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DEMYSTIFY TECHNOLOGY : 3 Technologies Powering CX Transformation – Mohamed Rejab Sulaiman

September 30, 2021
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Mohamed Rejab Sulaiman
Head of Products & Innovation, TM One

Welcome to the experience economy – where value is created based on who curates the best experience. The winner? Enterprises that put consumers at the heart of every interaction. There are a lot of fundamental technologies that enable the delivery of a great customer experience (CX). Since contact centre applications are one of the most impressionable aspects for most consumers, it makes sense to focus your technological investments there. So, stop thinking about your contact centre as a cost centre. Instead, visualise it as a profit centre. We see three (3) fundamental technologies that will greatly improve your contact centre and – levelling up your CX.

1. Cloud

Traditionally, most contact centres and other channels delivering CX are on-premise. This is because enterprises were concerned about high reliability, data security, and compliance. But over the last 18 months, businesses are rapidly migrating their customer support services to the Cloud – and for good reason.

Cloud services enable business continuity – one of the highest priorities in 2020. Agents get to work from anywhere and maintain service levels with the Cloud. Nelson Hall reported that from 2021 onwards, 25-30% of the total market would apply a work-from-home model. Also, the Cloud solutions of today have enterprise-grade security and are compliant with the required standards and regulations. A Cloud-based solution will most likely ensure your customers get stable, seamless and efficient CX – regardless of the COVID-19 effects.

A key differentiator for today’s enterprises is eliminating CX siloes by integrating different customer touchpoints. With the Cloud, you get to orchestrate a single customer journey from your brick-and-mortar store, your online site, social media channels, and mobile apps to your customer support centre. This means your customers will be able to have an experience that is cohesive – regardless of whether they choose to walk into your store, visit your app, or talk to your customer service representatives. You will get to know their histories, what they are interested in, and serve them accordingly. Aberdeen Group showed that companies with a robust omnichannel customer engagement retain 89% of their customers on average, compared to 33% of companies with weaker omnichannel customer engagement.

The Cloud, being a scalable, flexible solution, allows you to access the latest technologies rapidly in response to your changing customer needs. With “click-and-enable” plug-ins, you no longer need to go through building, testing, and integration cycles. This frees your IT team to focus on other pressing goals while exceeding your customers’ expectations.

2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Leverage RPA and significantly transform your CX. RPA helps you to automate repetitive tasks so your team can focus on what matters – building lasting relationships with your customers. Furthermore, it speeds up efficiency, reduces errors, and ensures consistency. RPA works for both client-facing tasks and internal tasks. However, a bigger opportunity for automation shines in integrating the back-end with the front-end to help make quick decisions, when and where it matters.

Take automation in the insurance sector, for example. When a client calls to file a claim, the agent must search for the client’s policy. On occasions when the client has a few different policies, the agent has to differentiate and identify the right one – all the while conversing with the client. Not only is this inefficient, but there are also possibilities for errors. However, by automating this process, the system can immediately identify the correct customer policy — either based on customer’s phone numbers or other identifying factors. Not only does this reduce errors, but your agent will also be free to give your clients the attention and focus that they deserve.

Some other areas that can benefit from automation are the fulfilment and refund process, sorting customer enquiries and answering frequently asked questions through web chat or messaging. Do it well, and not only your CX will improve, but your bottom line will too. In 2020, McKinsey reported that successful operation centres at automating manual and repetitive tasks witnessed cost reduction by 30% to 60% while increasing delivery quality.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In the context of CX, AI helps us to simplify complex information, find patterns, learn from different contexts, and predict customer intent. More importantly, this capability helps you to really understand your customers and provide them with personalised services – the secret to customer loyalty. Forrester showed that enterprises that utilise AI alongside human employees witnessed improved customer satisfaction (CSAT) by 61%, operational efficiency by 68%, and agent productivity by 66%.

The customer journey starts when your customers search for your business. Therefore, you should aim to follow their activities leading up to that first contact. With AI, you get to learn what your customers search for, click on, and the time spent on a certain page. This information helps you predict the best time to engage with your customers. For example, AI notices when a customer is stuck on a specific action page for longer than usual, and it will trigger a human agent to intervene and provide support – leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.

AI can support your agents during customer interactions by providing relevant resources. It processes an ongoing call in real-time and provides contextualised, timely recommendations after taking the customer’s history into account. Agents can choose to either read the suggested content to the customers or share it through a preferred channel. This capability helps your agents to avoid digging for information across multiple channels and focus solely on the conversations instead.

Another prime opportunity for your AI to shine is with your interactive voice response (IVR) system. IVR carries a misunderstood reputation for being clunky and awkward to use. However, consider a conversational AI voice bot with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities integrated into your IVR. Customers can now avoid going through a slow and confusing menu and receive service through natural conversations instead. It is seamless and efficient, contributing to an overall elevated experience.

Designing a great CX will give your company a differentiating edge. With the help of the Cloud, RPA, and AI, you get to improve how customers experience your business and how employees interact with your customers. It is now critical for your company to work towards adopting these technologies, so your contact centre sees long-term success.

Powering Smart Agriculture with Internet of Things

November 29, 2022
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In the digital age and Industrial Revolution 4.0, the agriculture sector is undergoing a massive change by leveraging on digital technologies, especially the Internet of Things (IoT), to create a smarter agriculture.

With the help of robots, drones, remote sensors, and computer imaging combined with continuously progressing machine learning and analytical tools, farmers are monitoring crops, surveying and mapping the fields and using data-driven insights to enjoy higher productivity, saving time, and optimising resources and efforts.

One of the systems that is increasing in popularity and creating smarter agriculture is the Smart Farming system. Smart Farming makes extensive use of sensors (light, humidity, temperature, soil moisture, crop health, etc.) to monitor farm and crop conditions, and automating the irrigation and/or fertigation system.  IoT enables devices embedded with sensors to connect and interact via the internet. These devices can be anything from pumps and tractors to weather stations and computers. Smart Farming allows farmers to monitor the field conditions from anywhere, at any time, in real time. Using the combined power of IoT with Big Data and Cloud, a successful communication, connection and transference of data between devices, are done most effectively and efficiently. Digital Connectivity and Cloud Computing are the essential enabler for Smart Farming. Digital connectivity is the foundation without which none of the Smart Agriculture solutions can take place. It is the necessary pre-condition that allows communication between devices and access by stakeholders. Meanwhile, cloud computing enables the hosting platform for IoT and Big Data as well as powers up the data analytics and visualisation.

Solving common agriculture challenges

The value of smart agriculture solutions lies in its promising ability to address some of the longstanding industry challenges – both at the macro and micro level:

  • Food security – With increased prosperity, population growth, and urbanisation, comes food security issues. These call for sustainable agricultural practices that can produce more with less resources.
  • Climate change – Climate change disrupts agriculture in a massive way, where natural catastrophes and unstable weather conditions are posing challenges to farmers globally.
  • Low agriculture productivity and yield – With greater urbanisation, reduction in arable land and the use of traditional methods of farming are leading to reduced yield, high wastage and sub-optimal productivity.
  • High operating cost – With labour shortage especially in agriculture where manual labour is seen as difficult and energy-consuming, farmers are facing high manpower cost. Meanwhile the cost of fertilisers is also increasing globally, leading to the increased need to ensure its efficient use.
  • Health hazards to farmers – the traditional way of fertilising crops, for example through manual spraying, is posing health hazards to farmers due to exposures to agricultural chemicals

The benefits of IoT in agriculture

With the use of IoT in agriculture, farmers are reaping the benefits from increased agility and data-driven farming. Thanks to real-time monitoring and prediction systems, farmers can quickly respond to any significant changes in weather, humidity, air quality as well as the health of each crop or soil in the field.

  • Integrated and technology-driven solutions to improve success rate
  • Increase domestic production and reduce agriculture imports
  • Improve farmers earnings and provide income sustainability
  • Catalyst of change for other agricultural innovation

TM One – The Right Partner for Your Next Agriculture Future

With TM One’s comprehensive and fit-for-purpose digital solutions, from connectivity right down to the digital and smart systems and applications, combined with the technical experts who are ready to guide our customers throughout their digitalisation journey, players in the agriculture sector can be assured of a smooth and seamless path to the Next Future of Agriculture.

To know more about TM One’s smart agriculture solution, visit https://www.tmone.com.my/solutions/smart-services/smart-agriculture/

Celebrating Success: Ipoh Smart City – TM One and MBI breathes new life into Ipoh

August 30, 2022
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With TM One, Ipoh's ambitions of transforming into a smart city are progressing into reality by enforcing multiple initiatives to improve the living experience of their citizens. Read what Ipoh’s Mayor, Dato’ Rumaizi, has to say about these initiatives.

“TM One is the main agency pioneering the foundation of our nation’s digital infrastructure. Through this strategic collaboration, it greatly helps Ipoh City Council in managing the city more efficiently and in an orderly manner,” – Dato’ Rumaizi bin Baharin, Ipoh Mayor.

With the blend of heritage, food and great scenery, the Lonely Planet ranked Ipoh as one of the best cities in Asia to visit. As a hotspot for tourism, the bustling city provides abundant business opportunities. The city has harnessed this potential by increasing the readiness of its digital infrastructure for mobile and fixed broadband internet.

Keeping this in mind, Ipoh envisions becoming one of the first smart cities in Malaysia by 2030. The Smart City 2030 action plan targets seven domains – Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart Governance, Smart People, Smart Digital Infrastructure, Smart Economy and Smart Mobility – to effectively address urbanisation challenges faced by the people of Ipoh and to realise Ipoh as a Green and Low Carbon City by 2030. We are embarking on a journey to prepare for a digital future, with TM One acting as the digital enabler and provider to assist the city in its transformation.

In conjunction with the City Leap Summit 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was established between The Ipoh City Council and TM One. The strategic collaboration includes several initiatives that are planned and will be implemented:

1) Smart Traffic Management with Analytics Services (STARS)

One of the most remarkable achievements is the implementation of smart traffic lights. TM One’s STARS leverages AI-enabled sensors at intersections to measure the average waiting time and identify vehicle motions, thereby adjusting green light duration based on real-time congestion, and improve the journey time. This solution also help to reduce the carbon emitted by the vehicle that is using the junction and this is in line with Ipoh Green City Vision to achieve low carbon city. Additional to the benefits, STARS is a single monitoring platform that provides relevant personnel with a centralised viewing of road conditions and equipped with real-time fault notification that triggers alarms through the Telegram chat application. This will allow the relevant personnel to take swift actions and dispatching manpower on-site when needed.

As a result, the smart traffic light solution has improved traffic flow in one of the busiest streets, Jalan Sultan Idris, by 51%. This solution also has led to a 7,500 kg decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in a month – in line with Ipoh’s goal to be a Low Carbon City by 2030.

2) TM One Mobile Field Workforce (FORCE)

FORCE satisfies the need for a fluid system to connect the call centre agents, dispatchers and service technicians to attend to citizens’ complaints and inquiries for better communication and coordination. It allows the teams to promptly respond to public complaints and emergencies by accessing real-time ticket statuses. Also, the all-in-one platform automates task scheduling and team management, tracks real-time progress of on-site maintenance and provides access to customer profiles on the go – modernizing the city’s field service solution. FORCE is envisioned to be the system support for MBI’s existing myAduan@MBI citizen app to improve its customer experience, better cost management, and internal resource management.

3) Call Centre

The Ipoh City Council aspires to establish its first digital call centre via outsourcing. The digital call centre aims to solve the challenges of  handling multilingual support requests and reduce abandoned call rates, while elevating critical issues to relevant parties when necessary. Consequently, the city can free up resources and optimise costs, while ensuring the best customer service for the people of Ipoh.

TM One Business Services (BPO) with more than 15 years of contact centre experience in Malaysia, leveraging on our Center of Expertise will be sharing the best practice; which aligned to the Industry Standards and Best Practices to help Ipoh City Council to establish the citizen engagement centre and ultimately elevate the citizen experience to the higher level.

Ipoh aims to be one of the first cities in Malaysia to enable 5G, and TM One plans to support this vision with the provision of free 5G wifi in selected areas. Additionally, a digital fibre connectivity superhighway and smart surveillance systems is being planned for Ipoh citizens.

Smart technologies help Ipoh save cost, shorten commutes, reduce carbon emission rates, and most importantly boost the quality of life for the people of Ipoh. In the long term, smart cities will spur higher citizen and government engagement as they begin to remove the communication barriers and increase the trust between citizens and officials. With the great synergy between both parties, Dato’ Rumaizi aspires to achieve more milestones in collaboration with TM One.

“My hope is that together with TM One, we will explore even more opportunities and smart technologies towards enhancing lives for the people of Ipoh.” – Dato’ Rumaizi bin Baharin, Ipoh Mayor.

Demystifying Technology: The DNA of a Smart City

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Beyond smart cities and their incredible benefits, a solid foundation should equally uphold the successful deployment of smart city technology. Find out more about how infrastructure readiness, cyber security, data analytics, and AI contribute to a successful smart city!

Smart cities are like the humans who live in them, behaving like complex creatures, constantly collecting and transporting information to make better sense of the world. In other words, they are alive.

And like all living things, smart cities possess DNA. In its conventional definition, DNA is biological, but in this context, the DNA of a smart city is entirely different. The engine that drives the ideal smart city lies in its’ usage of technology, designed to support and enhance the lives of the human beings living in them. Each city requires a unique arsenal of technological solutions, chosen to fulfil the specific needs of its citizens, economy and environment that contributes to the success of each smart city

While certain cities thrive on an abundance of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, intelligent kiosks and computers, others may prefer more minimalistic, hardware-lite designs. For devices to deliver life-improving benefits for their citizens, smart cities must have high-speed connectivity and IoT networks with sufficient coverage to penetrate all parts of the cities, including in-building areas. Also, successful smart cities usually have a platform and application layer that can conduct analytics to transform data into meaningful information, viewed in a command centre.

Enhancing the smart city DNA

Similar to how human abilities can be enhanced through natural growth, self-actualisation or technological aids, smart cities have ways to boost their capabilities as well. Here are a few good places to start:

Infrastructure Readiness

A hyper connected systems need to be in place for a smart city to meet efficiency, sustainability, productivity, and safety objectives. Reliable, high coverage, high speed and low latency connectivity networks form the foundation for almost all smart city systems and are things all smart cities need.

For example, a smart city should have a tech-based delivery infrastructure for public utilities such as water, electricity, waste, sanitation, sewerage and government services built on real-time connectivity. Connected technologies and IoT solutions that can constantly match the changing supply-demand gaps can rapidly improve living standards when integrated with existing infrastructure.

Local councils need to identify and prioritise the fundamental locations, facilities and infrastructure where they would deploy the millions of sensors and IoT devices and solutions in phases towards developing and building an action focused infrastructure framework masterplan or blueprint that would yield meaningful life impacting living and social environment to the towns and cities.

Cyber Security

As digital and physical infrastructures increasingly converge, integrate, and interoperate, smart cities must embed the proper cybersecurity and privacy measures in each stage of development. Local councils must also sync cybersecurity strategies across smart city networks and design appropriate security and governance structures to protect their citizens.

The thousands of smart devices are double-edged swords. While they collect and feed helpful information into smart applications, they open up vulnerabilities in the more extensive IoT network. Physical tampering with smart devices can lead to backdoors and malicious implants that can potentially give unauthorised access to black-hat hackers and cyber terrorists.

In short, smart cities that thrive on the abundance of data collected by the network of sensors need to be mindful of data security. While it helps authorities monitor the health of its city, the possibility of a data breach needs mitigation to avoid crippling of city operations. Therefore, robust security policies and management is needed to ensure that governance over sensitive and personal data is practised and automatically managed across the digital, smart services and IoT solutions and systems deployed.

Data Analytics

Even though data can be tough to handle, smart cities are valuable reservoirs of data. Effective data sharing and access to this data can unleash new opportunities to innovate and generate social and economic benefits. This practice is estimated to create the above benefits worth between 0.1% to 4.0% of GDP.

All data from devices, people, systems, and the environment go through a transformation process involving data management, integration, machine learning, and advanced analytics to become information that addresses real-time incidents and assists city planning.

One key area that benefits data analytics is the smart government component. For example, conventional government censuses are expensive to implement and often collect inaccurate data, leading to the low effectiveness of newly designed policies and initiatives. With accurate and reliable data, governments can better understand the problems, and improve policy-making abilities by solving the root causes.

Other areas of benefit include financial health, improved outcomes, operational efficiency, public engagement, crisis management and others.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the piece of the puzzle that puts the word ‘smart’ into smart cities. By combining modern machine-learning, natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision with huge data lakes, AI is primed to drive efficiency and solve most problems local councils face.

As AI systems are fed with tons of data, the technology can identify areas of improvement and recommend an effective solution. For instance, AI-intelligent surveillance systems can provide continuous protection for citizens and effective system operations of the cities. This system uses facial and object recognition, behavioural and movement analysis algorithms and objective-detection programs to analyse live video feeds and identify potential risks or threats.

Therefore, gaining extra insights into niche aspects of a city by using AI is the natural step in the evolution of modern-day smart cities.

Imagining Malaysia’s smart city future

In Malaysia, many States have already started implementing smart city projects with the federal guidelines of Malaysia Smart City Framework, MSCF. These plans mainly revolve around transportation and cashless payments – two crucial focus in society.

Moving forward, smart city planners must adopt a systems approach, meaning that authorities need to compartmentalise the goals of adopting a smart city.

At TM One we applaud the commitments and efforts of various local smart city initiatives and we understands the enormous tasks and planning required. Our talents, partners and solutions are ready to help local governments turn their blueprints into citizen-focused action plans that will move the needle in terms of turning Malaysia into a digital-first, smart-city nation.

Trends & Digital Strategy: 6 Key Factors in Building a Successful Smart City

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Smart cities are the way of the future and Malaysia has the means to evolve into a prosperous city. However, what are the necessary steps for us to get there? This article discusses the important factors in developing Malaysia as a smart city.

Five years ago, the conversation surrounding smart cities was in its infancy, with most topics revolving around demystifying the technology behind them. Today, cities around the world have moved past demystification and are taking great strides in implementation. Globally, there are several shining examples we can turn to for inspiration;

  • Vancouver’s initiative in setting up accessible Wi-Fi in 755 public spaces, along with wired bike-sharing and video feeds,
  • Hong Kong’s enhancement of digital security with biometric measures employing face and voice recognition across the city,
  • Seoul’s installation of 50,000 sensors supporting the IoT (Internet of Things) to transfer urban life data into big data analytics.

While we are witnessing the transformation of several cities worldwide, what are the required factors that make a city ‘smart’?

6 key success factors of a smart city

1) Excellent vision

Developing a smart city is not a task that can be sustained with an ad-hoc approach. Instead, a holistic vision is required to steer decision-making and guide action plans toward implementing realistic solutions that deliver tangible results that can enhance the lifestyles and living quality of all citizens within the city.

The Malaysia Smart City Framework (MSCF) has offered several initiatives such as MyDigital, GTMP and JENDELA as official ‘textbook approaches’ or suggested priorities. Local councils or Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBTs) can refer to these initiatives in developing the smart city vision that best fits their cities.

2) Solutions that realistically solve pain points of citizens

Behind the development of a successful smart city, lies an excellent core vision that is developed based on the citizens’ real-life experiences. The application of technology is moot if it does not bring tangible benefit to its end users.

The common occurrence of pilot projects being abandoned, with selected technologies being seriously under-utilised, is a result of decision-making without a clear understanding of the real-life pain points experienced by the end-user, the citizens themselves. For a smart city to truly elevate our lifestyles and quality of living, the solutions we choose must be people-centric and based on actual needs.

3) Sufficient funding

Critically, PBTs will require sufficient funding to set the ‘smart city’ ball rolling smoothly. However, based on a survey conducted during the previous TM One City Leap Summit 2020, only 2.6% of PBTs surveyed indicated that they have sufficient funds, while 42% of them responded that they required funding assistance.

While procuring sufficient funds may be an issue, we can look to Indonesia to overcome the same challenge. Under West Java’s Digital Villages Theme, the West Java Provincial Government started their digital transformation of rural fisheries by installing basic smart auto-feeders in 4289 ponds across West Java. Instead of immediately using high-end tech solutions, the deployment of basic technology allowed the fishermen to empower their own productivity, resulting in a 30 to 100% increase in earnings and effectively generating their own initial capital for more cutting-edge solutions. On top of that, there was the added benefit of increasing digital literacy among the fishermen to be more receptive to newer technological solutions.

4) A great project management office

With a vision outlined and action plans identified against the available funding, the next key factor in creating a successful smart city lies in the capabilities of the project management office to turn the vision into reality. Key traits of a great project management office are:

  1. A strong “citizens-come-first” mindset: PBTs need to commit to continually steer the smart city vision toward solving the needs of citizens.
  2. A spirit of partnership & collaboration: PBTs will need the support, guidance and inputs from several parties such as academics, urban planners and tech experts to fully execute their vision.
  3. A definitive but flexible blueprint: Smart cities aren’t built in a day. A project management office needs definitive roles, regular review processes and transparent policies to ensure that its smart city development journey is sustainable and future-proof.  

5) Buy-in from all stakeholders

It takes more than a day and more than just a single person to build a smart city. In fact, stakeholder management is critical in garnering support and alignment toward the outlined vision of smart city development. Effective stakeholder management requires a deep understanding of all parties who will benefit from implementing smart cities. These benefits include more efficient public services for citizens, data-driven disaster mitigation strategies for local governments, and more diverse revenue streams for investors.

Communication and outreach are vital in building the required understanding among stakeholders. Examples of campaigns designed to encourage stakeholder involvement include PLANMalaysia’s Libat Urus Pemegang Taruh involving government agencies, stakeholders and research teams for cities such as Ipoh, Johor Bahru and the Federal Territories.

Learning from our Indonesian neighbours again, the West Java Provincial Government has taken on a ‘Pentahelix Collaboration’ model, with initiatives geared towards encouraging collaboration and participation from authoritative bodies, media bodies, businesses, academics and local communities.

6) Good governance

Good governance is the final thread capable of tying all of the above factors together. Implementing strong top-down leadership and transparent policies can crystallise each PBTs smart city vision. Good governance can also help develop sustainable funding schemes according to each PBTs needs while delivering the talent required to project management offices. It will also support communications campaigns to encourage the stakeholder buy-in needed for successful execution.

After several years of conversation, the time is ripe for Malaysia to transform its cities. The rakyat already stands to gain much more from a smart city transformation. With the effects of climate change already rearing its ugly head at our mobility, agricultural production and air quality, Malaysia is ready to accept solutions that promise to solve day-to-day difficulties. However, the advancement of smart city technologies stands to take us even further beyond problem-fixing – smart city technology now can elevate Malaysia towards a cleaner, safer, more sustainable, higher-quality way of living.

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