Enterprise-centric Disrupt a pleasant surprise

  • Big opportunity for entrepreneurs to solve pain point for telcos and enterprises
  • Doing so requires deep domain knowledge however, and not copying some hot trend from the US

Enterprise-centric Disrupt a pleasant surpriseTWO things really pleased me about Tuesday’s DNA-TeAM Disrupt: That the discussion was very enterprise focused; and that I saw a lot of new faces at the event.
In fact, I was beginning to worry that Disrupt was becoming too start-up centric, which was not my intention. After all, DNA’s tagline is, “Your eye on the tech ecosystem” and the tech ecosystem is more than just start-ups. The nice mix of guests at this week’s Disrupt was great to see.
The focus of the discussion was great too, with the surprise for me that there was still huge opportunity in the enterprise space for entrepreneurs to come up with mobility solutions in the form of apps.
This opportunity may be there and it may be large, but somehow it seems to have been missed by our companies, especially start-ups, which are almost totally focused on the consumer side.
To be sure, this enterprise app space is a tough market to get into because one cannot copy a hot trend in the United States and think it will surely happen here, eventually. To spot an opportunity in the enterprise space and then to try and build an app for it demands deep domain knowledge.
Certainly not something someone fresh out of school or with a few years’ industry experience can tackle.
Or perhaps our start-ups had assumed, like I had, that the large software vendors would have been able to come up with suitable apps that help bridge their enterprise apps with the new mobile requirements that enterprise users are increasingly demanding.
Not so, says Nimal Manuel, our panelist from McKinsey & Co, who says many of the large tech vendors are in fact struggling to come up with the right apps. Even established non-tech companies are struggling to adopt the right apps into their business.
Enterprise-centric Disrupt a pleasant surprise
“I serve many large clients who have to defend against start-ups disrupting their business,” Manuel admitted. “While many of these clients are looking into mobility, their first port-of-call are the telcos, but telcos have not been nimble enough to capture this segment.”
And telcos are struggling, acknowledged Karan Henrik Ponnudurai, Celcom-Axiata’s chief innovation, online and digital officer. “We have spent many millions building apps and solutions for our enterprise customers but without much success,” he said. “Nobody knows the right answers.”
This should be music to the ears of any entrepreneur out there. You have got McKinsey and a leading telco in Malaysia telling you about a major pain point in the market that is calling out for solutions -- mobile solutions!
“Start small and keep it simple,” Karan advised.

This is clearly an opportunity for established tech companies to exploit too.  For instance, there is no reason why a company like Centium Software, an MSC Malaysia Status company with expertise in healthcare and communications, can’t find a corporate pain point in the healthcare space and build an app that can solve that problem.
I use Centium as an example because its founder and chief technology officer G. Saravanan happened to attend our recent Disrupt.
‘G,’ as he prefers to be called, has quietly gone about building Centium since its founding in 1998, into a company with regional business and a seven-figure annual revenue. There are actually quite a few other MSC Malaysia status companies out there that could get into this enterprise app space if they wanted too.
This leads me to the second thing that pleased me: The fact that there were a lot of new faces at Disrupt. And, I hope more CEOs of established tech companies, like G, start coming too. I feel these seasoned and hardened entrepreneurs will be able to add a lot of value to Disrupt and may even decide to become angel investors to some of the start-ups they meet.
While I expect that most of the crowd will be start-ups eager to network and exchange ideas, there were a fair number of people from corporate backgrounds too. In fact, those of you who happened to catch Disrupt over Google Hangout would have heard an executive from Petronas and the pain points of his organization in terms of trying to identify the right enterprise apps that it needs.
I just learnt a lot from his questions posed to the panel. I threw him the idea of coming up with a Petronas Enterprise Mobility challenge to see if anyone can come up with an enterprise app that Petronas can use. See if he bites, and see you at the next Disrupt!
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