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Indonesia & The Cyber-World
Mon, 03/17/2008 09:49:24

The Internet has shrunk the world into the size of a fist. International borders, which were so often defended with the blood and tears of countrymen, become seemingly meaningless. Information exchange between countries in the form of letters, numbers, voice, pictures or audio-visual travels smoothly in seconds. Politically and economically the aspects will be greater than globalization treaties and agreements such as WTO, AFTA, or NAFTA.

We have to admit, though, that those trade agreements were successful in forcing nations to abandon trade and service barriers. Many business communities in developing countries were shocked because of it, as they are not ready to face the competition of a free market. It is even truer in Indonesia, where the business community was raised with numerous facilities and protections. The Internet is more devastating than that. It enables anyone to reach any country from any direction. There is no force in the world capable of stopping it because stopping the Internet means destroying all telecommunications' devices. Not only has the Internet made competition more open, due to the disappearance of borders such as the WTO, it has also made it possible to do business without paper (paperless business) and without meeting in persons. In short, the Internet has caused business all over the world to abandon the old economy era and to reach for the new economic era, which is full of amazement, surprise and uncertainties.

The Internet has become an e marketplace (open electronic market), where businessmen meet businessmen (B2B) and businessmen meet customers (B2C). This virtual application has directly made companies more efficient. Time, energy, cost and distribution can be reduced, because transactions are done without mediators or brokers. The face of retail business in Indonesia and in the world has been changed forever "with one touch" of the Internet. This is amazing since the traditional way has been used for thousands of years. Now the transition period has caused fever everywhere. The paperless, faceless, virtual transactions will most certainly create law, security and tax problems. Aside from that, it also opens up new business such as dotcom, Internet Service Provider (ISP), Application Service Provider (ASP), counseling, software and outsourcing services.

Entering the 21st century, the Internet materialized to be the primary medium to manage business and customer relations. Every year, or even everyday, these new economic members increase. The sum of money circulating in this new economic area also keeps growing. In Asia by 2004, e business transactions are predicted to reach US$300 billion. That is a tenfold increase from 1999, which was only US$31 billion. At the same time business to consumer (B2C) transactions will increase 23%. 80% of this amazing growth is expected to take place in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. The remaining 20% will take place in other Asian countries, including Indonesia.

This is understandable, since those countries have appropriate the telecommunication and information technology infrastructure to support virtual business. Besides, the populations are also ready, in terms of education and buying power. The government and the elite of those countries were successful in educating their people to advance together and in increasing their buying power. In contrast, other Asian-Pacific governments failed to do this, as well as failing to develop their infrastructure. This is a painful reality. Research done by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), based in London, and demonstrated this clearly. The majority of Asian countries, with the exception of Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, have a bad record of interconnection of jurisdiction and infrastructure. One indicator is the low rate of telephone, mobile phone, and Internet access penetration.

According to the research, phone, mobile phone, and Internet penetration in Asia is only 10 in 100. In Indonesia, it is worse. For example the telephone network in this country. According to Telkom archives, up until mid 2000, Indonesia only had 7,583,348 telephone connections to service a population of 210 million. Three million of these are in Jakarta. So far, only computers connected to the telephone network enable people to enter the virtual world. All these facilities remain unaffordable for the majority of Indonesians. Other countries that are in a worse situation than Indonesia are Cambodia and Bangladesh.

In Cambodia, there is only 1 telephone per 100 people. In Bangladesh, according to the UN Human Development report, a worker can buy a personal computer only after working for 8 years. Today, 80% of Internet users all over the world come from higher-class societies or those with large annual incomes. This fact is also true in Indonesia. Lack of telecommunication infrastructure and Information Technology in this country will certainly cause negative side effects in Internet development. Those side effects are slow Internet access, high cost, and poor resolution. However, with economic recovery, many experts believe that Indonesia has potential to participate in the new economic area. In addition there is the development of wireless technology, satellite, TV and radio frequency for Internet access. All these are predicted to provide shortcuts for Indonesia to make giant leaps in the new economic era. The fast development of cellular phones, surpassing that of PC's, is a sign of that.

Sumber: The Indonesia Cyber Market & Industry

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