Anastasia Dril

Anastasia DRIL: “We will compete with business models.”

IT NewsFacts and forecasts

Dmitry Vinogradov | 06/27/2020

Anastasia Dril

Anastasia Dril

Softline Business Development Director, Northwest Russia

Annual plan implemented

Russian business was not ready for mass remote work, as, incidentally, it seems to me that business around the world. Such a flurry of calls and calls, such an increase in requests from customers and
partners, as it was in April, we have never observed. Usually you start to value something only when you lose it. As soon as we lose the ability to quickly communicate, manage effectively
staff, data collection, analytics assessment, we understand that without this it is impossible to work effectively. Therefore, Softline from the very beginning of quarantine worked in an enhanced mode – almost in three shifts,
helped partners and customers solve basic problems associated with the increasing load on the IT infrastructure, with the need to quickly deploy some new systems in the clouds,
building interaction with company accounting systems, remote access, information security. All this fell upon companies that had not previously thought about it, but to resolve these issues.
needed really fast. We, of course, turned out to be more prepared, and within a week the whole company was already working remotely without loss of quality.

We have set ourselves growth plans of the order of 25-30% year-on-year, and at the moment the numbers indicate that the turnover and revenue that the company now has, despite the coronovirus, we have our own plans
we carry out.

If this pandemic happened five to seven years earlier, we would not be able to deal with it equally effectively in the IT plan. Because the growth of requests to transfer infrastructure to the clouds, which
observed the last five to seven years, before simply did not exist. Everyone preferred to work the old fashioned way, on servers that are located in the company’s own offices. And there was a great mistrust of
this product. The same goes for information security. In principle, companies did not think about the need for remote work, the organization of remote secure access to all systems.
Information security boiled down to the fact that there were security guards in the offices, who did what they did best to ensure that employees did not take out hard drives from the office.

Now there is a level of readiness for the transition, awareness of the importance of the remote location, the ability to build continuous communication, manage distributed teams and focus on funds so that all this is possible
was organized, many companies are quite high.

Distributed teams

Our company is quite large: more than 5,000 employees not only in our country, but also distributed around the world. But most importantly, we are quite flexible. And those tools or resources that
we offer our customers, we use ourselves in our work. That is, we turned out to be a sort of “shoemaker in boots”. And we also have experience working with distributed teams in our company.
Therefore, we entered into this process with an understanding of how to work with it. But, of course, we, like everyone, were faced with basic problems. The main one, of course, is speed. Speed
response and speed scaling. This is the problem that all companies faced: not just to do something, but to do it quickly.

Of course, we also had certain reconfigurations at work, when it was necessary to cope with the increased load that fell on the IT infrastructure, on the support service, to provide access to
the company’s remote information systems when a huge number of people needed it at the same time. But basically, in almost a week, we entered a new mode, when everything was set up
for operational work.

Competent analytics

For me, as the person responsible for the development of business in a certain territory, the main thing, of course, is interaction with customers. Information technology is a service industry
which becomes unnecessary when partners, customers and customers stop working. And the first thing we thought about is how we will build communication with customers in the new environment? And many of
We offer them methods and resources, for example, solutions for team interaction, which are offered by leading vendors. For example, we ourselves mainly use Microsoft Teams as a corporate
communication tool: we show customers the advantages of its use, conduct webinars, meetings. That is, very often we act as a kind of consultant on how to organize all this.

We all showed an example of our work. Because the most painful moment was the feeling that companies had become sharply cut off from the outside world. And to build a new continuous communication has become
one of our top priorities. The second most important task is to be able to receive data and analytics, despite the distance. And analytics in Softline is built very
competently. We have a good BI, and on our example we showed clients how to build a system for collecting analysis data in order to evaluate how critical zones work. This also applies to production,
and sales and finance. So that you can always get the necessary data from anywhere in the world, as management decisions are made on their basis.

State assistance

State assistance, especially in difficult times, is difficult to overestimate. The inclusion of Softline in the list of backbone companies in Russia was a very important point for us. This is a recognition of the significance of our
companies in the market. Business and government in critical situations are always in the same boat. Effective work is impossible without the development of the real sector of the economy.

For our part, we also focused on solutions that can help the state as quickly as possible begin to solve the problems that have arisen. This mainly relates to healthcare and
education. Since we are also working with the public sector, we had a lot of requests for the quick creation of mobile jobs for doctors, for help in updating the IT infrastructure of medical
institutions. And as the load grew, it was necessary to use a large number of devices at the same time, there were a lot of this type of request. There were even new products that were
developed jointly with partners. For example, a program that automatically recognizes images from a tomograph in automatic mode allowed to increase cross-country ability and made it possible to check
snapshots are not manual, slow as before, but much faster. And for universities – this is the transition to online education, the selection of an online platform, the ability to use clouds to deploy all of these

Since our company is well represented in the regions, we perfectly feel the requests from them. For example, I’m geographically located in the northwest, and my colleagues work across the country,
starting from the Far East, Siberia and the Urals. In different regions, the requests are slightly different. For example, if somewhere it was the supply of thermal imagers or, for example, the organization of remote jobs, then
in St. Petersburg, we often faced precisely requests for help in updating the IT infrastructure of medical facilities, because they simply could not cope with the increased load.

I think that it is in this format, when the state is aware of the problems of business and goes towards it, trying to help, business can quickly direct efforts to those areas that are now just
necessary in a pandemic. And thanks to this synergy, we together will be able to quickly get out of this difficult quarantine situation.

Business Model Competition

We discussed within our company what we should become in the new environment. And, it seems to me, now companies that keep well afloat, compete not so much with the degree of development
IT infrastructure or innovation, and, in fact, compete with business models. And now IT has become not just a tool that is used to solve any problems, technology has become
Penetrate almost all business processes and define business models. IT is no longer responding simply to the question “how?”, But to the question “what kind of economic effect will it give”? Therefore now
large-scale IT projects, especially in retail or Fintech, are areas that are most digitalized and “go ahead of the rest.” All projects, for example MachineLearning, artificial
intelligence, using Big Data, are considered as full-fledged investment projects. The economic effects of implementation are calculated, and companies, making serious investments in these projects,
want to understand – what will this business model give? And, probably, if you give advice on what you should pay attention to, this is, of course, the flexibility of this business model, the ability to quickly
scaling. This is now coming to the fore.

Business diversification is also important. I think that we, as a major player, were helped first of all by the ability to quickly analyze the situation and direct our efforts to those products, to those segments,
which are most in demand. That is, it is important to be able to quickly analyze and make a decision, to quickly begin to work in the required direction. Of course, this is primarily automation
processes. We now hear in many interviews that the possibility of automating precisely the processes of document management, hiring employees, and training has come to the fore.

But the methods of quick staff training and a new type of leadership came to the fore. Because it is very important when the company has a leader who is capable, despite the unpredictability of the situation,
make decisions and lead the company along, understanding why we take certain steps. Our company has such a leader, and this has become very powerful support: our global CEO once a week
conducts hotlines with up to 3,000 employees; they are explained to them why and why we take certain steps. An operational headquarters was created to address emerging issues. After all
It is always very important for employees to have an understanding of where the company is moving and where it will lead it. That is, the certainty and calmness of a leader, regardless of the number of employees, gives them

And, probably, if we talk about what we should become, the most important thing is to increase the speed of everything. Decision-making speed, rate of new information, rate of change
reference points. Nassim Taleb, the author of the best-selling Black Swan, which everyone is talking about, has another good book called Anti-Fragility. And there he says the expression
“Any crisis is a search for opportunities” is not just a hackneyed phrase, but a new way of evolution, when a person, understanding the situation, understanding what skills, what qualities, what products
they are in demand, without breaking themselves, they simply gain soft skills, like a puzzle, and learn. And it becomes an ongoing process. And this is the main difference from what was before. Because earlier you can
was to get one education and work for 30 years, and now, even if you learned something two years ago and did not improve these skills, they are already outdated. And this applies to everything, including
business organization, approaches to doing business, making decisions, that is, everything revolves around this.

IT specialists are all a bit inventors

I wonder if a very unlikely thing happens suddenly – the Internet will completely disappear, what will IT people do? People who work in IT, they are still a little inventors. I think first
the reaction will be to find ways to fix it or replace it with something. Relatively speaking, if one technology is gone, another may appear, or it will need to be quickly created. Of another
There will be no way out; you will have to react somehow. I don’t imagine the situation when we will reconcile and disperse. This is definitely not about IT. We will direct our efforts to find alternatives. One kind of transmission link
We’ll try to replace the data with another one, that is, we will look for new ways.


I have a wish for all of us now. Because quitting quarantine will be much harder to quit. I think that now, having spent two or three months in quarantine, we are all in
some anxiety – what will this new world be like in which we will enter? I get a lot of feedback from people who say that they have reviewed a lot over this period, have realized
values, and they have changed a bit. We want these changes to benefit us more and to develop than to increase panic and anxiety.

Now we have the main task – to enter a new rhythm, to reorganize and exhale a little, because it is very difficult to live, anxiously expecting some kind of danger. I think this: there are new conditions, we
must somehow adapt in them and live happily on. That is, do not remain in constant expectation of a new “black swan”, because it certainly will not give anyone optimism, strength, or


Hot topics: Coronavirus leads the world to crisis

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