It’ll be an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some serious economic consequences.
In fact, some 100 million people in the world are estimated to become extremely poor by the end of 2020 according to the National Geographic.
While the ripple effect the pandemic caused across many levels around the globe is serious, there are some silver linings too.
Is COVID-19 a blessing or a curse?
For Malaysia, the Southeast Asian nation is seeing five years of digital transformation in just one year.
According to Facebook and Bain & Company who released a recent study titled ‘Digital Consumers of Tomorrow, Here Today‘, higher spending power and a heightened preference for contactless transactions will continue to drive the exponential growth of the digital economy in the region. In short, Southeast Asia is expected to see more digital consumers by the end of 2020.
The research found that Malaysia has the highest percentage of digital consumers with 83 percent of its population of those aged 15 and above. 48 percent of them switched to purchasing mostly online in the past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic is readying Malaysia for the 4th Industrial Revolution.
In fact, the pandemic is readying many nations for the 4th Industrial Revolution aka 4IR.
For Malaysia, the nation has made significant headway according to the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) chief executive officer Surina Shukri.
“Malaysia has already made major headway in its efforts to future-proofing itself – mainly in talent development and next-gen infrastructure – for the coming of 4IR,” she said to Mashable Southeast Asia through a written question and answer interview.
“We’re immersed in the era of technology – from going cashless, generating income through digital means and exploring new revenue streams through e-commerce.”
Surina added that more and more students are being exposed to the basics of coding and apps development in schools and institutions of higher learning.
“These knowledge and skills will prepare them for 4IR and directly address the demands expected from the future workforce,” she explained.
Championing the digital economy.
Realizing the potential Malaysia has and the need to go fully digital to prepare the nation for 4IR, Surina said that MDEC has developed and championed numerous efforts.
“Efforts that the MDEC had developed and currently champion include the #myDigitalMaker, #SayaDigital, and #YoungCreators Movements. Already, some universities have already introduced modules about data ecosystems and information technology for students in all IT and science degrees and disciplines.”
The Kuala Lumpur born revealed that many small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and micro enterprises have quickly embraced digitalization spanning end-to-end system integration for their businesses.
“As for governments, many around the world have also implemented various emerging technologies. With the ongoing efforts in place, Malaysia will not be left behind. This is why the Malaysian government has moved to introduced various plans – both ongoing and recently introduced to fend off the negative impact of COVID-19 – to support the country’s digital leap into the 4IR.”
However, there are some challenges.
Surina’s team have identified several stumbling blocks which, if never addressed, could thwart Malaysia’s attempt in making the leap.
According to Surina, the major hurdle the Southeast Asian nation needs to overcome is to do with infrastructure.
“There is a need to improve the infrastructure that is in place, especially within the rural parts of Malaysia. In doing so, we can positively impact the effectiveness of all ongoing digital-led initiatives,” she said.
The Malaysian government, however, is aware of this and has been supporting the efforts through various programmes such as PRIHATIN, PENJANA and KitaPRIHATIN.
“MDEC is determined to bridge the digital gap via closer outreach with grassroot communities and affected Malaysians. This is to empower them and ensure they can digitalize their skills and business operations.
“Together with stakeholders and ecosystem partners, MDEC’s expansive list of programs, such as PeDAS, eUsahawan, eRezeki, 100 Go Digital, Go-eCommerce, and eBerkat will provide access to these help cultivate the digitalization of local businesses.”
At the heart of it is the #SayaDigital initiative.
Surina explained that the #SayaDigital is a nationwide initiative that is designed to educate and inspire Malaysians to consider scaling up and expanding their digital skills, digital income, and business adaptability.
“The primary focus is to reinforce Malaysia’s role as a digital trailblazer and to set itself up as the Heart of Digital ASEAN. The goal is to accelerate the growth of Malaysia’s digital society and encourage all to embrace the 4IR era to ensure there is shared prosperity for all.”
Simply put: Digital platforms, solutions, and services will make lives better, increase income and career, and expand business opportunities, Surina said, adding that through a series of campaign-led activities, MDEC has provided businesses with various means to digitalize and enabled Malaysians to embrace the digital era at scale.
“My vision of a digital-first Malaysia is one that empowers inclusivity and drives digital-savviness across all generations and segments of the Malaysian population; where businesses are fully digital and operating sustainably and local talents are more adaptable as they take on digital-based jobs.”
Cover image sourced from New Straits Times.
ที่มา : Mashable