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Data-on-Things ‘DOT’ will revolutionise product authenticity and marketing.

Salman Hussain, Group CEO – iTecknologi Group of Companies, crediting THE CODER technology to be the next big thing.

• Tell us about iTecknologi Group of Companies. When did it come into existence and with what vision?

o iTecknologi Group of Companies is a dream that has successfully transformed itself into a reality. Most technology companies have focused on creating customer facilitation or ease of purchase for customers by using technology interface; iTecknologi on the other hand has focused on creating more value for our customers as an add-on to our existing services.

o As the name suggests, iTecknologi stands for advancement through technology. iTecknologi as a group strives to be a leading global provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication solutions. We aspire to become theleadingIOT Company not only nationally but globally. Constant innovation is the key to scale new heights of business, operational efficiencies and provide optimum customer satisfaction. We feel Pakistan is far behind in advancement in many fields and iTecknologi came into existence with the purpose of providing tailor made solutions for organizations seeking ‘Advance Technology Solutions’. Our understanding is that our solutions should bring about a positive impact in the businesses and in the lives of whoever consumes our products and services. We believe in long term relationships and tend to instigate this inkling into all that we do. Everyone is more concerned with top line and bottom-line targets; we additionally target relationships which should result in a win-win situation.

o From the legacy point of view, I would like iTecknologi to be recalled and remembered an innovation-centric shining star of Pakistan. Our presence in other countries signifies the fact that our intent is to be a leading global entity which not only introduces the latest and most modern technological tools to our beloved country but also spreads the positive image of Pakistan on global level.

• You are also contributing to Pakistan’s economy through exporting your services to foreign countries, how different is global market from Pakistani market?

o Alhamdulillah, our patriotism pushes us to seek such ventures which will contribute to Pakistan and its economy. I feel that everyone should have this inbuilt into their business model since a better economy will eventually help the businesses and make them more sustainable. So, I don’t see any reason for any business to shy away from paying taxes, seek ventures which create jobs, or help foreign exchange by brining FDI into Pakistan.

o We have introduced many innovative solutions to Pakistani market; however, I still feel that technology wise we have a lot to achieve, Pakistan is still a third world country and only a small segment of society is acquainted with the possibilities and the benefits of available solutions.

o Global market is quite advance and their requirements are also of higher level since most of the developed countries are already far ahead in technology and value chain. But it is good for us, since we learn globally and are able to provide similar solutions to our wide variety of clientele in Pakistan. I personally feel that there is no dearth of ideas here and we as Pakistanis are quite talented in every field, all we need is the right direction to channel our efforts. It is quite heartening to see startups getting international funding. I am quite hopeful that a lot will change for the better here. Pakistan is and will remain a huge market full of potential for almost every type of business, but yes, digital is the future.

• Speaking of such foreign ventures, tell us more on ‘Data-On-Things’ or DOT as the tech people call it. We have heard of ioT which is ‘internet of things’ but what is this DOT technology?

o Yes, for Pakistan and wider Middle East and North Africa region, we have a partnered and collaborated with The Coder from South Korea which is a global provider of DOT technology headed by their CEO, Mr. Henry Park. Through this venture, we have been able to open channels to bring Foreign Direct Investment into Pakistan and also this never-before-seen DOT technology. ‘Data on Things’ is the next generation invisible coding which basically makes the non-digital things, digital. We have successfully helped our customers by providing unprecedented high-tech security and marketing solutions through our DOT solutions.

o The implications include authenticity of products against counterfeit goods available abundantly in Pakistani market. Many established brands face this huge challenge of fake products being sold denting their complete sales and brand potential. o FMCGs also face enormous challenge pertaining to track and trace, where their product which was supposed to be exported to let’s say UAE, is being sold elsewhere. Even here locally, the distribution has its challenges.

o We see or hear about many instances of legal documents being forged or duplicated, resulting in undue wastage of time and effort and legal proceedings. DOT helps in preventing such problems because of its enormous capabilities.

“Through Coder, we have been able to open channels to bring Foreign Direct Investment into Pakistan and also this never-before-seen DOT technology”

• So essentially it is an authenticity and security solution?

o DOT technology can be used in many industries for various uses. We believe that it has the potential of revolutionizing the marketing activities as well. DOT makes a normal image, a smart image. So, your packaging, posters, flexes, magazines, or any surface with printing on it, can have our invisible codes in them which are scannable through an app and what happens once it is scanned is also up to you. You can take it to your website, your YouTube channel, your social media page, or a KYC form. It can open doors for many consumer promotional and consumer engagement activities. o Imagine the toothpaste box that you buy, its packaging can be coded and you can ask the buyers to scan it to see a hidden riddle and if you solve the riddle you can get instant prizes. Now imagine a masala box with the end product on the packaging, scan it and you will be taken to its recipe video which shows the whole cooking process of that particular dish. All this is possible through our smart image solution. o The cost of implementing this technology is surprisingly low and will just be a miniscule addition into your printing cost.

• How is this better than QR codes or bar codes? o If you talk about the authenticity or security, the QR codes are visible and can be copied and hence will defeat the purpose. On the other hand, our DOT codes are invisible, cannot be copied and if they are copied, the programming is smart enough to show that the code has been copied to whoever scans that copied code.

o If you talk about marketing or advertising bit, QR codes do not possess the possibility of having multiple end results. Whereas with one code of DOT you can have one result one day and another result the next day. For example, you can direct the scanner to the brand’s or product’s website and the next day you can direct the scanner to a KYC form or any digital destination that you want. QR codes do not have this ability. Also, DOT codes are invisible so the whole surface can be coded without disturbing the actual visual. o By the way DOT is not only related to images or printed material only. We can code sounds as well. This too has the potential of revolutionizing the whole advertising industry. We are in the process of experimenting with this technology and will provide phenomenal solutions to brands very soon.

• That’s really interesting. So, the sound can interact with the app?

o Absolutely, imagine a world in which your TV commercials could communicate with your audience’s cell phones. Imagine the capability of providing convenience to consumers of buying those things instantaneously which they see on TV with sound, or radio, or even a movie in cinema. All this is a possibility because of our one-of-a-kind solution of smart audio. o This next generation tech allows for sounds to be coded and when that coded sound is played it will trigger the app on your phone with the desired communication. We can make your social media page open in the phone or your website or precisely your ecommerce platform with the instigation to buy then and there. It is that convenient. • This sounds simply amazing; I am sure all the marketing aficionados will be quite interested to know more about the possibilities.

• With the introductions of new technologies, how do you see the future of business in Pakistan?

o It has become a cliché that this pandemic has opened our eyes to many things and every company, every organization has its own learning; majority of Pakistan has started to believe that having digital channels or tools to conduct business from the confines of one’s home are the need of the hour. I see a lot of positives from this. The public in general has realized that digital is more than just social platforms. Online transactions have increased, inclusion of non-network people has increased manifold and people have started using online services and app-based services on a regular basis. All businesses need to have elaborate strategies for keeping themselves alive and kicking. Our plans, policies and forward thinking bore the benefits that Alhamdulillah we thrived in these times too. Not a single person was laid off, in fact I am humble that Almighty enabled us to increase our workforce this year. Yes, some more aggressive plans were tapered and delayed a bit but the upside is that 2022 will be the year of enormous growth.

o Pakistan has always been and will remain the land of big opportunities, we are the fifth most populous country of the world with abundant resources. The biggest opportunity still is the room for improvement on every front, so all we need to do is be better, do better and come up with better products and services to have loyal stakeholders. Businesses need to improve the quality of whatever they produce and they will always find consumers who want the right value for their money.

o In conclusion I will reiterate the fact that every business should have such ventures inbuilt into their business model to be the cause of FDIs, export solutions to induce positivity in foreign exchange and be a good corporate citizen, resulting in a better image of our country. All this will help in making our economy more sustainable and its benefits will be returned with more prosperity for one and all.

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