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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN CHEMICALS How technology is being used to improve efficiency, speed and sustainability at Clariant Masterbatches

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elcome to the April issue of

This time around, Kuala Lumpur is

Business Chief APAC

the basis for our City Focus. Known

This month, Business Chief APAC’s cover feature is Clariant, one of the world’s foremost speciality chemical producers. Speaking with Chris Hansen, Head of BU Masterbatches Asia Pacific, Gustavo Haruki Kume,

to its citizens by the affectionate name of KL, the city is an exciting hub for the retail and tourism sectors; visitors are sure to be blown away by this diverse and accommodating location.

Global Product Owner (InstaColr),

Meanwhile, in our Top 10, we count

and Sanjeev Sujan, Digital Program

down the richest citizens of Australia:

Leader for BU Masterbatches, we

people who encompass a broad

learned how Clariant is using tech-

range of backgrounds, from humble

nology to improve the speed of its

beginnings, lucky breaks and even

operations, drive efficiency and pro-

just the determination to get a job

mote sustainability.

done right.

“At Clariant Masterbatches we

Do you have a story to tell? If you

believe in a colourful world! Few peo-

would like to be featured in an

ple outside the plastics industry

upcoming issue of Business Chief

know what masterbatches are,”

APAC please contact

explains Hansen. “We are one of

those obscure industries that are everywhere and in everything, yet no one knows of us.”

Enjoy the issue! Will Girling

a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


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78 54

96 Fonterra

112 Loan Market

142 TOTAL Solar



Grant Thornton Australia

United Asia Finance




Sify Technologies





APRIL 2020


a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




t Clariant Masterbatches we believe in a colourful world! Few people outside the plastics industry know what mas-

terbatches are. We are one of those obscure industries that are everywhere and in everything, yet no one knows of us,” says Chris Hansen, Head 12

of BU Masterbatches Asia Pacific. He, along with Gustavo Haruki Kume, Global Product Owner (InstaColr), and Sanjeev Sujan, Digital Program Leader for BU Masterbatches, are at the forefront of a digital transformation at the company. “Our business develops and produces color and additive concentrates, which are used by producers of various plastic articles with the purpose of getting the right colour and functionality,” Hansen continues. Perhaps what most characterises the company is the complexity of its operations, serving over 20,000 customers across a range of industries, with products tailored to each customer’s specific requirements. Clariant Masterbatches at any point in time maintains more than 70,000 active products which are continually changing as customer’s APRIL 2020


a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


“With InstaColr, we cut the lead time from weeks down to minutes in the best case” — Gustavo Haruki Kume, Global Product Owner (InstaColr), Clariant

update their products - from shampoo bottles to fabrics, smart phones and cars, they consequently request new colours and functionalities from Clariant. Clariant Masterbatches is very much revered for the breadth of its product portfolio and capabilities, the quality consistency, product stewardship and sustainability. However, the business has traditionally struggled to be as fast as the many small local competitors. “This need to increase our speed and make


it faster and easier for customers to


Gustavo Kume Gustavo is the Product Owner and has overall responsibility for InstaColr in Clariant since 2019. He joined Clariant in 2002 in Brazil as a chemist in the Home Care application laboratory. He was then invited to take care of the LATAM Regional Marketing in 2010, where he for the first time engaged with the digital world by developing digital campaigns and tools for new product launches. In 2013, Gustavo went to Switzerland as Global Marketing Leader for Home Care and in 2017, following his passion for the digital world, he joined the Digital4Clariant initiative, developing web-based software for the Home Care industry until his transfer to Masterbatches Singapore and InstaColr in 2019. APRIL 2020

The Beauty of Chemistry CLICK TO WATCH



15 do business with us was the main

“InstaColr is a customer facing project,

inspiration to start our digital journey”,

where we intend to replace our exist-

reflects Hansen.

ing product development process, our

“There are two main projects con-

color matching process,” Kume says.

stituting Clariant Masterbatches’

“In our current process a salesperson

digital transformation efforts: InstaColr

goes to a customer, talks to them,

and Smart Factory”, Sujan explains.

collects some information about the

“Individually and collectively, these two

colour and performance character-

products will set us decisively apart

istics that the customer wants, then

from other players in our industry and

passes all this to our labs.” After this,

have the potential to revolutionise the

the lab starts working on matching the

way the masterbatches industry works.”

customer’s colour and other require-

InstaColr involves a completely

ments. This often takes more than a

new approach to meeting

week to be finalised, at which point

customer’s expectations.

they go via the sales person back to a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



the customer. Not infrequently is there

the target color on the spot after which

the need to repeat the process, if the

the application engine develops up to

result is not entirely what the customer

three relevant and tailormade matches

wanted, or the requirements subse-

with associated price and specifica-

quently changed.

tions on the spot. Often, the customer

With InstaColr the company turns

just needs to know that we can do it

that process decisively upside down

and what will be the cost, so that he

and cuts the lead time from weeks

can quote his customer. This is now

down to minutes in the best case.

instantly possible. After the customer’s

“Via the InstaColr iPad app, our sales

choice, the underlying formulation

person collects all technical and

and other requirements is transferred

commercial requirements on the spot

immediately to a regional lab, which

and confirms the colour”, Kume says.

produces a corresponding sample for

“InstaColr allows the customer to adjust

the customer’s own sample production.

APRIL 2020

“By optimising and synchronising process steps and resources via the Smart Scheduler, we will move much closer to a performance frontier and consequently reduce both lead times and cost” — Sanjeev Sujan, Digital Program Leader for BU Masterbatches, Clariant

This sample is with the customer within two to three days. The chief benefit is time saved, and time is money.” InstaColr launched in the middle of last year in Southeast Asia. To date, 25 sales colleagues have undergone training and certification to become InstaColr Consultants. This process has been important, as the role of our sales representatives changes significantly with InstaColr. As indicated by their title, they go from selling to color consulting. “This binds us closer to our customers,” emphasizes Kume.


Sanjeev Sujan Sanjeev is global Digital Program Leader for Clariant Masterbatches. An ardent technology lover, he has been with Clariant since 2013. He started as Clariant Production System Change Leader for Asia Pacific & IMEA. He subsequently took over Operations of IMEA before taking up his current role in Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Clariant, Sanjeev worked with McKinsey & Company from 2009 to 2013, working across oil and gas, manufacturing and technology, covering lean optimisation and strategy. Sanjeev holds a Master’s degree in Finance and IT & Operations from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, in India. a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


BUILDING THE REAL-TIME DATA-DRIVEN MANUFACTURING ECOSYSTEM With a mission to accelerate the digitization of the global supply chain, Arcstone is a manufacturing solutions company providing the tools for Industry 4.0 and beyond. We empower manufacturers to gain better visibility, control and optimization over their production processes and entire supply chain through unlocking the hidden value of real-time data. By leveraging Arcstone’s solutions, Clariant has been able to kickstart their digital transformation and is preparing to scale their efforts to be a leader in the data-driven manufacturing space across all their facilities globally. “Complete manufacturing transparency across the entire supply chain is what Arcstone ultimately strives for. By digitalizing and integrating manufacturing operations from the shop f loor right to the hands of consumers, we aim to enable a more responsive, responsible, and sustainable manufacturing ecosystem for us all.” Willson Deng, CEO

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The electronic capture of customer

is to roll it out to more than 50 sites

requirements has also allowed the

globally. Smart Factory spans every-

centralization of the sample produc-

thing from the receipt of customers’

tion into one regional lab, which allows

purchase orders to the final shipment

scale advantages and yet faster sam-

of the corresponding products to

ple delivery to customers throughout

the customer. “Our aim is to make

South East Asia. Clariant is now pre-

everything along this process smart

paring the roll-out of InstaColr to other

or smarter than today – thus the title

regions, which will commence over the

Smart Factory,” Says Sujan. “We

course of 2020 and 2021.

do this by digitising, streamlining

Where InstaColr ends, Clariant’s

and automating process steps. This

Smart Factory begins. Smart Factory

includes automating previously

is currently running as a pilot project

manual SAP processes as well as

in Singapore. Subsequently the plan

digitising the shop floor’s information

APRIL 2020

“2019 was the year where sustainability became a real topic for our customers” — Chris Hansen, Head of BU Masterbatches Asia Pacific, Clariant

flow by leveraging user-friendly tablet interfaces and linking up the back-end manufacturing execution system with the physical production equipment and programmable logic controllers. We thus get data into and out of equipment, control the equipment and track material flows via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).The transparency and insights are the basis for direct process improvements and support a more effective performance follow-up and corrective actions.” 21


Chris Hansen Chris Hansen is Vice President and Head of Clariant Masterbatches in Asia Pacific since 2015. In addition, Chris is the global executive in charge of the digital strategy programme within Clariant Masterbatches. Chris has a passion for rethinking traditional approaches and driving impactful changes throughout the business. Chris joined Clariant in 2009. His first role was to build and roll-out a standardised Clariant Production System for the business unit’s more than 50 sites globally. Prior to joining Clariant, Chris was an Associate Principal with McKinsey & Company. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics and Management from Aarhus University in Denmark. a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



“Accenture played a key role in the InstaColr development. As a chemical company, we had never developed an iPad app before, or any software system. That’s why we decided to go with a reliable company like Accenture. They taught us how to develop the software and how to work in an agile way using scrum methodology. “They came in with their developers, with a scrum master and with IT managers. We learned as much as possible from them before hiring our own developers, with a handover period where Accenture helped to stabilise the system.” - Gustavo Haruki Kume, Global Product Owner (InstaColr), Clariant 22 ARCST O N E

“Arcstone is a Singapore-based company that we have been working with for the last two years now. They’ve played a major role in our Smart Factory development. Arcstone comes with an ecosystem of existing MES modules that it has been tailoring for us with specific processes. They’ve ensured that it works based on our specific requirements. “Equally important is the fact that we work very closely in terms of collaboration. It’s not a vendor and a customer relationship in this case - we share our office space, as often as we can and, if not, they remain available to work remotely with us when we have any urgent issues.” - Sanjeev Sujan, Digital Program Leader for BU Masterbatches, Clariant

APRIL 2020

“The core engine of our Smart Factory is the Smart Scheduler,” Sujan says. “The minimum viable product is already on the shop floor. In the next version we will be able to dynamically schedule all tasks, equipment and manpower for a synchronised and optimised end-toend workflow both within a site and across geographies. Also, the Smart Scheduler will allow us to quantify and thus decide on the specific trade-offs between service, cost and working capital on a continuous basis.” “By optimising and synchronising process steps and resources via the Smart Scheduler, we will move much closer to a performance frontier and consequently reduce both lead times and cost,” emphasises Sujan. At the same time, the measures will further improve Clariant’s industry leading safety record by reducing firefighting and rushing stress levels amongst the staff. Alongside the focus on technology, sustainability is a very central topic for Clariant and has been so for the last seven years at least, with many specific efforts and recognitions as a result. That’s due not only to a sense of moral responsibility, but because it a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



is good for the business. “2019 was the year where sustainability became a real topic for our customers,” says Hansen. “In the years before, it was often a final, courtesy agenda point at customer meetings. Now, it is more often than not the first and primary agenda point.” There is huge pressure on the plastics industry from governments, consumers and NGOs. “Topics like the circular economy, recycled polymers and the whole issue of ocean plastic waste are very high on everybody’s agenda,” 24

Hansen explains. “This is our opportunity. We have the capabilities and solutions to help our customers.” Clariant backs up these words with actions. Specific projects undertaken in

again allows us to help our customers

the sustainability space include looking

very specifically on how to improve the

into achieving more consistent colours

sustainability of their products.

with recycled polymers, as well as

Developing and implementing digital

building sustainability options such as

solutions in a traditional manufacturing

recyclability and compostability into its

company is not an easy journey. Clariant

InstaColr app to help customers make

Masterbatches spent considerable

informed decisions. Clariant is also pilot-

effort in building up its in-house Digital

ing a recycling plant in Italy known as

Innovation Center team. “Initially, candi-

CycleWorks, as Hansen explains: “That

dates are skeptical, as our environment

plant is, for example, doing extensive

is very different from that of, for exam-

testing on how colourants and additives

ple, an IT company. What in the end

impact the recyclability of plastics. This

attracts and continues to excite people,

APRIL 2020


Year founded

CHF4,399m Revenue in Swiss francs

17,000 Number of employees

though, is that we remain a small team

and takes away past flexibility and

where everyone plays a central role in

autonomy - either real or perceived.

trailblazing game-changing new ways

Our experience is that one needs a

of working in our business. People real-

lot of positive encouragement and

ize that they are having a real impact”,

support, but in cases also the threat

explains Hansen.

of consequences if people do not line

While it is a lot of work to develop the

up behind the new way of working,”

new digital solutions, the biggest effort

explains Sujan. This is all about change

and success is to actually make the

management and that is how InstaColr

organisation at large adopt and change

and Smart Factory is driving true

their way of working around the new

impact within Clariant Masterbatches.

solutions. “Digitalisation fundamentally changes previous ways of working a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m





APRIL 2020



a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


Eryk Lee, CEO of AAM Advisory, a part of Quilter, explains why it is prudent for young people in Singapore to engage with their retirement planning


etirement used to be simple. For every post-industrial generation there was a well-

trodden path towards retirement: save,


work to the age of retirement, claim your pension/CPF funds and live out your life doing something that you actually want to do with enough savings to last to the end. Things are, unfortunately, not quite so simple for tomorrow’s generation of savers known as Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2010, Generation Z makes up around 30% of Singapore’s residents and are currently either completing their schooling, studying at university or entering the workplace. They will be living longer with much less favourable retirement prospects so it is essential that their retirement plans are drawn up as early as possible. APRIL 2020



Countries all around the world are experiencing considerable demographic changes and Singapore is no

2019 that Singapore is set to increase its retirement age to 65 in 2030. The old-age dependency ratio, the

exception. The median age in Singa-

ratio of economically inactive people

pore will rise from 42.2 today to 52.8

compared to those at working age, will

years in 2050 and Singaporeans will be

rise from 12 today to 59 in 2050. This

living longer, with estimates suggesting

will provide immense pressure on the

that the country will have the third-

Central Provident Fund (CPF), which

longest lifespan globally in 2040 with an provides for most social security funcexpected life expectancy of 85.4, com-

tions and retirement income security

pared with 83.53 years today. Prime

for public and private-sector employ-

Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in ees. While the CPF continues to be a a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


Gen Z decoded: how we work | We are Gen Z CLICK TO WATCH




fantastic retirement tool, the increased

and 65% are behind with accumulating

cost of living coupled with rising life

enough funds to maintain their lifestyle

expectancy means it can no longer be

after retirement. The same survey also

relied upon as someone’s sole retire-

discovered that those in their 20s are

ment provision.

doing well when it comes to savings,

These trends have increased the

but half have not started on retirement

need for financial planning around

planning. Furthermore, half of women

the world, not least in Singapore, as

in their 20s do not know the best way

people will be required to take greater

to grow their money and shy away

personal responsibility for their retire-

from investing.

ment funding. Worryingly, the OCBC’s

Generation Z will also face an

Financial Wellbeing Index has found

increasingly uncertain future in the

that 73% of Singapore residents are

face of rapidly changing technological

not on track with their retirement plans

disruption. Increased innovation and a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


the uptake of new technologies will augment jobs, change the nature of work and may push people out of the labour market entirely if they find their skills are now redundant. To manage this uncertainty, Generation Z will need to build up an emergency savings pot to provide income in the event of redundancy. Currently, residents of Singapore are not doing so as only 51% of residents having a savings pot sufficient enough to last for 6 months. In a similar vein, the increasingly 32

flexible nature of work, characterised as the “gig” economy, will blur the lines between secure employment which


allows someone to save regularly into a workplace pension and insecure and irregular work without the safety net of a workplace pension. This trend will only expand in the future and may prevent workers from meeting their retirement goals, and push them into working well into retirement. Cash-flow modelling by AAM Advisory, charting the average financial life of a resident of Singapore with major lifetime expenditure factored in, shows that even with a monthly salary of $10,000 by the age of 40, without additional financial planning on top of their CPF, someone would exhaust their funds by age 74, well before the current 83.53 years expected. But there is hope for Generation Z: the earlier you plan, the easier it is to achieve your goals and the more flexibility you have to meet them. By definition, Generation Z are at the greatest advantage as they have much more time to generate the savings they require for retirement and can take a longer-term horizon, therefore taking on more risk when they invest, especially in the earlier years before they have other life commitments. The importance of a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com





APRIL 2020

regular savings and investment as well long-term compounded interest cannot be understated. The same model shows that with financial planning, and by saving from a young age and gradually increasing personal savings and investments over the course of one’s life, it will be possible for a member of Generation Z to retire early and have sufficient funds to last well into their 80s, in-keeping with the average life expectancy for Singapore residents. But this will be difficult to achieve, despite high wages, without adequate retirement provisioning. Tomorrow’s generation of workers are facing serious demographic hurdles and detrimental workplace trends that may jeopardise their ability to adequately plan for a longer period spent in work and a later retirement. There is also a myriad of retirement planning choices and investment options for Generation Z. which will empower some, but terrify others. Early planning coupled with regular investments over a long-term horizon, with the assistance of a wealth management professional, will allow tomorrow’s generation to have the kind of retirement they aspire to. a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com






INFORMATION FOR VALUE Big Data and analytics have become omnipresent buzzwords recently, but what do they mean for how businesses should operate? Business Chief explores the subject with Abel Smit at Tech Data WRITTEN BY

APRIL 2020



a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



t’s often said that, in our modern economy, data is becoming the new oil. Whether this metaphor is

totally accurate is almost beside the point; in an

increasingly digital world, everything is data, a fact

that becomes ever more pertinent when the tools available for collecting and analysing information evolve. The scale of data’s explosion was estimated by Domo to reach 1.7MB of new information every second for every person on Earth by 2020, with an approximate total of 40 zettabytes (40 trillion gigabytes) globally. Contributing to this enormous volume is ‘Big Data’ - large quantities of information pertaining 38

to corporate assets, which require highly innovative forms of processing to decipher and render useful for decision-making within business. Abel Smit, Director of IoT Solutions at Tech Data, believes that how a company chooses to analyse its data can have a significant impact on enabling efficiencies. After all, when it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the value a customer derives will not necessarily be from the device itself, but rather the wealth of insights and options for action that the analysis of data can make possible. “Businesses, small and large, need to aggregate, unlock and organise their data so it is accessible and can be maintained whilst being secure and ethical. When that is in place, analytics can be used to visualise, gain insights and drive even more value with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning,” he says. APRIL 2020

“In an increasingly digital world, everything is data�


a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com

Get the report

“By investing in these next-gen forms of analytics, vast amounts of data, which would otherwise be wasted, can be transformed into a highly valuable asset” is formed and used to make a predic-


tion, the result is collected and

The premise of AI-powered analysis

analysed, repeat ad nauseam.

is rooted in the goal of designing

By investing in these next-gen

technology that can perform tasks

forms of analytics, vast amounts

normally reserved for people.

of data, which would otherwise be

According to SAS, machine learning

wasted, can be transformed into a

forms an independent subset of AI

highly valuable asset. “By analysing

and focuses on training a machine

the usage, the channel can begin to

to identify patterns in data and then

take a number of actions. For exam-

‘draw conclusions’ from it in a similar

ple, the data can give resellers and

way to the human brain. First,

systems integrators an understand-

machines are given ‘inputs’ and their

ing of what challenges their custom-

associated ‘outputs’ in order to gen-

ers are encountering and what

erate a prediction algorithm. Next,

additional services they might need

they are presented with a new input and use the set algorithm to predict an output - the ultimate goal being to refine the algorithm until the error margin between the machines’ prediction (called the ‘cost function’) and the actual output is as close to zero as possible. Therefore, machinelearning-based analytics represents


1.7MB of new information is created every second for every person on Earth in 2020, with an approximate total of 40 zettabytes (40 trillion gigabytes) globally

a cycle: data is collected, an algorithm a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



“The opportunities afforded by Big Data are practical and abundant for companies dedicated to developing innovative ways of analysing the available information”

42 in order to solve them,” says Smit. The

“For those companies that can bridge

seemingly infinite streams of data gen-

the gap between IT and business objec-

erated on a daily basis take on

tives, there are major opportunities for

a whole new dimension, as each piece

success,” Smit adds. But what does

can be used to better inform executives

this mean for Big Data and analytics?

on how to steer corporate strategy. “Information and dialogue can result in


continual improvements, adding value

For many companies, this will mean

for the end customer and helping to cre-

finding ways to improve the end-user

ate lasting relationships built on meeting

experience, with data analysis providing

real-world business objectives. It also

the engine to solve larger volumes of

helps with securing and onboarding

problems than ever before. In an article

new clients, as the process of continual

by McKinsey & Co, Victor Nilson, SVP

development highlights and helps you

at AT&T, explained that the company

open up new markets.”

uses data analytics to optimise customer

APRIL 2020

leverage analytics to help the machines optimise themselves. It’s an example of using analytics to help a customer generate more yield and more productivity out of their existing capital investment.” The opportunities afforded by Big Data are practical and abundant for companies dedicated to developing innovative ways of analysing the available information. Smit remarks that, although the modern era is one of “digital supremacy” and technology is undoubtedly indispensable to nearly every industry, there is some hesitance - even fatigue - among executives for digital transformation care. “We’ve used Big Data techniques

schemes that under-deliver. However,

to analyse all the different permutations

the eminently practical and widespread

to augment that experience to more

advantages of streamlining via data ana-

quickly resolve or enhance a particular

lytics is an opportunity that should be

situation. We take the complexity out

fully embraced. “If there is one thing

and turn it into something simple and

that businesses are interested in, it is

actionable.” Other companies might

how they can be more efficient, open

leverage data analytics to improve the

up new growth, or be more compliant,”

operation of a product itself, although

he says. “For those in the channel that

some, like Vince Campisi, Chief Digital

want to continue to succeed, the focus

Officer at United Technologies, consider

has to switch from technology to busi-

both forms of optimisation to be intrinsi-

ness outcomes.”

cally linked. Campisi told McKinsey, “We’re starting to enable digital industries, like a digital wind farm, where you can a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com




APRIL 2020


AUTOMATION Business Chief speaks to supply chain experts to discuss the use of automation for fulfilment operations WRITTEN BY


a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com




global supply chain typically involves many partners that reside in different time zones, speak different

languages and possess unique systems, documents and data standards. This complexity puts tremendous pressure on workers to

standardise across the transaction by bringing together the data, synthesising and processing it according to mutually agreed upon terms and conditions,” comments Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer, Kofax as he reflects on the current landscape within supply chains. “As one can imagine, this is a time-consuming 46

manual process filled with the potential for error, re-work and compliance gaps. Intelligent automation transforms high-cost and peopleintensive fulfilment operations into a highly efficient and automated state, by bringing together automation and artificially intelligent technologies. Intelligent automation is able to ingest high volumes of data from disparate systems and people, transforming unstructured data into standard and structured formats to automate the workflow.” Over the years, Huff has seen fulfilment operations evolve significantly, in particular “more software on fewer machines with even less people involved. Fulfilment centres today are technological marvels that primarily operate with a high degree of autonomy. APRIL 2020


a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com 5g-switch

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Ericsson. The 5G switch made easy.

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“Intelligent automation transforms high-cost and people-intensive fulfilment operation into a highly efficient and automated state, by bringing together automation and artificially intelligent technologies” — Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer, Kofax

A mainframe in the 1950s can essentially be held in the palm of your hand in 2020. The power of mobile, internet, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the supply chain industry.” Within the industry Huff has seen applications of “converging intelligent automation and AI to create platforms that can predict future inventory levels by assessing a myriad of environmental factors and initiating actions to preposition supplies in the right place at the right time. In addition, intelligent automation and

a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com




internet of things (IoT) are converg-

unbudgeted revenue, lifting opportuni-

ing to speed up fulfilment processing

ties that would have otherwise required

times by collecting disparate data, mak-

headcount. The second is, organisa-

ing assessments and taking actions,

tions can aggressively advance their

and intelligent automation and mobile

efficiency, arbitrage and cost take-out

devices are converging to enabling real-

opportunities to improve margins and

time tracking to improve efficiency while

profitability.” In addition to this Huff also

increasing customer experience.”

sees the potential to “increase compli-

Huff explains that one of the most

ance to 99.9%, improve processing

important benefits of automation is add-

times, reduce transaction costs and

ing a tremendous amount of capacity

most importantly empower humans

without adding headcount. “Organi-

by providing a ‘digital assistant’ to per-

sations are able to deploy capacity

form the low-value transactional work.”

in two primary ways: one is to initiate

Agreeing with Huff, Mohammed Rehman,

“ The power of mobile, internet, automation and AI has transformed the supply chain industry” — Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer, Kofax APRIL 2020

Cognex Logistics Solutions




51 Programme Team Leader of Comput-

from many different sources, trans-

ing at Arden University comments that

formation of unstructured data, task

“Efficiency is the key benefit. Automat-

automation and automated workflow.

ing routine and menial tasks improves

Best-in-breed intelligent automation

a company’s efficient use of time and

platforms bring all of this together

money. It can also help to eliminate

to automate complex fulfilment opera-

human error.”

tions.” In addition to the challenge of

However, with innovation comes

combining technology for optimum

challenges, Huff highlights that “the

transformational value, both Huff and

challenge with this technology is find-

Rehman highlight cybersecurity as

ing the right combinations to solve the

another core threat. “Globalisation

higher-value supply chain issues that

has blurred geographic boundaries

will result in true transformational value.

while at the same time increasing risk.”

Complex supply chain business prob-

comments Huff. “Government and pri-

lems typically require ingestion of data

vate sector consortiums will become a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


increasingly important as we seek new standards and governance to make these consortiums work by building trust among strangers.” Agreeing with Huff, Rehman adds that “Robots can be hacked just like a computer. As with any strategy around cybersecurity, it’s about embedding processes around authenticity of data, procedures around verification and handling of data, and ensuring that people are educated about the risks and follow institutional policies and procedures. Periodic review 52

and testing is vital to ensure that systems are behaving as they should.” Looking to the future of automated fulfilment operations, Huff sees the adoption of the dynamic combination of AI, machine learning and natural language processing, taking further hold within the industry in order to automate the analysis of data. “The lifeblood of a fulfilment centre is data. While automation can help move data through a process with minimal human intervention - in most instances - automation can’t read, interpret and draw insights from data. This requires AI through the likes of machine learning and natural language processing. As a result, APRIL 2020

“ As with any strategy around cybersecurity, it’s about embedding processes around authenticity of data, procedures around verification and handling of data, and ensuring that people are educated” — Mohammed Rehman, Programme Team Leader of Computing, Arden University


companies need to do more than just

a company’s recruitment and talent

automate workflow, they need to use

retention.” Huff also reflects on the

AI to read data, interpret it and deliver

development of predictive modelling

insights to the business. At Kofax our

in the future. “Predictive modelling is

intelligent automation platform allows

already being used in pockets, but the

our customers to ingest structured and

technology and algorithms are propri-

unstructured data, and use our embed-

etary in most instances. This makes

ded AI to read data to deliver insights

it difficult for small and medium-sized

to a business. In most cases, we have

enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage

seen the application of intelligent auto-

of the technology. More open source

mation shift workers from low-value

predictive models that allow SMEs to

‘data collectors’ to higher value ‘data

utilise them would go far in levelling the

users’. In addition, workers are finding

playing field so we can adopt, scale

greater purpose in their work, improving

and innovate faster,” concludes Huff. a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



APRIL 2020



Rosanna Duncan, CDO, Palladium, provides insight into how companies can maximise diversity and inclusion opportunities in order to implement lasting change



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reating a truly diverse workforce is no easy task. It requires

transparency, clear communication and a willingness from all parts of the company, even if it requires at times difficult conversations. Over the years diversity and inclusion has sometimes held negative connotations, associated with meeting corporate quotas, or at worst, being a token gesture. Here to


reinvigorate the concept of diversity and inclusion is Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer of Palladium, whose passion for the matter extends far beyond corporate initiatives.

COULD YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER? I’m originally from Cardiff in Wales. I’ve spent more than twenty years working across both the public and private sectors primarily in the UK. I’ve written and researched extensively on diversity and inclusion topics over the years. My doctoral thesis examined how best to embed D&I issues across the UK construction industry. APRIL 2020


a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com

“I’ve spent my life trying to make the case for a fairer and more equal workplace environment” — Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer, Palladium

59 I’m now the Chief Diversity Officer for

the case for a fairer and more equal

the Global Impact firm Palladium. We’re a

workplace environment. It’s something

business which has over 3000

I’ve always cared passionately about. It’s

employees in 90 countries around the

more than a job.

world working hard to help solve some of our planet’s most pressing challenges. We work closely with governments,


businesses, and investors. We

I’m proud of what we’ve managed

implement innovative education,

to achieve here at Palladium in the

health and economic development

space of just over three years. In 2017,

programmes and provide specialist

Palladium identified an Equal Pay Gap

consulting and in-depth financial insights

of 21% in some parts of the business.

which put us at the forefront of the

But as of the end of 2019 globally

growing interest in impact investing.

we succeeded in bringing that figure

I’ve spent my life trying to make

down to less than 2%. a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


Palladium: Make It Possible CLICK TO WATCH





gender or any single characteristic);

It wasn’t long ago that to, many,

for the removal of unconscious bias

‘diversity’ meant quotas. In fact, we

from hiring practices; and the fact

still see an overemphasis on gender

that creating a diverse and inclusive

parity and other simplistic metrics

workplace is everyone’s job.

acknowledgement of the need for an intersectional approach (beyond

that, while well-intentioned, don’t

the last decade, to a point where


more companies are striving to

It requires commitment from

embed D&I into all aspects of their

everyone within the business and a

business. We’re seeing greater

sense of purpose from the top of the

actually achieve the diversity of thought and inclusive workplaces we need. This has begun to shift over

APRIL 2020

organisation. Staff need to be more

and maintaining an ongoing

than bought-in — they have to

conversation with staff at all levels.

recognise that everyone is

Companies have to keep D&I top of

responsible for making our shared

mind in all they do, constantly

workplace more diverse and

sharing ideas, debating issues, and


continuously improving together.

At Palladium, we’ve done this by

This means that when we have

giving D&I a place at the top table

success to celebrate, such as the

through the creation of a Chief

reduction of our Equal Pay Gap from

Diversity Officer role, holding senior

21% in some parts of the business to

leaders accountable and transparent

less than 2% globally, everyone can

about the progress we’re making,

share in that success!

Rosanna Duncan


Dr Rosanna Duncan is Chief Diversity Officer at Palladium, a global impact firm with operations in over 90 countries. Her role involves maximising the opportunities from embracing diversity and inclusion (D&I) for employees, clients, supply chains, and the company’s bottom line. She is also the Chair of Palladium’s cutting-edge Sustainable Business Steering Group, combining D&I, the environment, and safeguarding within a single framework. Rosanna draws upon a 20+ year record of multi-sector achievement that includes embedding D&I contractor requirements into Europe’s largest infrastructure project, High Speed Rail (HS2). Underpinning her experience are a PhD and chartered membership of the CIPD, as well as a significant body of research and internationally published work on a range of D&I-related topics. Rosanna is also a member of UK Research & Innovation’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion external advisory group.

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“We still see an overemphasis on gender parity and other simplistic metrics that, while wellintentioned, don’t actually achieve the diversity of thought and inclusive workplaces we need” — Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer, Palladium


crucial for buy-in and to send a clear message about how much this matters to the organisation. Once leaders are willing to do that, they almost always agree that it was worth the effort.



we see as the ideal candidate and

Accountability is always a challenge.

to check that we are not recruiting an

It’s easy for any organisation to

image of ourselves or using criteria

assume that once a Chief Diversity

that will always bring us the same hires

Officer is in place, that person will be

from the same pool of candidates.

However, we need to question what challenge ourselves on this. We need

responsible for ‘solving’ D&I. But my

I believe strongly in the importance

role is to equip, enable, and lead the

of addressing intersectionality. When

organisation on its D&I journey.

we consider diversity and inclusion

Acknowledging that takes time and

issues we need to look beyond gender

reinforcement, but pays dividends.

and examine other characteristics that

The other challenge that has to be

intersect, including race, socio-

overcome is transparency. It’s not

economic background, age and

always comfortable to get up in front

disability status. Neither men nor

of our people and report on progress,

women are a homogenous group, and

particularly when more work is needed

if we fail to see this, we won’t be able

to achieve our goals. But doing so is

to move towards real equality for all.

APRIL 2020


bolt-on to HR, or of too little strategic value to merit proper commitment. When something becomes everybody’s business, change

Give D&I a seat at the top table. Your

happens quicker. It’s important to

D&I lead needs to have the backing of

keep the conversation flowing,

the board and the CEO’s mandate to

internally and externally.

make changes. Set realistic targets

Everyone is responsible for creating a


diverse and inclusive workplace. One

We’re going to see more analysis

of the biggest risks is the perception

of how different types of inequality

that D&I is compartmentalised, a

intersect, and will be able to shift our

and KPIs and make senior leaders accountable for delivering on these.

a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



64 recruitment practices, selection criteria,

What gets measured gets done,

cultures, and unconscious biases

and we’re also going to see more

toward the necessary action for

companies equipping their D&I leaders

meaningful change.

with ever more sophisticated data and

We must look beyond the gender lens.

setting more ambitious KPIs —

There is much discussion at the moment

something that’s had a huge impact

around increasing the diversity of boards,

at Palladium.

but most of this dialogue is about

at which women are accessing these


opportunities. In many cases, they will

Palladium keeps diversity at the

have more in common with their male

forefront of people’s minds by


constantly sharing ideas, debating

increasing women’s representation. We need to understand that women are not a homogenous group and look critically

APRIL 2020

“We need to check that we are not recruiting an image of ourselves or using criteria that will always bring us the same hires from the same pool of candidates” — Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer, Palladium

In April I will be one of the principal speakers at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development

issues, and encouraging everyone

Diversity and Inclusion conference

who works here, at all levels, to

taking place in London.

develop their own thought leadership in this space. The ‘proof is in the


pudding’, as they say: our KPIs speak

I believe that there is a direct

for themselves and it’s thanks to the

correlation between the seniority

willingness of the entire company to

of my role within Palladium and my

put in the work.

position on the Executive Board, and the rate of progress we have

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOURSELF AND PALLADIUM? I’m seeking to spread best practice

managed to achieve on diversity and inclusion issues. Real change takes time and can

and some of the lessons Palladium

only be achieved when everyone

has learnt for the benefit of a wider

works together. The difficulty lies in

international business audience. I’ll

helping the organisation to think

be running workshops this spring to

about diversity beyond gender, and

share how we addressed some of the

to see that everyone is responsible

problems Palladium encountered

— from executives to the front line

because I believe the lessons learnt

— for creating a diverse and inclusive

are just as relevant whether your


organisation is in the public or private sector, or whether it is large or small in size. a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



City Focus



LUMPUR Known affectionately as KL to its citizens, Kuala Lumpur is a retail and tourism hub in Southeast Asia. Business Chief explores some the highlights of this exciting city WRITTEN BY


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eaning ‘muddy confluence’ in Malay, Kuala Lumpur became an established town circa 1857

when it was founded by Chinese tin miners, although there is no consensus on who named it as such. At that time, the small area that would one day become Malaysia’s largest city was little more

than a handful of houses and amenities at the junction of Gombak and Klang rivers. Finally achieving the status of a city in 1972, it is now the recognised capital 68

of Malaysia and covers a total land area of 94 square miles. With a population of approximately 1.8 million people, Kuala Lumpur is one of the most populated cities in the country. The citizens of the city refer to themselves as ‘KLites’ in reference to their preferred moniker for it: KL. A symbol of modernity in South-East Asia, Kuala Lumpur houses the Petronas Twin Towers on its skyline. The tallest twin buildings in the world at 1,482ft, the towers eclipse the second-largest building - Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis hotel - by over 300ft.

ECONOMY Ranked in the top 11 of PwC’s Cities of Opportunity Index, Kuala Lumpur exhibits APRIL 2020


Population of Kuala Lumpur

$160.4bn GDP in USD


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Expedia Kuala Lumpur City Video Guide CLICK TO WATCH



71 a rapidly developing economy with

“By far the largest net contributors to the city’s economy are tourism and retail”

a GDP in excess of RM160.39bn (US$38bn). A recognised global city, Kuala Lumpur is an important fulcrum of finance, real estate, shipping, telecoms and media. Acting as a base of operations for 14 Forbes 2000 companies, industry luminaries such as Petronas, Tenaga Nasional, Sime Darby and Maxis have taken up headquarters within the city. By far the largest net contributors to the city’s economy are tourism and retail: renowned as a vibrant and accommodating shopping opportunity featuring 66 malls, the a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



retail industry is estimated to have

retail-friendly environment of Kuala

generated a total of almost RM107.5bn

Lumpur. Visited by more than 2.5 million

in 2019. Kuala Lumpur also recorded

people each month, the mall features

more than 13.8 million tourists in 2018,

65 food outlets, everyday amenities

the third-largest influx in the Asia-

(banks, pharmacies, a monorail sta-

Pacific region after Singapore (14.7

tions and more), an IMAX theatre, spa,

million) and Bangkok (22.8 million).

video game arcade, karaoke bar and over 1,200 luxury service suites, cus-


tomers are guaranteed to find whatever

Containing over 1,000 stores across

they’re looking for. Owned by magnate

7.5 million square feet of space spread

Vincent Tan - founder of the Berjaya

over 10 storeys, the Berjaya Times

Corporation - the RM1.75bn building

Square shopping experience is one

was opened in 2003 and is one of the

that cannot be rivalled, even in the very

largest shopping malls on Earth.

APRIL 2020


AIRASIA A low-cost airline originally founded in 1993, AirAsia is Malaysia’s largest airline by overall fleet size (255) and breadth of service - the company offers more than 165 destinations in 25 countries. The airline has generated revenues in excess of US$2bn and currently employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide. Despite being a low-cost operator, AirAsia has consistently been ranked as

“Kuala Lumpur is an important fulcrum of finance, real estate, shipping, telecoms and media”

best-in-class for 11 years straight on SkyTrax’s ‘Best Low-Cost Airline’ a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


list. The company has several affili-

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB)

ated operations, including AirAsia

is an electrical utility company

China, AirAsia Japan and AirAsia

founded over 69 years ago. The

X. The latter is its long-haul budget

company serves 9.2 million cus-

option which operates flights to

tomers throughout Malaysia and

Australia and the US, amongst others.

focuses its core activities on power production and supply chain value.


Dedicated to attaining its vision

The largest publicly-listed power on

of being amongst the leading

the MYX with assets of RM99bn,

energy corporations in the world


APRIL 2020

and fostering excellence in all of

near its power station in Kapar,

its products and services, TNB is

Selangor as a sanctuary for migra-

active in Malaysian communities by

tory shorebirds.

establishing scholarships schemes and championing corporate respon-


sibility. One such scheme is its 2011

Indicative of Kuala Lumpur’s fast-

Green Energy Policy, which pledges

expanding economy, the SME CEO

the company’s commitment to

Forum 2020: Customer Experience

investing in renewable energy, as

event will be held on 16 June and will

well as recognising an ash pond

bring together industry experts to


a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com



APRIL 2020

pool their knowledge to find the best way of optimising the customer experience. Recognising this aspect of business as being fundamental to corporate strategies across both smaller and larger companies, the forum will seek to address key issues: increasing customer loyalty, improving customer satisfaction and how to generate more effective marketing. “Customer Experience encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering – the quality of customer care, but also advertising, packaging, product and service feature,” say the organisers. “Customer Experience is created by the contribution of not only by customers value but also by the contribution of the company providing the experience.” The event will be highly informative for business owners in a city famous for delivering world-class retail and tourism services.

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T O P 10


Wealthiest businesspeople inAustralia From humble beginnings, lucky breaks and even just the determination to get a job done right, Business Chief takes a look at the 10 wealthiest businesspeople in Australia WRITTEN BY

APRIL 2020



a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com

T O P 10

Born Photo © Crown Melbourne





James Packer CROWN RESORTS [2007–2019]

The son of a philanthropist (Roslyn Packer - née Weedon) and a media tycoon (Kerry Packer), James Packer was an early investor in internet-based companies towards the beginning of the 2000s. Foreseeing that old media was vulnerable to the possibilities being opened by online equivalents, he bought shares in classified advert sites like SEEK and to sell his portfolio in these companies years later for a significant profit, Packer then focused on media and telecoms companies, such as One.Tel. In 2007, he founded the successful gambling and resort company Crown Resorts, of which he sold his 20% stake in 2019 for US$1.22bn

APRIL 2020





Lindsay Fox LINFOX [1956–PRESENT]

Born in Sydney but raised in the suburbs of Melbourne, Fox left school at the age of 16 and started working as a truck driver. It was this experience that gave him the idea to found Linfox at the age of 19. Initially starting with only one truck, the company has grown to a size of over 24,000 staff, 5,000 vehicles and more than AU$3bn in revenue.A keen football player in his youth, Fox made his Victorian Football League debut in 1960 playing for St Kilda FC. Between 1959 and 1961, he played 20 games and scored three goals.

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Tr y a Dem o Star t a Disc ussio n Con ta c t Us

T O P 10





Photo © Wpcpey




Beginning his career in business by taking charge of his family’s clothing company during the ‘50s, Gandel eventually bought the Chadstone Shopping Centre in 1983 via his company the Gandel Group. Chadstone is now the largest shopping centre of its kind in Australia, containing over 530 stores across an area of approximately 212,000 square metres. The retail sector has contributed to a substantial portion of Gandel’s fortune. Not just a great businessman but also a philanthropist, Gandel co-founded one of the largest funds in the country - Gandel Philanthropy - with his wife, Pauline. Focusing on projects aimed at helping the Jewish community (Gandel comes from a Jewish background), education and healthcare, the foundation donated over AU$1mn to help fight the 2019/20 Australian bushfires. a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com

T O P 10





Frank Lowy WESTFIELD [2014–2018]

Born in modern-day Slovakia, Lowy moved to Australia in 1952 where he now holds citizenship. Partnering with John Saunders in 1953, the duo formed the commercial real estate company Westfield Group and started to manage shopping centres, starting with one in Blacktown, Sydney. The company was listed on the ASX in 1960 and continued until 2014, when it was made defunct and replaced by Westfield Corporation. An avid supporter of association football and also a renowned philanthropist, he founded the Lowy Institute for International Policy in 2003 (the semicentennial of his arrival in Australia). The thinktank currently researches and produces reports on international policy and economic issues from a domestic perspective.

APRIL 2020

Photo © U.S. Department of Agriculture






Anthony Pratt VISY [1982–PRESENT]

Son of businessman Richard Pratt - founder of Visy Industries, a paper, packaging and recycling company - joined the family business in 1982 as General Manager at the age of 22. In 1991, after becoming Deputy Chairman of Visy, Pratt relocated to the US in order to spearhead the company’s highly successful North American expansion. Enjoying continued success there for almost 30 years, Pratt has been named 2020’s ‘Executive Papermaker of the Year’. A trustee of his father’s Pratt Foundation, Anthony Pratt is also a founding patron of The Prince’s Charities Australia - a series of charitable institutions which benefit healthcare, environmental causes, arts and culture and many more.

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Photo © Chatham House

T O P 10





Andrew Forrest FMG [2003–PRESENT]

Following his graduation from the University of Western Australia with a degree in economics and politics, Forrest worked as a stockbroker at Kirke Securities and Jacksons. In the ‘90s, Forrest founded the resources company Anaconda Nickel, one of the country’s most successful mineral exporters. Taking control of Fortescue Metals Group (originally called Allied Mining and Processing) in 2003, Forrest remains its majority shareholder and Chairman. FMG is the fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world and the third-largest nationally. In addition to his mining and resource assets, Forrest also has interests in the cattle and biomedical industries.

a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com

T O P 10

Aussie Atlassian billionaires advice for future tech entrepreneurs CLICK TO WATCH


APRIL 2020








04 03 Scott Farquhar & Mike Cannon Brookes

ATLASSIAN [2002–PRESENT] Co-founding the software company Atlassian together in 2002, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes both grew up in New South Wales. The two met whilst studying at the University of New South Wales in the late ‘90s and became business partners shortly after graduating. Atlassian, an enterprise software company developing project management and content management applications, currently serves over 135,000 clients and is known for its Jira and Confluence products. Among the youngest billionaires in Australia, both Farquhar and CannonBrookes serve as adjunct professors at their alma mater university.

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T O P 10


Harry Triguboff AO features in On the record with Carson Scott CLICK TO WATCH

APRIL 2020






Harry Triguboff MERITON [1963–PRESENT] Born in the modern-day Chinese city of Dalian, Triguboff first moved to Sydney in 1947 and finally became a citizen in 1962. After starting numerous small businesses and working odd jobs, including running a taxi company and a milk route, Triguboff formed Meriton in 1963. He was inspired

Photo © Meriton Apartments

following experience he gained in the construction industry after a hired builder produced such poor work that Triguboff decided to re-do it himself. It has since gone on to be one of the biggest property developers in Australia.In 1990, Triguboff was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the construction industry and his philanthropy. Regarding the latter, Triguboff started his own foundation, which has funded projects and championed social causes throughout the country.

Photo © Ajasonk a si a .busi ne ssc h ief. com


T O P 10


Gina Rinehart HANCOCK PROSPECTING [1992–PRESENT] Born and raised in Perth before going on to study economics at the University of Sydney, Rinehart eventually opted to finish her studies early to work for her father (Lang Hancock) at his company


Hancock Prospecting. Gaining great insights into the mining industry, steered the ailing company from bankruptcy to become one of the most successful companies in Australia’s history. Taking a keen interest in the politics of Australia, Rinehart has been vocal about her views on a number of economic and legislative matters. While she is a known philanthropist, she prefers to keep a low profile. Rinehart has lent her support and expertise to SISHA, a campaign against human trafficking in Cambodia.

APRIL 2020




 017 Chairperson of the Year Gina 2 Rinehart, Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting CLICK TO WATCH



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The value communi APRIL 2020

e of nication





a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


We speak to Piers Shore, Chief Information Officer at Fonterra, about how the company’s IT team effectively communicates its directives across the company, gaining further insight into areas of opportunity and possible creative solutions 98


ased out of Auckland, New Zealand, global dairy co-operative Fonterra exports products to over 140 countries, reaching one

billion people every day. It employs approximately 20,000 people around the world and is owned by 10,000 New Zealand farmers and families, many of whose roots in the industry span generations. Piers Shore has been the Chief Information Officer at Fonterra for over a year now. From life sciences, to heavy manufacturing to consumer products, he has worked across multiple marketing and IT roles that focus on international business and digital strategy and transformation. “The first thing you do as an incoming CIO is understand the state of play,” Shore explains. Effective communication across the business is at the core of Shore’s strategy for Fonterra. When he first joined, Shore and his team ran a APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m

Fonterra Here to Everywhere CLICK TO WATCH



101 company-wide IT survey, asking all

strategy and business strategy should

employees to give feedback on the

be complementary, not competitive.”

current IT tools and services avail-

The main problem, according to

able to them. Their answers provided

Shore, was that Fonterra’s IT capa-

Shore and his team with strategic

bilities were “an inch deep and a mile

focus areas, and a baseline against

wide.” He and his management team

which they could measure future pro-

recommended an urgent transforma-

gress. “We had good response rates

tion programme, focusing on three

that indicated they really valued the

key areas. “We need to articulate IT

IT services and tools that enable their

in non-technical terms to ensure it

jobs,” he continues, “but it also high-

is understandable to anyone, at any

lighted areas of improvement. We then

level, from any department, rebuild-

articulated a very practical IT strategy

ing our infrastructure and operations

that was aligned with the overarch-

including a significant enhancement

ing business transformation. The IT

of our business partnerships, and a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



improving our diversity and inclusion,”

reinforce a digital foundation to sup-

explains Shore.

port their transformation initiatives.

He is a firm believer in building

With the spread of COVID-19 now a

deep, long-lasting relationships with

reality for it’s people, communities and

key suppliers and strategic partners.

way of life, Fonterra’s new strategic

To this end, he has recently overseen

partnership with HCL is more impor-

a process to review and consolidate

tant than ever. Fonterra employees are

vendors across his Infrastructure,

now increasingly reliant on technology

End User Compute, Security, and

and mobility to do their work. The pan-

Service Delivery estate into a single,

demic highlights the critical need for a

long-term strategic partnership with

rock-solid infrastructure at Fonterra.

HCL. HCL Technologies will bring

This partnership will also extend

together Co-operative’s IT infra-

HCL’s New Zealand presence to three

structure under one umbrella and will

offices within the country and will bring

APRIL 2020

around 60 new jobs to the Waikato

Salesforce, SAP and Amazon, it brings

region, as the local support services

us much needed global technical exper-

for Fonterra employees will be based at

tise, which will also help the evolution

its Hamilton Delivery centre.

of the technology ecosystem of New

Fonterra is committed to adding

Zealand as a country,” Shore explains.

value not just to customers, but to its

“It’s very important when you are

surrounding community. “By partner-

on a transformation journey that you

ing with major tech firms like Microsoft,

communicate,” says Shore. “Not just


Piers Shore Piers is the Chief Information Officer for Fonterra. He moved to Aotearoa in 2018 to join Fonterra after numerous technology and digital roles across the globe, mainly in life sciences. During his time at Fonterra so far, he has led a comprehensive review and reset of the IT strategy, service delivery and operating model, including the following: •M  anaging the IT budget and project portfolio with management remit •O  ptimising infrastructure, architecture, ERP environment, data management and cybersecurity protocols to provide a robust, stable platform for future innovation •B  uilding innovation capabilities to drive company-wide productivity and efficiency He has introduced three core priorities to strengthen Fonterra’s core infrastructure and operations, improve business partnerships and develop Fonterra’s people with a focus on diversity.

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Driven by humans, powered by technology, business transformation for a better working world. #BetterQuestions

Š 2019 EYGM Limited. All Rights Reserved. ED None.

Should digital transformation be on your agenda, or running it?

“It’s at the core of what we’re trying to do here: rebuilding our baseline infrastructure and foundation. Once you have that, it becomes something you can leverage to drive future transformation” — Piers Shore, Chief Information Officer, Fonterra

your stakeholders. It will vary based on their area and their drives,” he continues. “Just talking tech may not resonate with everyone, but application to business areas will.” It is important to Shore that he is visible across the company as the CIO. This includes visiting manufacturing and R&D sites to understand how technology is used on a day-to-day basis and hearing directly from people how IT could be leveraged further. He also visited the company IT helpdesk and listened into calls to understand

with your own team of global, highly-

what people struggle with. Additionally,

skilled IT professionals, but with

Shore runs regular CIO dialogue ses-

stakeholders across the business. You

sions, both virtual and face-to-face,

can have an elegant, highly technical

with the global IT team. The feedback

strategy but if people anywhere in the

and suggestions that come from these

business, at any level, can’t articulate

interactions directly impact Fonterra’s

simply what your plan is, I would ques-

IT strategy. “It’s important that you have

tion the possibility of success.” Shore

the integrity to reach out to employees

takes a “cascade approach”, regularly

in a transparent fashion and ask them

interacting with Fonterra’s executive

to benchmark your performance,” says

management to ensure teams across

Shore. “At the end of the day, we’re all

the company are informed on the

one company and want what’s best. It’s

state of IT strategy and are able to

vitally important we work as a team.”

seek assistance in areas pertinent to

Shore’s focus on visibility extends to

them. “It’s important to communicate

how Fonterra presents to the world;

on the basis of the value IT adds to

he maintains positive relationships a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



Explore how Fonterra is powering end to end business efficiency through digital transformation

with senior management and CEO’s of major global tech companies to ensure Fonterra has access to world-class innovative minds. The global dairy co-operative relies on developing strong partnerships to ensure it is participating in the global tech economy. “In the life sciences industry, it is particularly important that you partner with selected strategic entities that progress your pipeline,” explains Shore. “I wanted to take the same approach with Fonterra.” By connecting with a tech giant like Microsoft,

“You can have an elegant, highly technical strategy but if people can’t articulate simply what your plan is, I’d question the strategy’s success” — Piers Shore, Chief Information Officer, Fonterra

SAP and Amazon, Fonterra ensures its data strategy is optimised. Global brands also provide expertise around cutting-edge processes. EY has been a key partner in Fonterra’s integration of a Lean Six Sigma methodology into IT, training green belts, and assisting in framework implementation. “Having an internationally recognised standard that our IT employees can aspire to and get trained upon is phenomenal for development,” explains Shore. “We’ve achieved some significant results, not only absolute financial savings, but time savings and significant productivity enhancement.” a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m





Projects pioneered through a Lean Six Sigma framework have resulted in Fonterra reducing the number of unallocated laptops in the warehouse by around 40% and reducing the average time to approve project invoices by 70%

APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




Year founded

$20.1bn Revenue in US dollars

20,000 Number of employees

APRIL 2020

Projects pioneered through a Lean Six Sigma framework have resulted in Fonterra reducing the number of unallocated laptops in the warehouse by around 40% and reducing the average time to approve project invoices by 70%. Shore hopes to dramatically increase the usage of Six Sigma in IT to drive enhanced productivity and efficiency across the business. Fonterra received a 2019 SAP Innovation Award for a joint IT-HR project called Project App. Alongside


SAP, it sought a way to improve the vis-

becomes something you can leverage

ibility of projects and initiatives at the

to drive future transformation.”

company so people with the right skill

In summary, Shore says “I am

sets could get involved. “The solution

extremely excited about the role IT

was to build an online tool that used

can play in helping to support the new

SAP cloud in which projects could be

Fonterra strategy. We are part of the

registered and the skill sets advertised,”

business and we wish to leverage

explains Shore. “It’s a simple idea:

technology to drive great value to our

we’re leveraging technology to match

stakeholders and Fonterra customers

opportunities with people. It’s at the

around the world”.

core of what we’re trying to do here: rebuilding our baseline infrastructure and foundation. Once you have that, it a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Digitising borrowing for the broker WRITTEN BY



APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


A key player in the Australian real estate and mortgage lending ecosystem, Loan Market has effectively digitised its offering with the development and implementation of its in-house platform MyCRM


hether it is a matter of entrepreneurship or business transformation, two essential ingredients for success are a visionary

leader and an excellent team. As we shall see, this is precisely the combination that has helped Loan 114

Market Group become such a powerful force in helping customers reach their property and financial dreams throughout Australia and New Zealand. Identifying the right property is hard enough, but the biggest hurdle for all but a lucky few is financing the purchase and finding the right mortgage package. The same challenges exist in financing business equipment, vehicles and more. Loan Market is a sister company to the 118 year-old Ray White Property Group, the largest real estate company in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, and has a proud 25-year history of being family owned and run. Loan Market is led by Executive Chairman, Sam White - the great grandson of the legendary Ray White - who has spent his career helping brokers deliver a client experience that sets the benchmark for the industry. APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Jason Furnell, Chief Customer Experience Officer, accepts the Australian Broking Awards 2019 Technology Platform of the Year award for MyCRM 116 Loan Market started as an aggregator for the different sources of finance like banks and mutual companies and

“My focus when I joined the company as a project manager was to assess the current state of corporate reporting and see how to manage it all better”

today is an essential partner for mortgage brokers throughout the region, to whom it makes four promises: • We will save you time • We will keep you safe • We will help you find and keep clients • We will enable you to grow your business To deliver these in a better way, Loan

— Joanne Church, COO, MyCRM APRIL 2020

Market’s visionary White announced his determination to transform the business from its former aggregator

MyCRM: Loan Market’s multi awardwinning complete business solution CLICK TO WATCH



117 model into a full online partner to every

back in 2012 was completely manual,

stakeholder in the chain from borrower

using Excel spreadsheets and a lot of

to lender. It should take advantage,

cut-and-paste,” she recalls. “My focus

he felt, of the exponentially-growing

when I joined the company as a project

volume of data in the market, providing

manager was to assess the current

the ability for a mortgage customer to

state of corporate reporting and see

choose to interact with a broker online

how to manage it all better; at that

with an entirely paperless solution,

time we didn’t have a technology team

or offline, blending that with paper

though, and were not ready to invest in

records as the customer prefers.

software development.”

This was no small task. One person

Loan Market had been using a num-

who has been part of the transforma-

ber of third party platforms including

tion from its outset is Joanne Church,

Symmetry, later acquired by Tenemos,

Chief Operations Officer of Loan

for loan processing and NextGen.

Market’s bespoke MyCRM. “Reporting

Net’s ApplyOnline portal for loan a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



Joanne Church receives the Curiosity Award from the White family at their annual company conference in 2020.

submission. Salesforce had been found

brokers could use to share information

in Australia to be an effective data man-

and gather support and enhanced with

agement and reporting tool so Church

existing modules such as Chatter.

introduced it, obtaining the necessary

The new intranet, which Loan Market

licences and building it out into an

branded as Oneview, was a huge

intranet platform supporting corporate

improvement in communicating with

reporting and training. Into this intranet,

the broker community and, crucially,

Church incorporated eBroker (later

with the real estate group. Church

branded as Connect leads manager),

sums up the effectiveness of Oneview:

a tool that allowed property managers

“By the end of 2015 we had gone from

and real estate agents to refer clients

nothing to having a corporate platform

through to the mortgage broker and

that could manage referrals, manage

vice versa. Fundamentally, it was a

onboarding, provide reporting as well as

community Salesforce platform that

a vehicle for engaging with our brokers.�

APRIL 2020

Much had been done to advance

development at that stage and we

the digital vision. However, the plat-

were happy to let the Kiwis continue to

form, being made up from third-party

use that particular piece of software.”

elements rather than custom built for

This was the original MyCRM, and

the specialised world of mortgages

it was the benchmark in White’s mind

meant that it could not become the

when, in January 2016, he decided

fully integrated system that Loan

to make the leap from the existing

Market needed. “A key event in the

software Loan Market had used to

story was the 2013 acquisition of a

developing a custom-built platform:

platform that was already operating

one that would be free of limitations

in New Zealand. It was very success-

imposed by things like data integration

ful but we didn’t adopt it regionally

between the three core systems. “I

because the company was not

was proud of what we had managed

quite ready to jump into software

to get in place,” says Church, “but we


Joanne Church Joanne’s passions are people, process and getting stuff done. Her key strength is understanding complex problems, distilling them into understandable components and finding ways to solve them. She is fuelled by nurturing people and helping them grow. She has also learnt that communication is key and prides herself on her ability to bridge the gap between business and technology with effective communication. Currently, as Chief Operations Officer for Loan Market’s MyCRM technology, Joanne leads the team (both onshore and offshore) that provides support to the users of MyCRM in Australia. She also oversees general operations and contributes to the ongoing development of the platform. 

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Secure Agreement Automation Transform financial agreement processes into seamless, legally binding and secure digital experiences

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she continues. “The team we put together really started in December

“We wanted to allow the brokers to create a truly online experience for their clients while still giving them the benefit of their advice and know-how”

2014 when we acquired a company called Split It and with it a comparison site called Better Bills,” she said. “We wanted comparison functionality for mortgage loans, empowering customers to do their own research and compare products.” A house purchase is a big thing for most people. Today’s purchasers, while they know they should

— Joanne Church, COO, MyCRM

place themselves in the hands of a professional, like to come to that conversation fully abreast of the facts. Loan comparison was subsequently

had little control over the development

built into the Loan Market website,

and maintenance of the third party

and the person leading the devel-

applications. We wanted to allow the

opment of this customer interface

brokers to create a truly online experi-

was Jason Furnell, one of the key

ence for their clients while still giving

members of the development team.

them the benefit of their advice and

He also went on to steer the creation

know-how. Sam made it clear that

of the Online Fact Find, a significant

he wanted the Loan Market to be the

differentiator in the market. Furnellis

master of its own destiny online. He

now Chief Customer Experience

decided to create a team that could

Officer of Loan Market, leading inno-

make that happen under the direction

vative solutions across the platform.

of CIO Eric Plumpton.” One essential aspect of transformation is having the right team in place,

Further development of MyCRM was led by James Punnett, who had been instrumental in building the a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




allowing Loan Market to manage and report on the performance of brokers within its network - formed the core of the transformation team. Church’s current focus as Chief Operations Officer of MyCRM is on improving support processes through the helpdesk and training teams. However, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of other key members of the team, she insists. Tran Zha, for example, was part of the founding team with Punnett that built the first version and now oversees the technical platform and original version of the software in

direction as MyCRM Chief Technology

New Zealand. Punnett led the devel-

Officer. Mathew Camp, who joined

opment of the upgrade to MyCRM,

Loan Market in April 2018 as the first

customising it with features required

Product Manager, has also made a

by the mortgage brokers and their

significant contribution. “Mat has revo-

assistants. He also spearheaded

lutionised the development process

the integration with NextGen.Net’s

by implementing proper product man-

ApplyOnline which remains a vital

agement and agile practices. This has

aspect of the digital process as it

greatly contributed to the improved

allows straight-through-processing of

quality of the platform and ongoing

the loan application to the appropriate

improvements,” says Church.

lender via electronic lodgement. The

The change management challenge

‘three Js’ Furnell, Punnett, and Church

in scaling up from the Symmetry tool

- who herself led the development

to MyCRM was a massive undertaking

of the Corporate section of MyCRM,

and one that she confesses to have a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




How Online Fact Find helped Jacob Decru grow his business Jumping into the digital pool may be scary, but once you are in the water’s lovely, as one broker has proved by going paperless.


In October 2019 Jacob Decru achieved his first $10mn month by leveraging Loan Market’s digital fact finder tool, a part of its transformational MyCRM platform. Online Fact Find gathers the data relevant to a customer, empowering the client and broker to collaborate when putting an application together. It saves the broker a significant amount of time and removes the chance of client double-handling and frustration. “It’s incredible to me now,” Decru says, “to think that just 18 months ago I was filling out mortgage applications by hand.” Since he moved from banking to broking in 2012, Decru has been

APRIL 2020

consistently successful, so his enthusiasm for this tool really means something. Now, when he books an appointment with a new client, as well as sending all the information about himself, he sends a link to a ‘partial fact find’. Nearly 90% of clients seize the opportunity to engage on the platform. And once they have done so, the chances that they will proceed with the application go up significantly. The subsequent hour-long faceto-face meeting is a different animal now. Instead of spending the time exploring the data, the meeting is more strategic and beneficial. “For instance, if they’re a first-time buyer, I can explain to them what a conveyancer does or another part of the real estate journey,” Decru explains “It’s really

reshaped my relationships with clients; my connections are so much stronger.” At the end of the meeting the client fills out the remaining information in the full Online Fact Find. Decru’s credit manager reviews the information in the morning and points out any omissions for the client to complete. “The tool really engages the client and provides a lot of confidence when you couple it with proven face-to-face strategies,” he says.

The Online Fact Find and using Onespan Sign were part of Decru’s digital overhaul in 2019. A member of Loan Market’s Elite Group, he has enhanced database e-comms, Google Reviews and his Instagram and Facebook profiles over that year.


Over 2019, more than 20,000 fact finds were created and distributed by Loan Market brokers, with almost 85% of the network using the tool. Decru then rounds out the digital process by sending documents to the client to sign electronically through eSign, powered by Onespan Sign. This means the client has a completely paperless end-to-end journey which saves time for both the client and broker.

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


initially underestimated. “I think the key takeaway from our experience could be to not underestimate the value of data migration, and the importance of that data to the people who have cultivated its capture over many years. To that I would add that it is important to take users on the journey with you when making major changes. MyCRM was built and continues to be enhanced with close collaboration with our user base. We feel this sets us apart from other technology 126

platforms and aggregators. We use an in-built tool to allow users to suggest enhancements and vote on ideas, and this is what guides our prioritisation for development.” It’s worth noting, she adds, that an important milestone in the transformation of the lending process has been the ability to finalise a contract by signing digitally. By adopting an e-signature solution called eSign, powered by OneSpan Sign, Loan Market crossed the final bridge to paperless lending. OneSpan Sign balances ease of use with the high-

“MyCRM was built and continues to be enhanced with close collaboration with our user base. We feel this sets us apart from other technology platforms. and aggregators”

est levels of security and compliance to deliver a risk-free e-signature APRIL 2020

— Joanne Church, COO, MyCRM

recommendation of Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, the BID legislation passed in February 2020 and takes effect from July 1. It seeks to introduce a duty for mortgage brokers to act in their clients’ best interests. Loan Market stresses that its brokers have been fulfilling this requirement all along. But once it is enshrined in legislation, the formalised requirement will give brokers and their customers an even closer bond - a distinct advantage over direct lending channels MyCRM is ideally placed to take on these changes as the technology already provides the aspects required by the legislation, and the best interest solution. It offers a highly professional

principle has always been embedded

experience for the broker.

in its mission statement. There may

So the four promises we started

be some small tweaks, but mostly it

with remain Loan Market’s pledge

will be a training process to ensure

to its brokers and each one of them

users adopt the tools effectively and

is significantly enabled by MyCRM.

efficiently to ensure accurate record

Anyone who has even a partial

keeping. The aggregator believes they

acquaintance with Australian fintech

are in the best place in the industry

will know about the ‘Best Interests

to support their brokers through the

Duty’ (BID) legislation following the

impending changes.

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. A a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



Drawing the financial roadmap for Australian businesses WRITTEN BY



APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Grant Thornton Australia is an accountancy firm which has built a reputation for exceptional customer service, profound expertise and an innovative mindset


art of Grant Thornton International - the sixth-largest network of accounting and consulting professionals in the world,

Grant Thornton Australia (GTA) was founded in 2007 and has been dedicated to providing first130

class accountancy services to companies across the country, enabling them to reach their full potential. A well-respected brand globally, Grant Thornton’s Australian branch has garnered a reputation for innovation, a customer-centric approach and an outstanding understanding of its clients and business. Employing over 1,300 people in offices that encompass the perimeter of the entire country (Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney), the company is celebrated for its approachable method of working almost as much as its sector knowledge and experience. The breadth of GTA’s experience is wide and varied - from manufacturing, finance and life sciences to energy, healthcare and technology, the company is well-versed in the unique intricacies of each sector and can help businesses plan the best routes APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


“A well-respected brand globally, Grant Thornton’s Australian branch has garnered a reputation for innovation, a customer-centric approach and an outstanding understanding of its 132 clients�

for expansion, development and/or general strategy. Capable of offering a full suite of services, including audits, tax, private and financial advice and consultations, GTA is able to accommodate almost any accounting issue. Priding itself on providing solutions which transcend merely perfunctory compliance measures, the company actively works to identify, resolve and improve critical underlying issues experienced by a client whilst conducting its audits. Possessing storied experience in all aspects of the process, GTA is able to undertake one-off reviews and generate procedure reports, amongst other things. With a firm conviction that performing high-quality independent audits can considerably help a business, the company employs the latest technology and industry techniques to deliver an effective and profitable service to its customers. Not just committed to helping established companies remain in top financial condition, GTA also offers a variety of tax services to assist those just starting out. Offering distinct teams with specific expertise in areas such as

APRIL 2020

About Grant Thornton: Global CEO Peter Bodin CLICK TO WATCH




corporate tax, international tax and pay-

Recognising that Australia and the

roll assurance, GTA can help fledgling

APAC (Asia-Pacific) region has fertile

businesses understand the com-

investment and growth opportunities,

plexities of their industry and regain tax

GTA is able to leverage its 85 regional

losses in subsequent years. The com-

offices throughout the Asian continent

pany can help businesses understand

to give its Australian clients unique

the best way to launch R&D (research

insider knowledge upon which they

and development) initiatives and how to

can make informed decisions. At a

benefit from government tax incentives.

time when roughly two-thirds of the

Additionally, if a company is considering

country’s goods and services are

an international expansion, GTA is able

traded with Asia, GTA is poised to

to advise on mergers, acquisitions and

offer businesses expert guidance on

any issues that might arise from interna-

how to enter and invest in valuable

tional taxation.

markets like China, Japan and India. a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m

135 The company’s leaders also have key

allows GTA to manage resources,

relationships with financial hubs in

projects and drive value for its client’s

Singapore and Hong Kong, making it the

ventures. GTA utilises the company’s

ideal partner for those looking to make

Financial Management and Revenue

valuable connections as well as advice.

Recognition solutions to provide its

Despite the company’s impres-

sturdy accounting and reporting

sive success, both in Australia and

capabilities, whilst FinancialForce’s

elsewhere, it would not have been

‘Salesforce Einstein Analytics’ and

able to achieve its goal of provid-

‘Sales Cloud’ applications allow GTA to

ing best-in-class service to clients

unlock the value of its data and gain a

without first-class partners. One

comprehensive understanding of per-

such collaborator is FinancialForce,

formance information.

a professional services automation

Dedicated not just to its clients,

(PSA) provider, which united with GTA

employees and shareholders, GTA has

in 2018. A partner in the true sense of

demonstrated its care for the wider

the word, FinancialForce’s platform

Australian community with a number a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



“The company employs the latest technology and industry techniques to deliver an effective and profitable service” APRIL 2020

of initiatives to provide a roadmap during difficult times. Recently, GTA organised a fund (the Grant Thornton Bushfire Response Program) when the Australian bushfire crisis was underway in late 2019/early 2020. With the company able to donate AU$250,000 to relief efforts, CEO Greg Keith expressed his pride with the company in a press release, stating that he was “very proud of the manner in which our people, the broader Australian community, and our friends overseas are supporting those directly impacted.” Also, in the wake of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring COVID-19 (coronavirus) a public health emergency, GTA was quick to offer its advice and support to any clients or guests who might want to seek it out. The depth of the company’s care for Australia is matched only by its expertise in its industry, and GTA is set to continue the enviable legacy it has established nationwide.

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Digital transformation in money lending WRITTEN BY




APRIL 2020


a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Akihiro Nagahara, Managing Director and CEO of consumer finance company United Asia Finance Limited, discusses the technologies maintaining the company’s position as Hong Kong’s largest money lender



nited Asia Finance Limited (UA) is the biggest money lender in Hong Kong. Founded in 1993 by Managing Director

and CEO Akihiro Nagahara, who introduced the concept of unsecured personal loans into the Hong Kong market in 1977, earning Nagahara the nickname ‘Father of Personal Loan of Hong Kong’. UA is now the biggest consumer finance company in Hong Kong, with the largest variety of all-round personal loan products and the most comprehensive online and offline channels, including the most extensive branch network of a total 49 branches located at different locations throughout Hong Kong. Born in Taiwan, Nagahara joined a company after graduation in Tokyo in 1976. He initiated and helped to start up the consumer lending business

APRIL 2020


a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


“UA is the first finance company in the market to introduce online personal loans, namely the ‘i-Money’ internet personal loan as early as the year 2000, at a time when even many other finance companies had not yet joined the market. In 2015, our mobile app ‘One Click to Loan’ was launched, further offering convenient and hassle-free loan experiences for customers”


— Akihiro Nagahara, Managing Director & CEO, United Asia Finance

for his company in Japan which turned out to be very successful. Despite not speaking Cantonese at that time, in 1977, Nagahara was dispatched to venture to Hong Kong by his boss at the time, bringing the idea of the unsecured personal loan to the city. He was able to do so thanks to the deposit-taking companies ordinance instituted in 1976, allowing an overseas company with a minimum capital of HK$2.8mn to set up JCG Finance in Hong Kong. The personal loan business grew fast and successfully until being sold in 1990, at which time there were 30 branches. In 1993, with investment by Allied Group, Nagahara opened United Asia Finance Limited, with profits recorded from the very first year. In 2007, the company achieved the milestone of expanding to Mainland China, with the first branch opening at Shenzhen, thus becoming the first Hong Kong finance company to start a consumer finance business in the Mainland. Now, there are branches in 15 cities throughout Mainland China. Since 1996, ITOCHU has been a shareholder. In 2005, a majority stake in the

APRIL 2020




143 company was acquired by Sun Hung

up such department, again showing

Kai & Co. Limited from Allied Group.

its continuous promise and commit-

Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the company is

ment to offer the best consumer loan services for customers.

gearing up to ward off the rise of

Lee’s role actually comprises

virtual banks, as CIO Aaron Lee

two complementary halves, as he

emphasises. “Keeping the business

explains. “My role is CIO at UA, yet I

model competitive with virtual banks

supervise different responsibilities

is the reason we have to be ready to

for the company. I oversee traditional

transform for the digital generation.”

IT functions and make sure the IT

A sentiment shared by Nagahara, the

operation runs harmoniously, while

Fintech and Innovation Department

simultaneously implementing digital

was officially set up in January

strategies to enhance the competi-

2019 by UA, being the first and only

tiveness of our business to keep our

finance company in the market to set

leading position in the industry.” a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



One of these strategies consists of

UA has to remain on top of the

a move towards an “open consumer

requirements of respective statutory

loan platform”, which in practice means

and regulatory government institutions

providing greater transparency to

of the industry, and the representa-

customers and improving the access

tive industry associations Licensed

of third party services via APIs. “We

Money Lenders Association. “One

have our API gateway to talk with our

example of the requirements is in cus-

external business partners. Our organi-

tomer information protection, because

sation’s architecture is based around

Hong Kong has very strong require-

Kubernetes, and we’re setting up a new

ments regarding the handling of such

generation of online app, web and legacy

information. Another is in anti-money

applications using the Pivotal Container

laundering. The money lenders’ regu-

Service as an integration platform.”

lator has very detailed Electronic

APRIL 2020


Akihiro Nagahara

Mr Akihiro Nagahara is the Managing Director and CEO of United Asia Finance Limited, with over 40 years of experience in the consumer credit market in Japan and Hong Kong. Mr Nagahara introduced the idea of unsecured personal loans from Japan to Hong Kong in 1977. With his inf luence and contribution in the consumer finance industry in Hong Kong, the nickname of “Father of Personal Loans of Hong Kong” is given to Mr Nagahra. Mr Nagahara established the first personal finance company with scale in Hong Kong and is the Founding Chairman of the Hong Kong Licensed Money Lenders Association. Mr Nagahara is keen on servicing the community and very supportive of charities and has been the Director of Po Leung Kuk. Mr Nagahara holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from National Taiwan University and a Master’s degree in Law from Japan Hitotsubashi University; he then completed a Doctoral degree at the same University. Mr Nagahara has been conferred Honorary Fellowship by The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2016, in recognition of his remarkable contributions to the University and the community. In 2012, Mr Nagahara was awarded “Person of the Year in the Chinese Microfinance Industry” by the China Microfinance Association; and in 2013, was awarded “CAPITAL Leaders of Excellence” by the Capital Magazine in recognition of his continued and outstanding contribution to the consumer lending industry in Hong Kong. a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


Simplify cloud with consistent security and operations.

Visit us at © 2019 VMware, Inc. VMware and Realize What’s Possible are trademarks of VMware, Inc.

“We aim to keep our leading status as the most influential and largest money lender in Hong Kong” — Akihiro Nagahara, Managing Director & CEO, United Asia Finance

Know Your Customer (EKYC) due diligence procedures.” The EKYC requirement itself serves as an opportunity, as Lee explains. “In Hong Kong, we use the EKYC approval with a Hong Kong ID. As part of the licensing process, this Hong Kong ID card is associated with the likeness or image and then we can detect abnormalities or approve loans. We plan to launch the latest ‘Yes UA’ app in 2020 with the EKYC solution associated. We first launched the app in August, 2019, which was a huge success,

APRIL 2019

significantly increasing our digital

loan processing purely online.” Hong

business volume by 20%.”

Kong citizens will be able to use the

The philosophy underpinning the

app with their Hong Kong ID card,

success of the app is based around

even the newly-issued one for part

ease of use. “We would like to use

of the population, with its embed-

our online apps to enhance the ulti-

ded hologram.” says Lee. “The Hong

mate convenience of the customer

Kong ID card is the key and eases

experience, and put the structure of

the whole application process. You


Aaron Lee Aaron Lee is responsible for formulating digital transformation services strategies and deploying fintech and DX solutions, including, but not limited, to digital and online, AI, Big Data, blockchain, cognitive and machine learning and robotic process automation, to transform UA’s capabilities in finance services innovations, strengthening the company’s market leading and drive business revenue. Since 1998, he has occupied senior regional management roles in firms such as Atos, Microsoft and Sybase, in which provided enterprise advisory consulting and business services to a portfolio of sizable clients within the Asia Pacific and Greater China regions. He is an expert in digital transformation, with more than 24 years of experience in IT strategic planning, project management and strategic partnership and alliance formation with first tier IT Solution providers. He graduated from the Said Business School of Oxford University and Staffordshire University.

a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



apply for the loan and then go through the application procedure to approval. Once that’s done you receive the money directly through the Faster Payment System, transferred to your account. Everything is done without annoyance to you.” The approval part of the process relies on data, and Lee is overseeing the transformation in both the format of data UA collects and how it is analysed. “We are going to build up a 360-degree view of customer 148

information.” Currently UA collects customer information for processing the loan, much of it from credit reference agency TransUnion. From this information, however, only the transaction data at the respective financial institution can be gleaned. “Traditionally we only get the loanrelated information. We grab your financial data, your address, your name and so on, and then you apply for a loan. Then we’ll collect your financial information and consolidate it with the rest. We would like to know our customers more by referencing data derived from online channels, and we’re considering it a multi APRIL 2020

“We try to understand each customer that comes to us, their problems and needs, then our experienced staff will share professional advice with them regarding the options of the best loan solution plan to solve their problems” — Akihiro Nagahara, Managing Director & CEO, United Asia Finance

intelligence platform that we can use with our attribution customer data.” It’s a direction that Lee is hoping to further explore, collecting data from new and varied sources. “We would like to associate more of the social information with traditional customer information. Maybe we can understand our customer more from different aspects of their online behaviors like their online browsing. We would like to consolidate it together to build up that 360-degree view and offer the most suitable loan services for each single customer to best serve his financial needs.” The complexity of such a system has required the support of a number of expert partners. “Because we would like to acquire more data, we use an enterprise scale database as our traditional database. Our relationship with Oracle has lasted over ten years, which is why we choose them as our transactional database and data warehouse platform.” Owing to the volumes of data created, UA has also found it necessary to move to the cloud. “As we convert data into a big data platform, we’re moving it a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



Simplify cloud with consistent security and operations.

Visit us at © 2019 VMware, Inc. VMware and Realize What’s Possible are trademarks of VMware, Inc.

151 to big PaaS players. Again, the relationship is there. While Oracle is our traditional database platform, we’re extending it to an object database meaning we can move all of our reasoning and other 360 degree data into a single platform.” The transformation of its technology offerings is an ongoing process and is in service of retaining its prime position, as Lee emphasises. “We aim to keep our leading status as the most influential and largest money lender in Hong Kong by further enhancing our capability. a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


This is our vision. The feedback we have received for our technology has been very positive so far,” reasserted by Akihiro Nagahara. Thanks to Akihiro Nagahara’s insight and understanding of the market with his rich experience, the innovative loan products UA has pioneered over the last 27 years will continue to serve it in good stead for the future, from debts consolidation loans to property owner’s loans to personal loans which can be pro152

cessed entirely over the phone. In 2000, UA pioneered the “i-Money Internet Personal Loan”, becoming

“Keeping the business model competitive with virtual banks is the reason we have to be ready to transform for the digital generation” — Aaron Lee, CIO, United Asia Finance Limited

the first money lender to introduce online loan services in the market. The whole loan application, from approval to disbursement, could all be completed online without the need to show up in person. The service motto of UA is to always offer caring and personalised services for customers. “We try to understand each customer that comes to us, their problems and needs, then our experienced staff will share professional advice with

APRIL 2020


Year founded

630+ Number of employees

them regarding the options of the

and loyal staff and company service

best loan solution plan to solve their

that puts the customer first, inspiring

problems, helping customers to let

the slogan: “Let go of your worries.

go of their worries and enjoy life


again,” says Nagahara. “This humanised and caring approach, together with the pace we keep up with technology and the outside world makes UA different and outstanding, with the support and recognition of the public and customers for more than a quarter of a century in Hong Kong.” Alongside this stand experienced a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



APRIL 2020





a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


How the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) is improving the productivity, energy and water signatures of mining operations


he Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) is part of the Australian

Government’s Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program. It is co-funded by seven mining majors - Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP, Glencore, Newcrest, Teck and Sumitomo. It also 156

includes the support of ten research institutions and seven major METS - Metso, Orica, Hatch, Imdex, Sodern, JKTech and METS Ignited. Originally established in 2010, CRC ORE is a not for profit co-creation partnership, which received its second phase of funding in 2015 (A$34 million from the Australian Government and the remainder from its partners, mostly the miners). It is focused on “improving the productivity, energy and water signatures of mining operations”. Chief Executive Officer Dr Ben Adair notes: “To meet our Commonwealth funding requirements, we had to raise some A$114 million over our sixyear term. With 18 months left and we will have raised in excess of A$160 million — a consequence of the traction and support we’ve gained, from our mining company sponsors in particular.” APRIL 2020


a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


“We must find better ways of extracting value that requires less water and energy. We need to generate lower volumes of much coarser waste by-products, which we can dry stack and recover all the water from. Ultimately, these will be cheaper processes, which will actually produce more metal” — Dr. Ben Adair, CEO, CRC ORE

“We are seen as independent, trusted

advisors by the Mining companies, to the point that we are now often used to manage their site-based gangue rejection strategies on their behalf.”


OPTIMISING RESOURCE EXTRACTION Dr Adair explains that CRC ORE’s commitment to optimising resource extraction (ORE) is underpinned by two suites of technologies: Grade Engineering® and the Integrated Extraction Simulator (IES). The former focuses on extracting metal more efficiently by separating ore from waste before it enters comminution. The latter is a cloud-based simulation and optimisation platform across the mine to mill value chain. Grade Engineering therefore involves the implementation of practical gangue rejection technologies at production scale on sites. APRIL 2020

CRC ORE - Impact to Date - 2019 CLICK TO WATCH



159 IES provides the opportunity to optimise

this material is in itself less than 10%

downstream processing performance

energy efficient in breaking rocks

from this newly engineered feedstock.

and collectively consumes 3% of the

Dr Adair urges that, to reduce the

worlds’ electricity — enough to keep

mining industry’s energy and water foot-

the lights on in Germany each year!”

prints, it’s important to take a “helicopter view” of where the sector is today. “We get delusional about the current

Dr Adair adds: “We also over-grind the material to extract the target minerals, way beyond what is necessary

status quo,” he says. “The fact is that

to efficiently separate and recover the

for base and precious metal opera-

metal. Consequently, we generate

tions, we still mine huge volumes of

enormous volumes of ultra-fine waste.

rock and send it into a process plant

Current process plants are also water

where 99% or more of this mate

intensive and these waste streams are

rial has no value whatsoever. Further,

too fine to self-drain. As a result, we

the comminution process used on

store waste in wet tailings dams and a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m

accept the challenge of continuously improving to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency in our work



struggle to recycle the water effi-

design and operation of new energy

ciently. This brings another set of

and water efficient process equipment

challenges — poor levels of water

and circuits. This will require the reali-

recycling and wet tailings dams

sation of co-creation partnerships

that are a safety hazard across

between selected miners and suppli-

the Industry”.

ers to implement these solutions

Dr Adair’s conclusion, and where he

quickly. Nothing less than a complete

believes CRC ORE can have an impact

step change in energy reduction and

with its research and solutions, is that

close to full recycling of water will suf-

effective pre-concentration in the mine

fice”. Ironically, he also states that this

is required to dramatically reduce the

will actually increase metal production

volume of treated material that has

at sites, with cheaper capital and operat-

no value. “We then need to apply the

ing expenditures proclaiming that

principles of gangue rejection into the

“sustainability really isn’t a cost!”

APRIL 2020


approaches in optimising process per-

Sumitomo is a major producer globally

formance, combined with world class

of Zinc, Lead and Silver from their

water and energy conservation.”

Minera San Cristóbal (MSC) operation

Located in the south-western

in Bolivia. “It’s a fascinating place,”

Bolivian province of Nor Lípez, and

explains Dr Adair. “It operates with

operating since 2007, the mine pro-

a head grade of around 1.7% Zn where

duces around 1,500 metric tons of

traditionally Zinc/Lead/Silver opera-

Zinc-Silver and Lead-Silver concen-

tions would be looking at an equivalent

trates each day. To achieve this result,

of >7% Zn or more. In spite of this,

MSC needs to move a daily average

the operation is one of the world’s

of 150,000 tons of rock, 52,000 tons

most profitable thanks to remarkable

of which goes to the process plant



Ben Adair Dr Ben Adair has three decades’ experience in the mining industry. Splitting his time between roles in applied R&D, and working for majors such as Rio Tinto, he joined CRC ORE in 2015. Prior to this he worked at the University of Queensland, both as Director of the JKMRC and then running an industry funded Ore Sorting Centre. His primary interests are in step change technology to improve the energy, production and water signatures of operating sites in the minerals sector. “I’ve been able to bring a skillset to CRC ORE which has been honed on the practical challenges facing the industry,” says Dr Adair. “The experiences I’ve had at processing plants, auditing mining sites and at innovation labs in R&D, have given me the ability to see whether a particular approach can be practically implemented or not. There are many wonderful ideas out there, but can they stand up to the industrial process? That’s why the work we do at CRC ORE is so important.” a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



• Comminution processes consume 3% of the world’s energy • 99% of the material processed in base and precious metal operations has no value • Existing technologies properly applied can reduce plant power consumption by 25% • Runtime can be increased to 97% • You can recycle 90% of the water used in processing using today’s technology

APRIL 2020

for treatment. “To become more productive and lower costs, this operation deploys highly sophisticated mill sensors and integrated control systems which defy conventional thinking in the comminution process. Acoustic sensors linked to infra-red imaging are used to control both the SAG and Ball Mill circuits.” reveals Dr Adair. “As a consequence, over the past five years the site has reduced absolute power consumption within their SAG (Semi-Autogenous Grinding) mill circuit by 26%, while increasing throughput of material through the comminution circuit by over 35%! In the process, they’ve also decreased consumables (liners and grinding media consumption) by 40%. Best in class effective run time in mineral processing circuits globally is around 95%. At MSC it is 97%. In short, they have achieved substantial reductions in energy with increased metal production using conventional off the shelf technology. Why can this not be repeated elsewhere in the Industry?” Furthermore, the site is located in an arid region of Bolivia, where access a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




APRIL 2020


The Innovation Hub The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub is a CRC ORE initiative, jointly developed with our research participants Curtin University and MRIWA. It is operating as a node of CRC ORE. It focuses on nurturing innovations which will add significant value to the burgeoning minerals industry in West Australia. The Hub’s purpose is to: • P romote collaboration between all industry groups (Research, METS, Miners, Community, Government) in the region, to solve common problems within the mining sector that ultimately improve the economic viability of the industry • Demonstrate new technology and innovations in a non-commercial independent environment

• P rovide customised professional development to all levels in industry • P rovide a pipeline of technologies and methodologies to deliver direct value to operations, suppliers and the community • Facilitate other technology developments other than those initiated by CRC ORE • A ssist with promoting and streamlining access to alternative government funding sources (e.g. MRIWA, METS Ignited, City of Kalgoorlie Boulder etc.) “The hub is an extremely useful way for us to interface with smaller, or more nimble miners, and expose CRC ORE to a varied range of commodities,” says President Dr Ben Adair

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



“One of the exciting things about Grade Engineering is that when people hear about it, they think that it’s what we can do with the mine that we have. But we’re also thinking outside the box by applying the techniques to very low-grade material to offset mine closure costs in advance with ‘Waste Engineering’. It gives you much more opportunity to think about other applications to Grade Engineering besides what it was originally intended for” — Dave King, Operations Director, Sumitomo

GRADE ENGINEERING The Australian-born ingenuity of CRC ORE has been put to the test by


to water is at a premium. Dr Adair

Sumitomo during a successful full-

highlights that Sumitomo has cou-

scale production trial of Grade

pled its energy efforts with a

Engineering techniques at MSC.

substantial reduction in water con-

“Sumitomo asked us a fundamental

sumption from external sources

question,” notes Adair. “Is there any

— from 30% five years ago, down

way to reduce the amount of barren

to just 19% today. “They’re now

material that you send into a process

pushing towards a 90% plus level

plant in the first place?”

in water recycling” he says, “all

CRC ORE’s Grade Engineering

of it done by integrating existing

solutions deploys a range of waste

technology, albeit in a novel and

rejection technologies that integrate

sophisticated way. Surely there

with a suite of separation technologies

is a message here for what can

relevant to ore specific characteristics.

be achieved for the sector — the

This leads to a deeper understanding

outcome of which is a more sustaina-

of the orebody, supporting the ability

ble operation that actually makes

to exploit inherent ore deposit hetero-

more money!”

geneity and variability. Describing

APRIL 2020

CRC ORE - Minera San Cristóbal - case study CLICK TO WATCH




the application of this approach at MSC as a ‘co-creation partnership’, Dr Adair underlines the need to work intimately with mining companies and their suppliers to form a genuine alliance: “Ultimately, you need supply companies of scale and mining companies with vision. In this case CRC ORE worked with the MSC site and another of our participants, Metso, to engage in a full-scale production trial of Grade Engineering.” The outcome of this trial was the ability to reject 75% of barren components a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


in material that was originally designated as mineralised waste (not even ore feed). A 450 tons per hour Metso Loko-Track mobile screening plant was deployed on site to assist in the production scale testing. The trial focused on upgrading this and other waste targets from the pit to determine if a metal-rich stream could be generated that could be economically combined with Run of Mine (ROM) feed to the concentrator. “So far, results show that by applying 170

Grade Engineering to areas previously designated as ‘mineralised waste’, 25% of the material has a feed grade to the mill some 2.5 times higher than ROM ore,” says Dr Adair. “There is now the potential to convert this waste material into high grade ore-feed, with associated opportunity to increase metal production and reduce process power and water intensities. We’re now in the process of operationalising the process for the site going forward.” MSC Operations Director Dave King believes the opportunity for the mine is huge. “One of the exciting things about Grade Engineering is that when people hear about it, they think that it’s ‘what APRIL 2020



Grade Engineering Explained Grade Engineering is being developed and implemented by a consortium of over 20 mining companies, equipment suppliers and research organisations. Emerging results from collaborative site activities demonstrate potential for generating significant value which can reverse the trend of decreasing production due to declining feed grades. Opportunity for Grade

Engineering is based on five rock based ‘levers’ linked to combinations of screening, sensor-based sorting and heavy media separation. These involve: •P  referential grade deportment by size •D  ifferential blasting for grade by size • Sensor based bulk sorting • Sensor based stream sorting • Coarse gravity

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



we can do with the mine that we have’. But we’re also thinking outside the box by applying the techniques to very low-grade material to offset mine closure costs in advance with ‘Waste Engineering’. It gives you much more opportunity to think about other applications to Grade Engineering besides what it was originally intended for.” Dr Adair points out that Sumitomo’s culture and approach to innovation APRIL 2020


Year founded

$147mn+ Cash contributions in Aus dollars


has been the key to success. “The

modular scenario, they can quickly

site adopts a modular and flexible

test new opportunities without

approach to rapidly test and deploy

impacting production. A technology

new innovations. It’s very much a plug

can be quickly implemented or

and play philosophy, more analogous

rejected if it’s not working. It’s a ‘lean

with what Japanese industry in other

pivoting’ approach.”

sectors does like Toyota, for example. (MSC) have in their operation is bris-


tling with sensors. They measure

Dr Adair points out that historically

what they do and because of the

there’s been something of a standoff

Every piece of equipment that they

a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


between mining companies and their suppliers. “The landscape is changing,” he says. “It’s a lot more collaborative and we’re seeing more joint strategic thinking that will benefit the industry as a whole. It needs to be a win-win situation with the mining company/supplier relationship. Suppliers need to be able to sell their services and products out of co-creation partnerships. Equally, however, the mining companies are entitled to some form of competitive advantage as co-creators. Traditionally, 174

it takes around 15 years in the sector to implement an innovation from ideation to industrial deployment. Co-creation can cut this to less than five years.”

FUTURE PROJECTS CRC ORE deploys a variety of levers for different approaches to gangue rejection. “We’re doing a lot of work with fusing sensor technology,” confirms Dr Adair. “This goes way beyond the promotion of point solutions by individual companies, so common in the industry today. Our experience has shown we need more integrated solutions. There is no silver bullet with APRIL 2020

“Our experience has shown we need more integrated solutions. There is no silver bullet with any one approach; it’s important to integrate with the best of the best” — Dr. Ben Adair, CEO, CRC ORE


any one approach in gangue rejection;

pre-concentration and taking advan-

it’s important to integrate the best

tage of heterogeneity are common

of the best.”

to all. Our goal at CRC ORE is there-

CRC ORE is working towards this

fore to make a significant contribution

goal on a multinational basis in a series

towards a genuinely more sustainable

of initiatives with mining majors in

industry going forward.

Australia, Chile, Brazil, South Africa and other parts of South America. “We’re working across different commodities and a multitude of diverse ores and waste types. It is interesting that many of the principles of a n z . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m




APRIL 2020




a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m





ify Technologies (Sify) was founded in 1995, as India’s first private internet services provider (ISP). Driving the nation’s consumer

internet revolution was the main focus during the late

1990s and through the company’s fledgling years as a consumer services focused business offering hubs across the country to handle cyber traffic. At the turn of the millennium, Sify launched the country’s first commercial data centre (DC) and first MPLS network, beginning a transition towards enterprise services as India’s first commercial internet provider. The country’s emerging network requirements saw the business enter its third phase (from 2006-12), undergoing a full transformation into an enterprise services company. During this period, Sify moved out of the consumer broadband services space, focusing instead on internet-as-aservice for businesses and the launch of its cloud services offering. APRIL 2020


a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


“It has been a fruitful journey across


— Kamal Nath, CEO, Sify Technologies

25 years of transformation,” confirms CEO Kamal Nath, who joined Sify in 2012. Overseeing the transformation of the company from a standalone network and data centre hosting service provider to a fully-fledged digital ICT solutions and services company, Nath’s stewardship heralded a fourth transition in 2017. The addition of further portfolios to Sify’s data centre and cloud offering set the framework for the company’s “Cloud@Core” approach, which began in 2018.

INDIAN EXPANSION Looking back at Sify’s genesis and how the company became a major force in the Indian market, Nath recalls a time when most of the data centre players were telco service providers operating data centres at their point of presence (POP). “It was a natural extension of our telco business,” he says. “However, we didn’t follow the traditional path as we thought it was important to develop data centre hubs in major cities like Mumbai, where we set up our first commercial data centre in 2000. This was the key to our APRIL 2020

Sify Hybrid Multi Cloud with Cloud Adjacency CLICK TO WATCH



181 expansion across India. Today, we

to diversify its suite of services is

have nine DCs across the country:

part of the Sify philosophy. “Over

four in Mumbai, and five spread

time,” he adds, “the data centre has

across Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi,

become the epicentre of Cloud and

Hyderabad and Kolkata. And we’re

Digital transformation.”

planning more in the near future.” Sify now offers a host of man-

When Nath joined in 2012 the network to non-network revenue

aged, migration, assessment and

was approximately 80:20. Today it’s

security services for DCs. “We’ve

50:50. “We’ve grown the DC and

interconnected 48 DCs across the

DC-centric IT services business

country, not only our own but third

beyond simply being an IT services

party DCs,” adds Nath. “We’re creat-

provider,” he notes. “Both areas of

ing more value by offering extended

the business have grown, with our DC

service portfolios on top of our DCs

offering triggering a range of services

as a platform.” The constant quest

including, hybrid IT and multi-cloud.” a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


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need to expand existing IT networks.

Sify’s Head of Data Centre and Cloud

Similarly, the growing use of social

Services, Sushant Purushan, notes

media and online platforms demands

that India’s DC market is currently

that the needs of high compute net-

pegged at $2bn and expected to grow

works be met to support the likes of

22% to 24% CAGR. “This includes

content providers and gaming portals.

hyperscale DC, managed colocation at

Elsewhere, the rise of elearning and

service provider location, captive DC,

the country’s growing insurance sector

DC offshoring, disaster recovery-as-a-

is increasing its investment in IT, while

service, DC managed services and DC

regulatory compliance across indus-

applications implementation,” he adds.

tries is ramping demand for the digital

Driving that demand across India is

backup and archiving of information

the rise in ecommerce and digital pay-

sensitive services. Collectively, this

ment solutions. Banking services such

drive towards digital is aligned with gov-

as ewallets and payment gateways are

ernment initiatives such as the Smart

increasing transactions, triggering the

Cities programme and Digital India with


Kamal Nath An Electronics and Communications graduate from a premier Technology school in India, Kamal has the enviable distinction of building business from their infancy or turning the corner in others. The architect of Sify’s digital transformation journey, Kamal prefers an entrepreneurial approach to engaging with industry verticals. This disruptive, zealous methodology has seen him build a billion dollar business in his earlier organisation. Going by the reception that Sify is receiving in the market, he is on track for an encore.

a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



public sector companies, especially across the energy and manufacturing verticals, aggressively adopting digital. “Under the Indian government’s National Digital Communication Policy, the three pillars – Broadband India, Secure India and Connect India – aim to connect the country’s villages and rural communities via local institutes while targeting fixed line broadband services in 50% of households, along with 10 million public WiFi hotspots,” explains Nath. India’s digital economy is expected to reach $1trn by 2025. An entire 184

ecosystem of primary and associated services is benefiting from this Tsunami of change. This applies to core DCs, DC interconnection, edge DCs and network services for both enterprise and consumers. “In the near future, technologies in their infancy in India – IoT, AI and machine learning applications, Big Data, analytics and their application ecosystems – will see an upward associated consumption,” reasons Purushan.

EVOLUTION Sify has evolved in anticipation of this rise of digital to offer a mix of services. “We build and host data APRIL 2020

“SIFY HAS BEEN FOCUSED ON ADAPTING TO THE CUSTOM NEEDS OF HYPERSCALE USERS, CREATING A COMPLETE ECOSYSTEM OF CLOUD PROVIDERS, INTERNET EXCHANGES, CONTENT PROVIDERS, CDN PROVIDERS, ISPS…” — Sushant Purushan, Head of Data Centre and Cloud Services, Sify Technologies centres for our customers along with the IT and network infrastructure they need,” confirms Nath. “We’re making it easier for them to manage their IT requirements with one partner. We’re replacing legacy service providers for customers who want managed services (on-site or remote) addressing all the required models with a hosted data centre plus cloud. And through our network portfolio we not only provide data services to our clients, but also transform their network landscape influenced by adoption of cloud. They don’t need to look elsewhere, we offer a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



Colocation providers see faster

with lower risk.

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Galaxy™ VX UPS EcoStruxure IT

it in a full stack – from DC hosting to

capacities were server hall floors in

custom-build and cloud services, we

buildings. Selection and deployment

can manage the whole piece. This is

criteria then changed to dedicated

how we’re evolving into a converged

buildings, POD-based design fea-

ICT ecosystem player offering hybrid

turing power substations within DC

IT and DC with integrated security ser-

premises offering multiple fiber paths

vices to meet the needs of businesses

for adaptive approaches to security

across verticals.”

and safety requirements. We now

The philosophy behind Sify’s DC business has evolved to support the

focus on creating DC campuses housing multiple towers.”

changing market. Sushant elaborates: “Sify has been focusing on adapt-


ing to specialised custom needs of

Sify’s Head of Project Design,

hyperscale users, creating a complete

Roopesh Kumar, explains that the

ecosystem of cloud providers, internet

company’s design philosophy is flex-

exchanges, content providers, CDN

ible and hybrid to cater to the needs

providers, ISPs etc. Our initial DC

of all requirements: “Both IT and


Sushant Purushan A veteran IT professional, Sushant has been in the thick of the evolution of the Indian IT industry from a provider focused on application to one that evolved into infrastructure for the DC and the Cloud. He wet his feet with some of the big names in the industry donning roles across sales, operations, service lines & practice management, strategy and presales. At Sify, he puts a combination of these roles to play, architecting some of the unconventional solutions to Enterprise problems.

a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



non-IT facilities are catered to in a way

key criteria including the availability

that enterprise and retail customers

of quality power, physical connectiv-

can partake of the same colocation

ity and telecom infrastructure. “The

facility.” Sify’s approach to design has

platform to innovate is centred around

moved on from low density retrofits

the design philosophy of our infrastruc-

in shared IT spaces to purpose-built

ture,” says Roopesh. “The modular and

facilities and now a third generation of

scalable backplane design can grow

custom designed and built greenfield

with the business and also multiply

projects following an inside out design

capacity in a single floor to meet high

where the whole building is based on

demand customer requirements. The

the server hall design to support large

design allows us to increase the power

hyperscale colocation requirements.

density in a single floor by adding com-

Physical site selection is driven by 188

APRIL 2020

ponents without disturbing the working

backplane infrastructure. The SCADA

flexibility to use this total power in multi-

based building automation system is a

ples of standard POD configuration. We

new initiative we have implemented in

have floors supporting 800KW for very

the past year.”

low density to 4800KW for high density

Roopesh highlights that Sify’s DCs

customers. These flexible PODs are

are built to accommodate scale and

defined during the initial master design

flex. “Each facility may have an overall

stage, allowing the business flexibility to

capacity limited by infrastructure space

design products accordingly.”

for transformers, generators and chilldesigned, this total capacity is defined


and accordingly the base building infra-

Sify is responding to a maturing

structure is planned. The design allows

Indian market demanding hyperscale

ers, but when a new facility is identified/



Roopesh Kumar Roopesh Kumar leads the data centre engineering and projects. Having built a number of large data centre facilities for Sify in the past, he is working on their “new generation” data centre facilities projects now. He brings over 20 years of experience in handling network and data centre infrastructure and projects. A technology enthusiast, he is keen to explore new technologies and products focusing on efficiency in energy and operations. Roopesh is a computer engineering graduate and an executive MBA in information technology management. He is well acquainted with data centre standards and technologies and certified under various industry modules like uptime institute ATS, PRINCE2 project management, ITIL v2 service delivery, CCNA network basics and more.

a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m


DCs. “Moving forward from being a service provider, India has become the offshore destination-of-choice for DCs for multiple players,” reveals Purushan, highlighting that Amazon, Walmart, Oracle, Microsoft, Alibaba and a diverse cohort of other content providers and software companies are building their cloud infrastructure in India. “The availability of disparate business segments across different seismic zones, a proactive government approach to remove the gremlins in builds, a back-office-to-the-world 190

environment, along with abundant land and power have proved to be great


inducers for the largest hyperscale DC players globally.” Purushan notes that, both on the government and private enterprise side, there is a concentrated effort to build data farms within networked distance of the specific business. This has helped build a secondary market of DC and infra specialist providers around the facilities. “Prospective buyers are being driven by the urgency to adopt digital forms of doing business in order to retain their


customers in the face of increased

workload from enterprise to hyper-

threats from new age startups,” he

scale, Nath explains Sify is partnered

adds. “By themselves, startups at the

with AWS, Azure and Oracle, while in

top of the consumption chain for DCs

negotiations with Google to broaden

are the drivers for large scale automa-

the support it is able to offer custom-

tion and hence the increasing demand

ers who need to boost the digital

for hyperscale DCs. Sify has been

literacy of applications in sectors like

closely following these demands and

banking and eCommerce and main-

quickly ramping up the availability of

tain 100% infrastructure availability.

infra specialism across the country.”

“We are the only ISP who started

In creating services capable of

out in the 90s in India, survived the

managing hyperscale clouds, and

Dotcom bust and completely reen-

helping customers migrate their

gineered the business,” says Nath a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m



APRIL 2020


Year founded

$312mn Revenue in US dollars

2,700 Number of employees

193 proudly. “Today, with every passing quarter we are more relevant to the market than ever before. We now compete against international technology companies with a complete digital portfolio built to meet the future demands of the Indian market and beyond.�

a s ia . b u s in e s s c hie f. c o m

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