By Sheikh Manzoor, General Manager, Public Sector Group, Microsoft Malaysia
The past few years have fundamentally transformed the way we live, and the way businesses and governments operate today – and a large part of this shift is influenced by the use of technology in our everyday lives. In fact, digital transformation is not just a competitive edge, but critical for resilience and long-term growth for both the private and public sectors.
On the public sector front, the World Bank introduced GovTech, which is a whole-of-government approach to public sector modernization, promoting simple, efficient, and transparent government while placing emphasis on citizen-centric and universally accessible public services.
It was with this in mind too, that the Government of Malaysia developed the MyDigital blueprint, outlining clear goals to transform Malaysia into a digitally-driven, high-income nation and a regional leader in the digital economy. In addition to upskilling the rakyat and digitalizing businesses, the blueprint also sets out goals to accelerate innovation in the public sector.
Among the targets include:
- Ensuring 100% civil servants to possess digital literacy
- Achieving 80% end-to-end online government services
- 80% usage of cloud storage across the government in 2022
- All ministries and agencies to provide cashless payment options in 2022
Our goal is to work with the government in achieving these targets – by being their partner in providing trusted cloud services, backed by technology skills and industry expertise needed for our nation’s successful digital transformation, further driving its competitiveness. This formed the basis of our Bersama Malaysia pledge, which we made alongside the Government of Malaysia last year.
As part of our Bersama Malaysia commitment, we partnered with the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) to support their target of taking our nation’s government to the cloud. Together with our partner Enfrasys Solutions, we signed the Cloud Framework Agreement (CFA) to usher in trusted cloud services to public sector agencies and realize our digital economy goals under the MyDigital blueprint.
The significance of the CFA cannot be overstated, as it enables the creation of a comprehensive cloud network through a strategic collaboration between private and public sectors. This bridges the government’s cloud with public clouds such as Azure, creating a hybrid cloud ecosystem and empowering public sector agencies with access to leading-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), among others.
It is worth noting that while the CFA will make it easier for public sector agencies to access transformative cloud-based solutions, some organizations like SIRIM and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), have already embarked on their cloud transformation journey:
- As the leading organization for technology and quality solutions in Malaysia, SIRIM has had a strong emphasis on innovation, having begun their digital transformation journey back in 2018. Today, they are leveraging Microsoft Azure to not only remove limitations on data storage, but also raise cost efficiency by investing in the cloud rather than on-premises infrastructure. Using Azure, SIRIM succeeded in automating business processes – which was critical to their business continuity and resilience when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.
- Another example is with PNB, which embarked on their digital transformation journey in 2021 and leveraged Microsoft 365 to transition its workforce into a remote working environment. Leveraging cloud solutions like Microsoft Teams, which enables secure teamwork and collaboration and is integrated across multiple platforms, PNB succeeded in ushering in a timely transition into the modern workplace, creating a highly efficient and collaborative digital workspace for its employees.
We are still at the early stages of our nation’s journey with the cloud, but progress is certainly being made. For the public sector to be the center of GovTech innovation and accelerate transformation, we need to look at two key points of interest: Cloud Infrastructure and Talent Development.
A key announcement we made in 2021 was the establishment of Microsoft’s first datacenter region in Malaysia. This will lay the groundwork for a secure and reliable cloud ecosystem in Malaysia, enhancing our ability to deliver better performance on solutions such as Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, as well as Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.
The presence of a local datacenter region not only allows for faster connectivity to cloud data, but it also encourages the usage of the cloud to drive innovation. According to research done by IDC, our investment in Malaysia will generate up to USD 4.6 billion in new revenues for the country’s ecosystem of local partners and cloud-consuming customers over the next four years. The research also estimates that Microsoft, our partners, and cloud-using customers will together contribute to the direct and indirect creation of more than 19,000 jobs.
Skill-building an imperative
Even with the most advanced technology and infrastructure in place, no benefit can be reaped without a skilled workforce. This is true with any transformation or industrial revolution, as people ultimately play the role of drivers of change.
For digital transformation to succeed, having the right skills in place is critical. Skilling remains an important area for us at Microsoft; where we have also outlined our commitment to upskill 1 million Malaysians by the end of 2023 as part of Bersama Malaysia. Our objective is to equip individuals with digital and technical skills, thereby creating equal opportunities for Malaysians to thrive in an inclusive digital economy.
In addition to working with organizations like MyDIGITAL Corporation, HRD Corp, SOCSO, MDEC, TalentCorp Malaysia, PETRONAS, Grab Malaysia, Biji-Biji Enterprise and several local and international corporations and universities, we are also committed to upskill civil servants and equip them with the latest digital and technical skills to develop digital-native policies and effectively utilize the new cloud solutions to accelerate cloud adoption within the public sector.
Malaysia’s future in the digital economy
It is vital that our nation’s public sector embraces cloud technology as we reimagine the way we engage with citizens, empower employees, and digitally transform operations and services. The rakyat are the most important renewable resource, and skills is the new currency of the post-pandemic world.
As Malaysia strives to become a high-income nation, we will continue to work with and alongside the government by providing Malaysians with skilling, upskilling, and reskilling opportunities, to thrive in the digital era.
To ensure the robustness of our infrastructure and skills, we will put our whole-of-nation efforts in motion, and drive more collaboration between the private and public sectors. Together, we can certainly achieve more.