Time for IT

“I will not lecture you on information technologies, because there is more information in my pocket than you will ever manage to write down,” the professor reaches into his pocket and takes out a flash memory stick. That’s the way professor Vladimir Grabaurov, the head of the Economic IT department of Belarusian State Economic University normally starts his courses of lectures. That’s the way to think about IT for the man who is supposed to train the elite managers of the future
Business Embraced

Professor Grabaurov is certain lectures on paper belong to history, and it is only due to the lack of technologies that some teachers and professors have to dictate. These archaic methods have almost been done away with at the Economic IT department of one of the most prestigious educational establishments of the country. In 2010 the first Belarusian economists-IT specialists will graduate to become the first Belarusian representatives of the information era. Belarus has been in need of such specialists for some time now, for the information era is not a domain of science fiction anymore. According to Vladimir Grabaurov, the new epoch started in 1991, when the cost of steel for the first time was below the cost of chips that are made from sand. “Knowledge became more precious than raw materials, and it is getting more and more expensive,” the professor says. On the diagram of the future that the department head shows me the share of intellect in the world gross domestic product rises in geometrical progression. The GDP curve rockets in the next 100 years, leaving the modest figures of the XX century behind.

According to the professor, it is essential to be able to use universal means of communications in the XXI century. The two golden keys that open the way to the world are the English language and the Internet. “In the West they say “Earlier, people were striking a deal shaking hands, now they conduct business embraced.”

Internet resources have brought closer world traders, Vladimir Grabaurov says.

The chairman of the Minsk Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, Vladimir Koryagin, is perfectly aware of the nature of modern business. “Look at the e-mail I have just received,” he tells me handing the printed letter from an Indian corporation that makes electrical appliances. The corporation with an annual turnover of $300 million is one of the fast-growing companies in India, has 51 offices in foreign countries and makes a range of goods compatible with international standards. An e-mail is a perfect way to “infiltrate” in a country where you wish to find a business partner.

“I get several laconic and professional messages like this from around the world every day. Globalization has covered the world like a wave, and you see it on your screen. Belarusian companies must learn how to use modern instruments in order to struggle for new markets,” Vladimir Karyagin believes.

The technical director of Minsk Tractor Plant, Leonid Krupets, is of the same opinion. According to him, the companies that fail to introduce IT are bound to lose in the long run.

The specialist referred not only to the use of Internet-resources, but also to modern corporate information systems. The tractor plant is one of Belarus’ leaders in terms of IT promotion. The plant has over 1,300 computers. The corporate information system covers finance, marketing, quality management, assembling facilities, stocks and personnel.

Over the past 20 years the range of components the plant makes has risen 15 times to 150,000 units, but the staff remained unchanged, in other words, the Belarusian tractor got much more “intellectual”. Specialists call on other Belarusian producers to use the experience of the company that accounts for 8% of the world market of wheeled tractors.

Computer Government

Globalization impacts not only separate productions, but also more general managerial bodies, even the state system. The government is to make the rules of the game effective to make the market “playable” for all, so there is no way the state will stand aside and neglect the computer reform. The authorities of the country need to make a large step forward, if not run, to keep pace with the latest world tendencies. One of the primary moves is to simplify paperwork, says Fyodor Fitsner, the director of a company that deals in sales of office equipment. All documents can be drafted, signed and submitted in the electronic form, and Belarus possesses enough technical means to carry out the reform, even the equipment “made in Belarus”… Electronic consignment notes, invoices and other types of documents will help cut paper imports and save the key asset of any business — time,” Fyodor Fitsner believes.

Time-saving in all procedures — from registration of companies to tax returns — is one of the main priorities for the government of the country. The program “Electronic Belarus” aims to optimize the work of the governing agencies. The government approved a new version of the national project for the period until 2010.

by Vitaly Volyanyuk
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