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Deep Dive: How will PM Najib’s new initiatives boost Digital Malaysia?

AvantiKumar | Oct. 23, 2017
Following the 29th Malaysia Implementation Council Meeting, Prime Minister Najib unleashes a new stream of initiatives to boost nationwide digital transformation.

WCIT awards  (resized) - DONE

Photo: Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) vice president (corporate affairs) Razaleigh Zainal (centre) with (from left to right) MDEC vice president (enterprise development) Gopi Ganesalingam, former ASOCIO chairman Abdullah H. Kafi, current ASOCIO chairman David Wong and immediate past ASOCIO chairman Bunrak Saraggananda.

The talent challenge

Among the ongoing challenges is developing the talent necessary to achieve transformation and to proactively lead disruption. (See - Malaysia's battle plan for digital disruption: part 1 of an exclusive with MDEC's Datuk Yasmin)

"We have acknowledged that the greatest investment in this new age of industry will, as ever, be in the people," the prime minister said. "We have specific initiatives targeted to key communities such as youth, B40, SMEs and the digital entrepreneurs, as we believe the Rakyat [the people] is at the heart of this growth."

"One factor to grow the nation's Digital Economy is building the right talent pool," Najib affirmed. "As we manoeuvre and continue to establish niche areas in the Digital Economy, our competitive weapon is talent development. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 65 percent of children in schools today will end up working in completely new job types that do not yet exist. This is a call to action that cannot be ignored."
"I'm extremely pleased with the progress of the MyDigitalMaker movement that was shared with the council earlier," he added. "I am inspired by young talents, such as Ariff Amir Ali, a 12-year-old student who has developed Internet of Things (IOT) prototypes since the age of 10. He also represented Malaysia in Hong Kong and Tokyo."  (Also see - From consumption to creation: IBM Malaysia supports MDEC 'digitalmaker' drive)

What the new announcements signal

A critical aspect of the new moves lies in the cloud. "We will introduce the 'Cloud First' Strategy to the national agenda, starting with the public sector," Najib explained.

"We have seen how cloud is fundamental to an organisation's digital transformation," he said. "Cloud adoption will enable the government to rapidly deliver innovative public sector services to the Rakyat without incurring high levels of capital expenditure to invest in the IT infrastructure such as data centres, servers and storage."
"This enables the government to allocate resources for more impactful programmes for the Rakyat. With this strategy in place, it is without doubt that the government is taking the lead in embracing digital transformation," Najib said.
He said the government is also encouraging cloud adoption by the private sector. "In the case of regulated industries such as the banking and financial services, healthcare and telecommunications, regulators are encouraged to accelerate the publishing of progressive guidelines for companies in these sectors to reap the benefits of cloud whilst maintaining compliance to regulations."

Much more work lies ahead.  "We have started our digital transformation, but our industries are still far from being digitally ready," Najib said. "The challenges noted include a lack of structured approach, budget limitations, shortage of digital workers as well as the perception that digital transformation is too 'fast paced and complex'."
To speed up the transformation, "we will appoint Digital Transformation Labs to provide consultancy and assist in prototyping new digital products and services. The labs will then match participant companies to digital companies," he said.
"This outcome driven programme intends to achieve three main outcomes - increased productivity, reduction in foreign labour dependency as well as create a new business model or source of growth for the participant companies," Najib said, adding that the model has already been tested on Top Glove and Gamuda with encouraging results.

"By digitising the chemical testing line, Top Glove managed to completely remove the need to allocate labour for this task, as well as reduce unplanned downtime by 100 percent," he explained. "Gamuda's mall management were able to reduce man-hours by 50 percent, while fully digitising their processes. The next step for Top Glove and Gamuda is to scale this approach to their other production lines and properties respectively."

Higher benchmark

"Last year, MSC Malaysia reported a RM16.3 billion in new investments and recorded RM19.1 billion in export sales," said the prime minister. "Today, I am proud to share that we have accomplished our goal of achieving 18.2 percent contribution to GDP in 2016. This is not a small feat, and we can be very proud of it. In fact, this is a motivation for Malaysians to continue to participate in the Digital Economy and set an even higher benchmark for ourselves."
Pointing the way ahead, Najib said:  "I am confident if we continue our efforts, Malaysia's Digital Economy will account for 20 percent of GDP by 2020.  With a sustained push by all stakeholders, we will be on track to grow the Digital Economy contribution to reach the targeted value of RM324.9 billion by 2020, as set out in the 11th Malaysia Plan."

"This is the Year of the Internet Economy for Malaysia, and I am glad to note that everyone has worked very hard to generate a larger impact for the nation. I can see that this hard work comes from a passion in all of you to see positive change, driven by the latest technologies," the prime minister said in his closing remarks.

The World Congress of IT (WCIT) has already been successfully hosted by Malaysia in 2008 with involvement from MDEC, PIKOM, and WITSA; this major gathering of government, ICT and academia is set to take place for the second time in Kuala Lumpur - in the year 2020. This adds another significant deadline as well as a major milestone for Digital Malaysia's ongoing trajectory of achievements.

To find out more about digital transformation in Malaysia, see:


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