Tech in check: TM's chief digital officer Ahmad Azhar Yahya

Ahmad Azhar Yahya (pictured), Telekom Malaysia's (TM) chief digital officer, has a wealth of experience in strategic planning and change management, enterprise resource management, revenue and customer relationship management.

Appointed to the role in 2016, he heads TM's digital transformation initiatives and was previously TM's chief customer advocate. Prior to joining TM, he was with Accenture for about 10 years, with his last position being partner.

In this latest edition of Tech in check Ahmad Azhar tells A+M how he overcame his biggest tech booboo and the digital trends that excite him.

Check out some previous editions of Tech in check here:
Berjaya Sompo Insurance’s brand lead Mawarni Adam
KPMG Malaysia’s head of digital strategy Alvin Gan

A+M: What was your first digital role like?

Ahmad Azhar: The first digital initiative [after I was appointed to my role in 2016] that we did was to implement a holistic multichannel customer service platform known as Digitising Customer Experience (DiCE).

It was quite a challenging experience as it was one of the first digital customer engagement initiatives ever implemented at TM. The biggest challenge was really about defining the customer journey and implementing it in the platform that will serve our customers.

A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?

Ahmad Azhar: One of my biggest tech booboos was to implement a very large operating system which exceeded the original estimated budget. This was due to the scope of the management plan changing several times, resulting in the scope of work increasing beyond what was originally conceived at the planning stage.

A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?

Ahmad Azhar: We had to incur many variation orders that increased the project cost, but we managed to mitigate this by getting senior management from the business lines to be more directly involved. This allowed us to make quick decisions as well as compromise in managing the scope of work that was really required.

A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

Ahmad Azhar: One of the common challenges faced in digital today is establishing a positive business case for new investments. Where the digital initiative is to provide customer convenience and comfort, the initiative does not normally generate new incremental revenue to balance the new investments required.

A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of? If yes – why does it excite you/give concerns if any?

Ahmad Azhar: AI is the digital trend that excites as well as scares me most. The development of AI coupled with mechanical and software robots are both exciting (with regards to the potential benefits). At the same time, it is also scary with the potential risks of humans being overly dependent on it.

A+M: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Ahmad Azhar: Be bold and don’t be scared to try digital even though it may appear unconventional and unorthodox.

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