– Faisal Mahmud
With the target of earning $1 billion from software export by 2018 and a less publicized target of building a $1 billion local software industry at the same time, the BASIS Softexpo was revived after five years.
Organized from February 1-4 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) by Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS)-the apex body
of software and IT enabled services, the expo has been able to showcase the progress and prospect of Bangladesh’s software industry.
Industry insiders said that after the last Softexpo in 2012, this year, the mega event of Bangladesh’s software industry has been revived because of some reasons.
For the last five years, the Softexpo was being arranged along with the Digital World event. However the software industry people felt that the banner of Digital World was very big and since that was being organized by the ICT Division of the government, the showcasing of software product had been shadowed.
Since the software industry is growing and there is a target of achieving $1 billion from software export by 2018, BASIS felt that the highlight should be given on software’s display again.
Potential in the local market
That’s not all. Aside from earning $1 billion from the export, the new committee of BASIS fixes plans to create a $1 billion software industry in Bangladesh by targeting only the local market in the next few years. Several of the earlier committees of BASIS have put more concentration on the export market but it hasn’t put enough emphasis into its own market. The idea of previous BASIS committees was that it should have been export oriented. The new committee felt that there is a huge market inside Bangladesh and they should try to tap its potential.
ICT division of the government too now believes that Bangladesh’s own software developers should develop software solutions for the country’s local market.
Mustafa Jabbar, President of BASIS said that of course the target of hitting the magic number of $1 billion from software export is in their mind. “No other sector except the RMG sector in Bangladesh has been able to attain the coveted billion dollar mark in the export basket. We want to attain that by 2018. Our current software export stands at 700 million. I believe we will not only be able to achieve that target of $1 billion, we will exceed that,” he said.
Matchmaking-the key to attain success
During the four day long Softexpo, more than 150 Business to business (B2B) sessions were held at the business lounge arranged at the Softexpo arena.
At least 10 companies from Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, USA, China and other countries met with more than 150 Bangladeshi Software and ITES service companies to talk about business and the prospect of buying software from them.
Asruf Ul Jubair, Business Development Manager of Windmill Info Tech Ltd said that during the expo they had several B2B sessions with both local and foreign companies. “We have several products including software and mobile apps. Many of the companies have shown interest in our products. We had fruitful discussion.”
Jubair hoped that the discussion that they had in the B2B session would aid them to close in some business deals. “This Softexpo provided us-the developers- with excellent opportunities to showcase our product. You would never find such large number of business prospects under one roof except the Softexpo.”
Sazzad Ul Amin, an RMG factory owner was looking for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for his new shirt factory. “I came here in the Softexpo to buy solutions for my company. I had deployed an Indian ERP solution in my other company but it was very expensive and the after sales service provided by them is very bad. So now I am planning to buy local software and modify it according to my company’s need.”
At the business lounge, Mahbub Jaman- former president of BASIS and the owner of Datasoft, one of the largest software companies of the country- was found leading a Japanese delegation. Jaman said that after the incident of terrorist attack in Holey Artisan Restaurant in Dhaka, the condition of the business turned really bad for few months. “Now it is being revived. I have been travelling to Japan in every month for the last couple of months. We have great software business and collaboration prospects with Japan. Now in the Software expo, a Japanese delegation has come.”
He said that the with the Japanese delegation and local representatives from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the software industry stakeholders, a seminar about the prospect of Japan-Bangladesh ICT prospects have been organized. “This discussion and matchmaking with other business entities have provided us the opportunities to expand our business’s outreach.”
Seminars on different issues for policy reform
A total of 35 seminars on different issues have been arranged in four days in the Softexpo. In those seminars, experts concerned not only provided insight of topics like cyber security, e-commerce, digital learning, startup cultures, entrepreneurship and digital education but also provided valuable recommendations for policy reform A number of seminars have been held on cyber security issue and the speakers said that without a comprehensive cyber security act, ensuring security and garnering full-proof confidence among the common people will remain a distant dream.
Tapan Kanti Sarkar, President of CTO Forum said that the recent heist at the Bangladesh proves that no business entities in the country who are
involved with digital transaction are secured here.
“We need a comprehensive guideline and policy about cyber security here. That’s not all, there must a comprehensive act so that all business entities are compelled to invest on and maintain strong cyber security platform.”
To boost the mobile app development and crate an app store ecosystem in the country, experts concerned during a seminar recommended developing API exchange of BDT so that people can buy mobile app in BDT instead of USD.
Meanwhile in multiple seminars organized on the issue of e-commerce, people concerned with the industry have pushed for developing the digital wallet culture to take the e-commerce into the next level.