Big Data Analytics: the ace in Malaysia's digital economy strategy


Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Communication and Multimedia modified

Photo - Yang Berhormat Dato' Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Communications and Multimedia


According to national ICT agency Multimedia Development Corporation [MDeC], Malaysia's Digital Malaysia initiative posits that the national digital economy is at a good position with the ICT sector already contributing 12 percent of the Gross Domestic Product [GDP].

During a recent Digital Malaysia briefing in Putrajaya, Dato' Dan E Khoo, vice president, strategy, MDeC said Malaysia's digital economy was "at a good position with the ICT sector contributing 12 percent of the national GDP in 2012. This healthy contribution, which amounts to RM113 billion [US$35.56 billion], represents a significant share of the national GDP of RM941 billion [US$296.14 billion]."

However, a surge in global data, fuelled in part by a rise in the number of IoT-related sensor-enabled devices, smart products and wireless technologies, will account for 10 percent of the world's data, Khoo said.

While Asia Pacific is the third largest region in Big Data Analytics (BDA) adoption, it is the fastest growing, he said. Emerging markets, which include Malaysia, accounted for just 23 percent of Big Data revenue generated worldwide in 2010. However IDC predicts that this amount will grow to 40 percent this year and exceed 60 percent by the year 2020.

"Big Data Analytics [BDA] is no longer a futuristic abstract concept but is something that is already happening today," said Khoo. "MDeC believes that Malaysia is ready to embrace the vast opportunities that BDA has to offer as we sow the seeds to grow Malaysia into a high-income country driven by innovations of the digital economy by 2020," said Khoo, adding that "in an increasingly hyper-connected world, the possibilities of big data continue to evolve rapidly with data poised to grow 10 times over the next six years, reaching 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020."

Dato' Dan E Khoo - MDeC

Photo - Y. Bhg Dato' Dan E. Khoo, Vice President of Strategy at MDeC

 Imperative to unlock value in data

YB Dato' Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, minister of Communications and Multimedia and chairman of the Digital Malaysia Steering Committee, said, "This explosion of data does not mean much if businesses are not capturing, integrating and analysing the wealth of data to uncover new insights about their customers, products, markets, and operations. It is thus imperative for key public and private players in Malaysia's digital economy to unlock the value driven by data to create spillover multiplier benefits such as game-changing innovations, productivity gains and competitiveness enhancements."

"With the implementation of the big data analytics solutions, governments, businesses and the rakyat [the people] can gain much-needed feedback and precious insights that can tremendously improve the decision-making process. The Digital Malaysia 354 Roadmap has identified big data as a major catalytic area to drive these results," said Shabery.

According to an MDeC statement, the Digital Malaysia, which was built on existing ICT initiatives, includes the Digital Malaysia 354 (DM354) roadmap. For Phase 1 (2012-2020), it will shift the growth of Malaysia's Digital Economy by addressing 3 key ICT Enabling Environment Focus Areas (Access, Adoption and Use); growing 5 ICT sub-sectors (ICT services, ICT Manufacturing, ICT Trade, e-Commerce and Content & Media), which will eventually benefit 4 initial Digital Malaysia Communities: Digital Entrepreneurs, B40 (Bottom 40 percent of the income pyramid), Youth and SMEs.

Of the five subsectors, the statement continued,  ICT services has been identified as the highest-yield sub-sector for Digital Malaysia over the next few years with emphasis on initiatives catalysed by big data use and applications. With 38 percent contribution towards Malaysia's overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012, the ICT services sub-sector has the highest margins within the Digital Economy. In order to further propel growth in this area, efforts are being made to tap the burgeoning BDA global market, Shared Services and Outsourcing as well as telecommunications services.

Malaysia's digital economy has confirmed Malaysia's leadership as the highest ranked in terms of IT readiness in developing Asia according to the World Economic Forum Global IT Report 2014 (WEF GITR), added MDeC's statement.

 Accelerating growth

The WEF GITR report ranked Malaysia in the 30th and 12th positions respectively, the latter moving up 3 spots from the 15th rank the prior year.

MDeC's Khoo said to accelerate growth further, Malaysia has launched the National BDA initiative as part of the Digital Malaysia 354 Roadmap to increase Digital Economy contribution to GDP to 17 percent of Economy by 2020.

As part of the early push for BDA utilisation in the public sector, 4 government-initiated BDA pilot projects have been kick-started in the following areas: 
- Price watch: To reduce potential profiteering arising from policy changes with the ability to help predict optimal pricing and maintain price positions by analysing price and demand elasticity
- Sentiment Analysis: To quickly gauge perception and feedback on selected topics of public interest
- Crime Prevention: Crime root-cause and trend analysis, with the aim of helping optimise law enforcement resources towards targeted areas
- Infectious Disease Forecasting: To help predict outbreak probability and locality and mitigate effects of outbreaks

There are currently 139 MSC Malaysia-status companies operating in the BDA space. Increasingly, human capital is seen as a key enabler to further growth in both the supply and demand sides of the BDA equation.

 Data scientists and BDA skills

"Big data analytics has the potential to create new ICT jobs and even professions," said Khoo. "There is currently a major skills gap for data scientists with experience in big data analytics."

"According to Gartner, big data demand will reach 4.4 million jobs globally by 2015, with two thirds of these positions remaining unfilled," he said. "The government has recognised the ICT workforce challenge. MSC Malaysia's K-workers Development Initiatives (KDI) aims to facilitate the current and future demands of industry-relevant talent by the local ICT industry by offering various programmes encompassing career awareness, skills training, industry attachments, curriculum alignment at Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) as well as demand-supply projection. In executing its programme, KDI works closely with relevant ministries and agencies to ensure sustainable, effective and successful implementation."

The first phase of the Digital Malaysia nationwide rollout is expected to be completed by 2020. Digital Malaysia will continue to grow under Phase 2 and Phase 3 of its implementation, which is set to take place between 2021 to 2030, and 2031 to 2040 respectively.