Jerry Watkins: Insights on the Industry 4.0 Landscape in Vietnam14 April

Jerry Watkins: Insights on the Industry 4.0 Landscape in Vietnam

Today, YellowBlocks sat down with Associate Professor Jerry Watkins, Head of RMIT CODE to discover more about the collaboration between RMIT and YellowBlocks and to gain expert insights about the Industry 4.0 landscape in Vietnam.


RMIT University’s Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) is dedicated to digitally driven innovation in training and education for business and government projects. CODE and YellowBlocks have worked closely on multiple projects to accomplish the shared ambition of fostering the tech ecosystem and Vietnam’s growth in Industry 4.0. Today YellowBlocks sat down with Associate Professor Jerry Watkins, Head of RMIT CODE to discover more about the collaboration between RMIT and YellowBlocks and to gain expert insights about the Industry 4.0 landscape in Vietnam.

How would you describe CODE?

Our mission at CODE is to help organizations in Vietnam to better understand Industry 4.0 – more specifically, what opportunities and challenges become possible with technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, and cybersecurity. Industry 4.0 has already started to change how we live and work, and the CODE team is really dedicated to helping Vietnam to succeed in the I4 world.

RMIT is a big university and we have a lot of teaching and research expertise in Industry 4.0, not just within our Vietnam teams but also at our campuses in Australia and Europe. It’s especially important to CODE that we connect RMIT knowledge and research with the government because policy settings are so important to the growth of Industry 4.0 in Vietnam and throughout ASEAN.

How about the partnership between CODE and YellowBlocks?

CODE’s relationship with YellowBlocks is one of our strongest knowledge partnerships. YellowBlocks brings some really deep insights into the deep tech ecosystem in Vietnam:  where it comes from, how it’s developing and where it’s going. In our opinion, YellowBlocks is responsible for shaping the tech ecosystem in Vietnam so it’s the perfect partner for us. YellowBlocks has both the expertise and connections to spread this expertise. That’s why CODE continues to work with YellowBlocks to develop our research and innovation relationships across Vietnam.

There’s a traditional saying in many countries that “In business, it’s not what you know – it’s who you know”. Actually I don’t agree with this saying – because, for the kinds of technology areas that CODE works in, it’s about both what and who you know! That’s the reason that CODE works closely with YellowBlocks – because of who YellowBlocks knows in Vietnam’s tech ecosystem, as well as their expert knowledge on tech innovation.

Some of the particular projects that CODE and YellowBlocks have done together?

CODE collaborates with YellowBlocks to connect stakeholders in Vietnam with our experts at the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub as well as at our School of Business & Management. For instance, we co-hosted a private briefing on ‘Blockchain and possible futures for finance management’ to share RMIT research and insights on how blockchain is much more than a cryptocurrency technology – it can fundamentally change the way that the world conducts trade.

Another current initiative of CODE and YellowBlocks is a joint research project on the impact of Industry 4.0 on workforce upskilling. For example, analytics and cloud computing are going to change the workplace, there’s no doubt about it – actually they’re already changing it. How best to prepare for this impact and how to use Industry 4.0 technology to innovate and to create new jobs – that’s what this joint project is all about. Our research has already found some really interesting ideas that Vietnam can bring to the Industry 4.0 training space.

Is Vietnam behind the Industry 4.0 wave in comparison with other countries in SEA? Your recommendations on the impact of Industry 4.0?

Every ASEAN economy has its own Industry 4.0 path to travel. It’s very popular to talk about Industry 4.0 disruption and how technology will transform companies and sectors overnight. But at CODE we prefer to take a longer-term view. For example, industrial robots have been in common use (e.g. for automotive assembly) for decades. It’s the same for artificial intelligence. Things get exciting when you can create value by combining AI and robotics – maybe you could apply machine learning to identify and remove faulty components before they are committed to the production line? These kinds of innovation are hugely relevant to a manufacturing economy like Vietnam. In other words, it’s the problems that you’re trying to solve which should drive each organization’s Industry 4.0 journey – since creative problem-solving is surely the most reliable way to add long-term value.

Manufacturing and agriculture are likely to remain the two pillars of Vietnam’s economy for the medium-term so these sectors will demand ongoing Industry 4.0 innovation to remain competitive. For example, if major players such as PR China or the USA can reduce their manufacturing costs through widespread automation then Vietnam may lose the advantage of its lower-cost workforce.

In the service sector, there’s no doubt that financial services will continue to be a big story in Vietnam and across SE Asia. Vietnamese consumers are embracing cashless payment systems and there’s clearly space for more Vietnamese players in this market. This will clearly impact customer-focused Vietnamese business both small and large – so which areas of their operations will have to change in order to meet the customer expectation of fast, reliable and hassle-free transactions? Once a business has answered this question, then it can start thinking about which Industry 4.0 wave it wants to ride.

In the end, you have to have people on your team with the right training and experience to both ask and answer the critical questions about how your customers’ needs will change and how Industry 4.0 will help your business to respond. In the end, continuous education and upskilling remain the key enablers for any organization looking to innovate through technology.

About YellowBlocks

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