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Deep Dive into Malaysia’s Digital Economy with MDEC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood - Part 2

AvantiKumar | Feb. 27, 2017
The second in an exclusive two-part interview with MDEC’s Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood on the government agency’s major initiatives for the year ahead.

Yasmin said that MDEC would be visiting Australia to look into opportunities of Australian companies coming into Malaysia as a gateway into ASEAN. "It is also an opportunity for some of our local companies to go into Australia as a market access, and also as a means to source for funding - because the Australian market, its stock exchange right now, is encouraging tech companies to actually list there and to raise their funding out of Australia," she said, concluding that MDEC is looking at globalisation in "a holistic manner".

Addressing the talent challenge

MDEC firmly believes that the provision of tools would be meaningless without skilled operators who could use them. Towards that end, the corporation managed to produce 500 data analysts. "But that is not enough," Yasmin said. "This year, we'll have to produce more than a thousand data professionals - and even that may not be sufficient, because the industry is just hungry for them.

"As you know, Big Data Analytics (BDA) is one of the key things that we need to drive, as the world gets into the data economy. The data economy has become so much more pervasive, the impact of the data economy is so strong. As such, our collaborations with local educational establishments has borne fruit, with introduction data science modules at seven universities." She emphasised that producing university graduates takes time. "They are just now still going through the courses. Last year was all about professional development. It's about people reskilling, upskilling, to become data professionals. Like I said, it's still in shortage, although we are making progress."

In line with this, the introduction of the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange (ADAX) is hoped to help alleviate the situation. "The setup of ADAX is going to be really crucial - because ADAX not only can offer training facilities through for companies can turn their employees into data professionals, but also offers its own resident data scientists whom these companies can consult. We have got 13 data scientists at ADAX - which means that companies can actually come to ADAX to work on real use cases, which will bring about an impact. "

"ADAX will also have the data sandbox - a technology sandbox - for them to start using, in order to not only get their people trained but also review and test out real use cases before they start investing. That is one way in which they can start investing into BDA in their organisation." she added.

Start them young

Yasmin is especially excited and proud when talking about producing the next generation of digital natives. "Talent is the most critical thing that needs to happen - and we have to make sure that our young kids move from being normal consumers to becoming digital consumers. They are already there, as heavy digital consumers: digital natives, as we call them. They consume innovation, they consume technology. But we must turn them into creators, into producers of technology."


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