Big data key to developed nation goal: Communications Minister

  • Government kicks off four big data analytics projects
  • Still some distance towards hitting Digital Malaysia goals

Big data key to developed nation goal: Communications MinisterMALAYSIA’S aspiration towards becoming a developed nation and fully-developed digital economy will depend heavily on how well it adopts big data analytics.
“The explosion of data does not mean much if businesses are not capturing, integrating and analysing the wealth of data to uncover new insights about their customers, products, markets and operations,” said Minister of Communications and Multimedia Ahmad Shabery Cheek (pic).
“It is thus imperative for key public and private players in Malaysia’s digital economy to unlock the value driven by data to create spillover multiplier benefits such as game-changing innovations, productivity gains and competitive enhancement.”
Ahmad Shabery said that as part of the country’s efforts to boost big data analytics use in the public sector, four government-initiated pilot projects have been started.
These projects cover the following areas: Price watch to reduce potential profiteering arising from policy changes, sentiment analysis to better gauge public sentiment on key issues, crime prevention, and infectious disease monitoring.
The minister was speaking to the media last week on the Digital Malaysia initiative that aims to transform the nation into a fully-developed ‘digital economy.’ The briefing was also attended by officials from the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
MCMC is the industry regulator, while national ICT custodian MDeC is the lead agency for the Digital Malaysia initiative, which kicked off in July 2012.
At the briefing, MDeC vice president Dan E. Khoo said that the country’s digital economy is valued at RM113 billion (US$35.6 billion) and contributed 12% of Malaysia’s GDP (gross domestic product) in 2012.
He also said that the output of ICT products and services from local companies totalled RM327.3 billion 2012, with average margins of 33%. Malaysia was also a net exporter of ICT products in 2012, with exports of RM196.1 million versus imports of RM160.2 million. [RM1 = US$0.31]
“It puts us on the right track to achieving the Digital Malaysia goals,” Khoo declared.
To achieve its ends, Digital Malaysia aims to create an ecosystem that promotes the pervasive use of digital technology in all aspects of the economy, and thus to connect communities globally and allow them to interact in real time.
The aim is to see the digital economy contribute to 17% of the gross national income (GNI) by 2020; to hit the Top 20 list in the World Economic Forum Global IT Report (GITR); and also the Top 10 of the International Institute for Management Development’s (IMD) Competitiveness Scoreboard.
However, based on the latest data provided by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and MDeC, the country is still far from achieving its goals. For example, it currently ranks 30th in the GITR and 12th in the IMD Competitiveness Scoreboard.
“To achieve 17% (GNI) contribution by 2020 – the gap is about [five percentage points] with about five to six years to go – I think it is a challenging target but doable. It’s not easy because the economy, as a whole, is also growing at the same time,” Khoo said.
He added that in order to achieve these goals, the ICT sector would need to grow at 9.8% annually between now and 2020.
The first phase of Digital Malaysia is expected to be completed by 2020. The second and third phases are set to take place from 2021-2030 and 2031-2040 respectively.
Improving global perception
While the country needs to work hard on growing the economy and ICT industry, significant efforts also need to be placed on improving the global perception of Malaysia, said Khoo.
In order for Malaysia to move up the ranks in the GITR and IMD Competitive Scorecard, it needs to create greater awareness of Malaysia’s achievements, he argued.
“The challenge with these global rankings is that they are not entirely dependent on hard data. They also rely on perception data. That (perception data) is beyond our control.
“So we need to communicate and bring awareness of the improvement that has been made,” Khoo said.
He also that moving up the ranks in these global surveys and reports is important, as this would help the country better position itself when comes to attracting foreign direct investments as well as talent.
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