As digital fluency allows organizations to leverage smart technology to solve increasingly complex challenges, a gap has grown between innovation and having the right people to drive it. Undoubtedly, it is not easy to align digital tools and human resources when technology is advancing so rapidly, creating a disparity that prevails at all levels of the workforce and in virtually all technology functions. .
From junior staff to experts, finding the right people, with the right skills at the right time, is a huge challenge. With a limited pool, competitors are scrambling to recruit qualified and experienced talent, disrupting operations and hampering progress.
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, Tengku Intan Narqiah Tengku Othman, Chief Digital and Information Officer, Group Digitalization and IT, Sirim Berhad, Malaysia, shared his insights on countries struggling to have the right technology and talent in an increasingly digital landscape.
Build a digital talent strategy
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses across Malaysia have had to deal with the economic consequences of physical separation and lockdown measures. But, if there’s one key takeaway, it’s that adopting digital technology is no longer optional for businesses.
Due to the multitude of restrictions and challenges it has brought, the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of front-end business processes such as digital marketing and e-commerce.
“I don’t see technology adoption as a one-time project or if there’s a before, during and after the pandemic. Throughout my career, whether in a multinational company or in government, we have always been involved in the adoption of technologies. If there is a development in business, and there is business, I have not yet found the end point,” Tengku Intan insists.
For digital transformation to happen, people need to learn how to use new technologies and the workforce needs to be encouraged to use their skills to do new things. They have to think digitally and they also need skills.
According to her, employees who learn to think like digital natives perform better at their jobs, are happier at work and have a better chance of being promoted.
According to Tengku Intan, to attract, retain and develop digital talents in different industries, the private or public sectors must meet the ambition of employees and provide them with technical challenges. Second, employers need to understand the unique talents of their employees and create avenues where they can unlock their potential. Third, if employers cannot match competitive compensation, they must find ways to reward and motivate employees in other ways.
“I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all formula because the culture varied from organization to organization, and it’s a journey where you can’t see the results immediately. But to foster a technology-driven culture and a digital mindset, it has to come from the top,” Tengku Intan firmly believes.
The digital mindset in different industries
A digital mindset is a set of attitudes and behaviors that help people and organizations see how data, algorithms and AI unlock new opportunities and find ways to succeed in a business world. where smart, data-intensive technologies are becoming increasingly important.
According to her, having a pessimistic mindset is the biggest challenge in developing employees and transmitting digital literacy in the public sector. “I can’t improve the skills of a person who can come up with a million reasons not to. But to be fair, I can’t ask a fish to fly. As a leader, I really need to understand the talent of team members and hone them appropriately, and not make them blindly obey orders. »
Digital transitions are often significant, involving changes in shared values, traditions, attitudes and behaviors. Starting with an activity that captures attention and communicates to everyone in the company that a new path is needed is a smart approach.
Tengku Intan says technologies such as cloud computing and robotic process automation (RPA) were created to improve business processes rather than reduce human involvement or threat.
“For example, the implementation of cloud computing at SIRIM. The fact that we’re still keeping the current team and retraining them to learn cloud management, instead of setting up a physical server, shows that we still need staff. But technology allows us to significantly improve business processes, where we no longer needed 8 weeks to set up a server, but 15 minutes,” says Tengku Intan.
She recognizes that knowing how to work effectively not only with people but also with machines is an important part of collaboration in the digital age. Embracing change is the final requirement for developing a digital mindset.
SIRIM towards a new standard
SIRIM Berhad, is a Malaysian state-owned company, an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). It is designated as the research and technology development mechanism, as well as the national quality champion with more than four decades of experience and knowledge.
SIRIM has always played a vital role in the growth of the Malaysian private sector. Using his skills and knowledge base, he focuses on developing new technologies and improving the manufacturing, technology and service industries.
The organization promotes the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.
“I like the fact that with today’s readily available technology, we can democratize the work of application development, data visualization and analysis,” Tengku Intan points out.
To foster a digital mindset, SIRIM launched a hackathon – SIRIM Hack – where non-IT employees learned how to develop simple applications or automate their paper forms in 2 days. It was exciting to see some attendees developing much better automation than people on an actual IT team.
SIRIM is the best partner for innovation because of its unique advantages in research and technological innovation, industry standards and quality. They have enabled Malaysian products and services to gain international recognition for their quality and innovation.
Point of view: the working mother
Tengku Intan wants to share with the younger generation the lessons learned from his 27-year career in a variety of IT/digital and business fields. “I have only one mantra – Always hack yourself!”
She emphasizes that people need to keep pushing themselves because only they know what motivates them. In a work environment, the younger generation must learn to:
- be a very efficient and successful person
- be a leader and
- get their organization always in a “healthier” state.
Male-dominated industries and professions are particularly likely to reinforce harmful stereotypes and create unfavorable environments that make it even more difficult for women to succeed. Despite other challenges, Tengku Intan made it to the top. “For me, so far, I have not experienced any gender discrimination to be where I am today. I have worked as hard and as fast as men. My passion resonates with the energy that is is unobstructed and I am continually learning.
Tengku Intan, however, observes some inequalities, including stereotyping female leaders as emotional leaders as opposed to male leaders. These “emotional leaders” have become empathetic leaders. “And it’s true, you can’t be an empathetic leader if you don’t have a lot of emotions for your people.”
Many ask Tengku Intan what her secret is to successfully balancing being a wife and mother of four in a world where technology permeates almost every aspect of people’s lives. She smiled and said, “I have a very supportive and understanding husband. We share and we can talk about everything.
She agrees that is not the case for many Malaysian working mothers, but she reminds them that it’s okay if they haven’t excelled in their careers. if they want to commit to being full-time mothers, they have to.
“I’ve seen many women in tech choose not to move up the corporate ladder, but her dedication and commitment to the job is second to none. They’re happy to continue where they are. And I believe that they are more successful than me,” Tengku Intan happily recalls.
She is optimistic about Malaysia’s future and is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring quality and equality in Malaysia’s digital journey.