Many questions were raised from the floor in the panel discussions during The Edge Industry 4.0 Forum. Below is a selection of some of them and the replies the panellists — Fusionex International vice-president of new technologies Raju Chellam, Linear DMS Sdn Bhd managing director Dave Choong, Medical Devices Corp Sdn Bhd director Loke Khing Hong, and Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd chief digital officer Praveen Rajan.
Q: Why don’t you think that Industry 4.0 is not taking off as quickly as it should be in Malaysia?
Chellam: The reason, I think, is A, B and C.
A — awareness. I think awareness is quite lacking among the general business community in the country. Just talking about Industry 4.0 is not good enough; you need businesses to actually start doing proof of concept soon.
B — businesses. Businesses have to do it first and it is not just the big players, the small guys also have to [work towards this objective]. As you can see, all the disruption that is happening is caused the small guys. Businesses have to come up and do it first, not wait for the government to do it.
C — cloud. So, the cloud has a lot of issues still, especially security. Unless you are employing the cloud and adding a layer of security around that, Industry 4.0 cannot really take off.
Once you have A, B and C in place, Malaysia has the potential to be the No 1 market for Industry 4.0 because the country has manufacturing, cheap land and labour, good electricity and water.
Choong: In fact, Industry 4.0 is very huge — it covers many industries. In my opinion, it is already happening. If it hadn’t taken place, we wouldn’t be talking about disruption. For example, Uber, Airbnb, e-commerce are all the by-products. It is just that we have to define which portions of 4.0 we are talking about.
Q: Recently, there have been many private data breaches of mobile phone numbers, organ donor information and so on. As you move up the value chain, it presents a lot of opportunities, but there is also a lot of risk. How do we address that?
Praveen: I think there is no running away from the fact that there is a lot of data theft. A simple way of looking at it is, everything (is) on your phone. There is so much on your own personal devices than ever before. Your phone has more information about you than you even have in your own homes. That’s the scale of data.
For companies, moving forward, there are a few things to look at. If you look at how we run our business, any service that we try to provide, we try to start with a perspective that we can operate that service with as little information about that customer as possible. So, I don’t need to ask you for that information because we don’t need that.
Secondly, the people who operate the business ... Every organisation has people, they are the ones working to service the customer. You need to have a clear code of conduct and how you embrace this type of information when you serve customers. At Digi, we have a zero-tolerance policy. If we find out anything close to a breach of data, it will result in immediate termination of the employee.
Thirdly, it is the users themselves. We keep thinking that the problem is on our end, but the problem is also with the users. For example, when you take a photo, there is information on the location of your photo; it is being stored somewhere. There needs to be significant understanding, from the users’ perspective, of the things you need to turn off and the things you should leave on. Even in hospitals, there is equipment collecting data and it is being stored somewhere. Users need to be aware.
Q: What can you do?
Praveen: With the device in your hands, there are a lot of things (permissions) that you should be turning off.
For example, with Google Maps, you may have used it to come here [to the forum venue], but there is a function in there whereyou can turn off the history of your locations.
But you must think of the benefits as well. If you know why they collect that kind of information, you will know that when the app is opened immediately, it will prompt if you want to go home. That is the trade-off.
Loke: There is some control in place and the end user also has the responsibility. But if you look into the bigger perspective, we have to weigh the benefits and the disadvantages.
The world has good and bad people. But because of a small number of bad people, you can’t not do anything.
Choong: I think we have to practise a lot of restraint when it comes to our personal data. Basically, for SMEs that would like to embark on IoT, the first thing they have to know about a product is the security features.
Q: In order for industry 4.0 to move forward and the AI algorithm to take place and make it meaningful, you need interoperability. It is also a very fragmented scene. Everyone wants to be a platform of tomorrow, but there isn’t cohesiveness. What are your thoughts on that?
Choong: Going into industry 4.0, there are a lot of new things happening. First, there are no standard tests in terms of what kind of telecommunication devices or practices you are going to use. This morning, I was speaking to Praveen, asking when are we going to see Narrowband-Internet of Things (NB-IoT).
These kinds of interoperability are certainly taking place now.
We have created products for Bluetooth, for example. A lot of people ask why Bluetooth? The simple answer is that we use Bluetooth for IoT development because all our mobile phones, whether android or iOS, have Bluetooth features. Of course you can use other interoperability software like Zigbee and Z-Wave, but you will need to use a router to integrate it.
Now that the market is getting more mature, you will see less interoperability issues.
Q: I am experimenter of smartphone technology, I have a number of smart home devices that are not interoperable ... there is no one size fits all today, but the common denominator is actually Google Home. I would like to understand, in your strategies, have you actually thought about this?
Choong: I think Google Home assistance or Alexa ... people use these so they can use voice activation to control their smart homes. Interoperability is between the product makers; Google Home is the initiator because it (Google) is a big company and it is the one who started smarter speaker features. Those kinds of players, they tie up with Google and that’s why the interoperability is there.
We are talking about hardware integration, and a lot of companies are coming out with gateways to get these products to link together so that they can talk to each other.
Bluetooth and ZigBee are getting more mature ... they have their common tracks as the industry gets more mature, (and) you will see this issue will be solved.
Loke: The issue of interoperability is quite complex. You have to look at the whole ecosystem, different stakeholders having different roles. Also, the timing ... some are too early, they have the platform but no devices in the market or you have the devices but no platform. That’s a no-go as well.