Categories
Main Feature Platforms Partners Southeast Asia

MARKETECH Spotlight: How a PH-made esports super app is bringing every stakeholder into one united esports community

Esports is growing exponentially and on a global scale. According to a report by Newzoo, in the Asia-Pacific alone, the revenue within the gaming market has reached US$84.3B in 2020, making the region the largest market in the world. 

In the Philippines, the number of games has now reached 43 million, and one esports platform in the country, KALARO, is on the mission to be at the forefront of the esports industry in the country and engage these players – and more. 

Launched in October 2020 for its close-beta testing, KALARO was launched by The-AsiaGroup.com Inc. as a fully integrated end-to-end esports digital platform. The application includes features like tournament management, one-on-one challenges, and team competitions as well as coaching, and buy-ins, among others.

Almost one year after, we touched base with its Founder & CEO Jun D. Lasco to get to know how much it has grown since its entry into the industry – the platform itself and its vision and mission – and ultimately, after delta and beta testing for the period, finally, the launch of its first public version 1.0.

Watch the full MARKETECH Spotlight episode on KALARO feat. KALARO’s Founder & CEO Jun D. Lasco

KALARO, the esports super app by the Filipino for the Filipino gamers

Before getting into KALARO’s sophistication as a tech platform, KALARO first and foremost has a mission at its heart, and that is to fulfill the needs of both esports enthusiasts and professionals in the country

Jun turns to a study similarly by Newzoo wherein 100,000 gamers across the globe were surveyed and discovered the three main motivations behind getting into esports: to unwind and relax, to engage in some form of competition, and interestingly, the social aspect of the game.

KALARO_esports_Newzoo

“More than providing a digital platform, one of our core missions and advocacies is being actively part in helping the youth in their mental health issues…and hopefully, KALARO will be one of the major platforms, social platforms, where they can engage socially, and compete, and be able to [have a sense of achievement], and unwind and have fun,” said Jun in the MARKETECH Spotlight interview

Today, KALARO is an esports super app with online tournament management integrated into its own video hub, brand integration, and social networking capabilities and with its very own e-wallet.

KALARO is the Filipino term for playmate, and true to its origins, the platform carries the mission of bringing out the world-class talent in every Filipino stakeholder in the industry which includes the caster, gamer or player, team, the tournament organizer, and brand-product creator, for them to discover and be discovered by others. 

“And again, we’d like to showcase KALARO as a world-class product and a product that all the stakeholders in the industry can really benefit from,” said Jun.

Releasing KALARO’s public version 1.0

So after a year since it was piloted, we asked, is KALARO now ready to launch its public version 1.0? 

Jun answers a firm yes. 

After beta- and delta- testing since October, and with now more than 7,800 gamers on the platform doing it on a nationwide scale, KALARO is ready for the next stage, officially launching its public version this September 2021 to start its journey towards its first one million users. 

“Yes, definitely, we’re ready to launch version 1.0. This is the first public release of version 1.0. of KALARO. [We’ve been] fine-tuning the application [since] October last year [up until] end of August [this year]. And we are now ready to package version 1.0 and release it starting September 18,” revealed Jun. 

KALARO's Public Version 1.0
KALARO’s Public Version 1.0 Signup Page

Jun said that the goal has always been about bringing a world-class app with a solid product-market-fit, which is why it took the company almost a year before it launched its public version.

Launching KALARO in October 2020 was far from an easy feat, where Jun revealed the challenges they had to go through before they launched the beta version in the middle of the pandemic. 

“The beta launch is very significant, because it was really challenging, working together in a virtual environment,” shared Jun. 

Right off the bat, the predicament that the KALARO team had to face was not being together physically and communicating while being from different parts of the country. Like the proverbial genius working in their garage, KALARO was developing and programming the platform in the night. 

Soon, following the beta launch, KALARO had 750 gamers to close-beta-test the platform, and from their feedback, the real fine-tuning began. And now here one year after, KALARO is growing from strength to strength. 

After the public version is launched this September, Jun reveals, “We will have a very aggressive set of activities and campaigns for the last quarter of this year, so that the market [of almost] 50 million gamers and our fans would realize the benefits and the value that make KALARO really enjoyable.”

The mission and vision of KALARO 

One year after its official foray into the esports scene, we touched base on how KALARO sees its role in the lives of gamers and Filipinos. 

At its core, KALARO was built to give every gamer an equal opportunity to learn, be discovered, and gain mastery, and most of all, to have fun and to also present opportunities to earn a living. But as a super app, KALARO isn’t now merely attending to the hunger for esports action but has moved to become so much more for its users. 

Jun summarizes KALARO’s mission in the three major areas: financial wellness, mental health, and most of all, national pride. 

Jun shared that the goal is to develop a platform that would serve gamers’ financial wellness because as Jun puts it when someone becomes a member of KALARO, the platform would want to provide a facility and features that will help people earn extra money. 

“That’s why we have our own e-wallet and are partnering with UnionBank [of the Philippines], and so on. Financial wellness is very important,” said Jun. 

With esports and social platforms cited as beneficial channels to manage mental health, this has become one of KALARO’s main advocacies. Jun says KALARO is like a Facebook for gamers

“KALARO being like the Facebook for gamers will allow gamers to really socialize, interact, [and] enjoy freedom in the games that they love,” said Jun. 

Above all, as a team in a country where there aren’t yet many tech innovations, putting the Philippines on the map will always be a mission. In fact, in April 2021, KALARO has begun to see its hard work and talent pay off, being named as one of the top 5 esports startups in Asia in the Esports X Business Asia Summit (EXB Asia Summit), held in Singapore.

KALARO represented the Philippines among a sea of companies from top tech innovator countries Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In addition to this, KALARO has also successfully secured a partnership with multinational technology company for gaming, Razer, in June 2021.

“As they say, when you create a product, or when you create a service, there has to be a deep meaning as to why you’re actually building it. And again, from October last year, we have received lots of feedback and lots of suggestions, and we adapted the product of KALARO to be able to really connect to the market, and [to meet] the needs and aspirations of the gamer,” said Jun. 

What’s next for KALARO? 

KALARO’s growth trajectory is obviously on a promising level, and so beyond the launch of the public version, begs the question, what else is on KALARO’s future plans? 

As an end-to-end esports platform, KALARO doesn’t only answer to gamers, taking a whole lot of other stakeholders within the community as the platform’s priority. Aside from the gamers, KALARO caters to streamers, casters, team managers and owners, league and tournament operators, and corporate brands. 

“Since KALARO is a super app, by design, each of these stakeholders has a special role and participation inside KALARO,” said Jun. 

He further shares that building an all-in-one platform has always been the objective especially in the Philippines and even in Southeast Asia as a whole where the market isn’t necessarily tech-savvy. 

“You know, when we were conceptualizing KALARO, and we were going through the process of design thinking, focus group discussion, mind mapping, and so on, we really made sure that we will be able to build a holistic [and] an all-in-one solution for the esports industry. Especially here in Asia, or Southeast Asia, in particular, it could be very difficult for the stakeholders to be using say, five different applications just to be able to actively participate.” 

He adds, “And the major motivations for vendors and players to participate are all inside KALARO.” 

As a super app for esports, Jun shares the upcoming developments within the platform in line with its mission – and even more. 

For one, the platform has partnered with one of the leading banks in the country, UnionBank, to boost KALARO’s financial service offerings. More interestingly, Jun shared that on this front, it’s not a distant possibility that there would be a Visa card for KALARO soon and even an insurance offering. 

Still in line with its mission for financial inclusion, Jun also revealed that KALARO is looking into crypto- and blockchain-related features and services within the platform. Due to the growing interest of the younger generation in cryptocurrency, Jun says that KALARO is sure to leverage the power of cryptocurrency, where NFT and blockchain will be part of the roadmap. 

In terms of the social aspect, KALARO will be exploring live video and voice calling features in order to heighten the experience of playing together.

“So imagine if a student or a young person in the Philippines can play with his dad, or kuya (brother) somewhere abroad, and they can interact live or play together and do other things,” said Jun. 

Other than the fact that KALARO is disrupting tech in the Philippines, what is truly inspiring and makes KALARO the platform to be is above all, its advocacies to the stakeholders, who are mostly the younger generation.

“We really want to give all the chances in the world for every Pinoy and level the playing field. Even if you are not in the country’s major cities, we believe that there are huge hidden talents across the over 7,000 islands in the country,” said Jun. 

“When you join KALARO, you will have instant visibility even if you are 5,000 miles away from the nation’s capital. KALARO will give you that online presence and opportunity to be seen and participate,” added Jun.

Listen to the full conversation between MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope and KALARO’s Founder & CEO Jun D. Lasco on Spotify:

Categories
SME Featured APAC

Axiata’s B2B unit ties up Google Cloud for new bundle for SMBs

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Axiata Enterprise, the business-to-business (B2B) arm of Malaysia-based telecommunications group Axiata, has announced a partnership with Google Cloud in order to help accelerate digital adoption across companies and small-medium businesses (SMBs) across Asia.

The implementation will come in the form of offering Google Workspace as part of their integrated ICT portfolio and solution bundles to small and medium businesses (SMBs). Telecoms across Axiata’s group will spearhead the implementation, with Dialog in Sri Lanka leading the initiative, and with implementation scheduled for Q2 this year.

This will be followed by Celcom in Malaysia, XL in Indonesia, Robi in Bangladesh, Ncell in Nepal, and Smart in Cambodia by the second half of the year.

Axiata’s digital telcos will also continue to leverage Google Cloud’s core compute, storage, and networking capabilities to modernize their infrastructure and drive their digital transformation initiatives. 

Said initiative comes in retrospect to the fact that Asia is home to over one million SMBs all looking for the best possible way to tap the immense opportunities in some of the world’s fastest growing Internet economies. Axiata’s controlling interests in six mobile operators cover over 157 million mobile subscribers across its footprint. 

“Axiata and Google Cloud have a shared vision of helping businesses digitize and grow as they build greater resilience for the long haul. With nations increasingly stepping up on digitalization for economic recovery and growth, we stand at a critical juncture to support businesses, especially small and medium players in their efforts to adjust and adapt to new digital norms for survival,” said Gopi Kurup, CEO at Axiata Enterprise.

He also added that the power of Google Cloud’s advanced technologies combined with Axiata’s market intelligence enables companies to access advanced tools to boost their collaboration and productivity and generate data-based insights to strengthen their evolving customer engagement strategies.

Celcom, which is under the Axiata Group, is leveraging Google Cloud’s infrastructure and solutions as well to run its payment gateway and advance its modern digital customer journey. The Malaysian telco also has plans to use Google Cloud’s AI tools to build personalization and recommendation models to further enhance customer experience. 

Ruma Balasubramanian, managing director of Google Cloud in Southeast Asia, said, “To resource-strapped SMBs, cloud technology is a game-changer that enables them to compete with larger players in the market. We’re thrilled to partner with Axiata to accelerate the digital transformation of millions of companies in the region, and help them solve their complex business and technology challenges.”

Categories
SME Featured Southeast Asia

Credit bureau CIBI partners with ADVANCE.AI to give AI-driven biz intel to PH firms

Manila, Philippines – CIBI, a local credit bureau agency, has announced a partnership with AI and data company ADVANCE.AI to use innovative AI and computer vision technology to expand business intelligence support and services for local businesses in the Philippines.

CIBI, which was first established in 1982, provides data, credit reporting, and information management services and analytics for consumers and business entities. Meanwhile, ADVANCE.AI aims to solve digital transformation, fraud prevention, and process automation for enterprise clients.

Marlo R. Cruz, president and CEO of CIBI said, “As a forward-looking and digital-first organization, CIBI always looks to be one step ahead. This partnership with ADVANCE.AI facilitates our mission to give Filipino businesses easier access to a range of business intelligence services, including credit and data reporting through a more efficient internal system. This marks the beginning of more opportunities for CIBI, as our partners enrich our capabilities and innovations.”

ADVANCE.AI’s holistic suite of products covers three key areas: digital identity verification and eKYC customer onboarding, risk management and digital lending solutions. It is now expanding into markets such as Mexico, UK, Europe, and the US.

Meanwhile, Dong Shou, CEO of ADVANCE.AI, commented: “Our market-leading AI and computer vision technology will allow CIBI to expand its range of critical business data and intelligence reporting solutions, with the ultimate aim of better supporting underbanked and underserved businesses in the Philippines.” 

He added, “This is more important than ever in the current COVID landscape, as we help accelerate the digitalization of the economy, and in doing so, help millions of Filipinos and businesses gain access to new financial products and services.”

Categories
Technology Featured South Asia

‘Who Ate My Cookie?’: Dentsu Data Sciences releases industry paper on privacy-centric world

New Delhi, India – The Indian arm of dentsu’s data services agency Dentsu Data Sciences has recently published a new industry position paper on the importance of privacy to marketers, publishers, consumers, and data brokers as they face both challenges and opportunities in maintaining their position in a privacy-first world.

Titled ‘Who Ate My Cookie’, the paper notes on the importance of computer ‘cookies’ having been for a long time the cornerstone of digital marketing ever since their inception in 1994. They have been the basis of digital advertising, with a goal to deliver more relevant ads to consumers, companies have amassed troves of customer data via third-party cookies, which eroded customer trust. 

This industry position paper aims to describe the shift and need toward a privacy-first world by demystifying ecosystem changes and attempts to provide guidance to marketers and publishers on navigating a “privacy-first” online world devoid of third-party cookies.

For Gautam Mehra, chief data and product strategy officer for Asia Pacific and CEO at dentsu Programmatic, the paper speaks by a matter of fact that “the digital revolution that [has] created so many new business and marketing opportunities is now driving the customer revolution.”

“Developing strong customer relationships has always been fundamental to building a successful business practice. This becomes more vital in a privacy-first world. Through our position paper, we endeavor to assist the industry in navigating through the fast paced ecosystem changes and provide guidance on a few possible solutions to strengthen customer experiences with privacy at its core,” Mehra stated.

Meanwhile, Nishant Malsisaria, vice president of product strategy for Asia Pacific at dentsu Data Sciences, commented that in order for organizations to succeed in a new customer-driven environment, organizations must be able to use consent-based information, technology, and analytics to deliver relevant customer experiences across channels.

“A privacy-first world promotes the need to develop first-party data sets in a far more secure and privacy-focused way. Future competitive advantage will depend on the ability of brands to have more control over their audiences in a trust-based world,” Malsisaria added.

The paper is written under the specialist consumer insights wing dentsu Marketing Cloud (DMC) Insights, which offers an expertise-led model to assist dentsu Data Sciences’ research and insights, consulting and practice teams in delivering differentiated values to their clients. A copy of the paper can be obtained through dentsu marketing’s site.

Categories
Technology Featured APAC

CMS provider Magnolia opens Shenzhen, Bangkok offices

Basel, Switzerland – Content management system (CMS) provider Magnolia has announced the opening of its two new offices in Shenzhen and Bangkok, confirming its long-standing commitment to China and the Asia Pacific market.

Magnolia, whose main headquarters is in Basel, Switzerland, adds the two new offices in its already well-established presence in Asia, with three existing offices in Singapore, Vietnam, and Shanghai. The company also has certified partners serving customers in North Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

Through the new offices, Magnolia looks to expand its offering of content management and digital experience technologies to the rapidly growing APAC market.

Tim Brown, CEO at Magnolia, commented, “Backing the expansion of our brilliant APAC team, partner community and our prestigious customers with these new offices is about the most obvious investment decisions I’ve ever had to make.”

Meanwhile, Don Lee, Magnolia’s managing director for APAC, said, “Having recognized a need for intensive personalization to provide unparalleled, unique experiences to customers, Asian brands are now investing in marketing technology designed to improve digital experiences.”

He added, “With Shenzhen and Bangkok becoming home to new local Magnolia resources and operations, together with our partners in APAC, we are now servicing brands in even closer proximity and helping them create amazing digital experiences for their customers.”

Magnolia was most recently recognized by global research and advisory firm Gartner on its annual report of top technology providers. Gartner uses a proprietary method Magic Quadrant to give tech vendors its competitive positioning, and for digital experience platforms (DXP) this year, Magnolia’s DXP Magnolia DX Core entered the quadrant, earning the status of ‘Niche Player’.

Categories
Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

TikTok SG launches first-ever educational series for aspiring tech talents

Singapore – TikTok in Singapore has launched its first-ever #JobTok educational live stream series, a lineup of shows that aims to equip youth aspiring for tech careers with knowledge of the jobs and skillsets of the future in the industry and to help them to make more informed career decisions in life.

The educational series will run from 31 March until 6 April 2021 and will be a hybrid broadcast, where one will be streamed on TikTok Live itself and on Facebook, and the other on Zoom.

TikTok invited home-grown tech talents from TikTok itself and Government Technology Agency (GovTech) to lead the live stream and talk about inspiring experiences working in the tech sector, and debunk commonly-held myths about the profession. Invited hosts will also be sharing actionable steps that undergraduates can take to transition smoothly into a technology-first workforce.

The first in the educational series is ‘Women Leadership in Tech’, which is a virtual grassroots dialogue session, to be hosted by Member of Parliament (MP) Tin Pei Ling, alongside female leaders from ByteDance Singapore, who will discuss how women can be empowered to thrive in the tech and innovation sectors, as well as the exciting job opportunities and career prospects that Singaporeans can capture in the rapidly-growing post-COVID-19 digital economy.

The educational series also includes ‘Adulting Advice From Young GovTechies’, which will be on 31 March at 8:00 pm SGT, and ‘The Faces Behind TikTok LIVE’, which will be on 6 April at 8:00 pm SGT.

The virtual dialogue with MP Tin will be streamed on Zoom and MP Tin’s Facebook Page on 31 March 2021, at 7:30 pm SGT. The rest of the #JobTok educational series will be broadcasted live on the TikTok app beginning on 31 March to 6 April 2021.

In addition to the series itself, TikTok will also be launching an #Adulting contest, which invites users to share their personal tips for youth entering the workforce, including interview tips, internship experiences, and how to ink their first job. The contest will run from 31 March until 4 April where participants will get a chance to win prizes collectively worth around S$1,200.

According to Joana Mikaela Liew, the head of talent development for ByteDance APAC and META, as the country emerged stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to dispel uncertainty among today’s job-seekers and equip them with the relevant skills to be future-ready. 

“Our Jobs and Skills series aims to provide an insider’s look into the tech industry and spark greater interest among more young Singaporeans towards the new opportunities brought about by the digital economy. Additionally, through our meaningful dialogue with MP Tin Pei Ling, we hope to bring this conversation closer to the grassroots and address on-the-ground concerns of those who are either looking for job opportunities in the tech space or planning to upskill,” added Liew.

Categories
Technology Featured Southeast Asia

PLDT taps Qualtrics for unified CX redesign

Manila, Philippines – PLDT Global Corp. (PGC), the international arm of Philippine-based telecommunications company PLDT, has announced that it has partnered experience management (XM) company Qualtrics to redesign its customer experience (CX).

PGC will be utilizing and standardizing the use of Qualtrics’ CustomerXM program in order to better understand and act on customers’ unique needs. Qualtrics will provide PGC with a single platform to capture, analyze, and act on experience data, enabling PGC to uncover deeper customer insights, scale and personalize engagements, and automate workflows to resolve or escalate customer issues in real time.

Furthermore, CustomerXM integrates with PGC’s existing CRM platform to deliver further value. Bringing together experience data from Qualtrics and operational data from the CRM platform aims to assist PGC in better understanding the drivers of its CX so the company can take targeted action to continually design and improve the experiences delivered.

According to Leah Garcia, VP for experience at PGC, Qualtrics’ XM service best serves the company’s commitment to bring innovative services across their customers and enterprise partners globally.

“We will be able to listen closely to the needs of our customers and rapidly respond, which will ensure PGC continually brings to market the products and services our customers want and deserve,” Garcia stated.

Meanwhile, Mao Gen Foo, head of Southeast Asia at Qualtrics stated that their service comes in response to the recent consumer behavior shifts by the offset of the global pandemic, which has also changed customer expectations significantly.

“It’s a reality that means being able to listen, understand, and rapidly act on the changing needs of your customers is a key competitive advantage. By standardizing its CX program with Qualtrics, PGC is well placed to unlock critical insights enabling the company to continually design and improve customer experiences that drive business outcomes,” Gen Foo stated.

Categories
Technology Featured Southeast Asia

JOLT Digital launches new media planning technology

Singapore – Digital media agency JOLT Digital has announced the launch of its new media planning technology J-CAL, which allows marketers to create more effectiveness to their campaigns through calculated budget spend and expected return of ad spend (ROAS).

J-CAL is customizable to each client’s specificities and works for any size budget. It has been built using thousands of data points from campaigns over the past five years in Asia. Furthermore, J-CAL is not only focusing on campaigns that have a performance objective but also on branding campaigns. It is undeniable that branding is critical as it not only helps grow brand health metrics but also sales. 

“At JOLT, we think that allocating thousands of dollars deserves a scientific approach and that’s why we have created a technology, J-CAL, that predicts the most optimal budget allocation to each channel, as well as campaign’s return of ad spend (ROAS),” the company said in a press statement.

For Sebastien Lepez, founder and CEO of JOLT Digital, part of the reason why J-CAL was launched was due to the fact that most planners only rely on ‘gut feeling’ on how much a campaign should spend in order to be effective.

“After using J-CAL for some of our clients, we realized that something was missing. A campaign’s objective is not always focusing on performance. Most often there is also an objective of Brand building. That’s why we have incorporated a brand building dimension in J-CAL and in the calculation of the return of ad spend (ROAS),” Lepez explained. 

He also cited the recent news of Airbnb shifting their campaigns’ objective to brand building rather than performance as one of the inspirations for the media planning technology launch.

“J-CAL has taken nine months to develop and I think we have created a technology that is very unique and very robust. A lot of data, efforts and thinking has gone into it. We truly believe that it is going to game-change media planning,” Lepez stated.

He added, “Our industry is in need for a change and it’s been requested by clients for many years. After years working at agencies and clients, I had time to observe the gaps and now I am able with JOLT and with J-CAL to fill these gaps. J-CAL is going to game-change media planning and bring a more scientific approach to it.”

Categories
Technology Featured APAC

ADA launches new end-to-end e-commerce solution in APAC

Singapore – Data and AI company ADA has announced a new business line in APAC that combines data-driven marketing strategies with end-to-end e-commerce solutions. 

The service is aimed at clients seeking comprehensive solutions to drive traffic, manage customer experience, optimize conversions throughout the funnel, and create engaging content on digital marketplaces as well as owned e-commerce sites.

“E-commerce is a strategic priority for ADA and our clients as businesses emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re excited to be expanding our footprint by bringing our unique heritage in data-driven marketing to empower the next generation of e-commerce champions,” said Srinivas Gattamneni, chief executive officer at ADA.

Anurag Gupta, chief operating officer and chief of agency at ADA explained that through XACT, ADA’s proprietary data management platform, and with the help also from first-party customer data, a global luxury skincare brand has adapted itself from an offline selling platform to e-commerce.

“The resulting campaigns far exceeded targets, with 490% growth achieved in e-commerce monthly sales versus pre-pandemic, 275% growth versus promotional months and 24.5% return on ad spend,” Gupta added.

ADA had noted a report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Co. showing that the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia continues to surge as COVID-19 accelerated online purchases, with gross merchandise value expected to jump to US$172B by 2025.

Categories
Technology Featured Southeast Asia

InsightzClub rolls out new data discovery tool on insights dashboard

Singapore – Consumer insights tool InsightzClub has announced the rollout of its new data discovery tool for its existing insight dashboard, aimed at driving real-time automation of insights discovery.

Through the tool, InsightzClub allows customers to run self-discovery with the accumulated data with an accessible user interface (UI). Traditionally, to obtain cross tabulations involves data processing on statistics which are time-consuming and exhaustive.

The release of the tool comes after the launch of its passive embedded insights technology on its app last December 2020, to gather data behaviorally rather than survey-based data.

“The data discovery tool is a no-code, drag and drop tool aimed to support insights and marketing teams to have the power to explore the data. The addition of the data discovery tool to our real-time dashboard is also part of the end-to-end customer automation stack,” said Padmanabhan Ramaswamy, co-founder of InsightzClub.