Highlights from PwC's Data.AI 2024

pwc malaysia data ai banner
  • Event
  • 5 minute read
  • Monday, February 26, 2024

In recent years, Malaysia has witnessed a significant surge in the adoption of data-driven technologies. And among the discussions surrounding data, three megatrends have emerged as a focal point of discussion across industries nationwide:

  • the ESG agenda powered by data and technology

  • AI-driven innovation for competitive advantage

  • building a network of data ecosystem

These trends underscore data’s role as a strategic asset. Against this backdrop, PwC Malaysia hosted the ‘Data.AI 2024’ event on 26 February. Supported by AWS and EDM Council, it brought together industry leaders and subject matter experts to share insights on current data trends, including the rise of generative AI (GenAI), data management ecosystem and strategies for advancing the ESG agenda through data-driven approaches. 

data ai speaker

(Speaker line-up, from left: Yap Sau Shiung, PwC Malaysia; David Chew, EDM Council; Elaine Ng, PwC Malaysia’s Risk Services Leader; William Heng, UOB Malaysia; Glen Cha, AEON Bank Malaysia; Sundara Raj, PwC Malaysia; Wong Chiun Chiek, Bursa Malaysia; Fadrizul Hasani, GXBank; Dr. Daniel Kearney, AWS; Peter Murray, AWS; Ong Khai Chiat, PwC Malaysia; and Norliza Mazni Nawi, PwC Malaysia)

‘There is so much data being generated every day but not much of it is put to use. We should start thinking about how we can use data to improve performance and gain insights. It's a very apt time to have this conversation with all of you: how does data analytics converge into the big topic today that is ESG?’

Sundara Raj, PwC Malaysia's Chief Digital Officer
sundara raj speaking

(Sundara Raj delivering his opening remarks)

Raj also remarked that while training the workforce on new technologies, tools and AI is valuable, it is important not to overlook the broader concept of the digital mindset. This mindset, Raj said, emphasises qualities such as creativity, collaboration and curiosity in leveraging technology and algorithms to solve problems. Otherwise, relying solely on technical skills may risk obsolescence. 

Speaker sessions

The event featured three speaker sessions that addressed key areas of interest for businesses in Malaysia:

  1. GenAI: Delivered by our Head of Digital, Yap Sau Shiung, the session delved into the changing landscape of data adoption in the era of GenAI. He explored the readiness of organisations to embrace this shift and capitalise on the opportunities presented by AI. 

  2. Innovation: William Heng, Senior Vice President, Head of Fintech Ecosystem & Innovation at UOB Malaysia shared insights on FinLab as an accelerator that brings the ecosystem together to co-innovate and catalyse business growth.

  3. ESG: Dr. Daniel Kearney, Head of Technology for ASEAN Strategic Industries of AWS discussed the role of data-driven approaches in achieving the ESG agenda, highlighting the potential of technology to drive positive impact. 

A panel discussion moderated by Ong Khai Chiat, Partner and Data and Analytics & FI Tech Risk Lead at PwC Malaysia, brought together four speakers to share their insights on the transformative potential of technology and data in driving innovation and sustainability in Malaysia’s business landscape. The speakers were: 

  • Fadrizul Hasani, Chief Technology Officer at GXBank

  • Glen Cha, Chief Technology Officer at AEON Bank Malaysia

  • Norliza Mazni Nawi, Consulting Partner and Digital, Cloud and Data Leader at PwC Malaysia

  • Wong Chiun Chiek, Director at Bursa Malaysia

(Panel discussion exploring data-driven strategies to achieve sustainable outcome from innovation, AI and ESG featuring, from left, Wong Chiun Chiek, Glen Cha, Norliza Mazni Nawi, Fadrizul Hasani, and moderator, Ong Khai Chiat)

Key takeaways

When asked about building a robust talent pipeline for data roles in businesses, Norliza Mazni Nawi emphasised the three key success factors — reskill, upskill and upscale.

‘Reskill and upskill are more about acquiring specific data knowledge and skill sets to excel in the current environment and perform better. Upscale is about using the knowledge to do more things efficiently, creatively and innovatively.’

Norliza Mazni Nawi, Consulting Partner and Digital, Cloud and Data Leader at PwC Malaysia

She also said that there is a critical need for balance between human science and robotics competency especially in the age of AI and data. 

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Wong Chiun Chiek highlighted the potential of integrating ESG principles into conventional disciplines such as finance and technology.

‘When you add the ESG lens, it creates a unique opportunity where there is currently a vacuum in the intersection between ESG, digital and finance. Companies and businesses can offer new solutions to help the development of the ecosystem, which is regional and global in nature. That creates opportunities for new ideas and new conversations.’

Wong Chiun Chiek, Director at Bursa Malaysia

‘The event provides an opportunity for all ecosystem players to convene on a unified platform to discuss topics about digitalisation and transformation. As ecosystem enablers, it's imperative that we collaborate, align our efforts, and drive positive change within the industry.

Transformation is a gradual process, and it's crucial that we listen to SMEs, understand their pain points, and engage with them to address their challenges. Walking the talk, we have been fronting this effort through UOB The FinLab’s digital accelerator programme since 2019. We aim to curate tailored solutions that meet the needs of our customers and facilitate transformation within the industry,’ shared William Heng, emphasising the importance of collaboration and customer-centric innovation.

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David Chew, Regional Advocate, Asia Pacific at EDM Council stressed the importance of executive endorsement and support in driving a data programme within an organisation.

‘We advocate a top-down approach for support, endorsement and sponsorship, and a bottom-up approach on educating staff on the basics of data literacy, data stewardship, and data management, and the importance of why we’re doing this.’

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On current and upcoming technologies, Peter Murray, Country General Manager, Malaysia and Asia Emerging Markets, AWS, emphasised the broader discussion surrounding skills development. 

‘When we think about some of the key areas of focus in data and AI, we should not forget the broader discussion around skills investment in developing the next generation of leaders as well as empowering the existing generation of leaders across industries to ensure that they’ve got the digital skills to make the right decisions, push the right agenda forward within their organisation and the broader community.

AWS has trained over 100,000 Malaysians in cloud skills to date. And whilst we're proud of this, it is not enough. And as a community we need to collaborate to do more and leverage existing successful programmes to put training in the hands of builders.’

(Peter Murray sharing the megatrends in data and AI)

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