Innovation & Talent

Malaysia Gets Serious on Developing IoT Ecosystem

Malaysia Gets Serious on Developing IoT Ecosystem
Malaysia has what it takes to become a regional leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, as plans and strategies are in place to help the country to move towards the goal.

Over the recent years, technology companies have developed more devices with capabilities to be connected to the Internet -- including watches, televisions, cameras and others. A separate report by IHS Markit also suggested that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices in 2020.

In Malaysia, the IoT industry is expected to generate over 14,000 new jobs and contribute billions of ringgit to the economy.

According to MIMOS Bhd Chief Executive Officer Datuk Abdul Wahab Abdullah, Malaysia is well-positioned to become a regional hub for IoT, as the country has strong foundations in the electronics and semiconductors manufacturing industries -- which are an essential part of the entire IoT ecosystem. MIMOS is the National R&D Centre in ICT.

He also believes that IoT can further help the country to further boost its innovation competitiveness. Currently, there are more than 146 IoT-related patents filed by Malaysian inventors and researchers.
IoT basics
Before zooming into how IoT can benefit Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur, it is important to understand the concept of the technology.

IoT is more than just having Internet connectivity on everyday appliances. Essentially, IoT is a convergence of smart devices that generates data through sensors to create new information and knowledge to boost human intelligence, productivity and quality of life.

IoT is defined as "Intelligent interactivity between human and things to exchange information and knowledge for new value creation". It is a complex yet complete solution compassing three main technology components, namely connected things with embedded sensors, connectivity and infrastructure, and last but not least, analytics and applications.

For example, factories can place sensors on its machines and equipment to discover early signs of fatigue on the machines or related parts. This way, preventive maintenance can be done on machines just before they break down and cause production downtime.

For government agencies, IoT can be used to prevent dengue outbreak and also to help predict rain patterns and detect floods.
IoT potential in Malaysia, and globally
According to MIMOS, IoT will create a positive impact on several areas. First, it expects mobile device penetration to hit 280% by 2025 (from 144% currently).  It also expects mobile broadband penetration to jump to 167% by 2025 (from under 15% in 2015) and mobile services to more than double to US$16 billion in 2025. 

MIMOS also added that implementation of IoT is also likely to contribute RM9.5 billion to Malaysia's gross national income by 2020, and RM42.5 billion by 2025. From the RM42.5 billion projection, RM34 billion will be driven by apps and services, as well as analytics solutions.

Separately, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation added that IoT is likely to create over 14,270 high-skilled employment opportunities by 2020. 

By building the local IoT ecosystem, it allows local startups and tech companies to tap onto the vast potential globally -- which is estimated to be valued from US$1.9 trillion to US$7.1 trillion by 2020.

"IoT will be the key driver in transforming Malaysia into a high-income economy. It has the potential to transform Malaysia's traditional economy of agriculture and manufacturing and enable it to move up the value chain," said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chief Strategy Officer Siva Ramanathan 

Mercury Securities Head of Research Edmund Tham agreed that Malaysia has what it takes to take the lead in the IoT space, as the technology is still relatively new and any South East Asian countries can still take the lead. 

"While having a leadership position in the IoT space is important, I believe that what is more important is that Malaysia is showing that it is serious in developing the IoT ecosystem. This will give a boost to investors confidence," said Tham.

One of the major initiatives to help grow the IoT ecosystem is currently happening in Cyberjaya. Cyberview Sdn Bhd, the master developer of Cyberjaya, is currently implementing various IoT-based solutions in the township. These solutions include smart traffic management system, public safety monitoring, energy management solutions and others.

Also, the company has set up a hub for startups in Cyberjaya. The aim -- is to allow startups focusing on IoT-related solutions to have easy access to the companies and stakeholders in the township. For example, a startup focusing on developing solutions to lower energy cost on data centres will be able to have access to various tech companies' data centres with the help of Cyberview.

"The idea is to transform Cyberjaya into a 'living lab' for IoT implementations," said Cyberview Managing Director Faris Yahaya. He added that this will also pave the way for Cyberjaya to become Malaysia's first smart city.

Addressing the talent gap
Of course, in order for the country's IoT ecosystem to prosper, it needs to grow its ICT talent pool. 

This is where MDEC and various other ICT multinationals (MNCs) are currently working closely on. The MNCs, with the help of MDEC, are currently in close cooperation with colleges and universities.

The aim is to help these colleges and universities to produce relevant and industry-ready graduates for the ICT industry. With the partnership, universities and colleges are now looking at offering more relevant topics such as IoT and Big Data Analytics into the syllabus.  

"The industry and the academia are working closely on growing the talent base. This is a long-term strategy," said former National ICT Association (Pikom) Chairman Cheah Kok Hoong.
Source: InvestKL