IT pervasiveness shifting customer engagement paradigm

Winners of the 2013 IT Leader Awards by Singapore Computer Society give nods to how ubiquitous mobility and user expectation of immediacy have pushed companies to relook customer engagement.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE—The move toward mobility and expectation of immediacy by users are shaping how companies embrace technology, according to the 2013 winners of the IT Leader Awards handed out by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) .

This year's winners hail from industries with strong links to the consumer space, ranging from entertainment and hospitality to retail malls and transportation.

Yap Chee Yuen, winner of the SCS 2013 IT Leader of the Year.

The 2013 IT Leader of the Year award was given to Yap Chee Yuen, who is head of innovation and technology at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and also executive vice president of corporate services at Genting Singapore, which owns RWS. The criteria for IT Leader of the Year revolve around how much someone has contributed to the IT development and innovation beyond the sphere of his or her immediate business interest.

Mobility and user expectation shaping biz approach
Yap, who has worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, said the power the consumer has on IT is most apparent today by the mobile phenomenon and user expectation of immediacy.

Building customer engagement and brand awareness through "the desktop and online is no longer the order of the day", he noted. Organizations are being pushed to provide information to customers via mobile devices with apps that are instantly accessible, running and always "on".

Yap acknowledged there is now added pressure on companies--and their IT systems--to maintain efficient customer service round the clock. But it also means there are opportunities to win more customers and grow the business further, which is definitely a good thing", he emphasized.

Another sign of the driving force of consumerization is that employees increasingly demand mobile devices to do their work, Yap added. For example, depending on their job role and requirements, some RWS staff are issued tablets or are allowed access to corporate networks via their own mobile devices. Certain employees such as duty managers or F&B (food and beverage) managers are constantly on the move, he pointed out.

The way companies engage with internal and external stakeholders has shifted thanks to the IT pervasiveness brought about by consumers, and mobile represents this "new frontier" along with social media, said Wilson Tan, CEO of CapitaMalls Trust and this year's inductee into the IT Hall of Fame. Inductees are chosen based on how much their leadership has shaped IT development in Singapore. Tan was also IT Leader of the Year back in 2005.

Tan noted the "rules of engagement" have changed and companies have to embrace the next generation of IT offerings with a new, open mindset. "By deploying IT, we can rewrite the parameters of resolving business problems."

SCS 2013 IT Leader Awards
IT Leader of the Year:
Yap Chee Yuen, head of innovation and technology at Resorts World Sentosa and EVP of Genting Singapore

IT Hall of Fame inductee: Wilson Tan, CEO, CapitaMalls Trust
IT Young Professional of the Year:
Saurav Bhattacharyya, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Inventions

IT Youth Award:
Teh Kaiwen and Liu Junhua

For instance, retail mall owners used to be protective about their back-office operations, because exposing it made them feel "naked", he explained. However, they can be proactive and rope in tenants and shoppers to help with, say, monitoring the malls' cleanliness and service levels through feedback on a mobile app. This can help mall owners take immediate corrective measures and also use the feedback as insights in future business strategies, Tan said. His company created its own internal mobile app called iTrack for monitoring the malls' operations 24-7, and there are plans to open it to tenants in future, he added.

Tan explained how personal digital assistants (PDAs) used to be typically reserved for the IT-inclined working crowd in the past, whereas today children are comfortable using smartphones. In addition, all sectors of the economy need IT such as real estate, healthcare, financial and legal services.

Such ubiquity means IT adoption has to give companies a competitive edge, otherwise they will fall into "Rip Wan Winkle syndrome [and wake up as] dinosaurs", he said.

The 2013 IT Young Professional Award was given to Saurav Bhattacharyya, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Inventions (QI), which was founded in 2006 and specializes in mapping and navigation technologies. This award category considers individuals below the age of 35 who have made significant contributions to the IT innovation of products or services.

There were also two winners for the IT Youth Award, SCS said, which are for individuals below 25 years of age who have shown an ongoing commitment to IT. One of the winners was Teh Kaiwen, a graduate from Temasek Polytechnic where he received the Most Outstanding Graduate of the Diploma in Cyber and Digital Security. He is currently a first-year student studying information systems management at Singapore Management University (SMU).

The other IT Youth Award winner was Liu Junhua , who did his final year project at Singapore Polytechnic which involved improving emergency handling systems for crime and fire cases for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF). He is currently an undergraduate at the Singapore University of Technology (SUTD).

The IT Leader Awards was launched in 1997 to recognize individuals for their achievements and contributions to the IT profession and development of IT in Singapore.

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