Software industry still leaves much to be desired

Published: 12/04/2011 05:00


Insiders say the Vietnamese software industry remains uncompetitive ten years after the government carried out a plan to develop local information technology.

Insiders say the Vietnamese software industry remains uncompetitive ten years after the government carried out a plan to develop local information technology.

“The Vietnamese software industry hasn’t reached its potential or people’s expectations,” said Ngo Van Toan, Vice President of Global CyberSoft, one of over 1,000 software businesses now operating in Vietnam.

What Toan and many other software entrepreneurs are saying these days is that Vietnamese software businesses are still too small, too dependent on outsourced work, and too slow to come up with specialized solutions to really matter in the international area.

Indeed, of over 1,000 software businesses, only a few employ more than 1,000 people, making it different for the local industry to bid for big and important outsourced projects, the mainstay of software industries in countries like India, China and Vietnam, even though big names such as HP are coming here in larger numbers to find human resources through mergers and acquisitions for their future outsourcing.

It is in fact those M&A of the past 10 years that have helped put Vietnam on the global IT map.

On the other hand, this same reliance on outsourced work is making local businesses worry that they would become incapable of developing their own products.

Thus, some, which Toan of Global CyberSoft considers “still just a few sparks here and there,” have started to research their own solutions.

FPT Software for instance has several solutions for the positioning system used in the transport industry. Logigear has marketed a solution for testing software.

TMA Solutions have developed mobile services after years of doing outsourced work in telecommunications.

Others are also investing in developing business administration solutions to target local customers.

But Nguyen Huu Le, TMA’s Chairman, said investing in new products was “a risky business.” His company’s solution is thus to partner with a foreign company which helps fund as well as market its new software on the international market.

Yet, to Le Hai Binh, Chairman of Mat Bao, the solution to this “risky” business lies somewhere else. “The local software industry can only develop if the government pays more attention to copyrights,” Binh said.

Ten years after the government enacted policies to develop the industry, local software companies still live in a constant fear of piracy and ineffective enforcement of copyright laws.

Pham An Chien, President of FIS, a software research arm of FPT however said lack of investment, marketing know-how or copyright protection weren’t as fundamental as lack of quality of Vietnamese software solutions itself.

Chien said software should ultimately provide modern administration solutions for society but Vietnamese software was yet to reach this level.

“We need time to acquire in-depth knowledge before we can come up with solutions for specialized and large-scale problems,” he said.

For his part, Mai Liem Truc, former Vice Minister of Post and Telecommunications, is confident that with proper training, Vietnamese youths will be as creative and capable as their counterparts elsewhere.

But he pointed out that setting out goals and achieving them were totally different matters.

Vietnam has set out good goals for its IT industry – such as training 1 million IT engineers by 2020 or increasing IT exports to 50 percent of total IT output (equal to US$10billion/year).

These goals, however, would be very difficult to achieve if the government didn’t rethink its vision for IT development, he said.

The vision shouldn’t just be to “make Vietnam strong in information technology” as the government’s plan was titled.

Rather, he said, Vietnam should understand IT’s vital role to its national economy so profoundly as to realize that the ultimately vision is to “make Vietnam strong through information technology.”

Only with such a fundamentally different awareness can Vietnam make IT an integral part of every sector of society and consequently create an environment to foster the IT industry in the long run.

Source: Tuoi Tre

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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