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Shaped by the prosumer, and the Creative Economy

IT’S no surprise that the transformation of Packet One Networks (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd into webe digital Sdn Bhd began with imagination, since chief executive officer CC Puan is a strong believer in the Creative Economy. “Before we could redesign our company, we had to start with reimagining what a telco in this digital era should look and feel and act like,” he says in this second part of a 12-part series.

Shaped by the prosumer, and the Creative Economy

DNA: Why do you say this is the Creative Economy? Isn’t this the Digital Economy?
Puan: Not anymore! We started with the Industrial Economy which was about scale, then moved to the Productivity Economy and then to the Internet Economy, which was about speed.
The Creative Economy is about doing things bigger, better and faster – and doing new things, be it in terms of products, services or business models.
That is why we have reimagined ourselves and redesigned ourselves to do new things.
DNA: Is this why you didn’t want to build webe around existing telco rules?
Puan: We want to be a telco that is imaginatively reimagined to be future-focused, to redesign ourselves. One can’t do that by looking in the box. That is why we looked beyond the telco business for ideas, and beyond our borders for inspiration.
For example, we were inspired by a digital video storefront startup called HumbleBundle. It has a unique business model that focuses on indie developers. A portion of each sale goes to charity, but users get to determine themselves how much and which charity gets the donation.
That is just half of the story. Users also get to determine how much they want to pay for the game bundles! The balance, after deducting their contribution to any charity, goes to the independent game developers.
Following this awesome inception in 2010, game developers have grossed over US$100 million, with US$65 million going to various types of charity organisations.
Needless to say, we have been inspired by this.
DNA: That’s quite a bold move, to allow users to decide themselves what they want to pay and what portion goes to charity.
Puan: Definitely. It was bold, it was new. and we think it was creative as well. But it also fits in with the mindset of today’s consumers who not only have new expectations, they demand creative solutions that fulfill their hopes, dreams and aspirations.
We put ourselves in the prosumer’s shoe, wanting the companies that they associate with to be committed to a sustainable and responsible path.
DNA: That sounds like consumers have a lot more power today. Is that scary from a corporate perspective?
Puan: It is scary in a way, but it is also the reality that webe has embraced as a digital mobility service provider in this new Creative Era. In this era, the consumer, especially millennials, have the power to make or break companies.
There is actually even a name for this type of consumer: ‘Prosumer,’ taken from ‘producer’ and ‘consumer.’ They want to be involved in the company’s design as well as production process, in order to help the company come up with its products.
DNA: Was this the motivation for you to launch webe via the introduction of the webe community platform first?
Puan: Yes, and actually we are starting with seven projects. Recently, we’ve had two of the seven unlocked, thanks to the members of webe community – the cycling to China project aimed at raising money to refurbish less fortunate families’ homes around Malaysia; and the container classroom project in Perak (pic above) aimed at addressing schoolchildren who have conditions such as cerebral palsy.
We have allocated some funds for the seven projects, and we urge Malaysians to support the other five projects still to be unlocked by downloading our app via the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Members can share the projects with their friends via Facebook or Twitter to collect ‘webits,’ webe community’s special points. With more webits, they can then pledge to support the projects backed by the webe community.
These seven projects also help give Malaysians an idea of the kind of projects that can catalyse positive change in society, and amply demonstrate that ‘we’ is greater than ‘me,’ as we have mentioned before in our first conversation.
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