Ukrainian IT industry should move from outsourcing to the service model says Senior Director, Head of EPAM Ukraine Yury Antanyuk. Read the interview about Epam taken as a part of IT Feat project.
Epam has been active in the Ukrainian IT market for over ten years, and, like any other company, we had our ups and downs. In 2006-2007, we were developing our offices not only in Kyiv but also in Kharkiv, Lviv, Vinnitsa, and Dnipro. Then there was a difficult period of the 2008-2009 crisis, when all businesses had to resolve hard questions: how to move on, what to change, what to do with employees who are out of work? However, we have passed this period successfully, began to actively develop projects in the financial sector with large international investment banks like UBS and Barclays. We did not forget about our regional office like Lviv and Kharkiv that were dynamically growing in the late 2000s. In 2010-11 we started changing our operational model in Ukraine in terms of the projects that we do.
A company should meet the challenges of the information society
We have about 5,000 employees and many projects. Currently, we are focused on projects that facilitate Digital Transformation for different businesses. In fact, in the last 5 years, the big enterprises, as well as other businesses around the globe, are looking into updating their operations to meet the challenges of the information society. The information technology penetrated the entire world society. Businesses decide how to restructure their operations and cooperation with customers. That is the area of expertise for the companies like ours. I consider it to be a very attractive work for many IT specialists from Ukraine.
Head of an IT company should understand what his employees do
When I was a technical expert, my day was more interesting. All managerial tasks are standard, so every day I try to find time for technical work. This may be a review of a project from a technical point of view, reading an article on a technical topic, a technical community meeting where people discuss not only business issues, but also new technologies. Head of an IT company should understand what his employees do. So, the most attractive part of the work is the connection to the technological world and proactive young people. Management is a routine one can not escape from. Our job is to develop IT industry in Ukraine.
Ukraine has to do more than outsourcing
I think that Ukraine is one of the most attractive countries in Europe and, perhaps, even in the whole world for IT business development. Several key factors are present in Ukraine. Firstly, there is highly educated human capital as many have college degrees. There are many countries where people work in IT having a two or three years of education behind them. In Ukraine, most specialists are highly educated professionals who have completed 5-6 years of college which makes it a completely different work environment. Secondly, Ukraine is a country opened to innovation. Foreign customers or people who want to build a business can come here easily. The very atmosphere in the big cities encourages people to develop something new and creative. These things create major competitive advantages compared to other countries. We should use them and develop not only classic models (like outsourcing) but also new creative things like Product Development Service and Engineering Service platforms. These services are in high demand on the world market. Only a few countries and companies can provide these services. This is a great advantage for Ukraine.
We must strive for the balance between outsourcing and other models
Outsourcing is a good basis on which Ukrainian IT industry has been building its success over the last 15-20 years. But Ukraine does not have a competitive edge in purely outsourcing services when compared to India, China, Mexico or even our neighbors, as we charge more for our job. I believe that we all need to find where we can innovate and what to be better at when compared to other countries. The solution could be developing our own products. Though transformation from outsourcing to product business is a difficult task. There is even some discussion in the Developer and Startup Communities, that outsourcing and product development are incompatible things. It is easier to go from outsourcing to full-service support, which requires more skill while providing end-to-end solutions, including all cycles of development. It is in fact product development in its simplified form with the service model flavor. Nevertheless, some part of the outsourcing business will remain because we can be sure that Ukrainian IT industry will not switch to developing their own products overnight. There should be a balanced situation when people can choose where they want to work.
The interview is available here.