Photo - MDEC chief executive officer Dato' Yasmin Mahmood
In the first part of this feature, Computerworld Malaysia had asked Dato' Yasmin Mahmood, MDEC's (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation's) chief executive officer to start describing some future initiatives and how the agency would create a banner year ahead for Malaysia's ICT (information, communications and technology) industry.
Having created strong momentum in 2016, the two key focus points for 2017 will be around capitalising on eCommerce as well as the Internet Economy, said Yasmin. "There are three key things that are going to happen this year: the launch of the Digital Free Trade Zone, which will happen sometime towards the end of March; the launch of our Digital Hubs; and the launch of our Foreign Tech Entrepreneur Visa, under the FKE [Foreign Knowledge Entrepreneur] initiative."
"The Digital Free Trade Zone is an overarching concept with two main components: logistics; and making the eServices platform end-to-end," she said. "It's really a continuation of our strategy to capitalise on two of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy right now: eCommerce, and the Internet Economy. These are companies that are born in the Internet. The Internet Economy is churning out multiple business models and technologies that are disrupting traditional businesses, creating new business models, revenue growth, creating economic opportunities to so many aspects of the economy. This is going to be our focus."
When asked how the Digital Free Trade Zone - for which MDEC is said to be collaborating with China's Alibaba - would be different from the current way, Yasmin explained that better integration was key. "The system now is already there in parts - but it is not integrated seamlessly. We want to make it as seamless as possible for SMEs," she said, giving the example of the difficulties SMEs would have to endure in order to export their products.
"It is all about helping our SMEs to be able to go cross border. This is the world's first Digital Free Trade Zone, and Alibaba is a leader of this area of eCommerce. They have a strong vision to make a level playing field for SMEs doing cross-border eCommerce, because it has the potential. This is the power of eCommerce - providing the opportunity for every small company." She also mentioned that more and more traditional players were taking up the cause, citing the example of first-time participation in last year's MYCyberSale for companies like Boh Tea and Bonia.
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