Accelerating Malaysia’s Digital Economy with Technology – Part 2

Accelerating Malaysia’s Digital Economy with Technology – Part 2

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In Part 1 (theiskandarian.com/accelerating-malaysias-digital-economy-with-technology-part-1/), we shared how the private sector can play its part in realising the government’s MyDIGITAL initiatives as set out in the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint.  This article will highlight aspects of the 6 thrusts that are more relevant to the public sector, focusing on aspects that are important to the Iskandar Malaysia region.

To recap, the 6 thrusts are as depicted in the table below:

Accelerating Malaysia’s Digital Economy with Technology – Part 2

The key strategies that would apply to the public sector are described below:

Drive digital transformation in the public sector 

  • Enhancing digital skill sets of civil servants

Civil servants need to know how to use the implemented technologies, and they need to have the confidence to do so with support from the government. To expect someone to be adept at using a tool with little to no training is to set them up for failure, which could ultimately affect civil service morale and performance. Should this happen, the government would no doubt be negatively impacted. From our experience, government departments may even end up incurring additional financial and time costs due to the need to fix issues arising from ineffective technology deployment.

  • Utilising data to improve government services

We’ve heard a lot about how the rakyat’s needs should be at the heart of every technology implementation strategy, and this shouldn’t be an exception in the Iskandar region.

With the insights gained from past feedback from people on the street in mind, the government should look into how they can fully automate routine transactions with government agencies. In addition, data insights can be used to ensure a more proactive response to day to day problems that arise from the consumption of public utilities.

  • Increasing scope and quality of online services for better user experience

Formal programmes aside, a more unconventional approach that we find works are one that’s built around employee crowd-sourcing. We call it citizen-led innovation because after civil service employees are provided with the relevant tools and training, they’re then given the autonomy to apply their new skills and knowledge to develop, test and share their solutions with other government departments and the public at large.

By giving civil service employees the freedom to explore and try out different digital solutions, this effectively encourages them to push the boundaries of innovation, and fosters excitement and motivation within their teams while making for a better experience to the rakyat.

Boost economic competitiveness through digitalisation

  • Developing digital industry cluster and driving entrepreneurial activity.

The Iskandar region has already started seeing development of various digital initiatives to set the right eco-system for the future development of Johor state. For example the proposal for a Johor Digital Council will help ensure focus towards implementation of initiatives. Other state level initiatives being planned or already in motion include amongst others; the Kulai Iskandar Data Exchange, Johor Digital Economic Centre and Johor Digital Hub.

Further to the current initiatives, for example to help the construction sector unlock the benefits of using technology, the government plans to intensify innovation in emerging digital technologies for sustainable construction, and pioneer technologies through industry-academia-government partnerships. To widen access to local companies (especially SMEs) in manufacturing, there are plans to establish digital and technology labsto demonstrate how applications can be used within the industry.

Build agile and competent digital talent

  • Shifting focus of vocational and tertiary education from job-specific skills to competencies and adaptability.

We define upskilling as “an organisation’s clear intent to develop its employees’ capabilities and employability, and to advance and progress the knowledge, skills and attitude required to enhance business and individual performance.”

Indeed in times of uncertainty, having resilience as a skill will empower employees to persevere in the face of adversity – crucial to overcoming challenges. Being agile, meanwhile, is equally essential as it ensures employees can respond to disruption and adapt quickly to change. Just as digital skills can be taught, these transferable skills can also be nurtured within an organisation.

Therefore, the government can work with public and private sector educational institutions to realise this strategy.

Create an inclusive digital society

  • Empowering special target groups in the society to participate in the digital economy through entrepreneurship

The lack of upskilling opportunities could mean a widening of the digital divide in Malaysia, as certain segments move ahead alongside technological growth while others are left behind. This would certainly go against the government’s ‘Shared Prosperity Vision 2030’, and hence, we see another opportunity for private and public sector collaboration. With their experience and industry knowledge, businesses can help the government shape and drive the upskilling agenda forward in the Iskandar region. Such a partnership that draws on the strengths of both would have the potential to speed up the mobilisation of upskilling programmes nationwide, ensuring underserved communities are also reached, so no one gets left behind.

Build trusted, secure and ethical digital environment 

  • Improving cross-border data transfer

For the state of Johor, the level of economic integration with Singapore is very significant. Therefore, the closure of the border due to COVID-19 has resulted in a significant financial impact.

Re-opening the borders is key, but doing so in a safe manner is imperative. This is where setting up the right mechanisms for transfer to health data in a secure environment could be a priority. Looking further ahead, such mechanisms can also be used to reduce the congestion at the Causeway by providing a secure and ethical digital pass.

Like protecting consumers’ data privacy, governments’ deploying technology needs to practice the same high level of responsibility in protecting our rakyat’s personal information. Neglecting this practice may prove costly in the long run.

Conclusion

As we concluded in Part 1, both the public and private sectors have a role to play to ensure the successful implementation of the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint. The shared responsibility will no doubt be favourable to all those who live in the Iskandar region.

For further understanding, speak to us: Marina Che Mokhtar – Partner, Economics & Policy (marina.che.mokhtar@pwc.com) or Manohar Johnson – Assurance Partner, PwC Malaysia Johor Office (manohar.benjamin.johnson@pwc.com) for more insights on the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint and how you can take your organization to the next level is realizing its digital mission.

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