Malaysia plans to digitize quickly as competition in the market increases

IN SOUTHEAST Asia, it seems like neighboring countries are keeping track of one another’s digital reform journeys to make sure they are not falling behind.

Though there are no trophies, countries that promote advanced digital capabilities and are more technology-driven will advance in economic growth and global market value.

Malaysia, among others, feels the urgency to speed up its digitalization journey, especially across SMEs, as the country realizes that more competitors have entered the market.

Although the attitude of SMEs has been more positive in recent years and a contrast from the skepticism they used to put forward, technology adoption rates reveal that Malaysia is yet to be on par as others.

“They realize the need to digitize, even though our SMEs out there don’t really know what is big data or Industry Revolution 4.0,” said the National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) outgoing chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah.

While the country holds its own appeals and strength, its neighboring countries are evidently more favorable to -based foreign investors.

Bangah made it a point that Malaysia needs to adopt and deploy technology more seamlessly and most importantly, quickly if it wants to catch up.

“Our competitor today is not Singapore. Our competitor today is Indonesia, our competitor today is Vietnam,” warned Bangah.

It is also clear that developing local talents with relevant skills and elevated digital capabilities will significantly scale investment opportunities.

If the right measures are not leveraged, Malaysia might end up having competitions that realize the country’s untapped opportunities and dominating them with their own expertise instead.

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For example, Bangah pointed out that right next to the country’s borders, Indonesia is progressively dominating the e-commerce market with a value of US$60 billion raising possibilities that they may conquer neighboring regions as well.

This is why it is important to position local experts across industries to direct efforts towards achieving digitalization goals.

One way to achieve this is to guide SMEs and help them identify areas that can be improved with technology application while also providing the means to innovate.

However, simply offering financial aids has proven to be an unproductive move as it can be made eligible to any SMEs that claim to innovate when instead, they need to promote values that warrant grants.

Instead, Bangah suggested that the government provide grants that are application-based so incentives can be offered to companies that implement solutions effectively, resulting in productivity-related outcomes.

Albeit, the government has delivered on its promise to scalably push digitalization efforts across the nation with increased funding.

Still, the process and journey need to be accelerated with more progressive with a focus on educating SMEs.

Acceptance of technology is barely a surface level achievement as key players across industries should instead adopt a digital-first mindset with a goal to drive economic growth and be recognized as a technology-enabled nation.

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