed by Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils, Safe Sharps crowd sources locations for sharps disposal and other services. It offers an iOS, Android and Web interface for sharps users to anonymously query locations.

This release focused on sharpening the Web experience, completely rebooting the Android app and laying the foundations to bring Safe Sharps to the Apple Watch.

We are pleased to have a project run for over a decade, and it is a testimony to REROC’s commitment to the community.

Apple Watch support will be available early February.

Hello Sydney

We are pleased to announce that we now have a presence at Martin Place in Sydney CBD.

To date we have always been headquartered in regional NSW. As we are now expanding into a variety of products, we felt the need to establish a metropolitan presence and make us much more accessible to our clients.

Further to this change we will be streamlining our chain of communication so that our customers can get the most efficient customer support.

CourseSpace 3.0

Charles Sturt University has a one of a kind platform for designing courses. It’s an embodiment of their course design process that they have worked on over a number of years.

2018 saw us take CourseSpace to a whole new level by integrating several core CSU concepts into the system.

Graduate Learning Outcomes specifies the characteristics of CSU graduates. These are in line with the criteria of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Amongst several other features, we built GLOs right into CourseSpace allowing course design teams to track and record evidence of courses meeting this requirement.

The conversation continues with Charles Sturt University in 2019 to bring more innovative features to CourseSpace. We are across the realms of data analytics, machine learning to empower course design teams and give CSU the competitive edge.

Wattle launch

Announced in May 2018 we launched Wattle, a cloud platform for local government. Built in collaboration with Coolamon and Temora shire councils, Wattle aims to supercharge council customer service.

The big players currently in this space have products that are far from satisfactory and are often cost prohibitive for smaller organisations. Our aim is to bridge this gap by providing a product that aligns with these council’s budget and organisational needs.

Wattle is proud to be a Stripe verified partner, giving us the backing we need to provide our customer a platform they can trust. Since its launch, we have had conversations with several other councils around the region and are building a series of new features that will be unveiled in 2019.

Implementation partners

Organisational change is one of the biggest hurdles in shipping a product like Wattle as software in this space has a particularly bad reputation. Whilst Wattle is designed to solve workflow problems, many of our potential customers see it as disrupting their workflow.

To minimise the disruption and ease organisations into the digital space we have been partnering with ABMG a change management consultancy, National Audits Group a specialised audit firm and Veritech a systems integrator and infrastructure support company.

All three firms have a track record of working with councils. We look forward to continue working with them to provide a stellar service to our customers.

LG NSW Annual Conference

We were delighted to be able to sponsor LG NSW’s Annual Conference and be able to show off the capability of our product to potential customers.

The conference was a great networking opportunity for us and it gave us a much better understanding of the local government space. There’s nothing like being able to speak to the customer directly and understand exactly what they need.

Since the event we have been reaching out to potential customers in Victoria and having conversations with councils in our surrounding area.

Jobs4NSW

Applying for grants isn’t something that’s usually on our radar. However, late last year we were encouraged to apply for the Building Partnerships managed by Jobs4NSW.

We put forward our proposal to expand Wattle and were invited to present at Jobs4NSW in November. We sadly weren’t selected for a grant but consider it to be a fruitful experience.

Uvuba

We’re excited to be technology partners for an upcoming marketplace. Uvuba (which means fishing with net in the Shimwali language) is setting out to shake up things in many industries by putting the customer at the centre.

We are unable to disclose too much more at this stage but recommend you putting your hand up on their mailing list to find out about what they do.

Changing of guards

Anomaly has championed building single page web applications powered by REST APIs for several years. When we started Google Closure was the only robust framework for building such applications. We built Prestans our micro framework for REST APIs. The two together have served us well and have let us build several large web applications for our customers.

Late last year as we started work on Uvuba, we surveyed the array of technologies available to see if Closure was still the right fit.

Post our research we decided to move to React. It’s a major decision for us, but one we believe is for the better. Prestans remains a core part of our stack, and we intend to keep investing in building newer versions of the framework.

Epilogue

Despite our challenges during 2018, we have delivered a number of projects for our clients and made a solid move forward to becoming a product focused business.

Anomaly has a very a solid team that’s focused towards achieving the same goal. We have set ourselves some very exciting and strict goals for 2019 and intend to achieve them.

Wishing a very happy new year to everyone.

Next Up: a 1-minute piece by Dev Mukherjee Dev Mukherjee

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