On 19th February 2021, the government introduced MyDIGITAL, a national initiative that symbolizes the aspirations of the Government to successfully transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high income nation and a regional leader in digital economy. To realise this aspiration, the government launched the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, which covers 6 thrusts as depicted in the table below:
Part 1 will cover the impact to businesses while Part 2 will cover the impact to the public sector.
Where do businesses come in?
To stay relevant, it is mandatory for businesses to embed technology into their DNA, aligning the value they can create with today’s continuously changing expectations e.g. consumers want speed and convenience, global economies are becoming increasingly digital – facts that can’t be ignored.
Saying no to technology would then be akin to accepting a fate of obsolescence.
Achieving the objectives of the Blueprint: A shared responsibility
The private sector is a key beneficiary group of the government’s Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint. But businesses themselves have a key role to play in seeing the strategies come to fruition.
Adopting technology can:
Opportunity for growth
For businesses that want to broaden their reach, they can attract customers by decreasing reliance on brick and mortar stores alone. Carving a mobile presence for themselves and leveraging geotagging software, for instance, can allow for notifications to be targeted towards individuals who are nearby or in a specific radius. Integrating such a mobile app with payment features would also provide customers with convenience, and more importantly in our COVID-19 environment – safety.
Strengthens resilience in times of economic uncertainty
COVID-19 has proven that businesses and society as a whole are today relying more and more on innovative technological solutions to carry out our day-to-day tasks. So it’s no surprise that companies that had already made investments into digital transformation pre-pandemic were able to pivot more quickly than those who hadn’t.
With the virus still threatening to impede the nation’s plans to achieve full economic recovery, there is no better time than now for businesses to invest in technology. In our new world where uncertainties loom, implementation should no longer be viewed as a luxury, but a necessity.
Greater efficiency, improved productivity
The impact on productivity is rooted in research. In a PwC study, it was found that small automation (e.g. robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, natural language processing) has the potential to improve the productivity of individual processes by 80-100%, and overall functions by 20% or more. The time and cost savings mean employees are able to steer their focus towards higher-value work, like analysing data generated from digital tools, then translating them into actionable insights.
A better grasp of environmental performance
Decades of industrialisation have put our planet and its resources under strain, and with climate change threatening to bring forth rising sea levels and severe weather changes, businesses can no longer treat sustainability as an initiative under their Corporate Responsibility agenda, but rather as a guiding force within an overall business strategy that dictates how decisions should be made.
In fact, the WEF report ‘Unlocking Technology for the Global Goals’30 published in collaboration with PwC, found that 70% of the 169 SDG targets could be enabled by 4IR technologies already in deployment.
Being environmentally conscious could also result in cost savings for businesses. With the help of IoTsensors for example, companies can detect when people are in a room, and adjust lighting and temperature levels accordingly, effectively lowering utility bills without the need for human intervention.
Key areas to look into for successful technology implementation
Implementing technology is no small feat, but once you’ve agreed that it can transform your business for the needs of today’s world, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. That doesn’t mean, however, that companies should rush into implementation.
To lay the groundwork, we believe businesses should direct their focus towards:
Re-examining your business models
In recent years, we have seen technology disrupt traditional business models, opening doors to new, innovative ones, while breaking down barriers for new, smaller players to enter the market.
The possibilities are varied – Will you continue to sell your products and services or pivot to a subscription-only model? Is it worth opening a new restaurant outlet or should you partner with a food delivery service provider to expand your reach? The decision you land on should be based on careful research of whether this is indeed what your customers want.
Upskilling your workforce
Upskilling may have been optional before, but in a COVID-19 world where technology has become essential in our work and personal lives, that is no longer the case.
In other words, an upskilling programme should be tailored to fit the needs of the businesses, and cover the development of not only an employee’s digital skills, but also the human skills that will complement how they’ll work alongside machines.
Safeguarding data privacy and enhancing cyber security measures
As more technologies are rolled out across sectors, businesses have the responsibility of ensuring the data they collect is stored securely and used in a way that doesn’t breach privacy laws.
If we want technology to be adopted widely, we must first acknowledge that they can also render us vulnerable to risks. Companies need to anticipate and take the necessary precautions to fortify their defences against potential attacks from cyber criminals.
Applying technology in crises management and response
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that a crisis can strike any time. The best thing companies can do is to prepare for them to minimise potential risks and losses. With technology, mapping out an effective crisis plan has never been more achievable.
Technology can also be deployed to address one of our era’s most pressing issues: the present environmental crisis.
In this regard, companies should adopt an approach that uses technology to their advantage. The speed and accuracy needed to avert potential environmental crises would be difficult otherwise.
It’s not about investing in technology for the sake of it. It’s about putting people first, thinking about how you can improve their lives with technology and meeting their needs, then letting that guide your decisions. Indeed, the importance of using technology ethically and responsibly cannot be understated, the disregard of which will only serve to lower confidence and weaken a company’s market position.
No doubt the strategies and initiatives within the government’s Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint are extensive as they lay the foundation for the adoption of more advanced technologies in the country, a strategic effort to accelerate our digital economy which cannot be achieved alone.
Support from the private sector is needed – support which, as a start, can be given by looking seriously into how they can transform themselves into digitally resilient companies with an upskilled workforce, as well as collaborating with the public sector in relevant initiatives and dialogues.
In Part 2, we will share how the public sector will play a role in realising the MyDIGITAL initiatives.
For further understanding, speak to us: Marina Che Mokhtar – Partner, Economics & Policy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Manohar Johnson – Southern Region Assurance Partner (email@example.com) for more insights on the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint and how you can take your organisation to the next level is realising its digital mission.