Research symposium focuses on way forward for ICT industry

Wednesday, 9 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Institution of Information Technology (SLIIT) held its annual Research Symposium for the sixth consecutive year on 27 January at the institute’s Malabe Campus.

The theme of the symposium centered on ‘Innovative Research towards making Sri Lanka the Future Knowledge Hub,’ placing much needed focus on key aspects of state-of-the-art Information Technology and allied disciplines in Sri Lanka.

The Chief Guest for the symposium was Eng. B.S. Samarasiri – Director, Engineering Design Centre – University of Moratuwa. Reshan Dewapura – CEO, ICTA, and Professor Terrence Perera – Assistant Dean (Academic Resources), Head of Systems Modelling and Integration Research Group at Sheffield Hallam University (UK) provided keynote addresses for the different sessions.

Academics and industry experts convened at the symposium to engage in key issues and potential solutions in strategic research areas relevant to the core theme as well as relevant sub-themes. Principal sponsor for the event was IFS, with Sheffield Hallam University (UK) stepping in as the principal partner university.

Professor Lalith Gamage, President and CEO of SLIIT said: “It is timely in conducting the SLIIT Research Symposium because of the Government’s goals towards making Sri Lanka a leading knowledge hub. It is important to develop academic institutions to train and educate a highly literate workforce in Sri Lanka, and gear the workforce to attain recognition for the country as one that exports professional services instead of semi-skilled labour. SLIIT has currently produced more than 50% of the IT/BPO workforce for Sri Lanka, which marks a significant contribution to the country’s fifth largest export earner.”

He went on to add that it is imperative to focus on research and innovation to target the industry’s future growth: “The establishment of Research and Development programmes will ensure that this knowledge hub maintains quality services and remains competitive.”

Chairman of SLIIT Professor S.A.M. Karunaratne also reiterated the need for Research and Development programmes and institutions in the country. “SLIIT has continuously promoted research for a number of years, and the institute has been a keen member of the academic community which fosters research.

Today, with technological advances, there is immense scope within this field, and we believe that it is vital for every higher education institution to be engaged in research in addition to focusing on teaching and dissemination of knowledge.”

Chief Guest B.S. Samarasiri spoke of the importance of National Development through strategic University-Industry-Government (UIG) research linkages.

“The field of multi-disciplinarity is becoming very important. Currently many projects have been undertaken to establish common facilities among industry-academy clients in order to generate ideas and carry out research in relevant fields. Transferring of technology to society and industries is important and I believe this is a weak point in Sri Lanka.

Therefore we will have to lead the industry or firmly establish the industry in order to make progressive changes in this sphere.”

Professor Terence Perera emphasised the importance of Business Process Modelling and Simulation and supports Gartner’s view that “Business Process Management will be the next best thing”.

The goals of making Sri Lanka a leading knowledge hub lie in the fact that “we have to be mature in a number of sectors in the country with the capacity to produce exceptionally skilled services, expertise, produce vibrant and successful industries and be able to replicate successes,” noted Dewapura.

“ICT acts as the platform and enabler for other knowledge hubs, thereby making it a mandatory sector in the country. Sri Lanka was ranked ninth as an emerging outsourcing destination in 2010 and the local industry has been noted for producing innovative and creative ICT solutions. The role of academia in research and innovation is vital to achieve and maintain this status as a hub; academia should act as a driver of top quality research and innovation to cater to the needs of the government and industry, and act as a the supplier of the huge future demand of the ICT workforce and gain international recognition towards this sphere.”

Dewapura concluded by stating that “the fate of the industry lies with future generations to make Sri Lanka a dynamic ICT and knowledge stronghold and be on par with ICT savvy regions in the world.”

As the foremost and largest degree awarding institute in the field of IT in Sri Lanka, SLIIT takes pride in contributing towards the ICT workforce by producing highly skilled professionals who are geared to face the challenges of the IT industry locally and globally, and plays an active role in promoting research ventures in the field of information and communication technology in Sri Lanka.