As Indonesia targets US$130 billion in E-commerce transactions by 2020 but is experiencing a shortage of information technology professionals to fuel this growth, the country’s Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara has urged qualified Indonesian expatriates living abroad to return home.
Speaking at a panel discussion on E-Commerce organized by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC), Mr Rudiantara said he met with young Indonesian IT professionals during a recent trip to Silicon Valley in the United States were he encouraged them to return home and help develop the E-commerce industry. “If you possess an entrepreneurial spirit, this will be the right time for you to return to Indonesia as the more problems we have, the more opportunities we have as well,” he said.
The recruitment of IT professionals to help drive the continued growth of the technology and E-commerce sectors was one of the main themes of the discussion, which also featured presentations by Jeremy Fichet, the CEO of Orami (formerly MoxyBilna), and Markus Bihler, CEO of online grocery store HappyFresh.
The discussion heard that in 2014, E-commerce transactions were estimated at $12 billion, which was forecast to rise to $25 billion in 2016. The government, with plans to open the sector even wider to foreign investors, was targeting $130 billion by 2020.
Mr Rudiantara acknowledged that some companies were outsourcing some information technology functions abroad, or recruiting from overseas, which was the preferable option for Indonesia. He said it was important for online businesses in Indonesia that the country began to groom and nurture future generations of IT professionals. He said he was implementing steps with Anies Baswedan, the minister of education and culture, to address this, particularly in vocational schools.
Monroe Indonesia Technology Division recruitment consultant Adeline Wu asked the speakers specifically about how best they could attract talent to return to Indonesia. Monroe specialises in the recruitment of technology professionals for leading E-commerce companies operating in Indonesia.
Mr Fichet responded by saying that it was exciting to see increasing numbers of qualified professionals in Indonesia, which was important because “when you build a business it has to be local and it has to be driven by local people.”
He reiterated that the demand for talent was not just an Indonesian or Southeast Asian phenomenon, but a global one. Having said that, he acknowledged that E-commerce in Indonesia was still playing catch up, which had resulted in less experienced talent available in the recruitment marketplace. “Foreign talent is not necessarily better, but they do have more experience, so Indonesia will benefit and foreign teams can learn from locals about how to run the operation,” he said.
Tina Nugraheni, who heads Monroe’s Technology Division, said the discussion primarily focused on the government’s efforts to support online business growth. She said that despite a “breakthrough year” in 2015, a number of business remained concerned about the country’s regulatory environment, with some companies choosing to establish operations in neighbouring countries such as Singapore to target Indonesian consumers.
Tina said President Joko Widodo’s cabinet had been a breath of fresh air in this regard, implementing more policies that were increasingly favourable to attracting investment. A large positive had been moves to allow foreign companies with investment of more than Rp 100 billion or US$7.3 million to own 100 percent of local operations, which made it easier for Indonesian start-ups to get funding from international venture capitalists (VCs), she said. Start-ups and small- to medium-sized ventures could only be developed by local players.
“It is indeed great news for the industry itself, but on the other hand, the Indonesian market needs to be ready to deal with the increasing volumes of business transactions in the E-commerce sector, which means increased demand for talent,” she said. “This has been an issue for many companies, especially when it comes to technical functions. Therefore many prefer to source candidates from overseas, whether this is an Indonesian working abroad or an expatriate.”
Besides the technology sector, Monroe Consulting Group Indonesia, an international award-winning recruitment company focused on emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, also specialises in recruitment in the consumer goods, industry, health and professional services sectors.