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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Winter is Coming? Or is it Spring?

Winter is Coming is the motto of House of Stark, one of the greatest houses of Westeros in the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, conveying the meaning of warning and constant vigilance. Hearing someone whispers Winter is Coming can send chills down one’s spine thinking of the harsh winter and the roaming white walkers.

Winter is Coming

We can almost certain that Winter is Coming, because the business climate is volatile when the second wave of IT evolution hits, unlike the first wave that just clacked the surface to improve business efficiency, this second travelled to the bone marrow, affected the in-depth business ecology and disrupted the outlook of the entire business world.

You should feel the chills, if you still think you can maintain the same business operations without transformations. You should feel the chills, if you haven’t turned your conventional non-IT company into an “IT company”. For an IT company, you too should feel the chills, if you’re still selling your IT products outright, without consuming your own IT products to fuel your own business operations. Google, facebook, Amazon, Groupon, Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, and almost all of the newcomers are no longer selling their own-developed technologies but they deployed them for far better profitability. 

Winter is Coming when Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), Cloud Computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) come as foes rather than friends for those unsuspecting. They are the digital omens in the mobile Internet era emerged to haunt your business. These buzzwords are not hoaxes; everyday they are becoming our new reality.

We sped our transformation by allocating 60% in R&D expenditure, and R&D is quickly becoming the largest department in our company this year. We have added, visitor management system for residential, and for guard tour system into our cloud application portfolios, on top of for time and attendance and for cloud surveillance. We expect to launch our cloud e-leave and cloud hire as part of our workforce management in 2017.

We have to reshape, readjust and fine-tune our operations to cope with the subscription-based model. We had a very busy year in 2016, and would be more diligent in 2017.

And, for cloud attendance system, we have tripled the revenue for the last two consecutive years and expecting three to four times hike in 2017. The steep climb of the sales figure sends a strong excitement to our bloodstream, keeping us marching forward.   

Spring is Coming?

Winter is short or snow has never fallen on companies that have prepared. Perhaps, for those who have prepared, you will be getting stronger, and be able to breathe soothingly, because Spring is Coming.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit or Bremain? Cloud DevOps or IFSEC?

I witnessed the referendum of UK and it quickly became the historical moment and shocked the world when UK voted to exit the European Union. It happened a day after the Cloud DevOps World 2016, London. This two-day forum was held at Olympia Exhibition Hall, on the 21st and 22nd of June. Simultaneously or so a three-day Security Exhibition, IFSEC International 2016 was on-going at a much larger exhibition hall in ExCel, London. I have managed to make a visit on its last day, which was on the 23rd, the same day when the Britons casted their vote to mandate on exiting or remaining in EU.

I don't think there’s a need for me to talk about the impacts of Brexit, because it was well taken care of by experts flooding their views in the papers and Internet. I’m just plainly discussing the difference between Cloud DevOps and IFSEC. If I have to choose, should we remain and partake in Cloud DevOps next year, or to exit and get back to IFSEC that we left a year ago?

IFSEC is no longer new to those who are actively involved in the security industry. Visiting IFSEC is like meeting some old friends, exchanging pleasantries and gossiping the same old stories. Yes, new products were being introduced every year, like products related to Internet of Things, smart home system, and even cloud technology and Apps, but the vast conventional security products still took up 90% of the exhibition hall. There were hardly any new show-stopping products that manage to create disruptive impacts during the exhibition. In other words there were no any WOW factors! No doubt that the trade shows drew larger crowd compared to Cloud DevOps. However, there were many dull faces that were booth hopping to occupy their time.

Cloud & DevOps World 2016 is a mosaic of Knowledge & Networking Division of Informa PLCC, which operates in the heart of Knowledge & Information Economy. No hush-hush that it is a leading business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and event-exploring medium. So forums and exhibitions becomes their main focus just like the auxiliary events.

If we split the cloud technology solutions into 3 main categories, there would be Platform as a service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). If I were to make my two-cents worth wrap up, the Show was not equally spread out within the categories. The anticipation to hear from some of cloud giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforec were let down, as they did not participate. It was mostly cloud consultancies and service providers exhibiting their cloud management, storage, training, cloud virtualization, optimization assessment, cloud strategy and planning and cloud security. We were proud to take the slice of being the only SaaS provider for our 8 applications in the entire show.

Our partner, Bob Marshall, managing director of CSD Global Group, turned up with his three key personnel and took interest in our new cloud guard tour system, TimeTec Patrol. He also requested a demo account to try on and get familiar with before we could start marketing it. To my surprise, one of the visitors said that he had already created a trial account for TimeTec TA and wants to be our partner. One potential end user with more than a hundred chain stores inquired whether shift swaps are possible in TimeTec TA, which I have told him that it is currently under development. More excitingly we had a very keen company from Turkey who wanted to sign up as our premier partner for I-Neighbour, a residential visitor management system.

I don’t think the response for Cloud & DevOps was overwhelming this year, but we’re certainly happy about cultivating some quality leads. Cloud computing is still in its infancy stage, the exposure and preparation is much more important than making a grand leap in pursuing the sales activities.  

I conclude that since we have stridden a giant step to transform ourselves from a biometric product supplier to a cloud solution provider, we now need to establish a cloud platform rather than pinning focus on the existing security market. This whopping huge migration from hardware selling to software subscription clearly firms the need for us to build a Cloud Ecosystem.

Therefore, between ‘Brexit’ and ‘Bremain’, I made up my mind: See you again in Cloud & DevOps World next year in a much larger Exhibition Hall, ExCel, London.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We Build Another Brand

2015, we took a few major steps to boost our ongoing transformation, building its momentum, and always making sure that all is in good shape.

First, we hired. We tripled our R&D workforce. Until one day in September, I suddenly realized that we were no longer in the SME category that entitled us to enjoy some government benefits for the SMEs. 

Second, we outsourced. The tripling of our R&D staff force still fails to meet our aggressive schedule. We are so determined to launch another six cloud applications from the existing two by the end of 2016. This explains why we hunt for more top minds; and our perseverance on better user experience suggests even more. So, the hunt is still on.  

Third, we showcased. From joining security tradeshows, we started taking part in cloud IT and HR events to present our new cloud products. Polarized views were received.  We often heard visitors’ from the security exhibitions commented, Wow. Two dollars per person per month; that’s expensive! On the other hand, people from IT and HR industries reacted, USD24 per annum per employee? Its peanuts. When the trend is right, you can never go wrong.    

Fourth, we fine-tuned. It’s imperative that our internal system be more adaptive to the cloud environment. Without a lightweight organization structure, it would be too clumsy to float on the cloud. And, to ease the management when R&D swells, we adopted the CMMI standard, which is now at the final stage of certification.

Fifth, we strategized. We have laid our marketing foundation for resellers to market our cloud applications effortlessly with higher benefits and RWI (Return Without Investment). All they need to do is to start selling.

Sixth, we reinvent. FingerTec is already a 15-year old brand that we built from scratch to reach that global level and now we are building another brand name, proudly named TimeTec. The implications? We are moving from hardware to Software as a Service (SaaS); from sale to subscription; from one-time off to recurring income; from biometric to beyond biometrics.

Many more.

All in all, the transformation is alive and kicking; it’s never too late to jump on our magical cloud wagon for the journey into the future. Our whistle is blowing loud and clear.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Declaration of Future Commitment

A biometric device is a hardware terminal designed as an instrument to solve clocking problems, and its complementary software is a program designed as a tool to solve operational problems. In this biometrics clocking system, clocking plays a lesser role in the entire operating system. Software is indeed pivotal in almost every business system. While FingerTec seems like a hardware’s brand name; we have been preparing ourselves and dispensing more resources in software development for our brighter future. 

Clocking device vs Operating System
When the iPhone debuted in 2007, and later the iPad in 2010, they made a huge paradigm shift in the IT world that was once dominated by personal computers.  The computing power that normally stayed intact on a clunky desktop had been shifted into the hands and pockets, which came with them the term ‘mobility’.  Obviously, size did matter; an action used to transfer software from a CD to a computer simply couldn’t be performed for a tablet and smart phone anymore. 

However, that was only a bump in the road, since almost all devices are network connected nowadays; you just need to download any software directly from the Internet. The aggressive ones came with another great idea, “Why do we need to download software to a device? Isn’t it easier to log in to a website and use it there?” Hence, the Web and Cloud program were created. And, another smart guy would reply, “Since everyone is carrying a smart phone and staying connected 24 hours now, why don’t we create some specific Apps with different function roles for employees to collaborate at all times?”

Add mobility to liberate computing power 
And we, as one of the market leaders in time & attendance industry and an innovator ourselves, started to think that since everyone carries a handset, do we really need a special device to do time clocking? This is just like how digital camera became quite irrelevant when the smartphones can take high quality picture. Instead of letting the newcomers phasing out your products, you may need to take the initiative to kill your own products with newer inventions.  

We predict that the industry would inevitably be drifting slowly away from the clocking terminals and, the initial software that runs on Windows Operating System that were usually used by a few administrators, seemed inadequate when the business owners want to tap on the computing power that is within the employees’ grasp.  The software has to reinvent itself and become more accessible among staff, more collaborative among peers, more communicative among superiors and subordinates; and to notify irregularities in real time.

Then, abruptly, the software-as-a-tool’s era is over and software pulsates like a central nervous system, transmitting signals into your business operation.

When the trend is shielded away from a specific hardware but offered other probable methods for clocking, and demanding all of the abovementioned features to be available in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) era, another great time of IT for corporations that unavoidably based on cloud computing and business model based on SaaS (Software as a Service) is declared arriving. 

This trend supported by Computerworld's 2015 Forecast predicts that 42% of IT decision makers are planning to increase spending on cloud computing in 2015, with the greatest growth in enterprises with over 1,000 employees (52%). By 2018, 59% of the total cloud workloads will be Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) workloads, up from 41% in 2013.

We have another chart to strengthen the upward trend for adoption of Cloud Services. As normal software application users, you just deal with SaaS providers, and can ignore Platform as a Service (PaaS) and IaaS (Intrastructure as Service) where SaaS providers will deal with them to park their cloud applications onto it.  

At FingerTec, we noticed the trend and set our transformation plan since we adopted as our Cloud CRM system in 2008. Today, we have launched TimeTec, cloud-based time and attendance system (, and EpiCamera, cloud-based surveillance system (, and we continue to add features and refine the systems to meet market expectations.

In the pipeline, we have TimeTec Cloud Visitor Management System, TimeTec Cloud Patrol System and TimeTec Cloud Recruitment System, and TimeTec Cloud Leave Management System. The former three Cloud Services will be introduced in early next year, and the fourth Cloud Application is expected to commence in the third quarter of next year.

Our determination can even be observed by the change of the company’s name from FingerTec to TimeTec to mark our commitment in this transformation. The transformation will not only happen on the product level, but our business approach as well in the foreseeable short future.   

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shaping Corporate Culture One Article at a Time

From 2008 until recently, in seven years, I have written a total of 138 entries for my blog posts. Now it’s time for me to bid farewell to my readers, which mainly consist of our staff, resellers, customers and people who are curious to know what’s inside a CEO’s brain.

But what’s the reason for this farewell? My answer is simple, because I have extensively covered most of my views regarding corporate culture and the future; it has become increasingly harder for me to churn out new points without repeating some old ones. And, I hate repetitions.

Yes, I talked a lot about corporate culture in my blog entries. It’s well reflected that I place very high esteem to shape better corporate culture in running the company. I always believe that if a company has a good culture, it makes things right. Just like the book I recently read, “How Google Works”, co-authored by Eric Schmidt (Google Executive Chairman) and Jonathan Rosenberg (former Google SVP of Products), both stressed that when starting a new company or initiative, culture is the most important thing to consider.

They’ve collectively mentioned, “The founders didn’t care about maximizing the short-term value and marketability of their stock, because they knew that recording the company’s unique values for future employees and partners would be far more instrumental to long-term success.”

And I saw those companies that truly value corporate culture, not just the ones which superficially display something to uplift their company’s image, would normally place long-term development before the short-term profit.

Our Practical Branding and Internet Ecosystem efforts, which I had elaborated in my previous blog entries, clearly were the two pillars we laid in our foundation to face future odds and challenges. Besides, focusing on building a Great Workplace and centering on the User Experience in our products are the other two pillars to ensure that we capture the brightest talents, and produce products that are welcomed by the customers. 

These are the topics I shared in my blog posts. Those who expect me to share more industry and product know-how would be disappointed. Even the handful of my commentaries on these topics were mostly conceptual, rather than factual.

Without my contribution, our official blog site will still be continued, but it will head towards the direction of factual information, which will be contributed mainly by our marketing team.

I’ll select some of my articles, edit and compile them into an e-book version. Not only for the purpose of recollection, but more importantly to remind ourselves from time to time not to lose our bearings. 

My blog posts end here, but the FingerTec story continues…..