//IT revolution in Cambodia

IT revolution in Cambodia

Managing Director Mr. Shinichi Narusako

– Can you tell us about your establishment in Cambodia and its aim of that?

2 years ago, I came to Cambodia with an overweening goal in mind that I will initiate developments in Cambodia that will be widely used worldwide!

– What was it like after you had actually accomplished the expansion?

To be honest, there is a mix of dissatisfaction and expectation. Although I am aware that there’s always room for further growth as there are still many points that need to be improved, I’ve got an impression that the necessary foundations for being a developer are not well prepared before advancing to have specific skills. Therefore, there is a high tendency for people to see things with bias or to assume a minority to be the whole thing. So, from the startup, I have been always careful not to swallow some groundless information or remarks from people without questions.

– Did you have a difficult time recruiting employees?

Again, it was not different for interviews because I always remembered not to swallow everything that I was told without questions.
Of course in my mind, there were some expectations from those candidates, but if I decided to employ people by expecting too much before I can discern their real ability, it would result in mutual disappointment.
Given this point, the employment standards of our company are focusing on experience in development using framework. By using the framework, we can ensure the stable quality of our development.
If some candidates have no such experience, we will ask them to show us some of their achievements from the past. Through their work achievements, we can perceive developers’ thoughts on how they want to show their creations to the world. It is also important to know about their motivation and enthusiasm as a developer.

– What about the education after employment?

We try to make self-cleansing mechanisms work among staff, starting from very small things. Discover by themself, and solve by themself. We have been raising this kind of system little by little.
Therefore in our company, there will be one team leader for each project, and every work will be assigned to the team leader. After that, the team leader will further assign work to the developers in charge. Conversely, everything should always be reported to team leaders. By this, when any troubles happen or when the progress is slow, they start to feel their responsibility and try to solve things by themselves. This technique is not limited to only a development project.
At the time of setting internal regulations of the company, this technique will allow some ideas from Cambodian staff to be taken into consideration. Of course, not every idea will be adopted, but as long as they can see their opinions being reflected, their awareness and attitude towards problems will change, and they start to become active in voicing opinions. On the contrary, when people think that whatever they say will never be listened to, they will choose to remain silent although they have found a serious problem. Neither of us is benefiting from this.
Therefore, steadily building cooperation in work from very small things will expedite the growth.

– Please tell us about the current situation of the IT industry in Cambodia.

I think that there are more and more foreign investments getting involved in information technology in Cambodia, and this field is showing a high speed of progress. Accordingly, the market price of an engineer’s salary is also rising rapidly.

– So, isn’t it becoming more and more difficult in acquiring excellent employees?

Yes, you are right. However, if we think about the future, the growth of the IT industry in Cambodia is far more important. When Cambodian people realize that an IT engineer is a well-paid job and its working conditions are also good, there will be more and more people who wish to become IT engineers. Then they will work in various companies which are involved in many kinds of development. This will become a very good factor for future growth.
Other development companies from the developed countries including Japan are our rivals. We are not thinking of becoming a mere foothold for an offshore development that can easily place orders at cheap prices. Nowadays, the sales point is focusing on how cheaply a development can be done, but from now on, I would like to make technical skills become the sales point. Thus, however difficult the recruitment will be, it is pleasant to see the IT industry in Cambodia becoming active.

– In the future, what do you think is necessary for the IT industry in Cambodia to obtain status in Cambodian society?

I think that the IT industry has already obtained a status to some extent. In the past, I once interviewed a new graduate who had no experience in development besides that in school. The student requested 600 dollars for his/her starting salary. This request was not made based on whether he/she is competent enough to get a salary of 600 dollars or not, but it was based on his/her consideration of the market price, his/her value compared to the market price, and about the future. This is a sign of the upgrading status of the IT industry in Cambodian society.
However, if we expect further status upgrades, it is necessary for computers or smartphones to become more and more necessary in everyday life.
For example, the usage rate of smartphones in the city is definitely not low, but when we ask what those smartphones are used for, the majority would be for Facebook or games, SMS, etc. Besides, if information technology including computers and smartphones can play many important roles in people’s everyday life, new kinds of services that have never been created so far will be in demand. Furthermore, if more and more applications or services that are widely used in Cambodia are created initially in Cambodia and by Cambodian developers, the IT industry status in Cambodian society will keep rising to a better position.

– Lastly, what do you expect from the IT industry in Cambodia in the next 5 or 10 years?

As I mentioned earlier, Japan is still Galapagos in some aspects, so it will be difficult to adopt the exact same services from Japan to apply in foreign countries.
However, Cambodia is what you might call a country in which foreign investment is leading the IT industry. In this way, Cambodia is a country with a diversity of cultures and technology, so the possibility that this country may become galapagosization as in Japan is insignificantly low. If Cambodia can make the best use of this advantage, I expect that this country will become a Silicon Valley for Southeast Asia.
Therefore, I hope that when people have a chance to try new services or devices, they shouldn’t neglect those services that they are using or those workers that they are involved in by thinking of them as common tasks. People should get involved in these with an inquiring mind by asking many “Why?” Some Cambodian engineers have already started to think that development work is not a job to do just for getting income, so now I really feel that the paradigm shift is already happening.