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Beyond Information Technology Solutions

  1. Capital market reforms
  2. NetSol launches the fastest internet service
  3. Micro-credit banking in Pakistan 
  4. An interview with Zaheer A. Kidvai of BITS
  5. Price hike
  6. The increase in gas tariffs
  7. Bank privatization in Pakistan
  8. PTCL new tariff policy
  9. Marketing and its potential

An interview with Zaheer A. Kidvai, CEO of BITS

By Syed M. Aslam
Aug 14 - 20, 2000

The digital divide does not necessarily mean marginalising the large number of people living in the rural areas of Pakistan. At least not any more with the launching of an e-learning project last month by the Beaconhouse School Systems, the premier school education system of the country.

With ninety schools and some 45,000 students across the country Beaconhouse is not only the largest school system of Pakistan but also of Asia. In addition, the Beaconhouse Group of companies also owns and operates Informatics, a prestigious IT institute and solutions provider.

The edge puts Beaconhouse in a leading position to promote, and influence, the education system in the country and last month's launching of Beyond Information Technology Solutions (BITS) Pvt. Ltd. is the first step to achieve just that purpose.  BITS aims to become the first interlinked e-learning system for the teachers and students of Beaconhouse initially and cable-based education channel for faculty and students of other schools and school themselves in the later phase.

Talking to PAGE the chief executive officer of BITS, Zaheer A. Kidvai, who is also the joint venture partner of the project, said that he has been associated with the Beaconhouse over the years as a consultant. Talking about the beginning of BITS Zaheer, an IT entrepreneur, said that a number of factors prompted him make a proposal to the Beaconhouse about the project.

Number one, during his association with the Beaconhouse he witnessed that the institution put a premium on teachers training and re-training and was always eager to spend huge funds on that. It also spends fabulous amount of time and money to develop an effective curriculum for the school system whose 90 branches across the country impart education to a large number of students from Kindergarten to O level (Grade 12). Secondly, the Beaconhouse is in the process of launching an ISP company Beaconet in Lahore, which presently is under testing.

Zaheer whose 'Solutions Unlimited', a teachers' training company on how to incorporate computer use across the curriculum, and 'Enabling Technologies', an IT company with the 'if you can communicate well you can teach well,' said that education has always been his passion. BITS aims to provide the missing link between idea and communication in the field of education and the catalyst for the development of on-line distant learning in Pakistan, he added.

He said that Beaconhouse has already got a license for cable channel for establishing its own educational channel. This will allow the people to subscribe to this particular channel like other entertainment channels to promote education not only in urban centres but also in the rural areas. We intend to use this channel not only to train teachers but also to offer distant learning in the remote areas of the country. We are willing to share Beaconhouse's experience, expertise, curriculum, resources and knowledge for the greater national benefit, he added.

It would also help Beaconhouse to benefit from its in-house expertise by linking all its schools across the country to make the best use of the knowledge of the best of teachers in any given subject no matter where he is. BITS will also the develop education softwares for students, its own as well as others, at affordable prices due to the large captive market available to it.

The system will help facilitate on-line learning and education for teacher training, development of curriculum for not only Beaconhouse but also other schools, teachers and individuals through the cable channel. I want to make BITS a centre for e-learning, he said.

BITS will also provide Internet Business Solutions Provider (IBSP) service for total business solutions for e-commerce including hardware, inhouse software development and consultancy.

Quoting David Siegel, an IT guru specialising in website designing, who has said that 'Don't change your website. Change your business' Zaheer said that it implies that businesses who intend to go online should take a long hard look to see how their current business model needs to be altered to take advantage of the digital economy.

Our IBSP will help the corporate sector to identify the changes referred to by David Siegel and then help them to go online. To help a corporate client to make the online transition smoothly we will have experienced web designers/developers, hard and software specialists and finance, business, and marketing consultants. Some of these professionals will be hired on full-time basis while others will be provided by the strategic alliances that BITS will form with these companies.

Advocating the availability of a hi-speed and open access as the most important requisite for the development of IT culture in the country Zaheer warned that failure to do will restrict the growth be it e-commerce, PC or Internet use.