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May 3rd, 2018

Nederlands tekort aan IT’ers achtervolgt Levi9 tot in Oost-Europa

Offshoring is ook een terugkerend ingrediënt in automatiseringsdebacles. Automatiseerder CapGemini bijvoorbeeld moest de Sociale Verzekeringsbank onlangs nog €21 mln compensatie betalen voor een mislukt project. De grotendeels in India geschreven software bleek onbruikbaar. Maar de aanpak van Levi9 lijkt te werken. De netto-omzet nam in 2016 met 30% toe (tot €34 mln), de winst steeg met 50% (tot €6,2 mln) en het bedrijf weet deze groeicijfers al een aantal jaar vast te houden. Tot de klantenkring behoren bedrijven als TomTom, Wehkamp en Talpa. ‘Extreem gedisciplineerd werken’ is volgens mede-bestuurder Pien Oosterman (44) het geheim. Er is dagelijks overleg tussen de klant en het team dat een project uitvoert, en soms staan de partijen via videoschermen de hele dag in contact. Het is een werkwijze die ook bij de klant moet passen. Voor de overheid werkt Levi9 bijvoorbeeld bewust niet. ‘Overheidsprojecten zijn vaak zeer omvangrijk en langlopend. Wij werken het liefst aan projecten die snel op de markt gebracht moeten worden.’ Levi9 heeft 6 kantoren in 3 landen in Oost-Europa. Foto: Vladimir Zivojinovic / Phenster voor het FD Westen trekt aan medewerkers Lagere loonkosten zijn, naast beschikbaarheid van personeel, voor IT-organisaties de voornaamste reden om werk over de grens te laten uitvoeren. Dat geldt voor Levi9 – dat is opgericht door ondernemers Menno de Jong en Bernhard van Oranje- net zo goed, daar doen Schuyt en Oosterman niet schijnheilig over. In Oost-Europa is het een goed salaris, maar een schijntje van wat een IT’er, zeker bij de huidige tekorten, in Nederland kan verdienen. Dat weten ze op de zes kantoren van Levi9 Oekraïne, Roemenië en Servië ook heus wel: regelmatig pakken medewerkers hun koffers voor een beter betaalde baan in het westen. Daar is veel vraag naar technologisch geschoold personeel. Oosterman: ‘De kwaliteit van leven hier is aantrekkelijk voor ze, maar in besteedbaar inkomen gaan ze er dan op achteruit.’ Belgrado LEVI9 Belgrado LEVI9 PHENSTER Levi9 zou medewerkers kunnen behouden door alsnog een kantoor te openen in Nederland en mensen hier naartoe te halen. Of het bedrijf kan de salarissen omhoog gooien natuurlijk. Oosterman: ‘Dit is geen optie, want dan halen we ons bedrijfsmodel onderuit.’ Bovendien is het massale vertrek van hoogopgeleiden slecht voor de landen waar Levi9 kantoor houdt: ‘We zitten er niet uit altruïsme, maar als je daar zo vaak komt als wij is dat wel iets dat je aan het hart gaat.’ De sterke groei van 30% die Levi9 nu laat zien is niet vol te houden, erkent Schuyt. ‘20% per jaar is realistischer als je kwaliteit wilt behouden.’ Geïnteresseerde kopers of investeerders, die zich volgens Schuyt regelmatig melden, worden de deur gewezen. ‘Een plant gaat niet harder groeien door eraan te trekken.’ Belgrado LEVI9 Foto: Vladimir Zivojinovic / Phenster voor het FD

May 3rd, 2018

Interview Mirjana Kolarov

Do you have any advice for others yet to adopt monitoring and testing in production? On some projects, monitoring production might not be available. For instance, if you’re working on bank software, they’re not going to let you monitor transactions, etc. So it does depend to some extent on the project. But the bottom line is, if you have the option of setting it up, you should. And not just monitoring the application, but the infrastructure too. If your team isn’t doing any of this, or there’s a lack of tools to do so, then whatever your role, if you think it’s important, my advice would be to sit down with your team, and say ‘I hear it’s useful, why don’t we use it’? If you’re not an expert in the field, it might seem tricky at first – but read up and maybe even try setting up discussion sessions. For some, it’s part of a larger cultural change among ourselves and our clients. How do you see the role of testing changing in future? I’ve been in testing for 10 years now, so lots has changed already in that time. At first, we were just doing manual testing, not really in contact with either the business or users. The developers just threw it over the wall. Initially, it wasn’t that challenging. But since then, it has shifted to the left – now we’re there from the first line of code, with testers included in design phase, and everyone is more aware of the importance of what we do, even developers. Also, testers have become more focused on performance and security, so it’s not all purely functional either. In future, I think what we do will shift more back to the right – without moving from the left – effectively, our function will stretch out. Sometimes we’ll just test on production, but we should be the ones to propose it, and find a way that we can access that functionality. In other words, building a continuous deployment pipeline. That is definitely something testers should be a part of.

May 3rd, 2018


Technology versus society To answer that question, we need to establish what privacy means. In the past, we described privacy as an imaginary line between what is public (state and society) and private (personal and family). This line was never unambiguous. It shifted along with every change within society. Nowadays, thanks to all the social networks, it is almost universally accepted that we share and keep a substantial part of our personal life online. We might conclude that the beforementioned imaginary privacy line is mostly based on social consensus; what people feel is acceptable to share and how much we think we are in control of what goes public. This also means we cannot leave it to technology to decide what is acceptable. It is a decision for society, our culture and our educational system. When do we allow our personal data to be used? By whom? How? And for what purpose? The role of technology should be to give each individual the reigns in handling those permissions. This is where Blockchain comes in. Blockchain in service of privacy The technology of blockchain is a hot topic. For every problem, we look at blockchain to provide a solution. Many applications are dubious at best, but there is no question that blockchain technology is the start of something big, comparable to when the internet made its entrance to the world. Blockchain in a nutshell Blockchain once started as the transactions data mechanism behind Bitcoin (and many other crypto currencies thereafter). Partly due to the development of Ethereum, it became a more universal and more decentralized processing platform. Theoretically, Blockchain is a combination of decentralized and distributed data storage and processing mechanisms. Encryption protects the data against misuse and forgery. As a concept, it might not be very sensational. What makes it interesting, it the absence of one central authority. It is based on a limitless network, supported by the initiatives of its users. The blockchain concept is that the distributed ledger is not physically owned by anyone. Everyone across the globe can have access, and strong encryptions ensure data protection. Tim Geenen, CEO & Founder of Faktor, also sees the added value of blockchain. His startup is collaborating with Levi9 to create innovations to help publishers. Blockchain could offer the perfect solution to transparently retaining consumer permissions. Within this blockchain solution, no personal consumer data is being saved. Instead, a digitally signed document states by whom, for what purpose and in what situation the personal data can be used. The personal data mentioned in that document could be anything from what websites the consumer has visited, what articles have been read to his or her age, gender, and preferences for brands, services and products. Advertisers can serve consumers with more relevant ads, and publishers have a better way of being compensated for the content they create. All given information can only be used by an authorized party, within the given period and exclusively for the purposes stated in the document. Making its entrance May 25th of 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation law (GDPR) allows consumers to review, edit and remove their own personal data. For the first time, this will also include managing cookies, processing IP addresses and ‘device identifiers’. In this scenario, everybody wins. Consumer versus commerce In the before mentioned scenario, the consumer keeps the reigns where it concerns his or her own personal data; they decide which data is private and which data can be used. Within the blockchain, recent permissions can be withdrawn or updated. This gives consumers the chance to change their mind, in such cases that cultural norms shift or when their personal views do. The industry will have an easier way to bring the consumer closer, for example when the consumer allows the industry to use his or her personal data within the field of pre-defined authorities and organizations. Being based on the direct consent of a consumer, there is a high correlation between the consumer and the provided data. Within blockchain, automatic checks can be done on previously given and withdrawn permissions. This makes for a more efficient compliance and enforcement of data protection by regulatory authorities and governments. Blockchain being available globally wipes out any excuse for processing data when someone has not given his or her explicit consent to do so. Now, it is up to us to build a society where everyone respects privacy. Technology can help us create a more transparent world. It is only human to change your mind, so let us make sure that we both have and use the tools to be able to do so. In any case: it is good to consider all this before we carelessly click ‘I accept’.