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By Tan Jee Yee, Digital News Asia, April 5, 2019


“CHANGES are already happening. And as business leaders, we have no choice but to adapt to these changes,” says Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF) Board of Trustees chairman Azman Hashim.

This statement, which was part of his opening speech, perfectly encapsulates PLF’s CEO Forum 2019. Held on April 4, the forum is themed around the need to accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) in Malaysia.

And the need is crucial. In the forum’s first panel discussion, titled “Understanding and Accelerating the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the panellists stress that if Malaysia does not embrace and hasten their progress into IR4.0 – an industrial revolution marked by automation, data exchange, Internet of Things, cloud computing and artificial intelligence – they run the risk of falling behind their neighbours.

“If we do not step up to the game, you will find that we will not have just fallen behind China, but many of our neighbours like Thailand and Vietnam, who are rapidly catching up to us,” says Dr Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister of International and Trade Industry (MITI), who was one of the panellists.

“Our relevance in the world is at stake, and this is something that we need to get right.”

Challenges and opportunities

Another of the panellist, Google Malaysia’s country head Marc Woo, highlighted three key challenges that are impacting Malaysia’s foray into the fourth industrial revolution. The first is accessibility – that is, the speed of the country’s connectivity and access to the Internet and services.

The second challenge is in empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – which form 98.5% of the country’s business establishments – to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and to provide them the toolsets and platform to drive it.

Lastly, Woo expresses a wish that Malaysia can produce more “unicorns”– referring to startups with valuations at US$1 billion – at a higher rate. “China produces one unicorn every four days. I believe Malaysia, through harnessing the power of Asean, could produce multiple unicorns in a year,” he says.

Panelist Ng Wan Peng, who is COO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), notes another priority to address: Talent. “For Malaysia to really take advantage of IR4.0, we need to have people trained as a user as well as at the developer level,” she says.

“If you are not aware of what Industrial Revolution 4.0 is about and how it impacts your work, your business will not be able to take full advantage of it.”

Read more here.