Looking beyond COVID-19: The importance of public-private partnerships

 |   K. Raman, Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia

People at a Merdeka parade waving the Malaysian flag

K Raman

By K. Raman, Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia

“Unprecedented” is the word of the new norm.

We are living in unprecedented times, faced with unprecedented ways of work and learning. But what is also unprecedented, is the rapid digital transformation that has taken place, enabled by public-private partnership.

This wave of transformation is rapid across government agencies, as they embrace digital solutions to deliver critical services securely while simultaneously responding to the crisis at hand.

As our government is doing everything in its power to protect Malaysians and their livelihoods, we at Microsoft have dedicated ourselves to empowering the nation with digital solutions. We made Microsoft Teams, our communication and collaboration hub, available to as many people as possible. We also offered our productivity tools to businesses and learning institutions nationwide.

We strive to look for ways in which we support new and existing government requirements, as we continuously work to strengthen the competitiveness and resiliency of Malaysian businesses and organizations. Our efforts are not just aimed at tackling the challenges posed by the current pandemic, but to also provide long-term solutions that will benefit the nation as a whole.

Digitalizing the Health Sector with AI and IoT

With the health and safety of Malaysians becoming a primary concern during the pandemic, we collaborated with like-minded organizations to digitalize the healthcare service delivery.

One of our efforts was with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to streamline operations, data management and communication, leveraging on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through this, MOH was able to collect, organize and analyze information of up to 600 patients concurrently at its Quarantine and Treatment Centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park, Serdang (MAEPS). This allowed medical personnel to have access to all patient information, remotely and at any time. The interface was simple enough for end-users to create their reports and dashboards, easing the administrative burden and processes.

Enabling Remote Learning, Empowering Malaysia’s Education Aspirations

We take great pride in the progress Malaysia has made, thanks to the collaborative efforts between our company, the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). Decades of partnership and collaboration has resulted in truly remarkable development in Malaysia’s education system, with an emphasis on not just empowering students, but educators too.

As part of our effort to equip educators with digital skills, we collaborated with MoE, MoHE and Digital Classroom Admin (DCA) to conduct daily webinars using Microsoft Teams and Office 365. All training webinars are now accessible by over 430,000 teachers across the nation at anytime and anyplace. As a follow up to this, Microsoft, DCA and MoE subsequently collaborated on a new program called e-Class, preparing over 900,000 students for public examinations such as SPM and STPM.

Director-General of Education Dr. Habibah Abdul Rahim was also joined by (clockwise from top right) Marc Woo, Country Head for Google Malaysia; Dr. Helmi Norman, Apple Distinguished Educator, and K. Raman, Managing Director for Microsoft Malaysia, in a panel discussion hosted by UNICEF Education Specialist Azlina Kamal.

Our long-standing partnership with the government alongside the industry, culminated in the launch of DELIMA, or ‘Digital Educational Learning Initiative Malaysia’, a one-stop central platform for 5.2 million educators and students nationwide to access digital productivity tools. It is inspiring to witness the passion and dedication of the thousands of educators and students fully embracing digital tools and resources as part of their experiences. Their commitment drives us here at Microsoft, to keep doing what we can to help support the nation’s education system through these challenging times.

Microsoft Digital Solutions Empowers Business and the Economy

Other than the health and education sectors, Microsoft is also actively working on empowering Malaysian businesses and the economy. Recently, we developed a customized solution for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) called the MITI Automation Solution (MAS). MAS leveraged Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 to efficiently process business operation applications by up to 2,000 per day. With this new system, MITI was able to effectively streamline its processes and allow more applications to be processed each day, boosting business processes nationwide.

Another similar example is Microsoft’s development of a dynamic, real-time dashboard designed to display crucial and accurate data for the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, particularly during the critical MCO period.  This integration of technology had empowered the Ministry to make data-driven decisions about the future of Malaysia’s economic growth.

Microsoft Partners with Government Agencies to Propel Malaysia Towards Excellence

Our response as a nation to the COVID-19 pandemic has also seen the public and private sectors working even closer to ensure Malaysians can take advantage of the digital transformation that is happening, be it in terms of skills development and business growth. An example of such a partnership can be seen under the #DigitalVsCovid Movement spearheaded by MDEC, in partnership with Microsoft. #DigitalVsCovid is a platform designed for businesses (especially SMEs) to find digital resources that enable them to make the shift to remote working during the MCO, including free access to Microsoft Teams to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

In addition to MDEC, Microsoft also supported FELCRA Berhad by providing O365 E1 Trial to help facilitate their virtual communication. Since being full onboarded earlier this year, Microsoft Teams is now FELCRA’s main communication platform, allowing the statutory body to collaborate more efficiently on vital matters relating to Malaysia’s rural sector.

Malaysia’s Digital Transformation Ahead

As a nation, we have achieved in a few months what might have taken us years to progress. As our CEO Satya Nadella recently stated: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.

What is important now is that we do not lose that momentum. Recently, a group of young Malaysians had organized the world-first virtual ‘Parliament’, demonstrating the exciting possible future ahead, as digital technologies further integrate with our lives.

I strongly believe that by working hand in hand with government ministries and agencies, we can forge a newer and brighter path – one that will benefit the entire nation, well beyond COVID-19. Undoubtedly, helping with Malaysia’s recovery and resiliency is critical – and so is preparing Malaysians for an unprecedented post-COVID world.


Featured photo by Thilipen Rave Kumar from Pexels

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