Sharmila Ganapathy: My Fave 5 of 2018
By Sharmila Ganapathy January 21, 2019
- SMEs need to make a firm decision to adopt Industry 4.0
- Broadband should be declared a basic right in Malaysia
DECISIONS are the boon and very often, the bane, of every entrepreneur’s life. Making the right call can be tough when uncertainty is the only constant about a particular decision. Having said that, many entrepreneurs and organisations have made the difficult decisions that are necessary to grow their business, either regionally or globally.
My Fave 5 for 2018 focusses on decisions. Some have already been made and some haven’t, but all of them are equally tough and demanding on the entrepreneurs, decision makers and leaders of nations that need to, or have already made them.
And so, here’s my Fave 5:
I’ve learned that the problem with many small-and-medium enterprises (or SMEs), is that they don’t often make the right investment decisions necessary to grow their businesses. This also applies to their beliefs and knowledge regarding Industry 4.0, and the decisions they make as a result of this.
What I discovered when writing this story is that local SMEs are not deciding right. They are shying away from Industry 4.0 because they do not understand its value and long-term benefits for their business. It’s not that they are not aware it exists, they are. But they can’t seem to translate this to deciding to adopt Industry 4.0 practices.
“They need to want to change themselves, they need to know that in four to five years’ time it will be an issue for them. If they realise that they have a problem and find a way to solve it using technology, then they will be on the right track,” says Knowledgecom Corporation Sdn Bhd chief executive officer S T Rubaneswaran (pic, above), whom I interviewed for this article.
In other words, SMEs need to make a firm decision to adopt Industry 4.0 because there is no running away from this wave. Continuing to be wishy-washy about it will no longer keep them in the driver’s seat.
Some entrepreneurs make early decisions to enter a niche market to create a first-mover advantage for themselves. This is what the chief executive officer Tharma Indran (pic, above) and chief technology officer Yuri Klimets of award-winning, homegrown smart home solutions maker BNetworks Sdn Bhd did when they started their company in 2013. At the time of writing, the company had ratcheted up RM4 million in sales of their solutions to property developers and hotels located in Malaysia.
I liked the fact that the founders had the fortitude and insight to approach property developers and hotels to capture the B2B share of the smart homes market in Malaysia, and thus indirectly address the B2C segment as well. What’s more, they are moving into Singapore and India, to capitalise on the growth and demand towards smart home solutions in those markets. BNetworks is an excellent example of making sound decisions at the right time, and that’s why this story made it to my Fave 5 list.
Having covered the telecommunications scene in Malaysia for some years now, I have always been fascinated by Malaysian-based telcos’ forays into other markets. This particular story was about their respective journeys in the tough-as-nails Indian telecommunications market. This story is about their decisions past, present and possibly for the future (where Axiata is concerned, at least) concerning business moves in India and how that has impacted these telcos (or likely to impact them).
I had a lot of questions at the start of this article, and came away with some of them yet to be answered, simply because Axiata hadn’t made the ‘stay in or leave India’ decision at the time I wrote this article. I believe they still haven’t announced plans for an exit, which my gut instinct tells me is inevitable. And yes, I got to make a rock song reference from The Clash for this story, which made it all the more fun to write.
Sometimes, decisions aren’t in the hands of entrepreneurs alone, especially when it comes to the telecommunications sector in Malaysia. This story is about decisions that need to be made by the government, specifically the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to fully deregulate the broadband market in Malaysia and create a more level playing field as a result for broadband players.
This will result in lower broadband wholesale prices, which then filters down to the consumers. It’s a logical and sound decision, but again, it has yet to be made. I still feel that broadband should be declared a basic right in Malaysia, because it is as important as water, electricity and education is for the well-being of our citizens and society in general. To deny this to Malaysians is unforgivable indeed and I do hope that things will change this year with the ‘new Malaysia’ that was instituted last year.
Last but not least is a story about an entrepreneur who hasn’t been afraid to make decisions throughout his entrepreneurial career. He’s made mostly sound decisions to progress the companies and startups he has helped run (and at his own pace), which led him to found geolocation firm LotaData. What I liked about CEO Apurva Kumar’s attitude is that he never gives up and is highly resourceful, which are good qualities in a successful startup owner.
It’s hardly surprising then that the Singaporean government has put its faith in this American startup, making Singapore the springboard for the startup’s Southeast Asian expansion (which includes Malaysia). Not a bad decision, given the resources and support system for startups in Singapore, which is far more well-marketed to foreign companies than Malaysia is to them (but that is a story for another day).