TDAP sees potential in export of services

February 27, 2009 at 11:05 am 4 comments

It has finally happened! It appears that the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan now believes that there is significant potential for growth in the export of services, and that perhaps, they should look beyond textiles, rice, leather and other products – important though those sectors are.

The Ministry of Commerce has set up a Services Export Development Cell (SEDC)at TDAP which is to be “a conduit for public-private dialogue for the development and enhancement of services exports of Pakistan.”

There is of course a DG who has the overall responsibility for the SEDC but unfortunately he had a heart attack the day I was to meet with him (no I normally don’t have that effect on people!) He is fortunately well on the road to recovery.

The gentleman I did meet at SEDC was Mr.Mujeeb Khan who is a Consultant with TDAP, mujeeb-khanhas been heading the WTO Cell and is spearheading efforts at SEDC.

His background is that he has over 20 years experience working in different departments which fall under the Ministry of Commerce. He has worked as the First Secretary/Negotiator at the Permament Mission of Pakistan at the WTO in Genena where he represented Pakistan on Committees like the Committee on Agriculture (CoA), the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), Council for Trade Related Aspects of Intelllectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and International Textiles and Clothing Bureau (ITCB).

In my conversation with him, I got the impression that he has a good understanding of the IT and ITES market and its  potential. I told him about some of the cutting edge work that is being done in this country and how much scope there was for it to grow at an enormous pace.

From what I understood, the SEDC will undertake the role of a facilitator between the services industry and various arms of government including the ministries. They will also be looking at helping to build capacity in the services sector, assisting with quality initiatives, and the projection of case studies in the local and international markets as well as be a platform for market access.

Additionally they will look at conducting research in the five service industry sectors that have been identified as priority areas: IT, Health & Medical Services, Financial Services, Professional Services and Construction & Architectural Services. SEDC will also recommend, formulate and implement service enhancement schemes for these sectors.

All of it sounded very good and Mr.Khan seems like a nice guy with good intentions but, as he himself pointed out, it will take a bit of time for the service sector to actually believe that something is going to happen. Credibility will need to be earned. My personal opinion is that since they have opened a door, let us extend our hand of cooperation and give them a chance. Let’s leave cynicism at the door.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TDAP sees potential in export of services / LiveFromPakistan  |  February 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    TDAP sees potential in export of services…

    It has finally happened! It appears that the Trade Developmen …

    Reply
  • 2. TDAP sees potential in export of services | Tea Break  |  February 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

    Reply
  • 3. Anthony Mitchell  |  February 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    TDAP is correct—there is tremendous potential now for export-oriented IT/ITeS services. IT/ITeS companies in Pakistan have the expertise, maturity and cost-competitiveness to increase sales dramatically, if several barriers can be overcome.

    If TDAP is ready to help, it can support work in the following areas:

    1. Rebrand Pakistan’s IT/ITeS industry
    2. Increase brand recognition for individual companies
    3. Improve sales and marketing processes at individual companies
    4. Attract genuine customers to individual companies
    5. Strengthen the capabilities and efficiencies of individual companies to conduct their own sales and marketing on a sustainable, self-funded basis over the long term

    Rebranding is a delicate subject. We all talk about it, but what is needed is outside support to enable solid brands to be acquired on the international market. The brands currently being used were suitable for small, lean startups. But for competition on the global scale, simple, short, compelling brands are needed that correspond exactly to dot-com domain names.

    Without solid brands that correspond exactly to dot-com domain names, Pakistani companies show up at the crease with handicaps that are often impossible to overcome. Clients are usually too polite to provide such feedback, but everyone knows that a trust-destroying brand is all that is needed to knock a Pakistani company out of contention. Without good brands, spending on advertising and marketing will be inefficient and often wasted.

    Branding is about trust. Business is based on trust. Poor, disjointed branding destroys trust. If your target markets are ‘all about branding’ then you need to be all about branding. Rebranding can be done as a doing-business-as (DBA) trade name or product/service line branding, rather than changing the actual name of the company.

    For example, ThinkPad and iPhone are brands, not companies. Their ads and branded campaigns are supported exactly by ThinkPad.com and iPhone.com. They do not need to constantly distract and confuse clients by redirecting them to iThinkPad.com or MyiPhone.com.

    With new brands, consolidated, cooperative publicity efforts can be supported to attract positive attention to individual and groups of companies. Rebranding will create excitement, energy, momentum – and sales.

    A research office can be supported by TDAP to contact all the major global IT/ITeS buyers monthly and push market intelligence information to individual companies in Pakistan. It will function as a friendly business intelligence service.

    Cohort training can be provided to help sales staff conduct their own market research, make client pitches, answer client inquiries, respond to RFQs, RFPs and RFIs, write contracts, SOWs, SLAs, and prepare client-oriented keyword-rich web content that achieves high SEO results and speaks to clients in their own style of language.

    Capacity building begins and ends with training. TDAP can and should support formal training for industry members and academics, but what is also needed is for companies to be able to bring cohort trainers into their operations to work side-by-side on real sales and marketing projects. Side-by-side training is essential for building competitiveness.

    Keyword management provides tremendous opportunities because no IT/ITeS company in the region is currently working with keywords on the scale of Accenture or IBM or other U.S. based majors, half of whom have keyword management systems with greater than 50,000 keyword combinations.

    No South Asian IT/ITeS company has been found to be using more than 300 keywords or to be employing professional keyword support in target markets. No South Asian IT/ITeS company has been found to be protecting the keywords associated with their own brands on any of the major search engines, providing opportunities for diversions of customers.

    Consolidated keyword support and protection can be offered to all IT/ITeS companies in Pakistan (or all export oriented companies generally) with help from TDAP.

    SEO support can be provided to all export-oriented companies. A coordinated effort can be mounted to push ‘Pakistan’ to the top 10 search results for prime keywords such as software outsourcing. The corresponding links will lead to a directory (in rotating order) and descriptions of relevant IT/ITeS companies. At the top of every landing page can be a profiled company, which would also rotate.

    Link exchanges can support individual companies and groups of similar companies or product/service types.

    Last but not least, Pakistan needs ongoing publicity in industry publications. It needs to have its success stories told. It needs to have its experts quoted in response to global IT issues and trends; it needs to firmly establish its rightful place among the top tier of IT/ITeS outsourcing destinations.

    All these things can be done.

    Reply
  • 4. Maqsood Ahmed Chaudhry  |  March 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Anthony,

    Nice write up. I think that your five points are the main area where TDAP should focus on, especially rebranding Pakistani IT/ITeS industry.

    Warmest regards,

    Maqsood Ahmed Chaudhry

    Reply

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