'We are working relentlessly to help bring a cultural transformation initiated by advanced technologies'
As of now, the state of digitalisation in Bangladesh is where it would have been, arguably, five years later were there no global coronavirus pandemic.
The rogue virus from Wuhan, China made Bangladeshis -- along with the rest of the world -- see the beauty of technology.
And it is this spirit of the age that eGeneration, the only Bangladeshi licencing solutions partner (LSP) of Microsoft and premier partner of SAP (ERP solutions provider), is aiming to leverage.
Earlier on October 21, the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) approved the company's proposal to raise Tk 15 crore from the market, making it the first software technology company in the country to go public.
The 17-year-old company is set to offload 1.5 crore shares at Tk 10 each, and the window to get a slice of the stock sale shuts on January 18.
About 65.6 per cent of the proceeds from the initial public offering would be going towards business expansion.
And the crown jewel of eGeneration’s business expansion plans is a digital healthcare platform.
The healthcare sector is significantly behind other sectors in terms of using data and emerging technologies, Shameem Ahsan, managing director of eGeneration, told Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
“If the hospitals transformed themselves digitally in the pre-pandemic period, we probably would not have lost so many experienced doctors, healthcare staff and patients during this pandemic.”
Moreover, the hospitals could have offered better and safer healthcare services to more people even with their limited resources, said Ahsan, also a former president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).
The digital healthcare platform in the works would digitalise the medical records, linked to the national identity card database and accessible between hospitals.
The platform is already being piloted with members of the Border Guard of Bangladesh.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 10 patients experience medical errors while receiving hospital care, and one of the main reasons behind this is paper-based manual medical record-keeping, Ahsan said.
Due to the lack of instant access to information, a doctor may have to make a critical decision without assessing the prior medical conditions of a patient, which can very well lead to some adverse event.
“That is why we are putting a lot of emphasis on the adoption of electronic medical records.”
It will also enable health system interoperability so that a patient’s health records from one hospital are made readily available to other hospitals and physicians.
“We are working relentlessly to help bring a cultural transformation initiated by advanced technologies that will lead to an equal-level partnership between patients and their caregivers,” said Ahsan, also the chairman of the Venture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh.
Other than the ground-breaking platform, eGeneration is also planning to ramp up its export of IT products and services, particularly to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and several other African countries.
At present, it is already working on the internet of things (IoT) in Japan and on a cloud-based application in the Middle East.
eGeneration, which started as a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, now offers data science, system integration, cybersecurity, natural language processing and capacity development services to its clients.
The company is also doing extensive research on advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Some of its upcoming products are blockchain, cloud computing, data centre, agriculture prediction system, money laundering detector, agriculture automation system, etc, according to a report of Brac-EPL.
At present, eGeneration offers low-cost IT services to banks and financial institutions, garment and textile factories, consumer goods industries, e-commerce, business-to-business platform and different departments of the government.
Some of its notable clients include the ICT division, Sonali Bank, Robi, bKash, S Alam Group, Brac University, the report said.
About 52 per cent of eGeneration’s revenue of Tk 39.6 crore in its 2019-20 financial year came from three clients: Bangladesh Computer Council (21.3 per cent), Robi (19.4 per cent) and Sonali Bank (11.7 per cent), according to Brac-EPL’s research.
“Although the industry can be run remotely, the regular activities of the industry were hampered due to cancellation or postponement of products from the client-side resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Demand for IT products from overseas clients also plunged at the same time, the report said.
According to industry experts, annual revenue declined by 20-25 per cent in the 2019-20 financial year.
“Despite facing all these obstacles, eGeneration registered 8.9 per cent top-line growth,” the Brac-EPL report added.
The top line refers to a company’s revenues or gross sales.
Ahsan is expecting eGeneration’s revenue to hit Tk 57 crore by next year.
“We will use the proceeds to repay a major portion of our long-term debt to reduce our cost of capital and purchase commercial office space that will minimise our operating expenses and ease bank financing in the future,” he added.