August 5, 2016, Putrajaya –  I’m very fortunate to be among the industry players and other several Government agencies for the 2017 Budget Focus Group Meeting on Connected Economy chaired by YBhg Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Secretary General of Treasury.

There are three presentations:

  1. Leveraging the Connected Economy for Future Growth by MDEC
  2. Current Regulation and Broadband Infrastructure by MCMC
  3. Role & Challenges of Telecommunication Companies in Supporting the Development of Digital Economy – Celcom Axiata

Several members, especially from the industry, provide valuable inputs and suggestions. Thus, I took an opportunity to expressed my ideas (in certain extent representing the voice of the IOT industry players). Since the time is quite limited, I’m thinking of writing this article with some of the highlights which I’m unable to deliver during that session.

Are we preparing ourselves and our next generation to be well equipped – in other words, are we putting our shoes in the Year 2020 or 2025?

Much of the discussions focused on broadband infrastructure, but we shouldn’t forget that Internet of Things is the Third Wave of Internet. To propel ourselves in the future, we can’t be discussing the same thing again and over again. Whereas other countries have their Year 2025 Vision, where is our vision for the future? Are we preparing ourselves and our next generation to be well equipped – in other words, are we putting our shoes in the Year 2020 or 2025? I remembered the words of one Minister from a neighboring country – “we are going to produce graduates for jobs not in existence today.” We can’t be in a reactive mode to excel.

I have managed to put forth three suggestions for us to propel ourselves into the future of IOT:

  1. Appoint Smart City Champions or Chief Smart City Officers (CSCO) – We need a champion that can take the blueprint or smart city framework into reality. The CSCOs not only must that clear vision of Smart City, but he must be able to close the gaps, break any barriers and have the drive to make it happen. Data must not be kept in silos. IOT will be a failure if it’s not able to be aggregated into a single platform. The industry can contribute on the other part of the equation, but the desire and passion must come from the City Champions themselves.
  2. Think Like a Startup When Building a Smart City – The investment for a Smart City deployment can be very huge but also can easily become a white elephant if done hastily or without proper management. Many initiatives will not be able to sustain if the idea is just to get the limelight of the official launches but energy will quickly disappear after a month. Use the Minimum Viable City approach – Build, Measure, and Learn. Scale when the city is ready. The government must allocate fund for Pilot Trials since IoT is something new and need to experiment fully within the Malaysian context. The acceptance of Smart City solutions in many countries differs due the diversity of people and culture. Of course, there are many products from overseas, but Smart City and IoT projects will be an excellent enabler to spur the local indigenous goods and companies.
  3. New Policies and Enforcement are Key – Imagine when cars are mandatory to be equipped with sensors, connectivity, and GPS. Security, maintenance, car hiring, usage-based insurance and many new and innovative applications can be created. What if all factories or buildings that have a risk of creating pollution being fitted with environmental sensors attached and continuously monitored for any violations? Imagine if companies who want to reduce the medical costs of their staffs will provide a wearable device that measures the number of steps, heart rate and much more. Suddenly we see an exponential growth of IoT devices and applications in Malaysia!

Please do not hesitate to contribute your ideas and share your concerns. Thanks!

About the Author

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is the CEO of REDtone IOT. He can be reached at . You can follow him on LinkedIn at or Twitter at . For further details, check out

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