The following article by Monika Vilkelytė, a Senior Investment Advisor, Business services & ICT at Invest Lithuania first appeared in the Outsourcing&More magazine. You can find the original here.
At the beginning of 2021, after a turbulent and unpredictable 2020, Lithuania proved it is still the top choice for global ICT leaders in search of first-rate talent and a mature infrastructure.
In IBM’s recently published Global Location Trends Report, Lithuania now ranks in the Top 3 in Europe for attracting FDI jobs per capita across all sectors. But what is outstanding is the fact that Lithuania was recognized as the #1 destination in Europe for ICT jobs per capita. This should come as no surprise when you consider how many well-known international Technology leaders chose Lithuania in 2020 for the expansion of an existing presence, or the setting up of new operations. What makes Lithuania the first choice for Technology leaders? Let’s dive in.
Never waste a good crisis, they say. And Lithuania certainly did not.
Even during 2020, Lithuania was able to attract some truly big industry names. One of the first movers to the market in 2020, the US technology leader Rocket Software, has plans to ramp up its next-generation Software development centre in Vilnius to 200 engineers and programmers within 2-3 years. Boston-based Rocket Software specializes in IBM Z, IBM Power, and database and connectivity solutions, helping leading businesses leverage open source, cloud and artificial intelligence technologies. The Vilnius branch was fast to win its clients’ trust and now runs end-to-end R&D processes. And, after only a few short months of being part of the company, the Lithuanian team had already won the newcomer award at the annual Rocket Software Hackathon. According to Elinga Kavaliauskienė, Senior Director at Rocket Software Lithuania – “Lithuania has already proven itself as one of the top destinations for creating successful and highly performing IT centres in Europe. Therefore, it is not a surprise that Rocket Software decided to choose Vilnius as our next destination in Europe. Rocket Software Lithuania started strong by taking on an extremely complex Performance Monitoring product family and showing great results globally!”
Another great achievement for the local Tech community is the arrival of global digital platform engineering and software development player EPAM. This new entrant will become an active member of the local Technology cluster by supporting its key global clients’ business and technology transformation programs. Its new Vilnius team will work with top-notch technology stacks such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud and DevOps, software and data engineering, IoT and automation. In the words of EPAM Chief Financial Officer, Jason Peterson – “We are impressed with Lithuania’s dynamic ICT sector. The country is home to a fast-growing IT and engineering community, and we expect to settle in quickly and become an essential part of it”.
Alongside the arrival of elite global names, Lithuania had more to celebrate during a challenging year: existing market players also found opportunities for growth. One of these, Nasdaq – the world’s leading exchange and technology company, expanded its Global Technology and Business Services centre by 100 additional technology experts. Nasdaq’s team in Vilnius is integral to developing, testing and delivering state-of-the-art technology which powers trading venues, clearinghouses, CSDs and corporates around the world. According to Arminta Saladziene, VP at Nasdaq and Vilnius Site Lead – “Vilnius has two main features that are essential for GBS & ICT operations: a well – developed infrastructure and a robust pool of highly skilled technology specialists.”. Nasdaq’s expanded Vilnius team will further focus on core technology areas as data analytics, technology development, cybersecurity and cloud operations.
And these are only a few examples from a long list, proving that Lithuania continues to serve the needs of global Tech leaders.
Lithuania’s entire GBS & ICT industry is following the path towards digitalization. And this drive is not only limited to ICT centres that implement advanced technology solutions and practices – the local market is also witnessing representatives from other industries implementing valuable Automation and Technology initiatives. Financial institutions and manufacturing companies are also actively pursuing various digital operations in their Lithuanian offices.
Take the Norwegian company Yara for example, one of the world’s largest providers of fertilizers and crop nutrition solutions, who opened its transport management centre in Lithuania in 2018. The enormous amount of data that Yara processes prompted the company to create a business intelligence team in Vilnius so that it could harness the benefits of data analytics. And the city has proven to be the perfect location for the integration of this service line into Yara’s operations. “It’s a dynamic, attractive working environment – the hiring process was easier due to access to talent in the Lithuanian capital” – states Sajid Rafiq, Head of Yara’s Business Intelligence Competence Centre.
Financial services leaders with centres in Lithuania are also choosing to pursue the digitalization route. Intrum, a market leader in credit management services, has decided to expand its global business services (IGBS) team in Lithuania and hired more than 150 additional professionals in 2020. The centre, which currently employs approximately 550 operation specialists, finance controllers and data scientists, is planning to embark on a journey towards greater automation. With the expansion of the centre, Intrum will be able to focus on continuing to provide value whilst creating a stable Centre of Excellence that boasts fully harmonized, lean and automated business processes.
Lithuania has everything it takes to become the primary Technology cluster in the CEE region: a reliable, fast and affordable ICT infrastructure, talent that is ready to take on the world and a steady flow of FDI. In addition, local institutions are also doing everything they can to ensure that Lithuania becomes a draw for companies like Amazon or Google. With the burning question of talent always at the top of every company’s agenda, Ministry of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania is further strengthening the pipeline of potential candidates by introducing an IT requalification program. This program connects motivated candidates that are willing to enter the IT field with IT training providers and GBS & ICT companies that are potentially looking for new team members. It is hoped that through this incentive new and existing investors of the industry will be able to hire candidates freshly requalified in the IT field, or train and upskill their current employees into niche Tech areas such as cybersecurity, data science, RPA and others. In addition to the approximately 2,5K new IT specialists that entered the Lithuanian IT industry in 2019 from private coding schools, this new requalification initiative will further increase the local market by almost 2000 IT specialists by mid-2023.
The fast-developing field of AI is increasingly becoming a major part of Lithuania’s ICT landscape. The country is currently home to over 40 mature AI businesses and growth in the field is showing no signs of abating, with 100 start-ups now developing AI solutions for a range of industries. So, for GBS and ICT companies looking to innovate in AI, Lithuania already has talent on the ground. And this talent pool is only set to increase via the AI laboratory – a unique partnering project between Vilnius University and business. Headed up by Dr. Virginijus Marcinkevicius, the AI Laboratory’s initial aim is to match-make companies looking to develop specific AI applications with bachelor, master and PhD students that can help them realize their vision.
Finally, mid-2022 will see the launch of Vilnius’ very own tech neighbourhood – Cyber City. Besides the actual office space, this new complex will serve as a future-proof hub where top tech talents and companies will enjoy perfect conditions for work, growth and innovation.
With a very promising 2020 to build on, and strong foundations in terms of talent, infrastructure and governmental support, it would seem that Lithuania is on track to become the region’s ICT and AI hub.