Media Release: Industry 4.0 offers lifeline to businesses in ASEAN during COVID-19 but employees buy-in is the foundation of the shift to new technologies
Industry 4.0 offers lifeline to businesses in ASEAN during COVID-19 but employees buy-in is the foundation of the shift to new technologies
Counterclockwise starting from top left: Kacper Pierzynowski, co-author of “Southeast Asia’s Big Shift – Industry 4.0 and the Forces of Change in the ASEAN Bloc” report; Daniel Häggmark, Managing Director of Monitor ERP; H.E. Ambassador Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt, Ambassador of Sweden in Malaysia; and Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute
Kuala Lumpur, 15 September 2020 – CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) hosted the CARI Briefings webinar under its COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan Series, titled “Industry 4.0 and the Forces of Change in ASEAN ~ Swedish Industry Voices in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The session featured voices from the Swedish organisation and firms in the region including Kacper Pierzynowski, co-author of “Southeast Asia’s Big Shift – Industry 4.0 and the Forces of Change in the ASEAN Bloc” report and Daniel Häggmark, Managing Director of Monitor ERP.
Moderated by Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI, the discussion centred around Industry 4.0 (IR4.0) in the region, how Swedish companies utilising IR4.0 have responded to the pandemic and how ASEAN can adopt IR4.0 in a post-pandemic world.
1. COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the critical need of embracing IR4.0 across ASEAN
H.E. Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt, Ambassador of Sweden in Malaysia during his special remarks noted that the experience of the COVID-19-pandemic has shown how vulnerable and unprepared modern societies are to unforeseen events but the utilisation of technology can help businesses emerge from a crisis relatively better.
“Long-term planning perspectives that include digitalisation and corporate sustainability have become necessary ingredients for corporate strategies to be viable in a ten-fifteen year perspective. Through a high degree of digitalisation and a quest for constant innovation, Swedish businesses have managed the COVID-19 environment fairly well, digitalisation making adaptability and thus maintenance of productivity possible,” he said.
In fact, manufacturers in ASEAN surveyed by Business Sweden say they now see the benefits of IR4.0 for their own operations, with COVID-19 further accelerating the awareness and need for it. “For example, remote monitoring capabilities, through performance management platforms and connected machines and assets enabled companies to maintain undisrupted production and react accordingly if any error occurred,” explained Kacper Pierzynowski, co-author of Business Sweden’s report on IR4.0.
2. IR4.0 technologies: new opportunities for new revenue streams and potential innovation
According to the “Southeast Asia’s Big Shift – Industry 4.0 and the Forces of Change in the ASEAN Bloc” report, IR4.0 technologies have the potential of opening up new opportunities.
“Trending technologies such as additive manufacturing, big data, smart machines and robots, virtual modelling and alternate/virtual reality enable companies to obtain a 360-degree view of production lines and customers, set up their own ecosystems and value networks and pave the way for innovations such as mass-customisation of products. This also gives rise to the possibility of data monetisation while moving gradually towards as-a-service concepts,” commented Kacper.
3. The shift towards IR4.0: employees’ buy-in is the foundation of change
Embracing new technologies would not be possible without support from the workforce, said Daniel Häggmark, managing director of Monitor ERP. According to him, more leaders are putting in efforts to involve the entire organisation in the journey towards IR4.0 adoption. He added that Swedish business culture that is non-hierarchical and team focused also creates a very engaged workforce and could make the adoption of new technologies faster and easier.
“There was already keen interest in IR4.0 among the SMEs and government agencies in the four to five years pre-COVID era and the pandemic has challenged the rigid top-down management style among more traditional local manufacturing companies to consider alternatives. Similar to Swedish companies during the global financial crises in 2006 and early 90s, more companies in Malaysia and ASEAN are exploring cost-effective solutions,” he said.
Conclusion: embracing IR4.0 is not all about technologies alone
In the new normal, Tan Sri Munir opines that the implication of industrial restructuring and trade patterns has to be understood now in terms of developing human capital skills, particularly industry planning, and the structure of the new world economy.
“We have to go beyond digitalisation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which, in a way, is taking place “naturally” perforce, towards anticipating the particular technologies that will drive the future of 4IR. We do not want to be stuck with ICT if the future is in cloud, artificial intelligence and mobility,” he said.
H.E. Ambassador Dag agreed and noted that productivity, sustainability and efficiency are core fundamentals for corporates to be competitive. He added that digitalisation is a necessary tool for commercial businesses to be adaptable and to remain internationally competitive.
Kacper said businesses should embrace customer proximity; work closely with technology and solution providers to enable them to develop and offer a scalable solution that is demand-driven and not a technology-led approach. Beyond this, companies should tap into the local ecosystem and build new partnerships while leveraging their existing networks.