Pollack: What are your top IT priorities for 2012?
Pakphanich: We expect 2012 to be a busy year for us as a number of new projects are in the pipeline. The top priority is the data warehouse, which has continued from last year and is targeted for completion by the end of this year.
Under this project we will migrate all reports within our group to a new tool which will be integrated as part of our Business Intelligence project, to be completed in 2013.
Pollack: Last year Aberdeen Thailand implemented an automated transfer agency platform for fund operations. How has the new platform changed day-to-day business?
Pakphanich: With the new platform successfully implemented we are now in a very good position to work on strategic initiatives such as automating order management with our distributors and consolidated reporting across the region.
Pollack: What were the challenges in adapting the RBC Dexia Investor Services platform for Aberdeen Asset Management?
Pakphanich: One of the key challenges was clearly to customise a global platform to unique local requirements which are different from the global practice. RBCD, as one of our strategic business partners, had to work closely with our users in gathering business requirements and customising their system to serve the Thai market’s needs.
As part of Aberdeen’s operating model to centralise the same infrastructure across Asia Pacific, RBCD has played a major role as one of our strategic partners. With this model in place, we are in a better position to share our existing resources and information across the region which will be a benefit, not only in cost savings, but also decision making.
Pollack: Where is Aberdeen situated in relation to cloud computing?
Pakphanich: Our plan is to implement virtualisation this year, and currently some of our key applications are running on the cloud.
Pollack: As a regional executive, what do you find are the biggest operational challenges of doing business across Asia-Pacific?
Pakphanich: The challenges lie in the differences in regulatory and market requirements in various countries across Asia-Pacific as we focus only on our core business, asset management, leaving other functions to our outsourced strategic partners.
The challenge that we face is not coming from ourselves but from some of our global strategic partners, as they don’t prepare to be flexible enough to adapt to local requirements. As a result, we have to work closely with them to ensure that our operating model with the partners can be implemented across Asia-Pacific.
RBCD is a good business partner as they are able to meet our requirements and possess adequate flexibility to be able to cope with the local market and our complicated needs in Thailand.
Pollack: What client channels are proving to be the most effective for Aberdeen Asset Management and which channels are growing the fastest?
Pakphanich: Our regional model is to sell via third party distributors as we are not affiliated to a bank, say, or insurance company; but in Thailand, unusually, we also sell direct to the public and this channel has proved very strong.
So our IT/Internet platform both helps us deliver information to intermediaries/buyers and serves as a transaction vehicle. In addition, over recent years, based on the rapid growth number of Internet users within this region, the distribution of our funds via Internet platform seems to be the promising channel. Therefore our focus is not only on the selling side but also to provide intensive and useful information via Internet channels.
Pollack: What are the top technology trends you are keeping an eye on at the moment?
Pakphanich: Cloud computing is the trend that has carried over from previous years and will continue to be the prime attraction for a couple of years to come. We’re looking to migrate some of our applications to private/public clouds.
Consumerisation is another trend that I will keep my eye on, although the demand in consumer devices to serve both business and personal life may not have a full impact on us at this stage. But the trend is still there.
Pollack: What IT skills are currently in demand at Aberdeen?
Pakphanich: Business Analysis remains the in demand IT skills for our environment.
Pollack: What has been your proudest moment since you started at Aberdeen Thailand?
Pakphanich: Over 15 years of working with Aberdeen Thailand, I’d like to share some of the moments I’m most proud of.
We were the first in Thailand to offer a straight-through processing service, namely the Fast-Track service, to facilitate our retail clients buying our funds. Aberdeen Thailand is not a subsidiary of any local bank therefore to subscribe to our funds, our retail clients would have had difficulties sending the subscription orders and remitting their money into our subscription account.
We overcame this by the invention of a new straight-through processing service which, after a long discussion with the local regulator, we were the first to introduce into the Thai market. Our clients are now able to buy our funds by simply remitting their subscription amount through a bill payment service via bank counter, ATM machine, phone service or website and we do the rest for them.
Upon the completion of the transaction, an SMS is sent to their cell phone to confirm their order. This helps our operations team in terms of speed and fewer errors.
Aberdeen Thailand also invented GNS, Group Notification System, an application to service all substantial shareholding reporting across Asia Pacific, using an outsource provider in Thailand. This application has been used to support Aberdeen’s investments across Asia Pacific, and I am pleased to say I played a key role.
The challenging points were the collaboration with our users in Singapore, requirements from various stock exchanges in each country, the providers, and the new technology.
The system can operate successfully on scheduled timeslots and can produce accurate results in less time. This application has been patented.
More recently, seeing the successful delivery of our automated TA platform, which started from our vision four years ago to consolidate our registry services across the region onto a single platform, gives me a huge sense of achievement.
Pollack: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?
Pakphanich: My legacy is to integrate Information Technology into the business’ needs and introduce new technology and new processes to help the business grow.