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Southeast Asia (SEA) of Opportunities for HSIS
November 13, 2013
Enterprise IT News
Cat Yong

Japanese companies coming out to address a market that is larger than their domestic market, is a trend that Group CEO of Hitachi Sunway Information Systems, Cheah Kok Hoong has observed. “Now we are a Japanese multinational. And we realise we need to do something different, while not necessarily reinventing the wheel.”

He draws attention to the fact that Japanese companies have invested USD10.5 billion into ASEAN countries in 2012. This is over 50 percent more than investment around 8 years ago. When one looks at the trend, the rate of investment into Malaysia has remained steady, while other countries like Vietnam overtake Malaysia with explosive growth.

“Are we doing enough?” Cheah asked the hypothetical question.

This question has also given rise to the ‘hub and spoke’ approach that HSIS has adopted to address Japanese demand. “Friendly competitors and other Japanese joint ventures, traditionally would approach the market vertically, according to industries, and also country-by country.”

Cheah emphatically said, “I want to settle ASEAN on the whole first!”

How are they doing it? Cheah has over 20 years experience and principle expertise, a good bulk of which, also comes from his other current professional position as Chief Information Officer of property conglomerate, Sunway Group.

He breaks down the task he has at hand. “I run shared services. The fundamental values of shared services are to increase service level and cost avoidance.”

Basically, HSIS is able to share expertise across the region, while building up domain expertise for their team of 170 professionals who provide solutions and services to over 800 customers in Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region.

That includes a growing pool of experienced and certified consultants and engineers with the relevant practical experience from user environments.

The “hub” for example, could comprises of the customer contact centre, regional marketing, centre of excellence and domain expertise. HSIS’ “spokes” or sales and support reach, on the other hand, can go as far and wide as HSIS wishes.

“We can also be closer to customers and are able to be more responsive,” said Cheah.

Being able to go further afield with a lean team, besides keeping costs at minimum, also means the whole of Southeast Asia is a green field of opportunities for HSIS.

Currently, HSIS is headquartered in Malaysia, but also has office locations in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines . All these 5 countries also account for the bulk of Japanese direct investment in the region. As planned, HSIS is also in the midst of setting up its location presence in Vietnam by December 2013.

Infrastructure and Managed Services HSIS brings solutions and services in three broad areas of Applications, Engineering and also Infrastructure & managed services (IMS). During the Asia Pacific Outsourcing Summit 2013 (APOS) in Iskandar, Johor, HSIS highlighted the competencies they will bring to the local outsourcing industry, with their Infrastructure and managed services portfolio.

Cheah explained “Traditionally before the JV, we were very much a systems integrator. “ Over the years, Sunway Technology Group had gotten very good at it, providing systems and storage, end-to-end virtualisation solutions, data management, disaster recovery, cloud services and more. After the joint venture however, HSIS has added IT outsourcing (ITO) and Data Centre Outsourcing (DCO) as a key solutions pillar under IMS.

ITO touches all aspects of solutions under IMS and Cheah said, “We believe ITO is one of the main way forward.”

He added, “We are positioning ourselves as unique to Japanese-owned companies (JOC) and even to the domestic market, because we are new to them and we have experience in process effectiveness and cost efficiency. Also, in this region, which other organisation has product lifecycle management and ERP capabilities as well as infrastructure capabilities, like we do?

“We want to be a one-stop IT shop for this region.”

Ambitions That isn’t all that HSIS wants to be. Cheah described, “Hitachi Group is a close to USD100 billion revenue company, with over 900 subsidiaries and over 320,000 employees worldwide. Their biggest area of revenue contribution is from their ICT arm.

Closer to home, a few of these subsidiaries are Hitachi eBworx and Hitachi Data Systems.

“We want to position Hitachi Sunway Information Systems, as an integral part of Hitachi Group. Internal collaboration is important and we all (subsidiaries) should leverage all the competencies within the Hitachi Group,” emphasised Cheah.

That said, HSIS stresses about not being a product company, instead focusing on solutions and having a vendor and technology neutral stance. Being in a joint venture with one of the top IT services provider in Japan, they now also boast a robust partner ecosystem, and access to Hitachi System’s skilled resources that are equipped with a wide range of certifications.

Data centres “We are fine tuning our business model, but we definitely want to contribute to the data centre industry. In Japan, Hitachi Systems operates 18 data centres. We have world-class technology in Japan which we now have access to for ASEAN region,” said Cheah adding that Malaysia could be an alternative disaster recovery site for companies in Japan.

He also added that a data centre was definitely in the cards for HSIS next year, and that they are embarking on a mergers and acquisition mode.

“A lot of things are coming our way with the team's and board of director’s support,” shared Cheah in conclusion.