CEO & Board Director, BIG INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY (S) PTE LTD;
Investor; Board Director, BRIX GLOBAL LIMITED; Former Chairman, Honorary Director EU, Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI); Founding Member and Board Director, EU ASEAN Business Council (EU ABC)
Fermin is a Systems Engineer and holds an MBA with honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in International Economics from John Hopkins University. Fermin also taught at the University of California.
Fermin served as VP Global Enterprise, ICT, International Carrier for Telekom Malaysia Group. Prior, he was CEO, Partner of Logica in Asia and served as Executive Board Director, CTO/CIO of Portugal Telecom PT Prime. Prior, he worked for McKinsey & Co. in the Telecoms Practice.
What technology breakthrough would pave the way for the ICT industry?
There is not necessarily a single technology, but it is the convergence and fusion of new emerging technologies that can enable the power to breakthrough and become disruptive. For example, the combination of AI on the cloud, IoT, and blockchain. Each of these technologies by themselves are not as powerful as when you combine them. Placing AI on the cloud, connecting devices via IOT, and using blockchain will make the platform affordable, ubiquitous, and secure scaling up the number of business applications. In our telco world, another example is the fusion of AI with photonics that is enabling the development of optical processors which used with optical transmission can power our networks to new heights.
What network-related development will have the greatest impact in our industry?
More than single developments, it is the systemic combination of diverse technologies and factors that impacts the industry. For example, advancements in optical transmission technology, enabling the seamless and swift interconnection of data centers anywhere in the world, combined with IoT and 5G networks will boost traffic, data, and media rich application adoption to levels never seen before. The potential of connecting humans, devices, and machines anywhere with low latency and secure networks can propel a tsunami of traffic, new applications, and usage.
Is it important for companies to continue to innovate their organization or offerings, and why?
Empirical evidence points to companies that stay put and rest on their laurels eventually fall down, are acquired, or are broken to pieces. We live in a complex, dynamic, and fast-paced world where new innovations and companies emerge from nowhere. Today’s leading dominant technology giants started small and from humble beginnings. On the other hand, many well-established blue-chip companies have fallen down. In fact, recently there have been several cases of global banks and technology companies that are falling abruptly due in part to a lack of innovation, agility, and governance. Companies need to challenge their business value proposition continuously while building their capabilities and flexibility to become agile, creative, and nimble no matter their size. The same concept applies to all of us as professionals and individuals. As professionals we need to invest time and resources in continuous lifelong learning to avoid becoming obsolete.
What value does PTC hold for you/your company?
PTC’s Annual Conference is a good platform to meet with partners, customers, prospects, and colleagues from the industry in a single, intense event within the surroundings of an awesome location. PTC allows us to compress many meetings into a three- to four-day span. Honolulu for many of us is far away but the advantage is being in a very different time zone and in a remote location, isolating us from day-to-day routine activities. The content and wide range of topics is comprehensive, providing you choices based on your focus and interests. The participants are diverse and, notwithstanding that it is an Asia-Pacific conference, there are attendants from all over the world. One regret is that I did not plan for some quality spare time prior to or after the conference to surf the waves of Waikiki or play a good round of golf with my partners and colleagues. Next Annual Conference, I will try to do this!
What would you share with those interested in becoming a PTC Member?
PTC’s Annual Conference is a good investment of time and resources. You need to plan to make your participation productive and pleasant, from reaching people early enough to book meetings, flights, hotels, and planning social/sports activities. The conference has companies and participants from all continents and from most of the telecom subsectors, including emerging technologies.
What advice would you share with current and future graduates interested in this field?
The telecoms/ICT space is a fascinating world that has continued to evolve in a dramatic way, offering constant challenges and opportunities. I have been in this space for almost 30 years and have experienced the networks evolve from their analog beginnings to the new digital optical transmission and local fiber and data center distributed networks. The complexity and sheer pace of change in this industry has been breathtaking. My advice to recent graduates is to be humble, agile, creative, and in permanent learning mode. No matter which function or subset of the industry you are dealing with, you will experience change and constant challenges. Challenge yourself and constantly learn from your colleagues, partners, and competitors and be agile and adaptive to the new conditions.
What industry mogul or up-and-coming leader have you followed or are currently following, and why?
Rather than following an individual or leader, I follow companies and selected spaces of technology and business. I take an approach comparable to the diversification of a financial portfolio, selecting diverse companies and spaces, honing in to examine, learn, and follow them. Consequently, we are tracking the large technology giants, semiconductor and optical network leaders, and several emerging companies in the AI, blockchain, and photonics spaces. This approach allows you to have a balanced and diversified learning experience.
About BIG INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY (BIGS):
BIGS is a company incorporated in Singapore and is the holder of a FBO Telecommunications Licence. BIGS is principally engaged in the business of providing wireline telecommunications network services, capacity landing services into Singapore for non-licensed foreign carriers, submarine cable capacity, and wholesale bandwidth. Presently, BIGS also provides backhaul data connectivity between key Internet data centers (DC) in Singapore and submarine cable connectivity to several carriers. BIGS also has access and capacity in several submarine cable systems, and is planning to build new submarine cable systems and capacity in the region.