Globally speaking, the Baltic States can no longer be considered a place where it is possible to find cheap IT workers. It has become a place where professional IT specialists can be found. It’s an important factor that helps service and product companies on the global market, said TestDevLab board member Ervins Grinfelds in his interview to BNN.
The main service provided by TestDevLab is professional software testing. Among the company’s clients are Microsoft, Skype, Orange Group and other large enterprises from USA, Western Europe and Scandinavian countries. TestDevLab offers software testing services, IT technologies development services and its own unique products. One example is NotifyUs smartphone app developed for Latvia’s market free of charge. The point of this app is making the search for real estate properties or car purchase deals easier with a special search engine filter and notification system.
What are some of the most notable recent events in your sector?
First of all, demand for quality IT specialists is on a rise. It is worth mentioning that Latvia and the Baltic region as a whole are no longer considered a region where it is possible to find cheap IT workers. It is now considered a place where it is possible to find skilled professionals. Change of attitude is one of the main benefits of our industry.
In addition, I would like to mention that software testing is TestDevLab’s speciality. More and more companies around the world are taking notice that it is far more effective and cheaper to invest in quality and professional software testing than it is to combat consequences that may surface as a result of a product rushed out of development.
Can you say economic conditions are improving and there is a lot of potential for economic growth in the market?
Yes, the IT industry is developing globally at the moment. It affects Latvia’s market and us. The industry continues to develop and we see clear signs of improvements and market growth.
How would you describe the government’s economy policy aimed at improving the economic situation in the country?
We welcome the government’s support programmes for emerging companies, including the Business Incubator and Latvian Development and Investments Agency’s programmes for export and brand recognition development. We have used some of those support programmes as well. They have helped us develop, especially in the first years of starting business.
I would also like to mention that companies are not always open to using such support initiatives. One major counter-argument to that is the bureaucratic burden. Sometimes services of the Business Incubator and LIAA are too complicated to understand or the bureaucratic burden is too hard and time-consuming for companies to see any economic benefits in using it.
How is the industry affected by Latvia’s policy? What changes to legislation would you like to see? What helps? What makes things more complicated?
I would definitely like to see Latvia follow Estonia’s example – when the state applies 0% on a company’s re-invested revenue. Feedback from companies in Estonia is 100% positive about this system. This tax model helps companies develop and invest revenue in development of products and services. In a long-term perspective, this model secures a larger volume of employment, which means larger revenue for the state budget. It would be logical for Latvia to adopt this system as well.
I would also like to mention that constant change of the tax policy makes Latvia’s business environment very unstable. It makes it difficult for companies to plan their business because it is impossible to plan for any unexpected tax policy changes.
How would you describe the industry’s position in the Baltics? What about competition with Estonia and Lithuania?
I would like to say once again that the Baltic region is no longer seen globally as a place where it is possible to find cheap IT workers – it is a place where professional IT specialists can be found. This factor helps the IT industry, service and product companies on the global market.
From the perspective of TestDevLab, we don’t see any competition when it comes to clients, because we provide a very specific service. The main competition is seen in terms of searching for qualified workers, but this mostly applies to Latvian companies’ internal competition.
What can you can your ‘trump card’? What is your ‘Achilles’ heel’?
Our trump card is our strong team. Qualified and motivated workers whose work helps increase the number of clients, service quality and general company development.
Our Achilles’ heel is linked to our biggest trump. We feel the lack of professionals in IT sales. It is very hard for a company to develop without skilled workers in this field.
Can you say there is a lack of skilled workers in Latvia?
Yes, unfortunately. We feel the lack of professionals very well. Even though there are many universities that train IT specialists, there is a very small percentage of graduates that are actually prepared to work in companies and with real projects.
What do you predict for the next five years? Will the situation in the industry improve, worsen or remain the same?
Looking back at the trends of the past twenty years, the IT industry has definitely come a long way. It has also influenced the development of this industry in Latvia. We don’t see any indications that this situation may change drastically in the near future. With that, we hope the industry will continue developing in the next five years.