With a career spanning 34 years, Daniel Ng has an amazing, panoramic view of the economic landscape in the digital era. His journey, which encompasses experiences in varied sectors and several countries, has afforded him a unique and comprehensive understanding of digital economy.
OpenGov Asia recently spent time with him, to get valuable insights, trends and predictions on the global digital economy scenario.
The conversation began with a history of his career, which started with him graduating with a software engineering course from a university in Canada, before heading back to his hometown in Malaysia.
During his presentation of a system he developed for banks, his boss was amazed at Daniel’s ability to speak, to facilitate understanding with listeners and keep his audience genuinely engaged.
The following Monday after that specific roadshow, he was offered a job in marketing and the rest, as they say, is history.
Learning everything about marketing from the ground up and living all over the region such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing helped him gain a deeper understanding of the latest buzzword at the time – Digital Economy.
Daniel describes the state of Digital Economy from when he was starting years ago, “Not many things were called digital 30 years ago. It was very much a phase of computers and hardware.”
Internet was just coming into the world back then, amassing an approximately 15 Gigabyte (GB) per month of global Internet traffic.
Moreover, an average physical computer boasted of 10 Megabyte (MB) hard disk storage and ran on a 486 processor and floppy disks were the rage!
At the time, this infrastructure was very restraining; networks were confined to running on the Local Area Network (LAN), batch processing was scheduled and email access was very limited.
Nobody had even thought of mobile devices or wireless networks.
The available storage on computers back then would definitely cower at the available hundreds of gigabytes, even terabytes (TB), of smartphone storage today.
Daresay, Digital Economy, then, was very much word processing, with spreadsheets and presentation merely making a debut.
The 3 pillars of a Digital Economy
Over the years, uptake and rollout of technology has varied considerably across sectors and regions. Moreover, countries in the region differ in the pace of their digital economic growth based on their vision, resources and capacity for transformation.
Some countries have regions and towns that remain to be disconnected from the internet, while other countries, like Singapore, are already a smart nation.
Daniel credits this difference to three important criteria of a Digital Economy, which are infrastructure, policies and talent.
Criteria of a Digital Economy – Infrastructure
Infrastructure covers bandwidth, storage and processing. Applications need storage for housing, bandwidth for sharing, and processors for speed of execution.
As a genuine, established Smart Nation, Singapore is a leader and benchmark in the region. Most countries seek to emulate Singapore and look to it for expertise and guidance.
Business part, Singapore provides a gigabit of internet speed in every home, which gives the country more opportunities to advance, whether in research, in communication and even in provision of services.
This is an example of how infrastructure boosts a country’s digital economy. An evolving infrastructure, like the advent of the 5G technology, opens unlimited opportunities to leapfrog.
A smart nation uses all of its technological advantages and platforms to serve its people. However, infrastructure is not the only piece that makes up a smart nation.
It has come to the point wherein much of the focus is on what the technology can deliver versus what the people need the technology to deliver.
Daniel reiterated, “Technology plays a role in a smart nation, but it is not the only thing that makes it smart. A digital economy and a smart nation have to be accompanied by the right attitude.”
A big portion of digital economies and smart nations tend to focus on the “what” and the “how”, such as what technology should be used and how to apply that technology, instead of why use that technology.
China, for instance, was perceived to be a ‘backward’ technology country some 20 years ago.
But, it focused on putting a comprehensive plan that answers the “why” of a nation, which led it to take a leadership stance, years later.
Technology should evolve and revolve around this “why”.
Focusing on the reason why a certain technology is being used to improve on a problem had allowed China to leapfrog from the mainframe era into the network era, without the burden of migration.
Criteria of a Digital Economy – Policies
Knowing what is placed on top of these infrastructures is essential to give it control and security. This is where policies come in.
Progressive policies that promote development and transformation while ensuring safety are vital since the digital world has risks of being an exposed world.
Policies that tackle issues on data security, cyber defence, ethical practise and usage of information, are a few of the essential ones.
Having these policies, plus a mindset of thinking beyond one’s own shores, highlight the fact that the digital economy cannot exist in isolation and that nations cannot do it alone.
Criteria of a Digital Economy – Talent
Of the three criteria, talent is always the hardest as technology changes very quickly.
A person’s programming knowledge may be considered obsolete within a few years as newer languages and programmes are birthed. Constant learning, upskilling and awareness are required.
Nations, through their policies and initiatives, can address this by ensuring local education and training programmes for citizens, which should be their first pool of talent.
By providing these, the human resources will benefit in a two-fold manner.
One, human resources will be equipped with the technical knowledge of coding and design.
Two, they can leverage on technology, in an effective and efficient manner, for their social and living comfort while feeling secured doing so.
Measures of Success
Similar to evolution, there are phases to achieving a sound digital economy, to which different metrics apply.
The first would be the adoption of technology through relevant education and awareness.
This phase will provide answers to the “why” of utilising technology as compared to simply answering the “what” and the “how”.
After that, the second phase will be the impact it brings to the economy, in terms of the growth it provided as a new or revamped engine to power the nation’s business.
The next phase would be how it invents new economies, which may be borderless and human-less in its implementations.
This will then be measured in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness as well as its security against cyberattacks.
According to Daniel, the ultimate measurement, however, of any technology, particularly of Digital Economy, is the impact it brings to the lives of the people.
Not all things should be measured by how faster they can connect, but how deep the connections are.
Daniel ended the interview with a reminder that for a Digital Economy to be successful, “We should humanise technology and not mechanise people.”
The CSIRO’s Next Generation Graduates Programmes are industry-university partnerships aimed at developing a pipeline of home-grown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunity offered by AI and emerging technologies.
In this latest round, 14 programmes were funded, with RMIT leading four, including two by its Centre for Industrial AI Research and Innovation (CIAIRI), one by its Enterprise AI and Data Analytics Hub, and one by the Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre. RMIT will also support a further three.
These programs will provide generous scholarships to domestic PhD students which allows them to be part of a multi-disciplinary team aimed at solving real-world challenges. The programmes are:
1. AI for Next Generation Food & Waste Systems (RMIT led, La Trobe supported)
This programme addresses the skills shortage in adopting advanced AI technologies in the areas of food and waste, a critical national manufacturing priority. This will boost food productivity, improve food quality control and logistics, reduce, and better manage waste generated during the life cycle of food production and consumption.
Through a range of industry-driven research activities, this program will produce a cohort of graduates that are not only equipped with practical AI skills but also ready to integrate into food and waste related industry sectors to generate real impact.
2. Developing Digital Capabilities to Support the Aged Care Sector (RMIT led, Victoria and Newcastle supported)
One of the recommendations in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is to adopt technology to transform the aged care system so that carers’ time can be best used to deliver quality care. The report also recommended the use of technology to increase the connectedness of older Australians – to one another, families and carers, and to the broader community.
This programme aims to reimagine the role of technologies like AI, AR/VR and sensors which are critical in ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Our industry partners are driven by these challenges every day thus, the research undertaken in this programme will have great significance and impact.
3. AI Techniques for Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure (RMIT led, Sydney Uni supported)
This programme will produce a cohort of graduates with much-needed skills in AI to support critical infrastructure and community safety. Some of the common AI techniques across the selected projects are:
- computer vision -creating 3D reconstructions from 2D images of interior designs and detecting potential hazards and threats via surveillance videos
- agent-based modelling and simulation (ABMS) – which is becoming increasingly popular to model and simulate the management of disaster events such as floods and bushfires and
- digital twin technology – which involves complementary approaches of digitising models of infrastructure, people, and business processes and one of the projects investigates the integration of all three aspects.
4. Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications (RMIT led, Charles Darwin supported)
This programme will deliver graduates capable of tackling Australia’s pressing current and future challenges in the defence and aerospace sectors through the application of AI and digital technologies. It will expand opportunities for diverse communities of students and create workers skilled in emerging technologies, including applied AI, digital twins and threads, machine learning, robotics, cyber security, and modern manufacturing.
This interdisciplinary program builds on the strategic partnership between RMIT University and Charles Darwin University (CDU), which will see the creation of a joint Aerospace and Defence Industries 4.0 TestLab in the Northern Territory.
5. AI for Clean Energy and Sustainability (Monash led, RMIT supported)
Delivering clean and sustainable energy and enabling energy transition is a global challenge. AI is expected to play a significant role in this transition by enabling more effective models and tools, accurately predicting reliable supply, optimising maintenance and operations, making smarter decisions and assessing risk.
This programme will focus on the Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority to teach a variety of HDR students innovative AI technologies driven by these industry priorities.
6. Central Bank Digital Currency – Infrastructure & Applications (Macquarie led, RMIT and UTS supported)
A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) would be a new digital form of money issued by the Reserve Bank. It could be designed for retail or general use, like a digital version of banknotes.
The development and deployment of robust, efficient and trusted CBDC requires the design, engineering, proving and integration of a suite of technologies including blockchain, security and privacy-preserving solutions and regtech (surveillance, alerting and compliance) technologies and the skilled graduates to help implement them.
7. Artificial Intelligence of Things Empowering Industrial Digital Twin (La Trobe led, RMIT and Swinburne supported)
This programme will develop new digital twin solutions powered by a combination of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), to meet the needs of industry partners, seeking improved productivity and reduced maintenance and management costs.
By representing physical objects digitally, digital twins can harness real-time IoT data and optimise performance using AI and data analytics. Several research and industry challenges will be addressed, including accurate 3D modelling, digital twin model optimisation, reliable connectivity between the physical world and the digital world, and edge AI models.
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with preferences and expectations about how, when, and where they conduct business.
“Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.
Enterprise transformation refers to a significant shift in the way a company conducts its day-to-day operations. This could involve adjusting an organisation’s fundamental technology, the structure of the company’s workforce or the way the company creates and markets its goods.
Enterprise transformation can take many different forms, one of the most prevalent of which is when an organisation makes a significant change in the products or services it offers. Currently, with digital technology, adjustments like this are occurring more frequently.
Companies are realising that they need to modify their approaches to meet the ever-evolving requirements of their customers as well as the consistently expanding standards set by their rivals.
Simultaneously, several Digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data, Virtual reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics and automation, among others, have the potential to transform how businesses operate. They can transform various functions of the value chain, such as logistics & supply, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, customer service, corporate management and support functions.
With their versatility and agility, these technologies can be deployed to numerous industries, among these are Healthcare, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Services and Mobility.
Innovative Business: What Lies Ahead?
“Businesses need innovation, not only for survival but for future growth,” says Vikram. “Innovation could emerge as product innovation, process innovation, service innovation or business model innovation to create a long-term sustainable advantage.”
Enterprises have been creating legacies based on research and development (R&D) which has LED them to incremental innovations. However, innovation is disruptive or transformational and it can be around product processes, services and business models.
Transformational innovation represents innovation that transforms businesses and innovates processes to create long-term sustainable, competitive, profitable business models. Disruptive innovation is targeted more towards identifying and inventing new mechanisms to solve existing and anticipated problem statements in businesses, which is also expected to have a business impact.
Many businesses do not distinguish between R&D and innovation. Enterprises today, however, are better able to distinguish themselves from one another and can understand and appreciate the impact that innovation has in comparison to R&D’s function.
R&D is an essential part of most businesses, and the benefits it brings are usually small and mostly limited to the people who work in R&D.
Innovation, on the other hand, isn’t just a function; it’s also a way of thinking for the whole organisation. It affects everything from the process to the product to the service to the business model, and the expected size of its effects is disruptive rather than incremental.
This further demonstrates how the current difficult business and economic environment has forced companies with lower levels of technology adoption and digital maturity to rethink their operations.
Enterprises can now assess the possibilities that technology integration may bring about, not only to address their current problem statements but also to consider new opportunities, whether it takes the form of a product, service, or business model.
There are a few common KPIs that should be measured regularly to gauge an organisation’s and its employees’ level of digital maturity. Vikram believes that because every organisation is unique, the KPIs used for assessments will vary.
For example, the key metrics for some common functions, like customer experience, data and insights, strategic and leadership, technology, operations, digital skill sets and so on, would need to be customised based on how they have changed and how they are changing now.
“We can get innovations which can predict based on the data analytics for the next 10 years,” Vikram reveals. “Every organisation should think out-of-the-box. Then they only need the right set of people who can guide them for the KPIs to be defined.”
Additionally, a variety of industries, including those in healthcare, food and beverage, manufacturing, services, FMCG, mobility, hospitality, and many more, can adapt to new technologies.
The following are crucial actions that businesses need to take today to digitally transform their futures:
- Identify your key employees’ level of digital maturity
- Research the technologies that are currently being used by the Enterprise’s various functions
- Select current issue citations
- Sort the problem statements according to priority
- Assess a system for locating, evaluating, and integrating digital technologies
- After a framework has been chosen and put into place, make the process iterative
- Establish it as the Enterprise’s mentality
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
When it comes to entrepreneurs who are truly pushing the envelope, Vikram is looking for certain characteristics. One of these is how the participants interact with businesses, which is determined by a unique set of criteria.
“And because we engage with various sets of parameters when looking at entrepreneurs, we can combine their efforts with those of the business,” Vikram explains.
Therefore, they bring the enterprise work and the entrepreneurs together when looking at the entrepreneurs, especially in the GHV DX LAB framework – they are the project managers and the system integrator for GHV.
The digital transformation, specifically the adoption of online business models and the general shift of economic and social activities online, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has altered how economies operate, businesses function and societies interact.
The exploitation of data is the driving force behind the emergence of a new type of data-driven economy. It creates new opportunities for international cooperation to leapfrog the intermediate infrastructure of the industrial age, taking advantage of the new markets made available by digital platforms and the improved service delivery made possible by smart technologies.
In addition, the most effective mechanism in education would be to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship at the earliest possible stages of the educational system. In today’s context, entrepreneurship is about more than just passion, raising capital, or coding something; it’s about building a network around yourself to support your entrepreneurial journey. The network is critical.
Vikram spent sixteen years in Japan before relocating to Singapore and India to establish a business. He has realised that he must contribute significantly to society. For Vikram, LKYGBPC is a fantastic platform that can be an integral part of any entrepreneur’s entrepreneurial journey.
As opportunities for entrepreneurs are created through this platform, a global network of mentors and other ecosystem partners are integrated with LKYGBPC to focus on the entrepreneurs. “I think it’s a fantastic platform that is desperately needed right now, not just in the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia, but for the global market,” Vikram is convinced.
He believes that a combination of all these factors pushed him into the venture capital world. “I enjoy being a techie. But I’m enjoying my current role as a mentor to thousands of Asian entrepreneurs.”
Vikram has mentored over 1200 startups to date, including 3 that will soon be unicorns. He has personally invested in over 50 startups, and through the GHV Fund, he has invested in over 20 startups. “Every day, I learn something new and give it back to society in the same way.”
Building intellectual property (IP) rights has been the best part of his digital journey so far, and he hopes to keep doing this. “The level of self-satisfaction I feel is never as high as when I say IP is greater. You can make a lot of money consulting, but that doesn’t get me excited if you can’t create IP and work together. And that’s why what we’ve been doing around it can be great,” Vikram concludes.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, has kicked off the eRezeki programme for 2022. It is a training and job placement programme which focuses on generating high-value income opportunities for gig workers.
The programme runs from 1 October to 31 December 2022 and aims to upskill over 8,000 gig workers with a focus on participation from B40 and M40 households. The programme is one that falls under the banner of the MDEC Saya Digital campaign which includes four focus pillars:
- SayaDigital For Daily Work
- SayaDigital Empowers Careers
- SayaDigital Generates Income
- SayaDigital Expands Business
eRezeki emphasises the third focus pillar of the Saya Digital campaign which is to generate income opportunities in high-value sectors that include the creative sector; repairs, installation and maintenance including domestic services; tour and travel services; healthcare and lifestyle; professional digital services, advertising, promotion, and marketing; education and training; as well as distribution services.
The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency has consistently introduced campaigns and programmes which aim to create high-value employment opportunities for the Rakyat while at the same time, encouraging the development and growth of the sharing economy in Malaysia.
He noted that as announced during the launch of the national strategic initiative, Malaysia Digital (MD), MDEC’s inclusive approach towards fostering a conducive ecosystem for local entrepreneurs and global champions will help increase the contribution from the digital economy to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Effective collaboration with MDEC partners, especially in encouraging sharing economy activities including the gig economy, is expected to further democratise and facilitate access towards increased participation in the high-growth digital economy.
MDEC will work closely with 10 strategic partners from relevant high-value sectors that have been appointed based on set criteria and their capacity in providing high-income jobs. Throughout the duration of the eRezeki programme, MDEC’s strategic partner will conduct training and provide placement for gig workers through online platforms and physical sessions.
The 10 strategic partners for eRezeki have been appointed based on their involvement in high-value sectors as identified by MDEC. Furthermore, these companies were selected from a pool of 137 MDEC strategic partners approved by the Crowdsourcing Committee.
In 2014, the Crowdsourcing Committee led by the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia (K-KOMM) was mandated by the Digital Malaysia Steering Committee to focus on validating sharing economy platforms in Malaysia.
The eRezeki programme was introduced in 2015 to provide an avenue for the urban B40 and M40 communities to earn additional income from the digital platform. The programme was also identified as a key programme under the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (RMK12).
Since its introduction, eRezeki has successfully trained a total of 312,735 participants to take advantage of the digital platform and earn an income online, generating a total collective income worth RM2.51 billion as of December 2021.
Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.
The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.
The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.
All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.
Innovation Capabilities of Thai People
The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.
“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.
Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.
Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.
Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.
“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.
They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.
They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.
Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.
“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.
He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.
“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”
He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.
Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.
A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.
“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”
Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.
Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.
In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”
NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.
Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.
It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.
The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”
Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.
“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.
Aquaculture is important to the Thai economy. To ensure the long-term growth of this important industry, it is necessary to strengthen the production system by increasing farmers’ sustainable farming capacity and implementing Aquaculture 4.0.
To help with this effort, the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NECTEC-NSTDA) created Aqua-IoT, an IoT-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological qualities.
Dr Supanit Porntheeraphat, Principal Researcher of the NECTEC Digital Agriculture Technology Research Team, explained that the project to develop a digital aquaculture system began at NECTEC in 2010 at the height of disease outbreaks that severely harmed Thailand’s aquaculture industry and the overall economy. The system has been constantly developed and improved since then.
The integration of key data – physical, chemical, and biological water qualities, as well as weather – into a single dashboard allows users to understand the relationship between the data, analyse the data, and make informed decisions.
Dr Supanit added that Aqua-IoT is made up of four major systems: the Water and Weather Monitoring System, the MuEye System, the ChemEye System, and the Minimal Lab System. The first system measures water quality (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen) as well as weather (wind speed and direction, light intensity, and rainfall).
These variables are critical for aeration and feed management. The MuEye System is intended to track the growth of aquatic animals and parasites, whereas the ChemEye is a chemical reader that measures the levels of nitrite, ammonia, chlorine, phosphate, and pH in the pond.
Minimal Lab is a probiotic application management system that monitors bacteria growth. The system is also integrated with BIOTEC-NSTDA disease diagnostic tests for shrimp and fish, with test results automatically sent to an online database that users can access via a web browser and a message application.
Aqua-IoT technology has already been licenced to businesses, allowing the devices to be sold commercially. Its advantages include energy and feed cost savings, as well as disease risk reduction. On the first crop, a return on investment can be expected.
The research team began introducing Aqua-IoT to aquaculture farmers in the eastern region in 2020. Working closely with farmers, according to Dr Supanit, allows researchers to better understand their requirements and needs, which leads to the development of other technologies to support aquaculture farming.
An automatic shrimp counting machine for managing pond density and a lift net machine that automatically measures shrimp density for feed and water quality management are two technologies under development.
Udon Songserm, the owner of Wasin Farm in Rayong Province, shared his Aqua-IoT experience. He clearly sees the benefits of cost, time, and labour savings after having the system installed in one of his ponds. He no longer needs to be on-site all the time to keep an eye on his ponds.
Dissolved oxygen data enables him to activate aerators only when needed, rather than always having the machines on, significantly reducing energy costs. Data on water’s chemical and biological properties prompt him to take appropriate actions to avoid losses caused by toxic conditions and disease outbreaks.
Udon also stated that some of the data collected from this pond, such as temperature, can be applied to other ponds in the area. The temperature has a direct effect on dissolved oxygen and can thus be used to manage aeration.
The NSTDA is tasked with accelerating science, technology, and innovation development in Thailand to respond to industry needs and improve the country’s competitiveness in the global economy, thereby contributing to national economic and social development. NSTDA is made up of five national research centres and two organisations involved in technology transfer and business development and promotion including the NECTEC.
At the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022, the topic of digital transformation was given top priority. In several G20 activities, Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, said that the leaders of the G20 member countries are concerned about the issue of digital transformation.
Digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics, are discussed in many working groups, according to Secretary-General Mira. The G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) has focused on discussing digital transformation on three priority issues such as cross-border data flow and data free flow with trust; digital skills, and literacy; and post-COVID-19 connectivity and recovery.
She clarified that they are discussing connectivity as well as human resources who can make use of and discuss flowing data. The second of these three issues, known as digital iteration, can be classified as a multilateral issue because it affects all G20 members, so there is no disagreement.
Secretary General Mira described the connectivity and recovery problem following the COVID-19 pandemic as a regional problem as not all G20 members are developed nations. While the G20 includes developed nations like the G7, it also includes emerging nations like South Africa and Brazil. Some groups continue to discuss connectivity even after they refer to it as connectivity.
G20 membership is split into three sects, Secretary General Mira said when speaking about the third data-related issue. The first madhhab, which is more individualised, is European. The second is the corporate-based American school, and the third is the state-based Chinese school.
With the convergence of these three schools, the G20 Indonesia Presidency can create an agreement based on shared values, stating that the transfer of data must be done in a way that is ethical, just, and transparent.
Secretary General Mira extended an invitation to the millennials in attendance at the discussion forum to cooperate and work together more to usher in a new era of digital transformation by supporting the upkeep of a clean and secure digital space. She has urged everyone to make good use of digital technology and safeguard a safe, moral and responsible online environment.
According to Dedy Permadi, the alternate chair of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group, the government of the Republic of Indonesia is fighting for tangible outcomes at the G20 Summit, one of which is the use of digital technology for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
According to Dedy Permadi, one of the discussions between Indonesia and the G20 member countries is about the use of digital technology for MSMEs for them to survive and grow by going digital or online.
One of the solutions was digital technology, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of MSMEs that went digital was around 9 million of the total 64 million MSMEs that contributed 60 per cent of Indonesia’s GDP. This is a fantastic deal. During the pandemic, approximately 12 million MSMEs were added.
Digital technology is used by about 32% of the 64 million MSMEs in Indonesia or 21 million of them. This means that as of right now, 68% of MSMEs have not used the digital space to help their businesses grow. Hence, it is a goal of the G20 countries to learn more about how digital connectivity can help the world economy get back on its feet.