How we can make SriLanka as COE* in Software Engineering of the World
*COE: A Center of Excellence
Before we make anything into something, we must study what “something” and “anything” closely.
Our goal is to make our country so remarkable in the Software industry as Silicon Valley has achieved its reputation in the USA and in the world. There are similar potential countries around the world in Europe and other regions. We also used to call them a “Silicon Valley” as this name itself is a brand.
Why did people use to identify or call a particular place as a Silicon Valley? If you study the history of the original Silicon Valley, we can understand its evolution to figure out how a city or country could be branded as another “Silicon Valley”.
Does Sri Lanka have it? Yes but very less. Because Internation markets need to recognize Sri Lanka as a possible place to develop good software. Then they will come to Sri Lanka. But we will not have a chance to show that this software is being built in Sri Lanka.
Assume that you will buy a car. Let's say for example you will buy a small car that is being built in India. But when you check the engine you will figure out the engine is actually built in Japan. Because it's embossed in the engine. Then all around the people will realize at least that product is good because the engine is built in Japan. Why it's good because of its Japan? Because Japan secured its name by developing high-quality products for some time and ship around the world.
But, Do we have that chance to show that the software or at least the core of the software is built-in Sri Lanka? No, We don't.
I have seen it once on a website.
What I am suggesting is we can do this for all other software which is going to build in Sri Lanka and we can put a condition. I don't think it a big deal.
Does Sri Lanka have it? Yes, We have a lot and some of them and most of them live outside Sri Lanka. What we can do is connect them back to powerup Sri Lankan enterprises by physically coming back to Sri Lanka or doing remote management/contribution to the Sri Lankan software business.
Does Sri Lanka have it? Maybe, but not in the right direction or right scale.
How you would like to brand it is the question. My answer to that question is we can brand and advertise with what we have. I think that is more than enough to start branding.
We have the following products that are being built in Sri Lanka and featured in international markets.
- WSO2 Product Suite
- LSEG Product Suite
- Virtusa Product Suite (ie: VTaf)
There are a lot of other products as well. How about to create a platform and welcome them to register there. Then we can plan activities with them to achieve goals together.
What do I suggest to do?
Let's brand it.
I personally don't like to call Sri Lanka a “Test Bed”. Actually, I would like to call it “A Chip of Asia”. Chip is very tiny, but a well-designed chip can do a lot of processes at light speed with a high degree of accuracy. Its also aligned with the provided standards as well. A chip is responsible to work as the control unit of the whole system and it's a very important part of another important part called a “motherboard”.
Certificate of Standards.
While trying to reach the levels we discussed except the branding, we can achieve it easily by making our software quality standards high.
I have suggested this once to one of the senior IT professionals in Sri Lanka during my CSSL(Computer Society of Sri Lanka) professional membership interview. We need to create a solid standard for software like we are having “SLS” for consumer goods in Sri Lanka. I can give you one simple example. When I started my career in the early 2010s I met one businessman who broke his confidence in all of the software engineers in Sri Lanka, because of few guys who are doing web development with a lack of responsibility. He told his website was handled by several people and non of them was not contactable later once he paid the initial bills. Software is an Industry. Like we have in other industries, we need to run a full cycle of support and other after-sales services or maintenance with respect. Word I have used above, “standards” is not only the code standards. It should include business standards as well. So what we can do?
We can create some Certification Authority/ Body to create, monitor, and issue certain assurance by having a filtering process to identify its compatibility. As same as we did a Pen Test(penetration test) to check whether it's compatible with security standards over a software product before the release to the public, we can do a similar run for this as well.
ie: SLSS (Sri Lanka Software Standards) certified software products will make sure it's up to its standards including after-sales support and other non-product deliverables.
This will not happen quickly. I mean to see results you should wait but shouldn't stop the process to make it. Patience to see and doing it continuously will make Sri Lanka, once of the best countries comes into mind when someone asks what countries are the best for quality software products.
Let's start individually first and start planning today for a 5 to 10-year goal plan.