‘Sri Lanka’s IT export revenue can grow 10x by delivering business outcomes over mere technology’

Yohan Ramasundara

As Sri Lanka’s long-standing IT export dominance continues to be tested through the emergence of similarly positioned but more cost-effective destinations, a dialogue has started on a much-needed shift in the IT sector’s export outlook, skills, and positioning.

Such concerns were raised by former Australian Computer Society President Yohan Ramasundara in a panel discussion at the Heritance Hotel – Negombo, convened informally during a recent visit to the island, where he highlighted sector issues and tech serving a business purpose as a potential value differentiator globally.

The Sri Lankan-born IT pioneer addressed an audience comprising a diverse group of tech leaders including the local arm of Beta Launch, a Melbourne-based product management and engineering consultancy where he is Co-Founder.

A highly respected IT and Governance professional whose counsel is sought internationally by bodies ranging from the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP – UNESCO) to WFEO – World Federation of Engineering Organizations, Yohan has also been instrumental in shaping Australia’s startup ecosystem having previously held the position of Chairman at both Startup Catalyst and River City Labs Accelerator.

Drawing on his extensive experience shaping the Australian tech industry, the discussion focused on Sri Lanka’s current IT export issues including growth constraints and the limiting nature of the IT sector’s value proposition globally.

‘Clients now expect digital products and projects to meet their expected business outcomes, regardless of industry, and where Sri Lankan talent falls short despite our proficient tech skills, is in grasping customer and business requirements properly to ensure the outcomes outlined for specific projects are delivered beyond mere tech delivery’, Yohan stated.

As a solution to the problem, the discipline of product management was put forth as offering a framework to match customer and business needs through tech, so it isn’t disconnected from business outcomes clients look to achieve. This would allow Sri Lanka to position itself as IT and product management consultancy specialists that can compete with other IT consultancy-focused nations, rather than with tech sellers in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

‘We must move away from positioning ourselves as selling software engineering and UX professionals to creating partnerships with clients that’ll enable them to achieve their outcomes, so that when a global client engages a Sri Lankan firm, they can hit their OKRs as well and not just get their tech done’, Yohan explained.

Drawing attention briefly to his own Melbourne and Sri Lanka based product management and engineering consultancy Beta Launch, Yohan spoke of how they’ve been relentlessly solving business problems for clients but noticed how many in Sri Lanka focus on the tech and the business separately and rarely together.

Yohan brought the panel discussion to a close stating, ‘I believe the Sri Lankan IT export sector can grow exponentially if our talent not only develops proficiency in their own technical domain, but acquires more knowledge about different business domains, so we can solve the world’s business problems through tech’.

Beta Launch conducts its product management workshops for enterprise and startup clients globally and has parallelly established knowledge transfer partnerships with Sri Lankan universities, to ensure the IT and product philosophy of serving business outcomes through tech can enable the sector’s pursuit of export growth.

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