Ken Soh, CIO and Director, e-Strategies, BH Global Corporation
When looking at transformation, I group it into two broad categories: digital transformation and business transformation. When I joined BH Global in 2014, we had initiated transformations that were more in the former category. Specifically, we had developed a B2B e-Commerce platform, strengthened the in-house ERP platform, as well as having implemented a data visualization platform from a clean slate. We are fortunate that these transformations have brought about the expected productivity gains, and more importantly, they have helped the group level up awareness of the advantages of digitalization, and have hence developed digital culture. The strengthened ERP platform is not just more stable; it also became part of a group-wide integration framework that paved the way for straight-through-processing with other modules enterprise-wide such as our warehouse management system. As for the data visualization platform, it has reduced the effort for typical report requirements from an average of weeks to days.
On the business transformation front, we have transformed BH Global Group IT from a corporate cost center into a profit center. Specifically, a new business subsidiary named Athena Dynamics was incorporated in mid- 2014 to market strongly differentiated innovations in SecOps and ITOps products and solutions.
The company has since achieved more than SGD 2 million of sales with awarded projects to project classified and critical info-infrastructures in governmental and commercial sectors.
One of the biggest technology barriers we face is the availability of an effective and affordable, fully integrated ITOps Management Platform to assist Group IT with common IT functions such as Service/Change Request Management, IT Asset Management, Service Catalogue Management, Contract Management, Project and Quality Program Management. The other barrier is a truly effective Cyber Security platform that is fundamentally different from the thousands of tools out there, which handle advanced threats effectively.
This also explains the background of why and how Athena Dynamics was formed. BH Global Group IT sources strong and cost-effective tools globally and operationalizes it. Those that met our mark would be represented at Athena Dynamics for introduction and sharing with the industry. We hence benefit not only ourselves, but the industry as well, since only viable tools are marketed, and we are able to represent and support the customers well since we essentially “eat our own dog food.”
Today, there are countless offerings for IT to reduce its workload. The industry is not short of outsourced, cloud-based propositions from IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. We identify opportunities for outsourced arrangements, and with that, we would be able to free up resources for innovative pursuits. For example, we have transitioned our HRIS operation from an in-house, on-premise model to a SaaS arrangement. This is a “low hanging” fruit, since HR is typically loosely coupled with the ERP core, with only one financial entry/posting to Finance.
In my opinion, organization culture is more important than its structure. Organization culture begins with the number. one man in the structure. In today’s well-connected world, the servant-leader management model works best. When an organization has a respectable servant-leader who respects people fundamentally and encourages value systems in personal integrity, I believe that the relationships between people internally and externally, not just IT, will be strong. The reason is simple. Once a culture of trust is developed, business and operations would simply work at their best.