Techies Helping Others To Help Themselves

We all know that Industry 4.0 is changing work processes and demanding new skillsets. This has led many local firms to work at reskilling and upskilling the young.

Community is Key

For example, Vin Lim of Green Room, a leading mobile and web application development company specialising in cross-platform application development, shares that “a successful tech ecosystem starts with talents: Talents create success stories that in turn attract talents to the ecosystem.”

Vin Lim of Green Room.

And Penang definitely has talents. “We have people with skillsets related to Industry 4.0. This is natural given that the industry has been one of our key economic drivers. And where high-level programming such as web and app technologies is concerned, we have seen a steady rise in interest and growth.”

There are, however, some skills that are highly sought after, such as data collection, analytics and automation in manufacturing technologies. “The ability to collect and store meaningful data requires engineering skills, while the ability to interpret data and provide insights requires different skillsets. Above all, a solution architecture is vital to the entire process,” Lim explains.

There is still a void in the tech ecosystem which Lim wants to fill through community-driven projects such as the Google Developers Group (GDG) George Town, which has inspired developers to actively promote software development proficiency through free seminars and workshops. The initiative has been supported by Google since its establishment in 2013. 

Lim also co-founded Startup Penang in 2012 with several tech start-up founders to give support and to provide a discussion platform for local founders. It has since expanded and now has over 2,200 members seeking to stay abreast of Penang’s start-up scene.

“A successful tech ecosystem starts with talents: Talents create success stories that in turn attract talents to the ecosystem.”

Angular Malaysia is another community-driven effort aimed at promoting robust web technology for use in building up web and mobile applications. “Many developers are now getting involved in the technology, and they often need support from fellow developers in the same field,” Lim says.

To deepen the local tech community’s understanding of various technologies, Lim and his team have been organising workshops and conferences for years. “One example is the Google DevFest that we’ve been organising for five consecutive years – the latest was held last November. It is an annual one-day tech conference that introduces the latest technologies and know-how to the local tech community via talks and workshops conducted by global experts.”

There are still issues within the tech ecosystem that need addressing. “Part of the challenge is to educate all stakeholders, particularly top leaders, on the importance and benefits of Industry 4.0, and setting the right expectations, ensuring sufficient commitment and having the will to see the process through. Unfortunately, opportunities for sharing with top leaders are hard to arrange.”

A Visual Future

Now, when visual communication supersedes texts, Piktochart, a web-based infographic application, allows users with little design knowledge to engage in visual storytelling.

“It’s basically knowing the type of words and data to use. We have the templates and tools to help users make information digestible through the use of posters, flyers, brochures, infographics and presentations that are aesthetically pleasing,” says co-founder Goh Ai Ching.

"Ten years ago, you needed to highlight your knowledge of numerous Microsoft software under the ‘Skills’ section of your resume; today, knowing and learning to use tools like Piktochart has helped many obtain jobs. It’s the one skillset to master for the future.”

Piktochart boasts a broad spectrum of users ranging from students to business professionals, and most use the application as a freemium product. To access more of Piktochart’s features, users upgrade for a fee. And because it is relatively easy to use, only minimal human interaction is necessary. “We operate using a touchless system. Unless, of course, a user contacts us through a support ticket or replies to one of our emails, only then will a Piktochart staff member jump in. These days, most people learn things on their own. They much prefer to go online and search for YouTube tutorial videos instead.

Goh Ai Ching, the co-founder of Piktochart.

“But we’ve been targeting bigger enterprises recently and they do require support. Even at the purchase level, these businesses need IT and security reviews, and beyond that, they need onboarding – they wouldn’t be happy purchasing a software and then be expected to work out on their own how it is to be used. A case in point: we recently conducted a two-day workshop with the Ministry of Health where we trained them to create a booklet using Piktochart.

“I strongly believe that the ability to communicate concisely and clearly is a skill of the future irrespective of the industry one is in. Piktochart has seen a great many users from universities and colleges that come to us to create infographic resumes.

“Ten years ago, you needed to highlight your knowledge of numerous Microsoft software under the ‘Skills’ section of your resume; today, knowing and learning to use tools like Piktochart has helped many obtain jobs. It’s the one skillset to master for the future.”

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