Skali Evolves Business Focus To Include e-Business

The Skali Group started in 1997 as a pioneering Malaysian portal powered by the Alta Vista search engine. Since then the group has successfully built its portal and online community under the brand, as well as its infrastructure service arm. Skali is now evolving to offer a new e-business solution called Skali Ecosystem Conduct Point (ESP).

Skali’s executive director Azmi Ahmad shared with that the entire ESP concept was developed in-house – a combined result of the company’s real-life business experience and technical know-how in developing and managing as a portal, and the Skali Group as an enterprise.

“Skali ESP is not just about software applications or technology. The software applications and technology are just enablers. It is about Internet business experience, business understanding, business modeling and best business practices that work for enterprises. It is a translation of our experience, expertise and resources into practical methodology,” he said.

According to him, Skali ESP is the engine that has been powering the portal all these years. The solution suite includes five e-business applications: e-commerce, collaborative tools, personalization center, collaborative marketing, and mobile solution.

Skali ESP functionality:
* e-commerce module – provides a Web storefront, payment gateway and security features
* collaborative tools module – comprises mainly communication applications such as messaging services, e-mail, online forum and calendar
* personalization center module – provides personalized pages, tracking and profiling of users, membership management and personalized service delivery
* collaborative marketing module – allows customers to expand their reach through content affiliation, banner advertising and online surveys
* mobile solution module – enables multi-channel delivery of content through WAP-enabled phones and PDAs

The company expects the new e-business solution to contribute RM5 million (US$1.3 million) to its bottom line this year and RM14 million (US$3.7 million) the next year. It plans to attract at least five Skali ESP customers this year. The cost of using the modules range from RM1,000 (US$260) to a few million, depending on the range of modules purchased by the client.

“The price will depend on whether the clients want to have a dedicated or shared servers, whether they need more than one modules, and the types of professional services and support required,” Azmi said.

“We foresee this is a natural evolution for enterprises in their process of increasing revenues, rationalizing costs, as well as enhancing competitiveness. This is where Skali ESP comes into picture by combining and packaging modules of e-business applications which facilitate collaboration and e-commerce within the business ecosystem, with the prime objective of gaining higher mutual achievement for the business partners.”

He added that Skali is currently arranging partnerships with systems integrators and international partners to market Skali ESP.

The Skali Group’s current service offerings are classified under five categories: system and infrastructure services; Web-based applications with professional services; support; SNAP (a program for Netpreneurs and venture capitalists); and the portal.

While the existing system and infrastructure services (server co-location, dedicated hosting, data storage services) still contribute more than 50 percent to Group revenue, Skali will be banking on its solutions and support services for the future. The company has derived 20 percent of its revenue last year from its solutions and support business, according to Azmi.

The Group currently serves about 2,000 Web domains, and its client base includes companies in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, and the U.S. and U.K. These domains belong to companies ranging from small to large organizations in various sectors of the economy.

When asked about the progress of Skali’s SNAP program, Azmi disclosed that on average the company evaluates 12 firms a month; these firms fit into various levels of the SNAP program – seed, development or even start-ups looking for funding. As for those that require funding, the first batch of qualified candidates has already been submitted to Skali’s financial partners for further evaluation.

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