Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shaping Corporate Culture One Article at a Time

From 2008 until recently, in seven years, I have written a total of 138 entries for my blog posts. Now it’s time for me to bid farewell to my readers, which mainly consist of our staff, resellers, customers and people who are curious to know what’s inside a CEO’s brain.

But what’s the reason for this farewell? My answer is simple, because I have extensively covered most of my views regarding corporate culture and the future; it has become increasingly harder for me to churn out new points without repeating some old ones. And, I hate repetitions.

Yes, I talked a lot about corporate culture in my blog entries. It’s well reflected that I place very high esteem to shape better corporate culture in running the company. I always believe that if a company has a good culture, it makes things right. Just like the book I recently read, “How Google Works”, co-authored by Eric Schmidt (Google Executive Chairman) and Jonathan Rosenberg (former Google SVP of Products), both stressed that when starting a new company or initiative, culture is the most important thing to consider.

They’ve collectively mentioned, “The founders didn’t care about maximizing the short-term value and marketability of their stock, because they knew that recording the company’s unique values for future employees and partners would be far more instrumental to long-term success.”

And I saw those companies that truly value corporate culture, not just the ones which superficially display something to uplift their company’s image, would normally place long-term development before the short-term profit.

Our Practical Branding and Internet Ecosystem efforts, which I had elaborated in my previous blog entries, clearly were the two pillars we laid in our foundation to face future odds and challenges. Besides, focusing on building a Great Workplace and centering on the User Experience in our products are the other two pillars to ensure that we capture the brightest talents, and produce products that are welcomed by the customers. 

These are the topics I shared in my blog posts. Those who expect me to share more industry and product know-how would be disappointed. Even the handful of my commentaries on these topics were mostly conceptual, rather than factual.

Without my contribution, our official blog site will still be continued, but it will head towards the direction of factual information, which will be contributed mainly by our marketing team.

I’ll select some of my articles, edit and compile them into an e-book version. Not only for the purpose of recollection, but more importantly to remind ourselves from time to time not to lose our bearings. 

My blog posts end here, but the FingerTec story continues…..

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The “Predicament” of the Mid-Range Market

I recall the day when I was involved in selling newspaper electronic publishing system some 15 years ago, there was this famous true story circulated among the insiders.

An ailing newspaper kicked off a rescue plan to boost its readership, and they engaged a market research company to offer them some constructive advices after a thorough market survey.  Their analysis summed up that X newspaper dominated the high-end market, Y newspaper conquered the low-end’s; there was still a vacuum of the untapped huge mid-range market.

The conclusion drew so much laughter, because the fact was, the assumed of vast mid-level customers simply didn’t exist.

Stuck in the middle?
Their new strategy based on this market report failed flat and landed them with receivership eventually. I told this story because it seems like we are very much situated at the same “predicament”. We have been sandwiched by the high-end system providers from advanced countries and renowned brands, and the low-end system providers from the Mainland China.  If the mid range market was non-existence for the newspaper industry, does it exist for time attendance and access control industry?

And I conclude that it definitely does. 

The content and presentation style in a newspaper are easier to devise to suit the taste of its readers in larger market coverage; hence to leave a vacuum of an untapped market is almost out of the question. But for industrial products, it’s pretty much different. If marketers aim for the low-end market, their costs and profits have to be squeezed to the least; hence it’s hard for them to provide quality software and services, or even more features have to be sacrificed for the sake of their low price.  In contrast, high-end marketers target big corporations that allow them to charge exorbitant fees, and pay high maintenance cost for scrupulous solutions and services; they’re unlikely to lower their postures for less profitable market. Even if they want to their system would not permit them to be mid-range or low-end friendly.

Stand tall in the middle 
And, our company is destined to apprehend this large amount of mid-to-high and mid-to-low market. While I’m writing this article, these three emails caught my eyes and it is in my opinion, best illustrated our position. I summarized it as follow:

An ERP solution provider wrote to us, saying they are in the midst of implementing their solution to one of their customers that currently using a HR solution provided by one of our resellers that using our biometric device to track time attendance. The reseller has difficulty to solve their problem when they want to retrieve time data from our device to be further processed by using their ERP software. And, they hope to establish a meeting with us to discuss about the data interface between our device and their system. They stressed they are in urgency because the technical team from India would only be in town until end of the week.

They received an email from our Assistant Sales Manager, the reply went like this, 

I’m Ms Fazalina from the sales department of FingerTec responding to your inquiry. We have read and understood your requirements and FingerTec has prepared many applications without any costs for you to use. Please go to www.fingertec.com and click on software icon at the bottom. There you can find FingerTec Data Processor (FTDP) for the data interface between FingerTec terminals and your application. FTDP is a free application at your disposal.

If you want your solution to be able to connect directly to FingerTec terminals, please use the SDK instead. http://www.fingertec.com/images/w_brochure/software-biobridge_e.html

While you are at that, take a peek at FingerTec Developer Program and see how this can help you: http://www.fingertec.com/developerprogram/

Therefore depending on your requirement you may choose between the FTDP (data has been processed for you and you just select which you require) or SDK (for system developers and they need to integrate FingerTec readers into their system for a solution).

We have also contacted our reseller regarding this matter and he will revert back to you shortly.

Later, we got his email saying:

Thank you for your prompt reply and support rendered right away.

My team believe what your solution has offered should be sufficient for us to proceed with our work.

We have also got in touch with your reseller.

We shall seek your support should we encounter one. We look forward a good partnership, where our product will be work well with Fingertec products.

This is how the magic is done with our “We Make Things Easy” strategy. Our products come with the comprehensive features and sell at affordable prices and extensive supports are provided without any further charges.

Yes, in our case, there is really a huge untapped market for the middle range. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

User Experience and Employee Experience

Nowadays we often heard about the importance of user experience, it’s a step further than of quality products and services.  Because even when you have achieved certain quality standards, it doesn’t mean that your products are appealing amongst the customers. If the experiences from the users were not pleasant, even if your products passed the ISO 9001 certification, or received high praises from your business guru, that doesn’t guarantee that your products will sell well.

Customers will complain if they found software bug or hardware glitch, but they are usually not vocal if they don’t get a good user experience. It is rather the issue of the “sense”, immeasurable like look and feel, the challenge for business owner is far too great; hence only great companies manage to handle the issue of user experience well.

Happy staff contributes to producing quality product that will achieve better user experience 
When a company determines to go for ISO 9001 certification that’s meant to produce quality products, consultant will hand-down a checklist that emphasizes on processes, documentations, and etc; there is never a stress on the quality of personnel to produce quality products.  The role of employees is shrunk to some little tiny screws that bind the processes.

How could companies come up with ideas to upgrade their quality products to a level of lovable products based on user experience? In my opinion, you need to upgrade your workplace to a level of lovable workplace based on your employee’s experience. If whether a product is great or mediocre is determined by its user experience, producer should have no say in it; then whether a workplace great or mediocre is determined by its employee experience, boss should have no say in it.

A lovable workplace or a great workplace, according to Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin that co-authored the book, The Great Workplace, is where people trust people they work for, take pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with. Employees at great companies also say that they want to work for their employers for a long time. It is not uncommon for employees at great workplace to say that they even want to make careers there, and stay for the duration of their work lives.

If quality staff contributes to produce quality product; hence happy staff contributes to producing quality product that will achieve better user experience. This is because the highest sensational feel will spread around the products that only can be detected sensationally by the customers.

To attract more top minds that can produce high quality products to work for us, our company starts to offer scholarship to eligible IT students.  But to build a great workplace that can produce quality products to match better user experience, we have to improve our systems continuously, and a working environment with a culture that radiates the desired work ethos.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Professionals Mix in Research & Development

I’ve been complaining about the speed issue over and over, yet the improvement is still a little far from satisfaction even though TimeTec Cloud development team has poured vigorous efforts in tackling the problem.  

And, I suddenly saw the light when I tried out one of TimeTec Cloud newly launched features. I immediately called the head of development team to discuss my idea and the existing blind spot.

“Yes, it’s achievable, but don’t you think the real-time function is more important as a cloud application?” R&D Head replied.  

“But user profile or configuration won’t be updated too regularly.” I said.

“If they do?” Ha! What a typical response from an R&D team!

“Then that’s something extraordinary, our priority should set on the majority first.” 

At the end, we came into a conclusion that only the present day’s attendance records require real time, and the system should automatically perform data retrieval from the server every time upon request; but for the rest, once downloaded, the information should be kept on the cache memory on local CPU for recurring use until the user logs out.

Technical problem solving does not only depend on how advanced one possesses the technology know-how, but it’s rather more often resort to rational thought based on the user experience. Like in our case, speed versus real-time, we asked the same question for all the features, and we were surprised to reverse our initial priority for most of the answers.

Sometimes, you may not have to be a technician to solve a technical issue. The same goes to R&D; a non-programmer with the logical dissection can unravel some entangled codes. Problem solving always requires different mix of professionals. Especially when we aim to develop a system that can meet world-class standard; besides technology, we have to be more holistic. One way to achieve this goal is to channel more expertise from different fields into the same development. Therefore, we have people from different departments getting involved in research and development ‘assisting’ software engineers.

And, this mix is not an ad-hoc task in FingerTec; we have adopted it as part of the routine duty in our business operations.

Hence our regular usability meetings for any added new features for TimeTec Cloud continue…..

Hence our Big Data analytics to improve user experience continues….

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writing Skill is More Important than Talking Skill in Today’s Business

Digitization in bits and bytes was the fundamental activity for the Information Technology revolution in the 80s and 90s of the last century. In the new millennium, connecting the world to the Internet became the main role for the Information Technology development.

For the former, we witnessed contents readily loaded in its carriers, be it papers, films, cassettes or tapes, be it in text, voice, image or animation format, the contents had vastly be converted into digital data, laid a strong foundation for the information boom and tremendous cost cutting measures for knowledge transfer. While in the Internet era, the latter, by connecting computers and IT devices, the web technology virtually removed all borders and physical distances between customers and companies.    

Digitization & Globalization
For the former, we observed INTEGRATION in different job functions due to digitization. However, for the latter, GLOBALIZATION is the keyword when distance is being compressed to virtually zero.

In the past, you had to setup plenty of physical overseas branches to qualify you as an international company. But in the present days, your business operation can reach every corner of the world even if you are a minute below-10-employee company. Micro-international company is the new vocabulary to describe a small yet Internet savvy company that can achieve global business goal, even without setting up any physical business operation abroad.

Speak & Listen
From digitization to globalization process, there is a change of emphasis in communication skill too from speaking to writing.  This new trend can simply be verified by how we use our mobile phones today.  Mobile phones used to serve human’s mouth and ears in the past, but now had switched to eyes and fingers, a clear sign of speak and listen transiting to write and read. And smart phones are no longer merely just any phones, they are also handheld portable computers, it means the ubiquitous and network connect at all times, plus the mainstream social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and WeChat etc., the time we spend in reading and writing is much longer than we do in tele-conversing.

Talking and writing are two basic communication skills, but in the midst of the transformation from productivity economy to the service industry economy in the 80s and 90s, the socio and economy activities were basically confined to more local vicinities. When face-to-face or telecommunication is required to get the job done, talking is definitely the king. The criteria of employment especially in sales and marketing personnel emphasizes on eloquent speaker.

Writing, writing, writing
When the Internet era arrived, it dismantled all borders between countries and it shrunk the physical distances, sparked a new perspective in communications, writing proficiency had suddenly becoming more important than talking. Since distant had been virtually removed, overseas business expansion did not require physical store anymore, however, a virtual store is still pivotal to display your products and services with or without an option to online purchases, or at least a website that provides training and technical support, elaboration on warranty claims, policies, services and etc. All these, you need excellent writing skills to produce contents. Besides, you also need your sales and technical personnel to be able to answer customers’ queries in emails or Skype; and again, writing skill is inevitable. And to take advantage of the social media like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other engines to engage your customers, once again, you can’t ignore writing skill.

In short, to build an Internet ecosystem in your company, a strategy that is probably not an option anymore for nowadays businesses, you require more staff that can write well. Good writing skills definitely produce better quality and more useful contents. This is what we believe in FingerTec.  And, I also believe that writing is so fundamental in today’s organization that one shouldn’t outsource it to any third party. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Internet Exploration: Sky is the Limit

My Facebook friend published his first book recently to indulge his 47th birthday. Writing has always been his hobby, but never his career. The book was produced from his chronologically compiled self-written articles that he posted on Facebook.  Surprisingly, his first print of 5000 copies sold out even before the book hits the bookstores.

How did he make it? Thanks to Facebook, the same social media site where he has been posting his articles; it is also used as a marketing platform where he sells his books. He ecstatically shared an incident where the bank froze his bank account momentarily until further explanation was given as to why a sudden surge of remittances from all over the place happened in his account.

In the past, as an amateur writer, there was no way you could collect pre-orders to justify whether or not to publish a book. Let alone to convince a publisher to put your work on to print; many of them ended up forking out their own cash to fund the publications. Other challenges were to get the book dealer to distribute your books and the bookstores to display them. Not only that, you may find your book sitting helplessly and timidly on the shelf among the bestsellers, do you have extra dollars to churn out for advertising and promotion?

However, at present time, who doesn't have a vast pool of real and virtual friends on Facebook? This resource can easily be tapped onto to engage in sales and marketing. When my friend sent the book out to his readers, they tagged him with the picture of the book that had safely arrived; it became a viral post that boost the sales even more. And, this was not an isolated case; I have a few other amateur writer friends who shared the same success story.

Internet technology has changed the way we think; the life we live; the business we run, and push the limited resources in the past to almost limitless at present. How does one make use of the Internet resources? Can someone teach us and give us some guidance? YES and NO. The Internet world is still full of continuously evolving concept and technology; you just have to open your eyes.

My strategy to build an Internet ecosystem in our business operation is very simple - when things can be done the Internet way, just go for it. That is why we are more Internet savvy than our competitors. And fuzzy logic is applied in Biometrics system; the same trial and error concept can be applied to clear the blur, to get a certain end result.   

Just like when we started our new Software as a Service (SaaS) business, TimeTec Cloud, I told the Cloud team, we can adopt the system from FingerTec, but from what we have learned so far, the ecosystem seems laggard and insufficient. A cloud service needs a deeper Internet thinking; for example business intelligence derived from Big Data and etc. We have to explore the missing components, add to our system and enhance it even in blind sometimes, but it is still better than not trying anything.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Running FingerTec Like A Publishing House

Who runs technology business like a publishing house? We do. Are you surprised? I bet so.

Back in 2005 when I decided to relinquish the non-performing publishing business unit in a subsidiary company, the editorial team was transferred to FingerTec to take charge of the brand’s branding activities and the websites. The team comprised of a few writers, editors and graphic designers.

As a CEO, I assumed the role of de facto chief editor with a vision of FingerTec making great headlines at all times. With this in mind, every product’s image was carefully taken care of not only in terms of the product quality but also in every other aspect of the product which is equally as significant.

The aspects covered include conceptualizing what type of photos are the ones that needs to be taken, the product copy and selecting the images that best portray the product. Being a stickler for details meant putting in a large amount of effort to revamp the image of FingerTec products. From the then plain and banal brand, it has now metamorphosed into a sophisticated brand that is known for products that are futuristic and user-friendly.

Today, that same editorial team fills some of the top posts in FingerTec. Norana Johar was promoted from sub-editor to Chief Operating Officer and Tamy Phoon to Senior Sales Manager. Even after almost a decade, we still carry on the business like running a publishing house and we are proud of it.

Products need explanations; even food products require explanation on how it should be consumed plus some cooking suggestions.  Good writing helps in producing quality tips, user guides and training materials. To construct and market FingerTec as a brand, we need excellent writing, great copies, concepts and fulfillments. And, to enter different markets and countries, translation is another transformation that is inevitable to reach greater audience. Anyhow, the master copy must be of decent quality for good translations.  

Through the writing processes and editorial workflows, we introduced our monthly e-newsletter since 2007 as our marketing tool, which has lasted for seven years now. For the past three years, we have been introducing our Annual Magazine to be distributed globally through exhibitions and our clients. All this can’t be achieved smoothly if we have a team that doesn’t write.

And in this business, website is king. Some people might disagree with me looking at many of those who are using websites to simply list their products and technical info, alongside their company profiles. But, to think that we would just settle for simple information on the website is just plain wrong. Of course the objective is not as easy as that, the target was to make it as comprehensive and as interactive as possible for our clients who indulge in finding information. Who would be better suited for this task? Definitely the editorial team cum marketing that does not only know the inside out of our products, but also understand the need to market them right.

The decline of newspapers, print media or publishers is foreseeable in the Internet era. The soaring newsprint prices, slumping ad sales and precipitous drops in circulation were clear indications of the downfall. But life will find its way, truly enough, besides the emerging online media.  The editorial profession have shifted to find its place in a lot other industries in the Internet era. The closure of our publishing unit marked the beginning of utilization of editorial skill in a different perspective, an effort that was proven to be genius in its own right.

From our experience, in order to maintain a dynamic marketing strategy as a driving force for the business, our editorial team definitely is the answer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reason Why We Should Focus Beyond Biometrics

A number of people tend to get the impression that our company specializes in fingerprint products and technologies only. Although this perception is not exactly accurate, it is observed that the term ‘biometrics’ looks catchier at first glance and this works in our favour as it becomes the conversational piece for the general audience, making it a useful ice-breaker for market penetration.

I agree that without fingerprint technology, it's rather hard for us to penetrate into certain industries. Ideally, we should declare ourselves a solution provider, or an expert in time and attendance, and access control industries. And, biometrics should just be a credential, or a threshold that presents itself as a more sophisticated solution.

Fingerprint: ice-breaker for market penetration
My advice to customers, don’t place biometrics as their sole consideration when sourcing for time and attendance or access control solution. Biometrics technology is indeed an important aspect to consider but the right solution is even more crucial when buying the solutions. Instead of only considering the performance of the biometrics readers, they should spend more time studying details of the software to match the actual requirements. It is imperative for customers to list the requirements down and test the software inside out, determine whether it could integrate with the existing payroll system and how it works as your access control system in totality.

Often times a lot of customers allow themselves to be distracted by the fingerprint technology performance when in reality what they ACTUALLY require is time and attendance system. It has becoming a common belief that when vendors parade their fantastic fingerprint readers, the software that comes along is equally fantastic to handle their T&A requirements. We always receive many questions about biometrics rather than the software before clients conclude the purchase. This, in my opinion, is very wrong. When this happen, clients might be happy with the front end clocking system, but if they are not careful in selecting the software, they might take a lot of time and effort to handle the backend processing. The system might fail to handle the payroll system and at the end of the day, the promise of office automation never takes place.

Cloud solution for time & attendance 
After technology and market breakthrough in biometrics, FingerTec has been pouring much of our resources in R&D to complete the time and attendance and access control solutions. We believe that to compete with the real industry players, we have to deliver the real solutions and even so, we must deliver it better even though we came it later. We strongly believe that the advantages of biometrics credential are transient; the bona fide solution will last forever.

Just like how biometric readers replaced some RFID solutions to becoming the new trend in the past decade, biometrics itself might look less appealing when smart phone has the fashionable tendency as a new clocking credential.

That's why we set forth "Beyond biometrics” as our motto, urging customers to go beyond biometrics, because only then they’ll see the full picture and obtain the total solution they have hoped for. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

FingerTec Websites: Help Yourselves with Our Vast Assets!

We have hundreds of resellers around the world. I can say that all of them know that fingertec.com has a decent website. The question is, how good is our website? I believe some of our resellers are yet to find out the benefits that our website could bring about. So, when I have the chance to meet up with our resellers, mostly I will end up promoting how they could exploit the websites to boost sales and reduce technical supports. It might sound like a broken record, but I believe that this is important.

Many resellers were probably blown away and overwhelmed by the website’s vast ocean of information when they first visited fingertec.com. FingerTec is indeed doing a good job; and usually they will give us thumbs up for the effort. And they would browse, read the contents, but after a while, I reckon the visits become less and quick, hopped from one page to another, and eventually they’d stop visiting. To some, business will continue as it is and nothing is plucked away from the website to better their sales and support.  They’ll just praise us for having a strong and better presentation than the rivals in the cyber world. And this is not what I have hoped for.

In fact in the Internet era, the functionalities of a website should be so much more than a mere declaration of the cyber presence. The level of commitment can be varied. For example, like Facebook, website is them. There is no Facebook once you went offline. And for Amazon, this company literally doesn’t exist in the real world, no matter the vast list of merchandizes they’re offering. But for companies like Wal-Mart, even though they began with physical stores, without online establishment, the future looks somehow bleak.

With FingerTec, our brand soared high only when we revamped and re-launched our website a few years back. Bit by bit, we put our efforts into building a resource center, training site, display cabinet, technical helpdesk, service booth, and etc.  Whatever you want to call it, potpourri-of-information-website or a salmagundi-website, this website is there for our resellers to unleash the virtual power to boost their sales and reduce supports.

We provide resellers with free passes to a vast variety of information, a member account credential. Without this account, you will only receive discounted benefits from our website. The only thing that is stopping you from digging the information to better the business is you.

As someone who buys FingerTec products for business, always remember to enter the website with a strong motive, and leave with something valuable. What is of value on our website, is depends on what you’re looking for. For example, there are 769 video clips so far, from marketing, product intro, technical supports, user guides and etc. Take the links to help you in your sales bid presentation, user training, hardware repairs, and much more. It doesn’t cost you a thing and it adds value to your efforts.   

You have a plan to demonstrate FingerTec at a customer site? Come prepared. Choose your demo set from our website. You need step-by-step Powerpoint presentation materials, search and download them without any cost. If you want raw files to update and insert your company’s information, please do so.

If you want to conduct a proper survey on your customer’s premises before you can prepare a proposal for an access control project, please get the form downloaded from our website.

We have a series of academic research papers for technology and industrial in readily print-format should you want to enhance your professionalism in submitting proposal or pricing quotation.

Don’t forget that we also have a training website with comprehensive materials at your disposal to train both trainers and trainees. After training, they can sit for online exams and receive our print certificates upon passing the exams. For a more interactive online training, we offer FingerTec webinar page to register a course of your interest. You want to train your partners in your region remotely by deploying our webinar platform? You’re welcome to use our webinar platform, cost-free, no-fee involved.

These websites are enriched to assist you in reducing technical supports. Promote and educate the end-user technical modules to your customers. You can teach them to repair hardware through videos and how to claim warranty straight from the websites.  

If you need to provide your customers with FingerTec’s souvenirs, require some from marketing material page, we have over ten specially designed souvenirs displayed on our website for you to choose from.

Basically, FingerTec job is to prepare resources that you can use to better your FingerTec business. We figured that you might need assistance so we extend our support through our websites. Please be hungry for new things, new information and keep coming to the websites and help yourselves with everything that we have to offer.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Transformation That Reshapes Habitual Behavior

I wrote about the Microsoft’s transformation last month after Satya Nadella was named the new CEO of Microsoft, but talked scantily about our own transformation even though we’re very much at the crossroad of our self-stirred transformation. Right. Why should I bother about transformation, even if Microsoft failed to transform? I should have minded my own business.

Some of my staff commented that our glory is still in progressive manner, and we don’t have external forces like Microsoft to push us; do we really need this transformation?

In fact, I drafted and highlighted the transformation in FingerTec Five-Year plan (from 2010 to 2014) four years ago, the short statement goes like this,” 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 biometric features such as face and vein recognition would be a part of FingerTec technology transformation plan to enhance our new product lines.”

But nobody seemed to really notice the word “transformation”, until lately, when their habitual operation routines were disrupted by a new set of processes. Then everybody suddenly realized that the past 4 years were merely technology transformation, which only involved the R&D of product development. Now, when the new products take their turn for the debuts, other departments have to be involved, and suddenly they found out that the old way is no longer the right way.

Cloud Computing
This is how it usually works; every of our hardware has a clear price tag, and the software is bundled as a complimentary item. With TimeTec Cloud introduced as SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, we reverse the priority; customers need to sign up for a longer subscription period with payment in advance and the hardware will be given free of charge. A string of approaches that follow have to be different to produce desirable outcomes. And for Ingress and Ingressus as well, to position this product in the vertical market, the typical methods suddenly look passé. 

Old habit dies hard. When business operations become a habit, and when the habit is proven to yield excellent results, it’s extremely hard to bend the habit even the slightest. Habitual behavior can easily become addictive engagement that reflects individual pattern, and collectively it forms an organization culture. To change the habitual behavior, ones must outline the important steps, the new tasks, new activities, new expectations in details, and constantly reviewing and revising them at personal level. In short, we have to re-mould our business operations to shape our new habitual behaviour.

Reshape habitual behavior
However, why am I making everybody’s life difficult by initiating the transformation in the first place? The question needs no answer. Because if you’re in the IT industry, you know you just have to do it to secure the future.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Gist of Transformation

Microsoft has finally chosen Satya Nadella as its CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement plan four months ago. Microsoft is indeed a fortunate one. Although it remains cocooned in its own glorious past; it still has the time and loads of cash to move forward. Unlike the not-so-smart-or-lucky Nokia and Blackberry, when the ‘smart’ storm swiped, they’ve been blown out. Yes, just like that!

New Microsoft Chief: Satya Nadella

Microsoft was born and boomed in the so-called personal computer era that never meant for personal use, instead fully loaded with office software. The only widespread of personal functionality was its computer games. Maybe that’s the perception Microsoft had that sparked the xBox. Microsoft is a household brand name but its products never actually enter deep into any household level.

The era that allowed the should-be-stealthy operating system to charge every computer extravagantly has dwindled when personal computing power was liberated by smartphones. Microsoft seemed stuck in its Office Suite.

When Amazon stirred a retail industry revolution by deploying the Internet technology, it sells consumer products that are meant for everybody. The strategy is crystal clear. But later on when Amazon ventured into cloud computing, it sells cloud platform that meant clearly for enterprises, only the meticulous service concept was being brought in.

Cloud or Cloudy?

In response to the call for change, Microsoft brought in Nadella, prior to his appointment, was the head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division. Which means, Microsoft will continue to stick to its office solutions.

I’ve never underestimated the potential of office and cloud solutions, but unlike enterprise software solution giant, SAP, I think Microsoft will never draw a line to step away from producing consumer products. However, the lack of user-experience DNA in Microsoft would deter them from producing any great consumer products.

The challenge for Microsoft is clear. The IT industry is now spoiled with the astronomical choices of fast, cheap, easy to use personal stuffs that reduce consumer tolerance rate to almost zero. The intolerance attitude soon will be extended to office and enterprise solutions.

The adoption of cloud computing in enterprise solution is just good for structural change, but to be successful, the providers have to rethink and provide solutions that absorb all the superfluous micro-troubles that they conveniently left for the ‘grumpy-yet-tolerance’ users in the past. That should be the gist of its transformation.

So, the challenge for Microsoft is clear. And for FingerTec and TimeTec as enterprise solution provider as well, we’ll bear that in mind, and will keep on strengthening our gist of transformation at all times.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Internet Ecosystem

Do you still go to banks when E-banking is available, allowing you to pay your bills and make e-transfers with a fingers’ snap? Do you still flip through dictionaries to search for the meaning of some incomprehensible words, when you’re holding an iPad? Or do you even still stop to ask for directions, when the GPS can guide you through and through?

That’s how Internet has permeated our daily life. When you know the Internet can help in a much easier way, why bother with the conventional?
How to build Internet Ecosystem for Business?
We use the same approach to build our Internet-friendly ecosystem for business. Why bother with the conventional way, when you have a broadband superhighway? After years of practice, with bits and bytes replacing brick and mortar, we have built quite an effective ecosystem, handling all the processes online.

It’s easier to build a normal Internet ecosystem. You have the time and liberty to consider and fine-tune the system. You can always fall back to some conventional methods, for example, if the Google Adword advertising is not up to your expectation, old media is still waiting in line to grab your ad money. The modular subsystems can either be plugged or unplugged and still be played. Or you can have both, if they’re not contradicting each other.

SaaS Provider: Holistically Internet Proven Ecosystem  
But when our TimeTec Cloud was introduced, we have not the slightest of such luxury in options. When it comes to SaaS (Software as a Service), the comparison of both ecosystems is like David and Goliath. You may just offer a tiny part of any workflow solution to your customers, but as a SaaS provider, your operation must be holistically Internet environment proven.

No subsystems can be segregated; they must be highly integrated. No fallback plan is allowed. A forefront web portal is also an entrance for customers to log in to its applications, also the threshold for resellers to check their sales status and manage their customers.  The admin page has to extract data for further analysis. A lot of modules and sub-modules work together to form a SaaS; database, platform, analysis, security, marketing, technical support, management, CDN, and etc.; they hold together in solidarity like a piece of PCB board, every chip has its dedicated functionality.  

We were lucky to gain our admission ticket to enter the time and attendance industry from biometrics hardware by solving buddy-punching problem. SaaS is another opportunity for us to transform the industry. And now, as almost every employee carries a smart phone, employers are forcing more enterprise Apps into the handheld gadget.  How an integrated Cloud solution attaches the detached mobility with more great features is becoming yet another competition in the enterprise solutions.

The race is on. I believe our ecosystem counts.