Machine versus human

Go forth: Dr Wee says the story behind a good product and service is important when vying for attention in a busy market place.

Go forth: Dr Wee says the story behind a good product and service is important when vying for attention in a busy market place.

Unparalleled technological advancement sweeps away jobs but bring on new opportunities.

SELLING a bowl of bird’s nest delicacy for 148 yuan (RM94) has churned out another millionaire in Shanghai.

But it is certainly more than just selling the traditional dish which is touted to be good for health, vitality and beauty.

“You suddenly think of eating bird’s nest and a bowl is delivered to you in less than 30 minutes from the time you place your order.

“This applies to deliveries within a 10km radius from the outlet,” Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong says, sharing some of the business models he came across during his visit to Shanghai.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department says the business model is a perfect fit in Shanghai for simple reasons.

To begin with, preparing and cooking the prized commodity is time consuming.

Time and speed is money for Shanghai folk, who will not spend time double boiling bird’s nest when they can get it within 30 minutes for just 148 yuan and a click.

This is the story of how a 38-year-old man joined the ranks of millionaires in less than two years.

Dr Wee, whose Cabinet portfolio includes small medium enterprises (SMEs), told youths at a 2050 National Transformation (TN50) dialogue last week that there are abundant business opportunities nowadays, some being the least expected in terms of potential.

He cites the case of a local ice cream man whose ice cream is now selling in 15 countries after he came to his department’s Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME).

It all started when the man talked about his musang king durian ice cream. He convinced the right people who saw the business potential and gave him all the necessary help. And the rest, as people say, is history.

Dr Wee said many Malaysians dream to be their own boss.

“Please do a proper survey. Find a niche area and go all out for it.

“Compete in the world arena,” he says, adding that the borderless world provides vast opportunities to those who are competent.

He assures that those with feasible business ideas or talent or both and a right attitude will be given the support.

While banks want you to show them audited accounts (business) for three years to apply for a loan, he says there are other financing options for those who have a good business model.

“Come and convince us (SAME) and we can guide and help you along the way.”

With e-commerce driving the economy forward, he says the country’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), with founder and Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma as digital economy adviser to the Government, is the platform for the business savvy.

Dr Wee says 1,500 Malaysian companies in the online market place will be listed there next month.

“We must compete and have the competitive advantage on the world platform instead of fearing competition or wanting to stop competition,” says Dr Wee.

He also points out the importance of taking on unparalled and rapid technological advancements instead of resisting it or fearing that human beings will be made redundant by technology or artificial intelligence.

“Changes are inevitable, like 40% of current jobs will vanish in 15 years from now.

“Data analysts are already phasing out. The demand now is for data scientists.”

Dr Wee says it is also about optimising technology for business and how e-commerce has paved the way for small business owners to penetrate world markets.

Citing big data and analytics, he says you can even zoom in to the taste of your target consumers as one of the ways to identify the most saleable product.

It is about making it simple for customers to make a purchasing decision by selling what they want and anytime they want it.

That, perhaps, is the secret of the success of the bird’s nest seller in Shanghai.

Wee Ka Siong , Shanghai