CEO Interview: Why is TM ONE driving Cloud Alpha for Malaysia?

Continuing a series of deep dives into current digital trends in Asia, Ahmad Taufek Omar, executive vice president and CEO of TM ONE, the business solutions arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), highlighted some key reasons why he views TM ONE’s Cloud Alpha as a major cog for national transformation.

According to Ahmad Taufek, Cloud Alpha, which was launched at the beginning of the year, is unique – in that it offers the most comprehensive set of multiple cloud deployment models in Malaysia, in addition to professional and managed services – and is timely on several levels.

“Cloud Alpha is the only Malaysian-owned end to end Cloud AI infrastructure service provider. The ‘power’ of Cloud Alpha thrives on an open collaborative approach as shown by Huawei,” he adds.

The initial launch happened within a global context of bewildering challenges, he continued. Recently, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) economic counsellor Gopi Gopinath believes the global economy will take a US$12 trillion hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. With recession in some form expected in most countries this year, the World Bank’s latest Economic Monitor report, entitled Surviving the Storm, projects that the Malaysian economy may contract by 3.1% in 2020.

However, this health crisis has fuelled multiple leaps forward in digital transformation efforts within many commercial and public sectors. This signals survival and growth potential opportunities for organisations and individuals alike, said Ahmad Taufek during the interview.

In view of this, post-pandemic plans are increasingly embedded in a combination between people and technology to drive what many believe is a digitalised redemption path for many economies, according to various industry views.

This broad context lays some ground for understanding the critical importance of Cloud Alpha – both during and after the pandemic, he explained. “The name Alpha also designates the brightest star in a constellation.”

Ahmad Taufek recalls that almost two decades ago, in the days when cloud was considered to be in the ‘hype’ phase of a trend’s growth cycle, the cloud concept attracted mixed reactions from many decision-makers. Since then, a gradual adoption of cloud, which serves as a fundamental digitalisation platform, has been noted – until the beginning of this year.

Malaysia’s Case for Cloud Alpha

While Covid-19 continues to rage across the planet, the economic and social fallout from the global pandemic appears insurmountable.

If we take a moment to look beyond the current health crisis, some commenters view Covid-19 as holding up a giant mirror demanding that long-overdue issues are finally faced by both nations and individuals.

A ‘new normal,’ accelerated by the outbreak of Covid-19, has forced economies into various states of lockdowns and movement control restrictions has led to the biggest surge of digital adoption and especially cloud computing in Malaysia, according to Ahmad Taufek, who recently elaborated on the pandemic challenge to leadership.

He points out that in both the local and global business world, cloud computing is a ‘no brainer’. Buoyed by increasingly enhanced security and stability, many analysts remain positive about global cloud adoption.

For example, Gartner‘s pre-pandemic estimate projected the global public cloud service market would reach US$266 billion in 2020, a projected growth of 17.3% since 2018. With the lockdown-related surge, the analyst firm’s annual Top 10 data and analytics technology trend highlights include the shift – 75% of organisations by the end of 2023 – from piloting to operationalising Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

“‘Cloud is a given,’ says Gartner. By 2022, public cloud services will be essential for 90% of data and analytics innovation,” cites Ahmad Taufek, also pointing out the importance of cloud infrastructure to successfully activate digitalisation objectives.

Even more critical, he believes, is that “changes in mindset among Malaysia’s business leaders – coupled with the right business solutions – are now being made, very abruptly, overnight! Not only to survive but to ensure we don’t lose our grip on ensuring the resilience of our businesses. Only then, can we be more certain of a smooth bounce-back.”

The Secret of Agility

Business journalists are becoming suddenly accustomed to seeing adjectives such as ‘dire, unprecedented,’ and so forth in the usually sober corporate speak.

Example: Digital disruption coupled with creative strategies suddenly finds itself in a vast landscape faced by a giant invisible disruptive force of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Synchronicity powers agility to a great extent in both business and other processes in society,” he said, when explaining one of the benefits of Cloud Alpha to Malaysia’s business leaders. “Synchronicity is a primary measurement of the real power of successful cloud implementations.”

“In addition, real-world use is not uniform in many areas. Personalisation – or customisation – is another key attribute of a digitalised nation,” he emphasises. “Cloud Alpha’s end to end offerings point to flexibility in customisation to suit every scenario in Malaysia’s enterprise and government sectors.”

“Alpha also represents the leader in the pack,” said Ahmad Taufek. “This positions TM ONE as the leading provider of end-to-end cloud solutions that will empower Malaysian businesses to take on business challenges and deliver agility, innovation, and growth.”

Collaboration is another fundamental part of Malaysia’s corporate and government discourse. When it comes to actualising this, he points out: “We have a track record of partnering 11,000 enterprises and public sector bodies, and we pride ourselves on working closely with all of our customers with the long term always in view. It is about enabling them on their digital transformation journeys.”

“In the year to come, TM ONE is looking into taking digital transformation to the next level,” he continued. “We are taking transformation forward by moving our industries to the cloud services. We are looking at enhancing industry and government resilience through cybersecurity. Finally, we are enabling a smarter nation in a Digital Malaysia through smart solutions.”

Advancing Digital Malaysia

Changing mindsets is possibly the most important aspect of digital transformation in Malaysia, he opines when considering Cloud Alpha’s national benefits.

“Indeed, digital transformation is really about transforming mindsets! People are the real heroes especially when it comes to transforming the ways we do business and enrich each other and our nation in this digital era.”

“I am absolutely committed to steering TM ONE – gently but firmly – into becoming a company that will enhance digitalisation even more than I know it can be today,” said Ahmad Taufek. “Each one of us will benefit personally from the small but important changes we make in order to become a more impactful partner in digitalisation – for example in how we deliver Cloud as the go-to service for industry.”

“In our internal engagements, we always emphasise on the need to reinvent ourselves by leaving old (bad) habits behind, and acquire new skills so that we are always ahead of our competitors.”

“Our journey to transformation is ongoing, of course,” he continued. “And a long journey is successful only when we all make the small but essential steps in altering the way we see, approach challenges and create success – whatever the size of that success may be.”

“Some of the steps we are taking this year are tied very closely to the exciting transformational key of 5G and our work in bringing out the possibilities for accelerated growth,” Ahmad Taufek said.

“For example, in the setting up of the 5G Digital Malaysia projects, we were agile and committed in delivering our promise. Within just two months, TM ONE was able to bring nine (9) use cases in Subang Jaya and Langkawi, Kedah. This is no mean feat. And it has proven that if the team work together and put their heads, minds and souls into it, we can make anything happen.”

A Major Cog

As pointed out by the recently appointed chairman of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Dr Rais Hussin, “Malaysia 5.0 outlines a problem-solving approach to society’s challenges and problems through the deployment and implementation of Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) technologies which integrate both physical and digital environments.”

In the light of this, Ahmad Taufek said: “There is a clear case for multiple sectors to move further into the cloud, such as agility and cost-effectiveness. There is also a lot of room in Malaysia to grow our creative use of cloud adoption to meet specific goals and ways of working.”

“Our position in the cloud market owes much to how we are leveraging on our strength in multi-hybrid cloud offerings, and cloud professional services. We are coupling our strength with our data centre (DC) services, whereby each vertical has different demands when it comes to DC. We work closely with our customers in all verticals to ensure that we meet their specific needs.”

On a wider stage, when asked how TM ONE is helping to advance Malaysia’s vision as a Digital Nation in these highly pressured times, he reiterated: “TM ONE is helping to re-energise Malaysia’s enterprise and public sectors to unlock opportunities through our end-to-end digital solutions and industry experts. In this way, industry can continue to lead and filter the benefits of digital adoption through more sectors and communities throughout the nation.”

He had recently revealed further insights in an earlier interview in maintaining an attitude of creative disruption especially in times of crisis.

Regarding his immediate target, he concluded with: “This journey is like a sailing ship. As the captain of TM ONE, together with our 4000-strong crew onboard, we are united in this journey, in a single direction, keeping our focus with a clear destination in mind – and we will do this.”

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