Opportunities in digital there to be seized, speed is of essence

  • Pervasiveness of technology makes game global, no value to compare in SEA
  • Need to look overseas at impact of digital disruption and learn lessons to adapt

Opportunities in digital there to be seized, speed is of essence


DISRUPTION is a given. What’s also given is that the pace of disruption is accelerating. Industries, nations and organisations may have scarce time to adapt, but adapt they must to be relevant and to come out winners in the wave of disruption hitting all and sundry.

With this in mind, one of the first actions taken by Azwan Baharuddin, Accenture’s new Country Managing Director, was to pull together Accenture’s work with the World Economic Forum (WEF) Digital Transformation of Industries, as well as some of its latest point of views for discussion with some of the leaders of corporate Malaysia and discuss crucial implications for our nation. In tandem with these discussions, Accenture is also conducting a new piece of research that analyses different Malaysian companies against 117 digital metrics to benchmark and identify leading practices.


The following represents the first of the conversations Azwan has been having with leaders from the Malaysian government, with Khazanah Nasional Bhd and with the Employees Provident Fund. Sharing the government’s view points was Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation, while Tengku Dato’ Sri Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz, Executive Director, Khazanah shared the sovereign fund’s views and with EPF represented by its CEO, Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.


Azwan: Malaysia is no stranger to global trade with both government and the private sector having a well established trade presence across the world.  But the world we know is being transformed by new technologies that are redefining customer expectations and changing the way people live and work. These same technologies are also enabling businesses to meet these new customer expectations.

Digital transformation, as this change is commonly called, has immense potential to change consumer lives, create value for businesses and unlock broader societal benefits. In wanting to present a clearer picture of what value and benefits can be unlocked, the WEF launched the Digital Transformation Initiative, in collaboration with Accenture, to serve as the focal point for new opportunities and themes arising from the latest developments in the digitalization of business and society.

A notable outcome of this work is the development of our distinctive economic framework, which quantifies the impact of digitalization on industry and society. At stake is an estimated US$100 trillion (RM425 trillion) of value worldwide that digitalization could create over the next decade. We feel that the potential for Malaysia to unlock much value through digitalization is unlimited – as long as all stakeholders are aligned towards digital strategies.

So, where do you think Malaysia stands with regards to its readiness for an increasingly digital economy as compared to other countries?


Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation: Rather than comparing with any country, we should look at this from the point of view of governance, mindset and especially talent. If you look at what’s happening with Malaysians today, students as young as 10 years old are already heavy smart phone users where in fact they should not be, I think!

But this just shows you how the young have embraced digital.

Regarding legislation, I am talking about policy, framework and strategies. Only by looking at legislation in a holistic manner can we have a real chance of tackling some of the ecosystem challenges we still face.

For example, from the government’s point of view, while progress has been made, we are really concerned over the urban rural digital divide. And we know that putting the infrastructure in place is a big challenge but do we keep accepting that reason?

Now looking internally, at the government itself, we are very aware of the importance of digital but are our officers ready in terms of their mindset? At the same time, the government is well aware that we have to prepare the Malaysian talent pool for the 4th Industrial Revolution which means that our educational institutions need to transform and not just from a curriculum aspect but a mindset change as well.

And then, we have jobseekers needing to change their mindset as well. I was at a recent session meeting a few hundred university students from East Malaysia and one of their key expectations is that the government is responsible for them getting jobs. Clearly, we need to work on changing their mindsets, to get them to think about being job creators, as entrepreneurs, rather than job seekers.

I hope you see now why I say that we have to look at the whole ecosystem.

In terms of the private sector, I had a recent dialogue with some multinationals and one of their key issues was that Malaysia’s broadband speeds were not good enough and we need to get to world class levels here if we want to attract and retain world class companies to Malaysia.


Tengku Dato’ Sri Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz (pic, right), Executive Director, Investments, Khazanah: Because of the pervasiveness of technology, the game is now global. We have to ask how do we compare againstOpportunities in digital there to be seized, speed is of essence China, Europe and the US. The comparison should be global.

You know, when Malaysia started its High Speed Broadband initiative in 2008, we made sure it would eventually cover over 90% of populated areas (and this is to help ensure the digital divide does not get worse). Because of that, in terms of infrastructure, we are getting there. But the more important question is, “How much are we utilizing that network to get more competitive?” In that sense, we have a lot more to do, I feel.

And just to share, we did a study some years ago, looking at government linked companies and innovativeness. This was not a digital readiness study. And what we discovered was that there is still quite a gap between our companies and global leaders although individual companies, in certain areas were quite competitive compared to the best in class leaders.


Keyword(s) :
Author Name :
Download Digerati50 2020-2021 PDF

Digerati50 2020-2021

Get and download a digital copy of Digerati50 2020-2021