• Madani Sahari

Early mover advantage in connected mobility

Malaysia’s industrialisation has come a long way and been explained extensively in this column.

It has admittedly been a rollercoaster journey for our industrial sector as we were working in the shadow of countries and markets that started almost a century ahead of us.

As we progresses further and further, we reach that peak of realisation that market liberalisation must be a key feature of our economy and has gradually moved at a more rapid pace, particularly through the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014).

In summary – today, cars are more affordable, but more importantly, are more informed of the choices laid before them.

The next question is straight forward and has been a subject of discussion since NAP2014 was announced and is more pertinent as we move towards NAP2018 – what will it take for

Malaysia’s automotive industry to leapfrog to the global level?

Some say that these things take time. It took a century for today’s front-runner to establish themselves since the horseless carriage was first introduced in the mid-1800s.

I personally both agree and disagree.

The world has become a blue ocean that puts a premium on rapid innovation. innovation in this sense does not only refer to technology, but also innovation in thinking – those who are able to invent new thinking models are those who create the new categories of demand that are unique to them, reaping rewards from business models and products that are often not easy to copy due to their first mover advantage.

The speed of this innovation will most likely render the term “infant industries” obsolete, as the take-off period of industries are shortened by a higher frequency of disruption – even mature businesses will not have much time to enjoy the fruits of their innovation for long.

In that sense, the “time given” can never be a protection model, but rather identifying and incentivising the development of new innovative products towards sustainable business models that rapid uptakes.

Taking a giant leap forward, especially in high technology sectors, requires rapid innovation in new blue oceans. It is a mix of ambition, capability, faith and opportunity. Opportunities are aplenty, but they require precise timing, to maximise rewards and maximise risk.

With that said, the world is seeing one of the most rapid disruptions in the transportation sector. If we look back at the last decade, the subject to autonomous driving (which has a century-long history) was only limited to prototypes in controlled environments with a lot of human intervention. However, most of the technology we see today are advances that have emerged only over the last few years.

The technology behind autonomous driving – a component in the grander nation of mobility – is still a blue ocean. this is not just in the sense of its development, but also still resistive to scaleable public buy-in and necessary legal and infrastructural frameworks.

Hence lies the opportunity for us to strike. As the world is figuring out of the economic models to participate in sucH game-changing business ecosystems, it equalises the playing field for new players. If we were to participate in the mobility industry now, we will not be competing in the shadow of those who have established themselves a century ago.

Furthermore, while mobility based businesses are gaining traction faster in North America and Europe, it is still relatively new within the Asia-Pacific region, with only a few countries seeming to take the leap.

It is now the time for us to look further ahead into the future. For Malaysia, I believe the future of mobility is now and the window of opportunity to become an early mover in the region has never been opened this wide.

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