Cheam Tat Inn : A Sustainable Digital Infrastructure

Cheam Tat Inn : Solid digital infrastructure will help Malaysia

Right amount of public-private partnership, skill set and policies needed for sustainable digital infrastructure

Some of the more significant announcements from the Malaysian Government’s introduction of the 11th Malaysia Plan signify the continued commitment to connectivity – an essential part of the infrastructure for both economic and social development, productivity, foreign investment and much more.

Indeed, connectivity has played a key role in Malaysia’s information and communications development – Malaysia is only five years away from the landmark Vision 2020 that encompasses economic development, social well-being and education.

In this exclusive interview with Cheam Tat Inn, Managing Director of EMC Malaysia, Cheam outlines how a solid digital infrastructure will be an aid to this development, how these changes will likely transform not just consumers but the Malaysian workforce and the type of skill development needed to prepare for the digital economy.

Can you outline the ways in which a solid digital infrastructure will help in Malaysia’s economic and social development?

Cheam : Malaysia is becoming one of the most digitally engaged markets in the world. For example, phone usage contributes to the 4.5 hours of leisure time that Internet users in Malaysia spend online every day.


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Malaysian Internet users have several, varied favourite platforms to engage, connect with, and evaluate brands. They use a wide range of different services to stay connected – far more than is seen globally.

According to Measuring the Information Society 2013, the report ranked Malaysia as fourth most active internet users worldwide and as having the highest percentage of “digital natives”.

For the first time in history, there is a generation in time that transcends age groups.

According to Measuring the Information Society 2013, the report ranked Malaysia as fourth most active internet users worldwide and as having the highest percentage of “digital natives”. As a result of this, we are seeing a dramatic rise of digital marketing and e-commerce in business. Even traditional businesses across Malaysia and globally now need to make the shift to digital platforms and the infrastructure needed to stay relevant for on-the-go, constantly connected audiences and even workforce.

According to Digital Malaysia, the national ICT programme is focused on creating an ecosystem that promotes the pervasive use of ICT in all aspects of the economy to connect communities globally and interact in real time resulting in an increased Gross National Income, enhanced productivity and improved standards of living. This aim will result in a solid digital infrastructure that connects and empowers government, businesses and citizens.

ICT enables economic growth by expanding the reach of technologies such as high-speed Internet, mobile broadband and computing; increasing these technologies itself creates growth, and the fact that technologies make it easier for people to interact and make workers more productive. For instance, online networking and communication setups provide a global platform for people and businesses to interact, communicate, partner and share information.

An advanced ICT industry will also encourage the improvement of social aspects such as improved education and healthcare access and services.

In education, as a result of internet access, people can gain access to information and tools that aid learning, even in remote corners. Students can use software to complete homework and improve their academic performance at school. Furthermore, young adults may seek out admissions or financial aid information for new educational opportunities or even to participate in online workshops. Such uses can support positive educational outcomes that may lead to a range of development goals, from economic impacts to enhancing quality of life.

As for the stance of employment and income, people can use ICT to find jobs, improve their skills and enhance their employability. At the same time, connectivity has spurred the spirit of entrepreneurship like never before. Whether it is an Uber, an AirBnB, or a MyTeksi and Ebizu closer home, if you have a good idea and an internet connection, you are ready to go!

Others use online information to support their work, discover new production techniques, and explore new ways to earn income. Moreover, using ICT might help people send or receive remittances.

Businesses in Malaysia are beginning to see that our internet consumption and the variety of devices we interact with everyday, at work and at home, during our commute and even when running weekend errands, is constantly creating an impact on both the local and global direction of technology, and hence, businesses.

According to World Bank data, 67 percent of Malaysians had access to internet. MCMC said in reports that out of 19.2 million Internet users in Malaysia, 15.6 million of them are active on Facebook every day with an average of 233 connections each! 64 percent of Malaysians have at least some visibility to social media and these numbers show no signs of slowing down.

A growing solid digital infrastructure like this is aligned with Malaysia’s vision 2020 focused on achieving the developed nation status by the year 2020.

What do you see as key components of a strong digital infrastructure?

Infographics - Information Generation

Cheam : There are several key components involved here. We can say Malaysia’s growing infrastructure, robust workforce, open policy to foreign business, and connectivity with other regional markets gives it a lot of potential for building a strong digital infrastructure. A couple of key components include the following:-

  • High-speed Connectivity

The internet has created entirely new fields of commerce and its impact extends deeply into traditional industries, enabling new capabilities, products and services. There has never been more of a need for greater connectivity and speed. The quality, speed and extent of connectivity will be increasingly important factors in business and economic decisions in the future. This even includes where companies determine to expand or locate new facilities. Organisations and businesses need the ability to connect with customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders through multiple channels at lightning speed.

  • Government and policy

Governments have the potential to play a key role in building a bright digital future for the country with strategies, policies, investment incentives and funding. In order to promote a strong digital infrastructure, Governments work to create a conducive and attractive environment for digital service providers to operate within and outside of their borders. They can do this by encouraging an on-going flow of information and services across borders and recognise that the competition for investment and talent is universal. Governments play a very important role in bringing together academia, public and private sectors towards shared development goals.

  • Skill development

Skill development is another vital component for a solid digital infrastructure. Having said that, it is important for academia to be aware of the skills required in the industry and understand the latest employment and technology trends. If we do not have this, the skills produced by institutions will not meet industry needs.

For sustainable digital infrastructure, skill set and policies and the right amount of public-private partnership are essential.

Is there any mismatch between the ICT skills of those in the workforce now and that which is needed? Can you elaborate on this?

Cheam : From what is currently being said in the industry, there is a lack of employees with the right skills or training. The main challenge most organisations and businesses are facing is building talent. Skills needed are related to areas of expertise such as data analytics, cloud computing, enterprise mobility, cyber security and Big Data.

We believe that with this experience and our footprint in nearly every component of ICT, we are in a unique position to understand the current skill gaps and the emerging requirements for ICT capabilities in the markets we operate in.

We want to use these insights gained over years of working with CEO and CIO offices to ensure that we maintain a ready pool of professionals in local markets who are trained to leverage opportunities in the industry as they emerge.

As organisations move beyond infrastructure, business intelligence and operations research into data science and real time, data-driven decision-making in every aspect of business, the emphasis moves from managing the data and optimising costs to harvesting the value buried in the data to enable new business.

The IT industry is extremely dynamic. As organisations move beyond infrastructure, business intelligence and operations research into data science and real-time, data-driven decision-making in every aspect of business, the emphasis moves from managing the data and optimising costs to harvesting the value buried in the data to enable new business.

This will continuously require new skill sets and new ways to evaluate those skill sets. The best-executing teams often don’t insist on every individual having all skill sets, but a team that has all skill sets among them.

It is not only ours, but the role of the entire ecosystem that is involved, in building the right skills sets, from government to academia and professionals themselves, to go beyond the fundamentals.

It is not only ours, but the role of the entire ecosystem that is involved, in building the right skills sets, from government to academia and professionals themselves, to go beyond the fundamentals. It will be necessary to consciously transform course, training materials and trainers to ensure that training remains relevant to changing needs.

How do you see the digital economy transforming the nature of jobs today, both in terms of volume and composition?

Cheam Tat Inn

Cheam Tat Inn

Cheam : The digital sphere consists of the interaction between people, services and technology online to create benefits for all. In the digital economy, online networking and communication infrastructures provide a global platform for people, organisations and businesses to interact, communicate, collaborate and share information.

ICT generates new forms of work, changes the nature of jobs and the way people work. There is a definite increase in volume and composition when it comes to jobs. We can also see that there are more employment opportunities for both women and youth as IT is used to facilitate job creation, skills development and build businesses.

What is EMC doing to ensure that it is able to obtain the right mix, in their skilled workforce, in order to drive growth?

Cheam : We have been working on this through our education initiatives. Last year, we partnered with APU, a local university under the EMC Academic Alliance initiative and worked together to introduce courses on Data Science and Big Data Analytics, Cloud Infrastructure and Services, Information Storage & Management to undergraduate students of information technology.

APU is the first institute in Malaysia to partner with EMC and offer these courses as part of the curriculum. We provided APU with instructor training, curriculum, teaching resources and course materials to enable the institute with the expertise and knowledge in line with the latest industry trends.

We also sponsor professional development seminars, and in some cases, provide tuition assistance. In addition, EMC University offers a wide range of technical, business, interpersonal, and managerial training courses with educational programmes in seminar settings as well as virtual classrooms.

In 2010, we were ranked 16th in Training Magazine’s Top 125 Organisations That Excel at Employee Development, and in 2011, Experience.com named us one of the top twenty Best Places to Work for Recent Grads.

Is EMC involved in any public-private partnership to prepare governments, businesses, and individuals for the digital economy?

Cheam : Definitely, we are involved with several public-private partnerships. Besides working with some of the biggest names in the telecommunications, banking & finance, oil & gas and SME sectors to prepare them for the next generation of digital capabilities, we are also involved in skills development.

As mentioned earlier, we are engaging a number of universities in Malaysia and we have noticed that they are very committed to the cause of enhancing the employability of their students. The Malaysian Government has shown tremendous foresight in partnering with the private sector and mobilising academia to ensure that their industry remains relevant and ready to grab opportunities emerging in the global Data Science and Big Data market place.

Besides our partnerships with Universities, we have worked with MDeC. Our engagements with MDeC (for MyProCERT SRI programme for Big Data and Analytics) and with Universities, have been driven by proactive exchange of ideas and insights from all parties – creating a win/win situation for professionals and students looking to pursue Data Science and Big Data as a career, as well as for businesses and investors looking to build strong, data driven teams in Malaysia.

A key customer relationship we can elaborate on is our work with Malaysia Berhad. As part of its relentless commitment to provide reliable and enhanced Internet experience to its customers nationwide, we worked with Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) to create and deploy EMC SMARTS for TM’s high speed broadband (HSBB) network infrastructure.

EMC SMARTS is an industry leading operations support system (OSS) that provides a service-centric approach to network management. It gives TM end-to-end visibility of its network and services, and utilises intelligent analysis tools to automatically pinpoint the root cause of network issues and their associated service impacts. This enables TM to implement the most expedient and efficient corrective action, resulting in the highest possible level of service for its customers along with increased operational efficiency.

The solution also provides a solid framework that ensures the highest level of service support and maintenance, backed by best practices and state-of-the-art technology. Rapid fault detection, faster time to action, and minimised service downtime are some of the additional benefits of the SMARTS solution.

What impact do you see in the creation and proliferation of digital jobs fuelled by the growth of ICT?

Cheam : The creation and proliferation of digital jobs will make markets innovative, inclusive and global. The megatrends of mobile, social, cloud and Big Data mandate an “adapt or die” approach for businesses.

IT, which increasingly is in the spotlight, needs to innovate faster than ever before while reducing costs. Today’s IT agenda centres on :-

  • providing access to applications and data through mobile devices;
  • the agile development of customer-centric applications; and
  • the use of data lakes for greater insights in real time on automated infrastructures with adaptive, data-driven security to rapidly respond to threats.

We can say Malaysia is an emerging economy with a number of business sectors still evolving in terms of tech adoption due to a traditional approach to business. We do see Malaysian businesses making the transition into the digital arena. As the new generation of workforce comes into being, adoption and up levelling digital capabilities is becoming the norm. Malaysian business owners need to champion greater experimentation of technology and more agile management of business capabilities.

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Interview by Sheila Pang. Headline image extracted from EMC infographic. Information Generation infographic courtesy EMC Malaysia.
#digitalinfrastructure #digital #technology

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