Tony Chen: Support RI in Narrowing Digital Gap

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Information technology is nothing new, but for a developing country like Indonesia it is a luxury. That’s why Minister of Information and Communications Sofyan Djalil gave a warm welcome to the idea of leading software company Microsoft establishing cooperation with the Indonesian government in strengthening software companies in Indonesia and increasing their number.

Currently, there are no fewer than 250 small software companies in Indonesia. Microsoft hopes that the government will boost their development by providing support in various sectors, including copyright protection of the software they create. “Our country is notorious for software piracy, which is one of the worst in the world after Vietnam and Ukraine,” said Tony Chen, president director of PT Microsoft Indonesia.

According to a study by International Data Corporation (IDC), software piracy in Indonesia constitutes 87 percent of all the software used. The piracy causes state losses of US$70 million to $80 million per year.

Meanwhile, according to a study by Business Solution Alliance (BSA), 97 percent of software in Indonesia is pirated, with losses totaling about $197 million.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is also of the same opinion that software piracy in Indonesia has become a complicated problem that is a great cause of alarm. Software products usually pirated are those of Microsoft, namely Windows 95 (for operating systems) and Microsoft Office 97, an application product.

Without any protection over intellectual property, Tony said, the creation of new software will not develop perfectly. Not only will the owner of the intellectual property sustain losses but so too will do the state. The state, for example, will lose potential revenue from taxes on IT products. It is calculated that if intellectual property rights regarding IT products is properly honored, the state could collect taxes five times higher than what it does now.

Tony is concerned not only about copyright matters but also about the digital gap in Indonesia. That’s why as the top leader of a leading software company, it is in his best interests to make Indonesia information-technology literate.

Tony has been instrumental in facilitating dialog between Microsoft and high-ranking officials and decision-makers within the Indonesian government. He is passionately committed to assisting and supporting the government in developing its national IT strategy as well as bringing information technology to the whole of Indonesia.

Various efforts by Tony have resulted in important meetings between Microsoft and the Indonesian government. Thanks to these efforts, for example, a meeting could be arranged between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Bill Gates at the head office of Microsoft, the U.S. in May 2005.

Then, research cooperation has also been established between Microsoft Research Asia (Beijing) and ITB and ITS. Tony has also facilitated many other meetings and in January 2006, thanks also to his efforts, a License Compliance MOU was drawn up between the Indonesian Ministry of Information and Communications and Microsoft Indonesia.

Microsoft is a leading software company. Globally, its revenue stands at $44 billion while its operating income is recorded at $16.4 billion. As one of the world’s top IT companies, Microsoft has enjoyed quite an impressive growth in market share. While in 2000 its market share was recorded at only 18 percent, five years later it rose to 23 percent.

Although relatively new as a global brand, Microsoft is ranked second after Coca Cola, a long-established soft drink brand. Microsoft, which is listed on international stock exchanges, has offices in 100 countries and employs about 70,000 people worldwide.

Microsoft Indonesia was established in March 1996 and is a subsidiary of Microsoft with a head office in Redmond, the U.S. At first it employed only five people but now its workforce reaches over 100 people. Part of the operation of Microsoft Asia Pacific Region, which covers ASEAN countries, India, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft Indonesia is one of the most developed Microsoft subsidiaries of the past four years.

Tony attributes the success of Microsoft Indonesia to Indonesia’s huge market potential as this country has a large population totaling some 245 million people. Meanwhile, there are only five million personal computers in Indonesia or, in other words, only 2 percent of Indonesians own a personal computer. “The development follows geometric progression. This is like the cellular telephone phenomenon. Unexpectedly, the number of cellular telephones has grown really fast,” he said.

That’s why Tony is optimistic about making Microsoft Indonesia the most admired company that will give added value to its clients, business partners and workforce and help the government overcome the digital gap. “Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout Indonesia to realize their full potential,” he noted.

According to a poll by a management consulting institution in cooperation with SWA magazine, Microsoft Indonesia is considered a company where employees are encouraged to build their careers. “We don’t just give our employees attractive salaries and incentives but also make the office their second home,” Tony said.

As the work atmosphere is comfortable, Tony has no qualms about developing the business of the company. Microsoft Indonesia always updates its business, honors its corporate social responsibility and establishes partnerships with the government.

Indeed, some 40 percent of the company’s business activities are designed to serve the interests of the government and state-owned enterprises, but at the same time Microsoft Indonesia does not forget the private sector and has become a partner in learning for a number of small and medium enterprises. Partnering with small and medium enterprises, Microsoft Indonesia has fostered three distributors, five large retailers, four certified Microsoft partners for support services and over 500 other retailers.

Meanwhile, in terms of establishing its network, Microsoft does not concentrate only on Jakarta but has expanded to rural areas, including remote places. Besides including schools in its education program, Microsoft has also entered the agricultural sector, on which some 42 million Indonesians rely for a livelihood. “There are now quite a lot of IT-literate farmers and they sell their products through the Internet,” Tony, a father of three, said proudly. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, December 13, 2006

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