6. YES 4G – Digitalising Our Future
I have shared many times on the importance and power of the internet. Let me share it again here because this is a powerful message that does not seem to register fast enough for many of us.
Palaeolithic cave drawings:
In Lascaux, south-western France, there are a number of 17,000 years old Palaeolithic cave drawings demonstrating hunting methods, much like instruction manuals. Successful hunts not only ensured tribes’ survival but strengthened them one against another.
In fact, this knowledge transfer on walls spawned civilisations.
With 12,000 characters copied onto tortoise shells and bamboos and later, paper, the Chinese spread their influence and dominated much of the world for 4,000 years. It was the world's largest economy until the 1800.
However, with 26 characters, the Roman alphabets, the West conquered the world and gave us the Enlightenment, scientific and industrial revolution, and world imperialism – even invading China in the process.
Notably, they had books – printed on Johannes Gutenberg’s printing machines from the 1440s. Including, the world's first printed Bible – Gutenberg’s first major printed work. Knowledge and information disseminated with books that easily travelled everywhere.
Not surprising, much of the technology of engineering mushroomed in this period.
0 & 1:
But today, with just two numbers, 0 and 1, all of civilisation’s knowledge is digitalised and squeezed into computers.
And with the internet, the power of civilisation could literally be at your fingertips.
History reminds us when there is technology, individuals and societies progress.
But those who are more successful in harnessing and capitalising on available technologies, will progress faster.
Most things today are driven by Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and disseminated over the internet.
That is where engineering is heading!
Construction designs are more accurately drawn up using 3D engineering software than hand drawn.
And later, the designs could be sent via email and read on an iPad, instead of on rolls and rolls of scribbled large papers that construction engineers seem to enjoy holding. A smart engineer would use computers to advance his products and services, but would employ the internet fully to sell them. Because overheads are lower and he could reach a global market far beyond his own geography.
Today, the engineering that we are learning at universities are now available online. Just Google search or visit iTunesU.
Steve Jobs knew that. That is why his most successful product is the iPad – essentially a portable mobile device that brings the internet to the user.
That is what ICT really means. The Technology of Information & Communication, or put differently, the technology of COMMUNICATING
INFORMATION. And information has to be communicated fast. Because speed gives you competitiveness, speed is the essence!
But what good is a mobile device if the mobile internet network cannot carry it well? When there is no decent bandwidth?
And at YTL, we not only know that, we have the solution for it.
In the late 1990s, together with many people, we persuaded the Malaysian Government not to censor the internet – to keep it free and vibrant.
The internet must be an ecosystem that Malaysians could tap to better themselves. We invested in technology incubators and listed YTL e-Solutions. We then invested in EXTIVA, a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services. Then, we already understood ‘DIGITALISATION’. We used the Clarent Gateway, and by converting analogue to digital, we helped bring down IDD calls by 94% and mobile phone calls down by 50%!
When the Government issued the 4G license to YTL, we were blessed with the most powerful opportunity to transform ourselves and this country. We invited engineers from silicon valleys everywhere to come to Malaysia to build the world’s first ever nationwide 4G mobile internet network and ecosystem. It is now a reality!
YES 4G gives you powerful bandwidth to access chunks of information over the internet throughout the country from north to south.
YTL has hot-spotted the country. We have now literally made it possible for civilisation to be placed at your fingertips anytime and anywhere - but in Malaysia. In every sense, we have helped iPad or any smart mobile devices to fulfil their genuine potential – true mobility riding on a powerful 4G mobile internet bandwidth. That’s our real contribution to ICT!
BROADBAND IN THE TROPICS!
Our YES was also recently awarded the global ‘Best New Service’ at the Broadband InfoVision Awards 2011 in Paris. We have made YES 4G very affordable so that Malaysians can enjoy our network to become the next innovators, the next owners of Alibabas, Facebooks, Twitters and YouTubes. There is intense competition in the internet / ICT world. You have to become competitive and market-savvy online in order to sell one’s products and services.
The internet is a realm of speed, efficiency and also 'smartness'. It requires much more thinking to convince the rest of the world that one’s products and services are worth the purchase. Even if you have the best engineering product or service.
But the alternative, a reluctance to embrace both the digital and internet challenge, either out of ignorance, laziness or for whatever reason is in my opinion – unwise! Look at Borders. They recently went bankrupt. But Amazon is going strong. The internet has given Amazon the flexibility to function, coordinate and operate, that physical bookshops cannot do.
And just a few days ago, Baidu (China’s biggest search engine) reports a profit surge of 80% in the third quarter, USD295 million in 3 months. They must be getting something right. The digital economy powered by the internet is no longer an option to ignore. Businesses must have their presence on it and capitalise on what it has to offer. It is the smartest engineering technology to date and all engineers must capitalise on the internet and mobile internet to advance.
Let me conclude by making two points:
Firstly, I am not suggesting that entrepreneurs are more important than engineers. I am also not asking you to quit engineering and go into business.
I was told, too many young people are not going into engineering, but into investment banking. Because there is money to be made.
But the crisis in Wall Street shows that Financial Engineering is not real engineering.
Our engineering is based on substance. We build and create using what is real – tangible. A lot of financial engineering is based on lies and deceit – selling to people what does not exist.
BUT, I also know that engineers are not paid well. Engineers are often forced to compromise on standards and quality, just so to get a better living. That is why they quit engineering dreams and get tempted to leave for investment banking or whatever.
Which is why I believe it is so important that engineers must be business savvy. Get equipped, because if you have the best engineering in the world, it will sell. You just need to learn how to do so.
Secondly, Steve Jobs mentioned that one of his inspirations for making his devices is admiring the intricate details of civil engineering, especially European bridges and the Eiffel Tower. Because of that, he asks his engineers what is ugly about the phone, they said ‘Buttons’. And he told them to find a solution. Now, we have the touchscreens – and every smart device is heading that way. Gone with ugly buttons – all because of beautiful bridges and the Eiffel Tower.
I want to encourage our engineers to take pride in what they do. Don’t compromise and do cheap, tatty and uninspiring works.
Please excel in your very profession and skillsets, and light up the world by contributing to engineering achievements that will last a few civilisations. We are greatly blessed with our engineering skills and talents. Treasure them and use technologies to better yourselves and use entrepreneurialism to help you get there.
Let me leave you with this thought:
The engineer-entrepreneur is not an oxymoron! Entrepreneurship has and will always be the facilitator of grand engineering becoming real before our eyes.
We don’t all have to be Steve Jobs. We can’t all be like Steve Jobs. But at least, we could be using the iPad; selling engineering products and services online via Alibaba.com; twittering to everyone that we have the next best engineering sensation; and all the while riding on YTL’s YES 4G – the fastest nationwide mobile internet in the world.
That’s being a smart engineer!