At the end of 2016, I wrote a three-part series on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry
4.0) and future global landscape.
The series discussed the development of big data management and the Internet of Things
(IoT) framework — something that was still an elusive concept within the domestic
boundaries at the time.
In only three years, Malaysians, in particular the youths, have become well versed with on-
demand ride-sharing, food delivery, shopping, workshop services and other activities using
cloud technology driven by big data analytics and IoT. Such is the speed of technology
development, driven primarily by bold companies such as Apple Inc, Samsung, Amazon.com
Inc, Microsoft Corp and Tesla Inc, which have aggressively created market demand by
planting the need for a digital lifestyle — from being a luxury to a necessity.
All of those companies, now valued at billions of US dollars (Apple and Amazon were the
first trillion-dollar companies), started with humble beginnings — they weren’t born into
riches or plentiful opportunities, yet in just a few decades, built the digital wonders of the
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple with US$1,350. In fact, they sold off their
possessions to raise the small capital. The question is: what made the difference? If it was
education, then Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did drop out of their tertiary education. If it was
inheritance, many of the founders were not even sons of millionaires.
I would argue that it is self-belief and exposure — in our thinking, actions and the setting of
our strategies—that make a difference between staying comfortable in the middle class and
having the will to push the boundaries.
This year — actually, this new decade — we need to re-examine our values and what we
should value. For example, the many seasons of the American Idol franchise were
interesting, not just because of the great talents who won the competition, but also those
who came to the auditions believing they could sing and make something out of the
opportunity that was given to them. While it was entertaining to watch, it also underlined
an important aspect of the people in the American society — they believed in their abilities.
Because of this strong self-belief, those with the right capabilities and talents became
winners in what they did, moving on to become mega stars on the world stage.
The American brands I mentioned above were products and testaments to the
aggressiveness shown by the Americans. Frankly speaking, the inverse often takes place
within our borders. Ambition is often met with ridicule and negativity, retarding and
suppressing further progress or improvement.
In this decade, let us change this. Let us create an ecosystem where one can be aggressive,
progressive and innovative. Let this person get the right support if he or she is good, or be
met by constructive criticism and improvement opportunities if otherwise. The inverse is
the same for those trying to achieve greatness — speak not of what should be done for you
but take new steps, create new ideas and implement aggressive strategies without fear of
ridicule or rejection. To change our paradigm, we must change our ecosystem. That does
not just mean to change the circles we are in, but also expand our circles to get involved
with people who achieved greatness.
Aim high, because even if we were to miss our aim, the result would still be better than
what we expected. Do not be afraid to share our knowledge, wealth and progress — there
will be a time when our own resources render us irrelevant and we will rely on others to
share theirs with us. Shared prosperity must be preceded by shared ambition, shared
innovation and shared assertiveness.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute.