Open your eyes!

October 6, 2008 at 10:59 pm 11 comments

Over seven hundred people viewed my blog yesterday. I was totally overwhelmed. A couple of hundred a day was normal. As time has gone by, the number has increased but this was absolutely unexpected. Some of you have written separately to say that my optimism appeals to you. Others have told me in person that I appear to see some good in everything. Well, all I can say is if you dig deep enough, there is some good in everyone. I am sure there are a few exceptions, but generally I have found this to be true.

In one of my previous posts, I focused on the good things that are happening in Pakistan. Tonight I thought I would focus on the good things that are happening in the IT industry in Pakistan to which I belong.

I meet a number of people over the course of each day and sometimes some of them who are unaware of what is happening in the Pakistan IT sector, say things like there is no growth, the IT sector has made no impact, we are working in silos, we are not connecting/networking with each other or with academia. There are some who undermine the work that is being done and the kind of innovation that is taking place across the country. To these people I have only one thing to say: Open your eyes mate.:-)

Ours is a thriving industry growing at the rate of 50% per year for the past 6 years. We are being recognized across the world for the quality of work that we deliver and the kind of products that we develop. Whether we look at maturer companies like Systems Ltd, Netsol, Techlogix, LMKR, TRG, Innovative, Ultimus, Kalsoft and Ovex Technologies or younger companies like Mixit, Alchemy Technologies, PixSense, CureMD, Etilize, Scrybe, TPS, Avanza, Palmchip, Trivor, Five Rivers, Naseeb Networks, Amaana, Comcept, Jin Technologies, Folio 3, Post Amazers and Sharp Image, to mention just a few, we will see for ourselves that we have an industry that all of us should be proud of.

Universities like FAST, GIK, LUMS, IBA, Szabist, NUST, NED, MAJU, Karachi University, Punjab University, Bahria, Sir Syed etc are producing very good human resource that are helping our industry to grow. Companies from within the sector are on the Advisory Boards of most of these universities and are working with them at industry level and at an individual level to ensure that the gap between industry and academia is reduced. Many of our industry professionals are attached to these Universities as visiting faculty.

In addition to the efforts that P@SHA is making, there are other groups like Ponder Alliance that are trying to bridge the industry-academia divide. The Startup Insiders sessions have brought new energy into the sector by providing mentoring and guidance to technology graduates aspiring to be entrepreneurs. Newer setups like MITCEF, with the help of MIT Entrepreneurship Centre MD Ken Morse and members of OPEN, are assisting companies to accelerate their growth by providing a 6 month program to mid-sized companies. TiE is starting to work with renewed vigour to promote entrepreneurship in the country.

Magazines like CIO have started publishing Pakistan editions. Almost all international software and hardware organizations have a presence in Pakistan. Google, that had never really taken a serious look at Pakistan before, has starting showing interest. As the number of internet users have increased, and the blogging community has become more active, and Web 2.0 and mobile applications have increasingly surfaced from our corner of the world, naturally people from outside have taken notice of us. Our companies have started attracting VC funding from outside the country.

The Pakistan IT industry is responsible for improving the processes of many other industry sectors as well as improving government services. ICT for Development is another segment that the industry has now started to venture into so that our rural sector, and the young talent that resides there, is not left behind.

All these are positive signs of growth and development, and it will continue – anyone who thinks otherwise is either ignorant or just too stubborn to see what is happening all around us. The resilience of this sector despite all the knocks it takes over and over again, is something we should all acknowledge and be proud of. I for one continue to be amazed at the talent and brilliance of the people I meet in this industry. We may have started late, and there might have been a few hiccups along the way, but we are a dynamic sector that will continue to grow and make its mark on the world stage.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fariha Akhtar  |  October 6, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    This is a *much needed* post and I’ll show it to all those who often tell me that deciding to enter the field of IT in Pakistan is a sheer stupidity. The favorite sentence you get to hear from such people is “IT ka Pakistan main abb scope nahi”🙂

    Reply
  • 2. Jehan  |  October 6, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    As you can tell, I am a bit fed up of people who can’t see beyond their noses. Why is that they are blind to anything good that is happening in this country? I am glad there are young people like you to spread the truth – it certainly is out there!

    Reply
  • 3. minhaaj rehman  |  October 7, 2008 at 1:54 am

    our industry is growing at 50% ? Can you refer to a citation ? Even if this industry grows at 200 percent it won’t be able to keep up with the pace. Its 2008 and we don’t have dsl in whole country. Instead of having decentl reliable satellite internet and EVDO solutions we are stuck with lousy Wimax. Best speed we have got for home users is 1 mbps compared to 10 mbps to Canada and don’t even talk about Korea. And i might be wrong to compare internet access with Canada but its no big deal if we’d employed a better alternative instead of fibre optic under-water de-cay-bles.

    The universities you have talked about produce people who have crammed book with no prior experiences with international projects and participation in online collaborative projects like Google Summer School and Open Source community. Ubuntu community that i work for has a dead Pakistani Chapter.

    You talk about ICT ? Most schools, even the most decent ones don’t have properly networked and reliable internet, let alone the web 2.0 and social media softwares. Half of the public is still stuck with hotmail and yahoo and i still meet people who have heard about gmail a week ago or so.

    You talk about MIT Entrepreneuship centre and other profiteers e.g UN and the babies. You really believe these people are in it for pure educational and sincere reasons? When did capitalistic entities decide to invest for pure altruistic reasons?

    If they could have made the difference, probably Linus Torvalds would be a Yankee. I don’t mean to undermine Pakistani efforts and improvement in the industry. Its just the fact that there is a whole lot of talent waiting for a remotely acceptable and worth-implementing policy on ICT and IT infrastructure. We need more blogs, open source project participation and international exposure for students from grass root level. Collaboration is the key and our famous game in this century is still leg pulling.

    Sorry for the sermonic outburst in a comment, but i hope you see some truth in it and won’t delete the comment🙂 Great post btw.

    Reply
  • 4. Jehan  |  October 7, 2008 at 9:12 am

    @Minhaaj, hey outbursts are allowed. There is certainly some truth in what you say about the infranstructure, the need for more collaborative projects and a better ICT policy. As long as you were not being rude and obnoxious, there was no reason to delete your comment. A difference of opinion is always welcome as long as both parties are willing to listen to each other.🙂

    I wanted to ask if you live in Pakistan and if you have visited some of the universities recently and talked with some of the kids you say have just “crammed books”. There are some great collaborative projects taking place with international partners. There are kids developing great Web 2.0 applications while still at Universities. Is it enough? No a lot more needs to happen. So let us work towards that instead of looking at a glass half empty.

    The blogosphere has been growing – I don’t know if you have noticed. Sure it needs to keep growing and it will. I totally agree with you that there is a lot of talent waiting out there that needs to be tapped. Are you involved in the current ICT policy development? You have some good ideas. Why not get involved and contribute instead of simply complaining?😉 Hey that is the easiest thing to do. Get your hands dirty man! (of course you may already be doing it – I don’t presume to judge). If you are, then more power to you. Get in touch by email and let us meet and have a real conversation – mailto://jehan.ara@gmail.com

    Reply
  • 5. Shey  |  October 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Minhaaj,

    If you want to get your hands really dirty, AgilePakistan is always looking for volunteers😀

    Reply
  • 6. Mehdi Hussain  |  October 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Talking about the good things we do is essential to keep our morals high in order to keep doing the good stuff. However, there is absolutely a requirement of pointing out the good things that we do not do. Keep doing good is nice but getting even better is even nicer. This should not be mingled with pointing out the bad things we do. Just saying “we are bad” is not going to help. Its about pointing out the good things we can do but we still do not do. I like this statement “Even the best can do better”. So being very good at a lot of things, there are few things that need to be rectified as well as there are things that we can do more to go even higher. By now, everything I said is just vague. So let me just make a couple of points to contribute to this good topic in a much better way.
    Being an IT professional, I am restricting myself to this field. Where our university students have started working with the live projects of IT industry, as mentioned in earlier posts, I see a haste to learn tools that can help them complete the project instead of learning the very basics of computer knowledge, the IT concepts, the basics of software engineering. They have started to ignore the OS architectures, the data structures, the software models, the memory management and many more things but focusing more in learning syntax, graphic tools and code generation tools. Reusing the already built things is good but understanding how and why they work is even better. That is the difference between a mechanic and an engineer, and that makes the real difference. I also like this statement “Programming is more of a worth than programming language”. Currently, our engineers and IT professionals give more to the later.
    Secondly, our IT industry needs to do more in the research field. We have left this part to the western world and always wait for them to bring something new for us to use. It seems like we have just made up our minds about this (I hope I could be wrong here). No where in the world research is done by an independent research organization. Its always a collaboration of companies that come up to some new thing, some new thought, some new technology. What we need is to be open, come to each other and show interest in this side, have cross company meetings over it, have our brains work together on some common interest and come up to something new (even if its not something revolutionary). The beauty of IT field is that you don’t need much prerequisites to make something new. What it needs is a good mind, which we have in great numbers.
    We are doing good, we need to keep doing this good work and simultaneously try to be better. We are on the correct ladder. We should not try to jump to another. What we need is to just continue to move upwards.

    Reply
  • 7. minhaaj rehman  |  October 7, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Jehan Ara, i have been in the field of ICT, FOSS/FLOSS for quite some time now. Now i am probably on the verge of giving up actually🙂 Thanks for keeping the comment, i really appreciate your tolerance with truth.

    I am advisory council member of one of the largest educational wikis on earth WikiEducator. Been training and promoting FOSS/FLOSS for a long time. I have travelled all over the place to promote ICT and i have never liked the leg pulling and lingering of our government officials. I was probably one of the early adopters of wiki model of collaboration. Left wikipedia because of a tussel with Wales but i truly believe in the scope of the project.

    You can find my contact details at blog. Looking forward to get in touch.

    Reply
  • 8. minhaaj rehman  |  October 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the invitation Shey. Just overlooked it first time, my bad. I am not a programmer or i would have helped. Let me know if i can help in any capacity🙂

    Reply
  • 9. Abdul Basit Saeed  |  October 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Professionally I don’t belong to the IT sector (I’m a doctor), but it is indeed encouraging to see that such overwhelming growth is actually taking place in our IT sector. Thank you, Jehan Ara, for bringing this up for all of our youngsters out there who want to pursue a career in this line.🙂

    Reply
  • 10. UTP  |  October 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    very convincing especially coming from you…very positive…hope we can make that difference that the country needs…

    cant be ostriches you know…

    Reply
  • 11. opinion786  |  April 26, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Visit this fabulous Economic website detailing Economic Facts & Figures:

    http://economicpakistan.wordpress.com/

    For I.T Industry:

    http://economicpakistan.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/it-industry/

    Reply

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