Eurofins’ Claudius Masuch: ‘We’re spearheading global DevOps from Dublin’

11 Jan 2019

Claudius Masuch. Image: Eurofins

Eurofins’ Claudius Masuch reveals how the organisation’s global digital transformation will be driven from its new engineering centre in Dublin.

Claudius Masuch is director of IT solutions engineering with Eurofins, an international life sciences company headquartered in Luxembourg.

Eurofins is a world leader in analytical testing. Masuch joined the company several months ago to set up a brand new Global Software and Solutions Engineering Centre for Eurofins in Dublin.

‘Today, everything is about digital transformation, and how we select and use the right technology and software to enable, drive and accelerate business success’

With over 45,000 staff globally and a network of more than 650 laboratories across 45 countries in Europe, North and South America and Asia-Pacific, Eurofins is responsible for performing over 400m tests every year to make our world a safer and healthier place to live. These tests include analysing the air that we breathe, to products we use every day, to the food we eat and the medicines we rely on.

Prior to joining Eurofins, Masuch was head of digital technologies at Version 1 and before that held senior technical architecture roles with AIG.

Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

Eurofins is one of the world’s most respected life sciences companies, our business has quadrupled in size over the last six years, and we are heavily investing in information technology to support and drive that growth.

My responsibility is to build and provide world-class software development capability and technology expertise to our business. A specific focus of the Dublin operation will be on DevOps, virtualisation and cloud strategy, together with driving quality and software engineering best practices for our software development teams in the US, Europe, and India.

I am looking at growing our team significantly over the next two years to support our team of over 1,500 engineers across the world, who build the software that runs our businesses and is used by more than 45,000 employees and millions of customers.

Are you spearheading any major initiatives you can tell us about?

Every day at Eurofins’ over 650 laboratories worldwide, products, food, medicines and many other substances are tested for their composition and safety for humans and our environment. Our laboratory-based employees work to the highest standards of accuracy in everything they do, and they require the right technology and software to support them. This is why we are continuously investing in state-of-the-art technology for our labs as well as our IT systems.

Analytical testing and technology are intrinsically linked, and the new Dublin operation will optimise the way our business works by building software assets that will be rolled out across the world to continue and improve our track record of accuracy and reliability.

One of the key projects we are currently working on is a programme to modernise all of the core laboratory IT systems in our 650 labs across 45 countries, which is supported by millions of euro of investment. We are also spearheading a global DevOps initiative for Eurofins from Dublin and, over the next two years, will be putting significant resources into developing our capability here to strengthen our operation as a global software hub and centre of excellence for the group.

How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?

We don’t buy software for our key processes, we create it in-house. At Eurofins, we believe that we know our business inside out, so we don’t outsource our requirements. We rely on global and cross-team collaboration to get our work done.

We already have over 1,500 employees across Europe, India, and the Americas, who build and deliver the software that runs our business. We like to build capability and expertise in-house instead of relying on, often remote, outsourcing partners.

In Dublin, we are planning to grow to a large team, partnering with Harvey Nash Recruitment Solutions ensuring delivery of this strategic growth. Many of the employees here will work very closely with our colleagues around the world to build fit-for-purpose systems for our business.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

Today, everything is about digital transformation, and how we select and use the right technology and software to enable, drive and accelerate business success.

Fundamentally, the new Global Solutions Engineering Centre here in Dublin is being set up to drive digital transformation within Eurofins. At the moment, we are kicking off a new long-term digital strategy to optimise how we interact and communicate with Eurofins’ customers, and the Dublin team will be tasked with developing a digital platform to facilitate sharing of information in the most secure, confidential and reliable way possible.

Each of the 400m tests that are performed annually in Eurofins labs across the world are done with the goal of improving global health and safeguarding the environment we live in. It is our responsibility to adopt and implement the right technology to make these, often time-sensitive, test results as accessible to our customers as possible, and close the gap between us and those who need access to the results.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

We adopt cloud technologies and methods as much as possible for the software solutions we build, but we are quite careful when deciding where we deploy our solutions. Adopting cloud technologies internally has already triggered significant positive impact in terms of how we deploy and manage our systems, and we also use applications that are cloud-native where appropriate.

Often, it is about leveraging innovation in the form of methodologies, and tooling and deploying them internally to improve our infrastructure and applications.

Big data and analytics is another trend changing the world of work and, as a world leader in analytical services, data is at the heart of everything we do. Many of these tests depend on Eurofins’ extensive proprietary databases, the culmination of data gathered over three decades of providing excellence in testing. These unique data repositories are not only responsible for comparing test results, but often house the very information that makes it possible to uncover results that deliver solutions to help make the planet a safer, better place.

Given the sensitivity of our work, and the potential intrinsic risks involved with big data approaches, as a group we are fortunate that our own proprietary databases allow us to reap the benefit of big data, managed in-house, with the peace of mind that the data is secure and governed by internal processes.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Day in, day out, we work with highly sensitive data. A huge part of our remit as software development specialists is to ensure that the data at the heart of Eurofins’ business is as accurate and secure as possible, and is communicated completely confidentially.

We work in a time-sensitive environment where the data and results processed by Eurofins’ lab technicians have a meaningful and tangible impact on the safety of our food, our environment and human health. As a business, we sell trust, security of data, precision and accuracy. Software plays a huge role in making sure that our customers can depend on us to deliver the most reliable results. Our big concern is that the data we gather and process is spot on, and that we create the best software solutions to ensure that this is always the case.

In our business, measures like separation and clear boundaries between results and original samples from which results are derived restrict how far along the chain any personal data can travel. A lab technician receives a bar code but never a name. Anonymising the testing process is a critical measure.

But in everyday life, the importance of being considered in the personal data you share – and, more importantly, the channels you share this data through – while very simple is also something which is extremely important, but unfortunately, often overlooked.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years