In today's global economy where managing market information is the key to staying ahead of the competition, Indonesia must firstly identify those sectors in which it has advantages, and then focus on developing them, an expert says.
Indonesia must also take cognizance of how the global market is diverging into a number of regional markets, and set up "industrial clusters" to supply appropriate products to each market, says Alain Juillet, an global markets analyst.
Juillet is also a senior advisor to the French government on "competitive intelligence".
"The open global world is full of opportunities, as well as threats, in the process of producing goods and services. Every country, therefore, has to analyze its strengths and weaknesses," Juillet told a seminar Wednesday.
"Mastering information on one's capabilities and on the market is the strategic issue now. Not just acquiring it, but, more importantly, how to create value from the information."
The term "competitive intelligence" refers to the gathering and analysis of public information on products, customers and competitors to be used in planning and decision-making by a company or sovereign nation.
Juillet argued that Indonesia, like every other country, should get involved in "competitive intelligence" in the interests of the national economy, starting out by identifying those industries in which it is strong, and promoting their development.
It would then need to create "poles of competitiveness", or industrial clusters, like Silicon Valley in the U.S., where businesses share information and cooperate in creating a business network, with the academic community supporting research and development.
An Indonesian Institute for Competitive Intelligence (IICE) study has urged Indonesia to promote the export of added-value products -- rather than just unprocessed raw materials -- and to focus on the transfer of technology, rather than just employment.
The government, in collaboration with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), has identified 10 sectors that will be prioritized for development, consisting of the textile, footwear, electronics, automotive, shipbuilding, construction and utilities, machinery, petrochemicals, fisheries, plantation and handicrafts industries.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also announced an ambitious plan to make Indonesia one of the top five world economic powers by 2025. Wednesday's seminar, sponsored by the IICE, was held to discuss the President's plan.
Juillet said that the state was perfectly entitled to lend a helping hand to its national companies, but only to the extent that they would then be able to compete for themselves.
"The government can, for example, lobby another country or company that is not playing according to the fair rules of the game," he said.
"However, the world has not turned out to be a single uniform market, but groupings of countries sharing similar economies, culture and environments have been emerging, like Europe, Latin America, China and South East Asia. Information about each of these markets is again crucial if we are to produce suitable products."