In 1992, global software giant NCR Corporation decided to cease their direct operations in Bangladesh and handed over exclusive distributorship, as well as the support service here, to a small IT firm named Leads Corporation. Back then, Leads only had a 12 member team.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry landscape of Bangladesh is now very different from the 1990s, and so is Leads.
Today, Leads is at the forefront of the IT revolution taking place in the country and employs around 300 people. It is the leading provider of application software for the country’s financial sector and is all set to move to its own tower.
“It is quite different from the 1990s. Most of the companies are changing from traditional hardware to software and outsourcing. We have also made the shift years ago, because we saw the future in software,” said Shaikh Wahid, the CEO and Managing Director of LEADS Corporation Limited. One of their most popular offerings is a “Core Banking Solution” for banks, called BankUltimus, a vital software for smooth day-to-day banking operations.
“Our CBS (Core Banking Systems) runs on various banks and NBFI. Based on the number of daily transactions that go through our CBS, I cannot imagine providing multiple services to a bank’s customers and keeping them happy without CBS. We also have a significant market share in the Capital Market. We have software like ERP and insurance etc.”
Leads provides a complete life cycle of software development services including system analysis, use case development, system architecture and design, system integration, web API development, UI/UX design, database design and administration, functional and system testing, quality assurance and project management.
Leads also provides diversified IT solutions and services like building network infrastructure, plastic card personalisation, delivery and installation of PCs, servers, storage and backup solutions, POS (the machine you insert your credit/debit card into), ATMs etc.
As the industry becomes more and more crowded with many companies vying for success, Leads, as a leader in the industry, is broadening its horizons and exploring new frontiers.
“I personally believe that the Bangladesh market is too small for so many IT and ITES [Information Technology Enabled Services] companies. Therefore, unless something changes, the option to grow is to go international,” said Wahid.
Leads is designing, developing, implementing and maintaining business application software for overseas markets like Japan, Thailand etc.
“To grow the business, we had to look beyond Bangladesh. We had concentrated on both Bangladesh and outside. Of course, we had to set up proper infrastructure to do business beyond Bangladesh and currently, we are seeing good results, including business from North America,” explained Wahid.
When asked what makes them stand out from the industry, Shaikh Wahid said, “We provide all sorts of IT and ITES related services. In fact, there are not too many companies in Bangladesh that have diversified business like ours.
“In addition to traditional hardware sales and services, we have blockchain, IoT, artificial intelligence and off-course software.”
Leads has forayed into technologies like blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) etc. as these disruptive technologies are set to play a big role in the fourth industrial revolution.
“I believe that these technologies are the future of IT in Bangladesh. We know that whatever technology we see in Western Europe or the United States, it takes a few years to come to Bangladesh. So, it is about time to see that Bangladeshi businesses are embracing these technologies.
“I am fully aware of the cost of labour in Bangladesh, but considering productivity and customer demand, these technologies must come to Bangladesh.”
Wahid said, “As a company, we are ready with skilled people and several awards. We are also working with various prospects and a2i.
Bangladeshi IT companies, with the help of the ICT Ministry, are doing well. But I believe that it is our responsibility to share appropriate information with our IT partners in the marketplace. This approach will help the industry to bring new technologies sooner.”
Leads is very optimistic about the future and moving to their own premises soon.
“Our journey, for this tower, started many years ago. It took over four years to build the tower, which inspired us mainly because by now we have been in the business in Bangladesh for 30 years and we thought that it is the right time to build this establishment that our current and future Leads associates can enjoy,” he added.
“We are very proud of our own building. It is a unique tower with all modern facilities,” he further added.
When asked where Leads see themselves in 10 years in time. Wahid said, “Our company is well-positioned to take all benefits in the years to come. I see a bright future for Leads.”
So, what does a veteran of the industry have to say to them?
“I am not sure about the advice that I can give to the young generation in Bangladesh, who are willing to build their career in the ICT industry.
“Because what I see in young Bangladeshi people is quite different from the way I was trained by an American Multinational IT Company over the course of 40 years in different parts of the World,” Wahid concluded.