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IT drives HKBN's quantum leap

Sheila Lam (Computerworld HK) | Feb. 13, 2014
Hong Kong's telecom market boasts high-speed connections and ultra-competitive pricing. Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) relies on IT to keep its edge among such intense competition.

HKBN's cloud initiative includes both public and private cloud. In 2013, HKBN built a private cloud infrastructure to migrate all its critical applications, including billing system, CRM ERP and data warehouse onto the private cloud platform. The firm also implemented Microsoft Office 365.

"The competition is fierce in this industry," said Ho. "Only through building a cloud platform we could have the flexibility to move fast enough."

In addition to boosting service subscription and installation processes, the private cloud also allows HKBN to launch new services faster. One example is the latest "broadband free-to-go" service: a flexible broadband and Wi-Fi package that allow subscribers to terminate their plans with a one-day prior notice.

"With our traditional IT infrastructure, such a service would take months to implement," he said. "But the cloud infrastructure allows us to do it in only one week, including set up and testing. This is the flexibility we need in this competitive market."

From engineer to re-engineer
Ho attributes the success of this massive project to his dynamic background and experiences.

With an academic background in engineering, Ho started his career with Bank of America at the operations research department, which was responsible for optimizing operations and re-engineering processes. "I learned to calculate cost and understand process optimization," he said. "It was a valuable experience that allowed me to understand the pain and challenges of process re-engineering early in my career."

Ho moved to a more IT-related role two years later. His ability to marry technology with business was further strengthened after he took a MBA program and acquired a Master's degree in accounting.

"This program enabled me to speak the same language as my colleagues and understand their business," he said. "They also allowed me to think ahead and provide suggestions on potential issues." This understanding also forms the foundation of Ho's strong partnership with his peers.

Partnership makes perfect
Ho said one of the major criteria for successful CIOs is to acquire resources and support for his or her vision, including peer support, management buy-in, and funding.

To enable peer support and establish partnership between his team with different business units, particularly the marketing team, Ho organized workshops to encourage trust and communications between the teams.

"The marketing department is our biggest user," he said. Ho also suggested that informal gatherings have business value. "Outside a formal office environment, it's easier to open up a conversation," he said. "Often, issues can be resolved over lunch much more quickly than sending emails back and forth."

Ho said it's also important for IT to play an enabling role for its users, particularly on the issue of consumerization of IT. "We should accept the fact that more business users are becoming tech-savvy," he said. "I'm not against consumerization of IT at all — in fact, we support it."


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