IT – The Adopted Child

According to Wikipedia, Pakistan’s industrial sector accounts for about 24% of it’s GDP. Cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing are Pakistan’s largest industries, and make up for about 66% of the merchandise exports and almost 40% of the total employment. Cotton and cotton-based products account for 61% of export earnings of Pakistan and agri-based product exports have grown in the past 4 years. Other major industries include cement, fertilizer, edible oil, sugar, steel, tobacco, chemicals, machinery and food processing.

Compare that to the landscape of the local IT industry. According to the Secretary General of P@SHA, the total size of $3 billion where IT exports account for almost 50% while the domestic industry worth is an approximate $500-700 million. The rest of the industry consists of $500 million worth of freelance clients. Pakistan is the third largest destination for freelance human capital. The volume of employment is approximately 150,000 growing at a rate of about 10,000 people each year.

IT has always been treated like the adopted child in the industrial sector where business owners may not understand it, but they appreciate that they can’t grow without it. This is purely because of the the visual ratio in the tangible size of the industry. Traditionally, the big software conglomerates hire a very large salesforce with very limited technical resources. Their local partners are great at deploying the vanilla solutions, but to customize products, consultants are brought in. But local software houses and ISVs actually can’t be blamed – the onus for the complexity of a solution is only determined by the what the ‘factory’ needs. But that is really discussion for another article.

Growth is where technology plays its role. As local players continue to grow and mature, local businesses will be able to scale up and expand. A number of large local manufacturers, be it textiles or infrastructure, began investing in their own software houses during the IT industry’s golden years. And this phenomenon starts every few years when a generation of industrialist children settle into taking over the reigns and integrate the future they have been exposed to during their university years. Even this, is a piece for another time.

What is appropriate for this article is how one generation and mindset cannot function without the other – the old cannot function without the new; past business experience cannot do without the futuristic insights. There are a number of best practices in place within the primitive, outdated, behemoths that the new industries could learn from. There was an interesting article on “What IT Can Learn about Cybersecurity from Manufacturing” by Stacey Higginbothem where she talks about how a simple painpoint and vulnerability in a factory plant is dealt with.

Taking inspiration from the manufacturing sectors across South Asia, there is a lot to learn from how industries operate, and look at things like IoT, supply chain and security from a different perspective. Almost all factories run on some kind of PLC system or another. How to bring an enterprise PLC onto a network to gather meaningful data and link to other systems and solutions, is an interesting evolution. There are different kinds of risk involved in every segment of what makes our world go round – understanding all the risks to make more informed decisions will help with better utilization of all resources and better practices that are native for everyone. Kind of a parallax design that fits everyone.

Do read the article and share your feedback on what learnings you think could be shared with the tradi

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