Dancing to the beat of the 4th Industrial Revolution

ICT, Innovation, Information Technology, IT Industry

30 Jun Dancing to the beat of the 4th Industrial Revolution

There was talk of revolution in the air at the 25th World Economic Forum on Asean, which took place over two days earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur.

The event, which brought together politicians, top corporate and youth leaders, academics and civil society, aimed to shape global, regional and industry agendas but the focus, rightly, was on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and what it means for Malaysia and Asean as a whole.

In the first place, what’s all the fuss about the 4IR?

In a nutshell, the 4IR can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines. It represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and a “whole new way of work”.

Countries such as the United States and Germany are actively responding to the waves of technological revolution and demonstrating exceptional capacity to thrive in this era of digitisation.

This is because, in the past decade, the rate of adoption of new technologies has accelerated. Technology is changing the rules of business and disruption is becoming the norm. As business leaders we need to absorb, understand and adapt.

What’s more, Asean’s young demographic is more technologically savvy and are using the internet a lot more. In a region where 50% of the population are under 30 years of age, and 90% of those under 30 have access to internet, digital is the future.

As a result, it’s no surprise that traditional businesses are starting to feel the pressure to digitise their business.

Harnessing digital technology enables companies of all sizes to gain footholds in new markets, and provides the opportunity to establish a prominent global presence to realise their potential of becoming significant players in international markets.

So where does all this leave Malaysia and where we stand in the whole context of the 4IR?

Transforming the economy with ICT

Throughout the two days and since the WEF, my MDec team and I have been sharing ideas extensively amongst ourselves and with industry about the destructive force of digital innovation as enablers of stronger economic growth.

Malaysia realised the importance of digital transformation ahead of others (we used to call it “ICT as a catalyst towards K economy”).

The play then was primarily for investment and that was how the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) was born. The idea then was for it to be a honey pot for the best tech companies locally as well as internationally to come and set up office in the MSC.

Fast forward 20 years; It still gives me the chills sometimes, to see how an organic growth in a green field location has really developed. Since then it has spread beyond Cyberjaya; in fact, less than half our investments go to Cyberjaya right now. It has spread out to 45 other cyber-cities and cyber-centres throughout the country with some RM283 billion worth of investments.

Interestingly enough, one of the benefits in Bills of Guarantee of MSC then was to have a free flow of foreign talent. In this light, we should continue to strive to attract the best talents in cutting edge areas such as Big Data Analytics (BDA), Internet of Things (IoT) and so on.

This is compounded by the fact that digital disruption has taken on a whole new meaning. The next 10 years will see the coming of age of some of these cutting edge innovations and the coming together of innovation in the areas of BDA, IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and so on.

In a world where innovation is so fast paced and where change is the only constant, Malaysia needs to be continuously focused so that we continue to be leading in key areas of enabling fundamentals.

We’ve made significant strides in access over the years with HSBB (high speed broadband). Currently, internet penetration stands at 68.6% of population. However, Malaysia still needs to catch up on speed and affordability. According to a report circulated at the WEF, the average global download speed is 23Mbps, with developed countries at 100Mbps upwards. Malaysia’s average DL speed is at 7.3Mbps.

Optimising the regulatory framework to optimise both access and speed is where you have to strike the right balance. We are really looking forward to the fact that the Government, the prime minister, made the announcement in the 11th Malaysia Plan to be able to reach 10Mbps for rural and 100Mbps for urban. It’s very important that we get this execution right.

Just as important is investing in our young talent. The opportunities from the 4IR is about creating value for social economic impact. It’s been said that this would require those who dream the important dreams. Hence, it’s about creating a “Society of Dreamers and Do-ers.”

I was talking to one of the regional leaders of a major MNC and asked him what the top three skills needed for the future were. Not surprisingly, Data & Analytics skills came out tops. Another was storytelling skills, the ability to tell a story; if you’re able to tell a story through Data – that’s it, you’re made.

The third thing we have to do apart from the fundamentals – human capital, investments – concerns the ecosystem.

Getting people to ‘dance’

One of the most critical ecosystems that we are putting our focus on is the “dance floor”. The BDA “dance floor” is one of the most important and is really anchored around talent development; data scientists, data modellers, analysts.

What we are projecting is that Malaysia needs to have 1,500 data scientists, the real top-tier end of the whole ecosystem by the year 2020, and supported by 16,000 data professionals.

Yes, we are doing that, building data science curriculum, in universities, not only within the computing and engineering tracks but to also embed Data & Analytics as a skill throughout the other disciplines such as business, finance, actuarial science and so on.

The other components of the “dance floor” include developing initiatives to embrace the richness of open data sharing and shared enterprise data.

At the end of the day, though, whatever transformation needs to happen needs to be driven by the private sector. We as government can only create the “dancing floor” but the actual dancing is still with the private sector

In conclusion, go “dance”. This is not a dance where we can enjoy sitting down with the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to get our groove on.

Datuk Yasmin Mahmood is CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp.

 

Source: The Star

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