Week in Review: Exciting yet unsettling times because of disruption

  • Government leads the way in pushing industry to adapt and equip itself to face disruption
  • The four horsemen of our era have to make way for Jack Ma and Alibaba and soon for Tencent & Baidu

These are exciting yet unsettling times we live in. Ridesharing companies (they are not startups anymore) Uber and Grab started out with the noble intentions of helping cab drivers earn a better living and for private individuals to augment their income. But now Uber has ordered 24,000 autonomous cars and I guarantee you it is not about helping its existing drivers meet overwhelming demand.

The million ringgit question Grab drivers in Southeast Asia will be asking is, “When will Grab do the same?” It is not a question of “will they”.

And we keep hearing about how because of increasing digitization of business and the increasing scale the four horsemen of our times – Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple – competition in business is being reshaped where you will, sorry, I meant, “are” already facing competition from non-traditional players.

At the recent What’s Next: The Business Impact of Disruptive Technology conference, we had the chief strategy officer of the leading bank in the country and Southeast Asia, Maybank, tell us that what keep’s him awake at night is not competition from other banks but from the tech players who come with scale, technology and data.

And by the way, wechat just started offering payment services to its users who visit Malaysia. How soon before they offer it to their Malaysian users as well?

And by the way, the four (digital) horsemen of our times now have to make space for a fifth in the form of Jack Ma and his Alibaba.  And no doubt to be followed by Tencent and Baidu as well.

Meanwhile something else that is more unsettling than it is exciting is the looming dislocation about to hit the job market courtesy of the umbrella term Industry4.0 / 4th Industrial Revolution. And the Malaysian government is very concerned about the possible impact. So concerned is it that, surprising for me, it is taking the lead in pushing industry and business to face up to this and to be prepared.

One would think private enterprise would be well aware of any trends that could potentially disrupt their business and adapt to it. But the Malaysian government has clearly decided that the business community here is not taking this coming disruption seriously enough and has started pushing them to prioritize dealing with the opportunities and threats from this.

One of the frontline agencies pushing awareness and preparation is the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) the agency tasked with upskilling and reskilling the nation. There was a strong big data and analytics focus during its annual conference last week, where I also moderated a panel with three HR directors who shared how they were using data and analytics in their roles while urging the 2,500 attendees to start seeing data and analytics as a key tool to be used by them.

Its chief development officer, Wan Yon Shahima Wan Othman, expressed concern that industry and the work force were not ready for the changes the disruptions a whole host of technologies are causing as part of Industry4.0.

She urged employers to look at upskilling and multiskilling workers to equip them to go beyond their job scope when the need arises.

It was exciting for me to be part of the conference and witness how the machinery of government is moving and pushing industry to adapt today, not tomorrow to the disruptions happening around us and to capture opportunity from the change that is coming. Who would have figured that.

With that, I wish you a restful weekend and a productive week ahead.

Editor’s Picks:

Ridesharing has potential to solve traffic congestion woes

EV Hive merges with Clapham Collective

Upskilling SME workforce vital for Industry 4.0

AWS launches slew of new services to fend off competition

Celcom confident of managing financial impact from 700Mhz spectrum bid

'Patient capital' investor, MTDC turns 25

DataRobot to invest US$11mil to boost Singapore’s AI game


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