Attila Bárdos: All In for CEE Outsourcing
Outsourcing conquers the digital business model. While large corporations stress out cost savings by ramping up their operations in the CEE region, domestic providers outscore each other on the battlefield of performance. As a remarkable example, we have invited Attila Bárdos to share his leadership experiences and his insights on the outsourcing industry today.
Attila Bárdos is a prominent entrepreneur and independent business owner at Delta Velorum, a mobile solutions provider for Apple platforms. With a consistent track record of leading innovative companies and coordinating software outsourcing projects, he has gained inspiring leadership experience as Director of Software Development, Construction Solutions at Graphisoft, a leading architectural CAD software company and as General Manager at Vico Software, the world’s first 5D BIM (Building Information Modelling) software and service provider.
After 11 years in architecture, building and construction industry, you made a 180 degree turn: investing in mobile applications development. Why?
A.B.: Well, I regard the accumulated leadership experience as totally independent from the industry branches I have worked in. I have built up and managed software development projects or and orchestrated global transactions. My technical and operational expertise does not depend on the type of project I managed. My business process know-how and my experience in business development is what qualify me to proceed to entrepreneurship.
What is the rationale for betting exclusively on Apple’s mobile operating system?
A.B.: In these years, Apple is a trend-setter and a true gadget fashion shaper. This is why their products are right now at a high demand, especially among young fashion-followers. Accordingly, the need for applications on Apple’s mobile operating system surged. Delta Velorum would like to take advantage of this current market set-up in the coming two-three years and to get the best results with least investment. Surely, this will change on the long run, given the fact that Google’s Android has already outperformed Apple’s iOS in sales. But for now, we ought to follow the customer’s demand.
When coordinating software development projects in the CEE , what were your criteria to select destination countries / companies for outsourcing projects?
A.B.: Indeed, I have operated outsourcing in Romania, Ukraine, Finland and India. I have chosen Romania for its proximity, highly qualified labour pool and dynamic character. Since Graphisoft is a Hungary-based company, nearby locations seemed optimal for personal meetings and avoid long travel times. Cluj-Napoca academic hot-spot offered the potential to exponentially increase the size of the development team, contrary to Hungary. Romania was better value, and efficiency ratio is still the key factor to be considered along with price. This collaboration finally made good money for the company. Financial market swings forced us to turn to Ukraine. As the revenue of Vico Software came 90% from the USA in dollars, we turned to Ukraine, accounting in dollars, to ensure profit continuity amid fluctuating markets. Finally, outsourcing in Finland was a strategic consequence of a Finnish company acquisition made by Graphisoft.
How would you appreciate the collaboration you have with Codespring?
A.B.: I have always been very satisfied with the services Codespring provided in the last five years since we started working together. Above all, I prized their talent and commitment and their readiness to always deliver best quality intellectual work. But for the unfavourable EUR – USD exchange rate mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t have turned to Ukraine.
What about the “outsourcing promise” in the CEE region during the next decade?
A.B.: …I would be stretching myself on a Caribbean Island, sipping exotic cocktails and making a fortune on the stock market, if I was able to predict the future or the market moves…. However, it is not the case. Crucial for the future of outsourcing in the CEE region is that education maintains its high-level competitiveness – in Hungary it followed a descending trend line – and wages be kept under control. If any of these premises are not met, added value will be compromised. The financial aspect is a real challenge, given the fact that emerging markets experience growing living standards, which result in wage increase.
When doing software outsourcing to India, how did you cope with cultural differences?
A.B.: Although the project type lets its mark on the process, I confess, my outsourcing experience in India was a pretty tragic one … The different cultural setting is a constant gap. Discrepancy in absorbtion and execution speed is striking: one working day in Romania or Ukraine equlas up to ten days in India. Very cheap, indeed, but low efficiency rate. Additionally, you need agility to launch a product on the market, so there is no extended time to wait until it gets done. Also strong local accent inhibits seamless communication. It took me a while to become accustomed to it. Overmore, hierarchical structures are so important, that everybody fights for a manager title. Consequently, fluctuation rates are above 50%. In spite all that, they can execute the project exactly as foreseen in the specification. However, creativity and self-determination were a must for our projects, so I was a lot happier with software outsourcing service providers from the CEE region. Here, the engineers are motivated and loyal to the company they work for.
You also were in charge of projects for Asian and American markets. What is your feeling about the business climate from Japan and the USA?
A.B.: Clearly, there are quite a few differences! Japanese businessmen are very thoroughgoing, considering every question in detail, taking their time. Long conversations preceed any decision. They work long hours, deliver outstanding services, but in a very deliberate manner. Whereas decisions in the USA follow an agile rhythm, they are more committed to move quickly. The business climate of the USA is closer to our mentality. Business people from the USA show increased susceptibility towards marketing and management skills, a trait lacked by their counterparts from the CEE region, out of historical reasons. Something we should learn from them.
In your opinion, what is the importance of “peopleware” in the IT&C industry?
A.B.: As you may know, there is a huge difference between hardware production and software development. If the project is about assembling a DVD player, a person with the appropriate level of intelligence can be trained in a short time, and therefore, can be replaced in a short time. But for a software engineer, this immediate replacement is impossible. You not only need another person to perform the job, but a human mind, agile, smart and motivated enough to obtain the desired results. To attain efficiency, the engineer chosen for the project has to be creative, technically capable and a good team member. I am strongly convinced that getting maximum results out of efficient human intellectual performance is possible only through being peopleware.
Can you recall why did you choose to become a software engineer back in the late ‘80s?
A.B.: Honestly, it wasn’t a consciously made choice, as I haven’t foreseen that in 20-30 years software development would be an industry at high demand, controlling business and everyday life. While at high-school, when the first PCs were just launched, I was granted easy access to a computer, and simply played on it. Later on, I was curious how I could use it for useful purposes and how I could write programmes. Ever it became a passion for me. This is exactly why I fancy working only with software engineers who are intellectually excited about what they do.
Wht about the AR and 3D immersion in our day to day life?
A.B.: AR (Augmented Reality) is inevitably happening, and this is a good thing. I am amazed by the way and speed state-of-art technology changes the way we live, communicate and act. For example, I watched a demo of an iPhone application: the iPhone camera was focused on an English inscription; the application has identified the context and meaning real time and projected its Spanish translation immediately. So the point I am making here is that technology changes professions in our century: we might no longer need interpreting services or headlined translated into multiple languages in museums, for instance. We will only need to possess technology in our pockets and access to information is a click away. I am positively excited about this technology lever.