Digitalised Discoveries

99x reimagines the future of global business through digital offerings

Q: Can you detail some of the measures that have been taken by your organisation to assist businesses to accelerate digitisation?

A: Our core business offering lies in digitising businesses globally by creating impactful digital products.

Over the last 15 years, we have worked with companies to digitise manual processes from scratch or modernise existing digital systems. Together with them, we have created more than 150 digital products in this time.

Inspired by our pioneering success as a Sri Lankan entity, we have now set our sights on the next phase of growth by way of an overseas acquisition and setting up operations in Europe.

In Sri Lanka, we stepped up a notch during the early stages of the pandemic. Having understood the importance of businesses being able to maintain a strong online presence, we provided multiple offerings to Sri Lankan entities – including one that enabled vendors to begin selling online in only five days with no prior web presence.

We also provided more advanced offerings such as robotic process automation and other digital transformation services.

Q: Could you outline the changes that the IT industry has experienced due to COVID-19?

A: Despite the negative impacts, the IT industry – both locally and globally – has weathered through the pandemic with more success than more traditional industries.

Being digitally savvy, most IT companies had the infrastructure and processes in place to ensure business continuity despite the restrictions imposed. Of course, companies whose customer base was travel, retail or hospitality faced more challenges than others.

The immediate and dire need for digitisation across industries – most notably healthcare – has created fresh business opportunities for those operating in this space.

IT companies have been quick to adapt to remote working, and we’ve seen businesses evaluating and de-risking their end-to-end value chains.

Deloitte’s COVID-19 analysis of the technology sector predicts a continued demand for cloud infrastructure services and potential increases in spending on specialised software. This bodes well for the local IT industry if we can position ourselves fittingly in the global market space to ensure that some of these opportunities come our way.

Q: How prominent a role will technology play in the post-COVID era?

A: We need to reimagine a new post-COVID economy driven by technology – one that is highly automated in production and other infrastructure, and minimises human contact.

In fact, we’re already seeing a higher level of confidence in technology that’s causing changes in consumer behaviour that veers away strongly from traditional methods.

At a consumer level, people became accustomed to shopping online and contactless delivery. In business, the use of drones, IoT sensors, robots and machines will become even more commonplace, and be a permanent fixture of the new digital economy.

There are expedited efforts by governments across the globe to introduce e-services. This includes legal services and redressal, immigration and passport services, and the digitisation of ministries and other various institutions, all of which seemed impossible at the beginning of last year but is becoming the ‘new normal.’

Q: In the present context, how important are innovation and product development in IT?

A: I can’t underscore how important this is. The pandemic has fast tracked digitisation across sectors globally – and the IT industry lies poised to implement a digitally enabled future of work tools that requires innovation, product development and a futuristic outlook.

Product development needs to consider not only solutions for straightforward problems but also take into account ‘future of work’ tools for areas including business processes and even back office functions. Technology leaders have a major role to play in driving tech adoption and innovation to support these ‘future of’ scenarios, and they will be defined by their decisions during this period in ensuring that they’re able to respond, recover and thrive.

Q: Are Sri Lankan IT firms doing enough to enter new or emerging markets?

A: Local IT companies have done a lot to position themselves globally, which can be seen among international giants whose technology is driven by Sri Lankan innovation. Yet, there is always more that can be done.

While the global outsourcing industry has been affected by the pandemic, the bounce back will be quick – and the outsourcing sector will be more relevant than ever. We need to be ready for this to capture opportunities created by such a phase of rapid digitisation.

It is also important that Sri Lankan IT companies explore the opportunities available locally. There is a dearth of digital products in the country and a massive demand for them, which creates ample opportunities for local IT companies.

To create products that can scale is not easy and Sri Lanka is an excellent market to trial technological innovations, to build and fine-tune digital products that can service a global need.

Mano Sekaram
Chief Executive Officer