Organic Growth

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Aug 01, 2009 (LBO) – Software giant Microsoft’s Sri Lanka unit, in the news because of widespread piracy here and its high product prices, is focused on spreading computer literacy to grow its business at double digit rates, officials said. The proprietary software maker, whose operating systems run 90 percent of computers worldwide, only has a small foothold on the Sri Lankan market where piracy is rampant.

Setting up a local office five years ago, the firm launched a drive to popularize IT hoping to benefit from its widespread use later.

The island’s basic IT literacy at now touches 20 percent, following half a decade of investment in school computer labs and rural tech centers by the state.

“With literacy at those levels we are not going to build a vibrant IT ecosystem,” says Sriyan De Silva Wijeyeratne, who heads Microsoft’s Sri Lanka operations.

“If you have only 20 percent or lower basic literacy then it won’t matter if people are buying pirated software or not, you are not going to build a vibrant knowledge based ecosystem.”

Wijeyeratne says awareness and higher IT literacy will contribute more to growing Microsoft’s business than tackling piracy.

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