Q: What is your assessment of Sri Lanka’s IT industry?

A: If you were to look at the IT industry holistically as two broad categories of products and services, there is a convergence on both fronts where there’s a shift towards a more service based delivery. The way in which products and services are delivered to the end customer are very similar, and seem to pivot around three themes: mobile, real time and on demand.

For products, this introduces a threat to the usual models of conducting business such as on-site installations versus the software as a service (SaaS) type of delivery. The challenge lies in how companies respond to that threat and leverage on their strengths to address it promptly.

However, this also presents opportunities for disruptors as software capabilities and infrastructure can be leveraged to facilitate speedy market entry with an unprecedented ability to reach a large number of customers.

Services are witnessing a similar trend with their main characteristics being speed and convenience.

The key to achieving this seems to be digitisation, which enables companies to put together customer centric services quickly – and at the customer’s convenience. Services that encapsulate the attributes of speed and convenience in their offerings are likely to establish a winning formula. There are a number of good examples from Amazon to everyday online banking.

This is relevant to us here at London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as we are very service oriented. We’re looking at how we can provide speed and convenience to internal and external customers, safely and reliably.

Q: How do you view the local IT talent?

A: There are encouraging trends including both small and large disruptive innovations, and Sri Lankan companies attracting global customers. This has a direct impact on the available talent base and future IT graduates will have many more opportunities.

However, I think we need to do more. We must think strategically about where we want Sri Lanka’s IT industry to be positioned say in five to 10 years, and what we need to do to get there.

It’s a pivotal moment now with new technologies, and their know-how is creating advantages and opportunities for countries and companies.

This is very different to 10 years ago when manpower was perceived as the main advantage. The IT outsourcing industry is a very good example of this. That is changing and therefore, Sri Lanka has a clear chance to move up the value chain by wisely adopting the new key technology trends.

We in the industry and government need to engage educational institutions to ensure they turn out people with relevant skills that are needed in the industry to embark on this journey. This involves looking at emerging technologies and incorporating them into courses so that they’re part and parcel of what they know when graduates come out of our institutions.

Q: In your opinion, what are the key innovations in the IT industry?

A: AI stands out as the key innovation because it is applicable to practically every aspect of life.

We look at AI in two different ways: ‘augmented intelligence,’ which can improve people’s capacity to do better jobs; and ‘artificial intelligence,’ which can automate what a human being does and can do.

I believe that augmented intelligence provides the most efficient returns as you can make human beings smarter by automating mundane jobs and enabling them to take on higher value tasks – whereas artificial intelligence, in which the human being is taken out of the equation of a given process, requires a paradigm shift in thinking and implementation, takes much longer and isn’t always clear-cut to implement in terms of ROI within a defined period.

Q: What are LSEG’s plans going forward?

A: As a group, LSEG has been on an ambitious journey of growth for a number of years. In fact, we aim to continue growing globally; and we’re focussed on providing new and exciting products and services to our customers, and staying relevant with what the market needs.

Locally, we’re the same. We are building a 300 person facility that will come online in May. One of my objectives is to grow existing business lines operating out of Sri Lanka, and add new skills and services to our portfolio. We are also focussed on bringing in cutting-edge technology for better service delivery. My challenge is for us to be the best global delivery centre within the group. And the best will be defined in terms of what we’re going to do with our people, technology, processes and other key aspects.

Diversity is also a key initiative that we are focussing on as part of our growth plans. The local IT talent is currently sourced from limited areas, and we want to widen that scope geographically, provide opportunities to other ethnic minorities and enable those who are less able to work for LSEG should they have the required talent.

Dee Liyanwela
Head of LSEG Sri Lanka
Telephone 2416000