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ICL Services opens a location in “a promising center of IT outsourcing”.
The Serbian IT and outsourcing sectors are not too big but those are promising areas of the business market with great potential for development. The number of IT companies in the region increases every year and attracts investment subsidies in this economy sector.
Highly qualified personnel proficient in several foreign languages and innovative IT technology, reasonable cost of such experts, strategically convenient geographical location and the presence of universities that teach quality IT talents — these features attract international companies to the Serbian region.
One of the first Russian companies to open a location in Serbia is ICL Services — a pioneer in the field of professional IT outsourcing in Russia, member of the top 100 IAOP world ranking. Its director Sergei Solovyov talks about strategic plans, provided services and prospects of creating new jobs.
1. Sergei, when did the idea to open an office in Serbia come up in ICL Services? What was the reason for it
ICL Services came to the idea to open a location there together with our partner Fujitsu more than a year ago. It was supposed to be designed for those Fujitsu customers and partners who would like to receive some high quality service based on our processes provided, in this case, outside of Russia.
In this regard, we had to choose the most convenient location for our additional office. Since the spring of 2015 we analyzed various countries of the world suitable for our goal. As a result, we opted for Serbia.
In addition to its convenient strategic and geographic location, this region has a number of advantages such as the free trade area between Russia and Serbia, the visa-free entry of Russian citizens in Serbia for up to 30 days, the presence of IT experts who possess advanced technologies and have deep knowledge of several European languages and, very importantly, higher educational institutions that train such experts. Serbia is called “a promising center” or “a rising star” concerning both IT outsourcing and a number of research areas.
2. What professional services will be provided in the new location?
The Belgrade office will provide services in accordance with customer requirements for operation reliability, as well as with the standards of information security. It will provide the required parameters for company’s growth.
The first service that will be transferred to the office this summer is the 24×7 remote monitoring of IT infrastructure and remote support of IT infrastructure (Wintel, Unix, Storage) with a focus on 24×7 services.
In addition to providing service to global customers, the company is eager to expand its share on the local market of both Serbia and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe and create a competence center for the most popular services in the regions. We plan to provide customers with high-tech services: Remote Infrastructure Management, OpenStack-based cloud solutions, multilingual Service Desks, information security services.
3. How is the recruitment organized?
The recruitment process has already begun. The HR expert engaged in the search and selection of regional experts of the qualification required by us is now in Serbia. As to our Russian employees, some of them, although not many, may also be transferred to the Belgrade office.
Our experts currently working in Serbia are the director of the Serbian office and his deputy, who is also the HR expert. Currently there is no need to transfer our technical experts to this office. Since our knowledge transfer processes are very clear, there is no need to transfer people from one location to another.
4. Do you know of other examples of cooperation between Russian and Serbian companies in the field of IT outsourcing?
If we talk about general cooperation between Russia and Serbia in the field of IT outsourcing, I do not know of any other practical examples yet. I’ve recently visited the EXPO-RUSSIA SERBIA forum in Belgrade and talked with a trade representative of Russia in Serbia, he also failed to mention any similar implemented projects.
I am confident that our cooperation will be one of the first successful examples. It is important that the purpose of this cooperation is not only to establish the cooperation between these two countries and introduce Russian products to the local market but also to involve Serbian IT experts in the international global collaboration.
5. What are the company’s prospects in the Serbian market? What are the goals set for the office this year?
Our primary task is to create a backup center that will ensure the continuity and reliability of our existing services provided to international clients. Naturally, we are not going to stop there but this is our goal for the first year.
In the future we plan to expand the volume of business both with Fujitsu and local companies. Our plan for the next 5 years is to increase our sales from zero to 5 million euros per year. We can achieve these figures by working on both the local Serbian market and the nearby markets of Balkans and Southern Europe. If we manage to come to this level our office will employ around 100-150 experts.
6. Tell us about your cooperation with Belgrade universities, have you already achieved any agreements?
On the EXPO-RUSSIA SERBIA business forum in Belgrade held in mid-March I saw a great interest in cooperation among representatives of various universities that train experts required by us not only in Belgrade but in Serbia in general. Their students successfully participate in international IT competitions and contests.
Interestingly, this year the team of Belgrade students participated in the International programming tournament annually organized by the ICL company group. They showed a very high level of training and finished among the top six teams, ahead of 17 teams with participants from Russian regions. We are always very interested in such “young experts” and invite them to join our like-minded team of ICL Services.
Our cooperation with universities has already begun. We agreed to visit a number of universities to consider how the training process of IT specialists is organized and what programs is it based on. We plan to cooperate with universities on a joint technology program that will allow students to study the technologies applied in real projects and later — successfully work in a team of the Serbian office of ICL Services.
Students eager to work in international companies, so we discuss some student exchange programs between universities in Kazan and Belgrade, as well as work through the possibility of inviting Serbian students for work placement in our company.