One of the things we are focusing on here is being a local company. The introduction of the Customs Union with Russia and Belarus made us local in the sense that we work with our partners here. We have localized our product for Kazakhstan, in the Kazakh language.
Locally there is no difference between Kazakhstani, European, or US consumers. The demand for novelties, services, and new products is very much the same. From the perspective of new trends, Kazakhstani consumers are very savvy.
Kazakhstan is the size of Western Europe. What I see in our industry, for communications, is that the mobile phone has brought amazing opportunities. You don’t have to be tied to a particular location. It’s a tool for you no matter what your culture or heritage.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The most interesting thing that I have noticed is that Kazakhstan is a country where Microsoft can make a fundamental difference. It is paying off personally, and for our employees because they are contributing to the development of their country.
WHAT ABOUT SMES?
The IT market can easily triple in size, though it will require large companies to develop their infrastructure from basic to standard models. There is also no coverage for SMEs, meaning they lack the appropriate IT standards needed to compete on the world stage; these companies alone represent a potential $600 million to $1 billion market opportunity.
FUELLING IT ALL
We conduct our business through local partners. For each dollar Microsoft earns, its local partners earn eight. The overall global IT industry is fueled 40% by Microsoft. By building a local partner ecosystem here we are creating jobs and qualification opportunities.
GROWING ALL THE TIME
Cisco began its operations in Kazakhstan in 2002. Almost nine years have passed since that time, and there have been a lot of changes and developments. We now have offices in Almaty and Astana, and have built up an ecosystem of more than 170 local partners.
One major project we worked on was for Kazakhtelecom. We helped build its core network and increase its capacity 10 fold. Another large project that we worked on was Cisco TelePresence technology, which offers video-conferencing in high definition and with the ease of use of a phone call.
ICT is a key factor in increasing competitiveness in the overall economy. In the EU, for example, ICT represents 5% of total GDP, but it is estimated that it contributes to 50% of productivity growth. In that respect, the government is definitely looking to increase productivity and competitiveness through ICT in Kazakhstan.
© The Business Year