THE days of cloud being known as an emerging technology are long gone. Today, it has become the cornerstone of the intelligent world, driving the full potential of computing power, and fuelling innovation for the future.
The availability and advancements in cloud technologies have forced evolution not only in the way technology is adopted and utilised, but also challenged whole sectors and industries to relook their operational efficiencies.
Today, cloud technology, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is a necessity, and plays a crucial role in improving operations and speeding up expansion – not only for companies but also for governments that are keen to move further into the age of the digital economy.
► Data sovereignty is a crucial conversation
However, as always, technological advancements come with their own set of unique challenges.
Among the biggest hurdles that we face in pursuing widespread cloud adoption, be it among private or public entities, is in the area of data sovereignty. This is a conversation which has become all the more important and urgent across the globe as data protection importance grows, and with it, national legal environments.
As governments quicken their push for digitalisation, they are faced with the task of ensuring that data remains in-country to safeguard their local IT cloud operations. In December last year, Azerbaijan announced that its cloud-based “electronic government” platform will soon be ready for rollout.
With this platform, the Azerbaijanian government will be tapping on the benefits of cloud such as reduced costs as well as improved and streamlined services to citizens, as well as information security. For this purpose, Azerbaijan will create a National Data Centre “government cloud” which will operate under its Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies.
Closer to home, Huawei Malaysia and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) are working together on TM’s Cloud Alpha Edge services offered through TM’s enterprise and public sector business arm, TM ONE. TM is the only local player with its own core data centre and cloud infrastructure with full data residency, locality and sovereignty.
Through the collaboration with Huawei Malaysia, this infrastructure is reinforced through cloud, AI and the most advanced cybersecurity practices and technologies, putting it right on track to become the only Malaysian-owned end-to-end cloud AI infrastructure service provider. This means the data in the cloud is stored right here in Malaysia instead of abroad, providing a solution to the challenge of data sovereignty.
► Growing SMEs in the new norm
Another key area that will drive growth of Malaysia’s digital economy, is the digital transformation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that make up more than 98% of the country’s business establishments, encompassing various industries and specialisations.
The Statistics Department reported that the sector growth is mostly driven by the services industry, and it goes without saying that this sector is among those that require technology to grow or bust, even more so amid the current Covid-19 pandemic.
However, compared to larger corporations that have been more aggressive in their adoption of new tech, research shows that many SMEs are still on the fence when it comes to embracing new technology. Digital adoption among SMEs was reportedly very low at 20% as of January 2019. In most cases, this can be attributed to the lack of awareness in terms of technology trends and benefits.
Hexa Food is one example of an SME that has successfully employed technology to benefit its business. In March last year, Hexa Food’s Internet of Things (IoT) team deployed the Huawei ModelArts along with the Atlas 500 AI edge station to accurately identify the quality of the chilies it uses in spice blends, therefore enhancing production efficiency and the quality of spices available to restaurants and households nationwide.
The ongoing global health crisis has no doubt cast a blazing spotlight on the urgency for companies and also government entities to digitalise their operational processes. More than ever, Covid-19 has accelerated the demand for technologies such as cloud and AI in line with the work-from-home trend.
Like Hexa Food, users can expect to reap benefits such as better business productivity, cost efficiency, automation of routine tasks, efficient use of human resources as well as the creation of new roles and responsibilities.
Cloud and AI solutions are therefore game changers for many private and public sectors such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, retail as well as customer and/or food services. Essentially, the technology can take on mundane and repetitive tasks, bringing down operational costs and even reducing headcount in hazardous environments.
► Realising the vision of a digitalised Malaysia
As a global technology leader, Huawei’s mission is to serve not only its customers, but the countries that it operates in, to help propel digital transformation across every sector, industry and layer of society.
In Malaysia, some of our recent key initiatives to help realise the country’s vision of building a thriving innovation ecosystem and to effectively be positioned as the Heart of Digital Asean include:
1. Huawei Spark: A programme which aims to incubate and accelerate company growth and establish an ecosystem for businesses in the Asia Pacific region – with the goal of grooming the region’s next unicorn and to promote a fully connected, intelligent world.
2. SME Adopt and Innovate (SME AI): SME Corporation Malaysia and Huawei Malaysia jointly developed the SME AI programme, with the goal of propelling SMEs further into digitalisation by leveraging Huawei Malaysia’s digital expertise for more sustainable growth.
SME Corp’s business advisors and agencies under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives will utilise Huawei Cloud solutions, particularly cloud and AI, to encourage SMEs to go digital.
Other than providing a matching grant along with Huawei solutions for SMEs, the collaboration will also drive local digital innovation by using Huawei Cloud and AI to assist SMEs in creating their own innovative products.
This initiative aims to create a “SME-sell-SME” ecosystem and to achieve this Huawei Malaysia will collaborate with tech SMEs to jointly develop solutions as well as to provide a “digital marketplace” for tech SMEs to cater to local SMEs for the creation of business and job opportunities.
3. Sasbadi-Huawei MoU: In June last year, Huawei Malaysia signed an MoU with Sasbadi Holdings Berhad to develop intelligent solutions leveraging Huawei Cloud to empower students and teachers to digitalise and transform using cloud and AI technologies.
Through this collaboration and together with TM ONE, the three companies joined forces in November last year to provide a corporate social responsibility initiative.
This consisted of free access to an e-learning platform i-LEARN Ace to support Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia candidates in their revision during this difficult Covid-19 pandemic period.
For SMEs that are hoping to kickstart their tech journey or even those planning to update their existing digital strategies, improve operational efficiencies and expand business opportunities, the Huawei Cloud Meeting + Huawei IdeaHub is something to consider investing in.
It is ideal for any meeting environment, as participants can join the same meeting from different regions, companies, and mobile devices. This, in turn, presents an opportunity for SMEs to grow beyond Malaysia, despite travel limitations.
► Making technology a right, not a privilege
It has always been Huawei Malaysia’s top agenda to bridge the digital divide, reach the unreached, and ensure that every person, home and organisation is able to enjoy the fullness of what technology offers.
In line with the Malaysian government’s National Digital Infrastructure Plan, we are committed to making sure that technology is inclusive and that no one is left behind.
From fresh-faced start-ups to multinationals, as well as various industry stakeholders and government agencies, we are eager for every opportunity to use our expertise and resources to help propel Malaysia to greater heights.
We will keep working hard to strengthen the foundations of collaboration with capable and willing partners in Malaysia and we look forward to growing together with you.
This article was contributed by Huawei Malaysia VP of cloud and AI Lim Chee Siong.