Digital transformation a must, says expert

Digital transformation a must, says expert

Published on: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By: David Thien

KOTA KINABALU: A hundred participants benefited from the first interactive ‘Leading Digital Transformation’ training programme organised by Kolej Teknikal Yayasan Sabah and Gem Consultancy Sdn Bhd held at the University College Sabah Foundation Building Hall, Monday.

The digital era means more people are connected and being connected to a digital economic lifestyle that’s dependent on the availability of electricity and the Internet access at an optimal speed of data transfer. Hence, the emphasis is on people and connectivity, and that the government should purposefully serve well.

“Most of us don’t think about infrastructure – roadways, waterways, pipelines, cables and buildings – as technology. Yet, these inventions are technologies by most definitions.”

Digital transformative specialist and speaker mentor Tom Bryant (pic) told the audience of his experience with the Kelabit people in Bario, Sarawak where a father told him that his son spent too much time on mobile device connected to the Internet. 

The consultant to the Sarawak government on digital transformation also advises the Sarawak Forestry Department which is now using digital technology like 3D mapping to drones for its management.

Bryant said Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg is a firm believer that the whole world is focused on emerging technologies such as gaming and animation, big data, cloud computing, blockchains, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and renewable energy. He feels Sarawak had to enter without hesitation into the digital world.

The Kelabit are an indigenous Dayak people of the Sarawak/North Kalimantan highlands of Borneo with a minority in the neighbouring state of Brunei. They have close ties to the Lun Bawang.

Bryant told the Kelabit boy that he should spend more time playing football. Instead the boy switched to playing soccer on his cellphone, when what was communicated was for him to play the physical game.

Nevertheless, there is today an opportunity from digital connectivity for such children to enhance their education, not only social media skills, from e-learning to virtual reality interactive class with other learners from other places connected through the Internet.

“Along with the Internet, all forms of infrastructure have a common purpose: Connectivity. 

“Although connectivity is often only associated with the digital world, all infrastructure functions to connect people to information, places, resources and other people.

“Roads, the Internet, power lines and water pipes all connect people to the things they need, mediating distance, creating efficiency and uniting society.”


This was an example of a Sarawak digital native born in the Internet digital age compared to his parents, but some control is needed for a balance lifestyle for digital health, of not being addicted to gaming or entertainment online, but also being physically active with breaks from using digital devices which are best dedicated for educational self-development.

Some of our rural community may be only getting their 24 hours stable electricity supply and internet connectivity recently.
The trend now shows children in rural villages are getting too engrossed with Internet access and not spending playtime outdoors in physical activities.

Bryant called on civil servants in government service not to work in their own silos, but to be transformed with a new digital mindset and culture of working fast, responding to public expectations well and be willing to innovate in a new digital culture of collaboration, and empowering their customers – the people.

This will help Sabah enjoy the advantages of digital transformation for the economy like better competitiveness, improved customer/citizen experience, develop an agile, innovative workforce.

There is a need for a great and speedy internet infrastructure which is a prerequisite for digital skill development and education as well as upgrade education policies aimed at rapidly raising education and skills levels of individuals as recommended by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

WEF stipulate that governments have a responsibility to invest more in infrastructure development and develop more employment opportunities for jobs of the future. At the same time, the private sector is responsible for repositioning their businesses as learning organisations.

There is an unquestioning need for workers to take personal responsibility for their own lifelong learning and career development.

It is also clear that many people need to be supported through a transitional period for them to be retrained by employers and the government for the success of the digital economy.

During the workshop for the ‘Leading Digital Transformation’ event, he got the participants to design their innovation hub on how to help and improve their organisations, and to promote the digital culture, with crowdfunding suggestion tips.

“We realise that one of the biggest stimuli for a digital economy is a digital innovation hub,” Bryant said.

In Sabah, he lived in a tree house and helped a Dragon Pearl Beach Resort at Kampung Mangkabar, Kota Belud to look into their digital business promotion requirement. He even made a video footage on his i-phone for them, as an example of how to shoot a good video. There are good prospects for digital nomad tourists to visit such places in Sabah to boost tourism when most of such tourists throng beaches in Thailand and Indonesia.

“Digital is about people, not technology. It’s about emotional intelligence, not artificial intelligence,” said Bryant.

He was a digital transformative consultant to the governments of the United Kingdom, India and Jersey before his engagement in Sarawak.

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