Miroslav Vraneš, Account Executive, Dell Technologies

IT’s Main Product is Smarts

The IT sector is one of Serbia's largest net exporters, with strong potential for future growth and average wages that are almost triple those of other economic sectors. Thanks to IT, the main product of which is cleverness, Serbia is known around the world as a country of intelligent and capable people

Personal careers currently develop the fastest in IT, with a high-quality market offer and above average conditions. When we add to this the constant need to improve, through additional training and education, as well as companies’ struggles to retain existing high-quality personnel, IT forms a picture that can only be desirable.

In Serbia we see ourselves as leaders of the IT sector in this part of Europe. Do we rate ourselves correctly?

– Serbia is definitely a country that has recognised the importance of IT as an important branch of industry, because IT is being taught in various forms from the earliest age in educational institutions. However, other countries also aren’t sleeping in this respect… More important than being a leader is retaining a leadership position.

The need for IT professionals is growing constantly. However, it is also a branch that’s constantly advancing and in which the rules change often, where new players overcome old ones and new technologies replace pre-existing ones, so the constant training and advancement of personnel is inevitable for us.

Many students of the University of Belgrade School of Electrical Engineering, particularly those specialising in software engineering, manage to find work already by the third year of their studies. Is that good for both them and the companies that employ them?

– Software engineering is present as a subject in various forms in an ever-increasing number of colleges, because – apart from the School of Electrical Engineering – other state and private educational institutions also engage in the training of IT personnel… We also mustn’t forget the specialised courses and training constantly taking place in various sub-divisions of IT.

Freelancing is a model that’s accepted well in the IT sector worldwide, so it is also constantly growing in our country too

IT is foundational to every branch of industry and, as such, is an unavoidable factor in the growth of primary industry. The current need for IT engineers exceeds the possibility of “producing” them. Companies are in a race to attract high-quality personnel, which leads to the very fast hiring of young IT professionals. This is very good from the perspective of companies, because they get quality “raw material” that they can later shapes to suit their needs.

It is a young branch, which has creativity at its basis, and the best results are achieved much sooner than in other industrial sectors. Among other factors, just compare the average age of top IT engineers and top surgeons…

Unlike doctors, IT experts don’t have to go abroad in search of work, because they can find well-paid jobs here. Does this place employers in a difficult position? They first need to find an expert, then provide them with a good salary and various benefits in order to retain them?

– The beauty and challenge of IT is reflected precisely in that fact, in the possibility of generating an income efficiently from almost any point on the planet. In Serbia it has already been established that our experts are engaged in many projects being implemented abroad, while they are employed or working as freelancers based in Serbia.

It is as difficult to find a good employer as it is to find a good expert. If an employer monitors, supports, and invests in personnel, then they will retain their staff, because nobody needs workers who don’t further develop themselves, who are unable to keep pace with constant changes and new trends.

Salaries are above average in the IT sector, while certain benefits are also implies, but companies’ products themselves aren’t cheap

Established selection and hiring practises from other sectors aren’t applied on the IT market. Have we reached a situation where candidates choose an employer to a greater extent than employers choose them?

– In principle, the market always dictates the rules, because here the principle of supply and demand also applies. I consider that both candidates and firms choose simultaneously, that not all demands and needs are the same, which is good. Healthy companies with good prospects must choose high-quality personnel if they want to continue having high-quality work on the market. On the other hand, engineers intending to keep pace with new trends and work on good projects must select the environment in which they will build their careers accordingly.

An ever increasing number of IT personnel are seeking “freelance” engagements. How positive or negative is that for employers?

– From an employer’s perspective, this should be the cheapest and most reliable form of cooperation, as rules and obligations are defined with a simple contract and usually relate to a limited set of activities, part of a project or a project as a whole. 

On the other hand, a freelancer has complete freedom to organise their own time, methods and intensity of work in accordance with their needs. A freelancer also holds their career in their own hands, deciding for themselves on their own advanced training and development directions. I expect this model to develop further, that a market system of supply and demand will be created in which you will publicly see the experience, possibilities, recommendations and qualities of the person you want to engage. After all, the IT market has long been global and not local.

I think this form of engagement will also be present in other branches of industry in the future. Is a law firm that represents multiple clients classed as a freelancer? Or a surgeon who, based on call and needs, operates in numerous different clinics in the country and abroad? Is a professional athlete a freelancer?

Is the IT sector among the key drivers of Serbia’s economic development?

– It certainly can be, because IT is a branch in which the main product is smarts. If you are in a position to sell your intellect on the global market, then that impacts significantly on the image of Serbia as a country of smart and capable people, and that’s probably what we all want. But there is a need to constantly invest in that and implement it in practise. Are we mistaken if we say that the Germans and Japanese are diligent and well organised? I would sincerely love for IT to be one of the pillars of our country’s economy in the future.