Embrace technology for a better tomorrow, says technopreneur
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.