Thursday, January 20, 2005

E-government is simply providing better services to the public using electronic means. By adding a layer between the government and the public, e-government can provide quality services that reach the maximum possible people. Have a look at the elementary model below that explains the concept of e-government.

The e-government layer in the preceding model could provide the benefits depicted in the model below:

The scope of e-government, initiated in October of 2002, is very vast. Around Rs.300 million were spent during the past year alone by the Sindh government on implementing various projects that would eventually lead to the realization of e-governance in Pakistan. The steps that I suggest are depicted below:

The first step is to create an awareness in the system. Arousing curiosity and confidence is mandatory for acceptance. We then move on to automation leading to the paper-less government office. The third step involves the delivery of information, downloadable forms, etc. All these steps have already been performed by the government and are represented with green numbers.

The steps represented by yellow numbers are being worked out, which are redundant in my opinion. More precisely, stage 4 is where the focus of our attention is at the moment. However, this focus is highly unfocused.


Stage 4 is where the e-governance would start to process transactions. For example, a citizen could apply for a passport online. However, such transactions require faith and confidence in the system, which is attainable only through mass awareness campaigns. Hence, stage 4 is closely linked to stage 1. Therefore, efforts should be made to create awareness before more money is spent on stage 4. It must also be remembered that formal education is not what would be needed to create confidence in e-government. The cost makes formal education beyond the reach of the majority in Pakistan. Hence, a cheap mode must be used to create awareness about the electronic system.

Have a look at Stages 6 and 7. Note that it is important that effective delivery must precede efficient delivery. Right must precede Timely to create confidence in the system.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Offshore Outsourcing Dead?

Are we about to face another war?

A war against outsourcing.

According to this article, the American job market is continuously experiencing a downward shift due to offshore outsourcing. A strategy shift at bringing down offshore outsourcing is a thorny idea for our region.

Read this article and tell me if you think offshore outsourcing could be used as a new weapon.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Software Engineering is a continuous process that involves a series of steps. In a nutshell, an ideal software engineering approach starts by analyzing the problem and culminates at delivering a solution. This solution must be both technically and economically feasible.

Feasibility is like a coin. It has two faces: one deals with organizational variables such as profitability and Return on Investment (ROI), the other deals with the technical variables. The attainment of these feasibility benchmarks, thus, calls for engineers who are just as energetic and sympathetic towards business as they are about the technicalities.

Therefore, it does not come as a surprise when I come across job openings that require IT professionals with sound business skills. A recent job advertisement on the Business Channel required Computer Science graduates with strong Project Management skills. However, name me one higher education institution in Pakistan that provides such skills to its computer science graduates. Apart from some round-the-corner apartment institute, you would probably fail to come up with any such institution in Pakistan. It does not take a genius to figure out the ultimate consequences of such a disparity between job specification and higher education.

There are universities, such as the Hamdard University, offering courses in MIS that integrate the business with the computer studies. However, these are not Computer Science programs; Hamdard offers a BS degree in Business Informatics.

Obviously, such a scenario is not good for the economy.

What is the government doing about it?

Does Mr. Leghari (Awais Ahmed Khan) Minister for IT, have any idea?

What are the academics doing to correct this?

What are professional organizations such as PASHA and PSEB doing (other than attending seminars or hanging out with people from NASSCOM)?

Where are the software houses that are always shouting about the government's inflexibility while addressing their issues?

Where is the media when it comes to highlighting such problems?

Are there any students' organizations that are listening?

I guess no one's listening. They would have listened, if they had just taken some time out of their busy social schedules to think along these lines. Sadly, they never did and never do. Do I have any choice, but to be pessimist?

Monday, January 03, 2005

IT Growth Structure

Why have been Pakistani businesses slow to adopt IT despite tremendous benefits?

After thinking over it for some time, I came up with a growth structure that we have followed thus far. Apart from the inconsistent and derogatory policies, the growth structure that we followed is unsatisfactory. It is depicted below:

In such a structure, there is more supply than demand at the initial stages, thus leading to an economic in-equilibrium right at the inception. Because of an excess supply of IT services and professionals (without creating a demand at the upper tiers), businesses fail to deliver real value in the form of better goods and services.

On the other hand, the ideal growth structure would have been a start with awareness through education. Once there is enough quality education, professionals would penetrate the market and automate business processes to create value. At the last stage, businesses would electronically integrate to provide real value, while cutting costs by integrating with suppliers, distributors and customers.

The ideal growth is depicted below. Notice the low density of the lower tiers as compared to the upper tiers.

Let me know what you guys think about it?