Sok Channda, CEO of Anana Computer and Mekong Net speaks at the BarCamp Phnom Penh flanked by Eng Makara (L) and Heng Chamroeun (R). Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
The future of e-business in Cambodia depends on gaining better skills, a group of students heard yesterday at the University of Puthisastra.
In a panel discussion on the future of e-business as part of BarCamp Phnom Penh, T.O. Software president Heng Chamroeun offered advice to the young group about what it would take for them to make it in an increasingly digitised business world.
“They need to equip themselves with the necessary skills. Basic IT knowledge is a must for everyone. They also need to look at where they want to go from today, tomorrow, next year and in five years.”
Also offering her expertise was CEO of Mekong Net, Sok Channda who shared her story of starting her first business with US$20 dollars selling flowers to now owning multiple businesses and being one of Cambodia’s first Internet service providers.
“For me it wasn’t about being number one, it was about keeping whatever customers I had happy. If those customers are happy, you’ll gain more and become more successful.”
Eng Makara, Head of Value Added Services for Smart Mobile, tried to instil confidence in the crowd to look beyond Cambodia’s previously bad track record with technology.
“I want the new generation to forget about the past. They need to look to the future and gain skills in technology.”
Makara said end-users also needed to gain better skills if e-business was to become more widely adopted in Cambodia.
“Some e-business requires the end-user to understand a lot about technology. The lack of skills among customers is a barrier to the development of e-business in Cambodia.”
The panel also pointed at an underdeveloped infrastructure as another barrier to the adoption of e-business practices. From making catalogues and engaging content more widely available, to billing processes and basic communication a better infrastructure can improve the way Cambodians run their businesses.
“You may want to provide content but the infrastructure is inadequate. Previously, data was too expensive and the speed was too slow, so no one wants to use the internet,” Channda said.
Language also remains an issue with most programs and websites not being available in Khmer. Chamroeun was invited to speak because his is one of a few companies creating programs for Khmer speakers.
“I saw the need for computers and opened a computer shop to meet this demand. Then I noticed the need for software to manage inventory so I decided to write programs in my own language.
“As a software developer, I’m helping people manage their business issues such as helping them manage their human resources, warehouse inventory, client sales. I’m very happy to see that I can help Cambodian businesses” Chamroeun said.
Many members of the audience came along because of their shared interest in technology but left the panel discussion feeling invigorated and more knowledgeable about e-business.
Student Srey Nak, 20, wanted to hear from the best and most experienced people in this field.
“I gained new knowledge of how to become a businesswoman and how to run a small or big business. I also learned about how technology can help business,” she said.
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