Leading the way to the next frontier
Life, as we know it, has forever changed. Thanks to the advancement of technology and the shrinking-world factor, consumers at large have a myriad of choices on internet-based apps and their wants become needs and needs have further diversified, radically changing and evolving through time. What is the world doing to keep up?
The fundamental focus of this approach is to establish a positive engagement with consumers of how they shape their perceptions toward the product or service. It is also about connectivity speed as the new generation of users expects it. So, unless the engagement provides more than what is already the norm, you will not win them over.
This new-age concept of engagement with consumers is fast-catching and revolutionising just about every industry. Typical of a business-to-consumer (B2C) framework, financial institutions are also moving towards the omni-channel approach when engaging with customers. Technology and digitisation have created opportunities for new players to emerge in banking, just as they have in nearly every other sector of the global economy.
We have come to a point where almost everything can be done and transacted virtually through super apps. However, as great as these data-driven features are, one important element needs to be addressed, the multi-sensorial experience. In attracting financial institutions by providing the right ecosystems, choosing the right partner with the right technological infrastructure is becoming more crucial, especially for the fintech and insurtech industries, which have a substantial hand in the service sector. Hence, a place where the necessary tech support has been established has become more attractive to the industries that run on technology.
While most would think that experiential centres are a thing of the future, it is, in fact, the demands of today, as exposure to the world’s presence of consumer touchpoints has accelerated the need for interactive relationships. Tech-driven enabler i-City has been revolutionary in the adoption of technology since its conception in the ‘90s. First, it created an internet-savvy community by integrating its IT ecosystem into the fabric of its development. The first urban development with a Tier-3 certified data centre and mother of all internet, powered by a super AI and dual-fibre network.
As a next-generation smart city, the community here will be supported by the technology infrastructure and yet benefit from the surrounding convenience for their business and living lifestyle. The RM1.5bil i-City Finance Avenue is already achieving its goal of becoming the enabler for fintech and multi-national corporations (MNCs). Its premium retail and office spaces are intentionally designed for experiential centres to offer immersive engagement with consumers.
Metaverse not just Sci-Fi
The term metaverse was coined some 30 years ago. Until recently, it has been science fiction. With the explosion of big data, ultra-fast networks, and artificial intelligence (AI) that we are experiencing today, where everything is being connected, stored, and analysed, the concept of a virtual world available to everyone could soon become a reality by combining several technologies, such as AI, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and blockchain.
A key enabler of the metaverse is the Fifth Generation (5G) of cellular networks. The current 5G rollout is only in the early stages of this revolution and offers the basic functions. In comparison to the existing 4G network, 5G is 100x faster and simply, this means an entirely new generation of technologies, including the metaverse, will become feasible.
With metaverse being the latest buzzword in the edutainment and gaming world, i-City took the first steps to adopt such new technology in Malaysia. It recently announced a RM10mil digital transformation plan for its theme park with a metaverse experience, targeted to draw 10 million visitors in 2023.
It will be unveiled at i-City’s 2023 new year countdown celebration. The metaverse experience is also extended to Snowalk where visitors can catch sightings of aurora borealis, in a below 8°C arctic environment.
Ten years ago, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Sultan of Selangor, had the vision to recognise the necessity of transforming the state’s capital city, Shah Alam, into a global arena to attract foreign businesses and brands. As a result, Shah Alam has changed from a sleepy neighbourhood to a dynamic modern international city today, with strong drivers backing the shift. As the state passes into a new decade, the next step forward is to drive Shah Alam into the digital age and beyond.
Among the chief makers of change includes I-Berhad, the master developer of the RM10bil i-City, Malaysia No 1 Technology City, which is drawing in large multinational enterprises and famous global brands. I-Berhad fully owns several properties that have attracted illustrious names in the hospitality sector like DoubleTree by Hilton and Best Western. It also fully owns Mercu Maybank, a smart corporate tower with Grade A-GBI certification that houses 1,500 Maybank staff, multinational corporations and Fortune 500 companies.
The Tier-3 certified data centre in i-City, which is powered by the super artificial intelligence (AI) and dual-fibre network that provides the mother of all internet, is entirely owned by I-Berhad. The 150,000 sq ft CentralWalk in i-City, a lifestyle and edutainment hub and the CNN-accoladed City of Digital Lights leisure park, including 14,000 parking bays, is also wholly owned by I-Berhad.
To support the global rise in demand for cloud computing services and big data processing, new hyperscale data centres are already in the pipeline. Based on i-City’s location in the heart of Selangor and being an integral part of the capital city, Shah Alam, it should be leading the pack in the next generation of AI and information technology (IT) front as a smart city with advanced 5G technology all around, said Real Estate firm Savills Malaysia group managing director Datuk Paul Khong.
“It strives to be the top IT powerhouse driving this front in Selangor and sits as the game changer. i-City has already moved forward to unveil a RM10 million digital transformation plan upgrading its theme park with a metaverse experience by 2023. “Adoption of new technologies including the venture into the 5G generation is said to be in their DNA moving into the future,” he told StarProperty.
i-City is a trailblazer in a triple play of real estate, technology and finance, that is, assimilating digital banking into the emerging proptech, amongst others. Most importantly, these future-forward initiatives will ensure the inclusivity of technology adoption for the benefit of the entire community. I-Berhad’s latest development is i-City Finance Avenue, which is connected to Central i-City Mall and houses Mercu Maybank and DoubleTree by Hilton.
It also includes the upcoming BeCentral serviced residences, premium offices and retail for experiential centres while the international convention centre, with its 2,000 pax capacity, is expected to open at the end of next year. For retail, the largest mall operator in Thailand chose to establish Central i-City Mall as its first foreign investment and holds a 60% stake in the mall, while the remaining 40% is held by I-Berhad. The Thai partner is also managing the mall.
The foresight and far-sightedness of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who accorded i-City the international zone status in 2008, has propelled Shah Alam to a new level that is unrivalled