Interview with Haniza Zakariya

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Haniza Zakariya

Why is Technology important for businesses in the 21st Century?
To answer this question, we must first establish the definition of what technology is. In the old days, we couldn’t start a business without the technology of phones, typewriters or fax machines. In today’s society, it’s the laptop, handheld devices, smart phones and the complex systems of networks which are behind the scenes that enable us to perform better.

A company with better technology not only allows business owners to be more efficient at work, but it also allows them to make more informed decisions. It is a proven fact that technology leads to better productivity. The BCG group (see table) did a study which confirmed what we have already known intuitively for a long time, that there’s a clear correlation between the aggressive adoption of new technologies and strong business performance; and that leaders in technology far outperform their peers in the marketplace.

For example, you may have been successfully running a restaurant for the past 15 years by using just a basic cash register. This was possible because intuitively, you would have known what your best selling noodles are, when to order, what to order and how to market your products according to your sales. With today’s technology, you no longer have to rely on cash registers and intuition, a tab on the key will give you all the information that you require– instantly and accurately, making it possible for anyone to make smart and timely decisions based on solid data analysis.

Of course, there have also been many other technological advances which help to improve the running of restaurants such as handheld PDAs – which help direct orders without the waitresses having to physically pass on a hand written note to the kitchen; and automatic systems that help to communicate with suppliers directly – all of these systems help to save time and money, and in the long run improve the operation and productivity of the business. This in turn will give owners the time to focus on other aspects of business development.

In today’s competitive business landscape where everyone embraces technology, your business would be at a huge disadvantage if you were not in the position to take advantage of what technology can do for you.

Give us an example of how Microsoft has helped local businesses to achieve cost savings.
Microsoft recently facilitated the petrochemical giant, Hengyi Industries to set up an enterprise-grade email system in Brunei. The objective of our assignment with Hengyi Industries was to support their anticipated rapid growth in staff, from a small operation of five staff members to 780 by 2016. Hengyi is set to build a USD 4 billion plant in the Sultanate and therefore there is a crucial need for swift email access with fast implementation, minimum maintenance and back up.

As a result, we provided this client with Microsoft Exchange Online, which provides a 50Gb mailbox per user as well as backup and archiving options. The secure email system met the compliance standard and the hosted email provided financially backed 99.9% reliability.

Our cloud system makes the set up seamless, unlike the traditional deployment that required a huge investment in IT infrastructure. According to Yap Boon Hui, Senior Manager of Management Information System in Hengyi, “ Microsoft’s cloud-based solution enabled us to scale up and pay just for what we use.”

It took five days for the system to be implemented, compared to an on-premise solution which would normally take weeks. Given that the early staff members were always on the move, Microsoft’s ability to integrate voicemail with the email system as well as manage it was a boon.

What type of technologies does Microsoft offer to small businesses to help them become global players?
To become a global player, you need to have good fundamental practices such as credibility, professionalism, transparency and reliability. Microsoft has a wide range of technologies to help small businesses in these areas to make them better equipped to enter the global arena. Having dependable and secure communications facilities will help to elevate the small business’s image of reliability and professionalism. Solutions like Microsoft Dynamic GP, Navision and CRM provide transparency and good governance in a businesses’ daily operation. In order to compete at a global level, small businesses need to have real time information about their own operation and also about their competitors.

In terms of security, it is critical that small businesses ensure that they protect their confidential data and Intellectual Property against the different types of vulnerabilities like malware, virus or on line hacking. Windows 8.1 contains a robust set of embedded security features and software enhancements that address modern day security threats, keeping both your business transactions and confidential data backed up and secured.

With more than 15 years’ experience running some of the largest, most reliable and secure cloud services in the world, customers can depend on Microsoft. Security, privacy and reliability are the foundation upon which all our products and services are built. BCG survey respondents rank Microsoft as the most trusted provider of IT to these businesses, and the top partner when it comes to helping SMBs think about technology and the future.

Looking into the “Crystal Ball” of Technology, what can we expect to see in the next 5 years?
We believe that more companies will be in a world where speed, agility and knowing your customer better than anyone else is what differentiates the leaders from the laggards. It’s not about whether you’re a big company or a small company, it’s about how the company, right from its leaders to the employees, leapfrog into a mobile first, cloud first world. These technologies will give companies the edge when it comes to serving customers, knowing customers, being really efficient, working from anywhere and truly getting the best out of every employee.

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This article was published in the Jul-Sept 2014 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!

More from Haniza Zakariya:
– Haniza Zakariya is also part of the ’50 Most Influential Women in Brunei’. Read her story by clicking Here!
– Interview on Leadership. Click Here!