During my visit to Bulgaria, I had the chance to visit Microsoft Innovation Center in Sofia. The center is located centrally in Sofia Tech Park not far from the airport.
The center was created in partnership with Interconsult Bulgaria, the industry partner tasked with managing the center, that has also been a partner of Gunnebo and myself for more than 18 years. The company was founded in 1996 with the main business focus on custom software development with Microsoft’s technology stack. Today, more than 90% of the ICB’s turnover is generated from companies in the Nordics, Western Europe, and North America. Its core competencies are workflow automation, the Internet of Things, as well as 3D modeling and simulation.
The Microsoft Innovation Center in Sofia is a part of a network of 100+ innovation centers worldwide. It is a hub of resources and a source of support for startups, entrepreneurs, and students in Bulgaria’s booming startup ecosystem. Through partnerships with industrial partners, entrepreneurial organizations, and venture funds, the center aims to help early-stage startups take their innovations to market faster. The startup ecosystem in Bulgaria emerged early in this decade when the European Investment Fund (EIF) provided €21 million for local startups through two local investment funds called Eleven and Launchub. Between 2012 and 2015, the two funds acquired minority stakes in 175 startups with the average investment per startup estimated at €120,000, ranging between €25,000 and €200,000 per company. Since then, Bulgarian startup ecosystem has seen big exits, such as Telerik: a company that provides tools for developers, being acquired by US-based Progress Software for $262.5M.
During the visit, we took the opportunity to work on Gunnebo Business Solution in these great facilities. Gunnebo Business Solution is a software platform that brings real-time information from store-wide systems to the shop floor and adds intelligence to that process, so as to give retail managers actionable data to help them improve overall store security and profitability.
Gunnebo Business Solution is a new Gunnebo IoT platform, developing for the last year or so. Getting the functionality to the market is indubitably of the essence, this is why we work in an agile way, closely with our customers, and know how fast business processes change.
The customers want to observe working features instantly! The agile way of work is all about that. The iterative planning gives both the development team and client an opportunity to work focused and, at the end of the iteration, to have complete and functioning features. We often use the term Sprint to mark these iterations, which can be 2, 3 or 4 weeks. In this period of time, we deliver a piece of the overall product, which can be tested and used right away. In the traditional waterfall models of work, the developers and the clients agree on the scope, and the whole product is delivered at the end. What happens if the client needs changes? With agile, we work closely with the clients and give them the opportunity to change the requirements on the go.
When our Sprint is over, the team presents the finished features to the Product owner and stakeholders for review. In these meetings, the team often proposes innovations and improvements for the subsequent features.
After that, we make retrospection of the work done during the sprint and mark all impediments we came across, and decide how to avoid them in future sprints. The communication is a key factor in the agile way of work, that’s why we need to address all issues we dealt with!
In the long run, it is the customer’s experience and satisfaction that matters, and our cooperation and methodology is just one way of getting there.