Russian “digital attaсhes” are to work abroad

Russian “digital attaсhes” are to work abroad

The Ministry of Digital Development has begun recruiting specialists to work as “digital attachés”. Their task will be to support the export of Russian IT products, that by the end of 2021 could exceed $10 billion.

The representative of the Ministry told RBC that the Ministry of Digital Development has begun creating a service of “digital attaches” in Russian trade missions abroad. The main task of this service will be the promotion of Russian IT products abroad. 

According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, in 2022, “digital attaches” will start working in 16 countries, and in 2024 the geography of their presence will expand to 28 countries. Among the first are Brazil, Vietnam, Germany, Egypt, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Malaysia, UAE, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, South Africa and South Korea.

On Monday, February 7, the Ministry of Digital Development plans to announce a competition for the positions of “digital attaches”. Among the basic requirements for candidates are higher education not lower than a specialist or master's degree and knowledge of the language of the host country. “Digital attaches” should be well versed in Russian and foreign software products and at the same time understand the competitive advantages of domestic solutions. Knowledge of Russian and international legislation in the field of trade is important,” said Maxim Parshin, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Digital Development.

Who are “digital attaches”?

The idea of ​​creating an institution of “digital ambassadors” or attaches in Russia was first announced in 2019. In September 2021, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved the so-called second IT support package, which, among other things, mentioned the creation of a “digital attache”. Its goals include supporting Russian IT companies entering foreign markets and encouraging foreign IT companies to move into Russian jurisdiction. Attaches should provide consulting, information and analytical, legal and organizational support to Russian IT companies in the countries of presence. Responsible for the creation of the service are the Ministry of Digital Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Russian Fund for the Development of Information Technologies (RFRIT).

What support do exporters of IT solutions need?

According to the head of RFRIT Alexander Pavlov, there is a request from Russian developers of IT solutions “for support in positioning and promoting products and services in foreign markets”. He noted that the Fund organizes training and adaptation of personnel for the “digital attaches”.

According to the Association of domestic software developers Russoft, in 2020 (latest available data), the exports of IT products from Russia reached $7 billion, and taking into account the sales of foreign offices of Russian companies abroad - $8.6 billion. This figure increased by 4.3% compared to 2019, and in 2021 growth could be approximately 20%, Russoft President Valentin Makarov told RBC. “The need for IT in the world as a whole has grown, and our services and products have become more profitable due to the devaluation of the ruble. The highest growth in effective demand is observed in the Arab countries, where they are looking for alternatives to reduce dependence on the decisions of a single supplier, in Southeast Asia, interest is growing in Africa and Latin America,” says Makarov. At the same time, the largest markets for Russian solutions, according to him, despite geopolitics, remain the United States and Europe. Among the most popular products are solutions in the field of digital transformation, video conferencing, and security technologies.

The President of Russoft supports the idea of ​​creating “digital attaches” and believes that this service will contribute to the growth of exports, but not more than 2-3% per year. “In order to increase this indicator, it is necessary that the functions of an attaché be performed not by employees of the trade mission, but by business representatives working under contracts with associations and having, in addition to their salary, an incentive in the form of a percentage of sales of Russian IT products abroad. Representatives of various associations are now discussing a similar format with the Ministry of Digital Development,” he said. 

The former head of the Ministry of Digital Development Konstantin Noskov, who is now the CEO of RusHiTechExport, believes that networking in local markets, building up contacts and relationships in the high-tech sphere should become an important task for future “digital attachés”. “This will be a big plus when Russian IT companies enter foreign markets. Also, “digital attachés” can track digital initiatives from different countries in which Russian players can participate,” says Noskov. In his opinion, the introduction of such attaches will be relevant not only where there are trade missions, but also in embassies in those countries where Russia sees potential in terms of developing cooperation in the field of information technology.