The 26th Russian Internet Forum (RIF 2022, 16+) was held from 18 to 20 May 2022 in the Lesnie Dali guesthouse in Moscow oblast. The main IT event of the spring was attended by governmental entities’ representatives, IT business and startup personalities, and students and experts engaged in the digital industry. During the Forum, results of the study “The Russian Internet Economy” were presented, and directions of Russia’s IT industry development were defined. The main objective of the RIF 2022 was to name the new purposes of Runet and relaunch Russia’s IT industry. The three-day event brought together five thousand people.
What is the Internet’s contribution to Russia’s economy and GDP, what do experts predict, which sectors of the economy are expected to grow, and which ones are already affected by crisis? The main numbers, conclusions and predictions were provided in the latest study “The Russian Internet Economy 2021–2022.”
“In 2021, the contribution of the economy of Runet to Russia’s GDP amounted to ₽9.5 trillion, growing by 42 % compared with 2020. The marketing and advertising segment’s contribution was ₽432.5 billion (a 24 % increase since 2020); the electronic commerce segment’s contribution, ₽8652.4 billion (a 44 % increase since 2020); the infrastructure segment’s contribution, ₽204.3 billion (a 34 % increase since 2020); the digital segment’s contribution, ₽153.4 billion (a 24 % increase since 2020). It’s safe to say that crises have become some kind of vaccine for Russia’s Internet industry, enhancing its immunity to further challenges,” noted Sergey Plugotarenko, Director of RAEC.
You can learn more about the study by clicking the link.
IT workforce, support measures, digital platforms, digital transformation as well as old and new markets were discussed during the roundtable “Runet Today and Tomorrow.” Head of the Digital Ministry Maksut Shadayev moderated the discussion.
Ksenia Achkasova, Executive Director of Mediascope, spoke on the present-day audience of Runet. According to the findings of the study, 80 % of the Russian population aged 12 and above, or 97.5 million people, use the Internet.
The main organizer of the Russian Internet Forum Sergey Grebennikov presented the findings of the study of the ways small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are being promoted and managed. Almost 80 % of the respondents engaged in SMBs use e-commerce venues and / or Internet communication tools in order to manage and promote their businesses. More than 40 % of the respondents use both.
Alexander Khinshtein, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Informational Policy, Technologies and Communications, spoke at the session on state support measures for the IT industry.
“It is obvious to all of us gathered here that we have faced unprecedented challenges in terms of infrastructure support, information security, and everything in between. The challenges that the industry is facing today give the opportunity for rebooting the system completely… No other industry received the support measures that ours did,” the speaker noted.
He added that foreign companies’ withdrawal from the Russian market allowed domestic companies to take their place.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret that Russian IT workers have been affected by foreign companies’ withdrawal. It has to do with both job cuts and the effect of the sanctions that Western nations have imposed on Russia. Therefore, IT community members are now arguing the inadequacy of the measures implemented and asking the government for greater support. Moreover, small Internet companies’ owners are saying that the support measures do not extend to them at all.
During the series of topical sessions held by ANO Digital Economy, the Forum’s experts discussed workforce training and educational trends in the high-tech industry.
Here are some interesting conclusions they made:
· There are psychological barriers that impede the understanding of IT education: people still hold heated debates over online and offline education, professional training and higher-educational institutions, short courses and long-term continuous education combined with thousands of pages of textbooks. There are psychological barriers in terms of students’ age and gender as well as the field per se. Surprisingly, there are still many people in Russia who think that there is no way to get into the IT industry without possessing deep understanding of further mathematics.
· Modern students lack program and product thinking skills and struggle to understand the essence of things due to both the career and educational trajectory where common goal-setting architecture is absent and lack of consistency at different levels of education. Experts unanimously concurred that school education needs to be deeply reformed and expert business community should take additional measures to promote the IT career path.
· Directions of domestic EdTech development were defined in close cooperation with vocational education system, which is now the focus of attention of the state and business. Integrating companies’ knowledge and expertise into vocational and technical schools’ educational system will help to improve the future IT experts’ training. Also, scaling up youth development through vocational training and increasing the number of co-financing strategies in terms of vocational education will contribute greatly to satiating the market with professional workforce.
· The cult of personality of a given expert stifles the development of the IT business. According to the speakers, teamwork and hiring teams to solve major tasks and address major challenges meets the business needs much better.
VK used the RIF venue to introduce RuStore, a Russian app store. It was presented on the first day of the Forum immediately after the opening ceremony by the head of VK Vladimir Kirienko and head of the Digital Ministry Maksut Shadayev.
At the concluding session on digital transformation laws and regulations, RAPSI’s experts discussed digital law training and answered questions on many relevant issues, such as vocational training of future professionals and further or continuing education for practicing lawyers, the role of digital law in legal practice, digital hygiene, topical legal cases in international digital law practice, and present-day and future needs of the state.
Possible directions of influencer marketing development, user adaptation to new platforms and the future of regional blogosphere were discussed at the session “Is There Life Outside the Moscow Ring Road? Influencer Marketing Platforms Available Right Now.” Russian platforms still cannot boast a big number of users; however, they provide monetization tools—something that bloggers have been deprived of.
On May 20, the Technology Development project office of Rostelecom PJSC devoted one and a half hours to startup projects’ assessment. Participants of the Forum described their companies and products to the experts, received some feedback, and were offered various strategies for project development. The pitching session was attended by the ambassadors of the “Digital Breakthrough” competition, the Forum’s partners, and novice startuppers.
Sessions under the aegis of RAEC Business Clusters, each of which includes organizations engaged in the same segment of the industry, were held at the RIF as well. The clusters work on establishing a long-term constructive dialogue and setting up a consolidated position of the companies that represent various segments of the industry.
The “RAEC / Artificial Intelligence” business cluster’s speakers discussed the opportunity AI provides for business and society. The “RAEC / Digital Media” business cluster’s experts spoke on the main strategies for media efficiency and ways to grab readers’ attention. The “RAEC / Real Estate” business cluster met for the first time to discuss current digital environment challenges for the real estate market. Experts of the “RAEC / EdTech” cluster discussed changes and trends in digital education. The “RAEC / Pharma & IT” cluster’s meeting became a venue for discussions on turbulence zones in the pharmaceutical industry’s digital transformation. Experts of the “RAEC / Digital” cluster shared their opinions on strategies for business support and analytical data collection. Experts of the joint session hosted by the “RAEC / Sharing Economy” and the “RAEC / Gig Economy” clusters assessed the current state and prospects of self-employment. The main risks to and outlook for data protection in 2022 were talked about during the “RAEC / Privacy & Legal Tech” cluster’s meeting. The “RAEC / PR & IT” cluster ran a mastermind session—a type of brainstorm created for PR experts, marketing professionals and business owners struggling with some problems or willing to ask a question.
The Russian Internet Forum 2022 was the breath of fresh air the whole industry had craved. IT experts spent three days sharing experience, presenting real-life cases, and exchanging opinions. In between sessions and during the evening, the Forum’s attendees were constantly networking, participating in sporting activities and visiting music shows.
The RIF became a venue for the domestic IT industry’s relaunch, and the outcomes of the Forum are yet to be deeply examined.
The Russian Internet Forum is an annual forum that brings together government officials, Runet key players’ representatives and IT experts. It is one of the main professional events of Russia’s IT industry. In 2022, the forum was held for the 26th time.
The Forum’s organizer is the RAEC; the co-organizer, ANO Digital Economy. The event is supported by the Russian Ministry of Digital Development.