From Technology Boxes to Human Capital: “The Alternatives”
In a dream to fix Pakistan’s social fabric and try to play it’s part in the improvement of the overall socio-economic system, co-founders of Virtuosoft started their journey in November 2016. Being Computer Software Engineers, they decided to use technology as a tool in bringing this vital change. By fixing the local IT ecosystem, instead of spending large amount of money on large technology boxes, generating money by upgrading our human capitals’ skills might help in defining a much more powerful economic system that could help the country grow called knowledge based economy.
Pakistani society is deprived of a lot of things; basic necessities are missing from a large populations’ life. Governments look to be bound because of the financial pressures in providing the facilities to general masses. Loans, circular debts etc. etc. are a show-stopper for the state. Not to mention the mother of all evils “corruption”.
Virtuosoft believes if we, as a country, invest in research and development (human capital) and start creating solutions/products, we can develop an ecosystem that could not only help ourselves to grow but will also create an image for Pakistan for which we have waited so long. Now the problem is again: how can we have the money for this RnD? Who’s going to take the responsibility/ownership of creating this ecosystem? If the answer is “state”, 73 years have passed, and many years will pass again expecting anything from the Government.
The problem: If we take a look at our IT industry both large corporations and even small companies, we see that a lot of money is being spent on the technology boxes; hardwares, softwares, licenses everywhere. In our recent experience working with a local corporate, we observed that the IT infrastructure they were using is not meant for them. There cannot be “one size fits all” solution for all of our local IT industry. There are sophisticated needs to some organizations, but there are not so critical needs for others. But we see that both have somehow or the other invested the same technology and spending 10s of millions of rupees buying and maintaining them. On top of that, according to our market research, only 20-30% of the products are being utilized and rest 70-80% is not touched even; despite we give cost for complete 100%.
What impact it has on our human capital?
a) Our resources are well aware of the cost incurred on these giant technology boxes, whereas they are deprived of their due shares for running the businesses- negative sentiments.
b) Since, we are only consuming technology from large vendors for which we are trained etc., we don’t really excel in that and over the period of few years, we loose our focus and the skill to learn and adopt to new technologies. A graduate who knows how to develop things becomes a consumer only- destructing creativity.
- Huge costs for the technology and,
- Less skilled/equipped human capital is the problem for our ecosystem.
Let’s look at what could be the solution.
The solution: Can we think of finding alternate technologies that could help us save 10s of millions of our local corporates? In the range from RDBMS, Operations Systems, Payroll systems, CRMs, Document Management Systems to full-fledged ERPs, there are a lot of technology solutions freely available to be adopted and used by us.
- If we can somehow start using such alternatives, we might end up saving huge money (which is being legally laundered to the outside world). We may use this money in building research centres, doing industry-academia collaborations, funding students’ projects etc.
- By utilizing such free technologies, our human capital will have to do more work. Learn technology, troubleshoot issues, fix bugs, dig deep into the solutions etc. This will enhance the skills of everyone involved in the process. By-product will be creativity that will lead to new solution designing from our resources.
The points mentioned are note just mere points, but have a solid backing with our experience. It’s been a journey of around 3.5 years and below are some of our company’s highlights:
- Human Capital Development: Successfully developed careers of dozens of individuals in the span of last 2 years. Virtuosoft has this habit to hire students who aren’t able to find a place in the local market- having no clue how to start-off. By providing them trainings and internships on the technology/services that are best suited for them, enabled a lot of them to work for the industry both local and international. One of our trained resource is working for PnG, a couple working for a French client and a few working for US silicon valley companies.
- IT Trade Deficit Reduction: Enabled a couple of banks in Pakistan deploy cutting edge big data technology solution using inhouse team avoiding a giant foreign vendor. From one of them, saving done was around 45 Million PKR.
- Overhauling of State Institutions: Helped in the compliance and governance for one of the core state department. Became part of the special audit and extracted discrepancies worth billions of rupees. Now the department is in profit alhamdulillah!
- Open Source Software Advocates:
- Proud contributors of Apache Zeppelin. Data science notebook from Apache Software Foundation. Virtuosoft believes to not only consume the OSS, but also contribute back to the community in order for us to be recognized all over the world.
- Provided solution to a local corporate for Document Management and Project Management. Also replaced one of the biggest RDBMs with open source alternate. Not only provided complete feature set, but also proved to be a better solution by having low response times.
- IT Exports: Training and developing resources who could help execute projects from off-shore. Our resources are working for Dubai, France, US Silicon Valley on the cutting edge technologies helping generate dollars for Pakistan.
Solution mentioned above might not happen with the blink of an eye. It would need a decade or so to change-over things. A lot of factors are involved that would be going against the solution- and rightly so (for them). Changing systems, breaking the status-quo needs a lot of time and efforts. A complete mental-shift is what’s required to fix our problems. It needs to start somewhere which we have already done. It’s a matter of time and resources, until it will become the preferred choice for our corporates.
We need to own our country. We need to own our society. We need to own our people. It’s us, who could help build lives of our poor. It’s us who could help everyone get the basic necessities of life. It’s us who are responsible for all this chaos around us. We need to wake up. We need to play our part!
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