Visitors take a look at a "smart traffic signalling system" that runs on locally-made software, at the BASIS Softexpo 2010 that kicked off at Bangabandhu Friendship Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday. The signalling system is equipped with sensors to indicate traffic density on roads. Photo: Amran Hossain
Local IT (information technology) innovations have gained a sound footing, as the market prefers domestic products to foreign peers in different service areas now.
The top adaptors of local software solutions include banks, leasing companies, corporate houses, government bodies, NGOs, brokerage houses, merchant banks, life insurance companies, and customs houses.
Businesses say the improvement in such solutions in line with a global standard and low prices have encouraged them to lean towards the local ones over the last few years.
According to software developers, the cost of such local ones vary between Tk 1 crore and Tk 3 crore, while foreign software costs Tk 30-40 crore.
Meanwhile, the foreign software adaptors point to some problems. The non-availability of after-sales-services and even shortage of trouble-shooters are the two they identified.
"Once upon a time, I used to prefer foreign solutions. But the time is over. Local software solutions are equally capable to provide core banking solutions," said SM Mainuddin Chowdhury, senior executive vice president of Southeast Bank.
Chowdhury is very happy with his bank's core software solutions, provided by Leads Corporate Ltd, a leading maker of local software, which also had been able to grab a global market share despite financial crisis worldwide.
The industry as a whole still lags behind in research and development areas. But product diversification has been identified as most important development in the last few years, as evidenced in the items on display at the Softexpo 2010 that kicked off yesterday in Dhaka.
Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, or BASIS is organising the 5-day fair.
"We're developing our products everyday in line with market demand," said Fariha Rahman, business development officer of Technohaven Company Ltd.
Besides developing banking software, complete billing solution of Titas Gas Company is one of the big solutions provided by Technohaven.
Leads Corporation Limited has also come up with massively providing merchant banking solutions. More than 20 merchant banks are now using its solutions.
"We're competing with the foreign solutions," said A S M Nurun Nabi, assistant manager (marketing) of Leads Corporation, adding that the company will soon go for a joint venture with a Danish firm, Leads Capevo, to provide solutions for that country.
The banking sector that needs solutions is now in more focus from the local software developers.
DataSoft, a core banking solutions provider, will also enter into a joint venture with a Swiss firm, according to Ahmed Hussain Mahboob Uddin, business development manager of the company.
The credit for automation of Chittagong and Dhaka customs houses goes to DataSoft.
The industry exported $32.91 million worth of IT based services to different countries, registering a less than one percent of the global market share.
A World Bank's study reveals Bangladesh can fetch $500 million from IT-enabled services by 2014.
BASIS chief Habibullah N Karim expressed his high hope that the domestic market size could be Tk 2,000 crore, although the present turnover is only Tk 400 crore.
He said out of the Tk 400 crore market, local software markers have less than 50 percent market share, failing to compete with foreign companies, as maximum private and even government institutions still sometimes prefer expensive foreign made software solutions.