Government can foster Asian software industry growth

Industry practitioners see the government playing a key role in developing the software industry, according to a new survey in Asia.

SINGAPORE--Most IT professionals across Asia believe that the government has a role to play in cultivating the domestic software industry, especially in the areas of education and training, according to a new study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Ninety percent of the 800 IT professionals surveyed in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam agreed that the government plays an important role in ensuring the success of the software industry. Twenty-five percent singled out education and training as key factors in fostering the development of the software industry.

The survey, which was conducted by research company Ipsos Public Affairs, involved only IT professionals from the private sectors and excluded those from the public sector, said Goh Seow Hiong, BSA's director for software policy, Asia.

Ninety-five percent of the survey participants felt that developing the domestic software industry was important to the IT industry, while 94 percent said that it was important to the overall economy in their respective countries.

Although an overwhelming majority of the respondents wanted to see the government play an active role in developing the industry, 48 percent of the respondents felt that regulation should be left to the industry while 25 percent felt that the government should be in charge of making policies. The rest of the respondents remained neutral.

A whopping 97 percent of the survey respondents regarded free competition as vital in the software marketplace. However, only 59 percent believed that software companies can freely compete in the marketplace, while 36 percent felt that companies are not free to compete.

On how one should interpret the survey results, Goh said that it could be that IT professionals across Asia simply want the government to foster the right environment. "The government can do a lot of things besides making policies," he said.

"For example, in Asia, some governments focus a lot on making low-cost computers available. But do people have enough knowledge to use them?" he posed, adding that governments may not be thinking holistically when it comes to supporting the industry.