IT adoption set to improve in Viet Nam

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 08:12

(Biz Hub) — After Da Nang became the first Vietnamese city to be chosen as one of the recipients of the Smarter City Challenge Grant Programme in 2012, IBM began to provide support to the port city in tackling two of the most significant issues affecting the lives of the city's residents: transportation and water.

On the occasion of Tet (Lunar New Year), reporter Lan Dung spoke with IBM Vietnam's general director, Tan Jee Toon, about the company's plans this year and the outlook for IT adoption in Viet Nam.

IBM Vietnam general director Tan Jee Toon.

The information technology (IT) sector has seen significant growth in recent years. In your opinion, what was the growth of the sector in 2013? What do you expect for 2014?

I think the adoption of IT has seen uneven progress in Viet Nam. The banks and telecommunication enterprises (telcos) have invested heavily in technology to improve their businesses. Some private-sector companies are also considering how technology can help them in their operations. However, several companies are not using technology to gain a competitive advantage in their businesses.

On its part, the government has been driving industrialisation and urbanisation, and there are some initiatives on adopting technology. Some cities also have been increasing their usage of technology. We are working with those cities to introduce new technologies. In addition, I think, in Viet Nam, there is a tremendous opportunity for enterprises to use IT as part of their competitive strategies.

How has IBM supported governmental agencies and companies? How different will Ha Noi be under the IBM initiative for smarter cities?

When we started our strategy for a smarter planet as part of our city initiatives portfolio, we supported the transformation, through the use of technology, of governments and cities. Viet Nam was one of the countries selected. We supported Da Nang to become a smarter city, and worked on a pilot project with them. Last August, the pilot project was completed and we welcomed guests to share our experiences of what was carried out in Da Nang. That is one example of what we are doing with the government.

IBM's smarter city initiative focuses on a few areas in terms of planning, management and collaboration. With technology, you can collect and analyse information in ways that encourage better decision-making. When we talk about improving management, it is about instrumentation, interconnectivity and intelligence.

On how different will Ha Noi be under the smarter cities initiative, I would say that the city's operations would be more streamlined and coordinated for future growth. I think Da Nang is a good example. In fact, I am amazed by its infrastructure. When we talk to the local administration, we find that they are not considering just the current situation; they are already planning for the future.

Ha Noi is like any developed commercial city in the region. Every city has its challenges, but with greater urbanisation, it can continue to grow.

Da Nang city applies IBM's solutions to manage traffic light system and monitor the operation of buses. Photos courtesy of IBM Vietnam

What are the opportunities for Ha Noi and HCM City on adopting IT?

We classify cities in terms of technology. While most cities have different priorities, the main priority is often improving the infrastructure. While the adoption of IT is not very rapid in the country, there are are discussions on how to leverage the adoption of IT for improving monitoring and management.

The processes in HCM City and Ha Noi are definitely becoming more streamlined. We are hopeful and positive that more technology projects will continue to be implemented this year.

IBM has some long-standing corporate clients, such as Nguyen Kim, for its IT solutions. Did you add new customers in 2013? What is the outlook for 2014?

I think, in 2013, we had a good year in terms of adding customers. I still remember that when I first came on board at the beginning of last year, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the HCM City University of Technology for the use of cloud computing as part of their online education. That was followed by a collaboration to build an advanced mobile computing platform for the Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company (VMS). We even invited VMS to speak at one of our worldwide events on what IBM has been doing in the country.

In addition, we are helping a few banks, such as the Sai Gon-Ha Noi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) in their merger and acquisition (M&A) activities to consolidate and increase the value of their M&As. We also helped the Tien Phong Bank with understanding their business analytics, as well as cloud computing. There were almost 10 customer references in 2013. For 2014, we have a goal of introducing additional new technologies to help clients.

How does IBM intend to prepare for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

IBM is a business-to-business firm. We support enterprises in terms of strategies in any area of revenue growth or cost management. We aim to optimise efficiencies. We believe that we have the solutions and technologies to support them across the board. When enterprises grow, we grow with them.

The TPP is a good start. This year will be promising for Viet Nam. I see good potential for the market. The government's policies are also moving in the right direction. There are some challenges, but I think the government understands that. It is aware of what is required, especially in terms of manpower, tax policies, logistics, customs and infrastructure. I think they are taking the necessary steps. I am very positive about that. — VNS

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