Career Advice Featured stories and job trends

Testing times

 Tech checkers in demand as costs of breakdown increase.

In a data-rich environment that increasingly embraces technology and hyper-connectivity, ICT (information and communication technology) testing has become an essential process to ensure that systems, devices and software are thoroughly tested to meet requirements for security, scalability, consistency and accessibility.
Federico Favini, country manager with independent testing company Access Testing, says Hong Kong is in a prime position to become a regional ICT hub. “It offers attractions in terms of its vibrant ICT scene and an increasing demand for quality assurance and testing services,” he says.
To help build a pool of home-grown ICT professionals, Access has set up a Graduate Tester Programme in partnership with several local universities. Favini says the programme provides graduates with opportunities to develop a career within the ICT framework, leading to roles such as security specialists and test programme or portfolio managers.
When recruiting, the company generally looks for candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer technology, but will also consider those with an MBA for certain positions. In addition to technical skills, the ability to communicate competently and confidently is considered an important requirement. A capacity to negotiate and make presentations is also a desirable attribute.
 “As the only independent testing company in Hong Kong, we have made a commitment to recruit, train and certify local people to meet current and future ICT needs,” Favini says.
Since opening its Hong Kong office in 2011, Access Testing has offered a wide range of technology-testing services to organisations including airlines, banks and government departments. “We specialise in the assessment and improvement of all technology products such as websites, intranets, e-commerce applications, presentations, smartphones, hand-held devices and wireless services,” Favini says. In addition to the Hong Kong office, the company has five offices in Australia and employs more than 300 staff.
Favini explains that the advantages of independent testing include an unbiased view and precise observance of customers’ goals and objectives. “Independent testing eliminates the equation of checking your own exam results,” he says.
Last year, Access Testing was awarded a four-year placement by the government to provide independent testing, security risk assessments and audit services to all governmental departments. The Standing Offer Agreement for Quality Professional Services 3 (SOA-QPS3) appointment is part of the government’s IT outsourcing strategy designed to enlarge the delivery capacity for IT services, accelerate the delivery of IT solutions, and create a market big enough to encourage the further development of the local IT industry.
Favini says that while awareness of the need for risk-testing and maintaining the integrity of technology systems is growing in Hong Kong, ICT still tends to take a back seat on the priority list of many organisations. “It is a bit like going to the gym. People know that it is good for them, but not everyone does it,” he says.
Elsewhere, in a show of Hong Kong’s technology-development capabilities, five incubation companies supported by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation (HKSTPC) picked up gold medals for their home-grown inventions at the 42nd International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland.
The winning inventions include the “iShoe”, a smart-shoe system that provides users with real-time gait analysis; “Kiss and Tell”, a saliva-based diabetes testing system; and “Valta”, a remote energy management system.
“All are vivid examples of how innovation and tech is improving our everyday lives,” says Allen Ma, CEO of HKSTPC. He adds that five gold medals from about 1,000 international entries is testament to a continuous devotion to enabling and nurturing home-grown R&D. 
To date, more than 300 technology companies have graduated from HKSTPC’s incubation programme. Of these, about 75 per cent are still in business, including four companies that have launched initial public offerings to achieve stock market listings. Currently there are 145 companies operating within the programme. Ma says that all together, companies that have been through the incubation programme have raised over HK$850 million in angel/venture capital and obtained 730 intellectual properties and 260 technical awards.