Moving beyond communicating [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mobile apps may just be the effective agents of change to bring the people together, writes Rozana Sani
IF we walk around in a shopping mall today, we will see people from all walks of life on their mobile devices - smartphones, tablets and notebooks. Due to the pervasiveness of the Internet and the increased affordability of tech gadgets, many people have moved from merely communicating with each other on these devices, to using them for work and entertainment, thanks to mobile apps.
While it cannot be denied that most of us are savvy when it comes to using these apps, we have yet to harness the platform to realise the ideas, innovation and individual potential.
In a recent CEO roundtable organised by DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and moderated by writer and columnist Kam Raslan, the issue of Internet innovation and digital economy was discussed revolving the topic Transforming Malaysia Into A Nation Of 29 Million Possibilities By Harnessing The Power Of The Internet.
Panelists included Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) chief executive officer Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, NKRA (RBI) and NKEA (CCI and Agriculture), Pemandu director Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek, Google Malaysia country manager Sajith Sivanandan, Microsoft Malaysia director of Developer And Platform Evangelism Dinesh Nair and DiGi Telecommunications chief executive officer Henrik Clausen.
The main question Kam posed was: Given the current environment and available technologies, how can we move forward as an Internet innovation hub
Dinesh says we need to contribute more on top of just clicking - particularly where mobile apps are concerned.
"Today, a lot of us use devices, technology, communications and all that as a consumption device. We suck in what's available out there. But as we move towards the app economy, we need to be more creative and more involved. The technology is there for us to create," he says.
Sajith says there are no longer boundaries where technology is concerned - be it from the business or consumer perspective.
"All you need is a good idea and connectivity, and you can let things fly. So, that has implications for entrepreneurs, people who are setting up businesses and it's going to impact people's lives.
. the future is going to be rife with opportunities. We're not even at one per cent (yet)," he says.
For Badlisham, the use of technology should be ubiquitous like language for us to become an innovation hub.
"In the world of technology,I'dlike to see the people use technology without thinking , just as we speak today. We learn language when we are young to communicate and move ideas across to convince people. But now we can do it through technology," he says.
Meanwhile, Henrik says that as a foreigner who has been in the country for three years now, he observes that the gap (from the technology aspect) between Malaysia and European countries is fast closing.
"We are involved in building good infrastructure. If we push harder in terms of retaining the right talent and have a bold ambition, Malaysia might be leading the pack (in the region)," he says.
Fadhlullah agrees: "There is a lot of talent out there. This talent just needs to be harnessed correctly. That is how the ICT industry can increase growth and innovation."
At the event, DiGi also announced the winners of the ideation phase of its Challenge For Change programme. Themed Bringing Malaysians Together, One App At A Time, the programme aims to inspire the people to develop innovative ideas for mobile apps that will help bring them together and make life better for local communities.
There were two main phases: For the Ideation Challenge which ran from Nov 28, 2012 to Jan 27, 2013, those aged 12 and above submitted ideas that could be turned into mobile apps. For the Apps Development Challenge, currently running till May 22, developers will help transform these ideas into applications.
For the first phase, the submissions fall under five idea categories.
* Discovering Together: Discovering the diversity of Malaysia together
* Healthier Together: Creating ways to improve fitness and health together
* Working Together: Ideas of mobile apps that improve productivity at work and at home
* Learning Together: Mobile apps that help learning and organising studies for students of all ages * Sharing Together: Sharing lifestyle tips and activities in our community.
Close to 2,000 Malaysian-inspired mobile Internet ideas were submitted by a pool of students, NGOs, app developers and the public. In addition to the five planned category winners, two surprise wildcard ideas clinched the first phase prize. Winners received RM5,000 and a smartphone package.
Christian Thrane, chief judge for Challenge For Change and DiGi's chief strategy and corporate affairs officer said: "We are pleased with the variety and quality of ideas submitted as well as the broad range of contributors.
The winning ideas best captured the value of Bringing Malaysians Together, One App At A Time. These ideas demonstrated clarity of expression, innovation, originality and viability, and sustainability in using the mobile internet platform."
He says the app ideas have real potential for commercialisation and adoption.
WHAT THE WINNERS' SAY
In the Discover Together category, Low Chin Leong, 21, a student from Taiping, won for Classic New Game, an app that transforms traditional games such as Dam Aji, Congkak and Baling Selipar, into mobile games and brings people together to compete with their mobiles.
"I did not expect to win when I submitted my idea. I hope this app will help ensure we rediscover the joy of traditional games and so keep our heritage very much alive," he says.
In the Working Together category, sales and marketing executive from Kuching Ong Sze Tek, 29, won with My Neighbourhood - an app that functions as a notification bulletin board, aimed at re- creating the Rukun Tetangga sense of belonging among urban neighbourhood communities.
"I feel that a mobile app can further encourage the Rukun Tetangga sense of belonging among urban neighbourhoods - it's easily accessible and neighbours can interact and keep updated on the latest happenings with the touch of a button," he explains.
Sibu lawyer Michelle Fung, 24, won the Learning Together category with Earth's Green Heroes - a gamification app that enables people to gain points by recycling goods.
"There is an app for almost everything these days, so why not an app that rewards users for recycling I am thrilled my idea has been noticed and can't wait to see how the app turns out," says Fung.
A prolonged illness prompted a student from Sungai Siput Nicholas Khooi, 17, to develop Smart Reminder, an app that serves as an easy- to-use reminder tool for older family members to take their medications on time. It won the Healthier Together category.
"I am thankful that my idea has been recognised. I hope it will benefit all who are on regular medication," says Khooi.
Greetings Manager, an app that organises mobile contacts according to their festival groups and reminds you to personalise greetings using set templates won the Sharing Together category.
The developer, project manager Siva Kumar, 37, from Shah Alam says: ""Malaysians on average celebrate at least two festivals, if not more. This app ensures no one in the phone book is forgotten during festive periods." The two wild card winners were an engineer from Klang, Leow Aik Peng, 41, and Web developer Mohd Eskandarian Mirza, 29, from Puchong.
Leow won for Social Blood Drive, a gamification location-based app to help hospitals and establishments with blood donation campaigns, and to reward responsible donors who step up to help those in need of transfusions.
Mohd Eskandarian won for Futsal 5ive, an app that allows users to join existing futsal teams, organise matches with other futsal teams in the neighbourhood and records their performance for comparison.
The app can also be the scoreboard for all futsal teams.
Prizes There are over RM235,000 in cash and experiential prizes up for grabs this year:
* RM5,000 for the top 7 idea finalists
* RM25,000 for each of the top 7 developers
* RM25,000 for best idea and winner of the Prime Minister's Innovation Award
* Access to Industry and DiGi Mentors
* Opportunities for app development with key partners
Details on how to participate in this year's DiGi Challenge For Change at www. dgcfc.my.
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