Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic storm in Malaysia

COVID-19 Malaysia
Ahmad Taufek Omar, Chief Executive Officer, TM ONE

“Among many other changes, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a mindset change in Malaysia about faster digital adoption and transformation” – Ahmad Taufek Omar, CEO & EVP of TM ONE.

Leaders today face a sombre scenario as COVID-19 continues to rage globally with the economic and social fallout from the global pandemic appearing insurmountable. Social distancing, lockdowns have impacted our everyday social and business life.

In this dynamic situation, the real impact of these measures on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is challenging to quantify. We are beginning to see adjectives – dire, unprecedented, and so forth enter into sober business news.

One example is the World Bank’s recent report, which projects growth in the developing East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) region to slow to 2.1% in the baseline and to a negative 0.5 in the lower case scenario in 2020, from an estimated 5.8% in 2019. Containment of the pandemic will, of course, allow some semblance of recovery, but the risk of durable financial stress is high even beyond 2020.

A recent statement by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Malaysia’s central bank, specified that economic growth, measured by GDP, is projected at between -2% to 0.5% in 2020 as a result of the global health crisis.

Speaking with Ahmad Taufek Omar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Executive Vice President (EVP) of TM ONE, the business solutions arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), he pointed two (2) main factors to continue to steer the company – and ultimately, the nation – forward.

“If we take a moment to look beyond the current health crisis, some see COVID-19 is a giant mirror demanding that nations and individuals finally face long-running issues,” he opined, during an exclusive interview on TM ONE’s direction for the year.

Taking Transformation Forward

“Resilience – especially in times of crisis – can be fuelled by encouraging the right mindset in our teams,” he said, emphasising that shifts in Malaysian mindsets “must be made immediately – as the luxury of planning long term transitions into digital nirvana have been abruptly replaced by the sometimes shocking realisation that leaders must push their businesses into ‘digital sprint mode’.”

He remains passionate about coupling the power of the right mindset with the right technologies as the way for leaders to stay on course this year.

“A change in mindset – coupled with the right business solutions has to be made abruptly – overnight! Not only to survive but ensure that we do not lose our grip on driving the resilience of our businesses. Only then, can we be more certain of a smooth bounce-back.”

“Ultimately, it is the human response – the mindset change – that will boost digitalisation wisely,” he adds. “Digital disruption, coupled with creative strategies, finds itself in a vast landscape faced by a giant invisible disruptive force of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Reimagine, Reinvent your Business plans

Discussing the key areas for TM ONE in 2020, Ahmad Taufek explains: “In the past few years, we have been focusing on seven (7) key verticals, and we will continue to do so, together with our customers taking transformation forward to build Digital Malaysia.”

“Digital transformation has been a hot topic for quite some time in many industries, but most enterprises are still at the early stage of digital transformation,” he admits. “Wherever our enterprises or public sector are on the digital transformation curve, there is still a lot of room for them to climb upwards – adopting new technologies in embracing Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0).”

“Industry has a key role in advancing Malaysia’s Digital Economy, and moving the nation forward in a spirit of active collaboration – and we of course support this as a long-trusted strategic technology partner,” he points out.

“As we win each milestone together with our customers, we are also playing our part in contributing to the onward progress of the nation, and the gradual betterment and future-readiness of Malaysians for a rapidly-changing world,” he continues.

“In particular, we are focusing on getting our industries onboard the two (2) most important backbone of technology in the IR4.0 era – that is cloud and cybersecurity,” he further adds.

The Cloud Key

“There is a clear case for moving to the cloud, which are agility and cost-effectiveness,” Ahmad Taufek says. “There is also a lot of room in Malaysia to grow our cloud adoption. TM ONE’s position in the cloud market leverages on our strength in multi-hybrid cloud offerings and cloud professional services. We are coupling our strength with our data centre services, serving each vertical with specific demands. We work closely with our customers in all verticals to ensure that we meet their specific needs.”

“Meanwhile, as the big cases of security breaches in the recent months have demonstrated, cybersecurity is a critical component that all companies should not overlook as they build their technology and IT capabilities.”

“Smart solutions are also important in 2020, as IR4.0 is the era in which cyber-physical systems – machines are talking to each other – generating insights, and able to respond on their own thanks to the Artificial Intelligence (AI),” says Ahmad Taufek.

“Another critical area we are focusing on is to further advance the Government’s digitalisation initiatives, in other words taking transformation forward for the public sector,” he continues.

“As the enabler of Digital Malaysia, of which Digital Government is one of its pillars, TM ONE takes a holistic approach. This encompasses advancing digital innovation from the infrastructure level down to application level, and from the federal level across to local authorities. TM ONE enables the public sector to enhance public services delivery through digital for Malaysians in line with TM’s promise of making life easier.”

He elaborated this by adding: “It includes boosting the Government’s telecommunication and digital infrastructure, advancing smart cities agenda, enabling open and integrated data sharing for the public sector, digital applications for shared public services, education and healthcare, strengthening cybersecurity for national interest, and supporting the nation in times of crisis.”

Staying on Course

Talk of the ‘bounce back, rebound,’ and so on are already topics of conversation at c-suite level. Thinking beyond this, TM ONE’s chief talks about remaining steadfast on a digital course as the most dynamic way forward.

In explaining why ‘Taking Transformation Forward’ remains the main clarion call from TM ONE, Ahmad Taufek says industry must lead Malaysia’s digital mission by transforming and that the transformation of the country’s enterprises and government sector by increasing the use of digital solutions.

“The global perspective spotlights why industry must – in these fragile days – focus on tapping the huge enabling benefits of Cloud; Managed Services and Cybersecurity,” he said.

“By getting these fundamental drivers aligned with the power of the right trusted collaborative partnership, there will be a much-needed boost to our industries, and public sectors this year.”

Ahmad Taufek concluded by confirming TM ONE is “Digital at your service. Our contribution to national growth rests in our core strength as an end-to-end enabler of digital transformation for enterprises and public sector organisations.”

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