Malaysia is Waking-up to New Technologies, creating a Scramble to Recruit the Best Talent
From blockchain and cloud to automation and digital transformation, the IT industry has been the driving force behind a business operation revolution. While Malaysia has historically been reluctant to adopt these technologies, as they become more prominent companies are showing increasing interest.
There are a number of reasons as to why Malaysian companies have in the past been resistant to change, but the most prevalent is that companies have felt it unnecessary to bring in changes that may disrupt business processes and block budgets; why ‘fix the roof while the sun shines?’ Fortunately, this attitude is starting to change. Perhaps the clearest example of this transition is in the adoption of digital transformation, a hot topic in Malaysia over the past 24 months. Beginning with telecom companies, interest – and strategic candidates – migrated to insurance before now arriving at the more traditional oil, gas and manufacturing industries where digitalisation is taking the form of B2C interaction.
Elsewhere companies that have concerns away from digital transformation require candidates in increasingly specific IT fields. There is a high demand for business/consumer facing IT professionals who have deep learning and machine learning skills. Also, UX/UI professionals, particularly front-end developers who have a strong instinct for design, are sought after as attractive interfaces remain a differentiating factor in user acquisition.
In addition, with the fast evolution and adoption of technologies such as Business One and the emergence of the HANA framework, demand for SAP consultants with the core functional module know-how are in demand due to the advantageous costing factor.
Unfortunately, with slow adoption of new technologies, these are all specialisms for which the candidate field is short, something that is proving frustrating for organisations that expect to recruit individuals who are ready to hit the ground running.
Malaysia’s fast-growing IT/Tech market is continuing to face talent attraction and retention challenges due to shortages and high staff turnover rates. While companies are improving in the simplification and streamlining of recruitment processes, more flexibility needs to be implemented to hire individuals with learning potential rather than purely for their technical skills. Because of the speed at which technology is adopted, companies need the necessary skills immediately, preferring ready-made-talent over development and investment and there is a reluctance to implement upskilling practices; there are huge step changes that are needed in this area.
Due to companies’ unwillingness to develop promising talent, candidates understand the opportunity of possessing in-demand skillsets and are taking it upon themselves to undertake training, and there is a growing trend for online course enrolment. It is these candidates that are proving most popular with companies looking to move into new technologies. IT heads, especially in automation, need someone with a fresh mindset who can come in and prove to stakeholders that the new technology will help the business and save money in the long run. Many of these stakeholders do not understand the advantages of the new technologies, so they need candidates who are able to leverage on their expertise and skills.
This is particularly important in more senior roles, where employees will be required to possess the business acumen to communicate these advantages to stakeholders, but at the same time have the technological skills to relay requirements to the development teams. Candidates with this combined skillset are limited, and they will have multiple offers on hand at any one time, often with the result that companies pay proportionally more than they would like.
However, until organisations take steps to develop the candidate pool by utilising young talent that lacks experience but possess potential, as the desire to implement the new technologies grows, it will continue to be a market that favours jobseekers increasingly aware of their worth.
An overview of what other trends have been observed in Malaysia’s IT sector can be viewed below.
• Malaysia remains an attractive proposition for companies looking to establish local hubs.
• The traditional programming languages and ERP systems such as .NET, PHP and SAP remain very much in the market and will continue to do so for as long as the rest of the industry resists the adoption of new technology.
• Data science candidates need not only have research-level experience but also familiarisation with production-level ML. Solid understanding of programming languages such as R, Python and MALLET is a must.
• They also need to have hands-on experience with tools such as Tensorflow, Dialogflow and have worked on projects with large data sets. Having a profile showcasing technical skills on Kaggle and Github has become mandatory.
• Tech giants such as Microsoft and Alibaba have invested heavily in AI research and are rolling out AI powered products for end customers. This means job opportunities for individuals from a hardcore programming background (R, Python, C++) with an understanding of complex data structures and algorithms.