Country number 5 on my trip is also one of Computer Troubleshooter's newest. Yio Lim Han and Gerald Oo converted their existing IT services business less than six months ago when they took over as our Master Franchise for Malaysia (operating in Kuala Lumpur), and they've recently been joined by Patrick Chan & Anthony Lim (operating in Petaling Jaya). Already the Malaysia CT team is making great progress, especially with B.E.S.T. (our managed services program).
BEST has been a common theme in my travels. South Africa is just launching their managed services initiative, building their BEST program along with a local remote monitoring company. Egypt is still mostly selling non-managed service plans (our CAP and VIP plans), but is looking at applying some BEST principles (mostly just remote monitoring and support) to improve profits and service. India is looking at combining BEST managed services with IT staffing to create a new managed staffing business model. But here in Malaysia, CT is finding that the BEST works just as designed.
Like Egypt & India though Malaysia has to work around some economic challenges. Because the typical income in Malaysia is lower than in the US, some things like hardware & software are proportionately more expensive than they are elsewhere. To help their customers CT-Malaysia implements a lot of thin-client solutions, where multiple users share the use of one PC. This reduces hardware expenditures and some software costs, although some software manufacturers require multiple licenses in thin-client situations so the savings is not always huge.
I had less than two days in Malaysia, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I arrived at 7am on Monday, where Yio & Gerald were kind enough to pick me up (KL's airport is over an hour outside the city itself). We had a quick breakfast then went straight to their offices to meet their staff and discuss plans. CT-Malaysia has been the first to adapt a new business plan format we introduced recently for local use, so we spent some time discussing that. Later Patrick Chan arrived and we went out to a local restaurant for lunch ("enjoying" a thick Malaysian rainshower along the way).
After lunch they dropped me at my hotel: The Prince Hotel & Residences. Best hotel I've stayed in on this trip, thanks in part to the very low cost of living in Malaysia. It's a 4-star hotel but was still one of the least expensive on my trip (I paid around $120 for my one night there). You just can't beat this view:
That's of course the famous Petronas twin towers in the center. The tower to the right is the Maxxis (local cell phone company) tower, which was helpful since it has a giant digital clock at the top. At night it was very easy for me to tell the time just by glancing out the window!
Monday night Yio, Gerald, Patrick and I ate dinner at a restaurant called Top Hat, which is also one of Gerald's clients. Great food, and great company. Afterwards we tried to go to KL tower, but it was late and the observation deck was closed, so we went to a bazaar in chinatown instead. It turns out Gerald is a fearsome negotiator when it comes to getting bargains! I purchased a famous-name watch (clearly counterfeit based on the price, but you couldn't tell by looking at it) as a souvenier. It was listed at $988 RM (Rinngit Malaysian, or about $320 US). The vendor offered it for 120RM, which seemed like a good deal to me. Gerald insisted 25 was a fair price. After considerable haggling we got the watch for 70RM (about $20), which Gerald insisted still left the vendor with a good profit. We did some similar bargaining for a few more souveniers, then we said our goodbyes and called it a night.
Tuesday I needed to catch up on some work, so I spent the morning doing that, then checked out of the hotel at noon. I got a much-needed haircut, then set out to walk around and maybe do some more shopping. I really wanted to get a nice shirt - for some reason I like to buy clothes as souveniers, since they'll be more use to me than just some trinket sitting on a shelf, so I have shirts from Las Vegas and Cairo, and a sportcoat from Bucharest. I figured adding a shirt from Kuala Lumpur would be a nice addition, plus it's as good a reason as any to walk around the city.
KL is a gorgeous city - clean, lush, modern, and safe. "Tehksi"s can take you almost anywhere for about $5US, but I prefer to walk. Having been told the Petronas Towers were too far to walk I started out at a local shopping district called Buket Bintang, but after a while I decided to see just how far the towers were so I started walking that way. It's not too bad, so in 30 minutes I was there. Underneath the towers is a huge mall called KL City Center, so I went into a local coffee shop in the mall for a liquid lunch of iced coffee. Outside the mall is a nice plaza area with ponds and waterfalls, so I wandered through there for a bit before deciding to head back. I took a tehksi to Buket Bintang, still in my quest to find a shirt. I did find a shirt, and bought the largest size they have (XXL), but later I learned that Malaysians are generally much smaller than Americans, so the shirt was nowhere close to fitting on my (and I normally wear XL back home). Ah well, it'll be a souvenier for someone else.
My last memory of KL was a visit to the KL tower with Yio and Gerald. Like similar towers in other cities, an observation deck high in the sky gives a clear view of the city and the surrounding countryside, so that was enjoyable. But all good things must come to an end, so Yio and Gerald drove me back to the airport where we had time to eat a quick dinner in the food court. There's something symmetrical about starting and ending my Malaysia trip with airport food. I said goodbye to my Malaysian hosts and teammates, and caught my flight on to my next destination - Australia!