With another season of X Factor seeing us reaching for our phones to vote for our favourites, we meet the company behind the in-app voting technology.

Voting during live television requires some pretty robust technology. 9,676,142 people have used Tectonic’s platform. If that number weren’t daunting enough, they peak in dizzying spikes. Tectonic Interactive is the company behind the in-app voting technology and The X Factor is just one of their clients.

They are a market leader and their technology can handle 100,000 interactions per second.

They also handle interactivity for ITV’s hit reality show Love Island, in-app voting for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here; real-time vote aggregation across phone, mobile and online for The Voice on the BBC as well as live votes for both BBC Sport and BBC Music. They are a market leader and their technology can handle 100,000 interactions per second.

Andy Shaw, alongside his partner Wojciech Nowak, founded Tectonic Interactive in 2012. After over two decades working at BT, Andy saw an opportunity. People were moving away from using the telephone to vote and had started using apps on their mobile. It was time to develop new and better tech. “We understood the market,” Andy says. “App developers were building good-looking stuff but it wasn’t so good looking on the backend.”

With funding from private investors, the two business partners left BT to set up on their own. They specialised in new tech that would be highly scalable, data secure and reliable. The patent is currently pending. While Andy takes care of business development, Wojciech specialises in development, including “peaky-traffic technology” and internet security.

Their first challenge was immense: to co-ordinate the voting for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest stretching across 39 countries

Their first challenge was immense: to co-ordinate the voting for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest stretching across 39 countries, from Iceland to Russia, via Israel. If that weren’t difficult enough, each vote window lasted only 15 minutes. With that success came other opportunities, and they have now worked for nine leading broadcasters. They’ve developed new shows with Endemol and Channel 4, including The Singer Takes It All where contestants perform on a stage that moves around according to viewer votes. They can vote up to four times during each performance on a special app, crikey!

The team, based in London, Krakow and Adelaide, now have 16 employees, five of which are in Vauxhall at Vox Studios. “We like the environment,” Andy says about their latest base “The quality of the office space is very good.” They were initially based at Pill Box for two years but expanded and moved to Vox last summer, joining lots of Workspace customers who have expanded this year. Finding new talent “with the right approach” is one of their biggest challenges when it comes to business expansion, Brexit isn’t the most important issue for them. It’s about developing a fairer immigration policy and more focus on computer science education, so that they can recruit the best talent. 

Demand will only grow as broadcasters manage their way towards digital and try to maximise the possibilities of live television. “Live TV is commercially more attractive,” says Andy, “and creating a sense of community is very valuable.” It’s part of asking viewers what they think, encouraging them to play along live as if they were a contestant; or watching television while competing against friends.

“The death of TV is not going to happen anytime soon,”

The opportunities are endless. Andy sees the tech being used in a much bigger range of TV formats including uniting sports fans in and out of the stadium or involving audiences in documentaries by giving them moral dilemmas to solve. “The death of TV is not going to happen anytime soon,” Andy says. “It’s a massive business. It will just be consumed differently.”

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