From kicking off various digital adoption initiatives for SMEs to establishing a centre to accelerate the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0) and expand digital transformation locally, Malaysia is well on its way in establishing itself as a high-income nation by boosting digital adoption at all levels of society.

The pandemic has significantly accelerated digital adoption locally driving a 68% surge in e-commerce.

Malaysia’s digital economy is continuously growing and it is expected to contribute 22.6 percent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

However, I still believe that businesses should expand their digital adoption further to extend beyond cloud computing to include artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, renewable energies and quantum computing to help drive the nation’s economic development and stay competitive in the region.

Artificial intelligence (AI) especially is not yet widely used amongst local organisations and businesses in Malaysia as only 15% – 20% of companies are embracing it, however, there is a real benefit and use case for it that I believe more businesses must understand. 

Understanding implication of AI for businesses

I truly believe local organisations should consider accelerating the adoption of AI into their businesses in order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing & digitally modernising market. 

Based on the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, AI technology is estimated to contribute a 26% increase of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next decade. But the question is, what is AI then, how can it really help in improving business productivity and most importantly how can business get started on the right foot with AI? 

How organizations can build a successful application modernization strategy

AI is a simulation process which can be simply considered as a substitute of human intelligence in the form of a machine. Meanwhile, machine learning is a branch of AI that implements self learning processes of existing information and applies that knowledge to any prototype or model without any human intervention. 

According to McKinsey, 50% of work time in Malaysia is spent on repetitive activities that are highly automatable. AI and machine learning can help reduce this percentage by implementing it into daily business processes through smart data analytics, marketing intelligence, and setting up automated chatbots to engage with customers and employees.

For platform-based businesses built around data and customer interactions, employing machine learning helps deliver highly personalised user experiences as well as curated product and content recommendations generated through intelligent algorithms. This customised experience improves customer’s experience which in turn foster lasting and profitable customer relationships.

This method has been implemented in various industries including manufacturing, entertainment, e-commerce, and fintech. AI and machine learning can transform businesses by leveraging the existing data and analysing it in order to gain insights. These insights help organisations to strengthen their operations by identifying the bottlenecks and areas of the business that needs improvement.

The Malaysian government is already looking to help local organisations accelerate their AI adoption with initiatives such as the AI Roadmap established in 2021. As digital consumers, AI can already be found implemented in our everyday lives. For starters, AI is in the face recognition we use on our phones and it exists in our smart home appliances. AI helps us locate live traffic through our navigation apps, personalise the ads we see on websites and social media platforms as well as authenticate the bank notes and credit cards used at local banks.

There is more that we can do to integrate AI into our business processes and elevate the customer experience. For example, we see that AI can add great value to the existing manufacturing processes to help enable manufacturing companies to reduce repetitive tasks. Few of the use cases which we have seen include detecting defects throughout the production process, deploying predictive maintenance to reduce downtime, responding to real-time changes in demand across the supply chain and many more that can resonate with companies in the same sphere.

AI can be used in a variety of other industries like F&B, logistics, retail and commerce, healthcare, real estate and many more. Starting with evergreen industries with continuous demand, it can create a demand for AI adoption as businesses see the benefits that it brings.

Guided by government initiatives and aid to properly enforce the implementation of AI technologies amongst organisations holistically, Malaysia will be set on the right track to establishing itself as a digitally-driven, high-income nation in the region as intended according to the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL) agenda.

How to get started with AI?

AI and machine learning implementation may sound daunting but businesses that do not pursue it run the risks of being burdened by inaccurate business decisions, higher churn rates and lower returns on investment. 

Thus, it is important for businesses to educate themselves and understand the actual need for and benefits of AI and machine learning in their businesses. They must understand that data & AI complement each other, hence it is important to determine the right quality of data that needs to be provided for AI and Machine Learning development. Only by being intimately familiar with the entire business process through exploratory analysis, will you be able to spot the bottlenecks and thereby accurately implement AI and machine learning. 

Organisations must also work to establish a uniform infrastructure in order to broaden AI adoption. They must first consider updating their infrastructure to provide high-end computational speed and processing parameters. One of the biggest concerns in modernising digital infrastructures is data security and storage thus organisations must adapt to a cloud environment first to help overcome the storage & security challenges. Combined all these factors will help to create a fertile and facilitative environment to ensure AI functions optimally for their business. 

Furthermore, designating a team for AI adoption within the organisation is important as it will help the entire organisation grasp the intricacies of AI better. If there is a lack of required skill set, it is also important for organisations to find the best AI partner to deliver a thorough consultation customised to the organisations’ objectives and needs. 

Malaysia’s future in the hands of AI

It is not an understatement in saying that artificial intelligence has a vital role to play in spearheading Malaysia’s future development. Technology will be working in conjunction with people, and not in place of people. On the contrary of common misconceptions, AI’s capability to improve work processes will open up more avenues and opportunities for organisations to explore, which might not have existed previously, making investment in artificial intelligence essential. It is also essential that there are skilled professionals with the knowledge and expertise needed to drive artificial intelligence in Malaysia.AI and machine learning implementation is definitely more crucial to Southeast Asia’s future especially as the region’s digital economy is now worth more than US$100 billion. With that, it signifies the cruciality for local organisations to modernise their digital infrastructures and work towards AI adoption in order to be a future-ready organisation in the region and boost Malaysia’s standing as a regional leader in the digital economy.

Article contributed by Ravi Paul, Searce Malaysia Country Manager

About the author

As Associate Director – Cloud Consulting at Searce Sdn Bhd., Ravi is responsible for building the business in Malaysia. Ravi has worked with companies like Hitachi , TechMahindra and HCL prior to joining Searce.

Ravi has over 20+ years of experience, with more than 15+ years of experience in the IT space. He has worked primarily in the Infrastructure domain with experience as a data center manager and managed multiple data centers across the globe. He has also worked on multiple data center consolidation projects which has helped companies reduce their IT footprint and save costs. He moved into the Cloud space around 6+ years back and helped companies that started off as a Hybrid model migrate to the cloud. This helped enterprise customers understand the value of the cloud before actually moving entire workloads to the cloud. His work prior to joining Searce was as a Regional Pre-Sales Manager to ensure all cloud solutions for the SEA region were worked on as per the customer requirements.

Other than work , Ravi likes to travel and read. He has traveled extensively across the globe both for work and for leisure.