Photo - Dato' Yasmin Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer, MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation)
When research analyst IDC Malaysia recently commended Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for its efforts to build Malaysia into a strategic digital hub within the Asia Pacific region, I felt it was high time to reach out to the national ICT agency's chief executive officer Dato' Yasmin Mahmood for a deep dive into the current state of play of the nations' Digital Economy vision.
Especially as the last time I talked with her was over coffee one rainy afternoon in Bangsar, when we met by chance almost two and a half years ago right after she had accepted her current position with MDEC.
When contacted earlier, IDC research director (Asia-Pacific) Chin Jun Fwu (pic above) confirmed that "Malaysia is getting its act right with regards to today's Digital Economy with many trailblazing initiatives in the last couple of years that is now bearing fruit for the betterment of the country."
"From our observations, the MDEC team is working hard to encourage local businesses to embrace latest technologies such as BDA, and IoT, while also recommending the right policies to enable public-private partnerships," added Chin.
The conversation with Dato' Yasmin started with her reflecting on what has been a banner year for MDEC, "which means that this year would see it going all out not only to maintain its efforts but to surpass them."
"The numbers are looking pretty good," she said. "Our overall GDP [gross domestic product] contribution to the digital economy is 18.2 percent - but if you take away the manufacturing aspect, it works out to approximately 12 percent. Annually, if you compare the fact that when we did our RMK-11 (The Eleventh Malaysia Plan), the target was for 18 percent by 2020, it is on the right track, and tracking on to the right direction."
Yasmin said that MDEC saw a few important things happening last year. "One, we saw a proliferation of more and more of marketplaces coming in - not only from the big markets, but also from the smaller ones, the niche market places. We also saw the logistics and delivery components improving - things like 24-hour delivery being made available for the high-volume markets. There was also a marked improvement in the area of delivery for rural regions and more of the remote areas.
She cautioned that although MDEC is pleased with last year's results, they still had a long way to go. "The prime minister has said [What Budget 2017 means for the IT industry] that this is actually the Year of the Internet Economy, the Year of the Digital Economy. It's a big responsibility - but it has to be. Because the digital economy has so much potential - not only as an industry on its own, but also in how it can impact the other industries."