Russia looks to technology to support growth
Russia looks to technology to support growth
In the years since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia has emerged from a period of uncertainty into an era of growth and possibility. Technology is playing a key part in this transformation, as the massive country looks to modernize its telecoms infrastructure and corporate IT capability.
With the availability of natural gas, metal and coal resources offering a strong economic platform from which to grow, Russia has embarked on a mission to embrace market forces, global trade and the technology that powers them. Inward investment in Russia has boomed, with ventures more than doubling in number over the past five years. In 2010, Russia leapfrogged Spain to become the fourth ranked European foreign direct investment destination.
Hand in hand with its economic evolution, Russia has experienced a substantial cultural shift. It recognized the need to evolve and to reinvent itself, changes that required a different attitude towards democracy than in the past. The need to work with global multinational corporations prompted a different mindset to the traditional, more insular approach, and partnerships have been encouraged. Where previously Russia relied on gas and oil for prosperity, today's Russia is looking longer term - with technology as the enabler.
However, there are still significant challenges to commercial growth in Russia, such as its inadequate infrastructure and challenging geography. The bulk of Russia's most successful businesses are in oil and gas, and consequently operate in the country's most remote regions. This has created a demand for technology solutions that address mission-critical communications needs in unforgiving locations. Many mining and engineering companies have been at the forefront of technology adoption.
In recent years, Russia has seen much consolidation within its industries, with many of the largest energy companies taking the lead. However, a lack of global commercial know-how, married to an aging workforce of engineers schooled in the gas and oil sector, has meant that additional skills are required. This has helped drive increased outsourcing and, therefore, opportunities for global specialists.
"The market for ICT solutions and services in Russia has evolved rapidly, and the country has played catch up with the rest of Europe with a vengeance," comments Pawel Paplinski, Strategy and Marketing Director at Orange Business Services Russia and CIS. "Smart City projects in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are seeing multinational corporations pour money in - and the challenge of delivering high-speed connectivity to the many remote areas of the country offers great opportunities to Orange Business Services in Russia today."
modernizing infrastructure and users
The past couple of years have seen Russia take major steps in its drive toward modernization and competitiveness. Infrastructure remains Russia's biggest headache, with many of the country's largest companies operating in the remote north still reliant on limited-bandwidth satellite broadband. Change is taking place, however, with Russia committed to being the first country in the world to offer comprehensive 4G connectivity, covering 180 cities, by the year 2014.
User demand has helped drive this commitment to change in Russia, with the country's citizens now embracing social media and mobile broadband every bit as much as their peers in western Europe. Eighty percent of Russians now own a mobile device, and homegrown, Russian-language social network Vkontakte has more than 100 million users.
The commitment to rapid change is also evident in the drive toward offering cloud-computing solutions to citizens throughout the country. Incumbent telecoms operator Rostelecom is developing a $350 million nationwide cloud network that will be complete in 2015 - by which time Russia's cloud-services market will have grown from 2010's $35 million to a staggering $1.2 billion.
All of this development relies on infrastructure. A pragmatic approach has seen Russia seek to circumvent the need for massive fiber optic cable installation by concentrating on rolling out high-quality mobile broadband connectivity in both urban and remote areas.
"Russia's legacy systems and technologically unskilled workforce has meant that there is a real demand for companies like Orange Business Services. We are able to offer a full suite of global solutions and services, backed by local support, and both parties are presently reaping the benefit of that," explains Pawel Paplinski. "We are among the first operators to offer cloud solutions, and we deliver over 10 percent of Russia's corporate VPN market. Our customers are enjoying the advantages that come from partnering with a truly global leader."
Orange Business Services in Russia
Orange Business Services is the sole international supplier of telecommunications and integration services in Russia with its own developed infrastructure and range of licenses. The company employs over 1,000 employees in 76 locations and delivers IP transformation, convergence services, voice and data and integration solutions across IT and telecommunications.
Orange Business Services has 4,500 business customers in Russia. These include Coca-Cola, Danone, DHL, Ernst & Young, Nestlé, Mary Kay, Rosbank (part of Société Générale group), Raiffeisen Bank, VTB, MDM Bank, Sberbank of Russia, Federal Customs Authority and Aeroflot.