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Tech Talk: 2018 Overview & 2019 Predictions

By Arlene Wherrett, Vice President and Managing Director, Sage Asia

Whilst helping customers better manage the challenges and disruption caused by digitalisation across Asia, we have the privilege of witnessing both the successes and challenges businesses face.

For example, with the new taxation law; the Sales and Services Tax (SST) here in Malaysia can pose significant challenges for businesses operations. For CFOs and accounting practice partners, this means reviewing financial projections as well as implementing new practices to incorporate the regulatory changes. Finance professionals will also need to manage these regulatory changes while going through a role transformation as their organizations continue to adapt to digitalization.

Arlene Wherrett

With the new GDPR requirements on data privacy, businesses can no longer leave the security and privacy of their customers’ data on the backburner. Businesses in Malaysia that are required to comply with the GDPR have had to conduct internal assessments in order to ensure compliance. Whilst breaches with Facebook and Google has created much anxiety, this had drawn attention from businesses to audit their own data management and put in place sound practices.

This brings us to cyber security where we see companies investing into this area. The technology industry has been so focused on innovation for the past several decades that security has too often been an afterthought.

in 2018, we have witnessed Malaysia making leaps in tech adoption, with more companies adopting technology solutions and transforming its operations. We have seen Artificial Intelligence reshaping business strategies, Internet of Things accelerating data collection and bringing new capabilities. The gap between ambition and action is closing as  as more businesses are investing in AI talent and have built robust information infrastructures.

Investments from Alibaba into Malaysia’s City Brain, in collaboration with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur, an artificial intelligence-based smart city solution, to manage traffic at Kuala Lumpur the city council of the Malaysian capital is another leap towards digitising Malaysia, where knowledge-sharing and the crossover of best practices transpire.

A big topic for 2018, big data; has driven deep learning and influencing decision making and Malaysia’s imminent transition to Industry 4.0 is on track.The allocation of RM210 million for the Readiness Assessment Programme and RM3 billion for the Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund in the 2019 Budget to improve the adoption of Industry 4.0 related technologies is a testament to the government’s  ambition in accelerating Industry 4.0 adoption.

Over the years, we have observed that talk about better IT-business alignment has been going on for decades but today digital transformation has finally become the catalyst that’s making it happen. Leaders are using digital transformation to lead, communicating and translating business impact of tech projects in ways that everyone in the organization can understand. With this in mind, we see some of the inevitable trends that will take place here in Malaysia and the region.

2019 Predictions: Top 3 Tech Trends

  1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been on the radar for years now but we see it being key in helping businesses cut back on time spent on repetitive tasks and better allocate resources to boost productivity in the coming year. At the time of writing, Sage’s real-time productivity tracker estimates that lost productivity due to administrative work has cost businesses in neighbouring Singapore over S$8 million, in 2018. Automation through AI can help traditional professions, such as accountants, dedicate more time to driving greater business value instead of being bogged down by menial tasks.

Embracing emerging technologies, such as AI, will also be key for smaller businesses that may face great challenges in managing cash flow and hiring skilled resources. AI can ease some of these demands by taking on some of the mundane or repetitive tasks, freeing up human workers to redirect their attention to higher-value, profit-driving or more strategic activities.

  1. Cloud-based solutions

As businesses continue to drive towards efficiency and better cost control, cloud-based solutions such as pay-as-you-use software as a service (SaaS) will become more popular and readily adopted, especially here in Asia.

Cloud technology works well in supporting mobility solutions, which is necessary for smaller businesses that are keen on cost management and driving growth while maintaining scalability. Today’s mobile workers also need quick reliable access to applications while on the move. According to a recent IDC report, the Asia Pacific SaaS market is set to reach US$4 billion by 2019, with 80% of new software from independent software vendors (ISVs) being delivered in a SaaS-based model.

  1. Connected platforms

Another trend we see is the blurring of physical borders in the business world. Businesses will continue to drive towards stronger collaboration and connection to their customers and partners, and cross border trade will not be much of a barrier especially with the explosion of e-commerce and m-commerce.

 

This trend is pushing businesses towards the adoption of connected platforms as they strive to lead data-driven initiatives. Several Asian cities have already embarked on connected platform projects that spans across the public and private sectors in a bid to transform themselves into smarter cities, eg. taking a leaf out of their book, businesses will increasingly invest in connected platforms that enable them to combine data across business units, allowing them to generate real-time insights, make faster and better-informed decisions and quickly increase business opportunities.

 

A study by PWC  on smart cities in Southeast Asia indicated that Singapore and Malaysia are far ahead of all other Southeast Asian countries in terms of communication infrastructure and connectivity. This is indeed an evidence that Malaysia is striving toward the adoption of cutting edge technology solutions and won’t be content being left behind.