Testing industry and the sharing economy – online event hosted by LabShare

How is the use of sharing economy manifested in the testing industry around the world? In an international meeting entitled Testing industry and the sharing economy, representatives of five distinct economical regions shared their experiences, challenges and ideas regarding the topic. Levente Bakos, the managing director of LabShare introduced each speaker from the Central European and Iberian region, China, Greater China and India respectively.

Firstly, Ferenc Molnár, the CEO of CCLab, a cybersecurity laboratory shared his thoughts on b2b level sharing economy in Central Eastern Europe. Molnár explained that CCLab carries out physical testing of various equipment, most of which employ some kind of artificial intelligence, which can often be tested digitally or remotely. Bug bounty programs in the cybersecurity industry provide a shared platform for security evaluation, allowing scientists, laboratories or experts around the world to test your application. This can be done remotely via an app or a website such as Bugcrowd.

There are a plethora of platforms present on this market who channel the majority of the testing in this industry. “I’m using the services of platforms such as Bugcrowd, and from time to time, my colleagues also find business on these platforms, so it’s a very everyday experience for us. I can confirm sharing economy has a well defined place in the test inspection certification industry, and that the example of the cybersecurity industry shows what we can expect in other segments” - Molnár added.

The popularity of sharing economy was also confirmed by the second speaker, Mahesh Dave from TuBroTICs in India. Mr Dave explained that sharing economy is one of the fastest growing sectors, encompassing various industries. In India, there are 310 accredited laboratories at the moment from electronics to food testing, but as per Mr Dave’s research, there are more than 1500 unaccredited laboratories operating in the country.

Manufacturers in India often waste time searching for testing laboratories for their products while trying to negotiate for the best possible prices. Once LabShare becomes available, both manufacturers and end users will have everything available on one digital platform. “I am encouraging everyone to make use of this one stop solution, not only in the field of cybersecurity or electronics but simultaneously in all other technical fields”, Mr Dave added.

The next company representative to talk about local initiatives was Dyne Wang of Trust-Right from the mainland region of China. Mr Wang pointed out that the concept of sharing economy is extremely popular in the country, and while the inspection and most testing capacity is controlled by the governed, the market had been open for decades. Currently there are about 20 thousand small testing laboratories operating in the region. These labs are investing in new equipment, and have a huge potential for growth, however, Mr Wang believes they aren’t managed efficiently, especially from a sales point of view. “We need a platform to access manufacturers, and we are quite happy with this new concept, LabShare is good news to us” - Mr Wang added.

Representing the Greater China area, the next attendant, Mr Norton Yuen from ECTest highlighted that Hong Kong has the highest rental price in the region and therefore numerous laboratories are facing an extremely high rent. Luckily, both in Hong Kong and the Thailand region, there are several labs owned by the government or business associations who run the hardware and the facility on a lower price. Commercial laboratories facing high rent can rationalize their costs by using shared facilities in Hong Kong either in the local government businesses or at the industrial associations who provide equipment and facility. By relying on this kind of shared economy, commercial laboratories don’t necessarily have to invest in new equipment or pay the rent, but they can use the shared facilities.

Another observation both in Hong Kong and Taiwan is that there are numerous small technology start ups as well as communities with new ideas, however, due to their small size they aren’t really familiar with testing and certification requirements and they lack bargaining power. “Some of the ‘big guys’ don’t like those start ups because they need guidance, they are very small and can’t pay a lot of rent. With the help of shared economy, we can gather these start ups and bargain for a better price, then create a community and a shared platform for them” - Mr Yuen said, adding that such a platform could also provide a consolidation of a database of different testing standards and provide start ups a consultancy surface. “Maybe we can use LabShare to arrange laboratories for those start ups. This is the prospect for us in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Greater China region, to provide a more complex one stop shop service for clients who want to rationalize their development process” - Mr Yuen concluded.

The final contributor of the discussion was Francesc Lleches from IDELAB, a tech consultancy company from Spain, representing the Iberian region. Mr Lleches explained that the company operates in the chemical sector, food industry, as well as the field of explosives and pirotechnics, with many laboratories as customers. He pointed out that sharing economy has been growing fast in Spain in the recent years. The model is employed in various fields, from food industry and ham drying to the storage of chemicals. “Sharing the free capacity of processes and facilities is a big advantage for any company to save, including engineering companies” - Mr Lleches said. He also pointed out the difficulties of international product testing, bringing the example of a platform his company developed in 2010 for the bug testing of fireworks in China. Since it is a requirement for the certification of certain products to test them, IDELAB had to put importers in contact with Chinese laboratories who test fireworks. “In other words, if I’m a producer in Spain or Portugal in another country, I’ll need another laboratory for testing. The idea of LabShare will become more and more significant in the next years because of the externalization of processes for other countries. A digital platform that helps to find laboratories will help everyone to find cheaper solutions and improve their business” - Mr Lleches concluded.

Mr Bakos of LabShare added: “Everywhere in product validation sharing economy has a very important role. These products are under different legislations, based on economic regions, which require different testing. Involving different assets will play an important role in the future as well.”

Answering Jeans Koo’s question on how to send a sample or a document, Mr Bakos said: “These data are always crucial. I think any participants of the sharing economy should not forget about the ways of keeping secrecy and storing information in a secure way.”

Mr Molnár of CCLab added: for security experts, this should not be a problem, with PGP or others tools even the Google Mail System can be made secure enough. However, other industries not familiar with these tools and techniques can struggle, therefore, a platform that provides secure information management can be a big advantage.