Innovate, Connect, Cultivate

The Cloud Cultures series is an exploration of the intersection between cloud innovation and culture across the globe. 

Malaysia accelerates growth through digital transformation

Amidst the swiftly changing digital landscape, Malaysia stands out as a dynamic force capturing global attention. This nation—enriched by its diverse population comprised of Malays, Indians, Chinese, and more—is home to people and companies that have adeptly embraced innovative technologies, ensuring the benefits extend to all, not just the tech-savvy elite.

Malaysia has established a culture of digital acceleration through industries like energy, farming, and education by striking a balance between growth and the needs of their people. During my travels, I learned how they’ve embraced cloud innovation in a way that allows them to navigate the modern world with confidence and ensure that everyone is along for the ride.

Before setting out to meet with local companies, I joined General Manager of Energy and Utilities for Microsoft Malaysia, Shereeta (full name: Datin Sharifah Shereeta Syed Sheh), for a traditional Malaysian breakfast at her favorite restaurant. We sat down to talk about our upcoming interviews over nasi lemak—a delicious combination of fried anchovies, fish, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, and sambal on fragrant coconut rice, alongside pancakes, coconut grits, and colorful baked treats. Delighted by the food and excited for the day, we parted ways after breakfast. Shereeta headed out to a local chicken farm while I ventured further into the city.

PETRONAS is building a more sustainable world

I began my visit in the heart of Kuala Lumpur at the Golden Triangle, a hub for shopping, commerce, and entertainment. Standing 88-stories tall with a 17-acre park at its base, the PETRONAS Twin Towers are a wonder to behold. The skyscrapers are complete with malls, museums, a philharmonic orchestra, and a skybridge with views of the vibrant city. This is where I met Phuah Aik-Chong, CEO of Petronas Digital, to learn how PETRONAS utilizes the cloud to accelerate digital transformation.

PETRONAS is a dynamic global energy group with presence in over 100 countries. They produce and deliver energy and solutions that power society’s progress, enriching lives for a sustainable future. PETRONAS’ commitment to sustainability starts at the core of their operations and extends throughout their value chain. People are their strength and partners for growth, driving innovation to deliver a unique spectrum of solutions. PETRONAS’ commitment to Malaysia’s progress doesn’t stop at providing oil and gas—they make a concerted effort to provide development opportunities to underserved populations. One such initiative is the BeDigital Bootcamp, which involves upskilling students from various universities in Malaysia. Partnering with Microsoft, they have collaborated on multiple initiatives that reflect the mutual goal of empowering Malaysians to benefit in tandem with the rapid pace of innovation and digital advancements.

Chop Cheong Bee uses e-farming to feed Malaysia

While I stayed in the city, Shereeta took a break from the bustling metropolis and turned down a quiet dirt road. There, she learned about a local company that helps independent chicken farmers use cloud technology to turn their operations into smart farms—improving food security across Malaysia with affordable, high-quality chicken.

Founded in 1985, Chop Cheong Bee began as a poultry trading company, supplying chicken to local markets and establishments in Malaysia. After a brief period of time, they had to close due to an overwhelming number of manual tasks. However, in the late 2000s, they reopened focusing on technology and e-farming practices.

Cloud technology enables Chop Cheong Bee to create environments where chickens can thrive, utilizing a closed and climate-controlled farming system. The solution they developed collects data to inform how much feed is being consumed and the meat conversion ratios, all in real time. Today, Chop Cheong Bee is a crucial poultry supplier that facilitates a sizable portion of the chicken supply in Malaysia.

General Manager of Chop Cheong Bee, Datuk Jeffrey Ng Choon Ngee shared how e-farming is the future:

“With our solution, we can improve the broiler production index by 20 to 30 points. That’s easily a 10 percent improvement. If more farms can achieve this, then the cost of production will drop. And then hopefully, more Malaysians can afford quality poultry.”

Chop Cheong Bee built a system that can produce about 280 to 340 million chickens annually and supply 80 to 100 customers daily. This new way of farming not only provides millions of people with affordable and nutritious meat, but has also attracted a younger, more technology-focused generation of farmers to this vital industry.

Bersama Malaysia ensures citizens are part of the country’s digital acceleration

My final stop in Malaysia was a basketball court to shoot hoops with a recent graduate, Vaashini Palaniappan, who took part in the Bersama Malaysia (Together with Malaysia) program. Alongside sponsors like the Ministry of Education and Microsoft, the initiative teaches students digital skilling, inspiring young students, and women to dream outside the norm and build careers in tech.

Vaashini Palaniappan, data scientist and recent graduate, shared her future aspirations:

“There are so many women in this data and AI field that want to invent something, that want a brighter future. Because of this, I’m inspired to do something different. I want to be inventive using AI.”

Growing up in a small town, Vaashini didn’t have a lot of exposure to technology. But by participating in university programs, she was able to study sciences, learn technical skills, and understand the impact of advanced technologies on medicine. After seeing a close friend pass from cancer, Vaashini said she was determined to become a doctor and leverage innovative technology for good—specifically, to use AI to detect early signs of cancer and build a hyper-personalized treatment plan for patients.

Bersama Malaysia, along with Microsoft’s Code with Barriers program, were created to ensure citizens of Malaysia are a part of the digital acceleration of the country. These programs are empowering Malaysia’s inclusive digital economy and advancing the nation’s digital transformation across the private and public sectors. Malaysia has consistently been a trailblazer in fostering opportunities for its citizens. Through initiatives like Bersama Malaysia, the nation ensures that no one is left behind in the dynamic landscape of transformation.

Innovating together makes change happen

Later that evening, Shereeta and I discussed our journey over my first experience with a popular local fruit: the durian. After getting used to the infamous smell, I snacked on the custard-like meat and reflected on Malaysia’s inspiring commitment to extending growth far beyond the gleaming skyscrapers and urban epicenters. This version of cloud culture ensures that as the pace of progress quickens, it doesn’t come at the cost of anyone being sidelined. As is often the case, I saw in Malaysia that the best way to accelerate growth isn’t racing ahead; it’s moving forward together.

In this ever-changing world, there is always more to experience. See you on my next adventure!

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