KL-based IT automotive services firm takes on the big boys

  • Boot-strapped company competing on price, but confident its quality is up to snuff
  • Founder’s vision is to put Malaysia on the global IT map in the automotive sector

KL-based IT automotive services firm takes on the big boysDESPITE having been established only some six months ago, Malaysian automotive IT consultancy Goldbury Communications is confident that its niche expertise and quality services will help it grow beyond local shores.

According to its founder and director Mohamed Zuhri Mohamed Yusof, there are very few IT shops that specialise in automotive information systems, let alone those familiar with SAP products.

Other notable names that create software for this vertical include Oracle Corp, Infor and Microsoft Corp, he saiys
 
Mohamed Zuhri founded Goldbury last October, after a four-year stint with Proton Holdings, two of which was as the head of its IT division. Prior to that, he worked in other companies within the automotive sector.
 
“Goldbury was formed with the sole purpose of addressing a need in the market,” he tells Digital News Asia (DNA). “That need is to provide affordable IT consultancy services to automotive distributors and resellers around the globe. This is our vision.”
 
Mohamed Zuhri says that presently, large IT consultancies such as Accenture, NTT Data and Tata Communications are often engaged to undertake IT projects for the automotive sector. These services include end-to-end enterprise resources planning (ERP) projects, which often cost millions of dollars.
 
Only a small portion of the contract cost would address the specific needs that deal with automotive dealers, and they are the dealer business management system to manage after-sales service; the vehicle management system to manage active sales; and the warranty management system to manage aftersales warranties, he says.
 
“One of the key things I experienced whilst at Proton was that automotive distributors and resellers often overpay for this portion of the consultancy services by these large companies.
 
“It then occurred to me that there would be a captive market for this segment of the business, and that I could come out, establish a company and service these automotive distributors and resellers. This is the idea behind Goldbury being formed,” says Mohamed Zuhri
 
Armed with about RM750,000 (US$250,000) of his own savings, the 32-year-old started Goldbury with a view of taking on the big boys by offering niche IT services within the automotive sector.
 
Today, the company specialises in implementing, managing and upgrading SAP’s Dealer Business Management (DBM), Vehicle Management System (VMS) and Warranty Management System (WMS).
 
Goldbury, based in Kuala Lumpur, has a total of 21 people, 15 of whom are SAP consultants. It claims it has signed contracts worth RM2 million, and has won sub-contracts from the larger IT shops and now services Honda Malaysia, Honda Thailand and Sime Darby Motors.
 
Asked how confident he was in taking on the larger IT consultancies and system integrators, Mohamed Zuhri says he believes that two factors will set Goldbury apart from the competition. “Yes, you’re right – I’m up against very huge giants in the business. But I believe that our pricing and quality service is what will win our customers over.”
 
Claiming to be able to service his clients at a price five to 10 times lower than the cost of the large consultancies, he says the low-cost base is because Goldbury is based in Malaysia, where the cost of operations and resources are still affordable.
 
On whether price is a sustainable way to compete, Mohamed Zuhri says, “Yes, our proposition for the next five years is to compete on price. But we believe that the resource shortage in this business will continue to be acute over the next few years and the rates for consultants are only going to go up. This is why we think we can still pip others on price.”
 
As for quality of services, he stands by Goldbury’s capabilities and even offers a free one-month trial for its services should any distributor or reseller sign up with the company. “We stand by our expertise and services and will offer our prospective customers one month free services to show that we have the quality.”
 
He also says he isn’t afraid of the shortage of skill sets, which many in Malaysia always lament, as he believes he can find ready readily affordable talents and capabilities in SAP systems here.
 
“There may not be very many people trained in the SAP’s DBM, VMS or WMS, but all I need are consultants who are fairly familiar with SAP software generally, and there are readily available resources for these kinds of people here in Malaysia,” he adds.
 
Future plans
 
KL-based IT automotive services firm takes on the big boysAccording to Mohamed Zuhri, business has been picking up and in the next few months, the company plans to target Proton and Naza Motors with its services. He declines to say when this would happen, only saying that the comoany "is very close" to securing these deals.
 
In tandem with its plans to grow this year, Goldbury plans to set up its global IT hub in MSC Cyberport, in the southern state of Johor, which is due to be completed in a few years. Meanwhile, the company is expected to start its operations at Menara MSC Cyberport in Johor Baru by month's end.
 
Mohamed Zuhri also claims that Goldbury is in contract negotiations with four other overseas-based automotive distributors -- one in Thailand, one in Britain and two in the Middle East. Additionally, he will also expand beyond using SAP and look into other automotive software packages from Oracle, Infor and Microsoft.
 
Asked what were his targets for this year, he says Goldbury aims to hit RM7million (US$2.34 million) in revenue and have a total headcount of about 45 people.
 
“My aspiration is to try and put Malaysia on the global IT map in the automotive sector, and this is our first step to do so,” he adds.
 
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