Em­brace tech­nol­ogy for a bet­ter to­mor­row, says techno­preneur

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - THIHA KO KO news­[email protected]­times.com

THE spread of tech­nol­ogy across the world poses both a threat and an op­por­tu­nity for tra­di­tional busi­nesses says tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur U Tun Thura Thet.

The founder of Myan­mar In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) Co Ltd says it is crit­i­cal for Myan­mar to be in­no­va­tive an able to adapt to the chang­ing land­scape.

U Tun Thura Thet es­tab­lished MIT in 1997 and is con­sid­ered one of the pi­o­neers in that then-nascent field of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in Myan­mar. To­day, MIT pro­vides tech­nol­ogy-re­lated ser­vices from five branches in Myan­mar and Sin­ga­pore.

As well as be­ing the founder and CEO of MIT, the dig­i­tal in­no­va­tor is also the joint sec­re­tary of the Myan­mar Com­puter Fed­er­a­tion (MCF) and an ac­tive mem­ber of the SME De­vel­op­ment Work­ing Com­mit­tee and Dig­i­tal Economy De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee.

The tech en­tre­pre­neur is one of in­flu­encers who have been se­lected for the Huawei Fu­ture Shapers Pro­ject.

He spoke to The Myan­mar Times about the tech­nol­ogy land­scape in the coun­try.

“The Dig­i­tal Economy De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee (DEDC) is a na­tion­al­level com­mit­tee and it is a co­op­er­at­ing body be­tween pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors for de­vel­op­ing the coun­try’s dig­i­tal economy. Cur­rently, the com­mit­tee is mainly im­ple­ment­ing the pro­cesses which will sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of Myan­mar’s dig­i­tal economy,” he said.

“The man on the street may think of the dig­i­tal economy as e-com­merce, but it is much big­ger than that also in­cludes ar­eas such as e-gov­ern­ment and e-com­mu­nity. More­over, an­other im­por­tant sec­tor is the so-called “fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion”. All this calls for a road map that can help steer the growth of Myan­mar’s dig­i­tal economy. The re­spon­si­bil­ity of the com­mit­tee is to help achieve this,” he said.

While he is di­rectly in­volved in a tech­nol­ogy-based based busi­ness, U Tun Thura Thet said the dig­i­tal economy is not only about one busi­ness sec­tor. He says all kinds of busi­nesses can and should adopt in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

“Some might won­der what kind of tech­nol­ogy could be used in agriculture and live­stock, but they would be sur­prised. I am not talk­ing about mod­ern ma­chin­ery but in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, IOT and Blockchain. Tech­nol­ogy such as this isn’t only for com­puter com­pa­nies, it could be used in ev­ery com­mer­cial sec­tor,” he said.

Var­i­ous gov­ern­ment min­istries, the Myan­mar In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion (MIC), SME De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee and Cen­tral Bank of Myan­mar (CBM) are mem­bers of the DEDC and un­der the lead­er­ship of the vice-pres­i­dent it draws up poli­cies that a typ­i­cal min­istry is un­able to do. Cur­rently, DEDC is work­ing on draft­ing strate­gies for the coun­try’s dig­i­tal economy de­vel­op­ment, said U Tun Thura Thet.

“Af­ter draft­ing the strat­egy frame­work and road map for dig­i­tal economy de­vel­op­ment, we will have an ac­tion plan that will cover things such as the pro­mo­tion of dig­i­tal skills and mak­ing sure more peo­ple are in­cluded. All this will also re­quire im­proved con­nec­tiv­ity and se­cu­rity. To achieve all this, the most im­por­tant thing is the will­ing­ness to em­brace in­no­va­tion,” he said.

Com­pared with other coun­tries, Myan­mar’s cur­rent dig­i­tal eco­nomic land­scape lags, but U Tun Thura Thet said he sees ad­van­tages in this.

Mo­bile phone pen­e­tra­tion in the pop­u­la­tion is high and this is an ex­tremely cru­cial first step for a dig­i­tal economy, said U Tun Thura Thet.

“If in­no­va­tions can be car­ried based on this, then we will get to the next step. Viet­nam is way ahead in this and in or­der to catch up with them, we need to have a great strat­egy,” he said.

Asked about fac­tors that could speed up progress here, U Tun Thura Thet said the de­vel­op­ment of an on­line pay­ment sys­tem is crit­i­cal and re­view­ing laws and pro­ce­dures so that goods can be de­liv­ered quickly to re­duce costs and in­crease ef­fi­ciency for SMES.

“We can only catch up if we leapfrog. In our coun­try, the farm­ers are still us­ing hard labour and an­i­mals to work on their fields. They’re not us­ing much ma­chin­ery yet. Tech­nol­ogy needs to be utilised in ar­eas such as agriculture, live­stock and ed­u­ca­tion. It must be the first pri­or­ity to change all sec­tors us­ing tech­nol­ogy. Oth­er­wise, we will be left be­hind. An­other point to high­light is we can’t af­ford to do it slowly. We have to make it quick,” he said.

He wants ICT to be en­vi­sioned as a ma­jor game-changer for all ar­eas of the economy.

There is still much de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial for ICT in the coun­try and this is an ad­van­tage for Myan­mar so U Tun Thura Thet urges young peo­ple to be in­no­va­tive and dar­ing with ideas.

“For young peo­ple, just bring­ing ideas from other coun­tries and mak­ing them bet­ter is not enough. They need to re­ally come up with their own new ideas. ICT is the fastest grow­ing sec­tor of all. I mean it would not be a wrong choice. What I want to em­pha­sise to young peo­ple is that there is so much po­ten­tial in this sec­tor. One im­por­tant ques­tion is how to make their busi­ness suc­cess­ful in this mar­ket. They need to have a vi­sion ofr their busi­ness and the fu­ture what they want to shape, and then they must work to reach it,” he said.

It is high time for all to con­sider how they want to in­scribe the milestones of Myan­mar’s eco­nomic sec­tor in the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, and with tech­ni­cal sup­port, fo­cus must be made on cir­cum­stances which can help de­velop all sec­tors of the economy, said U Tun Thura Thet.

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