• Madani Sahari

Creating mass opportunities

We all know the following services—Grab, Foodpanda, Lazada and Socar — and many others of their kind which deliver our needs at the touch of a finger.

At the core, these apps possess a key similarity. They are integrated with a menu or catalogue of services and products, and users can make a choice, commence the transaction and the need is delivered.

Traditionally, we would have made a call, or walked to the roadside to flag a taxi, driven to the restaurant to buy food, or gone to a shopping mall to browse and shop for items we need. The traditional retail process was also highly dependent on location, visibility and customer traffic.

The key takeaway here is that there is a significant change in the aspect of transportation, or rather, the mobility experience – and these services have created an evolution in the movement of the consumer in the processes of commerce.

The mobility aspect changes, in The National Automotive Policy, which will soon be announced, will look at this understanding and integration of MaaS into the domestic mobility industry. The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute. Which it is either eliminated to enhance the service (or transferred to the business owner), or transformed to forego the need for the user to be part of the ownership of the mode of transportation for a need to be fulfilled (the vehicle).

This connectivity, which is combined with a “change of ownership” is the very fundamental of Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).

In a nutshell, MaaS integrates various transportation services — public and private — into a single, unified mobility service that can be accessed by anyone at any given time.

To spur businesses and jobs in MaaS, the first thing to address is the mindset towards more understanding of MaaS elements, and what it represents.

We must be mindful that MaaS is not an instant product, it is an evolving concept of mobility that introduces technology components in bits and pieces towards a larger jigsaw puzzle — slowly changing our lifestyle and behaviours, very often without us noticing its ubiquity.

For example, when the Grab app was introduced in 2012 — known as MyTeksi then — it was perceived purely as an application to hire taxis without going through the hassles we were accustomed to at the time. Little did we expect that it would change the way we commute, or for those who used it extensively, reduce the number of vehicles they owned.

Based on the same perception, the Foodpanda phenomenon changed the lunch lifestyle of many working adults by circumventing the need to leave the office and drive, find parking and argue over meal choices with colleagues.

Nowadays, many businesses have their own dedicated working pantries where employees can have more productive lunch hours with a multitude of different cuisines at their fingertips.

In both of the above cases, the technology did not reduce the sales volume of vehicles or food, but forced traditional businesses to become fluid and dynamic in their business models.

In fact, the introduction of technology during this phase of change was highly accessible to all business sizes and today it has become inherent in daily business operations.

It is this change in business models that makes up the greater philosophical component of MaaS. Therefore, the conceptual understanding by industry players and consumers is important to ensure our ecosystem is developed comprehensively as we move towards the future.

It is important that the application of connectivity, smart applications, data management, data analytics, knowledge systems, artificial intelligence and such advances to be integrated into the industry business model to ensure the relevance of our local players — at all levels — remain sustainable.

The National Automotive Policy, which will soon be announced, will look at this understanding and integration of MaaS into the domestic mobility industry.

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