Sri Lanka is a major player in the Indian Ocean and it holds the highest GDP per capita in South Asia even though the serious competition that it has on all fronts. According to your personal experience, how do you see Sri Lanka’s industrial and economical landscape evolving in the next five years?
I think Sri Lanka has a bright future ahead and it has experienced a very good progress over the last decade. We have immense potential, the Sri Lankan people are talented and the country is rich in natural resources. We have some of the best spices, tea and gems in the world and incredible paradisiac beaches. The Island has been chosen best destination of the year by Lonely Place.
When it comes to IT and BPM, the sector that I represent, we have incredibly industrious and creative work force. In the ICT sector, we are branding the country with the name: Island of Ingenuity. AT Kearney called Sri Lanka a “hidden gem for outsourcing”. Several global companies, including some leading players like HSBC, Apple, Google, Accenture and Microsoft have chosen Sri Lanka either to receive services or to locate their centers here. This is going to bring very good opportunities after we face the current certain deceleration caused by the pandemic. I think, realistically, 2022 is going to be a tough year. We need to address and overcome the foreign exchange crisis and the challenges that are consequent to the recent turmoil.
My expectation is that it will be upwards and forward from there, like the rest of the countries in the region, like China or Vietnam, we will have double digit growth from 2023 onwards and the IT-BPM industry will be a key sector in that whole recovery.
Several global companies, including some leading players like HSBC, Apple, Google, Accenture and Microsoft have chosen Sri Lanka either to receive services or to locate their centers here.
This country has been historically an agricultural land in its very own particular way. But since independence the country has diversified its industrial capacity in many sectors and is developing a very competitive ICT industry. Could you please brief our readers about the strengths and the potential in the Sri Lankan ICT sector?
The first thing is our education, we Sri Lankans have been historically proud of our education system and values. If you look at the number of schools, private universities and overseas universities established here, the numbers are impressive. We have a free education system which is really unique and as a result we have one of the highest literacy rates in the region. The academic profeciency of the Sri Lankans will be a key advantage that will contribute towards our future growth.
It is also worth mentioning the nature of the Sri Lankan people, we are a warm and welcoming country and by nature we have a service mindset and like to please. We are culturally customer orientated and and you Will find that we keep our commitments, if we make promises we will deliver.
In terms of professional services, we have some of the best software engineers and accountants in the world. Sri Lanka is known as a centre of excellence for accounting and is reputed to have the highest number of UK qualified accountants in the world outside of the UK.
We have some of the best software engineers and accountants in the world. Sri Lanka is known as a centre of excellence for accounting and is reputed to have the highest number of UK qualified accountants in the world outside of the UK.
The Sri Lankan Government is very supportive of the ICT industry. Right now, there are five world-class technology parks under construction. When I visited the Galle IT park at the opening I felt this is a World class tech park, absolutely unique and possibly you Will not find anything similar to it in the world. This Techno-park consist in energy efficient buildings, greend-bond certified, fully sustainable and beautifully blended with the surrounding environment, on top of a hill, in the middle of the nature and just one minute off the highway, and one hour’s drive from Colombo. From the techno-park you have incredibly scenic views.
It perfectly blends great technology and the whole mantra of live, work, play. It is close to the historic city of Galle and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It will have access to schools, hospitals, theme nights, jogging tracks and all kind of services. The facilities will include its own electricity generating capability and it will be built in a green, sustainable and environment-friendly manner. The same features will compose the other four developing techno-parks.
Also the government has made our industry TAX free and they are working very closely with the sector. There is a direct line to Minister Namal Rajapaksa, minister of digital technology and they invite us to attend budget meetings and share ideas. The sector’s voice is heard, we are able to make proposals and recommendations, the ICTA (Information and Communication Technology Agency), several of the board members are former key personalities from the private sector of the industry, making the public-private communication within the industry understanding and very supportive.
Infomate was founded in Sri Lanka in 2005 to be the first BPO in the country and it is one of the most important business process management companies across the island. Could you please explain for our readers what are Infomate’s main services? And which are your goals for 2022?
We were actually the first shared services in the country. We stepped up to do the work for the John Keells group itself on the SAP platform to manage their accounting. Since then we are now listed amongst the top six BPO exporters in the country. We provide services to Australia and Europe. We have done projects in North America, and we do work for the middle east. We are very versatile, we work on a variety of platforms like SAP, Oracle or Dynamics, and we have also diversified to other services.
Accounting is a very important service and it is our area of expertise. We are also providing a range of other back office services, including data entry, shipping documentation, process mapping, payroll and HRO, sales support, lead generation and healthcare services. We are increasingly adding voice based services in the upcoming years while we focus on our 2022 goal of expanding our global footprint, particularly in the English speaking world.
We are now listed amongst the top six BPO exporters in the country. We provide services to Australia and Europe. We have done projects in North America, and we do work for the Middle East.
The world is facing new challenges nowadays that require new solutions. One of the most important and delicate ones is long-term sustainability. How can Infomate contribute to the solution of the major global challenges in Climate change and sustainable economy?
The John Keells group has been one of the leaders in sustainability and ESG (Environmental Social Governance). Over the last 10 years they have been releasing detailed sustainability reporting of all the group’s operations and they are audited by DNV and the roup has received many awards in the sustainability performance. They measure a range of KPIs including carbon footprint, diversity, waste that are translated into sustainability targets for the entire group.
By being part of the John Keells group, sustainability has been built into our operating ways. We need to present our strategies on sustainability and CSR every year in our budget. In addition to that, Infomate, we have launched our own program where we will work on three aspects; the first is employee health and well being, the second becoming carbon neutral, we are offsetting our carbon footprint by developing reforestation programs, the third is a social project, we want to work with a girls orphanage, give them computers and train them in English and IT. By this, we attempt to give them new skills they can develop so once they leave the orphanage at 18 years of age, they have hope, a profession and a career. Hopefully we will also be able to recruit some of them.
What is your final message for our readers across the world?
Sri Lanka and Infomate have a lot of capabilities, a lot of passion and talent and it is my belief that we can deliver world class standards. We also have our unique advantages for US companies that collaborate with us such as access to talent, process improvements, best practices and, of course, cost efficiency. I personally think there is a “win-win” opportunity for US companies to come and talk to us. My invitation for the readers of the USA Today is: come to Sri Lanka, speak to our companies and enjoy a little bit of our well renowned hospitality and friendship. Meet our people, enjoy our cuisine, and see some of our great beaches and hills. Sri Lanka has a very rich culture and history.
Now that everyone is feeling a little travel sick after the pandemic, why not travel to our beautiful country? Trust our people, trust our companies and we will deliver.
We have our unique advantages for US companies such as access to talent, process improvements, best practices and, of course, cost efficiency.