Over the years, technology has revolutionised the world and daily life, giving rise to innovative tools and resources that can aid in everyday endeavours. Modern technology has paved the way for multi-functional devices – computers, phones and smart tools are increasingly faster, more portable and higher-powered than ever before. No doubt, with all this, life is easier, faster and better.
In line with market place progress, the public sector must also adapt as it pursues its mission to serve citizens, ensuring their safety and well-being. Technology related innovation is critical to accomplish this especially in the new normal brought by the pandemic.
With advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, governments can put data to work improving outcomes for citizens. Powering governments at all levels, these technologies allow for better, faster and more cost-effective decisions that could make a significant difference in the lives of the citizens.
Malaysia is a nation that has embraced digital transformation wholeheartedly. MyDigital – the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint – is a road map for the country’s transformation into a regional digital powerhouse by 2030. It outlines a new and comprehensive approach to existing information and digital technology initiatives.
An integral part is the ramping up of cloud computing services in the public sector. Through its Cloud First strategy, it has targeted the migration of 80% of public data to hybrid cloud systems by the end of 2022. The cloud-first directive will provide for a more effective and smooth data collection and management while helping reduce costs in the long run. Such cloud services will allow Big Data, AI, IoT and other applications to be widely deployed to enhance and strengthen citizen services.
The OpenGov Asia Tech Day on 7 May 2021 aimed to impart knowledge on how public sector agencies could apply real-world AI and analytics applications to provide exceptional citizen services more cost-effectively while guarding against waste and abuse as well as facilitating better outcomes.
This session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical solutions to understand the value of using analytics to extract value from data to make better, faster and more cost-effective, data-driven decisions that make a difference in the lives of the citizens. The virtual event powerfully demonstrated how agencies can turn data into an asset – automating critical tasks, detecting and preventing waste and abuse and embracing efficiency.
Unlocking the Value of Data
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered the opening address.
The fact is, well before the current crises, citizens were getting more demanding as they were used to technology making things available anywhere, anytime and on-demand. Further, during the pandemic, government services could not slow down and indeed, scaled up significantly as the need was pressing and essential.
Effective services, relief packages and pandemic counter-measure all rely heavily on data and information. Research shows in the COVID-19 era, more data than ever before, was collected. But in and of itself, data can do nothing. Mohit emphasised users must fully understand what data can do for you. Most people do not know where to start – that is where problems come from. Users need to investigate the depth and scale of data not play on its surface. Governments and their agencies need to understand datasets by incorporating disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Most executives concede that the pandemic gave rise to ad-hoc solutions and band-aid measures. The question, Mohit asks is, can governments run the way they have been running the past few months more efficiently and innovatively? Understanding and the proper utilisation of data can help with that.
In closing, Mohit urged the delegates to find the right partners for their data and digital journey. If they are to stay ahead of the curve, it is vital to work with experts who can guide them along the right path.
Empowering Malaysia with Data Analytics
The delegates next welcomed by Nik Ariff Nik Omar, Director of Sales, Government Linked Companies, Public Sector & Telecommunications, SAS Malaysia.
SAS’ mission, Nik clarified, is to empower Malaysia during this challenging time and also help the country realise its digital potential. Their mission is entirely in keeping with the nation’s MyDigital vision to invigorate the economy that rests on five main priorities:
- Fight corruption
- Mitigate fraud and instil governance
- Increase revenue by reducing leakages and tackling the dark economy
- Improve public safety and security and safeguard the border
- Provide better education, healthcare and environment for diverse citizens
From a SAS perspective, their forte is empowerment with trusted analytics. After 45 years in business, they are convinced that the key is analytics – core to providing insights to solve problems. A staggering 91% of Fortune 100 companies use their services and platforms for data and analytics life cycles of different maturities for their mission-critical use cases.
They have over 15,000 staff to deliver know-how, solutions, services and training with speed, discipline and commitment. SAS has 83,000 successful sites worldwide, including over 160 in Malaysia with 96% satisfaction. The organisation invests 27% in R&D for continued relevancy, producing best in class solutions and to anticipate clients’ future problems now.
The gamification session consisted of three scenarios and three rounds with delegates divided into five city councils. Teams (councils) were provided with a list of solutions to choose from to help resolve their scenario. Solutions had been pre-classified according to optimal/non-optimal answers but were not revealed to the teams. The greater the number of optimal answers chosen by teams as their recommended solutions, the more points they received.
Teams were also able to provide wild card answers which were solutions of their own. The suitability of these wild card solutions would be determined by the game facilitators.
Gamification Session I
Scenario 1 was building a city of the future / smart city. With the increase in population and diversifying of industries and economies, advancement in technology and digitalisation, decision-makers who part of the city council should plan to ensure that the city keeps pace and provide the optimum infrastructure and services to the people, community and businesses.
There was a lot of discussion within each team and divergent views between the teams. After a robust round of discussion and interaction, the optimal solutions were shared:
- Identify all relevant sources of data (internal or external) that are available and relevant
- Obtain additional data that is deemed crucial to paint a clearer and holistic picture
- Prepare the data into a structure ready for analysis/analytics
- Explore the data by applying analytical methods
- Perform further analysis and scenarios with different variables and goals
- Identify key stakeholders that require the analysis and their specific requirements
- Share and collaborate the analysis with other stakeholders to gather further inputs and additional data to refine the analysis
The SAS team also provided some additional insights on smart city development through applying the right tools and key capabilities in visual data analytics. The key capabilities are:
- Data preparation: Access to different data sources, training-validation data partitioning, feature engineering (e.g. parameters, interactions) and variable selection and missing values
- Data exploration and analytics: Discover relationships, trends, outliers, clusters, 3rd-party visualisations, forecasting and scenario analysis, decision trees and text analysis, auto-charting, suggestive visualisations, related measures and automated explanation.
- Interactive reporting: Responsive and precise layouts, dashboard creation, report formatting for user interactivity; filters, prompts, linking, etc, share, interact and collaborate
- Collaboration and info sharing: Mobile apps, desktop applications, web and other collaboration applications
- Predictive analytics
Gamification session II
Scenario 2 saw teams having to utilise analytics to predict and improve outcomes concerning their smart cities. The groups were given a catalyst project – flood prediction. As the first smart project, they were asked to leverage IoT and advanced analytics capabilities to help them predict the outcome planning and budgeting.
After another round of discussion and the teams’ choices tallied, the optimal solutions were shared:
- Define the overall objective, use-cases and key scenarios of the project
- Identify all relevant sources of data (internal or external) that are available and relevant
- Obtain real-time data from either existing equipment or sensors
- Design the overall solution architecture required to cater for the objectives, scenarios and data
- Define the models required for the use-cases and the results you would like to attain
- Develop the models required for each scenario using advanced analytics techniques such as AI/ML techniques to model the prediction
- Deploy the model, refined and improve it along with new data and scenarios
Relating to IoT in smart cities, SAS mentioned that leaders must lower response time and improve operational efficiencies. They should also be aware of the situation by providing real-time visualisation of a data emergency response and automatically alert its staff by having automated triggers on data. They must provide insight to manage preventive maintenance and provide tools and a forecasting model for predictive analysis. Alerting citizens using different media such as online apps and opt-in subscription for residents is also vital. Governments must also downstream regional and state partners for data integration. Lastly, prediction and analysis improvement by creating an anomaly model, predicting incident model and pre-event impact model.
Gamification session III
By completing their first catalyst project using AI/IoT, the councils now look to expand on other smart city focus area. One area that is of high visibility and top of the list of citizens’ concerns is escalating crime and illegal activities. While it is not under the jurisdiction of the city council to combat crime, the city, with its infrastructure (e.g., CCTV) and data (on citizen, location, events, etc.) would be able to provide valuable input for crime detection and prevention.
The teams now look to set up their city’s command centre equipped with the intelligent capability to monitor, detect, alert and prevent criminal events.
Different views and ideas relating to the last scenario were shared between each team. Their selections were tallied once again. The list of optimal solutions for the final scenario was revealed:
- Obtain more data from external sources (other agencies data, social media, news, blogs, etc)
- Setup your “command centre” structure with roles and responsibilities
- Define the entity or events that need to be monitored as high-risk for investigation
- Define criteria or rules for alerting on potential high-risk individual/events
- Determine the minimal attributes of the entity or events to form a case for investigation
- Design workflows to guide your team through defined tasks as they carry out everyday work
The SAS team, again, provided key capabilities of a visual investigator:
- Entity search
- Alert and triage
- Case and investigation management
- Social network analysis
Entities can be alerts, individuals, companies, specific transactions or scenarios. Searches can be performed on any data stored in the solution database. Simple and advanced searches are easily configurable as per user requirements.
Alerts are the ‘smoke alarm’ of the system. It can be generated from a combination of rules, models or manually where required. They are also created based on configuration, calculations scores and thresholds driven by the customer requirements. Each alert will be supported by a comprehensive set of information of why the alerts were generated, entity details, related hits and social network analysis.
Cases can be generated automatically or manually where required. They can be configured to support each capability, audit, investigations, collections etc. Cases can be populated with any of the data available in the solution that is needed to successfully close it and achieve the desired result.
Lastly, not to be confused with Social Media, Social Network Analysis provides a visual representation of the link between entities and other relevant information (such as phone numbers, addresses, relationships etc.) Social Network diagrams are generated automatically for every alert. They can also be manually updated.
The session concluded with a closing address from Nik Ariff Nik Omar. He thanked the delegates in attendance for participating and contributing throughout the session. He was confident that the exercises and discussions gave a deeper understanding of data and the different scenarios that come with it.
Mohit, after announcing the winners of the gamification sessions, also thanked the delegates. He acknowledged that governments are continuously trying to make decisions without having real insights and events, like the OpenGov Asia Tech Day go a long way in helping.
The reality, Mohit emphasised, is not about how much data you have, but about truly understanding the data you gather and store. More likely than not, governments will find the right response by unlocking the true value of data. From the feedback and interaction, he felt that much light had been shed on varying scenarios relating to data. He once again urged delegates to find the right partners on their data journey who could make their experience easier, smoother and effective.
What is The Digital Academy?
The Digital Academy by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech Singapore) is a “Practitioner for Practitioner” academy that operates at the unique intersection of technology and public service. The Academy aims to groom future-ready digital leaders to be well-versed in the technology ecosystem to accelerate the public sector’s digital transformation.
The Academy offers a robust suite of information and communications technology (ICT) programmes that are contextualised to the public service, anchored on the ICT & Smart Systems (ICT&SS) Competency Framework and guided by competency gaps identified by ICT&SS practice leads and agencies’ needs through Digital Maturity Index and Ministry Family Digitalisation Plan. The curriculum will start with 55 programmes in various categories including Applications Development, Data & Analytics, Digital Leadership and Technology & Operations Management, with another 40 to be available by end of FY2021 (March 2022).
Why The Digital Academy?
While there are many learning providers offering technical programmes in the market, The Digital Academy sets itself apart by offering programmes specially curated by a strong in-house team and delivered by reputable content partners for public service officers and leaders, particularly those in the ICT&SS profession seeking to advance their current skills. Industry partners who work frequently with the Public Service may also benefit from these programmes, as they work in tandem with the Public Service to strengthen the skills and know-how of the tech ecosystem supporting Singapore’s digitalisation efforts. The Academy will focus on both Workforce Transformation and Capability Development.
Who is The Digital Academy for?
The Digital Academy is designed to raise the digital literacy of all public service leaders and officers, particularly those in a tech capacity, by:
- Deepening their ICT skills to achieve digital excellence in various innovation pillars, such as agile development, artificial intelligence & robotics, cybersecurity, sensors and Internet of Things, and more.
- Equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills required to deliver digitalisation outcomes and lead digital transformation in their agencies.
- Enabling them to be digitally confident by building up their capabilities.
How does Digital Academy work?
Driven by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, The Digital Academy is supported by an operations partner, currently the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS). The curriculum is curated by an in-house team, in close partnership with nine leading industry players – Amazon Web Services, Coursera, Google, Microsoft, Qlik, Secure Code Warrior, SingTel TrustWave, Tableau and ThoughtWorks – as content partners. More will be onboarded in due course.
All public service officers and leaders would be able to access up-to-date information and course offerings via The Digital Academy website (thedigitalacademy.tech.gov.sg).
Courses at The Digital Academy are designed to be both blended and hybrid – delivered using multiple formats; beyond the typical in-person or virtual lectures, participants can expect to attend instructor-led workshops, tech talks, exchanges with the Community of Practice, hackathons and even be offered opportunities for on-the-job training. The programmes will be constantly refreshed to address the fast-changing tech landscape and equip officers with current skills to help them be digitally confident.
Taiwan government has taken steps to improve gender inequality in Taiwan, but progress in increasing women’s participation is still slow. According to recent research entitled “Digital Media: Empowerment and Equality”, digital media empowers female users and fosters gender equality in Taiwan. The study investigated the use of digital media, specifically social media, in the workplace in Taiwan.
The data for this study were collected through an online survey. Participants both female and male employees responded to questions asking whether social technologies could be a source of empowerment, leading to equality. The research discovered that both genders use social media platforms for business support, experience benefits, and believe that these technologies could provide empowerment for success.
Moreover, the finding revealed that the differences between women and men using social media were significant. Women in Taiwan have a higher awareness of the benefits of social technologies for business support and empowerment. Digital technologies can support female empowerment for tasks such as creating awareness, marketing, or building relationships. Women experience huge benefits from using these digital technologies, however, education was deemed to be a key factor for success in this area.
While digital platforms offer huge opportunities and benefits, women would benefit even more if they have access to education to help them be successful on social media. For example, the Taiwan Women Up program has helped middle-aged and older women learn information and communication technology to support their organisations and empower themselves.
Furthermore, social media has the power to increase female empowerment through political involvement. Hashtag activism gives women the ability to make a public issue a global issue and pressure lawmakers. Social media also offers a platform for gendered violence stories and holds communities in multiple countries accountable for gender equality. Unfortunately, women sometimes have barriers to using this powerful tool, including limited access to technology, language barriers and censorship.
Digital fluency helps countries grow closer to equality in the workplace. The digital fluency model reveals that countries with better digital fluency rates among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace. Women with better digital fluency also have more employment opportunities and flexibility. They can work from home and use technology to access more job opportunities.
The findings from this study apply to the Taiwanese respondents specifically, but can be used to help empower women across the world. Women must take responsibility to use the tools and information to find their voice, create a network, and help others enjoy empowerment, success, and economic equality. Achieving gender equality is a challenge around the world, but Taiwan’s efforts to close the gap between men and women push the country in the right direction while adapting to the digital world.
Taiwan has also created an environment for female entrepreneurship as the number of female entrepreneurs continues to rise. Increased access to technology, education and disposable income are the main factors that have led women to lead more independent, empowered lives. Taiwan launched a programme that aligns with calls for diversity in technology and opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership expertise by supporting female technology entrepreneurship worldwide.
According to an article, the new models of working from home, and greater access to technology and the internet may point to how the gender divide can be bridged. Technological advances are helping level the playing field for young women. More and more young women and men are looking into e-participation and co-creation across sectors to create their own initiatives.
As global society will face new norms after the pandemic, there will be an opportunity to build different economic models through the internet or community models and create new ways for women to participate equally.
Researchers at the University of South Australia have designed a digital tool to help the police, defence industry – and now child protection services – translate complex data into a visual story, saving hundreds of hours of time.
The narrative visualisation tool, developed by Dr Andrew Cunningham, Dr James Walsh, and Prof Bruce Thomas, has already allowed the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to create snapshots of crime by distilling mountains of case notes and briefs into image-based stories. The software helps prosecutors, lawyers and juries get up to speed in the courtroom so they can more easily understand complex facts, saving hours of admin and time.
Dr Walsh, a postdoctoral researcher at UniSA STEM, says the software identifies key events of a criminal case, selecting the most relevant data from case notes and presenting it in an easy-to-grasp snapshot, whilst still being able to dig into the details.
Another domain that has expressed interest is child protection. For each child coming into foster and emergency care, government departments are having to plough through years of their history. The tool can help to build a narrative of each child by identifying key dates, events, and an overall summary of their life.
The narrative combines text with images, video, scans, and voiceovers to present a snapshot that filters out the most critical information. It was noted that the tool is a marriage of computer science, statistics, graphs, artificial intelligence, artistic design and storytelling. For digital systems, the team is collecting more data, whether that’s from notes, automated sensors, spreadsheets, video, audio and even x-rays. The researchers have worked on the tool to integrate with data from different domains.
A new project with BAE Systems is also examining other narrative visualisation concepts to map the life cycles of defence machinery, tracking the operational and service histories of warships, combat vehicles and aircraft. The tool is useful wherever there is huge complexity – in logistics, transport, healthcare, and finance, for example – and need to summarise the most important elements.
“The beauty of it is that we can create specific models for each domain. For criminal cases, we can focus on pulling out information that relates to charges. For loan applications, we can identify a person’s financial history. Basically, we can rank the material to prioritise the information we care about and then present it in a visual form,” Dr Walsh says.
Dynamic graphics and interactive news stories have been part of the online media landscape for several years now, as a response to waning attention spans, the slow death of print, and a global embrace of digital media.
This trend is now spreading beyond the confines of newsrooms and becoming part of the fabric of many industries, the researchers say. The tool has been acquired by a Melbourne-based software company for commercialisation.
According to recent market research, the global data visualisation tools market is projected to grow from US$5.9 billion in 2021 to US$10.2 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.6% during the forecast period.
Various factors such as the growing demand for an interactive view of data for faster business decisions and increasing developments in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to enable the interaction of companies with data in 3D formats are expected to drive the demand for data visualisation tools.
The data visualisation tools market has witnessed several advancements in terms of tools offered by the industry players. Verticals such as manufacturing, retail, and energy and utilities have witnessed a moderate slowdown, whereas BFSI, government, and healthcare and life sciences verticals have witnessed a minimal impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to the increased use of line charts, bar charts, and choropleth maps in the news. Simple data visualisations have become the key to communicating vital information about the coronavirus pandemic to the public.
While these terms might not be familiar to all, the visualisations themselves certainly are. One of the most interesting developments due to the current COVID-19 crisis is that organisations that excel at the developments of dashboards centralise analytics and decision-making approaches and scale them exponentially across all connected channels.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a new competition for awards to support industry-driven consortia in developing technology roadmaps. The roadmaps must address high-priority research challenges to grow the advanced manufacturing sector in the U.S.
NIST’s Manufacturing USA Technology Roadmaps (MfgTech) program anticipates awarding up to eight awards with a period of performance of up to 18 months each, with individual awards of up to $300,000 and no cost-share requirement. The competition is open to all nonfederal U.S. entities, including accredited institutions of higher education; nonprofit organisations; for-profit organisations incorporated in the U.S. (including U.S. territories); and state, local, territorial and tribal governments.
Technology roadmaps are proven, strategic tools to identify barriers and related development steps to achieve grand challenges. Prior roadmap activities have been instrumental in establishing productive consortia and initiatives, including foundational planning for future Manufacturing USA institutes. Benefits of technology roadmaps include:
- Addressing major technological barriers that inhibit the growth of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. that no single organisation could tackle on its own;
- Identifying and prioritising research projects supporting long-term industrial research needs including but not limited to those identified in the Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing;
- Creating new or updating broadly available industry-driven, shared-vision technology roadmaps to support strategic and long-range planning; and
- Catalysing development and supporting the maintenance of technology infrastructure and American excellence in advanced manufacturing, including identifying technology areas appropriate for potential new Manufacturing USA institutes.
The Manufacturing USA institutes have demonstrated that consortia can play a key role in developing and transitioning new manufacturing technologies critical to America’s future competitiveness. These roadmaps can help ensure that they have a clear vision of what challenges are before us to ensure U.S. manufacturing is competitive.
Organisations that submit MfgTech proposals are encouraged to develop partnerships across an industry ecosystem to bring together expertise in facilities, supply chain, or specialised goods and services to produce a valuable roadmap that takes all of these elements into consideration. Proposals are due by Aug. 16, 2021. Details about the competition, including eligibility, selection criteria, legal requirements and the mechanism for submitting proposals are found in the Notice of Federal Funding Opportunity posted at Grants.gov
The Manufacturing USA institutes and their sponsors — the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense or Energy — connect more than 2,000 organisations across hundreds of major projects to quickly move technology from laboratory prototypes to industrial capabilities and provide thousands of people with advanced manufacturing knowledge and skills. NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life
Developing technology roadmaps is important to pinpoint the direction of sci-tech development. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) created Task Force to write the roadmap for Artificial Intelligence (AI). The roadmap aims to expand access to critical resources and educational tools that will spur AI innovation and economic prosperity nationwide.
As directed by Congress in the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, the Task Force will serve as a Federal advisory committee to help create and implement a blueprint for the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) – a shared research infrastructure providing AI researchers and students across all scientific disciplines with access to computational resources, high-quality data, educational tools, and user support.
America’s economic prosperity hinges on foundational investments in technological leadership. NAIRR will expand access to the resources and tools that fuel AI research and development, opening opportunities for bright minds from across America to pursue the next breakthroughs in science and technology.
To provide an understanding of the patent landscape of artificial intelligence in India, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) Research and INDIAai unveiled a special report titled ‘AI Patents – Driving Emergence of India as an AI Innovation Hub’.
The report provided a broad outlook of the techno-legal field of AI patents and included the key trends across several patents, assignees, and application areas. The report uncovered insights about the active AI patent landscape driven by the growing awareness to protect intellectual property.
From a vertical perspective, consumer electronics, personal computing devices, and healthcare lead the AI patent filings in India, as per the report. With a 93% share, machine learning is the most popular AI technique while computer vision is the leading functional area with a share of 36%. Moreover, 63% of all granted patents belong to multinational corporations.
According to the report, India is ranked 8th in the world for AI patent filing and 4th in terms of AI research papers. AI patent filing in India will maintain an upward trajectory as the country is emerging as a key destination for AI innovation. The government has identified AI identified as one of the most potent weapons to fight against the multiple challenges that the country is facing. Some of the noticeable examples are tools like the MyGov Corona Helpdesk, Aarogya Setu, and CoWin that the government is leveraging to combat the ongoing pandemic.
However, to stay ahead and build a strong AI-ready future, innovation must be fostered, the report said. Patents are considered as one of the primary ways of measuring innovation and efforts must be channelised to encourage and empower AI innovators in the country. In 2020, the government increased the outlay for Digital India to US$477 million to boost AI, IoT, big data, cybersecurity, machine learning, and robotics. India’s flagship digital initiative aims to make the internet more accessible, promoting e-governance, e-banking, e-education, and e-health.
More than 70% of the technology patents filed in India relate to one or more emerging technology domains. At an international level, patent filing grew by 4% in the year 2020. Interestingly, AI accounts for 6% of all emerging tech patents in India. Further, over 5,000 AI patents were filed over the last decade in India, out of which 94% of them were filed in the last five years.
The report also highlighted some of the successful AI patents in India that have been applied to the industries. The most notable ones being Niramai Health Analytx and Grahaa Space. Niramai Health Analytx has been granted four patents in India and ten in the United States.
The major patent NIRAMAI was developed based on technology for detecting early-stage breast cancer in a radiation-free manner through an AI-based analysis of thermal images. Grahaa Space has done a provisional filing of its system and method to stream high-resolution videos from low earth orbit. The proposed system consists of a cluster of earth observation nanosatellites that is capable of streaming high-resolution videos of client-defined areas of interest.
NASSCOM Research is the in-house research and analytics arm of NASSCOM – the industry association for the IT-BPM sector in India. INDIAai is the national artificial intelligence portal of India set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Information technology firms are ready to complete e-commerce platforms for farmers, according to the Minister of Information and Communications (MIC), Nguyen Manh Hung, at a teleconference on digital transformation in agriculture and rural development. Businesses’ capacity and infrastructure are also qualified to bring farm produce to each household nationwide, the Minister added.
As per a news report, said e-commerce platforms can help connect farmers with consumers and trusted suppliers to ensure quality, origin, and competitive prices. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Le Minh Hoan, said unclear market information is negatively affecting supply and demand in the sector, hence there is a need for data transparency. He added that it is also necessary for the agricultural sector to start building a database and master it, serving information analysis and production planning.
Chu Quang Hao from the council of members of the Vietnam Post Corporation (Vietnam Post) took the occasion to talk about the selling of lychees from Bac Giang province on e-commerce platforms Voso (run by Viettel Post) and Postmart (run by VnPost). According to him, since the beginning of June, more than 4.5 million people have purchased the fruit from these sites. Participants from different localities said they are looking for digital transformation in a series of matters, including pest management, disaster warning, brand protection, and trade promotion.
Earlier in March, the Digital Transformation Alliance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (DTS) and the MCV Group signed a cooperation agreement to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to promote digital transformation. A digital transformation department to support SMEs in the fields of communications and TV was also established.
DTS and the MCV Group also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM) to begin a chain of activities this year. The first cooperation programme will be a reality TV show to promote online business and e-commerce, which will be consulted on by DTS and VECOM and produced by the MCV Group. It is scheduled to debut at the end of the second quarter, according to a news report.
The Chairman of the MCV Group Pham Tu Liem said cooperation to support digital transformation in SMEs is an important step for all parties in their upcoming operational strategies. Based on building a sustainable relationship, the three sides will jointly coordinate to promote the development of a diverse range of solutions in the field of complete digital transformation for the TV industry and SMEs in Vietnam, he said. The DTS Chairman Leon Truong noted that the internet and social networks are thriving, and TV digitalisation is key for businesses operating in the field.
DTS, therefore, wants to promote its strengths as a collector of digital transformation ecosystems to support Vietnamese businesses, helping them improve their competitiveness in domestic and international markets. DTS will provide technology platforms, VECOM will provide supply chains and online-offline support ecosystems, while the MCV Group, with its digital TV, will create visual images, thus improving consumer confidence in products and promoting purchasing decisions.
According to a study by Google, Vietnam’s digital economy is forecast to grow to US$52 billion by 2025, an annual 29% increase from 2020. With the gross merchandise value (GMV) of its Internet economy accounting for over 5% of the country’s GDP in 2019, Vietnam is emerging as the most digital of all economies in the region. The Vietnamese government hopes that online shopping would account for 10% of Vietnam’s retail sales, and as much as 50% in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City by 2025. To create a more transparent modern economy, authorities want to increase cashless payment for public services and improve the regulatory framework for e-payments.
The emergence of cloud services in the digital era is progressing at an incredible pace. Businesses have begun to use cloud services to improve their operations, and other businesses will soon follow suit. A research report indicated that cloud computing is expected to account for 13% of the Philippine IT services market by 2020, driven by government agencies and SMEs.
In a country prone to national disasters, coupled with the current pandemic, and with MSMEs serving as the backbone of the economy, it only makes sense that cloud computing is a key solution to achieving not just business continuity, but a better recovery for the economy in the Philippines. Medium and SME enterprises have reiterated the importance of adopting cloud technology to minimise operational disruptions and ensure data safety amidst uncertain times for businesses in the financial services industry.
Recently experts were brought together from the central bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Business Continuity Managers Association of the Philippines (BCMAP) and other SMEs enterprise to introduce other businesses the fundamentals of building an organisation’s business continuity program and harnessing the power of cloud technology, to back up crucial data and enable swift recovery from any disaster.
The Philippines, along with the rest of the world, have fallen into recession, as mobility restrictions due to the pandemic and the lockdowns have slowed down, if not stopped, business operations. In fact, research published in Q4 of 2020 shows that 71% of MSMEs surveyed in the country were forced to halt operations, while the Department of Trade and Industry reported that an estimated 90,000 MSMEs remained closed.
The pandemic emphasised the importance of strengthening financial institutions under the supervision of the BSP in order to meet the increased demands of both customers and employees. BSP-supervised financial institutions augmented their technological capacities by migrating to cloud-based platforms and solutions, in order to address the increased digital demands of their customers and support remote work from home arrangements of their employees.
If the Philippines adopted a cloud computing model, there are numerous potential opportunities. As this cost of new technology would be shifted to service providers, IT users would no longer have to bear it. The country would be able to harness the power of the internet to democratise its access to new technology while making significant economic strides.
With cloud computing, businesses can store and access files and software, especially large ones, without necessarily buying a physical server, saving them office space and cost. Office personnel can also work from home or anywhere else other than their usual workplaces.
Businesses can continue to perform their tasks from any location and conveniently access necessary data as long as an internet connection is available. In addition, cloud tech enables employees to better manage their workflows through improved communication and team collaboration while accessing data from a centralised location. This can prevent organisations from halting operations even in challenging situations such as work suspension and calamity.
The Philippines is a country that believes in IT. Filipinos have a high interest in technology and are eager to learn new computing systems. This positive attitude gives a lot of hope to the future of cloud computing. It also helps that the country already has a talented IT workforce that is comfortable with the predominately English language that dominates the internet.