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Digitalization: The Engine of Growth

Shameem Ahsan

‘Digital Bangladesh’ is a much-talked issue in the country now. We can briefy
defne digitaliation as the !rocess by which !eo!le’s li"es get easier and smooth
through the use o# $%& enabled ser"ices. $n#ormation and %ommunication
&echnology '$%&( is regarded as one o# the elements o# de"elo!ment in the
!resent world.
$t is !ossible to make the country digital by the year )*)+ by im!lementing the
ob,ecti"es o# the $%& -olicy )**. 'amended in )*+)( with the combined e/orts o#
all concerned. Bangladesh Association #or So#tware and $n#ormation Ser"ices
'BAS$S( was in"ol"ed in the #ormulation o# the much-desired $%& !olicy )**.. &he
!olicy is aimed at reaching the benefts o# $%& to all section o# !eo!le. BAS$S0 the
national trade body o# so#tware and $%& enabled ser"ice industry in Bangladesh0
wants the !ro!er im!lementation o# the !olicy #or trans#orming the country into
digital.
$n the !olicy0 it was stated that many countries in the world achie"ed their
national !rogress utiliing the !otentials o# $%&. With the !assage o# time0 the
signifcance o# $%& has increased and now it is im!ossible to think about #uture
without the $%&. &he !olicy called #or taking e/ecti"e ste!s #or bringing the
country towards an ad"anced stage on $%& by o"ercoming all the hurdles.
Some recent good initiati"es include 1ational -ortal 2ramework ')3***
go"ernment websites #or ministries and de!artments de"elo!ed in su!!ort o#
BAS$S(0 4nion $n#ormation %enters '4$%(0 se!arate ministry #or $%&0 Bangladesh
5i-&ech -ark Authority #ormation and 6anata &ower S&- '!artly #unctional(. 7"er
recent years0 Bangladesh has made ma,or strides in laying the groundwork #or a
di"erse and success#ul outsourcing market.
Bangladeshi #reelancer community has #urther su!!lemented the $%& e8!orts by
close to 4S9 :*.** million - with Bangladesh a!!earing consistently in to!
#reelance work locations on sites like oDesk0 e;ance and the likes.
Bangladesh o/ers a "ast !ool o# young0 trained and <nglish s!eaking resources =
a"ailable at costs almost :*> lower than established destinations like $ndia and
-hili!!ines. ?o"ernment authorities ha"e demonstrated a determination to
!romote $%& ser"ices industry in the country = !ro"iding chea!er bandwidth and
alternate international cables0 setting u! &echnology !arks and !ro"iding ta8
holidays #or e8!ort oriented industries.
&he @Digital BangladeshA initiati"e o# the go"ernment is hel!ing set u!
in#rastructure #or enhanced connecti"ity0 $%& based citien ser"ice deli"ery and
$%& based <ducation system. $nternet connecti"ity has been enhanced "astly
o"er the country. &he go"ernment has made $%& as a #ocus area0 and ha"e
e8tended #a"orable !olicies #or the growth o# the sector. Subsidies towards
technology im!orts and ta8 breaks were !ro"ided to the industry.
Bangladesh has a strong domestic demand #or its $%& ser"ices. $t has laid down a
solid base through catering local needs o"er the last #ew decades. ;ocal market
still is ma,or !layer o# the business constituting o# BC> BAS$S registered
com!anies growing at )*-C*> a year. &his has honed the skills o# $%&
!ro#essionals who are ca!able o# meeting global demand increasing the $%&
enabled ser"ices e8!ort o# the country. Bangladesh has a !ositi"e growth since
)**D-*. in $%& e8!ort leading to 9 C)..+ million e8!ort in )*+)-+C which is 4S 9
+*+.CB which is milestone achie"ement in the country’s history and one o# the
to! +3 e8!ort sectors. &he total industry sie is a!!ro8imately 9)3* million.
So0 with !ro!er !ro,ection and brand building we can achie"e e8traordinary
marks in global outsourcing market.
$%& branding #or Bangladesh should ha"e an integrated strategy including
concerted e/orts instead o# des!erate source o# initiati"es. $t will hel!
Bangladesh to build brand eEuity in the global arena #or the industry to fourish.
7n the other hand0 there is still a !erce!tion in many o"erseas markets that
Bangladesh remains a risky !lace to do business and that Bangladeshi
com!anies may struggle with so!histicated o/shoring tasks. $t is im!ortant to
recognie and understand the risks that accom!any di/erent outsourcing choices
and !ut measures in !lace to mitigate the threats they !ose. $# Bangladesh has
to le"erage its strength to the #ullest to become a larger !layer in the o/shoring
industry0 there are a number o# #actors that need to be considered.
Fany domestic business leaders recognie that Bangladeshi outsourcing industry
could better market its strengths to the international community. 1egati"e
!erce!tion about Bangladesh needs to be countered. ?o"ernment needs to take
a holistic a!!roach towards !romoting the $&G$&<S industry = including in"estment
climate0 ta8ation0 remittances0 legal #ramework and fe8ible working hours.
7ne o# the ma,or reasons #or the $&G$&<S "endors ha"ing limited growth is the
lack o# branding and marketing. Fost "endors ha"e grown in the e8isting client
contracts0 but ha"e shown limited success in signing u! new clients.
$t is thus diHcult #or a multinational sourcing manager to fnd many Bangladeshi
"endors o/ering ser"ices readily. &he marketing #unction o# most Bangladeshi
enter!rises is handled by 1IBs '1onresident Bangladeshis(.
;imited market !resence has o"ershadowed the ad"antages that the
Bangladeshi "endors ha"e to o/er in terms o# skills and costs. Bangladesh also
has a ga! in middle management knowledge which is !ercei"ed to be growing0
and is also at the root o# limited scale. Bangladesh would ha"e to fll in this
management skill ga! by kee!ing management roles with <uro!ean or 1orth
American !artners or clients0 or bringing in S!ecialist e8!ertise #rom o"erseas =
including among the Dias!ora. &his has im!lications #or cost0 howe"er these
skills are reEuired to make Bangladesh outsourcing industry a success.
Bangladesh su/ers #rom a negati"e !erce!tion regarding !o"erty0 corru!tion and
being !rone to natural disasters.
&here are also doubts regarding the business climate and in#rastructure in
Bangladesh. &he $&G$&<S industry may work towards alle"iating these
!erce!tions0 howe"er the go"ernment needs to ste! in here. Brand Bangladesh
needs to be !romoted. &here is a case #or the go"ernment to take a holistic
a!!roach to de"elo!ing the $&G$&<S industry.
$%& $n#rastructure is the ma,or !art #or de"elo!ment o# this sector. $%& "illages0
uninterru!ted !ower su!!ly0 5i-S!eed $nternet bandwidth and 1ation-wide
internet backhaul0 5i-&ech -ark #unctionality and -ayment gateway are needed
#or the sector’s de"elo!ment.
Bangladesh Association o# So#tware and $n#ormation Ser"ices 'BAS$S( has been
!laying an instrumental role in the growth o# $%& sector in Bangladesh. $t has
been #acilitating the $%& and $%&-enabled ser"ice !ro"ider com!anies to fourish
home and abroad since +..J. BAS$S has been working relentlessly #or the
de"elo!ment o# this industry through domestic market de"elo!ment0
international market de"elo!ment0 ca!acity building0 ad"ocacy and social
contribution.
BAS$S has been !romoting the $& Brand “Bangladesh NEXT, Your next IT
destination” in the last fve years to promote the countrys I!T sector at home
and a"road and also to change the negative perceptions a"out Bangladesh and
its I!T industry among #oreigners$ BAS$S ho!es that the go"ernment also should
come #orward in this regard.
BAS$S has a goal and roadma! to achie"e 4S 9 + billion by ne8t 3 years #rom $%&
e8!ort. BAS$S is also working to create + million $%& !ro#essional and create ,obs
#or them and bring hal# o# the !o!ulation under internet connecti"ity. BAS$S also
!ro,ects that +> o# ?D- will come #rom $& K $&<S in the country in 3 years.
LShameem Ahsan0 -resident0 BAS$S K %<7 Akhoni.com0 <mailM
!residentNbasis.org.bdO