With a dynamic startup scene and a high standard of low-cost living, it might not surprise some to hear Ho Chi Minh City being touted as ‘the next potential Silicon Valley’.
“The IT market in Vietnam is still growing strongly,” says RMIT Vietnam Senior Lecturer Dr Edouard Amouroux, “probably at about ten per cent per year.”
Photo: Dr Edouard Amouroux is Senior Lecturer and Information Technology Program Manager in RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Technology.
Statistics portal statista.com supports his claim, predicting a rise in the number of internet users across the country from the present 44 million (around 50% of the population) to around 55 million by 2018.
Add to that a relative low cost, high standard of living, and it’s unlikely that the country will be saying goodbye to the wave of ‘digital nomads’ who have been calling Vietnam home for at least the last five years.
The coming transition
Where Dr Amouroux sees change, however, is in the transition of Vietnam from a predominantly outsource market to a more product focused and innovative hub.
It’s a sentiment that was shared by no less than Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai when he visited Vietnam last December. Acknowledging the transition, and urging patience, he said Vietnam would soon become one of Google's most important markets.
Photo: Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said Vietnam will be one of Google’s most important markets (Photo source: BBC News)
The Google boss’ words about being patient are likely sage, considering Vietnamese startups' traditional lack of focus on the customer.
Dr Amouroux says it’s time for IT professionals to lose the “just get the job done” mentality, and focus on creating solutions that allow for future enhancement and deliver unique experiences.
“Traditionally there has been good technical ability here,” he says, referring to a large number of developers who can produce a high volume of code quickly, for example.
“But,” he continues, “the end-product and user focus has not been there.”
Based on the talent he sees coming through RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Technology, their full-stack development training program (*), and the willingness of young people to follow their passion and to work hard, Dr Amouroux believes Vietnam is well positioned, even if it has its own set of challenges.
One of those challenges is simply about ownership he says. Keeping developers engaged with the solution they are creating is vital.
“If you can engage your talent, in a market where they can now demand salaries 25-30% higher than even three years ago, you’re more likely to retain your best people,” he says.
In addition, more and more international firms are bringing their product operations to this country, meaning those armed with a full technical skill-set and good command of English will experience great times ahead.
To read what the BBC thinks about Vietnam becoming the next Silicon Valley go here.
Story: Jon Aspin