Every sector is embracing this change, even legal – why?
by Gunapasath Bupalan (an exclusive with MahWengKwai & Associates)
In the last 18 months, businesses around the world have been forced to adapt their business models and adopt the use of digital technology to continue reaching their clients and customers. Organisations that have not been able to evolve quickly enough have found themselves floundering in the post-Covid world – where going digital may make all the difference to whether a business dies, survives or thrives.
According to Mei Lum, who is the co-founder and principal consultant of MWKA Technologies, many business owners fail to understand that digital transformation is a “people-centric” process optimisation opportunity, and not merely an upgrading of IT systems.
“Understanding this correctly is the first step towards a healthy digitalisation process – one that is necessary in keeping businesses afloat amidst the pandemic, and help them thrive in the long run,” she says.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, business models and processes of larger companies and small-medium enterprises (SME) alike may continue to change to include automation and flexible working arrangements. Many businesses from various sectors might have the intention to digitalise but lack the know-how on the necessary steps of digitisation, or the ability to manage the change management process, or fear that they may not be able to afford such a transformation.
“I truly believe that every business and every industry, no matter how archaic or traditional they may appear at first blush, can embrace a digital transformation and experience significant growth from the success that comes with it. Whilst a clear vision of what the transformation should achieve is paramount, the hardest step may be to accept that change – and getting the right support, buy-in and collaboration is essential,” explains Mei, who is also an FCCA & SAFe Program Consultant.
The legal industry has had to embrace this change as well.
Raymond Mah, Managing Partner of MahWengKwai & Associates, says his law firm began its digital transformation journey to be more client-centric almost 10 years ago.
“Our digital transformation involved developing the legal services needed to support the implementation of new technologies by clients. Data privacy and cybersecurity are issues that all businesses undergoing a digital transformation need to address, both in terms of technology as well as from a legal perspective. While it may not be impossible to completely eliminate the risk of data breaches or cyber-attacks, or even changes in government regulation, it is important to seek advice on how to prudently identify, manage and mitigate legal risks,” Raymond says.
He adds that the process also involved adopting cutting-edge software as a service (SaaS) solutions and moving away from the traditional desktop based computing that had been the mainstay of lawyers for so many years. Today, all of his team members, including clerks, use laptops for complete mobility.
“Our successful digitalisation had more to do with developing a team with an agile mindset and new skills than just new hardware or data-driven insights. Our agile coach and CTO from MWKA Technologies has been instrumental in charting our cohesive tech strategy and working with our people to constantly challenge themselves to find innovative ways of doing things better.
“In order to meet our objective of providing clients with quality legal services in a manner that is both consistent and reliable, we identified the need to have in place technology that allowed us to work securely, collaboratively and remotely when necessary,” Raymond explains.
MWKA Technologies is the technology research and development arm of MahWengKwai & Associates.
According to leading global market research firm, Forrester, Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation initiatives in some 34% of firms (across various key industries and sectors) in Malaysia. Interestingly, of those currently driving a transformation effort, more than half say that they have increased their spending on digital transformation in 2020 – despite the economic crisis.
The financial services, retail industries, and even healthcare, have had to adopt digitisation and digital transformation for the betterment of their customers, clients, responders and employees.
Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the recent comment from the Director-General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, on the need of transforming the current healthcare system from one of complexity to one of high impact, along with reasonable cost and excellent outcomes, is timely and significant. This transformation is vital to support Malaysia’s transition towards Malaysia 5.0, a vision propounded by Datuk Dr Rais Hussin, Chairman of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) – by introducing and applying the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that incorporate both the physical and digital worlds.
But what does digital transformation mean for employees and the workforce?
Employment lawyer, Diana Cheak, says business owners should not use digital technology as an excuse to automatically ‘validate’ the reduction of headcount.
“To a certain extent, digitalisation and automation may inevitably result in redundancy, causing employers to retrench their employees, but retrenchment should always be the last option. Other less invasive cost cutting measures should be considered first.
“For instance, employers may consider engaging their employees in upskilling and reskilling courses to unlock or develop new talents and skills. Upskilling and reskilling may create new business opportunities for employers, retain specialist knowledge, whilst helping employees stay employed through these trying times. When retrenchment is unavoidable, employers should comply with the rules and requirements applicable to a lawful retrenchment exercise. Any flaws in the retrenchment process may result in an unfair dismissal suit being initiated by the employee against the company,” says Diana, who is a Senior Associate of MahWengKwai & Associates.
If you would like to understand better on how to remove unnecessary friction in your digital transformation journey, please visit MWKA Technologies, or if you need assistance in managing employment matters, please visit MahWengKwai & Associates.