The Malaysia government recent announcement of its MyDigital blueprint represents a mixed bag of old initiatives that have been mooted in the past as well as new initiatives that, if executed well, can help drive the country’s transformation to a digital economy, says IDC in its assessment.
The blueprint consists of six major thrusts that map out 22 strategies, 48 national initiatives and 28 sectoral initiatives, setting the direction for the next 10 years.
“What remains to be seen is whether the various stakeholders and partners on the ground are able to keep up with the pace of the suggested timeline, and if this blueprint is nimble enough to transition or bend given the rapid pace of technological change,” says Sudev Bangah, Managing Director for IDC ASEAN.
IDC has highlighted several initiatives that it feels represents the “backbone” of the blueprint in taking Malaysia to the next level:
Cloud – a catalyst for dynamic consumption
A key thrust of the blueprint is increasing local data centres to provide high end cloud computing services and driving a “cloud-first” strategy both in federal and local state levels will help drive the adoption of cloud services in Malaysia. Four Cloud Service Providers (CSP) namely Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Telekom Malaysia have been given conditional approval to build and manage hyper-scale data centres and cloud services in Malaysia.
This cloud strategy is boosted by an investment between RM12billion (US$3 billion) to RM15billion (US$3.75 billion) over the next 5 years to help companies reduce operating cost and improve analytical efficiency.
Additionally, to manage the acceleration of adoption of cloud services in the government, three local ICT companies have been appointed as Managed Services Provider (MSP). The companies are Prestariang Systems, Enfrasys Solutions and Cloud Connect that will help achieve key targets for the government such as reaching 80% of cloud storage in 2022.
“This will be a catalyst for local companies to embrace dynamic consumption, build resilient infrastructure but also take advantage of cloud as the enabler for Digital Transformation in their organisation,” commented Duncan Tan, Senior Research Manager of IDC Malaysia.
“However, there could be a gap of digitally ready workforce when the investments to setup the data centres come in Phase 1 which the blueprint lacks.”
5G – a shared infrastructure is vital to keep costs manageable
The initiative brings forward slightly the plan to roll-out 5G from year 2022 to last quarter of 2021. 5G deployment will provide the country with digital connectivity and robust infrastructure as 5G potentially delivers higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increase reliability, massive network capacity, and a uniform user experience to subscribers.
The government’s decision to invest RM15 billion (US$3.75 billion) to build 5G infrastructure nationwide over a 10-year period through a government-owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is a similar approach to High-Speed Broadband (HSBB) project in 2008. 5G implementation is a highly CAPEX oriented investment and telecoms infrastructure sharing will reduce the cost of mobile services, and it will also enable the mobile operators to shift their focus to provide enhanced products and services at an affordable rate.
“Shared infrastructure reduces deployment cost by avoiding duplication of network or redundant investment for the same technology within the coverage area. The government shall ensure the SPV provides fair treatment to every mobile operator and all the processes are transparent to avoid partiality towards certain operators due to any existing business relationship,” said Zalim Halil, Senior Research Manager at IDC Malaysia.
Furthermore, having a shared infrastructure has its own high risk - single point of failure that need to be addressed and mitigated by having high network availability at all time.”
Cyber security – transformation will increase organisations’ vulnerability
While cloud transformation and enhanced connectivity were some of the most significant focus areas to accelerate the nation's digital economy, the blueprint also identifies cybersecurity as a critical component building the digital ecosystem of the future.
Under Thrust 6, "Build trusted, secure and ethical digital environment," it outlines several new initiatives and proposals to enhance existing policies to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity posture.
"Cybersecurity should be foundational in any digitalisation journey, let alone one that is of this magnitude and significance. The accelerated digital transformation will significantly increase the risk of cyberattacks, and thus the heavy focus on security is absolutely imperative," added James Sivalingam, Research Manager at IDC Asia/Pacific.
In addition to drive cybersecurity adoption among Malaysian organisations to create a trusted business environment, the blueprint also includes a goal to develop upwards of 20,000 cybersecurity talents in the next five years.
The Malaysia government also pledged to enhance its data protection and other related regulatory framework and have set a time frame to review existing laws in the next five to 10 years.
"The initiatives outlined are definitely ambitious by any stretch of the imagination. But it highlights Malaysia's commitment to accelerating its digital economy without compromising consumer privacy and cybersecurity, and creating a resilient digital environment is critical to enable that reality, " said Sivalingam.