Cloud strategy: From nightmare to finally paying dividends
By Goh Thean Eu April 21, 2016
- Dismal cloud services adoption because of poor broadband infrastructure
- With broadband maturing, Authentic Venture’s business grew 50% last year
AFTER suffering in the early years, Malaysian-based business software maker Authentic Venture Sdn Bhd is starting to enjoy the benefits of its cloud strategy.
“We started on our cloud strategy five years ago, and it was very challenging during the first few years,” says founder and chief executive officer Aziz Ismail (pic above). “We struggled.”
“We had a difficult time because [Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s] UniFi high-speed broadband service wasn’t ready or widely available,” he tells Digital News Asia (DNA) at his office in Kuala Lumpur recently.
As state-owned telecommunications company Telekom Malaysia expanded its high-speed broadband footprint, Authentic Venture started to see an increasing take-up of its cloud services.
“Our business started to grow significantly ... UniFi played a key role,” says Aziz, also the former president of the Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia (TeAM).
In 2015, Authentic Venture’s revenue and net profit jumped 50% to approximately RM2 million and RM1 million, respectively, over the previous year. [RM1 = US$0.26 at current rates]
“This year, we are expecting similar growth,” says Aziz.
The company has offices in Malaysia and Indonesia, and an agent in Vietnam.
Authentic Venture develops accounting, human resource management (HRM), and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Its flagship product OfficeCentral (pic above) is an all-in-one solution that enables SMEs to handle their accounting, point of sale, HRM, CRM and payroll functions using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
It also has another product called AssetCentral, which allows larger organisations such as hospitals, plantation firms and multinational companies manage their large asset inventories.
“Although OfficeCentral is largely designed for SMEs, we have a lot of large organisations using it too, including Mara, UiTM, Felcra, Risda and Finas,” says Aziz.
While admitting that having such upmarket and large clients helps boost the Authentic Venture brand, he says the company would still be mostly focused on growing the largely underserved SME segment.
“Of course, this does not mean that we are ignoring enterprises,” he quips.
One reason for its SME-focused strategy is that the market has huge growth potential, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia.
“In Malaysia, there are SMEs that are still using paper to run their payroll,” says Aziz.
“But this is changing as companies realise that you can do the same thing in just 30 minutes, as opposed to a week using the traditional method.
“In Indonesia, there are 55 million SMEs. It is a huge market. In contrast, Malaysia has only one million SMEs.
“To use our solution, you only need to pay RM50 a month (per user) ... I have this belief that, if I can hit one million users in Indonesia, if I go aggressive and achieve that, I would be recording RM50 million worth of revenue a month.
“So technically, I may not even have to target large companies,” Aziz declares.
He says that it is also easier to target the SME segment.
“This is because whatever I am offering SMEs, to them, the solution is fantastic. They don’t need much customisation.
“That’s why I am not putting most of my focus on growing the large enterprise business because it would also mean that I would be fighting against giants like SAP,” he adds.
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