Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is a government agency in Malaysia that works to investigate and prosecute corruption in the public and private sectors. The MACC has embrace digital transformation as a way to engage with citizens in a more efficient and accessible manner.
The MACC was recently recognised at the Malaysia OpenGov Excellence Awards 2015 for their Excellence in Analytics for Employee Innovation and Excellence in Analytics for Business Operations.
We caught up with Mr. Tan Sri Abu Kassim bin Mohamed, Chief Commissioner of MACC, to discuss his work in data analytics and what MACC will be focusing on this upcoming year.
MACC Digital Services and Room to Improve Service Virtualisation
MACC is working to further develop service virtualisation throughout the whole of the department within the upcoming year.
So far, MACC hosts their Complaints Management System (CMS) and Filter Systems Integrity (eSTK) through online service platforms. To serve public demand for mobility, the MACC also provides SMS reporting services to citizens.
“We are looking to develop a more advanced virtual system at our department,” stated Mr. Tan Sri Abu Kassim bin Mohamed, “We want to make sure MACC has a high standard and public can access any information from MACC that is allowed. This system must be quick, efficient, and easy to access.”
The MACC is fairly active on Twitter and Facebook and has been able to conjure up a following of citizens who are active through social media platforms. This allows them to engage with a wider audience, thus delivering optimised services to the public.
The MACC is working with MAMPU to develop a system that will be efficient enough for their department staff and the public. This will allow for faster response and investigation into reported claims.
Information Security within MACC
Information security is a great concern for MACC as they handle a bevy of classified data relating to cases of corruption in the public and private sectors.
“We are the only enforcement agency to be recognised for its information security measures,” stated Mr. Tan Sri Abu Kassim bin Mohamed, “We understand the importance of keeping confidential information, secured.”
Public Sector agencies are often being challenged by the growing IT security skills gap. As the number of threats increase, it is vital that the MACC strategises new ways to fill this gap and retain optimal data security.
“As much as we can, we try to develop our systems in house. This allows us to make sure our officers can manage this system and know how it operates,” a MACC public servant told us, “Due to the growing skills gap, we must utilise in house skills as our employees will be the ones managing these systems.”
It is crucial to MACC that they develop the skills of their in-house IT staff while also integrating higher security measures. While developing their new system, MACC will look to MAMPU to ensure that proper security solutions are provided within their infrastructure so that they may continue delivering quality service to citizens.
A digital government operates in a manner that is digital by design, focusing on the requirements of users and maximising data. Fundamentally altering the way the Australian government operates now, it offers enhanced social, policy and economic outcomes.
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) of Australia believes that a digital government better prioritises the requirements of individuals and businesses. It entails investing in cutting-edge technology to deliver a personalised experience that is stable, safe and dependable and ultimately anticipates the demands of each user.
Australia’s Resilience and Growth Rely on Digital Government
“We cannot underestimate the impact of programmes and concepts such as ‘Tell us Once’ – not requiring customers to continue to re-tell their story as they access government services,” Lucy emphasises.
They are beginning to see both this de-duplication in service delivery and a side effect of more efficient investment through what they have dubbed the “Australian Government Architecture” (AGA).
The AGA is a vision to reduce the time agencies need to navigate the complexities of government in building digital and ICT-enabled solutions. It is designed to be a catalogue of applicable policies and standards combined with an index of repeatable patterns and capabilities for re-use.
Because of the increased speed-to-market, the Government can respond to priority needs using modern, best-of-breed approaches gaining “overall efficiency in how we digitally connect government services”.
“Silos of excellence” are a significant challenge. While Australia has some policies in place to reduce investment in duplicated capability, this is a difficult barrier. While some core functions of a platform may be the same, the needs of the service that uses that platform may be very different. “It’s always a struggle to strike a good balance.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to transforming government services, there are often legacy, disconnected systems that must be addressed and eventually decommissioned. This requires time, effort, and, most importantly, commitment. When compared to the release of a new system, it is more difficult to create a good-news story about turning off a system.
“Our people are at the heart of so much of what we do in the Public Service. This heart is often the dedication that the government requires of people who are passionate about serving citizens and businesses,” Lucy acknowledges.
The money available to the public sector, particularly in the digital streams of work, can make it difficult to compete with the private sector. This means that their best and brightest often leave for greater returns and better opportunities. “Our big challenge will be crafting our employee value proposition – across the Australian Public Service and all agencies.”
One of the most important technological advancements ever made, digital identification has enormous advantages for businesses, consumers, and governments. Australia is a pioneering nation in the field of digital identity. The Trusted Digital Identity Framework that supports the Australian Government Digital Identity System isn’t simply based on industry best practices from throughout the world; it’s also regarded as best practices in many other nations.
Underscoring her belief in the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF), Lucy says, “At the DTA, we’ve been building policy for Digital Identity – the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) – for several years.”
The DTA is responsible for the Whole-of-Government Digital and ICT Investment Oversight Framework – a six-stage, end-to-end framework that provides Government Agencies with direction for managing their digital and ICT investments across the full project lifecycle. Government Departments and Agencies are obligated to consult with the DTA on all digital and ICT investment plans throughout the framework’s numerous stages, per the Framework.
Moreover, the TDIF serves as the guiding principle for the Australian Government Digital Identity System. It is based on worldwide and industry best practices and standards and it establishes strict guidelines for privacy, security, transparency and trust.
The TDIF is regarded as a world-leading accreditation framework for digital identity providers. It has supported the implementation of best-practice digital identity policies in Australia’s government and corporate sectors.
The TDIF has evolved and continues to adapt in response to changes in the service delivery landscape and consumer expectations as digital identification technology quickly evolves. It has gone through four major revisions, with a fifth now in the works.
In addition to incorporating accrediting programme findings, the next version (release 5) aims to prepare the TDIF for the future of digital identity as verifiable credentials and digital wallets become more popular and technology continues to grow at a rapid pace.
More than 9 million Australians, on the other hand, have decided to create a Digital Identity (using myGovID to build a Basic, Standard, or Strong identity) to access over 125 government services online, with 26 services supplied by states and territories. Over the past year, 1.3 million people used their Digital Identity more than once while 12,000 people have used their Digital Identity more than 65 times.
“We also have more than 1.4 million businesses that use Digital Identity to access business services, like our tax agency. This makes it easier for them to do business by reducing the amount of paperwork they have to do,” Lucy reveals.
Identification fraud can be reduced using a digital identity. In Australia, Digital Identity is predicted to save the economy AU$3 billion per year from identity theft and online fraud. The Australian Government Digital Identity System also provides extra privacy and security safeguards, such as no central database where papers are held, the inability to trace or sell a person’s behaviour, and all information being securely encrypted.
On the surface, this looks to be a simple issue. But, a response must include service standards, service design, accountability systems, collaborative service delivery with other jurisdictions, feedback mechanisms, open data and open government.
The design of performance metrics to monitor end-user experience begins with the service design. That is, gathering baseline data, investigating what data is accessible and, most crucially, finding the questions that yield performance data to enable continual improvement.
Monitoring the performance of a service or product is frequently done through a lens other than digital. The annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), for example, provides an annual study of government services in terms of equity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
The RoGs must incorporate state and territory government services as well as those of the Australian Government because other similar service experiences can influence user satisfaction ratings.
All government services must pause and assess how well they are satisfying the requirements of their users. myGov, the largest platform for providing government services to citizens, is currently subject to an independent user audit. The audit’s recommendations are expected to have significant implications for government service delivery across the board.
The Australian Public Sector (APS), like many other organisations and institutions around the world, is reorienting and evolving to embrace digital transformation and harness the power of data. “Realising that these are critical to our ability to continue to effectively serve the interests of Australia and the Australian people in a world defined by increasing speed and complexity,” says Lucy.
She agrees that it’s hard to keep the momentum and focus needed for long-term digital transformation with all the other priorities and crises that the public sector has to deal with at the same time. A key part of this is recognising and emphasising the link between digital transformation and trust and satisfaction in government on the part of citizens.
Even though the pandemic forced people to rely on their governments more, the overall trend is obvious. Against this backdrop, the Australian Government has made it a top priority and a requirement for the APS to do its job to win back the trust of the people.
“In the DTA, we make it clear how the ongoing digital transformation and the whole-of-government reform agenda are linked and depend on each other,” Lucy asserts.
The agency continues to stress the importance of services that focus on people and are easy to use. They are also building strategies that support the transformation that is sustainable, efficient, and centred on people. She points out that Australians who are happy with government services are twice as likely to trust their government.
Paving the Way for the Future of Digital Transformation
Australia is experiencing the effects of the rapid rate at which the digital world is evolving. Its APS Reform, which has a 2030 perspective, provides the government with a clear vision for the transformation of the public sector. The main objective of this agenda is to revolutionise how digital is done by making the APS more effective and efficient.
Ensuring that people and businesses are at the centre of policy and services is a core tenet of APS Reform. To ensure that transformation meets and surpasses user expectations, early and meaningful interaction and co-design are given a lot of attention in the digital space.
Trust is an issue for governments everywhere and is closely related to citizen expectations. In Australia, as in many other nations, public trust in the government had been dwindling before the outbreak. Although COVID had a brief uptick, regaining the public’s trust remains a major problem facing the government and its institutions.
To ensure that the government puts its constituents at its centre, the digitisation of government is key to the endeavour to reestablish confidence. The Independent Review of the APS in 2019 recognised this priority, and the nation is already moving in the right direction.
The key will be to define who is responsible for delivering initiatives and to raise the transparency of the progress by publicising how well key metrics are performing. However, confidence is not just dependent on how well-run and open the government’s operations are. It includes safeguarding data as well.
Criminal and state-based actors are rapidly developing their offensive capabilities, which is causing the cyber threat landscape to change all the time. These more sophisticated cyber-attacks are aimed against Australia.
A big compromise of Australian Government networks is a matter of “when,” not “if,” without massive reorganisation and cyber upgrading. “In light of this, we are hardening the government’s own IT, through a centralised model of cyber security services, called Cyber Hubs. We’re currently testing the feasibility of the Cyber Hubs model through a pilot. So far the pilot has shown the centralisation of the provision of services can help improve cyber security,” Lucy explains.
The government and institutions have vast amounts of information about Australians. This data is the fuel that drives the progress of artificial intelligence. Over the next 5 to 10 years, there is a chance to harness this data and use AI to innovate and improve public service delivery, resulting in better efficiency and transformation. But AI’s use of this data comes with risks and challenges for everyone, including the public sector. These risks and challenges need to be handled morally and responsibly.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but its application could represent the next step in the digital revolution of service delivery. AI is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Large datasets are currently being used by governments and institutions to train AI models and make them more useful.
However, when these datasets become scarce, governments and industries will be forced to find new ways to improve AI programmes. Quantum computing is one such method. Quantum computing refers to a class of supercomputers based on quantum mechanics.
To process information, these quantum computers employ the laws of quantum mechanics. That is, they can detect patterns in data that are nearly impossible to detect using traditional computers. They are substantially different from today’s computers in this regard.
Lucy believes if these powerful AI capabilities are utilised responsibly and data is saved and maintained safely, confidence and trust in government and institutions will grow. “More will need to be done in the next 5 to 10 years to integrate human values like transparency and fairness with AI’s goals of efficiency.”
Lucy is optimistic about the future and the role the DTA will play in guiding the government on developments in digital and ICT. She sees great potential for the agency to act as a government advisory body for its tech-enabled initiatives going forward as well as to serve the country in its digital ambitions. In summary, that is what she believes the agency exists for – to aid the public sector to offer the best citizen experience possible and help the nation thrive.
The MIDA-MPMA conference on Government Assistance at MIDA’s headquarters aimed to provide insights to participants on various government policies, facilitations and assistance for the manufacturing sector specifically the plastics industry. As the plastics industry continues to grow, it is important that companies, particularly SMEs, focus on innovation and raise productivity to compete and capture new opportunities.
The initiative was co-organised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA). MIDA’s Chief Executive Officer, in his keynote address, highlighted that the agency has proactively taken the initiative to ensure investors have the necessary access to the right infrastructure, proper facilities and skilled talent to cater to the requirements of businesses.
Among the initiatives and assistance provided by MIDA to manufacturers of plastics products include the Smart Automation Grant Industry4WRD Intervention Fund, Automation Capital Allowance (ACA) and Domestic Investment Coordination Platform (DICP). Besides innovation, companies have also adopted automation by leveraging on ACA to increase productivity and address challenges in a tight labour market, he said.
Malaysia is committed to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. For this, MIDA and MPMA are working closely together to drive industry collaboration and understand the demand and supply of recycled plastics resources.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, the MPMA’s Vice-President stated that the plastics industry continues to face tremendous challenges including a shortage of labour, an increase in cost arising from the increase in minimum wages and rising interest rates as well as a slump in overseas demand, particularly, from the developed countries which are experiencing an economic slowdown.
Looking ahead, plastics manufacturers shifting towards high technologies and factory efficiency to reduce their dependency on foreign workers and low-skilled labour is unavoidable. Investing in the latest technology and human skills is one of the options for companies to continue to move up the value chain. The ability of the plastics industry to produce high-quality products at competitive prices will strengthen Malaysia’s role as a supporting industry, and in turn, attract more foreign direct investments.
As investing in high technology and automation is a long-term process and given the fact that 90% of plastics companies are SMEs, continued assistance and support from the government in the form of grants, incentives and financing is crucial. This will enable more plastics companies to have sufficient resources to invest in advanced machinery and new product development for sustainable growth.
The MIDA-MPMA Conference on Government Assistance featured sessions by speakers from MIDA, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRBM), Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad (MIDF), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), United Overseas Bank Limited and TalentCorp Malaysia.
Malaysian plastics products exhibited resilience through the pandemic and continue a steady growth due to their properties and functionality as one versatile material despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 2022, 33 projects were approved in this sub-sector with an accumulated investment of RM503.5 million.
Moving ahead, the synergies between MIDA and MPMA would continue for years to come to help in accelerating Malaysia’s advancement in the plastic industry.
Information and communication technology (ICT) is used in a smart city to improve government efficiency, public engagement and the standard of living for its residents.
Advanced technologies and data analytics are at the heart of the concept of a “smart city,” whose primary goals are the enhancement of city services, the promotion of economic growth, and the betterment of residents’ quality of life.
The recent pandemic and other critical events have forced the citizens of the Philippines, as it has in other countries, to rely on their government for a wide range of services to be offered innovatively.
Agencies moved rapidly to digitalise services and set standards for data storage, security and workflow. Central and local governments have implemented a wide range of ICT strategies to lessen the impact of these catastrophes.
For instance, Makati City, the business capital of the Philippines, launched the Makatizen Card and the Makatizen App to offer financial help and services, such as online legal assistance, teleconsultations, and online learning, to its residents.
Challenges Turn Inspiration: Embarking on Smart City Projects
“We will be able to increase our revenue and service efficiency through innovation,” Charles asserts, citing the recently launched “MakaTurismo” website to underscore his point, which was made to help the local tourism sector.
The website is Metro Manila’s first travel website focused on attracting tourists into a post-pandemic environment. Apart from the lifestyle centres, eateries, and hotels, the City of Makati is home to numerous undiscovered treasures, such as special historical sites.
Since it includes details about the city’s tourist attractions, lodging options and free walking tours, the project could significantly assist businesses in attracting clients and customers.
While discussions of digital transformation typically centre on improvements to remote working capabilities, Makati City has instead begun investing in infrastructure upgrades. As a result, they are modernising their server infrastructure by switching from a physical to a software-defined network (SDN) and merging various data centres.
Charles noted that Makati City is concerned with project implementation and database consolidation. In addition, they integrate analytics into all projects and increase automation to improve their functional services.
Makati City opened the Makatizen Hub in 2021, to further assist its citizens in their transactions during the ongoing pandemic. The local government has set up satellite offices so that everything can be done online.
Charles emphasises that, as they integrate technology in a variety of ways, they are centralising a strategic approach to planning and managing the direction of the city government’s use of technology.
To accommodate its diverse population, Makati provides a wide range of publicly available services. In addition, there are services designed exclusively for residents, catering to their unique requirements based on factors such as age, health, education and overall satisfaction with life.
The city has been able to successfully manage these programmes, but officials are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. This is made possible in large part by technological advancements. As the population of Makati expands, so do the city’s needs and the hopes and dreams of its residents.
The responsibility of the administration lies in anticipating the wants and needs of the people. By bolstering them with cutting-edge tech, agencies can reimagine service delivery and foresee what people will need in the future.
As an example of a programme designed for the future but implemented today, the Makatizen Card is a useful tool. The Makatizen Card is an innovative programme that provides residents of Makati with access to a variety of new social, informational, identifying and financial services.
For more than half a million people living in Makati, this single government-issued ID card unifies access to a wide range of economic and social services.
Charles is one of the authors of IT Security – the Security 3.0 book, published by Mithra Publishing in London. It discusses the infrastructure framework’s fundamentals that underpin the city’s primary data centre and the local government information system that has recently undergone upgrades.
“The data centre’s IT capabilities can only be improved through upgrades. By upgrading ageing or inefficient IT assets, they improve reliability, performance, efficiency, cost, security, and uptime -which resulted in serving the public efficiently,” Charles explains, further elaborating on the steps taken by the municipal government to improve flood and earthquake early warning systems.
Makati was named the first-ever Resilience Hub in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian Region by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in the third quarter of this year.
According to the UNDRR, a resilience hub is a city, municipality, or local authority with the political will and expertise to take action to reduce vulnerability to disasters and climate change. With the help of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign (MCR), which Makati joined in 2010, the city has successfully integrated disaster risk reduction into all its strategic plans and programmes. The region’s cities have joined several international networks to learn from and implement its DRR best practices.
Additionally, in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry – Board of Investments (DTI-BOI), Digital Pilipinas officially launched its Innovative Cities initiative to technologically advance one city at a time. It does this by bringing together local government agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to establish numerous centres of excellence.
In association with the Resiliency Innovation Sustainability & Entrepreneurship (RISE) Certification Programme, the City of Makati was selected as the programme’s pilot location. With a focus on making the Philippines relevant in digitalisation and Web 3.0 conversation, the Innovative Cities initiative seeks to increase the Philippines’ innovation and technology quotient to support local economies and expand their industries.
The city’s digital transformation journey in local government has been completed at minimal or no cost. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been used to implement larger-scale projects and some solutions have been provided for free in exchange for Makati serving as a model for the adoption of these technologies by other LGUs and institutions. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, Makati was still able to serve its citizens efficiently without endangering their health.
A true and effective digitalisation strategy entails a fundamental rethinking of the traditional organisational structures of industrial activities and business models to make them significantly better.
With the help of Makati Mayor Abby Binay, who is very encouraging of digital transformation, these initiatives were able to come to fruition. Charles believes that the use of technology and innovations is merely a tool to accomplish this goal, so it’s critical to pick the approaches that can most effectively help an application achieve its objectives.
“Digital transformation is, at its core, a mindset. It is a long-term, ongoing journey rather than a single undertaking or endpoint. As the business changes and appropriate technologies become available, iteration is necessary.”
Thailand’s digital economy has expanded tremendously in recent years and is poised for additional growth. In line with this, the Thailand 4.0 strategy seeks to turn the nation into Southeast Asia’s innovation and knowledge-based digital centre.
The country is well on its way. The European Centre for Digital Competitiveness classified Thailand as the second most digitally competitive country in 2020, attributing its success to expanding its ecosystem and the region’s shifting perspective toward recognition.
Despite the considerable growth potential for Thailand’s digital economy, the country faces several obstacles to reaching its full potential. These include a digital talent shortage and a delay in the adoption of digital solutions by small and medium organisations.
Both the public and private sectors are eager to learn about successful digital transformation methods as they recognise such insights are critical for businesses to survive and grow in the current digital landscape.
Fostering Digital Transformation and Competitiveness in Thailand
Dr Kasititorn shares that the country has achieved its national target in the Thailand Digital Economy and Society Development Plan, which is in line with Thailand’s 20-Year Strategy. To fully integrate digital technology into every aspect of business in Thailand, they have been working on this plan since 2018.
This national plan is comprised of 4 phases 1) digital foundation 2) digital inclusion 3) full digital transformation and 4) global digital leadership.
“We are off to a solid start as our first two phases have been successfully implemented and influencing Thai’s economy are currently in the third phase.”
Even a cursory observation shows that there is a high level of digital awareness among Thai people, while analysed data reveals more.
As per a survey by the National Statistical Office of Thailand, 93.8% of the country’s population use mobile phones and 68.1% take advantage of mobile banking in 2021, giving Thailand the top spot in the world. In addition, 86.3% use the internet and 87.7% have access to the internet at home.
Dr Kasititorn emphasises that Thailand is very well equipped for the impending transformation that it will experience soon. “To bolster the depa’s efforts through the Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan, we have been supporting the use of digital technology in diverse sectors, starting with agriculture, manufacturing and services and moving on to communities to progress towards Thailand 4.0.”
As of today, most industries have already surpassed a 2.0 digital density index, with the service sectors like finance and tourism leading the way.
To cater to the demand side of the digital economy, the depa also promotes the supply side, including digital entrepreneurs and suppliers. As a digital workforce is essential for effectively transforming the nation, the depa has been working with various groups of individuals for training, retraining and upskilling.
“We aspire that Thailand achieves digital transformation on a national scale with all sectors and all groups of people embracing digital technologies,” says Dr Kasititorn.
They intend to accomplish this goal by first, getting all sectors, particularly SMEs, ready for digital transformation. The industry must recognise the power of digital technology that could support the expansion of their businesses. This strategy makes use of mechanisms like awareness-raising, capacity-building, business matching and finance in the form of incentive vouchers for matching money.
Second, increasing the capacity and standards of digital service providers. Without dependable digital services, indigenous industries would not be able to achieve digital integration. The depa strives to increase the capacity and level of service offered by digital service providers.
The standardisation voucher, startup fund, RDI fund, and other similar funds are all tools used to assist digital service providers. To ensure that the sector has enough talent to fuel the development of product and service innovation, the digital industry can also be promoted through the development of its human resources.
Third, Building a digital ecosystem in Thailand. Thailand Digital Valley (TDV) aims to build Thailand’s digital ecosystem and prepare Thailand to serve as an ASEAN Digital Hub.
TDV will stimulate investments from top-tier technology corporations and startups while promoting the growth of digital services and technologies. TDV will also support the development of Thai entrepreneurs and digital service providers’ competitiveness and competence so that they can compete on a global scale.
When asked if digital transformation needs a cultural paradigm shift, Dr Kasititorn concurs. She is convinced that such a shift results from the necessity to alter the entire system. For entrepreneurs to transition from the analogue era to the digital one, they must adopt a new and distinct style of thinking.
A great example of the need for a perspective is the agricultural sector. According to the study findings of the depa’s Digital Density Index Series 2021, the concentration of digital technology adoption in agriculture (ranging from 1.0 to 4.0) is still around 2.0 at every step of production.
Most farmers who do not use digital technologies are inexperienced small farmers with limited resources. Given that Thailand is primarily an agricultural country, the sector may need to undergo the greatest change.
It must transition from the traditional labour-intensive one to the technology-intensive one. For instance, using drones, robots, sensors, big data and artificial intelligence for farm operation and supply chain management.
For the agriculture sector to be digitalised, there will need to be a paradigm shift in mindset, significant investment in training new generations of farmers and substantial initial expenditure.
Most Thai manufacturing companies already understand that they must embrace digital transformation if they are to survive and grow in the new era of production. As manufacturing involves a significant amount of business and technological expertise as well as long-term investment commitment, businesses are cautiously and slowly transitioning to the digital era.
To support this, it will be necessary to leverage technologies like ERP, IoT, Big Data, AI, Advanced Robotics, AR/VR, and 3D printing for a variety of purposes, including cost-cutting, boosting productivity and operational efficiency, managing supply chains and developing new goods and services.
Finally, when it comes to the service sector, Thailand’s tertiary companies have made significant progress in their digital transformation efforts. Tourism and allied businesses, transportation and logistics and finance and banking are the main industries that have excelled in the digital revolution.
The tourism sector has undergone a significant digital revolution, as most tourists now buy goods and services online. Thailand has gradually digitised its transportation and logistics systems, which has had a multiplicative impact on the effectiveness and productivity of other economic sectors. Sectors like health and education that are undergoing constant digital transformation come after these top performers. As across the globe, Thai banks and other financial institutions have long since gone digital, ensuring almost all offerings and services can be availed offline.
The third phase of the Digital Thailand programme, which aims to fully integrate digital technology into every sector, is now underway in Thailand, according to Dr Kasititorn. “We have done quite well in terms of basic telecommunications infrastructure with numerous wired and wireless networks nationwide to provide services at a relatively affordable rate with exceptions on the very remote area.”
At this point, Thailand’s challenge is to make sure that these networks are utilised to their full potential. In the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors – which employ practically all the labour force in the nation – they are attempting to speed up the transformation.
During the post-pandemic period, the industrial sector showed signs of improvement while sharing a 2.0 digital adoption rate. The service SMEs that are still falling behind will require more attention, even though the service industries may have been performing relatively well in the digital transformation.
To encourage stakeholders across all industries to go outside of their comfort zones and begin their digital transformation processes, it is still of utmost importance to inform them about the potential that comes with digital technology and innovation.
“We do this with various kinds of support from financial incentives such as tax reduction, exemption, grant funding, and matching funds to non-financial measures such as capacity building, networking, business matching and technical support,” Dr Kasititorn asserts.
Increasing Thailand’s Digital Transformation for Future Landscape
According to Dr Kasititorn, digital transformation is the process of inducing and designing changes that are required to disrupt present processes or practise – at the organisational, industry, or national levels – and is supported by digital innovation. It is necessary to take a comprehensive strategy for transformation, and technology is only one component of what must be done.
At the national level, it frequently entails changes in the thinking of all players involved, notably leaders, as well as laws and rules governing how the country and government operate. In terms of technology, one must recognise that digital is not just an enabler but also a disruptor, necessitating a new way of thinking and planning.
“To drive Digital Transformation in Thailand to make big changes, we should not be only technology users but also be able to build the capacity to create and generate digital innovation along the way. With this, we need to build human capital in both qualitative and quantitative terms,” Dr Kasititorn says emphatically.
She has been involved in at least five national ICT policies during his nearly 20 years of research. The latest and current one is the 20-year Thailand Digital Economy and Society Development Plan, driving towards Digital Thailand. She believes that all her research contributes somewhat to the policy-making process and categorises his research into two different groups.
The first group is the research conducted with the drafting of ICT policy or plans as the objective from the outset.
The second group of research is to conduct research on specific issues ranging from research on the current and future situation of the ICT industry and markets to an international trade negotiation affecting the ICT and digital industry. “Normally, we provide policy recommendations which translated into internal policy or strategy preparation. We are not typically part of the negotiation process, though.”
As a part-time lecturer, Dr Kasititorn teaches courses on either ICT public policy or the socioeconomic implications of technology. “I frame my course in such a way that I will use my practitioner’s experience working in the policy arena to extend the student’s breadth of thinking, rather than theory.”
In this approach, she hopes that learners would grasp Thailand’s digital ecology and terrain, as well as the rapid changes that occur. She wants people to deeply comprehend the socioeconomic progress that digital technology has driven or influenced. “However, I intend to demonstrate how society can determine the path of technology, as well as the interplay between many elements and stakeholders. I like to bring global and national phenomena into the classroom to spark discussion.”
By 2027, most Thais should have inexpensive access to wired and wireless (4G/ 5G service networks), as stipulated by the 2nd Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan (2023–2027), led by the depa, and possess a suitable level of digital literacy. With almost 100,000 digital-based businesses, Thailand’s real-world industries are expected to reach the 3.0–4.0 stage of digital adoption.
The foundation of practical applications that result in long-term socioeconomic effects will be digital technologies such as 5G, IoT, Big Data, AI, Robotics, Blockchain, AR/VR. Robots and AI, for instance, will replace labour-intensive industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and even the service sector, increasing productivity and revenue.
“As a result, we anticipate integrating digital technology and innovation across all sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, and services – to boost the GDP of the nation,” Dr Kasititorn explains.
Included in the 5-year term, the 2nd Digital Economy Promotion Master Plan (2023 – 2027) has been developed to focus on 4 strategies.
- Reskill, upskill, and fill a digital talent pool to create 500,000 digital workers for the digital economy and society;
- Transform the traditional economy into a high-value digital economy, with targets of 100,000 digital-based firms and all actual sectors, including local communities, reaching a Digital Density Index level of 3.0;
- Create new opportunities and inclusive economic development, with one city ranking among the top ten livable smart cities in the world and around 95% of people having digital access and literacy; and
- Optimise the usage of digital infrastructure with the goal of establishing two new significant digital infrastructure projects to build up deep-tech capability and attract three global technology companies to invest in Thailand.
Dr Kasititorn added that to ensure long-term growth, they are constructing a digital ecosystem with the necessary infrastructure. Thailand Digital Valley (TDV), a 12-acre digital innovation centre located in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), has been built for this aim.
The TDV consists of five cutting-edge buildings equipped with the necessary infrastructure, innovation labs, and a digital ecosystem for world-leading technology firms and Thai digital startups to coexist, fostering the kind of synergy that will aid in the development of new digital products and services that to be sold in both domestic and global markets.
Investors in this special economic zone are also entitled to tax and non-tax benefits such as up to 13 years of exemption from the company and personal income tax, flat-rate personal income tax, and Smart VISA privileges.
Thailand’s primary priority is expected to be digital transformation. The final objective cannot be accomplished just by the government but must be accomplished in partnership with alliances and partners both at home and abroad.
“Our digital vision for Thailand 4.0 is solid, but the sharing of ideas and views is critical to the mission’s success,” says Dr Kasititorn.
The country is looking to explore partnerships and relationships that contribute to the country’s development as well as the world at large. In this vein, she is excited to collaborate with OpenGov Asia and its international networks to identify new opportunities and projects to help Thailand realise its digital potential.
Malaysia intends to launch more catalytic projects to help the country achieve its goal of becoming a regional leader in the digital economy by 2030.
As part of the country’s efforts to establish itself as a global leader in the digital economy, MyDIGITAL was created to assist in the implementation of the government’s goals in this region. Hence, the government’s current priority is improving the accessibility of public services by establishing specialised digital infrastructure.
It aims to increase the scope and quality of public services and boost the effectiveness of e-government portals by monitoring and analysing developments. State and local governments must provide better services to citizens while stretching taxpayer ringgit as far as possible.
Data services must use traditional data to accomplish this by enhancing its robustness, availability and validity as well as by providing metadata-like elements that are not often present. Public sector technology leaders should focus on producing data outputs, such as organisational, transferable, and procedural data.
By implementing new technologies, organisations can make better use of their existing IT resources, freeing up staff to focus on modernisation projects like cloud-native development and hybrid cloud. Tools like data modelling, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) software are examples of enablers.
Moreover, the public sector must use technology to modernise services for the future by developing data-sharing policies and agreements, developing a plan for handling data-sharing circumstances including data minimisation, data security and privacy; and establishing safe access-controlled systems.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 17 November 2022 at Pulse Grande Hotel, Putrajaya with Malaysia’s top public sector leaders offered the most recent information on the public sector digital transformation advancement journey towards the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.
Enhancing Malaysian Public Services with Digital Technology
According to Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, e-Government portals become more effective by tracking and analysing progress. This can be accomplished by enabling dedicated digital technology to improve public service delivery.
The government’s goal of making Malaysia a high-income country that is focused on digitalisation and is a regional leader in the digital economy is reflected in the MyDIGITAL initiative. And the steps taken to realise the MyDIGITAL aspirations are outlined in the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint.
The direction of the digital economy’s contribution to the Malaysian economy will be determined by this blueprint, which also lays the groundwork for the national drive toward digitalisation and the closing of the digital divide.
During Phase 1 (2021–2022), the Malaysian government intends to accelerate digital adoption to strengthen the digital foundation required for the swift and smooth rollout of Phases 2 and 3.
To make the country a regional leader in digital content and cybersecurity, Phase 3 (2026-2030) would focus on these areas after Phase 2 (2023-2025) has successfully driven digital transformation and inclusion across the digital economy.
“The public sector must use technology to update services for the future,” Mohit asserts. “They can do this by planning how to handle data-sharing situations; making rules and contracts for data-sharing; including privacy, data security, and data minimisation; and setting up security systems with controlled access.”
As an example, Mohit cited the Malaysian Government Central Data Exchange (MyGDX). It is a platform for data sharing that consists of several standards, tools, components, repositories and registries that would allow the transfer of data from various source agencies to target agencies in a predetermined data format.
MyGDX offers data brokerage services for information that is frequently requested by client-serving organisations. Cross-agency data-sharing management is made simpler and more effective by MyGDX. Government organisations that have registered with MyGDX as users currently include statutory bodies, local governments, and federal, state and agency organisations.
The nation’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is the Personal Data Protection Department (PDPD). The primary goal of this division is to ensure that individuals’ private information gained through business dealings is not misappropriated or otherwise abused by user data.
Automation is a valuable tool that can help any organisation meet the needs and expectations of its clients while remaining cost-effective. It could also help in terms of real-time information for decision-making. “Automation can accelerate the digital transformation process by increasing productivity and ensuring service effectiveness,” Mohit explains.
Mohit is pleased to note that the Malaysian government aims to establish a strong cyber security culture. They want to gain knowledge on how to deal with new and developing technologies so that the country can minimise risk and safeguard its organisations using uniform policies, procedures and equipment.
All these measures will establish Malaysia as a digitally advanced one that offers its citizens the best possible experience with robust security.
Kelvin Loh, Senior Manager, Solution Architecture, ASEAN, Red Hat explored how data helps improve people’s lives and speeds up the innovation process.
“Data is essential to business because it spurs innovation and increases competitiveness. However, pandemic-driven lockdowns and social isolation highlighted its significance and accelerated digital transformation to unprecedented levels.”
A well-implemented, robust data strategy is about more than just optimising costs and revenue. The effectiveness of the processes and the well-being of people will have a ripple effect on the community in which an organisation resides as well as the community from which employees hail.
According to Kelvin, modern technology is essential for providing effective medical care. Smart technology has recently attracted the attention of medical innovation and research on a global scale. It plays a crucial role in modern healthcare by making it easier to identify conditions and patterns of health and, most importantly, by enabling treatments that could save lives.
This level of technology includes voice and massive data communication, wearables that can monitor a person’s health, predictive detection of abnormalities and infections and AI-driven devices.
The state of humanity has significantly improved thanks to medical advances. Innovation for lifesaving entails developing, deploying, and updating ML models and software quickly.
The incalculable billions of dollars in savings to patients, their families, insurers, employers, governments and hospitals from avoided medical expenses associated with keeping people healthy or curing them of a life-long, chronic condition are a benefit of these medical advancements, both past and present, that is frequently overlooked.
Red Hat incorporates sustainability into all its business practices to lessen the company’s negative impact on the environment.
Enhancing energy efficiency programmes, expanding renewable energy contracts to support the full operations of the top-consuming facilities, and implementing sustainable design standards throughout our offices were among the 2021 initiatives. All three of these actions were taken to cut consumption.
Moreover, with data pointing to the business efficiencies, cost-benefits and competitive advantages it possesses, a large portion of the business community will cease to exist without it.
Cloud service providers run services on their servers, which are always connected to the internet. Since their business depends on customers trusting them, they use cloud security methods to keep customer information private and safe.
Digital transformation in government, which makes use of cutting-edge technologies, aims to give citizens more accessible, reasonably priced, and customer-focused services on both a national and local level, believes David Graham, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Carlsbad.
Technology has an impact on almost every aspect of a person’s daily life, including access to food and healthcare, transportation efficiency and safety, socialisation and productivity.
Excitingly, the influence and reach of the internet have aided in the development of global communities and made it simpler to share knowledge and resources.
By combining cutting-edge digital technologies with human understanding, public sector organisations may be able to transform and streamline their operations, improving the value of taxpayer dollars and public services.
“Technology has an important role in society. Our way of life is changing and will continue to change in every way. It is changing how we communicate, do business, learn, and teach, as well as how our brains work,” says David.
The development of technology has also altered how people learn. To provide the best learning experience, people must adapt and create new strategies to meet the changing needs of the environment in the digital age.
In the context of the digital maturity model, David views connected communities as the transformative connections that can arise between data, systems and people, ultimately resulting in better citizen services and collective empirical, data-driven decision-making.
For instance, the idea of ridesharing connects people using data, helping both drivers and passengers choose the best partners for each trip based on geographic information, budgetary considerations, and service levels.
Organisations today are impacted by the technology tsunami, pressure for continuous improvement, a gap between operational needs and public tech experience, resource limitations and uncertainty.
There are four characteristics of the innovation culture:
- Empower and
The list of opportunities is long and includes things like community involvement, infrastructure, economic development, mobility, land use and housing, organisational excellence and public safety.
The pandemic has brought attention to the widespread issue of inequality in access to online services. In the current landscape, everyone should have access to connectivity, but many do not. This digital divide, David well knows, is a serious and pressing issue.
To ensure a fair distribution of digital opportunities across nations, locations, gender, socioeconomic status and age – in jobs, education, and quality of life – closing the gap is essential. The key to doing this is connectivity.
Data analytics, in David’s opinion, is significant because it aids in the performance optimisation of businesses. By finding more cost-effective ways to conduct business and storing a lot of data, companies can help reduce costs by incorporating it into their business model.
David advises organisations to properly define their problem, particularly in terms of technology, before strategising and developing solutions. “It is also necessary to have a vision and leadership to develop strategies and actions.”
Tammy Tan, Country Manager, Malaysia, Red Hat, agrees that the pandemic not only disrupted lives but also prompted organisations to redefine who they are and where they are going.
“Digital disruption is accelerating across businesses and governments, and all segments, hence we need to take advantage of these shifts to rebound faster,” Tammy says. “Although the road to complete recovery is lengthy, it is paved with opportunities.”
Organisations that had already begun their digital transformation journeys were able to recover with increased productivity and efficiency. These companies have changed the game by successfully utilising innovation and technology to move staff, clients, and businesses to the “Next Normal.”
According to reports, the digital revolution over the last two years has increased access to and use of financial services all over the world. the transformation of how people borrow, save and make payments.
“In Asia, for example, we saw an increase in digital payments, with many of our financial customers launching new apps and services to meet their ever-growing customer needs,” Tammy shares.
More than half of all ICT investment will be linked to digital transformation by 2024 according to IDC Digital Transformation Predictions. As CIOs and IT leaders define the new normal for themselves, open-source technology is likely to be at the forefront.
Future businesses will increasingly demand a cutting-edge digital infrastructure that is highly resilient, adaptable, agile, and scalable indefinitely to provide digitally enabled goods, services, and experiences.
“As a Red Hatter, I am reminded of our core value: WE use open-source software to help customers succeed,” says Tammy. “Because it brings together people with different experiences to work together to solve a common problem and spark new ideas, open source has paved the way as the innovation driver for the software industry.”
Red Hat provides its platforms to customers in the most straightforward manner possible across on-premises environments, cloud services, and the edge.
Organisations that consider themselves to be in the “leading” or “accelerating” stages of their digital transformation strongly prefer hybrid cloud when it comes to cloud strategy. Red Hat can robustly address typical customer challenges in the following areas through its offerings:
- Application Development
- Platform Simplification
- Enterprise Automation
- Data Science
The company is passionate about more than just the software. They are keenly aware that their expertise and knowledge will lead to better times ahead. “At Red Hat, we think that being open unlocks the potential of the world, and we want to help you build your future right now.”
Cheow Siew May, Country Sales Manager, Malaysia, Intel Corporation recognises that hybrid operating models are becoming more common in industries. Today, machines, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors are collecting more and more data, which organisations must decipher and use to build smart business operations.
For many organisations, the edge represents the next step in the evolution of the open hybrid cloud. Against this backdrop, Red Hat and Intel are setting up labs and innovation centres that will be supported by both companies. “We are working together to set up hands-on lab environments around the world to speed up innovation at the edge with customers and partners.”
The goal is to help organisations build data-driven solutions and applications that can support containerised hybrid cloud workloads and give the industrial ecosystem more sustainable operations and more flexibility. “Intel is committed to the cloud journey and we encourage all organisations to approach us to help them on theirs.”
Mohit knows that partnerships can help businesses take advantage of the current digital wave by enabling them to jointly develop game-changing innovations and business models.
Digital transformation is a journey and partnerships that are mutually beneficial help both parties enhance their interactions with customers and stakeholders, as well as their ability to compete, resulting in a substantial increase in profitable revenue.
In the end, digital transformation exists to serve citizens and customers. As the overall CX is improved through technology, it increases confidence in a nation’s government and reflects positively on an organisation’s recovery, reputation and revenue.
Monash University Malaysia and a consumer electronics company have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build an integrated biology centre in Malaysia. Under the agreement, the two will combine their strengths in analytical techniques and biomedical knowledge to accelerate research and development (R&D) in the field of science over the next three years.
These R&D environments focused on providing analytical expertise for both small and large molecules will improve the scientific knowledge on developing better anti-venom and other applied biology research for publications and potential clinical usage.
The integrated laboratory will strengthen the parties’ individual portfolios in building local research capabilities, hosting scientists across Malaysia and providing researchers with more significant outcomes in support of their research work.
The centre consists of one lab with state-of-the-art instruments from the tech firm such as a gas-chromatography mass spectrometer (GCMS), liquid-chromatography mass spectrometer (LCMS), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machine and a supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) machine. Examples of ongoing research projects that tie in with the facility include researching the efficacy of snake venom for cancer treatment, research on brain cancer or glioblastoma and research on antivenom development.
This MoU sets another significant milestone for more excellent research and industrial collaboration between Monash University Malaysia and the tech firm. It also reaffirms our strong partnership and collaboration, which spans more than ten years, according to the Deputy Head of School (Research), Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, during the MoU signing ceremony. He added that the firm’s Integrated Biology facility aims to support the biomedical, pharmaceutical, and clinical research conducted at Monash Malaysia.
Commenting on the partnership, the Malaysia General Manager of the tech firm stated that this collaboration reflects the firm’s commitment to raising local science R&D capabilities and delivering advanced analytical solutions. They understand the importance that their customers place on translational research for societal impact, and they will further value-add by helping our customers achieve trusted insights and superior outcomes in their labs.
Over the last 20 years in Malaysia, the tech firm has expanded into a 200,000 sq. ft facility in Penang with more than 630 skilled scientists, engineers, and employees to support scientific research locally, regionally, and globally. The company has made significant contributions with the ongoing collaborations with the government, academia and industry, positioning Malaysia as a beacon of innovation, enabling the technologies of tomorrow.
The Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences has over 15 years of experience delivering outstanding medical, psychology and health sciences education. As part of a research university with an emphasis on research-led teaching, medical research is a vital component of the school’s activity.
Commenting on the collaboration, the President, and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia, stated that the University is deeply committed to the partnership with tech firm as the values shared by both parties reflect the University’s strategic plan. He noted Impact 2030 charts a path for how the University will actively contribute to addressing the global challenges of our age, including that of creating and maintaining thriving communities.
Malaysian universities have been keen to partner with other institutions and organisations to produce innovative solutions. Recently, the School of Business at Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) officially inked a new Industry-Academia Collaboration (IAC) with a technology hardware supplier in Malaysia to enable its students to be trained as green entrepreneurs whilst understanding better what sustainability strategy is. This will add to their competitive edge in the market once they graduate.
Smart City Projects in Thailand continue to flourish and evolve. In this, the sharing of data across smart city apps and sectors is a financial and technological growth opportunity from which cities can benefit. Sharing between cities and the development of information interchange show that smart cities have reached the next stage of creating value for citizens and local governments.
The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) is the committee and secretary of the Board of Thailand’s Smart City Development, in addition to encouraging and supporting the economic growth of private enterprises in Thailand.
They manage the planning of Smart City development and provide the rules and mechanisms to sustainably support Smart Cities in Thailand -they ensure that the places need to be well-organised, accessible, and secure.
The Board of Thailand Smart City has decided to construct a City Data Platform (CDP), one of the five Smart City development principles. The CDP is a repository for digital data that facilitates data connectivity and sharing between government departments, private organisations, and municipal residents. To generate the most value for the city, it is also important that personal information be safeguarded.
Smart City: A New Urban Planning Paradigm
In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Dr Passakon Prathombutr, SEVP/CTO Digital Technology and Innovation Development Unit, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), Thailand revealed that there are more than 60 cities around the country that have submitted proposals since the government established the smart city steering committee in 2017.
The committee was eager to promote smart city development and has allowed any city in Thailand to apply for incentives under the government smart city programme.
“Thirty (30) cities have met the requirements and are currently undergoing the development process to become smart cities. Our smart city concept suggests using technology to creatively address urban problems. Of course, the betterment of the citizen is one of the values,” Dr Passakon explains.
Smart cities are multi-sectoral endeavours that have a big impact on daily life with wide-ranging challenges to be addressed. While infrastructure and logistics are issues, he feels the largest obstacle is for city leaders to shift their mindset and accept new technologically based solution paradigms.
Infrastructure and technology are required for a smart city, which has created a substantial market for technology. Numerous opportunities were offered to companies and startups to develop novel solutions.
As part of depa’s approach, according to Dr Passakon, they built an ecosystem to help both the supply and demand sides by utilising a variety of financial channels and capacity-building tools such as training, digital transformation vouchers and business matching.
The City Data Platform (CDP) is the most important part of a Smart City and focuses on the needs and problems of citizens for sustainable development.
“The three features provided by the CDP are the data catalogue, data exchange and data governance allowing a solution provider to quickly examine and incorporate CDP data. The data is mostly open data and follows the same metadata standard for each city,” Dr Passakon elaborates.
He acknowledges that the data is the property of the owners of the data. It could be public or private, hence, the data governance in the CDP would help control the quality of the data and the rights to share.
When it comes to concrete instances and lessons learned from his experience that might be helpful to others, Dr Passakon has suggested starting with the needs of the citizens rather than with technology or solutions. “We must identify the problems, and then match them with practical solutions.”
Dr Passakon knows the importance of engaging the next generation of citizens and is acutely aware of the role of depa. When asked how he encourages the younger generation to take part in smart city projects he shares, “We pass on our knowledge to the next generation via the smart city (young) ambassador programme!”
The Smart City Ambassadors (SCA) Programme aims to encourage the development of smart cities from young people’s fresh viewpoints and to promote local employment that attracts young people to their hometowns.
Before serving as “smart city ambassadors” for participating organisations in the public or private sectors for a period of 12 months, participants receive training to advance their digital skills and fundamental knowledge of smart city development, with the help of local staff serving as their mentors.
They will be able to use their knowledge to address urban problems, identify better city solutions and promote the growth of smart cities in each of their respective regions.
The SCA Programme will be expanded into a second cycle of success, the depa and partners have announced. This time, the goal is to develop the 150 young smart city ambassadors chosen from 150 regions around the country by enhancing their knowledge and abilities in areas pertinent to the mission.
The depa anticipates that the second wave of the SCA Programme will result in 50 emerging smart cities and 150 locations with rising smart city development around the country, in addition to other projects that enhance the quality of life.
The development of smart cities in Thailand is expected to be accelerated by the encouragement of the construction of smart city promotion regions.
Although 105 smart cities are the goal of the national plan for 2027, technology and urban problems will evolve with time. “Our nation needs a sustainable and resilient city that can handle the problem on its own!”
In the next three years, Thailand will deploy best practices and city leaders will become more knowledgeable about digital technology. In addition, over the next five to ten years, the nation will address new challenges and acquire new technologies.
“Today’s solutions will become commonplace as we encounter new issues and technological advancements, necessitating the need for a smarter city. It is a lifelong undertaking,” he acknowledges in conclusion.