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October 12, 2009 

 

Armen Baldryan: “The IT month in Armenia showing

progress in the industry”

A leading IT manager says there are important “practical steps” on the road to E-society

 

By George Chakhalian


 

Armen Baldryan - Tigran Sargsyan

Armen Baldryan showing a new notebook designed especially for schoolchildren PM Tigran Sargsyan

 

IT month in Armenia normally held in September-October is becoming a traditional series of various events, and the key event is Digitec, an International ICT Expo.

Digitec 2009, the fifth yearly exhibition, was held on October 2-4 at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex (which seems to us much more comfortable venue than the last year’s Epigy Office Park)

“This year the number of exhibition participants has grown by 15% against the previous years, in particular 52 companies have bided and they will have the opportunity to display their solutions and services at 47 pavilions”, - Tigran Sarkissian, Prime Minister of Armenia said at the opening ceremony.

The exhibition included large state-assisted projects aimed at developing the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and creating an electronic society, particularly “Computer for Everyone” Program and Gyumri Technopark Project, Executive Director of the Union of IT Enterprises (UITE) Karen Vardanian said. According to Vice President of Ericsson Jan Campbell, the ICT sector of Armenia is entering a development phase, which will improve the quality of life of population. He said their company is gradually increasing its operation in Armenia. An agreement on cooperation was signed between the RA Ministry of Economy and Microsoft Company, and in the words of Director of Microsoft Armenia Office Grigor Barseghian, under the agreement, Microsoft shall assist with the protection of the websites of Armenian state bodies from hacker attacks. The number of Armenian Internet service providing companies is on the increase, which is conducive to a decline in prices and the improvement of the quality of these services. Orange Company (France) had allowed lying an Internet cable, but it is not known yet when it will be able to provide Internet services.

Below you may find interview on IT month with Armen Baldryan, Founding Director of Unicomp IT company who is also a long-time member of the Information Technology Development Support Council under Prime Minister of Armenia.

 

- What were the peculiarities of Digitec 2009 and this year’s IT month – in general?

- Obviously this year’s event was important in that the range of products on display has obviously expanded and their quality has improved, in other words, quite serious, modern solutions were presented. You could see a practical mood among the participants, and all this indicates that the Digitec is a succeeded event having good prospects…

 

- …What products did Unicomp presented at the exhibition this year?

- We offered new solutions for the educational system, including new notebooks for schoolchildren – in line with the idea of “One Student, One Computer” Program. This notebook whose size does not exceed an ordinary textbook is a necessary item for each pupil both at school and home. The latest and in fact the world’s best video projectors of Epson Company were also presented by our company for the first time in Armenia: they are extensively used in spheres such as education, science, healthcare, and business. Another notable novelty of Unicomp is the video conferencing system of famous Tandberg Company: it allows transmitting high definition sound and images through the Internet. Unicomp displayed solutions for corporate customers as well. These solutions are based on equipment of Cisco, and servers of Intel and Hewlett-Packard, specifically on the Cisco solutions related to such a pressing problem as information security, also solutions related to the IP phone connection; this type of connection is very convenient, reliable, and at the same time cheap.

As you might know, Unicomp is one of the participants of the recently launched “Computer for Everyone” Program…

 

- … I just was going to ask you how the Program is running…

- It was a pleasant surprise to all of us that the number of people wishing to purchase a computer exceeded our expectations several times; evidently, our society positively reacts to any good novelty. And it is important that people view the computer as a necessary tool and choose those models which meet their specific demands best. Two hundred notebooks destined for the 45-day pilot stage of the Program run out in a fortnight. On the last day of Digitec 2009 we convened a special meeting to discuss implementation of this stage of the Program. And that discussion was quite important. I should point out that the private companies participating in the program (Unicomp, HP, Microsoft- NT) do not anticipate any profit at the given stage; they even made some contributions from their own resources. The greatest profit we expect from the project is widespread electronic literacy and access to the Internet and computers in Armenia. Unfortunately, our country ranks 131st in the world by this index, so it is obvious that the Armenian model of the Program should be much more adapted to the local conditions. We could say even this program is to some extent unique, and it is not occasional that many countries are already interested in studying its experience. During the discussion the representatives of a number of Armenian private companies expressed a wish to join the program, as the number of the computers offered will be much more in the next stages. It had been decided beforehand that companies would be offered this opportunity in early 2010, when the main stage of “Computer for Everyone” Program starts. However, due to an unprecedented activity of the people, as I’ve told already, it is likely that in a week or two other Armenian companies will have a chance to join the program selling the computers as well. Soon the citizens of Gyumri and Vanadzor also will have an opportunity to purchase PCs within the framework of the Program, and currently Unicomp and HP specialists are carrying trainings for local sellers.

As to the IT Month, in general, I’d like to stress that it is being held in a lively atmosphere, with scientific and practical meetings and discussions on IT sector development conducted almost every day, including those within the framework of the 7th Computer Science and Information Technology Conference. And it is obvious that the government efficiently plays its role of a leader and assistant in all the events throughout the year, and this is a crucial moment indeed. As regards the Annual Presidential Educational awards recently given to the best school pupils, as well as the best bachelor, master, and post-graduate students in the IT sector, I, as a member of the State Commission on these awards wish to note that this year a special award for Diaspora Armenian students was established for the first time, and all the commission members were delighted to see the skills and patriotism displayed by the Diaspora Armenian youth. And, of course it was gratifying that the overall level of the participants had significantly risen. The same can be said about the annual microelectronics contest, whose winner received a prize, a newest notebook from Unicomp and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation.

And the important event to finalize the IT month will be ArmTech Congress 2009, the third annual event of this name already. It is scheduled to take place on November 5-8 in San Jose, California, i.e., in the heart of Silicon Valley (the first ArmTech was held in San Francisco, and the second, in Yerevan). It’s noteworthy that Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan will attend the Congress. ArmTech provides representatives of the government, science, and business sector a chance to hold discussions on the Armenian high-tech economy and contribute to its development. Plenary meetings on information technology, programming industry and services, telecommunication and Internet, alternative energy, digital media, biotechnologies, investment projects, etc. will be held.

 

- Well, can all this be considered as yet another important step on the way of creating the electronic society in our country?

- Indeed, these are new steps, and it is essential that they are already being taken on the practical dimension. I think next year will be a turning point in this respect.

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