Microsoft appoints first local partner in Myanmar

Software giant appoints country's largest industry player, Myanmar Information Technology, its first "market development partner" as it looks to expand its presence in the fledgling Asian economy.

Microsoft has appointed Myanmar's largest software vendor as its first local market development partner in the fledgling economy, where it is looking to expand its presence. 

Microsoft commits to Myanmar for the "long haul".

Myanmar Information Technology (MIT) has been tasked to grow Microsoft's ecosystem in the country and support deployments within the private and public sectors. Announced Thursday at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, held this week in Myanmar, the U.S. software vendor pointed to the market opportunities and underscored its "long-haul" commitment in the Asian nation. 

Jamie Harper, Microsoft's general manager of Southeast Asia, said: "I am excited by what the future holds for Myanmar, a future we believe technology will be a vital part of... Microsoft's business is built on partners, understanding the nuances of conducting business in each and every market we invest in is critical. That is why we focus on building sustainable partnerships with local experts."

Redmond has over 28,000 partners across the Asia-Pacific region, generating almost US$125 billion in revenues.

A company spokesperson told ZDNet that Microsoft already has enterprise customers in Myanmar, but declined to give specific numbers. The local market partner's role is, thus, to further expand Redmond's presence in the Asian nation. 

Founded in 1997, MIT has more than 300 employees with customers across various industries including banking and finance, healthcare, and government. Its CEO Tun Thura Thet said: "I believe Microsoft's global experience and solutions will be invaluable in building the Myanmar ICT industry."

Harper added: "We believe that only through working closely with the public and private sector can technology be part of the national agenda, and play its role in ensuring competitiveness and capacity building."

In a previous ZDNet report, industry observers noted that Myanmar was one of few untapped telecommunications market left in the world, offering tremendous opportunities as the once-reclusive government opens up the sector for foreign investments. However, they cautioned that hazy government regulations and lack of infrastructure for foreign players could prove a hindrance. 

Market researcher IDC projected that IT spending in the country would hit US$233.56 million by 2016, growing an average 16 percent between 2011 and 2016. 

According to reports earlier this week, Myanmar is planning to set up its first data center with Hitachi by April 2014. Estimated to cost between US$10 million and US$15 million, the facility will be located in the country's commercial hub Yangon. 

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