Businesses should look to optimise repetitive and labour-intensive tasks through the use of technology, according to Sopheakmonkol Sok, CEO of Codingate, a local web and mobile development services company. Codingate, which Sok co-founded in 2013, provides services ranging from web and mobile application development to social media marketing.
To improve efficiency and productivity of the workforce, Codingate has developed automation schemes such as data management systems, and human resource management systems which help companies to manage their staff attendance, payroll, and automate the leave application process.
According to Sok, for a business to have sustainable growth, it needs to have proper procedures and data management. “Technology is the best thing that they can use,” he said.
“We need to use our human talent to build a closer society with better communication and mutual understanding. As for repetitive work, I see that technology should replace that.”
Echoing a similar view, CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan from local Internet service provider Ezecom, mentioned that the government sector can benefit from digital solutions as well.
“Technological solutions can help reduce the burden of the traditional approach in responding to citizens, and reduce the cost and time for better public policies to be implemented as well,” he said.
Sok also sees electronic commerce (e-commerce) as a way for businesses to grow. Sok believes the two key trends that have allowed the growth of technology in Cambodia to accelerate are the number of smartphone users and the low cost of mobile Internet services in the Kingdom.
According to a research study conducted by the Asia Foundation on mobile phones and Internet use in Cambodia in 2016, 48 percent of Cambodians own at least one smartphone, representing a 21 percent increase from 2015. It was also found that in 2016, 37 percent of Cambodians had used the Internet.
Sok said it was important for businesses operating in Cambodia to start revolutionising their way of thinking in light of the Internet and recent technological advancements.
“Businesses should start thinking about other ways that they are able to communicate with their customers through mobile phones and start utilising digital marketing,” Sok said.
Thomas Hundt, CEO of Cambodian mobile operator Smart Axiata, said that the company had a mission to digitise Cambodia.
“Our core mission is to build connectivity. As part of digitising Cambodia, we are increasing our efforts now because we see the momentum is there and the time is right, so obviously we have built our own digital solutions,” he said.
Hundt also spoke of Smart Weather, Smart’s latest initiative in partnership with international weather network Earth Networks.
“We have put [Earth Network’s] weather stations onto our Smart towers, and it will be by far the most reliable and state-of-the-art weather forecasting solution at the moment in Cambodia. We will be able to offer weather forecasts, and real-time alerts such as if there are severe winds or thunderstorms coming,” he said.
In line with digitising Cambodia, Hundt said that digital startups and tech entrepreneurs are required in order to build up digital businesses and a digital ecosystem.
Encouraging tech entrepreneurship
For the second time this year, the Cambodian Young Entrepreneur Awards (CYEA) is offering the Smart Technology Entrepreneur Award for entrepreneurs who use creative and innovative digital solutions in their businesses.
Jointly organised by Junior Chamber International Cambodia (JCI Cambodia) and Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC), the CYEA aims to recognise outstanding Cambodian young entrepreneurs, and encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship.
On their sponsorship of the award, Blanche-Horgan said: “Ezecom has always been supportive of young entrepreneurs and startup businesses because we believe that these potential individuals will play a significant role in broadening Cambodia’s business community and promote the market’s competitiveness in the region and the globe.”
Smart, which is sponsoring the CYEA for the second year in a row, is an avid supporter of technological entrepreneurship. Smart is in partnership with local startup hubs Emerald Hub and TekHub, and is also a sponsor for technology-centred event BarCamp Cambodia 2017-2018.
On the importance of entrepreneurship in the tech scene, Hundt said: “There’s no one killer application or killer initiative which will shoot Cambodia to a digital Cambodia. There will be many pieces of the puzzle required: ICT, literacy, budding entrepreneurs, connectivity et cetera.”
Sok, who won the Smart Technology Entrepreneur Award in the CYEA 2016, said Codingate also focused on entrepreneurship and training.
“We work with the Cambodian youths, hoping to inspire and train young talent to create technology that creates positive impact for society and businesses,” he said.
An example of technology Codingate has developed with young entrepreneurs is Sokhakrom, an e-health application which allows users to find trustworthy medical professionals through a rating system, as well as locate a medical service provider or pharmacy in close proximity to them.
Sok encouraged people to take the opportunity to apply for the Smart Technology award, noting that it was not only IT companies that can win.
“It’s [the award] about utilising technology to scale the business, and support other businesses and operations. In other words, it is using technology to drive the business,” said Sok.
The CYEA applications are currently open, and will close on May 31, 2017.