High time for Brunei startups to ride on the digital economy

by Haadi Bakar
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Today’s entrepreneurs benefit from the increasingly interconnected world. But in order to succeed in the digital economy, they must fully embrace it, have a vision to innovate using the available technologies, and arm themselves for potential online threats.

Kevin McDonald, an American information technology analyst, said all startups should latch on to this emerging trend in order to be competitive in the global business landscape.

“The digital economy has opened up new opportunities in how we do business today,” McDonald said, citing technologies such as cryptocurrency, drones, sensors and artificial intelligence as the next big thing.

Exciting innovations

McDonald said the emergence of Bitcoin and blockchain technology are already disrupting banking and the way businesses transact money digitally, while crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped startups raise funding online, giving them a head start with their projects.

“Before this, you would have to bootstrap or take up a loan to start a business. Now we have all these new alternatives,” said the IT analyst.

Kevin McDonald speaks to an audience at a ‘Cyber Security and the Digital Economy’ talk at the DARe Design & Technology Building at Angered Desa on November 14, 2017.

Meanwhile, big name companies like Tesla are making strides in the autonomous vehicle space, with self-driving trucks as their next offing, while other tech startups have been using drones for a multitude of tasks such as provide assistance to inaccessible areas or delivering packages.

Other firms synonymous to the digital economy include ride-sharing service Uber, which is now exploring the possibility of introducing driverless taxis in its fleet.

McDonald said the availability of these new technologies presents opportunities for startups to create innovations that can help solve various problems.

“It’s all up for the taking as long as the entrepreneurs have the vision to drive it to reality.”

“Geographically, Brunei is in a great position to help startups in this region develop innovations and take full advantage of the digital economy. It’s a politically safe country and doesn’t get hit by natural disasters,” added McDonald.

Brupay, a digital wallet app developed for Brunei. Image: Bizbrunei

Cybersecurity more important than ever

All these new developments are not without risks, however. McDonald stressed that startups must learn to protect themselves from potential threats that can jeopardise their investments.

Touching on cybersecurity, McDonald highlighted several precautions that any organisation in the digital economy must take in order to bolster their network systems and prevent security vulnerabilities.

Among those include setting up firewalls and system patches, restricting administrative rights to employees, regularly backing up data and training all members of the organisation on the various cyberattacks.

“With cyber threats becoming more prevalent, such as the destructive ransomware, it is crucial for startups to always be ahead of the game,” said McDonald.

McDonald is a senior IT analyst and cloud strategist for ICF International Inc, a global consultancy based in Washington DC, USA.

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