Tibor Rékasi, CEO of T-Systems Hungary, has a bird’s-eye view of the ICT industry in Hungary. The largest systems integration firm in this country, his company has the support and knowledge of the Magyar Telekom Group to which it belongs. Rékasi shares his views on ICT solutions, the situation in Hungary – and the role played by T-Systems.
Can you give some examples of complex ICT solutions in which T-Systems is involved?
We have been realizing projects recently that not only have an impact on the life of a single company, but on a wider spectrum, the whole community. In terms of complexity it is worth mentioning the bike sharing system of Budapest Bike (BuBi), which is celebrating its first anniversary this September. In only a year’s time, this service has become part of the city, providing a great opportunity for both citizens and tourists to travel short distances. Another great success for us is the electronic travel ticket and pass vending machines around the capital.
Demand for complex ICT solutions is understandably increasing. These systems are required to renew certain community services in many areas, like public transport, health care or services available in the cities. Digital cities are being built all around us, and all types of services closely related to this phenomenon are appearing everywhere.
What about security for complex, integrated systems? What are the concerns, and the solutions to maintaining digital security?
These days, IT security damage can only be minimized and not completely avoided. External factors cannot be shaped, but internal attitudes can be shaped within a company. Minimizing the possible damage depends on an organization’s preparedness and security consciousness. Along with operation of security systems, maintenance, updates and continuous development is also essential, as is analysis and monitoring of data and situations as they occur. What’s more, in order to possess up-to-date information, we need to prove the occurrence of incidents as well. Doing this requires serious knowledge and know-how, which is not necessarily present within a company.
The majority of the companies and organizations are also incapable of answering basic questions in connection with security. Often, a company only realizes how complex their systems are, how unique their operations are and how much data they handle after they begin investigation into the causes behind a concrete incident. In the majority of logging analysis projects realized by T-Systems, our clients cannot even process recently arrived data in a month’s time. In an area changing as fast as IT security, allowing a lag like this is equal to capitulating.
A related issue is corporate risk management. What can be done to minimize damage in the case of a corporate catastrophe like financial meltdown or environmental risk?
The majority of corporate risks can be prevented by applying appropriate internal regulations and creating appropriate methodologies, as well as by introducing related info-communication solutions. This is also true for environmental risks. Evaluating risks is closely related to the amount of data available. First we need to consolidate data at a corporation, so that it is easy to interpret and use this information. You cannot expect to be saved by a business intelligence (BI) solution until you have solved the issues of storing, evaluating and using in-house data.
Do you think that Budapest’s startup culture helps drive innovation? How does this impact the overall IT sector here? Does T-Systems have any involvement with startups?
Hungarian engineering knowledge is widely sought-after for a good reason. Initiatives emerging out of Budapest are impressive, and more and more investors find it is worthwhile to invest in an idea here. One of the most important engines of innovation is info-communication, which is clear by the fact that the majority of startups have an ICT pillar, something that is not restricted to technology businesses today. ICT is making the realization of such initiatives possible, and this can be a catalytic force that helps to reorganize markets and industries.
T-Systems Hungary has an expanded partnership ecosystem, which also includes smaller companies with high added value. The info-communication industry is multifaceted and even a big company like ours cannot know everything. Our task is to choose the best solutions for our projects, to meet the requirements of our clients and serve their needs the best we can. Our partnerships with almost 1,500 companies and SMEs is proof that we can meet such a broad range of requirements.
There is a growing demand for the brains that are involved in startups. Programmers and engineers are highly sought after. As one of the larger employers in the sector, do you feel the supply of talent here is still sufficient? What trends do you see in Hungary’s IT workforce?
There is an intensifying shortage of workers in the Hungarian ICT market, and there are two chief reasons for this phenomenon. On the one hand, the lack of appropriate preparation among the younger generation and on the other, emigration abroad of trained professionals. There are many vacancies in the Hungarian IT market, which not only means a loss of income for companies but also missed opportunities for the Hungarian economy.
I believe we need greater cooperation to solve this problem. Young people should be educated to polish their digital skills, and the training should start as early as possible, in order to steer more students toward engineering and the IT sector. When it comes to individual careers, this is the field that will be offering the most opportunities in the coming decades, and this fact should be clear to children and young adults when they are considering what career path to take.
What about women’s progress in breaking into the IT sector, which is traditionally a male-dominated world? Do you see advances by women in the field?
I see little advancement in the past few years in this area, but I believe that women will be vital for providing the next generation of workers and leaders in the field. The ICT industry is becoming more and more open. Programming is not going to stay the monopoly of men, as it is natural that a well-qualified woman possesses the same professionalism that is need for an IT job. What is more, there are certain areas, like cooperation and problem solving, where women tend to outperform men, and this is very important.
A report by the professional organization IVSZ reveals that, in 2013, the proportion of women in the ICT sector was 5%. It is not a miracle that few women leaders exist in this profession to provide an example for young girls trying to choose a career path. In the long-run, this can preserve the situation, as the industry is branded as a masculine field, and young girls do not consider this sector a possible choice for a career. For this reason, changes need to be made in school.
Can you give your prognosis for Hungary’s IT sector in general? Do you foresee growth? Are there any particular changes you might expect?
Although growth is encoded in the industry, it is also very dependent on internal and external factors. Internal factors include the Hungarian market’s ability to cope with the lack of qualified professionals and our ability to be open towards markets abroad – to think regionally and globally. An important external factor is the appearance of European Union funds in the next financial cycle. These funds are expected to generate ICT developments.
The sector constitutes 10-12% of the GDP of Hungary, and, being a knowledge-intensive industry, it is an outstanding sector regarding added value. ICT is international in many points of view, and requires few resources, which is why Hungary should consider the sector as a breakout opportunity.