Corporations are in a digital arms race; it is just that many do not realise it. A new breed of mercenaries is looking to exploit gaps in cybersecurity and digital frameworks. This coupled with weaponised communications designed to bring companies to their knees, organisations now need leaders who understand the new rapidly evolving strategic landscape and its impact on digital resilience.
Critical questions discussed during the event that enabled better-informed decisions are:
- How to cascade effective strategy and policy into actionable projects that drive digital resilience.
- The interconnectedness of strategy and policy, and how to tackle the gaps in organisations or frameworks that could lead to a crisis.
- How to recover from a crisis that plays out in the media or social media.
- Addressing the opportunity cost of inaction or lack of investment into digital infrastructure.
- Addressing the vulnerability of critical digital infrastructure, especially in a post-COVID-19 era.
The Malaysia Global Business Forum (MGBF)’s exclusive roundtable on ‘Digital Resilience in the Corporate Sector’ was held in a hybrid setting on 29 March 2022 at the Element by Westin Kuala Lumpur. In attendance as guest of honour was YB Datuk Zahidi Bin Zainul Abidin, Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia.
The discussion focused on addressing digital resilience in the corporate sector and how business leaders can mitigate the threats that could lead to a crisis. Speakers at the event also include Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC), Iskandar Ismail; Chief Executive Officer of Big Dataworks Sdn Bhd., Sheriza Zakaria; Chief Executive Officer of The Center of Applied Data Science (The CADS), Sharala Axryd; Director of International Business Development for Perfios Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Nantha Subramanian; Chief Executive Officer of Matryzel Consulting Inc., Bobby Varanasi; Founder and Director of SoCo and World Wonderers (WoW), Dr Sophie Lemière; Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham Malaysia, Dr Julia Roknifard; Co-Chairman of Malaysia Global Business Forum and Executive Director of Tindakan Strategi Sdn Bhd, Rizal Kamaruzzaman; and Chief Executive Officer of Novem CS Sdn Bhd., Murugason R. Thangaratnam. The panel session was moderated by Editor-at-Large for News Hub Asia, Ruzanna Muhammad.
This impactful event was the second in Malaysia Global Business Forum’s 2022 series of exclusive roundtables on “The Evolving Threat Matrix of the Digital Economy”. The series will confront critical questions impacting the future of business in the rapidly digitising world.
Issues highlighted during the discussion were:
i) A lack of digital resilience in the corporate sector leads to reputational physical and financial losses. Public listed companies are particularly vulnerable but do not fully understand the evolving threat matrix. Small and Medium Enterprises are also increasingly facing cyber threats and potential devastating effects.
ii) Government policy-makers require continuous education and awareness of cyber threats and issues to be able to formulate effective policies that will make Malaysia a more business-friendly ecosystem.
iii) A gap analysis on digital resilience is required at all levels as a first step in protecting local and foreign investors.
iv) Digital resilience and data literacy is an issue that needs to be inculcated from early-stage education onwards.
v) Communicators in government and corporate sectors need to be aware of cyber threats and digital deficiencies to be able to effectively communicate in times of crisis.
vi) The media needs to be both aware and educated of digital economy issues especially cyber threats to be able to communicate in times of crisis and not to be accused of propagating fake news.
vii) Various ministries and agencies have to step up efforts to embed digitalisation in their agenda. More resources are needed for the nation to keep up with the pace of change, especially in technological advancement, labour market requirements, business model innovation and changing public expectations. This includes understanding regional and global realities to ensure Malaysia remains competitive in this context.
viii) The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the rapid advancement of disruptive technologies including digital technology have shown the potential to significantly transform the economic landscape around the world. If the government and corporate sector do not embrace digitalisation, Malaysia will lose out in the increasingly competitive global economy.
The outcome of the discussion highlighted several recommendations and critical success factors:
i) To develop policies that allow the corporate sector, Malaysia to invest in digital resilience and embrace the opportunities of rapid digitalisation that has and will continue to improve the nation’s resilience in post-COVID-19 endemic phase.
ii) To continue to invest in human capital development but with a focus on threat mitigation and becoming digital and cyber resilient in the cyber-media dynamic.
iii) Strengthening and nurturing skilled human capital is essential in the digital economy ensuring that every individual has a responsibility to themselves to be digitally resilient by arming themselves with the right skill sets and continuously upskilling whenever possible.
iv) The media council remains an important cog in the clockwork of any future-facing digital and cyber resilience and as such should be empowered to deal with this issue and opportunities.
v) To educate the public, particularly internet users need to be wary of various cyber security incidents via various initiatives and programme.
vi) To prepare children to be data literate at the school age. Data is the new currency, data is the new oil and if abused, data can also be weaponised. Knowing and understanding data is crucial.
vi. To lay the groundwork for the country’s transformation into an advanced digital economy. The construction and protection of advanced digital infrastructure that will facilitate innovation, and establishing an ecosystem is a minimum baseline requirement.
vii. The government has a responsibility to encourage digital adoption and should play a key role in driving and adopting emerging technologies. This should include a specific emphasis on SMEs and GLCs as the twin drivers of the future-facing economy.
viii. For the government to continue to establish regulatory frameworks and issue guidelines for the digital economy and at the same time carry out a detailed market review next year on the digital economy. At the same time work with regional partners especially in ASEAN and FTA trading partners to ensure that digital frameworks are aligned.
ix. To adopt more innovative, aggressive, proactive and adaptive approach to stay ahead of cyber threats and efforts are internationally benchmarked and part of an ease of doing business calculation.
x. Develop communications strategies that position the developments in digital resilience, including cyber resilience as a key selling point for international investors looking to have secured and productive supply chain components located in Malaysia.
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