A quick word with Edmond Looi, director of DVUCA, an Internet of Things solution provider.
LET'S START WITH THE COMPANY'S NAME. HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE DVUCA?
It is pronounced D-Vuca.
DOES IT STAND FOR ANYTHING?
VUCA is an acronym first used in 1987, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus to describe or to reflect the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity of general conditions and situations.
So VUCA stands for very NEGATIVE things. Our company thus aims to bring positivity into companies that we work with, to "de"-VUCA them, giving them stability, certainty, simplicity and clarity through the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that we provide.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A STARTUP?
In the beginning, customers did not want to do business with a new start-up due to the lack of prior experience. We also had challenges obtaining financing initially, which affects cash flow.
WHO WERE YOUR EARLY CLIENTS? HOW DID YOU CONVINCE THEM TO BELIEVE AND WORK WITH YOU?
We were invited to speak at conferences and seminars, which helped to create awareness for our company. From then on, we worked with many industry partners who see value in our products and services.
Our first clients were MNCs who were into sustainability and embraced technologies within their organisations. So, our product being an advanced IoT solution that helps companies save energy and be green was the door opener.
IOT SEEMS TO BE FACING AS MUCH NEGATIVE PRESS AS POSITIVE ONES, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO SECURITY BREACHES. HAS IT MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO WIN CLIENTS?
Not really, On the contrary, it has helped bring awareness to the general audience on the importance of having a secure system with encryption of data from the edge devices to the server at the backend.
All our products have encryption of data from the sensors all the way to the server. Most of our competitors do not have encryption of data and their transmission protocol is not secure.
HOW IS THE IOT INDUSTRY RESPONDING TO THE SECURITY RISKS?
More customers are now asking for data encryption along the entire transmission network. Device manufacturers are also starting to ensure that data encryption is done at the edge devices.
WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF IOT?
IoT is about systems working together to achieve a desired outcome without the need for human intervention and is here to stay. As more and more devices get connected and the data collected are analysed, businesses and building owners start to see the benefits of IoT.
Let's take for example the air-conditioning within a building. The sensor system works with the Building Management System (BMS) to achieve the right temperature in a room.
When there is nobody in the room, the system provides automatic feedback to the BMS which in turns increases the temperature of the room. Once someone enters the room, the sensor system will pick it up, send the signal to the BMS which will then adjust the temperature of that room accordingly.
This same sensor system will also turn off the lights when no one is in the room and automatically turns on the lights when people enter the room.
If the room has a conference call system, the sensor can also trigger the projector to be turned on, the conference call system to come on, the blinds to be lowered and the room booking system to reflect as occupied.
Perhaps, the coffee machine could also be triggered to start making cups of customised coffee based on the profiles of the people using the room.
With the data collected by the sensor system, energy consumption reports can be automatically generated, showing details down to the sensor level.
Space utilization reports can also be produced by the system, giving valuable insights into how the company's real estate is being used, such as whether a meeting room meant for 8 persons is frequently used by 2 persons, 4 persons or 8 persons.
WE HEARD THAT DVUCA SUPPORTS NATIONAL SERVICE AND IS NS MARK-ACCREDITED DESPITE YOUR SMALL COMPANY SIZE. WHY DID DVUCA DECIDE TO GET ACCREDITED?
We believe that skills learned during NS can be applied in the professional setting. For example, one of our employees customised a warehouse logistics system based on the knowledge he gained as a storeman during his NS days.
NS also forms the backbone of Singapore's security, and provides businesses a stable economy to operate in. Being accredited with NS Mark is our way of showing support to Total Defence, which is a win-win for the nation and our business.
IN WHAT WAYS DOES DVUCA SUPPORT NSMEN EMPLOYEES?
We have a zero-deferment policy, and we will assign a buddy to take over the tasks when one of our staff is called up for ICT.
We reward our NSman employees for performing well in their IPPT by matching the IPPT awards dollar for dollar if they achieve either Silver ($300) or Gold ($500) for their annual IPPT. On SAF Day, we also wear our uniforms to work to show our support for Total Defence.
SHOULD ALL BUSINESSES GET ACCREDITED? WHY?
For businesses operating in Singapore, definitely. National Service and Total Defence form the cornerstone of Singapore's continued stability and prosperity. The NS Mark accreditation is a way of showing support to our NSmen in keeping the economy viable, and our country safe.
This article was first published in Singapore Business Owners.