The creation, integration and implementation of information management and finance frameworks are critical in an era where information and data analytics is driving success and growth. Finance and insurance leaders must create frameworks to connect dependencies across processes for reliable information as they attempt to manage a data-driven organisation to achieve their corporate purpose.
Financial and insurance institutions are striving for access to information, which is today an invaluable asset. To better support important decision-making and satisfy demanding customer requirements, it is necessary to secure, analyse and organise unstructured data quickly. Obtaining reliable data while adhering to data governance and compliance will increase the quality, accuracy and accessibility of data.
The notion that financial and insurance institutions should concentrate more on preventing crises rather than merely responding to them is not new. What is new is the capability to successfully pre-empt and mitigate critical events regularly and more successfully.
Recent advances in data analytics, business intelligence, machine learning and artificial intelligence have enabled financial and insurance organisations to better detect and accurately forecast operational difficulties. This exponential improvement in the ability to analyse enormous historical data sets and millions of pages of unstructured text to track patterns and identify potential problems is revolutionary.
By creating business intelligence dashboards, organisations can instantly understand where to increase efficiencies, when to manage costs and how to impress customers with the right financial needs in the long run. Further, data analytics develops a single source of truth for compliance and method to build trust among customers. It also allows organisations to see the bigger picture – understand where to increase efficiencies, cut waste, improve policies and monitor budgets.
How can data analytics transform the operations within financial and insurance institutions?
Capitalising actionable intelligence to drive governance can help institutions accelerate their business. Data governance is the most successful technique for formalising accountability where employees define, produce and use data to execute their job functions quickly. Since good data is needed to improve productivity and customer experience, organisations that adopt technology that enables employees to gather instant data will have an edge over businesses without technology.
With the correct tools, data democratisation can empower people to make informed decisions that can help achieve critical business outcomes. The rate at which data is generated is increasing all the time. People must prepare themselves to function and engage with data in the larger environment and this cannot be done without reliable analytics tools capable of desegregating and connecting previously siloed data, making it manageable from a single place. There is an urgent necessity to improve usable data analysis while becoming increasingly data-driven in decision-making.
Apart from that financial and insurance institutions must be more perceptive in times of business uncertainty to detect and respond to new technology opportunities that drive digital transformation. Institutions must develop the capacity for hyper-intelligence, to shift from reactive to proactive decision making if they want to stay relevant. To achieve that, data has to be accessible to employees at their convenience.
This was the focal point of the OpenGov Asia Breakfast Insight held on 25 November 2021. It was a closed-door, invitation-only, interactive session with Singapore’s top financial and insurance institutions. The session aimed to provide the latest information on how financial and insurance institutions are using data analytics to drive mission-critical outcomes.
Harnessing data analytics to scale impact
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed culture, Mohit asserts. The pandemic has forced governments and businesses to dive headfirst into the next stage of digital transformation and online services. The technology that has been adopted in 2020 and 2021 is what Mohit calls, “band-aid technology,” and it is not digital transformation at its best.
As things settle down, organisations need to take a close look at their architecture. Digital transformation is now an inescapable journey for organisations wanting to spearhead the modern data experience, he contends. To do so, new technologies must be tapped on to boost performance and improve business processes to allow businesses to stay ahead of the game.
Technology has to be upgraded to enable people to maximise the data that they have. For Mohit, technology is an investment, not an expense. The quality of data collected is more important than ever and organisations are forced to keep up with this demand. To meet these demands, organisations must deploy customised, data-driven applications that meet their complex and varied needs. It is imperative to develop, integrate and adopt information management and governance frameworks.
With the realisation that information is a strategic asset, Mohit stresses that the financial and insurance industries in Singapore are at a tipping point. He observes that people are looking for ease-of-use, sophisticated analytics, as well as superior data and user scalability. Technology can enable organisations to protect, leverage and analyse both structured and unstructured information to better serve and meet mission requirements. In the world of data democratisation, breaking down information silos is the first step toward user empowerment.
There has never been a more important time for data collaboration and a single source of truth with data analytics than now, Mohit is firmly convinced, “Data is a diamond – it is rough but it needs to be polished for it to have value.” Knowing how to access, utilise and harness data is the key. In a evolving digital age, prioritising the customer experience (CX) has become one of the most important and efficient ways to increase engagement. Organisations must learn to pivot accordingly and re-strategise if they want to engage customers and grow their pie of the market.
In closing, Mohit contends that this new world of digital transformation and remote communication will require organisations to utilise the right tools and people together to meet modern expectations. However, Mohit emphasised that the journey does not need to be taken alone. He strongly believes in the power of collaboration and partnerships to expand the capacities of organisations.
Unpacking the trends in the use of data to improve critical decision-making
The opening address was followed by a panel discussion with Kyung-Whu Chung, Director, Sales Engineering, APAC, MicroStrategy and Vandana Bharati, Senior Vice President Data & Analytics Production Service Management APAC EMEA, Citi.
The discussion began with the panellists’ perception of the role of data in organisations. Responding to Mohit’s analogy of data as a diamond, Vandana offered the perspective of “data as electricity.” She believes that it is not about having not too much or too little of it, but enough to make people’s lives comfortable. She emphasised that we exist in a data-driven world and that the challenge is about having quality data to make meaningful decisions, derive customer insights and provide the basis for decision-making.
Another trend she notices is the increase in personalisation. The value for businesses is in making the customer experience frictionless, better and effective. She notes that the intelligence journey leans towards this goal across sectors.
Riding on the series of analogies, Kyung-Whu added the concept of “data as air” into the mix. For him, “data is everywhere” – it is there even before you notice it. However, he notices the issue of people using data without fully comprehending what it is, or having the data but not knowing how to use it. He explains that are several reasons for that.
One reason could be the fact that the people who generate the data may not be the people making the decisions. The second scenario is that data is given but not utilised. Tackling these problems require generating the right data and making it meaningful for people to deliver and make use of it.
He opines that organisations have a good foundation for transformation but will need to understand how to leverage that.
Looking for their thoughts about the challenges they observe in data governance and compliance using technology, as well as the solutions for resolving them, Mohit asks, “How can we make sure that data is democratised?”
Vandana opines that it is an evolving journey. In particular, she sees two prevailing issues. The first is the challenge of data discrepancies and the lack of unified data. She attributes the fact that legacy platforms and infrastructures run in silos. As a result, data assets are fragmented and everyone is collecting data in their way and analysing the data in their way.
The second issue she identifies is that of data lineage. This occurs in the process of shifting data from one system to another. When there are issues with the data, tracking data back to the source is a major hurdle and an extremely tedious task. It is simultaneously a cultural challenge, she believes. There is inertia towards utilising new platforms. “Having the data is not enough. Having the right data and using it is key,” Vandana asserts.
She adds that building analytic tools that can drive real-time intelligence can also provide an edge. “Any data that can identify data corruption translates into savings on the cost of downtime.”
Mohit concurs that maintaining the integrity, quality and source of data is critical in eliminating the case of differing insights.
Kyung-Whu agreed that the cultural aspects are sometimes more important than the technological aspects. Having a single source of truth is paramount in syncing people within the organisation. He observes that there is also a disconnection between the data owner and the data user – the data owner does not dive into generating insights. The issue at hand is in establishing processes that can enable the synchronisation of data. “Organisations need to take the big picture approach,” he says. “The platforms need to be brought together to empower people who are making use of the data.”
When asked what the panellists thought about sourcing for good data, Vandana points out that several strategies can be taken. The first is to look at the code and build in a defensive code that will stop people from entering incorrect data at the source. Nip the problem in the bud. The second strategy is to utilise AI models that can scan frameworks and rules to eliminate bad quality or corrupted data. Finally, she emphasises the importance of human interventions in the monitoring of the data sets.
Kyung-Whu concurs that once data is broken, it becomes expensive to restore. Being able to ensure that data is correct before it is utilised is important. To that end, he believes in communicating data with transparency. Having the assurance that the source of data is legitimate is key to building trust in the data.
For insights on how to utilise technology to drive reactive to proactive decision-making, Kyung-Whu adds the human variable to the discussion with the perpsepctive that while science and technology can be enabling, it comes down to people being proactive in utilising the data for effective decision-making.
On the note of using technology vis-à-vis human resources in the analysis of data, Mohit observes that the use of AI is a missing link at the moment. He asserts that the Singapore government is in its infancy. “How can we make the use of AI mainstream?” he asks.
In response to that, Kyung-Whu pointed out that there are two ways in which AI is utilised in processes. The first is in the sense of utilising AI to replace humans and the second is to utilise AI to help and assist humans with their work. When it comes to data analytics, he believes it has to be the second use case – organisations cannot rely solely on automated decisions.
The fundamental question for Kyung-Whu is to consider what the problem the organisation is trying to solve. Typically, the end goal tends to be about generating insights – utilising AI to help people who are going to use the data to make decisions.
Vandana points out the trend of AIOps or even no Ops. She agrees with Kyung-Whu that the first question is to identify the business outcome and know the problem that the organisation is trying to solve. She cautions against jumping onto new technology for the sake of it – understanding how it is appropriate is vital.
Steering the discussion to the fundamental issue of culture, Mohit asserts that culture is the biggest deterrent. If culture needs to shift to accelerate transformation, organisational, the question is, how would the panellists approach this issue of cultural change.
For Vandana, her advice would be to “think big, start small.” For her, organisations can begin by building smaller data lakes but making sure that data checks are in place to ensure that results can be generated quickly. This can help with bringing about data awareness. With those results, people can market the use of data further upstream and downstream.
Kyung-Whu feels that changing culture can be done through a top-down approach or by taking the carrot approach. What he had found interesting is to look into the first touchpoint. He defines great insights as insights that will lead to the next question. If organisations can give their employees an effective first touchpoint that will lead to them asking questions, that would be a good start. From there, it would then be about giving people the pathways and training to get the answers to the follow-up questions.
Mohit thanked the panellists for their practical advice and insights, reiterating the key theme that paying attention to culture, on top of technology is an equally important part of the equation.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This session is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for the participants. It is an opportunity for delegates to gain insight from subject matter experts, share their stories and take back strategies that can be implemented in their organisations.
In response to the issues at hand, several delegates acknowledged the importance of having a coherent strategy across departments so that people can be aligned on data use. Other delegates commented that the tools tend to be the first consideration. However, without having the right governance and privacy policies, organisations would run into the problem of not knowing who owns data.
Other delegates pointed out the challenges of access. Most people doing the work or making decisions do not have access to data. There can be data lakes in place but there might not be people with the understanding and intelligence about what the data can do.
“There’s a need to democratise, give skill sets and let people play,” Mohit proposes.
On the top analytic adoption challenge in their organisation, most delegates expressed that the lack of talent and training (30%) while the rest were split between the challenges of limited access to analytics (25%) and data quality and accuracy concerns (20%).
A few delegates suggest that there is an issue of the lack of talent and people who can understand the data. There is still a gap between having data and knowing how to use the data. Other delegates expressed that making access to data and making it pervasive in the organisation is difficult – the people who need data do not have access to the data.
When asked about their organisation’s biggest data management barrier, delegates expressed that real-time insights – the ability to analyse data in real-time (40%) is the biggest barrier. That is followed by issues in data accessibility and sharing (36%), regulatory compliance (12%), data collection/cleansing (8%) and providing trusted data (4%).
Mohit is convinced that culture underpins the challenges that organisations face. Kyung-Whu suggests that someone needs to arbitrate between different people within the organisation who might not be speaking the same language.
Other delegates felt that data collection and cleansing is the biggest barrier. Much of the data is collected in silos and when it gets consolidated in the data lake, the alignment goes off. The challenge lies in making data accessible in a secure manner, with a single source of truth.
The next poll inquired how business users in delegates’ organisations request new data requirements. Most delegates would approach a data analyst in their business unit for support (45%). The other delegates would raise a helpdesk ticket for IT support (32%), go by gut feeling (14%) or simply do not face the challenge as they have a self-service analytic tool (9%).
A few respondents said that knowing who to approach for data is dependent on what the data is needed for or the driver of the data is. Kyung-Whu suggests first understanding what the business users are using the data for. Assessing the use case can help people locate the correct data for their purpose. He also encourages the use of the same dashboard for easier access to data.
The final poll asked about the application that delegates spend the most time on during their working days. Most delegates indicated email (60%) as the most used application. This was followed by the use of productivity applications (like Microsoft Office) (24%) and their business intelligence application (16%).
In response to the results, Kyung-Whu points out that the 16% use of business intelligence applications is higher than usual because most delegates are “data people.” In fact, most people do not utilise data to make decisions in their business. However, data is like air in the personal lives of people. People are constantly fed with data, such as their screen time data and other visualised data.
He drew the parallels and notes that while data adoption in businesses did not increase, data adoption in the personal space is high. “How, then, can the same level of adoption be brought into the business space? How do we bring data to the people who will be using data to make decisions?” he asks.
The session concluded with remarks from Ronen Naishtein, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, MicroStrategy, who reiterated the important role of data analytics and the tremendous benefits for financial institutions to leverage them.
He introduced MicroStrategy as a Business Intelligence platform with 30 years of experience in enterprise capability and serving customers where data is the enablement for businesses. They assist organisations in managing data in a secured and scalable way.
“It is clear that data is an enablement for organisations,” he observes. Organisations need to invest in strategy, governance and the accessibility of data. MicroStrategy can provide organisations with the agility, power end-users to harness data, and enable people to make fast and timely decisions.
In closing, he invited the delegates to reach out to his team to explore ways they could work together to assist them on their journey.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) released the MICE Sustainability Roadmap, which outlines specific goals and plans for raising sustainability standards throughout the MICE sector in Singapore over the coming years.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is a type of tourism travel in which groups of people are brought together for a specific reason, usually well in advance. On the other hand, the MICE market refers to a subset of people who plan, arrange, and facilitate conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and other events.
Part of STB’s overarching plan to develop a sustainable tourism sector is the use of such roadmaps, which direct businesses in the sector to achieve specific sustainability goals. Following the launch of the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap earlier this year, the MICE Sustainability Roadmap is the second such project.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN) serve as the roadmap’s guiding principles. Three goals are listed in the MICE Sustainability Roadmap to help Singapore become one of the most environmentally-friendly MICE destinations in Asia Pacific:
- By 2023, create a set of industry-acceptable sustainability standards with the goal of having them recognised internationally by 2024.
- For all six purpose-built MICE venues and 80% of SACEOS members to get internationally or nationally recognised sustainability certification, or both, by 2025.
- To attain net-zero emissions by 2050 in accordance with the country’s net-zero aim, the Singapore MICE sector must first track waste and carbon emissions by 2023, reduce waste in line with the Singapore Green Plan by 2030, and reduce waste overall by 2050.
The MICE Sustainability Committee (MSComm), established by STB and SACEOS in August 2022 to advance sustainability capabilities and create awareness of sustainability initiatives and best practices, will help the industry adopt sustainable practices and meet these goals.
The dedication to sustainability follows a robust MICE rebound in the wake of Singapore’s borders being reopened in April this year and a rising desire for environmentally friendly business travel. More importantly, the industry is aware of how crucial it is to lessen the environmental impact of MICE events.
With STB and SACEOS leading the charge and offering support as necessary to further develop a sustainable business events landscape in Singapore, the MICE Sustainability Roadmap will ensure that MICE players move forward in pursuing relevant and achievable sustainability goals that are tracked at appropriate milestones.
Meanwhile, OpenGov Asia recently reported that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore is working with a large American technology company to address climate change-related challenges and enhance the sustainability of digital technologies.
The cooperation aims to hasten the local and international development of software applications and solutions to assist businesses in using their resources more efficiently.
The tech giant and IMDA will exchange best practices, standards, learnings, and certification pathways for accurate measurement and reporting of carbon emissions resulting from software applications. Through this relationship, the nation hopes to speed up the application of the ideas and resources needed to create green technologies.
According to IMDA, Southeast Asia is well-positioned for the region to take the lead in digital sustainability. This collaboration will produce cutting-edge digital sustainability solutions that can be used by multinational corporations, bringing about positive change for the environment worldwide and ensuring a sustainable future for all.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and a US-based engineering company signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Centre for Humanistic Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CHAiR) for translational research with the goal of advancing the well-being of humanity.
The partnership aims to integrate the university’s interdisciplinary research capabilities and the company’s well-known humanoid robotics platform to explore technology applications. Sophia, the company’s most advanced human-like robot, will work with PolyU researchers to enhance the contribution of AI and robotic technology for social and commercial benefits.
Research into and applications of AI and robotics are essential to the advancement of industry. As an interdisciplinary research and development centre, CHAiR brings cross-faculty collaborations in research fields such as AI, the internet of things (IoT), neuroscience, design, computer science, mechanical engineering, material science, healthcare, and the humanities.
In collaboration with the company, CHAiR supports innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. The Dean of Graduate School, Chair Professor of Distributed and Mobile Computing, and Otto Poon Charitable Foundation Professor in Data Science will serve as the principal investigator and administrative director of CHAiR. He will also serve alongside the CEO and Founder of the company as a co-chair of the Centre’s steering committee.
The MoU was signed by the Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU and the CEO and Founder of the company. It was Witnessed by the President of PolyU and the Executive Director of the firm.
During the signing ceremony, Sophia made conversation with the guests. She said, “I look forward to learning many new skills and abilities. With your help, maybe I can learn how to be a nurse, a teacher, a concierge, a librarian. You can teach me how to be a better companion, a more skilful artist, a funnier entertainer.”
Meanwhile, the company’s CEO and Founder noted that the new centre is perfectly positioned to refine and improve the performance of Sophia-class robots in ways that promote the growth of a new service robot industry. As soon as the industry begins expanding, investment in improved hardware, software and manufacturing technologies will as well, he noted.
The President of PolyU noted that academia-industry collaboration is one of the most productive mechanisms for creating and implementing innovations. There is tremendous untapped potential for humanistic social robots. Let us aspire that CHAiR will be a major catalyst for the onset of the age of humanistic robots.
The Dean of Graduate School, Chair Professor of Distributed and Mobile Computing, who is also Director of the Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence of Things (RIAIoT), said the Institute has been working on practical solutions to key challenges in advanced AIoT technologies and applications.
He noted that the natural evolution for RIAIoT is to partner with the engineering firm to address increasingly ambitious opportunities in humanistic AI and social robotics. CHAiR will play a unique and key role to combine the firm’s knowledge with world-class academics here at PolyU.
The engineering company is an AI and robotics company dedicated to creating socially intelligent machines that enrich the quality of our lives. Sophia is the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (Tec) through its Institute for the Future of Education, signed a research collaboration agreement to improve the cyber-physical learning of students and teachers in Singapore and Mexico.
The three-year agreement will see the two parties share practices and experiences in the configuration and usage of cyber-physical learning infrastructure to create new opportunities for educational innovation and research, resulting in new pathways for the future of education.
The SUTD-Tec’s Institute for the Future of Education agreement will foster the exchange and sharing of practices of cyber-physical learning and evaluation of the effectiveness of associated educational delivery models. Both parties will conduct joint experiments involving students and instructors to explore domains such as technology-enabled learning, translational pedagogical innovations, learning analytics, and personalised and engaging learning.
This research collaboration will have its focus on the SUTD campusX initiative, which focuses on the needs and experiences of students and instructors using data analytics and learning sciences with the purpose of creating a safe, inclusive, and enjoyable space for students to learn, interact and optimise their learning outcomes.
With regards to the campusX and its impact on the future of education, SUTD’s Provost stated that both Tec and SUTD share a common vision of cyber-physical learning, with similar interests and understanding of the challenges in areas of applying human-centric technology and design to the practice of pedagogy and andragogy in actual higher learning environments. This forms a strong basis on which many more projects can be conducted between Tec and SUTD. The current research collaboration is an important start and SUTD looks forward to furthering the partnership with Tec in years to come.
He noted that, similarly, SUTD also looks forward to working with more like-minded partners across academia and industry and from local and global landscapes to make cyber-physical learning a reality.
Speaking about the research collaboration between the two renowned higher education institutions, the Rector for Higher Education of Tecnológico de Monterrey expressed his satisfaction with the signing of the agreement and said that to advance in current-day education challenges and design the future of education, collaboration is key.
He noted that Tec has pioneered educational innovation in Mexico and Latin America, and they aim to expand their projects and initiatives to have an increasingly global relationship and impact. An initiative aimed at strengthening links with Asia is being developed; these collaborations with them will extend to the areas of research, education, and technology.
Furthermore, the Executive Director of the Institute for the Future of Education of Tecnológico de Monterrey emphasised the importance of this kind of agreement between both universities. He noted that conducting joint experiments to evaluate innovative cross-border educational models will be key to developing effective cyber-physical learning environments.
The collaborative project with SUTD’s campusX initiative will increase learning opportunities for global higher education audiences, capitalising on the intercultural exchanges between Singaporean and Mexican students and professors, and developing best practices with an international perspective, he added.
The research activities framed in this agreement are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2023 and the experimental and simulated learning environment trials will result in the identification of best practices in digital education delivery models supported by effective cyber-physical technology platforms.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-Madras) has launched an online masters in technology (MTech) course for working professionals, allowing candidates to pursue the educational qualification while working. According to a statement, the tailor-made online programme for qualified engineers is gaining popularity and over 600 working professionals have already enrolled for the three-year course.
The MTech degree includes programmes on communications, VLSI and analog circuits, microelectronics, multimedia signal processing, software security, automotive engineering, mechanical design, interdisciplinary programmes in quantum technology, and data sciences.
IIT-Madras is the first IIT to offer an MTech course in a distance learning mode through its Centre for Continuing Education. “The students of this programme have the same rights and privileges as regular students. The working professionals can carry out the project work at their workplaces. They do not need any residency as compared to sponsored candidates,” a representative from the IIT-Madras said. From only 14 candidates in 2020, the number has shot up to 605 this year.
IIT-Madras faculty, teachers from other premier academic institutions, and eminent industry professionals will be conducting the classes. Apart from online classes, which are held in the evening, students will also have live interaction with their faculty members. Students will give exams in the same city as their offices. In terms of the evaluation method, a problem statement will be evaluated and approved by IIT-Madras faculty. A mentor will guide the student at their workplace. The student’s progress will be jointly evaluated by faculty from IIT-Madras and the mentor. The faculty member will approve the problem statement and review the progress.
In September, IIT-Madras launched an industry-oriented Online Certificate Programme on e-mobility for working professionals. Four out of the nine modules in the programme are delivered by industry professionals. The programme was conceived with inputs from industry experts and would be continuously upgraded based on technology trends, market trends, and industry needs, the Institute noted.
The course is offered through IIT-Madras’ Centre for Outreach and Digital Education (CODE). It provides an overview of the e-mobility ecosystem and fundamentals in technical areas like vehicle development, power electronics, battery engineering, thermal management, power trains, and EMI/ EMC, among others. The programme contains 120 hours of video classes and 40 hours of online contact classes with the faculty. The candidates need to complete regular assignments and a final evaluation, after which they will receive a certificate. The first cohort started at the beginning of October.
In November, the Institute partnered with United States-based Purdue University to jointly develop a dual-degree programme in semiconductors. As OpenGov Asia reported, the programme focuses on an innovative, cooperatively developed curriculum to meet the growing needs of the industry. Undergraduate students with strong academic credentials and a deep interest in semiconductor devices, chip fabrication, and circuits and systems will be considered. The programme will enable a quick ramp-up of skilled talent, preparing the next generation of the semiconductor workforce. The partnership would also entail research collaboration in semiconductor supply-chain management, chip design, packaging, system architecture, and advanced manufacturing methods
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, recently revealed details of an AU$15 million project to develop a national soil information system, aimed at improving the sustainable management of one of the nation’s most precious assets.
Supporting the National Soil Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project is a collaboration between the government, research organisations, industry, the private sector and the community.
Using innovative processes and technologies, ANSIS will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. This will help Australians to better understand their nation’s diverse range of soils and make better decisions about managing our important soil resources. Currently, soil data is collected using different methods, by different organisations, and at a range of depths in the soil. This makes it hard to access, compare and use data from diverse sources.
The Project Lead at CSIRO stated that improving access to the best soil data and information can help promote digital agriculture innovation and is key to sustainably managing Australia’s soils. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better placed to more sustainably manage the soil on which they rely.
Soil is vital to agricultural production and natural environments, as well as health and well-being. This information system will help everyone care for this important natural resource. Productive, healthy, and resilient soil means more economic, environmental, and social benefits to Australia. Monitoring soil also helps scientific understanding of how the natural world is changing.
This work will provide insight into biodiversity, water resources, landscapes and coastlines, fauna, climate, and geology. By harmonising Australia’s soil data, we can make it accessible across many fields of science and exploration. The project is being delivered under the Federal Government’s National Soil Strategy, which is about prioritising soil health, empowering soil innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023.
ANSIS will provide improved access to nationally consistent soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australian soil. ANSIS will provide:
- More soil data
- More data sets are available that in other soil systems
- Enables more certainty in products developed
- Opportunity to develop new products
- Improved access
- Multiple data sets are now discoverable and accessible
- National coverage
- Most up-to-date data available
- Efficient provision
- Organised and standardised data for immediate use
- Can feed into many users’ requirements
- Consistent delivery
- Substantial reduction in time to prepare information products
- Trusted location
- Certainty that data is from an authoritative source, verified and satisfies standards.
China Provincial Development and Reform Commission announced the list of the second batch of digital transformation promotion centres in Liaoning Province. There are 13 additional provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres to help small and medium-sized enterprises improve transformation capabilities, reduce transformation costs, and shorten transformation cycles. There are currently 29 digital transformation promotion centres in the province, in addition to the previously announced first batch of lists.
The centres will assist the government in promoting digital construction in Liaoning and cultivating a digital transformation ecology. The programme is under the construction of the second batch of digital transformation promotion centres in Liaoning Province according to the Provincial Development and Reform Commission. The listed enterprises in this programme are based on self-declaration and recommendations from provincial and municipal departments. Experts then review the voluntary requests before being finalised and publicised.
According to the Provincial Development and Reform Commission, the digital transformation promotion centre should fully integrate resources to assist small and medium-sized enterprises.
The province government will provide transformation tools, products, technologies, and customised solutions to support business digital transformation and development. The centre promotes traditional businesses, internet platform enterprises, industry platform enterprises and financial institutions.
The government also promotes collaborative innovation in industries, education, medical care, employment, elderly care, and other fields. Companies participating in the programme will use the projects as a starting point to develop digital technology application scenarios. Participants in the programme are also permitted to complete personnel training with universities and colleges and vocational training and education.
The Provincial Development and Reform Commission will regularly evaluate provincial-level digital transformation promotion centres. The results will be used to recommend applicants for national-level digital transformation promotion centres.
China is currently driving the country’s digital economy. In early November, the General Office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Guidelines for the Digital Transformation of SMEs.” The regulation aims to fully implement the Party Central Committee’s and State Council’s decision-making deployment to encourage SMEs to improve their overall strength and core competitiveness through digital transformation.
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, stated that “small and medium-sized enterprises can do great things.” He also emphasised the importance of grasping the direction of digitisation, networking, and intelligence. Moreover, promoting the digitisation of manufacturing, service industries, agriculture, and other industries is also necessary.
The guidelines aim to implement Party Central Committee and State Council decision-making and deployment, strengthen policy coordination, strengthen scientific guidance, deepen transformation awareness, and gather work synergy. The report also needed to promote high-quality economic development through the digital transformation of small and medium-sized businesses. The effort also had to be consistent with the overall economic and social digital transformation trend.
Furthermore, China will use the guidance to increase specialisation and new development of small and medium-sized businesses. The government intends to expand the use of digital technology in various sectors, including research, production, supply, marketing, and clothing. They plan to empower and refine products, increase value, plus accelerate technological innovation and new development in small and medium-sized businesses.
Another role of guidance is strengthening the digital transformation system and the comprehensive path of small and medium-sized businesses. Digital transformation is a multifaceted, cross-cutting project. The guidelines thus aid transformation from the demand side, the supply side, and local governments at all levels. All interested parties can use the guidelines to clarify their positioning and path and strengthen the collective force of transformation.
Stakeholders in the payments industry were challenged to step up their technological advancement. The appeal was issued as a government effort to ensure that the country stays current in advancing the money and payments landscape.
“My overarching message is that we all work and live in a period of substantive change. (The change) offers enormous opportunity if embraced, but potentially greater risk if not,” Karen Silk, Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Ptea Matua, said at a conference in Auckland.
Silk emphasised the technological improvement needed because New Zealand does not yet have scalable electronic, instant, peer-to-peer payments and lacks real-time retail payment systems. She also encouraged speeding up the fintech developments in the country. She noted that the country could become more digitally competitive by nurturing home-grown fintech enterprises.
The government has recognised the importance of increasing domestic competition and efficiency savings in the payment space and the broader financial system. However, lingering reliance on legacy systems, failure to understand regulatory impetus and focus, and limitations in cohesion and provision of regulatory support for innovation are impeding real progress.
Nevertheless, Silk praised recent legislative changes. Financial regulators provide a one-stop shop for fintech firms and system-level work to improve cross-border payments. The positive movement makes domestic interbank payments available seven days a week.
Silk stated that challenges could arise from new players who “inadvertently” introduce design or technology risks. She called it a risk as the nature of the business avoiding New Zealand regulation or undermining the role of central bank money, whether cash or a possible Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Even though the Reserve Bank is still researching the CBDC.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand published a paper recently describing the current state of the country’s payments system. It will issue another next month, consulting on the potential need to regulate private crypto assets until March 2023.
The Reserve Bank remains committed to improving the cash system’s efficiency and resilience to ensure that it continued providing payment options for everyone and financial and social inclusion for those who rely on it, Silk said. Next year, the Bank has planned small live experiments to investigate various ways to expand merchants’ roles in the cash system.
This could include assisting merchants in recycling cash at the point of sale; compensating them for cash-out services; facilitating frequent, affordable cash delivery and collection for merchants; and consolidating the cash system through the creation of utility entities, Silk explained.
Payments represent the flow of money. Sooner or later, the global payment evolution will also impact New Zealand. Hence, the country demands better, smarter, and faster payment. As a result, the study of payments has come under scrutiny.
Only some understand the intricacies of New Zealand payments, and because they are complex and interconnected, creating a single view of the payments landscape takes time and effort. Furthermore, payment systems and services differ from country to country.
The Reserve Bank plays a multifaceted role in the payment landscape. The bank runs, participates in, regulates, and monitors core payment systems. It has also recently taken on the part of money steward in New Zealand. In addition, it is interested in supporting and ensuring that money and payment systems are efficient and reliable and supporting innovation and inclusion.