The reality of today’s digital economy


  • Opinion
  • Saturday, 23 Apr 2016

IN previous commentaries, I had touched on the various aspects of today’s digital economy and how it’s so ingrained in business and life today.

For a start, the digital economy is not simply an aspect of the real economy. It is one of the key underlying aspects of the real economy that acts as both driver and catalyst. This it achieves through the leverage of technology which cuts across all industries, products and services.

When MSC Malaysia was first established in 1996, the primary focus was to spur the development of Malaysia’s ICT (information, communications and technology) sector.

Back then, the Internet had yet to fully take off and mobile phones were considered a luxury.

Fast forward to today and the world has evolved to embrace the digital economy whereby the rules have changed and continue to do so, at lightning speed.

With such changing circumstances, the Digital Malaysia national agenda was conceived to draw upon the huge opportunities created by the digital world to harness the country’s ICT capabilities.

In other words, it is about building upon a vibrant domestic ICT industry, transformative use of digital solutions by government, businesses and citizens, as well as the constant nurturing of robust enabling ecosystem.

The vision of Digital Malaysia is aimed at enabling the country’s digital economy so that Malaysians and our country’s businesses can thrive within this new business environment.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp: More than just a name change

In keeping with this reality, Multimedia Development Corp announced last week a change in name to Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC).

This is more than just a name change. The aim is to reflect and remind ourselves of today’s digital economy reality.

MDEC has always been a company with a culture of rapid evolution and advancement which is why we are changing the name to reflect on our over-arching objective and mandate of facilitating the growth of our nation’s digital economy.

It also coincides with our 20th year anniversary and is inspired from our increasing focus on growing the national digital economy contribution to Malaysia’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

We have made huge progress on this front. Despite current global economic challenges, MDEC has and will continue to successfully spearheaded significant growth in investments and export sales from MSC Malaysia companies.

MDEC registered a growth of 56% in approved investments and foreign direct investments in 2015. Total investment inflow from MSC Malaysia companies reached RM19.8bil last year; and MDEC recorded its highest increase in new investments since its establishment 20 years ago.

3rd wave of IT transformation

From an industry perspective, the digital economy represents the third wave of IT transformation with even more innovation, productivity gains and economic growth than the first two waves.

The first wave was the automation of processes which saw productivity increase dramatically.

The second wave represented the Internet economy, and connectivity between companies and customers, changing how we communicate and transact.

Now with the world being in the third wave, we now have three times the economic opportunity through the digital economy than what we have seen over the last 20 years.

By 2020, the total size of the digital economy is estimated to be US$90 trillion.

In today’s connected world, Malaysia and our enterprises have the opportunity to further leapfrog ahead over other countries if we are able to reimagine our business models and proactively evolve to stay relevant.

Success in today’s digital economy age

For enterprises, the secret to success within the digital economy is change. Change in the realm of the digital economy today is vital, not just for progress, but even survival.

Technology has become such a force of disruption that the landscape of entire industries change in the blink of an eye, and does so continuously.

Companies that resist this change, or are not agile enough to move with the tide will be swamped. Yet again such change offers opportunity for new and eager companies to harness and latch upon. Consider well the changes at hand and decide how best to embrace the change for success.

In forthcoming commentaries, I will touch upon the latest trends and technologies available today, and how tapping into some of today’s most advanced tools opens up a world of opportunities for local companies.

Datuk Yasmin Mahmood is the CEO of MDeC. For comments, please email to yasmin@mdec.com.my

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