On Tuesday, the team here at Salt Malaysia (including myself) had the chance to attend an event called Embracing Digitalization with Automation, Analytics and AI hosted by a collaboration of e27xPointstar at WeWork Equatorial Plaza. At the event, a list of renowned panelists engaged on a conversation around the adaptation of technology as businesses continues to grow and scale.

The panel consisted of well-established individuals within the Malaysian digital and technology ecosystem; Wing K. Lee, CEO of YTL Communications, Aaron Sarma, General Partner of ScaleUp Malaysia and Sara Lua, Regional Sales Director of NetSuite (Malaysia and Philippines). Some of the many insights exchanged was the fact that businesses should not be afraid of undergoing digitalization given the fact that technology is now expanding rapidly to cater to business growth with AI, Automation and Analytics.

Now, being a technology enthusiast myself, I’m definitely more inclined towards the likes of digitalization and digitation of traditional processes or tools which I believe is definitely beneficial for organizations, regardless whether it is for growth or merely just to adapt to efficiency.

I appreciate events or forums that tackles the real issues and concerns around DT (read: Digital Transformation). In a market like Malaysia, DT is currently a hot topic - it was one of the most discussed topics in the Parliament during the 2020 Budget sitting.

The reality is this, DT is here and will continue to be around. Governments are talking about it, businesses are adapting to it, but people are still doubtful or in fear of it. And why is that?

I believe there simply isn’t enough policies or collaborations across industries to further ensure that the people on the ground (read: business owners, leaders and organizations) are not only well educated around the matter but also be able to provide solutions around the fears of DT.

There are two biggest fears that I can see from DT from an organization and talent standpoint:

  • Cost (Organization)
  • Skills and talent gap (Talent) – Would I be replaced by robots? Am I a dinosaur to today’s skills requirement?

Businesses lose productivity, time and money if they continue to stick to the traditional methods or processes. When an emergency occurs, having that access to your database or system via cloud at any point in time would solve this issue. Another scenario would be across manufacturing where machines can be controlled through IoT solutions so you would still be able to operate remotely without needing to waste time to actually be on the ground to operate the machines. This proves that it costs more money to stick with the notion of “If it works, why change it”.

Now, let’s talk about the second fear and this is something I can attest to, given my time working as a recruiter. Let’s make one thing clear: the idea of Terminator is cool, and Skynet should be in power given how we are not engaging around the topic of climate change as much as we should but let’s keep that aside for a different time.

At any point of time when change was inevitable, there was always the fear of being replaced. Back in the days, you would need to go to the bank to withdraw some cash before the invention of ATMs. What happened to banks now ever since the implementation of ATMs? They expanded rapidly and built even more chains based on the ability of their retail banking consultants to help consumers with their financial planning. Are there any less tellers or banking clerks now compared to those times? No.

This is definitely one of those cases where things worked out. But is it enough of a case study to further provide comfort to many fearful talents out there? Honestly, it is not but what can we do about it?

There are too many events or forums that talks about the basics of DT and tackles the most basic issues around it. We have to go deeper than this. Policy makers should work together with organizations to understand the gap in talents and skills to ensure more effective and inclusive policies are in play, not only for businesses to operate in full digital but also to bridge that gap between business requirements and what the talents in the market can provide. A more inclusive policy can also be focused on bridging the talent gap between people of a different socioeconomical background. Providing that platform for less privileged individuals to understand DT on a fundamental level would further enrich the talent pool in the market.

Secondly, businesses should strategize how they are going to adapt to DT. A clear cut strategy would mitigate the loss of time, cost and talent through which the talents can feel a sense of stability and comfort knowing that the business is willing to invest in training and development in the gap of skills due to the adaptation of DT rather than undergo a retrenchment.

Furthermore, recruitment companies also should work together with their partners in sharing across the movements on talents and skills and further advise on the whole restructuring process (if need be) to ensure that retrenchment is the last thing that comes to mind. We can’t expect talent to not be fearful when quite often we hear people being laid off or roles being made redundant due to the adaptation of DT.

In conclusion, everyone has a part to play in this – policy makers, organizations and talents. We have surpassed the question “Are we prepared for DT?” and should now engage around what is crucial to drive us even further. The question I have is “Digital Transformation, are we getting it right?”

Share me your thoughts!