Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Perks of Remote Maintenance

Recently, our company adopts e-payment when dealing with suppliers. This way, we are helping suppliers eliminate the need to travel for check collections and countless trips to the banks. It’s a small deed done from us for suppliers to save their time and cost. A little effort to reduce some processes might add user-friendliness element to the business world, be it environmentally by reducing carbon footprint, or efficiency by reducing time taken to complete the whole payment process.

Remote Support
On the same issue, I read this related article from Detektor, a security magazine, November/December 2012 issue entitled, “Remote Maintenance: The Key to 21st Century Customer Care”; which stated that despite the obvious benefits of using high-tech maintenance solutions, some installers are still reluctant to embrace the change. A desire for face-to-face interaction, tradition, and caution about the ramifications on their business model are the key hurdles to this hesitancy.

All these years, we at FingerTec set remote maintenance as one of our business goals, and we focus hard to make sure that we reduce sales follow-ups to conclude sales in no time, and reduce on-site technical supports along the way. Our holistic self-sufficient online model comprehensively handles everything from marketing material to sales resources, from training to warranty claim process plus 24/7 online technical supports by deploying online tools. Our somewhat trivial move to print beneath the logo on FingerTec hardware products largely shows our commitment in sharing the end-customer’s support responsibilities with our worldwide partners. 

If majority of our resellers share our resources and adopt our remote maintenance strategy to a certain extend in their sales and technical supports, I reckon they would increase their sales revenue and make better profit by improving the overall process.

But the truth is, the reluctance is still abundance amongst our partners. The article also mentioned that quite some installers perceived loss of potential revenue by not sending a technician out to fix a problem. In fact, this is not the case if installers can work out their math to see if they can manage the problem remotely and satisfies the customers at the same time. And, with more and more services offered online nowadays, I would say that customers are used to and willing to accept remote services, even when maintenance contracts are signed. Because, solving the problems is their utmost priority and they would consider any means possible to get it done.

It is such a waste to not tap on the remote strategy if the tools are widely and cheaply available. Combining this with green environment concerns, who would refuse the rewards derived from remote maintenance??

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Global Migration of Manpower

Our distributor in the UAE, Seven Seas Computer LLC, Business Development Manager, Abbas Mukadam agreed with my observation.  He says that Hindi should be the most commonly spoken language in the UAE, if you count Urdu, the Pakistani’s native tongue, which is quite similar to Hindi.

The United Arab Emirates, a country with expatriates constituting 91% of their population, with Indians and Pakistanis topping the ranks, Hindi language rubs off well on a number of Emiratis.

Foreign Workers in Dubai

With a staff force of about 300, the CEO of Seven Seas, Mr. Nayagam Pillai, an Indian national, is accompanied with employees consisting of quite a number of fellow Indian nationals as well.

This time around, before I joined the team in the Intersec, I took a detour to visit our distributor, Expert Software in Oman. I observed the same expatriate culture here. Apart from the three Omani bosses, the rest of their staff also consists of expats from other countries.

In November 2011, when I was attending the IFSEC show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I met up with some FingerTec resellers, and found that Egyptians made up our resellers’ staff force. This Islamic country is home to 8 millions foreign workers, representing a third of the population, and has a preference for Muslim foreign workers.

In the USA, especially in the southern region, Spanish is largely conversed everywhere. In Singapore and Malaysia too, encounters with foreign workers is not something foreign at all.

In any two neighboring countries with an economic inequality or imbalance of human resources, you’ll find that if the wealthier country with higher demands for human resources has friendly policies, it would definitely attract the people from poorer countries to flow in and fill up the vacancies in the job market.

If the wage is higher and policy is friendlier, it would probably draw more jobseekers from other regions too. Better and cheaper transportation nowadays also contribute to the common diaspora of global migration of manpower.

When the Arab Spring sparked the social unrest in the Middle East in early 2011, some countries like Saudi Arabia upped its social spending to pre-empt protests, and Oman raised its minimum wage from USD364 to USD 520. The UAE, as a regional safe haven, benefitted economically. It was observed by the retail industry that bounced back exponentially since the economic crisis in 2009, including our business growth and other businesses boomed in various industries.

Foreign Workers in Malaysia
Malaysia started to implement minimum wage this year even though it received strong objections from some employers especially those who are heavily depending on foreign labors. They argued that it would jeopardize their competitiveness, and called for the exclusion to be applied on expatriates.  

In fact, I strongly support the move to realize the minimum wage policy to protect the employee’s rights; even if the workforce comes from foreign countries. In today’s competitive world, any country and company should maintain their global competency by congregating more talents, from different countries and different culture, not by exploiting the workers through cheap labors.

Happy workers increase productivity, and we at FingerTec strongly believe in this.

By Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ