My Name is the Synonym for Solutions

Human-centered is not fulfilling the insatiable needs of an individual, but taking the company's overall interest as a priority.

Dictated by Momo Liang, Senior Adminstration Specialist, iKala
Written by Iris Hung

I joined iKala in 2018 as an Administration Specialist. My everyday work includes minding the receptionist's front desk and telephone. I also manage the meeting rooms, maintain the equipment inside, receive guests, and deliver or receive letters and packages. I'm also responsible for preparing office events, such as the year-end parties, company trips, other celebrations, office parties, etc.

I have what people call a "mother's personality". I like to watch out for everyone, make sure everybody is being cared for. I didn't know I had it in me until I came to this job. I found that my experience in life and familiarity with these mundane daily tasks could be of great assistance to everyone. I have plenty of confidence in my ability to do this.

The harder part of this job is that there are a million little different things to do. My time each day could be spent on a wide variety of tasks. To use the making of new business cards as an example, the whole process goes like this: the coworker who needs the cards must double-check and confirm their name and job title. Then, I need to update an online form. I need to communicate with the designer who makes the cards, review the draft, upload the file to the printing company, wait for their delivery, and then pick up the delivery. It's not that these things are hard—the combined time spent on these steps may be around thirty minutes only. But there are so many different procedures and people I need to talk to, and a lot of time is spent waiting for others to complete their part of the process. So, in the end, it may take a couple of weeks to get the business cards made.

A part of my time is also spent on helping colleagues solve problems they cannot solve for themselves. So, I've developed a habit of leaving a fixed amount of time every day to deal with miscellaneous issues. The job of a receptionist can be very dull or full of excitement. People are glad to talk to me, and I'm happy to share my thoughts. This helps me understand the personality of each colleague and how they do things. That way, I can work with different people or teams more efficiently. You can even say I am facilitating the exchange of our corporate culture. I keep telling myself, I am more than a machine that takes care of miscellaneous tasks. I want to become a relay station—picking up requests and opinions from all over the workplace, and then turning these inputs into something that helps the entire company.

I am very happy working in this company. People see me as more than the "receptionist" they go to when they need help. They call me "Momo", and I can just about fix any problem they might have. In a way, the name "Momo" has become the synonym for "solutions" in the company. I am not joking when I say people really can find valuable advice and suggestions when they talk to me. This is a positive influence in the company, and I feel a sense of achievement in what I do. 


A Strong Finance Team Helps iKala Gain Footholds in Foreign Markets

Human-centered is not taking the company as a family, but a team on the court that everyone can reach their potential to win the game.

By Sara Huang, Finance & Accounting Deputy Manager, iKala

I joined iKala in 2016. As the company grew, dialogues and interactions with investors became more and more frequent. More than two years ago, CFO Candy asked if I was interested in work that was related to stock affairs. I did not put too much thought into it at the time; I told her yes, even though I was unfamiliar with the task. This opened a new world for me that was different from finance. From preparing for board meetings and shareholder meetings, to participating in the due diligence (DD) process of Series B funding, as well as the closing phase—I was in the thick of it all. This job afforded me the chance to sit in on board meetings and to be in the same room as iKala's various board members. I heard firsthand the valuable advice they offered iKala to help it grow.

The precious lessons I learned as I watched iKala grow in the capital market were very helpful. Later, when there were questions about how iKala was going to invest in other companies, or how other startups were going to find funding, or when iKala encountered any stock-related issues overseas—I found that my experience provided valuable insight. 

Here's something else that left a deep impression on me. About a month before the Lunar New Year holiday in 2020, I learned that the company had received an urgent request from a client that may require us to set up a branch in Hong Kong. I thought of nothing besides helping my company achieve its goal. I spent a week doing research. I learned about the rules and tax regulations that were related to setting up a branch in Hong Kong. Once I felt I had a grasp on the situation, I initiated the process of opening our Hong Kong branch. Time was of the essence; so, when I noticed that Hong Kong returned to work a day before Taiwan, I made it my mission to make sure the paperwork related to iKala's Hong Kong branch would be ready for review on Hong Kong's first workday. A day before the holidays wrapped up in Taiwan, I arranged for the accountants and our CEO Sega to sign all the documents in front of a notary. Then, I scanned and sent the documents to the agency in Hong Kong. I made sure the entire process could be completed as soon as possible.

Establishing a company is a long and arduous process. In the past three years, I've helped iKala open branches and accounts in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam. As a member of the finance team, even I find our progress to be impressive. Thankfully, iKala has a resourceful finance team that always makes sure everything runs smoothly, so iKala could explore more and more international markets.


Stock affairs: Work involving shareholders, equities, and stocks, including the opening of accounts for shareholders, updating shareholder information, transfer of stocks, creation or annulment of pledges, the arrangement of shareholder and board meetings, payment of dividends, outsourcing the printing of stocks, fielding shareholder queries, stock-related government rules and regulations, etc.

Due diligence: Before signing a contract or business deal, a due diligence survey of the business deal and the parties or companies involved in the deal is conducted according to the Standard of Care.


I Wish to Develop More Products that Customers Want with iKala's Technology

Human-centered is considering AI technology as a complement to human-beings instead of a substitute.

Dictated by Finn Yeh, Senior Product Manager, KOL Radar
Written by Iris Hung

The customer journey in influencer marketing includes developing the strategy, setting the goals, choosing the key opinion leader (KOL), signing the contract with the KOL, outlining the scope of our cooperation and content of our ads, and then finally evaluating the results. KOL Radar started by helping customers to "search" for KOLs. After a period of development and exploration, I began to think further ahead: how can we provide a more valuable service to our users? This led my train of thought back to the beginning. What are the goals and vision of our products? Who are we supposed to serve? By analyzing the user flow, we found that besides the search function, the customer's biggest pain point was evaluating the results of their campaigns. We needed a way to make the final report more visualized, more comprehensible. So, we decided to develop the "Deep Report".

In the past, customers used Excel spreadsheets to calculate the results. However, when you are working with many KOLs, you waste a lot of manpower updating the spreadsheets manually, and you cannot see the results in real-time. This limited any attempts at analytics to a very surface level. With Deep Report, the customer can accurately track the result of each influencer marketing campaign. By analyzing multidimensional data, we are able to solve the real problems encountered by our end customers. Not only are we able to free up manpower with the power of technology, we are also able to expand the scope of our customer's imagination. For instance, a word cloud can be used to dissect user-generated content (UGC), so we can understand what the audience cares about, what their thoughts are about our sponsored content, whether their reaction is positive or negative. Our customers can use these insights to further adjust and improve their marketing strategy.

After a round of user interviews and tests, we found that "activation" was the most difficult part. What could we do to convince our customers to change their current routine and try out Deep Report? It turns out everyone was afraid they would need to put more effort into compiling data, without even knowing what the end results would be. Therefore, we added an "import data" function to help customers import their existing spreadsheets directly into Deep Report. So long as the categories in the spreadsheet were not too different from Deep Report's template, the system was able to automatically match the corresponding data. The customer could quickly pour their data into the system and just sit back as the system automatically generated a new report.

Compared with my experience as a product manager (PM) in other companies, iKala has a much clearer division of responsibilities, allowing me to focus more of my attention on the product. Also, whether it's between departments or within the KOL Radar team, the resources and support systems are much better. When we are faced with a new problem, members of the team are eager to share their counsel, and there are many colleagues with different specialties to turn to for advice. I hope we can continue to explore the market in the future, so we can collect more useful feedback from our customers, which will help us develop more products that users want. That is my vision as a product manager.


Note: Deep Report uses technologies such as web crawling, text segmentation module, and sentiment analysis module. A web crawler is a highly efficient automated system that uses Proxy Server to analyze the API of different social media platforms and regularly capture the latest numbers from a sponsored post. The text segmentation module and the sentiment analysis module both rely on NLP technology. The text segmentation module is an improved Jieba system that converts text into meaningful phrases. The sentiment analysis module uses ML technology to study a lot of text messages and learn how to differentiate between positive, negative, and neutral tones.


Customers at the Center, Data at Our Core: How KOL Radar Established a Flexible Key Account System

Human-centered is inspiring others and improving for the better.

Dictated by Yvonne Hsu, Business Director, KOL Radar
Written by Iris Hung

Back in 2020, COO Keynes brought up the concept of "Key Accounts" with the team. By the end of that year, I had completed a briefing about how to set up a "Key Account" system within the company. But in the first quarter of this year, when we tried to put theory into practice, we found that people still had doubts. So, after the Lunar New Year holidays, we held more rounds of internal discussions. First, we talked with the AM team; then, the KR team and the planning team; and then finally, with the entire business unit.

The AM team was mostly concerned about the resources we wanted to devote to the system. So, we volunteered information about how we would use the manpower and how we would set up complementary systems. I also drafted an "operational disclaimer" about Key Accounts, clearly stating our commitment to our customers, as well as the kind of support we wanted from the team. We even designed a ceremony where Keynes could reward members of the AM team for a job well done, so they would feel like it was their responsibility. If they needed any assistance, the whole team would be there for them.

Besides the AM team, the KR team and the planning team had similar concerns. Keynes and I held a second round of discussions with the two supporting teams. Through our talks, we understood their questions about the Key Account system, and we laid their fears to rest, right there during the meeting.

The third talk we had was with the entire KOL Radar team. Based on the primary concerns that were raised by various colleagues during our previous meetings, and judging by my discussions with Keynes and other team managers, I knew I would need to prepare a safety net for the whole team, if I were to have their unreserved cooperation. I made a schedule showing when we had worked with our Key Account customers in the previous year. I let everyone know what kind of value each client offered, as well as what sort of resources our departments had committed to their projects. This way, everyone knew what the maximum amount of effort being asked of them was. 

In addition, I made a clear list of all the questions about integrating resources between departments, many of which had been brought up in the previous meetings. In the third meeting, I shared the requests that were made by other departments. By championing transparency and explaining everything in detail, I made sure everyone agreed on matters of internal cooperation and communication.

In the past, the KOL Radar team had followed a strict SOP. But the market is fluid and flexible; rules were made to be broken. Understanding our Key Accounts and what the market wanted was the only way to truly solve problems for our clients.

To my thinking, customer service is not without limits. We must keep a firm grasp on our own "identity"—that is to say, we satisfy our customers with our core competence, which is rooted in technology. We serve as the bridge between what customers want and what our products can provide. By responding to our customers' requests with professional solutions, we help customers understand our value is not in manpower, but in data technology. The Key Account system allows our data service to respond to customer requests with a greater degree of flexibility. However, if the client chooses to ignore the value in our data, or if they should treat us with disrespect—then, we would rather forgo such a customer.

My experience working in an advertising agency has taught me to be on the side of the customer. Our team is the customer's partner and comrade-in-arms. We are in the thick of it with our customers. I try to adhere to this principle in the work I do. I try to understand their pain point, put myself in their shoes, and provide a good solution that can solve all their problems. In return, I expect the customer to reward our respect with their respect. This is the core tenet of managing our Key Accounts.


Build the Environment You Want to Work In

Human-centered is respecting different voices, regardless of one's position.

Materials provided by Browny Lin, Technical Director, iKala Cloud
Written by Fiona Chou

I joined iKala in 2015.

In college, I was in the swim team. So, I know what I'm talking about when I say there are two ways to swim faster. One, make yourself stronger. Two, lower the resistance. The difference between a professional and an amateur is the amateur will focus on increasing their own strength, though there is a limit to how strong a human can be. The professional knows to look for ways to decrease the resistance, even while they increase their own strength. 

In my previous jobs, I could be very vocal if I had an opinion about our products. I was not afraid to argue with my superiors to prove a point. But the corporate cultures of those companies could not tolerate such behavior. When the time came to find a new job, I vowed to find a more suitable situation for myself. I would look for a way to decrease the friction between myself and my surroundings as much as possible. I have to create the workplace I want to work in, because that is the best outcome for myself and the people I work with.

That was my epiphany and my enlightenment. 

For example, everyone uses Slack as a team communication platform, and it seems the most natural thing in the world. But in the beginning, back when we first decided to use this service, the R&D team went through multiple rounds of discussions. Our colleague Jeddie even wrote a three-page proposal to educate our CEO Sega and COO Keynes about Slack. We made an effort to communicate with the team and enlighten them about many things: for example, why we needed Slack; how we were going to use Slack; what the advantages and drawbacks were; how many channels were needed; and how we were going to name each channel.

At the time, we even set up a channel called "#slack-slap" to host open discussions. Anyone could log on and share their opinions.

"Lastly, my purpose in writing this proposal is to help everyone gain a better understanding of our expectations towards Slack. As the person who advocates we use this program, I feel it is my responsibility to turn Slack into a project everyone can participate in. I believe that is the very meaning of 'collaboration'—the power and wisdom of the many is greater than that of the individual. I welcome anyone who has the inclination to come and join me. If you wish to share your view, please join #slack-slap and speak your mind. We welcome anyone who would like to propose ideas or actions to be a part of us, because we are all in this together."

That was what Jeddie wrote in the last page of the proposal. In the end, I think the platform has performed even better than what we expected. This came to be because we were able to reach a consensus among every member of the team from the beginning. More importantly, this was what we all wanted. It was in line with my expectations: you have to build the environment you wish to work in.

That is something everyone has the power to do.