IT Arena 2020 – at a Safe Virtual Distance

16 Oct, 2020

One of the largest tech events in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, IT Arena 2020, took place in a new online/offline hybrid mode, which entailed working at lightning speed, adapting to new challenges, and gathering more than 4k participants from around the world. IT Arena came off despite all odds, raising a question to all participants “Are we ready to embrace changes and withstand new challenges?”

The audience and most of the IT Arena speakers participated in this year’s conference from their homes or offices’ comfort. All participants could simultaneously access the event from two devices. The mobile and desktop mediums allowed conveniently switching between the conference talks, asking questions to speakers, and networking with other participants. A total of 4,076 users have registered on the online IT Arena platform. Participants savored 78 hours of curated content from 88 speakers from 4 continents. 93 companies have used the platform’s B2B matchmaking opportunities.

“The virtual format has made the event even more global due to participants’ vast geography and a more robust international speaker lineup. “IT Arena 2020 brought together the world’s leading minds who shared their unique insights and ideas on how entrepreneurs and organizations can become more competitive in the tech ecosystem,” says Matt Wise, co-founder of Archipelo and moderator of Business Track’s first day.

IT Arena attendees had a chance to listen to the insights from the representatives of the world’s largest tech giants, including Tesla, Formula 1, BMW Group, Facebook, NVIDIA, Google, Vimeo Enterprise, Atlassian, Klarna, SAP, Sixt. Leading companies with Ukrainian roots, which are successfully expanding worldwide, were also represented at four conference tracks. Among them, MacPaw, Reface, Sigma Software, DataRobot, Softserve, N-iX, Intellias, Exadel, Luxoft, Poster, and others. For seven years in a row, IT Arena has been promoting Ukrainian tech developments, talent, and innovations in the global arena. The winner of the Startup Competition 2018, Liki24, recently raised $ 5 million of investment for business development in Poland, and previously another $ 1 million from a Ukrainian group of investors. Anton Avrinskyi, CEO of Liki24, performed at the Startup track with a report How winning the IT Arena Startup Competition helped Liki24.com raise over $5M, to grow 6 times in 2019, and operate in two countries.

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IT Arena 2020 key takeaways

The 3-day marathon of conference talks examined the central question, “What is the next big thing?” The future is impossible without flexibility and understanding of not only tech but humans, particularly their needs and values. “Maybe the next Turing Test will be to identify if a human is a machine,” argues Iulia Pasov, Senior Data Scientist at Sixt.

“COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation worldwide. Even if in 2019, some businesses were able to ignore the course of innovation, in 2020, that cannot be fathomed anymore. This year’s IT Arena discussed main global trends: the workplace, content and public administration of the future, globalization, software freedom, financial models for startups, deep learning and AI,” shares Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO of Lviv IT Cluster, IT Arena organizer.

“The future is here. And we’re being forced to innovate. We’re moving beyond the traditional video-based e-learning already. It’s getting more collaborative with games, etc”, Ken Sandy, Industry Fellow and Lecturer at UC Berkeley, contemplates learning and its future.

Olaf Preissner, Vice President UX Design at Luxoft has a more long-term vision: “Autonomous driving will take some time because the infrastructure must also develop. But maybe in the course of 20 years, our personal vehicle will be able to pick us up after a party and take us home.”

Dr. Elizabeth Churchill, Director UX at Google concludes: “Tech is always going to be with us, but I want tech to be much more humane. Making tech usable and accessible in a bigger sense of the word. We have standards for accessibility, but I want to raise the bar of those standards, so actually, we think about not users, but ranges of behaviors that we want to accommodate in our design process. If we could make tech more humane, and not make people bend to us, but make tech more responsive to people, make it more accessible and available to more people then we will create a better world.”

Startup Competition 2020 what’s in

More than 100 Ukrainian startups have applied for the Startup Competition 2020. 39 teams made it to the finals, among which solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, particularly agriculture industry people with bipolar disorder support, anti-insect products, sanitizers produced from water, and digital self-services in restaurants. The total prize fund of the IT Arena Startup Competition amounted to $ 120 k.

The winner of the IT Arena Startup Competition 2020 main prize, $ 10,000 from CDRF Global & IT Arena, was Kharkiv-based startup Tradomatic. The startup helps farmers sell crops, buy inputs, get financing, and buy/sell land faster by matching their buyers and distributors’ requests. Runner-up of the competition was the hardware startup IOON a device that transforms water into a sanitizer in a few seconds. The team received $ 6,000 from CDRF Global and many other valuable benefits. The third prize $ 5,000 and a 6-month membership in the Sigma Software Lab went to ORTY Restaurant Management. ORTY is a solution that enables restaurants to launch digital self-service quickly.

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IT Arena three online conference days came to an end in a flash, almost as fast as the world around us is changing. We have no choice but to embrace the transformations and adapt. Keep Running, the main message IT Arena 2020 was trying to convey, makes us contemplate and get ready for the relentless changes ahead.

See you in 2021.