Chairman Woon Tai Hai aims to tighten the ship while deciding on fate of Digital Lifestyle Expo
Building Pikom’s thought leadership standing another priority
PIKOM, the national ICT association of Malaysia, recently re-elected Woon Tai Hai (pic) to a second term as chairman. Two years is the maximum term that Pikom allows for this position, mainly because this is a volunteer post but one that comes with a lot of visibility and heavy responsibilities.
It is a post that has always been filled by seasoned entrepreneurs or successful professional executives, both groups being busy individuals in their own right.
Woon, for instance, has to balance his Pikom responsibilities with his duty to KPMG where he is executive director and head of KPMG's Business Performance Services practice.
The last thing wanted is for someone to occupy the post for selfish reasons. Hence Pikom has settled on two years as the ideal time spent in the post.
That tends to light a fire under those holding it as two years is not a long time, and that is how Woon sees it too. He acknowledges that the most a chairman can do is to put in place some good foundations and implement some of them – and hope the next chairman shares the same philosophy and takes the execution of the ideas of the past chairman to the next level.
But one thing that will always be a top-of-mind issue for any Pikom chairman will be on the health of Pikom’s PC Fair. And, today, this cash cow, which has almost singlehandedly contributed to Pikom’s robust financial health, is in trouble.
Business has been poor the past two three years and this has culminated in talks of a breakaway group, with some PC retailers not happy with how Pikom has been unable to do more to help them.
Hence, Woon talks about how Pikom is urging its retail members to recognize the macro trends that are happening and respond by moving up the value chain. “They have to work on product mix, on quality, on service and pricing, always a key part of the overall value but not the most important today,” he says.
In fact, related to the PC Fair and recognizing that it is no longer the key event consumers wait for, Pikom has over the past few years launched its Digital Lifestyle Expo (DLE) – a broader exhibition-cum-fair that promotes and educates consumers on the possibilities of the digital lifestyle change that is upon us.
The DLE got off to a promising start in 2010 but has since not been able to build on its momentum, and this is an issue Woon is looking to address.
“At the last two council meetings, I have been urging the Pikom council to relook the reasons for launching DLE and to not keep running the fair in the same way because you will keep getting the same results,” he says.
He has laid three options on the table. To actually drop the DLE; do a total revamp; or not do anything at all.
“We have to decide by early next year if we want to carry on and how best to do this. Remember, this is not meant to be a PC Fair where the focus in strictly on sales.”
Woon describes next year as a “do or die” year for the DLE with a decision likely to be made soon on its fate.
But Pikom is more than about its PC Fair. As Woon says, “All of the committee members share the same passion to drive the IT industry forward and part of this is to ensure Pikom itself is a stronger and well-run organization.”
One of the key things Woon has done is to launch a Governance and Oversight Committee comprising an independent team not involved in the day-to-day operations of Pikom, to strengthen its standard operating procedures (SOPs) and to oversee the implementation of the various programs run by the association.
“We cannot afford any nonsense or be perceived to be doing anything that is not proper and professional,” he says.
With 2012 also marking the end of Pikom’s “5 by 5” plan which began in 2008, Woon has made it a strategic priority to relook that plan and some of its action items.
He has no interest in reinventing, the wheel but wants to take the plan to new heights while relooking some aspects. He acknowledges that in light of the dynamic environment of the ICT industry and changing demographic population, the next five-year plan must certainly take these into considerations.
“Whilst it is not exactly crystal ball gazing, a deep dive in examining and predicting the trends and picking the ‘right horses’ is certainly necessary,” he says.
Coming from a consulting and professional practice background, Woon also is pushing for a stronger research capability within Pikom and is promoting the creation of a knowledge portal.
“For example, when I pass over the baton to the next chairman, I do not want it to be just a baton but to pass over a comprehensive report of all the activities done over the past 24 months and with an analysis of how they went. This includes all the speeches I made,” he says.
To Woon, who incidently writes his own speeches, this is an important function of the knowledge portal as it allows the next chairman to get a strong understanding of the issues and to get off to a running start without spending too much time reflecting on what went right or wrong over the past two years.
Beyond this, Woon wants to see Pikom recognized as a thought leader in the industry and is planning to release a monthly newsletter as a start. “We need to move beyond being just associated with our PC Fair.”
That may be more difficult than he envisions as he relates his experience while in Genting Highlands for an Elton John show recently. “When I asked people at random what they thought of when they hear that I am with Pikom, everyone said ‘PC Fair’.”
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