THE GLUE THAT BINDS

Jordan 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

ITG is a strong example of a local firm that has spread its wings and made its mark internationally. That is not to say it has outgrown Jordan; it views the country as a key hub in its network.

Walid Tahabsem
BIOGRAPHY
Walid Tahabsem has a degree in computer science from Yarmouk University in Jordan. He founded ITG in 1989.

As an IT solutions company, how does ITG leverage its expertise across numerous sectors?

We are a company with our own products and a business development team that is proactive in securing deals to help and best serve organizations. Our latest product is a medical tourism platform that connects providers from the medical sector with patients who are interested in coming to Jordan for certain treatments. We are not doctors or medical experts; rather, we leverage our know-how as an IT company to create a link between stakeholders. It is a marketplace where we connect businesses to businesses, businesses to patients, and doctors to governments, as Jordan is known to be number one in the region for medical tourism. We help the government retain that position via the use of technology. In the education field, we are expanding into Asia now. We are an international company operating in multiple regions and countries through five branches, in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Africa. Through those branches, we reach out to clients and governments that need help in their attempts to reform their education system through technology. We facilitate the work of educators and the ministries of education to perform better and cope with 21st-century requirements. Asia is extremely important to us, which is why we are expanding there, as we should have been there earlier. There remains a challenge with bandwidth, so there is a balance between what we do, where we do it, and when we can do it; however, 2019 is the time to expand into Asia.

What are the next steps and the projected timeline for this expansion into Asia?

We are already in the Philippines and India and are in close discussions with multiple other governments, including China. We have started with those steps and hope those small steps will grow to become bigger steps into those countries and regions. With our presence in Africa, coupled with our nascent presence in Asia, we will be able to expand faster than usual organic growth into those markets.

What are Jordan's strengths as an IT hub?

We started from Jordan and are extremely proud to be Jordanian. Our biggest presence and headcount is still in Jordan. The local sector is extremely well structured; there are challenges, though they are minor compared to other locations. Investments today do not recognize geography and have opportunities to relocate if they are not comfortable in the environment they are in. Therefore, ITG's continued strong presence in Jordan is a testimony of what the country provides in terms of the environment and foreign direct investment laws. These environment and investment laws, combined with human capital and market access, create an excellent package. Jordan's package is extremely tempting in the services and IT sectors; no country worldwide can compete with what Jordan offers.

The government is focused on addressing a labor supply gap in the sector. What role does ITG play in building up the human capital in Jordan?

I do not agree with the ministry's assessment of a labor shortage or gap in skill sets in the IT sector. The issue is not in the human capital but rather in the vision. His Excellency wants to consider Jordan as a hub for business process outsourcing (BPO), which requires a larger scale of affordable human capital that Jordan does not have. Instead, Jordan has extremely talented human capital, which may not be as large as any other location focusing on BPO such as India, Egypt, or the Philippines, though it is a unique human capital with an entrepreneurial spirit. Such talent is precisely why Jordan leads in the entrepreneurship space throughout the region, why most of the IPs from the region come out of Jordan, and why Jordan human capital was able to help build all other ICT sectors in the region around us. Jordan is a small country and should focus on its niche offering.