Sri Lanka: The Island of Ingenuity
A thriving hub of technological innovation, the island country is making huge waves in the global tech space.
Known for its rich cultural heritage and appeal as a hotspot for travelers, the turn of the decade also marks the emergence of new, distinct facets to the island country's identity.
Over the past few years, Sri Lanka has rapidly gained repute as an emerging hub for information and communications technology (ICT) and business process management (BPM). In a short span of time, Sri Lanka’s IT and knowledge sector has become the fifth largest contributing sector to the country’s export revenue. In the process, the nation has taken on the identity of being the Island of Ingenuity, with its businesses standing at the forefront of technological innovation.
An increasing number of international business and technology communities are setting their sights on new prospects for collaboration with Sri Lanka. This has created opportunities for new breakthroughs in areas such as research and digital disruption.
How has Sri Lanka made the pivot from its oft-known identity as a tourist destination to becoming a global challenger within the ICT and BPM sectors? Let’s take a deep dive.
As a unified platform for the ICT/BPM sector, the Island of Ingenuity aims to showcase Sri Lanka’s innovative prowess in the global arena to exponentially grow industry revenues to $5 billion by 2022 from its current $1.2 billion, while creating 200,000 new jobs and 1,000 start-ups.
AN INNOVATION HOTBED
With a modest population of 21 million people, Sri Lanka is a relatively small nation. Still, the country houses top-tier talent across a full spectrum of specializations in the ICT and BPM landscapes, with experts spanning design, development, data, software services and more.
Perhaps Sri Lanka’s flourishing talent pool and firm ethos of innovation can be traced back to the mother of all invention – necessity.
Sri Lanka's tech culture has a strong emphasis on proactive customer engagement.
Without vast reserves of human capital on its side, the country focused on producing tech graduates of the highest caliber and accruing a strong resource pool of UK-qualified accounting professionals. Lacking the competitive edge in large-scale services, it placed a greater emphasis on smaller-scale, yet higher-end business and engineering engagements. Faced with the need to survive and grow in tandem with the global economy, the island’s budding start-up scene moved to a higher gear of development.
Driven by a highly competitive climate, Sri Lankans have cultivated an industry culture of ownership, accountability and adaptability. The Island of Ingenuity has become adept at dealing with complex situations, working with high degree of transparency, collaboration, co-creation, and adopting a mindset of innovating to find solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how critical it is for nations and enterprises alike to be adaptable and adopt risk mitigation measures that can keep things running even in difficult times. Amidst the global crisis, Sri Lanka’s IT and knowledge sectors have continued to function.
POWERING TRANSFORMATION BEYOND BORDERS
In recent years, Sri Lanka’s cutting-edge capabilities in ICT and BPM have elevated the nation to the world stage. Its knowledge and innovation sectors regularly support global organizations in their business growth and contribute to advancements in the modern tech space.
One such organization that is Nagarro. Sri Lanka becomes the first international addition to Nagarro SE since its debut as an independent, publicly-traded company in December 2020 at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
“It is an exciting time for Nagarro as we set sight on building the truly 21st century organization which promotes agility, non-hierarchy, high autonomy, and global collaboration offering elite technology services to our customers wherever they are. Our entry into Sri Lanka reaffirms our commitment to this exciting journey,” said Manas Fuloria, Custodian of Entrepreneurship in the Organization (CEO) of Nagarro. Sri Lanka has consistently ranked among the top global destinations for knowledge services. The growing technology industry in Sri Lanka offers a unique advantage for global enterprises to enjoy premium access to a high-quality talent pool.
LSEG Technology is another case of Sri Lankan enterprise solutions drawing the notice of international players. When the London Stock Exchange undertook an extensive international search in 2008 for technologies that could transform the efficiency of their operations, LSEG Technology stood out even amidst global industry powerhouses.
Today, LSEG Technology is a part of London Stock Exchange Group. The global specialist in capital market technologies continues to build proprietary products that benefit stock exchanges.
High on Gartner’s and AT Kearney’s outsourcing rankings, Sri Lanka also acts as an offshore development centre for Fortune 500 companies in the US, Ireland, the UK, Australasia and Sweden, and joint ventures based in Sweden, Norway, the US and Japan, among others. SMEs and large companies in the Nordic region in particular have enjoyed success setting up their own captive innovation centers or partnering with Sri Lankan IT-BPM companies. Industrial & Financial Systems (IFS) of Sweden and 99X attracting investment from Herkules Deal-by-Deal, a Scandinavian private equity company are great examples.
Bas de Vos - Vice President IFS Labs for IFS will present on Day 1 at the Digital Summit at ICT Spring 2021 under the topic ‘Developing Enterprise Software for the future, based on Sri Lanka’s Innovation Capability & Ingenuity’. IFS Labs is a dedicated innovation team that looks beyond today’s expectations of business applications. They take inspiration from consumer technologies and innovative solutions from a wide range of industries and apply these innovative concepts to the IFS product portfolio. Bas has the responsibility to position and communicate IFS’ innovation projects to illustrate the future of business applications. He is a passionate advocate of pragmatic innovation, driving business value rather than innovating for the sake of innovation.
THE HEART OF INGENUITY
As the nation develops through the years, Sri Lanka has carved itself a niche that distinguishes it as a Centre of Excellence. This recognition was further affirmed when it won the destination of the year award conferred by the Global Sourcing Association in 2019.
True to its identity as an Island, Sri Lanka carries with it a unique sense of warmth in its innovation practices. This warmth manifests itself in more creative approaches to problem-solving, greater nimbleness and agility, as well as a strong emphasis on customer relationships and people-centricity.
In addition to government support, Sri Lanka has made strides in cultivating a safe and conducive environment for trade and business. The country was the first in South Asia to ratify the Electronic Transactions Act to boost online cross-border trade and has also adopted a strong regulatory framework for the prevention and management of cyber security threats.
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) is Sri Lanka’s premier organization for the development and promotion of exports is assisting for 4 tech companies and 4 Start-ups (E.C. HOLDINGS PVT.LTD, ARIMAC LANKA (PRIVATE) LIMITED, MAXSOL PRO (PVT) LTD, POTENZA (PVT) LTD, AUGUSTORY (PRIVATE) LIMITED, CABBAGEAPPS (PRIVATE) LIMITED, SHADES IT SOLUTIONS, INTELEGENZA HUB (PVT) LTD, to attend ICT Spring Expo and explore business opportunities in EU region while gaining market intelligence.
Organizations can engage Sri Lanka’s knowledge and innovation sectors in one of three ways: Setting up a Captive Innovation Centre and partnering with local product engineering companies to accelerate digital transformation; Leveraging Sri Lanka as a Digital Gateway to Asia, allowing global entrepreneurs to use Sri Lanka as a test bed for research and development and entry into emerging markets in Asia; and by Engaging and Investing in Global Digital Disruptors across a wide spectrum of start-ups, platforms and products.
Organized by - Sri Lanka Export Development Board
SLASSCOM - https://slasscom.lk/