In circumstances where the IT sector is almost everywhere divided into outsourcing and companies that develop their own products, and the demand for staff is equal on both sides, more and more developers give their favor to companies that develop solutions with a purpose. This actually means that they aspire to work in a company whose solutions have applications that go beyond basic business goals but have a mission that their solutions contribute to the general welfare of humanity.
In this text, we decided to dig deeper into this topic, to understand how it actually affects developers.
For some industries, such solutions are closer to the activity itself, which is also the case with the health-tech sphere and the software solutions that accompany it.
That is why our interlocutors on this topic are Voja Lalić, the founder and director of the Vicert company, and Nebojša Lazić, one of his closest collaborators. This company has been operating in the American market for over two decades with expertise in the healthcare ecosystem and has its office in Belgrade. It is particularly interesting that within the company they make a distinction between coders and software engineers, behind which is the purpose of the solutions they are working on.
The inevitability of health-tech
Mark Andrizen, a well-known American investor, said back in 2011: "Software is eating the world". I would add "...and healthcare is next on the menu" - Voja tells us about the growing influence of health-tech.
Speaking about this industry, our interlocutors define it as an unstoppable force with so much good that can be done, although a part of people still resists change, and approaches everything related to health with suspicion and caution.
However, the covid19 virus is an example of another event that inspires and forces this change.
"It is no longer a question exclusively of technology and its development. It is a matter of need, the change happened at that level. Hot water was not invented, if we take telephones as an example - my phone is older than the covid19, but with the change in market needs, there was the development of new applications and services that can be provided through software, which were not available before because there was no need" - Nebojša explains.
The way we approach healthcare is changing for one reason only, the desire to make sure that the human race stays healthy, and Big Tech companies are moving towards being the biggest healthcare companies because they provide scalable solutions.
Changing things for the better through software
Vicert has been operating on the American market for more than twenty years under the professional service model, and they managed to position themselves as a domain expert in the field of digital health and software solutions for all its segments. The client list includes some of the largest corporations operating in the healthcare industry in America.
"We have a client whose software is used by half the population of America. And it is precisely in this scope that I see our purpose. A huge motivator for me is the knowledge that the software we create has an impact on a huge number of people, and not only impacts but also helps and facilitates their use of healthcare services. There is an opportunity to change things for the better through software, and to be extremely competitive with the offer" - points out Voja.
As an example, he states that for a software solution, a large company asks for 3 million dollars, and they ask for 60 thousand while noting that they are not cheaper because they value their work less and do the same for less money, but have a different approach that results in a more creative and practical solution.
"The benefit is twofold - the client saved and earned, and the world became a better place thanks to our software. That's why we can say that we are a company specialized in finding new ways to provide people with better health care at a new level" - adds Voja.
Coder vs Software Engineer
Guided by this approach, Vicert makes a distinction between a c1q oder and a software engineer, perhaps somewhat unusual at first glance.
"What primarily makes this difference is a mindset - Nebojša explains and adds - When we talk about this type of distinction, we are not talking about knowledge, skills or education. It is about the focus of each of them, and what are their main drivers. Coders want to get their work done and do it their way. And that's totally fine. But what drives software engineers is the desire to solve a problem, it is very important to him what he does and to have a purpose in everything."
Software engineers are therefore focused on how the software will affect the need or problem, and coders on the code, while the purpose is less relevant to them.
"I think that both of them will make the same software, but when you look at the need and from where you look at the software, it results in a different way of working, a different perspective and thus a greater focus on what the need is from the other side" - points out Voja.
On the "other side" are the clients. And how do they see it?
Voja explains that if in their company they have a situation where someone solves a software issue, but does not adequately connect it with the client's needs, then the work itself is not adequately done either. In addition, they never take the client's requests for granted.
"Right at the request is the turning point. On the one hand, we can accept the requirements as they are and implement them, knowing that it will not work; or look at the bigger picture and explain to the client in a professional way why it is better to change the initial requirements and what problems he will encounter later if he does not do so. Having that perspective is what makes the fundamental difference between a software engineer and a coder, and one that has a very significant impact on the client. The goal is not to have as many people as possible who know how to code, but to have teams who know how to build a solution."
Lessons from the "previous time"
The joint story of Voja and Nebojša begins in the time of the former Yugoslavia, the beginning of the war in the nineties and the first project during Voja's stay in America, when they came up with the idea of creating a website for Yugoslavia. With the desire to avoid war propaganda and provide a new perspective for their country, they created a website with various interesting information about Yugoslavia.
"The whole project had a great resonance with our people because, in addition to information about the country and customs, the site had an integrated directory of the whole of Serbia, which was extremely useful for all the people who were displaced during the war. This pilot version of "white pages" was a big challenge for the infrastructure and the Internet at the time, but there was a great desire to keep the project going. The potential of the web, which Voja saw, did not go unnoticed even by the big companies of the time, so they started contacting him to create websites."
Looking back now at the first steps and comparing the time of doing business then and now, our interlocutors point out that every time carries its own complexity.
"We have always been looking for people who have a combination of talent and passion for improvement and learning. In environments such as healthcare in America, there simply must be a natural desire for advancement in the person who deals with it, because that is the key to solving complicated problems. Also, we have always been aware that we cannot get a "ready-made" software engineer who is trained to work in the domain" - points out Voja.
As a company that was a pioneer in the development of certain technologies, finding talented people brought a kind of complexity.
"Talent has always been there, but finding it has never been easy. I would say that this is exactly the difference, the industry was in its infancy, the knowledge was not available as it is today, and we had to look for people in other industries, such as the automotive industry or the financial sector."
The art of a sense of purpose
From the perspective of today's business and the effort to do business with a purpose, as well as making the difference between coders and software engineers that they talked about, Nebojša points out that the search for quality people has always been difficult, but that they can be found.
Voja adds that a certain number of professionals find complete satisfaction in code, and that's really what they love, their field. However, that percentage is not large. Most people who are software developers have the ability to solve problems, and they are looking for purpose and deeper motivators through the prism of their business life.
"It's not some unicorn talent that a person is born with, it's more about how to set things up, how to communicate with the team and get into the business. In the end, I think it's very important for everyone to get that sense of purpose. And when all this is presented to man, there are many more who will see it and accept to get involved in that way. Seen from this angle, it's not that people want or don't want to accept a certain way of working and cultivate such a mindset, but actually, there are too few such offers on the market."
"Talent, they add, exists - it should be shaped and given an adequate environment for work and progress. Complexity, skill, energy, knowledge and skills are important, and for companies like this, the goal is to have as many individuals as possible who will develop and prosper together with them."
If you want to get to know each other better and learn more about this company, look at their profile on Joberty, or check the currently open positions they offer.