Piero Timpano geeking it in Bali

Published 31 May 2016   

Piero Timpano.
The tech-whiz from Gecko internet service providers.

Because we have a strong background of thinking out of the box, we get to be creative in problem solving.

What about what, Gecko style, the ins and outs.

S.B.What’s it all about?
P.T. My name is Piero Timpano, a very traditional British name. I’m 39 years old, working in IT now for just over 23 years. I started very young. I’ve been a CTO of various on-line gaming companies, as well as advising and working for various others.  Two years ago I decided to leave Europe and try my luck in Asia.

S.B. Starting where in Asia?
P.T. Kuala Lumpur, then to Thailand before ending up in Bali. I had an opportunity to work with Gecko (ISP) and jumped at it. It’s a small team which is quite nice and they are trying to do something very new in Bali.  The technical level of things that they had already achieved was quite high, but there was room for improvement, and that’s one of the reasons why I joined. That was in August of last year.

S.B. How do you find Bali and the progress of IT things here?
P.T. It has it’s own unique challenges, as any place in Asia does. One of the most interesting for us is introducing people to new technologies.  Even though they are not necessarily new for us, they are to the island. One of our main priorities at Gecko is bringing in a level of service and level of professionalism that you normally only find in Europe.

S.B. What’s the opposition you find with that?
P.T. It’s manly the education factor. It’s all about showing people that things can be done in a different way, showing them that they don’t have to settle for second best or for bad service. We don’t have to be limited by any possible lack of local knowledge, especially here in Bali. There is a lot of knowledge in Jakarta and the rest of Indonesia, but it hasn’t quite filtered through down here yet, to be honest. That’s one of our biggest issues, but also one of our strengths.  Sometimes things here don’t work, but we look at solutions very differently than some local providers. When we go to a new customer, we look at each person’s individuality and try to tailor a package to them.

S.B. Do you understand the culture’s flexibility towards time keeping?
P.T. Ha ha, of course! Whilst it’s true that sometimes they don’t understand schedules, our clients and potential customers are still very surprised when they give us a call and we turn up the next day to do a survey or installation. It’s especially true when they call at 7pm in the evening and we’re there at 8pm to fix their problem. More importantly though, we have a fifty-fifty mix with expatriates and local Indonesian customers. So it’s quite a healthy mix at the moment of different cultures and backgrounds, as well as our team of course. To us, all customers are important, so all get treated with the exact same high regard.

S.B. What about government involvement; for or against?
P.T.  From my understanding they are inherently nervous about trusting an expatriate company to run this kind of infrastructure, but at the same time they are very, very open to help us as much as they can.  We haven’t really noticed any opposition from any official government sector. We’re not the only company doing what we do here, but we are one of the largest.  One of the reasons why we’re so successful is we know our limitations and whilst we are not actually pushing for massive growth, we are trying to do things right in a specific area. That’s why we have coverage between Sanur across to Echo Beach, parts of Ubud, and covering the middle of Bali. We have a few customers north and south of that, but we’re not rushing in to give poor service somewhere else. We would rather say no to a customer if we can’t guarantee a high quality of service.

S. B. You’re looking at the big picture?
P.T. The future for sure.  It’s all about slowly building up our reputation, building on our reputation, building up our expertise and training the team initially, because that’s something we’re very proud of. We took local Indonesian workers, guys who were skilled up to a high level here in Bali, and took them up to the next level. Because we have a very strong background of thinking out of the box, we get to be creative in problem solving.

S.B. Wow, that’s a job!
P.T. It’s not been easy, but it’s very rewarding. All of us are so proud when you look at how much we improved the overall skill of the team in nine months. When the locals that we have working for us do the surveys, the initial installations, problem solving and troubleshooting, they are simply fantastic. We thought they would take those skills and run away, but they’ve proven very loyal and respectful. It really is a joy to have a really nice working atmosphere. It’s something you don’t get that anywhere else; that’s the Balinese culture shining through. They are eager to learn, but haven’t really had anybody to show them the way.

S.B. What do you actually do?
P.T. That’s a really good question: technically I’m a geek.  I’m the guy who has technical knowledge, so I’m training the guys. I’m also responsible for a lot of our corporate customers and partly business development as well. Recently, I’ve taken over part of the road map development, so have a direct involvement in the direction we want to go. So, I don’t get bogged down with just the technical aspect. My role as a consultant to Gecko is fluid, almost like a “Jack of all trades and master of quite a few”.

S.B. What bothers you in your endeavours here in Bali?
P.T. It would be nice to see the infrastructure pushed more technology wise, it’s disheartening to see fibre cable and electricity cables hanging over roads.

S.B. Especially for a technical geek.
P.T.  Yeah it’s pretty heartbreaking, but at the same time I hope it doesn’t happen too fast, because our business relies on the weaknesses in the infrastructure. When you call us, we have to survey your location and see if we can even actually give you service. Once we know that we can connect, you get two weeks completely free to try out, no costs, absolutely nothing. If you are not happy, we come and take the gear away and say thank you very much and it’s done.

S.B. The proof is in the pudding?
P.T. Exactly.

S.B. Where does your equipment come from?
P.T.  We have local providers for a lot of things, but the main equipment gets imported from Europe as a rule. We use Ubiquiti, which is very well known in technical circles.  For our back end and customer side, we use Mikrotik. The ability of that hardware gives us a distinctive edge, so in a nut shell, we are more prepared. Also, because we’re not relying on cables hanging over telephone poles, we control everything from your roof top to our data centre. The beauty of our wireless is even during a heavy rainstorm we don’t have problems.  If only we had such control over the power station.

S.B. Signed, sealed and delivered. Thanks for the candid eye.

Gecko: PT Econdelight
+62 (0)811 397 1168
Email- piero@gecko.co.id

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