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Monday, July 14, 2008

I-Bhd takes intelligent city project to next level

If you were a new kid on the block but eager to show that you have what it takes to turn vision into reality, what would you do?

For I-Bhd, it got world renowned architect Jon Jerde to design its RM2bil i-City in Shah Alam, entered into strategic partnerships with Intel, Telekom Malaysia and Universiti Industri Selangor, won an MSC status for the freehold commercial township and positioned itself as an ICT-based developer.

It showed its sound finances by completing Phase 1 of its Cybercentre offices in i-City under a “build-then-sell” concept. A party is going to buy the offices en bloc while an international shopping centre operator is looking at developing the mall in i-City.

Come September, tenants will be moving into its 44 Cybercentre offices.

The public-listed company recently hosted a 20-member media study tour to Sydney to visit the offices of its latest partners, Servcorp (world's second largest managed serviced office operator) and Cisco (worldwide leader in networking).

The aim was to show the advanced technology to be offered by Servcorp and Cisco in i-City, dubbed the No. 1 Technology City in the region. It also showed the Concierge services, wireless 10mbps and the One Network technology powered by Cisco, to be provided in i-City.

After a six-day trip, I must say I was “blown away” not so much by riding a Harley-Davidson over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sliding down a giant sand dune in Port Stephens, having lunch in the observation deck of Sydney Tower nor even dining in The Great Cask Hall of Hope Estate in Hunter Valley.

Indeed, all the five-star experience as part of I-Bhd's branding exercise, including jetting in the A380, dolphin watching or hand-feeding sharks, probably threw some of us off our feet.

What blew me over was the IT experience at Servcorp and Cisco that showcased cutting edge IT that can be applied to offices and the homes.

For example, at Servcorp, the media saw how its Concierge service could offer human and technical help to firms at a much affordable cost.

As I-Bhd chief innovation officer Ricky Lim said with i-City's MSC status, tenants could enjoy many benefits including super broadband with Gigabit connectivity, no import duties for multimedia equipment, 15 minutes emergency response, no restriction on recruitment of foreign workers, and 10-years tax exemption.

Lim Boon Siong (right) exchanging documents with Marcus Moufarrige

“We are also providing 100% power backup supply in 15 seconds. All buildings in i-City will be connected,” he said. It would also have an integrated data centre (under construction), online portal for one bill payment, concierge, plug-and-play services, redundant broadband and Cisco Unified Communications.

I-Bhd and Servcorp signed an agreement during the trip for Servcorp to provide the concierge service, the first of its kind in Malaysia.

The media was also shown Cisco's latest telepresence technology where reporters talked to a virtual life-size manager from Cisco Singapore in an identical boardroom as the one in Sydney.

We also visited Australia's most intelligent strata office building, the new 10,000 sq m, seven-level Nexus Norwest in Norwest Business Park. Developed by Capital Corp with Office Squared (a Servcorp subsidiary), it has an integrated managed network and advanced Protocol (IP) telephony system from Cisco.

Interviews with several tenants indicated a high level of satisfaction.

Bet Choice Corpo CEO Mark Morrissey praised the fast-speed broadband for his horse-betting business.

For Jacqui Gibbs, director of a small marketing firm, relocating her business from home in the city to Norwest enhanced her firm's image, saved her travelling expenses and time, enabled her to tap into a pool of clients in the business park and run her business more efficiently.

As Office Squared CEO Marcus Moufarrige said organisations could save 30% to 55% per-workstation costs by having a pre-installed infrastructure and a managed network.

This trip showed that real estate is not just brick and mortar but to compete, developers must differentiate and IT can add value to property and is the way to go.

“I-City is on track. We are creating a special niche by investing in technology that can add value to our property and benefit our tenants and purchasers,” said I-Bhd deputy chief executive officer Lim Boon Siong.

Like Nexus Norwest, i-City is about doing business in a faster, cheaper and simpler way and relocating to a new growth suburb has its advantages.

The difference between the two is that Nexus Norwest is merely a third the size of i-City's Phase 1. The 72-acre i-City will be a connected “intelligent city” that will take the next generation of business space to another level.

By The Star

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