EY joins What’s Next as sponsor, aims to build a better working world in Malaysia

  • Will Duckworth notes  that companies, globally, are struggling with "duality of growth"
  • Malaysia has all fundamentals in place to be a digital powerhouse and take on the world

EY joins What’s Next as sponsor, aims to build a better working world in Malaysia

GLOBAL professional services firm, EY has joined DNA’s What’s Next conference on Aug 30 as its Presenting Sponsor. Its Asia-Pacific Digital Lead, Will Duckworth, based in Sydney, Australia will be one of the speakers and a panelist as well speaking on, 3 Key Things Malaysia Must Do To Accelerate Its Digital Economy.

Duckworth shares that EY are delighted to be a Presenting Sponsor of “What’s Next?” and have the opportunity to share its insights on digital and technology disruption and engage with the market. “It’s in line with our purpose of building a better working world in Malaysia,” he says.

In the following Q&A Duckworth shares his thoughts about the digital imperative among corporates, EY’s own journey to adapt to digital with its financials and audit background, its new US$1 billion (RM4.09 billion) fund to invest in technology and innovation and whether corporates in Malaysia are indeed slow in adapting to digital.


An increasing amount of your global revenue is now coming from digital related work for clients. While the shift for companies to adapt to digital is a mega trend of our times, what do you see in Malaysia among your clients? Is there an urgent digital imperative here?EY joins What’s Next as sponsor, aims to build a better working world in Malaysia

Digital is transforming industries and accelerating technologies that are changing the way businesses operate. Companies are struggling with the “duality of growth”. Malaysia is no different to any other corporatized market in that clients are heavily focused on the business of today with an emphasis on short-term results.

With CXO tenures being low in APAC (half of those of the US), CEOs face the challenge of having to decide whether to make risk-based investments in tomorrow’s business and to divert funding and focus away from core business. There is also enormous diversity of responses among companies who are conducting small “digital experiments” (doing digital), those who are transforming themselves, and those who are genuinely “being digital” by rethinking their models of leadership, culture, investment, risk, relationships, ecosystem and internal innovation capabilities.


How has EY itself changed and adapted the way you operate and acquired the relevant skills to be able to help the corporate world in their digital journeys?

EY has consistently disrupted itself to address our own digital journey as well as transform our traditional business services (eg. using robotics for tax and audit). We invest ahead of expected changes and also attract diverse talent with new skills to help shape our thinking for the digital world and embrace market opportunities.

We continue to drive growth in new services through organic growth and acquisition. EY has acquired more than 100 digital, data and cyber companies globally in the past few years, including significant investments in Asia Pacific and Malaysia with EY Digital & Analytics (C3), EY Protect and EY Brightree. EY has also established Asia Pacific Advisory Centres to connect our people in the region with the skills they need in these new digital spaces.

In addition, we continue to make substantial investments such as the recently announced US$1billion investment in new technology solutions, client services, innovation and the EY ecosystem over the next two financial years, commencing from July. This move is part of an ongoing strategy to provide clients and people with innovative offerings using the latest disruptive technologies. 

The new US$1 billion funding is in addition to the existing, significant annual technology investment. The investment will be used to create new technology-based services and solutions in areas such as financial services, cyber, risk management, managed services, software services as well as digital tax and audit services, as well as the establishment of the EY Wavespace network in Asia Pacific with four initial centres opening in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney this year and more to come next year.


Have you had to change your culture radically to adapt?

We are conscious to align our EY culture and our more traditional skills with new digital skills to blend and evolve our culture with innovation and agility. Many organizations have established separate digital groups that struggle to integrate and scale with their core business, so they do not receive the integrated digital services they demand. EY has determined that we will continue to infuse digital capabilities through every part of our business, ensuring that all of our services meet the changing needs of the market, benefitting from leading EY practices fused with new digital skills.


When he was in Japan, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed made the remark that Malaysian corporates were slow to adapt to digital. Is this your observation as well?

There are definitely gaps between the fore runners and the wait-and-see folks. In our engagements with our clients, we see different degrees of readiness - some have already embarked on their digital strategy, identifying digital as one of their core drivers to achieve their business outcomes; some have gone further to make budget commitments to execute it; while others are taking a more experimental approach to incorporate digital in their business.

Every business has its own degree of challenges and maturity which translate to consideration for digital adoption; the key thing is to have a clear strategy in mind and implementing it with sense of customer-centricity and innovation agility.

Japan is a difficult comparison as it was a digital economy before ‘digital’ was a thing. Malaysia has all the fundamentals in place to be a digital powerhouse - position, economy, established global enterprises, investment, new government with a leader who gets it about digital and infrastructure investments. If Malaysian businesses can build on this platform, they can take on Japan and the world.

Further information about What's Next: The Business Impact of Digital Disruption can be obtained here.


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