Government and enterprises, in an unprecedented period in history, have been compelled to accelerate and bring forward their digital transformation strategies. The pandemic has vaulted the governments and businesses headfirst into the next stage of digital transformation and online services.
Personalisation, efficiency and effective services are only possible with a comprehensive, 360o view of citizens and customers. This understanding is built on and powered by data. Indeed, there is a good case to be made that digital transformation is likely to fall short unless it is based on a solid foundation of “data transformation.”
To become a truly data-driven organisation that operates in real-time, agencies must deploy multiple modernisation initiatives, including application modernisation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud, edge computing and analytics.
However, modern applications no longer live in isolation. They are built on microservices and rely on other services to move data between applications. Nowadays, modern distributed applications comprise hundreds of thousands of remote services operating in multiple tiers, all of which are loosely coupled and need to exchange data with each other. In such distributed architectures, reliable data and message distribution are key.
Government missions are no longer static, but continuously in motion, handling the “now.” To be effective, agencies need to continually innovate to provide seamless and easy-to-use services and improve the resilience and security of digital platforms for citizens and other stakeholders. Agencies need a complete streaming data platform that treats data in motion, whether it is driving action or producing real-time analysis. Such a platform must be capable of supporting workloads anywhere, anytime across the globe – whether it is in the cloud, on-prem or at the edge – and connect them all.
Pertinently, stored data is not useful when it is not being queried or used to drive decision-making. Agencies must start thinking about creating a central connective tissue that conducts their data across their organisations and handles their data in motion as it is created and flows to those who need it.
This question then is: Are data silos hindering innovation in organisations?
The Singapore government has taken bold measures to re-engineer government digital infrastructure to support modern application development. As organisations continue to migrate to the cloud and adopt microservice architectures, the data needs to be constantly streaming.
Agencies need a platform that draws together disparate applications, systems and teams with data being the backbone and making it easier to gain actionable insights. This platform should be able to unlock and repurpose the existing data for countless modern applications and use cases securely and efficiently.
The OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight on 19 November 2021 was aimed at imparting knowledge on how public sector agencies can power mission outcomes, better serve citizens, ensure security and compliance, enhance IT efficiency and maximise productivity with a platform built for data in motion.
Harnessing data for responsive citizen engagement
Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, kicked off the session with his opening address.
The world has fundamentally changed and the pandemic has forced paradigm shifts in culture and perspective. Today, citizens are looking for a rich, smooth experience from their government. Against that backdrop, agencies must anticipate what citizens want and deliver it in a timely and seamless manner. For Mohit, interactions must be engaging, intuitive, anticipatory and personalised.
The key to delivering a more engaging citizen experience is knowing how to utilise data to produce insights. “Data can be a cost. But if you use it correctly and effectively, it yields rich returns on investment – actionable insights,” contends Mohit.
However, the challenge is, for the most part in the p[ublic sector, that data sits in silos. This compartmentalised arrangement prevents organisations from having a full view. Data silos, Mohit firmly believes, limit the growth of agencies and hinder the provision of services. Isolated systems not only magnify cyber, risk and compliance challenges, but they also hamper innovation. They produce inaccurate analytics and ultimately, are the root cause of poor citizen service.
To harness data fully, having a full view of data across the organisation is critical. “If you only see part of the problem, you may solve the wrong thing,” he claims.
Government agencies must keep up with the pressures of citizen demands and to do so, data needs to be simplified, available and accessible, allowing agencies to retrieve it whenever and wherever necessary.
This begs the question: How can data be made more visible and harnessed? How much of the data needs to be real-time and how much of it does not have to be so?
Event streaming can allow governments to deliver faster, more personalised and responsive engagements with citizens and other stakeholders. “Data is in the transition from being static to event-driven, from batch to real-time, from siloed to integrated,” Mohit observes.
In closing, Mohit emphasises that the data decree of our time is: visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trustworthy, interoperable and secure. He implores delegates to partner with organisations that can help them strategise ways to leverage data in motion. Experts can assist them to deliver responsive citizen engagements and can make their digital transformation journey smoother, cost-effective and impactful.
Formulating data strategies in the public sector
During the fireside chat between Mohit and Simon Herbert, Chief Data Officer, New South Wales Department of Customer Service, Simon shared his experience of how the New South Wales government has utilised data.
NSW Department of Customer Service is the first of its kind in Australia to have developed a comprehensive and robust strategy to get a wider picture of citizens and organisations.
For citizens, data was gathered through a sentiment survey conducted about COVID-19 and other critical events in Australia. About 700 people were interviewed every week across the different demographics to engage and understand what citizens felt about the pandemic as well as the myriad of disasters that beset the nation. The results of the survey were immensely helpful, “directly driving policy decisions”.
To aid businesses, the NSW government set up a business insights hub to comprehend how SMEs were hit by the pandemic. They acquired a wide range of data – accounting, credit, hiring – to analyse. Based on analysis of that data, travel, hospitality and the arts were identified as the worst-hit industries.
Agreeing with Mohit that “data is considered a strategic asset”, Simon shares his thoughts on how data could be used to deliver faster, more personalised and responsive engagements with citizens and other agency stakeholders.
The key to effective engagements, Simon feels, is to have a holistic citizen-centric view. In the current scheme of things, the view of citizens is segmented by the various agencies providing different services that often overlap. As a result, data is neither complete nor it is shared regularly nor promptly.
Simon shared that the NSW government did face challenges around privacy and identity. While a privacy act restricts the sharing of data, in real terms, there were no unique identifiers to distinguish the individual in Australia. To overcome this, two key programmes were introduced: Life Journeys and Government Made Easy.
Life Journeys tracks and identifies the key elements of the life of a citizen – graduation, marriage etc – while Government Made Easy seeks to reduce the number of times a citizen needs to re-enter their personal details when interfacing with different government services.
A sound data strategy, architecture and SOPs are critical to growth. It is an accepted fact, Simon contends, that to increase resilience, productivity and economic growth, organisations need to use data much more effectively than they are now.
“Everyone knows that cloud is enabling,”. Having a single data lake and warehouse is one of the keys to building a strong data foundation. That requires testing, proof of concepts and being able to accept failure as part of the process.
Simon added that self-service is also vital. Having too much control can stifle innovation. “Metadata must be automated” so that as data gets loaded, it is analysed via machines and made usable.
To sum up, Simon opines that agencies need to understand the use cases of real-time or near real-time data. Having clarity about the data that needs to be in real-time is critical. The key is to utilise technology appropriately in accordance with the needs of organisations.
Utilising Data in Motion to transform organisations
Damien Wong, Vice President, APAC, Confluent, spoke next about the use of data in motion to power digital leadership.
“The world is changing,” Damien opines. “The world has changed for the current generation because technology is shaping how businesses need to respond to these changing expectations. The younger generation have never walked into a bank branch, and likely will never understand why anyone would ever need to do so since everything can be done online today,” he notes.
Business and public service perspectives have been dramatically altered. In the past, technology was merely a support function. In today’s reality, technology is the business. While innovation was required only for growth in the past, business innovation is a matter of survival today. Running on yesterday’s data might have been sufficient earlier but is considered a failure by today’s standards. For Damien, coping with the digital transformation requires modern real-time data infrastructure.
Most organisations today, are “becoming software.” Ride-hailing, he said, was an excellent example. Not too long ago, people needed a taxi, they would call a taxi dispatch service, wait for the ride to be confirmed and look out for the vehicle to arrive – there was no information on how long the taxi would take to arrive or the ETA to destinations. Today, all that information is given almost instantaneously on apps.
This transformation is happening everywhere, and it is drastically causing people to rethink their approaches and systems:
- Cloud: Rethinking Data Centres
The cloud has changed how organisations think about data centres and running technical infrastructure. Today, every company is moving to the cloud.
- Machine Learning: Rethinking Decision Making
Machine learning has changed how decisions are being made, and this happens increasingly in an automated manner, driven by software that communicates to other software.
- Mobile: Rethinking User Experience
Mobile devices and internet connectivity have dramatically changed the user experience of how customers interact with organisations and have raised the bar for expectations.
- Data in Motion: Rethinking Data
Event streaming has changed how people think about and how people work with the data that underlies all the other trends.
The traditional use of data at rest is to consolidate data into a warehouse and apply analytics. Data in motion is, on the other hand, understanding the predefined actions that will be taken when encountering a specific event or data stream.
The rise of event streaming can be traced back to 2010 when Apache Kafka was created by the future Confluent founders in Silicon Valley. From there, Kafka began spreading throughout Silicon Valley and across the US West Coast. In 2014, Confluent was created to turn Kafka into an enterprise-ready software stack and cloud offering, after which the adoption of Kafka started to accelerate. Today, tens of thousands of companies across all kinds of industries the world over are using Kafka for event streaming.
“Data in Motion is the central nervous system for today’s enterprises,” Damien contends. “And Apache Kafka is the event streaming technology powering Data in Motion.”
If Kafka is the engine (the core technology), then Confluent is the ready-to-use product around that.
Confluent is a natural candidate for real-time operations like command and control, cyber security and other anomaly detection solutions. It can enable event-driven architecture that helps modernise IT applications and hasten the addition of new citizen services or capabilities. Apart from that, data infrastructure for data in motion, Confluent will help organizations move towards multi- and hybrid- cloud and DR operations.
Damien affirmed the need for organisations to emphasise digital leadership if they want to stay relevant. To achieve digital leadership, Data in Motion is the ultimate key, and Confluent is the trusted partner for setting Data in Motion for organisations.
After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences, and facilitate discussions that impart professional learning and development for participants.
The first poll asked delegates to rate their organisation’s use of data and data analytic tools for decision-making. Many of them felt that their organisations were doing good, with some tools in place (38%). The remaining votes were split between fair use of data in the decision-making process, although analysis is primarily a manual process (33%) and needing improvements in the tools to analyse (29%).
A delegate pointed out that his agency is working towards the democratisation of data. Currently, only a niche pool of data scientists works on the data. The idea is to have every staff within the organisation fully competent in utilising data.
In that regard, Mohit is convinced that data that is democratised and utilised by more people can result in more effective decision making.
Damien observes that there are areas for improvement. Agencies are thinking about ways to break down silos, getting the “right people get the right data at the right time,” and ensuring that the collaboration is facilitated.
On what their biggest data challenge is within their organisation, most delegates said it was that efforts to manage data are expensive (35%). The next largest segment (30%) were hampered by manually aggregating data to produce BI/reports for executive leadership. The remaining votes were split between being unsure of data quality and integrity (15%), the fact that current tools do not capture and make available the right data (10%) and how adding new data sources is difficult and time-consuming (10%).
Delegates most;y concurred that a significant challenge lies in getting buy-in. While data is being utilised in public services, a delegate remarked, not everyone believes in the need to leverage it. “People do not see the value of data holistically,” he opined.
Damien agreed that there is a need to change the perception of data as a bunch of statistics and to help people see how there can be real-time use cases in daily life and not just in corporate environments.
“Data is not seen as an asset,” Simon acknowledges. “There remains plenty of work in educating and motivating people to see the value of data and recognising data as an asset and an investment. Making data discoverable to raise the awareness to get it seen as an asset.”
Inquiring what delegates would consider as the greatest barrier to integrating more data and analytics into their day-to-day decision-making, most delegates indicated that they consider it limited access to data (29%). Compliance with data security and privacy requirements got 24% of the votes as id the inaccuracy of available data (24%). The remaining respondents indicated that they do not have the right tools to gather appropriate data (14%) or that there were cultural barriers (9%).
Even though Singapore is leading the charge in the field of digital transformation, there are mounting challenges. Mohit posits cultural barriers as an underlying problem. Agreeing with this point of view, a delegate said that communications play a vital role in shifting mindsets and culture – stakeholders need to understand what data can do for the organisation.
On the top driver of modernising applications in delegates’ organisations, responses were split between improving the speed and accuracy of business decisions (48%) and achieving better citizen service/experience (43%).
When asked about the biggest barrier to progress in the data journey of delegates’ organisations, most delegates indicated the disconnect between IT & business (30%) as the greatest barrier. The remaining votes were split between poor quality and availability of data (25%) and non-data-literate workforce (25%) and lack of leadership and commitment (20%).
The sixth question asked delegates to indicate what they felt were their organisations’ greatest strengths in terms of real-time data analytics and backend processing. Most of the delegates felt that deriving meaningful insights through real-time data analytics (41%) is their organisations’ greatest strength. That is followed by the ability to get voluminous data onto big data platform (35%) and the synchronisation of disparate data sources (24%).
In the final poll, an overwhelming majority of the delegates (65%) ranked the maturity of their organisation in processing real-time data as emergent (some processes and knowledge; non-standardised), followed by 25% for limited (ad-hoc, unstructured, uncontrolled or reactive) and 10% for structured (standardised, governance, scale, proactive).
Wrapping up the session, Damien thanked everyone for their enthusiastic participation and the robust discussions.
He appreciate that the session had offered insights on the key priorities of the public sector in Singapore when it came to data in motion and that every organisation is at a different stage and faced varied challenges. Damien reiterated the urgency of providing personalised and engaging citizen services in a rapidly changing world. With the right tools and the right partnership, better, faster and smoother citizen experiences can be created. It is clear that agencies will have to navigate through the lack of understanding towards data in motion with internal and external stakeholders.
Before bringing the session to an end, he encouraged the delegates to connect with him and the team if they would like to explore ways Confluent can help and support agencies in transforming their organisation.
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.
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.
The Counter Ransomware Task Force (CRTF), which was formed to bring together Singapore Government agencies from various domains to strengthen Singapore’s counter-ransomware efforts, has issued its report.
Singapore’s efforts to promote a resilient and secure cyber environment, both domestically and internationally, to combat the rising ransomware threat are guided by the recommendations in the CRTF report.
According to David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity, Chief Executive of CSA and Chairman of the CRTF, ransomware poses a threat to both businesses and individuals. Economically, socially, and even in terms of national security, it can be detrimental. Both internationally and across domains, ransomware is a problem.
“It requires us to collaborate and draw on our knowledge in a variety of fields, including cybersecurity, law enforcement, and financial supervision. It also necessitates that we work with like-minded international partners to identify a common problem and develop solutions,” David explains.
He exhorts businesses and individuals to contribute as well, strengthening the nation’s overall defence against the ransomware scourge.
Cybercriminals use malicious software known as ransomware. When ransomware infects a computer or network, it either locks the system or encrypts the data on it. For the release of the data, cybercriminals demand ransom money from their victims.
A vigilant eye and security software are advised to prevent ransomware infection. Following an infection, malware victims have three options: either they can pay the ransom, attempt to remove the malware, or restart the device.
Extortion Trojans frequently employ the Remote Desktop Protocol, phishing emails, and software vulnerabilities as their attack vectors. Therefore, a ransomware attack can target both people and businesses.
The ransomware threat has significantly increased in scope and effect, and it is now a pressing issue for nations all over the world, including Singapore.
The fact that attackers operate internationally to elude justice makes it a global issue. Ransomware has created a criminal ecosystem that offers criminal services ranging from unauthorised access to targeted networks to money laundering services, all fed by illicit financial gains.
Singapore must approach the ransomware issue as a cross-border and cross-domain problem if it is to effectively combat the ransomware threat.
Other nations should adopt comparable domestic measures to coordinate their financial regulatory, law enforcement, and cybersecurity agencies to combat the ransomware issue and promote international cooperation.
Three significant results were the culmination of the CRTF’s work. For government agencies to collaborate and create anti-ransomware solutions, they first developed a comprehensive understanding of the ransomware kill chain.
Second, it examined Singapore’s stance on paying ransom to cybercriminals. Third, for the government to effectively combat ransomware, the CRTF suggested the following policies, operational plans, and capabilities under four main headings:
Pillar 1: Enhances the security of potential targets (such as government institutions, critical infrastructure, and commercial organisations, especially small and medium-sized businesses) to make it more difficult for ransomware attackers to carry out successful attacks.
Pillar 2: To lower the reward for ransomware attacks, disrupt the ransomware business model.
Pillar 3: To prevent ransomware attack victims from feeling pressured to pay the ransom, which feeds the ransomware industry, support recovery.
Pillar 4: Assemble a coordinated international strategy to combat ransomware by cooperating with international partners. Singapore should concentrate on and support efforts to promote international cooperation in three areas that have been identified by the CRTF: law enforcement, anti-money laundering measures, and discouraging ransom payments.
The appropriate government agencies will take the recommendations of the CRTF under consideration for additional research and action.
In the new normal, everything is moving online, including employee workloads, leadership insights, and how the services and businesses interact with customers or clients. Organisations must undergo a digital transformation to create entirely digital processes, better experiences and streamlined operations.
Successful digital transformation allows all processes and systems to communicate with one another. Users have a single source of truth, updates occur in real-time, and data is integrated.
The transformation enables organisations to effortlessly pivot when necessary because all their systems and teams are interconnected. Everything can be done quickly and without impacting the operations – whether it is to add more users, connect new business software or begin automating tasks.
In a cloud-first strategy, organisations are not merely adding a new layer of technology when they transform. They are expanding their IT capability in an entirely new way. Data and systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for a seamless, effective and adaptable connection of all their IT.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are aware of the potential and power of the cloud. Due to the increased security, scalability and convenience, more businesses and services are moving their apps and data onto the cloud.
Within this suite, that offers consumers a significant advantage is cloud communications. As remote and hybrid work models become the norm, cloud communication is quickly gaining importance.
The OpenGov Breakfast Insight with Indonesia’s top public sector leaders on 1 December 2022 at the Westin Jakarta provided the current information on the benefits of the most recent cloud technology that can help the nation’s public, education, financial services and healthcare sectors.
The Cloud at the Heart of the Digital Transformation
Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia, believes cloud-based strategies are being adopted and implemented by companies of all sizes to spur growth and increase profits. Cloud has fundamentally altered business communications.
Cloud transforms how people communicate, collaborate and conduct business in today’s digital world. It has sparked advancements in machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.
“The cloud offers cutting-edge features and functionality that let staff members collaborate and communicate in ways – and places – they never imagined,” says Mohit. “Organisations can outsource systems management tasks like provisioning, switching, data storage, and security to cloud communications providers.”
Moreover, with remote and hybrid models, employees report higher productivity and greater satisfaction.
Nonetheless, according to Mohit, even though remote and hybrid models are becoming increasingly popular, they will not be successful if they are not based on the right technology. Cloud communications are a crucial component of any hybrid or remote work environment.
With cloud-based communication tools, staff can easily switch to working remotely, teams can keep meeting, and operations can go on as usual.
“Technology for collaboration will be more crucial than ever with employees working in different time zones and locations. Hence, teams have the resources to connect with coworkers across boundaries thanks to cloud communications,” Mohit explains.
Organisations can make the most of their resources with cloud communications, which can quicken implementation, increase flexibility, and provide limitless high-volume information exchange. Moreover, cloud communication security features guarantee adherence to data privacy laws.
The technology, protocols and best practices that safeguard cloud computing environments, cloud-based applications and cloud-stored data collectively constitute cloud security. Understanding exactly what needs to be secured and the system components that must be managed is the first step in securing cloud services.
As an overview, cloud service providers are responsible for backend development against security vulnerabilities. Clients should concentrate primarily on the proper service configuration, safe use habits, and selecting a security-conscious provider.
“Clients should also confirm that any end-user networks and hardware are properly secured,” Mohit says.
Every step taken to secure the cloud aims to facilitate data recovery in the event of data loss; guard against malicious data theft on networks and storage; prevent human error or carelessness that results in data leaks, and minimise the effects of any data or system compromise.
The transition to cloud-based computing has resulted in a significant evolution of traditional IT security. While cloud models offer greater convenience, always-on connectivity necessitates new security measures. There are a few ways in which cloud security differs from conventional IT models as a modernised cyber security solution.
According to Nathan Guy, Zoom Phone Leader, Asia Pacific, Zoom, the macro business environment has significantly changed. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to increase productivity, adapt quickly as competition heats up and be productive to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancements.
This problem is becoming even more pressing because of economic uncertainty. Without effective communication between customers, prospects and employees, it will be impossible to address these issues.
Nathan highlighted that the workforce is also experiencing a generational shift. People prefer the option of remote employment. And they are asking for cutting-edge equipment and communication systems as they need to do their jobs.
With every new tool and app that is made available, communication becomes more complex and confusing. Employees, clients, and potential customers are just a few stakeholders with preferences and expectations about how, when, and where they conduct business.
“Due to this, many businesses choose their battles carefully when it comes to facilitating communication,’ says Nathan.
Among the routes they take are keeping up with currently used systems deemed adequate; embedded communication tools included with other software packages; exploring multiple solutions depending on the situation; among others. “These strategies are meant to provide the organisation with fundamental communication.”
Such methods allow for some flexibility but also change the environment for prospects, employees and customers. People are compelled to alternate between various solutions based on their needs.
Some consumers “separate” from a favourite brand after just one disappointing interaction. Today’s harsh reality is that communication is a critical path activity; your business will also fail if it fails. A path that is crucial to the business failure.
Nathan believes that organisations must go beyond essential communication to universal communication. Creating intuitive connections to all parties – employees, customers, and investors – regardless of location, device, or business activity – will have a tremendous advantage in this uncertain business environment.
“You do this by combining the connection needs of the individual and organisation by delivering a consistent and quality experience for all participants, making human connection effortless, and enabling rapid innovation to maintain relevance,” says Nathan.
These steps could result in:
- Meeting both the organisations’ core business needs and the demands of their customers;
- Refocusing internal resources away from administering communications and towards new services and capabilities; and
- Improving the agility and the perceived value both in the company and the market
An organisation’s reputation is directly linked to the quality of its communication services. In addition to the fact that employees, clients, and customers can work from anywhere, people returning to the office do not want them to be disappointed by the home office environment to which they have grown accustomed.
Expectations have increased; a session that fails due to dropped participants or subpar audio/video is unacceptable and embarrassing. Organisations must adapt to this new hybrid environment and guarantee that everyone receives high-quality service regardless of circumstance or location.
“When communications are disrupted in today’s world, business transactions become impossible,” claims Nathan. “Organisations can eliminate a work-limiting unpredictability risk by doing this. They provide a controlled experience by enabling the staff to work without concern about the underlying technology.”
By using a top-notch infrastructure specially built to prevent failures, Zoom will protect organisations from communications breakdowns. Organisations could troubleshoot the underlying cause of environmental problems and take preventative measures. This allows the workforce to concentrate on their work without unneeded interruptions or uncertainty. Hence, employees will have confidence that the communication system they provide will work as expected.
Differences in network performance and bandwidth can seriously impair audio and video quality and lead to intermittent problems, preventing some users from participating fully. Even with severe packet loss, organisations can use Zoom to deliver a productive meeting experience. This makes it possible to eliminate local network and infrastructure variability, which is crucial when doing business internationally.
More complexity is being added to communications. “Now you have workers returning to the office, frequently in a hotel setting, as well as those travelling or working remotely,” says Nathan.
Three main contexts have been produced as a result: remote, office and mobile. Unfortunately, all too frequently, people are forced to juggle a patchwork of disjointed point solutions created during the pandemic. This includes a personal cellphone, a videoconferencing option for small meetings and another tool for significant events.
Nathan believes that employees and clients must learn to use a different interface. Even if the organisations stick with a single vendor, many have expanded through acquisitions, leading to various products with no shared characteristics.
“There’s no doubt that communication platforms are a big part of how hybrid teams work,” Nathan asserts. “A modern communications platform like Zoom could help boost productivity, add to what can be done, and show how engaged employees are.”
Fireside Chat: How to Prepare for the Transition to the “Cloud Culture”
According to Deddy Kartika Utama, Head of Information Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), policies regarding political and general governance and regional autonomy are developed, determined and implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry also plays a role in establishing regional and village administration, governing issues, regional finance, demographics and civil records.
Given the number of parties involved and the nature of the hybrid organisation, including the Ministry, maintaining consistency may prove difficult. Because of this, compelling and trustworthy means of communication are crucial.
Cloud communications, Deddy emphasised, continue to be the preferred method of meeting the growing demand for efficient organisational communications, considering the advent of the hybrid workplace. With cloud computing and communications, organisations can quickly expand or contract to meet fluctuating demand.
In the public sector, by using internet-based connectivity to reduce lag time and unreliable connections, organisations can communicate with their team and customers through various channels, including email, voice calls, chat and video.
Through the advancements in IT, organisations now have access to a flexible, instant, scalable, stable, and conveniently located environment. Organisations that switch to cloud-based communication technology can take advantage of full cloud communication’s mobility, scalability, security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
The rapid development of cloud computing services and collaboration technologies has apparent benefits for remote and hybrid workforces. It enables teams to work together and achieve their shared goals even when they are not physically present in the same office.
“Using a cloud collaboration strategy, coworkers can work together on documents stored in the cloud while having access to the same files and making changes to them in real-time,” Deddy explains. “One method for cutting costs while maximising organisational resources despite growing communication capabilities and reach is to concentrate on the quality of the technology.”
By utilising the cloud, businesses have found cheaper alternatives while ensuring that their customers can access their data and systems from any location at any time. Transitioning from traditional to cloud office culture is exciting and promising. To protect the organisations and their operations, a solid security foundation must first be established.
According to Deddy, the potential of cloud computing is becoming increasingly apparent to various organisations, and it is also growing. “Organisations are already transitioning from the traditional office culture to the cloud culture, and doing so is profitable. They can save money and space by switching to cloud technology.”
Nathan emphasised the significance of cloud security, albeit that most organisations are already utilising cloud computing in some form. “Organisations are still hesitant to move more data and applications to the cloud due to security, governance, and compliance concerns when storing their content in the cloud.”
By partnering with Zoom, the human connection could be simplified and security could be included. Organisations can capitalise on the habits and competencies individuals have developed over the past two years. Additionally, they will ensure consistency across multiple use cases.
“By partnering with Zoom, businesses will be able to maintain their relevance through rapid innovation. They have access to a constant stream of new capabilities that reflect actual user requirements,” Nathan claims.
According to Mohit, a critical component of cloud security is the protection of data and business content such as customer orders, secret design documents and financial records, among others.
Preventing leaks and data theft is critical for maintaining customer trust and safeguarding assets that contribute to competitive advantage. “The ability of cloud security to protect your data and assets makes it critical for any organisations that are transitioning to the cloud.”
Development partners can assist organisations in meeting a broader range of customer needs, resulting in increased market reach. As a result, when developing cloud applications, make sure to include platform or integration capabilities as well as a partner strategy.
“Your cloud partner strategy should be based on business potential, engineering capability, and platform marketing. A balanced strategy will enable a larger partner ecosystem, more comprehensive customer solutions, and increased revenue potential,” Mohit concludes.
Enterprise transformation refers to a significant shift in the way a company conducts its day-to-day operations. This could involve adjusting an organisation’s fundamental technology, the structure of the company’s workforce or the way the company creates and markets its goods.
Enterprise transformation can take many different forms, one of the most prevalent of which is when an organisation makes a significant change in the products or services it offers. Currently, with digital technology, adjustments like this are occurring more frequently.
Companies are realising that they need to modify their approaches to meet the ever-evolving requirements of their customers as well as the consistently expanding standards set by their rivals.
Simultaneously, several Digital technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data, Virtual reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics and automation, among others, have the potential to transform how businesses operate. They can transform various functions of the value chain, such as logistics & supply, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, customer service, corporate management and support functions.
With their versatility and agility, these technologies can be deployed to numerous industries, among these are Healthcare, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Services and Mobility.
Innovative Business: What Lies Ahead?
“Businesses need innovation, not only for survival but for future growth,” says Vikram. “Innovation could emerge as product innovation, process innovation, service innovation or business model innovation to create a long-term sustainable advantage.”
Enterprises have been creating legacies based on research and development (R&D) which has LED them to incremental innovations. However, innovation is disruptive or transformational and it can be around product processes, services and business models.
Transformational innovation represents innovation that transforms businesses and innovates processes to create long-term sustainable, competitive, profitable business models. Disruptive innovation is targeted more towards identifying and inventing new mechanisms to solve existing and anticipated problem statements in businesses, which is also expected to have a business impact.
Many businesses do not distinguish between R&D and innovation. Enterprises today, however, are better able to distinguish themselves from one another and can understand and appreciate the impact that innovation has in comparison to R&D’s function.
R&D is an essential part of most businesses, and the benefits it brings are usually small and mostly limited to the people who work in R&D.
Innovation, on the other hand, isn’t just a function; it’s also a way of thinking for the whole organisation. It affects everything from the process to the product to the service to the business model, and the expected size of its effects is disruptive rather than incremental.
This further demonstrates how the current difficult business and economic environment has forced companies with lower levels of technology adoption and digital maturity to rethink their operations.
Enterprises can now assess the possibilities that technology integration may bring about, not only to address their current problem statements but also to consider new opportunities, whether it takes the form of a product, service, or business model.
There are a few common KPIs that should be measured regularly to gauge an organisation’s and its employees’ level of digital maturity. Vikram believes that because every organisation is unique, the KPIs used for assessments will vary.
For example, the key metrics for some common functions, like customer experience, data and insights, strategic and leadership, technology, operations, digital skill sets and so on, would need to be customised based on how they have changed and how they are changing now.
“We can get innovations which can predict based on the data analytics for the next 10 years,” Vikram reveals. “Every organisation should think out-of-the-box. Then they only need the right set of people who can guide them for the KPIs to be defined.”
Additionally, a variety of industries, including those in healthcare, food and beverage, manufacturing, services, FMCG, mobility, hospitality, and many more, can adapt to new technologies.
The following are crucial actions that businesses need to take today to digitally transform their futures:
- Identify your key employees’ level of digital maturity
- Research the technologies that are currently being used by the Enterprise’s various functions
- Select current issue citations
- Sort the problem statements according to priority
- Assess a system for locating, evaluating, and integrating digital technologies
- After a framework has been chosen and put into place, make the process iterative
- Establish it as the Enterprise’s mentality
Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC
When it comes to entrepreneurs who are truly pushing the envelope, Vikram is looking for certain characteristics. One of these is how the participants interact with businesses, which is determined by a unique set of criteria.
“And because we engage with various sets of parameters when looking at entrepreneurs, we can combine their efforts with those of the business,” Vikram explains.
Therefore, they bring the enterprise work and the entrepreneurs together when looking at the entrepreneurs, especially in the GHV DX LAB framework – they are the project managers and the system integrator for GHV.
The digital transformation, specifically the adoption of online business models and the general shift of economic and social activities online, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has altered how economies operate, businesses function and societies interact.
The exploitation of data is the driving force behind the emergence of a new type of data-driven economy. It creates new opportunities for international cooperation to leapfrog the intermediate infrastructure of the industrial age, taking advantage of the new markets made available by digital platforms and the improved service delivery made possible by smart technologies.
In addition, the most effective mechanism in education would be to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship at the earliest possible stages of the educational system. In today’s context, entrepreneurship is about more than just passion, raising capital, or coding something; it’s about building a network around yourself to support your entrepreneurial journey. The network is critical.
Vikram spent sixteen years in Japan before relocating to Singapore and India to establish a business. He has realised that he must contribute significantly to society. For Vikram, LKYGBPC is a fantastic platform that can be an integral part of any entrepreneur’s entrepreneurial journey.
As opportunities for entrepreneurs are created through this platform, a global network of mentors and other ecosystem partners are integrated with LKYGBPC to focus on the entrepreneurs. “I think it’s a fantastic platform that is desperately needed right now, not just in the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia, but for the global market,” Vikram is convinced.
He believes that a combination of all these factors pushed him into the venture capital world. “I enjoy being a techie. But I’m enjoying my current role as a mentor to thousands of Asian entrepreneurs.”
Vikram has mentored over 1200 startups to date, including 3 that will soon be unicorns. He has personally invested in over 50 startups, and through the GHV Fund, he has invested in over 20 startups. “Every day, I learn something new and give it back to society in the same way.”
Building intellectual property (IP) rights has been the best part of his digital journey so far, and he hopes to keep doing this. “The level of self-satisfaction I feel is never as high as when I say IP is greater. You can make a lot of money consulting, but that doesn’t get me excited if you can’t create IP and work together. And that’s why what we’ve been doing around it can be great,” Vikram concludes.
The Department of Architecture under the National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering (NUS CDE) opened the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ArClab), a unique living laboratory housed in a conserved building which will serve as a site for researchers, graduate students and built heritage professionals to conduct a wide range of teaching and research activities on sustainable development of the built environment.
ArClab was established in January 2022 to achieve four key goals:
- augment the training capabilities of Singapore’s building industry in built heritage conservation;
- develop innovative use of technologies to enhance conservation;
- conduct high-impact research into broader conservation issues; and
- promote climate resilience and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings.
Over the next four to five years, ArClab will undertake the restoration of 141 Neil Road, a historic townhouse in the Blair Plain Conservation Area. The Portabella family, who owned the house, had recently donated it to the University, along with a gift of S$2 million, to support its repair and conservation works.
The Head of the NUS Department of Architecture and UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia noted that as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the ArClab aims to be an exemplar and pedagogical demonstration of sensitive repair and conservation, adaptive reuse of heritage, and sustainable management of the historic environment.
The building’s conservation process will provide opportunities for both teaching and research. Using the conserved townhouse as a living lab, ArClab will showcase a new model for learning about the historic environment, building professional capacity to manage historical resources, and promoting historical and environmental studies.
The Deputy Dean (Research), the NUS College of Design and Engineering noted that ArClab is a timely endeavour that gathers expertise in engineering, design and architecture from the NUS College of Design and Engineering to preserve our history and build skills to address Singapore’s unique urban sustainability concerns.
Speaking at the opening of ArClab, the Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration noted that he is excited to see ArClab become an engine to develop the knowledge of conservation practices and skills locally; develop heritage capacity building in Singapore and the region; support building owners in the maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings; grow Singapore’s overseas presence in built heritage and break new ground internationally and see how sustainability and liveability can be imbued inbuilt heritage.
Bring cultural heritage to life
One of the oldest buildings in the entire stretch of Neil Road, the historic house was built as part of the Everton Estate in the 1880s. The historic building contains a collection of decorative tiles depicting English Art Noveau and Chinese motifs. It is adorned with several auspicious Chinese character plaques in clerical and cursive font styles.
Housed within the historic building, ArClab will be a dynamic “classroom in the city” for students taking graduate programmes and doctoral studies in built heritage management. They will play a significant role in the repair and conservation works.
Students will learn and conduct research on areas such as traditional building materials and craftsmanship; the use of innovative technologies for repair works, energy efficiency and comfort; and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings. ArClab will also design and deliver advanced courses for professionals working in the field of built heritage.
The research will be conducted alongside teaching activities in the conserved building. NUS researchers will carry out various projects, including conducting research, documentation and restoration of Singapore’s heritage using innovative technologies such as 3D modelling; developing an integrated approach for energy efficiency and net-zero retrofit of Singapore’s historic buildings; testing and developing traditional building materials and techniques as well as using innovative technologies for conservation and repair works in the Singapore context; and estimating the impact of the high-density urban surroundings on the microclimate of historic districts.
A broad range of advanced equipment will be available for researchers and students to conduct holistic research and training.