Bangladesh should immediately move for digitalization of economy


Following Bangladesh expressing willingness of getting loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) there already is orchestrated and unhealthy propaganda against the country in the regional and global news media, including The New York Times, possibly with the notorious agenda of portraying Bangladesh as a country heading towards embracing the fate of Sri Lanka or Pakistan. Meantime, Bangladeshi policymakers are being wrongly quoted by the anti-government local media, with the agenda of misleading locals and foreigners. But, according to economic experts, Bangladesh’s situation is not at all similar to those of Sri Lanka. As to Sri Lanka, the country does not have any foreign currency reserve, while Pakistan currently is under chaotic domestic politics. In contrary, Bangladesh’s domestic situation in fully stable, which is one of the key factors for any foreign investors in choosing this country for their next investment.

It should be mentioned here that the total size of expatriate Bangladeshis is above 21 million although according to April 2009 information, the number is shown at 13 million, meaning, during the last 13 years, this number has significantly increased, if not doubled. In my opinion, if the government offers special incentive to expatriates, they can send more than one billion dollars just in a month. The government can take a plan for building exclusive residential zone for the expatriates comprising plots and apartments in Dhaka and other major cities in the country. At the same time, financial institutions should be given strict instructions of refraining from harassing those expatriates or Bangladeshi foreign currency earners, whenever they send cash through banking channels. Bangladesh should also make services such as PayPal available in the country, while companies such as Western Union should be available throughout the rural areas.

In the opinion of the experts, Bangladesh needs to put urgent focus on digitalization of economy. Once such announcements about digital economy comes from the government, it will have a magical impact and turn the crisis into opportunities. This will attract foreign digital investors in investing billions of dollars in Bangladesh.

We need to keep in mind, the entire world is moving very fast towards digital economy. Even the United Kingdom has recently moved into this direction, although they have been late.

What is digital economy?

The digital economy is the worldwide network of economic activities, commercial transactions and professional interactions that are enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT).

It can be succinctly summed up as the economy based on digital technologies.

Don Tapscott first coined the term digital economy in his 1995 best-selling book The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence.

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and author of the 1995 book Being Digital, has described the digital economy as using “bits instead of atoms.”

In its earliest days, the digital economy was sometimes called the Internet economy, the new economy or the web economy due to its reliance on internet connectivity.

However, economists and business leaders assert that the digital economy is more advanced and complex than the internet economy, which, under one definition, simply means economic value derived from the internet.

The digital economy reflects the move from the third industrial revolution to the fourth industrial revolution. The third industrial revolution, sometimes called the digital revolution, refers to the changes that happened in the late 20th century with the transition from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technologies. The fourth industrial revolution builds on the digital revolution as technologies today continue to bridge the physical and cyberworlds.

Although some organizations and individuals use technologies to simply execute existing tasks on the computer, the digital economy is more advanced than that. It is not simply using a computer to perform tasks traditionally done manually or on analog devices.

Instead, the digital economy highlights the opportunity and the need for organizations and individuals to use technologies to execute those tasks better, faster and often differently than before.

Moreover, the term reflects the ability to leverage technologies to execute tasks and engage in activities that weren’t possible in the past. Such opportunities for existing entities to do better, to do more, to do things differently and to do new things is encompassed in the related concept of digital transformation.

The digital economy extends well beyond digitization and automation.

Instead, this new paradigm harnesses multiple advanced technologies and new technology platforms. Those technologies and platforms include but aren’t limited to: hyper-connectivity, the internet of things (IoT), big data, advanced analytics, wireless networks, mobile devices and social media.

The digital economy uses these technologies, both individually and in concert, to rework traditional exchanges and enable new ones.

Numerous entrepreneurs seized on the technologies that fuel the digital economy to create new companies and new business models that could not have existed, or existed at the size and scale they do today, in past generations.

There are numerous examples of traditional companies transforming to succeed in the digital economy as well.

Take retailers, for example. Most retailers initially developed websites to enable online sales. As the world moves more fully into the digital economy, forward-thinking retailers now leverage technologies to reach and serve customers through a variety of channels. These retailers use online sales and mobile apps to identify buyers, whether they’re shopping via the internet or in person. They can collect and analyze each customer’s browsing and sales data to better understand their interests. And they can use that data to reach out to customers via social media, allowing for better service and ultimately higher sales and increased brand loyalty.

The idea of utilizing technology to unify the customer experience across different real-world and cyberspaces is often called an omnichannel or multichannel approach.

Another example of digital transformation is John Deere, the 179-year-old company built on making farm equipment that now also includes data-driven platforms to help farmers optimize production.

Vehicle manufacturers that offer telematics solutions to pinpoint and communicate maintenance requirements, such as Daimler Trucks North America and its Detroit Connect Virtual Technician, which provides remote diagnostic service for select trucks, also illustrate the digital transformation needed to compete in the digital economy.

Professor Walter Brenner of the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland states: “The aggressive use of data is transforming business models, facilitating new products and services, creating new processes, generating greater utility, and ushering in a new culture of management”.

Recently, TechCrunch, a digital economy news site, noted, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate… Something interesting is happening”.

According to Zia Qureshi, Senior Fellow of the Global Economy and Development: “We are living in a time of exciting technological innovations. Digital technologies are driving transformative change. Economic paradigms are shifting. The new technologies are reshaping product and factor markets and profoundly altering business and work. The latest advances in artificial intelligence and related innovations are expanding the frontiers of the digital revolution. Digital transformation is accelerating in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The future is arriving faster than expected.


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