M'sia ICT sale a 'success' despite poor sales

Government agency behind Malaysia's Great ICT Sale declares event a success, despite missing target of generating US$1.4 million in sales.

PETALING JAYA--Despite generating sales amounting to only a fraction of its projected potential, Malaysia's Great ICT Sale (GIS) was labeled a success by the government's infocomm technology custodian.

Badlisham Ghazali, CEO of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), noted that while actual sales transacted during the month-long GIS totaled only 106,000 ringgit (US$30,185), the event should not be judged based on sales figures. Instead, the initiative should be assessed based on how it has helped Malaysia toward becoming a productivity-led economy.

"This is the first step in our ultimate goal for the GIS to help our small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) contribute to the country's economy on a national basis," said Ghazali, at the closing ceremony of the GIS here Tuesday.

"All MDeC's initiatives are geared toward helping SMEs, considered the bedrock of our economy, utilize ICT as a key differentiator to add value, create better products and reach global markets."

Held between Jul. 20 and Aug. 20, the GIS gathered 30 MSC-status companies, which showcased their product bundles targeted at SMEs, including SaaS (software as a service) and mobile commerce.

According to Saifol Bahri, vice president of industry development for the MDeC, although onsite sales only amounted to US$28,477, the number of "high potential" sales leads is estimated to be worth over 7 million ringgit (US$2 million).

Bahri said: "Our initial target for high-potential sales leads was approximately 5 million ringgit (US$1.4 million), and since our objective was not about targeting onsite sales, we believe the campaign has been successful."

Noting that high-potential leads are considered deals that go beyond initial enquiries into advanced stages of discussions, he said some transactions could not be immediately sealed because the GIS was a business-to-business showcase.

In many cases, ICT vendors need to demonstrate their products and services, conduct consultations and further deliberate with customers before deals can be brought to fruition.

"We plan to track these sales and see how they follow through," Bahri added, but declined to say when such information will be released.

Saifol also noted that the MDeC has had several discussions with local SME associations during the GIS, regarding plans to engage local IT service providers to establish cluster-specific e-commerce and e-procurement platforms. This, he explained, will help increase SMEs' competitiveness and profitability.

Stanley Tiew, CEO of First Online, said the GIS provided a platform for his company to present its locally developed e-commerce software to SME customers--an opportunity which the company would not have had otherwise.

"In fact, we were able to close quite a few deals that have immediately helped grow our revenue," Tiew said.

According to the MDeC, the GIS will now be an annual event, with the next instalment slated to be held in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, in addition to Peninsula Malaysia.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.