80% of Projects Implemented by the Company Require Software Development
The system integration services market has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Few of the customers today want to purchase an out-of-the-box solution, and then adapt it to their needs using internal IT services. Therefore, almost all large domestic system integrators have their own development departments. We talked with Ekaterina Krupchitskaya, Software Development Director, STEP LOGIC, about how to find the optimal solution for a customer in those areas where, at first glance, software development is not required, and why a developer should not always rely on OpenSource.
– Ekaterina, how often do system integrators need their own development when implementing projects?
– Over the past 4 years, our team has taken part in large-scale projects for the development of portals, integration protocols for the interaction of various systems, systems for deploying workstations of contact centre operators, cloud service orchestrators, interactive training and testing systems and other system and application software.
We see a steady trend towards an increase in the number of such tasks. As of today, 80% of projects implemented by the Company require software development, as customers are increasingly demanding the automation of manual processes. Starting from the areas in which development has already become an integral part (contact centres, reporting systems), and ending with the production of pipes and automatic control of the assembly of washing machines.
– What requirements do customers have for their software?
– Customers are becoming more and more demanding of the software they need to develop. Now the most important thing is the ease of use of software and uncluttered interfaces. They increasingly want to be directly involved in the design and, in fact, become part of our team.
The software frees up the time of the customer's engineers, technologists and analysts so that they can focus on more complex and priority tasks. Recently, we increasingly need to automate the services offered by our customer's data centers.
– Please tell us about the most difficult project your team has ever implemented.
– I believe that the most difficult project for our team was the project to automate the provision of information security as a service. We implemented a marketplace platform and integrated it with a vendor's solution to deploy information security services at the code level. Thus, the operations for starting virtual machines and assigning IP addresses for the deployment of information security services were automated.
Nobody in Russia has done this before. Thanks to this, the customer was able to provide information security services from its own private cloud, while its clients did not need to install additional equipment to ensure information security. A client visits the website and orders a subscription to information security services, and the deployment of the necessary infrastructure in the customer's cloud occurs automatically using our software.
From a technical point of view, the most difficult project was to create an umbrella platform for contact centres. 30% of the solution consisted of a vendor platform, and the rest is our proprietary software. We managed to implement many useful options, for example, the customer got the on-the-fly opportunity to change the traffic routing between the contact centre sites connected to the «umbrella», and one of the difficulties was that these sites used solutions from different vendors. Our software product ensures interaction between the platforms connected to it at the level of network protocols and provides its own API and the ability to obtain detailed statistics on calls and operator performance.
– Does your company have its own products?
– One of the most famous solutions is our product for contact centres called STEP Telemarketing. It allows you to manage outbound campaigns and operators in a single window. This product has a built-in knowledge base and allows you to create interactive scripts to handle calls.
Another important reason for pride is that STEP Telemarketing is included in the Register of Domestic Software. It can be officially used in call centres that are subject to import substitution requirements.
We also offer operator workstation options for different contact centre platforms, statistics systems and many other integration solutions for different areas of business.
– What do you think has changed in software development over the past few years?
– Sadly, the developers themselves have changed. In the past few years, there has been a trend towards an increase in the share of OpenSource solutions in development. I will not argue that using open source software you can quickly get a ready-made solution with a minimum set of necessary functionality. But often relying on «semi-finished products», developers lose their skills. The software is assembled from modules created
by someone else.
All the most demanded IT areas are now associated with data sets (machine learning, artificial intelligence, Big Data). To process a huge amount of information, experts need to create their own algorithms. They need to understand how their query works from the mathematical and statistical points of view so that they can optimise it if necessary.
You can use ready-made libraries, but you need to act deliberately. Ask yourself, can you read and recompile the code? Often, after analysis, you come to the conclusion that the library contains a wrong algorithm, but it is impossible to modify it. Another common mistake is connecting a huge library for a couple of methods from it. It is much easier in this situation to create these two methods yourself and get an algorithm that is smaller, lighter, and more scalable.
However, there are also positive changes. Interesting programming languages have appeared, tools for building code and tracking changes, as well as methods of automatic testing, are being improved. The development management methodology itself is also improving. There are more and more of its options, which allows you to chose the most appropriate management option for each specific team or project.
In general, software development is becoming an integral part of most IT projects. I consider this trend to be positive. Customers get flexible solutions, and system integrators work with a variety of interesting projects.
– Thank you for the interview!
Author: Alexander Abramov