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"A LOT MORE HAS TO BE DONE"
An Interview with Kamil F. Hasan Country Manager, Intel Pakistan Corporation
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
June 30 - July 06, 2003
PAGE: What role is Intel playing in the development of IT?
KAMIL: For more than three decades, Intel Corporation has developed technology enabling the computer and Internet revolution that has changed the world. Founded in 1968 to build semiconductor memory products, Intel introduced the world's first microprocessor in 1971. Today, Intel supplies the computing and communications industries with chips, boards, systems, and software building blocks that are the "ingredients" of computers, servers and networking and communications products. These products are used by industry members to create advanced computing and communications systems. Intel's mission is to be the preeminent building block supplier to the Internet economy.
PAGE: Intel basically cater to the developed economies, what role is it playing in Pakistan?
KAMIL: Intel Pakistan has played a tremendous role in facilitating the growth of the industry from spreading IT awareness in the country to enabling the market to supporting the industry by providing leading edge technology products to the local market at the same time when they are made available internationally. A case in point is when the Pentium 4 was launched in Pakistan in November 2000, the first Pentium 4 processor based system in Asia Pacific was sold in Lahore. This goes to show not just market readiness for the latest technology but also the level of enthusiasm. Intel also has put in a lot of efforts to overcome barriers that were hindering the growth of Information Technology in the country.
To date, Intel Pakistan has hosted sundry interactive workshops, seminars, exhibition and other events which reflect our aim of promoting IT awareness in every corner of the four provinces of Pakistan. Intel has also played a prominent role in establishing a solid educational foundation by providing technical assistance and consultancy services to tertiary and non-tertiary institutes in terms of procurement of consultancy which include advising them on the desktop and server architecture as well as the networking infrastructure. In May 2002, our education initiative 'Intel Teach to the Future' was launched and to date over 30,000 public and private school teachers have been trained in deploying IT in their daily curriculum and henceforth enhance the student's learning curve. Intel's active participation in the educational front is in an ongoing process.
PAGE: How do you evaluate the use of IT in core industries in Pakistan?
KAMIL: People and business entities in Pakistan have been using computers for more than quarter of a century. Personal Computers brought a revolution and now they are part of global quest for e-commerce. They use ATMs, online banking, credit and debit cards and market their products and services through websites. All these activities are the fruits of deployment of IT in core business activities. Use of IT has made 24-hours banking possible. However, a lot more has to be done to bring Pakistan at the level of developed economies.
PAGE: Many people still believe that deployment of IT is an expensive proposal?
KAMIL: It may look expensive on the surface, however, business entities who have deployed technology confirm that they are able to optimize cost, reduce wastage, serve their clients better by making timely decisions. The ultimate benefit is improvement in profit margins and better return on investment. The savings made are far greater than the investments made in technology. For example use of ATMs and cards have improved deposits of banks, reduced customer traffic at branches and made 24-hours banking possible. Another example is payment of utility bills through ATMs.
PAGE: Does deployment of technology really helps in optimizing costs?
KAMIL: Profitability of any business entity is the outcome of a number of activities. If the management is able to improve productivity and efficiency and contain wastage the margins enhances. With the advent of globalization, competition is getting fiercer and the only way possible to remain competitive is optimization of cost. Cost cutting approach may not be a prudent decision. Cost optimization is a desired approach. Cost optimization can be achieved through better inventory management and optimum purchase order size. Similarly, production schedules can be altered to meet the demand. Availability of accurate and up to date data helps in making informed decisions. Not enough emphas is can be laid on how important is the deployment of the right IT solution for cost optimization.
PAGE: Acute shortage of IT professionals is a problem in Pakistan. Is Intel doing any thing to overcome this impediment?
KAMIL: Pakistan has a very skilled workforce and there is no shortage of talent in Pakistan. However, the talent has to be brewed further so that our workforce meets the international benchmark. The public sector needs to play a critical role in harboring and brewing Pakistan's talent and the right opportunities need to be provided.
To date we have trained over 30,000 teachers enabling them to adopt technology as a key tool in enhancing student learning. Hopefully our efforts at the grass root level will contribute to a stronger foundation for the generations of tomorrow.