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Head on: how crea­ting your own digital products has made the office space market one of the most crisis-resistant

19 Apr 2023

At the beginning of 2022, office fit-out faced a complex combination of challenges: breaking established supply chains, freezing projects of most foreign customers, the risk of outflows of qualified personnel, etc. However, unlike a number of other sectors of the Russian economy, which, in the conditions of the departure of foreign players, showed a lack of their own technological solutions and developments, the fit-out market showed unique self-sufficiency.

Developing for several years "their own" digital products for a smart office, the best representatives of the industry were able to largely protect themselves from sanctions threats. Moreover, today Russian players engaged in office development do not so much look up to foreign practices as they themselves form the vector of industry development as a whole.
  • Дмитрий Вишняков

    управляющий директор Pridex

From advanced infrastructure to its "software core"

While real-sector companies are looking for ways to combat import dependence (for example, in the automotive industry, the share of supplies from "unfriendly countries" according to Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecast is 27% in final consumption, in the pharmaceutical industry — 48%), the digital economy continues to actively develop, and the quality of domestic software is recognized at the global level — this can be observed using the example banking sector, public administration, etc.

The office market also seeks to follow the second path: since 2017, the share of smart filling costs in the total cost of finishing has increased by about five times. Mobile applications for workspace management are becoming a separate trend — while their integration, as a rule, requires an appropriate, advanced IT infrastructure. The key point here is the availability of its own developments: the independence of the "software core" of the office from external expertise gives an opportunity to individually select equipment for each specific project, thereby avoiding a shortage of individual positions.

Ultimately, this creates a unique opportunity for Russian fit-out companies to offset the impact of sanctions and turn an office from a construction facility, where your role is limited to creating an interior, into a comprehensive service product that involves a long-term, partner model of interaction with the client.

From investments in space quality to test floors

Gradually, it is the "digital" part of the office project that becomes key for many large customers. Progressive companies have long begun to invest in improving the quality of the working environment — in fact, it was they who gave the initial impetus to the digitization of office spaces, which was then repeatedly strengthened by the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now, even despite the current realities, these players do not want to return to the "offices of the 90s". Moreover, they are ready to continue to invest in testing new technological solutions, thereby stimulating the search for non-standard ways of implementing projects by fit-out contractors. In our practice, there were cases when the customer allocated several floors for testing competitive products and for a long period of time collected feedback from employees, accumulating real user experience.

So far, the demand for a full-fledged smart office is only gaining momentum: in our portfolio, one of the country’s largest developers, MR Group, T1 company, which occupies a leading position in the Russian information technology market, etc. However, individual solutions, such as smart storage systems or access control system based on facial recognition technology, are much more in demand. We observe a particularly high interest from the banking sector: for example, our company has been working in this direction with Sber, Rosbank, Promsvyazbank for quite a long time.

In general, a turning point is now taking place in the Russian economy: domestic business, which managed to successfully overcome the first phase of the crisis, received new opportunities for development, and actively occupies niches liberated by foreign competitors. Fast-growing IT companies, representatives of logistics, financial and other businesses — they will create demand for the "offices of tomorrow".

From "local" problems to building office ecosystems

Of course, turning the fit-out industry towards the digital sector of the economy will not solve the problems that it faces right now — construction still remains the foundation for its full-fledged work. Nevertheless, in the long term, for those players who successfully integrate new competencies into their activities, problems with the purchase of materials and components will become secondary — the creation and support of their own smart office ecosystem will come to the fore by analogy with the Yandex Smart Home Systems, VK, Sber, etc.

This approach, among other things, will significantly increase the chances of domestic players to succeed outside the Russian Federation. Thanks to effective management, the ability to adapt a complex IT infrastructure to new locations in a short time, and most importantly, the high quality of the software product itself — especially in terms of user convenience, Russian companies have every chance to radically change the landscape of the foreign office market.

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