IBA Seminar
DotCom opportunities for local entrepreneurs

The financial sector will have to open up its doors for the IT sector to achieve the desired results

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 05 - 11, 2001

Different governments in Pakistan more often than not introduce policies regarding economic reforms to overcome the financial crisis especially the formidable foreign debt, which is no doubt a serious threat to economic stability of the country.

The economic managers generally talk about value addition in exports to get more foreign exchange and special emphasis is being given on cotton and textile sector which earn over 65 per cent of total exports.

Unfortunately, the concept of value addition has been ignored in the IT sector which is stated to be the only hope in the current scenario to pull out the economy from crisis. Instead of putting value addition in the IT sector, Pakistan is exporting its raw material in the form of IT graduates. Over 80 per cent of the funds allocated by the government for development of IT sector is being spent on IT education, however 80 per cent of the graduates are imported by the developed world. This means that we are spending to produce raw material in the IT sector for the benefit of the developed world. In order to address this brain drain either we should produce more graduates or develop an attractive environment to retain these graduates within the country. DotCom culture has created enormous opportunities for local entrepreneurs both within the country as well as abroad. The only thing required is the innovation of the concept to use the technology. As compared to other countries, which are reaching the saturation point, Pakistan still an untapped country, having enormous potentials, which have yet to be explored. The financial sector which is providing financial assistance to the traditional business will have to open up its doors for the IT sector to achieve the desired results.

This was unanimously felt by the participants of the seminar on "DotCom Opportunities for Local Entreprenuers" organized by the Business & Information Technology Students (BITS) Club at IBA City Campus last week. M.A. Channa(Vice-President, Software Society introduced the speakers with his opening remarks while Haris Munif General Secretary, Software Society presented the vote of thanks at the end of the seminar.

M. Zeeshan Khamisani, Vice President, Khalid Saleem, General Secretary and Syed Mudassir Hasan, Treasurer put in their best to make the seminar a real success. Prominent among the speakers were Hamza Mateen, President, Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA), Asad Shoaib, CEO, Technology Concepts Pvt. Ltd, Dr. Usman, Deputy Director, EPB and Altaf Khan, Consultant in software industry. Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, Deputy Director, CCS, IBA distributed IBA crest among the speakers at the end of the ceremony.

The BITS was of the view that bursting of the DotCom bubble has not killed the Internet but has reduced the opportunities for new and existing business. For developing countries like Pakistan, where most of the businesses have not transformed themselves into the new e-paradigm, there is a dark side too. These poor economies could end up on the wrong side of digital divide, hampering the global competitiveness of their existing enterprises. Slow moving companies could collapse and other could bungle their Internet strategy. What is the question arising for these enterprises in the new era of open and robust Internet? How can the existing business models be transferred to the new ones without losing the market share? How can we face the open nature of Internet with traditional business practices? Or how to take lead with technology as the competitive edge? Nobody knows the answers' yet Pakistan's e-business transformation is in beginning and may take years to complete.

Latest technology is the backbone of a successful e-business. A good technology infrastructure is possible only with a broad restructuring of business operations and strategies. Companies that sell directly to businesses must enable themselves to broaden their customer base locally and abroad. Is this the point, where the potential resides for Pakistani business? May be targeting the global market with local resources is the only reliable e-strategy for Pakistani businesses to enhance their sales revenue potential. May be this is the reason that most of the Pakistan based Internet companies that even sell directly to consumers are targeting foreign based Pakistani nationals.

Pakistan is developing a big pool of IT human resource that can be utilized to boost Pakistani export through Internet. Software companies have a major role to play in the coming years when outsourcing will become an essential strategy for most of the Global Corporate Giants and Pakistani IT professionals will be for the survival of Pakistani enterprise in the robust Cyber economy can become the take off point for the local economy.