Movie Review: Gone Girl

 

After acquisition spree, Dell rolls out Software Group

Matthew Johnston, Dell Software Group general manager for South Asia The Dell Software Group (DSG) is ready for business. "We've been in Asia as DSG for a little more than two years, and in the Philippines we've been here for a while as Quest and SonicWall before the Dell acquisition," said Matthew Johnston, DSG general manager for South Asia. According to Johnston, DSG ranks among the top 15 largest software companies in the world, with 6,000 people globally. A third of its staff are software engineers. "We're large enough to support multinationals, but small enough to be agile and nimble in product development," the Singapore-based GM added. In line with the company's slow transition from being a hardware provider to a solutions provider, Dell completed its acquisitions of both Quest Software and network security firm SonicWall Inc in mid-2012. This allowed Dell to grow new businesses despite its financial troubles and the crash of the desktop PC market. During a press conference at EDSA Shangri-La Johnston unveiled Dell's latest server equipment, the DR6000 deduplication appliance, and the latest version of the company's NetVault Backup. "We simplify IT Management. We deliver systems management solutions that makes CRMs and other platforms more secure, efficient, and effective," the Australian executive said. The DR6000 can give and provide data backup storage from nine terabytes, or 9TB, post-RAID (135TB logical) up to 36TB post-RAID (540TB logical). The NetVault Backup 10 offers a new optimized web-based GUI for IT admins to configure, manage, and monitor the backup system via its backend database. The two products can either be used together or separately. "We're unique in the marketplace because we can do these on all levels of the IT infrastructure. We can do it on data storage, we can do it on mobility, we can provide database, and we can provide protection," Johnston said. Johnston is confident in DSG's suite of access and data management solutions aside from Dell's legacy hardware products. This gives DSG the opportunity to penetrate not just large companies but SMEs as well.

 

Malaysian newspaper mesmerizes with 5D ad

Samples of the Wonda Coffee ad by NST Malaysia showing the touch, sight and sound campaign. NST mailroom manager Ungku Ibrahim mentioned the scented newspaper samples from the smell campaign were confiscated by the Malaysian airport police for being "sprayed with coffee-smelling chemicals." Ungku Ibrahim, one of the speakers who shared insights at the ANP Conference. With everyone going digital these days, bold strategies are becoming the new norm for print. While there's a prevailing belief that the printed broadsheet is near extinction, there's ample proof supporting the contrary. During the recent 2014 Asean Newspaper Printers Conference held at the Makati Shangri-La, New Straits Times (NST) mailroom manager Ungku Azman bin Ungku Ibrahim shared how teamwork, innovation, creativity, and social media are the perfect tools to create value in advertising. Ibrahim launched his brief talk with a cold, hard truth. "Broadsheet sheet sales are down like, probably 30% in Malaysia," he said, adding it's most likely the same way in other parts of the world. Then, according to Ibrahim, Asahi came and sought NST's assistance with their January 2014 Malaysian launch of their new brand, Wonda Premium Coffee. Asahi wanted marketing that was old school with an emphasis on novelty. After much input and brainstorming, NST and Wonda launched one of the most successful campaigns in recent broadsheet history: the 5D ad. The ad was unique for its approach of using the five human senses. The campaign spanned five days, with each day focusing on a particular sense. It included a pull-up ad for touch, 3D printing for sight, audio ad for hearing, scented newspaper for smell, and a special discounted coupon for taste. "That (5D campaign) was six months in the making. We had to strategize and plan accordingly. It took a lot of support from everyone, from the editorial, to production, to circulation, to marketing. It was a risk, but it paid off," Ibrahim said. He also shared how time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive everything was. And pay off it did. Not only did the company help Wonda Coffee secure its place as the second biggest-selling coffee brand in Malaysia, but it boosted the NST's sales too. "We need to innovate,” Ibrahim said. “We need to listen to advertisers and to everyone in the organization. Even the most unlikely or unexpected person can come up with a good idea." Ibrahim also tried to infect the audience with his resolve. "This industry is never going to die,” he announced. “It's still different from mobile news. It's a different feeling to hold newspapers. And, we bring the dependable kind of news.” Remarkably, the 5D campaign eschewed Facebook fan pages and Twitter hashtagging. Other advertisers are now coming over to NST to help boost their business, which in turn boosts NST sales. Another company, Tropicana, launched a similar 5D campaign in September with NST which yielded similar phenomenal results. "Listening [to new ideas] helps, especially now that everything is changing. It will determine the future of print," the Malaysian mailroom manager said.

 

Sold out: 2014 Miata, as Mazda marks 25th year

The limited edition 25th anniversary model of the Mazda MX-5, known to fans as the Miata, is sold out in the Philippines. On a sweltering day at Mazda's sprawling facility in Laguna, Berjaya president and CEO Steven Tan recounted the fortunate series of events that saw the Philippines, not traditionally a big market for Miatas, selling out the 2014 limited edition, two-seater roadster. What exactly does limited edition mean? "We only distribute a thousand," Tan explained. "The allocation goes like this," he continued. "Europe gets 700, the US gets 200, and 100 is left for the rest of the world." "Japan gets 50. So there's only 50 left. Australia, Taiwan, South Africa—they all want it. That means we're not going to get any at all!" Tan admitted that, in the last few years, only seven Miatas were sold in the Philippines. "The news was already out that a new Miata was coming next year. So it would be suicide to try to push a Miata into the market, right?" In March 2014, Tan attended a Miata Club Philippines meeting and bounced around the idea of making the collector's item available in the Philippines: "We talked about it, showed some pictures, and said, 'If you guys want it, we'll bring it in.'" "We left the meeting with 15 names on a napkin," Tan disclosed. That same week, Mazda's "Number Two," Yuji Nakamine, global marketing and sales chief, arrived in Manila. Tan met Nakamine and related the story of the Miata orders on a napkin—to which the global honcho replied, "How many do you want?" "It 's our 25th anniversary; we want 25," Tan said, taking a punt, all the while thinking, "We have a list of 15. If the 15 back out, we would be in a lot of trouble." Since only 50 Miatas would be allocated to the rest of the world after the big markets were served, both execs knew getting half that for a small Miata market like the Philippines would be, in Nakamine's words, "a long shot." Still, Nakamine said, "I'll see what I can do." Soon after, Mazda's global chief of marketing, Masahiro Moro-san, was in Bangkok to launch the Mazda3. "I managed to get a seat next to him during lunch," Tan said. "So I repeated the story to him and asked, 'Moro-san, are you going to help me?'" But Moro-san replied, "Are you sure? As far as I know you guys haven't sold any at all!" Tan was worried about Berjaya's credibility as Mazda's Philippine distributor. "If we crash and burn, they're not going to believe us again," he said. A month later, Tan received an e-mail that basically said, "You want 25? You got 25." And then Mazda US announced it was releasing 100 collector's edition Miatas. "Which means that our 25 came from the US allocation," Tan pointed out, adding that the 100 US cars sold out in minutes. "We did not even advertise," Tan said in wonder. "The reason why this 25 happened is because of the club," he concluded.

 

Aboitiz-led triumvirate supports high-value crops

TerraFirma director Amor Maclang, PMFTC external affairs director Bayen Elero-Tinga, Pilmico president and CEO Sabin Aboitiz, FVP and chief resource officer Maribeth Marasigan, VP for feed sales Hendel Cabral Aboitiz subsidiary Pilmico Foods, PMFTC (formerly Fortune Tobacco), and TerraFirma recently entered into a partnership to promote high-value crops for the country’s farmers and fishermen under the Mahalin Pagkaing Atin (Love Our Food) program. “As most of the goods from other countries are cheaper, the tendency for consumers will be to prefer imported goods over our own locally grown produce,” said Sabin Aboitiz, president and CEO of Pilmico, a subsidiary of Aboitiz Equity Ventures. “That's obviously going to pose a huge problem for us. Even the multitude of humble farming folk will suffer the impact of such a scenario,” he added. Asked to comment on imports from China, Aboitiz replied, “Imports are good. They keep a check on local prices. You will only import if it makes sense because the price is good.” Aboitiz qualified, however, “Imports are good, as long as it's not all imports and no local industry. I don't have a problem with imports as long as they pay their duties. I have a problem with imports that come in under the radar—then it's not fair.” The Asean Free-Trade Agreement (AFTA) takes effect soon, dissolving tariff borders. Goods from neighboring countries will easily penetrate Philippine borders as Asean merges into a single trading market.

 

TaskUs seeks to expand by 100% annually

Bryce Maddock, CEO and Founder of TaskUs TAGUIG—With more than 1,200 employees worldwide, TaskUs plans to swell its ranks to 1,350 global employees by year's end. Its goals in the Philippines, however, are far more ambitious. From just five employees in Bacoor, Cavite, TaskUs intends to hire 10,000 employees in three years if all goes according to plan. Bryce Maddock, TaskUs CEO and founder, says their goal is to grab a select clientèle who want the best possible customer support. “What we discovered was that other startup companies in the US needed to get quality customer service. We've become the go to customer service for startups in the US when it comes to back office and customer service,” Maddock says. With two offices in the Philippines, TaskUs hopes to get a taste of the country's IT-BPO success. Maddock believes growing a company means expanding to areas that are not hot spots of BPO but have an abundance of talent. “We are looking at places like Dumaguete or Laoag, and other places that are untapped by other BPOs where we can impact the local community,” he says. TaskUs is challenging industry practices by offering potential employees what other companies can't—a laid back environment that does not focus on metrics, but on a job well done.

 

Jabra unveils new cutting edge headsets

Ben Samman showcasing the Jabra PRO 935 Ben Samman (L), managing channel director for APAC at Jabra with Arthur Florentino, assistant web editor for China Business State-of-the-art technology helps BPOs retain both their employees and their clients' customers. This was revealed by Jabra Asia Pacific managing director Ben Samman during his recent visit in September to launch the Jabra Biz2300, the 900 series, and the Motion Office. These devices help BPO workers in their jobs with easier communication and ease of use. In a very stressful environment, not worrying about communication breakdown on both ends or equipment issues can take the load off a BPO worker's shoulders. "It has the best noise reduction in the market," Samman said of the new headsets. According to the Jabra director, a study by a third party audio lab concluded that Jabra's noise reduction technology was 30-50% better than their closest competitor. He reiterated that noise reduction allows clearer recording playback for auditing and lowers operational costs. "Costs go down - you get shorter call times and receive more calls. Noise reduction also helps companies fit more people in the same space - real estate and utilization goes down. You get less stressed out employees, so attrition goes down and that's cost," Samman explained. Not only that, the materials used to make the headsets ensure they're clean and sanitary - an important aspect for centers that have agents who share headsets. The earpieces also use the same noise reduction technology, while its Kevlar cord and 360-degree rotating arm ensures less breakage and downtime. "Things break. I'll be happy to sell you another headset, but the real important thing here is the downtime. You have an agent who is doing nothing. He's not being productive," he said. The 30-gram headsets also make it easier to wear for agents and to mass deploy for IT personnel. "Sometimes, you get people that say that our technology is not possible. I believe (customer) education is key here. And an open mind," he added. In an e-mail to China Business Philippines, Samman noted, "In such a competitive industry where attrition is high, lower attrition means lower training and recruitment costs, higher employee knowledge that stays in the firm which translates into better customers satisfaction scores, more customers and eventually higher profits." “We are committed to continuing to support the success of the BPO industry in the Philippines by continuing to innovate, continuing to serve our customers through our nationwide network of distributors and resellers and continuing to do our part to make Filipino hospitality a global phenomenon," the Singapore-based executive ended.

 

Netsuite: Demand for cloud storage up 36% by 2016

Netsuite Asia VP Reginald Singh (2nd from L), leads the conference as Big Chill chief operating consultant Rusty Lemon (L), Netsuite Worldwide Support VP James Dantow (C), and Coca-cola Foundation president Cecile Alcantara (R) look on The biggest trend shaking up enterprise storage is 36% of businesses will be in the cloud by 2016. This was revealed by US software giant Netsuite, whose VP for Asia Reginald Singh hosted a recent press conference at Makati Shangri-La Hotel. “What drives this is the pressure on organizations to create profitability,” says Singh. “There's always been a focus on managing costs, and what cloud computing does is it gives a real alternative for not having large IT organizations maintaining it (corporate data) and backing it up.” “From a people and capital perspective, it's a better choice than buying server and storage equipment which depreciate over time," the Netsuite VP added. Based on Netsuite's forecast, the Philippines is open to adopting the cloud system, as well as other countries like Vietnam. Meanwhile, enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud usage is up by 37% in China and 28% in India. Cloud storage is a popular choice for businesses looking to incorporate mobile, analytics and collaboration into their ERP systems that offer real-time data for customer-centric approach while at the same time wanting to get a cost-effective and scalable system to expand their operations. "Companies are looking for end-to-end software platforms, where they can design their own reports, generate leads, pull up customer information, manage mobile apps, and connect to social networks. Cloud ERPs can do all of that," says Singh. Big Chill chief operating consultant Rusty Lemon and Coca-cola Foundation president Cecile Alcantara were also on hand to share how cloud storage streamlined and updated their processes. With cloud storage having arrived in force locally, Netsuite is planning to expand operations in the Philippines. "We're going to start hiring a lot of people soon," says Netsuite VP for Worldwide Support James Dantow. According to Dantow, there will be vacancies for ERP experts, software developers, system analysts, and other IT professionals in their Makati office. "There's no need to move (for employment opportunities) to Singapore anymore. Sorry, Reggie," Dantow jested, referring to Netsuite Asia VP Singh, who is currently based in Singapore.

 

Sophos reveals ambitious Project Galileo tracking systems

IT teams are going to have less work should Sophos' newest system be used for protecting a company's data. “It's about various [IT security] products talking to each other to enhance overall security and deal with various threats,” explains Gerhard Eschelbeck referring to Project Galileo. Eschelbeck is chief technology officer and senior vice president at Sophos, a 30-year-old information security provider based in London, the UK. With operations in six continents and barely 1,500 staff, Sophos ranks among the few genuine cybersecurity firms whose roots go back to a time before anti-virus products weren't as much of a big deal as today. Eschelbeck was in the country to unveil Project Galileo and Sophos' new unified threat management products during the Philippine leg of the Sophos Asean Roadshow, which includes Singapore and Malaysia. Rather than announce another acquisition of a fledgling start-up or an updated threat detection software, Sophos is flexing its R&D muscle with Project Galileo. Funded in-house and a contender for a new industry standard, Galileo – named after the Renaissance astrologer—streamlines a company's data protection arsenal, from firewalls to file scanners. “This will be a game changer in the IT security industry,” Eschelbeck, who is Austrian, announced at a press conference that marked his first trip to the Philippines. Project Galileo allows users to monitor traffic on either the office network or their personal device. They can keep tab on what is happening, what is going out, and what happens over time. This is known as the 4-dimensional approach to IT security. According to Eschelbeck, this new revolutionary approach to IT security can help small and medium business enterprises (SMEs) achieve optimum data protection minus the budget strain of hiring a full-time IT staff and the burden of upgrading software or equipment. "For the end-users, it's about visibility, and knowing their environment. We have a new reporting capability that allows customers to create customized reports for and about their environment for better security," he added. Also, Eschelbeck believes enterprise security software and hardware should be comprehensive, simple and effective. This is in line with Sophos' long-term strategy to get SME clients rather than large multinationals. In the Philippines, where between 97 and 99% of businesses are SMEs and IT investments are still becoming the norm, Sophos has rich pickings. Eschelbeck believes that aside from the product, Sophos' customers will value their new-found scalability and comprehensiveness. Since most of their hardware and services are changeable, the Sophos CTO said this is a good way to achieve excellent, up-to-date security for SMEs.

 

Lenovo adds two new ThinkPad products

TAGUIG—Lenovo announced two of its latest additions to its ThinkPad portfolio: the ThinkPad 8 and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The ThinkPad 8 is Lenovo's premium Windows-powered tab. Its premium feel is made possible by its machine-cut aluminum body. Techy yuppies who are always on the go will have all they need with this Intel Bay Trail Quad Core-powered device. They can also capture videos and photos with its 8 megapixel camera. The ThinkPad 8 allows users to immediately activate the camera by just opening the tablet's cover to expose the lens. It comes with 128GB of internal storage. The tablet can also be expanded into a desktop PC by attaching the tablet to a ThinkPad USB dock station. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a slim but indestructible gadget, pushing boundaries by being the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook. Weighing only 2.8 pounds, it's made from the same material as aircrafts and race cars: Carbon Fiber. Lenovo redesigned the keyboard layout for the ThinkPad X1, improving the touch experience for professionals. The ThinkPad X1 also comes with an LTE variant. Both ThinkPad 8 and ThinkPad X1 Carbon is now available at the Think Exclusive Store at SM North Edsa for Php25,490 and Php105,000 respectively.

China Business–Philippines

How I saved money on my last trip to China

MANILA—Full disclosure: EastWest Bank is an advertiser.

But I wanted to write this story a month before they decided to advertise in China Business. See, I finally found a way to get rid of my forex headaches when traveling overseas.

Headache number one is having to stash multiple currencies at whatever current buying rate there is at the time of your travel. And then, you have to sell any leftover currencies at a loss when you come back home.

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Youth games pits China against world

For two weeks in August, teenagers from more than 100 different countries took part in the second summer Youth Olympic Games.

Best described as a teen-friendly counterpart to the regular supersized Olympics and its excesses, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games is low key by comparison.

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No Facebook? No Problem.

I'm now sitting on the steps of a bus in Minqin county, Gansu province, very far into northwest China. Except for the chatter of five gentlemen a dozen yards away and the singing of birds overhead, it is a quiet afternoon.

Such moments of solitude are rare for a journalist covering China under an official itinerary—which makes this brief isolation more precious.

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The Car of the Future

The average university student may be thinking about the next finals exam he is about to take. But while Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk was still at university, he was thinking about the future of humanity.

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Cars

When I worked for a big commodity trader in Hong Kong a few years ago, we had a young risk manager who used to sit in front of multiple screens all day long looking at multiple parabolics.

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This is What Php45 Million Looks Like

The City of Manila is enjoying a resurgence driven by two things. First, the 800-hectare Entertainment City rising on the western portion of Roxas Boulevard. Add a comment

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