Preparing for disruptive technology and cyberspace with Jack Ma

The Star Online Pic

Preparing for disruptive technology and cyberspace with Jack Ma

It’s enlightening to note that Malaysia is moving to prepare its workforce for disruptive tehnology and cyberspace.

And, that is what it was all about when Prime Minister Najib Razak and Alibaba founder Jack Ma launched the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).

Gerakan Deputy Speaker Syed Abdul Razak Alsagoff said disruptive technology had unfolded since the advent of the digital era.

“Disruptive technology is really a very wide term that covers everything about digital development or technological advancement.

“It is only in recent years that the tech industry has started stressing on the need to address disruptive technology issues to adapt to lifestyle evolution,” he added.

“To simplify the understanding of disruptive technology, the banking industry is most appropriate. The banking services and industry in the 60s and 70s, and today are completely different.

“We don’t have to queue up so often at counters for the services of banking staff. We don’t have to pay for goods and services with just cash only.

“Credit cards have changed our spending style, likewise banks had also to adapt to changes, revolutionising its marketing and services to suit the credit card needs of its clients.


“And now, we are seeing the use of digital wallets and handphones to transact payments digitally. This will also affect banking services and the need to update or evolve its marketing and services strategy.

“That’s how disruptive technology can be, in the nutshell or for understanding simplicity,” he added.


Syed Razak, who is Gerakan’s nominee to contest N.37 Bukit Lanjan in the coming 14th General Election (GE14), said Malaysians and Malaysia would be left far behind if it did not move to tackle or address the ever global evolving era of disruptive technology.

This also raises the question of digital security of transactions.

“Malaysians are acknowledged as amongst the most attached society to their digital devices and cyberspace. The bad news is Malaysia is also the sixth most vulnerable to cybercrime.

“This is not to say that Malaysians are idiots. They are simply blinded and dazed by greed. They easily fall prey to scams because greed makes them believe all the promises of money and wealth being strung up by internet cheats,” he added.

Syed Razak said: “If only Malaysians stop believing all that is in the internet and be so trustworthy, then cyber cheating would be reduced.

“According to the Sophos Security Threat Report 2013, cyber criminals have hit Malaysia to the tune of RM1 billion in losses. The report listed Malaysia along with several countries, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, China, India and Indonesia.”

National news agency Bernama had quoted Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari as saying Malaysians were also facing threats from international criminal organisations which abuse the internet for activities such as drugs, human trafficking, financial fraud and money laundering.

Jailani had revealed that cybercrime in the country increased to 10,636 cases in 2013, from 9,986 cases the previous year.

He said statistics from the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT) showed incidents on malicious codes had the highest increase with 1,106 more cases recorded in 2013, from 645 cases in 2012.

While the digital technology has turned earth into a borderless world and a haven for lightning information access, thus inflicting a slow death on print media information (another disruptive example by technology to lifestyle), internet users need to seriously stay alert and be wary of misinformation when in cyberspace.

This also means a much more competent disruptive technology workforce is needed for Malaysia to progress digitally in cyberworld.



Digital marketing icons that change/disrupt lifestyle

Here are three The Star Online postings for more information and understanding of Malaysia's push for a digital economy:

"Nation

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Sunday, 26 March 2017


Malaysia to create pool of talent for tech-driven future

BY CHRISTINA CHIN

PETALING JAYA: With more jobs at risk of being “replaced” in the near future by the advancement of technology, Malaysia is set to nurture a “digital workforce”.

To tackle the challenges of disruptive technology – advances that replace and make existing tech obsolete – steps to build industry-relevant talent are to be carried out this year.

This digital workforce, a labour pool that integrates technology to connect all elements of the supply chain, is tailored to meet the digital economy’s demands.

Upskilling the future’s young, undergraduate and professional talents will ensure employability in a soft economy where workers are threatened by disruptive technology.

By working with schools, institutes of higher learning and digital tech sector, the holistic move would create a sustainable pipeline of digital workers, said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.

“We want to create 10 premier higher learning institutes for digital tech and simplify the approval process for such courses.

“Some 1,000 undergraduates and graduates will get industry placements this year. This is on top of the 500 spots for SPM leavers keen on matrix and pre-uni digital tech courses,” she said, adding that 200 scholarship commitments have already been secured for the students.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Alibaba founder Jack Ma launched the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).

Mooted by Najib under Budget 2017, the DFTZ would create 60,000 jobs, a new Kuala Lumpur Internet City to house 10,000 Internet firms, and 25,000 tech professionals in Bandar Malaysia.

Allocations from the Human Resources Development Fund would be used to develop critical ICT skills as part of the Digital Talent Strategic Intervention Roadmap for a sustainable industry-led development model, Yasmin said.

“Disruptive technology may force corporations to tap into a talent pool with tech skills but it doesn’t mean that corporations have started reducing their workforce. The numbers have instead increased, especially for tech-skilled workers like graphic designers, data analysts and data engineers.

“With such demand, our youths must embrace the trend and start looking at acquiring tech skills to remain relevant,” she said.

National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) chairman Chin Chee Seong said disruptive technology improved the way things were done.

“We must start preparing the country’s future leaders to be on par with our Asean counterparts and ride the challenges it brings to the workforce,” Chin said.

On Feb 23, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) warned that the introduction of disruptive technology in a weak economy would result in more people getting axed from their jobs this year due to the current economic challenges.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said multi-skilling and multi-tasking were needed for more efficient use of human resource.

“This will lead to greater productivity and competitiveness. The Government must invest in building and developing skills linked to science, technology and design, so that our talent can work alongside machines, and be augmented, not replaced, by technology,” Shamsuddin said.

On March 12, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh told Sunday Star that public varsity lecturers would be sent to various companies, including technology-driven organisations, for industry exposure so they could experience disruptive technology in the real world. - The Star Online


Nation

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Sunday, 26 March 2017
The Jack Ma factor

BY THO XIN YI


Poignant figure: Ma presenting during the Transformation Masterclass II session at the Global Transformation Forum 2017.
THE buzzword that kept everyone excited at the recent Global Transformation Forum (GTF) 2017 was “Jack Ma”.

The 1.5m tall Alibaba founder and executive chairman was clearly the main draw at the two-day event in Kuala Lumpur, with the who’s who of Malaysian industries glued to their seats in anticipation of what he had to say.

Many might dwarf Ma physically, but they were all in awe of f China’s e-commerce giant, murmuring in agreement and astonishment throughout his talk.

Ma, 52, set up Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company, in his apartment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, with 18 other friends in 1999.

Today, Alibaba Group generates an annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) of US$580bil (RM2.5tril) – placing it at the 21st position on the list of countries by GDP – with a goal of achieving one trillion dollars by 2020.

Clad in a simple white shirt with sleeves folded up to his elbow at the hour-long talk, the charismatic figure was very humble about his success, stressing that he was not the brightest, and had made mistakes and failed many times.

“I spent seven years in primary school while normal students took five years. I applied three times to get into university. I applied for 30 jobs but did not get one.

“When I tried to look for a job at KFC, 24 people went and 23 were hired. I was the only one who was not accepted. I also tried to be a policeman. Five classmates went and four were accepted, I was turned down,” he said.

But Ma said it was the rejection and failure that made him who he is today.

“Every setback, every time people refuse us, I take that as a training course,” he said.

During his talk, Ma constantly stressed the importance of having a good team and the need to groom and train talents within an organisation to ensure the success of a company.

And just like his speech at the launch of Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) a day earlier alongside Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Ma emphasised on his notion of elevating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and young people to greater heights using technology.

Speaking with a wry humour, Ma shared: “We are now in DT – not Donald Trump but Data Time. Asia and small businesses, especially countries with low information technology, it is the chance for us.”

Likening e-commerce to mere “dessert” for developed countries like the United States, Ma said it was the “main course” in China, where infrastructure for traditional retail lagged far behind, leaving much room for a new form of retail to emerge.

While the IT era gave birth to IBM, Sisco and the like in the West, Ma said Asia could ride on DT through mobile technology and machine learning.

Cautioning that machines can be smarter and more powerful than people, Ma said a lot of jobs would be replaced.

But that being said, a human being can always trump a machine with culture and values, so his advice is to change the way we teach our children.

“Education should focus on imagination, creativity and teamwork.

We should teach them music, sports. Sports make kids understand what is teamwork, music and painting make kids understand what is imagination and creativity.

“I believe the future is not about competition of knowledge, but wisdom and experience,” he said.

Ma described successful entrepreneurs like Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok and Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing as “social scientist plus artist”.

“You have to understand human beings, their behaviours and needs. You should be very artistic,” he said.

Ma’s English was fluent as he gave an articulate account of his experiences and opinions.

He won “cookie points” when he publicly applauded women for their indispensable role in the workforce for their caring nature.

In Alibaba, he said, close to half of the employees are female, who also represent 33% of senior management. More than half of the sellers on Alibaba’s online shopping sites are also women.

In November last year, Ma was named the digital economic adviser to the Malaysian Government when he met Najib in Beijing for the second time. The first was in 2014.

Ma said he did not expect to draw a salary from this role but saw the appointment as an honour.

Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China who received Ma at the airport on Tuesday, found Ma to be friendly and humble despite his phenomenal success.

“He carries no airs. He acknowledges everyone watching him, including the airport staff and police officers, with a wave and a smile,” Ong said.

It was Ma’s first time in Kuala Lumpur after a visit to Langkawi some time back, and he seemed impressed with the capital city.

He told guests at the DFTZ launch that he was inspired by Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor in 1996 when he was building his Internet business.

“It made me think ... hmm, that country has a great idea about the digital world,” he said.

Najib was noticeably relaxed and jovial at the launch event, in contrast to his seriousness at the GTF that morning.

To create a casual vibe that is the “cool” thing of IT business, both of them were not wearing ties – at Ma’s suggestion, according to Ong.

“Najib and Ma seemed to have very good chemistry. They share similar points of view on inclusivity, assisting SMEs, and improving GDP,” Ong explained on how the two hit it off. At the GTF talk, Ma said he was happy to see young faces in the crowd, advising them to design their own future and focus on the double H: health and happiness.

The question of retirement also inevitably cropped up.

For someone who lives a hectic life and spent 800 hours in air travel last year, Ma said he dreams of “retiring and dying” on a beach, and not in the office.

“Life is not only about Alibaba. There are so many interesting things that I don’t have time to enjoy, so I will never go back to the company and criticise the young people like a stepfather,” he said.

Perhaps, we might get to see Ma getting a tan on the lovely tropical beaches in Malaysia when he decides to call it a day! - The Star Online

Nation

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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Push for digitising Malaysia

BY HO WAH FOON


Joint force: Najib with (from left) Maybank group chief strategy officer Michael Foong, group technology officer Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh, Ma, Ant Financial Services Group chairman Lucy Peng and senior vice-president Douglas Feagin at the Digital Free Trade Zone memorandum of understanding exchange ceremony.
For the country, which is developing a digital economy as a new source of growth for its gross domestic product (GDP), this project promises to generate trade worth RM286bil by 2025.

WHEN launching Malaysia’s digital free trade zone (DFTZ) jointly with Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma last Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s opening remark was: “Today is a special day for Malaysia”.

Indeed, it was not only a special day for Malaysia, it was also a day of triumph and pride for the PM – spotted smiling throughout the tech-inundated dazzling ceremony.

To Malaysia, which is developing a digital economy as a new source of growth for its gross domestic product (GDP), this project promises to generate trade worth RM286bil by 2025.

Within the next eight years, the DFTZ – mooted by Najib late last year – is expected to create 60,000 direct and indirect jobs for Malaysia and double the export growth of small and medium enterprises (SME).

By pushing for this DFTZ – the first e-free trade zone outside China – Malaysia can herd SMEs, micro businesses, warehousing facilities and logistics firms into one place, and increase trade with the world.


'There is no shortcut on the journey to digital transformation. It requires completely different skill sets and attitudes, as well as greater expectations among the stakeholders.' - Lee Heng Guie
For the local economy, there is now a new impetus of growth. With the DFTZ, the digital economy is expected to contribute 20% to the GDP in 2020, up from initial target of 18.2%. In fact, the digital economy is seen as the way forward to spur immediate growth.

For the Prime Minister, the mere presence of Alibaba Group’s founder Jack Ma at the launch the DFTZ was a personal achievement and honour. This is the man that the whole world wants to partner with now.

Najib met with this legendary e-commerce wizard in Beijing last November and both agreed that Malaysia should launch the e-zone soon, after Ma agreed to be Malaysia’s adviser. Ma gave Najib a timeline of four months “to make it happen”.

For Najib, the excitement was also to see Ma bringing along four CEOs and 16 Chinese logistics companies, whose combined business in the delivery of goods and parcels account for 43% of global logistics business.

“This is by far the largest entourage Ma Yun (Jack’s Chinese name) has brought along in his overseas tours. I sense the importance Alibaba is attaching to this country,” said a senior journalist in Ma’s media entourage.

Indeed, it was most exhilarating for the PM – whose voice refused to betray him – when he learnt that even US President Donald Trump could not match his charm.

When Ma met with the most powerful man in the world in the US in January, there were fewer Alibaba executives following him.

Pride was also written all over Najib’s face when Ma, who confessed he had originally thought the launch would not be held in time, said: “Malaysia is more efficient than I thought”.

In reply, the beaming PM said joyfully: “We have proven to you (Ma) and the world that the Malaysian government can make it happen within four months. I want to assure you I will drive this personally.”

The DFTZ will also see the creation of a new Kuala Lumpur Internet City (KLIC) in Bandar Malaysia and Catcha Group has been made the master developer.

The KLIC aims to house 1,000 internet-linked firms and 25,000 tech professionals, by taking up five million sq ft feet (464,515 sq m) built over 15 years.

Within Bandar Malaysia, Alibaba will also be occupying 500,000 sq ft (46,451 sq m) for the setting up of small businesses.

Involvement of Alibaba

After the extravaganza of video display and drum beatings, hard work has to follow to develop the digital economy, which effectively means an advanced form of Internet economy with more pervasive use of technology in life and business.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Hangzhou-based Alibaba have laid down their long-term plans, which can be completed in four to 14 years.

Among others, the DFTZ will help SMEs to export their products globally with ease and enable global marketplaces to source goods from local manufacturers.

Alibaba and its units are participating in four areas in the DFTZ: e-fulfilment hub, e-service platform, e-payment and financing, and e-talent development.

The e-fulfilment hub will be set up within KLIA Aeropolis in a 8ha (plus 36ha) of land given by the Malaysian government. This hub will facilitate smooth clearance of imports and exports, and thus faster delivery of products to consumers.

Alibaba’s units will work with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to develop a regional e-commerce and logistics hub in KLIA Aeropolis.

The e-service platform here will be connected to Alibaba One Touch Platform, which will link Malaysia to Hangzhou’s Cross Border E-Commerce Pilot Zone to enable SMEs of the two nations to trade efficiently.

In e-payment and financing to facilitate business-to-business trades, Alibaba has signed pacts with Maybank and CIMB.

Leveraging on its cloud, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Alibaba’s e-talent development unit will help local entrepreneurs and startups to train and develop e-talents.

Founded in 1999, Alibaba is the world’s largest retail commerce company. Its businesses comprise core commerce, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, innovation initiatives.

It is known for creating and operating the world’s largest one-day online shopping festival every year on Nov 11. Last year, it sold goods worth 120.7 billion yuan (about RM70bil) through Alipay.

First to come – Alipay

For Alibaba, the first step to digitising Malaysia is the introduction of its time-tested Alipay system.

“Malaysia should be a cashless society and your PM supports the idea. We want Alipay to be here, sooner and faster,” Ma told reporters at a press conference last Thursday.

If Malaysia acts to Ma’s expectations, its people will soon be using mobile phones to make payments at retail outlets, restaurants and hawker centres, instead of cash and credit cards.

And in ordering products online, delivery is within 72 hours.

And in future, even villagers – not just SMEs in urban areas – can prosper by selling their produce to the outside world.

Indeed, this development is taking place in some Chinese villages adopted by Tencent – China’s second largest Internet giant.

The PM is thrilled by the prospects that even orang asli and Penans in jungles could be financially inclusive with the new system. He said at the launch: “I am excited about this.”

Challenges ahead

But in terms of ICT infrastructure, Kuala Lumpur is seen as lagging behind Beijing by seven to eight years. Therefore, there is a lot to catch up.

To economist Lee Heng Guie, the most challenging task for Malaysia to digitise is to drive the development and adoption of cloud services, big data analytics and the IoT, which are the necessary enablers to catalyse economic digitalisation.

And Malaysia’s broadband must be reliable and have a wide coverage and speed, he adds.

Lee, who heads the Socio-Economic Research Centre, tells Sunday Star: “There is no shortcut on the journey to digital transformation. It requires completely different skill sets and attitudes, as well as greater expectations among the stakeholders.”

Within the country, the expected disruptions and loss of jobs in some sectors brought about by digitalisation may cause resistance.

While Alibaba has created 35 million jobs, it has also resulted in the closure of traditional businesses and loss of jobs. Many fashion outlets in China are facing this fate after the emergence of online shopping.

However, the digital economics is still acknowledged as an enormous and unstoppable force.

Ma acknowledged there are challenges ahead. He said: “The next four years are crucial”.

“The launch ceremony was good. The negotiations in the past four months were good. But there will be difficulties in implementing them,” said the frank tycoon, ranked by Forbes as the second richest in China with a nett worth of over US$29bil (RM128bil).

But Ma said he has confidence Malaysia’s DFTZ will succeed as the PM shares his vision of empowering SMEs and micro businesses. During this trip, Ma made several demands on Malaysia.

According to the PM, Ma said he only wanted to work with an efficient and result-oriented government, and the PM readily agreed to this condition.

But the senior journalist in Ma’s media team tells Sunday Star: “There is no doubt Alibaba has the sincerity and technology to help Malaysia, but the success of this digital plan will depend on the local politics and culture.”

For example, there may be a clash of cultures.

Alibaba has made it known that it has embraced a corporate culture of not engaging in corrupt practices in its dealings. Hence, the cooperation may see a red light if its business partners act otherwise.

At a transparency forum in Singapore last year, Ma shared his experience in firing a team of salesmen guilty of offering bribes to raise sales. It was a painful decision for the startup then as the wayward team brought in the most revenue.

But Ma sacked them anyway.

Ma’s emphasis on integrity has enhanced Alibaba’s image. Alibaba’s professionals are now targets of head-hunters and “everybody now wants to do business with Alibaba”. - The Star Online"


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