In the backdrop of a steep rise in the gadget users globally, Sri Lanka is also gaining on other countries in the field of information technology. From a wider IT perspective, Sri Lanka currently enjoys a well-evolved hardware environment, with software gaining traction and huge opportunity waiting to be explored in the services market. The key verticals driving demand for IT are banking, telecom, and government.
Based on data from international and local studies on the Sri Lankan market, the served IT opportunity is pegged at $131 million, and growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% between 2009 and 2012.
While information technology has been a priority for Sri Lanka for many years, and recent studies note that companies still spend a significant portion of their budgets on IT – to secure reliable infrastructure; now, with a healthy business environment, companies are adopting advanced and cost-effective IT solutions and services to keep abreast of competition.
The latest CIO buzzword, the cloud, is emerging as a highly-efficient model for adopting as well as offering IT-based innovation world-over. By virtualizing resources, automating processes and standardizing tasks, businesses in markets like Sri Lanka - and in high customer-interaction industries like banking and telecom - can unlock potential through business analytics and intelligent solutions and experience significant competitive differentiation.
Banking on IT: Sri Lanka
According to a worldwide cloud survey, cloud computing is set to grow by $200 billion over the next five years. Sri Lanka is not far behind this curve, and banking and telecom companies are already benefiting from lower IT costs and booking investments as operating rather than capital expenditure.
The Sri Lankan banking sector is being driven by customer demand for additional services to move towards alternate banking channels like mobile banking, Internet banking, and others. ‘Spending smart’ seems to be the dictum for most players in the market, with a focus on getting more by spending less. Huge IT infrastructure, however, means higher costs. Even though the Sri Lankan government is encouraging widespread use of information technology tools to smoothen processes, the adoption of business intelligence tools and solutions is currently limited to a few banks and financial institutions. The good news is that interest in harnessing the potential of internal data management has been increasing through the years.
Other booming industries like telecom are also looking towards high-end IT implementation to ease their processes and introduce a no-glitch system. Most telecom operators in Sri Lanka have expressed the desire to move up the value chain with integrated solutions, broadband services and next generation networks. Most are in the process of planning a near-term ERP implementation. With the boom in the telecom industry, players are looking at moving up the value chain, with next-generation networks to offer advanced services to customers and unlock additional revenue streams.
Towards the rising cloud
The world is not unfamiliar to cloud computing and its multiple benefits. Broadband connectivity and a comfortable bandwidth have become the need of the IT-dependent day. With this, the infrastructure required to take advantage of the benefits of moving their data to the cloud, will also become robust.
IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise, a next-generation cloud services and technology, helps clients move key enterprise business processes into production cloud environments to innovate, reduce costs and increase agility. It is created to help businesses save costs of up to 30% as opposed to traditional application environments in order to meet the ever-growing business needs. Extremely beneficial to businesses trying to improve their IT envelop, the SmartCloud Enterprise is capable of revolutionizing use of technology in Sri Lanka.
While reduced capital and operational costs, better maintenance, enhanced business value and agility are some of the advantages of this technology, hosting non-mission-critical data and applications externally on to a cloud environment enables businesses to ease out the load on their physical infrastructure. This could be the first foray of enterprises into cloud computing. Businesses of any size can benefit from adopting a cloud computing approach. Larger organisations may opt for a private cloud, which holds large amounts of computing capacity behind a firewall and is typically accessed over private networks.
As cloud adoption increases and cloud-based delivery models of IT become second nature to IT divisions, the focus would shift to ensuring there is a common governance across the different sources of IT, i.e., there would be need to have hybrid cloud solutions which would ensure an extension of IT governance practices of IT departments across on premise applications (both traditional infra and private cloud based) and public/managed cloud solutions (IaaS/SaaS).
Cloud would also become a great enabler to other IT initiatives across companies like Mobility and Big Data. Mobility solutions which would allow companies to promote BYOD (bring your own devices) would be complimented by cloud as a common infrastructure enabler. Cloud computing and big data analytics go together — cloud provides the benefits of elasticity, on-demand access to resources, and utility-like billing while big data processing/analytics delivers a framework to take advantage of cloud resources. (Chrishan Fernando is the Country General Manager for IBM in Sri Lanka)