STEP LOGIC: IT will not exist without outsourcing in the future
STEP LOGIC began its journey 26 years ago with the delivery and service support of computer equipment. The service became the core that formed the current STEP—a multi-vendor integrator providing a full range of IT services to enterprises and organisations of any scale and any type of activity. Today, the company's service department specialists provide services that transform organisations' IT processes. The combination of best practices, service approach and elaborated processes allows measuring and constantly improving the quality of service support, meeting the needs of customers' business. We talked with Oleg Zamoschin, Director of the Service Department of STEP LOGIC, and Leonid Markov, Head of the Regional Services Development Group of STEP LOGIC, about the evolution of service and IT outsourcing in the Russian market and the development of this area in the company, the most demanded types of work, attention-worthy projects, and trends.
ICT-Online: In what areas does your company provide outsourcing and service? What caused this choice?
Oleg Zamoschin: The activity areas of STEP LOGIC in terms of service and outsourcing in many respects repeat the activity areas of the entire company—network, engineering and IT infrastructure, unified communications and contact centres, data storage and processing systems, integrated and information security. If our production units deal with the implementation of solutions, the service department is ready for further technical support of the project. At the same time, we proceed from the technological needs of the client, its infrastructure and the specifics of business problems. Thanks to our extensive experience in working with organisations of various sizes and activities, as well as a strong team, customers can be confident about the efficiency of all systems and IT services.
ICT-Online: What service schemes does your company have? Features of services, response time, options for contracts with customers?
Leonid Markov: Of course, we have a standard set of services that can be combined into packages at the client's request, and typical schemes for their provision. However, the standard way is not always effective for the successful solution of "live" business problems. In the process of dialogue with a customer, we identify its true needs, which form the final agreement on the level of service. Standard templates probably serve as the starting point for negotiations.
The response time to an incident may vary depending on the level of degradation of the service and its impact on the customer’s business processes. For example, one of the latest examples is our project to support the temporary FIFA network as part of the preparation and holding of the 2018 World Cup. In fact, the maximum response time there was 1 minute. Another our project for the championship was to ensure the work of official and public Wi-Fi at the FIFA Fans Festival in Moscow, on Vorobyovy Gory. STEP LOGIC engineers were constantly on the site in case of unforeseen failures to restore the service as soon as possible.
The same applies to service support: we can provide it on a 24-hour basis, 12 hours for 5 days, 8 hours for 5 days, etc. Retailers, for example, prefer an intermediate version—12 hours for 7 days.
ICT-Online: According to statistics, what types of work are most in demand?
Oleg Zamoschin: Most often, outsourcing is used for either highly skilled work, which requires narrow-profile experts, or vice versa low-skilled, associated with a large volume of streaming operational tasks.
If a customer has a rather complex network infrastructure, then it may not be enough to resolve specific issues of qualification of full-time system administrators. Hiring a narrow-profile specialist is inefficient, since specialist's services may be used by the organization a maximum of one month per year. In this case, it is more logical to contact the system integrator, which employees solve such problems every day, interact with many clients and deal with the specifics of the business processes of organizations from different fields.
Leonid Markov: Outsourcing of low-skilled operational works is relevant for organisations with geographically distributed structure. Facilities with regular small unpredictable works can be located on a vast territory, and this fact significantly complicates and increases the cost of their implementation. In this case, the transfer of routine operations to an external contractor that will cope with the commitments made and will take responsibility for the result is a great way to direct own strength to more important business tasks.
ICT-Online: What kind of work does the company do with regular forces, and for what, perhaps, attracts the competencies of partner companies?
Oleg Zamoschin: All tasks that are critical for the customer's business are performed solely by staff professionals. We are the centre of competence, and, of course, we cultivate highly qualified expertise within our company. We can entrust our partners with work related to operational streaming tasks. In this scenario, of course, we are in the projects "entry point", and all responsibility for the result falls on us. It is not important whom we engage to perform a particular task, but how to organise interaction within the company so as to provide IT services by using the optimal combination of people, finances, clear processes and information technologies, ensuring the required quality.
I would like to emphasise that high-level outsourcing is not only about a large and qualified staff of engineers. We come to the customer with ready-made processes for the most efficient organisation of work.
ICT-Online: Please tell us about the most important customers and projects for the company.
Oleg Zamoschin: Currently, we have over 100 "live" service contracts with customers from the financial sector, telecom, industry, retail other sectors. Most of them have been accompanied for many years. The regular customers who have long become our friends are PJSC VimpelCom, PJSC Tattelecom, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, British Telecom, etc.
A separate area is technical support of large-scale international events. For example, the World Cup, which we have already mentioned. STEP LOGIC began work on preparations for this event back in 2016, back then Company technicians developed an integrated project for deploying a fixed-line communications network for the Ministry of Communications of Russia. Thanks to the efforts of STEP LOGIC specialists, the temporary FIFA network infrastructure functioned without a hitch not just during the World Cup itself but also during the preliminary drawing of lots for the 2018 World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, and the final drawing of lots. During the Universiade in Kazan in 2013, our specialists supported the technological infrastructure of a range of critical facilities. The expertise obtained at the Universiade was applied to implement the project of service support of the security television system at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan. Today, the team of the Kazan branch of STEP LOGIC is working on a large project for another large-scale sporting event.
In addition, we have the project on the full outsourcing of multimedia halls in one of the governing agencies of the Eurasian Economic Union, where serious events at the state level take place almost every day.
ICT-Online: What are the main trends of the Russian IT outsourcing market? Your forecasts for the next 3-5 years.
Leonid Markov: There is a growing desire among customers to unify routine IT processes and get all the services from one supplier. If 5-10 years ago, individual tasks were outsourced, now many companies are inclined to combine IT services and use a single service provider. This trend can be seen, for example, in tenders. It was only yesterday that many large companies allocated separate budgets for network support, jobs, power supply and air conditioning systems, printing services, etc., and today they are holding a single competition for dozens of services and thousands of pieces of equipment. It is much more effective to control one or two contractors, rather than enter into dozens of contracts for overlapping IT services.
Oleg Zamoschin: The same is true with the tendency to move to the cloud and rent virtual servers in commercial data centres. Many customers are no longer satisfied with just the rent of capacities, they need a company that will help with the transfer and will take responsibility for the further maintenance of their infrastructure. At the same time, the customer expects from the contractor in the field of IT not only a clear implementation of the SLA but also financial participation in the optimization of the IT infrastructure, analytics and forecasting, aimed at reducing and preventing services downtime.
All this, of course, has a direct impact on the role of system integrators, which, in fact, become project managers: they predict, build and manage processes. Therefore, to improve their competitiveness in the field of outsourcing, integrators need to develop competencies in the field of project management.
- ICT-Online: Thank you very much for the interview!