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Crowdsourcing as Part of State Policy
© Image: Arif Mustanza
editorial

Crowdsourcing as Part of State Policy

Editor’s Note: The Malaysian government is running a comprehensive digital innovation program, one aspect of which involves crowdsourcing. Our CEO Carl Esposti was recently in Kuala Lumpur, as part of a thought leadership group brought together to help guide the Digital Malaysia project. Below, we provide some background to Digital Malaysia, and we will keep an eye out for the program's future developments.

The ruling Malaysian government has an ambitious program in place that wants to make Malaysia a high-income country by 2020.

Part of that initiative, dubbed the “Economic Transformation Programme,” is an undertaking called Digital Malaysia. This specific program wishes to build on the country’s investments into information and communication technology infrastructure to increase Gross National Income, enhance productivity, and improve standards of living, according to the Digital Malaysia website.

The program follows a previous ‘Multimedia Super Corridor’ initiative, which was announced in 1996. Though it follows a similar mandate, Digital Malaysia is a “more holistic initiative” than its predecessor, Badlisham Ghazali, CEO of the Multimedia Development Corporation that oversees Digital Malaysia, told Digital News Asia.

In order to make this happen, the initiative is based on three intertwined ‘thrusts’ – moving from a supply to demand-focused economy, shifting from consumption to production, and evolving from low to high knowledge-add.

First, the shift from supply to demand-focused activities. The Malaysian public sector spends nearly 54 percent of its information and communication technology investments on building infrastructure. This has produced solid results – Malaysia’s internet penetration rate stands at nearly 65 percent, comparable to Spain and well above the 34 percent world average. The Digital Malaysia program aims to use the infrastructure to create new sectors in the economy, which will ultimately lead to new jobs.

Related to that is the move from consumption to production – the initiative aims to “nurture a new generation of IT-savvy youths” that will help the country compete in new industries and reverse the brain drain that some claim Malaysia is experiencing

The third thrust is the evolution of Malaysian businesses from low knowledge-add to high knowledge-add. Malaysian SMEs contribute 32 percent of the country’s GDP, which is fairly low (in the U.S., for example, they contribute roughly half). By promoting innovative businesses and tools, the Digital Malaysia program hopes to increase productivity and “drive the creation of high-value products and services.”

In order to accomplish these goals, the Digital Malaysia program is developing and implementing a number of specific projects. These include turning the country into an ‘Asian e-fulfillment hub’ and developing ‘on-demand, customized online education.’

One of these projects is encouraging crowdsourcing platforms that provide micro-task jobs to the “bottom 40 percent of the community.”

“The overall goal of the… microsourcing project is to provide supplementary income opportunities to those in the lower income category by connecting businesses with untapped talents across the underprivileged community,” Ghazali wrote to Crowdsourcing.org via email. “This will create a fundamental shift in the way work is done, and provide job opportunities for the unemployed.”

The program wishes to provide training to unskilled workers, who could work remotely in order to generate additional income.

“Although the program is still in its early stage, we have already conducted several pilot training programs to provide basic ICT skills to more than 1,000 workers from the low-income households category,” Ghazali said. “In the pipeline are plans to conduct micro-tasks training program in collaboration with micro sourcing/crowdsourcing platforms. This will roll [out] once we have identified the specific types of micro-tasks training that can be tailored to the workers.”

To better understand crowdsourcing business models, the leaders of the Digital Malaysia program have put together a thought leadership group, which includes our own Carl Esposti who traveled to Malaysia last week.

“Programs like Digital Malaysia highlight the importance of crowdsourcing in helping innovative SMEs grow, and in promoting job growth across the world,” Esposti said. “We’re very pleased that crowdsourcing is being recognized at a national policy level, as it well have a great impact and create thousands of new digital jobs.”

For more on the Digital Malaysia program, check out the infographic below.

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