Digital adoption rate remains a challenge

The hope is everyone will adopt not just the front part of e-commerce but the whole ecosystem

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic by BLOOMBERG

THE rate of digital adoption in the country remains a challenge considering the Covid-19 pandemic was the ultimate push for digitalisation, said Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) CEO Surina Shukri.

However, Surina said some of these challenges have allowed MDEC to kick off various programmes to maximise synergies between key players.

“In the third quarter (3Q) and 4Q of 2020 we kicked off many task forces and councils to coordinate the various strategies as things moved so quickly due to the pandemic. Like corporates undergoing transformation, execution is important while we keep challenging ourselves to do better,” she said at the Google Breakfast Series: Peering into Malaysia’s Digital Future virtual event recently.

“The hope is everyone will adopt not just the front part of e-commerce but the whole ecosystem, as well as the middle part and innovation that comes after. The default thinking might be that we cannot do it, but the mindset needs to change,” Surina added.

Maxis Bhd CEO Gokhan Ogut said 5G will be the next new trend that will really change people’s lives.

“Behind 4G and the mobility that it brought, came a number of successful companies we see today. So, we know that 5G will bring higher bandwidth and faster speed, but the most unexpected thing will be the things that 5G can do that we cannot imagine today. It will be possible across all industries and for our lives like the use of virtual reality,” he said.

Grab Malaysia MD Sean Goh said big innovation usually focuses on mass markets, but this digital change actually relies on the resourcefulness of communities.

“For instance, since ride-hailing has gone fully digital, members of our deaf community have received commercial licenses that allow them to drive and earn. But there’s so much more we can do, like in terms of the service industry. Food and beverage outlets use QR codes to order and pay, anyone can do well regardless of whether it is a spoken or sign language. With artificial intelligence, 5G networks and cameras, in five years we should have realtime translation between sign and verbal language,” he said.

In terms of disruption, Goh is looking forward to change towards the groceries sector.

He said what could drive this progress is the shift from convenience to true value and affordability.

“If you look at ride-hailing it started off as a means of convenience, but over time it evolved into a valuable product. Groceries have the same dynamic, it is about convenience and saving time and money. But its technology also helps smaller farmers create orders so there is zero wastage. There is much potential there,” he said.

Meanwhile, social entrepreneur PichaEats Suzanne Ling said talent has remained a struggle as she has tried to hire good talent but it has been challenging.

“There must be an increase in efforts and initiative of talent to get updated and learn continuously, so none are left behind. I’ve seen during interviews, candidates not understanding the language used because they have not kept up to date with the newest or most recent advancements in the field. So, I think the gap is mainly in people who are already in the scene,” she said.