The role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) has moved beyond traditional financial and accounting supervision. The office of finance now tackles complexities such as heightened governance, high stakes and strict compliance requirements daily.
CFOs now operate in the centre of the organisation delivering relevant insights on business performances that underpin and guide the entire company functioning. They are increasingly becoming key advisers to business, where the critical need is for making near real-time, data-enabled decisions.
It is imperative to develop advanced forecasting capabilities and new finance management techniques that provide the ability to take analytics capability and data beyond the finance function to support the enterprise holistically.
Along with developing new talent and skillsets, and through investment in technology, using analytics in finance enables CFOs and finance teams to generate a competitive advantage and growth for the entire enterprise.
In this context, the priority must be to make data more accessible to everyone across the organisation. Increasing accessibility of data sources, reducing time collecting and preparing data sets for analysis and integrating analytics into outputs to create transformative business outcomes become the need of the hour.
Analytic Process Automation (APA) enables easy data sharing, automates tedious processes and unlocks predictive insights that drive timely attainment of goals. It eliminates the need to use multiple discreet tools to manage data, processes and people, making it easier and faster for governments to take care of the citizens.
APA is an effective tool for the public sector industry to track and fight the pandemic outbreak, improve data accountability, increase transparency in procurement and facilitates effective disaster recovery and relief.
By intelligently automating the hundreds of repetitive and complex analytic processes, the finance team could save hours of manual work and be able to spend more time on delivering vital outcomes. On top of that, the accuracy and flow of data would significantly be improved in its operation as APA streamlines entire data-driven processes in a preferred consumption format.
The full visibility of data across key financial management systems enables every function in the finance vertical to take advantage of data and easily collaborate across departments, where the analytic effort can be shared and reused.
Knowing this, the core question remains: how can CFOs and the finance team leverage Analytic Process Automation without dependencies on the IT department?
This was the focal point of the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight held on 08 June 2021. The goal was to impart knowledge on the democratisation of data and analytics in the office of finance and best practices to achieve a culture of analytics, upskilling of employees and service efficiency.
The session served as a great peer-to-peer learning platform to gain insights and practical to implement Analytic Process Automation to enable more efficient data processing while reducing the complexity and cost.
Digital Transformation Within the Office of Finance
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered the opening address.
Mohit acknowledged that life in financial organisations is tough. Financial officers are juggling many roles, responsibilities and requirements. Not only do they need to understand the numbers, but they are supposed to make sense out of those numbers.
At the same time, technology is moving so fast and comes at a significant cost. Previously considered a somewhat unnecessary expense, tech has now become the backbone of every business. In these current times, organisations welcome technology as an investment.
Along with the rise in technologies, more data than ever before is being collected. But in and of itself, data can do nothing. Mohit emphasised users must fully understand what data can do for them. Data must be unlocked to achieve better business outcomes.
Most people do not know where to start – that is where problems come from. Users need to investigate the depth and scale of data and not merely play on its surface. Data must be democratised through three mega pillars: comfort, tools and culture. Financial offices need to understand that data must be democratised and made accessible so more people can use it.
Organisations from all over the world came up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions and band-aid technologies to further their digital transformation journeys during the pandemic. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched left and right but COVID-19 taught us that there is room for change.
Mohit emphasised that this is the time to recognise what organisations can automate and this is the perfect time for comprehensive digital transformation.
In closing, Mohit urged the delegates to find the right partners for their data and digital journey. If they want to stay ahead of the curve, it is vital to work with experts who can guide them along the right path.
The Convergence of Data, Processes and People
After the opening address, the session heard from Effendy Ibrahim, Vice President, APJ Marketing, Alteryx who discussed the state of the analytics market and the journey to analytic process automation.
Effendy believes that the process of utilising data is built on three key pillars. First is the idea of data democratisation which means making data accessible for anyone in the organisation to drive digital transformation initiatives. The second is process automation that ensures that the organisation can automate repetitive processes, increasing overall efficiency and decision-making. Thirdly is upskilling that promotes the improvement and capabilities of people handling the data within the organisation.
For Effendy, CFOs have a unique vantage point that ensures investments are aligned to outcomes and growth. The process starts with purchasing – spending on analysis and vendor management. Next are business units, margin erosion analysis, pricing analytics, service level and customer profitability alignment.
Sales and marketing also come into play. Price-point, revenue leakage, revenue driver, demand/price elasticity, customer retention and churn analyses are vital in the process.
Another one is the supply chain. Sales and finance-linked forecasting, new product introduction, profitability and dollarisation effect.
Lastly, is IT or the organisation’s technological investment planning and prioritisation.
With these steps, financial offices can ensure an efficient operational execution from operational decision-making, strategic decision-making and driving profit lost in operational execution.
There are, of course, organisational challenges that stand in the way of achieving these desired outcomes. A disconnected approach between data, process and people prevents ideal outcomes. Challenges also include limitation of data, slow data curation, analytics and data science, processes that are manual and unoptimised, disjointed and unengaged people with no sign of upskilling.
To rise above these challenges, Effendy emphasised that the three pillars – data, process and people – must converge into one priority. Data and analytics must be open to democratisation to allow easier access to data and automated machine learning for analysts and data scientists. Automating processes is key to minimise manual intervention, achieving high efficiency and minimal error.
Last but not least, is upskilling people. Governments must have a robust analytics community, enriched step by step with a classroom curriculum and by utilising intuitive and engaged platforms to help build confidence among the workforces.
To end his presentation, Effendy shared how Alteryx automates an Office of the CFO. It starts with tax automation, risk, audit and compliance monitoring and optimising accounting and operations. By automating these processes, the office of finance saved on resources like manpower hours and allowed them to focus on tasks that require more human intervention. Effendy is positive that the automation procedure helped the organisation in advancing its digital transformation journey.
Analytic Process Automation for Finance Functions
The next presentation was from Subianto, Chief Digital Officer and Partner, PwC Indonesia who shared on Analytic Process Automation for Financial Functions in Indonesia.
Subianto started by discussing PwC Indonesia’s latest survey to track CFOs’ priorities related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The results indicate that companies are embracing new ways of working, with 52% reporting that they plan to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow it and improve the remote working experience. Half of the companies surveyed report that they would like to accelerate automation.
About 47% of CEOs are clear on how automation can improve the customer experience while 53% of workers believe automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years.
Indonesia CFO Survey Report Key Takeaways are:
- The finance function is still at an early stage of automation adoption in Indonesia
- The primary driver of finance function automation is to achieve operational efficiency
- There is a need to upskill finance professionals in automation
- Almost all the activities of the finance function, ranging from accounting to reporting, are being considered for automation
- Around 94% of respondents indicated that they would either increase or maintain the same level of investment in automation next year
- Technical complexity, missing skills and operational risks related to automation were the top three risks indicated by the respondents
Subianto discussed automation in the accounting function. As companies expect their finance executives to become business partners, legacy accounting functions are getting automated. Journal entry processing, reconciliations, billing and collection activities are the top 3 processes, of which around 18%, 17% and 16% of CFOs have indicated that they are currently already using automation solutions for process automation. All the above three activities are standardised, rule-based and repetitive activities which are the low hanging fruits for automation in any finance function.
Indonesian CFOs are yet to exploit automation solutions in the reporting area with very few currently using automation solutions primarily of financial and statutory reporting. However, 78% of the CFOs are interested in automation solutions for segment/profit centre reporting and 74% were considering automation solutions to report on customer profitability.
Subianto admitted that the automation-related skills level of finance teams is still low. Over 65% of the CFOs indicated that their finance teams are still exploring automation solutions and lack basic automation skills while just 35% believe that their finance teams have related skills.
In conclusion, Subianto believes that CFOs, in the post-COVID-19 era, will focus on upskilling their finance teams to achieve more from the same (or less effort) to become more efficient and cost-effective.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for participants.
The opening poll asked how delegates rate their organisation’s use of data and data analytic tools for decision-making. Almost half (48%) said it is good and they have some tools in place but are still learning how to optimise them fully. About a quarter (26%) indicated that it is fair and they do use data in their decision-making process. However, they acknowledge that the analysis is primarily a manual process as they do not have enough data analysts/scientists. Just over a fifth (22%) agreed that it needs improvement and they need better tools to analyse and are currently relying mainly on Excel.
The delegates were asked what they consider the greatest barrier to integrating more data and analytics into their day-to-day decision-making.
More than half of the delegates (52%) indicated that the lack of trained people to do actual analysis is the greatest barrier, 19% said that they do not have the right tools to consolidate and prepare appropriate data promptly. Another 19% conceded that they have limited access to data because they are kept in silos or disparate locations.
The next poll was about the delegates’ top drivers of data and analytics usage in their respective organisations. About 45% said that achieving better organisational decisions and outcomes are the main drivers. Just over a third (35%) acceded that removing inefficiency in processes and speeding up decision-making is their desired outcome while 10% said that driving better stakeholder experience and accelerating response times are on top of mind.
The delegates were polled on their biggest barrier to progress in their organisations’ data journeys. Under half (45%) pointed to the disconnect between IT and business / organisational requirements as the biggest hindrance, 18% indicated outdated processes and tools are definite barriers while 14% said that poor quality and availability of data causes them to further their data journeys.
The delegates voted on four strategies that they were thinking of implementing or interested in. About 45% are interested in reviewing existing processes and identifying ones that could be automated and can be made more efficient. About a quarter (27%) are considering upskilling their workforce to scale use of data analytics on their own while 18% are interested in consolidating current analytic tools to simplify adoption across the entire organisation.
In terms of data analytics, the delegates were polled on their top strengths. More than half (53%) of the delegates said that understanding, support and commitment from top management remains their biggest strengths. About 17% voted for the deployment of powerful tools and efficient process to facilitate good data analytics projects while another 17% said that deriving meaningful insights through data analytics is their biggest asset.
The session concluded with closing remarks from Effendy, Subianto and Mohit.
Effendy thanked the delegates who attended the insightful session. He again stressed that from a data analytics perspective, data science does not need to be complex and difficult. He conceded that everyone must be able to access data to achieve outcomes and solutions that they want to achieve.
Subianto appreciated the great discussions and ideas that were generated during the session. He emphasised that with digitalisation come innovations, which the finance offices must explore more. He felt that this was important in terms of upskilling and enabling people within the organisation.
Mohit officially closed the session saying that data democratisation is now vital more than ever because the citizens are getting smarter as time goes by. The pandemic introduced mobility and accessibility, along with more personalised services. This means that the office of finance must start embracing technology, albeit in incremental steps, going forward. This would be the key to sustainability and thriving in the new normal.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) recently kicked off the “vHK Grand Tour” AR Design Competition (the Competition), officially launching a series of activities which aim to encourage Hong Kong secondary academia to combine augmented reality (AR) technology with famous landmarks in Hong Kong, thus creating their ideal Green and Smart City landscape and enhancing their sense of belonging to the city.
Students and the general public were also introduced, via a seminar, to the Government’s “Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0” (Blueprint 2.0), the latest development in immersive technologies and their applications in STEM education, thereby enabling the new generation to master new digital technologies and promote Hong Kong as a green and smart city.
Funded by the General Support Programme of the Innovation and Technology Fund under the Innovation and Technology Commission, the Competition is also supported by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Education Bureau, and several innovation and technology (I&T) enterprises and education organisations and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers.
The Chairman of HKPC stated that as the super-connector among the government, the I&T sector and the education sector, HKPC has been committed to promoting I&T education and talent training, and advocates equipping young people with ‘FutureSkills’ to expand the local I&T talent pool.
Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, HKPC hopes the competition will enable students to experience the application of AR technology and increase their interest in immersive technologies; and concurrently alight young peoples’ vision of Hong Kong becoming a smart city and enhance their awareness of green living and sustainable development, thereby strengthening their sense of belonging to Hong Kong.
In the future, HKPC will continue to leverage its advantages in the field of I&T, and combine its rich experience in talent training to lay a solid foundation for nurturing talents for the I&T development of Hong Kong.
In her opening address, the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology noted that with the development of technology, the application of innovation and technology is emphasised, especially on the benefits brought about by I&T in our daily life, and through which we have a fresh understanding and feeling towards Hong Kong’s history, culture, art and other aspects.
The Commissioner also pointed out that in promoting I&T, the Government has unprecedentedly invested more than $150 billion in the past 5 years. Currently, the I&T industry in Hong Kong is flourishing. She encouraged fellow students to explore the world of science and technology and acquire the skills they will need for careers in the I&T industry.
The Competition will be held in different stages across a period of about 9 months, covering first-round assessment, training workshops, final round assessment, an award ceremony and an exhibition. Participants will be required to design and produce the AR works based on the theme of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR and the vision and goals of Blueprint 2.0 to showcase a brand new image of a green and smart Hong Kong to the public.
In addition, as the COVID-19 epidemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the city, participants are required to integrate anti-epidemic elements into their works to demonstrate the impacts and benefits of innovative technologies on public hygiene and daily life.
Ultimately, the AR works of the top 25 finalist teams will be available for public viewing online and offline, while people from all over the world will be able to participate in the “vHK Grand Tour” without being restricted by time, space and region.
An international team of researchers has developed a scanning tool to make websites less vulnerable to hacking and cyberattacks. The black box security assessment prototype, tested by engineers in Australia, Pakistan and the UAE, is more effective than existing web scanners which collectively fail to detect the top 10 weaknesses in web applications.
UniSA mechanical and systems engineer Dr Yousef Amer is one of the co-authors of a new international paper that describes the development of the tool in the wake of escalating global cyberattacks.
Cybercrime cost the world US$ 6 trillion in 2021, reflecting a 300% hike in online criminal activity in the past two years. Remote working, cloud-based platforms, malware and phishing scams have led to skyrocketing data breaches, while the rollout of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made us more connected – and vulnerable – than ever.
Dr Yousef Amer and colleagues from Pakistan, the UAE and Western Sydney University highlight numerous security weaknesses in website applications and how these are costing organisations dearly. Due to the widespread adoption of eCommerce, iBanking and eGovernment sites, web applications have become a prime target of cybercriminals who want to steal individual and company information and disrupt business activities.
Despite a projected US$ 170 billion global outlay on internet security in 2022 against a backdrop of escalating and more severe cyberattacks, existing web scanners are falling way short when it comes to assessing vulnerabilities, according to Dr Amer.
The team identified that most of the publicly available scanners have weaknesses and are not doing the job they should. Nearly 72% of organisations have suffered at least one serious security breach on their website, with vulnerabilities tripling since 2017. A world leader in web application security estimates that 86% of scanned web pages have on average 56% vulnerabilities. Among these, at least one is classified as critical. The researchers compared 11 publicly available web application scanners against the top 10 vulnerabilities.
The team found that no single scanner is capable of countering all these vulnerabilities, but the prototype tool caters to all these challenges and is a one-stop guide to ensure 100 per cent website security. There is an urgent need to audit websites and ensure they are secure if these breaches are to be curbed and companies and governments can save millions of dollars. The researchers are now seeking to commercialise their prototype.
The global cyber security market was valued at US$ 139.77 billion in 2021. The market is expected to grow to US$ 376.32 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 13.4% during the forecast period. The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and overwhelming, with security solutions undergoing higher-than-anticipated demand across the world compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The key drivers of the cyber security market are the emerging online e-commerce platforms and the advent of core technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud security, and others. Key market players focus on developing internet security solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) platforms.
The growing demand for solutions is anticipated to gain traction with cumulative investments from Germany, France, India, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Canada, and Qatar, among others. The growing adoption of enterprise security solutions from manufacturing, banking, financial services, insurance (BFSI) and healthcare is expected to drive market growth in the future.
To conduct a proof-of-concept on the use of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) voice for communication between pilots and air traffic controllers for air traffic management, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board’s Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partner companies.
The novel technology’s viability and advantages over ground-based VHF voice communications will be shown in the proof of concept, and the data will be gathered for international review, standards creation, and acceptance.
As global and regional air traffic continues to grow, CAAS is committed to leveraging new technologies to enhance air traffic management to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, and to being a pathfinder and convenor of the public-private partnership needed to drive development and global adoption of such technologies.
– Han Kok Juan, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
The Director-General added that the space-based VHF communications technology has the potential to revolutionise aviation, improving safety, effectiveness, and sustainability while expanding capacity to handle the growing demand for air travel. If this proof of concept is effective, it will be a big step toward acceptance and adoption around the world.
Pilots and air traffic controllers currently communicate with one another via VHF voice communications. For instance, pilots can ask for clearance to ascend or descend, and air traffic controllers can adjust a flight path in reaction to weather or turbulence.
The communication must be trustworthy, direct, and immediate to ensure safe and effective air traffic management, particularly in congested airspaces and during abnormal and emergency situations.
Moreover, due to the ground-based nature of present VHF stations, there is little to no coverage for VHF voice communications in maritime, hilly, or remote places that are outside the range of ground-based stations, which poses operational challenges. Air traffic control will be safer and more effective because of the expanded coverage provided by space-based VHF voice communications.
Before they may be used for safe operations, space-based VHF voice communications must first undergo technical feasibility studies, evaluation, and standardisation by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies’ proof of concept is the first technical research where a specially manufactured satellite will be launched into orbit to contain VHF communications gear for such a trial, even though there have been earlier technical studies in this area.
The trial’s goal is to show that space-based communications are compatible with aircraft technology and already-existing ground radio stations, with equivalent speech quality, latency, and other standards to ground-based voice communications.
The trial will specifically show that space-based voice communications are feasible for the equatorial region, where the scintillation effect that degrades the quality of VHF audio communications is known to be particularly severe. Beginning in 2023, the proof of concept will take a year to complete. After that, CAAS will present the findings and data to the ICAO and ITU for review and discussion.
Between CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies, the program delivers strong complementary skills. The testbed for the trial will be provided by CAAS, a prominent provider of air navigation services that is at the forefront of technological development and adoption.
The development and application of space capabilities to aviation as well as the creation of a space eco-system will be examined by OSTIn, Singapore’s national space office, to support the endeavour. Moreover, joint ventures will put the satellite into orbit and supply the hardware and communications infrastructure.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and a global tech giant recently jointly announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the company’s AR/VR Policy Research in the Asia Pacific region. This research initiative invites the region’s academic community to develop solutions-focused research to support the responsible development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
This includes identifying positive approaches to address policy issues and challenges, as well as opportunities in the metaverse and augmented and virtual reality, ultimately giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
With the metaverse becoming the next chapter of the internet, Meta’s vision is to have a billion people accessing the metaverse as part of their daily lives within ten years. That relies on people being in control of their experiences and feeling safe and secure. This RFP reaffirms the tech giant’s commitment to ensuring the responsible development and use of AR/VR technologies and building strong collaborations with policymakers, experts and industry partners to bring the metaverse to life.
The Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance stated that the RFP forms part of the Tech for Good Initiative that aims to bring scholars and practitioners together to catch up with the latest development of technologies and explore how the interplay between emerging technologies and public policy works. The Centre is committed to the attainment of a sustainable society and advanced technologies will help address some of the most critical sustainability challenges we are facing today.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the company are inviting faculty to respond to this call for research proposals on the following topics:
- Economic opportunity: people can be given more choice, how competition can be encouraged, how a thriving digital economy can be maintained
- Privacy: how the amount of data used can be minimised, how to build technology to enable privacy-protective data uses, and give people transparency and control over their data
- Safety and integrity: how people can be kept safe online and be given tools to take action or get help if they see something they’re not comfortable with
- Equity and inclusion: ensuring these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible
- New Use Cases: what are new applications of immersive technology that create substantial value for people and communities
The research initiative targets to award a total of 6 awards, each in the US$100,000 range funded by the firm’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year US$50 million investment in programmes and independent external research to help in the effort of building the metaverse responsibly. The submission deadline is 25 July 2022, and the results will be announced on 5 September 2022.
The global augmented reality and virtual reality market, in the current year (2022), is expected to have a market size of US$37.0 billion and grow up to US$114.5 billion by 2027 within a 5-year forecast period at a market growth rate of 25.3%.
The driving factors behind this growth include increased healthcare applications of augmented reality, increased applications of augmented reality and virtual reality in retail and e-commerce, strong government funding for the facilitation of growth of the AR and VR market, partnerships between augmented reality device manufacturers and various service industries, the rise in the usage and demand for virtual reality in e-learning, medical training, increased demand of virtual reality in manufacturing divisions.
The Government of Queensland has launched the third of its state-wide regional science and innovation hubs in Cairns, boosting research opportunities in Far North Queensland. Under the Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network, the hubs aim to provide people living in regional Queensland with more opportunities to engage with science and innovation in a meaningful way.
The Member for Cairns stated that the hub in Cairns will enable Far North individuals and community groups to participate in a range of STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and innovation-related activities and events. He noted that the events will be developed by the hub and by local science and innovation champions within the community and will include mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities; the engagement of youth in the design, implementation, product pitching and entrepreneurship; and engagement with researchers, technologies experts, business and First Nations mentors.
The network will provide opportunities for skills development and establish local networks that will drive growth and development in the science sector and innovation economy throughout regional Queensland. This will result in enhancing how businesses, research organisations and industries can meet the changing scientific and innovation needs of the community.
The region’s Science Minister stated that Cairns joined Gladstone and Toowoomba as locations, with each regional hub being provided with funding of up to $70,000 over 12 months to employ a regional coordinator to support events, activities and projects that encourage Queenslanders’ participation and awareness of science and innovation within their region.
She noted that science and innovation are helping to drive the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan – whether that’s through renewable energy, advanced manufacturing or our education and research sector. Recent research commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy, she said.
Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science. The findings indicated that during the pandemic, almost two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.
This is the reason the hubs are being delivered, together with major investments like the additional $35.5 million to ramp up the development and manufacture of locally-based vaccines that build on last’s announcement of $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund.
The Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Science and the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport. The region’s Innovation Minister said the hubs would help to supercharge regional Queensland science and innovation.
For local entrepreneurs and business leaders, the hubs aim to deliver support and partnerships to identify and develop real-world opportunities. Be it robots, hydrogen or medical technology, the government understands that science and innovation will be critical to building regional Queensland’s industries and jobs of the future.
The Far North Queensland Hub will be led by James Cook University and will be supported by Cairns Regional Council, Gulf Savannah NRM, Y(E)P Entrepreneurship Facilitators Cairns, Regional Development Australia and Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
James Cook University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor welcomed the initiative and said that the hub will strengthen linkages between the region’s very active science and innovation community, the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.
Having the Hub here in Cairns will boost connectivity between important state government programs and those working on research and innovation in our region, and will support projects that encourage community awareness of science and innovation.
The establishment of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre or DC Centre aims to improve both countries’ transportation and logistics ecosystems, as well as strengthen supply chain resilience and accelerate trade digitalisation.
The partnership, according to Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications, and Information, is an important step in the continued development of Singapore’s and Chongqing’s roles as mutual hubs of Southeast Asia and Western China, respectively.
As a key project of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) and logistics priority area, the DC Centre will be a physical location for multimodal operations in Chongqing and help build the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
With this new facility in place, there will be greater opportunities for collaboration between Singapore, Chongqing, and other international partners in some areas.
– Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information
Minister Teo emphasised first the improving logistics and transportation systems on both sides. To better integrate Chongqing’s key road, rail, and river logistics nodes and give logistics participants a smooth experience, the DC Centre will complement current and planned facilities including the Guoyuan Port and Yuzui Terminal South Yard.
In 2017, Minister Teo recalls the inauguration of the two joint venture companies of Singapore and China -the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Solutions Company Limited or S1 and Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) DC Multimodal Logistics Company Limited or S2. Now, a training and placement programme will be formed between S1 and the Chongqing Finance and Economics College, with specialised training taking place within the DC Centre itself, to expand the talent pool of Chongqing’s logistics business.
Second, the Minister highlighted the improved supply chain resilience. In an era of global supply chain disruption, the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor can determine its value by linking land and sea routes to provide the flow of essential goods, specifically perishable and time-sensitive supplies. To that end, she encourages all interested parties to join the Corridor by utilising key nodes such as the DC Centre and improving connectivity and trade flows between regions.
Minister Teo also stressed the hastening of trade digitalisation. In response to the growing importance of the digital economy, Singapore and Chongqing are encouraging the exchange of digital data and documents to improve supply chain visibility and facilitate seamless cross-border cargo movement. She welcomes more companies to join them in these endeavours, including those from adjacent sectors such as trade financing.
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that 17 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed among Singapore and Chongqing businesses in 2020 on the side-lines of the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online, as enterprises continue to explore opportunities despite pandemic restrictions. The MoUs included collaborations in the built environment and manufacturing, as well as logistics and tourism for markets in Chongqing, Western China, and Singapore.
On the other hand, at the annual Smart China Expo in Chongqing in 2019, Singapore and Chinese companies signed 13 agreements for collaborative efforts to use digital technologies in education, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
In the same year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore, and the Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau launched the Joint Innovation Development Fund (JIDF), an RMB$ 40 million initiative to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions, which may include research and development and pilots to promote innovative technologies such as robotics, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The fund’s goal is to catalyse projects that have the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the companies and countries involved.
Vietnam is keen to promote local innovation and the creation of digital solutions and platforms. The aim is to have products that address national issues and that can be used easily in the local context. Since 2020, Make in Vietnam has turned towards a focus on digital orientation.
Minister Nguyen Manh Hung of the Ministry of Information and Communication was quoted as saying, ‘The Make in Vietnam represents technology products created in Vietnam, designed in Vietnam, made in Vietnam!’ In laying out the government’s ambitions, he called it a ‘…slogan of action and promotes the spirit of design, innovation and production in Vietnam. Instead of just assembling, production is encouraged to help solve the problems of Vietnam itself and aid export to other international markets.’
A landmark decision was taken to enable open-source technology combined with an open approach to data to enable the realisation of the country’s vision. It is expected that the information, electronics and telecommunications industry will master or develop technologies to produce cover more than 45% of relevant content by 2025. The country is expected to have 100,000 digital technology enterprises by then, with at least 10 internationally competitive unicorns playing a major role.
Moreover, the government is keen to encourage and acknowledge people and organisations that show exemplary progress in this area. One of the key ways the government motivates and recognises these contributions has been the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards.
The Ministry of Information and Communications launched the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards 2022. Held since 2020 and in its third year, these awards recognise contextualised solutions to solving problems the country is facing. Clarifying that eligible enterprises as those which are at least 51% owned by Vietnamese investors, the Deputy Minister said, ‘There are products that have contributed to changing lives in many remote villages, difficulties that we previously thought would take a long time to solve.’
To facilitate international collaborations and domestic innovation, the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam recently launched a portal to provide information and support services to local businesses, especially SMEs.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the portal is built on an open platform and the government is inviting stakeholders to participate in creating a smooth, multi-dimensional information system. The portal will be a source of research and reports on various topics from leading agencies, research units, and consulting organisations, helping local businesses quickly and easily access relevant information about the industry and market.
In early 2021, Minister Hung said that people live in both a fast-changing and unpredictable world where they move from the real world to the digital world. As they transition to an increasingly online realm there are both great challenges and great opportunities.
The ICT sector has never had as important a role as it has now. It offers a rare opportunity for the industry to reposition, reinvent and reimagine itself, realise challenges and identify new living spaces that are decisive for development.
Digital technology, digital transformation and the media play a particularly important role in this transformation. This, therefore, requires the ICT sector to grasp opportunities and effectively address challenges to meet the ambitions set out in the “Make-in-Vietnam” strategy.
“Make in Vietnam” is an expression to emphasise the initiative in the creation and design of high-tech products by the Vietnamese.
Pham Duc Long, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications said that the Ministry of Information and Communication will facilitate winners of the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards to access a wider market thus promoting the flagship ‘Make in Vietnam’ agenda to benefit Vietnamese citizens at large.