Microsoft exec says lack of English obstacle to IT industry

Arya Dipa, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

The poor English skills of local information technology businesspeople is a main obstacle to the development of IT-based applications in Indonesia, an executive with PT Microsoft Indonesia said Thursday.

"English mastery among IT businesspeople in Indonesia is still very limited, while the language has developed as a business language overseas," Ari Kunwidodo, vice president of PT Microsoft, said after launching the Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) on the campus of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

Ari said Indonesia was losing out on IT business because competitors from India, Malaysia and Singapore not only had a better grasp of English, the international language of business, but also could boast more developed IT infrastructures in their countries.

He said the total value of the IT industry in Singapore, with a population that is much smaller than Indonesia's, was at least three times larger than in Indonesia. The local IT industry is valued at US$2 billion, he said. "In India the value of the IT industry can reach up to five times that amount."

Ari said personal computer penetration in Indonesia remained low. In densely populated Java one PC is used by 847 students, while in the outer islands it is one PC for 1,900 students, he said.

PT Microsoft Indonesia and ITB launched the innovation center to provide facilities for research and development on software solutions, involving government officials, academics and businesspeople.

Ari and ITB Rector Djoko Santoso signed a memorandum of understanding to mark the inauguration of the facility.

"The launch of the MIC is intended to help boost the development of the local software industry. It is primarily aimed at academics, independent service vendors, businesspeople, developers and government representatives, to help them collaborate and create innovative market solutions," Ari said.

Djoko said the cooperation was a first for the worlds of academia and industry, with regard to the development of information technology and communication applications.

The MIC is equipped with 30 computers running Microsoft software.
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