Software writers are Russia’s hidden resource

Russia’s computer software industry is on the up and international investors are rushing to pump money into one of the country’s most exciting and innovative sectors.

Software makes up the bulk of Russia’s IT exports. Foreign sales grew nearly 40% from 2002 to 2006, and software sales are growing at a compound annual rate of almost 80%.

Russia is seen as a prime location for foreign investment in the technology sector – thanks to a well-educated workforce and lower costs than other outsourcing markets.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, the President of Microsoft International, explained to RT at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum why he was so optimistic.  He said it was because Russia has many of the world’s best computer programmers and some of the hottest software products in the world are developed in Russia.

The world’s leading IT brand, Google, has several offices in Russia. As well as localising existing products, homegrown staff develop new applications.

Maksim Azarov, a product manager at Google Moscow, told RT they have very bright engineers.

“Unfortunately not in such great numbers as would be desirable,” he confessed. “But in terms of quality, I think the Russian engineering school is very much advanced and it’s nice to see it spreading its wings again now that the economic situation is getting better and better.”

Over the next three years, small and medium-size businesses are expected to spend more than $US 20 billion on IT products, while the total IT spending could top $US 37 billion over the same period.

Problems exist though, namely piracy and a lack of marketing and management skills.

Russian software firms could also benefit from sales networks like those of its international competitors.

On the other hand, both companies and the government are investing in IT resources and are determined to bring more Russian technology products to the global market.