Thursday, 14 February 2019

Widening technology reach to all Malaysians

In previous articles, this column discussed the approaches to overcome barriers to technology penetration and adoption, particularly from the perspective of technology anxiety with respect to business investments and learning curves.
While this anxiety can be addressed through human capital development and technology adoption programmes, the bigger challenge is to manage the geography of technological access points across the physical landscape of the country.
As internet speeds and area of coverage increase, issues that can be solved by simple connectivity will naturally remove many barriers to technology access.
However, the future landscape foreseen through trends in Industry 4.0 expects cyber-physical systems to play a dominant role in the economy – which means that the management of geo-locational physical infrastructure has to be viewed holistically.
In general, the challenges are two fold – presenting itself in both logistical and socio-economic dilemmas.
Firstly, the variety of distance and topology requires custom solutions to the setting up of physical equipment, leading to increased investment cost and consequential risks to returns.
Second and more pertinent, is that the prescription of technological solution becomes more challenging when accessing areas with smaller population. As technological sophistication increases, it tends to cater to a higher degree of specialisation – and becomes complicated when local economies tend to be diverse in business needs and talent requirements.
Obviously, there is no magic bullet to quell all issues, and for me, challenges make life more interesting.
It is important to start moving towards a solution for this geographical dilemma – by reducing risk through setting up more access points for common use. If we can assist in establishing physical technological access points in strategic locations, and at the same time start with technologies that are common to the localities within reach, we have at least addressed half the problem, and we can meet the needs of Malaysians half way.
It is for this reason the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) is launching its MARii Satellite programme. Just like how the physical presence of orbiting satellites in space work in unison with its command centre on earth, MARii Satellites are physical setups, placed in strategic locations sensitive to the economic needs of the localities that surround them.
MARii will be launching its first ever Satellite in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, this weekend. It is a six-story facility that will house advanced product and process design, and training facilities specifically developed to allow increased technological adoption, in fields not limited to the automotive sector alone.
Furthermore, several programmes with schools, universities and local industry in Sabah have been initiated to enhance access to processes that optimise the creativity, innovation and implementation in science, engineering and technology for the benefits of education, business and research.
The unique feature of the satellite concept is that apart from allowing technology access to the local population, it also is designed to harness the talents (and potential) talents already existing within such localities.
It is a center of discussion, project implementation, creative design and training that harnesses the expertise and local experience of those within its immediate ecosystem.
In the future, the MARii Satellite programme will be expanded to reach all corners of the nation. They will also be strategically located within partnering universities, industry players and government infrastructure to maximise talent use, optimise facility and infrastructure utlisation, as well as harnessing technological adoption that will work in sync and in connectvity with all the other established MARii satellites facilities, our headquarters and centres of competencies.
This new approach will create the required value addition and widen our expertise network, which in future can be cross-referenced across the numerous Satellites so that the expert and facilities pool can be shared and optimised to accelerate the technological adoption across the entire national economic landscape.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics & IoT Institute (MARii)

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