Innovation is the way
By Tina Wu (*)
Wong Jeat Shyan, Chief Executive Officer of TalariaX
Pte Ltd, shared with InnovAsia analyst Tina Wu his opinions
about innovation is particularly challenging in Asia,
and why his product exemplifies Asian innovation.
"Are you prepared to walk your journey on your
own, face all your challenges, and make all the sacrifices
to run a business?" That was the question Wong
Jeat Shyan asked himself before founding TalariaX Pte
Ltd, a Singapore-based mobile wireless application company
designing customised SMS (short messaging service) servers.
Now, after 3 years, TalariaX has launched a series of
6 SendQuick SMS servers, serving 30 or so customers
ranging from transport, insurance to healthcare industries.
A Malaysian who came to Singapore for secondary school
studies, Wong fully understands the traditions of potential
Asian innovators and entrepreneurs. In his opinion,
it is the Asian culture that discourages most of innovations
translating from ideas to actions. "We are used
to think ourselves as inferior to the western world,"
said Wong with a sigh. "It is also difficult for
people to sacrifice what they already have, but to jump
into some venture."
Wong himself, however, is among the emerging group
of Asian talents who are willing to make a change. He
is constantly looking at new wireless technologies,
and sourcing for innovative applications. A former researcher
from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, Wong
started his first company, Cybersource Pte Ltd, with
a schoolmate in 1996. Cybersource was an e-commerce
company with internet paging technology expertise. "During
the dot com era, it was quite easy to raise funds. But
then you know, the technologies evolved so fast and
paging started to face greater challenges." said
Wong. He started transferring from paging to SMS technologies
since 1999, and then closed Cybersource completely in
2001, and founded TalariaX.
With previous experience in a similar industry sector,
Wong did not face many problems when starting TalariaX.
He was also very confident in the core product, a fully-customised
SMS server for corporate users. However, the initial
business was not as smooth as expected. "We were
targeting small and medium enterprises initially, and
then we found that usually big companies were more willing
to invest in such products." After the strategy
shift, TalariaX started to attract more and more customers.
In June 2004, TalariaX launched the world's first on-demand
printing system based on SMS in partnership with HP
(Singapore). With the so-called SendQuick Print Server,
people can use their mobile phones to send a printing
job from anywhere. Take a retail shop for example, instead
of preparing tons of brochures for new products and
promotions before hand, it can now wait for customers'
commands to print out exact number of copies required.
That introduces higher flexibility and can reduce wastage.
The SMS on-demand printing system is just one example
of innovative applications from TalariaX. To Wong, innovation
may be the only way for Asians to stand out in the world.
He used the TV industry in China as an illustration.
"Ten years ago, they made the cheapest televisions.
But now, they are already reaching the bottom line of
the cost and price. They are forced to go for innovations."
That is the pressure Wong always feels, but he turns
it out to impetus to drive better but also different
ideas and technologies.
Now Wong is looking beyond text-based SMS server for
growth. A new MMS (multimedia messaging service) based
server will be rolled out in Singapore and Malaysia
by the end of 2004.
* Analyst, INSEAD InnovAsia. Contact
Tina Wu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for questions and comments, or visit www.inseadinnovasia.com
for information on INSEAD InnovAsia'sservices.
is widely recognised among the world's top-tier business
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with two comprehensive and fully connected campuses
in Asia (Singapore) and Europe (France). InnovAsia,
a wholly owned subsidiary of INSEAD, provides independent
intelligence and research on emerging technologies across
Asia. For more information, visit www.inseadinnovasia.com.