During the drafting of the latest issue of the B2B handbook, which came out last week, the B2B team sat down with some of the Kingdom’s leading IT professionals. A theme raised repeatedly by our interviewees was the pervasiveness of software piracy in Cambodia and the lack of ethical behaviour in the industry. These topics continue to encumber the development of the industry and keep on troubling IT experts across the Kingdom.
As expressed by many an IT expert, software piracy in the Kingdom is almost a way of life. The majority of organisations in Cambodia use stolen software; Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office and Quickbooks readily come to mind. Very few local companies sell legal software and even fewer buy it.
Another ethical issue afflicting the industry is IT vendors falsely claiming to be registered partners with international IT manufacturing companies. It’s easy enough to slap a partner logo on your website and claim affiliation, but the reality is that most companies in the Kingdom do not actually enjoy the claimed endorsement.
According to Craig Arnoldt, IT Consultant at XL Consulting, it is easy for anyone to discover which IT companies are operating ethically in Cambodia. Dell, Cisco and Microsoft, for example, keep public lists of their registered partners.
“I encourage others to do some due diligence and look into the claims made by these local suppliers. I endeavour to only buy parts from local companies who I believe are behaving ethically,” he says.
Different professionals have different perceptions on these ethical issues. Christophe Dalla Riva, Director and Founder of Innovation-K, says that “for Europeans [software piracy and claiming false partnerships] is an important and sensitive issue, but here it is not perceived as a problem. It’s just a different mentality.”
Far from believing these dubious behaviours are acceptable in Cambodia, Inge Olde Rikkert, of Ezecom, sees a push in the industry towards quality and integrity. According to the Dutch professional, in the last five years demand for quality and bigger scale has taken over.
“Companies don’t have time to run their accounting in a hacked piece of software that crashes halfway through the month. People are expecting things to always work. The cost of not being quick to do business is just getting higher and higher everyday. We see a slow switch: people are moving away from pirated software. They are also avoiding companies that falsely claim to be partnering up with the big players (Apple, Microsoft, etc..). The industry is still beset by a lack of professionalism and ethics, but I do think they are issues of a temporary nature.”
If time alone is not enough to cure the industry of its ethical ailments, Ashish Fitkariwala, Country Manager for Thakral Group, has another solution in mind. For him education is the key. “Cambodia is one of the fastest emerging markets in the region, and needs proper education [when it comes to ethical issues in the IT industry],” he says.
Thakral—an international IT conglomerate— does its part by engaging with business partners and customers from across the region to educate them on the threats of pirated software and other ethical issues that besiege the IT industry. Fitkariwala asserts that his efforts have paid off: He has witnessed a positive change in the last few years, with more customers going for genuine software and looking for automation of processes. “However, there is a long way to go,” he concludes.