Prospects and development of IT technologies in Ukraine

This article focuses on the development of IT in Ukraine, the problems and demand of IT technologies in modern society, and also compares with experience abroad
The IT industry has rapidly gained momentum all over the world, including in Ukraine. Such phenomena as Digitalization and Outsourcing have already become commonplace for us, and recently Eastern Europe recognized Ukraine as a new center for the development of artificial intelligence. Today, according to the IT Association, 4,000 technology companies and over 185,000 IT specialists are registered in Ukraine. The main area of ​​interest in the market is software development and IT outsourcing.

According to the global assessment and analysis of the IT market, Ukraine is an important environment for the current and future growth of the IT industry. In addition, representatives of the European Business Association predict that in 2020 the share of IT in Ukraine’s GDP will grow from 4% to 5%, and by 2025 the export volume of IT services will be estimated at $8 billion. However, every development towards information technology requires spending on improving the quality of services, as well as better opportunities.

Unfortunately, today there are still factors that have a negative impact on the IT industry in Ukraine: the outflow of specialists due to the payment of the standard of living support; imperfect educational programs; weak security, critical infrastructure; competition from other countries; issues of intellectual property protection, etc.

Despite the existing problems, the demand for IT technologies in Ukraine is constantly growing: the automation of various production processes continues, the development of mobile applications and games, and the need for “cloud” services is increasing. Therefore, the Ukrainian state is gradually turning into a digital service “the state in a smartphone”. A vivid example of this is “Diya”, an online application and portal that citizens have already actively started using.

I am convinced that “Diya” is a new development in the field of IT services at the state level. The application not only provides an opportunity to receive a maximum of government services online, and to speed up any interaction between a person and the state, but also allows the average Ukrainian to ease the paperwork routine and learn digital literacy. The first step for this has been taken. From now on, you can easily “digitize” your driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate (technical passport) and present them instead of paper and plastic copies. As the Ministry of Digital Affairs promises, many other digital services should appear in the “Diya” application in the near future.

Unfortunately, despite the positive dynamics, we lag behind other countries in the IT sector. For example, a country like Estonia has long been ahead of us. They started an active digitalization process back in the 2000s. So, one of the first to appear was the X-Road application, which became the basis of electronic Estonia. The service allows information systems of the public and private sectors to connect and work harmoniously: 99% of public services are available online 24/7. Subsequently, in 2017, the Nordic Institute of Finland (NIIS) provided the development and strategic management of X-Road and other e-solutions to provide better content and services to the public.

Undoubtedly, the introduction of innovative technologies in various spheres of life and industries also requires an increase in the number of IT specialists, but as you know, any changes have consequences – the tendency to replace human labor with artificial intelligence is slowly being implemented, and therefore, the reduction of human influence. Currently, artificial intelligence is gaining huge popularity. At the same time, more and more specialists are needed to develop individual solutions, for example in cyber security. Do not forget that rapid technological development requires reliable protection. Recall how in 2015 and 2017, Ukraine was heavily affected by hacker attacks that took place in several stages.

For example, in 2017, a variant of the Petya virus spread through the network of Ukrposhta e-mails, which were sent to employees of the department due to the opening of unknown Word and PDF files. The virus demanded money to unlock the computer. The networks of central authorities, the systems of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ukrtelecom and a number of banking institutions were also affected by it, Kyiv Metro and Boryspil airport were also attacked. In total, the virus attacked 11 countries of the world, among them: the USA, Great Britain, France, Italy.

It is clear that such a security threat in the IT industry can deal a devastating blow to ordinary Internet users, business, industry and government institutions and the country as a whole. Of course, Ukraine is not able to overcome cyber attacks on its own, so it should attract external support to intensify efforts in the field of cyber defense, including working with partners. To this end, Ukraine is already actively cooperating with NATO: in 2019, a cyber security trust fund was created.

Let’s go back to the same Estonia, which came under the largest organized cyber attack against the entire country in 2007, has become one of the leading countries in the field of cyber security, and the NATO Cyber ​​Defense Excellence Center and the EU IT Agency are located in the capital of the country (Tallinn). Estonia has also created the world’s first data embassy outside its borders: ensuring digital continuity and statehood in worst-case scenarios such as critical system failures or external threats. The country’s databases and services are backed up in a high-security data center in Luxembourg. In 2019, the goal of Estonia’s government strategy for artificial intelligence was to turn Estonia into a trailblazer (super technological state) in the field and to implement artificial intelligence in the public and private sectors.

Of course, Ukraine is also focusing on creating favorable conditions that would allow IT technologies to further expand into domestic markets. The possibilities of combining IT skills with industries such as agriculture, aviation and medicine are just a few examples of future directions that Ukraine is starting to develop. The IT sphere plays an important role in Ukrainian society and occupies a leading role in the economy, because today the organization of any production process requires an appropriate IT platform.

I want to emphasize that the IT industry is not just technologies, innovations, and voluminous databases, first of all, it is a tool for simplifying people’s lives and improving the quality of services. For example, seamless IT services will be able to provide a more natural relationship with the state, which will reduce bureaucracy and simplify the function of the state system. IT in health care will increase the efficiency of medical care. For example, an electronic health record will create a comprehensive program for each patient, providing access to important information in emergency situations. IT in education provides a start for the active development of in-demand IT specialties and the integration of the best global practices into the system of training IT specialists. In this way, it will help IT professionals to be competitive and guaranteed employment.