Insights from Top GLCs CIOs

  • Source: Article
  • Article Date: 29/3/2018


Given their extremely demanding schedules, it's rare to be able to get the country's top government-linked company (GLC) Chief Information Officers (CIOs) together but this was made possible recently through PETRONAS ICT's CIO GLC Networking Breakfast.

Aimed at fostering collaboration and sharing of information amongst leaders, the informal gathering was hosted by PETRONAS Group CIO Redza Goh.

Guests for the morning included PETRONAS Chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan and 15 CIOs from leading GLCs such as TNB, TM, Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia Airports, Proton, CIMB, Maybank, Sime Darby, UEM, FGV, MAMPU and more. Following the breakfast session, the CIOs were invited to a special tour of PETRONAS Digital Collaboration Centre.


Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, we interviewed four leading CIOs across the aviation, utility, government and financial services sectors.

We wanted to find out their challenges, views on the evolving roles of CIOs and the impact of new technology. Here’s what they said:

1. Challenging aspects in your industry from an ICT standpoint

Tan Kok Meng, CIO Malaysia Airlines


The airline industry is a highly complex business. Its operations are interlinked with very volatile cost and price sensitivities. Customers are digitally connected with many choices at their fingertips and loyalty can swing within seconds. Thus, the management and optimisation of all these variables rely heavily on responsive and resilient integrated systems with real-time data analytics. To support the shift, we have refreshed all our technologies with cloud and software services with mobility, focusing our investment on digital transformation and innovation.

Tuan Haji Fazil Ibrahim, CIO TNB


​The Electric Utility business is changing fast with pressures on business growth and spending as well as shift in energy demand, whereby consumers are now becoming prosumers. We at the ICT Division pride ourselves as a key force in enabling and helping to shape change in the energy industry and are working towards building digital capabilities that can help us. Evaluating gaps in our digital capabilities is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. We work with each business unit very closely to help them identify required capabilities to make them faster, better and more effective in meeting customers' growing expectations.

Dr. Suhazimah Dzazali, Deputy Director General (ICT), Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU)


The most challenging aspect of the government is in aligning the citizens’ demands with the way government machinery works. The technological breakthrough in terms of connectivity, mobility and intelligence features have influenced our daily lifestyle and expectations on government services. Thus, MAMPU has embarked on the citizen-centric initiative called Government Online Services Gateway (GOSG) addressing end-to-end citizen-centric online services and contributing to the economic growth. Meanwhile, the Government Data Exchange (myGDX) initiative is the data exchange hub that is a catalyst for promoting data sharing among government agencies and facilitating the citizen-centric online services to the citizens. Another challenge is skill shortages in Gover​nment to address the complexities of data analytics, cyber security, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Working as a team, MAMPU needs to identify the skills gaps and builds the expertise needed. So it is important for the team to recognise the existing deficiencies, in order to build a competent pool of talents as best they can, because no one can be an expert in everything. Professionals need to be trained and retrained in their jobs.

Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh Abdullah, Group Chief Technology Officer, Maybank


The most challenging, and also the most interesting aspect is the “Digital First, Digital Now” trend that is across all industries. Especially so in more established brick and mortars like a bank. As you can imagine, managing systems ranging from 30 year old technologies to near bleeding edge innovations and making it all coherent to one another is a tough juggling feat. We acknowledge the different pace and needs from both ends of the spectrum. Therefore, I believe, what is important is flexibility, in processes and in execution without compromising standards and security.

2. The evolving role of a CIO

Tan Kok Meng, CIO Malaysia Airlines

The role of the CIO, since the early stages, has evolved the "I" role from "Infrastructure" to "Information" Systems, and more recently focused on Business/Artificial "Intelligence" while now moving into Digital "Innovation" and Customer "Insight/Inspiration". Potentially, CIOs with the right business focus and acumen could progress into key Digital or Innovation business roles. In the longer term where businesses are highly digital, some of the future CEOs might come from CIO/CDO.


​Tuan Haji Fazil Ibrahim, CIO TNB

In my view, CIOs must align themselves to be "Valu​e Creators" and "Trusted Allies" of the business while being an integral component of the company. Many CIOs have emerged to hold critical executive positions in organisations with big responsibilities to shape organisational business direction and to formulate relevant digital strategies.

Dr. Suhazimah Dzazali, Deputy Director General (ICT), Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU)

In my opinion, the CIO’s role is changing from delivery executive to business executive which is from controlling costs and streamlining processes, to exploiting data and driving value for money. The CIO is expected to focus on digitalisation effort in pervasive manner especially in the current 4th Industrial Revolution era where ICT is leveraged to help develop digital services.

Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh Abdullah, Group Chief Technology Officer, Maybank

The traditional CIO focuses on operations and efficiencies. Now it has evolved to include innovation, that does not necessarily have the track record nor best practices yet for system stability. Yet, we must allow for such innovations to have a quicker time to market to capture the volumes and retain stickiness from customers. As such, this understanding and adoption of innovation is no longer a trend, but fast becoming a core competency for CIOs. This definitely will continue to evolve. It is actually no different from the past where CIOs pace themselves to adopt newer technologies. However, current technologies have gained momentum and is changing at a faster speed, forcing the CIOs to evolve faster too.


​3. New technology that will have the biggest impact on your sector

Tan Kok Meng, CIO Malaysia Airlines

Due to the highly consumer sensitive nature of the airline business, new technologies that can have a direct impact on customer engagement/experience and deep customer insight/personalisation will be most impactful​​ to our business. Thus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IOT) will be key for us to attract/retain customers, increase value and differentiate to win. Aircraft technology development is equally critical as it has most intensive IOTs embedded, and generate voluminous data for real-time monitoring, analytics and decision making. It can enhance safety and comfort while minimising disruption or delay.

Tuan Haji Fazil Ibrahim, CIO TNB

Advanced technologies such as cloud computing, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotic process automation, drones, big data analytics, mobility, IOT, cyber security, block chain for energy trading, AI and machine learning are required to enhance efficiency and profitability of an electric utility company like us.

Anticipating threats to our value chain impacts Tenaga’s digital strategy for the electricity transmission and distribution parts of the business, we need to progressively build an intelligent grid which will help us reach our target to have ‘Grid of the Future’, consisting amongst others, advanced metering infrastructure, grid automation, self-healing capability, super grid and micro-grids.

Dr. Suhazimah Dzazali, Deputy Director General (ICT), Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU)

The advent of disruptive technologies from social media, big data analytics and cloud computing to blockchain, robotics, IOT and machine learning will challenge us to rethink our approach on digital transformation. These technologies will definitely influence how the Government delivers its services without disrupting the public sector’s existing ecosystem.

Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh Abdullah, Group Chief Technology Officer, Maybank

It is no big secret that FinTech has a big impact on banks. Currently, the space is more retail, but we foresee that the corporate side of financing will be encroached too. This is not only for origination or consumer/peer to peer financing, we will see more innovations in the Risk and Cyber Security space.