Thursday, August 9, 2018

RM1.3 Million Savings by Enabling Debt Collection Team with Mobile Workforce Capability

Lately, our team in Kuala Lumpur learnt an encouraging news from one of our flagship clients in the financial services sector. Over the past 12 months period, the mobile debt collection system we implemented to the financial services company has recorded a total of RM1.3 million (appx. USD 320K) savings to the operations!

"Sometime, encouraging comment like this is what makes us feel achieving at our jobs," said Ken Wei our CTO to the team in a daily stand-up meeting. 

We did not reinvent the wheel of loan collection core system, which was present in the infrastructure prior to our implementation. By integrating with the loan collection core system, our solution extends modern mobile workforce capability to the client's debt collection operations. Some capabilities are aimed at improving operational efficiency, while some are targeted at curbing expense wastage.

  1. Real-time statement of account. No longer does the debt collection team relies on printed copies for debtor's statement of account. Real-time and on-demand information are available at fingertips to suit the real-life use cases of mobile workforce. 
  2. Swift assignment of jobs. In today's agile world, pre-planned job assignments may not be entirely relevant to be followed-through, and it's becoming challenging for the traditional job scheduling method. With mobile workforce capability, collection personnel's tasks can be swiftly adapted to arising changes and needs. Personnel can also grab a new job nearby on ad-hoc basis, thanks to the GPS.
  3. Paperless digitization. From job plan to statement of account and visitation report, everything is recorded and presented paperless. Most importantly, data is digitized for real-time reporting and analytics.
  4. Automation-assisted mileage claims. Collection personnel's travel mileage is automatically calculated from the map, simplifying daunting, non-value added task, and at the same time mitigating frauds.
Digital transformation is often being presented in a multi-year and huge roadmap. What's important, is modernization and digitisation in operational efficiency and customer journey which translate to one or combination of these positive outcomes - happier customer, higher revenue, lower cost.

For this client, aside from improvement in debt collection, the million of Ringgit savings captured in the first 12 months is impactful. 

On a related note, we have another Japanese MNC client in the manufacturing industry who used to pour in USD 12K every month, on office printing! Which includes leasing of photocopier and cost of paper. Through digitisation of office workflows, the need for hand-drawn signature and request approval are eliminated, and thus greatly minimising paper printing needs within the office which ultimately derives into clearly visible cost savings.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Thomson Reuters on Cashless Malaysia and BNM's ICTF

It was 3 days before the Bank Negara Malaysia's Interoperable Credit Transfer Framework (ICTF) came into effect on 1st July 2018. Thomson Reuters' Risk Management team organised an event to discuss the role of ICTF in Malaysia's move towards a cashless society. This event held in Kuala Lumpur was joined by respectable industry players, legal & compliance practitioners and government agency in the form of discussion forum.

Innov8tif was at the event to share our latest development in e-KYC for "document not present" use case, which now also features an out-of-the-box integration with Thomson Reuters' World-Check to support our client's risk management needs.

The ICTF seeks to foster an efficient, competitive and innovative payment landscape in Malaysia by enabling the interoperability of credit transfer services and promoting collaborative competition between banks and non-bank electronic money (e-money) issuers through fair and open access to shared payment infrastructure. (source: Bank Negara Malaysia). When fully embraced by banks, e-money issuers and fintechs, Malaysia's residents would witness cashless experience on daily routines. For example, splitting of lunch bill among colleagues will no longer involve bank notes and small change. It may become second nature for me to re-pay my lunch bill to another co-worker, electronically from e-wallet, without even considering if we are sharing the same e-wallet platform or having an account with the same bank - all these with zero transaction charge!

What Came into Effect from ICTF?

Since 1st July, the following aspects of ICTF have been observed:
  1. All banks have waived transaction fee for instant interbank fund transfer of RM5,000 or below (per transaction). This is one of the key aspects in ICTF to spur and encourage e-wallet or e-money use cases and adoption. 
  2. Most if not all, of the e-wallet apps observed in Malaysia, are using QR-based cashless payment. ICTF requires eligible e-money issuers to adopt a common and standardised QR code format for merchants. Though it doesn't preclude e-money issuers from offering their own QR, but at minimum – the universal format must be offered. This measure helps merchants to embrace and accept cashless payment from multiple e-wallets, without having to display 10 or more QR at the cashier. Maybank QRPay is one of the earliest banks that already adopted the standard – PayNet QR.

What Remains Unclear?

  1. ICTF policy outlines the use of common identifiers by customers, through a central addressing repository known as National Addressing Database (NAD). Conceptually speaking, it links a bank account or an e-money account to common identifiers of an account holder such as mobile phone number, National Registration Identity Card number or company/business registration number. However, the actual mechanism of NAD and its ID data sources, remains unclear at the moment. 
  2. Will the access of National Addressing Database be open to entities other than the banks and eligible e-money issuers? The NAD is seen, potentially as a golden source of online ID repository – which, is inevitably useful for e-KYC of any consumer-facing industry.

The e-Wallet Race

The e-wallet race is heating up rapidly. The shift to cashless society requires, not just participation from e-money issuers and innovative ideas, but also - the great behavioural shift among consumers. ICTF policy helps to iron out foreseeable frictions and promotes a more competitive landscape for all participants by lifting transaction fee.

The behavioural shift, could likely only happen from aspects of daily routines, if digital wallet is proven more convenient. Think about a college student's or working adult's daily life. Cash and small change is typically involved in:
  1. Buying a cup of coffee
  2. Paying for parking or transport
  3. Paying for lunch or splitting bill
Currently, there are already 40 licensed e-money issuers in Malaysia, competing to secure top spots. An e-money issuer that can successfully tap onto the above described core daily activities, will most likely win the race. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Robotics and Cognitive: How are They Applied in Business Process Automation?

If your job involves looking into digitization opportunities and automation of business processes, it’s not far reaching for you to come across awareness for robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive automation. RPA is not new; it has been around for many years in the form of screen scraping technology and macro.

There are many bombastic definitions and descriptions for RPA (robotics) and cognitive automation. Often, marketers even refer to RPA and cognitive automation, simply interchangeably with the A.I. (artificial intelligence) umbrella. Perhaps, the easiest way to understand these 2 types of automation, is by looking at its resemblance with human.

  • RPA (robotics) is to mimic human actions
  • Cognitive automation is to mimic human thinking

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Look at the robotic arms in assembly lines, such as automotive industry. A robot doesn’t have to “think”, but to repeatedly perform the programmed mechanical tasks. It repeats what have been programmed into it. 

Similarly, in the software context, RPA is about mimicking human actions in an automated process.

  • Automatically extract information (using OCR) from a payroll account statement submitted as part of loan facility application, then, calculate 3-month average income, and compare that with the applicant’s declared earnings.
  • Automatically repeat a sequence of clicks in a standalone software to generate cost analysis over a material costing optimization proposal. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What to Look Out for When Evaluating Low-Code Development Platform?

As described on Wikipedia:
Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) allow the creation of application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional procedural computer programming. The platforms may focus on design and development of databases, business processes, or user interfaces such as web applications. Such platforms may produce entirely operational applications, or require or allow minimal coding to extend the applications functionality or for uncommon situations. Low-code development platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand-coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. A common benefit is that a wider-range of people can contribute to the application’s development, not only those with more formal programming experience. LCDPs also lower the initial cost of setup, training, and deployment.
Low-code development platforms employ visual, declarative techniques, which define data, logic, flows, forms and other application artifacts, without writing code, according to Forrester Research. Imagine Lego blocks for software application development. Developers may code to integrate access to older applications, for reporting, and to customize for special user interface (UI) requirements, Forrester analyst John Rhymer wrote in an October 2017 research report.

Why is There a Shift from Traditional Coding to Low-Code?

Low-code development platform has been gaining widespread tractions from enterprises worldwide to tackle challenges witnessed in traditional coding with programming languages.

1. Difficult to meet desired timeline complementing go-to-market strategy:
Every business unit is crafting its digitization needs and roadmap, yet, time is a fixed constraint. It is challenging to have speedy go-to-market products with traditional coding. Proof-of-concept (POC) with minimal viable product (MVP) is often taking more time than justifiable.

2. Lack of agility:
Change is inevitable in business, so embrace it. The lack of configuration tools for form and process flow changes is making it challenging for programmers to adapt with business rule changes, as it often leads to longer development time and to some extends, unmanaged scope-creep.

3. High long term maintenance costs:
Compared with changes through configuration, an application system developed from coding with programming languages and frameworks will require development continuity and support by qualified and experienced full-stack software engineers. Knowledge and technology transfer from application creator to another person will also require prerequisites for extensive programming competency. Thus, the long-term maintenance cost of such application system also includes the costs associated with talent retention. Otherwise, when maintainability falls-out, the application system eventually suffers along with higher technical debts.

4. Poor quality:
When every feature is developed from coding, a commonly used user interface component such as pagination table with search filters could also present programmatic bug.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

3 Reason to Further Modernize ERP System with Process Digitization

In manufacturing, distribution and trading industries, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is undoubtedly a core and impactful system to have in place. ERP system has been modernizing these industries for decades before the terms "digital transformation" and "digitization" were made popular.

Today, as workforce is generally getting more IT-literate and mobile-ready across most job functions, ERP system alone is no longer the magic wand to modernize IT in manufacturing, distribution and trading businesses. More gaps are surfacing itself from ERP digitization needs.

1. Control the process/SOP that occurs before data goes into ERP software

In many companies (even the global MNCs), the process that governs how data is approved before it goes into ERP is not automated. Take a simple example - Customer Master Data Change Request. Let's say a sales manager files a request to adjust credit term for a customer account. Yes, surely, the credit term setting is supported in ERP as part of customer master data. But when there is a change request, often, ERP is not the place where change request approval process is automated. So, sales manager in this case, would fill up an Excel spreadsheet or Word document, then send it out as email to the relevant approvers based on stipulated SOP (standard operating procedure). Once approved, let's say by the Regional Sales Head, the spreadsheet/document then goes to Finance Department as email attachment. Email message is not exactly known as the most reliable method for approval task tracking.

For a MNC with worldwide business presence, this kind of change request happens every single day. Yet, hardly automated. And there are many other similar examples, such as vendor master data change request, periodic market supply replenishment setting, SKU lifecycle status update, Planned Delivery Time (PDT) adjustment, and more.

When SOP is not digitally automated, the non value-added knowledge becomes a knowledge that has to be told from person-in-charge to another person and require training.

Friday, February 23, 2018

What's Behind Yoodo App's Customer Onboarding?

Back in year 2014, when we helped redONE to develop and launch the Paperless Registration App for sales partners, redONE was the first telco in Malaysia to have realised a truly branchless customer onboarding journey with their 10,000 sales partners — enabling sales channels to operate without the limit of physical branches by embracing enterprise mobility.

Since then, customer onboarding trend has been quick to embrace AI (artificial intelligence) technology that is progressing at exponential speed; especially the maturity of deep-learning based computer vision. In today's context, the digitization roadmap of digital customer onboarding isn't just limited to mobility of sales advisors, but the customer self-service onboarding journey.

There's a growing segment of customers who are perfectly comfortable with mobile e-commerce, ride hailing app and online food ordering. This is the customer group who studies a product and reviews through online resources before deciding to sign-up for a product or service. They don't need any more sales pitch. They prefer to sign-up and onboard to a product from the comfort of their home or workplace.

We are excited to lead and witness the progression in customer self-service onboarding. Yoodo — a new digital telco owned by Celcom, is the first mobile network operator in Malaysia to fully embrace facial recognition tech in customer onboarding! Powered by EMAS eKYC, Yoodo enables a new customer to activate a SIM pack by:

  1. scanning his/her own ID (Malaysian's MyKad or passport), and 
  2. performing real-time facial recognition using Yoodo's mobile app 

From the process of SIM pack ordering, activating it, and completing ID verification, there isn't any traditional sales touchpoint involved in the customer journey.

EMAS eKYC is a solution designed to assist banks, telcos, financial services and insurance companies in remote customer ID verification through digital channels, and to enable the digital version of KYC (know your customer) process.

Digital ID verification will soon become even more crucial for the establishment of National Addressing Database.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Digital Telcos are Mushrooming in Malaysia. But Why Digital Telco?

Aside from the rapid rise of e-money issuers in Malaysia with 26 licensees for a country of 20-million adult population, another noticeable digital trend is brewing right now in the telecommunication sector. Tier-1 mobile network operators are taking turn to launch a fully-digital telco! Maxis took the lead by being the first tier-1 telco in Malaysia to digital telco last year, branded as Ooyko. Followed by Digi's Tapp, TM's Unifi Mobile (rebranded from Webe) and now Celcom's Yoodo!

With a list of 20 mobile network operators (including MVNO), it certainly looks like a crowded space. Why then, are the top mobile operators believing in rolling out another new brand, respectively, as digital telco?

The following comments are not representing expert opinions, but my personal views and observations.

Reason 1: Innovate Faster

Being a top mobile operator, it means commanding large market shares. It also means, diverse demographics in customer base ranging from tech-savvy and well-informed youth, to working adults of varying prioritised needs, and retirees who may not even be keen with self-service at all.

For an incumbent telco to transform and embrace full-fledged digital innovations, it will be too costly to cater and support every customer segment's service and support delivery preferences. Simply because a quarter of the customer-base aren't keen with interacting with self-service channels such as chatbot and mobile app, the telco has to maintain traditional customer service channels. Simply because there is one-fifth of the customer-base who prefers to sign-up for services through dealers, the telco has to invest in dealer touch-points, channel management, and dealer’s incentives. It’s imaginably slow to innovate with these constraints.

Whereas, a new brand that sets her foot as fully-digital telco, would allow the company to fully embrace everything that the digital innovations and artificial intelligence technologies have to offer. Because, this brand is clearly targeting the following customer segment:

  1. Tech-savvy. Totally fine to interact with the brand through mobile app, not even the desktop browser.
  2. Knows very precisely what s/he wants. Knows very clearly, the difference between 1GB and 5GB monthly data quota, and what s/he can do with every MB of data subscribed.
  3. Very likely, prefers self-service than talking to a dealer. 
  4. Comfortable with online credit card transaction.
A new brand of fully-digital telco in this case, is a good test-bed for the mothership. Eventually, when the digital innovations are proven successful, the mothership could also adopt similar digital strategies and roadmap. 

Reason 2: Innovate without Legacy Constraints

An established brand that already has millions of subscribers, also means “it shouldn’t ever screw up!” – from branding to customer service perspectives. 

However, contradictory, one of the conditions required for digital innovation is – allowing failure! I mean, a company would try its best effort to never fail. But, if everything must be rolled out in perfection, and doesn’t disappoint existing subscribers, it would be a huge barrier for innovation to happen. For example, when a top mobile operator rolls out facial-recognition based customer self-service, it must design its architecture and infrastructure to support, potentially, millions of users! Compared to a new brand, it could easily assume a comfortable test-bed for tens of thousands of users, and slowly scale-up as need arises. Even when a new feature failed, it would probably affect customers in count of thousands, instead of millions – which then even makes national headline! That is why, it may only take a month for a new brand to surprise the market with new excitements; but it could take a year, or even more, on incumbent brand that commands majority market shares.

Reason 3: Not Fall Behind Competitions

I believe, nobody could relate it better than the “taxi vs ride sharing/hailing” case study in the modern history of public transport.

The successful service providers of today, definitely are very well-informed, and aware of potential threats from new entrants in the world of competition. 

Singapore Airlines launched digital innovation blueprint; OCBC Bank launched FinTech innovation lab; Singtel established S$42.4 million corporate lab with NTU and NRF to accelerate AI and data science innovation. These are examples of efforts invested by well established brands from airline, to banking and telecommunication industry, to NOT FALL BEHIND.  Being the number 1 of today, doesn’t mean the brand can sustain to be the number 1 of tomorrow. 

Digital telco is a strategic approach by the top mobile operators in Malaysia today, to make sure they continue to secure the top positions by staying relevant to tomorrow’s customer’s needs. The rise of tech-savvy customer segment is command more competitive rates while expecting high quality service delivery. The only way forward – is digital innovation.