Kandy IT/BPM Week – Day 02: Conferences & Forums Galore

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Yesterday was Day One of the Kandy IT Week AKA the Future Careers fair. Today would be a two-fold event. On one hand, at the E.O.E Pereira Memorial Hall, there was the BPM (Business Process Management) conference On the other hand, over at the Queen’s Hotel located in the heart of Kandy, we had the IT/BPM Export Forum and the Entrepreneurship workshop.

BPM

We decided to kill numerous birds with one stone and head to the BPM conference first and then to the Entrepreneurship workshop later.

No real birds were harmed in the making of this article.

The BPM Conference

First up for the BPM conference was CEO of SAKS, Hariharan Pathmanathan talking on the outlook of the Sri Lanka BPM Sector and career opportunities for undergraduates. He started his session by talking about how students of Peradeniya have something “special” in them and that that is most impressive.

“We are doing work for global customers across the world on a day to day basis from our offices” – Hariharan Pathmanathan

In essence, he spoke about how BPM of major global companies can be replicated here in Sri Lanka thus creating an opportunity to use the skills you have received. He also emphasizes the standard SLASSCOM mantra of creating 200,000 jobs by the year 2022 resulting in a total of USD 5Billion in exports and creating 1000 start-ups in the process.

BPM

He then talks about the BPM verticals such as Finance and Accounting Outsourcing, Legal Process Outsourcing, Medical Process Outsourcing and Knowledge Process Outsourcing. Some interesting notes we saw about the Sri Lankan BPO workforce were that:

  • We have the second largest CIMA population next to UK,
  • 78% of the BPM workforce engage in complex work
  • We have a combined workforce of 120,000 students pursuing finance qualifications.

By using examples of Airbus, Hariharan demonstrated the beauty of the industry as you need no prior experience but rather, you’ll receive on the spot training.

He then spoke about how this industry gives you the opportunity to see how it operates and also gives you the chance to go abroad to work in those environments and then come back to Sri Lanka and share your experience and help the economy grow.

He then moved on to show us a video by founder of Ali Baba, Jack Ma. Ma’s video was basically, no matter how many times you fall, you have to get back up and get on to the next level. Quite motivating indeed.

In a nutshell, Hariharan concluded by stating that the BPM industry is equivalent to any other industry in Sri Lanka or even the world and for students to follow their dreams.

The IT/BPM Exports Forum

Moving out of Peradeniya, we set our sights on the Queens Hotel, located in the heart of Kandy to take part in the IT/BPM Exports Forum and Entrepreneurship workshop.

Walking into the Hall, we saw CEO and Founder of Square Mobile, Tharindu Dassanayake speaking to the audience on Entrepreneurship and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Following his speech was a presentation by Senior Director – Ernst & Young, Praveen Ruberu who once again reiterated SLASSCOM’s vision. He also spoke about the global FAO growth and BPM opportunities such as ICTA and SLASSCOM’s role and the efforts taken in Jaffna and currently in Kandy. From there, they would cover the southern area of the country by building BPM capacity and creating awareness

Praveen then goes into the key findings of SLASSCOM with regard to how to promote IT/BPM and entrepreneurship in Kandy. He emphasizes that help will always be given to those who seek it. For example, Dialog and Lanka Bell have confirmed internet speeds and connectivity in Kandy will be competent with that of Colombo. Orion City as another example have stated that they would construct a modern building in Kandy akin to Orion City and Orion Towers.

Praveen then uses case studies from Ernst and Young and a Shared Service center in JKH called Informate where FAO was and BPO was carried out with great success. Results included reduction of processing time by 30-40%, less management time spent on resolving staff scheduling, effective cost reductions, exposure of regional offices to new modern IT infrastructure.

In conclusion, Praveen reemphasizes that the IT/BPM industry is indeed growing, and that SLASSCOM would provide whatever help required in order for you to take the maximum out of this.

Next up was a Panel discussion with the following members:

  • Saman Maldeni
  • Sachinda Samararatne
  • Naresh Abeyesekera
  • Tharindu dasanayake
  • Praeen Ruberu

The panel was moderated by Daya Hettiarachchi and revolved around the theme of “Innovate, Go Mobile, or Die!”

One question asked from the panel was on “How to create a tech savvy population?” to which Sachinda’s reply was to provide them with the tools and make them use it. He then went on to explain  about initiatives by ICTA such as using virtual reality such as Google cardboard to teach subjects such as history and biology.

BPM

Another important point brought up by a member of the panel was that Sri Lanka is inherently rooted towards preset career opportunities such as an accountant, engineer, lawyer or doctor. He urges the audience to let children explore their passion etc.

The next question was whether or not IT investments are affected by Tax? Well if you have a start-up that deals with export, then you are exempt from Tax. The subject of tax is indeed complicated and at this current stage is a rather delicate matter. Praveen added that the tax depends on the nature of your work and the equipment needed. You need to have a clear understanding of the goals of your start-up in order to work around these obstacles. Sachinda added that grants have been given to startups and companies to help them nurture what they do.

With the implementation of technologies such as PayPal and stripe businesses would be looking to process new types of payment methods. Sadly, there are still a few legal issues that need to be addressed and solved in order to implement these technologies without too much hassle or challenges. Saman Maldeni also added that PayPal doesn’t consider Sri Lanka a large market which could also spell trouble for our businesses as well.

The panel discussion came to a close and the panelists were awarded tokens of appreciation by Co-founder and CEO of 99X Technologies, Mano Sekaram.

Chandima Fernando of HNB was up on stage to talk about Loan schemes for SLASSCOM members. He then spoke about Self-employment Promotion Loan scheme or SEPI and its requirements and benefits. Saubagya (prosperity) for machinery. Despite being an IT conference, there may be those who have a secondary agenda on another type of startup, if that be the case, you can give your nearest HNB a call and they will lend you a helping hand.

With that, the IT/BPM Exports Forum came to a close and the audience was invited to take part in lunch.

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