Nukman Luthfie: Making Internet Inroads

THE Internet revolution has changed almost everything in the world, including many people’s activities and habits, such as the way they access the media. Just take a look at the daily activities of Nukman Luthfie, for example.

Immediately after getting up in the morning, Nukman, online strategist and CEO of Virtual Consulting, grabs his BlackBerry and updates his Twitter account with networking information.

He then checks Facebook. “After that I read the news on, and,” he said.

The way many people access the media nowadays has totally changed since the birth of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. By keeping up to date through Twitter, people have become better informed.

Newspapers are still read, albeit only important news and favorite articles. One listens to the radio mostly on the way to the office. As for television, that is usually watched only after social networking sites are checked.

It isn’t just Nukman’s daily routine but that of many Indonesians. In fact, there are already 21.5 million Facebook users and five million Twitter users in Indonesia.

The growing trend of both media will certainly continue. The new social media also includes Kaskus, Multiply and Plurk. As mobile owners can access these sites anywhere at any time they are becoming more widely used and popular.

The revolutionized and changing world is one of the reasons why Nukman decided to establish an Internet-based business. He started his career as a journalist in the print media long before the advent of the Internet. After graduating from the School of Nuclear Engineering (now called the School of Physics) of Gadjah Mada University in 1990, instead of working in the nuclear field he decided to work as a journalist for Bisnis Indonesia daily. In the same year, he also worked as a senior reporter for Prospek magazine.

After three years of writing about business and economics, Nukman, who was born in Semarang in 1964, became a senior editor at Indonesia’s leading business magazine, SWA. He described his career path as being lost on the right track.

Nukman, who during his university days was active in the Nuclear Technical Students Association, then worked in public relations from 1997 until 1999. He was the co-founder and director of PT Agrakom Para Relatika and his clients included Intel Indonesia, Microsoft Indonesia, Compaq Indonesia, Astra Graphia Information Technology and HSBC.

His career developed further when he worked for PT Agranet Multicitra Siberkom (Agrakom) as internet services director. Agrakom is an IT service company, and news portal is its most popular business unit.

After gaining much experience in business, internet services, public relations and e-marketing, Nukman decided in 2003 to set up his own company, Virtual Consulting. This is an Internet consultancy, marketing and communication company, and within only three years Virtual Consulting has transformed into one of Indonesia’s leading IT consultancies.

Virtual Consulting is also the first company to apply the strategy of social media for its clients. One example is Toyota Astra Motor (TAM), which has been a client for five years. When TAM planned to launch the Toyota Altis, Nukman suggested that the launch include a blogger conference and reviews. So, it was not only a press conference but corporate users were also invited during the launch and there were reviews by a number of celebrities as well.

This was the first time bloggers in Indonesia were officially invited and treated the same as other media personnel. They were also invited for a test drive. As a result, bloggers wrote in great volume on the Internet to supplement the articles written in conventional media. This phenomenal strategy received a New Wave Marketing Award from MarkPlus, which is chaired by Hermawan Kertajaya.

Besides TAM, other national and multinational clients of Virtual Consulting include Hewlett-Packard Indonesia, Tehbotol Sosro, SoyJoy, Evalube Oil, Bank BNI, Hebel, Tupperware, Centro Department Store, Lippo Karawaci Group and SWA.

And that is not all. He built a human resources site, He also built sharia business site and an automotive portal, The latest Internet-based business is, an e-marketplace and e-commerce self-service., launched in December 2009, succeeded in getting 130 companies to set up online shops and join within three months. “Our target is about 1,000 shops in two years,” said Nukman, who is an active blogger on entrepreneurship and online marketing issues.

After seven years of developing his company for online marketing consultancy, Nukman has now spread his wings further by assisting small and medium companies market their products through the Internet.

He has now entrusted Virtual Consulting to a young management team, Iim Fahima and friends, so that he can focus on, which is an e-commerce platform that is specifically Indonesian. Why so? “Because the Indonesians’ online shopping habits are quite different from those in other countries,” he said.

E-commerce in other countries uses credit cards or paypal, but, here in Indonesia, customers prefer to pay via bank transfer or cash on delivery. Shop owners also do not like payments via credit card because it is costly and cuts into their profits. “In other countries, online transactions are quite popular, while here it is in the initial stage, so intensive education is required,” he said.

Nukman said that although Internet penetration in Indonesia was still low, the online business has huge potential because there is rapid growth in Internet users, according to observers. Data from Google Ad Planner reveals there are 35 million “unique” online users in Indonesia. A “unique” user means someone who may have various Internet accounts. “This means that there are at least 35 million Internet users in the country,” he said.

He further said that: “Based on the latest research, about half of the Indonesian Internet users have made transactions. So far it has been e-ticket or e-banking, while quite a lot make product transactions as well.”

Nukman, who has been a speaker at 200 events since 1999, strongly believes that the business potential in the virtual world is quite promising. However, he has no wild dreams. “My life flows naturally just like that. Of course, there are targets and I have wishes, but they are like a ladder. Going up is just one step at a time,” said Nukman, who received an award from the Tangan di Atas (Hands Raised) business group as Aspiring E-preneur on April 11, 2010.

Nukman, a CEO with 50 employees, dreams of owning a company that is not only profitable but also an ideal workplace that has a positive impact on the surrounding community. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, April 28, 2010

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