While Malaysian enterprises are making strides in digital transformation because they generally see the benefits of doing so, the industry nonetheless still face several impediments that could stifle their efforts to be fully digitalised in the coming years.
Malaysia’s overall IT spending is forecasted to be approximately US$11 billion by 2020 and that 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.
While over 55% of CEOs in Malaysia have acknowledged the need to digitally transform, the remaining proportion suggests otherwise. The question is whether there is a fear or resistance to spending.
The tactical stage
While the benefits are clear, many businesses are stuck at the tactical stage of their digital transformation journey.
Digital transformation is accelerating in Southeast Asia, as it is expected that by 2021, at least 48% of the region’s GDP will be derived from digital products and services. However, when comparing Malaysia to the rest of the region, it trails behind countries such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
It appears that the lack of technical knowledge and organisational silos are the two biggest impediments to fully embracing digital transformation; this reflects the maturity of businesses.
However, government initiatives and increased collaboration with technology partners, are enabling a steady growth in technology adoption among Malaysian companies, and this trend is expected to continue.
Who is transforming?
According to a recent survey, 44% of nearly 200 respondents in ASEAN cited digital transformation as their top priority, followed by infrastructure modernisation (41%) and cybersecurity (36%).
The priorities are not surprising, given that more enterprises are coming under pressure to remain competitive in the face of digital disruption across industries, such as financial services, logistics and telecommunications.
In Malaysia, digital transformation spans a wide gamut of industries and while not all industries are equal in their maturity curves, industry watchers note that verticals such as media, digital content, healthcare, education and some spots of manufacturing and even property developers – touting smart living and townships – have begun some form of digitalisation.
But perhaps the clear winner in digitalisation is found in the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector, particularly in the fintech realm, observers note.
One expert argues that fintech startups and forward-looking Malaysian policies such as the Financial technology regulatory sandbox framework and the Exposure draft on the licensing framework for digital banks have led to encouraging digital advancement within the industry.
Besides this, the upcoming commercialisation of 5G networks could boost digital transformation in the manufacturing sector.
Malaysia’s national industry 4.0 framework has earmarked strategic initiatives to drive smart manufacturing adoption including the internet of things (IoT), sensor technology, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), mobile connectivity, robotics, and 3-D printing.
The Chairman of Malaysia’s National ICT Association (Pikom) noted that the government has put in place some positive infrastructure projects, such as the RM 20 billion National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) over the next five years.
In terms of verticals, the aviation, BFSI, e-commerce and medical sectors are currently ahead of other verticals in digitalisation.
So how will the small and medium-sized (SME) sector, widely acknowledged as the bedrock of many ASEAN economies, including that in Malaysia, fare?
While 85% of organisations polled are in the midst of their digital transformation journey, only 7% in Southeast Asia can be classified as digital transformation leaders – organisations that have at least a third of their revenue derived from digital products and services.
Pikom’s Chairman points out that many SMEs struggle because they have lacklustre leadership and may lack the agility to adapt. Additionally, they may not have the right understanding of the importance of digital transformation and can be perceived as costly to implement.
There is a need for Malaysian enterprises to adopt a leaders’ mindset to fully build their digital ecosystem to grow their value chain, and this change of mindset must happen now.
The need for more innovative startups
More alarmingly, Malaysia lacks innovative start-ups rather than companies that merely copy business models that work in other countries, such as e-payments, ride-sharing and the like.
The market can only support a small number of players serving the same need, one expert noted. Another challenge plaguing Malaysia is that many companies tend to do software research and development (R&D), something he says is easier compared to hardware R&D, which he claims is far more complex.
Pikom’s Chairman recommends that for SMEs to holistically embrace digitalisation, strong management and long-term vision are needed to drive the agenda. A company’s management cannot just have short term goals to drive profitability and the bottom line.
In most cases, research has found that accountability is holding a lot of enterprises back. And the reality of the situation is that digital transformation is difficult and must be seen as a long-term effort, something that takes guts, investment and an appetite for risk to execute – regardless of the size of the enterprise.
Many enterprises tend to wait as long as they can to get into such investments because the aforementioned issues are occasionally enough to allow them to put off the agenda.
The issue of IT skills
Besides mindset changes, Malaysian organisations embarking on digital transformation are also being challenged by a lack of the right IT skills.
Malaysia has the right skill sets in the electronics sector but concedes that there is lack of skills in niche IT sectors, such as Industry 4.0, that are needed to propel the country’s digital transformation ambitions.
This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that much of the IT support infrastructure and software systems are proprietary.
The world is now moving toward open-source frameworks and ever-evolving programming languages. IT professionals need to re-skill themselves on the right platforms. Overall, we still lack experts in different stacks, embedded systems, IoT hardware designers.
However, another expert warns against oversimplifying the IT skill sets issue, noting that it’s more complex than a binary “do we have enough or not enough” answer.
On the demand side, there may be a shortage of some skill sets in certain areas. But the more important question for government agencies and the IT industry as a whole to ask is why people with the right skills are hopping to neighbouring countries, he contends.
Meanwhile, on the supply side, the industry should also re-design and re-develop training programmes for existing employees.
The typical budget for training stands between 3% and 4% of employee costs. If that mentality doesn’t shift, it seems like we will be discussing this issue once again in 2025.
There is a need to identify skills gaps within each enterprise and to pursue training and development programmes that address these gaps. Beyond that, organisations should also look to attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce with complementary skills and build them into collaborative teams.
The Ministry of Health recently informed that it has issued more than 14 million electronic COVID-19 vaccine passports to the general public, a month after its official rollout on 15 April. The passport is available on the government’s mobile application, PC COVID-19, which is available on both iOS and Android stores or Digital Health (So suc khoe dien tu) apps. By providing a secure and easy-to-use digital mechanism to verify vaccination statuses, governments can accelerate the re-opening of the economy and build a secure and trusted foundation for further digital healthcare initiatives in the future.
The vaccine passports have 11 fields of information: name, date of birth, nationality, the targeted disease, doses of vaccines received, date of vaccination, lot number of the vaccine batch, type of vaccine, vaccine product received, the vaccine manufacturer, and a code for the certification. The digital passports display all vaccine data in both Vietnamese and English. Data has been encoded into a QR code, which expires after 12 months. Following their expiry, people will be notified, and a new QR code will be created.
According to a government statement, the health ministry has urged relevant authorities and subordinate units to complete updating information regarding 34 more million doses before 1 June to facilitate the issuance of COVID-19 vaccine passports. The ministry had also requested localities to implement vaccine information clarification procedures. Medical staff and police officers in the localities are in charge of the process. As regulated, immunisation facilities must check and verify information on vaccination data. Inaccurate information will be sent to local police officers and the corrected data will be sent back to the Department of Preventive Medicine for a digital signature. The data with a digital signature will be sent to the management system for the issuance of a vaccine passport.
The vaccine passports are issued free of charge to all citizens, according to officials. Citizens are not required to go through any additional procedures except to check that their data is correct and complete. In case the information is not correct or not available, they must send feedback on the vaccination portal system. The vaccine passports were rolled out on a trial basis in late March for those vaccinated against COVID-19 at Ha Noi’s three major hospitals. Vietnam has so far reached a mutual recognition of vaccine passports with 27 European Union countries and 54 nations and territories.
Earlier this month, ASEAN member countries announced their support for a digital technology convergence to develop a globally-accepted vaccine passport. The Indonesian Health Minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said at a press conference that ASEAN will issue a joint statement on its countries’ adoption of health protocol standards. The proposed vaccine passport will adopt an overseas travel passport mechanism utilised by each country’s immigration authority for ascertaining a traveller’s identity. Sadikin also noted that ASEAN health ministers have approved the establishment of an ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) as a collaborative effort to deal with extraordinary events and future pandemics. The three pillars of ACPHEED are surveillance or detection, response, and risk management, which are supported by three ASEAN representative countries, namely Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) offers a Smart Living Solutions programme that intends to link the demands of digital technology applications in the government, municipal, and regional sectors with the private sector, which is willing to work on Smart City Services via public-private partnerships (PPP).
Along with increasing expertise, the goal is to create awareness and prepare cities and the business sector to develop initiatives for sustainable smart city services. DEPA promoted cooperative partnerships to build and extend a model for offering smart city services to local governments in the future. It also encourages collaboration in the creation of tangible smart city services.
The initiative, which was the first of its kind to create a matching channel between the city and the private sector for digital service providers, was carried out with the participation of over a hundred persons.
Meanwhile, to drive the development of smart cities the city must have a clear and ongoing roadmap. Nattapon Nimmanphatcharin, DEPA Chief Executive stated that smart cities need a clear, continuing strategy to enhance the quality of life and assure sustainability of the residents.
“The city must have a clear and ongoing roadmap and efficient management of city-data as well as the infrastructure investment must be planned to improve the quality of life of people. These would find available solutions to meet the needs of different areas of the city and are supervised by residents to ensure sustainability,” said Nimmanphatcharin during the recently held seminar titled Smart City Roadshow 2022 organized by Surat Thani Provincial Administrative Organization and partner agencies from both the public and private sectors.
Surat Thani Province joins the Smart Cities of Thailand, and a combination of the government, the corporate, the academic, and the people’s sectors will boost their digital demands.
In order for Surat Thani Province to reach its goal of being a vibrant smart city with a high quality of life, the province continuously organizes conferences and seminars for urban development with technology and innovation as well as exhibitions and talks to promote technology and smart city’s innovation knowledge.
Furthermore, DEPA recently took part in a seminar called Intensive Cybersecurity Fundamentals for Smart Cities. The cybersecurity professionals from Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute led the workshops and provided the training material for the event.
It is essential for those who are driving the development of smart cities to have an awareness of the primary cybersecurity components that comprise a smart city. Participants in this event will have access to suggestions that will help them develop strategies for the integration of all key industries.
Activities that are useful to the development of smart cities in Thailand are going to be organized and new activities are going to be created to secure a foundation for the development of intelligent cities while maintaining a focus on data privacy and protection.
Training courses may cover a broad range of subjects, from improving the understanding of what precisely a “Smart City” is to discover the most effective methods for governance and risk management across a spectrum of different sorts of smart cities.
The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) recently inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with one of India’s largest telecom operators to help simplify the deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and foster interoperability among devices and applications as per oneM2M (machine to machine) architecture.
IoT adoption has become critical in any organisation’s digital transformation journey. However, in the current deployments, certain operational challenges prevent businesses from taping into the technology’s true potential. Some issues include device network compatibility, over-the-air firmware upgrades, remote device configuration, security vulnerabilities, and implementation in siloes with proprietary protocols.
To address these challenges, C-DOT and the telecom operator have agreed to evaluate applications and devices from various solution providers against oneM2M specifications and offer joint certificates. A government official said that the partnership is an opportunity to “see the oneM2M specifications in action” in a diverse set of sectors and applications, from smart energy to connected cars. C-DOT’s indigenously-developed oneM2M-based Common Services Platform (CCSP) is expected to benefit the IoT industry. The collaboration presents opportunities for device and application providers to deploy their solutions in telecom operators’ networks. The platform will enable application providers to use a robust middleware framework with all necessary underlying common services to deploy a secure oneM2M-compliant solution.
C-DOT is a leading telecommunications research and development organisation that runs under the Ministry of Communications. It carries out advanced research activities in optical communication, wireless technologies, switching and routing, IoT/M2M, artificial intelligence, and advanced security solutions, among others.
Over the years, the automotive, energy, healthcare, smart cities, and logistics industries have ramped up IoT investments. A recent survey showed that the IoT market in India could touch US$ 9.28 billion by 2025, up from US$ 4.98 billion in 2020.
Government agencies are also working together to foster the IoT ecosystem in the country. For instance, earlier this month, C-DOT signed an MoU with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to collaborate in areas of telecommunications and information communication technologies (ICT), activities in 4G/5G services, broadband, IoT/M2M, packet core, and computing. As OpenGov Asia reported, the two sides also planned to sign Specific Project Agreements as and when required to enumerate the specific roles and responsibilities.
C-DOT is keen on aligning its indigenous R&D endeavours with C-DAC’s to meet the overarching objectives of national development, an official had stated. Both C-DOT and C-DAC are leaders in their respective areas and the MoU can foster strong cooperation and develop state-of-the-art technologies. The agreement will strengthen and secure national networks, boost seamless connectivity, and deploy advanced tech-based applications to make India self-reliant.
C-DAC is a premier institute for the design, development, and deployment of electronic and ICT technologies and applications for socio-economic advancement. It aims to expand the frontiers of ICT in the country, and evolve technology solutions, architectures, systems, and standards for India-specific problems. It rapidly and effectively spreads digital knowledge by overcoming language barriers through cutting-edge technologies, sharing IT experience and expertise, fostering digital inclusion, and utilising the intellectual property generated by converting it into business opportunities.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) discovered that a deep-learning technology tag, known as Neural-Fly, could assist flying robots known as “drones” in adapting to any weather conditions.
Drones are now flown under controlled conditions, without wind, or by people using software or remote controls. The flying robots have been trained to take off in formation in the open air, although these flights are typically undertaken under perfect conditions.
However, for drones to autonomously perform important but mundane duties, such as package delivery or airlifting injured drivers from traffic accidents, they must be able to adapt to real-time wind conditions.
With this, a team of Caltech engineers has created Neural-Fly, a deep-learning technology that enables drones to adapt to new and unexpected wind conditions in real-time by merely adjusting a few essential parameters. Neural-Fly is discussed in newly published research titled “Neural-Fly Enables Rapid Learning for Agile Flight in Strong Winds” in Science Robotics.
The issue is that the direct and specific effect of various wind conditions on aircraft dynamics, performance, and stability cannot be accurately characterised as a simple mathematical model.
– Soon-Jo Chung, Bren Professor of Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems and Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist
Chung added that they employ a combined approach of deep learning and adaptive control that enables the aircraft to learn from past experiences and adapt to new conditions on the fly, with stability and robustness guarantees, as opposed to attempting to qualify and quantify each effect of the turbulent and unpredictable wind conditions they frequently encounter when flying.
Neural-Fly was evaluated at Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) utilising its Real Weather Wind Tunnel, a 10-foot-by-10-foot array of more than 1,200 tiny computer-controlled fans that enables engineers to mimic everything from a mild breeze to a gale.
Numerous models derived from fluid mechanics are available to researchers but getting the appropriate model quality and tweaking that model for each vehicle, wind condition, and operating mode is difficult.
Existing machine learning methods, on the other hand, demand massive amounts of data for training, but cannot match the flying performance attained by classical physics-based methods. Adapting a complete deep neural network in real-time is a monumental, if not impossible, undertaking.
According to the researchers, Neural-Fly addresses these challenges by utilising a technique known as separation, which requires only a few parameters of the neural network to be altered in real-time. This is accomplished using their innovative meta-learning technique, which pre-trains the neural network so that only these critical parameters need to be changed in order to successfully capture the changing environment.
After only 12 minutes of flying data, autonomous quadrotor drones outfitted with Neural-Fly learn how to respond to severe winds so well that their performance improves dramatically as judged by their ability to precisely follow a flight route.
When compared to drones equipped with current state-of-the-art adaptive control algorithms that identify and respond to aerodynamic effects but lack deep neural networks, the error rate following that flight path is between 2.5 to 4 times lower.
Landing may appear more difficult than flight, however, Neural-Fly can learn in real-time, unlike previous systems. As a result, it can react on the fly to wind variations and does not require post-processing.
In-flight tests were done outside of the CAST facility; Neural-Fly functioned just as well as it did in the wind tunnel. Additionally, the researchers showed that flight data collected by one drone can be transferred to another, establishing a knowledge pool for autonomous cars.
The drones were outfitted with a typical, off-the-shelf flight control computer utilised by the drone research and enthusiast communities. Neural-Fly was built into an onboard Raspberry Pi 4 computer, which is the size of a credit card and costs roughly $20.
The Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology (MietY) recently launched a portal for the centralised right of way (RoW) approvals called GatiShakti Sanchar. It enables telecom service providers (TSPs) and infrastructure providers (IPs) to apply for RoW permissions to lay down optical fibre cables and set up mobile towers. It is a collaborative institutional mechanism between central, state, and union territory governments, local bodies, and service providers.
As all applicants can apply at a single common website, the portal makes the process of RoW permissions and the subsequent approvals faster and more efficient. This, in turn, could help rollout 5G services more quickly, for which base transceiver stations (BTS) are installed at short intervals, an official at the launch event noted. The portal has a dashboard displaying state and district-wise pendency statuses. It also offers automated alerts on application processing updates and centralised help desk availability.
According to a press release, GatiShakti Sanchar was developed in line with the National Broadband Mission (NBM). Launched in 2019 by the Department of Telecommunication, NBM aims to facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas. To achieve these targets, the government plans to create an efficient digital communications infrastructure, and the GatiShakti Sanchar portal is a step in this direction.
The government expects the portal enhances the ease of doing business, which will lead to:
- The fast laying of more optical fibre cables and accelerated fiberasation
- Increased tower density, enhanced connectivity and improved quality of various telecom services
- Increased fiberasation of telecom towers, ensuring better broadband speeds across the country.
Soon, the portal will be integrated with the central RoW portals of several other central ministries and departments, including defence, environment forests and climate change, road transport and highways, railways, petroleum and natural gas, housing and urban affairs, ports, shipping and waterways, and civil aviation.
Public and private partnerships are also a key factor in ensuring a strong and effective 5G ecosystem. Earlier this month, the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with an Indian product engineering and manufacturing company that works in 5G, networking and the Internet of Things (IoT). TEC is a technical arm of the Department of Telecommunications.
The MoU will facilitate registered start-ups, innovators, and MSMEs working in Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) to test their products at the company’s existing labs for interoperability among ORAN components from different vendors. Components include the (remote) radio unit (RRU/RU), distributed unit (DU), and central unit (CU). Start-ups can also use the labs for radio conformance, protocol, and interface testing. As OpenGov Asia reported, facilities will be offered at a subsidised tariff, which will be decided by both the MoU partners. The products offered for testing will be certified by TEC.
The testing certification will accelerate research, innovation, and domestic design and manufacturing. India aims to be a front-runner in 5G and ORAN, and this test certification ecosystem is expected to make the country a leading design, testing, and certification hub in Asia.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and a Finnish industrial machinery company have signed a global exclusive cooperation agreement on the delivery of SwirlFlow® agitation technology for the Bauxite and Alumina sector outside of China.
The combination of the companies’ leading expertise in their respective fields will allow the parties to create the strongest offering to the market for the use of this technology in the refinery precipitation tanks.
The Director of Light Metals at the industrial machinery company stated that sustainability is a top priority for the firm. In addition to their own investments to develop technology for sustainable alumina processing, they announced their cooperation with CSIRO. This partnership will allow the firm to meet its customers’ growing demands such as lower capital installation, reduced spare parts costs and an increase in precipitation tank availability.
CSIRO’s leading technology in SwirlFlow® agitation has been pioneered at a tier-one refinery precipitation tanks, leading to significantly reduced maintenance costs and improved operational time between descaling events stated that the Research Program Director for Processing at CSIRO.
In the minerals processing industry, large mixing tanks are utilised to provide a variety of continuous hydrometallurgical processes including leaching (digestion), precipitation, adsorption, oxidation, tailings washing and neutralisation. Usually, single or multiple impellers with vertical baffles inside these tanks are utilised for mixing and to create suspensions of solid materials.
Traditional long-shaft agitators are expensive and difficult to clean during maintenance shutdowns. They may also bog in solids that settle on the bottom of the tank. These issues result in losses of production as well as high maintenance costs.
The technology has significantly lower capital and operating costs compared to traditional agitation systems, cutting installation costs by up to a third. It incorporates a short shaft and a novel impeller design to create a tornado-like vortex flow. As it integrates a short shaft, the technology does not bog in settled solids and is easier to clean. This reduces downtime and maintenance costs. Furthermore, it can achieve the same mixing performance as traditional agitators with lower power consumption, further reducing operating costs.
The technology has been deployed at the Queensland Alumina refinery in Australia and is being evaluated for other alumina refineries in Australia and overseas. In addition, it is also being tested for leaching applications in iron ore, gold, and uranium plants.
The technology has been designed for slurry tanks:
- as a short-shaft system to reduce the mechanical failure risks common in conventional agitator systems
- as a low-weight, lower-cost replacement or new agitator system for gold carbon-in-pulp (CIP) leach and process tanks.
- where downstream pumps are starved of feed due to sedimentation blockage of the pump inlet pipe
- to address the build-up of inventory, scale or sediment that reduces tank online time, or results in a premature stoppage of the tanks.
The capital cost of the technology is around 50% less than traditional technologies and, similarly, the maintenance costs are also much lower, in part due to the lower wear rates than for the impellers used in traditional systems.
Conversion to the technology is both a major capital cost saving and provides long-term operating advantages including a significantly lower tank scaling rate. This means that the tank can stay operational for much longer, increasing production and reducing costs.
The Material Engineering Student Association (MTM) of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in Indonesia has built a 1 kWh-capable electric turbine. This activity was a part of the institute’s Bright Wind Programme, a community service whose primary focus is on advancing the local community.
In their latest project, Bright Wind MTM Team has done a preliminary site inspection to gather some information on the site’s location, soil qualities, wind conditions, and the quantity of power (kWh) required by the site. After performing a survey and collecting data, the Kanaan Elementary School was selected as the receiver of a 1 kWh system.
“First, when electricity is successfully supplied through this PLTB, the children in Indragiri [District] Village are happy and excited because they can do gymnastics using songs electronically,” said Dede Iskandar Usman, Kanaan Elementary School Principal.
Usman continued by saying that the Bright Wind Project will undoubtedly bring about alterations and modifications for the Indragiri residents’ chances of survival. The Bright Wind MTM Team then proceeded to carry out the design of the wind power plant (Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Bayu/PLTB) after having first determined the amount of electricity that would be produced and its precise location. PLTB is a type of power plant known as a wind power plant that generates electricity by harnessing the power of the wind.
The design is geared toward making the PLTB meet its requirements, which include things like height, the shape of the turbine blades, the structure, the material, and other requirements.
The process of manufacturing is helped along in this company by its partners. Beginning with the provision of workshops and continuing through the assistance provided in the production of draft drawings from existing blueprints and the supervision of student work via the provision of instructions regarding the production of the PLTB itself.
In the same workshop where the PLTB was first broken down into its component parts, the Bright Wind Team later put everything back together. After the assembly was finished, it was evaluated to determine whether it met the requirements. At that point, the Bright Wind Team removed the PLTB, which was then transported to Kanaan to be re-installed. This is essential when one considers the treacherous nature of the landscape that must be traversed to get to the destination.
During the process of this installation, the Bright Wind team was able to save time because there was basically already a mains cable that had already been installed. This is because in the previous years there were electric turbine installations, but the electricity that they produced was of lower quality.
To supply electricity to the entirety of the Kanaan Elementary School building, the Bright Wind team only needed to connect the control panel to the main cable, which was made possible by the main cable itself.
The Bright Wind project is also very helpful in making the activities of teaching and learning at Kanaan Elementary School run more smoothly because it has been made possible by the availability of electricity.
ITB was Indonesia’s first technical high school, and it was the first school in the country to provide socialization classes for elementary children as well as entrance exams for state universities for high school students. After being without electricity for 39 years, the village was finally able to get power thanks to a combined effort from many research projects and business partners.