IBM Malaysia’s Catherine Lian Bullish on Malaysia’s Digital Ambition

After spending six months in her new role as Country Manager for IBM Malaysia, Catherine Lian is all hyped up on ensuring IBM and Malaysia continue to work together towards achieving their digital ambition. Data Storage Asean caught up with Catherine to find out how IBM Malaysia is coping with the demands of technology today.

Since taking over at IBM Malaysia, Catherine has had many conversations with various stakeholders on how IBM can help them in their digital journey.  From government agencies to enterprises to SMEs, Catherine explained that almost everyone is facing the same problems.

“The overall Malaysian landscape shows there is an opportunity for every organisation to grow. But the biggest challenge everyone is facing is having the right skill sets and resources for their digital transformation journey. The change in the mindset of the management as well as if employees can be receptive to be skilled or do organisations need new skilled employees.”

According to a study by IBM Institute of Business Value, about 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies have to be retrained or reskilled in the next three years if organisations want to run intelligent augmentation and AI. Catherine said the gap is really critical.

“It’s a 50-50 gap between skilled employees and employees that need to be skilled. But age is not a factor in this. It all goes down to the technology regardless of the age group. Digital transformation is like a moving vehicle. Every organisation wants to transform, regardless of their age. It all goes down to their mindset and perception towards change.”

Catherine also pointed out that while the journey into the cloud is a complex one, with 98% of organisations planning to adopt a multi-cloud strategy by 2021, only 41% of organisations actually have multi-cloud management strategy but have fewer (38%) have procedures and tools to operate in that environment. Enterprises will continue to spend 20% of all cloud-related spending on managed and professional cloud services throughout 2021.

According to Catherine, Malaysian companies are aware they need to move to cloud. Their initial foray would be focused on renting computing power at scale to drive cost and production efficiency. The balance of the cloud opportunity will focus on shifting the business applications to cloud and optimising everything from supply chain to sales.

“Cloud is about consolidation of technology. When we talk about the next chapter of cloud, we need the address the opportunity and whether the company needs to be able to move and manage data services and workflows across multiple clouds.”

She added that businesses need to be open about cloud technology because it’s about movements of applications and data across.

“If you talk about how ready organisations are about moving to multi-cloud, we need to look at it at a crawl-walk-run strategy. This is because cloud is all about optimisation, management and opportunities. Looking at how supportive agile, build and developments of these organisations is something that is needed to have a clear mindset of the cloud market today.”

Which is why Catherine said organisations will have to look at IBM as a business solution partner. Aside from providing infrastructure and technology platforms, IBM wants to enable businesses to run coax optimisation within their organisation. At the end of the day, technology is about driving cost optimisation, drive higher business outcomes and to ensure to show the relevancy of dynamic business change once the adoption of technology has been done. 

“If you look at the most critical industries, they will see the adoption of cloud more compared to the less critical industry. For example, financial sector services (FSI) and government (agencies) will lead the way for cloud adoption in Malaysia. It is the shift and needs for them to be able to address their consumer needs, increase their revenue stream and to adopt through the technology would be a focus for them to drive cost and production efficiency. Malaysia is very competitive today. In this whole two concepts, FSI and government will lead the way. And they will be followed by Telcos.”

Speaking of telcos, Catherine pointed out IBM is excited and looking forward to the implementation of 5G in Malaysia. In fact, she said IBM aspires to be able to enable and leverage their solutions across the platforms and portfolios to support 5G.

“Cloud, AI, blockchain and IoT will lead the way. We will continue to have the digital transformation strategy to support through the 5G expansion here in Malaysia.”

With that said, we asked Catherine what IBM and RedHat’s plans are moving forward as well.

“Red Hat will be a game-changer for IBM, especially in the cloud market. We have had a lot of meet-ups with the Malaysian Red Hat team. We have built mission-critical apps to run in both public and private clouds including on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud. We will definitely be a game-changer.”

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