In 2022, national market faced the problem of import substitution of services for video conferencing. Business migrates on domestic systems very quickly: according to Big Data analysts of MTS, in 2022 mobile traffic of foreign platforms fell by 19% compared to 2021, and Russian one increased by 41%. At what point now is the import substitution of VKS services, what are the trends and what is alienating complete independence from foreign solutions?
Import substitution in Russia in 2023
According to a study by the Higher School of Economics, most sectors of the Russian economy in recent years have experienced an increase in the provision of domestic products, the most significant one was in mechanical engineering for food industry, agricultural and heavy machinery. The highest level of use of domestic products is in industry of building materials (96%), in transport engineering (92%) and in black metallurgy (90%), the smallest is in the machine tool industry (24%), in pharmaceutical industry (35%) and in the children’s products industry (31%). In general, the level of dependence of the Russian industry on imports is only 39%, which corresponds to the indicators of Colombia, the United States and India.
In the digital sphere, it is not possible to assess unambiguously the level of import substitution at the moment because the indicator is in dynamics. However, IT products of domestic production are increasingly included in the top user ratings and they are meeting more and more business needs. Replacing Western counterparts turned out to be difficult, but possible.
As for video conferencing software, exit of solutions familiar to users in 2022 became a challenge for domestic companies. Search for a convenient Russian service for online communications turned out to be a difficult task: some products are suitable only for video meeting, others are suitable for webinars, others allow you to create group chats, but do not call or hold conferences. Business needs a complex solution, but so far cannot get it at once.
Import independence in digital and business communications: main barriers
IT experts see the main difficulties of import substitution of digital products in the following:
- acute shortage of personnel; there are not enough developers, analysts to prepare the software, methodologists, often even on a portal with thousands of resumes it is difficult to find a suitable specialist;
- there are no uniform industry standards in the field of development;
- the absence of Russian developments to solve a number of local problems, for example, in areas of integrated data networks and in support of safe development;
- there is an external need to replace quickly and simultaneously many foreign sites at the same level as Western companies sought for years;
All this applies to the market for digital platforms for business communication. However, from a business point of view, the main difficulty here is the absence of complex domestic solutions capable of solving all business problems of online communication. Finding a Russian service for video communication is easy – but not in all cases it will be able to satisfy all users’ requests. To make the platform improve workflows, not making them more complicated, developers need to provide to the business the full set of services in a single ecosystem.
In other words, it will not be enough for Russian companies just to get equivalent to Zoom. Online meetings that can be attended from different devices, online teamwork capabilities, telephony, messenger, API support, SDK, Mail Client Integration, CRM, Contact Centers and administration system – all this must be provided “in one window.” Thus, the customer gets not a set of individual tools, albeit convenient ones, but difficult to interoperate, but a full-fledged unified communications platform (UCaaS solution). The use of such a product can bring tangible business results.
Domestic developers are on the way to creating such a consolidated platform. Proposals are already starting to appear, soon Russian companies will be able to use communication ecosystems.
Not only the creators of communication platforms, but also other developers should keep in mind the trend for ecosystem. This will give impetus to the rapid development of domestic import substitution in the digital sphere increasing audience loyalty to Russian software.
For its part, business should understand that the transition to domestic software is not a one-off promotion, but a system process that should be part of the organization’s long-term strategy. On the other hand, Russian IT solutions can be the key to successful implementation of this strategy.
By Elena Slivko-Kolchik, Commercial Director of Webinar Group