Last week, we received good news that was long overdue – the US dollar went below the RM4 mark for the first time since August 2016 while Bursa Malaysia’s benchmark index FBM KLCI closed above the key psychological level of 1,800 points for the first time in the last three years. Exports in November also rose to a monthly high of RM83.5 billion, a 14.4 per cent rise from last year.
Before we start saying these are merely indicators, here’s a thought. When the US dollar appreciated against the ringgit back in early 2015, we all started bracing for negative impacts. We planned scenarios, discussed business model adjustments, negotiated costs and forecast consumer sentiment – and they were all based on indicators.
If we can plan for tough times, the inverse must take place to plan for good times. Recent indications have shown that the worst is over and as a nation, it is very important to shed our pessimism and plan for new opportunities. Business models and operation structures will have the breathing space to implement bold and innovative moves aimed at creating or at least adapting to disruption.
My previous piece touched on the redefinition of mobility. This week, allow me to delve on this subject matter on a wider scope.
As mentioned, mobility will become and all-encompassing sector on its own, with the automotive industry evolving into the grander mobility sector. It would merge our daily activitiesinto solutions that are integrated into our daily transportation needs.
Lean practitioners have long argued that transportation does not add value between processes. When a work-in-progress part moves between two machines, the movement in itself adds little to the value addition of the product and is a waste that needs to be addressed.
When taken into the context of mobility, the thinking changes. Instead of removing transportation – which is rather impossible – value is instead integrated into transportation, bearing the new concept of mobility. There will be a holistic degree of connectivity beyond transport vehicles – health services, education, traffic management, commerce, emergency services and many others will be part and parcel of transportation and vice-versa.
Sectors such as construction, education, automotive and energy will look indistinguishable from each other as their interdependence will be much higher as segmentation would be harder to manage without coherent policy harmonisation.
Most of all, the blue ocean of business opportunities would become more open than ever, bearing new industries that could not possibly have been imagined before. As car – and bicycle – sharing would increase, logistical outsourcing becomes big business potential.
Health services that were traditionally in the domain of medical facilities would depend on emergency assistance, which is cloud-base. Energy generation may evolve into a home-based business. These are just the tip of iceberg of possibilities of the life-changing experiences.
Therefore, in the year that indicates a return to “business as usual”, let’s not just take relief from usual business. Let us invest more time, effort and resources to the rethinking of our industry. The investment must also be positive and bold, with the confidence of good times ahead.
There was a time when confidence in the automotive industry was at a low point. In the last three years, we proved that we were much bigger and more resilient than what was perceived. This year, that resilience is now our foundation – and that to make it to the top, bold steps must be taken when opportunities arise.
Just look at Steve Jobs, Ellon Musk or Bill Gates – they never tell stories of failure. They tell stories of how they rejected failure, and only saw opportunity. That is the strongest weapon of all – staying positive.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute