Sri Lanka Aims To Be Destination For Tourism, Investments

Swaminathan Balasubramanian

Be it the report from research leader Gartner, studies from the World Bank, Sri Lanka never misses its position to be in the top 5 investor-friendly destinations in Asia. The island country, according to a 2016 report has more than 400 companies with 70 thousand skilled professionals generating USD 900 million with an average growth of 14% year-on-year. To discuss on the same, Cell IT and Everest IMS organized a focus group discussion with federation of information technology industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) conduced a focus group discussion for discussing the key challenges and roadd ahead for the Sri Lanka market.

fgd-sl2Dr Kithsiri Manchanayakke, Chairman FITIS, Dr Prasad Samarasinghe – Immediate Vice President FITIS communication Chapter, S P Romesh – President, FITIS (Education and Training Chapter), Vajira Karunaratna, Vice President, FITIS (Education and Training Chapter), Upul Dassanayake, Immediate Past President, (FITIS Education and Training Chapter) and Wellington Perera, President FITIS Software Chapter  and Chadika Yahampath -General Manager FITIS.

Kick-starting the same, Kithsiri said, Sri Lanka, for the last three years, considerable changes in the IT segment within the organizations are happening. “Organizations have started understanding the importance of the role of IT within their organizations. Because of the day-today business challenges, not just the large organizations, but also the smaller organizations are ready for IT adoptions”. Vajira said that Sri Lanka’s stratergic location and providing IT as a basic-level education has increased and the business and academic together is aiming at reaching out to more than 40 thousand students across the island nation. Some of the key initiatives from the government as well as the industries include making the professionals adopt technology for their key business objectives.

Romesh terms IT as a fashion. “If you are not IT-savvy, you are out of business. Such is the image of the IT education happening in Sri Lanka. This is indirectly making organizations think IT across and students to think having IT education will help them secure a job.” Echoeing the same Upppal said that the impact has started reflecting in organizations. “One industry in Lanka that has utilizing IT is the financial establishments. Even smallest organization in that sector is having maximum IT deployment across the branches and local offices.” According to Upul, amongst the internal teams within organizations which are having enough IT infrastructure are the manufacturing and to an extent the sales and marketing with implementing of CRM.   Prasad, quotes Vajira’s view on the importance of IT as an education has increased in the period of time. “I see there is a huge increase in the deployment of accounting packages. The latest trends and adoption levels in on the Geo-information has given end-to-end connectivity which has made companies which are in stock-and-sell to adopt IT to a large extent. Earlier, companies here use to call every time to know the updates of the stocks. However, with their mobile phones in hand, they can easily locate the stocks.” He also says that the ICT vision of Government is also helping the companies cut operational costs and make them think different way which will be digital-driven. Chadika concluded that earlier IT was another division in the organization and was always seen as an external support for the organizations to run. “Now IT plays a key role in increasing efficiency and in most of the companies IT has become the integral part of their business. They even can make a strategy keeping IT in mind.”  Wellington Perera, said that the largest IT adoption has happened in the last three years right from the SMB to large enterprises. “ In small organizations, if there is a huge demand for adopting tech in terms of business processing and ERP, in large enterprises there are cases where the IT team has moved away from a cost center to a profit center. In many organizations key functions like HR, back-office and finance has started getting completely in IT”

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Challenges in IT adoptions:

Speaking on the challenges, Prasad said, the government has a long way to go in terms of IT adoptions. “While the generation next is ready for the IT adoption, both the government in the capital level as well as the other region, are still paper-driven.” Romesh added that such massive change in IT adoption is not possible overnight but will take time. Kithsiri added that the key bottleneck is from the adoption in the user-level. “While the companies are not ready to spend for the adoption, because they have not tasted the real advantage of IT. I personally feel that the best solution is to have the change in the mind-set at the individual level to make this happen” Vajira said the key bottleneck is to make the gray hair in the organizations understand while the younger generation, started learning IT through mobile phones will definitely be happy to adopt IT.  Giving the challenges on the government perspective, Kithsiri claimed that lack of stability in the political scenario was also a reason. Prasad also said more than computerized way, the next generation is having more mobilized way in their day-today lives. “The influence of mobile apps like Whatsapp has increased and also the mobile digital payments had come in long way. In fact, in the year 2014, Sri Lanka was the cheapest provider of mobile service providing with LKR 52 which is now LKR 15. “ Wajra said that only by enhancing the skillsets to higher standards the knowledge gap can be bridged.

Way ahead in 2018:

Speaking on the IT trends adoption in the days ahead, Wajira said many organizations in Sri Lanka are now training on the mobile technologies. Romesh added the colleges which had started training students in the artificial-intelligence, robotics and cloud computing. Kithsiri also said that the top IT adaptors of the country industry-wise are plantation, government, IT and tourism. “We, as a forum, are also suggesting the government to bring IT under the PMO as now IT implementation cannot happen at multiple-levels which delays the process. With the targets are reaching high in terms of increasing the software exports and brining IT investments, I am sure if the IT ministry is personally handled by the top decision-maker. With IT is becoming the integral part of every project, I am sure decisions can be taken and approvals can come from one single authority.” Prasad said that in Lanka, the two industries which are likely to get maximum IT deployment are the finance and telecommunications.

 On a concluding note, Srikanth Audina,  Director Professional Services at EverestIMS Technologies, said, “All businesses now operate under the grand theme of ‘SERVICES’. Every activity and operation in

Srikanth Audina

Srikanth Audina

today’s business environment is all about delivering an endearing end user experience – be it B2B, B2C or even within an organization. IT Technology has been gradually adopted across global markets for creating new service offerings, streamlining and standardizing internal operations and continuously enhancing the collaboration cum efficiency across teams both within and outside of today’s Organizations.

Sri Lanka as a market is currently poised for rapid adoption of IT in businesses and benefit from the unique advantage of going ahead directly with proven use cases across industry verticals in collaboration with vendors and consultants skipping a major phase of trial and error and focusing all energies on fine tuning each implementation to suit the local culture, sentiment and business acumen. EverestIMS team is more than willing and looking forward to be a part of this unique phase of Sri Lankan journey of Digitization.”