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my VOL. 4 • NO. 1 • 2021 RM10

NEC CORPORATION OF MALAYSIA: AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE & CONNECTIVITY Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director of NEC Corporation of Malaysia Sdn Bhd (2nd from right)



Cover Story Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director of Nec Corporation of Malaysia Sdn Bhd (2nd from right)

NEC Corporation of Malaysia – At the Cutting Edge of Artificial Intelligence and Connectivity


PIKOM Collaborates with PENJANA HRDF in Skills Training Initiative


E-commerce is the Future, Help Local SMEs Thrive, Says PIKOM


5 Hybrid Multi-Cloud Myths…Debunked


Farming Goes High-Tech


Workforce of the 4th Industrial Revolution: Rise of Data And Analytics Tech Job


Hitachi Sunway Launches Security Operations Centre


Finding Opportunities in Challenging Times


Digital Transformation Guide: A Business Survival Kit for Micro, Small And Medium Businesses




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Vol 4 No. 1




NEC CORPORATION OF MALAYSIA – AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND CONNECTIVITY MyIT speaks to NEC Malaysia’s Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director, and members of his core team to unravel the company’s illustrious technology footprint that is one of the key drivers of Malaysia’s digital economy.


ncorporated in Malaysia in 1988, NEC Corporation of Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s (NEC Malaysia) track record spanning three decades, has been a significant part of the country’s technology footprint. NEC Malaysia, the Malaysian operations of NEC Corporation of Japan headquartered in Tokyo, provides Network Systems & IT solutions. Standing at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, NEC Malaysia’s key focus areas solutions include smart cities, safety & security, smart enterprise, connectivity,

retail, big data analytics, and digital government. Speaking about NEC ‘s global footprint, Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director of NEC Malaysia says, “As a global company we are represented in all corners of the globe. Our solutions comprise hardware, software, services, as well as technical and business expertise to empower our customers with the right technology.” With a strong presence in Malaysia’s technology infrastructure and backbone, Chong explains NEC Malaysia’s strategic direction in

Malaysia, “We are looking forward to the direction, support and initiatives of the Malaysian government to enable the digital economy as well as the various programmes that the government has announced with regard to digitalising Malaysia such as Industry 4.0.” “We aspire to be a regional centre for managed services and other areas. We are really excited about the government’s My Digital Blueprint which is very much aligned with NEC’s global strategy. We subscribe to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), to

L-R: Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director, NEC Malaysia; Chang Heng Wai, General Manager, Head of Network Services; Dennis Low, General Manager, Head of Enterprise Solution and Chan Chern Pong, General Manager, Head of Sales Enterprise & Public Sector.




- Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director, NEC Corporation, Malaysia.

end poverty, and to enable better living standards through the usage of technology in the lives of the community,” he adds.

DRIVING CONNECTIVITY NEC believes that no member of any community should be left behind in progressing towards a digital economy. “We want to focus on connectivity for everyone, safety, security, and ultimately superior customer experience,” explains Chang Heng Wai, Head of Network Services at NEC Malaysia. Chang explains that transformation towards the digital economy through technology involves all sectors namely retail, manufacturing, agriculture, and other industry sectors. NEC’s technology incorporates digitalisation into everyday processes and creates more value-added jobs for Malaysians. In stating that NEC’s technology provides digital inclusion, Chong adds, “We are working very hard globally to enable the usage of technology to provide environmental sustainability and to improve living standards. For instance, to conduct transactions anywhere, anytime securely, and to deliver a tremendous experience for everyone.” Today, Malaysia enjoys more than 90% of connectivity with a 4% gap. “To bridge the 4% gap, NEC uses a mix of satellite technology and wireless connections. We are a systems integrator that unifies technology to connect everyone.

Without good connectivity, IR4.0 cannot be realised,” stresses Chong.

SMART CITY TECHNOLOGY In 2018, NEC set about to transform Malaysian cities with Smart City technology and this effort is gradually gaining traction. The company implemented smart transportation, MyBus 2.0, to transform the way public buses operate. Through this new technology, the performance of public buses is tracked and monitored, and data collected is transmitted to a command centre. With that, the government is able to accord the right remuneration to bus operators. In addition to that, NEC has also been actively involved in various state government security surveillance projects to monitor illegal dumping, landslides, pot holes and other pressing issues. NEC also successfully implemented the MyDebit project in a Malaysian petrol station chain. In Malaysia’s southern economic corridor, NEC implemented a system for a conglomerate comprising AI and cameras to identify license plates for security purposes. Low explains that NEC also piloted a project in the country’s most busy location, Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur, to obtain data and to monitor activities, especially crimes. This data is then channelled to the command centre and law enforcement is immediately despatched to control any adverse situations.

Aside from that, NEC is currently running a lab with Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) to provide virtual networking classes to all students. The company is also providing them its biometric engine and AI platform so that the students are able to develop new innovation. Dennis Low, General Manager, Head of Enterprise Solution at NEC Malaysia says, “In healthcare, we have contributed towards the AI platform which is being used in research and development of the vaccine for cancer. AI is also used to identify whether growth in the colon is malignant or not, even before a biopsy can be conducted.” Dennis explains that this is possible with machine learning and AI which provides high accuracy instantaneously. Dennis also states that in digitalising government services, all government agencies should be integrated onto a single platform. Dennis shared that since late last year, NEC has been working closely with the Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunisation (GAVI) to tag babies by recording the biometrics of babies within 2 hours of birth. This tagging capability is beneficial in addressing errors in tagging, human trafficking, baby swapping, missing out on vaccinations and the lack of maintenance of health records by parents. NEC is one of the global leaders for phone systems, now referred





Official launch of NEC Malaysia office in 2020 by Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), on his right is Chong Kai Wooi, MD of NEC Malaysia and on his left is H.E. Oka Hiroshi, Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia.

to as unified communications, comprising video conferencing, whiteboarding, and others. It is also one of the largest providers of connectivity, such as submarine internet fibre cables. “In 2017, we successfully deployed Sistem Kabel Rakyat Satu Malaysia connecting peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia,” explains Chong. In Malaysian and global markets, the company is a leader in a variety of areas which include biometrics, connectivity, submarine cables, PABX systems, unified communications and other disciplines. “Today in Asia, we are providing close to half of all the undersea submarine cables, connecting all countries including Hong Kong, China, India, and others. The length of the cables is equivalent to 20 times the radius of the entire globe,” says Chong.

by YB Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), and H.E Oka Hiroshi, Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia, provides visitors an extensive view of NEC’s solutions to enable digital transformation for businesses across industries and sectors. “At the CEC, we exhibit our tech for law enforcement such as facial recognition, video analytics, and thermal AI scanning. We give our customers the overall experience of how AI and digital technology can be part and parcel of everyone’s lives,” explains Chan Chern Pong, General Manager, Head of Sales Enterprise & Public Sector. “Every partner, customer and VIP that visits our office is brought to our CEC to experience the entire spectrum of Digital Transformation technology. Our offerings range from simple display products to high-end AI and biometrics,” Chan reiterates.


INDUSTRY 4.0 (IR4.0)

In September 2020, NEC Malaysia launched its new office which houses a state-of-the-art CEC showcasing the company’s cutting-edge biometrics, AI, IoT and contactless technologies. The centre, officiated

Over the last 15 years, NEC has pivoted much of its focus on software services, IR4.0, AI platform and the IoT platform. “We are one of the pioneers in providing AI and IoT platforms. One of the biggest users



of AI is in the identification of people, equipment and premises. We are leaders in biometrics technology for the longest time, and our facial recognition technology,” explains Chong. In banking, biometrics is used to address security concerns and deter fraud, and is able to uniquely identify individuals. For instance, in certain banks, NEC has introduced contactless recognition for account opening, such as in Japan and Taiwan. Customers are able to go to an ATM machine and insert their identify card for the authentication process to be initiated using biometrics technology with facial recognition. “Today, facial biometrics authentication has been found to be very accurate. NEC’s facial biometrics provides high accuracy levels that is ideal for security, banking, etc.,” Chong adds.

COVID-19 During the COVID-19 pandemic, NEC has been actively engaging various quarters of industry and society, to enable remote working capabilities, by providing the digital platform, user devices, and security solutions to enable secure communications and collaboration. “When the pandemic hit the country, many of our customers were caught in a difficult position and those who had invested in digital transformation earlier, were able to cope better during this time. Albeit, there were some who were still lagging behind in the adoption of digitalisation. There were different levels of readiness,” says Chong. “We helped out customers move their applications to the cloud. We introduced unified communications collaboration as an add-on to our PABX platform that our customers already have, to enable video conferencing and continue to collaborate in a secure environment,” he adds.

In the wake of the pandemic and the business impact experienced, NEC helped many of its customers, especially larger retailers in Malaysia to move their businesses to the e-commerce platform. With the new norms in working, NEC’s advanced PABX system is able to forward calls received at the customers’ office to their employees’ homes – a capability that is attributed to the power of integration by NEC’s solutions.

Cybersecurity with CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia.

Digital Upskilling with YB Nurul Izzah.

STAR ALLIANCE ADOPTS NEC FACIAL RECOGNITION In December 2020, NEC announced the launch of the Star Alliance Biometrics identity verification platform by Lufthansa Airlines and Swiss International Airlines (SWISS), members of Star Alliance – the first commercial service to adopt this technology. The platform utilises NEC’s facial recognition technologies at Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport. With this technology, identity verification using biometrics certification enables passengers to pass through security and boarding gates without contact by just registering face images and passport information with mobile apps. This platform features NEC’s facial recognition engine, recognised as the world’s most accurate, ensuring highprecision certification, even when individuals are wearing masks. “Star Alliance is about security, convenience and cost savings for airline operators, individuals and customers. To address costly delays and security concerns, we developed the single token digital ID for users to walk right into the plane using automation of identification. Two airports that are newly signed up – Munich and Frankfurt airports in Germany – have joined the community of airports around the world to adopt this technology,” explains Dennis.

Digital Economy Blueprint with YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

Unlocking Blockchain with YB Khairy Jamaluddin.

NEC | SERI Digital Dialogue Series NEC Malaysia, in collaboration with Social-Economic Research Initiative (SERI), conducts monthly Digital Dialogue sessions. SERI is a not-for-profit organization whose objective is to educate Malaysians about the importance of adopting digital transformation. The dialogue sessions bring together government leaders, leading experts, researchers and

technology organizations to share their views. It also serves as a platform for relevant industries and sectors to move forward by embracing digitalization.Each of the dialogue sessions on various issues or topics, aims to provide a coherent and workable policy that will prepare the ‘rakyat’ to seize the opportunities while moving forward in the new era of digital economy.





PIKOM COLLABORATES WITH PENJANA HRDF IN SKILLS TRAINING INITIATIVE In addressing job losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to assist Malaysians affected by this situation, the Malaysian government launched the PENJANA HRDF initiative in June 2020 to upskill and reskill Malaysians with a focus on workforce marketability and job matching.


his initiative, spearheaded by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), an agency under the Ministry of Human Resources, is in collaboration with training providers, and encompasses five schemes which include Place & Train, B40 Development, GIG Economy, Industry Revolution 4.0 and SME Development. PIKOM is collaborating with HRDF in the PENJANA initiative to provide jobs and skills training. The fully-funded courses offered by PIKOM Academy, the association’s educational arm, under the PENJANA HRDF’s Place & Train pillar include



Project Management, Enterprise Architecture, Big Data, Growth Marketing and UI/UX Design Masterclass, Global Business Services / Business Process Outsourcing, Design Thinking, Remote Innovation Certification, Microsoft Power BI, Cybersecurity & Penetration Testing Certification and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Certification. PENJANA HRDF has successfully formed a joint venture (JV) with 10 organisations and associations representing their industries to provide job or business opportunities coupled with training programmes. These courses are targeted at jobless graduates with diplomas or degrees,

local workers, SME owners and employees, Malaysians from the B40 group, retirees, housewives and youths. To fund this programme, the Malaysian government has allocated HRDF RM250 million matching grants to be matched by HRDF, bringing in a total of RM500 million for the benefit Malaysians. Under the B40 Development Scheme, business owners are given a start-up kit and guidance on how to formulate business plans and recover from the pandemic impact, as well as mentorship. Participants also receive allowances together with the startup kits and motivational programmes that are helpful in uplifting their businesses. Meanwhile, the GIG Scheme galvanises participants to become active in finding other sources of income. One of the programmes is focused on e-hailing, a business that is doubling and quadrupling. Place and Train guarantees job placement within 12 months upon completion of the training, while GIG will allow the trainees to venture and generate income in the gig economy. To date, more than 2,240 employees are involved in the PENJANA HRDF initiative across the country; and approximately 41,000 jobs have been approved with 16,000 successfully placed.


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E-COMMERCE IS THE FUTURE, HELP LOCAL SMEs THRIVE, SAYS PIKOM PIKOM, the National Tech Association of Malaysia, expressed its belief and confidence that e-commerce is the future of the retail industry globally as well as locally.


ts chairman Danny Lee said that given the tremendous potential in e-commerce to support the nation’s economic growth, local brands will stand to benefit if they have a comprehensive e-commerce plan as part of the retail strategy. “We need to support the capabilities and digitalisation of local brands. The major e-commerce players in Malaysia are foreignowned; that is why quite a number of the products you buy from them are being shipped from overseas. This is also why we believe it is imperative that our local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) build a strong brand presence through online channels,” he said. PIKOM feels this is where the government can play a major role in helping local SMEs to increase their online presence. This would include online marketing, brand building, product positioning, pricing strategy and omni-channel rollout. “With the support from the government, SMEs can fulfil their aspirations to penetrate regional markets,” he emphasised. “In the popular e-marketplace, the bulk of products listed are those that are shipped from overseas. That’s because quite a number of local SMEs are not as well versed with the right marketing mix for their product, as compared to their overseas competitors.” Digital marketing, performance marketing, inventory planning, multiwebstore management and customer care services are available through e-commerce enablers in the country.



Many of the more established enablers can provide the whole suite of services as a non-stop solution. SMEs would be able to tap on the available expertise to help them find the best fit for them. Danny Lee used ‘live commerce’ as an example of a new online avenue that could be used by local SMEs. Live commerce uses influencers to conduct live video streaming, while providing online shoppers the ability to interact with sellers and the ability to purchase their desired products instantly. “Currently, local SMEs may not have the necessary expertise, so we need to have initiatives to support them. With the right support, SMEs can reap the benefits of e-commerce as proven by some local brands which have seen their sales grow by 10 to 20 times within a year after partnering with local e-commerce enablers,” he stated.

One such initiative is the implementation of the SME and Micro SME e-Commerce Campaign and Shop Malaysia Online campaign, involving RM300 million of funding under the Permai Assistance Package. “While this is a promising start, due care must be undertaken to ensure that the majority of funding should be channelled to SMEs, and not foreign giants that should be able to fund their own initiatives,” stressed Danny Lee who stated that the issue was not e-commerce, but rather the emphasis to help local SMEs sell online. To help develop the local e-commerce merchants, at PIKOM’s end, the association has been organising the #MYCYBERSALE, an annual national initiative in collaboration with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) which has been successful for six years running., The number of merchants coming on board has grown from 283 to 1,510 over the sixyear period. “#MYCYBERSALE has been very successful in catalysing the growth of the national e-commerce industry contributing RM 392 million in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) during the 7-day sales in 2019,” said Lee. He further suggested for high level dialogues be hosted by the government with local SMEs and e-commerce industry players to further nurture growth for the local e-commerce industry to ensure that this fast-growing industry will benefit the local retailers.


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NetApp Dispels Common Misconceptions about Hybrid Cloud that could be Holding Organisations Back.


n Asia Pacific, over 90 per cent of businesses surveyed in six countries (Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand) have multiple cloud environments and more than half say they are already using hybrid cloud. This is not surprising, considering the fact that there are many advantages to implementing a hybrid cloud model which combines the benefits of public cloud – agility and low cost – with the control, performance, and security of a private cloud1. Furthermore, in today’s always-on, alwaysconnected world, users expect applications and services to be highly available. With flexible data management within a hybrid cloud, organisations can offer their users total business continuity, enabling them to recover and compute data in a synchronised workflow. Despite these benefits, Malaysia has not seen an accelerated cloud adoption rate amongst businesses. IDC forecasts that the cloud-related services market in Malaysia will have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.8 per cent between 2018 and 2023, slower than most of its regional counterparts. This slower pace is attributed to the inherent preference for traditional and on-premise IT architecture and services sourcing models2. According to the APAC Cloud Readiness Index 2018, on the other hand, Malaysian businesses are lacking in Business Sophistication and Connectivity to fully embrace the benefits of cloud3. This lack of appetite for cloud adoption could be due to common misconceptions and a lack of understanding of the potential that cloud, and eventually hybrid cloud, can unleash. At NetApp, we have identified myths on hybrid cloud that could be holding organisations back and what they can do to make a hybrid and multicloud environment work for them instead.

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You only need to set up a private cloud and a public cloud to automatically have a hybrid environment


Simply having both platforms does not give organisations the full benefits of hybrid cloud. Instead, having a true hybrid cloud environment means being able to utilise both cloud systems to better manage workloads, storage, and network resources in a way that limits risk and increases productivity. There are also various types of hybrid models depending on the budget and scale of each organisation. Therefore, by investing in the right one, businesses will be able to optimise IT investments in the immediate term while keeping overall IT costs manageable in the long term.


Hybrid clouds are complex, expensive and hard to build


With the range of choices between hybrid cloud services and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) models today, CIOs and businesses can worry less about higher CaPex as utilising a fully engineered solution can reduce this complexity and offer the best options to suit the needs of the organisation. NetApp ONTAP and hybrid cloud data management solutions offer a range of services that enable businesses to put their datacentric vision into practice so that they can respond faster to market changes while rapidly advancing new ideas from concept to production.


It is cheaper and sufficient to only go with public cloud


CIOs and businesses understand that agility and flexibility are essential in any cloud adoption strategy. However, relying solely on the public cloud can increase compliance, risks and governance concern which may end up costing organisations more in the long term. Not to mention, the potentially higher costs in data migration. Hence, having a hybrid cloud model delivered through best in-class solutions is the best option for organisations to achieve their desired business outcome.


Hybrid cloud causes confusion on data residency and as a result, you lose control of all of your data


In a properly orchestrated hybrid cloud environment, organisations will continue to have full control of their data. A well-run hybrid cloud provides control and visibility to IT departments as well as the ondemand self-service that developers and application users expect. This enables organisations to focus on their end goal – improving business performance and enhancing customer experience without having to invest time and resources worrying about data residency issues and challenges.


It is almost impossible to determine which of the applications I’m currently using are right for the cloud


A top of mind issue for enterprises is managing software licenses that are running in (public) cloud environments4. Hybrid cloud providers have experts who use automated platforms for data collection and analysis that can provide a comprehensive view of the application portfolio and determine whether you should migrate, consolidate, modernise, or sunset applications. With the arrival of disruptive technologies such as cloud, CIOs and business decision-makers need to shift their perception of technology companies as just IT vendors to being their overall strategic solutions partner to offer the most optimal solutions for their businesses. For example, at NetApp, our Data Fabric simplifies the integration and orchestration of data for applications and analytics, in and across clouds, which means organisations can reap the full benefits of the hybrid and multicloud environment. In fact, NetApp’s Data Fabric addresses all of the above concerns by ensuring consistent data visibility and insights, data access and control as well as data protection and security. With a strong trust-based relationship, business and IT can work in unison, driving an organisation’s immediate and long-term goals.

1 “Going Hybrid: Demand for Cloud and Managed Services Across Asia-Pacific” whitepaper. Available at: 2 IDC 1H18 Cloud Services Country Report – Malaysia 3 ACCA: APAC Cloud Readiness Index 20184 4 “RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera”. Available at:





FARMING GOES HIGH-TECH Shawn Ng and Sharavanahvel G P are the founders of Future Farms Sdn Bhd whose brand name The Vegetable Co is making waves in high tech farming in Malaysia. Their rise in business during the Covid-19 pandemic so impressed the editors of the venerable The New York Times that the paper ran an article on the company in September last year. In this exclusive interview for My.IT the founders touched on many things such as their journey to be entrepreneurs, the challenges they faced and how the Covid 19 pandemic helped to boost their business. Sharmila Valli Narayanan has the story.

• Photography Courtesy of The Vegetable Co. 12 MY•IT


hen Sharavanahvel G P (Sha for short) and Shawn Ng, first started their careers, becoming entrepreneurs in farming was the last thing in their minds. But dreams, vision and technology have a way of making things happen. Throw in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic like the Covid-19, and new business opportunities are created. It is a case of who dares wins and these two men dared to venture into something still relatively new and have come out as winners.


Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Did you always want to become entrepreneurs? Sha: I’ve always had a fascination with tech and can strongly relate to a quote by Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I studied Economics at the University of Manchester. I had always expected to be an entrepreneur, but certainly not this early in life. In the process of trying what I thought was the best approach to realise the success of a project, I became an accidental entrepreneur. It seemed like the right time to make a calculated risk as I still had freedom from family obligations. I also expected it to accelerate my growth, which it most certainly did. Lastly, the level of interest I had and my belief in the impact of this project seemed like a good reason to embark on this journey. Shawn: I’ve always been keen on realistic ways to improve people’s lives. I think that’s why my education – I have a Masters in Green Management and Sustainability – and career path led me to explore ways to make the future better for all of us. Prior to this venture, I dabbled in electrification projects in East Africa because these projects would really improve the quality of life of the people there. With regard to being an entrepreneur, I guess the path appealed to me over time as it gave me the creative freedom to implement my visions. Farming is not the first thing one thinks of as a career for an urban Gen Y. How did you get involved with this? Sha: I don’t consider what we are doing as farming in the traditional sense of the word, but rather as an innovative, technologically-driven solution to an age old challenge of food security. The newer generation is actually quite keen on this field,

especially with this approach which, we notice is a rising trend. Personally, my particular interest was sparked when I stumbled upon some NASA space farming research, which inspired some of the technology we’re using now. After learning about the extremes of applied science towards agriculture, I found something very appealing in the ability to grow plants indoors in a controlled environment. Making a commercially viable business out of this principle became a challenge I wanted to take on. Shawn: So, the whole project started with Sha. His ideas had matured somewhat when he approached me to help develop it further. With a background in Sustainability, I immediately saw the long-term impact of the project, and was keen to come onboard to bring the vision to fruition. Nonetheless, I doubt that either of us thought of farming growing up. I guess the opportunity chanced upon us and we latched onto it quite passionately. Why did you choose vertical farming? Shawn: Vertical farming was captivating for multiple reasons. From the technological perspective, it presents a way to optimise every variable and resources with regard to farming while allowing us to place it in any location. This level of modularity is fascinating for both Sha and I as it removed the limitations placed upon traditional farming. Suddenly, agriculture became an industry that can translate to any geographical location in the world. These traits have significant implications when it comes to sustainability, as it mitigates the need for a long-distance food chain as we supply food in the immediate vicinity of demand (which in our case, is urban centres). We use less land, reduce pollution within the air and water, and displace the need for


logging. Furthermore, the mitigation of pesticide use while producing clean, nutritious food through a contained-environment farming method also appealed to us very much. In essence, we thought that this new way of agriculture was beneficial in reducing our burden on the planet, as well as being able to grow clean and nutritious food for our customers. It was a noble cause that we could get behind. What were some of the challenges of setting up the business? Sha: Vertical farming as a concept is still in its infancy in Malaysia, and even within the region it has yet to be proven as a financially viable model. This presented a certain set of challenges in starting up, as it was hard to find investors that believed in the idea, especially given its high initial investment cost. Talent and knowledge acquisition were also difficult as we’re situated at the frontier of an industry. Therefore, the early stages of R&D were intense as we experimented with the best equipment and methods to grow the vegetables. Getting all the different systems to work seamlessly was not as straight forward nor easy as we initially presumed, and a steep curve was present in learning about plant physiology. But after months of trial and error with different equipment and growth techniques, our subsequent harvests got better and better, easing our transition into a full-fledged business. After you started the business the MCO was enforced. How did this affect your business? Shawn: Our business commenced commercial operations in midFebruary, and the MCO was enforced soon after. Initially we assumed this to be a tricky challenge, to have a lockdown imposed so soon after

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the launch of our business. But in actuality, there was a silver lining to the pandemic. The MCO normalised the concept of buying groceries online, and during the initial stage, there was a drought in vegetable supply as well. Those factors actually helped our business by providing a comfortable growth trend onto the overall market. Nonetheless, this saturation of online vegetables did bring about additional competition later on. The MCO was also rather unnerving at the start as we had to navigate the restrictive landscape daily to get to the farm and back. But the authorities were actually quite friendly so it was just an everyday hurdle that revolved around that period.

infrastructure - both of which we aim to customise to our own requirements as we increase our productive efficiency. Finally, Botanists with agricultural backgrounds are crucial for our understanding and desire to grow the best vegetables for the consumer market.

How is the business now? Sha: Yeah we’re doing well. The initial plan was to validate our learnings within 6 to 7 months since commercial operations, and we’re quite happy with our alignment to the timeline. It did take an unbelievable amount of effort to establish the foundations of our business, especially in key pillars such as farming operations, business development and market penetration. But nonetheless, through unwavering commitment and hard work, crucial experiences were gained. With our newfound knowledge in hand, we were well equipped to expand our business, which was targeted to begin production by the end of Q4 2020.

saturated market. But when you really peel it back, it is actually a complex product with some very differentiated value propositions. If we’re to use cellphones as an analogy, we’re not selling the basic Nokia 3310 that just makes phone calls, but the latest iPhone with all its extended features. The key challenge is therefore in communicating this difference. We have specific market strategies in place to achieve that, and over time, we want to make controlled-farmed or indoor farmed vegetables to be amongst the norm in Malaysia. The technical aspect of our operations also presents other elements of the puzzle as we strive to be at the forefront of the AgTech space. Although our technology is competitive with what’s in the market currently, we want to position ourselves as one of the best out there. A culture of constant improvement and innovation is required to facilitate this ambition, of which key talent would be indispensable to our plans going forward.

What are the challenges you face now and how do you plan to overcome them? Shawn: We foresee market education to be amongst the main challenges. Our vegetables are currently sold at a higher price point due to their unique value, along with our adamant adherence to the true cost principle. This presents a challenge as from the most superficial perspective, we are selling an everyday product in a

What kind of skilled workers do you need for this business? Is it hard to get them in Malaysia? Sha: We require talents in three key fields: Information Technology, Engineering and Plant Science. Within Information Technology, software developers and data scientists are required to enhance and optimise our farming systems while Electrical Engineers are essential for the development of our farm

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What are the plans for this business in the next five years? Sha: Over the next 5 years, we aim to normalise the consumption of Control-Farmed or Indoor-Farmed vegetables within the Malaysian market. Once again, it is first and foremost about market education and we want the Malaysian market to understand that control-farmed vegetables are beneficial for both the consumers and the overall environment. In terms of growth trajectory, we aim to expand first in Malaysia, then across the SEA region. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Sha: As technology providers, hopefully. Future Farms sees itself as a knowledge company by the end of the day. Although we are farmers now, we want to disseminate this farming technology to the wider public, expanding first across ASEAN and then globally. Right now, there are many technical perplexities involved with setting up and operating an indoor farm efficiently. The goal is to make the highest level of technology accessible and operable to the average entrepreneur looking to enter the field. We are committed to the philosophy of growing your food near the centres of demand and it is our sincere hope that the global population adopt this line of thought. It would really alleviate many of the agricultural pressures that we humans exert on the planet. It is a long and arduous journey and it is best if we take on the process one step at a time.





Each industrial revolution brings about technological, political, cultural and economic shifts in society that ultimately improve production techniques and bring forth profound impact on the workplace. What kind of changes in the workplace can we expect during the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Anthony Raja Devadoss, the managing director and business head of PERSOLKELLY Consulting explores the issues.


n the 18th century, the First Industrial Revolution was born out of the switch from an agrarian economy to an industrial manufacturing economy. Out of this revolution came steam power, the power loom and the telegraph – to name a few key inventions from the time. Societies around the world are now experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised

by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and autonomous systems. These technologies promise to automate and improve our lives in ways which we never could have imagined, yet they also prompt concern around their ability to potentially replace much of the human workforce.

JOB DISRUPTION BY AUTOMATION A recent report by McKinsey found that between 75 million and 375 million people worldwide will need to change their occupations by 2030 due to increased automation. The proportion of work activities that will be displaced varies between advanced and developing economies. Advanced economies are expected to see more working

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Figure 2: Technologies by proportion of companies likely to adopt then by 2022 (projected) User and entity big data analytics


App- and web-enabled markets


Internet of things


Machine learning


Cloud computing


Digital trade


Augmented and virtual reality




New materials


Wearable electronics


Distributed ledger (blockchain)


3D printing


Autonomous transport


Stationary robots


Quantum computing


Non-humanoid land robots




Humanoid robots


Aerial and underwater robots


Source: Future of Jobs Survey 2018, World Economic Forum.

hours displaced, with rising labour costs leading to greater incentive to automate. In Asia, work hours threatened by automation range from lows of 9 to 12 percent (in India, Philippines and Indonesia) to highs of 23 to 26 percent (in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan). AI, machine learning and robotics in particular are expected to disrupt low skill and repetitive jobs in Asia such as in the manufacturing and service industries. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the International Labour Organization stated that 56 percent of jobs in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines are in severe risk of automation.

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JOB CREATION However, as we have seen in the industrial revolutions of the past, boundless new jobs can be created alongside improved living conditions, with proper management by governments and businesses. For example, there will be a high increase in demand for jobs that develop the technology to analyse, interpret and create value from big data. These include software and application developers, data scientists and big data engineers. There will increasingly be a need for people to develop the technology to go through existing data as well as capture new data. Along with this comes new types of technology

careers being created, including specialists in AI and machine learning, big data, human-machine interaction, user experience and blockchain. In addition, there are other trends in Asian countries, such as healthcare needs for the ageing population, rising consumption, infrastructure and new energy developments, that will create more labour demand to offset the job disruption from automation. The East Asia and Pacific regions will note high demand for marketing specialists, software engineers, human resource specialists, data analysts and user experience designers. On the other hand, the South Asia region will see


increasing demand for marketing specialists, business development professionals, human resource managers, data analyst software engineers and graphic designers. Countries such as India which are seeing a boost in GDP due to their rapidly growing workforce may struggle with job creation to offset the effects of automation. Jobs in higher demand will include construction and retail for the evergrowing middle class. Automation will likely offset the shrinking and ageing workforce of countries such as Japan and China.

EMBRACING CHANGE Governments, companies, education institutions and job seekers need to adapt to embrace the changes

brought forth by new technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The workforce needs to be motivated, educated and ready to adapt to activities that require more social and emotional skills which are harder to automate. Education institutes should place a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. In particular, statistics, algorithms and coding will bring a higher return on educational investment. Businesses will need to recognise the importance of investing in the training and re-training of their labour force, while embracing automation at the same time. A recent report by Deloitte discovered that Asia Pacific is the region with the lowest confidence in the changing workplace – with

only 8 percent of executives feeling capable to act as leaders through this change and disruption. Nearly 32 percent of executives in India and 23 percent of executives in China fear social upheavals and increased income inequality. All countries especially those in the developing world, need to prepare for the coming industrial revolution if not risk being left too far behind. As with other industrial revolutions, there will be growing pains but as humans have a remarkable ability to adapt and thrive, these problems will eventually dissipate and a brave new generation of workers will arise to meet the challenges and to propel the Fourth Industrial Revolution forward.

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itachi Sunway Information Systems Sdn Bhd (“Hitachi Sunway”), a leading ASEAN ICT and Digital Solutions & Services Integrator, recently announced the official launch of its Security Operations Centre (“SOC”). The Security Operations Centre provides endto-end cybersecurity-as-a-service offerings under the eXcelSECURE brand. As we live in a data-driven and connected age where big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are increasingly leveraged across business functions and sectors,

cybersecurity has become a major priority for organisations in preventing cybercrime. The vulnerability and the growing number of undetected cyber threats within an organisation continue to grow as criminals adapt to new security measures and take advantage of changes to our online behaviour. In addition, the shortage of trained and experienced cybersecurity personnel in epidemic proportions, as well as attempted cyber-attacks are also on the rise significantly. Hitachi Sunway has established its SOC to help customers bridge

From left: Cheah Kok Hoong (Group CEO/Director of Hitachi Sunway), Naofumi Ito (Chairman/Director of Hitachi Sunway), Dato’ Chew Chee Kin (President of Sunway Group), Evan Cheah (Executive Vice President – President’s Office of Sunway Group).

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the gap with eXcelSECURE cybersecurity-as-a-service offerings – by focusing on the balancing of People, Process and Technology to enable and to deliver the highest protection, with qualified personnel, Information Security Management System (ISMS) certified processes and proven technology platform to prevent, monitor, detect as well as respond to cyberattacks for our customers. Cheah Kok Hoong, Group CEO / Director of Hitachi Sunway Information Systems said, “In the digital realm, security must permeate everything we do. Hitachi Sunway recognises the importance of an eco-system to rally together to fill in the cybersecurity talents gap and protect our customers from the constantly evolving cybersecurity attacks. “We formed a strategic collaboration with Sunway University and Sunway Group IT, supported by PIKOM CyberSecurity Chapter and powered by the RSA Security NetWitness Platform – to help our customers mitigate any cyber threats.” In addition to eXcelSECURE, customers are able to leverage our ISO27001 and ISO20000 certified cloud services (eXcelCLOUD) and IT Service Management services (eXcelITSM) offerings to deliver the highest protection against cyber threats with the lowest Total Cost of Ownerships (TCO). The launch of SOC is another important milestone for Hitachi Sunway in its commitment to helping its customers in addressing the rapidly evolving threat landscape.

Are you prepared for a potential cyber attack?

Today, enterprises must assume their systems have already been penetrated; or otherwise, they will be the next victim of an attack. It is imperative that penetrations are quickly detected, a quick reaction is enacted, and security infrastructure is optimised for the purpose. Sophisticated threats have changed the game. Professional criminals are making millions with their attacks. They want access to your systems and data. Therefore, you need a 24x7 Security Operations Center (SOC) - to monitor and analyze activity on networks, servers, endpoints, databases, applications, websites, and other systems, looking for anomalous activity that could be indicative of a security incident or compromise. Hitachi Sunway’s SOC will help customers bridge the gap with eXcelSECURE cybersecurityas-a-service offerings – by focusing on the balancing of People, Process and Technology – to ensure any potential security incidents are correctly identified, analyzed, defended, investigated, and reported. Contact us today to find out more! Email to

Hitachi Sunway is a leading ICT Services Integrator in ASEAN specialising in implementing, supporting and providing consultancy for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) & Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions; managing and supporting IT infrastructures; Cloud-enabling IT platforms, including the Cyber Security elements in our fully compliant and secured data centres (DC). Our portfolio is aimed at helping clients to embrace the acceleration in digitalization that are transforming businesses. Hitachi Sunway has a proven track record of serving more than 1,000 clients in the region across various business verticals; from small to global enterprises as well as public sector and industries such as manufacturing, financial, construction, education and healthcare. Hitachi Sunway currently operates in 15 locations across 5 countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam) and will be expanding our operations to Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.


w w w.hi tachi -sunw ay-i s . com



FINDING OPPORTUNITIES IN CHALLENGING TIMES The COVID-19 pandemic has created the greatest economic crisis the world has faced since the Second World War, says the World Bank in its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects. Even in this bleak scenario, tech industries have fared quite well. SHEILA SINGAM highlights the various tech industries that are likely to thrive during and after the pandemic.


he COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life and of doing business forever. No one was prepared for this non-linear discontinuity in the world economy and there was a wide discrepancy in the way organisations reacted world-wide. These organisations can be loosely divided into three categories. In the first were those corporations that had a digital strategy in place and they immediately fast-tracked their plans for the future. They were the ones that were almost, but not quite, ready for this new, unexpected episode in our history. The second category were the companies that were totally unprepared, but agile enough to mobilise their digital teams, which though unprepared, managed to muddle through their uncertainty to achieve some semblance of business sustainability. The third type of organization just

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froze and waited, caught unaware, and hoped it would go away quickly. It didn’t. Eight months down the line, we have not returned to normal and it looks like we never will. The pandemic accelerated trends that were already shaping before it hit. Changes that were expected over the next five years occurred within weeks. This has forced all organisations to rapidly adapt or fall by the wayside. Aside from having to figure out how to operate in a world cowed into submission by this pandemic, one of the most challenging tasks for most businesses is learning to respond to new consumer trends that have arisen during the global lockdown. Many are struggling, and some have caved in to the challenges and closed shop, but there are companies in many sectors that have found opportunity in the midst of the pandemic by reacting quickly to market demands. One of these sectors is the tech industry,

which has seen a surge in demand as businesses turn to digital solutions for business continuity. A recent report by Accenture states that the consumer habits formed during the global lockdown caused by COVID-19 will “endure beyond the crisis, permanently changing what we value; as well as how and where we shop and work.” There is no doubt that working, living, eating, leisure and buying patterns have changed dramatically worldwide and are likely to be here to stay. These trends offer new business opportunities for the tech industry to pivot and create new income streams in various sectors as outlined below.

BLENDED LEARNING A hybrid of in-person lessons and distance learning via virtual platforms is one of the many models that may take off to replace the hitherto conventional classroom teaching

approach. Many tertiary education institutions that were offering digital platforms for learning have accelerated their endeavours in this area to offer a wider spectrum of programmes. As the trend for blended learning becomes more entrenched, there will be opportunities in the area of developing and maintaining learning management platforms and applications for formal and informal learning. Such platforms can also be developed for supplementary learning, for example, tuition and additional lessons.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The global artificial intelligence market is expected to grow from $28.42 billion in 2019 to $40.74 billion in 2020. The leap is mainly due to COVID-19, which has sparked a plethora of transformative technologies. If the world economy is able to recover as expected on a linear trend, the market could grow to $99.94 billion in 2023. There will be ample opportunities in the coming decade for companies involved in artificial intelligence to expand their scope of business. Online portal GlobeNewswire says that a major challenge to the growth of the AI sector is the limited number of experts in the field. Research by Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent three years ago pegged the figure of AI researchers and practitioners at around 300,000, while the actual number needed runs into the millions.

TELEHEALTH Telehealth services can definitely cut costs for consumers. Malaysia’s telehealth industry, which was struggling to go mainstream before the pandemic, definitely offers new possibilities now. An article on CodeBlue, an online health publication, states that since February this year, digital health platform DoctorOnCall has seen over

five million visitors to its website and has over three million active users. The platform has concluded thousands of consultations between patients and doctors. As health continues to be a major concern for consumers, this sector offers great opportunity for the tech industry. However, there will need to be conversations with the health industry regulators on the issue of dispensing separation and with the finance industry on insurance coverage for telehealth services.

ENTERTAINMENT Social distancing rules and the fear of public places has drastically cut down the number of people visiting entertainment outlets. And yet, people need entertainment to distract them from the dreariness of being stuck at home. Human creativity has come to the rescue with museums, theatres and concert organisers offering virtual solutions. Of course, a concert streamed online can never match the roar of a crowd and thunder of drumbeats, but when there is no choice, why not? If concerts are not one’s cup of tea, there are always a multitude of movies available via online platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others. As these entertainment solutions become more popular and convenient, they may phase out the conventional cinema experience. There is opportunity for these entities to pivot by offering hybrid solutions to consumers hungry for fresh, new approaches to being entertained at home or in small, safe groups.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE The F&B industry has seen a major transformation during this pandemic. Restaurants and bars have suffered due to major restrictions, and many have closed down. Those that have survived the movement control order have morphed into crossbreed entities offering as much, if not more,

food via delivery than in-house dining. What if a solution could be offered to small business owners who want to carry on their business, but cannot afford to set up shop in a rented space in a high-end part of town? A possible solution could be a cloud kitchen backed by a common shared kitchen. Something like a SOHO for chefs, where they could come in and rent a workstation to produce comestibles based on demand generated through a cloud kitchen. The concept could be tagged to a delivery service, which also offers additional business opportunities. Napoleon Hill said “In every adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.” We’ve seen numerous seeds of opportunity sprouting into amazing innovations that have shifted entire industries. The world as we know it is gone. We can either swim strong with the tide of change or drown by standing still and doing nothing. Opportunities are aplenty, now it’s time to get cracking, to grasp the best of them and transform them into viable businesses. Sheila Singam is the founder of Human Equation Sdn Bhd, a company dedicated to accelerating growth in individuals and corporations alike. She believes that when things get tough, it’s time to get going.

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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION GUIDE A BUSINESS SURVIVAL KIT FOR MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES The Digital Productivity Nexus (DPN) of Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) recently released its Digital Transformation Guide (DiTG): A Survival Kit, which targets micro, small and medium enterprises across all sectors as a means to grow their business.


s the country is currently going through the recovery phase from the Covid-19 global pandemic, only businesses that remain agile resilient will survive, leaving the micro and smaller players in vain, and their businesses no longer viable. Director General of Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC), Dato’ Abdul Latif Abu Seman, said that MCO has forced many businesses to relook at their business sustainability. “‘Business as usual’ no longer applies to them. To ensure business continuity, the micro and small businesses need to quickly shift to digital platforms. With DiTG, small business owners are given a stepby-step guide, must-do-list to transform and survive, then thrive in the new age.” Dato’ Wei Chuan Beng, Champion of Digital Productivity Nexus said, the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant disruption to business activity has turned perception and

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opened eyes to the advantage of digital transformation, giving rise to a noticeable sense of urgency for digital adoption by the SME community. The DiTG is a generic framework for these businesses to help them transform from their traditional way

of doing business to digital migration as the way forward towards business viability and sustainability. Meanwhile, PIKOM Advisor Shaifubahrim Saleh, stated that digitalisation “is a prominent platform to boost productivity growth and economic competitiveness

Dato’ Abdul Latif Haji Abu Seman.

PIKOM Advisor Shaifubahrim Saleh.

Roadmap for Digital Transformation Begin transition


Migrate to new

BIZ MODEL by investing in digital platform

New Digital Businesses

to DIGITAL by purchasing cloudbased apps and services

Adopt digital


Traditional Micro & SMEs

Financing Options Decide the best way to raise funds, ie via equity financing, loans or grants

Secure FINANCING via alternative and digital sources

Hire or train TALENT in digital apps and tools

and automation for all business aspects

Go Digital Assess which cloud-based and other digital tools are applicable and suitable for the business by exploring based on cost efficiency measures. Talent Audit

in a country’s long-term growth. Comparatively, high-productivity nations adapt quickly to changes through technology advancement. They involve the willingness to acculturate new ways of producing goods & services, resulting in new ways of doing business”. The digital transformation roadmap or framework is anchored on a central strategy built around 5 main aspects of doing business – Financing, Digital, Talent, Processes and Business Model. Each is interlinked and inter-dependent on one another in a company’s journey towards becoming digital-enabled business. According to the Guide, the transformation journey for traditional businesses starts with securing financing via alternative

and digital sources in the absence of sufficient own capital. The funds are for investing in digital and cloud-based tools as the first step towards digital migration. Investment is also needed to train owners and employees of businesses in such digital apps as well as for the business migration to a digital platform – stages which may not be linear, but could be concurrent depending on the nature of business or the enterprise itself. The final stage in this journey would be full digital adoption for the demand and supply sides, and operations of the business and this would nominally include digital marketing and digital procurement as well as automation and adoption of IR4.0 technologies.

Assess talent requirements based on the nature of business as well as training requirements. If required build an effective and efficient Digital Workforce.

The Right Business Model Explore the option for a gradual migration. This would include an online presence, ie social media, website, followed by digital marketing know-how that includes an online marketplace with an e-commerce site with payment gateway.

Work Through Process Assess which tasks are easiest to migrate online, then consider subscribing to cloudbased tools.

Digital Transformation Guide (DiTG): A Survival Kit is available online at or email or

“Memacu Produktiviti Negara” | “Driving Productivity of the Nation”

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Profile for Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd

MYIT I Vol 4 I No 1 I NEC Chong Kai Wooi  

MYIT I Vol 4 I No 1 I NEC Chong Kai Wooi  


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