- IVV policy covers software procurement by the Malaysian Government
- World-leading academic sees platform for homegrown software champion
“THIS is my life and I can usually tell if something is real and serious,” says Prof Jasbir Dhaliwal (pic above) of the University of Memphis, where he is the chief innovation officer, vice provost (Academic) and head of its graduate programme.
“And I can tell you that what Malaysia is doing in the field of software testing is very exciting and offers real opportunities for entrepreneurs, both from established companies and startups, to seize upon and eventually go global,” he stresses.
As one of the premier academics globally who understands software testing, Jasbir was commenting on the nearly decade-long efforts by the Malaysian Software Testing Board (MSTB) to both promote software testing as career and create a robust software testing ecosystem that is vibrant.
Those efforts are now about to get a turbo boost through a requirement in which software procured by the Malaysian Government would need to go through a third-party Independent Verification and Validation (IVV) test to ensure the quality of the software. MSTB is pushing hard for IVV to be made mandatory.
In the early 2000s, the Malaysian Government’s open source software preference procurement policy made a great impact on the open source movement in the country.
Jasbir draws parallels between the IVV requirement for public sector software projects to the requirement in the Companies Act that company financial statements be audited by accounting firms.
“That ruling suddenly gave investors the added confidence to invest in companies while stimulating the growth of the auditing and greater accounting profession,” he says, speaking to DNA in Kuala Lumpur recently where he was conducting workshops for the public sector in relation to the IVV initiative, including the establishment of a public sector centre of excellence (COE).
A platform for the creation of Malaysia’s own Infosys
More than anything, Jasbir (pic), a former academic at University Malaya, sees the IVV push by the public sector as laying the foundations for the eventual birth of a world-leading Malaysian software company.
“It is going to change things. We don’t have the Infosys’ of the world yet, but this IVV ruling now offers serious opportunities for companies and I think it’s very exciting because there is now a market,” he says.
It also demonstrates a step up in the Malaysian Government’s efforts to take software quality very seriously.
“This whole concept of ‘tested in Malaysia’ is powerful, not just as a marketing concept but because there is depth to it,” says Jasbir.
“You will be specifying, in a contract for software services, precise software quality criteria – and this will be validated by an independent third party,” he adds.
Jasbir is also not unduly concerned over more established and global software players seizing the lion’s share of opportunity over homegrown companies in this space.
“Every country has its unique characteristics and Malaysian companies will understand their public sector from a language and characteristics perspective as context is very important,” he argues.
But Jasbir is already looking forward and thinks the next challenge is to think global for that critical mass. “The industry here has to build on what MSTB has done very well over the past 10 years.”
Jasbir, who has been involved with the development of the Malaysian software testing industry from the very beginning in 2006, recalls how back then there were not even 100 certified software testers in Malaysia, “but now you have thousands and already have software testing in your university curriculum as well.”
MSTB has also built its anchor regional conference, the biannual Softec Asia, into not just the leading software testing conference in Asia but one of the top conferences in the world, with regular participation from some of the top global authorities in software testing.
“You even have a post-grad research forum as part of the conference, with Malaysian faculty doing research and presenting their findings, so I feel the pieces of the ecosystem are there – with the next thing being to churn out software testing tools. I think that’s going to be the next frontier,” says Jasbir.
He also sees opportunities for startups. “It’s important to understand that there are different tiers in the public sector market. While you have your large systems, for example immigration or customs, there are also smaller government departments that have small standalone systems and this area offers great opportunities to startups, I feel.
He adds that the Government is playing its part, and it’s now up to entrepreneurs to seize opportunities in the software testing market that has been created.
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