Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Microwikinomics - Building on the Sharing Spirit

The Internet Guru, Don Tapscott has published a new book Macrowikinomics in 2010; it is not really a sequel to his previous book, Wikinomics that was published four years ago, it is a continuous observation for an expansion trend of the mass collaboration.

Don Tapscott

The term Mass Collaboration, popularized by Tapcott in his book Wikinomics is defined in Wikipedia (one of the most successful projects of mass collaboration, where the Wiki-nomics get its name) as a form of collective actions that occur when large numbers of people work independently on a single project, often modular in its nature. Such projects typically take place on the internet using social software and computer-supported collaboration tools such as wiki technologies, which provide a potentially infinite hypertextual substrate within which the collaboration may be situated.

And, in the four years of penning the idea, the author observes that the wikinomics has gone beyond a business or technology trend to become a more encompassing societal shift. He says, wikinomics, defined as the art and science of mass collaboration in business, becomes macrowikinomics; the application of wikinomics and its core principles to society and all of its institutions. Just as millions have contributed to Wikipedia – and thousands still make ongoing contributions to large-scale collaborations like Linux and the human genome project, he urges, why not open-source government, education, science, the production of energy, and even health care? I believe these are not idle fantasies, but real opportunities that the new world of macrowikinomics makes possible.

Mass collaboration

But, just as the macroeconomics reduces its size to economics, and further down to microeconomics, I would like to scale down Tapscott’s macrowikinomics idea to microwikinomics, where mass collaboration does not only apply to those “think big” projects, but to be adopted in a lot smaller communities.

Just like most of the countries, their economies are not driven by a handful of conglomerates; but by the vast number of SMEs (small and medium enterprises), whom are commonly facing the scarce-of-resources problem, the concept of mass collaboration should be strongly promoted in this community.

I actually promote the same concept here within the FingerTec context. Buying and selling of FingerTec products is merely a business activity, to reach the state of mass collaboration, we anticipate resellers to contribute contents to enrich our resource pool. 

Over the years, we have built the resource pool of the microsites, mostly on our own, only a handful of our resellers contribute marketing stories, technical tips, translates TCMS V2 software or FingerTec hardware into their local languages, and etc. And in FingerTec Distributor Guidebook, I strongly encourage distributor to tap on our resources to edit their own version of newsletter to enlarge the clout in their local market; this is also a spirit that is derived from the microwikinomics.

I’m not partial to business agreements that bind each other. At FingerTec, we don’t initiate distribution agreement, because the commitment is not all defined by a simple sales figure. If some distributors or resellers continuously contribute to enrich our resource pool, they are like family members to us, rather than sheer business partners. Even if their sales figures are still far from satisfactory, I believe it is just a matter of time before we could observe improvements; and as a family member, we have the patience.

Tapscott lists these five important elements: collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence to ensure a successful macrowikinomics. But when I think through, it applies to FingerTec microwikinomics too.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reversing Business Concept

When we ranked the Top 10 Events of FingerTec in 2010 in the recent newsletter, most of them are tangibly measurable. But to me, the silent revolution that successfully took place in the company, which I couldn’t phrase it in any official milestone document should be more worthy to report.

I would like to start my explanation with this idiom, If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. It taught us if things do not change the way you want them to, you must adjust to the way they are. This is something about reverse thinking that leads to a reverse operation that yields a positive result.
What I want to convey here is that, when you think differently, act against all odds, the pay-off might be much higher than the conventional way.

The conventional and common practices that most businesses have include having sales people running around chasing customers, whereas technical guys would passively wait for customers’ calls.

If I were to ask, “Why don't we do it the other way around?” I'm sure to get this rebuke, “You mean the technical guys would go out chasing customers and the sales people could sit back and relax? Are you out of your mind? Now you really want the mountain to come to Mohammed.”

Why not? I'd insist adamantly, “Most people loathe spam mails, why should I act one like a Chinese company? If we have agreed on permission marketing, we'd need to get a ‘yes’ from them first.” And we often heard this complaint, “To conclude sales, they'd come anytime even at midnight; but come to after-sales services, they’re nowhere to be seen.”

Could I reverse the common business practice? This would make the technical department plays a more active role, and the sales department be a little laidback and less aggressive when it comes to pursuing customers. “Less aggressive? Without a sales quota, of course your sales department is too relaxed.” One of my business friends strongly opposing me.

To transform supposedly passive technical guys to be more proactive was not an easy task. 

The silent-revolution took me quite some years. Now, our technical department has been trained to promptly respond to all technical inquiries; has to ensure the offered solutions really solve problems; has to categorize type of technical issues for further analysis; has to gather customers’ requirements for further developments; has to work closely with R&D in fixing software bugs; has to compile technical tips for monthly newsletter; has to provide assistance in producing user and technical video clips; has to maintain two technical microsites, and help in another six; has to repair hardwares and, all in all, has to upgrade the service quality from time to time to a higher customer care level, rather than to stay merely at the problem-solving stage.

When I slowly reversed the business strategies and operations in 2005, it naturally occurred to me that this should be the right way for any ethical business practice, not the familiar one that has long been distorted by the shortsighted businessmen.

By reversing the priority, it seems a lot easier for us to build a satisfied and devoted customer base. And instead of trying hard to look for new customers, we often attracted them to come to us. The sales figure grew by 575% in the past six years (95.8% per annum in average) proved that my strategy was working fine and it matches well with the Blue Ocean Strategy that promotes “demand is created rather than fought over”.

The cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy is “value innovation”. A blue ocean is created when a company achieves value innovation that creates value simultaneously for both customer and the company.

Yes, the mountain finally came to us.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Friday, November 26, 2010

Standard vs Passion – Who Wins?

Dabbawallahs - Lunch box delivery service

A lot of management gurus like to refer the Bombay Dabbawallahs operations as an outstanding example of excellence in logistics. The 120-year old business operation is often quoted as compliance to the 30-year old six-sigma business management strategy implementation standard in the India context. I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud when I heard the statement.

I didn’t laugh at the homegrown lunch box delivery service model, which was developed and perfected by a group of individuals who have very little or no formal education in the area of logistics; I laughed at the management gurus. What I have witnessed so far is too much of theories and standard management procedures that have jammed up the thinking process, especially for managers who supposedly need to think out of the box to improve their daily operations.

When a crude system like Dabbawallahs can meet the so-called six-sigma standard, it doesn’t mean that the management gurus have to pack and go home, it sparks another interesting topic that worth to ponder.

A lot of big corporations are willing to pour millions of dollar for experts to guide them through, yet they’re still struggling to comply with the ISO 9000 or six-sigma standard. The question is, why can an illiterate system in Bombay easily achieve the standard and yet they’re not bothered to claim the pride, or care to be audited by any International Standard Organization?

Many MBA graduates like to boast all sorts of jargons and buzzwords in their conversations, ROI, SWOT, SMART, sometimes even FART and etc to show-off their management knowledge, but what I see is a lot of mediocrity, ordinary managers who proud to follow the plain rules and running the daily errands, and for the bosses, please don’t hold your breathe for any breakthrough from them soon.

Even though they are stuffed with knowledge, they are like zombies without PASSION, the key element that leads to any success story. Yes, passion is what most of the career managers lack of in today’s corporations. It is clear to me that ones get jobs done with knowledge, but ones deliver distinct results with knowledge and passion.

Excellent result is driven by passion; it is not driven by six sigma or ISO 9000 standard. And sometimes you even have to bend some standards to achieve success.

It’s just like a famous quote of Dr Ian Malcolm in the movie Jurassic Park, "If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained .…….. life finds a way." If you’re longed for improvement, of course you will find whatever way to improve it, be it six-sigma or zero-sigma.
The Bombay Dabbawallahs are hiring 5000 people, and dispatch 300,000 lunch boxes to and fro on a daily basis. With a huge 7.5 million transactions in a month the system averagely only reported 3 errors per month. Of course they deploy a fantastic system of their own, but the system is definitely driven and perfected by passion, and not by any international standard.

I like to bend some business standards myself, and set my own standards. I don’t hold any company meetings all year long, I don’t need marketing manager to produce me a business plan that should send a shock to some MBA students. And our official FingerTec website is surely not fit to any corporate standard.

An article, “Being Steve’s Boss” in Bloomberg Businessweek the October 25-31 issue interests me. Somehow it assures that my being not standard shouldn't be a barrier to me achieving success.

An anecdotal story: A friend of mine was at meetings at Apple and Microsoft on the same day. And this was in the last year, so this was recently. He went into the Apple meeting (he’s vendor for Apple) and as soon as the designers walked in the room, everyone stopped talking because the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.

Later in the day he was at Microsoft. When he went into the Microsoft meeting, everyone was talking and then the meeting starts and no designers ever walk into the room. All the technical people are sitting there trying to add their ideas of what ought to be in the design. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Everyone around him knows he beats to a different drummer. He sets standards that are entirely different than any other CEO would set.”

Aha, I’m not the only CEO that requires the designers to report directly to me, Steve Jobs too. :-)

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Special Experience

My wife and I had totally forgotten that we needed to use the aero-train at Incheon Airport to reach Gate 110. We were already late at that point in time and this would add some extra minutes, which we didn’t have. When my wife realized this fact, she quickly made a decision to send our daughter to be led away by one of my colleagues, Nisha to the Gate, while I was still in the washroom, feeling at ease, mixed with a sense of loss after the 6 days 4 nights' company trip to South Korea was finally over.

Group photo at Everland

We were amongst the last few passengers who raced onboard after the final call; we saw our 9 years old daughter sitting timidly at the window seat, looking worry and sobbing in silence.

I could imagine her heart must feel like riding a roller coaster at famous Everland Theme Park, right up to the peak at one moment, because 4 hours earlier she was crowned the champion in the ice sculpture contest at the Ice Gallery most probably due to her fighting spirit and youngest in age; and plunged to the pit the next moment when she thought we might miss the flight, and she would have to travel back home alone with my colleagues; and felt relief again when we finally boarded the plane.

Overall, I still think this was a very good experience to her, because the whole journey might become a blur after many years, but the special moment would live vividly in her memory for her whole life.

Winners of the ice sculpture contest

A month earlier, I received Patrick Ku and his wife, a Taiwanese couple for their first visit to Malaysia. When I drove them around to Twin Towers and PutraJaya, they were amazed by how advanced my country is, if compared to the Philippines and Indonesia which they had been to many years ago. But along the journey to Malacca, Patrick said a monkey that snatched his waist bag that contained of passport, cash and travel documents and disappeared into the jungle in a botanical garden in Indonesia was the most unforgettable experience for him. He was later approached by a peanut hawker to use peanuts as bait, and successfully luring the same monkey out of the woods and exchanged the packet of peanuts with his waist bag. “Whether the monkey was trained by the hawker remained a mystery to me," said Patrick, but the episode would last forever for him.

When a story is worth telling, you might like to share it with others. The same with any special experience either good or bad one ones had encountered. I still recalled two years ago, I met a new customer from the Middle East who intended to purchase two units of FingerTec readers as samples. But he was not impressed when we sent him the wrong models. We couriered the correct models quickly and told him to keep the wrong ones as compensation because of our fault.

He wrote to thank us for our swift rectification for the mistake and said he would happy to deal with a trusted company like us, and if his biometrics business venture didn’t work out, he will definitely introduce FingerTec to some other interested friends.

And I particularly like Abbas Mukadam’s First Prize tagline in FingerTec Tagline Contest that goes, "The Touch of Assurance". Besides telling the outright characteristics of FingerTec products; it also appropriately summarizing in metaphor the characteristics of FingerTec as a brand too.

A better dealing experience, this is how we gained more happy customers. And a treat of company incentive trip to Korea; certainly makes happier FingerTec staff too. :)

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Monday, October 18, 2010

Webster, Revamping FingerTec Support

The moment I thought about how to explain more on Webster in my next blog entry, a compliment letter landed on my desk. In this letter, a local client, Advance Lens Trading, appraised FingerTec technical support for the unexpected prompt replies that had solved his critical problem at a critical time, when our reseller, or his vendor, took a longer time to respond.

Yes, we receive compliment emails quite regularly on our swift and precise solutions in tackling technical issues. I particularly like the way my senior marketing manager, Norana Johar shared the pride with the sales and technical staff. She wrote in her email:

“Yesterday we received a compliment letter from our satisfied client on our prompt technical support service, the compliment is particularly directed to Hasrie for the job well done. The management would like to congratulate Hasrie and we hope that you keep it up. In the meantime, we also hope that our FingerTec teams would make prompt replies as our standard practice at all time. Please keep in mind that a delay from our side could cost clients a significant amount of lost and our concern on their issues could save them a lot of trouble and money. This letter is a confirmation that we are doing something right but it doesn't mean that we could take a breather and relax. There is still more room for improvement to keep our promise to make things easy for our clients.

But for now, please do enjoy the compliment, as we deserve it once in a while. :) Have a good weekend.”

I exchanged experiences with a good friend, whose company also implements Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System in their daily operations. The system is deployed merely in his sales department to improve their sales. But in FingerTec, even though our Salesforce CRM covers both sales and technical support, we prioritize technical support.

As our business grows rapidly in these past 5 years, technical support is always our major concern. While most suppliers channel technical inquiries of end-customers back to their dealers, we printed a noticeable line that says, “For enquiries on technical matters, please forward the email to", in our user manual. Besides solving technical problems received from our resellers at a regular basis, we are also willing to take direct technical inquiries from end-users. By doing this, we help our resellers to shoulder some of the their support burdens, and in return we get two happier customers.

And, I always want to go a step further in solving technical problems. One of the best solutions should be a direct login into the affected terminals to avoid inaccurate elaborations of problem by any non-technical end-users.

This time, with web technology, we develop Webster, with three clear objectives. First, it would be a fundamental tool for customers who opt to use our web application, TimeTec. Second, it is for big corporations to enable centralization of the terminal data management in many branches in remote locations. And third, it could be used as an effective technical support tool as mentioned earlier.

When a reader comes with Webster, authorized personnel can remotely talk to the machine. Therefore, authorized staff, resellers or suppliers can diagnose the machine from far away to correct some settings or to update a new firmware that is meant to fix the problems, without having to return the terminal back to us or to send any technicians to the site, if the errors are not caused by the hardware failure.

I really am excited for the development of Webster, and stay tuned for the official release date.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Media Tool – Like it?

I came across this full-page recruitment ad by CIMB Bank on a daily in Malaysia, hiring someone to fill up a new position, which did not exist in the past. The position is known as a social media executive or manager or director, for some big organizations, it might even evolve into a large department.

There is another interesting article, titled “Twitter, Twitter Little Stars” in Bloomberg Businessweek (July 19-July 25, 2010 issue); it is not a special report to cover Twitter, a mini blog engine, but it is intended to discuss the rising needs for corporate to include social media in their daily operation.

The article quoted Felix Gillette, a media reporter’s observation, “Layoffs? Not in the social media departments of corporate America. As customers make or break brands online, companies are rushing to hire social media directors … ” Quite a number of the big brands in the market have hired social media experts. And all of them tap on the online social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, and some even include RSS, YouTube, or Flickr to build a closer tie with their customers, and some may use the social media engine as a direct marketing tool to promote their products.

The change is fast happening. Today’s business has to build a better relationship and to have a more straightforward contact with the clients such as posting customers the latest news, or having their feedbacks read by the people at the top. Yes, it’s time for shopping malls to scrap the less efficient drop-off message boxes.

The outbound advertising media like newspapers, TV or billboards used to be popular for advertisers to broadcast their one-way message to customers, becoming old fashion nowadays in a more interactive-demanding Internet Era. In the past, not many big organizations would want to entertain customer that has zero complaint. Survey form is circulated whenever they need to gather customer’s opinions, and Customer Service Department is set up as a formality and normally only receiving and dealing with barking customers.

The arrival of Web 2.0 and Internet social media tools have changed the way we communicate. Businesses fast detected the opportunity to improve the conventional lopsided communication with customers by adopting the new wave of social media tools. Some activities (like FingerTec tagline contest) were organized within the social media sites to lure customers to “like” them in Facebook.

We are not selling consumer products, but as one of the world’s leading biometrics product suppliers, we do know the important of social media tool in helping us enhancing the way we communicate with customers.

It’s not hard to “like” us on Facebook, as we like to have many FingerTec customers riding the latest technology with us; “follow” us at Twitter as we also would like to follow you; and “subscribe” our video clips at YouTube, as we subscribe to improve ourselves for you.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Family Matters

Naturally, everybody would want to be with their family during any holiday and festive seasons. Be it Christmas, Eid, New Year, Diwali, Thanksgivings for example, they have never ceased to gather families near and far. Work becomes secondary in holiday seasons; family is always priority. We saw tens of millions of Chinese pack train stations in big cities of China to return home for Lunar New Year’s family reunion, and the same trend infected the world during these joyous occasions.

At the time I'm writing this entry, the country is celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, the biggest Muslim celebration in Malaysia and other Muslim countries, which creates a huge balik kampung (back to hometown) wave. The traffics on all highways are heavy and bumper to bumper from north to south, and most of our Muslim colleagues are taking extra leaves, and non-Muslim staff have to shoulder more responsibilities during this period.

In FingerTec “family”, the non-Malay staff would willingly help with the workload of the Malay colleagues that have to fulfill their family obligation during festive season; and likewise, in Lunar New Year celebration, Malay colleagues would do the same for the Chinese co-workers.

Over the years also, we have gradually developed FingerTec products into a kind of family concept. For example, card access control models, the Kadex series comprising of Kadex, m-Kadex and i-Kadex, is not only having similarities in function, but the outlook also make it easier for customers to identify them from the same family.

For our R2 and R2i models, not only that they resemble each other in appearance, the R2i also has to be paired with R2 to bring it to life. Now, we are ready to extend these two bestseller models with another two more family members named H2i and FaceID 3.

Same family?

The attempt to produce H2i was far than easy. We had scrapped the prototype a year ago because two must-have features were absent. A new mould was initiated to accommodate the crucial features, after relentless discussions and arguments with the R&D and marketing department. The only consensus we have is that the H2i should be in the R2 family because of the R2i design resemblance.

For FaceID 3, it will be grouped together with FaceID 2 under the same category in all-model brochure, but I purposely place it side-by-side here with R2 series because it inherits the same design concept to strengthen FingerTec image for access control industry. FaceID 3 is not having a fingerprint module; it focuses on face recognition and RFID card module, a decision confidently made after our market research.

We would still need a few more months to deliver these new products. I can imagine how our sales team hates the fact that I disclose this information early because they would have to answer incessant customer inquiries about the price and the actual release date, which currently they do not have. But as family members, they would understand my decision eventually. :-)

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Friday, September 3, 2010

One Thing Leads To Another

One thing always leads to another. It started with Norana Johar, our FingerTec Senior Marketing Manager who wanted to conduct a simple Reseller Survey from what she had learned after attending a marketing seminar.

Anything good for FingerTec always gets a green light. Our findings were eventually published in our last month’s newsletter issue.

But the story did not end there.

There was one feedback from a reseller in Latin America that particularly bothered us. He said he was happy with our prompt reply within 24 hours, but sometimes realtime handholding supports through Skype or MSN is important to solve certain technical problems. With a different time zone of 11 hours, he has never had the chance to enjoy a virtual face-to-face support.

So, we retrieved all the necessary data from our CRM system, and analyzed the support pattern, and eventually found out that the inbound emails from 6pm-10pm are quite significant in quantity; and approximately 40% of inbound mails are received throughout the non-office hours and 17% throughout the entire day.

We concluded that by extending our support hours until 10 pm, we could provide longer and prompter support to customers in the Middle East and Europe during their office hours, and this could also cover at least a few valuable morning hours for North and South America customers after they step into their offices. With an increasing number of customers around the world, the decision is timely.

This is one of the good news’ published in our newsletter this month. And we have already put it into action since the 1st of September 2010.

One thing leads to another, this time, I am glad that we have again improved our support system to better serve a vast growing customer base.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Friday, August 20, 2010

Comparing Apple to Apple

A lot of products claimed to have plenty of features to spoil your choice. One of the common strategies marketers often used is Features Comparison Table.

“With the impartiality by comparing apple to apple”, the salesman says, how their products are far more superior than the rival’s in terms of value for money.

And you fell for it. Happily you brought home the gadget. After two days of toiling with it, you noticed that the touch screen needed a bit more effort to make things move; you have to reboot your handset every couple of days to boot some functions; or you have to hold it in a special position to not lose your signal.

Comparing apple to apple, so they say.

Unless you are a diligent customer willing to do some extra research, similar sales strategies have been proven to work effectively in today’s marketing gimmick.

In delivering a feature in their iPhone, Apple says that they have to go through tens of thousands of discussions to achieve better user experience and greater user interface.

If a company can pick up the tiniest detail in delivering a product’s feature, of course it can produce greater products than the rivals.

And that’s why you hardly see Apple customers make features comparison with other brands and no brands dare to compare them to Apple. This is the only Apple; apple-to-apple’s comparison is invalid here! Irony.

Delivering the tiniest detail” is what makes a product superb. And we at FingerTec always bear this in mind.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unforgettable Moments

Among the many places that we went, my wife suddenly asked me last week: which was my most memorable moment? Without a second thought, the image of dusk at the River Nile during our stay at the Sofitel Resort Hotel, Luxor, Egypt, popped up. And my wife agreed that the same moment would last forever in her memory too.

What a scenery!

The setting sun slowly descending below the skyline. Clouds hanging low. Strings of smoke swaying upwards at the far opposite riverside of the Land of Death. A gust of wind wafts through the palm trees. Waves rising and subsiding. Chirping birds flapping home. Extraordinary serenity derived from the scene of two yachts moored side-by-side to quay. We strolled on the manicured lawn along the riverbank. That was the moment our minds easily dissolved into; an atmosphere that was shrouded by an ancient pharaoh history.

What an unforgettable moment!

The pharaoh history in Luxor, Egypt

And this year FingerTec celebrates its 10th Anniversary. Overseeing the high and low moments for the last decade, what are my unforgettable moments for the history of FingerTec?

I had, in fact, more than one. So I listed it down as a remembrance of our journey toward glory.

Year 1999 – The trend showed high growth in the Biometric industry especially for the commercial sector. Excitedly we decided to move in to capitalize on the huge potentials. And that’s the one decision that later led us to suffer for a long five years.

Year 2000 – We received the approval letter from the government for an R&D Grant worth approximately RM1 million to develop the first ever fingerprint reader in Malaysia.

Year 2004 - After our first and second model the AC600 and the AC700 hit the road respectively, the response was unexpectedly lukewarm. The high return rate was another big blow. The staff spirited at an all-time low. When R&D staff started to resign one after another together with the executives in charge, I thought our days were numbered.

Year 2006 – When my accountant knocked on my door to announce the improvement of cash flow and that FingerTec sales increased by two folds, I nodded happily and knew the new products, new policy and new sales strategy we introduced in 2005 started to get a positive impact.

Year 2007 – Our marketing manager tabled a statistic to show that our export sales achieved 70% from our total revenue.

Year 2008 – We finally completed the 8 support microsites with a CRM system sitting at the back to ensure service quality. All I knew was that our operations could be kept very slim while the business continued to grow.

Year 2010 – Webster, an integrated product is scheduled to launch by the end of this year to work wonders for customer service; and we expect it to lift us to another level, and to distinguish us from our rivals. A highly hopeful moment started to form in my mind.

But why dwell on the unforgettable if you have a whole future awaiting you?

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Management by Objectives

There are still many old-fashioned bosses who cease to allow the staff from using Facebook or MSN during office hours. They are afraid that the staff would spend time not for the company but for their own leisure. But today, it’s really difficult to block these personal activities in the office because to be able to do that, not only computers should be refrained from being connected to the Internet, they also need to confiscate the smart phones whenever the staff stepped into the office too.

The “work is work, personal is personal” era has long gone. The once very clear line separating these two different activities for an individual has turned into a blur in the past ten years to a further dotted line in the future. Unless you are running a labor-oriented factory, the mix of office and personal lives are inseparable in today’s working environment.

When the bosses helplessly have to accept this fact, they start to worry that the “inseparable” would severely affect the company’s productivities. It’s no doubt that modern technology can be a safe hideout for employees to chat away with friends online without being caught.

Management by Objectives, popularized by Peter Drucker (1909-2005), a modern management guru, should be the answer to their worries. Because the essence of Management by Objectives, is basically participative of goal setting, choosing course of actions and decision-making. With the responsibility assigned to employees, you no longer need to aggregate the actual time they spent for company or for their personal leisure. The objectives should be achieved within a reasonable time for the assessment of an employee’s performance; the mandatory office hours become a sheer complimentary for disciplinary guideline.

The understandings of Management by Objectives, aided by modern technology, some companies even make the Work at Home model viable. Office hours become home hours, self-discipline and self-motivation become the driving forces that make things work.

Management by Objectives is essential to run a knowledge-based company; but to ensure a successful paradigm shift, to win the hearts and minds of employees, is the first and foremost after all.

FingerTec has long adopted the Management by Objectives as our practice of management. When FingerTec customers receive our replies within 24 hours all year long, our office still open 5-day a week, not 7 days. The rest, we work from home.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

World Cup

The World Cup has finally over. I’m not a football fan. I did play footie during my school days complete with a numbered jersey No. 3, which gave me some pride at that time, because the then Malaysia National Team’s captain, Soh Chin Aun, was also wearing the same number.

Soh Chin Aun

The World Cup turns up every four years, and the heat creates a lot of pseudo-fans who spend a lot of hours watching games that they may not fully comprehend, including my sons and my wife. Being active in soccer in my youth helped me to explain simple rules to my sons, like offside, a goal kick, a corner kick, a penalty area and its impact, or when doing a throw-in, player’s two feet should not leave the ground, and etc.

“Daddy, do you sell FingerTec to X country?” My daughter would ask this very practical question whenever two countries came into a match. With more and more countries we exported our products to, this World Cup, my mind automatically counted, England, Chile, Mexico, Nigeria, Australia, USA, Spain, Portugal, Ghana, Algeria, Italy, France, Greece, Serbia, Paraguay, … those we already have representatives; and we still have Cameroon, Japan, Uruguay, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Korea, Japan…. to go.

The organizing country of the World Cup 2010 is South Africa. The place does not only reminding me of a great man, Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid leader who was elected the first President in a fully representative democratic election from 1994-1999; or diamonds (especially for the ladies), but also to me, Time & Speed, a company that has been selling FingerTec products for four years, with an average sales growth rate of 40% every year.

I still remember the time Mr. Tomas Sardinha and Mr. Donovan Bird flew to Malaysia in 1996, came to make a decision whether to continue selling China products that kept giving them problems, or to switch to FingerTec products that they have known only from our website.
Tomas, Toli Meimaris and Donovan, the three musketeers

The decision they made at that time should have free them from the troubles they used to have, I reckon. Because if their problems persist, they would probably jump to another ship, no longer working with us to promote FingerTec in South Africa, or proudly taking part in the Securex Exhibition every year, held in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa.

By spending a few nights watching the World Cup matches; at least, my second team, Spain, is crowned the World Cup championship in South Africa.

Then, you may ask my most favorite team. Paraguay, a switch from Argentina ever since Larrisa Riquelme, a Paraguayan lingerie model (become famous after placing her cell phone between her boobs) announced that she would run naked if Paraguay won the tournament. And Maradona’s similar promise, I think, backfired. :-)

The lucky Nokia mobile phone

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ