Telum Talks To... Raymond Siva, Chief Marketing Officer, MDEC

Telum Talks To... Raymond Siva, Chief Marketing Officer, MDEC

Having started in 1996, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) started off as Multimedia Development Corporation with the mandate to implement the MSC Malaysia initiative. This week Telum got the chance to speak to its CMO Raymond Siva on how COVID-19 has influenced their work-life and comms strategy.

How have things been at MDEC and what are your primary concerns currently?
We have many high-impact programmes for people and businesses that require targeted communications. To this point, I have prioritised data and marketing tech as key enablers for MDEC to reach and engage Malaysians on the need and benefit of going digital. While it has been hectic, more so with the current MCO, it also has been immensely rewarding to be able to work with awesome colleagues to drive digital impact at scale for Malaysia.

How has work-life at MDEC been affected by COVID-19 and the Movement Control Order (MCO) here in Malaysia?
We immediately activated our Business Continuity Protocol (BCP) upon being informed of the MCO. Our Human Capital Development, IT Division and business continuity team were completely on the ball with the process, technology and people requirements to ensure work continued seamlessly. A colleague noted that the teams seem to be collaborating much more closely now than we were in the office! One thing we can probably do better these days is to log off from our laptops or mobile devices to be present with the family, as being at home doesn’t always translate into quality family time.

In light of the crisis, how has MDEC adapted its marketing and communications strategy here in Malaysia?
My approach has been digital first, even before the pandemic was declared. The data is clear - going digital both from a demand and supply perspective, is inevitable. We have accelerated our plans to leverage primary data and tech tools to get message penetration and encourage action. We have organised and supported over 30 webinars with a reach of over 12,000 recently, with more sessions planned. The use of broadcast and other mobile mediums has also taken new importance, given the amount of time spent at home.
From your point of view, has the pandemic affected the way Malaysia has been doing digital communications?
I have heard many anecdotes of COVID-19 being the CIO of the year. It has certainly forced many to re-think the various disciplines of communications, especially digital. There has been an exponential increase in digital literacy and usage of mobile devices. There has been a massive spike in online learning, entertainment, including gaming, and eCommerce. We must think past social media, perhaps to digital productions and marketing tech as the tip of the spear to communicate in a new normal. It’s an opportune time to disrupt our digital-as-usual strategy.

Malaysia is also seeing a lot of fake news in the digital space as a result of the pandemic, what are your thoughts on this and on ways to curb fake news?
Trust is fragile. There has been an overload of information and confusion as to the credibility of the source. For leaders, this is the best time to step up to provide clarity, reassurance and the way forward out of this challenging period. I suggest the issue can be tackled with a twofold approach of education and enforcement. Perhaps we need to treat fake news as a pandemic that will potentially cripple our nation, and take actions like checking the validity of information before sharing and generally not spreading hateful messages to combat fake news.

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