As Malaysia moves steadfast towards a digitally-enhanced economy - with data at the centre - Dell Technologies is positioning the channel to take advantage.
The increased partner focus comes in response to the introduction of new government initiatives during Budget 2020, designed to boost the capabilities of local companies and accelerate digital transformation efforts.
For example, 100 Go Digital was rolled out to enable traditional Malaysian businesses in key sectors to move towards digitalisation, in addition to improving levels of efficiency and customer experience.
“In today’s technology-driven landscape, data has become the lifeblood of organisations,” observed KT Ong, country manager of Malaysia at Dell Technologies. “Every organisation has realised that to gain an advantage, they must become digital, powered by data and running in a multi-cloud world.
“Business leaders will be expected to leverage data to their advantage, but they may struggle with having the right expertise or personnel to do it."
As local businesses embrace the next data decade, Ong expects that customers will not only seek creative technology solutions but also “trusted partners to define and deliver” on the potential of digital transformation, placing the channel at the centre of such change.
“The Malaysian market remains strong despite some challenges and recent political uncertainty,” added Mark Iles, executive analyst at Tech Research Asia.
With a population exceeding 30 million, and GDP (gross domestic product) edging towards five per cent, Iles said Malaysia currently operates as “one of the stronger economies” in ASEAN.
“Key markets include manufacturing and now stability is returning we should also see government start to spend again which will provide good opportunities for partners focused on the public sector,” he said. “Other growth sectors include retail, where the focus is on improving customer experience to compete with e-commerce providers.
“This is alongside growth in financial services and insurance which is focusing on cashless payments and telecommunications as they prime up for 5G and associated services.”
According to Channel Asia findings - delivered in conjunction with Tech Research Asia - digital transformation ranks as the leading priority for enterprise customers in Malaysia during 2020, ahead of security and customer experience.
This is followed by managed services, big data and analytics and modernising business applications, in addition to new business applications, application integration and end-user computing.
"Public cloud migration wasn’t in the top 10 customer priorities, which is interesting," Iles assessed. "This is partly driven by the lack of hyper-scale infrastructure in Malaysia but still means there are plenty of other profitable opportunities for Malaysian partners to go after.
“Malaysian enterprise businesses are in between; not as much legacy as the West but not as nascent as other Southeast Asia countries, hence hybrid is the play for partners to operate in. Many companies are looking at how they can divide workloads which need public cloud power but keep critical apps and data in-house, due to data residency rules."
Transformation in action
Delving deeper, and in citing the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index, Ong said barriers to digital transformation include regulation and legislative changes, as well as data privacy and security concerns.
Half of business leaders in Malaysia believe their organisation will struggle to prove that it is trustworthy within the next five years, while 31 per cent do not trust their own company to comply with regulations such as GDPR. Meanwhile, 38 per cent do not trust their own organisation to protect employee or customer data.
Speaking during Channel Asia Evolve in Kuala Lumpur - hosting the leading Malaysian channel partners of Dell Technologies - Ong said another key challenge that customers in Malaysia are facing centres around the "lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise".
However, the industry leader did acknowledge that 56 per cent of those surveyed in Malaysia said they are developing in-house digital skills and talent, which includes teaching all employees how to code.
"As we move into 2020, businesses will be looking to channel partners more than ever as a trusted advisor,” added Ong, in a direct call to action for the local channel. "Customers will need a partner to help them address challenges around increasing complexities across their operating environments and infrastructure, including data proliferation, multi-cloud management and security.
“IT service providers in Malaysia need to shift their mindsets and think of themselves as trusted advisors to the business - able to meet the needs of their customers while offering specific and measurable outcomes."
As line of business (LOB) leaders gain more control of the technology buying process - evident through increased research and purchasing directly from vendors of choice - Ong said partners must evolve business-to-business marketing and sales processes to provide "agility, value and innovation".
“This has created the opportunity for strategic alliances between partners with distinct, yet complementary skill sets to enhance and differentiate their combined offerings,” Ong explained. "It is almost impossible for one partner to operate entirely self-sufficiently from the channel network as customers increasingly seek new levels of specialisations, yet at the same time demand one-stop shops.
“Successful partnerships will strengthen the overall value proposition and allow greater technical expertise to reverberate through the entire ecosystem."
Channel Asia Evolve in Malaysia was in association with Dell Technologies.