Malaysian SMBs digitally ahead of the curve in Asean, says Cisco

  • Still in early digital maturity stages, in need of strategic plan and investments
  • Top 3 investment areas are cloud services, cybersecurity and IT infrastructure


Malaysian SMBs digitally ahead of the curve in Asean, says Cisco


MALAYSIAN small medium businesses (SMBs) are leading other Asean countries excluding Singapore in their digital transformation efforts, a study by Cisco revealed. Based on the report, Malaysia is ahead of the curve compared to Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

With the exception of Singapore, Asean SMBs are in the ‘Digital Indifferent’ stage of digital maturity which is characterised by companies’ digital efforts reacting to market changes rather than having a proactive tactical approach. Nonetheless, Malaysia is deemed to be very close to reaching the next ‘Digital Observer’ level.

Cisco regional director and general manager of SMBs Bidhan Roy, explained what is needed for these companies to enter the next phase. “They need to have a very well thought-out plan as to where they want to go and what they want to do,” he says, adding that there is a need for SMBs to invest strategically seeing that they have smaller budgets compared to their bigger peers in the market.

The study also notes that SMBs in Malaysia are facing clear hurdles to digital transformation with 19.5% of respondents held back by the lack of digital skills and talent within their organisation, 15.2% lacking the budget and commitment from management and 14% saying their organisations lacked robust IT platforms.

Cisco’s APAC SMB Digital Maturity Index shows that around 49% of Malaysian SMBs have benefited from government programmes while 46% have yet to take part in these programmes despite being aware.

The managing director of Cisco in Malaysia, Albert Chai, said, “This needs to be addressed as SMBs represent over 95% of businesses in Malaysia and are key drivers of Malaysia’s digital economy transformation.”

While the top three areas of investment are cloud (13.1%), cyber-security (12.9%) and IT hardware (11.7%), SMBs are also recognising the importance of big data and analytics to their businesses. “They are slowly starting to invest in big data. One of the challenges they have is the lack of insight into customer and operational data,” said Bidhan.


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