Covid turning point for govt and businesses

  • Technology
  • Monday, 03 Aug 2020

IBM Malaysia managing director Catherine Lian: “Those who are embracing cloud and AI technologies today, can use this moment as an opportunity to laser focus on re-ordered business priorities, be more agile, harness the power of a distributed workforce, and engage their customers in new and innovative ways – emerging stronger and more resilient post-crisis.'

KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 pandemic has been a “turning point” for governments, industries and businesses. In business, disruption can create opportunities for companies to emerge, grow and even leapfrog the competition.

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation and modernisation journey for businesses and governments across the globe like nothing before in history, proving without question the imperative nature of cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for business resiliency and recovery.

Only by working smarter, more openly, and more collaboratively will businesses and economies begin to rebound, albeit with a new outlook and new priorities on what’s meaningful and valuable.

“Those who are embracing cloud and AI technologies today, can use this moment as an opportunity to laser focus on re-ordered business priorities, be more agile, harness the power of a distributed workforce, and engage their customers in new and innovative ways – emerging stronger and more resilient post-crisis”, says IBM Malaysia managing director Catherine Lian.

According to IBM, hybrid cloud and AI as “the two dominant forces driving digital transformation, the basis for competitive advantage in the 21st century.

These technology platforms will “determine how quickly you can pivot to new market opportunities, how well you serve your clients, how much you can scale, and how fast you can respond to a crisis like the one we’re facing today.”

As Malaysia pushes forward to the digital economy era, ramping up the use of AI will serve not only to transform the world of business but how people live. It is IBM’s mission to consistently support the government’s vision to develop a knowledge-based digital society and transform to a high income nation through the socialisation of transformative technologies. Technologies such as Cloud, AI, Advanced Robotics, and Additive Manufacturing contribute to generating an increase in net productivity.

Hence, to make the adoption of Industry 4.0 a success, a sustainable approach must be taken to ensure the Malaysian economy’s continuous growth.

In Malaysia, IBM is working with governments, corporations from multiple sectors to infuse AI and Cloud into the area, including customer engagement, healthcare, banking, manufacturing, and operations and business processes.

IBM is helping clients in Malaysia by offering them IBM’s technology, services, and expertise that will enable them to unlock the combined value of hybrid cloud, AI, and other technology platforms.

This includes accessing data and insights in near-real-time and automating the running of their operations at the most optimized location. IBM open, secure, hybrid multi-cloud approach gives clients the flexibility to deploy AI and cognitive applications and services at scale, with thousands of new use cases across telecom, banking, manufacturing, retail, and other industries.

IBM collaborates with Smart Modular Technologies in the manufacturing sector to enable robots with AI in its manufacturing process to lead in Industry 4.0 in Penang.

IBM Malaysia also collaborates with Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) to develop various of Smart City initiatives as part of the Penang 2030 development plan.

In this collaboration, IBM Malaysia will be a trusted partner for MBPP to leverage emerging technologies to help deliver the capability and competency of public services under Cloud, AI, IoT, and Blockchain.

Given that AI will contribute around US$16 trillion to the global economy by 2030, Malaysian companies need to focus on creating “new collar” workers, a workforce that is equipped with skills in Cloud, AI, and other emerging technologies.

However, Lian believes the major roadblock for companies in the country include limited AI expertise, data science skills, increasing data complexities, and concerns about trusting that AI decisions are fair, safe, and reliable.

“We believe that technology like AI will continue to augment human job, not replace them. This is why every worker in Malaysia needs to prepare for technical skills and aptitudes for technology solutions. The future jobs can be filled by what we call “new collar workers”.

“These skills for AI jobs can be achieved through modern vocational training and innovative programs like coding camps.

“IBM Malaysia is also providing a new workforce of the future who have a stronger ready technical skillset that will adjust to the country’s new transformation journey, ” Lian told StarBiz.

IBM has collaborated with more than 10 public and private tertiary institutions to ensure the future of the workforce is ready, including Brickfields Asia College.

In 2019, IBM Malaysia collaborated with the Ministry of Education and MDEC to launch ‘P-TEC H’ programme to address the digital skills shortage in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Lian noted that the country is “still in progress” to ensure that a certain percentage of workforce within the organisation would transpire technology transformation.

“Malaysian organisations have to continue to upskill and reskill the existing and future labor pool with digital and cognitive capabilities. “This is where the public and private sector can play a part in building an ecosystem that can drive the Malaysian workforce’s long-term success, ” she said.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has reset major work trends, Lian said cloud, AI, and robotics are the key factors that would generate an increase in net productivity moving forward.

Malaysia’s overall IT spending is forecasted to be approximately US$11bil by 2020.

A large proportion of that spending has shifted to managed and cloud services, suggesting that enterprise digital transformation is somewhat playing a role in Malaysia.

The Asia Cloud Computing Association’s Cloud Readiness Index 2020 reports that Malaysia is the only APAC economy covered in this report to have retained the same position (8th) for four consecutive times since 2014. Over the years, it has made notable advancements in key readiness areas, but these have been accompanied by equally sharp declines in other areas, as well as several instances of stagnation.

This despite Malaysia’s proactive efforts to drive cloud adoption as well as broader digital transformation.

For IBM Malaysia, the goal is to help the government and more Malaysian companies to survive and emerge stronger post Covid-19 crisis by leveraging its digital prowess.

Having said that, Lian will be speaking about “Empowering Businesses in the New Normal Era with Cloud and AI, ” in the cXo2020 live virtual conference, which will be taking place on Aug 4 to 7 from 10.15am - 12.15pm.

This conference is organised by Star Media Group, Malaysian Investment Development Authority as Strategic Investment Partner, IBM as exabyte partner, while IDC, Kantar and PwC are knowledge partners.

The conference will be live on Cisco Webex and registration is free at

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