Thursday, August 18, 2011

Technology Transformation

I lost my digital camera, a Canon Powershot in my last trip to Hong Kong & Shenzhen in May. I didn't feel sorry, but in reverse, I felt relieved because I don't have to carry an extra charger and an adapter for the memory card to transfer photos into my notebook.

Of course, if your smartphone can do the job as good as a digital camera, why do you need to burden yourself with an extra device and some accessories for the same purpose? If you aren’t a professional photographer or enthusiast that needs a Nikon D90 plus its special lenses, you really can say goodbye to a digital camera. No doubt, when digital camera versus smartphones, we are almost certain that sales for the former decline and the latter prevail smartly as a result of technology convergence.

The Information Technology has started revolutions in many industries, ruthlessly killing and wiping out the dominant players of the old market. Even in photography industry, the two big names, Fujifilm and Kodak that once monopolized the film industry, have been buried forever in the history when photographs were no longer need to be developed, but simply downloaded from cameras and uploaded them to the computer or website or even send them to direct printing.

When the new players for digital cameras were still excited about the technology transformation that brought them lucrative profits, and flooded the market with all kinds of choices, suddenly the boon became a bane. The foray was from other industry players. When the cell phone makers started to include camera as a standard feature, and the boom of smartphone indirectly declaring the doom of digital camera.

Technology transformation is a cruel fact, fast reshaping the marketplace and creating new opportunities. At present, we witness the PC and Notebook sales in a stagnant stage; and a new tablet, or we can call it the enlarged version of smartphone, led by Apple iPad, followed by Blackberry PlayBook, Asus Eee Pad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom , HTC Flyer, Viewsonic ViewPad, HP TouchPad, Acer Iconia Tab, and plenty more, thoroughly sweeping the market. And Apple iOS and Google Android becomes the new dominant operating system replacing Microsoft Windows for the new breed of products.

The digital storage is in transition too. Floppy disk is a bygone. And under the cloud-computing concept that promotes cloud-drive, even CD, DVD or USB flash disk would soon extinct, when the new tablets and notebooks are shipped bare without such ports and drives.

We are fortunate to enter the security and office automation industry that transformation occurs much slowly. But we did notice some subtle changes like communication from RS 485 to TCP/IP, and some adoption of IT advancements that benefitted the industry.

As a market leader, you have to embrace and spearhead the technology transformation instead of sit back and wait for the changes. This year, we schedule to phase out some black and white models like AC100 and TA100. And for some models, the coreboard would be upgraded to a more powerful CPU to improve the speed and capacity. And to reduce the FRR and FAR in our readers are also continual effort to improve the algorithm.

And, I recently added a new paragraph in our Vision and Mission Statement, which stresses Technology Transformation as our major focus to envision our next 5-year roadmap perspective.

"To further strengthen FingerTec's global position, the third phase 5-year plan was introduced in 2010 with a transparent objective to achieve business and technology transformation. We aim to climb the vertical ladder to provide comprehensive solutions for access control market, and to employ cloud-computing technology for deployment in time and attendance industry. The use of Android platform and other Biometrics features such as face and vein recognition would be a part of FingerTec technology transformation plan to enhance our new product lines."

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Friday, August 5, 2011

Casual Sales Approach

I encountered an unstable Internet access at my hotel in Paris and the problem wasn’t resolved until I left the country nine days later. My problem is, I couldn’t be totally shut off from the outside world, even during my family vacation.

Lo and behold! An Apple Store across the Paris Opera House, nearby the hotel where I stayed, saved me.

In the evening, after we completed our daily excursion, and emerged from the subway station, my daughter and I headed straight to the Apple Store. We picked our devices to go online from the many Apple Macintoshes, MacBooks, iPads, iPods that were displayed on the simple wooden benches, with each device being wired to a charger and a theft alert alarm.
Outside Apple Opera Store

Inside Apple Opera Store
Although the “customers” took most of the devices for all kinds of purposes, often times we managed to find ourselves the unoccupied iPad or MacBook Air to go online. My daughter went straight to Facebook, and me, got into the business of reading and replying tons of email. As long that there was no alarm being triggered from your unit, no Apple staff would come and bother you, or sales talk you into buying any of the products. After the store-closing hour at 8 pm, the WiFi signal was still strong for my smart phone to tap on it outside of their building.

The same experience we had in Carrousel du Louvre, where one of the high-profile flagship Apple Stores is located. Right after our Louvre Museum’s visit, the moment we stepped out of the historical and ancient artifacts, we indulged ourselves into the modern and technological artifacts the next.

The casual style in the Apple Store is appealing. Alas, the Apple retail outlets in Malaysia that are run by distributors, do not replicate the casualness of the Apple stores owned by Apple. Earlier this March, I missed my opportunity to enter the Apple Store in Ginza due to the earthquake that hit Japan so badly.

No cashier counter, no sales person cajoling around, the staff were wearing casual blue T-shirts, and they would only attend to your sales or technical enquiries as and when needed. In short, they let you minded your own business, be it listening to music, playing games, or doing some serious stuff with the Apple devices, renewing the typical rigid image we used to have for the conventional retail shops.

And the casual environment in the retail outlets that Apple created is able to generate sizeable income rather than “casual” money to compliment their serious business. According to a report, the largest Apple Store located on the Regent Street London was the first outlet opened in Europe in November 2004 and also the most profitable shop in London with the highest sales per square foot, taking £60,000,000 pa, or £2,000 per square foot.

The Apple Store’s current design with the wood tables and stone flooring, and Genius Bar for technical supports and repairs, were the collaboration results of some outside design firms and Apple’s in-house design team. Originally, the Apple Stores contained dedicated Point of Sale stations. However, in 2006, the new store design replaced the POS stations with the handheld EasyPay system.

I like the casual and cozy sales environment as offered by the Apple Store, where you are welcome by a nod and a smile from the sales person and he/she lets you walk around freely to browse through the shop without interruption. A shop that makes a sales person follows you around from the moment you stepped into the shop, disrupts your shopping experience the moment it happened.

Apple does not really need any sales person to talk you into buying their products; the casual atmosphere in the retail outlets that they shaped just fit to promote their products even more, and stretching their brand influence to a greater extent.

At FingerTec, our Sales and Marketing personnel are not tuned to conduct conventional sales, they are encouraged to help the partners understand the products, the brand, the support system, the value, and guide them to tap on our online resources to expand their business. They spend time helping resellers to produce successful installation stories, encourage them to create Facebook and Twitter for better communication with the local clients.

The casual approach never fails to deliver satisfactory sales performance for us. I always believe that a good brand doesn’t need a lot of convincing; it sells itself so to speak. And in reverse, too much of sales talk normally carry some hollow promises.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ