Asia Blockchain Review recently caught up with Tan Aik Keong, the founder and CEO of Agmo Studio Sdn Bhd, an international awards winning software company focus in mobile and blockchain solution, serving Fortune 500 companies, multinational companies and government agencies.
Agmo Studio has designed and developed many mobile and Blockchain solutions, which are ranging from O2O, e-government, smart home, medical, oil & gas, logistic and more. Their reputable clients include PETRONAS, Toyota, Accenture, Roche, DIGI, MDEC and more. Today, Agmo Studio has grown its headquarter R&D team to more than 60 professionals.
We understand that you are a software development firm that offers Mobile + Blockchain + Web solutions to corporate and government agencies. Could you share some pointers on your company profile and memorable key metrics in your company’s journey so far?
Since incorporation, our team has built and published more than 100 Mobile + Blockchain + Web applications, grown from a team of 4 to more than 70 software development professionals. The company is doing well from both technical and commercial perspective.
In 2020, we have launched Vote2U, Remote Participation and Voting Platform for Public Listed Companies in Malaysia with Quorum Blockchain Technology. The product has generated six digits revenue within a month from launching.
In response to the disruption in our local economy, the Malaysian government instituted financial relief to help SMEs and the public weather this storm. As a successful business that has been around since 2011, what would be your thoughts on how the government’s response has affected local businesses and do you think more could/should be done?
From the startup ecosystem, we are grateful that the government has launched the following funding to assist the local technology startups: Cradle Ignite programs: This provides a conditional grant and value added assistance up to RM500,000 for tech-based startups and local SME.
MDEC SME Business Digitalisation Grant: This comes handy as the need of SME to go digital transformation grows significantly amid COVID-19 outbreak, SME can subscribe to software and get up to RM5,000 subsidize from the government
MOSTI’s National Technology and Innovation Sandbox: It includes a maximum grant of RM250,000 for funding the Single Site Sandbox and a partial grant up to RM500,000 for the Multiple Site Sandbox
MDV’s Technology Start-up Funding Relief Facility (TSFRF): To assist technology startups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic via financial assistance to support the companies cash flows and ensure continuity of the business operations of the selected companies.
How has the pandemic affected your organization’s commercial operations? And what measures has your organization taken in adapting to this new normal? When it comes to blockchain as a technology and cryptocurrency as an offshoot of this paradigm, what is your opinion on the state of the ecosystem at the moment?
We are blessed, as our infrastructure is always ready to commence remote working via collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, project management tools, source control, business communication platform and etc.
Cashless payment is in hot demand as it’s contact-less and safer at this new normal, apart from conventional e-wallets, I am looking forward to a greater adoption of cryptocurrency-powered micro transaction, especially with Bitcoin Lightning Network and Stellar which can offer faster transaction speed compared to legacy Bitcoin.
Malaysia has started to embrace blockchain recently as even GLC’s like TM are turning to blockchain to keep up with the times. Why do you think Malaysia has started to open up now when they could have joined others like Japan or Korea in exploring new technology?
We have partnered with TM’s subsidiary, Multimedia University to launch the first ever Blockchain-based election in Malaysia for their Student Representative Council election at the year of 2019.
I think Malaysia corporates are now more open to the adoption of Blockchain, after witnessing the successful Blockchain implementation and the associated benefits in the global level.
It’s never easy to adopt a new thing from a big corporates, and Blockchain implementation could introduce some challenges to the policy makers due to its characteristics, such as IT department might have challenges to comply with data policy to data storage geographical restriction in Malaysia only, as using a public Blockchain would involve data storage in nodes across the world.
From your perspective, how has the journey of digital transformation been so far with your organization?
We help corporates to embrace digital transformation, our clients include 10 Fortune 500 Companies, and top listed companies in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong to improve efficiency, increase revenue and automate processes.
Within our organization, apart from standard digital office productivity suites and DevOps (Software development and IT operations), we have also implemented couple of customized digital initiatives, such as Agmoian employee app and Blockchain-powered official pet app for Agmoian – Motomo.
In the Agmoian employee app, we reward and recognize the employees who demonstrates our culture pillars – AAA, Kaizen, Do It and Gotong-Royong, each recognition will gain a point and the accumulated points can be used to redeem cool prizes, such as travel vouchers, steam credit, one day food trip with the founder, additional 1 day of annual leave.
Motomo Pet is using TRON Blockchain to facilitate the gachapon (lucky draw) element in the app using Smart Contract. It also comes with Augmented Reality element, so users can use Augmented Reality to send a cool greeting card to their friends and family.
Are there any lessons that you have learned so far? Perhaps you can share some insights and key learnings throughout your journey with your respective organization?
Digital transformation is an ongoing journey, the starting of the journey must be as early as possible, setup the objectives, measure the ROI by quantify and qualify the outcomes, find out the areas of improvement, improvise the process and re-iterate the process.
Along the journey, there are always resistances, the human barrier could be one of the biggest resistances. It is important to get the stakeholders excited about the potential benefits and achievements, so that everyone can be aligned and adapt to changes introduced from the digital transformation initiatives.
It’s also important to keep the communication channels open, be transparent, celebrate success and overcome difficulties together.
In your experience, what will you list as some of the key factors that help a business navigate through these trying times?
I like a quote from Robert H. Schuller “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!” I think the business owners shall stay tough, be calm and find out the key issues to sustain the business:
Cashflow issue: if there is cash flow issue, try looking for government newly launched funds and loan facility amid COVID-19
Operation issue: embrace digital transformation and leverage on the grant for SME, such as MDEC SME Business Digtalisation Grant and Smart Automation Grant
Sales issue: leverage on digital marketplace to expand the reach out to your target customers. For instance, I personally run a F&B business, and we manage to get higher sales during MCO period than normal days, due to the increased demands from food delivery marketplace and our self hosted food ordering website.
Could you share some of the steps your organisation normally takes in blockchain project implementation?
We like to follow the B. Suichies Model when it comes to Blockchain project implementation, as sometimes Blockchain is overused when you don’t need Blockchain. The model asks a few questions, such as “do you need a database, does it require shared write access, are writers known and trusted” to determine whether:
- You need Blockchain or not
- Use a public Blockchain
- Use a hybrid Blockchain
- Use a private Blockchain
Once we have determined that we actually need Blockchain and the type of Blockchain (public/hybrid/private), we will then list out the criteria and perform Decision Analysis and Resolution (DAR) process.
From the process, we will select 3 – 5 Blockchain technologies, list down the criteria and associated weightage, assemble the Subject Matter Experts to evaluate and give scores to each criteria, then we will be able to select the most suitable Blockchain technology. Then it follows with standard software development life-cycle by using Agile Scrum development methodology.
A lot of people are still skeptical about the use of blockchain as they do not understand its nature and function. Do you think government agencies should be more involved/active in promoting new technology to the public? What else can be done to raise awareness on blockchain and new technology to Malaysians?
Due to the fundraising nature of Initial Coin Offering via Smart Contract, there are some abuses of Blockchain to run crypto-ponzi schemes, this created a lot of bad impressions and wrong perceptions about Blockchain.
The Malaysia Government is doing a good job as Securities Commission are among the first to launch policy to regulate Digital Asset Exchanges, and prohibit unauthorized Initial Coin Offerings and launching Initial Exchange Offering registration now.
This measure safeguards the investors’ money from falling into the trap of crypto-ponzis. I think it is good for government to start the awareness creation from the tertiary education level, as the undergraduate students have the sufficient knowledge to understand and appreciate the advantages of Blockchain, and we can turn them to become ambassadors to promote the new technology to other fellow Malaysians.
This is the reason that our Blockchain team always collaborates with the universities/colleges/polytechnics to conduct free Blockchain workshop to up-skill the students about the new technology.