Week in Review: E-commerce not the panacea for Indonesia’s economic upliftment

  • Governments should not get caught up in e-commerce hype
  • Motorola Solutions R&D centre in Malaysia built on local talent

I WAS heartened to see the announcement of Indonesia’s e-commerce roadmap yesterday and the eighteen initiatives to be pushed forward with six month to 12 months targets for execution.

Those tight deadlines are great, for truth be told, Indonesia is behind the curve in supporting and promoting its transition to a digital economy, of which e-commerce seems to be an anchor component.

So, the quicker the government pushes forward its various digital initiatives and measures their progress, the better for its citizens. My concern here is whether enough focus is being given to adapting its education system to deliver an education level that will equip its citizens to be able to compete for jobs and add value to future employers, all of whom will be digital oriented businesses.

Despite President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo ‘s hopes that e-commerce can be a platform to increase the earning power of under priviledged Indonesian’s, e-commerce is the wrong platform to leverage on and pin hopes that it can grow the earning power of citizens.

E-commerce will only help those who are entrepreneurial minded and even then, let’s remember that most e-commerce sites are losing money, so there will be even fewer winners here. But I think, Indonesia is talking about allowing its micro-enterprises and individual services based entrepreneurs to leverage on e-commerce to market their services and to allow for ease of payments. But even then, the vast majority of citizens of a country are salaried workers, how is e-commerce going to help them build a better live for themselves and their families?

Education is the only platform that can achieve that – it has always been the best platform to achieve that. You may say that with the new threat of possible job lose due to automation/digitization, education becomes even more important than ever. For sure that was also the opinion of Gianfranco Casati, group chief executive officer, Growth Markets, Accenture.

While Malaysians in urban areas feel the national education system is average at best, my visit to Penang on Wednesday to visit Motorola Solutions’ R&D centre proved otherwise. A work force with a strong educational foundation is the reason why Motorola Solutions was able to grow its Penang-based research and development (R&D) facility from a handful of engineers 40 years ago into a world-class 1,000 strong multi-disciplinary team today.

Amazingly, all of them are Malaysians and most are local grads.  But Malaysia isn’t resting on its laurels.

Instead work has been going on over the past few years to upgrade the education system to produce more digital-savvy students and this will result in computational thinking being embedded into the national educational curriculum from Jan 2017. It will be a gradual rollout to cover the entire primary and secondary school system with full implementation by 2019.

Executive after senior executive that I meet have all been emphasizing the importance of the current talent pool in being digital savvy and digital adaptable but also emphasizing that national education systems have to prepare their citizens from now.

Reading report after report being issued now about how job creating will be affected by automation and digitization does make for chilling reading, so I hope all governments act now.

Have a restful weekend and a productive week ahead.


Previous instalments:

Week in Review: It’s not easy to be a digital winner

Week in Review: Convergence accelerates between Old and Digital Economy

Week in Review: MatahariMall gets its wings, Be Lazee sees its clipped

Week in Review: Online has to be core for Brick & Mortar retailers says Alibaba’s global MD


Editor's Picks:

Lippo’s retail arm Matahari Department Store dives into e-commerce

For Motorola, Penang is where it starts

Indonesia announces e-commerce roadmap as part of Jokowi’s newest economic reform package

Level Up KL 2016: A showcase of Malaysian gaming talent

Dah Makan finds its way to customers’ hearts through their stomachs

Bahaso aims to help all Indonesians excel in English

Worldkoins banks on leftover change to fuel growth


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