If 2020 represented a 15-year leap in digitalisation, then 2021 was about continuing the momentum. Organisations have continued to invest in digital solutions at a record rate, recognising the value of cloud software for remote productivity.
Higher investment brings higher expectations. At the end of the day, it is people who build our products, and whom we build products for. That’s why we make progress happen, and enable our customers, employees, and society to do the same.
With people at the centre, our focus in the year ahead will be on talent, security, and sustainability in the creation of software that people enjoy.
Globally, there is a major shortage of tech talent. The people we depend on to fulfil many of our core societal needs—writing our software, coding our societies, configuring our public services—are in short supply.
The shortage is not because of Covid, though it may have been accelerated by it. There are simply not enough people—particularly girls and young women—taking up science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Such people are vital to satisfy society’s technological needs in the coming years.
At the same time, expectations from existing talents are increasing. People prefer a hybrid work setup allowing them to be effective from both home and office. They want a work culture that is innovative, social, flexible and, above all, fun. A place where their colleagues are diverse, and they feel they can be their true selves. Where the overarching goal of the organisation is to deliver on its purpose.
Our future as a company depends on being able to not just keep our incredible talent, but nurture the next generation. Through mentorships, on-the-job training, personal development, and sustainability, we seek to engage and excite both new and existing colleagues, helping them grow into their careers for the long term. We offer one of the most trust-based and entrepreneurial work cultures in the industry.
Furthermore, we are bringing attention to the tech talent issue across our markets. We are working with local governments to see how we can collaborate to foster the youth who can secure our technological future. We are also supporters of different initiatives to get younger generations interested in technology. From Women in Tech and Hello World in Sweden to Bebras in Latvia, from Mimmit Koodaa in Finland to Angis in Lithuania, we proudly invest in the next generation of tech talents.
For more information related to our efforts in employee engagement and development, you can jump to this section in the report.
2021 has been marked by a record number of cyber attacks worldwide. Thousands of such attacks have taken place, with the average cost to victims reaching over €3 million1, at an estimated global cost of over €5 trillion2.
Visma is responsible for safeguarding the data of everyone we touch, be it customers, partners, employees, investors, or the general public. We also have a role to play in informing all of these groups about how we can work together to increase our resilience against cyber threats.
At Visma the security culture is deeply embedded in the company. Developers test their source code daily and use interactive security training systems; the M&A teams use security services during acquisition processes; various teams engage with the world’s best security researchers through our Bug Bounty programs; sales teams use security data to provide transparent and accurate information to clients; Managing Directors use our security systems to help make good decisions every day.
We also drive campaigns and activities to embed our security culture in all our companies, guided by transparency and accountability. We run a dedicated, company-wide Security Program, based on the principle that “a good security culture is based on values shared by every single employee”. Employees across our companies are given the information and inspiration to share knowledge with their colleagues about current security topics and best practises.
Visma also contributes to society by extensively sharing our experiences. We conduct cutting-edge research that is published in academic papers3 and books4, shared at conferences, and used as curriculum at universities. Our experts also lecture at several leading universities on subjects such as cyber threat intelligence, security management, ambidexterity, secure coding, and other topics.
For more information related to our efforts in privacy, data and cyber security, you can jump to this section in the report.
Reducing our impact on the global environmental system continues to be a top priority for the international community. Whether mitigating climate change, addressing biodiversity loss, or improving human rights at home and abroad, businesses have a role to play and are recognising their power to take action. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide an excellent framework for building solutions.
We have said it before, but it bears repeating: Sustainability is about healthy people, a healthy economy and a healthy environment. Only by looking at how these areas influence each other can we address socio-environmental problems in a thorough and evidence-based manner. From a business perspective, every company has to judge its own products, services, activities and culture, and take action where they can have the strongest impact.
2021 has been a landmark year for Visma’s sustainability program. This is the first year we have collected baseline sustainability data for all Visma companies. This includes information on metrics such as energy and waste emissions, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, software hosting impacts, and a number of others. We have compiled these data across our companies, and you can read all about Visma’s sustainability impacts by jumping to this section in the report.
This milestone is extremely important to us. As dozens of companies join the Visma family each year, it is both a challenge and a necessity that we collect sustainability data in a comprehensive way. This ensures not only that we have the information on which to base decisions, but also that every company joining Visma is welcomed and contributes to the sustainability culture.
Our culture has been enhanced further by the launch of our new internal community for sustainability. Here, people across Visma’s family of companies can connect, spar on topics, share best practises, and collaborate on projects that would be much harder to achieve alone. With colleagues in over 20 countries spread across hundreds of companies, together we can make the biggest difference.
Customers’ expectations regarding the functionality and connectivity of their software have arguably never been greater. Covid has made clear what we already knew: cloud technology is the way forward for businesses of all sizes and industries. The focus must now be to further streamline people’s work lives to give them more freedom to decide how they will spend their time.
Ensuring that products are connected is key to this cause. What is the use of an accounting system that isn’t integrated with invoicing and payroll? In addition to integrating products, we must also use data in new ways and across work functions so that organisations can use it to their utmost advantage.
Automation also plays an important role. How can we best support people in reducing their manual, tedious, time-consuming tasks? The more we automate for our customers through AI and Machine Learning, the more time they can spend on what really grows their business. With automation as their assistant, they become more efficient and can focus on things that only people can do.
Attracting world-class cloud software companies to join the Visma family is equally important. Through acquisitions, we are able to provide ever more useful and complementary products to our customers.
The result is that innovative European tech companies increasingly see Visma as the ideal companion to take their businesses to the next level. By giving these companies go-to-market freedom, combined with the resources and network of an international organisation, we have become one of the most sought-after partners for European tech entrepreneurs. With such an arrangement, everyone wins.
1 IBM. Cost of a Data Breach Report. https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach. Published September 8th, 2021.
2 Cybersecurity Ventures. Cybersecurity Ventures Official Annual Cybercrime Report. https://cybersecurityventures.com/annual-cybercrime-report-2020/. Published October 26th, 2020.
3 Iovan, M., Cruzes, D.S., & Johansen, E.A. (2020). Empowerment of Security Engineers through Security Chartering in Visma. Agile Alliance. https://www.agilealliance.org/resources/experience-reports/empowerment-of-security-engineers-through-security-chartering-in-visma.
4 Khan, A.A. & Le, D. (2022). Evolving Software Directions: Trends and future directions. John Wiley & Sons.