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Malaysia makes good progress in building analytics talent

The country’s talent development and funding schemes have brought the benefits of big data to many organisations, but the quality and volume of its analytics talent can be improved

Malaysia has made good progress in building up its big data analytics talent pool, but more can be done to improve the volume and quality of its talent, according to a new report by IDC.

In its Demand and talent review 2018, IDC lauded Malaysian-driven initiatives such as the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange (Adax), a regional platform that brings together talent and development models and showcases the latest analytics technologies.

Since its inception in 2017, Adax has helped to train 1,800 people from 298 companies across 19 industries as data practitioners, data managers and data leaders. Malaysia has set a goal of nurturing 20,000 data professionals by 2020.

IDC also singled out Malaysia’s Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), which has evolved to becoming a one-stop centre for small and medium-sized enterprises to build up their big data analytics capabilities.

According to HRDF, Malaysia’s workforce is 15 million strong, but less than 30% of employees have adequate access to the training needed to upskill and reskill for the changing nature of work. Also, about 70% of Malaysian workers are currently not covered by any structured training programmes.

Training an extra percentage point of a company’s workforce translates through to a one percentage point increase in productivity among Malaysian companies. In fact, HRDF-registered firms show a 3% increase in productivity, according to HRDF analysis.

“With the initiatives currently in progress, many organisations, both on the demand and supply sides of the big data analytics and AI [artificial intelligence] ecosystems have benefited in terms of investment, talent, advice and funding,” said IDC.

To close its talent gap further, Malaysia could follow the example of strategies employed by countries such as China and India, said IDC.

“China, in particular, was seen to be on ambitious talent programmes designed to bring in a massive number of fresh graduates trained in technical areas of data science roles,” it said, adding that Malaysia could consider similar programmes, although not necessarily on the same scale.

Read more about IT in Malaysia

  • Malaysia’s digital economy is set to contribute 20% of the country’s GDP by 2020, up from 18.2% in 2016.
  • The personal data of more than 46 million mobile phone users in Malaysia was reportedly leaked online in possibly the biggest data breach in the Southeast Asian country.
  • Alibaba Cloud has teamed up with Malaysia’s government to roll out an AI platform aimed at easing Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic congestion.
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India, too, has embarked on similar initiatives and Nasscom, the country’s national IT trade body, has proposed that engineering institutes include big data and data analytics in their courses.

But with more employers looking beyond just technical skills, IDC said any review of existing academic curricula in tertiary institutions should include not only industry-specific expertise, but also business skills such as consulting.

“This will help bring the courses and modules into line with the demand from industry sectors and will also motivate students to take up similar courses in higher volume,” it said.

According to IDC, global spending on big data analytics and cognitive and AI systems was estimated at $159bn in 2017. This is expected to increase global GDP by up to 14% by 2030 because of the accelerating development and take-up of AI, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report revealed.

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