Our vision is simple: empower our customer’s competitive edge through delivering a Cloud strategy based on their needs. Our customers come first and we are the experts that they need in all parts of the supply chain
These days, it’s tough to recruit IT consultants. Every IT company in Norway is fighting over the best talents, and they’re all fishing from the same pond. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of IT talents in this country. This creates a competitive and cannibalized IT environment that twists our arms into using outside the box approaches in order to attract the best of the best.
Throughout the years I’ve worked both as an IT consultant and as a manager at several IT companies. I have under my belt several hundred interviews with IT consultants, developers and project managers. I can say with confidence that high salaries are not a decisive factor when these people are considering a new place of employment. High salaries are to be found everywhere in this business. The question boils down to what companies can offer their candidates beyond a jingle in their pockets.
About 6 months ago, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I had received the opportunity to build the best Public Cloud department in Norway at Basefarm. Why should I change jobs? I was comfortable with where I was at, it was both predictable and safe, and I worked with good people who implemented exciting services.
Basefarm came to me and spoke of projects that would affect the everyday life of Joe Schmoe, and the potential we had in creating something new. They are a giant in the Norwegian IT industry and are widely recognized for their operational experience, in Public Cloud services as well. Basefarm wanted someone to build a consultant department from the ground up that could implement services from AWS, Azure, and Google for their existing client database. Together with the already established operational alibi, consultants and architects that challenge the status quo; Basefarm could become a trustworthy Public Cloud actor in the Norwegian market. Suddenly, the fire was sparked inside of me, and suddenly I knew that I wanted the job.
That energy and spark to get started reminded me of what it is that makes projects exciting and challenging. A sense of purpose is added to your everyday life, and you get a spring in your step while on the way to work. When candidates walk through the door for an interview with me, I’m preoccupied with two things:
1.) Understanding how this person’s competence could be used at Basefarm
2.) Selling the value with the assignments that this consultant could potentially be a part of
I hire people, not their resumè’s. I hire those I build a rapport with. I want to understand what makes them jump out of bed in the morning and the way they fold up their sleeves while creating exciting customer projects. What are they good at? What are they not good at? How can I utilize this person’s competence in the best way possible?
In the coming years, Basefarm and I are taking on the battle for the IT talents and we are going to build Public Cloud Basefarm in Norway. We are going to focus on building the internal culture, showing off our consultants’ exciting projects, and have fun while building the department. It’s also important to give the consultants a more meaningful everyday life in what will be Norway’s greatest Public Cloud department.
You have to dare to gamble in order to win, that’s how I’ve lived my life all of these years. The journey we are embarking on in the coming years is an exciting one, and we are going to be successful in our endeavors. And based on that simple fact alone, I know what it’ll take.
The hassle with IT Consultants outside of Oslo
Those of us who run consultancy companies and our respective clients, need a re-education in expectation management. If the client’s expectations for the next few years are that knowledgeable professional resources should work “onsite”, then offshoring will hit the consultancy market even harder.
Often, our clients expect our consultants to be onsite at their offices from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, every day, all week, throughout the contractual period. I know that our consultants will deliver no matter their geographical location. The clients will get the cream-of-the-crop IT talent in the areas they’ve requested. The consultant can work 100% exclusively for you, meet you a couple of days out the week, and work the rest of the days from their home office, whether that’s in Oslo or dare I say, areas outside of our capitol city.
You still think that’s not possible? Well, dear client, I can’t help you there.
We are going to hit reset on our client’s expectations
Going forward, Basefarm will be clear in the availability expectations with each of our clients. Our consultants will still work 1:1 with the client, but they don’t have to necessarily be onsite from 8-4.
We know that the clients are going to push back on this. If we raise the possibility that our consultants don’t need to sit physically onsite, then the client could ask why they shouldn’t just hire consultants that are based abroad.
Out-of-country consultants can of course be just as competent, but can they offer the same interaction with and insight into the Norwegian market? Do they understand the work culture and interaction with the clients?
Clients in the metropolitan Oslo area are the worst offenders of this notion. We don’t have to look further than the west coast, namely Bergen, for a different attitude surrounding this matter. The businesses there have understood that if they want the best consultants, they need to fly them in. But, in Oslo? Here they whistle to a different tune. The expectations here, for many many years, are that in order to get the job done, it needs to be done onsite. But, if we are going to recruit from a large talent pool, then we need to dare to stand up to the norms, the “but, we’ve always done it this way” attitude.
There’s room at the table for geographically diverse IT talent
There is an extremely large amount of talented IT people that work outside of Oslo. Many examples of these people are those who moved back home to prioritize family life instead of chasing after a career. Why should they have lesser-than jobs just because they want to live outside of Oslo? Isn’t it our responsibility, as business leaders, to see that these consultants are taken care of, no matter where they live?
We are willing to bet on and invest in these people, but they have to be trailblazers. They MUST be people that want to take up space, people who have the ability to work outside of an office environment and who know how to take care of their clients at the same time.
We are well underway in building the new Professional Services department at here Basefarm. This mission isn’t an easy one, and we have to tackle all aspects of it if we are to be successful. The clients should get what they’ve been promised and then some. The consultant should be able to work comfortably from their desired location, and the culture at work should be built and maintained independently of this fact.
Every business needs strong trailblazers that leads us forward – no matter where they are based.
Legos are a cherished childhood toy for many. A lot of people’s childhood memories consist of hours upon hours of building creations using the various colorful lego bricks. Some built houses, vehicles or predetermined models. But Akos Buzinkay, had an idea to use them to demonstrate the potential of data driven solutions, in this case with on device machine learning technology.
Akos is a Senior Data Engineer at the newly established Data Driven Solutions Department here at Basefarm in Oslo. He is responsible for coming up with innovative and unique solutions for clients’ needs driven by concrete data and creative innovation.
As he prepares to represent Basefarm at Oslo Business Forum on September 25th, he wanted to come up with something that would engage the conference attendees with the use of storytelling. And what better way to do so then by adding a dash of nostalgia with legos and showing off what data driven solutions are capable of?
“You have to show them something that is cool and something that resonates with what they’re looking for. Show off what you know. Maybe, they aren’t especially knowledgeable in machine learning, but this helps engages them in a more creative way.”
There’s a clear passion in the way Akos approaches problem solving, as he strives to combine creativity and technology. Inspired by the iconic Star Wars saga, he had the idea to use the Star Wars legos he had at home to demonstrate the power of image recognition technology.
The goal: to recognize and “catch” a disguised Luke Skywalker and his handy sidekick, R2D2, as they attempt to gain access to the Death Star. This process started with taking over 800 pictures of the Lego figures where as 200 of those pictures were labeled and flagged as correct. This helps train the machine learning model that will attempt to accurately learn how to recognize and thereby “catch” Luke Skywalker and R2D2.
With the use of the open source machine-learning library, Tensor Flow, the Google developed TPU chip and a high-powered web camera, he has been able to foil Luke Skywalker’s plans at the speed of 140 fps and unfortunately for the rebellion, the empire lives strong to see another day.
The implications this sort of image recognition technology has, are poised to make an impact on modern society. According to the Google AI blog, this technology can be used to explore the possibilities of translating sign language, helping bridge the gap between the hearing and hard-of-hearing communities.
But data driven solutions are much more than just machine learning artificial intelligence, and image recognition technology. Every business has challenges that demands a unique approach in problem solving, there is no one fixed solution. By use of data science and focusing on a business’s core problem, Akos and his colleague Grunde, are able to explore opportunities and possibilities for Basefarm’s customers.
One example is research and a demo that was created for Avinor, the operator of Norway’s largest civilian airport. After having a conversation with them, Akos developed conceptualized and explored their needs to help to ensure a secure perimeter around the airport.
This demo demonstrated the possibility of keeping the chained fence as secure as possible by use of drones, lasers and image recognition technology. Armed with that technology, Avinor has the potential to one day locate and identify deterioration of chain links and holes in the fences, thus saving resources on manual inspections.
“I can’t tell you how I’m going to do the next project because every project is unique. With today’s market, it’s important to tell customers that we’re not here to sell you a box or a license, but we’re here to sell you an opportunity to work with us, to let us solve your unique problems using data science. This is what we can do, are you interested?”
To see Akos’ machine learning-lego creation for yourself, be sure and drop by our stand at the Oslo Business Forum on September 25th at stand number 15.
Akhila, one of our newest members of our Public Cloud team, came to Norway after working for a company in India that had around 446,000 employees. She likened the difference between such a large company to smaller ones as moving from a large house to a small apartment.
“You feel like you belong more in a smaller company. There’s room to contribute and focus on what you’re doing instead of being a part of a larger chain. It was easy to become lost in the crowd”.
When she first came to Norway, it was to transfer from being an offsite consultant for a client to becoming an onsite employee. Here she was a part of building what is arguably Norway’s largest and most well-known money transfer app. She helped design, build and implement their operations with what was at the time, very new technology: cloud. This application has gone on to change the very way we transfer money in Norway and has made carrying cash something that belongs to the past. She saw upfront on how cloud could change society as we know it.
“When cloud was new, you had to unlearn everything that you thought you knew from before. Cloud was a new way of thinking and doing. It was a cutting edge and booming technology that I fast became interested in.”
After a few years working for this application, she felt the need for new technical challenges. Basefarm became a natural choice to further her career and try new things, as it was apparent that Basefarm worked with interesting projects.
“I wanted a technological challenge that was better or equal to the company I worked for before. My main drive was finding a job that presented these technical challenges. Basefarm is constantly expanding in its use of technology with the use of tailored solutions for its clients. I read about what was possible at Basefarm, career-wise, and was impressed.”
Here at Basefarm she’s now working with Thomas onsite at a large international bank in Norway. They’re in the process of helping them migrate their products from physical data storage to cloud-based solutions, giving them and their clients a more seamless experience.
“It’s demanding, in a good way. There are multiple projects that come in and we have to consider the enterprise as a whole when thinking up solutions. Each of these projects has its own demands and each has its own designs. There is no one solution and I enjoy making it up as I go. You have the basic infrastructure to work from but you’re also designing the rest of it. It’s a very interesting process.”
Our new community Update ( ) was created for tech enthusiasts
… and it’s going to be a meeting place for tech-talent across different companies. This past year, I’ve been working intensely to understand what it is that draws passion and engagement from people. This is a priority because we are building Norway’s largest Public Cloud department. To do that, you need talented people - and talented people need more than just a fat paycheck. After talking with hundreds of consultants, both in-house and in the market, it became apparent for me that a lot of consultants were missing a space to gather, free of commercial interests, with a focus on competence development and an exchange of experiences in “the new kid on the block”: Public Cloud. Talented and curious people have a need for a space where they can talk about subject matters, get to know each other’s projects, meet new people, vent and become inspired. We’ve become so preoccupied with cushioning our precious IT talent, that at times they become more isolated than included. As a result of this, the idea for Update ( ) was born.
So, what is Update ( )?
In our own experience here at Basefarm, we see that changes needed to be made in the way we deliver technology. What we’ve been delivering all these years has always been good, but it’s not what the customers need for the future. And this includes more companies than just Basefarm. In order to implement this new way of working, we need people who are curious, passionate, and fearless when it comes to new technology and delivery models. We need to nourish the people who are curious about new technology by giving them an arena to learn, and for those who have already adopted new technology, an arena to connect and discuss with like-minded people. Update ( ) is going to be a community for IT consultants who work with similar technology, and who have common attitudes, interests, and goals. We want to invite people across organizations to social happenings where the goal is to build an informal community. We’re going to discuss deliveries, technology, invite lecturers and actors who work with container technology and Kubernetes.
There’s no A or B team, everything is about customer projects. Update ( ) is beyond Basefarm, and it harmonizes with our customers’ expectations about project delivery. This means that we need to cultivate new talent. If you’re a consultant who feels more comfortable with the older technology- then great! But, if you feel a budding interest in Public Cloud technology and are curious about what makes it different from the rest - then welcome to Update ( ). We are building Update ( ) simply because in order to meet customer demands we need to work together, stand united, and be open towards new knowledge. New technology is an opportunity to develop a new way of working. It’s no longer about heavy RFP processes, it’s about the phrase, “Fail fast, fail often." How do we make sure that Olav in Trondheim, Geoff in Sweden and Arnvid in Norway all get the same information about a project? This is an example of what we’ll be discussing at Update ( ) gatherings. We want to include everyone who is hungry to learn, whether you’re a junior, senior, architect, student or customer. The only criteria to take part in Update ( ), is that you have a desire to get to know and discuss Public Cloud technology. Do you want to join? Shoot me a message on LinkedIn and you’ll receive a personal invitation to our next Update ( ) gathering! Anders Røkke, Vice President Professional Services.
Creating a workplace that allows people to experiment for 10 hours, and only bill 2.
Lately, supply and demand for IT competence is out of balance. As an employer, we need to make our tech job opportunities attractive and welcoming to everyone who has a passion for learning. We need to invest in our people, understand their needs and train them in the competence that we ourselves will need as growth occurs.
I’m quick in offering up my trust to new employees who I recruit. This means that if we hit it off in the interview rounds, then we set the tone for them to perform and develop their competence in a way that best fits them. IT consultants are accustomed to billing their hours to clients, and it’s expected that they will work onsite. It’s standard for learning and development to take place in the consultant’s own free time, time that does not interfere with working hours. I don’t believe this is a sustainable workflow.
If we are going to fill the gap between supply and demand, then we need to trust that those we recruit are the right people for the job. We need to give our people time to become stronger in their subject field and facilitate learning and development on the employer’s bill.
At Basefarm, we work hard to set a framework that establishes trust and security. For example, if consultants want 10 hours of exploration which only leaves two hours for billing, that’s fine. If Norway is going to have enough IT talent for today’s demand and that of the future, then we as employers need to begin doing things differently to facilitate growth and skill development. This includes betting on the young and inexperienced and giving them freedom for trial and error.
Money is irrelevant!
Not long ago, I received a text from a skilled candidate. The person in question wrote the following:
“Anders, I would like to meet with you, but could you be more specific about the role, the type of tasks that I would be doing and who I would work closest with? As the situation stands, I don’t have a lot of time to go into a rigorous recruitment process without knowing the type of role that’s on the table.”
When every single recruiter and talent acquisition specialist finds themself fishing from the same pond, money becomes irrelevant. It changes the game during the interview process. In my experience, a lot of people are open to talking about changing employers, but first they want to talk about what kind of people they would be working with. It's a candidate’s market and they expect clear answers from the questions they’re asking. They can’t be bothered to talk about money alone; They want to talk about their potential teammates, projects, and for the interviewer to paint a picture of what their life would look like at your organization.
Recruitment is all about seeing the person in front of you and understanding what they need. Last but not least, the right candidate will be interested in being apart of our journey in the Public Cloud department at Basefarm. In our journey, we recruit the person, and not their diploma or resumè.