Thursday, 25 July 2019

Integrating cybersecurity into business strategies

It is clear that with the advent of Forth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), businesses are expected to move many of their operations into the cloud domain.
While the technology becomes more affordable and competitive, there is an urgent need for stronger cybersecurity.
Such urgency arises from the need to not only protect one’s data but also data that belongs to other parties, including clients with strong non-disclosure agreements.
The lack of cybersecurity systems within a business may become a liability should there be a data breach or leakage during the order of business.
It is therefore important that businesses understand the scope of cybersecurity measures that must be in place along the business growth cycle.
Technologies pertaining to cybersecurity are getting more advanced and affordable, and can cover basic requirements of businesses.
Advances in cybersecurity are driven not by internal innovation, but rather by the innovation from cyber attackers who pose threats to businesses.
Therefore, cybersecurity strategies are unique, in which the vigilance and discipline of protection must come through consistenly from the top management down to the operational floor.
To start, there are similarities that can be drawn in comparison to conventional security practices. It is common that employees are told to keep doors locked and appliances switched off at the end of the working day.
In the case of cybersecurity, the same overtness must be carried out. Businesses should start the deployment of cybersecurity with the basic issues, such as the installation of updated anti-virus and anti-malware systems (which often come bundled as complete packages these days), regular backup systems and basic safety practices to prevent attacks or information leaks through online communication channels.
As the business grows in data complexity, new technologies can be deployed, including advanced hardware authentication systems, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and advanced cloud-based crisis management systems.
As we speak, new cybersecurity concepts are being developed, seen through the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning, leading to new innovations such as cognitive security, a holistic system that automates many of the processes mentioned above, making it more timely, accurate and less dependent on human awareness.
Another interesting approach worth mentioning is data anonymisation, in which data is made “invisible” instead of requiring protection.
As we progress into the age of connected mobility, it is obvious that businesses should develop awareness within their organisations and deploy the necessary levels of implementation to secure their data from potential threats.
Moreover, the advantage of becoming the first movers in the region not only protects the interests of our businesses and the value chain we depend on, but also creates new opportunities in businesses and jobs that require skills in coding, programming, networking and other sectors.
In conclusion, the importance of integrating cybersecurity models into business strategies cannot be overstated.

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

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Encouraging SMEs to adopt automation

In 2017, in an article published by ARK Investment Management, it forecast the average cost for industrial robots to be less than US$11,000 (RM 45,320) by 2025. The figure was US$131,433 in 1995.
The sharp fall in automation cost, driven by higher demand increasing efficiency, and precision of manufacturing makes it reasonable for small and medium businesses to invest in Robot Process Automation.
Automation strategy can be an essential part of modern enterprises’ growth.
The increasing flexibility of robotics design and construction, coupled with new breakthroughs in technologies such as artificial intelligence, computer vision and human-robot collaboration (termed collaborative robots, or cobots), make it easier to cater to volume-based demand.
A report in 2017 placed Malaysia’s industrial robot adoption at only 45 units per 10,000 employees, or less than half of the global average of 85 units.
In 1938, the Konrad Zuse Binary Computing Machine was introduced using the binary code system seen in today’s modern computers.
However, the widespread use of these machines in personal and business domains was only seen half a century later as the invention of microprocessor was made possible through advancement of transistor technology to bring prices and sizes down – leading to the new business and job markets in the information-technology sector.
The major historical point was the development of graphical user interfaces, including the introduction of Microsoft Windows. This innovation in user friendliness unlocked computers for the masses, removing the need for specialized skills in disk operating systems. The Internet revolution at the turn of the 21st Century changed the way we conduct businesses forever.
Automation is today going through the same revolution – interfaces are becoming more user friendly and hardware becoming highly affordable – which is seen through exponential sales growth of industrial robotics in the last five years.
While the hype created may not be accentuated by a household name such as Microsoft or Apple, it doesn’t discount the fact that the global business ecosystem has placed necessity on robotics adoption at all business levels.
Business development programmes must instill automation as an essential tool at the core of strategic planning and business modelling at all levels of businesses, be it micro enterprises or large conglomerates in Malaysia.
The Malaysia International Robotics & Automation Technology Exhibition & Conference (Robotex) will be the first-of-its-kind robotics exhibition in Malaysia, to be held at the Setia City Convention Centre from July 31 to August 2.
The conference, co-organised by Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), Malaysia Robotics and Automation Society (MyRAS) and One International Group, will allow participants, especially among small and medium enterprises, to explore emerging robotics technology in various areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing and Internet of Things (IoT) and their applications towards the development of automation-infused operation models, including methodologies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the education sector.
MARii and MyRAS will also host a continuous seminar on the adoption of automation of robotics in the automotive, mobility and other relevant sectors. The first seminar, featuring cases of automation from South Korea, will be held in MARii’s headquarters in Cyberjaya next Thursday.
While programmes such as these are becoming more common, the private sector is also reducing barriers for Malaysian businesses to adopt them.
ABB Group, for example, announced the opening of its first robotics Digital Operations Centre in Malaysia recently, catering to the needs of industrial robotics and digital manufacturing, and applying Industry 4.0 compliant technology within the business development process.
While this may just be a start, it shows the tremendous potential for all levels of business to access and unlock avenues for new business thinking and the creation of a critical mass of professionals that have the needed capacities in the smart digital manufacturing age.
Most importantly, they are enablers that convert imagination into business strategy.

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

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Learning and mastering skills in industries

THE famous Hollywood movie, The Karate Kid, ended with the smaller, more innocent boy delivering a powerful blow to the bigger and stronger opponent, who had continously bullied him. –

It was a dramatic ending to a competition where the winner was completely unknown and inexperienced.

For me, the story was more about personal development. All great martial art triumphs began with the first step of developing strong foundations. The teacher teaches the basics of his craft by strengthening the student through simple daily chores such as waxing cars, painting walls and washing windows.

There were good scenes from the movie that conveyed a simple message: while you may know the great moves from emulating the masters on the silk screen, you can only move as quickly and precisely when the basic foundation have been mastered.

Skills can seldom be taught. They can be coached to ensure proper, continuous practice. They are then strengthened through sound theory and knowledge of the art.

In developed countries such as Germany, Italy or the United Kingdom, individuals with skills and craft are revered – particularly those with years of experience, specialising in a particular area.

In the automotive sector, for example, these individuals are highly paid as the services they render are irreplaceable, even by the most precise automation.

If you go to the right places, such as the custom body shops in Ferrari, or the interiors craftsmen of Aston Martin, you’ll see craftsmen who are well respected by their peers, executives and their management for their contribution to the finesse of the brand they work for.

They set high standards in working the vision and mission of the founders and management of the firms they belong to.

The question is, how do we cultivate a skilled workforce with specialised talent, mindset and culture in our own organisations?

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has recently emerged a household name among education practitioners and industry players seeking highly skilled individuals to join their talent pool.

There are many forms of TVET based programmes, but all TVET programmes utilise teaching methods – formal or informal – that develops the required knowledge, skills and culture for students to join the workforce upon graduation.

The Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute has implemented TVET within its numerous programmes such as IPC (Industry Led Professional Certificate), AICE (Automotive Industry Certification Engineering) and Industry Led Graduate Apprenticeship programme.

While the popularity of TVET based programmes have penetrated the education sector in an encouraging manner, the development of skills must also take place in the form of on job training, either in training centers or better still, within the industry – where the practice of such skills are in the real-time environments of the factory, in order to maximise the learning process.

It is therefore important for the industry to support the placement of skill potentials. The government is ready to support industry players that are willing to participate. In fact, the national car companies have become catalysts for the local workforce to develop their skills and work culture in real time.

Above all, the skills route must be recognised with the same respect and recognition on par with the route of university education.

We must ensure that our skilled workforce are recognised and encouraged to develop specialised skill within their industries.

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways”


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

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Creating equal access to opportunities

The adage "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" - typically attributed to the more sinister side of capitalism - has some truth to it. This piece is by no means an argument on the merits or demerits of capitalism, but rather a look into the ability to grab opportunities in an "equal" world.

I am blessed that my work gives me a view of the inner workings of a massive industry. Most of all, I am honoured to meet many of the most successful people in the country, region and on some occasions, the world.

We have seen and heard the stories. Most successful personalities have the ability to break through norms and wade through gigantic hurdles to achieve the unthinkable. They reached the moon, redefined transportation and reinvented life through the game changing technology.

With there is no intention to undermine such great achievement, it is also important to spare some thought that the struggles of life are highly subjective. For some, an uncharged phone battery may cause some struggle, but for others,  a home without basic necessities can become a way of life.

Unfortunately, economic prejudice is often be dismissed as a by-product of capitalism. It is easy to judge someone as unsuccessful simply by his or her social status. They can be accused of being unproductive, uninterested or simply making wrong life choices.

For example, entrepreneurship is not something we are born with despite it seemingly considered a "sixth sense" that some may possess above others.

In this particular case, I would argue this entrepreneurship is often a product of long term conditioning. If you come from a culture, family or circle that has entrepreneurship tendencies, there is a high likelihood you will learn the trade from those in your environment.

Another example is language. Have you ever wondered why that friend you have speaks excellent Malay or English?The most likely reason is that he grew up around people who spoke these languages.

This brings me back to the subject of poverty. If you are blessed with food, shelter, and perhaps a computer and internet at home, the access to technology becomes a non-issue, allowing you to achieve bigger things. If getting food is your daily struggle, you may not find the time to even think about your choices between an iOS or an Android.

It is for this very reason that upward social mobility should be looked at holistically. For the poor, their struggles often keep them trapped in their income class, whether they are single mothers, orphans or people of disabilities.

Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) recently launched its corporate social responsibility programme called TransforMARii.

It is a one-year programme to help underprivileged households to become financially sustainable in the future.

Through TransforMARii, these families receive assistance to improve their social upward mobility.

They receive continuous assistance through job matching, small and micro business coaching and facilitation, high value service enhancement (such as e-commerce platforms and smart handicrafts), talent development programmes and others.

As we move aggressively into the era of connected mobility, we cannot leave anyone behind.

The upcoming National Automotive Policy aims to make the industry all-inclusive in terms of opportunity. And to that end, we must truly keep to that mindset of ensuring opportunity is equal and accessible.

I hope we can make the world a better place as we move closer to becoming an advanced nation.

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