Software Engineering in an Emerging Economy

The past few months I have spent in Indonesia, finding out what the level of software engineering is. I enjoyed it a lot as I got to work with quite a few talented developers. The most striking thing I found out: despite of all cultural differences, software engineers deal with the same problems or mechanisms everywhere and that makes it really easy to bond.

I chose to go to Indonesia since it is one of my favourite countries. Sure, everybody talks about the IT sector in India but that country just doesn’t appeal to me as much as Indonesia does. So, I went there, worked together with nice people for some time and here’s what I learned:

  • Though not of the scale of China and India, Indonesia is among the biggest emerging markets, it’s population at 240 million people. That puts it before Brazil, another big emerging market.
  • There is plenty of talented engineers in Indonesia. The ones I worked with were eager to learn, hard-working and had plenty of ambition. All that required is some nurturing of that talent.
  • The average Indonesian is getting increasingly tech-savvy. I believe it is Facebooks number 4 supplier of users.
  • Business in Indonesia is doing well, and many companies there could benefit hugely from software tools as they are hardly using any today.
  • Internet Infrastructure is still a problem. In most cities it is not hard to get a DSL type permanent connection to the web, but that connection is too slow all to often. For an engineer, who’s constantly browsing the web looking for documentation and tools this is quite frustrating. And in the end, of course, it is costly. Things are improving quickly though, so I expect it to be a matter of time until speeds are acceptable.
  • For any person or business, corruption is still a real problem in Indonesia. But with the advent of a free press and increased public awareness, things are looking positive for the future.
  • The laws on ownership are not making things easy for foreigners. It remains impossible for a foreigner to own anything (a business or a property), except through some tricky legal constructions which may or may not hold up when put to the test…

So time it right, and you may do really well in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.

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