Malaysia’s big data policy framework ready soon

  • Govt’s big data policy document to be ready in Q3; submission to PM thereafter
  • Still early days for big data adoption; companies, industry still struggling to adopt

Malaysia’s big data policy framework ready soonMALAYSIA's ambitions to make the country a big data and analytics hub for the region will be guided by a Policy Framework document that is due to be completed and presented to the Prime Minister by the third quarter of this year, according to a senior Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) official.

Speaking at a media briefing last week, Michael Warren (pic), vice president of MDeC's Shared Services and Outsourcing (SSO) cluster, told reporters that globally, the industry is beginning to see a lot of interest in big data.
Many multinationals that operate in Malaysia are also looking for qualified and skilled staff to do data crunching for their global customers, he added.
“We’re setting a three- to five-year Big Data Framework and pulling in many stakeholders together to come up with this policy document,” Warren said at the launch of the Roland Berger Strategy Consultants' and DKSH’s fourth Global Market Expansion Services report.
“It’s pointless for the Government to try and define the framework for big data by itself without understanding what the industry wants, as that is a waste of time. Big data needs are fuelled by the industry,” he said, adding that it’s imperative that the industry drives such initiatives.
Last month, Digital News Asia (DNA) reported Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia Ahmad Shabery Cheek as saying that the nation’s aspiration towards becoming a developed nation and fully-developed digital economy will depend heavily on how well it adopts big data and analytics.
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.
The projects include a 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.
In January, MDeC said that it would develop a Big Data Framework this year, together with the support of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu).
These efforts are part of the larger Digital Malaysia 354 Roadmap (DM354 Roadmap) approved by Prime Minister Najib Razak last November at the 25th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council Meeting, which would see an emphasis on big data analytics and education, amongst other areas.
As part of the Big Data Framework, Malaysia may even appoint a chief data scientist, MDeC said in May.
Meanwhile, Warren said the Policy Framework document involved pulling together the public, private and education sectors, and looks at the direction and challenges holistically.
As part of the effort, Warren said MDeC has begun bringing together between 20 and 40 industry players in workshops to trash out what areas of big data analytics need to be looked into, what companies are doing with big data, what problems they are facing, and how to address them – all from a policy and governance perspective.
The point is to determine where Malaysia is, against where the country needs to be, and what challenges might stand in the way of that goal, he added.
“We expect to be done at the end of the third quarter [of this year], after which, we will present our recommendations to the Prime Minister,” he said.
Warren also said that the country’s big data analytics initiative looks into three key areas: To encourage its use in all industry sectors; to catalyse its adoption and usage, particularly in the public sector; and to build a big data analytics industry in Malaysia.
He said the medium- to long-term goals for the Policy Framework include growing the use of big data analytics, while building the talent and skillset base in the sector, thus creating a sustainable national initiative.
“Long-term goals [in five to seven years] include the collaboration of public and private big data analytics initiatives, leadership in this sector and the widespread use of big data within all sectors in Malaysia,” he said.
Still early days

Malaysia’s big data policy framework ready soon

While the Policy Framework Document is a good place to start, industry players involved in this field still believe that it’s early days for big data in Malaysia.

Last week, big data player Teradata noted that even though many companies know about big data and understand how analytics can help them improve their business and competitiveness, a significant portion is still not embracing the technology in a big way.

“Unfortunately, there are still organisations that haven’t embraced analytics of any type [yet], and so in those cases, it isn’t surprising that they also haven’t jumped onto the big data analytics bandwagon,” said its chief analytics officer Bill Franks.

Franks’ conclusion concurred with a survey conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit and reported by DNA last year.

The survey revealed that while 70% of respondents believe that big data can deliver gains in productivity, profitability and innovation, and about 50% of respondents think big data can improve their revenue by more than 25%; 55% of respondents say various challenges are impeding them from adopting big data strategy and practices.

Commissioned by big data and storage player Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), the study concluded that big data initiatives need to be driven from top down, and that decision-makers need to take a different approach to evaluating what their big data strategy is and consider the data they own as assets, rather than just for reporting purposes.

Acknowledging these challenges, MDeC’s Warren said that with the Policy Framework document, Malaysian companies, the education sector as well as other involved parties would have at least something to work with, which he believes would help the industry grow in the long run.

Digitisation to aid sales
Malaysia’s big data policy framework ready soonMeanwhile, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and DKSH’s fourth Global Market Expansion Services report noted that three digitisation trends – mobile commerce, business intelligence and smart infrastructures – will have a meaningful impact on companies in the next five years.
“At DKSH Malaysia, we are supporting clients like Clinique and MAC cosmetics, as well as our own Famous Amos brand in their digital development,” said John Clare (pic), head of country management and group finance director of DKSH Malaysia.
“With our local presence, expertise and know-how, we are able to offer our clients services along the entire value chain and combine both online and offline services for market expansion and market development,” he added.
Clare said although digitisation is not changing the fundamentals of doing business, it enables new business opportunities and opens up possibilities for growth and efficiency gains.

Opportunities for companies mainly come in the form of new communication, interaction and sales channels, access to and analysis of market intelligence data, and innovative models to rejuvenate the sales process, he said.
Clare added that said the Global Market Expansion Services report reveals that many companies – whether based in developed or emerging markets – have realised that future business success as well requires an active digital expansion to cope with changing shopping behaviours, but only a few market players have yet successfully implemented a digital strategy.
“DKSH is optimally positioned not only to benefit from these trends, but also to support its clients and customers,” he said.
Related stories
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Malaysia to appoint chief data scientist?

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