It’s becoming clear that today’s specialists should not only develop their professional skills, but also discover brand new fields. So, for example, economists may need to learn the basics of IT, and programmists – acquire skills in management and PR. 

“The National Technological Initiative classifies artificial intelligence and big data as some of the so-called cross-cutting technologies. These are the key scientific and technical fields that overlap all subject areas, exerting significant, if not fundamental, impact on them. Today, there is virtually no industry or market that doesn’t use such technologies. So, it’s too late for a “conditional future,” as digital specialists – managers, lawyers, and others – are already our present. And only those who possess both industry-specific and digital competencies will succeed on today’s labor market,” shares Semyon Kraev, dean of ITMO’s Faculty of Digital Transformation

Big data for everyone

It’s not easy to start from scratch, especially when it comes to big data and machine learning. With no background in these fields, you will find no use in short-term courses for experienced programmers. Of course, you can get a second degree, but it will take a lot of effort and money.

That’s why ITMO’s National Center for Cognitive Research (NCCR) has launched an advanced course in big data and machine learning. The course is designed for managers and leaders who are engaged in digital transformation but don’t have a degree in IT. 

The course allows non-specialists to understand the specifics of the process, as well as become familiar with the possible challenges and conflicts they may face when transforming their companies. Its lecturers will explain the entire process of the digital transformation – from collecting data to using it to produce revenue. The course’s participants will also learn how to solve particular problems, accurately assessing their risk and input. 

Alexey Dukhanov
Alexey Dukhanov

“Our course was created not only for managers and employers, but also anyone interested in using digital transformation to grow their business,” explains Alexey Dukhanov, head of NCCR’s Academic Affairs Office. “We want our students to acquire knowledge that will help them develop and launch projects related to machine learning and big data. We help managers, leaders, and technical specialists to find common ground because misunderstandings within a team affect the success of business projects. And we’re ready to become their mediators.”

The first batch of students – 152 people from 30 different organizations – has already completed the course.

Digital cities

There are also other ways to obtain additional education at ITMO University. The Digital Urban Studies program will help entrepreneurs and authorities master digital tools necessary for work in urban areas.

The course’s lecturers will explain how to conduct pre-project studies and develop a project’s objective, as well as highlight the key elements of a successful marketing strategy. The course also deals with the matters of urban design codes and the organization of urban events. 

The students will not only become familiar with the basic concepts of urban modeling and the history of urban planning, but also learn to apply digital data in place marketing and optimization technologies in transport planning.

ITMO's National Center for Cognitive Research
ITMO's National Center for Cognitive Research

With 480 graduates, among whom are representatives of over 50 state organizations, including government bodies and universities, this is one the most popular programs at ITMO University.

“There were so many people wishing to join our program that we decided to open a second round of applications,” notes Alexey Dukhanov. “Moreover, the Russian Towers Group asked the NCCR to adapt the Digital Urban Studies and hold the course specially for the company’s employees.”

All things digital

But it’s not just managers and financial experts who need IT skills. Programmers, too, often have to familiarize themselves with marketing, law, and the basics of commercialization.

For them, ITMO University has also launched the continuing education program Digital Object as IP: Idea to Integration. The first admissions to this course concluded in April 2021.

The program is designed for a wide and diverse range of applicants: from programmers planning to launch their first startup to lawyers and managers who work with digital-adjacent business processes.

“When people create digital objects such as software, video, or audio, few realize that you need to protect them even at the stage of conception,” explains Anna Lutsenko, executive director of the National Center for Cognitive Research. “We offer a course that allows the students to see the life cycle of a digital object from the legal point of view: the principles of managing emerging IPs, the legal aspects of development, integration, and commercialization of digital objects, patent analytics, and the patent landscape. Our lecturer team consists of digital object developers and patent lawyers, who have formed a great tandem. The staff of NCCR explained what digital transformation and life cycles of digital objects are. An intellectual rights lawyer presented various successful cases of contract-based commercialization of digital objects. Our colleagues from Baranchikov IP & IT Attorneys broke down successful cases of dealing with IP patent applications.”

All in all, 80 people completed their studies as part of the first-ever run of the Digital Object as IP: Idea to Integration course.

New programs

The programs introduced in 2020 garnered interest among specialists from across Russia, especially since the classes took place entirely online due to the pandemic.

“The format of our courses is adjusted to the needs of students from all over the country and taking into account the difference in time zones. The participants always have the opportunity to review recordings of lectures they missed and download supplementary materials from their personal page on the NCCR website,” notes Alexey Dukhanov.

Due to the popularity of its continuing education programs, the NCCR plans to publish a list of the next academic year’s professional development programs on its website in the near future. Among other things, it will include a course on the commercialization of digital objects. This program will cover an even larger spectrum of features and goals related to the implementation of digital products on the market.

ITMO's National Center for Cognitive Research
ITMO's National Center for Cognitive Research

“We’re grateful for every bit of feedback sent to our email; for every kind word; but the biggest joy was seeing people join another course after finishing a program. That means we did our task well: the students found all the knowledge and skills we shared truly useful and relevant, and the material we presented was correct, accessible, and engaging,” says Aleksandra Polyanichko, head of NCCR’s Consulting and Dissemination Bureau. “With the participants’ interest towards various educational programs, we’ve designed a loyalty system to reward those who don’t limit themselves to just one subject.”

Those who are interested in NCCR’s continuing professional education courses can pass the preliminary registration stage right now. Just follow this link (in Russian) and fill out a form, noting your desired field of study as well as sharing your suggestions, questions, and other comments. The organizing team will contact the applicants within a week and inform them of any new programs as soon as they launch.