The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has inaugurated the SME Digital Summit.The Summit aligned with MDEC’s focuses on accelerating digitally powered businesses as the nation now looks to its economic recovery by preparing Malaysia’s society and businesses for a digital-first environment.
The week-long event started with a panel discussion entitled ‘Malaysia sebagai Nadi Digital ASEAN’(‘Malaysia is the Heart of Digital ASEAN’), featuring eminent panellists Shakib Ahmad Shakir, Deputy Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia , Rais Hussin Bin Mohamed Ariff, Chairman, MDEC, and Chow Sang Hoe, Ernst & Young ASEAN Consulting Leader.
The session focused on the state of digital transformation of Malaysia’s business ecosystem and covered a broad range of key topics, such as how SME digitalisation efforts can be scaled nationwide and the role Malaysia will play as the critical driver of Southeast Asia’s digital economy, now worth over US$300 billion.
“SMEs are the fulcrum of our economy and they cannot be excluded from the expansion of the internet economy. It is imperative to empower them to utilise digital tools to raise their productivity, lower their costs and market their products or services online,” said Shakib Ahmad Shakir, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, Malaysia.
The virtual industry conference, the first of its kind in Malaysia serves as the launchpad for Malaysian SMEs to accelerate their digital adoption through the variety of key public and private players in the ecosystem that are made available.
The Summit is part of MDEC’s 100 Go Digital programme and the #SayaDigital Month campaign, an initiative designed to empower Malaysians to navigate the new digital normal within society and business.
“At MDEC, we have long championed the importance of the economy’s digital transformation and our cause is now to accelerate digital adoption across Malaysia’s economy. The global impact of the digital economy is massive and Malaysia will be left behind if we do not embrace digitalisation immediately,” said Rais Hussin Bin Mohamed Ariff, Chairman of MDEC.
“Currently, our businesses are being challenged by the ongoing pandemic and the contraction of our economy. It is now time for our SMEs and micro entrepreneurs to think outside the box – we urge them to take advantage of MDEC’s available resources and leverage more digital tools to not only survive in this economy, but to participate in its recovery,” he added.
Last month, MDEC conducted an SME Digitalisation survey with its state partners, which showed that more than 90 percent agreed that digital solutions increase productivity, can generate more sales and improve process efficiency, leading to reductions in cost.
However, almost half said that they found it challenging to start adopting digital tools due to the lack of knowledge and/or skills to do so in addition to other challenges such as the investment costs in digital tools and connectivity.
“When the movement control order (MCO) began, many Malaysians could not go to work and earn their income, in addition to many businesses being forced to close. Despite this, there were also businesses that emerged as champions; those that were able to adapt to the situation with technology to digitally provide their services or products to their customers. This has been one of the biggest impacts of digital transformation during such uncertain times, meaning businesses that are not using any digital technologies will only be left behind,” said Chow Sang Hoe, Ernst & Young ASEAN Consulting Leader.
The SME Digital Summit also kicked off #SayaDigital Month, an initiative by MDEC designed to accelerate the growth of a digital society in Malaysia. The month-long campaign seeks to expand digital competence and adoption among all Malaysians as well as empowering them navigate the new normal within society and business.
The first two weeks of the month will focus on driving digital businesses, while the subsequent half of the month will provide opportunities for Malaysians to learn and enhance their digital skills.