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Faces of HR: Astro AWANI’s former CEO on why HR must be at the forefront of digital transformation

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In line with IR 4.0, HR must understand IoT and AI/ machine learning to help re-skill team members, seek new talents and create a new culture, says Suhaimi Sulaiman, former Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief, Astro AWANI.

Q How important is digital transformation for businesses today?

Digital transformation is extremely important. In the news and information business that I am in, consumers today want news organisations to help them make sense of the news and even propose to them what should they do and what outcomes can they expect based on major decisions made by politicians, industry captains and other leaders. They need the information fast and accurate, just like briefing notes to CEOs.

A news organisation must be able to act fast to deliver the needs and wants of its consumers. As such team members in news organisations must have access to data, latest information on business environment, consumer sentiment and conversations in the marketplace. They must have an efficient info-network, the right processes and the ability to read and predict behaviour.

That is what digital transformation is all about – the ability to predict, fulfil and continue meeting the needs and wants of customers.

Decisions need to be made fast in order to address the info needs of the customers. Failing to do so will lead to the demise of the business.

Q What is the biggest disruption you’ve seen to the industry in the past 2-3 years? What did this mean for you as the CEO?

In the news and information business, the rapid rate of technology advancement and innovation has made the entry into the media world much easier. This has resulted in:

  • More people calling themselves ‘citizen journalists’ (and they have many followers).
  • Legit news organisations have to fight the social media for attention.
  • People no longer need to wait for the evening news to know what happened throughout the day. All they need is a mobile phone with news packages sent to them as and when events happen.
  • Newspapers are being replaced by news sites on mobile phones.
  • And most importantly, the traditional media companies are no longer the only platforms for brands to advertise their products and services. Media companies must now compete with influencers, singers, comedians, info-aggregators and others for a piece of the advertising pie.

As CEOs, we must find new revenue streams, new markets and tweak the way we offer our products and services using state of the art technology. Understand the ‘new’ needs of the customers and be creative in fulfilling those needs using multiple platforms. We must also retrain our talents – learn new skills. The team must look at how artificial intelligence/ machine learning can strengthen product offerings. Today, a ‘robot’ can write a news script and a ‘robot’ can present the news, do voice overs and animation. Imagine the news business of tomorrow…

Q In line with Industry 4.0, what can HR do to keep the organisation up to date with the changes?

HR must understand the changing needs of the consumers – how they consume news and information. They must understand the IoT (Internet of Things). They must be able to understand how AI/ machine learning can make an organisation strong. With that knowledge, they will be able to help re-skill team members, seek new talents and create a new culture.

HR must remember that digital transformation is a journey that needs tweaking along the way when new disruptions appear.

As such, the HR team must have the ability to anticipate changes and know how to adjust existing re-skilling programmes. It is no longer work of the CIO – HR must be at the forefront.

Q What do you want delegates to get out of your session during the Learning & Development Asia 2019?

The success or failure of an organisation depends on the leadership and culture in an organisation. I would like to share my experience in ‘creating’ a culture and ecosystem that encouraged people to thrive and always be happy at work and produce more than what they are expected to deliver.


Catch Suhaimi Sulaiman’s session at #LearningDevelopmentAsia this 25-26 September 2019 happening at Aloft KL Sentral as he addresses what the future holds for learning and development.

Visit the event website to check out the stellar speaker list and reserve your seat! Or you can simply email our friendly colleagues at adrianr@humanresourcesonline.net and reggieo@humanresourcesonline.net to find out more.



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