Photo - (From left) PIKOM Councillors - Stan Singh; C.S. Chin; Cheah Kok Hoong (Chairman); and Eric Wong announce the ASOCIO PIKOM ICT Leadership Summit.
With the coming formation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by year end, Malaysia's national ICT industry association, PIKOM, expects to host more than 500 c-level leaders from 24 economies to tackle how ICT can help with the transformation.
PIKOM chairman Cheah Kok Hoong said this year's Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO) PIKOM ICT Leadership Summit 2015 will be focused on "the challenge of how the ICT sector should play a more active role in AEC's overarching objective of transforming the ASEAN region into a 'single production and market base' for the world, which will in turn spill over to offer tremendous opportunities for the local ICT industry."
Themed "Reinventing Leadership in the Digital Age", 2015's summit will be held in conjunction with several other keynote events, notably the MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards ceremony and gala night, said Cheah.
Key speakers who have confirmed for the event include Tan Sri Dr Lin See Yan (former Deputy Governor of Bank Negara), Tan Sri Munir Majid (Asean Business Advisory Council - Malaysia chairman), Goh Peng Ooi (founder of Silverlake), Ivan Teh (founder of Fusionex) and Fredrik Haren, author of the Ideas Book.
Currently, ASOCIO represents more than 10,000 ICT companies that generated a total revenue of more than US$350 billion.
ICT post-AEC period
PIKOM's Cheah said that under the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015, ICT will continue to be a major driver in all aspects of AEC for the next few decades.
ASEAN's ICT industry currently employs some 11.7 million people, contributing more than US$32 billion (or over 3 percent) of the region's GDP. This number is expected to grow significantly after AEC policy and program implementation formally takes shape by 31st December 2015 - giving rise to new opportunities in digital business trends that will drive ICT adoption in the region.
"The digital divide and socio-economic gaps between ASEAN member countries in key areas such as broadband penetration, ICT infrastructure, disposal income and market sophistication and so on are good areas to start looking for opportunities," he said.
"Malaysian companies can either venture into under-developed markets to provide basic products, services and infrastructure; or penetrate into more developed economies with sophisticated solutions. The market is huge, so companies should look to establish a niche area in which they can excel," said Cheah.
ASEAN ICT Masterplan includes six strategic thrusts: Economic Transformation; Engagement and Empowerment; Innovation; Infrastructure Development; Human Capital Development and Bridging the Digital Divide.
Cheah said the event agenda included discussions on the impact of taxation on the ICT industry i.e. e-business, standardisation of systems and processes as well as mutual recognition arrangements / agreements across the region.
In addition, recently published reports by PIKOM on the ICT Job Market have shown gaps in the human capital development as salary arbitrage in the region and globally may affect ASEAN as a hub of ICT innovation, he said.
Outsourcing Malaysia, a PIKOM chapter, has also released a study showing the increasing demand for ICT and global business services (GBS) in the region. "The data indicates that while the region is poised for strong growth in ICT, challenges abound that may stymie the momentum. ASEAN, and by extension, ASOCIO, as a region will need to seriously look into this," Cheah said.
In addition, a rising middle class with higher disposal income will contribute to greater demand for consumer goods and services grows strongly (retail, healthcare, FSI, technology, etc). According to Nielsen, ASEAN will have over 400 million people with personal disposable income of US$16-$100 a day by 2020, he said.
Another expectation is a continued increase in talent mobility as ICT talents embrace the free movement of human capital to seek greener pastures across the region, said Cheah. "This is potentially a double edged sword for Malaysia, given the prevailing issues of talent shortage and brain drain locally."
He said PIKOM will propose to ASOCIO to form a task force to address these areas as well as invite input from member countries and prepare papers for submission to ICANN, OECD, ASEAN and their respective governments on policy initiatives to spur growth.
Recent statistics by McKinsey show that if ASEAN were a 'single country' it would already be the seventh-largest economy in the world, with a combined GDP of US$2.4 trillion in 2013. It is projected to rank as the fourth-largest economy by 2050, said Cheah.
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