Boosting Malaysia’s economic recovery and business resilience with a Culture of Innovation

 |   Microsoft Malaysia

Plus Malaysia employees using live dashboards, leveraging data and visualisation for better business analytics and decisions

Industry leaders, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Plus Malaysia Berhad, drive innovation to build business resilience and enhance customer experience

Malaysia, 16 November 2020 – As Malaysia adapts and builds business resilience in the face of uncertainties, 77% of business decision-makers in Malaysia say that innovation is now a ‘must’ for them to respond quickly to market challenges and opportunities, based on a new Microsoft and IDC research.

Additionally, while significantly more organisations in Malaysia found innovation to be hard (76%) before COVID-19, they have since changed perceptions, with significantly less Malaysian organisations (35%) having this sentiment now.

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K Raman - Square Profile

“Innovation is no longer an option but a necessity. In fact, organisations in Malaysia have recognised that their ability to innovate fuels their performance and business resilience during the crisis. Since COVID-19, 65% of organisations in Malaysia have found innovation to be easier, a drastic shift from 24% before COVID-19. During the pandemic, organisations were forced to innovate, and in doing so, they have learned it is not as hard as they had anticipated. With this new confidence, firms in Malaysia have been rapidly embracing a culture of innovation to ensure business continuity and future relevance,” K Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia explained.

These findings were released by Microsoft in its latest study with IDC Asia Pacific titled “Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific”. The study surveyed 223 business decision-makers in Malaysia within a 6-month period, before and since COVID-19. The Malaysian study was part of a broader survey among 3,312 business decision-makers and 3,495 workers across 15 markets in Asia Pacific conducted over the same period, to uncover how organisations can successfully fuel business resilience and performance through innovation.

“No organisation can maintain a competitive edge if innovation is not embedded in their business strategy. MDEC is a staunch advocate of innovation via our Corporate Partnership programme, which has enabled a myriad of organisations to spur innovation through the adoption of novel tech solutions. By fostering these partnerships, it not only boosts the productivity and efficiency of corporates but accelerates the nation’s digital agenda and augments Malaysia’s pursuit to be the Heart of Digital ASEAN,” said Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of Global Growth Acceleration Division at the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Berhad (MDEC).

The study also revealed that almost 8 in 10 Malaysian organisations (77%) are speeding up digitalisation in a variety of ways to adapt to the new reality. This includes launching digital products and introducing digital payments to embracing e-commerce and automation. Further to this, close to 28% of Malaysian organisations believe that their current business model would be not competitive within the next 5 years.

Enhancing customer experience with innovation

An employee at TNB demonstrating the use of myTNB app to customers.
An employee at TNB, demonstrating the use of myTNB app to customers.

Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah, President and CEO, TNB

One of the organisations which has been prioritising innovation includes Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s largest electricity utility company. Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan, President and Chief Executive Officer of TNB said, “We are committed to providing our customers with the best experience through innovation in our solutions, which extend beyond kWh offerings. Despite the unprecedented challenges brought upon by the pandemic, TNB responded well to first ensure the safety of our staff and continuity of electricity supply. During the peak of the MCO, about 75% of our staff were working from home in short notice and we continued to ensure reliable electricity supply to our 9.25 million customers across Peninsular Malaysia, especially for places that needed it the most, i.e. hospitals and clinics. We encouraged our customers to use the myTNB app, which was ready for a time when customers could not go to Kedai Tenaga to manage their electricity account(s), and we were able to handle the sudden volume surge.”

“This is in line with our aspiration to inculcate a culture of innovation among our 36,000 employees, which focuses on realising TNB’s purpose to be a leading provider of sustainable energy solutions in Malaysia and internationally. We are engaging our customers on energy efficiency, increasing energy literacy and empowering them with the tools to manage their consumption. For instance, smart meters allow customers to receive their actual bill through the myTNB app, where they can monitor and control their daily electricity usage. This is complemented with MAEVI, a home energy management innovation to support customers through smart energy usage,” Datuk Seri Amir added.

Building a Culture of Innovation to Enhance Resilience

PLUS Traffic Monitoring Centre
The state-of-the-art PLUS Traffic Monitoring Centre (TMC) operates 24/7, ensuring a safe, smooth and comfortable journey for its users.

Moving forward, organisations in Malaysia revealed that they will prioritise rethinking their current business models within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, organisations who are viewed as leading innovators within their industry, plan to focus on investing in technology infrastructure that is robust, scalable and flexible, as well as prioritise upskilling and reskilling of their workforce for business resilience and recovery.Datuk Azman Ismail, Managing Director of PLUS Malaysia Bhd

Datuk Azman Ismail, Managing Director of PLUS Malaysia Bhd, emphasized that the digital transformation (DT) that PLUS is undergoing is first and foremost about its people. “It is about our Warga PLUS who have embraced and changed their way of working through greater adoption of technology, in particular Digitisation (To Be Digital) and Digitalisation (Being Digital). We progressively and diligently embarked on many such internal-facing DT initiatives for efficiency at work as well as external-facing DT initiatives to increase our customer experience and satisfaction.”

PLUS, Malaysia’s largest expressway service provider and Malaysia’s 2020 Digital Transformer winner at the IDC Digital Transformation Awards 2020, began its digital transformation journey with Microsoft since 2019 with the integration of Microsoft’s Azure cloud system into its highway toll network. In 2020 alone, PLUS has also implemented and completed 58 digitisation initiatives via Office 365. PLUS was the first in Malaysia to leverage future-ready technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics and cloud computing to transform and modernize the Malaysian highway experience.

“Achieving success in digital transformation requires both the adoption of tools and technologies as well as own people’s capabilities – what we term as tech intensity – a critical component of the culture of innovation,” said Raman.

“It’s imperative that people are equipped to collaborate and encouraged to drive sustained innovation. Our goal is to realize an inclusive future where all organizations in Malaysia are dynamic and resilient – to recover well and thrive despite the crisis. At Microsoft, we are committed to working with organizations in Malaysia to make this happen, together,” Raman concluded.


Research background for Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific:

The study was conducted in two phases.

  • Phase 1 (Pre-COVID; Dec 2019-Jan 2020): 1,622 business leaders across Asia Pacific, including 108 business leaders in Malaysia
  • Phase 2 (Since COVID-19; July 2020): 1,690 business leaders across Asia Pacific, 115 business leaders in Malaysia
  • Business leaders from organisations with more than 250 staff were polled
  • Each business leaders polled in each phase were from different organisations

Read more about our Culture of Innovation study here.