Technology advances present a great opportunity for Sri Lankan businesses to grow, become more efficient, and expand their market reach. The ICT sector will touch on more and more businesses as it becomes adopted in Sri Lanka, helping them compete on the international stage. The fourth industrial revolution promises that regardless of industry or sector, every business must digitize to remain relevant. Supporting the National Digital Economy Strategy which is to be launched in the near future, in-line with promoting Digital Transformation of Businesses (SME’s) & Digital adoption at regional level, ICTA’s Industry Development Program together with regional stakeholders led by World University Service of Canada (WUSC) designed and implemented a Digitizing of the Southern Province initiative on 19th June 2018, bringing together more than 200 participants representing SMEs, digital service providers, vocational trainee students, and district business chambers and forums of all 03 districts (Galle, Matara and Hambantota) which also included the participation of 60+ female entrepreneurs and 15 differently abled business owners, to strengthen the ICT network in the south of Sri Lanka, helping the Southern Province digitize, build their future ready workforce, and tool up for success in the future!
This program targeted business’s across industries covering over 60 women led businesses and 15 differently abled persons to help them understand the importance and benefits of digitally transforming their businesses, expose them to new ICT technologies in multiple domains for business users in regions, giving them an opportunity to witness and meet 13 ICT companies based in the regions offering bespoke software development, mobile apps development, web solutions, e-commerce, POS systems, stock control systems and HR solutions etc. share and explore solutions they can incorporate to their business.
The event consisted of an exciting line-up of expert speakers covering the latest technology and social change trends in the morning. Mr. Thushera Kawdawatta, Vice President of Virtusa shared his professional thoughts and findings about how the 4th industrial revolution will impact SMEs in Sri Lanka and Mr. Samath Fernando, CEO of H One (Pvt) Ltd demonstrated how digital is redesigning the future workplace in Marketing, Finance management, data management, daily operations and options available outside the traditional 9-5 working hours.
Ms. Emesha Pinto & Dr. Viraj Pinto of Matrix Institute of Information Technology (Pvt) Ltd, Ms. Achala Samaradivakara from Good Market and Ms. Mangala Dissanayake of Manga’s were part of a panel discussion on a woman’s journey as an entrepreneur with Ms. Tamasha Fernando of ICTA being the moderator. This was an interactive session with panelists sharing their case studies and insights of being entrepreneurs, a reflection on how to start a business, challenges for a woman entrepreneur, the changing role of men and male’s role for supporting women to be entrepreneurs etc. Mr. Enrico Aloi, a WUSC volunteer from Canada presented his findings towards an eco-friendly digital industry and in-line with ICTA’s partnership with Facebook, a session was conducted to demonstrate digital marketing tools available to enhance businesses.
Commenting on the initiative, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva – Chairman, ICTA said, “This initiative progresses our goal to create a digitally inclusive and vibrant economy. With Facebook’s tools and expertise in digital marketing, we hope entrepreneurs will be able to fuel their next growth story.”
Elaborating on the program, Ankhi Das – Public Policy Director – India, South & Central Asia, Facebook said, “We partnered with the ICTA, earlier in the year, to build on our promise to train 10,000 Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and help them access the global economy. The Southern region of Sri Lanka is a hub of economic activity and we believe we can give local entrepreneurs a much-needed boost to their businesses. With this initiative, we are well on our way to positively impacting Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and becoming a net contributor to the nation’s economy”
Breakout sessions (04 parallel sessions) were specifically designed to cater to each of the diverse attendees’ interests in the afternoon, with an ICT solution provider exhibition to help SMEs find support in their path to digitization. Facebook and Google Business Group, conducted hands-on tech tools sessions to assist the enterprises understand better on the advantages/impact of Facebook and Google tools and guided them during the sessions for adoption of such tech tools. This helped these businesses to infuse digital transformation and for ICTA as the apex body to achieve its overall vision of making Sri Lanka a Digitally inclusive country.
Separate sessions for mentoring 60+ females on tech enabled entrepreneurship were conducted which also provided opportunity for one-to-one engagement/coaching and another session for digitizing the workforce planning for Chamber/association officials was carried out by the Department of Manpower. This program supported to source tech solution providers (primarily SME’s based in the Southern Province) and provided them with opportunities (potential sales leads) for enhancing their domestic market and the Sri Lanka Go Digital Program of ICTA will continue to work closely with its regional partners to conduct follow-up initiatives to support the digitization of businesses, support to build internal capacity of ICT solution providers to cater to the demands of the non-tech (traditional) industries in-order to partner and support them in their digital transformation & adoption journey.