Week in Review: Taking the pulse of Malaysia’s Digital Economy

  • Inaugural report aims to serve as a mirror on the wall of nation’s progress
  • Three interesting nuggets from Digi’s latest quarterly report

THIS week we added to our Deep Dive series by publishing our inaugural look at how Malaysia’s Digital Economy is doing (you can download the pdf here) and in a conversation with the Asia Pacific Growth Markets lead of a Big Four firm yesterday, the executive immediately zoomed in on why I scored Malaysia’s Digital Economy progress at a 3.5 out of 10.

The executive felt it was low. But I want Malaysia to be among the top 20 digital powered nations in the world and while there is no one standout report to benchmark countries in their digital adaptation journeys, I know that the ones to get there first will be the ones whose entrepreneurs and citizens will benefit the most from living, working and playing in a digital first ecosystem.

Can Malaysia make it? Of course it can. It has the talent pool and entrepreneurs with fire in their bellies and it has a government that recognizes digital has to become a central component of running a successful economy and service-oriented, delivery focused civil service.

The use of technology in general is already mainstream in the country and the nation was ranked 32 by Insead in its Tech Ready Countries 2015 report. And like many nations, Malaysia has a strong mobile culture. These are important components in building a good foundation to move rapidly into digital. And while the country is moving, I see many signs around me that it is not moving fast enough to give itself a chance to be a digital winner.

And that is one of the reasons for this Deep Dive report – because DNA feels it important that there be an independent gauge of how Malaysia is progressing in adapting to the Digital Economy.

Of course we have the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) which is driving the Digital Malaysia initiative and the current focus areas of that effort. But you know that you are only going to get a mostly positive report from them when they do present their yearly updates.

Those initiatives are aimed to be a catalyst to get more sectors of the economy and society to adopt digital, and they serve a purpose but we aim to take a broader look at where Malaysia is in terms of its Digital Economy adoption.

And with the digital gap really becoming an economic gap, it is absolutely crucial that Malaysia does not leave behind any segment of society, any industry, any region at it races to become a digital economy. My conversation with a social enterprise in this regard was an eye opener here (see pg 18 in the Pulse pdf). We do hope that this annual report grows and develops into a mirror on the wall that offers a hard look at how Malaysia is progressing.

And while we actually wanted to grade each of the areas we covered for our 2016 report, we decided to hold off until the 2017 report.

One reason for my low scoring for Malaysia was because our mobile infrastructure is just not world class yet, and speed is a big factor in being a world class mobile society. But our telcos are measured in their capex spending, always keeping a close eye on ensuring they hit their 40 over percent EBITDA margins and that affects how and where they choose to spend to deliver an A network experience.

And speaking of the networks, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd announced its quarterly numbers and as is the norm for DNA, our editor, Goh Thean Eu, spent hours doing some number crunching to offer you three nuggets of information that the data threw up for him. Do have a read, and check out my picks of the top stories of the week on DNA.

And of course I have not forgotten that we are on the eve of Chinese New Year, and for those who celebrate, Gong Xi Fatt Chai and safe driving.

Have a restful weekend and a productive week after.

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