Technology has greatly influenced the working environment, according to Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of Enterprise Development at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
“Twenty seven years ago, when I started working, we didn’t have the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones – we had them, but they were the big, bulky ones,” he recalls. Work used to cease over the weekend; that is no longer the case. “With the digital platform, collaborative tools, email and so on, you’re working all the time.
While technology has changed the way work is approached, Ganesalingam points out that it has also enabled people to work a lot smarter and more efficiently. “We are working towards immediate outcomes, so there is less delay since everyone’s working all the time. The trick is to find the right work/life balance.”
In this new era, Ganesalingam finds a great deal of excitement in being able to address issues in near-real-time. “You can see and move things; you can gather team members together and inspire them at the same time, which traditionally was very difficult to do.” He sees one of the biggest advantages of modern technology as being the ability to have collaboration – bringing like-minded people on board from all over at the same time – to work towards a common goal.
Towards this end, Ganesalingam highlights MDEC’s role as the champion for the digital economy in Malaysia. “We are both the driver and the catalyst for Malaysia’s digital economy; by and large, MDEC is changing the landscape, as a lot of companies, including brick-and-mortar ones, have moved on to the digital platform.”
MDEC is Malaysia’s lead agency responsible for spearheading the growth of Digital Economy in Malaysia. Its mission is centred on driving investments, building local tech champions, catalysing digital innovation ecosystems and elevating digital inclusivity across the country.
MDEC is also responsible for ensuring that Malaysia plays an integral part in digital innovation around the world, while attracting participation from global ICT companies to invest and develop cutting edge digital and creative solutions in the country. To-date, MDEC has recorded more than RM300 billion in investments since its inception and created close to 160,000 jobs in Malaysia.
Success synonymous with trustworthiness
He has also seen Malaysian businesses developing their own apps to capitalise on the always-connected public to serve their needs directly. “The digital platform allows entrepreneurs to fail fast, and hence move on to the next idea. Progress by trial-and-error is so much easier now, and less costly.”
Ganesalingam acknowledges that this new environment fosters an increase in competition, but he maintains that this is good for the marketplace and individual businesses.
“It’s the competition that will drive you onward and make you stand out; healthy competition is always welcome,” he clarifies. In addition, the digital platform is not restricted to Malaysia; it’s about the global market; hence, scaling up the business is easier.
Success in this area requires leaders who can demonstrate trustworthiness; not only in words but also in the way they display themselves.
“This encourages you to be open and transparent; you have better ideation, team play, and execution. All that leads to a high-performance culture; we at MDEC are well-aware how important such a culture is.” Ganesalingam believes that integrity and trust are of utmost importance for leaders.
As SMEs scale up their businesses, integrity and professionalism is key, Ganesalingam believes. “I know it’s difficult out there in the marketplace, but if businesses can do this, I think it will take them a long way. It may be a longer route for some, but at least you’ll go to bed peacefully.”
Ganesalingam also believes that talent development is a critical component of business expansion. “Things have changed; it’s not about ‘being a boss’ anymore, it’s about being a leader, and a leader is someone who pulls people together and inspires them to grow. When you grow the people, you’ll have the right people on board, and they will grow your business.”