While covering the inaugural Oracle OpenWorld Asia event held in Singapore, DSA met with the Country Manager at Oracle Malaysia, Mr. Fitri Abdullah. We were fortunate enough to score an interview later on with Mr. Fitri to get his views on some of the talking points from the event, from a Malaysian perspective.
Mr. Fitri started off by mentioning that the emergence of the digital economy has meant that Malaysian companies are under increasing pressure to adopt new innovative technologies to ensure their overall competitiveness by improving customers’ experience via new digital channels, improving overall productivity, lowering costs, and shortening new product cycles.
As a result, many Malaysian companies are propelling forward with digital initiatives and projects by adopting new, disruptive and emerging technologies like blockchain, IoT, big data analytics, AI and autonomous databases to enhance business efficiency across its value chain. Over the years, the cloud has become an important enabler for these technologies, as it is able to provide businesses with new solutions faster at a lower cost with an OpEx-based business model.
That, said Mr. Fitri, puts Oracle in a good place because the company has complete cloud offerings comprised of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS). “Oracle helps customers to develop roadmaps, migrate to the cloud, and take advantage of emerging technologies. Depending on the type of business challenges the company needs to address, Oracle will work closely with our customers to strategise and provide solutions in a phased manner to achieve their end business goals,” he said.
He gave the example of AirAsia, who has chosen Oracle ERP Cloud to centralise and streamline its overall finance and procurement operations at the Group level for all its companies across the many countries it operates in. Mr. Fitri remarked that the ERP Cloud deployment supports AirAsia’s growth plans and its vision to be the leading digital airline with leading-edge, innovative solutions.
Malaysian Businesses: Slow On The Digital Uptake?
At Oracle OpenWorld Asia, Deloitte highlighted the fact that companies are on different paths in the digital spectrum (Exploring Digital, Doing Digital, Becoming Digital and Being Digital). So we asked Mr. Fitri where the majority of Malaysian businesses fit on that spectrum, to which he said that most Malaysian businesses are sitting on the fence between “exploring” and “doing” digital.
He pointed to a survey done last December by SME Corp, which found that about 80% (out of 2033 respondents) of Malaysian SMEs realised the positive impact of ICT and digital technologies would have on their businesses. “SMEs are ideal candidates for the adoption of cloud as typically they have minimal IT resources and the OpEx business model suits them better.”
“In fact, productivity is rising following the utilisation of digital tools. For instance, businesses that utilised data management service to help organise, store, display data of business operation, sales and customer information achieved increment in productivity by 60% - those who didn’t merely hit a 27% mark with only help from social media and online marketing strategy,“ he added.
But despite the numbers, Mr Fitri said that the real adoption and actual uptake of digital tools are still slow and could be better, especially among Malaysian microenterprises and SMEs. This is largely due to “the lack of knowledge in business digitalisation. While cost is often the prime concern for such companies, it is important to look at the long-term rather than the short term. Here, education and raising awareness is important. At Oracle, we are mindful for our consultants to share the information and knowledge needed to maximise these business benefits from our solutions.”
On a brighter note, Mr. Fitri commented that there is, however, very positive sentiment in the market in terms of priority on technology investments – with research showing that 65% of Malaysian SMEs are planning to focus their investment on new innovative digital technology in the near future.
This comes as exciting news for Oracle as it looks to continue to deepen its footprint in Malaysia with collaborations with the government, large enterprise and SME customers across a broad range of industries to support them in their digital journey.
Collaborating with the Malaysian Government
In terms of government collaboration, Oracle is working closely with InvestKL, an integral counterpart under the Ministry of International Trade (MITI) Malaysia, in driving MNC technology investments into Malaysia. Oracle is also working with MIMOS and MDEC to create awareness and engagement with the various government agencies and ministries.
“We are constantly engaged with the government and working closely on some pilots and proof-of-concept projects including on Blockchain technologies. With close to three decades of presence in the country, we have provided many joint programmes aimed at improving local talent, imparting skills and knowledge that are essential components of the ICT sector,” he commented.
Mr. Fitri pointed out that companies should be made aware of the various incentives and technology adoption schemes provided by the government. “For budget 2019, the government announced RM7.12 billion allocation to support the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0). Of this, RM2 billion will be used to incentivise SMEs to invest in automation and modernisation, including a readiness assessment for IR4.0 migration. Such funding in the manufacturing sector not only helps grow these businesses but also has an extended impact on building Malaysia’s knowledge economy.”
Overcoming Bandwidth and Connectivity Challenges
Like many developing countries, internet can be expensive in Malaysia and some places are noticeably better connected than others. We asked Mr. Fitri to comment on how local companies overcome bandwidth and connectivity issues when moving massive amounts of data and infrastructure to the cloud. He said that since the new government came into power in May 2018, it has done a good job by pushing Internet Service Providers to improve the speeds and quality of services while lowering the costs.
This will go a long way to resolve such issues for both consumers and businesses. He added that the 4G LTE coverage is also improving and will be further enhanced with the latest deployment of 5G networks in Malaysia in the near future. “We believe that this would positively impact the nation’s economic growth, especially for businesses in healthcare, media and entertainment, automotive, manufacturing, public safety, agriculture, education and smart cities development.”
In terms of technology options, Oracle offers a dedicated gateway which enables businesses to deliver trusted connectivity services to and from any location with less complexity, in significantly less time, and at a greatly reduced cost, when compared to more traditional approaches.
“Cloud at Customer”, meanwhile, is Oracle’s unique offering that mainly targets the larger enterprises for which latency and data sovereignty is a big concern. Mr. Fitri explained, “Oracle provides a cloud configuration to the customers’ data centre premises while providing the capabilities and benefits of cloud, such as an OpEx model of operation, and managed services.”
He concluded by saying that all this is part and parcel of Oracle’s mission to provide its cloud solutions to enhance productivity and performance, as well as make cloud migration easy for customers so they’re able to focus on expanding their business without worries.