2018 has been a year of technological breakthroughs and developments across the IT world. The highs of this period aren’t limited to the private sector. The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare has had its share of big wins, challenges, and is ready for more digital transformation in the new year.
The Man with the Data
OpenGov Asia had a chance to speak to Geoff Neideck, Group Head, Data Strategies and IT, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In what he calls, “a very interesting role”, he gives us an inside look as to how his organisation has progressed and where they are investing in for 2019.
Geoff describes the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare as a major information and data agency. Housing a repository of data, it helps stakeholders get a national picture of health and welfare issues and topics. Government, researchers, policymakers and the community can access the information to inform themselves about healthcare and welfare issues, as well as start a conversation around the data.
As Group Head, Geoff has the combined duties of a Chief Data Officer and a Chief Information Officer. Hence, he oversees the organisation’s IT functions as well as its data strategies to support the needs of itself and its many stakeholders.
2018 In Review
With such a dynamic role, it comes as no surprise that the Institute has a good number of technology projects under its belt. Although many are a work in progress, Geoff begins by sharing a meaningful one – the Veterans’ Health and Welfare Program.
“It’s very important to our current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel,” explains Geoff. “[The program] reports on their health and welfare and looks to address information and knowledge gaps to improve the evidence base. Looking at suicide rates for current and former ADF personnel has been a recent focus in response to ongoing concern within the ADF and the Australian community. We gathered information from the partnering agencies, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, combined with the mortality data maintained by the AIHW…It supports a very important public policy issue in terms of how we support our veterans.”
Between 2017-2018, Australia’s Department of Veteran Affairs reported that mental health and suicide prevention ranked high on its list of priorities. Monies were pledged to improve the delivery of mental health support to the overall welfare of veterans and ex-personnel through a series of policies.
The data linked and analysed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will provide tangible benefits for the veteran community.
Given the impact data can have to improve citizen’s lives, Geoff says, “As a data agency, it is important to quality assure the data that we have. One of the recent activities we have undertaken is to develop a data validation tool which basically provides a data edit engine, data validation and data assurance processes.”
The tool generates reports and diagnostics to make improvements to the dataset. Using the information provided, quality information can be used in tandem with the commentary the agency publishes in their reports.
“In the same sphere, we are also looking at applying machine learning techniques at the point of integrating data into the organisation, and validating and preparing it for analysis,” Geoff shares.
Its application is to assist in the process of cleaning the huge sets of data. The machine learning aims to identify duplicate records, gaps in the data, and provide diagnostic information. Any manipulation which needs to be done will help improve the quality of data for research and government policy analysis.
However, the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare does not do the heavy lifting alone. The size of the organisation is a constraint on the number of experienced staff it can retain. Other agencies, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and consultants collaborate with them to provide assistance to projects his team undertakes. Presently, they are recruiting individuals with advanced data science skills to support the multiple projects they are undertaking.
This leads us nicely to what Geoff thinks is one of the biggest challenges the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare faces – plugging a talent gap.
“It’s quite a challenge finding the right people with the skills and techniques we need. Particularly, getting people who have applied techniques in the area we are in – government administrative and statistical data,” explains Geoff.
Generally, people who have good data science skills would make the cut. However, what his agency is really looking for are people with a healthcare or administrative data background.
“We often work with quite disparate datasets and bring them together to form the analytics datasets we use. It is about understanding the types of analysis our data is used for. Obviously, some of the analysis we want to support is looking at rare diseases and disease clusters. Within our data, this might require a spatial analysis to identify particular areas where there are higher levels of particular diseases or health outcomes, especially adverse ones,” adds Geoff. “It is really about how we can develop the datasets for these particular analyses, in the health and welfare sphere.”
Like other organisations in the public sector, data governance and security are a major challenge his organisation wrestles with, but ones in which they have over 30 years’ experience in. Geoff is cognisant that Australian citizens need to be assured that their data is used well through his organisation’s statistical collection and analysis. The goals of policy must be achieved while protecting the interest of citizens. It is a fine balanced which must be struck.
2019 Forecast: Cloud
In the horizons, the agency is working on a cloud strategy. For now, some activities have already been moved to the cloud, such as certain outward facing work, says Geoff. Some development work is also cloud-based.
“But we’re looking at other activities we can put into the cloud. We’re working in line with the Australian Government policy around public data and deployment into the cloud,” shared Geoff.
Another project they are looking at is the nature of accessing data. Geoff says the way people want to see data is changing. Traditionally, hardcopy publications with tables and graphs were the norm of this agency. Moving forward, Geoff and his team are looking at considerably more web-based output. Hence, data visualisation will become more important for his team.
Apart from acquiring the tools from Tableau, they are grooming the necessary talents to apply the technology. Close to 200 of their staff have been actively using data visualisation in their reports. Already, more than a thousand visualisation dashboards are available on their website. However, he believes more can be done to democratise the access of the agency’s valuable data.
In the year to come, Geoff and his team will continue to work closely with other government agencies to bounce ideas, tap on their experience, and deliver better results for the Australian community.
Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has recently updated its platform known as Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service (CTO-as-a-Service). The platform enables SMEs to self-assess their digital readiness and needs at any time and from any location, as well as access market-proven and cost-effective digital solutions and engage digital consultants for in-depth advisory and project management services.
This is for any business entity that wants to know how to start going digital, understand what type of solutions to adopt for its specific business challenge, or choose the solution that best meets its needs.
An enterprise can benefit from CTO-as-a-Service through:
- Conduct a self-evaluation of its digital readiness and pinpoint its gaps and needs in terms of digitalisation;
- Study other Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that have carried out digitalisation projects successfully;
- Receive digital solution suggestions based on the business’s needs and profile; and
- Evaluate the features and costs of various digital solutions.
There are more than 450 subsidised digital solutions available for selection, including those that address industry-specific or general business needs, as well as those that serve to streamline operations, increase business sales revenue, or ensure business resiliency.
The business can also work with digital consultants from the designated operators through CTO-as-a-Service, for digital advisory to assist:
- Seek a deeper comprehension of its business priorities and needs;
- Create training plans and digital solutions specifically for its businesses;
- Include fundamental data usage, protection, and cybersecurity risks in the digitalisation process.
The business may also ask digital consultants to assist with project managing the rollout of its digitalisation initiatives.
Eligible businesses can use digital advisory and project management services for free for the first time. Should the businesses want to keep using digital consultants, future usage or service enhancement will be based on commercial agreements.
Any company that satisfies the requirements below is qualified to use free project management and digital advisory services for the first time:
- Licensed and active in Singapore;
- A minimum of 30 per cent local shareholding;
- Enterprise’s group employment size is no more than 200 employees, or the group’s annual sales turnover is no more than S$100 million;
- Has never previously used CTO-as-a-Service digital consultants.
Meanwhile, SMEs are the backbone of Singapore’s economy. They employ two-thirds of the country’s workers and contribute almost half of Singapore’s GDP. Since digital technology is changing every part of Singapore’s economy, SMEs need to take advantage of digital technologies to grow and do well.
The SMEs Go Digital programme, which was started by the IMDA in April 2017, is meant to make going digital easy for SMEs. More than 80,000 SMEs have used the programme’s digital solutions.
Enterprises can also use advanced and integrated solutions to improve their capabilities, strengthen business continuity measures, and build longer-term resilience. Solutions that are supported by government agencies solve common problems at the enterprise level on a large scale, help enterprises adopt new technologies, and make it easier for enterprises to do business within or across sectors.
IMDA works with sector-led agencies and industry players to find advanced and integrated digital solutions that can be supported and are relevant to their sectors. Companies that want to use these solutions can check the IMDA website to find out when they can apply for each one.
Costs for hardware, software, infrastructure, connectivity, cybersecurity, integrations, development, improvement, and project management can be covered by funding support. With this, the agency has kept helping businesses, and the list of solutions that are supported will grow, with an emphasis on AI-enabled and cloud-based solutions.
The Indonesian government disclosed four potential uses of Big Data and AI to improve its e-government programmes. These two technologies, they feel, have the potential to support disaster identification and preventive action, prevention of illegal activities and cyber-attacks and increase workforce effectiveness.
The Director General of Informatics Applications, Semuel A. Pangerapan, explained several scenarios for Big Data. According to him, the government can use Big Data to improve critical event management and the quality of the response by identifying problem points through Big Data Analytics. For example, the agencies can be better prepared to prevent and mitigate natural disasters such as drought, epidemics or massive accidents occur.
In addition, Big Data can also enhance the government’s ability to prevent money laundering and fraud through better surveillance to detect such illegal activities.
Furthermore, Big Data significantly reduces the possibility of cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks can come from external parties, data leaks or internally for a variety of reasons. An analysis of patterns and unusual activities can help in preventing or managing such cyber issues.
Big Data and analytics can contribute to workforce effectiveness by increasing monitoring. In addition, it can be used for policy design, decision-making and gaining insights.
Semuel stressed the importance of data analysis after collecting all data in the right fashion. Data is only valuable if it is collected correctly and then analysed – data will only provide benefits if processed in the right way. “In its implementation, AI helps analyse existing Big Data, providing data understanding or insight to help make decisions,” he explained.
Another advantage of AI is the ability to speed up new implementation services and corrections in real-time. At the evaluation stage, AI can also provide suggestions for adjustments and improvements to subsequent policies.
Currently, the encourages the improvement of the quality of Big Data and AI innovation through the development of e-government. The Indonesian government is also open to third parties to accelerate Big Data and AI use.
E-government has made progress in recent years and received appreciation from the United Nations in 2020. The UN said that Indonesia’s e-government development index rose to rank 88 from previously ranked 107 in 2018. Indonesia’s e-participation index has also increased from rank 92 in 2018 to 57 in 2022.
“The two rankings show an increase in the quality of Indonesia’s e-government and the level of community activity in using e-government services,” said Semuel.
However, the government faced challenges in implementing these two technologies. Overlapping and data replication is one of the main problems. “Regulatory obstacles in the procurement of government Big Data infrastructure also need to be overcome. Then compliance with international standards for the national Big Data ecosystem is also still the government’s homework.”
To optimise AI use, Semuel emphasised the need for a skilled workforce, regulations governing the ethics of using AI, infrastructure, and industrial and public sector adoption of AI innovations.
The government is implementing several solutions to overcome challenges. First, they have provided suitable facilities in the form of National Data Centres (NDCs) in four separate locations. The NDCs will accommodate Government Cloud and contain national data across sectors.
Optimisation of data centre utilisation needs to be supported by staff with qualified expertise. For this reason, the government is holding digital skills training on AI and Big Data through the Digital Talent Scholarship (DTS) and Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) programs.
Apart from facilities and upskilling, Indonesia is looking to develop a business ecosystem that utilises AI and Big Data. Support for this comes from the National Movement of 1000 Digital Startups, Startup Studio Indonesia (SSI) and HUB.ID.
Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) has recently launched the AI Governance Clinic (AIGC) which will serve as a source of Thai and overseas knowledge and expertise on governance related to artificial intelligence (AI) and its adoption.
ETDA is joining forces with the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Medical Services, and the Department of Health Service Support. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ETDA and the three partners was signed during the nation’s “Building Trust and Partnership in AI Governance” event.
AI is currently having a significant impact on almost every aspect of people’s lives, including work, business, education, finance, health, and electronic transactions, according to ETDA Executive Director Dr Chaichana Mitrpant. “These issues all involve the application of AI.”
A six-year national AI implementation plan for national development between 2022 and 2027 was recently approved by the Cabinet. The adoption of AI with governance along with pertinent laws and regulations is one strategy outlined in the plan for ensuring that users understand social responsibility.
Thailand is getting ready to adopt AI, another cutting-edge technology that is gaining popularity and relevance. ETDA is an organisation that supports a secure and reliable ecosystem for electronic transactions.
To achieve the objectives outlined in the implementation plan, the agency is collaborating with NECTEC. A study on Thailand’s AI standard landscape to develop AI adoption measures and a study on measures to assess AI-based computer programmes to increase the capacity of Thai entrepreneurs in all industries in accordance with international standards are among their important joint projects.
To create a framework for AI governance regarding electronic transactions that are in line with Thailand’s context and international standards, ETDA and its partners – both in Thailand and abroad – established the Clinic.
The Clinic is collaborating with the Academy of Digital Transformation by ETDA to provide resources for capacity development at all levels. Additionally, the AIGC has a substantial library of knowledge sources on pertinent topics, as well as experts from numerous nations who are prepared to provide guidance on AI policies and governance.
An additional Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by ETDA and its partners NECTEC, the Department of Medical Services, and the Department of Health Service Support for the joint development of an AI governance framework that is appropriate for the Thai context for the country’s healthcare industry.
The collaboration aims to advance the sharing of innovation and AI technology knowledge among the participating agencies and to inform pertinent agencies about AI governance. Thailand’s AI strategy was inspired by a desire to boost the nation’s economy and the quality of life for its people as well as a competitive spirit.
Thailand strives to develop the human capacity and skills required for an AI ecosystem despite the difficulties it faces in developing AI capabilities. They created a formal network and consortium as a result. Thailand will train future AI professionals through structured academic programmes in Thai universities, in addition to bridging the gap between existing academic and industrial experts.
ETDA is the primary agency responsible for developing, promoting, and supporting electronic transactions and it is part of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. Its primary responsibility is to research, study, and support the operation of the Electronic Transaction Committee and other related agencies, hence, it contributes to the development and promotion of Thailand’s electronic transactions.
Researchers at the University of South Australia are trialling a simple finger prick technology that could soon be all it takes to save the lives of pregnant mothers and their babies who are at risk of a dangerous pregnancy complication known as preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects four per cent of all pregnancies in Australia and can cause organ failure, blood clotting, restricted foetal growth and be life-threatening for the mum and baby. However, current diagnosis methods are complex and can take up to 24 hours in rural areas – time that is critical when dealing with the health of an unborn baby.
In a move which could revolutionise the diagnosis and care of the condition, scientists from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have developed new technology which requires only a few drops of blood to test for preeclampsia – and the result returned within 30 minutes. This means the test can be done quickly and accurately in a rural setting by a primary healthcare team, without the need to send it to an advanced laboratory.
The Hospital Research Foundation Group is now funding the testing stage of their device, in the hope that earlier and more accurate diagnosis can improve prenatal care and save lives.
Chief investigators Dr Duy Phu Tran and Professor Benjamin Thierry said the device would be most critical in regional settings where emergency care is limited, with preeclampsia one of the main reasons for emergency retrievals by the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The technology is designed to enable rapid and accurate point-of-care testing for preeclampsia biomarkers, allowing for quicker interventions and likely improved pregnancy outcomes for women living in rural Australia.
The current tests for preeclampsia in primary care involve a combination of blood pressure measurements, urinalysis and/or biochemical and haematological testing. Blood biomarkers have recently been identified but testing can only be carried out in large laboratories, for example, at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Concurrently, preeclampsia can progress very quickly – in some cases hours – and have catastrophic consequences. We hope our device can bridge this gap in care for rural women.
An AU$132,000 grant from The Hospital Research Foundation Group will help accelerate the testing and commercialisation of the device through a trial of at-risk pregnant women in hospitals. If validated, the trial will then extend to mothers seen by the Royal Flying Doctors Service retrieval team, with the hope to then expand even wider with more funding. The 3D-printed device is being manufactured locally by the South Australian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus.
The Director of the National Emergency Response and the Public Health Research Unit at the Royal Flying Doctors Service said if the trial was successful, the technology would have a significant impact on prenatal care in regional areas. He noted that preeclampsia is a substantial risk during pregnancy, which is exacerbated in remote communities, where diagnosis and subsequent treatment can take significantly longer than in major city areas.
The hospital conducts roughly 750 retrievals associated with pregnancy per year, with pre-term labour, premature rupture of membranes and preeclampsia being some of the leading transfer reasons.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has seen, first-hand, the impacts of poorly managed preeclampsia and this technology is an exciting and much-needed step forward in improving rural and remote patient outcomes and in closing the gap, he added.
Meanwhile, the CEO of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, said the organisation was pleased to be advancing testing of the device. He noted that women’s health and bridging the gap between country and city care are important healthcare needs. The revolutionary technology, if validated, will be an exciting development to give all mums and bubs the very best start in life, he added.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced a new certification for personal information protection and implementation. The office has decided to implement such certification to enhance its information protection capabilities and to promote the rational processing of personal information.
The certification implementation follows the Personal Information Protection Certification Implementation Rules. The implementation rules clarify that personal information processors must comply with the requirements of GB/T 35273 Information Security Technology Personal Information Security Specifications. The rules outline requirements for on-site audits, the evaluation and approval of certification results, post-certification supervision and certification time limits.
Organisations engaged in personal information protection certification work need approvals to carry out activities. The regulation applies to every personal information processor that carries out private information collection, storage, use, processing, transmission, provision, disclosure, deletion and cross-border processing activities.
The State Administration for Market Regulation and the State Internet Information Office decided to implement personal Information protection certification. The step is relevant to provisions of the Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China (‘PIPL’). The body requires the Specifications for Security Certification of Cross-Border Processing of Personal Information for cross-border personal information processing.
The latest versions of the standards include technical verification, on-site audit, and post-certification supervision. In addition, the certification body shall clarify the requirements for certification entrustment materials, including but not limited to the basic materials of the certification client, the certification power of attorney, and relevant certification documents.
To get certified, an organisation must submit certification entrustment materials according to the certification body’s requirements and the certification body shall give timely feedback on whether it is accepted after reviewing the materials.
The materials are then used for determining the certification plan, including the type and quantity of personal information, the scope of personal information processing activities, information on technical verification institutions, etc., before notifying the organisation seeking certification.
The CAC stated certification is valid for three years. An organisation must submit a certification commission within six months before the expiration of the validity period. The certification body shall adopt the method of post-certification supervision and reissue new certificates to those that meet the certification requirements.
Violations, cheating, and other behaviours that seriously affect the implementation of the certification on the certification client or personal information processor will cancel the certificate. Therefore, certification bodies shall adopt appropriate methods to implement post-certification supervision to ensure that certified personal information processors continue to meet certification requirements. The certification body comprehensively evaluates the post-certification surveillance conclusions and other relevant information. If the evaluation is passed, the certification certificate can continue to be maintained.
The organisation shall actively cooperate with the certification activities. During the validity period of the certification certificate. If the name and registered address of the certified personal information processor, or the certification requirements, certification scope, etc., change, the certification principal shall submit a change entrustment to the certification body.
When changes happen, the certification body must evaluate the change in entrustment materials. The result will determine whether the body can approve the change. If technical verification or on-site audit is required, the body shall conduct technical and on-site audits before the change is approved.
When a certified personal information processor no longer meets the certification requirements, the certification body will promptly suspend or revoke the certification certificate. The certification principal can apply for the suspension and cancellation of the certification certificate within the validity period of the certification certificate.
The CSIRO’s Next Generation Graduates Programmes are industry-university partnerships aimed at developing a pipeline of home-grown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunity offered by AI and emerging technologies.
In this latest round, 14 programmes were funded, with RMIT leading four, including two by its Centre for Industrial AI Research and Innovation (CIAIRI), one by its Enterprise AI and Data Analytics Hub, and one by the Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre. RMIT will also support a further three.
These programs will provide generous scholarships to domestic PhD students which allows them to be part of a multi-disciplinary team aimed at solving real-world challenges. The programmes are:
1. AI for Next Generation Food & Waste Systems (RMIT led, La Trobe supported)
This programme addresses the skills shortage in adopting advanced AI technologies in the areas of food and waste, a critical national manufacturing priority. This will boost food productivity, improve food quality control and logistics, reduce, and better manage waste generated during the life cycle of food production and consumption.
Through a range of industry-driven research activities, this program will produce a cohort of graduates that are not only equipped with practical AI skills but also ready to integrate into food and waste related industry sectors to generate real impact.
2. Developing Digital Capabilities to Support the Aged Care Sector (RMIT led, Victoria and Newcastle supported)
One of the recommendations in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is to adopt technology to transform the aged care system so that carers’ time can be best used to deliver quality care. The report also recommended the use of technology to increase the connectedness of older Australians – to one another, families and carers, and to the broader community.
This programme aims to reimagine the role of technologies like AI, AR/VR and sensors which are critical in ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Our industry partners are driven by these challenges every day thus, the research undertaken in this programme will have great significance and impact.
3. AI Techniques for Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure (RMIT led, Sydney Uni supported)
This programme will produce a cohort of graduates with much-needed skills in AI to support critical infrastructure and community safety. Some of the common AI techniques across the selected projects are:
- computer vision -creating 3D reconstructions from 2D images of interior designs and detecting potential hazards and threats via surveillance videos
- agent-based modelling and simulation (ABMS) – which is becoming increasingly popular to model and simulate the management of disaster events such as floods and bushfires and
- digital twin technology – which involves complementary approaches of digitising models of infrastructure, people, and business processes and one of the projects investigates the integration of all three aspects.
4. Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications (RMIT led, Charles Darwin supported)
This programme will deliver graduates capable of tackling Australia’s pressing current and future challenges in the defence and aerospace sectors through the application of AI and digital technologies. It will expand opportunities for diverse communities of students and create workers skilled in emerging technologies, including applied AI, digital twins and threads, machine learning, robotics, cyber security, and modern manufacturing.
This interdisciplinary program builds on the strategic partnership between RMIT University and Charles Darwin University (CDU), which will see the creation of a joint Aerospace and Defence Industries 4.0 TestLab in the Northern Territory.
5. AI for Clean Energy and Sustainability (Monash led, RMIT supported)
Delivering clean and sustainable energy and enabling energy transition is a global challenge. AI is expected to play a significant role in this transition by enabling more effective models and tools, accurately predicting reliable supply, optimising maintenance and operations, making smarter decisions and assessing risk.
This programme will focus on the Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority to teach a variety of HDR students innovative AI technologies driven by these industry priorities.
6. Central Bank Digital Currency – Infrastructure & Applications (Macquarie led, RMIT and UTS supported)
A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) would be a new digital form of money issued by the Reserve Bank. It could be designed for retail or general use, like a digital version of banknotes.
The development and deployment of robust, efficient and trusted CBDC requires the design, engineering, proving and integration of a suite of technologies including blockchain, security and privacy-preserving solutions and regtech (surveillance, alerting and compliance) technologies and the skilled graduates to help implement them.
7. Artificial Intelligence of Things Empowering Industrial Digital Twin (La Trobe led, RMIT and Swinburne supported)
This programme will develop new digital twin solutions powered by a combination of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), to meet the needs of industry partners, seeking improved productivity and reduced maintenance and management costs.
By representing physical objects digitally, digital twins can harness real-time IoT data and optimise performance using AI and data analytics. Several research and industry challenges will be addressed, including accurate 3D modelling, digital twin model optimisation, reliable connectivity between the physical world and the digital world, and edge AI models.
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with preferences and expectations about how, when, and where they conduct business.
“Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.