Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and why NOW in Sri Lanka?



Recently the World Bank Office in Sri Lanka arranged for a FaceBook Discussion on ICT industries in Sri Lanka where the public had the opportunity of speaking of young entrepreneur in the tech industry. As a part discussion I wrote a blog piece on the question on the impact of ICT at the ground level on day to day problem solving from Micro to Macro. These are my reflections on it.
Just over a year ago we wanted to set up Sri Lanka’s Largest Electronics Mall (takas.lk). We decided to embark on this since we firmly believed that there was space for an e commerce player to come in to cater to customer who was tech savvy and wanted to buy electronics online. We archived this goal literally overnight. When takas.lk came out as a site we were the largest! Under a traditional retail model with the level of funding we had becoming Sri Lanka’s largest electronics mall would have been near impossible! Why? It would have required huge levels if funds to buy and store goods, and hundreds of people would have been needed to be employed to sell goods, to work on stores. Thus ICT helped us in leapfrogging traditional retail on reaching a benchmark which aids both us and the end user. Anyone with access to the internet can now log on to takas.lk to compare prices from nearly 2000 electronics products.

However, is the success story of takas.lk the only reason for embracing ICT for industry? Certainly not! It’s not even the tip of the Iceberg. What ICT allows anyone to do is that it helps us save time and money. ICT makes business more adaptable, and efficient. It also helps the end user. For instance, while takas.lk is the largest online store, we are also really fast about updating our stock levels. So customers generally know what items are in stock and not. There is also a wealth of information at any customer’s fingers tips, from the weight of an item to how much power it consumes.

In regards to macro level implications this is what I have to say. I know the term globalization does not get used much these days, but one of the major reasons globalization has quickened its pace and continues to do so, is because of ICT. ICT helps people communicate faster and cheaper than ever before. This also means that people now have more information at their fingertips than in anytime of human history. Just the other day I heard that an average person has more access to information than the President of the United States did back in 1995, and that’s only 13 years ago.
A problem can be defined as something that is difficult to achieve or accomplish, ICT in the broadest sense, helps in creating solutions every moment of everyday.  What ICT does is help us find solutions faster, either through helping us dig for solutions already out there or helping us communicate to find answers together.

The costs associated with ICT have come down dramatically. Technology in the field has grown and left every other industry in the Stone Age. For instance, had the combustion engine technology kept up with the ICT industry since the 1960’s, 4 liters of fuel would suffice to take us around the world!
Thus to sum I would say this. Embracing the ICT field is a must in meeting the future needs of the country and the world. Nothing is as accessible as technology nor comes at a cheaper rate. The technologies and the service sector that is developed in the ICT field will create jobs and be the engine that powers the economy for many years to come.

2 comments: