SCOPE-CADS partnership aims to nurture strong data-driven culture in Sarawak


Sharala (front, left) exchanges the MoU documents with Asleena at IDECS 2018, witnessed by Abang Johari (centre). Also seen (back, from left) are Morshidi, Masing and Awang Tengah.

KUCHING: Sarawak Centre of Performance Excellence (SCOPE) has partnered with the Centre of Applied Data Science (CADS) – the first and only one-stop platform and centre of excellence for data science in the Asean region – to help Sarawak create and cultivate a strong data-driven culture that would contribute to digital economy.

An exchange of memorandum of understanding (MoU) documents between SCOPE chief executive officer Dr Asleena Helmi and CADS founder Sharala Axryd took place during the International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS 2018) at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) yesterday – witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Deputy chief ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani were also present.

Under the MoU, SCOPE and CADS would oversee the development of 2,500 data professionals by 2022 through various programmes including Sarawak Talent Enrichment Programme (STEP).

In her remarks, Asleena said SCOPE had, since last year, been mandated to continue with IDECS, regarded as a vital platform to support the government’s digital economic agenda.

“Last year’s IDECS was about infrastructure and getting to know what digital economy was all about. Moving on to this year, the theme is focused on big data towards providing economic growth and improving the quality of life,” she said.

Asleena also said apart from this platform to exchange knowledge and ideas about scientific and technical areas that had become increasingly important, SCOPE would want to take steps in implementing some of the initiatives under digital economy – one of them would be to enhance human capital development in digital competency.

“As a result, we have decided to collaborate with CADS because of their proven good track record notably in Peninsular Malaysia, strong portfolio in working with the public and private sector, and their expertise and broad understanding on how data should be analysed and used, especially in helping people make better and (more) informed decisions,” she said, noting that the areas of data analytics, Internet of Things (IOT), smart cities, and artificial intelligence (AI) are fairly new in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Sharala said a few projects had been put in place under the collaboration, mainly to upskill and reskill

talents as well as to get people interested in becoming data professionals.

“With all the tools and strategies out there, they will not be applicable without the talents and capabilities within an organisation to adopt, change and move forward.”

Sharala also pointed out that that STEP would be launched in Sarawak soon, set to attract young graduates with

certain met criteria to participate in a six-month programme that would equip them with the skills, knowledge and experience to become data professionals.

“It is a six-month paid finishing school for graduates, which includes a two-month boot camp of intensive data science enablement and mentorship under experienced data scientists, as well as placement at industry partners,” she explained.

Sharala stressed that graduates or even existing employees with the added skills and knowledge in data analytics would have higher employability and also the opportunity to be a part of a high-demand industry with high-income potential.

“This is also important for private companies and SMEs (small, medium enterprises) because they contribute largely to the national and state economy – or 40 per cent of the GDP. So we also try to look at how small companies can transition to become data-driven organisations, but not necessarily with big data; rather, (them) having the ability of data analytics.”

On who should become data professionals, Sharala emphasised that data science and analytics could be for everybody whether in finance, law, healthcare, the medical field and even the media.

“Everybody should have some kind of basics in analytics; Harvard (University) is now ensuring this – they are going to introduce analytics as an undergraduate programme for everybody across the board.

“So we want to encourage that. As long as you can do some sort of programming as well as have the ability in mathematics, statistics and communications, you are there at the door to get in,” she added.

Adding on, Asleena said with the rise in IOT and speed of technology, it would change every aspect of a business model and how an organisation – be it public or private – could work into a ‘network platform’.

“All stakeholders from both private and public sectors must work together to make this happen. We need to create the ecosystem with more and more companies to give solutions.”

Back on Sharala, she lauded the state government on its decision to focus on emerging technologies, spearhead the digital economy transformation, and position Sarawak as a data-driven state that should propel Malaysia to the forefront of the ‘big data race’.

“This move will pave the way towards developing highly-skilled talents in the field of data science, which is a key component of building a big data and analytics ecosystem. Towards this end, we are honoured to collaborate with SCOPE in nurturing and growing the talent pool, as well as participating in this transformation.”

Graduates with PhD, Masters or Bachelors in Mathematicss/Statistics, Computer Science, Actuarial Science, Engineering, Economics or Science are encouraged to apply for STEP.

“Those without IT background can also apply. Don’t be afraid. Our lives are revolving around data so let’s be part of the transformation journey. You can always explore and find your talents,” Asleena encouraged.

For more information, visit SCOPE on the first floor of Yayasan Sarawak building at Jalan Masjid here, call 082-231230 or send emails to [email protected].