IT provides Ukrainian financial system resilience in the face of adversity

Through the first 10 months of Ukraine’s struggle with Russia and the huge disruption it brought, the country’s IT business continued to grow.

In response to a report from the IT Ukraine Association, the worth of IT exports within the time from Russia’s invasion in February last yr to the top of December was $6bn, some 10% greater than the same interval in 2021.

Almost 290,000 individuals in Ukraine are employed within the tech sector, and IT exports have been value three.5% of Ukraine’s GDP and 37.eight% of complete providers exports in 2021. Had the Russian invasion led to the sector’s collapse, Ukraine would have been massively weakened.

But the resilience of the sector has been a shock to everybody – aside from the Ukrainian tech sector itself. “These results have been made attainable because of the efficient implementation of business continuity plans, timely relocation of groups, and diversification of improvement centres in Ukraine and overseas,” in line with Konstantin Vasyuk, government director at IT Ukraine Affiliation, writing within the organisation’s Do IT like Ukraine report.

The IT sector’s significance to Ukraine’s future cannot be overstated. “IT corporations continue to operate and implement tasks even with blackouts, pay taxes in a timely manner, improve their presence in the international market, and appeal to new clients. It is because of such unique expertise and experience that the Ukrainian IT business has the potential to grow to be the primary driver of Ukraine’s submit-conflict reconstruction,” wrote Vasyuk.

IT hotspot

No Ukrainian city was disrupted greater than Kharkiv in the east, simply 80km from the Russian border.

Kharkiv was invaded early within the conflict, altering life in a single day for the individuals and businesses there. The town is now recognized the world over, however few individuals realise it is a hotspot for IT businesses.

“The Ukrainian IT business has the potential to develop into the primary driver of Ukraine’s submit-conflict reconstruction”
Konstantin Vasyuk, IT Ukraine Affiliation

Earlier than the struggle started, IT providers firm Aimprosoft was headquartered within the metropolis. Primarily targeted on offering net-based mostly software improvement experience, Aimprosoft provides its clients with particular person developers, groups of builders, or an entire software improvement administration service. As co-founder Maxim Ivanov puts it, “outstaffing and outsourcing”.

Ivanov is CEO of the 350-robust company, which was set up in 2005 and has clients within the US and Europe, including UK telecoms provider Digital 1.

“I did not consider this struggle would start as a result of a lot of people in the japanese part of Ukraine have kin in Russia,” he stated, including that though it was “unattainable to assume it might occur”, the company did have a backup office in the west of the nation.

This workplace was shortly utilised when Kharkiv was attacked by Russian troops early within the invasion, with Aimprosoft shifting its headquarters to Ivano-Frankivsk in the west of Ukraine. Its employees at the moment are spread throughout the country, with about 20% situated in different European nations.

Pandemic preparation

Ivanov stated the expertise of distant working through the Covid-19 pandemic meant employees have been outfitted to work in remote places, with developers having already switched from desktops to laptops. “Everyone was prepared to jump of their automobiles and go to security.”

He remembers being woken by the sound of shelling when Russian troops moved on Kharkiv. “It is a thing you really don’t need to keep in mind. There was me, my spouse, two youngsters and a cat – we took every little thing we might into our automotive and headed to our backup workplace,” he advised Pc Weekly.

Sadly, automotive hassle and the lack to find a mechanic amid a conflict meant Ivanov and his household have been stuck in the midst of Ukraine for months. “Public transport was operating, however [we were in] a protected place and it made no sense to hurry.”

From a enterprise perspective, he stated the early days have been the hardest. “No one anticipated it and it took time for workers to get on-line once more, however we have been back to full power inside three days.”

Clients have been understanding of any service interruption given the size and international significance of occasions in Ukraine. “All of our clients understood the state of affairs, and lots of even paid for the days developers missed as a result of they have been on the transfer. The assistance from our clients was unbelievable and no contracts have been cancelled because of the warfare.”

“Lots of our clients have issues because of the current international economic problems, but we’re nonetheless discovering new tasks. Though we aren’t in one of the best form, we are in fairly fine condition”

Maxim Ivanov, Aimprosoft

Actually, the company is profitable enterprise. “Obviously, lots of our clients have points because of the current international financial problems, but we’re still finding new tasks,” stated Ivanov. “Although we aren’t in one of the best form, we are in fairly fine condition.”

The company is now giving back to the state. It has contributed financially to the struggle efforts, supporting army operations by way of gear corresponding to automobiles, drugs and drones. It additionally has employees on the front line.

One of the firm’s principal objectives is to retain all its employees and proceed to pay their wages. “We care about our individuals and we don’t need to lose anyone,” stated Ivanov.

He has no plans to go away Ukraine and is constructive concerning the future. “We feel that we’ll win within the warfare. We depend on help from other nations, but when this continues, we’ll win and rebuild Ukraine. I need to keep here. I really like my nation.”

As well as opening its primary workplace in the west of Ukraine, Aimprosoft opened five smaller workplaces across the nation, every with its own energy era, to make sure if individuals lost power within the locations they have been dwelling they might drive to considered one of these workplaces to work.

Security first

Vlad Khodzinsky, vice-president at Ukrainian software program improvement company Sigma Software program, also based in Kharkiv some 20 years ago, informed Pc Weekly: “I clearly keep in mind in the morning simply over a yr in the past being woken by the sound of explosions. From that moment, I began to consider and plan for numerous situations.”

Although the company has since unfold the world over, its headquarters and 90% of employees have been historically situated in Kharkiv, the place Khodzinsky and his household have been when the warfare began.

From his London workplace, the place he’s now based mostly, he stated: “As a father and a manager of tons of of people, my first thought was to move my household to security. My second thought was to move our staff to protected places.”

Sigma Software program, which offers software improvement, testing, consulting and cyber security providers, has 38 workplaces in 17 nations, with about 2,000 staff serving lots of of company clients, including Scania and AstraZeneca.

A lot of the company’s staff and operations are in the Ukraine, together with Kharkiv.

“So long as we’re capable of ship providers, we will help, donate, present jobs, pay taxes and grow”

Vlad Khodzinsky, Sigma Software

Once his household and employees have been relocated to protected locations, Khodzinsky began to think about easy methods to hold the enterprise working, all the time wanting at the greater picture. “So long as we’re capable of ship providers, we will help, donate, present jobs, pay taxes and grow,” he stated.

The corporate, its partners and its staff raised about $4m to donate in help to Ukraine and its individuals. The money was spent on gear for the struggle effort.

In response to Khodzinsky, Sigma Software’s expertise in business continuity kicked in when Russia invaded. The company has been building that expertise for almost a decade. “For us, the struggle started in 2014, and since then we’ve got always targeted on that danger. For example, our infrastructure and servers have been already in protected European nations.”

He stated its workplaces also have their very own diesel turbines which may present power for two weeks, as well as backup internet connections.

Distributed workforce

The corporate now has a technique to stability its workforce with much less reliance on Ukraine-based mostly employees.

“We are hiring more individuals outdoors Ukraine now as a part of our technique to have extra distributed and balanced teams. We hope to have about half in Ukraine and half in other European nations,” stated Khodzinsky.

He stated the strategy was to assist the company overcome nervousness from clients who’re typically “not ready to hire within the Ukraine” as a direct consequence of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Decreasing its Ukraine-based mostly workforce was a troublesome determination, but as part of its hiring course of the company will look to supply jobs to displaced Ukrainians in addition to locals in different nations. “It is an opportunity for us to hire someone who’s in need of a job,” stated Khodzinsky.

Power struggles

In September 2022, Pc Weekly spoke to Konstantin Klyagin, founder of Ukrainian software program improvement service supplier Redwerk, concerning the firm’s response to the conflict and its business continuity plans.

He stated because the interview his company has faced new challenges. “The most important change is that, ranging from October 2022, Russia began recurrent large air raids on the crucial power infrastructure, which impacted all the Ukraine.

“Although our group is distributed across Ukraine, many teammates remained in Kyiv, which was – and nonetheless is – the first target of Russia’s terrorist assaults on civilians”

Konstantin Klyagin, Redwerk

“Despite the fact that our group is distributed across Ukraine, many teammates remained in Kyiv, which was – and nonetheless is – the primary target of Russia’s terrorist attacks on civilians.” 

He stated power outages have turn out to be the norm for many Ukrainians.

“Truthfully, we weren’t ready for such a flip of events, but the largest lesson we’ve discovered up to now is that we need to act quick,” stated Klyagin.

He stated open, cross-company communication is significant. “Because our company has horizontal administration, teammates across departments talk freely. Everybody started sharing in Slack their ideas and tips on tips on how to set up a house energy station using a automotive battery and inverter, which suppliers guarantee web connection even during blackouts, the place to buy quality power banks, and so forth.”

Klyagin stated the workforce was surveyed to see who wanted help with what and located power outages and web connectivity have been problematic for a lot of.

“We observed that business centres started equipping their spaces with energy turbines and Starlink terminals to ensure an uninterrupted internet connection and power supply,” he stated. “We decided to reimburse our staff who attend such coworking spaces and reserve several desks regularly in a couple of centres.”

Those that stay distant and prefer working remotely acquired energy banks.

Klyagin admitted there had been a “slight” fall in productiveness, however stated he was very pleased with how responsibly his workforce handled their tasks and how supportive they have been of one another.

“It might be unimaginable to unravel problems with out the help of IT suppliers”

Oleg Polovynko, Kyiv Metropolis Council

Oleg Polovynko, CIO at Kyiv Metropolis Council informed Pc Weekly that the Ukrainian authorities rely heavily on the nation’s IT sector to proceed to perform in the current unsure setting.

“IT suppliers and techniques integrators play a fundamental position in digitisation. They’ve high-degree specialisation and authorized engineers, particularly in cyber safety, high-finish purposes and options,” he stated. “It will be unattainable to unravel problems with out the help of IT suppliers.”

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