The government's efforts to improve transparency and efficiency by applying IT-enabled services is providing a good opportunity for developers to tap deeper into the country's lucrative, but largely undeveloped, e-government market.
Tata Consultancy Services, a top Information Technology services, business solutions and outsourcing firm, is certainly one of the companies hopeful of securing several e-government projects this year and next, said Girija Pande, the executive vice president and head of Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific, in a recent interview.
"We've been talking with several ministries, provinces and regencies. They're all serious about implementing such projects," said Pande, speaking in Jakarta at the weekend.
The company is part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest and oldest conglomerates with interests in areas such as energy, telecommunication, financial services, manufacturing, chemicals, engineering, government, and healthcare.
Based on the presidential instruction No. 3/2003, the Indonesian government is developing its e-government system, which will cover services such as e-procurement, e-announcements, recruitment, payments, and intra-governmental access to share information systems until the year 2015.
Last year for instance, the State Ministry for State Enterprise launched an e-procurement system, which standardizes procurement procedures in 25 state-owned enterprises, including state oil and gas company Pertamina, and state electricity firm PT PLN.
A number of other ministries have also put parts of their services through the IT-enabled systems although not as successfully as expected, while more and more of the regencies and provinces across the country have been embarking on similar programs.
"We hope that with our extensive experiences in the global market we can contribute to added value for this country. Our business here has been growing by an average of 15 percent each year during the last two years.," he said.
"I can't give you the exact figure of the value of our projects here. But we're growing slowly and learning about the local market. I believe Indonesia is a huge potential market. That's why other global players like IBM and HP have entered the local market.
"Once it takes off then it will need more applications and IT human resources. That will certainly happen," he said, adding, "The more you automate the public services, the more transparent and efficient the government becomes."
The company, which started its business operation in Indonesia two years ago, has so far secured 15 IT projects with eight institutional customers, mostly operating in the sector of banking and financial services, telecommunication and media.
They include Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Bank Danamon, PT Indosat, PT Telkom, and the research company ACNielsen.
Asked how he compares Indonesia with other countries in Southeast Asia, he said, "We work in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. And Indonesia, I think, has to do much more in training its *human* resources. It has to create much bigger training infrastructure."
The United Nations has recently ranked Indonesia as the 7th among the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian nations in terms of applying e-government, while its internet users only amounted to 41 million or about 18 percent of its total population. Users included subscribers, users of internet centers and mobile phone users, with the latter expanding fast.