Interview: How technology is driving CX

In this recent interview with Mark Hillary, Sergei Levteev, Chairman and CEO of IBA Group, talks about the changes in technology over the last 20 years and how they are working with their customers to identify trends for the future.

  • Many of the customer experience trends that we are seeing across the world have been driven by technology. This is really shaping how consumers interact with brands more than ever. Is this changing how your clients behave and are there any particular technologies that they are asking you to help with?

We don’t wait for our clients to ask us. We ourselves offer our clients the solutions that can help them. For example, we have many solutions for retail banking, or a mobile application to get feedback from public transport passengers. Now our customers really want to know the opinion of their users, and as we are talking about hundreds of thousands of users, they need serious analytics.

The next step, together with our clients, we are looking at how to improve and develop these services, taking into account the analytics they receive.

  • 5G is creating a big opportunity for IoT and Digital Twins – these kind of services. And I even heard people talking about 6G. There’s a lot of change in the mobile telephony taking place. Have you been engaged in any of these areas and what are the kinds of solutions that companies are looking for?

Not only 5G. There are other protocols that contribute to the development of IoT. For example, we use LoRa standards in our solutions. It is much cheaper and quite sufficient for many IoT products. Based on this technology, we have, for example, solutions for managing pipe or railway control systems.

We do not have ready-made solutions for Digital Twins, but we are working on this technology. We also use the expertise we gain in Digital Twins for related technologies and projects.

  • Cloud computing and the as-a-service model have changed access to processing power and storage. Do you think the days of buying software and building in-office infrastructure are over?

Exactly twenty years ago, Sam Palmisano, a former president of IBM, announced the on-demand service strategy for IBM. Now it is called Software as a Service, Cloud Computing – the idea is the same. It is obvious that at that time technologies did not allow IBM to implement this strategy in full.

Technology has advanced significantly over the past twenty years. And now the main limiting factors are the investments already made in the in-office technology and the mentality of some business leaders. But it is clear that economic feasibility will be on the side of new technologies. In the next twenty years, closed in-office systems will be used only for special solutions with special security requirements. We have now transferred our projects in this area from Minsk to Prague and have started to offer them actively.

  • The major tech companies have all been laying off staff recently – do you see this as a result of hiring too many people during the pandemic or something more problematic and long-term?

Probably, we here also need to go back twenty years to the dot-com crisis. The reasons for today’s events are much the same. In recent years, there has been a lot of free and cheap money that has been actively invested in various IT start-ups.

Companies with minimum revenues and business results attracted multi-million dollar investments. To utilize these investments, a huge number of specialists was required. Now the situation has changed and central banks, as a reaction to the increased inflation, are tightening their monetary policies.

I think it’s only adjustments to investment portfolios that lead to such consequences. It will probably continue for some time, but it is clear that objectively the growth of the need for IT will align this process.

  • It’s still early in 2023 so are there any tech trends you are expecting to grow and become more important this year?

In my view, these are Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing.

Companies accumulated huge amount of data and most of the data is semi- or non-structured. AI can help them process this data. The technology is not mature yet but it is the main driver for the emerging technologies like big data, robotics, and IoT, and it will continue to act as a technological innovator in the future.

In terms of cloud technologies, I expect in 2023 to grow such trends as Edge Computing, Hybrid Cloud, and Serverless Computing.

Edge Computing is about processing data closer to where it is generated, instead of sending it to the central cloud. This approach helps improve performance. For example, we use Edge Computing in our new bus onboard computer, which we are bringing to the market this year.

Hybrid Cloud is the use of a combination of public cloud and private cloud infrastructure. With this approach, businesses get the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud, while also maintaining control over sensitive data.

Serverless Computing, also known as Function-as-a-Service is an opportunity for developers to focus on writing code and not to worry about the infrastructure. So they can reduce development time and cost, as well as improve scalability and availability.

  • Just to finish, IBA Group is 30 this year, do you have any celebrations or events planned?

Though the situation is not easy, we remain true to our traditions. We will find acceptable forms how to do this in the current year. We will honor our best employees, we will find a chance to meet with our old customers. Recently, there has been a lack of live contacts between people, and an anniversary is a good opportunity for this.

  • I hope you have a great anniversary and manage to get everybody together. The last couple of years have been very difficult for travel, so I am sure that 2023 will be easier for you.

Sure, it will and thanks a lot for your invitation to the interview.

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