Key IT Areas that Graduates Should Be Aware of

Malaysia's technological landscape has changed due the pandemic, digitisation, and shifting consumer habits.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Malaysia's technological landscape has changed due the pandemic, digitisation, and shifting consumer habits.

Regardless of what area of IT you choose to specialise in as a graduate, there are a few key industry areas that you should be aware of as an IT professional – whether in Malaysia, or elsewhere in the world. Even if you don’t plan on specialising in any of these areas right now, you would still benefit from having at least a basic working knowledge of them. It is also important to stay up-to-date on developments within these areas as you advance in your IT career. 

In particular, here are three key IT areas that graduates should take note of. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated lots of buzz over the last few years. It is still a developing technology right now, but its implications on how we live, work, and play are just beginning to be seen. AI is being applied in various stages across a wide range of fields, including ride-sharing apps, smartphone personal assistants, image and speech recognition, navigation apps, e-finance, assembly lines, and much more.

By 2025, the AI market will be worth US$190 billion globally, with over US$57 billion expected to be spent globally on cognitive and AI systems in 2021. New jobs will be created in development, programming, testing, support, and maintenance,  as AI becomes more commonplace across industries.

However, only 26 percent of Malaysian businesses have truly embraced AI in their work at the moment, according to a research conducted by market intelligence firm, IDC and Microsoft in 2019. In a 2020 article by international management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., it said that up to 50 percent of work found in the country can potentially be automated.  

What this means is that there will be huge demand for AI expertise among local IT professionals in the years to come. HR consulting firm Kelly Services estimates that Malaysia will need one million digital professionals by 2025, in order to keep pace with the so-called Industrial Revolution 4.0 – that is, the digitisation of most economic industries as well as the widespread adoption of AI. 

The government has established guidelines for how various economic sectors can use AI, through initiatives like the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint (MDEB) and the Malaysia Artificial Intelligence Roadmap 2021–2025. In addition, the National Industrial Revolution 4.0 (4IR) Policy aims to increase the nation's output by 30 percent across all sectors by the end of 2030, with AI playing a big part in achieving that goal. 

An equally-important subset of AI is machine learning, which is the process of training AI algorithms to recognise patterns in order to improve the AI’s decision-making abilities. There is currently a huge demand for professionals in this area of work around the world, and adventurous local graduates may find many such remote opportunities with companies abroad.


Though cybersecurity is certainly not a new line of work in IT, this particular industry is growing even bigger than before, partly due to the continuous emergence of new threats. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic catalysing a greater lasting shift of our lives (and personal data) online, so too have hackers’ attempts to gain unauthorised access to all that data increased in frequency and intensity. It is therefore crucial for companies to keep improving their cybersecurity systems as technology advances over time. This makes cybersecurity one of the most lucrative fields in the IT industry.

In the 2021 National Budget, the Malaysian government allocated more than RM27 million for investment in the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure alone. Likewise, the top 10 percent of available IT jobs in Malaysia are cybersecurity-related, according to HR consulting firm PERSOLKELLY.

On average, career growth for cybersecurity-related jobs tends to be three times quicker than other tech jobs. In Malaysia, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has partnered with the international technology and information security organisation ISACA to address the lack of cybersecurity specialists in the country. Malaysia recorded only 7,866 cybersecurity knowledge workers as of 2018, and aims to grow that number to at least 20,000 by 2025. 

As cyberattack-related news continue to make headlines across the world, countermeasures and preventive measures will be key concerns among businesses of all sizes. If you are an IT professional working on web-based or web-hosted systems and applications, a working knowledge of basic cybersecurity principles will be key regardless of your area of work.  

Data Science

In the era of Big Data, companies need professionals who are able to sort through and interpret the vast amounts of data they collect from users and translate them into actionable insights. That is where data scientists/analysts and big data specialists come in.  

Data science and AI often go hand-in-hand. For instance, the demand for quantitative analysts and data scientists is growing along with machine learning and AI development at FinTech firms, investment banks, hedge funds, and other financial services providers. These experts create and maintain sophisticated models that can sort through and interpret massive amounts of financial data. Additionally, they can create data-driven trading programmes, create algorithms with quantum computing, and automate financial procedures to reduce the need for human involvement.

In Malaysia alone, there is already high demand for data science professionals. According to a report commissioned by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), the big data analytics (BDA) industry in Malaysia is predicted to increase from US$1.1 billion in 2021 to US$1.9 billion (about RM7.85 billion) in 2025. 

Candidates that are keen on entering this field should be well-versed with production-level machine learning. A strong command of programming languages like R, Python, and MALLET is also required. In addition, those who are looking to enter a career in data science should also have experience working on projects that involved massive data sets and have practical knowledge with technologies like Tensorflow and Dialogflow.