Majority of Malaysian businesses prepared to live with COVID

Malaysian businesses COVID
Image by Abdul Razak Latif | Bigstockphoto

The majority of Malaysian businesses are prepared to live with COVID-19 (86%) and are prioritizing technology adoption in the immediate term (77%) as they fast track their adaptation to the new normal, according to the EY business pulse survey of over 500 companies, which include large companies as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Dato’ Abdul Rauf Rashid

Dato’ Abdul Rauf Rashid, Malaysia Managing Partner, Ernst & Young PLT says, “Despite two years of challenging conditions, businesses have remained focused on building their resilience, but they must continuously evolve to capture the opportunities ahead.”

The Business Pulse survey: ‘Living with COVID-19 and winning together‘, which aimed to assess the business preparedness of Malaysian companies in the new normal, also revealed that 43% of the respondents are optimistic about business recovery to pre-pandemic levels within the next one to two years. This is encouraging as Malaysia enters the transition to the endemic phase on 1 April 2022.

Technology had the most positive impact on both large companies and MSMEs

Both the large companies (48%) and MSMEs (37%) indicated that technology had the most positive impact on their business during the pandemic. The movement restrictions (Movement Control Order) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the companies’ adoption of technology and their transition to a digitally-enabled work environment.

In contrast, the respondents experienced a more negative impact in the financial (44% of large companies; 63% of MSMEs) and supply chain (54% of large companies; 44% of MSMEs) areas.

Chow Sang Hoe

Chow Sang Hoe, EY Asean Consulting Leader and Malaysia Consulting Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Consulting Sdn Bhd, says, “While the large companies have better access to technology and talent, challenging circumstances call for organizational agility to navigate disruptions, address current gaps and accelerate measures to build resilience – it is about the survival of the fittest.”

Employee reskilling and digitalization are key priorities moving forward

In the short term, 85% of the respondents are prioritizing the improvement of employee safety and the implementation of SOPs including flexible work arrangements, while 77% are focused on enhancing digitalization to facilitate contactless IT infrastructure.

Moving forward, the key business priorities will be reskilling people (74%) and adopting digitalization (74%). At the same time, a higher proportion of MSMEs are paying greater attention to readapting business size, changing the business model or entering new business ventures (58%) and improving their financial positions (48%).

Collaborations can foster business resilience and explore new opportunities

The survey respondents indicated that they require further support in upgrading digital technology (51%), adapting the business to be more resilient (47%), accessing resources for business recovery (42%) and redesigning physical premises (40%), to help them better prepare to live with COVID-19.

Beyond the recovery and improvement phase, the respondents indicated that they need guidance in finding new markets (58%), forging new partnerships (54%), accessing digital skillsets and talent (53%) and developing new business models, products and services (53%). Chow concludes, “With the evolving market disruptions and changing consumer preferences amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses need to prioritize capability development as they seek to transform their operating models for the future. Speed and agility are of the essence.”

Related article: Deep dive into the human-centred heart of Malaysia’s digital transformation

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