The uncertain Malaysian future in the face of technology innovation and automation

In December 2017, Quartz magazine published a shocking report that came as a surprise to many. The Indian IT industry, a sector that for decades has had continuous growth, had its largest layoff ever in its history. Over 56,000 IT employees from Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, two of largest Indian IT firms faced the sack.

As I come to ponder this scenario, I can’t help but wonder what would be the fate of smaller developing economies that primarily rely on traditional industries such as agriculture and resources. If the tech giants of the world could face disruption in automation, what more the durian planter or the T-Shirt factory owner. We live in an age where technology is ever getting smarter, better and more capable to perform ever increasingly difficult human tasks.

Sure, some may say that things are going fine. We have good food, low cost housing, a supposedly growing economy, and some great companies. And yet, somehow, are we really much better off? In the past 20 years, the Malaysian ringgit has depreciated in value compared to our Singaporean counter parts. Outside this little country of ours, the ringgit is weak and Malaysians are unable to afford even the most basic of things. A simple bowl of rice in Singapore is like a full course meal once converted. Malaysians overall have to work much harder for much less pay. We only thing were are doing well because we do not have anyone else to benchmark with. Put the average middle class American family and Malaysian family side by side and you will see the stark contrast.

And it's only going to get worse. As overseas economies develop technology further, we can no longer rely on our lower wages as a competitive edge. No human can ever beat a robot that works 24/7 with a thousand times greater speed and efficiency. Oil prices is set is drop further due to environmental constraints, the rise of electric vehicles and increased supply from US fracking technology. Automation is also another key area that will greatly impact developing economies. As robots get smarter, the rise of Robotic Process Automation, a desktop automation software that can mimic mouse clicks and keyboard strokes will start to make its way into Malaysian companies. I’ve been on the forefront of automation, and seen how it can disrupt countless jobs in white collar sectors. From administration, to accountants, to lawyers and property agents, no one is free from the impending automation armageddon that is coming.

So what's the solution? We need innovation. We need to break free from our traditional economies and start building, creating and exporting technology. Only technology is set to grow, and those that can control it, shall reap its rewards. But to do that, we need everyone working together to accomplish this goal. Unfortunately, in our current state, it appears only the Malaysian government seems to be doing anything. The private sector businesses and entrepreneurs are nowhere to be seen in this picture. The government can only do so much and with their limited resources, could never make as big a impact as private industry could.

Thus, the vision of Hustle Fund Asia. To allow any entrepreneur with great ideas, and great passion to link up with private sector individuals, and together grow new innovative companies. We need this ecosystem in order for innovation to thrive. This ecosystem of risk taking, of adventure, of exploration and the willingness to venture into the unknown. Let us together venture out fourth and make a change that will last for generations to come, for the sake of our future, and the future of this nation.