Photo - (From left) Abdullah Arshad, Executive Vice President, Corporate Sector Innovation & Strategic Impact Projects, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia; Jon Day, Head of Marketing, Google Malaysia; Azli Mohamed, Chief Operating Officer, GE Malaysia and Alvin Ng, General Manager, GE Digital, ASEAN/South East Asia at the presentation of the GE Global Innovation Barometer (Malaysia Report) findings.
According to digital industry manufacturing giant General Electric's (GE) 2016 Global Innovation Barometer, despite concerns about talent, a significant number of Malaysian executives are more positive about entering the fourth industrial revolution compared to their peers globally.
During a recent briefing about the Malaysia Report of its biennial 2016 GE Global Innovation Barometer, GE Malaysia's chief operating Officer Azli Mohamed said that a high percentage of Malaysian executives feel optimistic (76 percent vs. 68 percent globally), excited (67 percent vs. 61 percent globally) and confident (72 percent vs. 60 percent globally) about the prospect of entering the fourth industrial revolution, also known as the Age of the Industrial Internet [the next wave of innovation impacting the way the world connects and optimises machines through the use of sensors and advanced analytics].
Azli said the Barometer also found that many of the innovation challenges that faced Malaysian executives in 2014 "still remain, such as talent and sufficient investment. Talent remains a major challenge, with three-in-four businesses (74 percent vs. 71 percent in 2014 and 58 percent globally) seeking for a workforce that is creative (64% vs. 54% globally) and problem solving (58 percent vs. 56 percent globally)."
"[However] the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 has moved Malaysia up four notches from 24th place out of 144 countries in 2013-2014 to 20th place in 2014-2015," he added.
"Malaysia's progress is reflected in the Report's Innovation Pillar [Pillar 12], in which improved scores were recorded in each of the criteria measured. This certainly indicates that Malaysia is moving in the right direction when it comes to innovation," said Azli.
While corporate Malaysia has readily embraced innovation, the innovation eco-system needs to be further elevated in order to impact the nation's growth, he said. "One of the most difficult things to teach and to learn is innovation; the ability to do things differently from how it was done before to bring about beneficial change not only for an organisation but also the larger community and subsequently, the country."
Multinationals as the driving force
"We also laud the Malaysian Government's focus on transforming innovation to wealth by catalysing innovation at both the enterprise and societal levels, while improving collaboration among all stakeholders, as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan," added Azli.
"Through efforts such as strengthening industry-academic collaborations to inculcating higher order thinking skills in the society, we are confident that the nation's goal of becoming a high income nation by 2020 can be achieved with an innovative and forward-looking society," he said.
"Notably, 34 percent of the respondents see multinationals as the driving force behind innovation in Malaysia today," said Azli. "This is a significant departure from the global average of 18 percent. At GE, we have and will continue to work closely with our Malaysian partners to create innovative solutions that address the community's needs."
The study also revealed that 93 percent of Malaysian business executives are mindful of the developments that are changing the face of innovation, he said. "The Malaysia Report stated that 93 percent of the respondents believe that innovative companies are defined in their ability to not only launch new products and services but also create a new market that did not exist previously [vs 90 percent globally]."
Azli said that "in terms of innovation strategy, 79 percent of Malaysian businesses [vs. 68 percent globally] have a clear and defined innovation strategy, favouring incremental innovations [59 percent vs. 63 percent globally] and internal innovations [57 percent vs. 60 percent globally]. Having said this, the Report discovered that while more Malaysian business executives have a clear process and structure in place to manage innovation as compared to the global average, [48 percent vs. 42 percent globally], the reliance on consumer research as a foundation for innovation [42 percent vs. 35 percent globally) and turning data and analytics into actionable decision making tools [40 percent vs. 40 percent globally] are the most challenging best practices that they are currently facing."
Other key findings from the study show that, globally, the U.S. has the number one spot among business leaders, while Germany dropped from number two to number three. Japan is still among the top three countries considered to be a leading innovation champion, moving to the number two position.
Malaysia emerged as a new entrant to the list, along with countries such as Australia, Canada and Switzerland, said Azli.
In addition, executives globally have been taking action on decisions that used to make them nervous, including increasing investments in new partnerships, data, and analytics to inform decision-making and remain competitive. Collaboration has increased in most markets, and businesses across the globe are seeing results. Globally, 77 percent are seeing an increase in revenue and profit generated by collaborative activities in 2015 versus 64 percent in 2014. Malaysia scored 81% in this category, significantly higher than the global average.
Now in its fifth year, the research was commissioned by GE and conducted by Edelman Berland between October 13, 2015 and December 7, 2015. Interviews with the 2,748 senior business executives and the 1,346 informed publics were conducted by telephone or online across 23 countries. Seventy percent of the business executives surveyed are at the C-suite level. The countries included in the research are: Algeria, USA, Australia, China, Canada, South Africa, India, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Brazil, France, UAE, Mexico, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Germany, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In Malaysia, GE gathered insight from more than 100 business executives.
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