Monday, October 2, 2017

Smart Community and Beyond

Smart Community 

I have to use more than half of this page to introduce i-Neighbour, our smart community solution because of the excitement it garnered during its development phase last year. When i-Neighbour first started around two years ago, it was merely a cloud residential visitor management system with innovative QR code as credential to verify pre-registered visitors.  But interestingly, more amazing ideas ushered in afterward, and the solution evolved. None of our other products have such opportunity to break away from its initial boundary; only i-Neighbour evolves and changes, and eventually turns into a smart community solution with variety of Internet-of-Things, IoT stuff attached to it.

Besides visitor management, i-Neighbour smart community system offers payment gateway, e-billing, e-polling, facility booking, panic button, event management, incident and defect reports, yard sale, and etc; its IoT stuff consists of smart barrier, smart alarm, smart reader, smart lock to smart lift system and etc., and all of the services, pierced together by using a single App at the user end and Web at the admin end.

It doesn’t stop there. i-Neighbour, continues to evolve, crosses over the enclave, establishes an in-App link with another in-house developed App, i-Merchant, to connect the residents to the nearby merchants to get to know their offers and eventually places orders.    

And it doesn’t stop there. In our effort to reach the low-income group in high household density communities, we developed an advertisement platform, i-Ad hub, which they can use to offset their subscription fees.

And it doesn’t stop there. Instead, it continues to evolve. TimeTec VMS for commercial buildings is a spin-off from i-Neighbour’s residential system, with more IoT capabilities to turn turnstile and  flap barrier into smart devices accessible via smartphones.

It doesn’t stop there. TimeTec Access, another cloud platform for access control is in the making and it will be debuted anytime this year.  We definitely wouldn’t left our pillar, the access control system behind, cloudless. With the introduction of TimeTec Access would only our cloud solutions be full circle in meeting the demand of comprehensive access control requirements, connecting buildings from residential to commercials, integrating i-Neighbour from home to workplace.

“Explosive” is the best term to describe i-Neighbour sales. Yes, there are incessant inquiries pouring in, non-stop appointments and product demos to attend to. Town planners, consultants, housing developers, properties management companies, and resident associations, all eager to see with their own eyes our amazing solution. Price quoted. Deals sealed.

Of course, I won’t forget to mention our workforce management system, especially TimeTec TA, the cloud-based time & attendance application that is starting to generate steady income since last year.  More features were added in 2017,  NFC, GPS and Time Beacon are offered as clocking methods. The counterpart, TimeTec Leave, a solution that handles employee leave management, has been launched to complete the workforce management solution recently. We expect the one-plus-one-equal-to-three formula would apply in our offering of workforce management and this year, TimeTec Hire for talent acquisition will make its debut; another big leap for us in this workforce area of expertise.  

And for our vertical niche market solution, TimeTec Patrol, a partly workforce management and a partly security system, since it launching has been gaining its momentum amongst security guard companies with more and more sign ups.

Our long time partners might ask, “What role would FingerTec play in the cloud future? Retire and pass the baton to TimeTec or revitalize and sing along with TimeTec?“ My answer to that was, “Definitely the latter.” The push technology as intermediary of IoT for our existing biometric and card products would further be transformed into truly IoT products.

Our customers can expect more new IoT hardware from us in these two years. Some of them will still carry the same name, FingerTec, where fingerprint and biometrics technology are applied; some of them will straightaway be branded as TimeTec when App and Bluetooth are involved without biometrics. In these two IoT product lines, either we offer it as standalone products, or go together with our cloud applications as some core and optional components.

One question that enlightened us when designing IoT hardware was, when smartphones came loaded with strong computing power are used for credential authentication, why shouldn’t we lower the computing power in the access controllers or readers? So that we can design and produce much cost-effective and simplified new breed of hardware. Yes, the once lingering idea now becoming our new direction to unlock the treasure of our future.

For sure, the ecosystem we built for FingerTec such as warranty, training, support system and etc, would continue to be the core components for our IoT platform, with widening Big Data and artificial intelligence capabilities at the same time to benefit larger customer base.

We will continue singing the same theme song for a very long time.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A New Beginning, A Promising Hope

Even though we have marketed FingerTec products in South Africa for more than 10 years, none of the FingerTec’s team have ever set foot on this land prior to this exhibition because all of our business activities are handled by our trusted partners over here.

We were reluctant to showcase our FingerTec biometrics products because the technology is not a novelty anymore; instead, to get the crowd excited we showcased our latest offerings. In Securex, we introduced TimeTec cloud-based solutions with the highlight given to TimeTec Patrol, followed by i-Neighbour, a smart community system and TimeTec TA, time attendance and scheduling system.

And I’ve always thought that software is less appealing in comparison to the hardware. Surprisingly, the software drew a satisfying amount of crowd to our booth. Minus some sheer curiosity inquiries, we saw the real sign of demand for cloud solutions. It is especially true to those early birds that recognized the technology trends. Many of them showed enthusiasm to becoming our partners in South Africa and in the neighbouring countries, and they wanted to be the first to grab the opportunities to capitalize these new technologies.
Day 1 Highlights:
It was a pleasure to have our long time FingerTec partner BioFinger’s Donovan Bird dropped by our booth. He was excited to start another new chapter with us and carry TimeTec cloud solutions in his business’s portfolio.
Albert Dikgale from Cygninet signed up TimeTec’s dealership on the day to venture into this cloud business efficiently with us.
Day 2 Highlights: 
We met another FingerTec partner, Tols Meimaris from Time and Speed, who came with a colleague and spent quite some time to understand the cloud solutions. He saw a huge potential in i-Neighbour smart community system in South Africa and interested to explore the solution further. 
Prabhu Ramalingam from a security company with more than a hundred guard force based in Nairobi, Kenya wanted to deploy TimeTec Patrol and was looking for an affordable solution to match his country’s economy landscape.
Day 3 Highlights: 
The Sales Director of CIPE, Grant Gibbs spent a good amount of time going through TimeTec TA, focusing on the job costing module in details, and was impressed with the features offered.
The business owner from NovaCloud explored TimeTec Patrol, TimeTec TA and i-Neighbour smart community system and learned how SaaS business concept works and how the products can be marketed in South Africa.
From the show’s response and feedbacks, it’s clear to us that cloud is indeed the rising trend and all in all, our investment in this show is worthwhile and promising.

Before Securex, I spent a few days in Cape Town, visited some popular tourist spots including Table Mountain, Franschhoek, and the must-visit Cape of Good Hope, where it marks the point of European expedition to round the sea route to Asia and started the new trade and colonization in the Middle Ages.

Modern trades nowadays are borderless, less intrusive, and literally virtual. And when I saw some clouds blew past the Cape of Good Hope, it was such an auspicious moment for me, to mark a new beginning of our new business venture in this continent and to radiate to the rest of the world.