For me, it is easy to understand. Let's look at an example, Mobifone 3G will cost you 150.000VND for one-month 384Kbps package and 300.000VND for 7Mbps package. I think it is expensive to most of Vietnamese people, even for those IT guys like me. Normal local users also have no reason to use 3G since Wifi is now available everywhere: home, office, cafes, hotels, restaurant...
So in the near future, I think 3G is still too far to reach for Vietnamese users. Just until its price drop to an appropriate amount (maybe less than 100.000VND for one-month), or there will be an integrated solution between home ADSL and 3G, so users don't have to pay twice for the Internet, it will be the time for 3G. At this time, Wifi is still the best choice for most of local users :)
Last week, I had a trip to Can Tho to see the new bridge and nearby provinces include Vinh Long & Tra Vinh. This was the first time I was capable with an Android smartphone and a 3G connection. It has made my trip more fun :)
In the past, some long trips may took me up to 10 hours sitting in the bus doing nothing beyond looking at both sides on the road. But now, it does not last any longer. With a smartphone and 3G, I can play online games, looking at the map to see interesting places around me and searching for more related information. Technology really makes life easier in this situation!
I remember since the first time playing with the Internet, I never imagine that once day I can easily access Internet anywhere in Vietnam with just a handheld device. But in less than ten years, this has become reality. And it has enabled me to do much more thing, be able to access to a large amount of information on the Internet everywhere at anytime.
Then it made me think all Vietnamese now have a chance to access to Internet. So if they can utilize it, they can benefit much from a flat world nowadays no matter who they are, a peasant or just a worker. It turns out that education will be the key component for Vietnam in the next step, to reach the goal becoming a strong ICT country after it has become an Internet connected country.
According to a statistic from Ministry of Information and Communication in 1/2010, Vietnam ICT now has:
110.000 employees in Hardware Industry
57.000 employees in Software Industry
40.000 employees in fast-growing Digital Content Industry
It really surprises me since I think the number of developers in Vietnam is more than 100.000. But the number we can draw out from statistic above is quite modest.
For software outsourcing industry, the number of employees in a big India outsourcing company like: Infosys, Wipro... may reach 100.000. While the biggest outsourcing software in Vietnam, FSoft, has just about 3000. It means that Vietnam won't be able to compete in large outsourcing contracts, which require thousand of people.
Also most of Vietnam outsourcing companies are small, which make the employee have to change their skill frequently, as when the company finish a contract and get new one. This will lead to more multi-skill developers rather than those specialize in one specific field. And it would become a major problem for local companies in competing for intensive contracts.
However, hope these will become better as the number of employees in this industry continues to grow in upcoming years!
At the end of 2009, Vietnam government has taken the pledge to develop Vietnam into a strong ICT country before 2015. However, saying is always easier than doing and lots of people I know don't believe anything government said :). But at this time, Vietnam has many opportunities to turn this dream into reality, as in my previous article. So could Vietnam achieve this? I think it will depend much on next action from government and that's what I'm trying to find out via this article.
At first, take a look at what Mr. Le Doan Hop, Minister of Information and Communication conclude via the conference "Develop Vietnam into a strong ICT country" recently
The main idea we can draw out from this conclusion is that, at first step, the government will try to build a robust local market, include all the hardware, software and online services. The government also shows the ambition to gradually limit foreign services as much as possible and will help local companies to build substituted products. This clearly leads to many advantages for local companies like FPT, Vinagame, IDG porfolios... and create a barrier against multi-nation giants like Google, Yahoo, Facebook...
This seems to be a good policy to help local companies generate more revenue as well as help government gain more control of the local Internet industry. However, for me, I don't agree totally. From the view of a developer, I must say that the level of local developers is still far behind the level of US developers, so if we expect Vietnam will be able to do some products as well as Facebook, Google, Yahoo... and force local users to change, I believe it just make user more nervous for using bad products and slow down the participating of local user to a flat world.
Of course, some people will say if the government don't do that, Vietnam will meet many difficulties to achieve the goal becoming a strong ICT country. I think there are still many other ways. Remember that Vietnam is just a beginner in this new industry and lots of Vietnamese now just think inside. As a result, it will be easily vulnerable by changes of the whole industry. So before Vietnam could achieve great things, it should know how to learn and build a generation of professional who can work in an international environment as well as think globally.
And now is obviously the good time for Vietnam, many multi-national companies are seeing Vietnam as a next potential destination. And if the government could have some policies to tell them "Hey, I know you have much money as well as experience, I could provide you a lot of people able to quickly learn new technology. You can also use this market with population more than 86 million people as a test base before going to others", if so I would definitely come if I were an investor :). And these companies will help to build a next generation of global Vietnamese.
So everything is now in the hands of government, look forward to seeing what they do next.
In my work, I have had many chances to talk to foreign developers as well as businessmen. One of the most interesting questions they often ask me is that "Why do we choose Vietnam?". And I'm so excited with my answer :)
1. Vietnam situatessituated in the center of the Southeast Asia. And this could be considered one of the best destinations for multi-national companies to come, setup a branch before going to other Southeast Asia countries
2. The average human cost in Vietnam is still low compare to other countries like India, China, Europe... which is the main factor to many companies nowadays
3. Vietnam is an oriental country, which make it one of the best choices for Japan, Korea, Taiwan - those countries who are finding a similar country to oursource. The distance between Vietnam and these countries is just about 3-5 hours flying
4. Not only an outsourcing destination, Vietnam is also an attractive market with the population more than 86 million people. Quite perfect for some product-base companies to develop product and use it as a test market before going global
5. Vietnam government in recent years spent much effort in developing Vietnam into a strong ICT country, which result in many favour favored policies to ICT companies
However, everything has two sides, Vietnam still has some risks for investors
1. The shortage of high-level labour force, which may cause many difficulties once day company want to broaden their business
2. Government is still reluctant to Intellectual Property (IP) protection law
In general, I believe Vietnam will soon become one of the best destinations for international ICT companies. Of course, many developers will not agree with me and still wonder whether Vietnam could achieve great things in this industry (as when I talk to many). However, why don't you try to think outside? As if you were an investor with tons of money and experience in management and ICT industry, Vietnam seems to be a very good destination with many advantages above, doesn't it? And you will definitely come as long as Vietnam provide you with a good labour force willing to learn and work in an international environment? If so, just prepare for it :)
As a developing country with a large population, Vietnam turns out to become the next destination for many investors, especially in a fast growing sector like ICT. However, many investors had been trapped in local dot-com bubble in 2007, as they don't know much about this market. This is an extremely important factor since Vietnam policy is not mature enough, and the more you understand about the market, the more successes you can get. So if you are now an investor, what should you invest in to get much in a short time?
At first, take a glance at Vietnam ICT industry in 2009
- Telecom: $8.1 billion USD (~150.000 billion VND), 62% growth compared to 2008. Mostly from mobile service and ADSL and controlled by large own-state corporations VNPT, Viettel
- Information Technology: $6.26 billion USD, 20% growth + Hardware: $4.68 billion USD, 14% growth + Software: $0.88 billion USD, 30% growth. Mostly from outsourcing and local software market + Online content & services: $0.7 billion USD, 58% growth. Mostly from SMS, online games...
This statistic seems to be very interesting, isn't it? But as the industry grows quickly, investors have to catch up with latest trends to solve effectively their main investment problems.And to me, here are some trends will likely to happen in 2010 or later
- The convergence of software and online content companies: Some popular software companies like Misa, Lacviet... are moving toward online because they see it as a way to spur the market coverage. And this may become a threat to some companies offering similar services
- The online services may compete back the telecom: As when some VOIP technologies are mature enough, together with the mobile Internet become immensely popular, user can make a call via the Internet directly instead of the mobile service provider and this may lead to unpredicted situations. It will be prevented by the government or a new industry surround this will be created
- The participation of MNCs (multi-national companies) to Vietnam market: With a large number of Internet users and the popularity of Internet, Vietnam has become a very attractive market for multi-national giants like Google, Yahoo, Facebook... Lots of them already have already finished a localized version for Vietnamese and make this market become rougher. Some local companies doing the same services are not strong enough to compete and may soon disappear
If you have a large budget and plan for a long-term investment, Telecom or Hardware will be a good choice to keep your money growing at a basic level. If not, Software and Online services are prospective for bringing you many quick successes in a short time, but it is definitely more risky as there are also other local competitors with a normal budget and have the same though with you. So the winner will be who can make the smartest choice. There are so many elements for making a smart choice, but here are some of mine
- Have a good technical team and a strong tech leader: I have met many investors so far and most of them often don't think the technical is important to the success of the company. However, remember that Vietnamese are able to copy and clone an online product very quickly. So having a strong technical team is what will keep you ahead of other competitors and achieve sustainable growth in a long time.
- Broaden your relationship: Vietnam is an oriental as well communist country. No matter how much money you have, relationship is still the most important element for you to success in this society. The more relationship you have, the more smoothly your work will go
- Understand Vietnamese culture: I have seen many foreign companies failing, just because they don't understand enough Vietnamese culture. So having a good CEO Assistant Vietnamese will help to build and harmonize a multi-culture environment
No matter what happens, I still believe Vietnam ICT industry is really potential to invest in, at least in the next 10 years, as government has determined to develop it into a strong ICT country. So if you are an investor or a just a potential investor, why don't you think for making a deal? :)