Interactive slides are replacing chalk and dusters at our classrooms. Use of physical money is on the wane as making payment is becoming as simple as sending an SMS. Locally made mobile applications today help you find city routes, giving even the minute details.
These are some of the benefits that advancements in software development have made possible. Of late, many Nepali software developers are product based projects which are aimed at easing our life.
“Developers have started focusing on local market. Their participation in events like CAN Info-Tech is increasing as they get to interact with people – the users of their applications,” said Amrit Kumar Pant, general secretary of Computer Association of Nepal (CAN). “Earlier, CAN Info-Tech was meant for hardware exhibitors only. Even the Soft-Tech meant for software developers and programmers used to see low participation. But the scenario is no longer the same.”
Though Nepali software companies have been existence for more than a decade, they started working on local market only recently. In the early days, the business of Nepali software companies was limited to business process outsourcing (BPO). They used to take orders from big international companies are work for them.
However, the growing use of smartphones and affordable Internet packages has opened up new avenues for software developers. No wonder, software developers are spending lavishly on branding and marketing. This is a completely new trend for software companies that earlier used to keep low profile.
STRUGGLE AGAINST FOREIGN SOFTWARE
Almost all the corporate houses, private firms, hospital and education institutions are using different software for the purpose of accounting and managing human resources, among others. Have Nepali software developers reached to the level of selling their products to these large business enterprises? Or is their presence limited to providing free services.
Rajan Raj Pant, controller at the Office of Controller of Certification (OCC) under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, opined that local companies have yet to come up with applications of advanced level required for government. “Developers need to conduct a proper market research to study the requirement. This is something they have been lacking so far,” Pant said.
Software developers on the other hand said they are not interested to work for the government. They, however, claimed that they have the capacity to meet the quality requirement set by the government.
Chhatra Hari Karki, managing director of Midas Technologies, said corporate houses and financial institution prefer to use software from global brands thinking that the tie-up will add value to their brand. “We must admit that we cannot compete with leading global brands in some areas due to lack of exposure,” Karki said.
Nevertheless, Midas Technologies has become successful in persuading many hospitals and schools to use its software.
Brain-drain is another problem that Nepali software companies are facing. Amit Agrawal, CEO of Janaki Technology -- a value added service provider and social media product company, said local software companies were facing difficulty in retaining the skilled hands. “We are not in a position pay like outsourcing companies who are associated with global brands because we are catering to a small market,” Agrawal said.
THE WAY FORWARD
Pant feels effective marketing could boos the demand for locally made applications not just within the country but also in global market. “Government agencies like Trade and Export Promotion Center should showcasing locally developed software products and services in international fairs,” he added.
Though the IT Policy of the government states that local companies should be prioritized while awarding tender for software needs, developers say it is limited to text only. “If the government makes it procurement process transparent, many software companies can get opportunity,” Karki said.