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Using Technology to Create Value

Rukmankan Sivaloganathan's picture

SAR TechnologyJoin an online discussion with Sri Lankan youth entrepreneurs on Friday, 22nd March at 3-5pm on the World Bank's Sri Lanka Facebook page and learn from their experiences in the online field.

The internet is now an indispensible part of our lives for most of us. Whether it be checking email or Facebook or looking up something on Google or Wikipedia, we just can’t live without it (or at least, we feel that way!). However, it’s the way in which the Internet, by converging audio-visual, telecom, and computer networks into what we now call Information and Communications Technology (ICT), has made it easier for anyone with an idea or a dream to go out there and use these tools to create solutions, services, and products and create value, that makes it so powerful and empowering.

I can personally relate to this. When I came back to Sri Lanka in 2011 to ‘do my own thing’, I had an Excel sheet of possible business opportunities to work on but chose to first launch an online business, a group buying site, because of all the opportunities, it was the easiest, the cheapest, and the quickest to execute. The business didn’t succeed but, and get this, I was able to work on the model, build the platform, launch, gain some traction, then decide it wasn’t feasible in the long term, and shut it down, all within the space of five months. Try doing that with a brick and mortar business! I’m not being flippant here. A failed business is hardly optimum, but my point is that the ICT has lowered the cost of starting a business to such an extent that it allows people with great (or not so great!) ideas, but who would otherwise have been discouraged, to give these ideas a fair go. This risk-taking in turn fuels innovation, further lowering the barriers and creating a sort of virtuous cycle.

ICT also allows you to create value by solving problems in a radical way that may sometimes disrupt the existing status quo. The best example of this is AirBnB and the sharing economy/collaborative consumption model they seem to have triggered and the havoc it is creating in the traditional hotel industry. Closer to home, the startup that I currently run, Trekurious, is a good example of a more non-disruptive model. Trekurious solves a problem that people increasingly have (albeit a self-actualization type!) – that of finding and doing unique, interesting, and fulfilling experiential activities - by creating a platform to connect these people with others who are keen to share and monetize their considerable expertise and knowledge.

For anyone with that burning idea they’ve been meaning to work on, there has never been a better time to take the plunge. Use all the ICT tools we now have access to and go create value.

Comments

The World Computer Exchange has a local partner based model to bring ICT resources to youth in developing countries. While the primary focus is on youth and education often in partnership with community base organizations and NGOs, the computers can be used part of the time for others in the community. While in all countries many, if not the majority have access to ICTs, youth, the poor and disenfranchised often do not. This restricts not only potential future ICT businesses, but also the market for the same. If you're interested in bringing ICTs to your country as a partner, please visit our website: www.worldcomputerexchange.org. While our minimum shipment is 200 computers, we are able to combine computers for multiple partners in a container to get to the 200 minimum. Also be sure to check out the myriad value added services and solutions WCE offers through strategic partners and volunteers. This ranges from technical support/assistance, to curriculum development and content in multiple languages. Steve Sena Volunteer MENA Region Manager

Submitted by Ole Ruch on
Don't think you understand Airbnb very well, it has little or no impact on the traditional hotel industry and unlike what is portrayed in the media, it does not disrupt the hotel industry. You need to understand the business model well, and not just read the media articles which are sponsored by Airbnb themselves. Airbnb caters mainly to back-packers and cash strapped students, who are willing to share a room with a stranger, and is not attractive to your everyday hotel guest. It would be useful to wannabe entrepreneurs to understand why you failed in you previous business. Did you try to copy-cat a business because everyone else was doing it, without really understanding the market or its profitability, or did you just miscalculate your model? Remember what you learn in expensive business schools, if its "easiest, cheapest, and quickest to execute", then you are exposed to Michael Poter's 5 forces - so you were bound to fail from the start. Trekurious, will not succeed either. It is a low volume, low margin business and will take a long time to generate a profits, if it ever does. I am not trying to be pessimistic, but you need to revisit your model and do a sensitivity analysis with your revenue drivers. You will always struggle with your cost of sales, and although the business is low volume niche product, you will still need significant sales and marketing spend. What is important to highlight, is that ICT is a platform to execute a business and not the Mida's touch that everyone misjudge it to be. While it is easy to start an e-business it is more important to stress-test your business and innovative ideas against the market - your customers, the demand for the product/service, the cost base etc. If you disregard basic business fundamentals, you will fail just like many thousands of failed start-up that we never hear about. At least, you will be a well know failure!

Submitted by Anonymous on
ICT can create economic opportunities and contribute to poverty reduction. Most importantly, ICT can create huge impact on healthcare sector and therefore policy makers should allocate sufficient fund in budget for ICT.

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