Digital platforms are no longer exclusive to tech companies, and they have become increasingly popular in other sectors as they look to enhance their competitiveness.
These comments were heard at a seminar on the application of a digital platform economy in Hà Nội on Thursday.
The seminar was co-organised by the Việt Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) and UPGen Việt Nam.
Việt Nam had been adapting to the development of the global economy as well as science and technology in recent years, but the country was still facing issues such as laws, cyber security and privacy, as well as a shortage of expert IT staff. Vietnamese management agencies remained “confused” about new transport models such as Grab and Be, the seminar heard.
Trần Thanh Hải, former CEO of Be Group, said the market was very competitive and the key issues why Be was struggling to compete with Grab were policies and capital.
Our country's technology start-up environment was facing many shortcomings, from the legal framework to service sectors, because technology always developed faster than the legal framework, Hải said.
Việt Nam had many policies to promote digital platforms to support businesses, however, these policies had handed the advantage to foreign businesses, creating unfair competition, he noted.
Agreeing with Hải, Đỗ Hoài Nam, UPGen chairman, said the most difficult for Vietnamese tech enterprises was the ability to compete in terms of capital.
Domestic enterprises had to look at other factors, from creativity to technology, based on the local market.
To do that, the State played a very important role in creating a fair playing field through legal mechanisms and frameworks, Nam noted.
Database – important resource
The most important asset in the field of technology was a user database, Hải said.
Users were employing foreign services every day and they were exploiting rather than investing in the Vietnamese market, he said.
Therefore, domestic enterprises need their own data because this was a national resource, he emphasised.
“Protecting user databases also protects national sovereignty in cyberspace,” said Hải.
He said the State needed a mechanism to control data resources, while domestic enterprises must focus on investing in technology and avoid dependence on services supplied by foreign tech corporations.
Nguyễn Đức Thành, VEPR director, emphasised that firstly, domestic digital platforms must become more competitive.
“This is also the strategy many countries are using to create a digital platform ecosystem, where co-operation and co-creation are connected,” said Thành.
“The digital platform economy has already happened, it cannot be changed. Whether we like it or not, we all participate on different platforms,” said Nam.
“Obviously, if we do not participate in this game, we will not have any role in our own economy in the future,” Nam said.
Hải also supported Vietnamese platforms.
“If we don't stop acting as an employee for foreign firms and don't start being more creative ourselves, Việt Nam will be in the same position in 15-20 years time.”
As an example of online advertising, he estimated that Vietnamese platforms only accounted for less than 20 per cent of advertising revenue in Việt Nam.