On June 3, a joint concert of the IBA’s choir Concordia Chor and the Swedish choir Boo Cantabile was conducted at the Minsk Philharmonic Society. The concert was organized within the framework of the 3rd international festival of amateur choirs Guki Leta (Sounds of Summer), and with support from the Embassy of Sweden in Belarus and the Belarusian Union of Musical Workers.
The concert consisted of two parts. In the first part, the Swedish choir performed under the management of Helena Engardt and in the second, the IBA’s choir conducted by Galina Kazimirovskaya.
See video of Boo Cantabile
See video of Concordia Chor, solo by Grigory Zasmuzhets
See video of Concordia Chor
See video of Concordia Chor singing with Boo Cantabile
See more pictures at IBA Group’s Facebook page
It is a mere two months to the start of the London Olympic games, an event that has cost at least £9bn to stage, with a large part of that budget taken up in infrastructure costs, including technology.
But one of the most interesting technological aspects of this event is that it will be the first ever Olympics where social media is a part of the event and will help to form the opinion of a global generation.
It is true that tools like Facebook and Twitter were around for Beijing 2008, but they had not reached the ubiquity of today and tools like the iPhone were still in their infancy. Right now you can use Twitter to follow the chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee. You can follow the athletes as they train for the games and even ask how it is going. You can ask the pundits for their predictions and get involved in planning how you are going to watch the games – whether it is the big screen in Hyde Park or down the pub.
Can you just imagine how many smart phone photographs are going to be uploaded on the 3G networks around the London Olympic stadium in the seconds and minutes following the 100m sprint final? I guess there will be at least a million photos of that single event uploaded – how many more photos and video from London can we expect during the games itself?
London is going to be special for this reason. It is going to be the first truly interactive games where the people will broadcast the event – not just a presenter in a TV studio talking to passive viewers. This will be the biggest backchannel of conversation, speculation, and debate ever witnessed – and it’s all going to be driven by London, showcasing our capital city to the world.
Although we often think of the technology around the Olympics in terms of contracts to big companies to build communications infrastructure, at this event it is going to be all about the people watching the games, rather than those on the track.
by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on May 3, 2012
On May 2, IBA Group and the Modern Art Museum of Belarus opened an exhibition entitled Hanns Baum: 18 Years in Belarus. Collages. Assemblages. The exhibition features selected works by the German artist Hanns Baum who spent 18 years in Belarus working as IBM coordinator at IBA Minsk, the largest development center of IBA Group.
See a series of video clips (in Russian and German) of the opening event and the press conference.
Valentin Kazan, IBA Vice president, introduces Hanns to journalists at the press conference.
Natalia Sharangovich, museum director, says that Hanns’ works are a reflection of Belarusian reality and introduces Sergei Levteev, IBA president, who recalls the changes that have happened at IBA since Hanns first came to Belarus.
Hanns Baum describes his works and creative process.
Zinaida Britch, a veteran of IBA, speaks about the influence that Hanns’ creative work had on IBA employees.
Hanns speaks about Minsk when working on assemblages
Hanns gives a master class
Hanns gives portraits to IBA co-workers
See more pictures of the event and Hanns’ works at IBA Gruop’s page on Facebook
Back when the global economic crisis started, many industry commentators declared that this would be a boost for the international IT outsourcing market. With companies in Europe and the US struggling to ride out the downturn, there would be strong growth in offshore outsourcing.
But things never really played out like that. Outsourcing usually needs a big upfront investment in training, knowledge transfer, and additional management to make the transition run smoothly. Many companies just decided to avoid that short-term investment even if it was clear that there would be benefits in the long-term.
We are not out of the woods yet, but there is more stability. The US is growing slowly now and many countries in Europe are seeing promising growth – though the uncertainty of the Euro is still causing many to fear for the immediate future of the Mediterranean economy.
Research and consulting company, Everest Group, in a recently published research suggested that outsourcing in Europe was worth €180-200bn in 2010. Their latest research for 2011 is not published yet, but estimates suggest that this figure will have increased to about €220bn. This is about a 10 per cent increase in demand even in quite an uncertain economic climate.
Industry observers suggest that much of this new demand is because companies in France and Germany are starting to explore a more global delivery model. In the past they were far more resistant to offshoring, but today it has become a strategic necessity, regardless of the global economic situation it is just how technology is delivered today.
All this is good news for those of us who have been delivering remotely all along, right through the economic crisis. Whether companies are exploring offshore outsourcing because they need to reduce their cost, or they just need to find more expertise and faster, we know exactly how to help.
The IBM Tivoli Management Framework (known as the TMF) is a systems management platform from IBM. It was originally a separate company and product, but IBM purchased Tivoli in the nineties and the product has been developed extensively since then within IBM’s software division.
The TMF is designed using a CORBA-based architecture and its real strength is that it can be used to manage a large number of remote devices in a very robust way.
Tivoli is an entire framework of tools that can be linked, rather than just a single software product, so it is very powerful and can be used in many ways. There are endless different ways in which the tools can be integrated to deliver a solution.
At IBA, we recently delivered a solution to a client that involved us connecting these tools together to create a fully integrated system:
• Tivoli Network Manager; the tool to help visualize and manage a complete network.
• Tivoli Netcool/OMNIbus; the tool that provides a complete operations management infrastructure, including the ability to identify and correct critical network issues.
• Tivoli Netcool Impact; an intelligence tool that adds context to events, helping you to manage events on the network and using intelligence to determine whether an event is critical or not.
Even this short example alone gives you an idea of the power of Tivoli. It is not just about visualizing your network with a series of graphical representations, but about adding a layer of intelligence into the network itself – almost like a self-healing network so your team only needs to manage the critical issues.
To those not involved in managing networks all this might seem quite dull, but every company needs their network to be up and running and as reliable as possible, business doesn’t happen without it, so the team keeping the network running are really ‘keeping the lights on’ at your business. Do they have the right tools for the job?
by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on March 6, 2012
On March 1, IT Europa announced the winners of the European Software Excellence Awards 2012 in Berlin, Germany. IBA was selected the winner in the category Database Solution.
IBA Group entered the contest for the fourth time and won for the second year in a row. In 2011, the award was in the Relationship Management category.
We were pleased to be in the same company with world IT leaders. The recepients of awards in other categories were Oracle, Fujitsu, and other reputable companies.
Mobile devices are exploding in popularity – tablets and smartphones are now outselling the regular PC. But the consumer, not the enterprise, has led this revolution in how we consume computing systems.
The growth in popularity of the app store concept – initially dominated by Apple, but now with Android also being important – has changed our expectation of what it means to use a computer. The system must be easy to use, to configure, and to maintain. Remember when installing applications was something that had to be planned? Now you can just do it to try something out and then delete it if it is not useful.
The phones and devices running these tools feature a number of sensors and gyroscopes – they know exactly which way up they are and where in the world they are being used. This has opened the world of computing far beyond what anyone could have imagined – even just five years ago. Imagine trying to describe the Google skymap application to someone five years ago – they would never have believed that a mobile phone could be capable of complexities like augmented reality – that kind of technology was only for the military.
But how is all this changing life inside the company? There are two major problems for the CIO or technology leader:
• People have better technology in their pocket than the PCs supplied by the company. Why would they want to use an old desktop PC running Windows when their phone or tablet has better applications and is easier to use?
• If people have better technology of their own, and would prefer to use it in the workplace, then how can all these mobile tablets, phones, and applications be managed within the regular enterprise network?
Not only is there a problem of work culture developing in many companies, but also there is a security risk. Staff insisting on using their own technology need the support of a CIO who puts realistic governance plans in place to secure the company network, without preventing them from using the tools they prefer.
The company that gets this right will not only have happier staff, but also more productive and efficient – and why not give the staff a cash bonus for using their own technology too?
When a company like Intel reorganises itself around mobile technologies, it is clear that something has changed (See Intel Reorganizes Mobile Business to Speed and Improve Development).
And this is no surprise. Take a look around at how IT is being consumed today and it is clear that there has been a mobile revolution. According to the latest Gartner forecast, worldwide tablet sales will reach 63.6 million units in 2011– a 261.4% increase from its 17.6 million sales in 2010. Tablet sales are expected to reach 326.3 million units by the end of 2015.
So the world is organising access to computing power through tablets and smart phones much more than ever before – not through desktop PCs or even laptops.
The smartphone and tablet revolution may have started with consumers, but it is moving into the corporation. Many businesses are actively exploring how to increase productivity through the use of tablets – and they are about to become more popular than the regular PC.
Gartner estimates that the combined sales of smartphones and tablets will be 44% greater than PC sales this year, and by the end of 2014, the installed base of computing devices running mobile operating systems will surpass the total installed base of all PC systems.
That’s just two years away – more mobile devices than traditional PCs installed around the world. With such a change in hardware there is also a need for new software too and experts who really understand how to write code for tablets.
Porting old code can work, but doesn’t exploit the power of the tablet. The real winners will be the companies that realise not only what the hardware can do, but how to write new forms of code that take advantage of this new mobile business paradigm.
by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on November 22, 2011
In my last blog here, I outlined how a need to spread risk has led to a marked increase in companies exploring the CEE region for their IT and software development needs. But the growth in outsourced services available from the CEE region is not restricted to IT alone.
The region has highly educated people working within the service sector meaning that there are many BPO opportunities in the region. Many organisations – such as international giants like DHL – have setup very large operations serving the whole of Europe from a CEE base in a variety of different business processes.
But now there are even international lawyers exploring the region for Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO). This story in The Lawyer magazine about US law firm White & Case exploring the relative merits of Poland, Hungary, or the Czech Republic is just such an example.
White & Case already have resource in the Philippines, but are worried about their entire back office being located offshore in a single location – just like many of the IT firms that have explored a risk diversification strategy.
Every executive responsible for outsourcing needs to consider both natural disasters and political risk when locating a function offshore. Though many companies explore outsourcing as a means of reducing cost, if the offshore function fails entirely then it won’t be cost savings that are under discussion, it may be how to save your company.
It is clear that the IT sector in CEE has expanded allowing entrepreneurs to start offering many IT-enabled BPO services. All these new services help the local CEE economy to develop as well as offering a great place for companies to locate new services and to reduce their own risk.
by Irina for IBA Group
Posted on October 25, 2011
When the global financial crisis struck the world in 2008, many predicted that there would be a boom in offshore outsourcing. It didn’t really happen.
Why? Because at that time most companies slashed all project budgets and retrenched employees. It was a time when nobody was certain of what the future would bring and it costs money to run outsourcing projects – even if they can create longer-term savings. Nobody wanted to invest all that money in setting up in a remote location hoping for gains in the future.
We are once again in an uncertain time, but this time there is a far more mature option for sourcing in the central and eastern European (CEE) region. The setup costs for running a project in the CEE region are far lower than for a full-blown offshoring programme where work needs to be transferred to India or China.
So there is a much more credible alternative available if companies in western Europe are seeking to stabilise costs in the short-term and build a pan-European delivery model for the long-term.
The CEE region has never tried to compete head on with countries like India in terms of absolute labour cost, the advantage has always been the cultural compatibility with Europe, the expertise, and the ability to be close to the customer – it’s possible to make a day trip to a development team from any other place in Europe.
And now, with the economy looking uncertain once again in both the US and Europe it seems that the nearshoring option is looking far more attractive than the full offshore model, because much less initial investment is needed to make it happen.
We have been talking about the advantages of CEE for a long time on this blog, but it is interesting to see that the issues in the wider European economy are making it even more attractive to work with the region. Have you taken another look at how nearshoring compares recently?