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Not murderers, but partners: how it companies survive in the digital world

Captive it companies of large corporations — Sberbank technologies, LUKOIL-inform, itsk, etc. — have created new markets for traditional it companies. To make money on it, the participants of the open market will have to learn new mechanisms of interaction with holdings and organizations
The largest corporations significantly expand the business of subsidiaries of it companies. At first glance, they become direct competitors for traditional service providers operating in the field of information technology. But let’s not jump to conclusions.

Experienced design companies have at least several trajectories of further development, one of them is a deep specialization in the segment of managed services (Managed Services, that is, the provider’s services for placing the customer’s information systems in its own data center). Another equally effective way of development for the integrator is migration to the sphere of cloud services.

There is a tendency to move from a broad offer of integration services to a clear and market-based specialization in areas such as the development of unique software, the provision of managed services or effective cloud solutions. This transition largely determines the scenario for further development of the project business in the it sector. However, not all integrators were able to recognize and correctly interpret the changes taking place in the industry. As a result, some large design companies of the Russian information technology market (for example, Asteros and Microtest) have to be mentioned in the past.

But let’s return to the hypothetical competitors of independent it suppliers — rapidly growing muscle to subsidiaries of technology companies of leading corporate customers, as in the case of Sibintek (a subsidiary of it company Rosneft). Size, of course, matters. However, if you look closely, it is easy to find that, as a rule, subsidiaries of it companies of industry giants do not have strategies for entering the external market of information technologies. After all, the solutions they create and implement are the key to the future competitiveness of the core business: banking, mining, processing, retail. And such goods are not widely traded.

Similarly, the companies of the new wave, from the very beginning made a bet on the “figure”, behave in the same way. It’s hard to imagine that Uber will start selling its internal management system to everyone. On the contrary, the company will continue to hone and develop basic technologies exclusively for itself. At least because the improvement of its own information systems will allow Uber to earn much more than the trade created by the platform. And the shareholders will not allow it.

The main thing is that the tendency to increase their own technological competencies by leading corporate customers does not actually reduce, but just increases the volume of the market for independent suppliers.

Yes, “Sberbank-Technologies” now controls two-thirds of the inner order of it from “savings”. But at the same time, the total volume of solvent demand in the it market from Sberbank as a whole increased, which was the result of increasing domestic investment in digital transformation. So, “external” service providers only need to demonstrate a consistently high quality of services and meet the expectations of contractors in order to count on a cumulative increase in the number of projects and their budgets.

Of course, companies have to change quickly, given the qualitative changes in the structure of demand. But along the way, the scale of projects related to the transformation processes is also increasing. Our customers strive to become fully digital. And these are not separate “projects in the field of automation”, but long-term strategic investments.

Similar examples are found in the segment of it solutions aimed at improving the efficiency of authorities. I remember well the heated debates, the subject of which were the functions and tasks of departmental computing centers, such as gnivts of the Federal tax service (FNS) and similar structures of other departments. Many independent design companies considered these structures as their direct competitors, receiving exclusive access to a significant part of the market “pie”. But we must not forget that public authorities are dealing with very sensitive data sets and administrative processes, access to which needs to be clearly regulated and controlled.

As a result, a compromise was found. Departmental computing centers gradually began to turn into innovation and implementation structures, taking on the role of system architects and supervisors. They are also responsible for critical data sets and their processing processes. At the same time, market players have the opportunity to effectively interact with such qualified General contractors in the framework of projects aimed at the digitalization of public administration. As a result, a single carefully designed information system is formed, excluding the effect of “zoo solutions”.

A very important case is the long-term experience of interaction of the above-mentioned FNS and gnivts with independent players of the it market in the development of the information system AIS “Tax-3”. It solves the tasks set by the Government of the Russian Federation to ensure the creation of a unified base and openness of tax authorities for the taxpayer. During its implementation, more than 20 large it companies were involved. At the same time, the it budget of the Federal tax service for 2017 amounted to more than 17.6 billion rubles. Part of this amount goes to independent market players. Even large independent it companies are interested in it.

There is a new Protocol of business interaction: captive (“internal”) it companies (“Sberbank-Technologies”, “LUKOIL-inform”, itsk, etc.) not only clearly define the zone of exceptional technological development, which is closed to external access, but also build transparent interfaces for interaction with open market participants. And let third-party suppliers are not allowed to overcome the invisible border beyond which the digital core of the end customer’s activity is formed. What is more important is that the own technology teams of the largest holdings or agencies still need high-quality packaged and easily integrated platforms, services, solutions and software products.

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