Halt the digital divide, says Wordlabs Global

digital wordlabs sritharan v

Despite the easing of Covid-19 lockdowns, senior citizens still need to be included in digital Malaysia.

Failing this, the divide between the young and senior citizens unfamiliar with the multiple uses of internet technology will grow higher, said Wordlabs Global Sdn Bhd founder and CEO Sritharan Vellasamy.

He was commenting on the increasing trend of Malaysians using digital platforms to connect with family members, make food purchases and conduct personal affairs, including banking, home repairs, and others while the pandemic continues unabated.

Wordlabs Global has a media portfolio that includes Asia’s first outsourcing industry magazine called Global Business Services and Fourth Leap which focuses on the 4th Industrial Revolution and Digital Transformation, which comes under its Wordlabs Business Network (WBN) banner.

WBN assists businesses and organisations to adapt and grow in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world through a combination of publications, online and offline events and consultations.

With a database of over 20,000 professionals and decision-makers across ASEAN, WBN is a regional business platform built together with industry partners to enable the regional business community to meet and discuss challenges, future trends and explore opportunities.

“Despite the easing of lockdowns, and the public getting used to the ‘new normal’, especially considering that Covid-19 will become endemic in countries, including Malaysia, senior citizens must be taught to safely use internet technology”, said Sritharan.

He said according to analytics company GlobalData, Malaysia’s e-commerce market is estimated to have grown by 24.7 per cent last year.

This, according to Sritharan, points to the fact that a large number of brick and mortar stores were closing down and malls recording a 90 per cent drop in sales at one point due to customers migrating to online purchases as their go-to pandemic solution.

At the same time, the government is encouraging digital adoption as set out in Budget 2020 where it provided RM500 million over five years or a 50 per cent matching grant of up to RM5,000 per company to digitalise their business operations.

The programme, he stated, will help SMEs to go online and hopefully recover lost business. Also, in November last year, Malaysia set up the National Digital Economy and 4th Industrial Revolution Council to boost local capabilities and embrace digitalisation.

These efforts, Sritharan said, is especially important as they are in line with the growth of e-commerce and government funding towards this.

“However, at the other end, senior citizens need to know how to fully exploit the use of digital technology to meet their daily needs while keeping safe from scams.”

“Programmes like Bangkel Teknologi Senior helps to introduce senior citizens to the use of digital technology, but government agencies need to step up and execute more concerted efforts in this area.”

“Last year, 10.5 per cent of our population were 60 years and over. Many of them are not internet savvy, so the government needs to urgently target this group so that they do not become victims of online fraud”, concluded Sritharan.

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