Industry Insights & News

Industry and Fourth Industrial Revolution news and updates

Maxis-MDEC Pact to Nurture Digital Economy

Malaysian telco giant Maxis and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) are collaborating to promote corporate innovation among businesses in Malaysia, from startups or large corporations, to stimulate the ecosystem and spur the country's digital economy. 

The partnership was formalised with both parties signing an MOU detailing the framework for its mutual cooperation. 

Through the year-long collaboration, Maxis and MDEC will jointly develop mentorships and programmes to provide coaching to startups and corporates embarking on their digital transformation journeys. 

Additionally, both parties will facilitate events and engagements that will foster a conducive environment for networking and collaboration between startups as well as larger corporations to generate business leads for the industry and accelerate corporate innovation. 

"In this challenging and increasingly competitive business environment, we firmly believe that innovation will be a key success factor in re-evaluating business models and digital transformation strategies," said Maxis CEO, Gokhan Ogut. 

Highway to A 100 Unicorns

Microsoft Malaysia in partnership with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) have launched the Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative, as part of a joint effort to strengthen the nation’s startup ecosystem and empower local startups with mentoring, technology, and access to enterprise clients.
Eligible startups will gain access to focused workshops on business and technology, as well as monthly knowledge-sharing webinars with the global startup community. Additionally, the top startups from Malaysia will stand to gain from an intensive year-long mentorship program, access to enterprise clients as well as engagement opportunities with Microsoft experts and industry leaders.
“Malaysia has a vibrant startup ecosystem, and they play a vital role in our economy as innovators, disruptors and first-movers. We are excited to be partnering with MDEC and MaGIC to introduce the ‘Highway to a 100 Unicorns’ initiative in Malaysia. This is part of our collective commitment to empowering our local startups with the right technology and expertise, enabling them to scale and achieve more globally. Our local startups can potentially become tomorrow’s unicorns, helping to shape our economic recovery and resilience, and build a stronger long-term future in Malaysia,” said K Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.
“Kuala Lumpur has been recognised as the 11th emerging startup ecosystem in the world by Startup Genome, adding to confidence that Malaysia primed to be the preferred ‘land and expand’ base for the best innovators and tech startups regionally. The commitment of corporations such as Microsoft will further strengthen international investor confidence by bringing in the wealth of market knowledge, resources and a vast network of clients. As the spearhead of Malaysia’s digital economy, MDEC is firmly committed to assist local tech startups in their fundraising journey, global market expansion, and forging corporate partnerships to entrench our Malaysia as the Heart of Digital ASEAN,” said Surina Shukri, Chief Executive Officer of MDEC.
“Highway to a 100 Unicorns” initiative is in line with MaGIC’s commitment to drive the development of a vibrant and sustainable startup and social enterprise ecosystem in Malaysia, built on impact-driven innovation and inclusivity. While we have witnessed steady growth over the years, the entire ecosystem has been challenged to innovate and accelerate its growth at a much faster pace in recent times. This initiative presents an exciting opportunity for our local innovators and founders to scale and move beyond our borders, through global collaborations, as well as industry-led mentorship and guidance. MaGIC, together with our partners, is poised to further help startups looking to broaden their reach,” said Dzuleira Abu Bakar, Chief Executive Officer of MaGIC.

SILK ROAD: Southeast Asia's First Partner-Driven Digital Supply Chain Financing System

Funding Societies, the first and largest peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platform in Southeast Asia, connects SMEs with investors through an online marketplace, thereby increasing access to financing for SMEs. Registered with the Securities Commission, it recently became the first P2P financing platform in the region to launch a partner-driven digital financing solution, Silk Road. 

Launched in May 2020, Silk Road enables customised and seamless information sharing via a digital portal, thereby creating a frictionless and expedient experience for users. This allows greater convenience and lowers the cost of managing the financing process through a single dashboard. Silk Road is currently being utilised by car dealers to obtain financing through Funding Societies’ platform but can also be extended to multiple other use cases or partners.

Wong Kah Meng, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Funding Societies Malaysia, said, “Despite a slowdown in the overall automotive sector amid the COVID-19 outbreak and the country’s restrictions on business activities in the first half of 2020, the used car segment, on the contrary, has seen impressive growth. Acknowledging this trend, through Silk Road, we aim to further uplift the local used car industry by providing a fast, simple and seamless platform and financing solution for dealers to expand their business, leveraging on the current growth wave.”

By integrating Silk Road with Funding Societies’ dealer financing offering, the platform is able to enhance the experience for SMEs and partners through the aspects of transparency, accountability and speed, as compared to more traditional methods involving physical documentation or informal methods such as e-mail and messaging applications like WhatsApp. With the integration moving forward, used car dealers will only need to upload their invoices online before receiving their approval within 24 hours’ time.

Despite an established used car segment in the country, used car dealers often face numerous issues when it comes to obtaining capital to expand their businesses, mainly because traditional financing avenues do not usually cater to used car dealers that are sole proprietors or partnerships, which are seen as too small for banks to serve profitably.

Since the launch of Silk Road, there have been a recorded 16,500 sessions (user usage), peaking at 9,550 sessions in August alone. This symbolises the quick adoption of the system and take-up of the dealer financing product by dealers. 

As for the dealer financing product, the platform has successfully disbursed RM100 million across 4,000 notes as of August 2020. In addition to used car bidding platforms, Silk Road also enables used car dealers to finance vehicle purchases from verifiable open market sources and finance the settlement of outstanding amounts to banks for vehicles which are pending to be sold to a subsequent buyer.

The platform has been gaining traction amongst partners and its features could be effectively utilised in areas such as e-commerce and serve more underserved or unserved SMEs across the region. 

By investing in SMEs, investors could earn risk-adjusted returns. Meanwhile, SMEs obtain access to short-term financing to expand their business through a fast and simple online process. Additionally, SMEs benefit from not having to provide collateral for financing, while interest costs are minimised due to short financing tenures.

Dachser and Fraunhofer IML Continue Research Partnership On New Technologies

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML and Dachser are extending their collaboration in the DACHSER Enterprise Lab for a further three years. Their partnership will continue to focus on research and development projects with practical application benefits for the Dachser network. These include digital technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence (AI), real-time locating systems (RTLS), 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and adaptive warehouse systems.

"The first step in our joint research work in the DACHSER Enterprise Lab is to gain a detailed understanding of new technologies and their potential for logistics. Then we build on that to develop prototypes and concepts that add tangible value for Dachser and our customers, turning them into innovations," explains Stefan Hohm, Corporate Director Corporate Solutions, Research & Development at Dachser, who will head the new IT & Development executive unit as of January 1, 2021. "So far, the work we've done together has proven that we can transform research results from the DACHSER Enterprise Lab into new processes and services throughout the entire logistics network," Hohm says.
"We're delighted that Dachser is continuing its collaboration with Fraunhofer IML. Our research results up to now and our new research contracts show just how important applied research is for logistics and supply chain management," says Prof. Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML. "We're particularly proud that the lab teams have continued to work effectively despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, technical aids such as video conferences and collaboration tools have been a great help. But above all, it's the extraordinary commitment and motivation of everyone working at the DACHSER Enterprise Lab that is key to successful research in challenging times," ten Hompel says.
In the DACHSER Enterprise Lab, Dachser logistics experts and scientists from Fraunhofer IML work in mixed lab teams on various research and development assignments. The partnership between the logistics service provider and the research institute was launched in October 2017 and will now run until October 2023. 

Cyberjaya's New Masterplan: Driving Growth for Global Tech Hub

Cyberview Sdn Bhd (Cyberview), the Tech Hub Developer of Cyberjaya recently held an online panel discussion themed, “Cyberjaya's New Masterplan: Driving Growth for the Global Tech Hub”.

In tandem with Cyberview’s new mandate to spearhead the development of Cyberjaya, the webinar discussed the newly introduced masterplan which aims to further propel the growth of Cyberjaya as a Global Tech Hub. Cyberview will now lead the development of Cyberjaya, in efforts to revitalise the smart city, by focusing on three specific tech clusters which are Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare, and Digital Creative.

The panellists included Roni Shah Mustapha, Head of Business, City & Communications Division, Cyberview Sdn Bhd; John Low, Co-Managing Partner SEA, Roland Berger; and Jin Xi Cheong, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Poladrone. The panellists provided insights into the new masterplan and how Cyberjaya is well-positioned to be the preferred location for tech businesses and investment.

“In today’s changing world, it is imperative that Cyberjaya is revitalised in continuing our focus on technology-based industries. An implementation plan formulated by our consultant Roland Berger, has enabled us to place a lot of thought into how the masterplan will transform Cyberjaya into a vibrant Global Tech Hub, in an inclusive and closed-loop fashion. Additionally, we are confident that our three tech clusters will drive development in emerging technology solutions and will be the innovation hub for an entire value chain across the mobility, healthcare, and digital creative clusters,” Roni said.

Gaming Trends During Pandemic

As the pandemic induces more lockdowns and the possibility of State of Emergencies being declared, more and more people are turning to gaming as a form of escapism. According to Deloitte’s 2020 digital media trend survey, gaming services and virtual sporting events (esports) are welcoming new consumers, and not just Gen Z or Millennials either. As travel and tourism suffer, the gaming industry is flourishing and introducing new avenues for even Boomers and Gen X to enjoy. 

Even before COVID-19, Deloitte’s survey found a quarter of consumers ranked playing video games as a top-three form of entertainment. The interactivity and social aspects of gaming are more pronounced in younger generations - around 40% of Millennials and Gen Z. 

However, what will become of the industry once work and school resumes? According to Futter in his 2019 article “The Future of Gaming is in Subscription”, there is a chance a third of consumers might still be invested in video games. New releases and a back catalogue of games, as well as the success of streaming video services, will continue to drive growth for top game titles. 

More and more people are watching others play and participating in various discussions on games. Some are also engaged in more virtualised versions of sports as a substitute to live physical sports. This will keep the engagement going well into the future. 

Digital Technology Versus Counterfeit

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could pick up your phone, open an app, take a photo and see A-Z of a watch’s history, ownership, origins and identity? The digital revolution could make this a possibility and in the process, topple the counterfeit economy. 

Approximately 40 million fake watches are made each year, versus 20.6 million genuine Swiss watches, resulting in a loss of $224 million on the primary market. 

The champion in this fight is Origyn, a non-profit based in Switzerland dedicated to taking down fakes. They have developed a digital certification tool that combines decentralised technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The technology analyses various reference points from images and/or sounds made by the movement of a watch for rapid authentication and identification. Every watch contains elements that make it unique and thus, Origyn can individually analyse all components of a watch - from its hands to the screws, rotor or the barrel. 

“For the project to work, brands have to get behind from the start by generating ‘digital twins’ of their luxury products at the production stage,” explains Vincent Perriard, one of Origyn’s three co-founders. These “twins” will be impossible to copy and tamperproof. 

Thanks to the technology being built on an open and decentralised protocol, they are able to maintain an accommodating governance system, allowing brands to remain independent. 

The Swiss foundation’s solution would provide end customers with a guaranteed means of distinguishing genuine from fake. “Having a tamperproof certificate of authenticity is a decisive factor,” says Vincent Perriard. People want to know if they are able to re-sell it later. 

Origyn would be able to link each new watch to its owner and even record the information, should it be lost or stolen. It will also make it easier to transfer ownership and liaise with insurers. Customers who own a luxury watch from a previous generation, that hasn’t been registered, can contact a boutique, an authorised retailer or the brand itself and have a ‘digital twin’ generated.” Provided brands support the project, this range of services will be available as an app from summer 2021.

Fitness Apps Growth Skyrocket in First Quarter of 2020

While fitness apps have been popular long before COVID-19, its popularity in the first half of 2020 was inimitable. 

Between Q1 and Q2 2020, health and fitness app downloads surged by 46% globally, with India seeing the biggest growth, at 157%, followed by Middle East and North Africa, at 55% and Asia-Pacific at 47%. This data was taken from MoEngage, which measured the growth of home fitness apps from five regions, representing 1.5 billion mobile app users. 

India’s increase in downloads translates to 58 million new active users. This is due to India having the largest lockdown in the world, with 1.3 billion people instructed to remain indoors. 

Furthermore, more gyms and fitness centres started offering virtual classes to allow members access to services. People were also inspired to invest in home fitness equipment as they are no longer able to visit the gym. 

In terms of usage, mindfulness and meditation apps were more popular in the month of April and May. By June, people shifted their focus to active workouts and diet tracking in order to remain active indoors. As these new lifestyle habits are becoming more widespread, whether or not this trend will continue after the pandemic is the question of the day. However, the fitness mobile app market is expected to boom in the coming years. 

World Bank Exhorts Philippines Govt: Invest in Telco Infra, Boost Digital Transformation

The World Bank is urging the Philippine government to do its share in improving the country’s communications infrastructure amid an increased internet usage due to the country’s urgent shift to digital services–online education, online shopping, digital payment, work from home setup, and others–caused by the pandemic.

This came as telecommunications companies continue to ramp up capital expenditures to improve on their respective networks, due to increased demand in internet and mobile connections.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing day-to-day activities to go online, the World Bank stressed that the Philippine government “should take the lead in transforming the economy into a digital one.”

“In a society-wide digital transformation, the government itself must lead by example,” said World Bank economist Kevin Chua, the lead author of the report titled “A Better Normal Under COVID-19: Digitalizing the Philippine Economy Now.”

Upgrading digital infrastructure, promoting digital payments, improving the efficiency of the logistics system and fostering a conducive business environment are among the recommended measures cited in the report released by the World Bank and the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).

The report also stated that efforts to improve the country’s telecommunications systems have been hampered by complex government regulations – causing a “digital divide” that makes lives worse for the poor.

The government claims that it has taken steps to address the lack of infrastructure, including the anointing of a “third telco” in Dito Telecommunity.

Industry and media analysts, however, said that the government may face more problems than solutions due to Dito’s delays and rollout issues, as well as potential national security threats.

“The biggest concern is that China will be able to listen in on our communications,” says Dr Renato De Castro, a professor in the International Studies Department at De La Salle University in Manila.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) echoed the need for more investment support as it appealed to senators earlier this month to prioritize the National Broadband Program and the free internet access program in schools.

According to the DICT’s presentation to the Senate, the ideal budget for the broadband program amounts to P18.18 billion, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved P902.19 million.

The DICT is requesting an additional P17.2 billion for the program, so that it would be able to activate the cable landing station in Baler, Aurora, and connect to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) node in San Fernando, La Union.

The department would then be able to fire up 4 DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes. From there, it can provide bandwidth to nearby government clients and beneficiaries of free Wi-Fi.

In the meantime, the country’s telecom service providers continue to invest in network improvements as the demand for connectivity increases as a result of the pandemic.

The Philippines is actually already among the Top 10 countries in the world when it comes to investments in telecom based on the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Rankings of 2020.

“Efforts to enhance digital infrastructure are hindered by legal and regulatory constraints in the telecommunications markets,” Chua said. 

“Limited digital infrastructure has directly contributed to the problems of affordability, speed and access to the internet.”

As the government works to ease bottlenecks such as the restrictive cell tower permitting process, further investments in national broadband facilities will help to create better and more accessible internet services that are vital for e-commerce, work-from-home setups and distance learning needs that will persist even after the pandemic quarantines are lifted.

Vietnam to House Global Supply Chain?

While the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 outbreak has been seen as disruptive to other parts of the world, Vietnam is leveraging the situation to improve its position in the global supply chain. 

Its proximity to Southeast Asia countries and China is a boon in terms of being connected and competitive. Low costs, political stability, investor-friendly policies, improving infrastructure, and state-backed efforts to promote tech startups make the country even more appealing.

Vietnam is a party of 13 free trade agreements (FTAs) thus having one of the most open economies. In recent years, many multinational firms have relocated some of their supply chains out of China to places like Vietnam.

South Korea was the largest investor in Vietnam in 2019, providing almost a fifth of the total US$38 billion of new foreign direct investment in the country. This is followed by Hong Kong, Japan, and China. 

Reports noted that many of US tech giant Apple’s suppliers, including Pegatron and Foxconn, iPad maker Compal Electronics and also Inventec, an AirPod assembler are building a plant in Vietnam. 

Manufacturers are knocking on the doors of Vietnam’s northern provinces and committing billions of dollars to set up operations, including Samsung Electronics, where it is producing about half its smartphones. 

Although the country is not immune to the global economic downturn, its prospects for recovery remain positive and are the brightest among Asian countries. The main goal now is to ensure and maintain sustainable growth in Vietnam.