Technology is alive and well in Malaysia

As promised, this blog comes to you from Kuala Lumpur. Indeed, it is being written from the 51st floor of the apartment block where we now live and where we can look out all over the city.

There are many things that have already impressed me about Malaysia, from the way that so many different races co-exist in harmony to the ease of achieving so much of what we needed to do to get established here.

I am certainly impressed by their transport system, whether on the free buses or the cheap light railways, monorail and buses and its ability to get you where you want to go very quickly; some of the light railway lines are even driverless. Indeed, on our most frequent routes we have no human intervention at all in order to travel.

But probably the most interesting thing to me is the way that they have integrated technology into their systems, but with the sole purpose of making things easier.

Just going to the cinema requires no intervention from humans as you quickly purchase your ticket on line or through an easy to use ticket machine and then use a bar code to get you into the correct screen once the entry scanners open 5 minutes before the film start time.

We are used to online banking, but you can also check your water bill and electricity bill on line each month and therefore eliminate paper. Credit card machines that issue e-receipts to your telephone also eliminate paper.

Grab, the Malaysian Uber, can obviously get you rides, but also provides food, can deliver parcels, get you someone to service your air-conditioning, find you a plumber or get you a cleaner. It simply expands the idea of putting people who want things into people that have those things on offer.

What seems to happen is that technology is used to ease the mundane processes and then the time is freed up to provide better face-to-face customer service.

A perfect example of customer service came when Internet was fitted at our apartment. No more sitting in all through a 9-12 slot hoping the person will arrive some time. Here 9:30 meant 9:30. In fact the first thing the man did was to send a photograph of his watch back to the centre to prove he was on time.

We have also just witnessed the ease of using the Internet to engage laundry services and cleaners. Booking was simple, the service was cheap but excellent and both arrived exactly on time. An SMS from the cleaning company even came for us to confirm on time arrival.

That is not to say that technology is allowed to rule over everything. Theatres, concert halls and cinemas will not allow the use of mobiles. Strategically placed spotters will quickly shine a green laser on any potential miscreants and an usher will step in to admonish and stop them.

You may well be wondering if there are any things about technology that I have not been impressed with. The most obvious is the mobile obsessed walker who doesn’t bother to look up. Given that pedestrian lane discipline is non-existent, there is nothing worse than someone on a mobile heading straight for you  only to swerve at the last minute when you appear in his peripheral vision!

But generally their use of technology is beneficial to me and I am sure that I will identify more changes over the coming days. But the unobtrusive sublimation of these pieces of technology into everyday life often means they go unnoticed. And that is perhaps a measure of their success.

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