John Kwong and his co-workers are taking operational excellence to new heights with his document management and file sharing company, ParaDM.
What’s your story?
I wonder how our life would be without technology. I joined ParaDM, a leading enterprise document management (eDMS), workflow and file-sharing solution company, in 2002 with 6 people. In 2006, we expanded to 150 people and opened our office in Singapore in 2007. However, under the economic downturn we downsized to 20 people in 2009. This year, we are back to 60 people and transforming from offering traditional enterprise software to online cloud application solutions. Although we are still far from being very successful, we witness the downfalls and failures of many peer businesses and are quite pleased to see the groundwork we’ve laid, the big accounts we have won and the silver linings ahead. In the coming years, we are heading to document intelligence.
What excites you most about your industry?
Enterprise software has to learn from consumer technology. Traditional enterprise software can’t keep up. We expect the eDMS business will be getting hotter and more customers will be moving to cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service). Traditionally, the public think of competitive advantage in terms of new or better product functions and features. However, as technologies are becoming pervasive and consumerised, the name of the game has changed. Advanced but not-user friendly products cannot find their market. Instead, better user-experience and intimacy will dictate the fate and success of any new solutions. This has changed everything about how we design our product. As a response, we are shifting our strategy from product-focused to customer-focused. We envision how we can empower our customers by putting our software and services together, package and provision these to support their businesses in their preferred service model, with the versatility, reliability, scalability, security, innovations and ease-of-use benefits that can take their operational excellence to new heights.
We see a lot of opportunities in the Asia Pacific region. We are well prepared to extend our values to our resellers and customers.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong, lived and studied in Canada, now living in Hong Kong. Our company headquarters is in Hong Kong which covers Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland market. We also have our office in Singapore which covers Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as the ASEAN market.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong! This is a place where you can combine business and pleasure with great ease. This is a vibrant city which you can switch between super busy and fabulously fun-filled with a blink of your eyes.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To get it right, we would first get it wildly wrong.
Who inspires you?
Laozi, “knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The “Left Right Circle Theory” by CUHK EMBA program director, Prof. Andrew Chan, has developed a unique framework to outline how companies respond to the dynamic changes in the market by matching their competencies with customer needs. It is a dynamic business model that illustrates the relationship between customer needs and company competencies.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have spent more time learning world history.
How do you unwind?
I think happiness is a choice. People can take things from you, or your health can be taken from you, but you can always choose to be happy. It’s about accepting yourself and accepting others. Don’t try to control things you can’t control. You can’t change or control how others see you. You could have tons of money and be miserable or have many friends and be alone. But all that changes when we change our attitudes and our thoughts. Change is hard. We resist change. But for me it is still a work in progress. I have so much to be grateful for today.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, Indonesia. The best place to watch the sun go down over the horizon.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Being AGILE in Business by Tony Edwards.
This book is a great read since change is the only constant in today’s business environment. We have to transform and adopting the “Agile Approach” in order to effectively defend against unpredictable market conditions. Examples are fashion brands Zara, H&M and Forever21.
Shameless plug for your business:
ParaDM introduced “SmartShare Online” this year. SmartShare makes it easy and affordable to manage, access and share your important documents responsively for business continuity. It’s a versatile document sharing solution which gives you full control of your collaborations with external parties. Businesses can now have full control over their document sharing with complete document management functions. The innovative SmartShare document sharing solution provides businesses with a new level of control, security and versatility of your business documents.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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