Vadim Kudryavtsev, "People are the Main Factor Driving Economic Growth"
Expert Tatarstan interviewed Vadim Kudryavtsev, Business Development Director at STEP LOGIC and the founder of STEP LOGIC's Kazan branch, on the innovative development of Tatarstan and the future of information technology.
— STEP LOGIC's Kazan Branch celebrated its 11th anniversary in August. How has the IT industry of Tatarstan changed in these years?
— It's not that difficult to calculate the scale of changes. According to the Ministry of Informatisation and Communication of the Republic of Tatarstan, gross revenue from the regional informatisation and communication industry in 2006 amounted to RUB 14.3 billion. By the end of 2017, this figure grew almost fourfold up to RUB 54.9 billion. This explosive growth can be explained by several factors: global trends in information technology, state policy in the field of informatisation, and development of the Republic itself. At present, Tatarstan is one of the leading subjects of the Russian Federation. Large petrochemical companies, machine-building enterprises, and leading educational institutions are concentrated in Tatarstan. The network of technology parks and special economic zones is actively developing. Kazan has turned into an international arena for major sporting events and a popular destination for millions of tourists. The mission of the ICT industry and our branch as its integral part is to create a high-tech base and all IT tools needed for economic and social development.
— Why did STEP LOGIC pick Kazan to open its branch?
— It's not a secret that Tatarstan is a fertile ground for any sector of the economy, but there was one more reason. I am native in Kazan. I was born, got education, and built my career here. However, in 2002, I had to move to Moscow in search of new knowledge and opportunities. It was not uncommon at the time: regions couldn't provide the same level of education and growth opportunities Moscow was offering. People who reached a certain level of professional development were forced to resettle: rent a flat in Moscow, make new school and kindergarten arrangements for their kids. I always advocated the need for large companies to set up branches in regions so that regions have all conditions not only for life but also for professional development. Opening a branch in Kazan is giving people a great chance to stay in their home city and at the same time have the same professional opportunities as in Moscow.
— Do you think that the Kazan branch and the Republic itself can provide all the resources for professional growth in terms of competencies and salaries?
— Sure! As I've said, Tatarstan is a real find for projects of any scale. The Republic has repeatedly been ranked among the most investment-attractive Russian regions. As for our branch, we offer the same opportunities for professional development as our Moscow office. When our branch opened, we had only two engineers, a project manager, and a sales manager here. Now we have dozens of experts in our technical team only. And soon we are planning to significantly expand our intellectual base and are getting ready to recruit pre-sale engineers, project managers, and commercial experts.
— Were there any projects that formed the nature of the branch?
— One of such projects was the creation and installation of a CCTV system at the 27th International Summer Universiade in Kazan in 2013. The sports event became the greatest summer Universiade in the history of student games. We have ensured the security of Universiade facilities by designing and installing video surveillance and smart image processing systems. In addition to design, installation, and commissioning, our branch has integrated existing and new video surveillance systems with the central video archive and provided technical support for systems and users. This project has really drawn the team together, taught us to think more creatively. After the 2013 International Universiade, STEP LOGIC received a letter of thanks from the Tatarstan Minister of Informatisation and Communication Roman Shaykhutdinov. Two years after, we used our Universiade experience to support the CCTV system during the 2015 World Aquatics Championship. Maybe it's too early to say, but right now we are working on a similar project for another major sporting event. We will make an announcement a little later.
— How would you define the industry's main problem?
— The main challenge is the growing cyber threat. Attacks become more complex, while information systems become more and more vulnerable. In the event of a hacking attack, companies bear serious reputational and financial risks. We have to constantly create new high-tech tools to prevent cyber attacks. One of STEP LOGIC's latest developments in this area is STEP Security Operations Center (SOC). STEP SOC integrates people, processes, and technology into one system that provides a complete picture of a company's cybersecurity and suggests tools for detecting, responding, preventing, and analysing cyber threats. STEP SOC is our solution addressing the growing complexity of cyber threats, the need for a comprehensive response to attacks, the lack of qualified personnel in the market, and changes in the regulatory framework. In addition to its security function, this solution helps reduce the cost of information security and simplifies its regulations. At the moment, only five IT companies in Russia can offer their customers such a solution. Another important industry problem is the lack of qualified IT personnel. And we still have to face the consequences of the 90's demographic crisis.
— How does the Kazan branch of STEP LOGIC handle this problem?
— The only way out is to bring up your own experts. Our branch offers some kind of internship, when students, graduates, or young specialists can come to us and try their hand at the profession. We pay for our employees' training, hold corporate workshops and team building events. We are trying to create such an environment, that our employees want to stay in our branch. And I think we nailed it because the branch has a very low staff turnover. The people who were here at the very beginning still work for the company now. People are the main factor driving the economic growth. We do our best to give our experts every opportunity to grow professionally here, in Tatarstan.
Futurologists predict the technological singularity, the point in time when all the advances in technology will lead to machines overtaking human beings. What do you think about it? Will the IT industry advance that much?
— We are, of course, far from reaching the technological singularity. But even today we can see changes in almost all aspects of life. Take, for example, the digitalisation of public services. The Internet of Things is trending: the concept of the network of physical objects that can change economic and social processes. Smart homes, smart cities, and smart factories — just like in your favourite sci-fi books. The IoT helps save electricity, fuel, control different systems, manage remote objects. STEP LOGIC's portfolio includes several IoT projects. For example, we have a very popular RFID-based solution for monitoring PPE at production enterprises, which can automatically track all required PPE elements, computerise the inventory, keep track of their service life, and anticipate purchases of new sets, while also completely eliminating the use of illegal PPE. Besides, we have a product for automation, storage, and issuance of KeyMaster keys. The solution seamlessly integrates with different ACS identifiers, object security systems, and personnel accounting software, and flexibly scales for the customer's tasks. STEP LOGIC is part of Systematica Group of Companies JSC (GCS), which has several other vendors developing their own solutions. One of them is HeadPoint. The company offers both ready-made solutions, such as the InOne IIoT platform, and large-scale individual projects for large regions of Russia based on the Safe City model. I am sure that artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to actively develop. The development of the IoT and 5G will lead to enormous amounts of data that will be impossible to process without AI. And it's difficult to speculate where it will take us. Do you remember Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics? A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Will we manage to implement them when creating AI and self-producing machines? We'll see.
Source: Expert Tatarstan