On the lighter side of things, we caught up with LogNet Billing’s Rost Bitterlikh, to find out what makes him tick…
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
About 20 years ago, I was involved in managing the setup of a software development centre in Ukraine. We were one of the first technology companies to set up a large development centre in Ukraine. Today, Ukraine is one of the largest outsourcing centres in Europe, although at the time the country was completely undiscovered in terms of its outsourcing potential. The entire experience was exciting and rewarding in terms of my personal career development. Under my leadership, we grew from a small team of a few programmers to a full-scale development operation running advanced R&D and complex customer project activities. In general, new product releases and new customer launches are always exciting for me and I hope that there are many more of these to come.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
When I was in high school, I participated in an internship type of programme at a local hospital as part of the application process for studying pre-med at university. During this internship, there was a segment involving the hospital’s IT centre. This segment of the programme really interested me. I made a good connection with the head of the IT department and he gave me a database programming assignment. This was my first experience with programming and I really enjoyed it. Soon after, I changed my plans and pursued university studies in applied mathematics and software engineering.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
In the field of software development, creativity and dedication are required. From experience, I find that working in small teams focused on achieving near-term goals produces the best results.
What do you think will emerge as the technology trend of 2019 and why?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies are definitely maturing. AI-driven business processes based on consumer data is an area gaining momentum, especially in the service provider markets we are active in. Consumer behaviours have been changed by the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung and various others. Today, consumers expect that service providers will be able to predict their individual needs and offer personalised services and customer experiences.
This is a huge challenge for providers of commodity services in competitive markets such as telecoms, utility companies and financial institutions, where both existing and potential customers expect the personalisation of services.
Artificial Intelligence applied to consumer data and integrated within the landscape of business support systems can be a strong competitive advantage for modern service providers.
Access to AI-driven technologies has become easier thanks to large players such as AWS and Google. Both have introduced and made readily available a variety of AI solutions that are straightforward to use.
Another important point is that government regulators are taking actions to define privacy mandates restricting the use of consumer data. These steps regulate use of Big Data and AI algorithms without compromising on privacy.
Levering both AI and Big Data technologies will benefit service providers and this is something that will certainly happen in 2019.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
In the billing space, there are less large-scale replacement projects that take years to complete. There is a growing demand for efficient implementations that deliver maximum value in a short time frame. This we see happening for both replacement and greenfield projects.
More and more service providers are also moving away from expensive on-premise deployments and are preferring to run their billing operation from the cloud in a managed service model.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
A few years ago, I started sailing competitively. Myself and my sailing team compete in yacht races around Europe regularly.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I’m pleased to say I don’t have any regrets. There have been many challenges along the way and there are many things that didn’t go to plan or that I might have done differently. However, I am pleased with how my career has developed and the direction it’s heading.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?
Anything that involves regulations and government mandates. For example, in the UK the government regulations for the energy supply market are highly demanding while being very dynamic. We have a lot of experience in this vertical and have addressed these issues for customers by providing the necessary capabilities, such as a localisation layer with policy configuration capabilities and business process management workflows that are open for modifications. This allows a rapid implementation of compliance with the relevant regulatory requirements without impacting the core of the solution.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Over the past year, we achieved a level of maturity with our micro-service architecture that includes several-micro services integrated both by direct APIs and Kafka messaging bus. Our modern DevOps technics have helped us with the agility of our development processes and have extended the deployment of both pure cloud and additional hybrid options.
This year, we will be focusing on extending our partnerships with other vendors and technological leaders to expand our solution both in terms of functional and technological capabilities. Examples include ML billing algorithms, prediction and automation scenarios, service enablers and omnichannel systems.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
Continuously evaluate technology trends for practical benefits of your customers. Also, conduct ongoing research and experiments to enrich your product offerings and overall portfolio, and find a way to achieve a creative working atmosphere that allows the company to obtain its targets.