Interview: Haslina Taib
In which specific niches within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector do local companies have the potential to expand?
HASLINA TAIB: The ICT industry in Brunei Darussalam is nascent as it serves a small and unique market. However, we are now able to gain invaluable experience in particular with compact and efficient design to deliver solutions that match organisations’ needs and to ultimately form a connected community.
As a nation there are many areas in which we excel, and technology has over the years played an important role in ensuring a continued national transformation. Education is one of those areas that continues to benefit from the advantage of using mature ICT environments, building niche applications and distributing them via smart and mobile devices. Rural areas in particular can benefit from such investment. Online learning and infotainment supplements and enhances traditional educational methods and provides exciting prospects for local companies to participate in.
Other niche areas also include the use of targeted and smart data analytics. Research application and document management systems can be invaluable add-on e-services for both the public and private sectors, particularly in the fields of energy, Islamic finance and environmental activities such as preservation and niche tourism.
How can Bruneian ICT companies be encouraged to venture abroad, and through which avenues can they successfully attempt these ventures?
HASLINA: The Bruneian government, along with domestic business councils and associations, is already actively encouraging local ICT players to venture outside of Brunei Darussalam, evidenced by overseas business matching and support during the initial stages of expansion.
However, the public and private ICT sectors would benefit from having a greater degree of alignment by having a shared set of clearly defined aims and strategies for expansion.
The industry also requires more support to grow overseas business in terms of e-commerce policies, secure online transaction systems and a high-speed, reliable broadband network infrastructure.
Local companies need to proactively identify both their strengths and weaknesses before building up the confidence to step out of local comfort zones. The upskilling of our local ICT talent is also crucial in order to achieve this, as is upgrading our local organisations to internationally recognised standards such as CMMI certification.
Additionally, Bruneian ICT players must also have a greater understanding of the specific business needs and cultural nuances of the markets that they are targeting in order to improve their chances of matching overseas market demand.
What have been the successes and challenges of the e-Government initiative, and what role are local companies playing in its achievement?
HASLINA: There have been a number of e-Government successes that have benefitted the Bruneian people in terms of their wellbeing and educational and social needs. In addition, the automation of government processes and various business process re-engineering have yielded some positive economic results. We believe that the local ICT industry is now better positioned to support the e-Government initiative’s continuing evolution from automation to innovation and to achieve strategic growth. The government and the Bruneian ICT companies could benefit from higher levels of partnership and together drive forward our integrated master plan. With greater collaboration, visibility and transparency in the sharing of the national ICT roadmap, initiatives can be evaluated, quantifiable strategic milestones can be pushed and streamlined change management processes can be used to improve efficiency.
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