Digital reformation in Malaysia – a national topic

Caption for above pic: The audience at this year’s BITAS conference

During IASA’s Business IT Architecture Series (BITAS) Conference 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, IASA’s APAC Chairman, Aaron Tan Dani, spearheaded a discussion about “Enterprise Strategy to Drive Digital Agility” with IT and business decision makers in the local ICT landscape. IASA is an association for all IT Architects ad BITAS is an annual regional conference that is into its 8th year this year.

Tan’s discussion began with the hypothetical question about whether local organisations already are experiencing digital agility in their day-to-day operations.

If digital agility is a result of ongoing digital transformation in an organisation, what could it possibly look like?

One popular example is the art theatre business in Spain, that took a negative event in the industry and turned it into a big positive.

Teatreneu, a comedy theatre business, decided to emulate cloud computing technology’s consumption model, and charge customers only for what they consume.  In other words, customers would only pay when they laughed, or Pay Per Laugh.

To achieve this, Teatreneu used digital tools and technologies to help them detect certain expressions, measure them and charge their customers based on these measurements.

Digital agility

But, despite the use of digital technologies, it is important to note that digital agility is not about new technologies or a new business discipline. Rather, it is a new culture or mindset to achieve business outcomes that were impossible to achieve in the past.

Tan probed further about digital agility, and his questions yielded interesting perspectives.

For HLBB’s Head of Enterprise Architecture, Tan Too Khong, digital agility looks like reduced turn around time when it comes getting things done.

Bank Negara Malaysia’s Deputy Director of IT, Krishna Ramasamy, observed that digital agility is at work when infrastructure can be deployed faster and development time is reduced.

He also explained that digital agility allows capture of information, measurement of it to derive insights via analytics to improve and enhance processes.

Speed and efficiency

At a glance it looks like only the speed to get things done is affected. Agility enables more than one process to run concurrently. Processes are no longer large and clunky jobs that need to be completed before the next step can begin.

Tan shares about Ping An Insurance Company of China, which uses robotics and automation technologies to set the motor insurance claims process immediately in motion when an insured vehicle is involved in an accident.

With the use of a smartphone, the vehicle owner can capture images of the damaged car for submission with an insurance claim. “Without human intervention, automation was used to settle the vehicle insurance claim,” Tan explained.

What does it take to achieve digital agility? What are the challenges? Tan asked next. Gartner had raised a pertinent point earlier in the conference that digital transformation is in large part, about change management.

Change management is usually a top-down initiative with the higher-ups needing to spearhead initiatives and drive organisation-wide change.

This was echoed by HLBB’s Tan Too Khong, who said, “The digital vision has to be very clear, set by the CEO himself and the people also have to be equipped with the proper skill. Last but not least, the process also has to change, for example enabling things to be done with the click of a button instead of filling out paper forms.”

Digital Agility: What does this mean for our Government CIO?

One can appreciate that this year’s BITAS conference happened on the eve of the announcement that MAMPU or the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit, was to move from under the care of the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia’s portfolio.

With Tun Mahathir now as Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, his achievements to-date and previous national-level IT initiatives during his previous tenure start to come to mind also.

MAMPU Director, Dr. Siti Istianah Mahdzur acknowledged the importance of digital agility and the role that enterprise architecture (EA) plays in enabling digital transformation within organisations. But she also pointed out, that there are no programmes announced yet by the Ministry, that are at the nation-level scale of Tun M’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).

“If you remember, when we embarked on the MSC it was actually a top down (drive) from our Prime Minister.

“And now as we transition from the electronic era to the digital era, we don’t have those kinds of programmes yet, from our Minister. If we do, then maybe all of Malaysian society would be ready for ‘Digital” and we might be able to get some progress.”

For MAMPU’s ICT Consultant, Dr. Fazidah Abu Bakar, the challenge she sees is having to foresee what Malaysians want. She had also shared during an earlier panel discussion, “In the current scenario, emphasis is on institutional reform.

“I would say in MAMPU, we have a digital plan. This will look into from all aspects – government-to-government, government-to-consumer, government-to-enterprises and so on.”

For the past few years, MAMPU has been driving a nation-level enterprise architecture project, MyGovEA, previously known as 1GovEA. It’s implementation of Enterprise Architecture  methodologies in ministries and agencies under its care during the previous government, has led to a ministry (KPKT) and a government department  (JPN) having won an award each from The Open Group, a global industry consortium that promotes open standards and certifications with vendor-neutral technology, to enable business objectives.