Central Retail has IPOed

Central Retail “IPOed”, as no one could have missed from my and other posts. The 2nd largest retail IPO globally and largest IPO in Thailand ever. History has been made.

Digital Platforms and OMNI Channel, positioning versus new entrants and teaming with partners, played a key role in the journey to the IPO. This journey started for me exactly 3 years ago when I joined in Feb 2017, as Group CTO.

The mandate was to build technical, digital, data, CRM, and OMNI Commerce deep capabilities in Technology and around the group. Starting a new “firm” of now ~250 staff, which is unlike in other corporations really a startup firm. Most of us Techies are coming from startups and tech companies like Zalora, Lazada, Ascend, Reuters, Amazon, Google, aCommerce, of course, also Central folks, and many others.

It was a partly crazy and “sleep at the office” type of journey, building new teams, coding new tools and platforms, using cloud like AWS and Google, but using our framework we build out platforms for 10 different businesses (sorry for all the mistakes to my colleagues) in weeks and months. Now, we deliver every 2 weeks a sprint with new capabilities for each. More productive and more features.

The process of building Product Management, Data Science, delivering new platforms, and all, educated me, the tech team, but also the users. It was tough and had (has) ups and downs, but this is what transformation is! Building capabilities, digitizing, and being lean!

There is no fast path. There is no magical pill you can throw at a vendor and be done. You can buy a piece of software, but you have to learn it yourself. This is tough. We have done that better than any company I know. Faster than anyone I know!

Many excellent people have contributed to build this IPO and thanks to them we are at this stage, great teaming, and good thinking – the tech team build the road for this journey, some bumps, and now its has been done.

This tech startup has grown up and now is established, thrives to the next goals ahead of time, the next S sure to reach. I remain excited and am looking forward.

Thanks all at Central Tech for making this day possible.Thanks to friends and family for all the help and understanding on down and up days 🙂 .. more to come …

Congrats to all for this success. Let the next chapter shine even brighter.

Picture of Central Retail Executives at the Stock Exchange of Thailand approx 1 hour after trading started.
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Starting a CTO Career

End of the eighties I studied in Germany, focusing on a business and economics degree, and started a bit working in the company of my family. I was so excited about this degree, that I started writing the software my family business was to use, even sold it to 2 more firms.

Since school days I was deeply engaged into the developer, (world famous) hacking, and online community of my home town. I was very fortunate to run into some extremely talented engineers, writing the first online and bulletin board systems in Germany, networking these via uucp, zerberus, x.25, and other ways. Got introduced early to Unix (before LInux was around) and run it.

Through my work for the family business software, I decided to write a database server first and then business logic software using it,all on Unix. Networking software, linking up with uucp/tcp, apple net, etc. followed.

In the course of this I got to know the guy writing the compiler I was using, he was also Director at Bell Labs, Northern Telecom, and later Newbridge. People like Rex, Volker, Clemens Dillmann … Going to Germany’s CeBIT (it was in my home town), I met even more engineers (that was before it turned a sales show) and CEOs, including Jack Tramiel, then CEO of Atari.

I learned a lot. Working on these projects build the foundation of my coding, design, and architecture skills.

With Rex we opened a Networking, BBS, and Online consultancy in Canada and Asia, helping clients like CNN, Deutsche Bank, IBM (yes!), Samart, Lippo Group, McCann Wrold Group and many others. Worked on one crazy ass Goverment / Private client with Roland Heller together, building the first eCommerce platform in the country… but also opening internet across this region, too. Got via my friend Gregory Harris into early insight into Netscape.

Learned again a lot, made new partnership, made many mistakes, too. Got excited by the very early Andersen Consulting, now Accenture. It had only 46000 staff (now over 400000) and traveled the world, working with formidable business likes Sony, Hutchison Whampoa/A.S.Watson, NHS, Compaq, Siam Cement, Kbank, Proton, Central, BASF, RWE where Klaus Grobler and Lukas Bakker became life long friends. Many more followed.

It’s still a race. Still many learnings and still working with formidable folks.

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The future of the workplace

Today I shared my thoughts on the future of work and the workplace at Startup Thailand. The audience was a mix of students, investors, startup founders, and executives.

I tried to capture how work is changing and create a different social and work experience, requiring all of us more than ever to evolve our skills.

 

 

 

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Modernize the Thai Workforce

Thailand came from a 7% to 5% to 3% growth economy (give or take a few) and now is the most aging economy in the ASEAN (next to Russia and China, the only emerging economy). Instead of uplifting productivity and developing the workforce or investing into people and smart automation (which would lead to more value added products and services, many (not all though) companies have opted for cheap labor from neighboring markets. The other issue is that, by not improving the workforce, the salaries may not be massively increased. This will prevent lower income groups from paying back massive consumer debt, meaning that tax breaks for consumption won’t help uplifting the economy.

Strategically, it is crucial for the country to refocus and given incentives to corporations and entrepreneurs to educate the workforce. Equally, the government must introduce more programs to train and develop workers in factories and offices, while giving tax breaks to companies doing it by their own merits.

By the way, this is also true in newer job groups like Technology related. Thai corporations are still too careful in investing into technology and modernizing technology skills. Many CVs I receive appear to have solid IT skills from people working for local and regional companies. However, many of these tech skills are 3+ years behind what I would consider “modern” technology platforms.

This is probably one of the top 3 topics for the nation to get right! I hope all of you will help to share the message and influence corporations and government to act!

Thailand Must Invest into its Workers

 

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Annual Reports must include a CIO Scorecard


It was a pleasure to have been part of the tremendous team effort over the last few years and having helped driving upsides, which are shown in the Annual Report 2016 of Standard Chartered.

Initiatives like an aggressive API Strategy, the Hadoop and Machine Learning ecosystems driving massive upsides for the business (Very proud to have acted on Hadoop over 3 years ago), agile architectures to power charge channels, RegTech and overall dramatic innovation in the technology environment.

Equally, I am happy to see in the hints in the Annual Report, that quite a few of the initiatives I have been part of kicking off will continue and be expanded in years to come.

Good news!
While reading through the annual report, I was missing more insights of the Group CIO’s visions, views, achievements, and core future initiatives. The state of technical affairs, teams, and investments.
How can shareholders evaluate whether the investments in the bank are worthwhile, if they can’t measure the Technology quality?

Especially in the Banking sector, but also Telecommunciations or Retail, this is the one of the most important true differentiators in today’s world. Looking at many local banks nowadays, they just aren’t able to cope without massive external help! Standard Chartered (as other global players in banking and outside) are having a massively large Technology Organization.

So how are they doing? Do they have talent? Are the delivery at innovation at speed? Is the bank attracting more talent (a sign of great technology teams)?
Investors must asked these questions and Corporations need to share, even in the Annual Report! How digitally and technically ready these are! Scorecards are more than finances, they need to show the investment into the future of the organization and in the digital world!

When I look at Corporations Annual Report, what would I like to see?

1.) The mix of modern versus old technologies, as a sign of capabilities

2.) Outsourced versus Insourced technology capabilities, confirming the abilities to change and innovate

3.) Adoption rate of agility and areas agile methods are being used – Smart Architecture and empowerment of agile teams allow corporations to rapidly create new products and services.

4.) Adoption of Innovation for Technologies and teaming with Startups, this includes the usage of Open Source frameworks – a sign of deeper technology skills

5.) Discretionary versus Non Discreationary cost (Must spend to keep the place going vs budget to drive new projects), shows quality of IT and ability to develop new products and services day by day

6.) Annual achievements in modernizing and simplifying technologies (measuring the transformation journey itself)

7.) Future investment in type, technology, and style

I hope organization will adopt some form of CIO/CTO Scorecard in their annual reviews and also sharing how they invest into changing corporations, so that shareholders can better evaluate the rate of transformation in cororpations.

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How to find good developers?

The mistake most startups and corporates make is to look for a developer with good university or corporate backgrounds.

They fall into the trap of buying brand value.

Big corporates nor Computer Science Universities are being generated because of the engineering talent, but through a self fulfilling prophecy:

“I am big, I m perceived as good, and can get bigger.”

Google and others had to find out that good developers is as much a question of

  • teaming (I am not afraid to publish my code to the world),
  • ingenuity (I love learning new things), and
  • reaching new heights through a grade “A” team (I m becoming better because others are pushing the limits)

A mixture of having worked in popular open source projects, as well as, in a consulting/startup/internet corporatehas the best potential for your initiatives.

You get passion, teaming, and skill!

Axel Winter (aw@axelwinter.com)
Opinions are my own!

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Thailand like most countries need a national CTO, to accelerate digitization.

I know that many people are preoccupied to give you much advise on any possible topic and especially foreigner’s are busy with sometimes ridiculous input. I am since 1993 in Asia and Thailand in different jobs and I have always been careful to understand different point of views before speaking out. My professional background focused me since 1993 on digitizing Asian and Thai companies, and government agencies.

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Digital Agenda making old Corps sexy!

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Financial Services are changing and like other industries are slowly being disrupted

  • FInTech Startups

  • Mobile Operators

  • Traditional players like banks, changing too slowly but are waking up

  • Client and products are being disrupted

  • Payments, but are hindered but too much innovation

  • Trade, but similar to 2000/2001 b2b marketplaces

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