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IT Business in Vietnam
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A Vietnamese friend sent me an email and this email makes me thinking... An excerpt:
...we aimed to get jobs on freelancer, there is some small projects but enough cash in return since it's less job at backend development than mobile application and web development....Then we started to change by learning mobile development ... but it seems like not a good strategy. It also has many competitors in Indian, China, also Pakistan, ... The outcome is not good same as the beginning....
...we even make some products... they don't even pay a single buck for this. But most people dropped too hard feedback, some don't even want to use a single Vietnam product, they said that they can pay much more money for product was developed by US/EU, but no for Vietnam. I don't know why they have to say that..
I received this sad email from a friend who lives in Saigon. He is one of the best DataMiners I've ever known. People talk about BigData and DataMining and an excellent expert in BigData and DataMining is out of work. Well, life is never a free lunch. Full of struggle. The winner is often NOT the intelligent, the good, but the streetwise, the wily minx.
My friend asked me for advice. It's sad. It's a shame to read this devastating sentence
"some don't even want to use a single Vietnam product, they said that they can pay much more money for product was developed by US/EU, but no for Vietnam."
His experience with the weird consuming behavior of Vietnamese is not new to me. Normally, local people usually prefer local products (i.e. made by their homeland.) For example: in France the majority drives French cars (Renault or Peugeot). In Germany you see AUDI, BMW and Mercedes-Benz congest the roads. In Italy one buys a Fiat. But Vietnamese do better. They "can pay much more money for product was developed by US/EU, but no for Vietnam."
His experience confirms my own experience with Vietnamese -regardless of where they live: abroad or at home. They prefer foreign products over Vietnamese products. Why? I try to analyze the "buying and consuming behavior" of Vietnamese and believe that the root of this weird behavior ingrains in 3 Bads: Bad education, Bad experience and bad Behavior.
Bad education. The modern education in Vietnam still bases on an ancient education system setup by the old French colonizers. Even the modern writing system still bases on a much older writing system invented by a French missionary Alexandre de Rohdes around 1620 -also 398 years ago ! Neither the obsolete education nor the antique writing system is adequate to the modern times in Vietnam. The result is destructive: "educated as if non-educated". No one masters correctly the writing language (e.g. tôi or tui). Vietnamese great scientists gain fame...not in Vietnam but abroad (Ngo Bao Chau).
Bad experience is the worst thing that happens to consumers. If a client bought a product and detected some botch-up he will never buy this brand again. And if he gets permanently bad experience with local products he'll never touch them again and becomes the "unfaithful". In Orange County I wanted to buy a bottle "Nuoc Man Phu Quoc" for my girlfriend's mom but as I saw the badly printed label (blurred and mismatched colors) I asked myself why the producer still put that label on the bottle ? It makes the product looking shoddy. If the outside looks shoddy then how is about the inside ? The producer probably saved 1 cent for the label but he drove a potential buyer away. Or his employee didn't care about the product he worked with. As I visited my dad in France and bought for him a plane At home I found some eyelets
were badly "clipped". I brought it back and got a swap. But the swap showed up 1 botch-up eyelet. Finally I got a change "made in China" and the plane was perfect. It was 3 € more expensive than the plane made in Vietnam.
Bad behavior is the worst for everything. If a developer or an employee doesn't care about the task or the product he works with the outcome is predictable: faulty with some botch-up. At the end the product never gets a qualitative finish. A software is either sluggish or buggy. A product like the Nuoc-Mam-Phu-Quoc bottle repels every potential buyer.
The result of 3 Bads is the indifferent behavior towards everything that just looks or simply sounds "Vietnameseness". In this forum I've seen a lot of strange askings and clumsy solutions. It's not that the questioners nor the advisors are stupid. They do their best. They are the victims of the 3 Bads: Bad Education leads to Bad Behavior and ends up in Bad Experience.
The grassroot development is fully absent in Vietnam. In the school the pupils are graded with "good" notes for their learning by heart and rendering like a parrot. Those
who are creative and independent are usually suppressed by their teachers or by their parents. And NO grassroot campaign to educate the people to be more cautious, more careful and more responsible for that what they do and shouldn't do. An absence of responsibility for their deed or their work is widespread in Vietnam and causes such a weird consuming behavior: against foreigners but pro foreign products.
I was in 2010 and 2012 in Vietnam to explore the possibility to set up an affiliate in Vietnam. I was more disappointed than encouraging. The workforce is at the first glance very educated. Even a poor pedicab driver can read a thick newspaper. On second sight it's is discouraging. I've interviewed some applicants and some potential partners. They all are very versed in working with existing development tools like Node.js, React Native, Json, Angular, etc. As I asked them about their own (proprietary) technology they stared as me as if I was mad.
Yes. IT Business in Vietnam is Outsourcing Business. Outsourcing business thrives on working with all available development tools (to keep the cost down) and on client's specifications (implemented as required). However, the outsourcing world is overcrowded and cut-throat competitive (as my friend bitterly experienced). India with its 1.3 billion English-speaking population (English is the second official language) has an enormous advantage over Vietnam. The Philippines or Pakistan is also of advantage in English.
IT business with own technology is dire in Vietnam. The most visible example is BKAV. BKAV gets entangled in dilemma between the lack of creative developers and the mentioned weird consuming behavior of Vietnamese. I cannot advise my friend. It's because of the 3 Bads. It's because of the weird consuming behavior. And that is the main reason why I currently stay out of Vietnam and wait for a future improvement.