Geographical information improves water supply management in the Philippines
The geographical information services offered by Keypro, a Finnish company, help water works service providers improve their operations in the Philippines. The Finnpartnership support was very important for finding the first partners.
Keypro Oy was established in 1995 and specialises in developing geographic information systems and associated services. Water works and electric utility service providers or telecommunications operators are now better able to map out their networks. It improves the efficiency with decision-making and operative procedures.
Antti Heino, who is responsible for Keypro operations in Southeast Asia, says that the company has over 200 customers in Finland. The growth limit was about to be reached in Finland, so the decision to internationalise was made in 2014. “First, a wide range of markets were assessed, but later the focus was on a few potential countries. The resources of a SMB company are limited. Therefore, limiting the areas of interest was vital”, Heino explains.
Accelerated momentum from Finnpartnership support
Southeast Asia especially was highlighted of the developing economies. At the same time, Keypro was learning about Finnpartnership’s business partnership support at a Finpro event in Helsinki. “We applied for and received the support from Finnpartnership for drafting a business plan and seeking partners. Initially, the target was five countries in Southeast Asia, but as the process progressed, we decided to focus on one country in the region, the Philippines. Heino feels the Finnpartnership support has been important for a SMB business like Keypro. “The support reduces the overall risk and lowers the threshold to enter new markets.”
”Pilot project worth gold”
The business partnership support from Finnpartnership covered the implementation of the pilot project in the Philippines. Delivering the geographic information system to the municipal water works service provider on the island of Luzon was the turning point, according to Heino. Although the business partnership support cannot be used for normal business activities, it made the pilot project possible, which contributed to getting the deal. “The first deal in the region was worth gold to us. Customers were not really interested in our 20 years of experience and 200 references in Finland. They wanted to know what we had done in the Philippines.” In the pilot project, Keypro delivered a geographic location system to the water works plant of the City of Cabanatuan. The plant is currently responsible for the water works of over 300,000 residents. According to Heino, adoption of the new technology has increased the motivation of the employees at the water works plant. The operational reliability of water works services is also improved by more detailed knowledge of the locations of all the pipes, valves and measuring devices. “For example, leaks can be repaired faster than before, when one does not have to guess where the pipes are located or attempt to find them in old drawings. All information is now available in a smartphone application.”
Networking is crucial
Heino emphasises that effective networking with companies and organisations associated with one’s business is crucial in new markets. In Southeast Asia, Keypro has participated in Doing Business with Finland events organised by Team Finland. The purpose of the events is to introduce Finns to local actors and vice versa. “The meetings have resulted in a lot of practical benefit, as a lot of companies and public administration representatives attend the events. We have obtained a lot of good contacts, which then leaves it up to us to try to make the best use of them.” Keypro seeks partners from among local companies that have ready established networks with potential customers. Cooperation is also desired with companies that are specialised in geographic location information. “We have assumed the approach that a local partner must be able to provide additional value to us. We can supplement Keypro’s services with local know-how, as it does not make sense to deliver everything from Finland, due to price levels and distances.”
Heino feels finding truly motivated and reliable partners is the greatest challenge. “A lot of time should be allocated to finding partners and starting co-operation. The more time you can spend on-site, the better the results are likely to be.” Heino feels that the time and effort spend in the Philippines has been worth it. Currently, Keypro customers include a few local water works and telecommunications service providers. The growth prospects are good, so the Finnish company plans to increase its operations in the island nation.
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