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Leaders’ low digital literacy may hamper business growth: Malaysian study

AvantiKumar | Sept. 19, 2012
93 percent of Malaysian CIOs say their top executives are missing business opportunities by not embracing the true value of technology, according to Vanson Bourne study.

CA Technologies - Group Photo (cwm) modified

PHOTO - (From left) Pierre-Francois (PF) Vilquin, chief technology officer for Asia South, CA Technologies; Nutapone Apiluktoyanunt, country manager for Malaysia and Thailand; CA Technologies; Stephen Miles, vice president of Service Assurance for Asia Pacific & Japan; CA Technologies; and Zulkifli Md Ghairi, country manager for CA IT Infrastructure Solutions.


According to a new study by Vanson Bourne, 93 percent of Malaysian CIOs say that their top executives' low digital literacy level may be resulting in missed business opportunities and slow-to-market capabilities.

During an event on 13 September 2012, CA Infrastructure Solutions (CA-IT) country manager, Malaysia, Zulklifi Md Ghairi said 'The Future Role of the CIO; Digital Literacy' report, which was commissioned by CA Technologies, showed that only seven percent of Malaysian CIOs in the study felt that their management fully understand the capabilities and impact of new and emerging technologies. "This is less than half as compared to the 20 percent in Asian markets who felt the same way."

"Asian business leaders today have largely accepted that IT has a role to play in enhancing the competitiveness of businesses," said Zulkifli. "For IT to be truly transformational to businesses, leaders need to elevate the role of CIOs to be more strategic than operational."

"The report shows that 75 percent of CIOs in Malaysia believe senior executives do not understand the potential of IT to grow the business, make processes more efficient and introduce greater agility and competitiveness," he said. "CIOs fear senior-level digital illiteracy is causing a lack of market responsiveness, missed business and investment opportunities, poor competitiveness and slower time to market. Further, a third (33 percent) of the CIOs interviewed in Malaysia believe the C-suite does not understand the impact of new and emerging technologies."

In a later response, Zulkifli, said: "However, the level of digital literacy with Malaysian business leaders is not too far behind from the other more matured countries surveyed in the region. In fact, it is on par with its neighbours like Thailand and Singapore."

"Across the board, the level of digital literacy with Asian business leaders have still some catching up to do if they are to reach the level of their peers in more matured markets," he said.

CA Technologies commissioned independent specialist technology market research company Vanson Bourne to undertake the research upon which the report is based. Almost 700, or 685, telephone interviews were conducted among CIOs in organisations of 500 or more employees in the telecommunications, retail, financial and manufacturing sectors. In each of the following countries, 30 CIOs were interviewed: U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Austria/Switzerland, Israel, the Nordics, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Canada. An additional 100 interviews were conducted in the U.S. and 15 were interviewed in Portugal.

A total of nine Asian markets were involved in the global survey, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The study showed that while business leaders may lack digital literacy, they largely do understand the role of technology in their organisations, where about 66 percent of Malaysian CIOs in the study felt their management team consider IT to be strategically important.

Baby steps

In addition, 40 percent of the respondents from Malaysia felt that their organisations were not fully using IT to grow their businesses, said Zulkifli. "32 percent of these CIOs in Malaysia felt that missed business opportunities, and 55 percent cited lack of responsiveness as possible areas impacted by the low level of digital literacy among the management team."

"As a result, it is not surprising that only 37 percent of CIOs here are involved in the strategic decision making process, impeding the digital strategic thinking of the senior leadership team," he said. "Notably, CIOs in Malaysia feel that their conception of the CIO role does not mirror the conception of the management team. 30 percent of respondents said the definition of the CIO role in their organisations were not at all similar to the conception held by the board."

Zulkifli said Malaysia's CIOs and CTOs need to start by taking the following four baby steps in tweaking their organisations mindset on information technology and its functionality.

1) Training and Adopting: Business leaders must embrace the true value of technology; digital illiteracy among senior executives could be hampering business growth
2) Communicating: CIOs need to be more involved as a member of the business leadership team and communicate the value of technology more effectively
3) Transforming: Once basic technology has been adopted, CIO's role can be transformative and potential of technology can be unlocked for their organisation
4) Adopting CA Technologies to help ensure that CIOs have the solutions and technologies they need to communicate value effectively to the business

"A lot of organisations just wouldn't be able to survive for very long without their IT systems," said Cranfield School of Management director of the information systems research centre, Professor Joe Peppard.

"CIOs are transitioning into the role of brokers of IT services; they will also be orchestrators of decisions concerning the architecture of the enterprise, innovation with IT, compliance and policies, and will have closer involvement with line of business managers in realising value from their digital strategies," said Peppard. "CIOs are in a good position to become more involved in strategic discussions. This will enable them to demonstrate how a particular digital strategy or project can deliver value, and win the credibility to take it forward."


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