, Malaysia
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Tan Boon Yow joins elite panel of judges at the Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards 2022

Companies need to be agile, and balance out the risks and opportunities to thrive during and after the pandemic, says the EY Asean Technology Consulting Leader.

As the EY Asean and Malaysia Technology Consulting Leader, Tan Boon Yow focuses on strategy development, design, innovation, and implementation support to help EY clients address their challenges in business and technology transformation programs.

Boon Yow has extensive experience in business transformation and complex technology implementation support, spanning technology transformation, ERP, custom-built services and operational excellence programs in the areas of capital project management, asset operation and supply chain management.

As one of the judges in the Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards, Boon Yow spends a few minutes with Singapore Business Review to discuss the digital transition of Malaysian companies, and how businesses can leverage technology and risk projections to help their businesses become more sustainable.

How has your experience in technology consulting across different regions impacted your professional career?

My experience working with teams and clients across different regions and geographies has helped me learn about the impact and importance of diversity and inclusiveness in our business. Diversity of talent is one of the key accelerators of our organizational growth. It enables us to leverage the differences and diversity in our teams to offer innovative approaches in our service and solutions delivery.

I believe placing people at the centre of the corporate culture effort will enable a positive shift and unlock long-term value for an organization. Talents need to feel they are valued members of the organization, regardless of their backgrounds or experiences. To achieve this, I consciously try my best to look for new ways to work that embrace a broader range of perspectives and embed them into everything I do. By taking this approach in my professional career, I believe that I am helping to build a better working world that is more open to diversity, inclusivity and equal opportunities.

How can the Malaysian government help businesses become more resilient and welcoming of digital innovation?

With Malaysia now entering the transition to the endemic phase, the Government can consider stimulus measures to encourage digital innovation through talent development, business investment on digital equipment – hardware, software and related research and development (R&D)-, and the rakyat’s participation and consumption.

With the rapid evolution of the tech sector joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and public-private sector collaborations can help businesses build their resilience and adopt new technologies faster, as well as support in the recruitment and training of skilled talent.

It is pertinent to note that the Government has set industry roadmaps such as the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint and Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA) to help foster a future-ready conducive ecosystem for the advancement of Malaysia's digital transformation.

Some of the proposed initiatives include:

  • The enhancement of digital connectivity infrastructure to enable 100% 4G coverage in populated areas and 100Mbps speed for broadband by 2025
  • Assisting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt digitalization, specifically the adoption of electronic payments (cashless payments) by subsidizing point of sale (POS) system set-up costs and exempting e-payment transaction costs
  • Strengthening law enforcement and governance for cybersecurity and personal data protection and privacy, namely by reviewing existing laws including the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), Digital Signature Act, Cyber Security Act and Official Secrets Act

How should firms use technology and risk projections to help their businesses become more sustainable?

Technology plays a critical role in enabling sustainability initiatives across operations, supporting the adherence to regulations and standards and driving engagement with the consumer. It is therefore imperative for companies to invest in the right sustainability technologies as they transform their business – ones that embed sustainability into their operating model, can easily demonstrate progress across all environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and create long-term, sustainable value.

Overall, the sustainability technology landscape is still emerging, but it is also growing and evolving at a rapid pace, benefiting from investments by all major technology players. While companies try to build in sustainability as a competitive advantage, they need to look into integrating technology and data from the early stage of their operations. Blockchain and internet of things (IoT) technologies are used to address selected sustainability issues, and we are seeing artificial intelligence (AI) being used for broader applicability.

Some use case examples include leveraging the cloud, blockchain, and IoT technologies to enable ESG measurement and tracking systems; data platform and analytics solutions to generate insights; and artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to create an end-to-end model for an integrated energy management solution, sustainable operation and supply chain. With the increasing demand for ESG information, businesses could also leverage digital technology to capture and share their ESG data.

In today’s economy, what are the risks and opportunities that companies can afford to take to thrive during and after the pandemic?

To thrive during and after the pandemic, companies need to be agile and balance out the risks and opportunities. When considering digital transformation, areas that need attention include:

A. Securing data as the lifeline of digital business models

During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect more consumers to increase their reliance on digital services and platforms. These trends will reshape consumer attitudes towards personal data privacy, and businesses need to prepare for changes in data privacy and security regulations. With the proliferation of personal devices and generated data, businesses can expect regulators to impose new requirements on data protection, cybersecurity, monitoring critical third-party services providers (TPSPs) and the use of outsourcing and offshore resources.

B. Untap business opportunities via the platform and ecosystem-based business model

The record-breaking sales performance during a single day event (11.11) indicates the shift in consumer behavior and highlights the sales potential of e-commerce platforms. The advancement of apps, cloud and ecosystem platforms means that businesses can collaborate with other organizations to create seamless, secure and hassle-free buying experiences.

Which trends in innovation are seen to remain valuable post-pandemic?

In my opinion, three key trends will remain valuable, post-pandemic:

A. Contactless and digital payment solutions

Post-pandemic, resilient businesses are those that offer flexibility to adapt and remodel their operations. For example, businesses need to rethink and reassess their digital payment systems including contactless and QR code payments which are on the exponential growth track. As of June 2021, Malaysia observed the following payments growth trend:

89% (YoY) increase in e-wallet transaction volume to 468m transactions

57% (YoY) increase in merchant participation for QR payments to 1m registrations

36% (YoY) increase in online banking volume to 12.1b transactions

B. Experience is everything

Increasingly, customers are expecting a seamless and customized experience. This means customers will continue to expect product and service providers to offer:

  • Intimacy: by creating unique digital and physical spaces that customers want to spend time in, ultimately drawing into the customers’ circle of trust
  • Indispensability: by solving pressing problems and collaborating with other partners to offer better services to customers
  • Invisibility: by providing time-saving convenience that customers do not notice

C. Accelerated internet speed after 5G rollout

According to the EY Reimagining Industry Futures Study 2022, eight  out of ten  global (85%) and Asia-Pacific (84%) enterprises surveyed, say that the COVID-19 pandemic is driving higher interest in 5G. With Malaysia preparing to roll out 5G, there will be significant potential opportunities for businesses and their stakeholders.

As a judge in the Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards, what projects or innovations are you expecting to find amongst the entries?

I look forward to seeing innovations that are people-centric and ESG-driven. The disruptions caused by the global pandemic and the recent floods are clear indications that innovative technologies can help solve some of our most complex and significant challenges. For example, during the recent floods, drone technologies could support critical services providers reach affected communities through aerial site tracking and the distribution of healthcare, emergency aids and food supplies.

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