OpenGov Editor-in-chief Mohit Sagar with Speakers from the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2017
The Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2017 in Kuala Lumpur on March 16 brought together over 200 delegates from national and state government agencies and departments and the healthcare and education sectors to exchange ideas and experiences. It was a day of stimulating, free-wheeling round-table discussions, engaging panels and insightful talks by local and international leaders in public sector ICT.
OpenGov Asia Editor-in-chief, Mohit Sagar, started proceedings with a call to action for ICT executives to start small, pilot fast, iterate and scale up. Pockets of experimentation can be created within organisations, snapping them out of inertia. You start small, and gradually, initiatives become bolder, and change agents seek support for new resources and technology. As insights are shared and the power of collaboration is recognised, dedicated digital transformation teams form to guide strategy and operations based on business and customer-centric goals. Finally, digital transformation becomes a way of business. A new ecosystem is established to identify and act upon technology and market trends in pilot and, eventually, at scale.
Digital First, Citizen Focused Government Services
Dato’ Dr. Mazlan Yusoff (above), Director General of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation And Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) delivered the keynote address on the theme of ‘Riding the Transformation Wave: Digital First, Citizen Focused’. He sketched out the evolution of Malaysia’s digital government, from static information delivery in eGov 1.0 during the 90s to fluid transactions in eGov 2.0 to the next ongoing step of shifting to dynamic information and using online services to create opportunities for public participation.
Dato’ dr. Mazlan highlighted four key ongoing initiatives at MAMPU, 1) GAMMA (Gallery of Malaysian Government Mobile Applications), 2) 1MOCC or the Malaysia One Call Centre, 3) Government Online Services (GOS) Gateway , which is being implemented in four clusters, Business, Education, Health and Welfare and 4) the Government Information Exchange Hub.
Dato’ Dr. Mazlan talked about targets the Malaysian government is setting for itself, to move into the top 15 ranking in the Online Services Index (OSI) under the United Nations E-Government Survey to 15 by the year 2020 from its current ranking of 40 in 2015 and of being in the top 30 in the Open Data Barometer (ODB) by 2020, up from its 2015 ranking of 51.
‘Digitisation in and as of itself is not transformative’
Edwin Lau (above), Head of Reform of the Public Sector Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said that Digitisation in and as of itself is not transformative. There is a fork in the path, one leading to utopia, with improved well-being and productivity, citizens needs being anticipated and enhanced citizen engagement. The other leading to a dystopia, where there is loss of jobs, loss of privacy and risks of insecurity and fraud, with no discernible offsetting benefits. It is up to government to ensure that we end up at the right destination.
OECD members are the most advanced, developed countries in the world. With advances in digital technology the richest countries in the world no longer have a monopoly on best practices. An exchange of ideas with nations in different stages of development would be mutually beneficial for everyone. Echoing Dato’ Dr. Mazlan, Mr. Lau said that citizens’ expectations are much greater than ever before, not only in terms of real-time service delivery but also in terms of their ability to participate in the conversation.
Mr. Lau went on to discuss the three pillars of the OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies, namely building openness and engagement into the way ICT is built, governance and coordination to create the ability for government to come together as a platform, externally and internally (improved collaboration can help solve wicked problems such as obesity, which is no longer the responsibility of the Ministries of Health but also of Taxation) and capacities to support implementation.
Like many other speakers through the day, Mr. Lau underlined the importance of citizen engagement. But simply opening a Twitter account or waiting for a new generation of digital natives to come of age is not enough. Governments need to find out who uses new channels and how and prepare engagement strategies accordingly. He gave the example of 89% of young Germans using social media but less than 20% using it for discussing political or civic issues.
He also posed the important question that governments are becoming more open but for what purpose? Are they linking it up to the other strategic objectives of the government. Not enough governments, including those in the the OECD are thinking about how openness can make their governments and their private sector more efficient.
OECD has published an index called the Open-Useful-Re-Usable Government Data Index (OURData Index) which evaluates countries on the criteria of Data availability, accessibility and government support to re-use.
Mr. Lau concluded his presentation listing initiatives undertaken by the OECD for supporting governments, including the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation and Digital Government Toolkit. The OECD is also in the process of preparing a report on South-east Asian government and citizen-centric services, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank. It will be published by end 2017.
‘We will keep sharing what we have built, and learning from best practice in other countries’
Olivia Neal (above), Deputy Director, Government Digital Service (GDS), UK talked about ‘Transforming the relationship between citizen and state’. She said, “It is about putting users at the heart of services. It has been fundamental to the approach we take in the UK.” Saying that we will do it is easy but doing it is difficult. Because you have to find actual users who are using the services, understanding what their needs are and then continually testing your services, ge
tting your developers and the whole team on board the process.
There are nearly 400,000 civil servants in the UK and it is not impossible for the GDS to do everything at the centre. So the GDS set Digital Services Standards, a set of 18 criteria to help government create and run good digital services. Describing how GDS ensured that the standards are actually adopted, Ms. Neal said, “Too often standards are written, put in a drawer and forgotten.” GDS would not give a domain for a new digital service, until they will sure that it met the high standards.
To track performance and boost transparency, all new digital services were required to track and publish four metric: cost per transaction, completion rate, digital take-up and user satisfaction.
Similarly, standards have been set up for digital technology procurement. Traditionally, government IT needs in the UK have been outsourced in the form of long-term monolithic contracts with a handful of London-based large suppliers. Sometimes smaller, innovative businesses might offer better solutions. To enable civil servants to go on to a platform for procuring IT and for suppliers to register, GDS created the Digital Martketplace. The Australian government developed its own version and now the UK and Australian teams now have a shared backdoor so that both benefit from future improvements in the service. This is an exemplar of how governments can share and collaborate.
Ms. Neal said that the focus for the next few years will be on creating common components which can be used across government. Examples, would be Verify and Notify. The latter sends emails and text message alerts to users from across departments. The former plays a critical role as there is no single citizen identifier in the UK. But for delivering good services, authenticating user identity is essential. So a federated identity assurance model has been developed. Identity is assured by a number of providers and users can choose which ones they want. The government does not hold any information identifying the individuals.
GDS published the Government Transformation Strategy 2017-2020 in February 2017. Ms. Neal highlighted an important point from it: ‘We will keep sharing what we have built, and learning from best practice in other countries, to make our services better’. She explained, “We certainly don’t have all the answers. But we hope that by sharing some of the knowledge we have, we can arrive at better solutions.”
‘Digitising within silos is not digital government’
Toshiyuki Zamma (above), Chair of the International Council for IT in Government Administration (ICA) and Executive Advisor to Government CIO, Chief Architect, Cabinet Secretariat, Japan went straight to the point about a common misconception about digital transformation in government. Digitising and automating processes within silos is not digital government.
Mr. Zamma also talked about a shift from eGovernment to Digital Government. While the traditional approach focused on One-stop services, Paperless, Standardisation and Static data and Amount of data, the future is going to be about Once only (government doesn’t ask citizens twice for the same information), Digital by default, Interoperability and Dynamic/Real time data.
He presented use cases of real-time data from the Vehicle Information and Communications System (VICS) in Japan, which collects, edits and transmits real-time traffic information to facilitate rescue and recovery in the event of natural disasters and reduce accidents.
Wrapping up his talk, Mr. Zamma stressed on the need to accurately identify customers before jumping to solutions. A user could be an office worker or a mother or an old person, and they would have diverse needs and expectations. While designing, and delivering government services, it would be critical to observe their activities, analyse issues, collect facts and focus on improving satisfaction.
‘How many services are you offering?’
Janek Rozov (above), Head of Department of the Informational Society Services Development, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication of Estonia spoke about the importance of assigning responsibility for service quality. And the first step towards it would be answering the basic question of how many services are actually being offered by a department. And then moving on to how much the services cost to the government, what is the level of user satisfaction and how much time it takes to use them.
So, Estonia is mapping and describing public services and connecting them with life and business events and tracking service quality across different channels through KPIs. This is helping the government in trimming the number of services, reducing costs, cutting down on time spent by customers on interacting with government and raising customer satisfaction.
Where to next?
There appears to be a consensus about the next step in government’s digital transformation.
Terms such as citizen-centric services, citizen engagement, once-only, government as a platform have become ubiquitous in discourse. But how to move from theory to practice? There are variations within and between governments over the level of ICT capabilities. The barriers range from legacy infrastructure to legacy culture, from cybersecurity and data privacy to the fundamental issue of clearly defining requirements.
Not all answers can be found over the course of one day, but the conversation moved forward. Going forwards, through OpenGov will continue to provide a platform for all stakeholders to learn from each other and collaboratively come up with innovative solutions.
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with preferences and expectations about how, when, and where they conduct business.
“Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.
Enterprise transformation refers to a significant shift in the way a company conducts its day-to-day operations. This could involve adjusting an organisation’s fundamental technology, the structure of the company’s workforce or the way the company creates and markets its goods.
Enterprise transformation can take many different forms, one of the most prevalent of which is when an organisation makes a significant change in the products or services it offers. Currently, with digital technology, adjustments like this are occurring more frequently.
Companies are realising that they need to modify their approaches to meet the ever-evolving requirements of their customers as well as the consistently expanding standards set by their rivals.
Simultaneously, several Digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data, Virtual reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics and automation, among others, have the potential to transform how businesses operate. They can transform various functions of the value chain, such as logistics & supply, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, customer service, corporate management and support functions.
With their versatility and agility, these technologies can be deployed to numerous industries, among these are Healthcare, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Services and Mobility.
Innovative Business: What Lies Ahead?
“Businesses need innovation, not only for survival but for future growth,” says Vikram. “Innovation could emerge as product innovation, process innovation, service innovation or business model innovation to create a long-term sustainable advantage.”
Enterprises have been creating legacies based on research and development (R&D) which has LED them to incremental innovations. However, innovation is disruptive or transformational and it can be around product processes, services and business models.
Transformational innovation represents innovation that transforms businesses and innovates processes to create long-term sustainable, competitive, profitable business models. Disruptive innovation is targeted more towards identifying and inventing new mechanisms to solve existing and anticipated problem statements in businesses, which is also expected to have a business impact.
Many businesses do not distinguish between R&D and innovation. Enterprises today, however, are better able to distinguish themselves from one another and can understand and appreciate the impact that innovation has in comparison to R&D’s function.
R&D is an essential part of most businesses, and the benefits it brings are usually small and mostly limited to the people who work in R&D.
Innovation, on the other hand, isn’t just a function; it’s also a way of thinking for the whole organisation. It affects everything from the process to the product to the service to the business model, and the expected size of its effects is disruptive rather than incremental.
This further demonstrates how the current difficult business and economic environment has forced companies with lower levels of technology adoption and digital maturity to rethink their operations.
Enterprises can now assess the possibilities that technology integration may bring about, not only to address their current problem statements but also to consider new opportunities, whether it takes the form of a product, service, or business model.
There are a few common KPIs that should be measured regularly to gauge an organisation’s and its employees’ level of digital maturity. Vikram believes that because every organisation is unique, the KPIs used for assessments will vary.
For example, the key metrics for some common functions, like customer experience, data and insights, strategic and leadership, technology, operations, digital skill sets and so on, would need to be customised based on how they have changed and how they are changing now.
“We can get innovations which can predict based on the data analytics for the next 10 years,” Vikram reveals. “Every organisation should think out-of-the-box. Then they only need the right set of people who can guide them for the KPIs to be defined.”
Additionally, a variety of industries, including those in healthcare, food and beverage, manufacturing, services, FMCG, mobility, hospitality, and many more, can adapt to new technologies.
The following are crucial actions that businesses need to take today to digitally transform their futures:
- Identify your key employees’ level of digital maturity
- Research the technologies that are currently being used by the Enterprise’s various functions
- Select current issue citations
- Sort the problem statements according to priority
- Assess a system for locating, evaluating, and integrating digital technologies
- After a framework has been chosen and put into place, make the process iterative
- Establish it as the Enterprise’s mentality
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
When it comes to entrepreneurs who are truly pushing the envelope, Vikram is looking for certain characteristics. One of these is how the participants interact with businesses, which is determined by a unique set of criteria.
“And because we engage with various sets of parameters when looking at entrepreneurs, we can combine their efforts with those of the business,” Vikram explains.
Therefore, they bring the enterprise work and the entrepreneurs together when looking at the entrepreneurs, especially in the GHV DX LAB framework – they are the project managers and the system integrator for GHV.
The digital transformation, specifically the adoption of online business models and the general shift of economic and social activities online, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has altered how economies operate, businesses function and societies interact.
The exploitation of data is the driving force behind the emergence of a new type of data-driven economy. It creates new opportunities for international cooperation to leapfrog the intermediate infrastructure of the industrial age, taking advantage of the new markets made available by digital platforms and the improved service delivery made possible by smart technologies.
In addition, the most effective mechanism in education would be to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship at the earliest possible stages of the educational system. In today’s context, entrepreneurship is about more than just passion, raising capital, or coding something; it’s about building a network around yourself to support your entrepreneurial journey. The network is critical.
Vikram spent sixteen years in Japan before relocating to Singapore and India to establish a business. He has realised that he must contribute significantly to society. For Vikram, LKYGBPC is a fantastic platform that can be an integral part of any entrepreneur’s entrepreneurial journey.
As opportunities for entrepreneurs are created through this platform, a global network of mentors and other ecosystem partners are integrated with LKYGBPC to focus on the entrepreneurs. “I think it’s a fantastic platform that is desperately needed right now, not just in the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia, but for the global market,” Vikram is convinced.
He believes that a combination of all these factors pushed him into the venture capital world. “I enjoy being a techie. But I’m enjoying my current role as a mentor to thousands of Asian entrepreneurs.”
Vikram has mentored over 1200 startups to date, including 3 that will soon be unicorns. He has personally invested in over 50 startups, and through the GHV Fund, he has invested in over 20 startups. “Every day, I learn something new and give it back to society in the same way.”
Building intellectual property (IP) rights has been the best part of his digital journey so far, and he hopes to keep doing this. “The level of self-satisfaction I feel is never as high as when I say IP is greater. You can make a lot of money consulting, but that doesn’t get me excited if you can’t create IP and work together. And that’s why what we’ve been doing around it can be great,” Vikram concludes.
The Department of Architecture under the National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering (NUS CDE) opened the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ArClab), a unique living laboratory housed in a conserved building which will serve as a site for researchers, graduate students and built heritage professionals to conduct a wide range of teaching and research activities on sustainable development of the built environment.
ArClab was established in January 2022 to achieve four key goals:
- augment the training capabilities of Singapore’s building industry in built heritage conservation;
- develop innovative use of technologies to enhance conservation;
- conduct high-impact research into broader conservation issues; and
- promote climate resilience and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings.
Over the next four to five years, ArClab will undertake the restoration of 141 Neil Road, a historic townhouse in the Blair Plain Conservation Area. The Portabella family, who owned the house, had recently donated it to the University, along with a gift of S$2 million, to support its repair and conservation works.
The Head of the NUS Department of Architecture and UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia noted that as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the ArClab aims to be an exemplar and pedagogical demonstration of sensitive repair and conservation, adaptive reuse of heritage, and sustainable management of the historic environment.
The building’s conservation process will provide opportunities for both teaching and research. Using the conserved townhouse as a living lab, ArClab will showcase a new model for learning about the historic environment, building professional capacity to manage historical resources, and promoting historical and environmental studies.
The Deputy Dean (Research), the NUS College of Design and Engineering noted that ArClab is a timely endeavour that gathers expertise in engineering, design and architecture from the NUS College of Design and Engineering to preserve our history and build skills to address Singapore’s unique urban sustainability concerns.
Speaking at the opening of ArClab, the Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration noted that he is excited to see ArClab become an engine to develop the knowledge of conservation practices and skills locally; develop heritage capacity building in Singapore and the region; support building owners in the maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings; grow Singapore’s overseas presence in built heritage and break new ground internationally and see how sustainability and liveability can be imbued inbuilt heritage.
Bring cultural heritage to life
One of the oldest buildings in the entire stretch of Neil Road, the historic house was built as part of the Everton Estate in the 1880s. The historic building contains a collection of decorative tiles depicting English Art Noveau and Chinese motifs. It is adorned with several auspicious Chinese character plaques in clerical and cursive font styles.
Housed within the historic building, ArClab will be a dynamic “classroom in the city” for students taking graduate programmes and doctoral studies in built heritage management. They will play a significant role in the repair and conservation works.
Students will learn and conduct research on areas such as traditional building materials and craftsmanship; the use of innovative technologies for repair works, energy efficiency and comfort; and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings. ArClab will also design and deliver advanced courses for professionals working in the field of built heritage.
The research will be conducted alongside teaching activities in the conserved building. NUS researchers will carry out various projects, including conducting research, documentation and restoration of Singapore’s heritage using innovative technologies such as 3D modelling; developing an integrated approach for energy efficiency and net-zero retrofit of Singapore’s historic buildings; testing and developing traditional building materials and techniques as well as using innovative technologies for conservation and repair works in the Singapore context; and estimating the impact of the high-density urban surroundings on the microclimate of historic districts.
A broad range of advanced equipment will be available for researchers and students to conduct holistic research and training.
The Indonesian government supports accelerating digital transformation in education by encouraging teaching staff to hone their digital skills. Research in 2020 showed that digital skill improvement could contribute IDR 4,434 trillion to Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030.
In light of this, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemkominfo) is eager to accelerate technology advancement in every sector to support Indonesia’s 2045 vision to become a sovereign and independent country.
The government recognises that educators need to have digital proficiency to overcome and adapt to teaching and learning that has transitioned from offline to online.
“We need to pay special attention to education and proficiency in digital technology. The 2020-2024 RPJMN (National Medium-Term Development Plan) has seen that digital transformation in national strategic sectors needs to be implemented and accelerated,” said the Director of Digital Economy of the Ministry of Communication and Information, I Nyoman Adhiarna in his remarks at the Digital Transformation Education Sector online seminar.
Based on the Ministry of Communication and Informatics development plan, education is one of the strategic sectors that will support national economic growth in 2020-2024. Moreover, the Directorate of Digital Economy endorses the plan as a programme enabler to support the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Throughout 2022 Kominfo has organised digital technology adoption programmes in the education sector in various locations in Indonesia. Covering Bali, Bintan Regency, Batam City, Sorong Regency, Biak Numfor Regency, Klaten Regency, Kendal Regency, Kuningan Regency, Medan City, Padang City and Tual City, Nyoman explained.
Meanwhile, the Regional Secretary (Sekda) of the Government of Kuningan Regency, West Java, Dian Rahmat Yanuar said the education sector digital technology adoption programme would expand teachers’ skills and knowledge and increase their confidence.
“The pandemic era was a challenge, as well as a momentum for us to declare ourselves to be more competitive in the future complex challenge, therefore teachers are required to adapt faster,” he shared.
New Curriculum to Boost Digitalisation
Kemkominfo has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) in driving the “Merdeka Mengajar” (Independent Teaching) platform as a new curriculum. The Executive Director of CERDAS, Indra Charismiadji, explained the new “Merdeka Mengajar” curriculum concept focuses on the learning process of students.
“The essence of differentiated learning is that it focuses on students as every student cannot be the same. Teachers need to know how to deal with these different students,” expanded Indra.
Other participants emphasised the importance of teachers providing relevant context in the learning process. Educators have to adopt different approaches when writing in academic media and on social media. They can become teacher influencers by trying new things.
The seminar entitled “Digital Transformation of the Education Sector” was organised by the Ministry of Communication and Information to celebrate National Teacher’s Day. The Ministry worked with provincial, district/city governments and all public and private schools to broaden the activities outreach.
The webinar discussed various problems in the learning system. In the event, participants discussed how to accelerate technological advancement and agreed that it requires teachers to adapt and maximise the use of technology to make better school learning.
Kominfo has given digital transformation top priority at the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022. Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, is concerned about the issue of digital transformation. The forum working groups discussed several digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, has kicked off the eRezeki programme for 2022. It is a training and job placement programme which focuses on generating high-value income opportunities for gig workers.
The programme runs from 1 October to 31 December 2022 and aims to upskill over 8,000 gig workers with a focus on participation from B40 and M40 households. The programme is one that falls under the banner of the MDEC Saya Digital campaign which includes four focus pillars:
- SayaDigital For Daily Work
- SayaDigital Empowers Careers
- SayaDigital Generates Income
- SayaDigital Expands Business
eRezeki emphasises the third focus pillar of the Saya Digital campaign which is to generate income opportunities in high-value sectors that include the creative sector; repairs, installation and maintenance including domestic services; tour and travel services; healthcare and lifestyle; professional digital services, advertising, promotion, and marketing; education and training; as well as distribution services.
The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency has consistently introduced campaigns and programmes which aim to create high-value employment opportunities for the Rakyat while at the same time, encouraging the development and growth of the sharing economy in Malaysia.
He noted that as announced during the launch of the national strategic initiative, Malaysia Digital (MD), MDEC’s inclusive approach towards fostering a conducive ecosystem for local entrepreneurs and global champions will help increase the contribution from the digital economy to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Effective collaboration with MDEC partners, especially in encouraging sharing economy activities including the gig economy, is expected to further democratise and facilitate access towards increased participation in the high-growth digital economy.
MDEC will work closely with 10 strategic partners from relevant high-value sectors that have been appointed based on set criteria and their capacity in providing high-income jobs. Throughout the duration of the eRezeki programme, MDEC’s strategic partner will conduct training and provide placement for gig workers through online platforms and physical sessions.
The 10 strategic partners for eRezeki have been appointed based on their involvement in high-value sectors as identified by MDEC. Furthermore, these companies were selected from a pool of 137 MDEC strategic partners approved by the Crowdsourcing Committee.
In 2014, the Crowdsourcing Committee led by the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia (K-KOMM) was mandated by the Digital Malaysia Steering Committee to focus on validating sharing economy platforms in Malaysia.
The eRezeki programme was introduced in 2015 to provide an avenue for the urban B40 and M40 communities to earn additional income from the digital platform. The programme was also identified as a key programme under the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (RMK12).
Since its introduction, eRezeki has successfully trained a total of 312,735 participants to take advantage of the digital platform and earn an income online, generating a total collective income worth RM2.51 billion as of December 2021.
The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) and The Institute of Sustainability and Technology (IST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster the partnership on ESG initiatives through education and technology. Both parties are working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive innovation towards a net-zero future.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST and the Dean of HKUST Business School signed the MoU to affirm the strategic partnership. Industry leaders and business elites representing over 100 organizations joined to show their overwhelming support and commitment to sustainability.
The Chief Secretary for the Administration of HKSAR stated that Hong Kong, as an international financial centre connecting global capital with opportunities, has a unique role to play in addressing the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges brought about by climate change.
By making a thorough effort including the issuance of green bonds, implementation of the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme and nurturing of talent, and leveraging its close partnership with relevant stakeholders, the HKSAR Government aims to develop Hong Kong into a green and sustainable hub in the region.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST said that to nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is working with HKUST to co-create a series of globally recognised executive training programs to inspire purpose-driven business management.
While striving for net zero by 2050, Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to maximize synergies with GBA cities to play a strategic gateway role as a regional green finance hub for sustainable investments and cross-border carbon trading. By deploying catalytic capital, innovation can be fuelled, and triple returns can be empowered via a thriving ecosystem for decarbonization technologies to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. By leveraging innovative technology, education initiatives and strategic collaboration, the net zero targets can be achieved.
The President of HKUST stated that the two parties both aim to guide the city towards a net-zero, sustainable future through education and technology. Through their core missions in research, teaching, and innovation, the next generation of talent is being nurtured into responsible professionals and leaders and contributing to solving pressing environmental and social issues.
The Dean of HKUST Business School noted that this partnership with IST supports Hong Kong’s brown-to-green transition through talent development and technology deployment. Marking a key event under this partnership, the ESG Forum familiarised participants with key aspects of ESG management through expert insights covering strategy, risks, benchmarking, and future trends. HKUST looks forward to pursuing a broad range of sustainability-related opportunities in training, research and development, and community engagement with IST.
An ESG Forum was held after the MoU signing ceremony. Various renowned academics and industry veterans participated in the forum, exchanged their views, and shared insights on ESG and sustainability.
About the Institute of Sustainability and Technology
To nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is partnering with HKUST Business School to co-create a series of globally recognised training programs for business executives. Catering to the diverse context of Asian markets, IST seeks to establish robust impact measurement and management methodology as well as ESG ratings and benchmark standards for different sectors across Asia Pacific. To promote thought leadership and best practices, IST sponsors interdisciplinary research studies to provide compelling data to advance the agenda for sustainable development. For more details about the Institute, please visit
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.