Software Technology Exchange Workshop

Summary from Malmö 17-18 October 2018
Av Magnus Ahlgren
Swedsoft’s software conference “STEW” was this year hosted by Malmö University. The conference was focused on two themes, AI & Machine Learning and Open Source, and included a series of interesting presentations, exciting exchange of ideas and networking

Addalot has the vision of Sweden being world leading in IT and software. With this focus it is a pleasure for us that Swedsoft’s yearly software conference STEW proved to be as vital and relevant as ever. It was a bold but rewarding move by the organizing committee to select two hot themes for the conference. AI and Machine Learning on one hand and Open Source on the other hand represent two topics that to a large degree will form our lives as human beings and how software is and will be developed going forward.

It was truly exciting to hear and see all inciting research being done and successful practices applied. One interesting observation is that Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) - Sweden’s largest individual research program ever – has clearly materialized in research projects. Furthermore, having a leading international Open Source evangelist providing an outside-Sweden-perspective, concretely showcasing the potential of open source made us lift our eyes. An important part of the conference was also the break-out sessions, where the initiated audience discussed and concluded on various topics in smaller groups.

The conference kicked off by Charlotta Falvin, a software board director, leader and role model energizing the audience with an opening speech on her experiences from managing software businesses (e.g. Axis) during a period of more than 20 years. She presented many examples, ideas and learnings. A key takeaway was her conclusion that you should add structure as late as possible. Any new structure will add complexity and new constraints. However sometimes structure is necessary, and when as many people are complaining about too little and too much structure you have struck the right balance.

The first day was about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) or “Let the machine do the job”. It was quite apparent that this is an area where there will be much developments going forward – indicated by much research presented still being at a quite technical level. However, AI and ML have already proven its potential in use through e.g. big data (analytics), finance and face recognition. Staffan Truvé from Recorded Future showed concretely in his Keynote how they apply Machine Learning in their products for threat intelligence and how they combine ML and traditional rule-based technologies in a way that add most value – ML is not always the best solution. Going forward it was agreed to that AI and ML will affect all parts of society from self-driving cars to care of elderly people, however there are many open questions to be resolved ranging from technical innovations to ethical and legal considerations. The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is clearly an essential contributor to Swedish competitiveness in this field.

The focus on the second day was Open Source or “Let us do it together”. Compared to day one, this day was filled with more applied models and practical examples. The research presented was more focused on how open source practices are applied rather than on more technical subjects. This level of maturity was also clearly indicated by the title of the Keynote of the day. Nithya A. Ruff, who is head of Open Source Practice at Comcast, presented on “The art and science of open source in the enterprise”. She clearly pointed out that Open Source is no longer optional and that less than 3% of companies don’t use open source in any form. By presenting the Open Source Journey of Comcast from 2006 and up until now, she provided concrete learnings as well as pointed out the future direction towards new ways of interacting in eco systems and more advanced business models. Presentations from Ericsson, Wikimedia Foundation, Lund University and also ours and Sony Mobile´s presentation on Industrial Open Source supported that Open Source is now state-of-practice and if you have not already joined you better get on-board.

Finally, Helena Holmström Olsson, Associate Professor at Malmö University nicely concluded the conference as Closing speaker by addressing the need to ensure that we always deliver value. We need to remind ourselves to carefully select amongst the vast variety of methods and techniques to ensure that we use the right ones for the right purpose.

There is obviously much activities going on in Sweden that we can be proud of. However, there is also an urgent call for action to further invest and keep a high pace not to lose our competitive edge.

Addalot is proud to be a member of Swedsoft, supporting their goal to make Sweden a center of innovation of software intensive systems. As the organizing body , Swedsoft has once again proven its worth – thank you!

Magnus Ahlgren
Magnus Ahlgren