Kiran Kaur Sidhu: My Fave 5 of 2019

  • For startups & entrepreneurs to succeed, it’s all about daring to be different
  • Technology only helps efficiency, no matter for small or large companies

Dr. Ahmad Ramzi, founder and CEO of Planet Mahir, second from left and Haidar Darus, cofounder and CMO, right, with their team.

One more revolution around the sun, and yet another opportunity to reflect on the year behind us and all the stories Digital News Asia covered in 2019. Entrepreneurial grind and passion is a quality that often inspires, and tales of their journeys and those of organisational digital metamorphosis are always a privilege to tell. But to choose just five as my favourites, it would have to be the following.


The entrepreneurship journey begins at 10, not 25

As our nation looks to driving forward its digital economy agenda, cultivating creative and innovative thinking amongst our young is an important step to take. The entrepreneurial spirit, after all, is not instilled overnight but rather through lots of failures, learning and experience.

This talk by Professor Rajesh Nair from Asia School of Business bore insight into educating children give them the “right stimuli” early on. He touched on why the top-down approach of many entrepreneurship programmes are not the most effective way to create entrepreneurs. "Often these programmes focus on 25-year-old people. I believe it should be done when they're 10-years-old because to master these things in your 20s - the rate of learning is pretty steep.”

It certainly something to think about, especially if you’re a parent or educator.


Making cold, hard cash easier to access by eliminating ATMs

With the cashless and e-wallet craze closing in on us, SoCash stood out at once because, essentially, it was doing the reverse – putting cold, hard cash in the hands of people, but more conveniently.

Now, how can cash withdrawals be easier than an automated teller machine (ATM) dispensing notes you ask? SoCash’s founder and chief executive officer, Hari Sivan, has just the solution by allowing withdrawals at the cashier of convenience stores and definitely offered a refreshing perspective.

The idea is, if everybody can withdraw cash from our outlets, then you don’t need the ATM infrastructure. We create a network of these cash point outlets and train our merchant partners to do basic banking service,” explains Hari.


Planet Mahir delivers Malay-language online learning

E-learning opens up endless opportunities to new skills and knowledge, outside of an academic setting, and often, at a lower cost. But other than internet access, there is also the great language barrier to consider when it comes to content on the world wide web.

Undeniably, most of the readily available content on the internet is in English, leaving out those who aren’t proficient in the language. Addressing this is Planet Mahir, an e-learning portal delivering bite-size content in the Malay language across a range of topics.

In the larger scheme of things, Planet Mahir aims to penetrate the larger Malay-speaking market in Indonesia. And though it is still in its early stages, it sure has identified a prominent market need. As for its edge over global players attempting to do the same, Planet Mahir believes it has a clear understanding of the market and what appeals to them.

“The method of delivery and approach [of other content] differs. In Malaysia, a more layman style is preferred. Our goal is to deliver edutainment,” shared the director of smart partnerships, Mohd Haidar.


Zalora a data first, before fashion company, says CCO

Online shopping has become the first avenue we explore when a need for an item arises. And it’s not every day we hear about the workings an e-commerce company. Giulio Xiloyannis, the chief commercial officer at Zalora, an online fashion company with a strong presence in Southeast Asia, gave Digital News Asia the opportunity to learn about how it harnesses data for business and how it handles of over 50,000 packages per day. And I’m sure they are way past this number now as well!

Zalora’s focus, he explains, is on increasing the efficiency of human work through software rather than hardware (robotics for example). A prime example of this is mobile picking where workers wear a “very big smartwatch in the warehouse to calculate the best path to follow while ensuring they do the least amount of walking.” And I’m sure some of you will be thinking, “And how long before it is a robot and not human, wearing that smartwatch and doing the picking?” That is a valid question and Giulio does not see that happening anytime soon.


‘They will die’ if productivity software taken away from staff, says legal firm boss

Stories of far and wide digital transformation is one often told by the large corporates. But here is a story with a difference, a medium-sized law firm that has taken cognisance of technology and its ability to massively inject efficiency. So great is the use of the personalised software, that his staff would not be able to function without it, according to group chief executive officer, Patrick Mirandah.

For Mirandah Asia, embracing tech to improve its internal processes is just the smart thing to do and it saves the company over US$2,660 (RM11,000) a year in fines paid due to human error.

The two main factors to making digital adoption work is the top-down manner of management in driving the change, and data migration from old system to new, as this story reveals.


Related stories:

Kiran Kaur Sidhu: My Fave 5 of 2018

Dzof Azmi: My Fave 5 of 2019

Sharmila Ganapathy: My Fave 5 of 2018

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