Tom Haworth, B13 Technology: “every company should get cyber essentials certification”
This can get tricky when starting a new business, especially for SMEs, as their budget can be quite limited.
Enterprise software can give a good head start here. From simplifying tasks to optimizing workflows, there is no doubt that it can help elevate your business in many different ways.
Recently, the Cybernews team decided to present to you what we believe to be the most important software for SMEs. So we reached out to Tom Haworth, managing director of B13 Technology, a company that helps small businesses take advantage of digital possibilities by offering technical consulting, software and mobile development services.
What was your course ? How did the idea for B13 Technology come about?
Technological progress is threatened due to a shortage of software development skills in the West. I first noticed this 8 years ago when I was working as a software developer with a high level security clearance. The pool of developers with the appropriate permission level was small and it took a long time to get permissions to add additional resources.
This was the first time I noticed the effects of a digital skills deficit. There was a shortage of resources available to recruit, which led to rapid salary inflation and meant that retention was low as developers were constantly called upon for other work. I realized that this problem (which was then isolated from the secure development pool) would soon spread throughout the industry as the demand for the technology around the world increased.
The digital skills gap has now fully manifested and the pandemic has now brought us to a tipping point with developer salary inflation of 50% in the past 12 months, average tenure of 18 months and universal movement towards 100% telework. developers.
Can you show us what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?
B13 Technology makes software accessible to SMEs by bridging the digital skills gap. We are a UK based consultancy with a team of UK based staff who are responsible for understanding, managing and delivering custom software solutions to our clients on time, within budget and with a high degree of quality. We have solved development capacity issues with our wholly-owned development center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
There is no shortage of digital skills and we have access to a large pool of highly skilled and dedicated developers. Offshore software development is hard! We’ve spent years perfecting our processes and communication to eliminate risk, allowing us to offer high-value, custom software solutions delivered on time at a fixed price.
Why do you think businesses are often hesitant to try new and innovative solutions that would improve their business operations?
Companies often don’t know what is possible with technology. Every business these days is a software company, but business owners rarely have a software background.
People know they need to do something in the digital space and often have a good idea of what they want to achieve, but delivering that solution can seem daunting and they don’t know where to start.
B13 technology helps clarify the journey through an advisory and educational process and by breaking it down into smaller iterations. Our customers learn the art of the possible and are able to avoid common pitfalls by leveraging B13 Technology’s vast experience.
How have recent world events affected your area of work?
The global pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitization. Customers and staff have become accustomed to highly flexible and adaptive digital solutions and they know what good looks like. Simplification and convenience are a necessity if a business wants to attract and retain.
The rapid increase in demand for digital solutions has been accompanied by an increase in demand for software developers, which has left SMEs struggling to keep up with the purchasing power of competing companies. Businesses know they need technology to compete, but struggle to find the experience to deliver it.
What do you think are the most common issues businesses face on their digital transformation journey?
A huge problem we see is that companies don’t know who to trust with their digital transformation projects. We often take over broken projects when a digital agency or offshore consultancy has taken on projects that fall outside their scope. Selecting the right tools is essential to complete any project, and the most appropriate technology stack differs significantly based on business goals.
Often, digital agencies will incorporate their preferred technology choices into a project, even if they are grossly inappropriate, leaving gaps in scalability, maintainability, performance, and security.
B13 Technology has taken over and rescued several projects over the years that could have been much easier if the right technology choices had been made from the start. Our development team in Ho Chi Minh City has experience in a wide range of software development languages, which means we are able to choose the best tools for the job.
What are some of the best practices that organizations should follow when developing software?
The most important part of any software development project is the initial specification and design phase. B13 Technology can and has invested resources into a project during the development phase to deliver it to very tight deadlines, but we will never rush the initial phases.
A project will live or die based on the quality of functional specifications, technical specifications, user interface designs, user experience analysis, and acceptance criteria. Do it right and the rest becomes much easier.
As the world becomes more and more connected, what security tools do you think everyone should have in place to protect themselves?
Every business should get a cyber essentials certification. It’ll walk you through digital security best practices and doesn’t cost much at all. It’s a bit outdated, but if you get certified, it will put you in a good position.
I would also recommend creating regular secure backups of all data on separate servers. This would render any ransomware attack ineffective.
What advancements and innovations in software development do you hope to see in the near future?
The biggest challenge in software development today is access to talent. This needs to be approached in several ways:
More talent needs to be nurtured and developed through the education system in the UK;
We must take advantage of the huge international pools of talent and capacity while mastering communication and the quality of results;
We need to make it cheaper and easier to build software features that have been shipped many times before.
The most exciting advancement I see in the field right now is the rapidly improving capabilities of low-code platforms. It is now possible to deliver a huge and growing volume of functionality with much less effort than ever before. This will go a long way in addressing the third solution and will be a great option for SMBs that would otherwise struggle to attract and afford software development talent.
What future for B13 technology?
B13 Technology has put considerable effort into refining processes and teams to be able to deliver high quality fixed price projects, on time, on budget and on scope. This capability has been painstakingly developed through continuous learning and improvement.
We have big ambitions, and the goal has always been to grow our delivery capability so it can be scaled easily by repeating the same proven process for any project we take on. We have well-defined roles performing well-defined tasks that are proven to consistently deliver project success. Customer satisfaction is at an all time high with customer retention through the roof.
Our delivery engine is now proven and ready, so we are looking to embark on our scaling journey. We brought in senior sales and marketing managers to develop these functions within the company for the first time. We have ambitious growth plans and are excited to help make software accessible to SMBs at a much higher volume.