Emma Arakelyan, Eric Hayrapetyan: Armenia’s IT has much more potential

20.06.2016 | 09:44 Home / News / Interviews /

On June 22, International IT conference will take place in the Ball Room of Best Western Congress hotel, which aims to unite IT global and Armenian companies and startups around a goal of increasing recognizability of Armenian IT in the world, making it a centre of investments and outsourcing. The event is sponsored and organized by Ernst & Young, and other organizers are Union of Information Technology Enterprises and Synergy International Systems.

Mediamax director Ara Tadevosyan talked to Emma Arakelyan, IT Partner at EY New York office, Eric Hayrapetyan, partner at Global Financial Services of EY Moscow and Country Managing Partner of EY Armenia and Tigran Atayan, the  Partner in charge of EY technology practice in CIS.

- Many conferences, meetings and seminars are being organized to discuss the Armenian IT-sector and its perspectives. What will be the main angle of the conference sponsored by EY and organized by the EY, UITE and Synergy International Systems?

Eric Hayrapetyan: - It is very encouraging that Armenia’s IT industry is having such increased number of meetings, forums and conferences. It is a very positive sign of intensive growth, expansion and transformation of the industry. The global landscape of technology is vastly changing and going through a noticeable revolution driven by one of the progressive trends, i.e. financial technology (aka FinTech).  

Eric Hayrapetyan

I am happy to see that Armenian IT is in the middle of that wave and is responding in a very healthy way. This particular conference that will be held on June 22 is taking place as result of the IT revolution that is happening now. This conference also has several features that are unique: it is not only an international and global in its scope, but it is the first time that we will have a conference with several key stakeholders in one room with five different group discussions: business, technology, government, educators and investors all in one place to discuss Armenia’s IT present and future states.

We will have discussions to:

- Show Armenia's readiness in larger IT Outsourcing and be part of the investment market based on recent decade’s growth of Armenia’s IT;

- Demonstrate successes in IT Industry in Armenia, different scenarios: home grown IT companies, international companies established in Armenia, and startups.

- Showcase global and large businesses (i.e. Big4 (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC), Grant Thornton, and McKinsey) current state of IT Outsourcing. Understand location and sourcing strategies of large international organizations.

- Target internship topic for educators’ panel: how to put it on international level and how to create a culture of internships starting from first year in college.

- Understand investors' interests and expectations from IT Industry.

- Explore what Armenia would need to do to become the global target for IT investors.

- Who will be the participants of the conference and do you expect any direct and quick outcome?

Emma Arakelyan: - The conference will be attended by Armenia government officials: Prime Minister and his economic advisor, Central Bank of Armenia, EY, Deloitte, KPMG, Grant Thornton, McKinsey, top educators and leaders from universities in Armenia, IT players and startups with global impact, investors from New York and Europe, more than 150 Armenian IT organizations.

The immediate and quick outcome will be to raise the awareness of local and international businesses about Armenia’s IT services readiness to be a strong contender in the global IT market.

The second outcome would for IT companies to establish international level internship program to give a sharp boost of developing IT professionals while they are in college. Another immediate take away will be to showcase Armenian IT companies’ successes and initiate more strategic and impactful collaboration among IT companies; among IT companies and businesses; among IT companies and universities; among all parties involved and Armenia government to drive the industry forward.

- According to governmental statistics, the Armenian IT-sector is growing quite fast in last years. Do you think that this growth is reflecting the real potential or much more could be done?

Tigran Atayan: - The recent years’ growth has been quite fascinating for Armenia’s IT.  One of the achievements to note is that out of the 140 Microsoft Innovation Centers (MIC) worldwide, Armenia ranks in the Top 3.

In Armenia the IT is the most dynamic sector in the country’s economy as its growth is four times faster the average level of the economy. Given the quality level of the IT workforce and the revolution in startups and financial technology, I think Armenia’s IT has much more potential and more can be done. Armenia would need to get in the areas where it touched lightly before and there are limitless opportunities.

For example, New York investors and large international corporations who are now getting involved in FinTech and in newer IT solutions. Armenia can offer more specialized IT services, innovative workforce and higher quality outcomes.

- Many people say that Armenian IT-sector should shift from the outsourcing model to producing more value added products and services. Are you going to talk about this?

Tigran Atayan: - Absolutely, that is one of the corner stones of the conversation. As noted in the previous commentary, Armenian IT industry has much more potential and it can play a stronger role in the innovation and specialized services space. The shift in the market is that IT outsourcing model and scope is changing due to the revolutionary FinTech movement.  We already see a shift towards more specialized and innovative IT outsourcing and that is where Armenia’s IT needs to get in. Those services and areas for capabilities are:

1.    Enterprise Applications (SAP, Salesforce, Hyperion, Cognos, etc.) to do Customization, Data Migration, Data Integration, Interface Integration.
2.    Data and Analytics (Python, MDM, Visualization, etc.)
3.    Digital and User experience
4.    Web design and web applications
5.    FinTech solutions and blockchain.
6.    Mobile applications

- One of the biggest problems in the sector is the lack of specialists: engineers, developers, designers. We know that some rectors and deans of universities will take part in your conference - what you going to discuss with them?

Tigran Atayan: - The conference agenda is putting a strong emphasis on resource pipeline topic as one of the key growth factors to gain investors’ and businesses’ serious and ongoing attention. The key topic with Armenia’s top university leaders during the conference will be about how to take students’ internship culture to an international level. Students would start having real time job experiences from their early years in college (why not from the first year in the college, like I see students in New York do).

- What could the Armenian government do for boosting the IT-growth in Armenia? And should and could be done for bringing the Western IT brand names to Armenia?

Emma Arakelyan

Emma Arakelyan: - It is obvious that among many other dramatic changes in the market, FinTech is also changing the IT outsourcing and investment strategies for startups. It would be very effective if Armenia’s government would look into simplifying policies, regulations, and taxation; enhancing their local and international marketing campaigns for startups and established companies. The government may need to open more local and international opportunities for robust global IT programs, competitions and promotional campaigns for startups initiated by corporations, universities, investors, venture capitalists.

- Do you think that regional approach could become another growth factor? For instance, do you see prospects for establishing cooperation between Armenian and Georgian IT-companies?

Emma Arakelyan: - I strongly believe that cooperation and collaboration for all: locally, regionally and globally is the way to go. The innovative nature of the IT revolution will be taking Armenia to a much stronger position especially if we combine forces. We are not a billion people country and we should leverage other regional and global workforces to enhance further our growth. As I noted, Armenia shall have growth strategies in multiple directions including collaboration locally (among 400+ IT companies in Armenia), regionally (Georgia, CIS, Middle East, etc.) and globally.

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