Words from the Director – June 2020

At the end of sprint 18 of Software Center it is hard to believe that we have already been going for 9 years. Every sprint so far has proven to be different and this sprint was no exception. The Corona/COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally affected the work in Software Center and at the member companies and universities. Some of our member companies shut down partially or completely, almost everyone is working from home and we all have spent countless hours in video meetings over the last months.

Still, despite the challenges, I am impressed with the results that we managed to create during the sprint. Output in terms of publications was stable or even improved. We managed to keep most of the ongoing collaborations with the companies going. We even got a new partner in, DEIF, and managed to kick off new initiatives with companies. The interest in Software Center and our unique collaboration model continues to be strong and we had more visitors during the reporting workshop earlier this month than ever before. I want to thank everyone for staying so engaged and committed even during these difficult times.

For all the tragic consequences for people and the economy, there is a silver lining around all this: the pace of digitalization has increased dramatically. We are all working and collaborating in ways that were unfathomable even six months ago. We are rapidly learning how to solve problems digitally that we earlier couldn’t have dreamed of solving this way. The old saying “necessity is the mother of invention” once again proves to be true. As the mission of Software Center is to significantly accelerate the pace of digitalization in the European software intensive systems industry, we are in many ways experiencing a significant wind in our backs.

The main impact, however, has been in the internal collaboration and ways of working in companies. As many companies descended into survival mode, the drive to change products, solutions and offerings to reflect digitalization was less pronounced. The point I am trying to make here is to never waste a good crisis. Even as several of the member organizations are going through layoffs (even Chalmers!), this doesn’t abdicate us from the responsibility to reinvent our business models, prepare our products for continuous value delivery to customers, develop novel services surrounding our offerings and innovate with artificial intelligence to find better ways to serve our customers and to become more cost-efficient.

It is clear that after the summer, we will be arriving at a new normal. Things will not go back to how they were, but rather we’ll find a new equilibrium of travel and in-person meetings and a new, digital ways of collaborating. We can’t be locked down indefinitely, after all. As we are moving into summer vacation, I would like to wish you a wonderful break after what, for many of us, was the weirdest spring we’ve ever had. I am excited to work with all of you in sprint 19 and to together create the future we want to see. After all, the future is where we spend the rest of our lives!

Jan Bosch
Director of Software Center