Senior executives dealing with ICT from public sector, education and health care organisations in Singapore came together at the OpenGov Leadership Breakfast Dialogue, ‘The Big in Big Data – Managing the unmanageable’ in Singapore on the 10th of November. Two hours of interactive discussion yielded fascinating insights into a range of issues related to collection, storage, sharing and analysis of Big Data.
Christopher Aw (below, second from right), Regional Lead, Public Sector Programs, MarkLogic initiated the dialogue talking about changes in ‘model’, ‘mentality’ and ‘mission’ in the public sector. Data models have evolved from hierarchical to relational to an era, where massive volumes of data, whether it is in military intelligence or patient healthcare records, is unstructured. Storing operational data in relational data models is losing its utility in making sense of the data and gaining insights from it. Mr. Aw quoted a number of 12%, as the proportion of enterprise data which was in highly structured databases, as of 2014.
Mentality is shifting from a system-centric approach, where there are many different applications, each with a different back-end, being fed data from multiple sources. The current trend is in favour of a data-centric approach, where all the data is processed in one place, being loaded and indexed from multiple ever-changing sources and the output is delivered to the right user in the right format in real time.
In terms of ‘mission’, Mr. Aw said that IT is merging with operations. It is leading to requirements such as Joint Metadata catalogs for enabling simultaneous search of disparate databases.
These trends necessitate a shift in the way data is dealt with, the manner of its collection and storage.
Henry Chao, Former Deputy CIO and Deputy Director, Office of Information Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the US shared his experience leading the creation of the insurance marketplace as part of the implementation of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. The Act was hoping to provide affordable coverage to additional 20 million Americans.
Mr. Chao broke down the timeline from the signing of the ACA in March 2010 to the launch of healthcare.gov in October 2013. Such as a vastly ambitious project represented a range of challenges regularly faced during implementation of large-scale ICT projects in the public sector.
There was uncertainty in the scope. It was forever changing. Regulations had to be written that laid out how the programme would operate. For a long, the team operated on a monthly stipend, making it difficult to award contracts. Connections had to be established with a whole bunch of federal and state level agencies. The traditionally months-long process of insurance underwriting had to be reduced to a few seconds. Over 1600 different insurance products had to be integrated and tested.
The information provided by the applicants filling up the online forms had to be preserved, while shifting some of the applicants to state programme more beneficial for them.
It was completely new set of complex problems that had never been dealt with before. Mr. Chao highlighted the key question of when are you going to have enough information to build the critical pieces and have a minimum viable product. The team adopted its own brand of agile development, parallel development of business processes and communication plans with stakeholders.
If they had to absorb the shocks and the volatility of ever-changing requirements, refactoring the relational model as many times as the application code would make the process significantly more challenging. During the last three months, there are 180 builds, an average of 2 a day. In that scenario, you don’t want to be encumbered by a changing relational model. A NoSQL database could help in tackling these issues.
Next, Klaus Felsche (above left), Former Director of Analytics from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia spoke about data needing to support decisions, actions and services. He presented a 3-step process of seeing, understanding and acting to enable evidence-based decision-making and solve business problems.
Governments collect huge amounts of extremely valuable data, which could be potentially used to improve services and consequently the lives of the citizens. Mr. Felsche said, “We now need to construct systems where we don’t know all of the questions data can answer. We don’t even know some of the questions we need to answer.”
But a pre-requisite for this is the ability to collect and store information in a way that it is available for analysis. Mr. Felsche brought up what he called ‘invisible data’. That is data that cannot be used. It might be lying on a tape in a vault somewhere or in some inaccessible part of the network.
Questions and discussion
The first question posed to the delegates was, ‘What are some of the biggest data challenges in your organisation’. 40% responded that it was the difficulty in accessing information. Increasing efforts to manage data and challenges posed by manual aggregation of data garnered 25% and 15% of votes respectively.
Rupert Gwee (below right), Director, Human Resources Transformation Office, National Service Affairs Directorate, Human Resources Division, Ministry of Home Affairs spoke about data not being organised and tagged properly, making it difficult to analyse it. Forward screening is what is required. You have to come up the concept and then articulate the requirements. In other words, it is about having a clear problem statement and figuring out what data sources will have to be grouped together. Otherwise people do not know how to organise the information. It is not collected in a way that would be useful.
The issue of data silos and privacy also surfaced in the subsequent interesting discussion. Vivien Chow (below), Director Applied Innovation and Partnership, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), responded that integration of data from different sources is required. But the different agencies are at different stages of understanding how to anonymise the data. Sometimes the data set on its own might be adequately anonymised. But it could be reidentified when combined with other data sets. The hurdle of effective anonymisation has to be surmounted before encouraging data sharing.
To tackle the issue, GovTech is working on a proof-of-concept (POC) for homomorphic encryption, which can enable analysis of encrypted data. If the POC is successful, it can be used across the government agencies.
Peter Tan Chin Seng (below right), Principal Architect, National Architecture Office, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS) Pte Ltd said that even after anonymisation of identifiers, data can be re-identified sometimes. Especially in the boundary cases. For instance, say 99-year olds with a specific condition.
Mr. Seng also talked about a problem with early technology adoption, as happened in Singapore’s hospitals. Now that there is a lot of data which is difficult to integrate because of change in data structures and existing systems being based on the older ones. Efforts to change in order to harmonise data can face resistance.
Current technology is capable of redacting certain part of the information, such as edge cases, on the fly, whereas before separating out that one vector was difficult. Then the data can be shared without compromising privacy. Encryption, anonymisation and redaction are the three keys to this. Earlier you would need to encrypt the entire database. Now it can be done based on certain criteria.
The conversation veered to the presentation of data. Paul Gagnon, Director, E-Learning, IT Systems and Services, Nanyang Technological University – Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine said that his biggest challenge is to find the best possible way to display data to the front-end user, so that they can find information quickly. Different groups of stakeholders can have widely varying opinions on it and factoring in everyone’s needs or demands can prove to be a tough challenge.
Mr. Felsche said in response that putting out a viable product is important, as subsequent iterations can keep improving it. Trying to satisfy everyone can place government in a gridlock.
The next query to the delegates was about how they manage unstructured data (documents, attachments, pictures, sound, video etc). Here, a majority, 67%, replied that some of the unstructured data is included but it is not possible to include all.
Dr. John Kan, Chief Information Officer, Agency for Science, Technology and Research described the current approach of designing a content management system around the requirements, so that the essential data at least is classified and stored properly. Sometimes, you might need to choose what to manage.
Mr. Seng said that currently transactional systems are mostly relational. So, for dealing with data, metadata is being indexed into blocks. But this needs improvement.
The right metadata can be critical in managing data. Mr. Gwee provided another angle to this aspect:
Sometimes, there is over-analysis on how to use data. Basic analysis can suffice for most government needs. But when you want to move to the next level, that requires a paradigm shift. He gave the example of 300,000 to 360,000 people crossing the Johor–Singapore Causeway every day. The volume is huge and it is not like the airlines, where identity of the passengers is verified in advance. Managing that flow, while avoiding intrusive methods, demands smart approaches. Sometimes, simple ideas could be the smartest and heavy crunching might not be required every time. Like tracking army operations by keeping a tab on purchase of food items from provision shops by the soldiers’ wives.
When asked about the most important IT priorities, responses were split, with 40%, 30% and 20% for digital transformation and innovation, improving efficiencies and costs and developing/ deploying customer-facing applications respectively.
It was pointed out by Mr. Mohamad Azman Jaffar, Deputy Director Information Technology, Public Service Division – Prime Minister's Office that transformation and innovation sort of encompasses the other options. Lim Soo Tong, Chief Information Officer, Jurong Health Services concurred, saying that it is their mission.
Also, earlier efficiencies and costs were the primary focus for ICT. Now that is no longer the case. Senior managements demand digital transformation to support business objectives.
Data can be used to make the business case here for transformational initiatives, from a holistic perspective. Possibilities of early intervention from predictive analytics and cross-pollination resulting in new viewing angles, through combinations and association of different data sets were also discussed. The dialogue moved to the critical role of interagency collaboration, for instance, between the Ministry of Health and Social services, to achieve these kinds of objectives.
Around 67% of attendees said that their mission critical data resides in multiple Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS). In most Singapore public sector organisations, that data is already on enterprise document management systems and shared.
Dr. Kan said that it was important to know the initial process which generated the data in the RDBMS to know what was included, what was left out.
Concluding the dialogue, Mr. Aw talked about the process of continuous learning and improvement. There are still many gulfs to be traversed and potholes to be avoided. But there is no avoiding data. Data, in ever-increasing volumes, velocity and variety will continue to expand its role in how governments function and governments have to evolve, adapt and progress.
The global spread of COVID-19 has been a disaster of unparalleled proportions. Not only has it halted the world economy, but it has also made even the most optimistic leaders reconsider how soon things would return to how they were before the outbreak.
Even as the pandemic disrupted businesses and services around the world, a sudden and dramatic increase in internet consumption was observed. Businesses had to shift to digital communications and tools as the key medium for maintaining productive and interesting relationships with their many stakeholders – internal and external.
While the private sector was quicker to alter procedures in the early phases of the pandemic, the public eventually successfully adapted and innovated to continue citizen service delivery. Of course, early on, most governments rapidly put into place digital communication and emergency response platforms.
By allowing users to access their data and applications from any internet-connected device, cloud computing expands the scope of digital transformation beyond simple technology adoption to encompass a comprehensive redesign of all related procedures, resources and user interactions.
The cloud and digital transformation are now inextricably linked. Organisations across the board need to adopt a cloud-first strategy if they want to ensure the longevity of their operations and realise their transformation objectives.
Most organisations and agencies have benefited from the digital change, but some industries are behind the curve. To keep up with the fierce competition in their industries, they must guarantee the reliable operation of the cloud communication platforms that serve as a direct line of contact between the organisations and their consumers and aid in the promotion of their offerings.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 25 November 2022 at M Hotel Singapore provided Singapore’s public, education, financial and healthcare sectors with the advantages of the most recent cloud technology.
Simplifying Things via Cloud Communication
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia believes that the cloud has transformed the way organisations communicate, cooperate and carry out many other critical business and service functions.
Cloud communications are voice and data communications solutions that organisations employ to manage cloud-hosted applications, storage and switching.
“Cloud communications services are becoming an increasingly intrinsic choice for organisations looking to streamline their operations and enable their remote workforces to stay connected and productive,” observes Mohit.
Cloud communications enable organisations to interact with their employees and customers over many channels, including email, audio calls, chat and video. All of these leverage internet-based connectivity to minimise faulty connections and lag in communication.
This communication model has become the go-to option for addressing the growing need for efficient internal communications in the hybrid workplace. As numerous workers are returning to the office, and for many of those who have remote work capabilities, hybrid work arrangements are swiftly becoming the new standard.
Organisations are figuring out ways to make hybrid work as interesting and effective as they can. Leaning into what is working, changing what is not working and adapting as lessons are gained are the first steps in creating an effective hybrid strategy, work environment, and culture.
Employee access to the system from anywhere on any device is the need of a mixed work environment. Regardless of the apparatus they are using or their location, employees need to be able to connect to the system.
“User-friendly features in cloud communications make it simpler for staff to become used to the technology,” Mohit explains. “Up until now, better work-life balance, more effective time management, control over working hours and location, prevention of burnout and higher productivity have been the main benefits of hybrid work.”
Having the appropriate tools to be productive at work, feeling less a part of the organisation’s culture, poor cooperation and relationships, and disturbing work processes are some of the biggest obstacles to hybrid work.
Apart from the initial expenditure, virtual meetings result in reduced expenses because of the decline in maintenance and transportation costs. Moreover, integrations of cloud telephony enable companies to place and receive calls from any device that is connected to the Internet.
This means that cloud communications can potentially maximise resources for organisations. Procedures, implementation and adaptability can all be accelerated with a cloud communications strategy, which also offers limitless high-volume information transmission.
According to Mohit, cloud communications must have robust security components to ensure compliance with data privacy laws and the security of all stakeholders. “To assist in safeguarding data in the cloud, emerging cybersecurity tools should also be taken into account.”
These include Artificial Intelligence (AI) for IT Operations (AIOps) and Network Detection and Response (NDR). Both programmes gather data on the security and stability of cloud infrastructure. After data analysis, AI notifies administrators of any unusual behaviour that might represent a threat.
Ultimately a well-thought-out cloud communication strategy with strong security features can serve organisations and gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly digital landscape and VUCA environment.
According to Lucas Lu, Head of Asia, Zoom, if communication fails to give the greatest possible experience, everyone suffers – from employees to consumers to investors. And neglecting to address this essential avenue has ever-worsening implications.
Organisations are going through some significant changes, he explains. The first is in the general business environment. Organisations are under tremendous pressure to boost efficiency, adapt fast as competition rises and keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainties. Furthermore, solving these problems requires effective communication between consumers, prospects and staff.
The workforce is likewise seeing a paradigm shift. People desire the option of remote employment and are asking for the cutting-edge equipment and communication systems they need to do their jobs.
HR managers concur that a high-performing workplace’s future requirements would include collaboration, regular communication and a mentorship culture between managers and teams. “You run the risk of losing the ‘War for Talent’ if you don’t deliver,” Lucas asserts.
With every new tool and software that is made available, communication becomes more difficult and complex. Employees, clients and potential consumers are just a few of the stakeholders who have 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. They follow a variety of routes, including:
- Maintaining already-established systems that are deemed adequate
- Making use of the fundamental, built-in communication capabilities that are provided with other software packages, even if they don’t entirely satisfy the organisation’s demands
- Using different approaches based on the circumstances. You might, for instance, employ one communication tool for internal cooperation and another for clients, investors, and outside events
“All these strategies are meant to provide organisations with fundamental communication,” says Lucas. “These methods provide some flexibility, but they also change the environment for prospects, employees and consumers. People are compelled to alternate between various options based on their needs as a result.”
This causes unneeded annoyance, rework, expenditures and misunderstanding. Employees may feel alienated and impatient. Customers’ interactions with the brand are disorganised and unprofessional. And various instruments frequently make business slower.
In this uncertain business environment, organisations that can move beyond basic communication into universal communication have extraordinary potential. They can develop intuitive connections to all parties, employees, customers and investors, regardless of location, technology or business activity.
This will be accomplished by integrating the individual and organisational connection demands that will result in a) Delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, b) Making human connection effortless, and c) Enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance.
These results may:
- Satisfy both the primary business requirements and the consumers’ expectations
- Redirect internal resources from managing communications to new services and capabilities; and
- Increase the marketability and perceived agility within the organisation and in the market.
An organisation’s reputation is directly related to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients and customers can work remotely, those returning to the office do not t want to compromise on the at-home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment to guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location. Expectations are simply greater and it is unacceptable if a session fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio or video.
“With Zoom, you may use a top-notch infrastructure that is specially made to prevent failures to safeguard your company from communications disruptions. You eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this,” Lucas says confidently.
When communications are down nowadays, it is impossible to conduct business. Hence, organisations may provide a controlled experience by enabling their staff to work without being concerned about the underlying technology. Additionally, they can analyse the underlying cause of any problems in their surroundings and take preventative measures.
With this, employees can concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or ambiguity and will have faith that the communication solution their organisation has deployed will work as planned.
“Partnering with Zoom enables quick innovation to keep up with the times. You can take advantage of a constant flow of fresh features that correspond to actual user requirements,” Lucas says. “Moreover, by frequently communicating with their support group, organisations will rapidly realise what is possible.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
Geetha Gopal, Head of Infrastructure Projects Delivery and Digital Transformation, Panasonic Asia Pacific believes that every day, new technologies emerge and the culture of change is driving a paradigm shift for which an organisation must be prepared.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak rocked the world and we were unsure of what to do, our investments in technology became our strength,” says Geetha.
As the trend toward digitisation of remote work transforms the traditional office culture, a cloud culture has evolved. Likewise, cloud computing has become a competitive advantage for these organisations.
Every step toward better efficiency in the manufacturing sector increases competitiveness. Because of this, the industry’s embrace of cloud communications has become a crucial turning point. Cloud communications have changed the game for manufacturing by enabling increased efficiency while lowering IT expenditures.
“Cloud computing is the future, and organisations are successfully transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture,” Geetha says firmly.
Streamlining operations using scalable technological solutions for essential tasks and process optimisation not only helps reduce costs but also frees up time for businesses to devote to value-adding endeavours.
This is crucial now more than ever as operations teams struggle to keep up with the quickening speed of product and investment strategy development being observed among clients.
The new service-focused, client-centric operating model for investment operations will be made possible by technology, data and scalability. Organisations need to realise that the greatest way to prepare for the future is to create it as they deal with this period of constant innovation.
As a result, operations leaders who are taking steps to redesign, reinvent and adapt their operations may ultimately be in a stronger position.
Geetha emphasises that collaboration, communication and connectivity are crucial for success in today’s work environment. The key to maximising these contacts is digital communication. “For efficient communication and productivity, your company primarily depends on specific systems, platforms, and applications.”
More organisations are understanding the enormous advantages of migrating their systems to the cloud as technology continues to progress. In addition to allowing organisations to remain relevant in a competitive market, innovation plays a vital role in economic growth. Innovations are required to solve key problems.
One of the tactics that may be employed to save money while maximising organisational resources and extending communication skills and reach is advance planning.
An advantage of cloud communications for aiding staff members in a hybrid workforce is the reduction in time spent travelling to the workplace. Employees can save time travelling with the hybrid model simultaneously offering the chance to be more productive.
Despite the importance of enabling technology, it is the human workforce that will not only execute the organisation’s digital transformation strategy but also ensure its long-term success.
Guaranteeing that personnel are up to the task, however, needs not only technical training but also a radical transformation in thinking and decision-making.
It is important to focus on organisational culture by changing the management programme and making concerted efforts to close the gap between the internal aspect and employees.
Organisations that are unable to develop and achieve new goals that will assist their employees and business to thrive are those that are unwilling to alter existing practices.
“The pandemic can no longer be an excuse or the reason – remote work is here to stay. If we want skilled employees then we need to concentrate on their needs – we must empower our employees,” Geetha concludes.
Lucas believes that every problem has a solution since most organisations fail to connect their strategy to their innovation objectives. “Change is a constant process, and what we say today might leave a legacy tomorrow. Any plan for digital transformation, in our opinion, must be built around digital innovation.”
The road of digital transformation must involve a competitive advantage that can only be sustained by introducing innovations and contemporary methods if it is to stay modern and please clients with cutting-edge goods and services.
For every change, there is a call for managerial backing to be successful and transformative. Zoom is happy to discuss how digital transformation budgets differ from traditional business or IT budgets to meet the demands of any organisation.
Lucas believes that cloud computing is transforming not only how many organisations access and store data, but also how many of these businesses run. It provides greater protection, flexibility, data recovery, minimal to no maintenance and ease of access.
“Although many people used to hesitate the cloud computing, they have now realised how important it has become to organisations,” Lucas has observed.
Mohit believes that changes in computers and how technologies are distributed are altering the ecosystem, especially for those who work in a hybrid environment. He encourages delegates to start establishing a strategy to utilise the cloud’s benefits for their businesses and services. “Organisations should determine the types of cloud services for which you require solutions, then meet with cloud service providers to determine the best long-term match.”
Both public and private organisations benefit from the adaptability, efficiency, scalability, security, improved collaboration and cost savings that cloud computing offers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, but it is anticipated that cloud computing is here to stay, especially since hybrid work assumes a central role,” Mohit concludes.
The public sector across the world is undergoing the most extensive digital transformation ever. The urgency with which citizen services must be updated and improved during the previous two years is a direct result of global events. Moreover, the expectation for instantaneous, significant, and individualised digital experiences has also been increased by the epidemic.
As a result of the pandemic, governments have had to rethink services with more innovation and creativity to meet the increased need for faster time-to-value structures that are more agile and collaborative. On the other hand, many organisations in the public and nonprofit sectors felt pressured to improve their digital services to meet rising expectations.
Singaporean government agencies have done an excellent job of providing citizens with cutting-edge, trustworthy digital services in the fields of healthcare, education, and social support. These agencies provided residents with seamless service by utilising cutting-edge digital tools and services such as telemedicine, intelligent chatbots, mobile apps like TraceTogether and distance learning.
While there is still a way to go in transforming many offline services, there is much potential to innovate and provide residents with more user-friendly services. When looking for government services, citizens do not want to fill out numerous forms and browse multiple websites. People have come to anticipate a level of service that is both consistent and easily accessible via the internet.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that government agencies need to better use innovative digital tools and platforms to foster more strategic and all-encompassing community interaction. While this transition is underway, efforts are being made to make sure that those folks who are not technologically savvy are not left behind.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 23 November 2022 at the M Hotel Singapore provided the most up-to-date information on how government agencies may develop seamless, personalised, citizen-centric digital experiences.
Digital Government Provides Simple, Secure, Citizen-Centric Services
According to Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, the ultimate test of digital government success is the importance of simple, seamless and secure citizen-centric services.
Adopting a human-centred strategy for every step of the digitalisation process, making sure that the citizens were served with compassion rather than being overly thorough when digitalising every analogue process cannot be overstated.
“We must strive for human-centeredness in our digital government by incorporating service journey mapping and reimagining services and processes along the way to meet citizens and businesses where they are,” believes Mohit.
By adopting agile technological development, organisations are better able to respond to rapid changes and provide better solutions for the current situation.
To ensure that no citizen is excluded, governments are adopting an omnichannel approach to provide seamless, personalised delivery and/or communication of key government services across multiple agencies via digital, phone and physical channels that integrate high-tech functions.
In meeting the public’s expectations for inclusive, equitable and accessible digital services, government agencies are modernising their technology infrastructures. Access to equal and inclusive online and in-person services is a significant focus as they increase their emphasis on the customer experience.
Having rich analysis, content management and hyper-personalisation tools allow both private and public organisations to make their services accessible to everyone.
The public deserves an intuitive digital experience, so the government organisation must make its services available to everyone using tools for hyper-personalisation, content management and rich analysis.
“The Singpass app is the best example of this in Singapore which the government made to ensure a more inclusive and diverse public service,” Mohit shares. “With such solutions, platforms and apps, Singapore’s public sector enjoys high levels of citizen satisfaction, which bodes well for the future.”
A successful digital government will measure citizen satisfaction through key digital services provided by the government and pinpoint areas that need improvement. The main goal is to promote an innovative culture and use new technologies to improve the lives of the citizens.
It is becoming increasingly important that a government comprehends the user experience and impact of its digital services as more people interact with it through websites and mobile applications.
Governments are placing extra emphasis on digital transformation. Offering a seamless digital experience makes sure that the public sector can continue to serve the citizens and be useful and accessible in the future. “An organisation can easily stagnate without a concerted effort when it comes to digital transformation.”
Shashank Sharma, Head – Digital Experience Business, Adobe South East Asia recognises that the pandemic increased the need to modernise and innovate more quickly than ever before. It also raised the bar for agile open team structures across all industries, including telcos, intending to have faster go-to-market than in the financial and public sectors.
“We’ve been pushed to think creatively and with ingenuity. But the biggest problems we face in the public sector or public service agencies are outdated systems,” says Shashank. “There are legacy systems and databases that are siloed between various government agencies.”
The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of a broad-based strategy for digital transformation. The trade-offs between policy goals may have changed as the health and economic crisis developed.
The fact is that most local governments rely on siloed software systems with data stores that are frequently redundant for decades. The systems never interact with one another or exchange data. Although it might have appeared that this was the best way to maintain the accuracy of the data in each system, in practice it results in duplicate data, errors and workflow issues.
Citizens now have high expectations for government services because they have been enjoying an exceptional digital experience in the private sector where their needs are met immediately – anywhere, anytime on any device.
The term “citizen-centric” refers to a change in the focus of service delivery from the interests of the government to those of the citizens. Although the quality of public services may be comparable across socioeconomic classes, citizens may draw different conclusions about service because of differences in how those services are perceived and expected to perform.
To make digital transformation work for growth and well-being, policies are required. Cross-cutting concerns like gender, skills, digital governance, and data governance must also be considered.
A country can create a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to digital transformation with the aid of a government digital policy that takes into account all citizens’ needs and preferences.
Establishing a governance framework that supports coordination, articulating a strategic vision, evaluating important digital trends and policies and developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy are all necessary steps in the process of reevaluating current digital policies.
To ensure equity and inclusiveness in the projects and services that are delivered, the government is looking to change the policies that affect people’s lives. “As more and more digital services join the public sector, you can be sure that the guidelines will increase.”
John Mackenney, Practice Director – Digital Strategy APAC at Adobe, discussed the company’s creation of a Rapid Response Programme and COVID resources hub. These were designed to assist the government in adapting to the needs of their workforce and the people they serve when the pandemic hits in 2020.
“At Adobe, partnering across industries to improve digital customer experiences is a significant part of who we are. And we have partnered with governments to unleash creativity, accelerate document productivity, and power the digital business with our platforms,” John reveals.
They have accomplished a goal worth celebrating after a year. In all 50 states of the U.S., Adobe is now collaborating with the federal government as well as with specific agencies at the state, county and city levels – from e-signatures to powering customised communications to constituents.
According to John, citizens expect more individualised digital experiences since they demand more open, dependable, accessible and responsive service. Governments, therefore, must empower citizens and concentrate on increasing public satisfaction while lowering service costs.
Governments today have become more citizen-centric, data-driven, proactive, and responsive to help citizens and businesses, especially during difficult times.
“Making data available that can enhance experiences and economic outcomes is one of the government’s initiatives, as is ensuring that citizens receive consistent and understandable information,” John asserts.
Most countries are concentrated at the emerging level when it comes to customer experience. There is no centralised customer portal for any state, but leaders set themselves apart by customising the user experience (top services, searches, portals) and by digitising high-priority applications.
Moreover, countries are predominantly at the emerging maturity level, like customer experience. Overall, they discovered that most government websites are designed with desktops in mind rather than mobile. As most constituents will attempt to access government websites and information via their mobile device, this is at odds with an accessible strategy. Mobile site speeds typically lag desktop site speeds by 44%.
“We have the widest range of scores across all states in our digital social equity dimension,” says John.
In terms of digital equity, more than half of the states are in the early stages and by focusing on user experience (high contrast, readability, large text, text-only pages), as well as by providing a wide range of language options and services, websites can be made much easier to understand.
Three crucial capabilities are needed to deliver personalised experiences. The first is the data and insights about citizen journeys through both assisted and unassisted channels. Connecting data from various government agencies makes insights accessible to all.
The collaboration and content come in second. Creating content more quickly and widely across all channels (online and off) will maximise cooperation between departments and within agencies when reusing materials.
The third is the journeys – where governments customise the experience on the terms of the citizens and use context to make sure each journey is pertinent, unique, and accessible.
Personalisation of government services, according to John, is enabled by email and web personalisation tools. Both tools enable government agencies to better adapt to citizen needs.
Any personalisation strategy must provide genuine value to citizens and should ideally achieve the following: Make it easier for citizens to find relevant information: make useful information available to citizens who may not be aware of it; reduce information entry that is repeated or unnecessary and assist citizens with complicated transactions.
John suggests that governments should personalise the experience of their citizens for three reasons:
- Time savings due to content accessibility will result in increasing service usage due to streamlined application procedures;
- Time savings and compliance through the fusion of information from various government agencies;
- Time savings by delivering the most pertinent content.
Personalising citizen experiences will enhance the interaction with government services, resulting in quicker and more satisfying decisions and outcomes. “Increased use of government goods and services, then citizens satisfaction follows from this,” concludes John.
According to Lucy Poole, General Manager – Digital Strategy, Architecture and Discovery Division, Digital Transformation Agency, Australia, to facilitate improved decision-making, streamlined engagement, increased efficiency, and the rollout of a slew of new digital government services to citizens and businesses, it is essential to recognise data as a critical enabler and to share this data on a whole-government basis.
“Public service organisations must deal with too much complexity and rapid change to effectively respond with what they already have on hand,” Lucy feels.
However, these very same organisations are in a prime position to connect with ecosystem allies who have access to a wealth of resources and skills. This will lead to the operations, services and technologies being expanded into partner organisations.
The Australian government is looking into different ways to build trust, which is crucial as countries recover from the global pandemic and prepare for new challenges. This citizen trust is essential for ensuring the success of a variety of public policies that rely on the public’s behavioural responses.
In this context, the importance of data sharing cannot be underestimated. The pandemic has demonstrated that accelerated data sharing is feasible. The current challenge for government leaders is to institutionalise these data-sharing advancements to support the upcoming innovation wave and the general welfare.
“Governments should start by assuming that the public will find value in data and that it should be shared,” Lucy asserts.
The Australian government has pledged to lead the world’s digital economy and society by 2030 and rank among the top three digital governments by 2025.
With its vision for 2030, the way the government helps its people transition into adulthood, start higher education or training, start a family, retire, take care of a loved one and go through other significant life events is being reexamined and improved.
Additionally, the public will have the option to share information across pertinent services and personalise services. By pre-filling and submitting their forms upon request, pre-evaluating their eligibility and initiating automatic payments, will offer a seamless experience.
Personalised government services will benefit those who need them most while also being more convenient for everyone.
The country aspires to improve its ability to collaborate with its organisations and community to enable better service outcomes. “To streamline our engagement and free up the public to concentrate on achieving the results they are passionate about; we will use technology-enabled platforms,” Lucy opines.
To achieve this, the Australian government is looking to make the appropriate investments in digital and ICT-enabled infrastructure at the appropriate time and approach. The Digital Transformation Agency of Australia will help agencies to harness the true potential of advanced technologies.
The Digital Transformation Agency provides strategic advice and assurance to the Australian Government on its digital and ICT-enabled investments to help drive the transformation of public services.
Some of the benefits and challenges of coordinating investment across government are that government employees and contractors must possess the necessary skills to spearhead the government’s efforts to transform into a digital economy. Using both established and emerging technologies, they must aid in building better services.
“To make training, hiring and career development for the Australian Public Service easier, we will identify and describe the digital skills we need. This includes initiatives to find new talent through cadetships, graduate placements, and internships,” Lucy explains.
These digital skills are being ingrained throughout the government. The investment is a part of the modernisation fund established by the Australian Government in partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission.
“We anticipate that as new skill requirements materialise, this capability will change,” says Lucy. “Cybersecurity and cloud computing management, as well as design and research skills, are emerging needs. To support Australian small and medium-sized businesses in the future, the nation needs to pinpoint areas where they can develop new capabilities.”
The delivery of digital transformation will be led by Australian businesses and their workforce. They will purchase cost-effective technology from around the world and implement it using Australian skills and ingenuity.
“We will manage risks for the government and our business partners through the way we interact with our suppliers, and we are changing our sourcing policies to make the government more business-friendly,” Lucy says. “This method of modern procurement is collaborative and iterative. It enables the government to purchase goods and services with less risk and for a better price.”
Shashank noted that all delegates agreed to prioritise digital experiences and he encouraged them to begin their seamless journey. Data connectivity, he is convinced, enables governments to drive relevant, personalised interactions and is becoming increasingly important in the realm of innovation. “It adds value to citizens.”
Governments should put the interoperability of services to make sure that the data and citizens relate to the digital journey. Essentially, interoperability is the fundamental capability of various computerised goods or systems to connect and exchange data with one another without hindrance in either implementation or access.
Shashank reiterated that equity and accessibility considerations for a digital journey are vital to success as were empowering policies and trust in the government.
“A key component of the developing global economy, which is increasingly dependent on connectivity, data use, and new technologies, is digital trust,” says Shashank. “Technology needs to be secure and used responsibly to be trusted.”
Mohit underscored the importance of a skillset in the digital journey. Relevant expertise will assist businesses and services in generating leads, increasing demand and attracting traffic. “With the appropriate strategy and execution, the right skill set will help people in all roles understand how their contributions can more effectively drive success.”
Moreover, he recognises the importance of cloud technology. The cloud allows organisations to scale and adapt at a rapid pace, accelerating innovation, driving business agility, streamlining operations and lowering costs.
Finally, in this ever-evolving landscape and VUCA environment, partnerships are essential and inevitable. Through the right alliances, every organisation will be able to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
“Because digital partnership enables them to modernise legacy processes, accelerate efficient workflows, bolster security, and increase profitability,” Mohit concludes.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY) is deliberating on various aspects of digital personal data and its protection and has formulated a draft bill titled ‘The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022’. The Ministry has invited feedback from the public on the draft Bill. The submissions will not be disclosed and held in a fiduciary capacity, to enable people submitting feedback to provide the same freely. The government has said no public disclosure of the submissions will be made.
According to a press release, the purpose of the draft Bill is to provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The draft Bill employs plain and simple language to facilitate ease of understanding and is available on the Ministry’s website along with an explanatory note that provides a brief overview of its provisions.
There are presently over 760 million active Internet users and over the next coming years, this is expected to touch 1.2 billion. There is an increasing need to regulate content and data collection on the Internet.
The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill frames out the rights and duties of the citizen (Digital Nagrik) on one hand and the obligations to use collected data lawfully of the Data Fiduciary on the other. The bill is based on seven principles around the Data Economy.
The first principle is that usage of personal data by organisations must be done in a manner that is lawful, fair, and transparent. The second principle of purpose limitation is that the personal data is used for the purposes for which it was collected.
The third principle of data minimisation is that only those items of personal data required for attaining a specific purpose must be collected. The fourth principle of the accuracy of personal data is that a reasonable effort must be made to ensure that the personal data of the individual is accurate and kept up to date. The fifth principle of storage limitation is that personal data is not stored perpetually by default. The storage should be limited to such duration as is necessary for the stated purpose for which personal data was collected.
The sixth principle is that reasonable safeguards are taken to ensure that there is no unauthorised collection or processing of personal data. This is intended to prevent a personal data breach. The seventh principle is that the person who decides the purpose and means of the processing of personal data should be accountable for such processing.
The Bill will establish a comprehensive legal framework governing digital personal data protection in the country. The Bill provides for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises the right of individuals to protect their personal data, societal rights, and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes.
To enhance digital-based governance, the government is getting ready to construct four National Data Centers (PDN). Hence, the implementation of data-driven policies is encouraged using digital government ideas and initiatives.
According to Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, Director General of Informatics Applications at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, PDN is a strategic move by the government to advance effectiveness, efficiency, the sovereignty of state data, and the consolidation of national data within the One Data Indonesia framework.
He said during the “Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Development of the National Data Centre (Strengthening of E-Government), in Cikarang, West Java, “The PDN is one of the instructions of the President of the Republic of Indonesia in order to expedite digital transformation within government agencies.
The National Data Centre is expected to result in smart and contemporary governance because the installed technology in the PDN ecosystem comprises cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the metaverse.
Director General Semuel noted that the groundbreaking represented the introduction of the Bekasi Regency PDN development project to the central government, local government, the private sector, and the community.
The establishment of PDN is also one of the primary factors boosting Indonesia’s digital innovation. Especially in the context of effectiveness, efficiency, consolidation of national data, security, and sovereignty of state information, as well as encouraging the implementation of One Data Indonesia.
The Ministry has designed four PDN development locations, including the Deltamas Industrial Estate (Jabodetabek) region, the Nongsa Digital Park (Batam) area, the new National Capital City (IKN) in East Kalimantan, and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara.
The Ministry indicated that the initial PDN was constructed in Cikarang, West Java, namely in the Deltamas Industrial Estate region, around forty kilometres from Jakarta. The second PDN will be constructed in the Nongsa neighbourhood of Batam City, Province of the Riau Archipelago. A fibre optic network capable of connecting the area and its environs to western Indonesia already exists at this site.
The decision to locate a data centre in Batam is based on the comprehensiveness of the supporting infrastructure, which includes fibre optic infrastructure, electricity supply, water, and direct paths to the global internet backbone. IKN and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara are slated to house the second PDN development location.
Meanwhile, Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics declared that the government intends to use metaverse technology to promote virtual tourism at the Borobudur Temple.
To safeguard the tourist attraction, Director General Usman claims that the discussion on the use of this metaverse technology began concurrently with the implementation of a ban or restriction on general visitors’ access to the Borobudur Temple edifice. According to the Ministry, using this technology allows tourists who visit the Borobudur Temple can still climb this ancient structure without being there with the help of the metaverse.
Led by the Minister of Communication and Informatics Johnny G. Plate, the Ministry is optimistic that the implementation of this cutting-edge technology will be realised. The government would also offer help and training for waste management as well as for distributing local handicrafts in the vicinity of the temple and growing tourist settlements. This tourist system has the potential to offset the pandemic’s significant economic impact on the travel and tourism industry.
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.
An organisation’s functions could be severely impacted by even a single incident. Organisations need rapid data recovery from the cloud, the edge and on-premises in the event of any type of disaster, be it a natural disaster, hardware failure, data breach or ransomware attack.
The knowledge that one is as well-prepared as possible provides some solace in the face of unforeseen calamities. With the right disaster recovery tools and procedures, it can quickly and easily restore data and workloads.
Hence, organisations need a plan to immediately get back to business as usual in the event of an interruption. Given the fast-paced nature of today’s IT environments, it is crucial to maintain a state of perpetual readiness.
Many businesses and organisations are left exposed to critical events – either man-made or natural disasters – as most fundamental systems have been shifted toward IT structures and applications.
While we can manage physical defence by using survival kits – which include emergency supplies, security, and insurance – not all firms can genuinely claim to have all bases covered. Especially in an increasingly digital landscape, where threats are virtual!
It may seem obvious to have an established disaster recovery plan, but due to the complexity of the outdated replication and recovery procedures, this is often overlooked. People might assume there is one and may have even talked about it but may overlook the most crucial step – documenting the plan.
Creatively assessing the possibilities for affordably safeguarding the data in a location apart from those dangers is vital. Despite data centres’ high level of security and frequent remote locations, creating a plan is now simpler than ever to implement using a cloud-based method.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 10 November 2022 at InterContinental Singapore with Singapore’s top public sector leaders offered the most recent information on the benefits of disaster-proofing an organisation through speedy and efficient data security and recovery.
The Needs for Data Backup and Recovery
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia believes that plans for catastrophe recovery must be in place for organisations adding that the traditional backup strategies have focused mostly on the first part of the backup and recovery process.
“The backup’s objective is to generate a copy of the data that can be retrieved in the case of a primary data failure,” Mohit explains. “A primary data failure might be the result of a hardware or software malfunction, data corruption, a hostile attack (virus, malware) or accidental deletion on the part of the user.”
Backup copies enable data to be restored from a previous point in time, assisting the organisation in recovering from an unanticipated event.
Data protection demands a secondary copy be stored in case the primary copy is lost or corrupted. This additional media can be as basic as an external drive or USB stick or as complex as a disc storage system, cloud storage container, or tape drive.
To achieve the best outcomes, backup copies should be made on a consistent, regular basis to reduce the amount of data lost between backups. The longer the time between backup copies, the greater the risk of data loss when recovering from a backup. Keeping several copies of data gives the security and flexibility to restore to a point in time that was not impacted by data corruption or malicious attacks.
In addition, a single accident or mishap might completely interrupt company operations, with significant consequences. According to reports, 93% of organisations that do not have disaster recovery coverage and experience a big data loss go out of business within a year.
However, with the correct tools and disaster recovery methods, organisations can restore their data and workloads fast and easily. Through advanced technologies, policies and standards, establishing layers of infrastructure protection and controls increases resiliency and security posture.
Monitoring the environment and intelligently managing data, via a single interface, is one of the disruptive solutions to ensure the best visibility across the data to quickly identify risk exposure and coverage, data availability and business continuity across on-premises and cloud settings.
“When the unexpected happens, you must be able to swiftly restore your organisation’s operations. It is paramount to constantly be prepared, especially given the rate of change in today’s IT landscape,” advises Mohit.
According to Paul Lancaster, Director, Sales Engineering, Commvault, data is the competitive advantage in the modern digital economy. It generates corporate strategy, directs operational effectiveness, and forecasts consumer behaviour. “Data needs to be kept safe while still being always available.”
The problem is that the data is always changing and evolving as it expands, changes, and fragments into digital bits and bytes. Hence, the degree of an organisation’s success is directly correlated with how well they handle its data.
“In this situation, Commvault is useful. We support businesses in doing incredible things with their data. No matter where the data is located or how it is organised, our Intelligent data services can help these organisations become more efficient by changing how they protect, store, and use data,” Paul explains.
He advised organisations to always be prepared when calamity hits or whenever fraudsters attempt their best shot. Organisations should also be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
Further, Commvault offers flexibility in the deep integrations to:
- Connect (to Snaps/Replication via Intellisnap)
- Converge (roll new cyber harden backup infrastructure/stores with HSX)
- Cloudify (optimised stores for the cloud storage resources)
- Re-purpose (reuse existing open assets that still have a service life to the payoff from the prior investments)
Paul elaborated that their Control Plane offers comprehensive workload coverage coupled with key data management services to extend self-service roles so users can quickly and securely search and restore data. Data engineers working on a new analytics application can quickly call up a database clone to accelerate a new project.
Through hybrid cloud adoption, users can leverage cloud-based storage and realise the benefits of agile management, limitless scale, and cost savings of the cloud.
Commvault offers a comprehensive solution with deeply integrated workloads to simplify and future-proof. “We make the past more accessible and adaptable to the future faster and we span the solution across the customer’s full needs.”
Marcus Tan, Head of the Cybersecurity Department, Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), A*STAR believes that business continuity refers to an organisation’s preparedness to keep delivering products and services at predetermined, acceptable levels despite a crisis.
“Business continuity plans detail how a company will operate during and after a disaster,” says Marcus. “It may include contingency plans explaining how the company will continue to operate even if it must relocate. In addition, smaller interruptions, or minor disasters, such as protracted power outages, may also be included in business continuity planning.”
On the other hand, recovering from a catastrophic incident, such as a natural disaster, fire, act of terrorism, active shooter, or cybercrime, is referred to as disaster recovery. Recovery from a disaster entails the steps an organisation takes to respond to an incident and resume normal operations as fast as possible.
“Disaster Recovery is an organisation’s plan for resuming normal operations following a catastrophic event. This is an essential part of the Business Continuity Plan,” Marcus elaborates. “And, importantly, strategies should align with the organisation’s goals.
There are various issues to be considered in terms of protection and recovery strategy. These are compliance requirements, budget, insurance coverage, resources (people, physical facilities), management’s risk appetite, technology, suppliers and data and data storage, among others.
Business Impact Analysis is the systematic process to determine and evaluate the potential effects of disruption to business operations resulting from disaster, accident, or emergency.
Risk Assessment, on the other hand, involves having to identify, examine, measure, and mitigate/transfer risks. Hence, it is important to identify critical business functions to keep the organisation going during a disruption.
The purpose of the Disaster Recovery Plan is Getting Ready (pre-disaster), Continuity (during a disaster), and Recovery (post-disaster).
Some of the key considerations of the Disaster Recovery Plan are identifying critical business processes to continue the minimum desired level of operations during disruption. It would also identify key data, storage, network and apps to support critical business processes.
There must be also a consideration of compliance with regulations, recovery point objective, recovery time objective, establishing management succession, reporting structure, roles in the event of a disaster, and budget.
A Disaster Recovery Plan should be updated when a significant change to system architecture occurs; and if it has changed in system dependencies and recovery personnel as well.
“Tools are great for making your job easier, but they can never take the place of doing the things we need to do,” Marcus concludes.
Chua Chee Pin, Area Vice President – ASEAN, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea & Taiwan, Commvault highlighted that data is getting more and more in demand. “The balance between data democracy and security is so important, hence protecting your organisation’s data is complex.”
Everyone is now aware of the significance of data, both in their professional and personal life. Digitisation, cell phones, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors all contribute to the ever-increasing amount of data. Utilising this knowledge is crucial for both company competitiveness and empowering individuals in their daily lives.
“Commvault’s data management and protection unify and safeguard data at scale across on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments for all workloads,” claims Chee Pin. “Advanced detection, multi-layer protection, and rapid recovery against security threats, such as ransomware and data breaches.”
Mohit highlights the importance of a digital partner. External partners can be a pillar of support while facing digital transformation procedures. They are available to assist every organisation with any project based on their demands.
“They can guide you through a much broader and more sophisticated process, as they possess the necessary expertise and experience,” Mohit opines. “Partnerships can save the organisation from making unneeded errors, thus saving time and money.”
The one-year Solar Forecasting Model trial was recently completed. It was launched to anticipate solar intermittency and enhance power grid resilience. The project was developed by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was supported by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) of the National Environment Agency (NEA).
The model completed its trial at EMA’s Power System Control Centre in September. It can forecast island-wide solar irradiance up to one hour ahead, with an average error rate lower than 10%, one of the lowest for solar forecasting in the tropics. According to a statement by EMA, Singapore’s power system operator, the model uses data from real-time irradiance sensors that are installed on rooftops of buildings and electrical substations across the country.
The model involves several dynamic solar forecasting techniques, including satellite imagery and machine learning algorithms. Combining outputs from MSS’ numerical weather prediction system, SINGV, the Solar Forecasting Model collects various types of data to generate solar irradiance forecasts at regular intervals from 5 minutes to 24 hours ahead of schedules.
Solar power generation cannot be moderated according to energy demand, unlike power generation plants. Solar power generation is dependent on Singapore’s tropical weather conditions, which vary due to environmental factors. This can lead to imbalances between electricity demand and supply output from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
The model would allow EMA to anticipate the solar power output and take pre-emptive actions to manage solar intermittency and balance the power grid. This is another step towards maintaining grid reliability as the government scales up solar deployment in Singapore, the statement wrote.
The model will also enable the electricity market to procure additional reserves or adjust the output of power generation plants and energy storage systems to increase electricity supply ahead of time to meet demand.
Following the completion of the trial, EMA is upgrading its Energy Management System (EMS) to incorporate solar generation forecasts produced by the Solar Forecasting Model by 2023. These forecasts would also be provided to the Energy Market Company (EMC), Singapore’s wholesale electricity market operator, to be factored into the market clearing process. This will generate more precise dispatch schedules for power generators to meet power system demand.
By 2030, Singapore aims to deploy at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar capacity, under the Singapore Green Plan 2030. A reliable solar forecasting model to predict solar irradiance will enhance the country’s grid resilience and flexibility while supporting the deployment of additional solar capacity.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 was unveiled in February 2021. As OpenGov Asia reported, the country is keen to make a concerted effort to seek green growth opportunities to create new jobs, transform Singapore’s industries and harness sustainability as a competitive advantage. The plan aims to help more local enterprises restructure to adopt greener technologies and practices, and shift towards greener business activities. Other objectives include planting one million more trees, quadrupling solar energy deployment by 2025, reducing the waste sent to landfill by 30% by 2030, and having at least 20% of schools be carbon neutral by 2030.