The pandemic vaulted the governments and businesses into the next stage of digital transformation and online services. Everywhere, organisations have been compelled to accelerate and bring forward their digital transformation strategies.
Data is increasingly at the core of any business or organisation and is a critical raw material for intelligent analytics and the driving force behind digital transformation. The widespread move towards remote work and the corresponding need for better remote workforce security has also spurred investment in Zero Trust security. The ability to authenticate and monitor all traffic, regardless of its position inside or outside of an organisation’s network, promises to reduce or eliminate many security risks.
Cyberattacks are constantly evolving and getting more sophisticated, driven by accelerated digital transformation – moving to cloud, rolling out new applications and e-services at lightning speed to address the needs of citizens and customers.
With the pandemic fundamentally changing reality, the question is: How can organisations future proof their infrastructure, keep their data safe and stay resilient?
The 7th Annual Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum 2022, Day 4, was held on 20 May 2022 at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. It convened digital leaders from the Singapore public sector and financial services industry to discuss, deliberate, share and plan for the next phase of transformation.
Digital transformation as the new imperative
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
We are creating a lot of data, Mohit remarks as he reflects on the metaverse. He pointed out the growing trend of the metaverse, the alternate reality and the billions that are poured into it. “This is where things are going,” Mohit firmly believes.
With the copious amount of data that we need to manage, the security of data is fast becoming imperative. Using racing as an analogy, Mohit revealed that for an F1 race car, about 30% of the cost is spent on the braking system.
“You can only go at high speeds knowing that you can safely and quickly stop. In a digital world, cybersecurity is the brake and safety net,” Mohit claims. “If you don’t know how to protect, you can’t use or democratise data.”
We have been coping the past two years with ‘band-aid’ technology, Mohit feels. These ad hoc solutions and platforms that were used during the pandemic need to be scaled up, taken forward and mainstreamed. Using COVID-19 as an excuse for temporary measures is gone.
Singapore is so connected that it is a prime target for ransomware, Mohit asserts. Accordingly, Singapore jumped to No. 11 globally for ransomware in the first half of 2021. It was 44th in the first six months of 2019 and 21st in the first half of 2020. Two in five SMEs in Singapore suffered a cyber incident over 12 months from September 2020 to 2021.
When thinking about what is happening and the number of hackers that are turning their attention to Singapore, security is no longer something that can be avoided.
The move towards cloud is inevitable, Mohit contends. However, migration is a journey and a process that needs to be safeguarded at all times and every stage. Compared to CEOs, CFOs and COOs, the CISOs of organisations are never sleeping. “The security teams have a tough job,” Mohit acknowledges.
There is a massive paradigm shift in the world and data is rapidly gaining prominence. In this digital landscape, Mohit has an acronym that helps highlight the pillars of transformation and success – ACDC2. ‘A’ stands for augmented intelligence, ‘C ‘stands for convergence (of the physical and virtual), ‘D’ is data, and the last ‘Cs’ stand for cyber resilience and critical events.
The world is changing rapidly, and no one knows what will happen next. As such, Mohit urges delegates to learn from experts who are adept and experienced in keeping data safe and protected.
In conclusion, he encourages delegates to look for partners who are champions in their field of work who can help organisations keep their glass full so that they can focus on their business objectives.
Designing a Single Digital Touchpoint for Businesses
There are a plethora of things that a business owner needs to do including applying for permits and licences. What government agencies can do is ease the process so they can be spent on business development activities.
Simon shares that the main problem business owners were beset with was the prolonged amount of time required before their licenses are all approved. Most F&B business owners would find a location and will pay a deposit to secure the venue, only to spend 3-6 months afterwards applying for licences. In addition, many were not completely aware of the sequence of applications.
Tasked with the mission to streamline this process, GovTech started to understand its users. Accordingly, they: 1) Engaged 41 different F&B businesses and spoke to the owners and administrative staff 2) understood the pain points in every agency touchpoint 3) Sought views on how the license application process can be an integral part of their business process
Undertaking a service journey approach, they used the service blueprinting technique to map the user’s journey across the different agencies during their application. They grouped agencies that are in parallel processing and lay them in a sequential flow.
Instead of making the user go through the different agencies on their own, business owners would provide all the information at the start and their application will be routed automatically from one agency to the next – users will simply receive notifications when their applications advance.
The new system integrates 11 systems, which are linked through 17 APIs and enables people to get their application in 2 weeks.
GovTech’s role is to look at different sectors and industries, as well as the key moments when users are interacting with the government. Through the pandemic, GovTech adapted to the needs of users and continued to develop applications that can help lubricate processes.
In conclusion, Simon believes that technology is there to help organisations stay relevant and to improve the quality of service.
Innovation and Modernisation in the Public Sector
Vishal Ghariwala, Chief Technology Officer, APJ and Greater China, SUSE spoke next on the trends of digital transformation through cloud-native technologies.
Vishal observes that the government’s budgets point to 3 priorities in digital transformation: 1) Meeting citizen expectations – modern and always-on services 2) Adapting to threat vectors and 3) Sustaining Resilience amidst uncertainty
Cloud migration is a journey that will continuously evolve, Vishal contends.
First, it begins with setting up a multi-cloud platform. With the fabric in place, application modernisation is the next stage. Thereafter, it is followed by adaptive security. Vishal concurs that threats are evolving rapidly, which is why technologies in security need to be updated consistently. He adds that automation needs to be looked at to streamline processes.
Vishal believes that open-source technologies provide a firm foundation for innovation and openness is the ability to interoperate with other vendors.
SUSE Rancher enables organisations to take the best of what a hybrid cloud can offer. “SUSE is committed to co-creating success,” Vishal states.
NeuVector addresses many issues of security and, because the technology is open-source, it can be used with the existing technologies of organisations.
Vishal shares a case example of an agency that needed a flexible cloud platform primarily used for data analytics in disaster detection and prevention. The organisation wanted it to be agile, scalable and able to support modern containerisation, all while being affordable and providing the highest performance. Unfortunately, affordability and high performance usually do not go hand in hand – which is why they looked to open-source solutions.
Building an entirely new, cloud-native technology needed the following:
- Scalable and flexible = easily and automatically scalable across different regions based on traffic surges and peaks. Infrastructure must be built quickly to respond to emergencies
- Affordable and high performance
- Container-based architecture
- Built using Open-Source technologies
- Support mobile and remote workforces and field operations
In response to the needs of the organisation, SUSE came up with a solution with the following features:
- 7-Region national scale AI (Artificial Intelligence) cloud platform (2 Private cloud, 5 Edge cloud)
- Each cloud region is a full OpenStack environment – Software defined provisioning of GPU and NVMe resources
- Core-to-Edge architecture supports both local and mobile/remote workforces
- Workloads are containerised and orchestrated using Kubernetes and SUSE Rancher Container Management Platform SUSE Rancher orchestrates via the OpenStack plugin to create a secure multi-tenant environment
- Built using open-source technologies: SUSE Rancher, Kubernetes, OpenStack
Eventually, they were able to deliver the following benefits for the customer:
- Regional COVID symptoms and test results can now be aggregated across two core environments
- AI/ML models to detect COVID hot spots
- Implement regional restrictions
- Inform mass population around COVID hot spots
- Easy and transparent access to COVID-related information
SUSE Rancher Benefits
- Quickly adapt and scale the system
- Automated orchestration and provisioning of workloads
- Zero-touch deployments
- Ease of administering distributed infrastructure
Vishal assured delegates that SUSE can support organisations in their transformation journey, to enable organisations to deliver impact to their users or customers. He encourages delegates to reach out to him if they are keen to find out how SUSE will be able to add value to their services.
The key to building a resilient digital infrastructure
Kamal Naresh: The key to digital resilience is next-gen data management
Today’s Information Technology environments are beset with new challenges, Kamal contends. Issues are aplenty – increase in threat vectors due to the massive amount of remote work, increasing regulatory oversight dictating rules for privacy and retention and legacy infrastructure limitations that prevent companies from being more agile.
Almost all companies are leveraging the cloud in some capacity and many have mandates to embrace it in bigger capacities, but it is not that easy. Additionally, IT is being held to stringent SLAs and many stakeholders have zero tolerance for downtime.
Backups are often considered the last line of defence. To put that in a football context, there is an entire line (or two) of defenders that try to prevent the opponent from ever scoring. The goalkeeper acts as that last defender that saves the ball from going into the goal. Not only do goalkeepers prevent others from scoring, but they are also the ones that put the ball back in play.
What Cohesity does is very similar, Kamal explains. Not only does Cohesity protect the goal and prevent data from being lost, but they are also the company that restores it to the environment. Ransomware has evolved and is now attacking backup copies. As a result, there is a need for a different architecture.
At its core, Threat Defense is about providing customers with a highly resilient platform that ensures confidentiality, availability and integrity of the data with encryption, fault tolerance and immutability built into the platform.
Data resiliency is then further augmented with comprehensive access control capabilities that ensure that entities accessing the data management platform conform with Zero Trust principles of no implicit trust and authentication, authorisation, and access control at the UI, CLI, and API-based entry points.
Kamal explains that it is further strengthened with support for multi-factor authentication, granular and customisable role-based access control to enforce the principle of least privilege and segregation of duties and quorum-approval to prevent unitary over privilege within administrative accounts – a crucial control to protect against unintentional user error, rogue admins, or compromised accounts – as well as auditing and continuous monitoring capabilities to ensure compliance and operational integrity of the entire data management platform.
However, unique to Cohesity, the Threat Defense architecture incorporates additional layers of protection: AI-driven detection and analytics – a set of advanced capabilities ranging from data classification to near-realtime threat detection to source-side data anomaly detection to adaptive behavioural analytics.
These detection and analytics capabilities provide Cohesity customers with the knowledge of where their sensitive data resides to proactively address compliance and governance issues like data overexposure in a near-real-time manner before these threat actors manage to fully exfiltrate an organisation’s most sensitive data assets.
The final layer of Cohesity Threat Defense ensures that their data management platform can be securely operationalised by their customers. This layer ensures that Cohesity remains an open and extensible data management platform with capabilities like our Marketplace that allow leading security ISVs like SentinelOne and Tenable to build security apps that run close to the data to help protect the data, natively on the Cohesity platform.
He concludes that data is always dark in the recovery phase, which makes automation necessary to identify what is violating compliance policies. Cohesity offers organisations to do bulk recovery and integration for security operations. Cohesity Threat Defense architecture can help to keep data secure as part of an overall in-depth defence strategy.
Polling results for the morning session
Throughout the morning session, delegates were polled on different topics.
The first poll inquired about key business initiatives for the next 12-18 months. Almost a quarter (24%) are focused on improving agility and delivery through Cloud Migration. That is followed by efforts to improve employee productivity through digital technology (21%) and modernising and securing apps (17%). Other delegates were evenly split between enabling real-time performance visibility and analysis (14%) and allowing users to efficiently deploy IT services across a variety of environments (14%) while the rest (10%) are embedding compliance transparently in applications.
On the main motivator that is driving digital transformation, most (42%) are interested to improve their capability to manage the increasing amount of data at the edge locations while ensuring security and compliance while 32% hope to speed up their time-to-market to fully capitalise on business opportunities or to serve citizens better. The rest (26%) see a growing need to maximise value/insights from an increasing amount of data assets as a motivator.
Regarding key fears in moving to cloud, a sizeable majority (61%) were concerned about security and governance. The other delegates were split between operational costs (16%), the need to re-skill talent (13%) and vendor lock-in (10%).
The subsequent poll asked delegates what they saw as the biggest challenge in digitalisation and cloud migration. About 42% found people and skillset the biggest challenge and 32% opted for security and compliance risks (32%). Data classification/data sovereignty/data residency concern was an issue for 11%. The remaining delegates were equally split on legacy infrastructure (5%), executive support/top management strategy (5%) and budget (5%) challenging.
Inquiring about the cyber security concerns that organisations are most worried about, 42% were worried about phishing and spear-phishing campaigns. The rest of the delegates were evenly divided between attacks on public-facing websites and infrastructure,e.g., SQLi, XSS, DDOS, (21%) and social engineering campaigns targeting employees/partners/users (21%). The rest of the delegates are bothered about attacks on remote access infrastructure, e.g., VPN compromise (17%).
On their plans to implement Zero Trust across their extended environment, most (43%) have already started implementing zero trust with a primary focus on identifying our critical assets, while others (29%) are partnering with multiple security partners to build a practical and pragmatic roadmap to implement zero trust. The remaining delegates have made huge investments in different technologies and are not sure where to start due to operational complexities (21%) or are not yet ready to implement zero-trust due to a lack of resources and skills needed (7%).
Asked about key drivers for their organisation’s initiating/augmenting an identity access/Zero Trust management programme, over a third (35%) identified Security/Data Protection/Breach Prevention to be critical. It was followed identically by operational efficiency (18%) and addressing hybrid IT security issues (18%). Similarly, another set equally indicated reducing endpoint, Insider and IoT security threats (12%) and internal/Industry/Regulatory compliance (12%). The rest of the delegates are driven by the response to audit or security incidents (6%).
On the external help needed most to accelerate their digital transformation journey, about a third (35%) want assistance in managing the complexities of monitoring and managing multiple tools on on-premises and hybrid multi-cloud-based systems. That is followed by the mindset change and new ways of working (26%), agile Integration (17%), training and enablement for cloud technologies (13%) and automation (9%).
Exposing Supply Chain Attacks in Modern App Development
Tan LyeHee, Director of Sales Engineering, APAC Middle East & Africa, Checkmarx, elaborated on cyber threats in modern app deployment.
LyHee began by addressing the question of what Modern Application Development (MAD) is. MAD is a new approach to creating and increasing value through software produced. It holds the key to modernisation and software-based digital transformation. Through it, rapid innovation is powered using cloud-native architecture, loosely coupled microservices, database and service modules and it can abstract from the underlying system. It can dynamically respond to events in near real-time and offers tremendous benefit
However, MAD brings new security “risks” such as container risks, infrastructure as code risks, API (Application Programming Interfaces) Risks, Open-source code risks and Microservices Risks. Checkmarx takes the approach of modules and engines stacked on the cloud. It has been a pioneer for software security for years and is now transforming the industry to move beyond traditional security testing to managing the total software exposure across their entire SDLC at the speed of DevOps and the business.
More than 1,400 of the world’s leading organisations trust Checkmarx to power their software security program. They are a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant and are ranked #1 by industry peers on Gartner Peer Insights. Its proven solutions implemented by their customers have led to some phenomenal growth, we are growing 70% year-over-year and now have close to 600 employees globally.
The greatest challenge is supply chain security, opines LyHee. Checkmarx began with open-source software where codes are copied in modules from other places. The open-source module comes from other modules.
LyeHee observes that collaboration across wide communities has driven an explosion in application development based on open-source software. Highly collaborative ecosystems have myriad advantages, but zero trust security controls are not one of them, and attackers are taking advantage.
Accordingly, he shares the anatomy of an attack:
- A good package goes bad
- Discovery of other common packages being infected
- Attackers go after the developers preparing the package
- Minor and major versions were infected
Considering the prevailing trends, LyeHee believes that software composition analysis is the focus. There is also a need to understand the organisation’s open-source risk profile:
- Accurate open-source library detection
- Risk dashboard and detailed reporting across the organisation
- New vulnerability alerting without the need to rescan
- Vulnerability trends over time (project-level)
- Leverage the comprehensive threat intelligence database of public (CVE) vulnerabilities and unique (Checkmarx research)
In conclusion, LyeHee believes that mitigating against supply chain attacks is an imperative that should not be ignored. Through triage scan results they can identify and visualise the dependency structure, as well as dig into transitive elements. They are also able to focus and know where the vulnerable library is from before understanding the component to remediate.
He urged delegates to reach out to Checkmarx to better understand how the technology can help their organisations.
Observability in Singapore’s digital transformation journey
Taylor Chan, Head of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SolarWinds talked about observability in digital transformation.
Taylor considers Singapore to be one of the fastest adopters of digital technologies. It is a mature market and an early adopter of new technologies, applications and solutions. The nation is forging ahead with its vision to have a world-class, secure and resilient 5G infrastructure that will be the backbone of its digital economy.
Singapore is a magnet for visionaries and businesses looking for an innovation hub in the Asia Pacific. A growing pool of highly skilled talent, solid government support schemes and an advanced IT infrastructure make up the triumvirate behind Singapore’s global competitiveness.
In addition to serving as the region’s trading centre, Singapore is universally regarded as the #1 Tech hub in the Indo-Pacific, a key reason 4,500+ U.S. companies are in the country. It has built a world-class, globally competitive tech industry and continues to explore new frontiers in innovation such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, data analytics and other technologies that span healthcare, security, fintech, energy, aviation and defence.
The borrowing cost for Singapore is significantly less as it has historically maintained a high credit rating of AAA. For Taylor, Singapore is doing tremendously well in digital transformation and employs a six-fold strategy.
Some of the best examples of the Singapore government’s services include:
- SingPass: Digital identity for easy and secure access to government and private sector services
- MyInfo: Digitalisation of business operations via API which has resulted in an 80% improvement in application time
- LifeSG: One-stop access to 70+ government services for different stages of life
- GoBusiness: Connect business owners to 300+ government services, which teaches people how to apply for licenses.
For Taylor, there are some key features of a digital government:
- Services that are easy to use, reliable and relevant
- Seamless digital transactions
- Systems and data that are secure
- A digitally confident public service workforce
- A digitally enabled public service workplace
Those features have enabled swift actions to be taken to support COVID-19 operations:
- TraceTogther, SafeEntry; Build on existing tools like SingPass, MyInfo, FormSG
- Allow rapid development within days – Maskgowhere (Within 36 hours) and SupplyAlly
The foundations allow the government to quickly build applications. A prime example is Maskgowhere, which was ready within 36 hours, including a system that tracked the mask collection progress across 743 collection centres. This allowed resources to be directed to centres where help was needed.
The COVID-19 pandemic produced an urgent need to address logistical challenges on a national scale. For example, the distribution of reusable face masks to all Singapore residents created a logistical challenge to track collection quotas and manage a flexible pool of volunteers. SupplyAlly – A mobile app developed by GovTech to facilitate nationwide logistic distributions.
The beauty of the system is that the underlying technology is hidden from the citizen. It is an elegantly engineered product which provides a secure way to connect the different Government services. The good part is that the complexity of services faded into the background, and the citizens can enjoy the benefits introduced by the systems.
Taylor points out that Core Operations, Development Environment and eXchange (CODEX) technology stack enables them to use less sensitive data outside of their infrastructure, such as commercial cloud.
The Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS) comes with four aspects:
- Digital services: Easy to use, accessible and secure digital government services that improve the lives of citizens and businesses.
- Microservices: Reusable common services that agencies utilise to build applications such as the National Digital Identify for authentication.
- Middleware: Software services such as APEX (API gateway) and WOGAA (Whole of Government Application Analytics) (analytics that allows for rapid development, deployment, testing, and monitoring)
- Hosting platforms: Scalable hosting containers with secure connectivity.
Hence, GovTech has created a centralised government-wide API exchange -APEX – that serves as a searchable library of APIs. Authentication protocols on APEX ensure that only authorised applications have access to highly confidential citizen data. At the same time, activities on the APEX platform are tractable as the system audits and logs the applications that have requested to pull data from government databases.
With APEX, data collected and stored by one agency can be used by numerous other approved agencies or businesses to improve and streamline their processes. For example, MyInfo leverages the capabilities of APEX to enable citizens and residents to manage the use of their personal data for a myriad of online transactions, including applying for a Housing Development Board flat and opening a bank account.
The MyInfo API for developers makes it possible for more applications to be integrated with MyInfo without significant hassle or overhead costs.
To Taylor, the goal of digital transformation in government organisations is easy-to-use, secure services for citizens, and seamless digital transactions between people, government and agencies.
- Adopt new business models, operating models, and platforms: Go Digital First and Leverage data-driven insights into the services
- Avoid outdated processes and disruption causing mechanisms: Adopt automation (RPA) and modernise legacy systems
- Implement digital practices instead of physical counters: Leverage self-service digital practices
- Leverage newer technology and Analytics: Make use of forecasting and predictive modelling
- Invest in emerging technologies: Aim for a scalable and secure digital platform
Digital transformation spending is set to explode, Taylor believes that the areas of need include the revival from the pandemic, cost and productivity, and growth and results. Getting there will require faster decisions, simplified work, and the elimination of needless tasks. Considering that, full-stack visibility has never been so critical, Taylor contends.
Where SolarWinds can help is in proactive monitoring. With different tools and technology being adopted by companies the IT teams are left with spending most of their time dealing with performance issues. When organisations have too many tools, it can cause slow root-cause analysis. This leads to downtime, added cost and operational inefficiencies.
In conclusion, Taylor shares that the SolarWinds platform can support and power the digital transformation journeys of organisations, delivering superior ROI in various industries. He encourages delegates to reach out to his team to find out more about how SolarWinds can help with their organisation’s journey.
Mitigating digital asset disruption in a time of flux
Nathan Stevens, Head of Solution Consulting – APAC, Snow Software, shared on the complex and evolving space of digital asset disruption and how it can be addressed it.
“We are in a continuous state of disruption,” Nathan observes. “What we consider a digital asset has changed dramatically, and the emergence of new asset classes has made managing them even more challenging.”
He believes that IT leaders must leverage technology that delivers comprehensive visibility and contextual insight – Technology Intelligence. It allows for the management of organisations’ complete technology landscape and to drive transformation with precision and agility.
Digital assets have significantly changed in the last 40-50 years, but that rate of change has been exponential with the emergence of new technologies.
What is seen in this disruption is an increase in complexity. Buying practices have changed, and the world is very much in a consumption economy, and moving into a per second per minute economy as well – transforming into business-led procurement. Cyber-security exposure is larger than ever and very much high on the radar for all CIOs, especially as attacks become common. Identifications of vulnerabilities and foreign agents launching new attack has everyone on all on high alert.
The utility in which we associate these digital assets has expanded greatly – everything from ensuring your plants have enough water, to full automation of a mining site with driverless trucks – the possibilities are endless
Looking at how the modern digital asset was formed, Nathan wants to assess each of these distinct ages of modern technology against the spectrums of visibility, optimisation potential, and risk.
- Visibility – achieve a holistic view of data, applications, and spending across on-premises data centre, cloud, and SaaS (Software as a Service) environments
- Optimisation – leverage intelligent insights and recommendations about your data to optimise spending and drive operational efficiencies
- Governance – manage security risk and compliance without affecting business performance
All this points to common themes for 2022 and beyond, namely the rise of IoT, 5G, AI/Machine Learning, RPA, low code applications and edge computing and, more recently the meta-verse. All are rapidly changing how people consume technology and how we approach data and IT operations.
Nathan points out that cyberattacks on IoT devices skyrocketed in 2018 and surpassed 300% in 2019. Accordingly, malware attacks are now affecting a vast number of IoT devices. According to Forbes, the number of malware incidents involving IoT devices has grown from 813 million in 2018 to a staggering 2.9 billion already the following year.
The results of not having adequate visibility in place are:
- Lack of optimisation and increased risk
- Increase in SaaS spend that we are locked into and grown comfortable then, then the price increase
- Huge uptake in new technologies that need to be managed and will have huge impacts I.e., Containers
- 85% of CMDB projects fail – trying to achieve too much or being too ambitious; completeness for completeness’s sake or trying to achieve 100% coverage in a dynamic and ever-changing environment
“We don’t need a single source of truth, we need to have different data sets that give us a different perspective or insight – and integrate those best of breed datasets into the CMDB only where it makes sense,” Nathan asserts.
Snow’s solution for Technology Intelligence – what we see as the future of Software Asset Management is to provide complete insight and manageability across all technology
For Snow Software, the approach to technology intelligence requires additional levels of visibility, which involves understanding the usage of all technologies, leveraging data to negotiate the most value and obtaining baselines for intelligent migrations to the cloud.
If managing Microsoft spending as one key use case, it is possible to apply the same logic to Oracle or VMware as well. There is a movement beyond software or hardware asset management – it is time for technology asset management.
In conclusion, Snow Software can help organisations provide intelligence on the data that is collected to make business decisions on that data. The platform allows them to bring real value to customers. Nathan adds that they are also able to integrate with business processes.
Polling results for the afternoon session
Throughout the afternoon session, delegates were polled on different topics.
The first poll inquired about key business initiatives for the next 12-18 months. Over a third (37%) were focused on improving agility and delivery through Cloud Migration. This is followed by efforts to modernise and secure apps (21%) and enable real-time performance visibility and analysis (21%) and improve employee productivity through digital technology (11%). The rest were focused on allowing users to efficiently deploy IT services across a variety of environments (5%) and embedding compliance transparently in applications (5%).
Delegates were then asked about what would have the bulk of their budget in 2022 –2023. Just under a third (32%) have committed to embracing cloud technology, be it public or private (32%), followed by the digitalisation of processes to deliver better or ‘Smart’ services (26%). The remaining delegates have their allocation for n enhancing or adopting AI and Analytics for improving outcomes through forecasting, prediction and optimisation (16%), fortifying cyber resilience (16%) or improving integrity and governance whilst reducing inefficiency (11%).
On the main motivator that is driving digital transformation, 39% are driven by the desire to speed up their time-to-market to fully capitalise on business opportunities or to serve citizens better, followed by the growing need to maximise value/insights from an increasing amount of data assets as a motivator (26%). The rest of the delegates opted for providing a consistent and seamless cloud-everywhere experience across a distributed organisation (22%) and improving their capability to manage the increasing amount of data at the edge locations while ensuring security and compliance (13%).
The subsequent poll asked delegates what they saw as the biggest challenge in digitalisation and cloud migration. Delegates were evenly split between people and skillset (21%), legacy infrastructure (21%) and executive support/top management strategy (21%). The rest of the delegates equally found security and compliance risks (14%), budget (14%) and data classification/data sovereignty/data residency concerns (7%) challenging.
Inquiring about the cyber security concerns that organisations are most worried about, most delegates (42%) were worried about phishing and spear-phishing campaigns. The rest of the delegates were split between attacks on public-facing websites and infrastructure, e.g., SQLi, XSS, DDOS (21%) and social engineering campaigns targeting employees/partners/users (21%). The rest of the delegates are concerned about attacks on remote access infrastructure, e.g., VPN compromise (17%).
On their plans to implement Zero Trust across their extended environment, delegates are evenly split between partnering with multiple security partners to build a practical and pragmatic roadmap to implement zero-trust (28%), having made huge investments in different technologies and not sure where to start due to operational complexities (28%). Others (17%) have already started implementing zero trust with a primary focus on identifying their critical assets while about 7% are not ready to implement zero-trust due to a lack of resources and skills needed.
Asked about key drivers for their organisation’s initiating/augmenting an identity access/Zero Trust management programme, over a third (35%) identified Security/Data Protection/Breach Prevention to be essential. It was followed by internal/Industry/Regulatory compliance (36%) and addressing hybrid IT security issues (14%), The rest of the delegates are driven by the response to audit or security incidents (7%).
On the external help needed most to accelerate their digital transformation journey, most (42%) need assistance with a mindset change and new ways of working, followed by managing the complexities of monitoring and managing multiple tools on on-premises and hybrid multi-cloud-based systems (26%), training and enablement for cloud technologies (21%), automation (5%) and agile integration (5%).
To conclude the day, Mohit stresses the importance of getting started on the journey of securing data and information because “data is the new oil.”
For Mohit, attacks are inevitable, and organisations need to ramp up security to continue delivering business outcomes and value. He believes that the key is to work with partners who have the expertise and knowledge so that energies can be channelled into driving business objectives.
The Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) will be collaborating with a chemical manufacturing corporation in research that will drive new advancements in sustainable lithium battery technologies. The joint project will be led by the Executive Director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N) and Co-Director of NTUSingapore CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy (SCARCE), a centre for excellence in innovative solutions for recycling and recovering valuable elements from e-waste.
The Chief Commercial Officer at the chemical manufacturing corporation has played an important role in many breakthroughs in battery research and development. By expanding its R&D partnerships, the company can build on its heritage of innovation and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and find optimal pathways for progress.
The firm is excited to begin this journey with a pioneering, distinguished scientist like Professor Srinivasan and the entire team at NTU, as new pathways to support advancements in battery technology can be explored.
The Executive Director of the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N), who will lead the research, is a renowned academic whose research focuses on the circular economy. She worked extensively on research initiatives with battery industry leaders and helps advise on public policies for energy and sustainability in Singapore and around the world. She is also the Executive Director of the Sustainability Office at NTU Singapore, which oversees and integrates sustainability initiatives and innovation across the University and its smart campus.
She noted that NTU Singapore has a strong history of working closely with the industry to commercialise research into tangible and impactful outcomes. The team is excited to collaborate with innovative leaders like the partnering firm, to advance sustainable lithium battery technologies. Their hope is to accelerate a more sustainable approach for lithium-ion batteries used in millions of electric vehicles and portable devices across the world.
The global Lithium-ion Battery Market was US$36.90 billion in 2020. The global market size is projected to reach US$193.13 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 23.3% during the forecast period from 2021-2028.
Recent research shows that the continuing demand for power supply for numerous applications, augmented demand for electric vehicles, the surging necessity of battery-operated equipment and machinery in automotive industries, and the usage of lithium-ion batteries in renewable energy applications are sustaining the lithium-ion battery market growth.
As governments across the globe begin imposing guidelines for the monitoring of surging pollution phases. Various industries are being compelled to use lithium-ion batteries. The power industry is working to manufacture renewable energy and stock for future purposes.
In addition, low cost, low-self discharge rate, and negligible installation space are a few of the crucial factors driving the implementation of lithium-ion batteries in smart grid and energy storage systems. Since the product is more resilient to high temperatures, it is perfect for usage in distant areas and thermal control applications. The Asia Pacific region is expected to hold the largest lithium-ion battery market share during the mentioned period.
NTU is home to various leading research centres including the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N). Under the NTU Smart Campus vision, the University harnesses the power of digital technology and tech-enabled solutions to support better learning and living experiences, the discovery of new knowledge, and the sustainability of resources.
Indonesia has great ambitions for its digital economy and has deployed strategies to achieve its ambitions with a goal to reach USD315 billion by 2030. The 2021-2024 Indonesia Digital Roadmap is set on 4 pillars, namely digital infrastructure, digital government, digital economy and digital society.
As part of its strategy, the government is promoting four important digital skills to accelerate its digital economy. The government believes that the future demand for digital skills will be focused on four areas Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Cloud Computing, and Data Analytics (ABCD). The ABCD skills are projected to help the national economy hit its US$315 billion by 2030 target.
Therefore, the Indonesian government is encouraging young people to start businesses through a variety of free programs such as Beta School, 1,000 Startup Movement, Startup Studio, HUB.ID and IGDX.
“Aside from university disciplines, the ABCD is becoming increasingly important for everyone. I believe that all young people require ABCD,” stated Dedy Permadi, Expert Staff of the Minister of Communication and Informatics, in a discussion forum.
Mastering ABCD technical hard skills apart, Indonesian digital talents are also expected to be proficient in non-technical or soft skills known as the 4C’s, which are Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication.
The Director of SDPPI Kominfo, Ismail, expressed his hope that the young generation in Indonesia would capture the golden opportunity for digitalisation. Digitalisation will transform Indonesia from a consumer country to a prominent player in the new normal.
The government recognises the importance of good infrastructure support in boosting the digital economy. As a result, the government is working to ensure an equitable distribution of internet connection networks across Indonesia, particularly in frontier, remote, and underdeveloped (3T) areas.
According to Ismail, the development of ICT infrastructure must meet three criteria: broad coverage, the deployment of a fibre-optic cable network on the backbone, and affordability, which means that the price is reasonable for the community.
Private operators focus on developing infrastructure in high-demand urban areas and, as a result, the digital divide between cities and towns has grown wider. Consequently, the government is beginning to develop 3T telecommunications in rural, underserved areas.
“We cannot rely solely on private-sector investment. To speed up and accelerate digital transformation, the government must invest in infrastructure,” Ismail said emphatically.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Agency and Telecommunications and Information Accessibility (BAKTI) have also worked to improve and expand internet access for public services throughout Indonesia. BAKTI is working with telecommunications companies to build Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in remote areas of Indonesia.
“We hope to finish building BTS in all remote areas by 2023 and connect them to the 4G network,” Deddy stated.
Indonesia is a vast archipelagic country. So, relying solely on fibre optic cable networks will make it difficult to provide connectivity. As a result, the government is combining the fibre optic cable network constructed with the 150 Gbps SATRIA 1 satellite.
This multifunctional satellite can provide internet access to 150,000 public service locations in Indonesia, including educational institutions, local governments, defence and security administration, and health facilities. This satellite is scheduled to launch in 2023.
The government has begun construction of the first National Data Centre in the Delta Mas Region, GIIC, Cikarang District, Bekasi Regency, West Java Province, in connection with its digital strategy. It will then gradually expand data centres in Nongsa Digital Park in Batam, Riau Archipelago, the new National Capital City (IKN) in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara.
The creation of this government data centre is intended to promote efficiency, effectiveness, state data sovereignty, and national data consolidation as part of the One Data Indonesia initiative. “This (data centre) is critical because government data management is critical to developing society’s transformation into a digital society,” Deddy said.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) affirmed its strategic co-incubation partnership with a Canada-focused venture capital firm to identify promising international start-ups seeking to expand their innovation journey to Hong Kong, into the GBA and beyond.
With a proven track record in life science start-ups, the VC firm will work with HKSTP to build an inbound stream of early and mid-stage ventures. The co-incubation programme aims to bring several strong-performing ventures to Hong Kong with a focus on biotech, but also on other deep-tech areas such as ESG, advanced materials, edutech and AI.
To date, as Hong Kong’s largest technological ecosystem, HKSTP has helped accelerate growth for hundreds of outstanding start-ups, raising over HK$80.2 billion in total funding in the past five years. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the total valuation of HKSTP’s acceleration programme start-ups grew over 250% while total investment funds raised have also doubled.
The partnership with the VC firm is the most recent of HKSTP’s series of strategic co-incubation programmes with global market leaders in the industry, investment, R&D and academia, which further elevate Hong Kong’s innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem strength as a global springboard to success.
Riding on Hong Kong’s thriving biotech market and the city’s status as the world’s second-largest biotech fundraising hub, the co-incubation partnership also recognises HKSTP’s impact and success in building a vibrant biotech ecosystem in Hong Kong.
The Head of Incubation and Acceleration Programmes at HKSTP stated that the co-incubation partnership with an international player like the partnering firm validates Hong Kong’s unique and growing status as a global I&T hub helping international start-ups go beyond borders in their global growth journey.
She noted that with a pipeline of seed stage and series A start-up’s already in place, this proves the strength of the HKSTP innovation ecosystem and confirms that Hong Kong is open again for global business and an ideal launchpad for high-growth tech ventures seeking GBA, regional and global expansion.
The Managing Partner of the VC firm stated that the signing of this co-incubation agreement will allow the two parties to incubate and introduce promising global start-ups to scale their businesses in Asia. The firm will continue to leverage its unique cross-pacific networks and investment niches in transformative life science technologies to enrich Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem with more ground-breaking technologies from North American start-ups.
The programme features co-incubation activities ranging from business development, consulting and training to mentoring sessions for qualified overseas start-ups. Participating entrepreneurs will also create proofs-of-concept and pilot initiatives.
The start-ups will tap into the investment and international business network reach of the firm while also formally joining the HKSTP innovation ecosystem to access product validation, commercialisation and go-to-market expertise from HKSTP and its wider network of partners.
Specialising in investing globally in science and technology-based start-ups, the VC firm has been active in Hong Kong and Asia with its specific focus on nurturing start-ups that aspire to expand to China and Asia. In 2019 it facilitated eight Canadian start-ups from prestigious start-up programmes to come to Hong Kong to gain deeper insights into strategic landing tactics and expansion into the Asian markets. This latest partnership with HKSTP has forged a new level of commitment to the Hong Kong I&T ecosystem.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL), and seven industry partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop the AquaPolis Programme.
The AquaPolis Programme is an initiative under Singapore Food Story R&D Programme 2.0. It envisions Singapore as a leading research and innovation cluster for sustainable tropical aquaculture. The aim is to gather local and overseas aquaculture researchers and industry partners to foster strategic synergies in developing innovative and sustainable solutions while cultivating talent for the industry’s workforce.
AquaPolis will capitalise on the technical, operational and research expertise of strategic partners to achieve translational R&D results, in improving the productivity and competitiveness of our local farms towards Singapore’s “30 by 30” food security goal.
This goal aims to build the agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to sustainably produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030. Beyond local production, the developed solutions and innovations may also be relevant to agri-food industries in other regional countries and contribute to sustainable food practices and enhance our food security, particularly in the light of climate change.
The MoU demonstrates the shared commitment of SFA, NUS, and TLL in R&D collaboration, and exchanges with industry partners on the knowledge of cultivation and intensification of sustainable aquaculture production in Singapore.
The MoU was jointly signed by the Chief Executive Officer of SFA; the Deputy President (Research and Technology) of NUS; the Chief Executive Officer of TLL as well as major heads from the seven industry partners.
The Chief Executive Officer of SFA stated that the agency welcomes the strategic collaboration. He noted that it is exciting to see R&D talents from local and overseas institutions as well as our key industry partners, coming together with innovation and sustainability in mind, to build Singapore’s capabilities and capacity in aquaculture within Singapore and beyond.
The aquaculture industry plays a key role in Singapore and the world’s food security, and the leader is confident that these collective efforts will strengthen food security and build a resilient food future for Singapore.
The Deputy President (Research and Technology) of NUS stated that the University is excited to host the AquaPolis Programme. The University looks forward to collaborating closely with the Singapore Food Agency and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory to co-create innovative research solutions to address challenges in tropical aquaculture.
The Chief Executive Officer of TLL stated that AquaPolis represents a milestone in Singapore’s 20-year journey to bring together partners, with a vision to transform our aquatic food systems to be more sustainable and resilient for a growing population considering global climate changes.
The Lab looks forward, together with SFA and NUS in partnership with the industry partners, to help lay the foundation for research-based innovation to address challenges faced by the industry today and to nurture the next generation of aquaculture champions to benefit all consumers in Singapore.
SFA will be uplifting the aquaculture industry in the coming years through the Singapore Aquaculture Plan (SAP). Through the SAP, SFA will focus on productive and sustainable production and unlock the full potential of sea-based fish farming.
- Unlocking new spaces through sea space tenders and longer leases;
- Supporting the aquaculture sector to transform into one that is highly productive, climate-resilient and resource-efficient using technology and adopting appropriate farm management methods. These include conducting environmental surveys and water and seabed quality surveys to better inform farm management;
- Supporting research and innovation for sustainable tropical aquaculture through leveraging on SFA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre.
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.
Taiwan City Science Lab @ Taipei Tech demonstrated a series of cutting-edge AI applications. The lab exhibit advanced AI applications and their research and development results, such as the mobile robot, a AI robotic fish and Campus Rover.
The cross-disciplinary R&D and teaching laboratory aims to be a global technology and talent exchange platform. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Taipei Tech are coming together to jointly established City Science Lab @ Taipei Tech.
“Through developing advanced AI technology and big data system, we plan to make Taiwan the island of high-end technology,” said Yao Leehter, Taipei Tech Chair Professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering.
Yao indicated that Taipei Tech alums highly support the lab. The lab also collaborates with Kent Larson, the leader of MIT City Science Lab, the City Science Lab @ Taipei Tech aims to be an international platform for technology and talent exchange.
Taipei Tech adopts and jointly promotes with MIT to implement the Undergraduate Scientific Research Programme. Known as UROP, the programme provides sufficient resources for students and cultivates a new generation of scientific researchers. The collaboration was initially rolled out in 1969 by MIT’s first President, William Rogers.
For students to learn the most modern and state-of-the-art technology applications, the lab provides advanced equipment for R&D purposes, such as mobile robots. The agile, mobile robot can adapt to complex terrains and is equipped with LIDAR, infrared, and stereo vision sensors, which can draw 3D point cloud maps in real-time and detect and dodge obstacles. The mobile robot is used in decommissioned nuclear power plants, factories, construction sites, and offshore drilling oil platforms. Another mobile robot use case is for patrol, troubleshooting, and leak detection.
In addition, the lab also showcased its R&D results which are the AI robotic fish to the advanced instrumental equipment. The robotic fish is a streamlined robot designed to resemble a real fish. The fish robot comprehends and mimics the motion model of swimming fish through machine learning.
The robot can swim underwater in a simulated way. To perfectly mimic the fish movement, researchers have spent significant time collecting massive movement data from real fish, documenting, and analysing the swimming performance. Afterwards, they utilised AI technology and programme coding to control the motoric movement of the robotic fish.
The team then spent a year adjusting the robotic fish to make the swim movement look like a real fish. Machinery fish propulsion efficiency and excellent swimming performance are considered one of the most critical subjects in bionics.
“The robotic fish is useful for biological research and can also be used to carry out underwater operations and examine water quality,” said Yao.
Recently, the fish robot was involved in movie production. During the designing process, the production house team suggested adding a “cloth” on the fish with fish skin and fish scale to make it more lifelike. The company also came up with the idea to use a magnet to stick the fish scale on the body of the robotic fish. Taiwan Textile Research Institute and the local design research group joined the brainstorming and production process to finish the golden fish’s final look onscreen.
Moreover, The Campus Rover, developed by the team of Professor Yao in cooperation with the Taipei Tech Department of Industrial Design, demonstrated practical AI applications in real life. For example, campus or express hospital service can use the self-charging robot to ensure delivery safety.
Around 30,000 rural homes and communities will soon have access to faster and improved connectivity with an expansion of the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme. 21 new contracts have been signed by Crown Infrastructure partners to accelerate upgrades to towers and broadband connections in areas with poor coverage.
The announcement was made by the Minister for Rural Communities, Damien O’Connor, and the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark. This round of the Rural Capacity Upgrade will see many existing towers upgraded and new connections established in rural areas experiencing poor performance. Areas that will benefit from these improvements include, but are not limited to, settlements in the Far North, Gisborne, the Manawatu-Whanganui region, Taranaki, Southland, and Waikato.
The project is expected to significantly boost the economic productivity of homes and businesses with a slow, unreliable, or unusable connection, Clark noted. The government is committed to improving rural connectivity and is on track to see 99.8% of New Zealanders receive access to improved broadband because of the Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout, Rural Broadband Initiative, the Marae Digital Connectivity programme, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund by the end of 2023, he explained.
The investment in rural connectivity will work alongside Land Information NZ’s rollout of the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) service. As OpenGov Asia had reported earlier, SouthPAN is the Southern Hemisphere’s first satellite navigation augmentation service. It will improve the availability and accuracy of positioning, taking it from 5-10 metres to as little as 10 centimetres across the country.
This will boost rural productivity through precision agriculture and horticulture, fenceless farming, and improve the safety of search and rescue in the backcountry. The government, along with private sector contributions, has invested more than $2.5 billion into improving digital connectivity to date.
The government has also released “Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa”, which sets out the high-level connectivity vision for New Zealand over the next decade. This includes the goal that all New Zealanders have access to high-speed connectivity networks, and that the country is in the top 20% of nations with respect to international connectivity measures.
Last month, the government launched the Remote Users Scheme to provide broadband and connect New Zealand’s most remote communities. Clark had announced the scheme, noting that it would equip as many remote households as possible with the connectivity infrastructure needed to access broadband services. As reported on OpenGov Asia, the Remote Users Scheme will help connect people to online health services and educational tools. Through Budget 2022, $15 million was allocated towards funding the scheme, as part of the broader $60 million rural connectivity package announced earlier in the year.
The Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP), which was established by the government, will administer the Remote Users Scheme and is calling for applications from potentially eligible households and communities. A request for proposal from Internet service providers will follow. It is expected that new broadband connectivity infrastructure for the eligible areas and households can begin being built in mid-2023.