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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Software developers eye strong market potential

Software developers eye strong market potential


Photo by: Anne Laure Poree

Kit Hargreaves says money spent on a good IT system is money well spent.

Opportunities are opening up for local developers of software and applications as the number of firms in Cambodia using information technology continues to grow.

"Locally produced software is a better fit to the local market than off-the-shelf international variants, as most available software doesn't account for local laws and often can't work with Khmer characters," said Sous Sakal, a business development manager at Blue Technology.

Accounting software was a good money-earner for the company, he said, fetching between $300 and $20,000 per program, depending on its complexity.

Erya Houn Heng, president and CEO of First Cambodia, a company specialising in system integration, said the local IT sector had almost unlimited opportunity to grow.

"Only about 5 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises in Cambodia are using computer systems," he said.

But for many companies, cost is a real obstacle to using advanced technology, said Kit Hargreaves, the 23-year-old boss of Arocore, a new arrival on the local technology development scene.

"But an IT system is the backbone, the life of the company in many ways," he said "If the money is spent well, you don't have any issues."

Arocore recently customised an ordering system for Elements, a new nightclub set to open in Phnom Penh, using an iPod Touch device, which allows waiters to transmit orders to the bar in real-time, improving efficiency and reducing errors. Integration with a central billing and inventory system also helps manage stock levels.

"The income generated was average compared to the time passed on this project, but through it we developed our skills and it is exactly what we love doing," Hargreaves said. "We like creativity."

Locally produced software is a better fit to the local market.

Theara Sam, Blue Technology's sales director, said the sector needed to be led.

"This is the story of the chicken and the egg," he said. "If there is more money injected in IT, IT will help the industry to grow. If we don't have the resources for a good product, it affects innovation." As the local market for software grows, many developers are looking further afield for sales opportunities.

"There is a strong market in Cambodia," Theara Sam said. "SMEs [Small and medium-sized enterprises] need to use technology, otherwise there will be obstacles to their growth. But we are thinking about expanding in the international market. A shop in Singapore will pay much more than a shop in Cambodia for the same kind of software."

Erya Houn Heng said First Cambodia was looking to expand throughout the ASEAN region. It already had an office in Laos and is in the process of registering an office in Vietnam for a launch later this year, he said.



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