The move to a more connected society requires a major mindset shift by consumers, citizens, businesses and the government. The key challenge is changing behavior not launching the technology, a group of telecom executives concluded at a roundtable in Kuala Lumpur.
The panel, held in partnership with Ericsson and moderated by Telecom Asia group editor Joseph Waring, explored how the networked society will transforms society by increasingly empowering citizens and businesses and the challenges of getting there. The group also tried to identify the areas where they see the biggest opportunities in the next year.
YTL Communications CEO Wing Lee insists the move to a networked society takes a mindset change. Fundamentally, he says, it's about change management.
"We can't ignore the human dimension of this equation. If you want to tell people to do e-healthcare or e-logestics or e-whatever, you have to see what part of their lives will be impacted. Then you can understand how things get done and the processes involved, then you'll get those guys on board. If the grassroots don't buy in, there won't be any e-whatever, there'll be e-disruption. That's the challenge that we see, to make them change their mindset. Technology is not the issue."
Sharlene Thiagarajah, TM's GM for strategy development, pointing to the need for an ecosystem to develop and not just have technology for technology's sake. "We need business models as well as the devices, but also key are the soft issues that aren't usually focused on such as English literacy. That's why the adoption of broadband [in Malaysia] hasn't taken off - people don't understand what they are reading."
Lee noted that the culture of the internet is not yet prevalent in Malaysia. He finds that the awareness of what the internet can do is not as high as in other countries, which he attributes partially to penetration not being as high. "But just delivering fiber lines doesn't change the mindset. You have to start at the grassroutes and create an understanding of what the internet can do."
He recently had a discussion with a minister in Indonesia, who said "our goal is to make the internet meaningful." "I thought this was spot on. The point is that we as an industry has some work to do together with the various industry sectors to make the internet meaningful."