Potentiate gears up for Asean expansion

AFTER making its debut in Malaysia in 2013, data intelligence and market research company Potentiate is gearing up towards expanding its business in Asean.

With top 200 Australian companies under its portfolio, the Sydney-headquartered company says Malaysia is a strong base due to its MSC status and equipped with skill workers and cultural diversity, and it has the foundation to expand Potentiate’s network across the region.

“We want to bring new ways of doing research into Asean, and Malaysia is a good base to expand to surrounding markets like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore,” Potentiate Sdn Bhd managing director Barry Ooi tells StarBizWeek.

Ooi, who has over 14 years of experience with market research giant Nielsen says Potentiate’s key differentiation among other research companies is its technology-driven solutions such as customer experience management (CEM) programmes.

“We basically conduct surveys on behalf of companies. Compared to the traditional method of filling up survey forms, Potentiate provides various channels to customers to provide feedback after their experience from services provided by companies.

“They could either choose for the survey to be done online or via a telephone call,” says Ooi.

Based in Petaling Jaya, Potentiate Sdn Bhd currently has 18 employees and has captured six clients across various industries here including in automotive, banking, insurance, healthcare and telecommunications.

Potentiate Australia co-founder and CEO Henry Cheang, who is also present, says the company is trying to create a mirror image of what it has in its Sydney office.

Regardless of where the clients are based, Ooi says the company aims to push for more work to be done in its PJ office since it has established a strong background in research and development here and employs a complete team of experts comprising web researchers, designers, data processing specialists and software developers.

“We are trying to scale up Malaysia, partly because of the work we do for clients here and Australia.

“The cost is significantly higher to scale up the business in Australia. So, it makes more sense to manage business here in a cost-effective way,” says Ooi, adding that this would also help in boosting delivery and making its presence in other parts of the world.

Potentiate Sdn Bhd is the second office outside Australia after Japan.

Cheang says that in today’s competitive environment, the way to go is to be action-orientated.

He says most companies still operate in a traditional way when it comes to conducting surveys on customer experience – results are delivered a month or two later.

“Today, we cannot afford to do this. Customer rating scores (or satisfaction scores) is considered a key performance index (KPI) for a company, but what lies beyond this KPI?

“So at Potentiate, we contact customers within 24 hours after their experience on a particular service and the findings can be obtained in a week’s time. If their feedback is bad, we would act on it and inform the company,” says Cheang, adding that online surveys are more cost-effective, efficient and gives the company an opportunity to build a one-to-one relationship with the customer.

He says companies should make the paradigm shift and realise that there is a greater need for prevention, as monitoring feedback via social media is not a good solution.

“When a customer gives bad feedback via social media, we can’t reverse a damage that is done. Subsequently, it’s the company that suffers as its brand name goes down,” he says.

Aside from CEM programmes, Potentiate also provides companies with software to intergrate data to cope with information overload.

Going forward, Potentiate aims to become a listed entity either in Australia or the United States, where it is currently exploring.

When asked if they see any potential in India, Ooi says India is not on its radar at the moment, although there have been discussions with various parties.

The company is also in the midst of introducing the i-beacon technology to local theme park operators. The i-beacon is a low-energy Bluetooth device used to monitor queue management in theme parks.

“This device is well-known in Australian theme parks, as queue management is a huge thing here. It acts in real time and is accurate,” says Ooi, adding that this would not only help theme parks operators provide better experience for visitors, but also improve profits by selling more tickets.

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