"Sustainability of a knowledge economy is supreme for Sri Lanka"- Niranka Perera Head of Business Solutions eMarketingEye (Pvt) Ltd
Ashan Kumar met Niranka Perera, Head of Business Solutions at eMarketingEye (Pvt) Ltd. To understand how IT changed his life... (www.prwire.blog.com)
Niranka Perera, Head of Business Solutions at eMarketingEye (Pvt) Ltd
Electronic commerce or in short e-commerce, refers to business activities like selling and purchasing of products and services carried out over electronic systems like the Internet and computer networks. The history of e-commerce dates back to 1970, when for the first time, electronic data interchange (EDI) and electronic fund transfer were introduced.
Since then, a rapid growth of e-commerce has pervaded almost every other aspects of business such as supply chain management, transaction processing, Internet marketing and inventory management. This thought paved way for my next feature,
A creation and sustainability of a knowledge economy is paramount for Sri Lanka. Knowledge is a tool, which can be utilized to create jobs and bring about economic reform. Considering the IT sector, it isn’t feasible for the government alone to develop the education sector to cater to the rising demand of IT personnel. The contribution of the private institutions should be encouraged with the necessary government regulatory frameworks in place to ensure the quality of education. 70% of workers in developed countries are knowledge-workers, if Sri Lanka strives for same, an economic boom is sure to follow are the thoughts of a young accomplished business mind, Niranka Perera Head of Business Solutions eMarketingEye (Pvt) Ltd.
An old boy of S. Thomas' College Mt. Lavinia, Niranka is the the youngest in the family with two older brothers, both working in the IT sector, his dad is an entrepreneur and his mother is a gemologist. A qualified Project Manager with a degree and an MBA he has worked in the ICT industry for the past 7 years. When queried about his child his dream similar to many of my interviewees he commented about his vagueness in his future. According to Niranka, He hadn’t really focused on a career path during his school days. He wanted to be many things, a Marine Biologist, an Engineer and just about anything in between based on the time of day, he recalls, as he matured he realized he had the knack for Marketing and he as a youngster was computer savvy, understanding the basics with relative ease. Gradually during the last couple of years at school, when a career choice seemed more tangible, Niranka chose the field of IT, with plans to complete a degree in ICT.
When we say IT, most people think of it as one composite sector. But in reality, IT offers various disciplines that are based on the same foundation. He believes there is something for everyone, be it UI Engineering, Software Engineering, Database Engineering or any of the other multitude of interrelated disciplines within the sector. He chose UI Engineering as he wanted to design the look and feel of software and define how people interacted with IT systems. He was also confident in his choice as he knew once within the IT sector, if one had the necessary foundation; it was relatively easy to switch between the various disciplines, at least at the initial stages of one’s career. “The fact that I later specialized in Software Project Management is a testament to that”, he says.
He described the impact of IT in him as a person, “IT has had an immense impact on me. Having studied part-time and worked full-time, at the age of 22, I was the Delivery Manager for a US based Software Development company while most of my friends were still finishing their degrees. I firmly believe such an opportunity for career development and rapid progression is only available in the IT sector. At eMarketingEye, I have had the opportunity to attend training sessions at Google Singapore, address international conferences and also help conduct Sri Lanka’s first online marketing forum”.
Opportunities such as these are not unique in the IT sector. Having worked with Engineers and other IT professionals from various universities and all-walks of life, it is gratifying to see how individual brilliance is easily visible and how it is rewarded within the sector. “I believe if I had chosen any other sector, my career progress would have been very different”.
Coping with an evolving industry is a challenge, few extracts from his thought are, Continuous learning is at the core of the IT industry and this is why IT becomes a specialist industry. For example, Software Engineers may choose between Microsoft Technologies, Java based Technologies or Open Source technologies and then specialize in one area. It helps narrow the scope and makes continuous learning feasible. The fact that Software Engineering principles remain the same, makes it easier for someone to switch from one technology stack to another if so desired.
For a company, initially a similar specialization may be prudent at the start. Once the company is stable, structured diversification into other IT disciplines would be feasible. Transparency and performance based metrics are a must. In the end, how a company manages the ‘iron-triangle’ of time, scope and cost is how it would sustain an advantage over its competitors.
Contribution of the youth was my next query, according to Niranka the knowledge the world has to share with is mostly in English and as such Niranka believes a genuine effort is required by Sri Lanka youth to learn English. “To develop themselves through further reading and self-study not only benefits them as individuals but their companies and the whole knowledge based sector. Having worked with engineers from various countries, I believe our talent is second to none but our language skills in general require further development”.
Speaking about the key challenges Niranka shared that English language skills and employee turnover are the biggest challenges faced by a BPO. As most BPOs serve US and European clients, it is immensely difficult to source the right candidates due to the language barrier. In such a situation a considerable investment is needed to develop these skills. If this initial investment is to be redeemed, then issues of employee turnover should be addressed next.
BPOs that offer entry level opportunities with the promise of higher education and career opportunities within the company or related businesses later. This would seem to be an ideal scenario that benefits the company and the individual. Virtusa as a leading IT services company does this really well.
Sri Lanka has an immense advantage in the IT/BPO sector. Sri Lanka is emerging as a global IT-BPO destination of choice in number of key focus domain areas. Sri Lanka is ranked among the Top 50 Global Outsourcing destinations by AT Kearney and ranked among Top 20 Emerging Cities by Global Services Magazine.
Niranka shared his thoughts “The development of the IT sector would help Sri Lanka earn foreign exchange while creating jobs. Benefits such as increases in Per-Capita-Income and Knowledge in-flux are sure to follow”.
His ideas to take Sri Lanka ahead are as follows,
Bandwidth is a commodity in Sri Lanka where the prices of broadband lease-lines are prohibitive for smaller companies. The development of the necessary IT infrastructure is paramount for Sri Lanka. IT Promotion - Undertake a structured approach to create awareness of Sri Lanka’s IT skills in the global market. Effectively promoting Sri Lanka as a superior outsourcing destination in terms of quality, reliability and pricing. IT Education – Increase the existing capacity of Sri Lanka’s IT education sector. Encourage private sector IT education while introducing the necessary regulatory frameworks that prevent the issuing of mass-scale degrees without the requisite knowledge. IT Law – Create awareness on existing ICT related laws and ensure enforcement.
The growing IT-BPO industry in Colombo offers a unique advantage for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to enjoy premium access to a high quality talent pool, which is becoming increasingly challenging in large established destinations such as India and China. The environment is also highly conducive for establishing high-in-demand niche competency centers out of competition for even larger global services companies.