Dmitry Yakushev in the «Domestic system integration market 2019 wrap-up» review by ICT-Online
The system integration market is changing, posing new challenges and offering new prospects, and in the next year it will be nothing like it was before. What challenges the domestic IT companies are going to face? What skills and knowledge do they have that can guarantee their successful operations tomorrow? Before the holiday season starts, Dmitriy Yakushev, CCO of STEP LOGIC, shares his observations and forecasts in a virtual panel hosted by ICT-Online.ru.
ICT-Online.ru: How was the situation in the system integration market changing throughout 2019? What trends of the previous years remained, and what was the distinguishing trait of 2019? Was your company ready to this specific market situation? How did you respond to it?
Dmitriy Yakushev: In 2019, the system integration market remained quite complicated. Economy is adrift, and IT companies are becoming increasingly dependent on both strategic and tactical management decisions. This was evident by a number of key players having quitted the market, and another quite surprising trend of the recent years was that the competition between those who remain in the market was still strong. This is explained by several factors, including a shift from classical competences towards state-of-the-art technologies, an appearance of new players, as well as by the speed and quality of solution deployment.
Besides, customers are intensely developing and improving their own competences, either by directly investing in their personnel or indirectly by creating local integration companies. However, many advanced expertises or competences that allow for implementing a large-scale project are unique. Local vertically integrated companies are unlikely to develop these competences. System integrators can still hope to successfully address the new challenges, as they have done many times recently.
The current political situation, including sanctions, add complexity to the task, on the one hand. On the other hand, this offers a number of opportunities for the integration component of our operations. Local development and production volumes tend to grow, increasingly more exciting challenges emerge in the area of development and integration of complex multi-vendor solutions that meet the customer's needs to the fullest extent.
It's not easy to identify a single brand-new trend. I would say that in this year, projects required extremely detailed high-quality ROI study at the earliest stages, and even more stringent quality and deadline control at the implementation stage.
Another specific trait of the past year is a significant acceleration of technology transition from ideas to applied business tools. Time-to-market is of major importance to the customers, and their readiness for fast implementation of new tools adds to the fierce competition within the market.
Our company celebrated its 27th anniversary in 2019, and over the years we have learned to change in order to follow the market. We are expanding our own business intelligence competences to analyze our customers' business, we are actively developing innovative solutions — facilities of our holding (NKK) enable us to offer customers our in-house hardware and software solutions. This approach helps to delimit the areas of responsibility and to streamline the solution selection, implementation and technical support.
A few years ago we began to focus on quality and speed of project implementation. QC employees are integrated in project teams and are responsible for streamlining our business processes and increasing NPS level.
ICT-Online.ru: What has changed in your customer relations?
Dmitriy Yakushev: We aim to increase the share of projects where the customer brings a detailed vision of the business task or even of the engineering solution. We clearly benefit from our customers growing their own expertise as it helps to significantly save the time for overall project development. On the other hand, quite a large number of customer tasks requires external assessment of the customer's business. For that, the integrator has to gain industry-specific knowledge and relevant international experience. To properly respond to these new challenges, we revised a lot of our workflows and improved the quality of operations of the business units that directly interact with our customers.
Our customers are operating within a highly competitive market — just as we do. Our main challenge in this case is to help our customers stand out, offer them efficient IT tools that will increase their performance through streamlining the production processes or segmenting their consumer base. We are tightly connected. As I've already mentioned before, deep understanding of the customer's business specifics along with our IT expertise developed over the years helps us to offer benefits to our customers and keep working with them in the long-term.
ICT-Online.ru: What achievements of your company in 2019 can you highlight right now, and what outcomes you expect with a high degree of probability? What helped you achieve these results? What was the most challenging or the most exciting?
Dmitriy Yakushev: Our conventional competences are highly sought after, which provides a certain credit of trust and enables us to offer innovative products and solutions. We are collaborating on them with our customers, and we appreciate these "deep-diving sessions" greatly.
As for in-house tasks of an integration company, the talent shortage keeps growing. It's hard to find talents that fit in well with our team. External communications of our company suffer badly from numerous bureaucratic procedures adopted in large companies, such as approvals and procurement.
ICT-Online.ru: What are the most significant projects that you implemented? What's so unique about them?
Dmitriy Yakushev: We have implemented a number of large-scale projects using our conventional competences, and each of the projects has something exciting and unique about it: either its scope, a tight schedule or, for instance, we were the first in the Russian IT market to successfully deliver a project for a small-scale OLED column.
In 2019, we also worked on new projects, such as an anti-fraud AI solution based on our own hardware & software complex; a challenging task of integrating multi-vendor infosec solutions into a high-performance centralized system. We also keep developing our package of industrial security solutions.
ICT-Online.ru: What can you say about forecasts and plans for the next year? What conditions are required to successfully implement them?
Dmitriy Yakushev: Our plans and forecasts are quickly changing as they follow the market. We pay special attention to short-term planning, developing methods to assess the success rate of various in-house projects and workflows. We replicate the practices that were successful and prune the unsuccessful ones. The key conditions to make this happen are discipline, clear purposes and consistent effort to achieve the goals. Any system integrator must apply a systemic, comprehensive approach, which means that we are going to further improve and develop our business together with our customers and holding peers, explore startup ideas and global experience, and go on with the exciting experiments. No matter how trite, but the real key to success is our team.