February 26, 2024

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Harnessing Government-citizen Partnerships to Build a Digitally Inclusive Southeast Asia

In the world that we live in today, physical visits for government services seem like a distant memory with many of us accessing government services online through websites or mobile applications to get real-time support when needed. This is a remarkable development driven by the growing demands from increasingly digital-first citizens.

In Southeast Asia, a youthful population and a fast-growing middle class have given rise to a new generation of citizens who expect and crave superior digital experiences. However, government organisations in the region have not transformed quickly enough to meet the expectations of Southeast Asia’s digital-first citizens. To bridge this gap, we must adopt a holistic and comprehensive public-private partnership (PPP) model that will modernise Southeast Asia’s digital infrastructure to accelerate growth for the region as the global economy starts its post-pandemic recovery in earnest.

In VMware’s recent Digital Frontiers 3.0 study, we found that 78% of Southeast Asians consider themselves to be digitally curious or digital explorers who are ready for digital experiences. But at the same time, 68% of them also worried their older relatives won’t be able to keep up in this new digital world and have access to the services they require.

As the stewards of economies, the important task of building a digitally inclusive society has fallen on the shoulders of the governments. With 41% of respondents in the region saying that they trust the government in raising the personal levels of their digital literacy, Southeast Asia’s governments have responded accordingly with digital literacy campaigns such as Singapore’s Digital for Life movement Thailand’s Digital Literacy for Education Equality which aim at enhancing digital access to all citizens.

However, to truly move the needle on bridging digital gaps and fostering trust amongst citizens, government organizations will need to work hand in hand with leading private organizations to achieve these ambitious targets. As responsible members of the community, private sector organizations need to play a part in building a digitally inclusive society in Southeast Asia. For instance, VMware introduced its Getting Future Ready program to help Singaporeans deepen their expertise and specialization in next-generation technologies, and in turn, building a future-ready workforce in Singapore.

Enablers of a future-forward digital society

Trust and citizen-led innovations will become the bedrock of digitally enabled societies. In Southeast Asia, we have the advantage, with 42% of citizens indicating that they are happy to engage with the Government through digital means. However, more must be done to deliver better digital experiences that will move the needle for deeper and more impactful digital citizen interactions.

One way forward is the integration of technologies of the future where consumers have expressed trust in 5G (78%), connected devices (77%) and facial recognition (75%). Government agencies have also started on this venture with new digital offerings and services such as Singapore’s SingPass application, the Philippines’ biometric national ID and more.

While Southeast Asian citizens are digitally savvy, at least one in two (57%) still feel paranoid that organisations are tracking and recording what they do on their devices. This issue of privacy is a very valid one and government organisations in the region must work hard to assure citizens how their data is being used and stored. The VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 study also revealed that less than half (41%) of Southeast Asian citizens say that the government has given assurance that their personal information is secure. It is thus critical for government organisations in the region to provide citizens with the assurance that their personal information is safe and secure.

A close partnership with private organisations will help spearhead conversations around these critical societal issues. While the public agencies can ensure that the necessary digital regulations are in place to safeguard citizens’ interests and encourage businesses to participate in these industry conversations, private organisations can also tap on the robust digital infrastructure and policies to harness data, accelerate innovations and agility for the regional economy.

Sustaining a resilient and digitally inclusive Southeast Asia

A digital-first Southeast Asia will ensure the development of a resilient and inclusive, innovation-led economy that lay the foundations for the long-term prosperity of the region. And this is only possible when governments adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to deliver superior digital experiences across any cloud, any application and any device, in a seamless and secure manner to their citizens.

While organisations were focused on responding and adapting to the pandemic to ensure business continuity in 2020, 2021 marks a turning point with innovation becoming a priority for future-ready organisations looking to accelerate their growth. Now is the time for public and private sectors to join hands in harnessing technology to build a digitally inclusive and enabled society, and help Southeast Asia move collectively towards a digital-first future.


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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