Sri Lanka’s IT-BPM industry: A beacon of resilience in the face of COVID-19
“Companies that continue to make wise investments in upskilling talent, IT modernisation and digital transformation during the period of inevitable demand deceleration will emerge stronger and better positioned for growth and to serve their customers better in a post COVID-19 new norm,” said SLASSCOM Chairman and IFS Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ranil Rajapakse.
Over the past decade, Sri Lanka has grown into a premier destination for IT and BPM businesses. Both start-ups and larger companies of foreign and local origin have set up shop in Sri Lanka to cater to growing global demand.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s IT-BPM sector has emerged as a shining beacon of resilience and hope. Various companies in this sector have risen to the occasion and adapted their business and work models to cope with the global disruptions caused by the pandemic. Approximately 90% of IT-BPM companies in Sri Lanka were ready to act to ensure zero or very minimal interruptions to their regular operations.
The expectation of the unexpected
As a result of its tumultuous past and recent catastrophic events such as the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka and its people are naturally geared to operate from an ‘expect the unexpected’ mindset. This mindset is responsible for the resilience witnessed within the ICT/BPM sector, and many other sectors in the country, when responding to the COVID-19 crisis. These events have also shaped its people and business community to be flexible and ready to accept a ‘new normal’ with agility.
Companies like Mitra Innovation, a digital advancement company, alongside moving 100% of its staff to WFH, used the crisis as an inspiration to develop new products such as their Dynamedics platform, which allows for remote and accessible healthcare services to be provided by connecting patients and healthcare professions digitally.
A concerted effort
No one could have predicted the COVID-19 crisis or the measures that would be necessary to effectively combat such a threat. Fortunately, due to its very nature, the IT-BPM sector already had some WFH protocols in place and this made it somewhat easier for the sector to adapt. However, these WFH protocols were nowhere near universal and having every employee work remotely has been extremely challenging for all stakeholders.
Understanding that adapting to this new and unfamiliar landscape would need a coordinated and concerted approach, the Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) took leadership and appealed to the Government of Sri Lanka to provide necessary assistance to the IT-BPM sector; in the form of allowing for essential operations to continue such as access to servers and movement of essential personnel for troubleshooting and mission-critical systems maintenance.
Sri Lanka’s telecommunications companies also stepped-in to assist companies by boosting bandwidth and enabling VPNs and other required services for sensitive businesses to remain operational, remotely. SLASSCOM also liaised with companies across the board within the sector to provide and connect them with all support that they needed to keep their operations ongoing without interruptions.
Sri Lanka’s IT-BPM workforce must also be commended for their receptiveness and readiness to accept the challenge of transforming the work environment, literally overnight in many cases. Sri Lankans across industries have proven that they are highly resilient and resourceful, with most having quickly adapted to the changing business landscape in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the companies already discussed, it is important to mention companies such as Calcey Technologies, a software product engineering company that quickly adapted the new paradigm. This is a company that, as part of one of its many operations, supports Britain’s NHS and food delivery to frontline healthcare workers in the UK.
Stax Inc., a global management consulting firm in Colombo, switched to the remote working model over the span of just a single weekend. The Company supported the digital transformation of its local clients by drawing on support from its cross-functional teams of consultant and technical specialists.
Other highly notable examples include companies such as CMS, who provide bespoke remote IT teams to SME clients globally. They were able to provide absolute and seamless business continuity for their clients; even being able to achieve increased productivity in countries that have been hardest hit by the crisis.
Demonstrating the value of comprehensive Business Continuity Planning (BCP), Acuity Knowledge Partners was able to leverage its BCP to transition to WFH completely without any lags, with minimal disruption to their global client-dependent operations.
Going above and beyond
In addition to simply adapting to the new work paradigm, some companies understood that there was also a moral obligation to be a responsible member of the business community. Companies like BISTEC Global went the extra mile and offered free IT support and consultancy to any business that required it to set up their own WFH operations. Others like Sixer Video pledged to allow companies to use their platform free of charge to continue with virtual interviews and keep their recruitment processes running. Mitra Innovation has begun to provide a free service to help staff of various companies adjust to new WFH arrangements.
A shining beacon of resilience
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Sri Lanka’s IT-BPM sector has emerged as a beacon of resilience, inspiring and helping other sectors and countries to adapt to the new post-pandemic business reality. The partnerships, commitment, and dedication displayed by the sector is a testament to the fact that Sri Lanka is a premier global destination for IT-BPM businesses with a resilient talent pool, infrastructure, government support, and social environment.