WITH a stream of global uncertainties coming into play, it is inevitably tough for companies here to have foreign market access and grow market share.
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme may be the much needed impetus in times such as this, as it is designed to catalyse Malaysian tech companies that have the potential to be global tech icons.
It is estimated that while about 88% of Malaysian information technology (IT) firms reported an average yearly revenue of RM1.4mil, these companies have not broken the start-up status ceiling. There are many reasons for this including lack of appetite for regional expansion, access to scale-up capital and most importantly, the lack of visibility to the global markets.
As Malaysia is located at the heart of Asean, making it an ideal gateway to access the region’s population base of 600 million and a collective gross domestic product of US$2 trillion (RM8.9 trillion), it makes sense for tech firms to further extend their reach for better growth prospects.
We spoke to three local tech companies that are fast expanding in this region – S5 Systems, AIMS Group of Companies and Piktochart. These firms not only have visionary leaders but own outstanding tech potential and encouraging revenue and growth results via innovative business models and regional expansion plans.
FOUNDED in 2006 by group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Johann Young, S5 Systems is a software company providing solutions that span across securing credentials and law enforcement, customs, immigration and border protection, foreign worker management, enterprise security and asset management, among others.
The national security solutions provider is also known for its patented and award-winning forensic level (Level 3 Security) security solutions that enables governments and companies manage identities and documents of individuals via enforcement technologies operated securely over distributed networks and workforces.
S5 Systems has developed and patented its homegrown security technologies and this is currently used in projects here and abroad. S5 Systems has also attained patents from the United States, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Johann said S5 had been very fortunate to have gotten plenty of Government support in terms of software testing and certification, to name a few.
“This should give us a distinct and wider market penetration as well as the government-to-government validation that is beneficial in securing new contracts in new markets.
“Another facet of Government support comes in the form of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme, where we believe is bringing great value in the assistance in technology acquisition and connecting tech companies to viable foreign firms that have synergies and are interested to collaborate technologically or commercially,” noted Johann, adding that this had a two-fold effect of expediting the process of breaking into new markets.
Johann expects growth opportunities in 2017 and beyond and this would be mainly supported by data on international tourist arrivals and migrant volumes.
He said international tourist arrivals were up 4.4% to 1.184 billion in 2015 from 1.134 billion in 2014, and this was estimated to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
Meanwhile, international migrant volumes have been growing rapidly worldwide from 172.7 million in 2005 to 243.7 million in 2015.
“The demand for solutions and systems in the national security space will continue to grow locally and abroad as governments and authorities face challenges in population growth.
“The current challenges faced in the global economy may contribute to the escalating demand and government spending in the national security space as well,” he said, adding that this left some governments little choice but to continue to invest in new technology and projects to address the challenges ahead.
AIMS Group of Companies
WITH a strong presence in Asean, AIMS Group of Companies was acquired by TIME Dotcom Bhd in 2011 and known for its data centre that hosts all domestic and more than 80% of foreign telco carriers, apart from local Internet and communication service providers.
The company currently supports more than 300 customers, owns and manages approximately 60,000 sq ft of secure data centres, certified to international standards.
Recognised as a firm with high growth potential by an international research house, CEO Chiew Kok Hin said the collaboration under the GAIN programme benefitted AIMS in terms of facilitation and speed to expand in the foreign markets, more networking opportunities, apart from keeping abreast with the latest industry outlook.
Through its flagship centre in Menara AIMS located in Kuala Lumpur and other data centres strategically located in Cyberjaya, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu, the firm’s data storage facilities and ancillary services provide comprehensive interconnectivity coverage and options in the region.
Chiew said the company had invested a substantial amount in expanding the data centre capacity to 10,000-sq-ft available capacity now.
“About 90% of this will be sold out soon due to high demand,” he noted, adding that the company’s other affiliated data centres are located in Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Amidst the challenging business landscape, Chiew said AIMS is on an aggressive expansion mode, particularly focusing on Asean.
By successfully winning notable global contracts this year, he said AIMS is confident of securing more prominent ones in years to come.
“The market is tough now and is expected to be even more challenging next year due to macroeconomic factors.
“Still, the industry is expected to grow as big data, Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, automation software and other application development, among others, expand vigorously,” said Chiew, adding that growth of these areas contributed to the importance of data centres and managed services.
While AIMS is expected to grow above the industry’s compounded annual growth rate, Chiew said in such a competitive industry, the company had built a solid reputation and currently partnered with technology providers such as IBM, Akamai Technologies (for security and content delivery and SwiftServe (for media streaming).
PIKTOCHART, a web-based infographics application, was co-founded by CEO Goh Ai Ching.
Based in Penang, Goh said an important feature of Piktochart is an easy-to-use infographic maker which enables an ordinary user to create professionally designed visuals without the need to hire professional. The programme also provides tools to add interactive maps, charts, videos and hyperlinks.
Piktochart is appreciative to efforts made by relevant government agencies that are facilitating industry support and talent development.
“These include getting working visas for expatriates, location of office space in Penang, among others. The government agencies are also able to come up with policies that would benefit technology firms,” she said, adding these are pertinent as entrepreneurs are constantly looking for the most “fertile soil” to plant a business.
As a product-driven firm, Goh admitted that it is facing challenges in light of the rather volatile economic climate.
“Our challenges include recruitment and scaling our processes.
“With our efficient team of 50 people, we hope to take the right direction by creating a product that will differentiate us from competitors,” noted Goh.
In the meantime, she said the company would ensure that its core offering continued to be unique and different to attract two main segments of users within the business and education environment.
“We are looking to branch out and create other product offerings that people are in search of,” she added.
With an easy-to-use editor that focuses on design and presentation, Piktochart takes off the frustration from using complicated design software or expensive designers.
Apart from having global clients such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, about 60% of Piktochart’s clients are based out of United States and Canada, with the rest mostly in Europe and South America.
The company’s free version of application has over 600,000 registered users.
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