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Malaysia's battle plan for digital disruption: part 1 of an exclusive with MDEC’s Dato' Yasmin

AvantiKumar | May 3, 2017
''All sectors of business and civilian life in Malaysia must act on the challenge to either - disrupt or be disrupted,' MDEC CEO Dato' Yasmin Mahmood told Computerworld Malaysia.

MDEC CEO Dato' Yasmin Mahmood in her office

Photo - MDEC CEO Dato' Yasmin Mahmood in her office


  In this two-part exclusive Computerworld Malaysia interview, national ICT agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief executive officer Dato' Yasmin Mahmood will talk about some of the government's strategies to meet digital disruption across different sectors including corporate and civilian sectors.

Despite the current fragile global operating environment, many industry leaders have already pointed to digital transformation (DX) as one of the major factors feeding the continuing growth of the local ICT industry.

''All sectors of business and civil life in Malaysia must act on the challenge to either - disrupt or be disrupted," Yasmin said in the preamble. "Disruption is inevitable and unstoppable, and should be embraced rather than feared if the Digital Economy is to move forward."
When asked for her take on the current state of disruption, she said: "If you look at the industries in the past that have been disrupted the most, I think that the two common ones seems to be the media industry and the telecommunications industry."

"These industries are undergoing a massive disruption, and it still will be continuing. I think that there are a lot of things happening in the whole retail and hospitality industry too - but I think for me, what's more important is to look forward to what are the industries that will be disrupted," Yasmin said

Yasmin said that among the industries being disrupted that she mentioned, they tended to be more consumer based (Business-to-Consumer or B2C). "Companies that have a high dependency on B2C will probably be the companies that will need to be really on their toes right now. It is simply because - as consumers, we are changing."

[The second part of this feature (4 May 2017) looks into why entrepreneurship is being prioritised and how the recently launched Digital Hub will really work for the Digital Economy.]

 What's the critical focus point for Malaysia's Digital Economy?

 Nurturing talent and digital natives for better digital adoption is crucial to the future of Malaysia's Digital Economy, she said.

Yasmin explained that this answer is about the evolution of digital natives in the country. They will be the ones who will both drive disruption and the ones gaining from it.

"I'm not a digital native, I'm a digital migrant," she said. "It is the kids out there - our kids, my kids, our grandkids - who are coming on board as digital natives, who are into the digital world. And when they come on stream, this is what we are seeing right now, which is enabled through the Internet - it is going to be amplified to a point that we cannot even imagine."

Yasmin continued with an anecdote about children who were confused by print books not being as "reactive" as digital devices. "I've seen this with my own eyes. When they take a look at a book, they keep trying to pinch and expand it! My friend's three-year-old son went up to the TV - which was not a Smart TV - and was doing that too! And they just cannot understand why these things cannot move!"

 Facing the fear

 She said that as an IT industry veteran, "the pace of change is stunning, even compared to the decades of growth from the 1980s-1990s."

"I am at this point of time, the most excited and the most fearful of what's happening in the area of digital technology - and I am somebody who has been in the industry since 1984," said Yasmin.

"At the time, my industry really was not a sexy one: it was just in the back end, you have got to take care of these big huge machines that were clanking, clicking and noisy! I have seen the evolution of technology: I was there when Bill Gates announced 'A PC on every desktop,'" she said. "And I was there when the Internet came on stream, and smartphones were the next Brand New Thing."

 The 4th industrial revolution

 Yasmin said that all the biggest current trends technology - such as Big Data Analytics (BDA), the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, and augmented reality - were already having a very visible impact upon the real world.

"I was amused at how Pokémon Go became such a phenomena - when it is only a simple implementation of augmented reality," she said. "Can you imagine when augmented reality gets into health, gets in education? Both the positive and the negative impact of that?"

Yasmin added that the impact on the digital world pales in comparison to what is happening in the physical world. "Industry 4.0 - the Fourth Industrial Revolution - is a reality, and when you couple it with what is happening in digital innovation with what is happening in the area of material science, for instance, the results are astounding." [You may like to see MIMOS recent announcement - Feeding the 4th Industrial Revolution in Malaysia, MIMOS sees two major talent moves ]


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