It was a cold Saturday afternoon at Pärnu (Estonia) during our yearly Zafari, brainstorming about what the following years of Zure would look like. At a given point, one of the groups pointed out that ‘Progress comes in bits and pieces… It’s not always a straight line, not always a smooth path.’
This made me reflect on how Zure Belgium evolved last year, not always on a smooth path but, some significant progress has been made to make Zure Belgium a place where people are heard and love coming to work!
Building a community
We want to do whatever we can to ensure that people enjoy working for Zure. It’s not only about the work you do, but also about your teammates. Building that community, where people can and should make mistakes to learn from, share knowledge and expertise, and have a team-first mindset is crucial for the growth, and the current and future success of Zure.
Like many companies, we made the shift towards working more from home. While this has its benefits, such as more flexibility and avoiding the daily commute, it makes building strong personal connections more challenging. At Zure Belgium we try to meet each other twice a week at the office because we strongly believe spending time together, brings forward that feeling of belonging and makes it easier to speak out and learn from each other. Besides meeting at the office, we regularly organize activities outside of the office.
The most important aspect of building a community is that the people in it have fun working together and learn new skills which they can then apply in their future endeavors. Because of that, attending conferences like Techorama, IglooConf, CloudBrew,… is crucial in both skill and community building. Being active in these communities snowballs into sharing knowledge and expertise which in turn gives yet another push to our flywheel of success.
Participating as a conference visitor, and capturing useful information is one thing, actively spreading knowledge and hands-on experience as a speaker at a conference is quite another. Nevertheless, we gladly accept the challenge for the latter. Just to give you an idea, here’s a small overview of conferences where Zure Belgium was represented as a speaker in 2022:
- NDC London, UK
- Techorama, Belgium
- IglooConf, Finland
- CloudBrew, Belgium
- European Sharepoint Conference, Denmark
In 2023, you can already find us on the agenda of NDC London and more conferences will follow.
Building further, step by step
Some of the most significant changes of 2022 grew from seeds we planted in late 2021. In December 2021, we were fortunate that Ruben Delange decided to join us, he started at the end of March 2022. Ruben immediately helped us further streamline our recruitment and sales process from the get-go. With over 15 years of experience, he has brought Zure Belgium forward on different levels!
Next to Ruben joining, we moved to yet another office on January 1st, 2022. Allowing us to have seating for 6-8 people, providing us with some room to support our aspiring growth. Nevertheless, we seem to have some sort of weird connection with changing offices. As we are writing this post, we are planning for a big move on January 1st, 2023. We’re relocating to another office that is ready for the future growth of Zure Belgium, stay tuned for more information on our social media channels.
Another milestone for Zure Belgium was celebrating the first ‘Zanniversary’, a fancy name for having a work anniversary at Zure, of Maxim Braekman. It has been over a year since he joined us, and it’s been a true bliss having him part of the team.
Going all-in on CloudBrew 2022
This year, as an Azure-focused company, we decided to become a platinum sponsor for AZUG, the Belgian Azure User Group, which has its yearly major conference ‘CloudBrew‘ at the end of the year (a couple of weeks ago).
As roaring at challenges is part of our DNA, we decided to skip the ‘classic’ booth setup and started working on a common goal/product for our CloudBrew booth. After a couple of brainstorming sessions, Zpeedy, our IoT-powered racetrack, was born! Zpeedy allowed us to work towards a common goal in a team with the Belgian crew.
Building Zpeedy from scratch was quite a challenge. We also did most of the programming outside of working hours, which lead to some interesting “daddy is building a race track” discussions at home. During our journey, we experienced yet again that Azure PaaS components are the perfect fit for building innovative products with which you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. For your information, these are the components we used: Azure IoT Hub, Azure Functions, Azure App Service, Azure Key Vault, Azure SignalR, Azure SQL database, and Azure Application Insights. Sprinkle some IoT edge stuff, .NET APIs, and React on top of those and magic will happen!
With 100+ people accepting our challenge, and more than 258 races completed, we celebrated 4 distinct winners. It was very satisfying to see people thoroughly enjoy a product into which we have put our heart and soul in. We are very proud of ourselves for how we pulled this one off.
But we want to see some numbers
Nothing is more satisfying/boring (delete as appropriate) than numbers, right? Here are the numbers for the first 3 years of Zure operations in Belgium. It’s great to see that we were able to maintain healthy growth and numbers over the last few years, despite COVID popping up 3 months after startup and the several investments we’ve made. The numbers themselves are just numbers: important for enabling growth, but not what matters most for a company to do good!
When we compare the Belgian market to others, we are still in the early phase of Azure PaaS adoption. With the announcement of the new Belgian Azure region (Belgium Central) and the fact that PaaS adoption is on the rise worldwide, we are confident that the PaaS and Application Modernization market will continue to grow in Belgium. The future is bright!
It’s the thing with good traditions, they are meant to be kept. Hence the last part of this blog post is to reflect on the future and see what’s beyond the horizon.
Building a strong community where everybody feels at home and is challenged can be quite a difficult task to achieve, especially when there is the ambition to grow the team at a constant pace. We have to admit that maybe we did not meet our aspiring growth when it comes to the number of people joining us, but that’s something we are fully aware of.
We have to keep in mind that growth will happen over time, it comes in bits and pieces and it’s not always a straight or smooth line, so we need to be patient for the results. Hiring the right people, that bring the company forward, is key to achieving that goal!
Do you also deeply care about learning, building a community, and teamwork? We are always looking for more like-minded people who have some Azure affinity to join us in our journey, so don’t be shy, contact us, and let’s have a chat!
We are dedicated to bringing Zure Belgium to the next level in 2023. Together with our Finnish and Danish friends, we are working on further streamlining our approach to sales, marketing, and recruitment. We look forward to sharing our story with you! Same place, next year!
If you feel like reading more, here’s some great content we’ve produced over the previous years:
MyWeek: Maxim Braekman, Azure Architect – Zure
Thank you for reading and see you next year!