By GABEY GOH firstname.lastname@example.org
KUALA LUMPUR: Still more innovation is needed in the local information and communications technology (ICT) industry, especially since there is no solid collaborations between academia and industry players yet.
Sudev Bangah, senior research manager at IDC Asia Pacific, said the MSC Malaysia initiative started 15 years ago to leapfrog the nation into a knowledge economy, and this has succeeded for the most part.
“But the ICT ecosystem remains disparate, with the innovation component lacking,” he said. “Collaboration is still mostly missing between the academia and local industry players.”
According to him, many of our universities are setting up their own commercialisation arms, when they really should be partnering with local industry players to take their homegrown products and services to market.
“The good news is that the Government has acknowledged this issue and is working towards putting in place initiatives that will help achieve a more expansive ICT ecosystem,” he added.
Unfortunately, Malaysia has another hurdle in its path, Sudev said. The country’s high level of English fluency means that local companies are up against global competitors when trying to develop a demand for their solutions.
This is in contrast to a country like Indonesia, where there is a huge demand for localised solutions in Bahasa Indonesia and competition is not as intense.
The first step towards achieving a sustainable and innovative ICT ecosystem is for local players to identify a specific niche in development direction.
“If you take a look at the offerings from Malaysian companies, it’s hard to segment their products into niche categories. There is nothing absolutely innovative, they are your typical, simple consumer-type applications and solutions,” Sudev explained.
He said it is important to identify the Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) potential and consumer demand, and then develop specific products for that. This would make such products more unique in an already crowded marketplace.
“The oil and gas sector or financial services are potential focus areas for development,” he added.
Sudev also said that the only way for Malaysia to have a sustainable ICT industry is to focus on developing it as a key industry, as opposed to it just playing a “supporting role” for traditional business sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture.
“A full-fledged industry would be a breeding ground for innovation,” he said. Instead we now have ICT being developed merely to make tasks in traditional businesses more efficient.
Our ICT industry should really be about creating new markets via technological innovations, according to Sudev.
The Government has set a target for ICT to account for 17% of gross national income — or RM294bil — by 2020. Currently, ICT accounts for 9.8% of GNI.
The contribution of ICT to the GNI is expected to come from Digital Transformation Programmes (RM75bil), existing ICT initiatives (RM93bil) along with an Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), and Government Transformation Programme (GTP) initiatives (RM126bil).
Sudev was speaking on the sidelines of an IDC briefing on the 2012 trends and predictions for the ICT industry.
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