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MDEC to complete National AI Framework by year-end to drive the country’s AI ecosystem


Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn Bhd (MDEC) is expected to complete the development of the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Framework by year-end to drive the country’s AI ecosystem.

MDEC data economy director Dr Karl Ng Kah Hou said the framework development, which began last year, was an expansion of the previous National Big Data Analytics Framework, which was launched in 2015.

“The framework will only be implemented after receiving the approval of the government,” he said on the sidelines of the Microsoft Innovation Summit 2019, here, today.

According to a recent study conducted by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, Malaysia is not ready for AI and needs to focus on all areas, particularly investment and data to accelerate its AI journey.

IDC Asia Pacific Datacentre Group research director Jun Fwu Chin said Malaysia only scored 1.59 for investment readiness and 1.65 for data readiness in the AI Readiness Index.

“Whereas, Asia Pacific’s readiness for investments and data stood at 2.43 and 2.35, respectively, showing that Malaysia is still lagging behind its regional peers,” he said.

The AI Readiness Index ranges from one to four, with a higher score indicating a higher level of readiness for AI adoption.

Commenting on the findings, Ng said MDEC was working with industry players to promote and raise awareness on the need to invest in AI adoption.

He said MDEC had conducted focus group discussions with academia, associations, startups, industry players, as well as government stakeholders before completing the framework.

Themed “Future Ready Business: Assessing Asia Pacific’s Growth Potential Through AI”, the study was conducted from May, last year, to January, surveying 1,605 business decision markets, with 1,585 workers from 15 markets taking part.

The survey showed that only 26 per cent of Malaysian organisations had embarked on the AI journey, and those which had adopted AI are expected to increase their competitiveness by 2.2 times in two years’ time.

However, Microsoft Malaysia managing director K. Raman said the survey showed that 82 per cent of businesses were prioritising skilling and reskilling of workers for the future.

“It is heartening to see them planning to invest as much, or even more in human capital than in new technology,” he said.

Even so, Raman said the study showed that 72 per cent of business leaders had yet to implement plans to help their employees acquire the skills.

“This is worrying in today’s context, as they must have the urgency to support the fundamental shift in training workers for the future,” he added.

The top three challenges of AI adoption in Malaysia are dearth of thought leadership and leadership to invest in AI; lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programmes; and inadequate advanced analytics or infrastructure and tools to develop actionable insights.