From left: Dinesh Sampath Rangaraj, Senior Vice President, Global Client Lead, Frost & Sullivan; Naeem Shahab Khan, Managing director, Philip Morris Malaysia; Rina Neoh, Co-founder and managing director, Ficus Capital; Nik Nazree Nik Abdul Rahman, Director of economic research & data analytics, TERAJU Bumiputera Corporation; Shivaji Das, Partner and managing director, Frost & Sullivan.


Driving the discussions on this vision was Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific. In its first physical event organized after 2 years of the pandemic, the firm invited various speakers to share broad insights on what is possible with the vision. Titled ‘Innovate to Zero: New Business Models Post-Covid-19’, the event held at EQ Kuala Lumpur on 6 October 2022 shows Frost & Sullivan’s strong support in the global movement for greater sustainability and innovating to zero. Among the attendees were Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Bhd, MARA, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Maybank Investment Bhd, MIMOS, MDEC, and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd.

In her welcoming note, Frost & Sullivan’s country head of Malaysia, June Liang reiterated the firm’s belief in the principles to achieve goals such as zero emission vehicles, zero waste, zero carbon emissions, and even zero diseases.

“We are not limited to only these goals as the principle of ‘Innovate to Zero’ can be extended to other areas of a business, such as those involving productivity. This could be zero waiting time, zero emails, zero downtime, zero delays in delivery. Businesses could also strive for zero papers and zero work accidents,” mentioned Liang.

However financial, knowledge, and human resource investments are still needed to drive innovation and the mega vision of ‘Innovate to Zero’’

The event also featured four enlightening talks that shared findings and practices of the various organizations when it comes to fulfilling the broad vision of a zero concept world.

Frost & Sullivan’s Partner and managing director Shivaji Das started the ball rolling with his talk titled ‘Trends, Technology and Business Models: The Mega Vision of a Zero Concept World.’ He shared that the vision of ‘Innovate to Zero’ is so unique and powerful since it is an idea that can be easily translated into various metrics within an organization.

“It is not just a trend or technology, but this idea of a vision should inspire any organization to achieve a certain metric that can be translated to ‘zero’,” he said.

Shivaji shared examples of implementing zero concepts in real life such as the Lombardy region in Italy, which enforces zero light pollution by ensuring a cut-off level for streetlights and strict laws on when lights should be switched off.

He also gave corporate examples such as Siemens. The German multinational conglomerate upholds the idea of zero emission and going fully climate neutral by 2030. Siemens is considered one of the most advanced organizations that reduced their waste, focused on using renewable energy. and completely electrified its fleet.

Other examples of zero concepts in the corporate setting would be zero business travel, which meant that most meetings would be conducted virtually. Should there ever be a need to travel, the company can run a programme to offset the carbon footprint incurred. Another concept is zero conflict in employee relations, which included strategies such as collaborative decision making and fair pay.

“Zero unforced errors means that you don’t take risks. It can be costly as well. For example, if you strive for zero customer complaints, then investment into customer satisfaction is needed,” he said adding that it could also be challenging to get stakeholder buy-ins.

He also mentioned that though it may be an uphill climb, the benefits an organization can reap would far outweigh the challenges as these measures could be powerful in attracting talent, breaking silos within an organization, and driving change.

The second talk by TERAJU Bumiputera Corporation director of economic research & data analytics, Nik Nazree Nik Abdul Rahman focused on the digital transformation of organizations and individuals. Many have embraced digital solutions to ensure their continued service and delivery.

“The pandemic forced organizations to find digital solutions, such as working from home, to ensure productivity. This was true even for the government, which implemented various digital transformation and could even conduct matrimonial services through video calls due to the lockdowns,” he said.

Nik Nazree shared that the Malaysian government was fully aware of the need to digitally transform their processes and services, however such major changes would take time. TERAJU can facilitate organizations wishing to connect and aid the digital transformation efforts of government entities or departments. It could also act as an intermediary to the relevant department for any organisation in need of funding to finance its digital transformations.

The third talk was by Philip Morris Malaysia managing director Naeem Shahab Khan, who spoke about ‘Innovate to Zero Smoke.’ This was indeed an eye-opening session as Naeem shared how Philip Morris is the biggest tobacco company in the world but acknowledged combustible cigarettes as harmful.

“We are dedicated to the zero smoke concept because combustible cigarettes are harmful. We are willing to even cannibalize the company by innovating a smokeless product and phasing out our top 5 brands to move away from selling combustible cigarettes,” he said adding that this was all in support for a better, healthier society.

The fourth talk was by Ficus Capital co-founder and managing director Rina Neoh, who spoke on ‘Innovate to Zero: Green Development for EV Sector’ A venture capital firm from Singapore, Ficus Capital has invested in a 2-wheeler EV company in Malaysia, named Eclimo. She highlighted the need for regulators to have the right policy to encourage people to choose greener vehicles.

“Good incentives need to be in place in order to achieve net zero. Incentivization needs to come from the government and there needs to be a reward system for a carbon deposit for every emission they make,” she added.

“Malaysia has 14 million motorcyclists whose priority is to put food on the table for their family, rather than choosing to convert to EV” she said.

Rina adds Asia is a growing market for EV in terms of its whole supply chain, with China as the biggest adopter of EV for 4 wheels, while ASEAN leads the 2-wheeler segment. She emphasized that the private sector can only grow well in the green market if there is a good ecosystem to support it.

With the completion of all four talks, the speakers were invited for a panel discussion to deliberate on ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Innovate to Zero.’ Moderated by Frost & Sullivan’s Senior Vice President, Global Client Lead, Dinesh Sampath Rangaraj, the discussion once again highlighted the strong need for regulators’ support to drive change in the ecosystem.

One of the questions raised during the discussion was how companies can set realistic and achievable targets towards zero. Naeem shared that every target set would contain aspects of disruption. From a public sector standpoint, Nik Nazree shared that targets need to be quantified, highly detailed, and achieved within a specific timeline for it to be implemented. For Rina’s view as an investor, market understanding is crucial to evaluate whether those targets make sense.

During the lively discussion, it was highlighted that the public sector was trying its best to align with the government’s aspiration and though change may come slowly, it was moving in the right direction.

The event is part of Frost & Sullivan’s continuous efforts to partner with organizations and support them in developing their transformation roadmaps for areas such as digital transformation, decarbonization strategies, hydrogen economy, waste-to-energy, and sustainable supply chains.

Missed the event? You can still watch the panel discussion on-demand! Click here to gain access to the video.

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