Ken Wye Saw is Microsoft’s Vice-President for Sales and Marketing in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to this, Ken Wye Saw served in a number of executive positions at Microsoft, including as President for Southeast Asia, General Manager for the Communications Sector in Asia-Pacific, Greater China and Japan and Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore. Actively involved in the local Singapore IT community, Mr Saw serves on the board of the Infocomm Development Authority and on the advisory committees of several Singapore-based institutions of higher education. Mr Saw has also served as the Chairman of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation. He worked with the National Computer Board for 14 years; his last appointment there was as Assistant Chief Executive (Industry). Ken Wye Saw graduated from the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom with a BSC (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering and a MSC in Operational Research.
Dealing with the growth of anytime/anywhere communications access and workforce mobility is a key challenge. Efficient communications and collaboration - locating and reaching the right people, at the right time - is critical to business success. Unified messaging solutions break down the boundaries between e-mail, instant messaging, mobile, VoIP telephony and conferencing. Next-generation messaging platforms will let workers access voicemail and fax data alongside their e-mail, calendar, contact and task data, and manage it - even by telephone.
As the world moves toward ubiquitous, seamless data connectivity to support a global economy, most people will have high-quality access to almost any information, anywhere, anytime, on any device. However, as barriers to access fall away, one of the key challenges organizations will face is how to contextualize and prioritise this information successfully to lower expenses, increase efficiency and realize the value of information assets they already have. Therefore, communications and collaboration will become critical elements of business success. Organisations need to enhance their ability to locate the right people, at the right time, through the most appropriate communications medium. Gartner projects that by 2010, 80 per cent of businesses that deploy communications-enabled business processes will have acquired significant competitive and revenue differentiation because of these investments. In fact, the best rate of return often comes from investments that raise the productivity of not just individual knowledge workers but enterprise and team collaboration as well. We believe that next-generation unified messaging solutions will break down today’s silos of e-mail, instant messaging, mobile and voice over Internet protocol, VoIP, telephony, and audio, video and web-conferencing. Such support and technology should consist of robust, interoperable, server-based tools that integrate with desktop and mobile clients to give information workers - people who are active participants in the flow of business information or business information processes - anytime, anywhere access to critical information. This will not only broaden access, but increase productivity and reduce costs in a new world of work. Broadening access Messaging and collaboration have evolved significantly during the past ten years. In the beginning, e-mail access was primarily done using LAN-attached clients or dial-up network access, and the few mobile devices that existed then had little or no wireless data capability. Fast-forward to today. Gartner predicts that wireless email users worldwide will reach 20 million in 2006 and 100 million in 2009. We see that powerful browser-based clients and VPNs are widely deployed, PDAs and Smartphones with high-speed wireless data access are becoming ubiquitous, and packages provide easy access to e-mail data from almost any Internet-connected computer. This need has been further amplified by the demands of a mobile workforce, that needs consistent and synchronized access to its e-mail, calendars, and contact data from multiple locations across multiple devices. Broadening access will be a key driving factor of collaboration and competitiveness. Increasing productivity through presence awareness Employees today are almost always under time or deadline constraints, and competitive pressures put a premium on getting the right information to the right people fast ‘Information overload’ is already a measurable productivity killer. The problem here isn’t necessarily the ubiquity of access, but people’s inability to manage it effectively. One technology that promises to restore some degree of control to workers in an always-on, always-connected world is presence awareness. Currently, presence is used to indicate the availability of dedicated collaboration. This means that people will be able to control who can reach them, at any hour, on any device(s), using any available channel (voice, instant message, e-mail, fax, etc), and senders will know whether to expect a real-time conversation, a return call or a return message based on the recipient’s reported presence status (online, busy, away, etc). With next-generation messaging platforms, information workers will be able to access voicemail and fax data alongside existing e-mail, calendar, contact, and task data, and even manage their e-mail, calendar and personal contacts using the telephone. Analyst research indicates that organizations, which broadly deploy Internet Protocol-based communication systems, may realize productivity gains of three or more hours per employee per week. Excelcomindo (an Indonesian cellular operator and network provider with 8.4 million GSM subscribers) is an example of a company that has used a unified messaging system to enable users to be more productive from almost anywhere, especially during time that would otherwise have been wasted. With a growing number of executives using mobile devices everyday, unified messaging systems allow people to access voice, e-mail and fax communications. These systems can also provide multi-pronged anti-spam filtering and flexible anti-virus extensibility to ensure that information security is not compromised. Excelcomindo also has plans to integrate its unified messaging system with its VoIP infrastructure - including its PABXs - to generate even greater cost-savings. Reducing costs Many companies have voicemail systems that use different types of voicemail servers and PBXs in different locations. If the company has grown through mergers and acquisitions, or if its offices are in different countries, it is likely that there are several different vendors represented in the organization’s telephony system. This adds greatly to the overheads and cost required to provide voicemail services to users, and dramatically increases support costs by removing some efficiencies of scale that might otherwise be possible. Consolidating voicemail services by using new technology is one way organizations will be able to reduce the number of legacy voice mail systems required. This will cut both the initial and ongoing cost of voice mail services. In the same way, consolidating the ability to receive faxes by co-locating it with the messaging and voice mail services means that the costs of operating fax services drop significantly as well. As communication and identity management are increasingly integrated across networks, systems and devices, we see unified messaging systems playing an increasingly important role in reducing costs for organizations. Making the move These are just some of the benefits that are making a compelling business case and convincing companies to adopt next-generation messaging solutions. In Asia-Pacific alone, companies such as Lippo Bank (Indonesia), Lotte Data (Korea), UEM Builders and Allianz General Insurance Malaysia Berhad (Malaysia) have already embarked on their migration towards unified messaging systems. By supporting remote collaboration and giving information workers greater flexibility, this mobile boost has enabled them to improve their operational efficiencies, as well as the quality of their customer service and business processes, and take greater advantage of business opportunities. To capitalize on these trends, telco technologies (PABX, etc) are also merging and working with software technologies to enable a single identity across all modes and integrate communication into people’s everyday work processes. It is clear that the industry believes that simplifying the way people work across departmental, organizational and geographical boundaries helps lower expenses, increases efficiency and realizes the value of information assets they already have. Conclusion Workers and organizations need to prepare for dramatic changes brought about by ubiquitous connectivity. Companies drawn into the always-on, always-connected world without adequate investment in the right technology and practices can face enormous problems in sustaining the productivity of their information workers, their morale and their overall competitiveness. Conversely, organizations and workers who use and manage connectivity to their advantage will enjoy a number of benefits. Workers will have greater freedom and control of their time, and more flexibility to balance work and life commitments. Organizations, too, will be able to sustain productivity and extend their operations and culture worldwide with enhanced management control and visibility, because communications and collaboration technology will give them even better connections to their global work-force than they now experience with a geographically concentrated work-force.