Seizing the benefits of digital Economy

On the invitation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), I participated in the 2016 Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy: Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity in Cancun, Mexico, last week on behalf of Malaysia.

As digital technologies percolates through the world economy, and the cost of data collecting, storage and analysing declines, the flow of data within and across borders has been at an unprecedented pace and volume with significant repercussions on innovation, international trade and value chains, and the society as a whole.

The digitalisation of economy promises to induce innovation, raise productivity and improve services in various areas, from public safety to agriculture, transportation, healthcare, public service, trade, education, fiscal activities and the environment. It also can be disruptive by transforming organisations’structures and processes, and results in new business models.

However, as individuals, firms and countries have varying access and application of digital technologies, the impact of digitalisation is not uniform.

To ensure that the digital economy is not restricted to only a few technology-intensive industries that recruit professionals and limit its share of GDP, Ministers from OECD countries gathered to discuss four key policy areas in moving the digital agenda forward at the meeting: internet openness, digital trust, global connectivity, and jobs and skills.

In a panel session on “Tomorrow’s Internet of Things” related to the theme of global connectivitychaired by my Korean counterpart Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Mr. Yanghee Choi, I spoke on the most promising opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Enterprises can leverage on IoT for operational efficiency, optimization of resources and increase in productivity. At the other end of the supply chain, end users are empowered with comprehensive information to enhance their user experience, allowing greater affordability and personalised services.

Healthcare services for example, were diagnosis oriented. The advent of IoT technologies such as wearable devices, centralized data collection and analytics; mobile health monitoring applications, had shifted the focus to prevention of diseases and promotion of wellness.

Another topic I elaborated on was how stakeholders can develop the interoperability of standards, approaches and policies for the Internet of Things. Interoperability describes the degree to which systems and devices can exchange information, and present the data such that it is comprehensible by the user.

Automated devices independent of human’s control need to connect to networks and work with other devices in transport and application protocols, security and shared data.

Standard-developing organisations around the world have contributed tremendously to standardise protocols to simplify implementation and reduce cost of IoT technologies, resulting in novel or new combination of protocols.

Malaysia is in the midst of implementing a National Internet of Things Strategic Roadmap, in which we have identified interoperability as one of the critical areas to spur IoT in the country.

To position Malaysia as the Premier Regional IoT Development Hub, MIMOS Berhad, an agency under the purview of my ministry, has established the Open Innovation Framework to develop the interoperability of standards.

It is not a standardization initiative but rather a framework to harmonise IoT technologies, enabling multiple systems to interoperate.

We are proud to acknowledge that Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world to recognise the potential of IoT and one of only nine countries globally to have developed a working roadmap on IoT. Other countries include China, India, Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and Finland.

Through this roadmap we have determined that the IoTmarket potential in Malaysia is set to generate a GNI of RM 9.5 billion by 2020 and achieve RM 42.5 billion by 2025. Our immediate action plan is to first establish the governance for IoT, build IoT communities and set up technology accelerators.

As IoT technologies mature in our country, we hope to profile industries, expanding our services to ASEAN markets and ultimately introduce top five Malaysian IoT companies to the international arena.

The new economy as I see it, will be a digital one, and Malaysia has to adapt fast to seize the benefits of digitalization, by ensuring the widespread benefits of the digital economy and addressing the digital gap in our society such as increasing Internet accessibility.


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