Photo - (From left) Abel Cheah, Regions Manager TFM; Albert Chai, Country Manager Cisco Malaysia; and Viren Doshi, CEO CatchThatBus
A recent briefing in Kuala Lumpur involving infrastructure solutions provider Cisco, non-for-profit organisation Teach for Malaysia and online booking company CatchThatBus, made calls for a stronger national innovation system to drive the digitisation of the nation.
Cisco Malaysia country manager Albert Chai, who was joined by Teach for Malaysia's regions manager Abel Cheah, and CatchThatBus chief executive officer and co-founder Viren Doshi, opened the discussion by noting that the Malaysian government has been driving continuous investment in information and communication technology (ICT).
The initiatives - MSC (Multimedia Supercorridor) Malaysia, Digital Malaysia and allocation to the National Budget - centred on promoting the pervasive use of ICT, generating further demand and transforming key sectors. MSC projects have contributed more than RM295 (US$67.60) billion in revenue to the Malaysian economy, RM283 (US$64.85) billion worth of investments and more than 147,000 jobs.
Cisco's Chai said that in the evolution towards becoming a developed digital economy, technology and connectivity must play a greater role in improving the productivity of the people and citizen services.
He said that Cisco has a vision towards digitisation - not only in driving digital transformation of businesses, but also various nations across the world. Cisco harnesses the power of Internet of Everything (IoE) to change the way one works, serve citizens and empower people.
For Malaysia to truly emerge as a digitised nation, there is a strong need to capitalise on the nation's readiness while driving more intense and impactful use of ICT. More importantly, broader public-private partnerships are required to create and sustain the positive on ground impact connectivity, said Chai.
Better connectivity is critical
All three said that the growth of connectivity to the Internet access, beginning in the early 1990s, has accelerated and driven the adoption of ICT across industry and national services.
Chai said that Cisco recognised that connectivity was one of the most critical requirements for the Malaysian economy to reduce development gaps, enhance competitiveness and ultimately move closer to achieving our national aspirations. "Those opportunities can only be realised if there are transformational effects towards the way people are doing things today."
Although most initiatives focused on transforming key business sectors, some initiatives like Teach for Malaysia and apps like CatchThatBus were the results of innovations that not only disrupt but change people's lives, said the panellists. They have the potential to help Malaysia address the growing range of challenges people face.
Cisco's Chai said that the company recognised the need to be able to shift from establishing technology infrastructure to promoting how technology can be effectively used towards greater social and economic development. "This ultimately completes what technology is already doing to transform industries in Malaysia in realising a digitised nation."
The three panellists agreed that there are opportunities for a broader partnership between public sector, non-government organisations and startups to realise a connected Malaysia.
However, the government has a crucial role in creating the policy framework, investing in and developing infrastructure, and creating an ecosystem to fuel on-ground innovation, they said.
There is a greater call to identify ways to encourage the creation of innovative ideas that come from other industry players and today's available technologies, including cloud, analytics and the Internet-of-Everything (IoE), said Cisco's Chai.
Cisco believed that there would be more enrichment of people's lives if public agencies, private MNCs, non-government parties, startups and SMEs recognised the transformative opportunities and moved to greater collaboration to use technology. "What we would observe from this combined effort is the cultivation of creative and substantial ideas and entrepreneurial efforts across every level of society," he said.
Targeting the point of maximum impact through comprehensive talent programmes, education and public-and private participation was essential, the panellists said. "The focused-development of human capital and talent is key to realising the potential that this digital partnership can bring. While this should come through the creation of a national talent agenda and frameworks such as TalentCorp, such public policies should be integrated with the experience of private sectors and various industries including manufacturing, retail, finance, logistics, healthcare and education."
The discussion endnote was that there was a need for an ecosystem that nurtures leaders and industries that are able to innovate, collaborate and translate technology into services and solutions that can improve lives.
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