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Turning data into a precious asset

Volak Sao, CEO of IT firm Campura, talks about his partnership with global tech giant EMC.

What is Campura? How long has it been operating, and how long have you been at the helm?
Campura is the brand name for the system integration business arm of Kamprama Corporation. Basically, “systems integration” is an industry that resells many different technology products, such as hardware and software, and the services needed for a particular customer such as a hotel, bank or telecom to make their operations run smoothly.

Kamprama also owns a number of other businesses outside the technology industry such as a few branches of kindergarten school. I’ve been at the helm since the beginning of Campura in May 2007.

What are Campura’s primary areas for business? Are there many other companies in the same field?
Our primary business focuses on system integration for hotels, banks, telecom operators and others. Our customer target is large entities and SMEs. We also do some distribution of technology and also set up telecom infrastructure.

We have 40 full-time staff, and our revenue was $US5 million for 2009. I can say we’re one of the biggest leading system integration companies in Cambodia. There are many companies in this type of business such as Deam and Interflex.

Campura is a distribution partner for US-based IT giant EMC. How did that come about?
EMC is a manufacturer of data-storage systems, and we’re their partner connecting the manufacturer to the users. EMC doesn’t normally sell directly to end users.

We teamed up with them for an obvious reason – to tap this market’s potential. We approached them, and we’re now the only official EMC partner in Cambodia. It chose us because we have a proven track record of consistent service delivery.

In terms of storage, EMC offers data storage systems, protection and archiving, backup system, disaster recovery system, content management, information security and cloud infrastructure. Our profit margin comes from reselling EMC products, I cannot disclose our customers since I signed a non-disclosure agreement. But I can say major mobile operators and banks use EMC.

Why is the partnership with EMC such a big deal for Campura?
Every large enterprise needs to store their data securely and to be able to easily access it. Data is a very precious asset.

A better question would be: How can large businesses, such as big banks and telecom firms, afford not to have proper storage for their invaluable data? What happens if they lose all their data one day?

How much room for growth is there in the hardware and software market in Cambodia?
I think Cambodia is an emerging market, so new opportunities are coming every day. Room for growth seems to double or triple every year.

We expect we will see a fast growth trend until such a time when the market becomes fully matured.

Then growth will become slower and smaller in terms of percentage increases. So yes, more competitors are expected to come to this field.

What about multinationals entering the market?
I think the business playing field in Cambodia is not too attractive at the moment for multinational companies to set up full commercial operations here. Most of them choose to set up representative offices and use local partners to be the service arm to end users.

Of course, many technology companies like IBM, HP, Cisco will still have to work through partners, even if they have full commercial office to sell their products as their business model does this everywhere in the world.

Are there factors outside the company’s control that could hold the business back or impact Campura?
I think government intervention in terms of regulation, policies, promotion of the private sector and the creation of a fair playing field for all players has a great deal of impact on every business in Cambodia.

But it’s not necessarily holding the sector back. It’s a double-edged sword: It can either hold it back or accelerate its growth.

What “government interventions” do you mean or are you speaking generally?
I’m speaking in general. But the government needs to be more investor-friendly in their involvement with the private sector.

Currently my opinion is that government appears to promote private sector in theory, but in reality, there’s nothing much substance about their action.

The government also needs to create a commercial court of law and enforce their rule on the existing laws.

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