Sunday, August 28, 2005

Musharraf sees bright future for IT. Do you?

DAWN, The News, and Business Recorder have stories in today's paper about how President Musharraf sees a bright future for IT and Telecom in Pakistan.

How bright do you think it is...?

16 comments:

Zunaira said...

So does the PM, it seems. He's had a meeting with representatives from PASHA [www.pasha.org.pk], PSEB [www.pseb.gov.pk] and MOITT.
This news item [http://www.pakistanlink.com/Headlines/Aug05/26/05.htm] from Pakistan link briefly mentions the highlights [except it only highlights the PM's role in the meeting]. From what I hear, the PM means he wants to see a follow up in 3 months. Let's see what the new plans look like. I hope its not just a seasonal fad i.e. the top guys are "gettin" optimistic about IT.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
self said...

Yay, comment spam!

Merlinx said...

Every blog-owner grows up dreaming of the day when his/her/their blog would become so popular it would be graced with spam!!! :-)) Congratulations.

As for the govt.'s IT ideas, I personally think it is old wine in a new bottle. I think our s/w exports go up a couple of mil $$ every year simply because of the growing inflation rate even if we don't get new biz. :-)) Wisecracks aside, we're still not getting anywhere and I doubt we will. Somehow all these "plans" seem more between eyewash and noble ideas but still a far cry from having any real effect. Our revenues may be increasing but our capital asset value and equity is not. And that is dangerous. What that basically means in layperson's terms is that we're getting biz today and we're lucky, but if we hit a slump down the road the IT industry could go belly up in two blinks of an eye because we have nothing of sustainable value to support us. (Well not on a scale worth mentioning anyway.)

In another few years (ranging from 2 to 5 according to different quarters), some actually even speculate the "China Syndrome" may affect the consulting and services industry too and annihilate many businesses similar to what has happened on the manufacturing side. This is another subject in itself worthy of a blog discussion thread but suffice to say, we better get our act together...

SQ said...

Hello Merlinx...nice to hear from you again. :-)

Zunaira said...

You know every few weeks, there's a press event, a hot shot meeting, where the future of IT is deliberated and you think surely we're registered somewhere. Behind the scenes, there's the businesses that don't care and keep at it, while there are others who lobby on issues.
I can't see a BIG BOOM happening all of a sudden and I don't think we're looking for short cuts to being known as an 'IT Nation'. If the fed and prov. govts, its committees, etc. understand that, while making the right moves, instead of simply the right noises, our dreams would make more sense.
What's the "China Syndrome"?

merlinx said...

Thanks SQ. Nice to visit again. ;-)

"China Syndrome" originally was coined in the U.S.-Soviet cold war era -- that a meltdown in the U.S. of a nuclear facility would cause the reactor to actually "melt" its way through the earth and surface in China. :-) (Kinda 50's/60's sci-fi-ish.)

These days it applies to this globalization wave in which China seems to be "melting" everything it comes into contact with. You get what I mean. Once China sinks its teeth into anything, it bodes trouble for anyone else in that arena. And so far China has wreaked havoc with everything in the manufacturing industry as we all know.

Based on my discussions with entrepreneurs and IT execs I know, they are fearful that the Chinese will also try their hand at the consulting and services industry within the next few years. The only thing holding them back are their language & to some extent educational skills...because manufacturing, unlike services and consulting, doesn't require a skilled workforce. One associate of mine predicts the only reason we have this window (of opportunity or calm before the storm, call it what you will) is because the Chinese are gearing up right now and would venture into the consulting and services market in the near future. And once they do, they would make many consulting businesses go belly up.

There are no safeguards in the consulting line because your capital asset value, your equity is zero. You are basically getting work and getting money in return. If the work stops, so does the money and you have nothing to fall back on. No assets or anything that brings in recurring revenue, a cushion or something you can compete with.

I don't know exactly what our policy makers are thinking, but our biggest issue in my opinion is that our entire IT industry is based on consulting even today -- and mainly just consulting. What I can't help thinking is whether anyone in the "cockpit" has actually given consideration to this threat, or we're going to scramble (or die out) if & when it actually hits us.

These "press events, hot shot meetings" are nothing more than PR for someone's interests. And you are quite right, Z, there are indeed businesses that don't care and quietly keep at it while others are more busy lobbying and such. :-) We lack a vision and any coherent policies because of that. Today we're lucky because the consulting biz is in a state of boom. But that shouldn't delude us into thinking we have achieved anything yet. We're still on thin ice. Hell, remember what happened when we lost our Internet connection with the world? Until then I think this is all just plain eyewash or noble ideas, depending on the motives.

And yep, maybe we understand that we won't be an IT nation, but our policies are still reactive rather than proactive, rhetorical rather than strategic, copycat rather than visionary.

Anonymous said...

Well i think the PM and President speak a lota bollocks!
Pakistan is a third world country and will remain until you move a muscle. When you move a muscle it will take 50 more years to be somewhere, by that time developed nations will be far ahead. You think petty outsourcing money is good? The good money is in the hands which outsource to you remember.
Brain Drain, I am happy to be drained out from Pakistan, I was wasted talent back there. God I dont even go there for vacations even

Muhammad Saqib Ilyas said...

Anonymous. Wonder why you didnt even care to reveal your pseudo identity. I went to the US and came back. I know and accept that I cant change the society or the nation, but I believe in doing my part and then at least I would have the right to complain. At least I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I did the best I could do. We are a nation of complainers, not a nation of doers. The non-doers are the loudest complainers, they dont deserves anything anyway.
As far as IT is concerned, IT to our government is training unemployed graduates in spoken english aka call center and then putting them to taking orders from offshore customers.
That sucks. As far as IT is concerned, look at the decline in IT related program enrolments in the country. We are getting the garbage into IT related programs at universities. Who the hell will be the driver for the IT industry growth then?

Muhammad Saqib Ilyas said...

Sorry, my entry was interrupted because I was sitting opposite a reserved machine and was asked to move. I was going to lunch anyway.
So, what I was saying is that notice the impression amongst the community that IT is dead. They think it is, at least in Pakistan. Anyone who has a clue about what IT is would think how could someone be such a moron. But that is true of all but few parents, resulting in only those entering into IT related programs at institutes who can not get admission into other programs such as electronics engineering or telecomm, which in my opinion are smaller industries as far as engineer consumption is concerned.
The government neither realizes this problem, nor can it do, nor will do anything about it. It's an alarming situation. To them, the call center is equal to IT. Period.

Merlinx said...

Good observation MSI. That is true. The definition of an IT industry has de-generated to that of BPO and call centers. I also wondered if obtaining bachelors or masters degrees in IT and then working en masse in call centers counts as a success or an insult. Following this road after obtaining qualifications in IT or CS or engineering part-time, is one thing, perhaps while a person makes up his or her mind on what to do next like higher studies or getting a suitable job or earning some extra cash. But if the big picture is we plan to accommodate our educated, white-collar IT workforce in a blue-collar BPO industry and think that is our measure of success in IT, we are in more shit than we imagine.

Muhammad Saqib Ilyas said...

One or two other things. Companies in India that are global success stories today invested in ventures for 5 to 10 years without any greed for profit, and without any profit at all. It was only after that that cash started flowing in. They were futuristic minded, and several groups from doing such things as making plastic bags to IT success stories. But not overnight. Unfortunately, our seth saheb wants profits and cash flows yesterday. That way, we are not getting anywhere. Becoming the next India by establishing call center venues or relying on projects outsourced from the west is not the way to go. No one thinks about becoming the next Sun Microsoystems, Microsoft, or better still, even beyond. And how can we, with work force that will be graduates from amongst the left over from other technologies?

Muhammad Saqib Ilyas said...

And, then its not just about IT. Its the very survival of the nation that is at stakes. We are a morally decayed, socially irresponsible lot, that can not really be called a society. We are 150 million individuals with 150 million individual causes, which in most cases is "money at all costs." What to talk of IT, when the nation itself is at the verge of destruction.

Anonymous said...

I am not a registered user and I cannot be bothered to register myself.

I agree with some of your comments where you are really identifying and explaining the issues related to IT industry of Pakistan, I couldnt agree more.

My point is, if you are in Pakistan and have a choice between IT and (anything else) then go for anything...because Pakistan will never be a dominant player in IT globally simply because it is a third world country and whatever chance we had based on the IT revolution has been cashed massively by India already.

Accept the defeat in grace and look for further opportunities, but our nation and government have been passin on opportunities since so many years, and there is likelihood that they will continue to do so shamelessly. You said you've come back from US. I am doing a white collar job of Senior management level in the UK and spent my last holidays in barbados, I would come back to pakistan too if i was a student doing odd jobs (which probably you were - no offense).

I got 2 more happy years to become officially British (unofficially I am already). I use to be a big time patriot but have suffered a lot for being a Pakistani and hated every second of it, and there's nothing you can say or do to change that. - There is no patriotism on empty stomach (in my case empty ego).

Faisal

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