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.
In 2006 I was the Head of Global Banking Technology and CTO for Thailand at GE Capital. Part of my job was — and still is — to understand different technologies and see how these could be used in a corporate context.
One question was/is always around optimizing and driving productivity around the desktop. Is there a better way for users? Can we increase the productivity for provisioning and users? Can we better reuse older hardware or adopt new technologies differently?
I tried to install Ubuntu Linux on my work Laptop. At the time, it was more difficult than nowadays, as many hardware vendors produce drivers only for MS Windows. Yet it did work and was rather refreshing. In effect all features worked almost out of the Box: Integration into Active Directory, E-Mail App linking into Exchange, and OpenOffice as productivity suit.
This followed by segmenting the user base across the firm and based upon the categorization (low end, medium, and power users), we would deploy OpenOffice (free and open source productivity suit), to all users with limited users. We had low end users, who would only get a thin client or older hardware with thin operating systems like Linux, Wyse, etc. on it. The user would use all applications through a web browser – inclusive email, if any were given.
Naturally, we would create local language documentation and online training. This was a relatively easy and very effective way of ‘upgrading’ users. Stability of desktops, security threats, and updates were all easier to do – customer image generation was also very easy to setup.
At Cisco Systems, one can choose between Windows, MacOS, or Linux OS. Self service support would be given based on Wiki’s and user groups. It worked very successful, as I was able to see a lot of staff adopting MacOS in the self service mode, even staff not familiar with tools and configurations.
Right now, I am still experimenting!
I am using Macintosh equally at home – MacMini and a MacBookPro. MacOS has a wide range of applications and I prefer using Apple’s Office Suite – iWorks (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) over MS Office, as it also integrates well with my iPad and iPhone.
On top, I am using a PC with Ubuntu Desktop Linux installed, to have a playground for multiple applications and better understanding of technologies — visualizations, Big Data, Big Analytics, etc.
Across the different technologies areas, a lot of technology innovation comes out of the open source world (Java, Service, Big Data, Operating Systems, etc.) and are often absorbed by software firms. From that perspective it is good, to have an opportunity to try out these open source packages, as well as, reading up on the community pages. It gives deeper insights and allows for better business decisions (regardless whether these are circulating across open source or commercial source).
My key requirement is a sandbox like computer environment I can experience new technologies with it, to input into my professional life.
So I downloaded the Ubuntu Linux Operating System, followed an guide on the same web site to create a Bootable USB Drive — a small Windows app does this — and booted my Desktop with it. It took 20 Minutes and my Computer had Ubuntu installed and all working.
I actually like working on Ubuntu a lot. It is very fast and has a very good app store. All the application I need are free.
Key applications are Chrome Browser, Firefox, Skype, Spotify, Steam (the gaming platform), PyCharm (Pythong development environment), Twitter client, Picture tool, Visualisation tool (VirtualBox), Open Office/Libre Office free suite and integrated OS Tools (Picture Viewer, Chat, EMail, Movie player, etc.).
Cloud providers are having a set of tools, to allow integration with DropBox, Google Drive, and of course browser based access of Google Apps, and Apple’s iCloud (with Apple’s Office Apps in the cloud). Given that I am using privately Apple and Google Apps for a long time, I don’t have the migration issues with moving files or changing applications.
Business applications should either be browser based or run as apps on Android or iOS or all of this together. Linux runs on most Desktop and Laptop hardware. It is easy and efficient on old hardware. Integration into a mixed Microsoft, Apple, iOS, and Android environment is easy. Linux can integrate into the so called Microsoft Domain and Exchange servers and has Management tools.
I would highly recommend corporations to consider Linux on the Desktop and Laptop, to drive out cost and complexity.
A word on the Bring Your Own Desktop BYOD Strategies.
They often assume a Windows Desktop will be streamed via tools from a Service — a window on your desktop which in effect acts as a remote sandbox for business applications. For the amount of money that takes, I would strongly feel a Google Apps, OpenOffice, and Browser access combo would drive more efficiency for less cost.
Thomson Reuters invited me to share some of my thoughts on corporate readiness for the AEC Asean Economic Community, based upon my blog articles.
The following are my summary points, which shared during a panel discussions.
General thoughts on ASEAN
ASEAN needs visionary leaders who given ASEAN and the community a strong vision. Think Adenauer and de Gaulle, who forged a peaceful and prosperous Europe post World War II. What will ASEAN and the AEC be when it grows up?
Slow market liberalisation through the AEC and also other free trade agreements
Launch and adoption of digital businesses like UBER, GrabTaxi show both the need and that existing players across ASEAN (the globe?) aren’t addressing clients needs
Local companies need to drive scale or excel in a niche to compete, due to market liberalisation
Foreign companies who are having a global operating model can compete easier in some sectors versus locals
Integration drives organizations to expand — competition to head up dramatically
Many “fake” experts on AEC, ASEAN Integration, and Corporate Transformation
Having had global, regional, and local roles, I would argue that from a multi national perspective the priorities and views are are more clear versus a local only perspective.
Business challenges for ASEAN integration
Asean Conglomerates often prefer to expand horizontally into different verticals versus expand vertical businesses (sense of control within a geographic area)
ASEAN and APAC integration drives competition and hence (verticals) organizations to scale, to regionalize
Expanding vertical business such as banks or telecommunication company, requires operational and technology excellence
Depending on businesses entry cost across the region still high:
Rules of incorporation and shareholder ship
Visa and Labour rules
Easier for large corporation
Languages / it’s not always about english! Why are there no similar institution like Goethe Institute and Alliance Francaise by asian countries? A Thai or Indonesian Institute for language and culture across the region…
Addressing organization readiness
Process and ongoing optimization, goal oriented
Better measurements and metrics
Data driven and flexible
Technology & Digitization
Often outsourcing but not innovation attitude
Innovation and continues evolvement
Adoption of Free and Open Source to drive internal tech skill and innovation