THEEDGE MALAYSIA | JANUARY 24, 2011 www.theedgemalaysia.com email@example.com Pikom ICT Strategic Review | Branding in a digital world Finding his feet IBM: Use analytics to ﬁnd out what 2 3 customers want 4 LEE LAY KIN./THE EDGE Sayf (left) with his team leader for Openbravo solutions, Mohd Shaiza Ibrahim, at the Mizi outlet in Gombak. All ﬁve Mizi outlets use the ERP solution.Value in open source ERPby Karamjit Singh software have expanded, thanks to the rapid ed to build a relationship on the principles of With Openbravo focusing on the twin areas growth of the open source movement. For Sayf Openbravo, and after six months of technical of ERP and Point-of-Sale solutions, Sayf says itI n the early days of the IT sector in Malay- Che Ismail,who started out as an entrepreneur training, all done online, they launched in is natural for B.I.S. to focus and build a niche in sia, many an entrepreneur made a very building his own enterprise resource planning January last year. integrated retail.This simply means any busi- comfortable living as resellers of hardware (ERP) solution,with dreams of taking on the big While BIS is a reseller, the nature of its ness that operates a chain of stores and wants and software products by mainly Western boys in the arena, reality soon bit and hard. “We relationship is different from the traditional to manage its goods, or SKUs (stock keeping companies in both the consumer and en- started building our ERP solution right after reseller mode. The six-month technical train- units) in industry lingo, in a more organised terprise space. Nothing wrong with that, college. You have to be a bit gung-ho then, and ing points to this. Another difference is the and transparent manner.but it did not add any value to the IT ecosys- believe you can build anything,” he said. sharing of expertise by all the professional “Our solution is ideal for SMEs, and is ro-tem as far as creating intellectual property or However, even with a client who was will- partners of Openbravo. The partners are free to bust enough to handle a manufacturing-basedspinning off companies go. ing to work with them, it took six months to use any software customised for their respec- business too,” he says. Affordability is a key These system integrators — whether they build an ERP system for the client. But when tive home market customers. The reason for attraction of the open source solution, andsell their products to the enterprise market and the client started having trouble with the sys- this? They make money from implementing Sayf knows from experience that this is keycomputer shops,or whether they sell consumer- tem, Sayf realised his company was too small the software and providing customers with to attracting reluctant SME owners to tap theoriented hardware and software — would need to provide the necessary support, and get more technical support. power of the technology.some sort of logistics capability to store their clients at the same time. Not surprisingly, Sayf says Openbravo is “In fact, we have developed a software asproducts and distribute them to the various He then came across an MSC-status com- one of the most forward looking open source a service (SaaS) model for our solution, as theoutlets, even if they were selling software. pany that was building its ERP and having the companies, which is led by former executives next generation version of Openbravo is uti- Nowadays,with the Internet, business mod- same issues he was. “The only difference was from the likes of Microsoft, SAP and other lead- lising cloud computing services.” What thisels have changed and the distribution of soft- they had MSC status, which was valuable and ing tech ﬁrms. “They are very passionate about means is that B.I.S. will soon offer an ERP so-ware is done with a few strokes on a keyboard. a track record. So my partners and I decided making this work, and today have a company lution that sits in the cloud, a hot area in theBeing a reseller, or partner as it is now called, to buy them and combine our operations. The that is over 250 people strong, with excellent technology space. Customers will only need tois no longer just about pushing products. The combined company was called B.I.S. R&D Sdn support for its partners.” fork out around RM20,000 in upfront invest-name of the game is services, especially in the Bhd. But we also realised at the time that it Fast forward to today and Sayf is proud of ment and pay a monthly fee of under RM1,000enterprise space, and instead of sales assistants was not easy building our own ERP solution. the fact that B.I.S. has just been awarded the to Amazon Cloud Services to keep their datato push sales, one needs software programmers We had to look for something else.” Asia-Paciﬁc Partner of The Year by Openbravo. in the cloud.to customise software for individual corporate That something else came in the form of “We are also functionally and technically cer- “This changes the game completely forcustomers. Openbravo, an online open source-based ERP tiﬁed by Openbravo, and are one of their 200 SMEs and other companies, which before this Meanwhile, the business models for selling solution. This was in mid-2009. Sayf proceed- professional partners globally,” he says. CO N T I N U E S O N PAG E 4
firstname.lastname@example.org 4 THEEDGE MAL AYSIA | JANUARY 24, 2011IBM: Use analytics to ﬁnd out what customers want REUTERSI n the largest global insurance study un- dertaken by the IBM Institute of Busi- ness Value, more than 60% of consumers indicated that they are planning to use more than one interaction point — such as phone, website or face-to-face meetings— to purchase insurance policies. One-fifth ofthe respondents said they use more than fourdifferent interaction points to research andcompare their insurance options. According to press release from IBM, a to-tal of 21,000 consumers in 20 countries acrossthe world, including Malaysia, were askedabout their shopping and buying patterns forinsurance. The sample size was generally 800respondents per country. As a result of thestudy, IBM is urging insurers to augment theirtraditional sales strategies to incorporate socialmedia and analytics techniques. “Our ﬁndings show that the customer ofthe future is diverse and multi-modal,” saysPrimo B Aguas, Insurance Sales Lead, IBMAsean. “Consumers prefer interaction pointchoices — and consumers can and will switchinsurers if their preferred interaction pointsare not available. Insurance has shifted froma sellers’ to a buyers’ market.” Consumers selected online channels (49.5%) Surprisingly, only 1% of consumers say they use their smartphones to search for insuranceas their top preference for information gather-ing purposes to search for insurance. Follow- into trust of the institution he is represent- • Follow your customers and use analytics: customers want — instead of the “eat this oring close behind was personal contact with ing?,” he says. Or, to put it differently: Malaysia Insurers should study the data of insurance die” approach — will deﬁnitely improve trustan agent (47.9%), peer groups like friends and is simply not as bad as the other 19 countries search and purchase decisions and employ and loyalty,” he suggests.family (46.4%), and websites of aggregators or in the survey, he suggests, which is not saying them effectively. They should also engage The report recognises the ongoing impor-independent comparison providers (35.5%). Malaysians trust the industry. consumers actively to reveal data about their tance that consumers still place on personal The study also found that consumers in Malay- The recommendations to insurers in- preferences to develop customised strate- interaction. Indeed, when consumers receivesia had the highest level of trust in the insurance clude: gies based on personal experience. The use information from a person, 80% of them stickindustry and loyalty to their insurers compared • Increase the number of available interaction of customer analytics can reveal valuable with the person for the actual purchase. Re-with consumers in other countries surveyed.Gen- points: As consumers want to use multiple behavioural data that will allow insurers to garding the consumer’s preferred channel forerally,the relationship between trust and loyalty touch points, insurers should make it easy compare interaction point offerings to the purchasing insurance, personal interactionis more pronounced in the emerging markets for customers to search and purchase insur- preferred mix of targeted customers. points are overwhelmingly preferred by 31.5%than in the industrialised economies. ance products beyond personal interactions While insurance ﬁrms already use analyt- of those surveyed, with the insurer’s website Asked to drill down on why this was so with — employing print, social media and smart- ics and the help of actuarial scientists to study a distant third at 16.8%.Malaysian consumers,Aguas suggests that this phone channels.These interactions should trends and offer new policies or kill those that While mobile shopping is emerging intois due to causation: “Loyalty is highest because be branded consistently, present identical are not advantageous to them,Aguas points out a rising global trend, IBM’s survey surpris-trust is highest.Trust is usually not only a func- information and allow users to switch in- that the analytics insurers use is with regard to ingly revealed that only 1% of consumerstion of market factors, but also cultural values: teraction points without losing information products, which more or less ﬁt the customer say they use their smartphones to searchDoes the trust in the insurance agent translate provided at other points of contact. set they have. “Using analytics to ﬁnd out what for insurance.A system to solve Mizi’s problems KENNY YAP/THE EDGEF R O M PAG E 1 This [how other companies had beneﬁted from usingneeded at least two servers, the use of Openbravo] gave me comfort as I have had bada data centre to house their servers experiences using independent software vendors.and to deal with the rapid deprecia- The ﬁnancial management capabilities of Openbravotion cost of IT hardware. IT used to be are good, and of course, the price was very reasonablea problem for us too, when we werenot familiar with the hardware but — Azmihad to deal with that in the name ofproviding good services to our cus- them from growing the business,” eﬁted from using Openbravo. “Thistomers.” he says. gave me comfort as I have had bad While Sayf believes the cloud- The owner of the Mizi chain of experiences using independent soft-based solution will really help the stores is one such person. Azmi Nay- ware vendors.The ﬁnancial manage-company push its solutions and serv- an, managing director of Mizi Sports, ment capabilities of Openbravo areices, he acknowledges that the biggest tells email@example.com that his main problem good, and of course, the price waschallenge remains the reluctance of was managing the variety of products very reasonable.”Malaysian business owners to take to it sells as Mizi carries multiple brands, Azmi will judge the success ofIT. “Many still don’t trust software, with each brand having its own cod- the investment he has made by themuch less software that will now sit ing system.Worse,some of the smaller extent that the software can helpin the cloud.” Still he believes that brands did not provide barcodes,which him determine customer buyingthe value an ERP solution brings to he knew would become a problem. habits and patterns. “We want tobusinesses will be clear, especially Stock keeping was also a problem, ow- sell whatever we buy from suppliers,once they hit a certain size. ing to the number of items Mizi car- so making sure that our purchasing “When they hit a certain size, ried and needed to have in stock. “We is as close to consumer demand astheir standard UBS accounting soft- knew we needed a system that could possible is very important to me,”ware will struggle to give the busi- solve all this,” says Azmi. says Azmi.ness owner a proper view of the This is where B.I.S. came into the If Openbravo can help Azmibusiness, and many have come to picture. Sayf showed Azmi how other achieve that, Sayf will have a win-realise that this actually prevents companies around the world had ben- ner on his hands.