This article is my journey to find some of these answers, more importantly understanding the real question. In looking at these questions in respect to the how, I have been reviewing and reading any books I can find on these topics. I have been looking to get a better understanding and grasp of the words and what it is they mean. Next, I wanted to understand the how, so that I could apply them within the way I work. This whole exercise was all about looking for the right question, challenging the way I thought about the topic and finding some solid answers. This article is my journey and what I have discovered to date. I find in writing about what I have learnt, I can better internalise the lessons that I have learnt.
Please join me on this journey as I feel I have many books and conversations to travel. This article is the results that I have found to date. I find in writing about these lessons I am better able to internalise and apply this knowledge and practices within my job and role within the organisation.
A quick search across the Internet will find many different interpretations to this questions.
- Disruption is a disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity or process.
- Transformation is a process or profound and radial change that orients an organisation in a new direction, taking it to an entirely different level of effectiveness, and
- Innovation is deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values by which new ideas are converted into useful products.
These three words have been used as the so called latest "buzzwords" for some time. It is something we all need to do, have done or be doing, be it digital, business or process. We are expected to understand exactly what these words mean within our organisations, having been added to our everyday lexicon of language. The problem, is there is no real explanation as to how or exactly what it means. We're supposed to understand, so to ask questions would just point out our lack of knowledge.
For someone who has been involved in the technology space since the 1970s, I have seen much in the way of transformation, disruption and innovation. In the future, I dare say we will all see far more growth, change, and innovation than ever before. Change is inevitable, so is transformation, disruption and innovation. So, what is disruption, transformation and innovation in context to what we do in our organisations?
What is Disruption?
Two books that have had a large impact to my thinking about transformational change and disruption have been The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, and Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Each of these books approach disruption and innovation together in different but similar ways. In many respects, Clayton Christensen coined the combination of "disruptive innovation" in The Innovator's Dilemma. I feel his description and the use has been distorted in many respects, but for me provided a real understanding of the topic of disruptive innovation.
As Christensen mentioned in The Innovator's Dilemma, a disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network, eventually disrupting an existing market and value network. Displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. Similarly, Kim and Mauborgne refer to a Blue Ocean Strategy as the creation by a company of a new, uncontested market space that makes competitors irrelevant. Creating new consumer value often while decreasing costs.
In Christensen's book, he uses the transformation of the steel industry, from processing ore to production of product in a single plant to mini mills. Taking the reader on a journey of how a long time established industry and process was completely disrupted through disruptive innovation. In the case of Kim and Mauborgne they use Cirque du Soleil as their example. Cirque du Soleil took the world by storm, by creating its blue ocean market space in less than twenty years. Since its creation as street performers, Cirque du Soleil has achieved a level of revenues that took Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey more than one hundred years to attain. Both circuses were once global champions of the circus industry.
As per the Blue Ocean Strategy they addressed an uncontested market space that made their circus competitors irrelevant. Using the lens of disruptive innovation, you could say they created a new market and value network, eventually disrupting an existing market and value network. They displaced an established market leader, an as did the mini mills did to the steel industry changed it forever.
In both these studies and examples they transformed their environments and businesses, were disruptive to the current incumbents and were quite innovative in many ways. In disruptive innovation, it’s all about perceived value and what is important, meeting needs, learning and improving. Initially not being perceived as competition, exiting markets releasing unprofitable sections of their domain to be taken up by these up starts. Over time that increase is exponential, Uber being a perfect example.
Uber commenced in 2010, but it wasn't until 2015/16 that it became an issue here in Australia. From a Blue Ocean Strategy perspective, they provided a service that was not being addressed by the taxi industry. These were people who did not use taxis, they were non-customers of the industry. But over time the standard and quality improved. Service and value increased and costs were reduced, bit by bit they were directly competing with the industry. But Uber does not compete with the taxi industry, Uber is a platform or gateway of services, bringing customers and suppliers together and taking a percentage of the cost of service or what is referred to as a clip of the ticket. The taxi industry is highly-regulated, it felt that Uber had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, when in fact they had been around for some four to five years. It caught both the taxi industry and government out, both struggled with trying to stop something that has completely changed the rule book.
Uber has a totally different business model; industry and government still using the old playbook of business. Their approach has been that of defensive and attacking, but who do they go for? Uber, itself is not a taxi service, but a service within its own right. It provided a platform connecting the customer to the supplier. Government and the industry needed to re-think their strategy and be innovative in their approach, but to date we have only seen traditional responses based on practices of the past. So how then do we create new disruptive, transformational and innovative ideas?
How do we move forward?
These topics raise several questions as to what exactly can we do? More importantly, how can we accomplish results that reflect disruption, transformation and innovation that is required to deliver better value and services to our customers? Who is doing this and how are they doing it?
Over time I continually consider these and many other similar questions. Working to understand how I can apply them for myself, the work that I do as well as assisting others in their goals or aspirations.
Recently I have been working through several new books, and some older repeats. One of those books has been Change by Design, written by Tim Brown of IDEO. I was exposed to this thinking back in 2012 on my Churchill research scholarship. In my travels, I met with several companies and organisations around the world applying the practices of design thinking. They used these practices, to build better services and products to their customers. Recently in Boston at the end of 2016, I attended an Open Innovation Summit for two days. During that conference, I met and heard from several companies who were carrying out some innovative projects. More interestingly, was their application of design thinking in how they developed and delivered those projects. This journey has led me to read more literature on the topics of innovation, design thinking and the application of those practices.
One of the books that I read was The Big Switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Googleby Nicholas Carr.The recurring theme was nothing was new, it just took a different format. Nicholas started his book by telling the story about Burden’s Wheel in 1851. In a field in upstate New York, Henry Burden built a magnificent machine, it looked like a giant bicycle wheel except the spokes were of thick cast iron. Being fed by water diverted from a local river, it was the largest waterwheel anywhere. Weighing over 250 tons and just over 60 feet high, it produced 500 horsepower. The waterwheel was the powerhouse of industry in the 1850's.
The book continues through history, with the story of Thomas Edison in the 1870s and electricity. From water wheels, to generators to running their own electrical network to buying from the utility. It went far beyond cheaper kilowatts. As companies, if they did not need to purchase pricey equipment, they could reduce their fixed or capital costs, thus freeing that capital for more productive investments. Other corporate costs, staff and risk was reduced. As companies no longer needed to own the technology, obsolescence and malfunction were not a major distraction. Once unimaginable, broad adoption of utility power had become inevitable. Now come forward about 140+ years and the exact situation is happening with computer technology. Utilisation of electricity in the US in 1907 was 40 percent, in a matter of 20+ years that well exceeded 90 percent. That same model is repeating itself in the cloud computing space but I suspect that it will be faster than 20 years. Throughout his book, he provokes many questions and realisations in this constant changing digital world.
Many of the books I have read have built on ideas, but until they become self-propagating things don't change. It's what Richard Dawkins, famously called a “meme”. That is the self-propagating idea that changes behaviour, perceptions, or attitudes. Centralised and top-down authorities are no longer sufficient to generate transformational or innovative ideas. In another age, say the industrial age, this worked as production relied on labour. Consistent and repeatable levels of work to deliver an outcome. The biggest problem today is many organisations either don't realise or have not truly understood that we are now well and truly in a knowledge economy. That is an economy in which growth is dependent on the quantity, quality and accessibility of the information available, rather than the means of production. That we have moved on from change to disruption, transformation and innovation. All these depend on the knowledge economy. But, in this age of the knowledge economy, ideas need to be diffused on their own, especially around business and technology. If we are unable to communicate these ideas to our employees or customers about what we are trying to do, they will not be able to help us to get there.
Tim Brown in Change by Design indicates that we need new choices. A purely technocentric view of innovation is less sustainable now than ever. The other trap we face is using management philosophies based only on existing strategies. This is likely to be overwhelmed by new developments at home and abroad. We need new choices and products that balance the needs of individuals and society.
We need an approach to innovation that is powerful, effective and accessible, that can be integrated into all aspects of business and society. It needs to enable both the individuals and teams to generate breakthrough ideas that can be implemented. Design thinking, I believe, offers such an approach.
What is the Right Question?
When commencing my Churchill Fellowship research project in 2011, I had no idea where to start let alone the what or how. When I enquired as to how I should proceed with my research, a fellow of the Churchill Memorial Trust asked me a simple question, “What was the answer I was looking for?” At which point I responded by saying, “Was that not the reason for my research?” The answer I received both challenged and made me question my whole perspective of research. It wasn’t until several years later after reading A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger that I fully appreciated the purpose of that question and the process of finding the right question. This came up in several areas of research while I have been reading. Especially in connection to innovation.
In the first section of Warren's book “Why Questioning?” he found that world leading inventors and creative minds used questioning to approach their challenges. It was their innate ability to ask questions, that was one of the key factors that led to their success. it was their ability to open a topic to scrutiny, focusing with the use of both open, and closed questions. They gained an understanding of the real issues, and nub of their problem. Warren has found that many business people are aware, on some level of the impact between questioning and innovation. He realised that many great products, companies and industries often begin with a question. On further investigation, he discovered that few companies encouraged questioning in any substantive way. There is a considerable lack of training, guidelines or best practices around the area of questioning. What he did find was that many organisations either consciously or not, discourage inquiry. What brought it home to me, was Google’s chairman Eric Schidt's description of its company was that it “runs on questions”. Many people I speak to think the opposite, that Google provides the answers. Importantly, without the right question all the answers in the world are worthless.
In his book, Warren takes the reader through several examples as well as explaining techniques in how to question, digging down to find the real issues to be addressed.
How Does An Organisation Transform?
It has been referred to as the new change, but its more than that. I believe it is the realignment of people, processes and technology but at a more fundamental level. It’s the re-imagining of how we realign, and it is more than continually using our knowledge of the past. It’s about questioning and challenging those practices, realising things have changed. Maybe there is a better way forward, but until we check and confirm we will never know. Many organisations claim to have made a transformational change, but when you look closer nothing really has changed, other than the logo and colour scheme. Today that means, using new words that describe the old ways in a more upbeat tone. The other term for several years that got bandied around was that we are a learning organisation.
This was a phrase that Peter Senge used in his book The Fifth Discipline. The ideas and tools that he presents are for destroying the illusion that the world is created of separate and unrelated forces. From this position, we can build a learning organisation. This is an organisation that is made up of people who continually expand their capacity and knowledge. It is where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, aspirations are set free, and people continually learn together. These organisations can learn faster than their competitors said Arie De Geus, head of planning for Royal Dutch/Shell. It is no longer the realm of a person or section within a business. The only way any organisation, especially in 2017 can sustainably grow is for the entire organisation to take that journey.
In the industrial age, it was mandatory that people were thought of as pure labour. We still carry a lot of those thoughts and ideas. Our employees, at times referred to as the labour force are the foundation to our brain trust. Yet our education system is still largely based around the concepts derived from the industrial age. The product is to produce a standard model of employee who can read, write and carryout arithmetic, being certified by academic qualifications that defined a based standard and model. The idea being to produce a basic unit of labour that with limited training could become another wheel in the cog. This was designed to produce a resource to deliver an expected outcome, thinking was not a requirement and in many ways, was a liability for standardisation. In today’s businesses, this has changed in many ways, but our current mental models are still of the past. I believe it is one of our major challenges in embracing new ideas and becoming innovative.
Peter Senge discusses his ideas and tools that enable the “How” a business can achieve this, using what he refers to as the five disciplines, the fifth being system thinking. These disciplines have been developed over more than 50 years and Peter Senge’s work is an encapsulation of those ideas. They are:
- System Thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over this time. Enabling people to make the full patterns clearer, helping us to see how to change them effectively.
- Personal Mastery, this is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision. Focusing our energies, developing patience to seeing reality objectively. It is essentially a cornerstone of the learning organisation. It is the connections between people, organisational learning and the commitments between individuals and the organisation.
- Mental Models, these are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations or images that influence how we understand the world and how we act. It is about turning the mirror inwards; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world. Bringing them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. It’s about balancing inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own thinking effectively, making that thinking open to the influence of others.
- Building Share Vision – If anyone idea about leadership has inspired organisations, it’s the capacity to hold a shared vision of the future we seek to create. Who could ever forget or not know of John F. Kennedy’s vision he created for the United States, when he said those immortal words: “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Or that of Martin Luther King’s words: “I have a dream…”.
We may or may not be old enough to remember but we all would have heard these speeches, two of the most well-known shared visions.
- Team Learning is when teams are truly learning. Not only are they producing extraordinary results, but individual members are growing more rapidly than could have occurred otherwise.
This can only start with “dialogue,” the capacity of team members to suspend their assumptions and genuinely “thinking together”. It is different from “discussion”, its roots being around “percussion” and “concussion.” Discussion is literally a heaving of ideas, back and forth in a winner takes all competition. Dialogue is about learning how to recognise the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning. These patterns are often defensiveness in nature and deeply engrained in members. Team learning is the fundamental learning unit in our modern organisations. If teams don’t learn, then organisations will not learn.
System thinking on its own will not succeed, it requires all disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning and personal mastery. To truly get the value out of these five disciplines there needs to be a shift in mind or metanoia. To grasp the meaning of “metanoia” is to grasp the deeper meaning of “learning,” for learning involves a fundamental shift or movement of mind.
The problem when talking about “learning organisations” is that the “learning” has lost its central meaning in contemporary usage. Most people’s eyes glaze over if you talk to them about “learning” or “learning organisation.” Little wonder for in everyday use, learning has come to be synonymous with “taking in information.”
It would be crazy to say, “I just read a great book about driving a car; I’ve now learnt that.” We need to be doing adaptive learning, this must be joined by generative learning, that is learning that enhances our capacity to create. Peter Senge takes no credit for inventing the five major disciplines as they represent, experimentation, research, writing and invention of hundreds of people. In the 1970s when Peter Senge joined the graduate school at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), he realised the problem facing our ever-increasing and complex world was our ability to understand these complex systems. Working with a foundation of knowledge, experiments and research Peter developed his ideas around the five disciplines as described in his book.
What is Innovation?
How have innovators found opportunities that others miss? How do they come up with these incredible ideas that fundamentally changed the way we do things? How do we enable people to have those brilliant flashes of inspiration leading us to our next great invention? Innovation is the lifeblood of our global economy, becoming the priority of every organisation. It is the number-one leadership competency of the future. How has it been done? Who is doing it, and how can we join in? And where do we start?
Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen in their book The Innovator’s DNA, emerged from an eight-year collaborative study. The the book sought to understand innovators, who they were and the companies they created. Their primary purpose was to uncover the origins of innovation and disruptive business ideas. After interviewing hundreds of inventors and creators of revolutionary products and services, as well as game-changing companies. They dug into the thinking of the innovators themselves, wanting to understand as much about the people, the when and how they came up with their creative ideas. They wanted to understand how these people generated their ideas. What they found was provocative and insightful as well as surprisingly similar.
In that time, they discovered five primary skills that composed what they called the innovator’s DNA. What they found was that innovators “Think Different,” a well-known Apple slogan. It was the ability to recombined ideas and things into new opportunities. One of their critical insights was generating innovative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of behaviours. If we change our behaviours, then we can potentially improve our creative impact to our organisations.
One of the most famous innovators of our times is Steve Jobs. To him, innovators don’t just accept the world as it is. They are driven to reshape it into the way they believe it should be. They imagine, explore, create and inspire. They push the envelope, crack a few eggs. More importantly, they don’t accept the idea that it can’t be done, in fact when they are confronted by these statements and obstacles they push harder. As in Steve’s famous crazy speech, “because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Innovators actively desire to change the status quo.
What Jeff and Hal found was the ability of innovators was focused around five distinctive skills. These being:
- Associating, the ability to make surprising connections across areas of knowledge and industries. They build on ideas like blocks of Lego, building and taking apart until they find exactly what they are looking for.
- Questioning, is about asking the why and what if. Again, experimenting with ideas and alternatives.
- Observing, constantly looking and studying their environment and the people around them. Seeing how things work and don’t work, then finding alternatives through trial and error.
- Networking, the ability to network and explore ideas among a wide and varied association of people and ideas. Going out of their way to meet people with different backgrounds and perspectives to extend their own knowledge. and
- Experimenting, one of the best exponents of this, and has been quoted many times before is Thomas Edison. “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” This is a constant in all the skill areas. Everything is tested and experimented on.
One of the latest books I have been working through is The Four Lenses of Innovation. Rowan Gibson has written a powerful book about and around innovation and how to practically go about creating such an environment. Rowen uses the concept of four lenses, that of Challenging Orthodoxies, Harnessing Trends, Leveraging Resources and Understanding Needs. The part I found most interesting was the first part of the book was that he used these four lenses to review our most innovative time in history, the Renaissance period.
We think of innovation being something of the later part of the 20th century, when in fact there were three periods. Medieval renaissance in the 12th Century, this was a period of many changes. It included social, political and economic transformation and an intellectual revitalisation of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots. Then came the Italian Renaissance or Middle Ages in the 15th Century followed by the scientific developments of the 17th Century. The Renaissance was a time where we were introduced to a completely new way of looking at the world around us. But these were dangerous times as expressing ideas that challenged the dogmas, authority or tradition of the papacy were threatened, punished or completely done away with as a heretic.
Using this period of our history, Rowan reviews the mind of the innovator showing how they utilised these four lenses of innovation. The four lenses are:
- Challenging Orthodoxies is about challenging deeply entrenched beliefs that have long been taken for granted,
- Harnessing Trends is building on some deep discontinuity, convergence of systemic cluster of trends that has the potential to create dramatic change or disruption,
- Leveraging Resources is the ability of innovators to see themselves and the world around them as a collection of skills and assets that can be recombined or stretched into new opportunities, and
- Understanding Needs is an insatiable curiosity for the world around them, and their unshakeable belief that they could make the world an increasingly better place, or as Steve Jobs would say "Put a dent in the universe".
Throughout these and many other books I have been reading, similar themes and concepts have been presented. The most profound idea I have come across is based around one of the many quotes attributed to Einstein. That, “you cannot fix the problems of the past with the same thought processes that created them.” We need new choices that balance the needs of the individuals and society, strategies that result in different results for everyone. To do this, we need to accept a new approach. What worked in the past needs to stay there, in the past. As with each of these topics of disruption, transformation and innovation we need to re-assess how we approach them. We need to challenge, question but more importantly find the real question we are trying to answer. There must be true dialogue, we must enter conversations without any preconceived ideas. Everything must be laid in the open for scrutiny, it’s not about defending a position but delivering an outcome. As indicated by Peter Senge in his book The Fifth Discipline, if teams don’t learn then organisations will not learn.
The other point is that to fail is not failure, it only becomes failure when we don’t learn from the experience and move forward. The other point is that if we don’t fail now and again then we are not really trying hard enough. Of all the innovators over time we forget the amount of times they failed before they became successful, success is not done overnight, it is the culmination of many trials, errors and tribulations, it is the persistence that leads to success.
We all need to run to our own drum beat, all innovators, entrepreneurs and successful people and businesses usually got there by following their vision. What becomes very powerful is when that personal vision becomes a shared vision. It’s our ability to enable and allow the individuals to be creative, discovering their visions, to realise that we are not the only person in this universe and we don’t have all the answers, but collectively and working together we can be so much more. Our only limitation is ourselves and our imagination.
Rehabilitation services have gained increasing significance, as highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during RehabWeek 2023. The demand for rehab services is growing worldwide due to an ageing population and a rising incidence of chronic diseases. To meet this demand and improve outcomes, the field of rehabilitation is embracing innovation, particularly through advancements in technology, robotics, and digitalisation.
Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in enabling individuals, regardless of age, to regain independence and participate meaningfully in daily life. With the World Health Organisation estimating that 1 in 3 people globally may benefit from rehab services, the importance of this field cannot be overstated.
Beyond individual well-being, rehabilitation contributes to productive longevity and reduces downstream medical costs when integrated into holistic care plans. Thus, it aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of “healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages.”
Deputy Prime Minister Heng shared his personal experience as a stroke survivor, emphasising the pivotal role that therapists and early rehabilitation played in his recovery journey. Early rehab interventions were instrumental in mitigating the debilitating effects of extended bed rest in the ICU. Dedicated therapists, combined with intensive rehab, enabled him to regain full functionality, underscoring the transformative potential of rehabilitation services.
Innovations in rehabilitation leverage broader trends like robotics and digitalisation. These innovations offer precision rehabilitation, tailoring treatment plans to individual needs. They also mitigate manpower constraints by augmenting human efforts with technology.
For instance, robotics-assisted physiotherapy and games-based cognitive exercises are becoming increasingly prevalent. Moreover, virtual rehabilitation has gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing convenience and empowering patients to take charge of their rehab journeys from home.
Many societies are facing the dual challenge of an ageing population and a declining workforce to provide rehabilitation services. Technology is critical in augmenting these efforts to meet growing demand. Innovations in rehabilitation enhance its effectiveness and accessibility, ensuring that patients follow through with and benefit from rehab programs.
Singapore is at the forefront of innovative rehabilitation practices. Its acute hospitals offer excellent rehab care services and conduct research to improve care. Notably, Tan Tock Seng Hospital is a pioneer in rehabilitation medicine. Changi General Hospital houses the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART), facilitating the synergy between clinical needs and technological innovation.
The One-Rehab Framework is a recent innovation in Singapore, ensuring timely access to rehabilitation care. This framework enables seamless care coordination across different settings and care team members through a common IT portal and harmonised clinical outcomes. It streamlines the sharing of relevant patient information and encourages right-siting of care within the community, reducing the burden on acute hospitals.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Heng, RehabWeek serves as a platform for delegates with diverse expertise and a shared commitment to advancing rehabilitation care. It encourages the sharing of best practices and useful technologies to strengthen collective impact, especially when addressing global challenges.
Singapore stands ready to collaborate with international partners, offering its strong ecosystem in research, innovation, and enterprise to advance the field of rehabilitation for the benefit of people worldwide.
He added that rehabilitation is evolving and embracing technological innovations to meet the increasing demand for its services, especially in ageing societies. “Collaboration, innovation, and a focus on the last-mile delivery of care are crucial for ensuring that individuals can live well and maximise their potential through effective rehabilitation,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng said. “Singapore’s commitment to these principles makes it a valuable partner in advancing the frontiers of rehabilitation on a global scale.”
The Vietnamese government has said that digital transformation and green transformation are inevitable global trends. They have a crucial role in enhancing economic growth, labour productivity, competitiveness, production, and business efficiency. They also reduce reliance on fuel sources that cause pollution and minimise carbon footprint.
To discuss digital and green transformation for sustainable development and to foster networking opportunities for businesses to accelerate their green transitions, the Ministry of Science and Technology held a forum in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
Domestic and international scientists, along with representatives from organisations and technology companies, deliberated on strategies to speed up green and digital transformations. They underscored the importance of advancing technological innovation and implementing reforms in human resource management, training, and quality enhancement to create new products and processes. This, in turn, will boost business value, aid in the delivery of better goods and services to society, and expedite Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation processes.
Participants suggested the establishment of a support mechanism for industries implementing green and digital transformation solutions in Vietnamese businesses. They also stressed that it is necessary to promote Horizon Europe’s international cooperation programme on joint research and innovation for Vietnam and have comprehensive digital transformation solutions for businesses.
During the forum, Quang Ninh province representatives, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), businesses, and organisations exchanged memoranda of understanding regarding collaboration in the domains of digital transformation and green transformation.
Vietnam has been introducing emerging technologies in the agricultural sector to promote sustainable growth. Earlier this year, the government announced plans to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) for the optimisation of farming practices, including weather prediction, monitoring of plant and livestock health, and enhancing product quality.
AI can improve crop productivity and help control pests, diseases, and cultivation conditions. It can improve the performance of farming-related tasks across food supply chains. Advancements in the manufacturing of AI-controlled robots are assisting farmers worldwide in utilising less land and labour while simultaneously boosting production output.
Vietnam’s commitment to technological advancements in agriculture extends beyond AI, as highlighted by the government’s plans to harness biotechnology. In September, the Politburo issued a resolution under which Vietnam aims to be among the top ten Asian countries in biotechnology production and services by 2030.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the biotechnology sector is on the verge of becoming a significant economic and technological industry, with an expected 50% rise in the number of companies in terms of investment size and growth rate. Additionally, it is projected that half of the imported biotechnology products will be substituted by domestic production. This sector is anticipated to make a 7% contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Vietnam aims to establish a thriving biotechnology sector by 2045, positioning itself as a prominent centre for smart production, services, biotechnology startups, and innovation in Asia. This sector is expected to contribute 10% to 15% to the GDP by that year.
As a result of its tropical climate and its economic shift away from agriculture, biotechnology plays a vital role in Vietnam’s industrialisation and modernisation efforts. It contributes significantly to ensuring food security, facilitating economic restructuring, and promoting sustainable development. Furthermore, in environmental conservation, biotechnology has brought forth numerous solutions. These include the breakdown of inorganic and organic pollutants, waste treatment, industrial waste processing, and the use of microorganisms to address oil spills and incidents of oil contamination.
Vietnam can focus on developing various aspects within the biotechnology sector, such as agricultural advancements in crop and animal breeding, manufacturing veterinary drugs, developing vaccines, and creating bio-fertilizers.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has inaugurated several digital projects for the Defence Accounts Department (DAD) as part of its 276th Annual Day celebrations. The initiatives include:
The Summary of Accounts, Budget, and Expenditure for Raksha Mantralaya (the Ministry of Defence) tool aims to provide a more accurate and objective view of defence financial information like payment, accounting, and budgeting in India.
This analytics tool integrates, compiles, sanitises, and standardises financial data from various applications, data sources, and databases. It then offers a real-time, comprehensive platform with dashboard features, allowing users to visualise trends, display metrics, present graphs illustrating key performance indicators, and generate reports, among other functionalities.
SARANSH will function as a complete dashboard for higher management, offering a quick overview of all defence expenditures. It enables centralised monitoring and encourages data-driven decision-making for all defence organisations.
The Bill Information and Work Analysis System will function as a dashboard for various Principal Controllers of Defence Accounts (PCsDA)/ Controllers of Defence Accounts (CsDA), providing different infographics to monitor and analyse the whole process flow of bill management. It will also generate reports on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It provides real-time detailed analyses of bill processing, with interactive visualisations of granular data flowing through the various office automation systems within a controller office.
E-Raksha Awaas is a centralised and comprehensive software package designed to enhance and streamline the process of generating rent and related charges for rentable buildings within Defence Services. It also facilitates the prompt remission of these charges to government accounts. This package acts as a unified online platform for all stakeholders engaged in the generation, recovery, and remission of rent and allied charges.
Minister Singh described the DAD as the guardian of defence finance and commended its efforts to strengthen the country’s defence capabilities through transparent and efficient systems, praising its prudent resource management and output optimisation.
He suggested ways to improve the department’s efficiency such as encouraging DAD officials to enhance their professional skills to address the challenges posed by “constantly evolving times”. He urged them to partner with organisations like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to create and implement customised training modules, as per requirements.
Providing financial advice is one of the DAD’s most crucial responsibilities, the Minister noted. The DAD should consider two key aspects when offering financial advice: a realistic assessment of the demands of the user agency and a thorough understanding of the product’s market.
He explained that it is important to evaluate whether there is a need to purchase a product and whether a similar product of equal or greater effectiveness is available in the market at a lower cost. This understanding will enhance the quality of financial advice.
Furthermore, to foster such an understanding, Singh suggested establishing an in-house mechanism—a standing committee of experienced individuals who can research and analyse market forces and offer valuable insights to field officers. “Big banks and financial institutions develop in-house economic intelligence and research teams. On similar lines, the DAD needs to develop an in-house team for market research and intelligence,” he stated.
It is also vital to strengthen the internal vigilance mechanism to detect and review suspicious activity. This will not only expedite addressing issues but also enhance public trust in the department, the Minister said.
Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have created a sonobiopsy method to diagnose brain disease. The Sonobiopsy method employs ultrasound and microbubbles to momentarily breach the barrier, enabling brain RNA, DNA, and proteins to enter the bloodstream for analysis. While this technique was initially tested on animals, a recent study demonstrates its safety and viability for human use. This innovation may pave the way for non-invasive brain disease and tumour diagnostics.
Eric Leuthardt, MD, co-senior author and co-inventor of the technology, stated that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) drastically transformed brain disease diagnosis in the 1980s and ’90s, offering structural and functional brain imaging capabilities.
Leuthardt, the Shi Hui Huang Professor of Neurosurgery and a professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering referred to sonobiopsy as the third revolution, emphasising its molecular aspect. This innovative technique allows blood sample collection reflecting gene expression and molecular characteristics at the brain lesion site, essentially performing a brain biopsy without the associated risks of surgery.
Eric Leuthardt and Hong Chen, PhD, Associate Professors of Biomedical Engineering at McKelvey Engineering and Neurosurgery at the School of Medicine, developed the groundbreaking technique, focusing on multidisciplinary research to create engineered solutions for neurological diseases.
The technique employs focused ultrasound to target a brain lesion at a millimetre scale. Subsequently, microbubbles are injected into the bloodstream, travelling to the designated area and bursting, creating minuscule, temporary openings in the blood-brain barrier. These openings naturally close within a few hours, causing no lasting harm. Within this time frame, brain lesion biomolecules can exit the bloodstream, facilitating their collection through a standard blood draw.
Hong Chen, another Senior Co-author and co-inventor of the technology described this innovation as initiating a new field for brain-related conditions. It offers the capability to noninvasively and nondestructively access all brain regions, enabling the retrieval of genetic information about tumours before surgical procedures.
This information aids neurosurgeons in determining the best approach to surgery, helping confirm the nature of suspicious findings on imaging. Furthermore, it paves the way for studying diseases that typically don’t undergo surgical biopsies, including neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative, and psychiatric disorders.
Initially, the researchers utilised a commercially available ultrasound device combined with an MRI scanner, a setup limited by cost and MRI availability. To streamline the procedure, Hong Chen’s team designed a portable, handheld ultrasound probe that could be attached to a stereotactic pointer commonly used by neurosurgeons for pinpointing brain lesions. This device was seamlessly integrated into the clinical workflow, requiring no additional training for neurosurgeons.
Eric Leuthardt emphasised the user-friendliness of this device, stating that it was efficiently utilised during the study in the operating room but could also be employed in a clinic or at a patient’s bedside in a hospital. He noted that this approach was a significant step toward making advanced diagnostics more accessible, enabling the examination of patients’ brains without needing a high-tech, multimillion-dollar scanner.
In their research, the team conducted sonobiopsies on five individuals with brain tumours using this device. Subsequently, the tumours were removed surgically following the standard care protocol.
The analysis of blood samples collected before and after sonication revealed that the technique increased circulating tumour DNA, ranging from 1.6-fold to 5.6-fold, depending on the specific type of DNA examined.
Circulating tumour DNA holds crucial information about genetic alterations in a patient’s tumour, which guides treatment decisions regarding the tumour’s aggressiveness. Notably, the procedure showed no signs of causing damage to brain tissue, affirming its safety.
A collaboration in science and technology has emerged as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation of Thailand (MHESI) joined forces with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the People’s Republic of China. The two nations came together to review the progress of ongoing collaborative projects and chart a course for future technological innovations.
The meeting was attended by figures in the field of science and technology, including Prof Dr Sirirurg Songsivilai, Permanent Secretary of MHESI, and Mr Zhang Guang Jun, Deputy Minister of MOST. Notably, Executive Vice President Dr Uracha Ruktanonchai represented the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), underlining the significance of the collaboration.
One of the projects under this collaborative effort is centred around rail technology. It combines the expertise of the Rail and Modern Transport Research Centre of NSTDA, the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR), and the China Railway Company. Their goal is to establish the China-Thailand Belt and Road Joint Laboratory on Rail Transit.
Public transportation is vital to modern urban life, shaping how people move within cities, reducing traffic congestion, and minimising the environmental footprint. As Thailand and China embark on collaborative endeavours in rail technology, they contribute to enhancing public transportation systems, which stand as a cornerstone of sustainable mobility.
This laboratory will be a hub for cutting-edge research and testing on rail transit systems. With Thailand’s high-speed train project on the horizon, this laboratory is poised to play a crucial role in ensuring its successful implementation.
The Thailand-China Technology Transfer Centre (TCTTC), a collaborative initiative led by NSTDA, represents another milestone in this partnership. TCTTC has fostered collaboration by facilitating researcher exchanges, supporting training programmes, and enabling business matching between Thai and Chinese enterprises. These initiatives have yielded positive outcomes for both nations.
As the collaboration looks ahead to 2024, TCTTC has set its sights on ramping up technology transfer activities in several key areas. Notably, the focus will be on digital technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and technologies. These forward-looking endeavours are driven by a shared commitment to addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leveraging innovation for sustainable growth and development.
The plans for 2024 reflect the landscape of technology and innovation. They also underscore Thailand and China’s shared commitment to harness innovation’s power for sustainable growth and development. As technology continues to reshape the global landscape, these collaborative efforts are set to make significant contributions across various sectors. Together, these two nations aim to create a powerful technological synergy that promises a brighter and more connected future on the global stage.
This recent meeting between MHESI and MOST marks a promising partnership at the intersection of science, technology, and innovation. With ongoing endeavours in rail technology and technology transfer, as well as forward-looking plans for digital technology and AI in 2024, the collaboration is poised to make significant contributions to the advancement of both Thailand and China. As these two nations combine their strengths, they stand to create a technological synergy that promises sustainable development and a brighter future on the global stage.
In an exciting collaboration between LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the future of electric vehicle (EV) design is undergoing a remarkable transformation. This pioneering effort, a testament to engineering excellence and design innovation, has birthed an avant-garde electric vehicle prototype that is making waves at LASALLE College of the Arts as part of Singapore Design Week.
Led by Nathan Yong, Programme Leader of BA (Hons) Product Design at LASALLE and a recipient of the President’s Design Award, three students from LASALLE, namely Choong Yu Haun, Namjot Kaur, and Joel Yong, joined forces with SUTD’s Electric Vehicle Club (EV Club) to embark on a journey that reimagines the art of electric vehicle design.
At the heart of this transformative project lies the innovative use of 3D printing technology, a disruptive force that is reshaping the automotive landscape. Drawing inspiration from the intricate and efficient forms found in nature, particularly in insects, the collaborative team has pushed the boundaries of design to create a body shell that epitomises speed, agility and a new benchmark for future electric vehicles.
In doing so, they have also made substantial strides towards sustainable transportation design, underscoring their commitment to environmental stewardship and technological advancement.
The result of this remarkable collaboration is the TITHONUS design, crafted by LASALLE students and based on the open-top tandem two-seater electric sports car initially designed and built by SUTD students.
This lightweight chassis houses a quad-motor electric powertrain capable of short 2-second bursts of up to 1,000Nm of torque. With double-wishbone suspension all around and 18-inch wheels regulated by disc brakes, TITHONUS is a testament to the fusion of creativity, engineering acumen, and digitalisation in the pursuit of a sustainable and thrilling automotive future.
LASALLE receives tuition grant support from Singapore’s Ministry of Education and is a founding member of the University of the Arts Singapore. Besides, the partnership between LASALLE and SUTD has not only pushed the boundaries of electric vehicle design but also showcased the transformative power of 3D printing technology and digitalisation in the realm of transportation.
Singapore’s commitment to sustainable mobility is evident in its ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of climate change. The government’s “Green Plan 2030” outlines a clear roadmap for transforming the country’s transportation sector. At the forefront of this transformation are electric vehicles, which are seen as a pivotal solution to reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation industry.
Digitalisation is the driving force behind Singapore’s electric vehicle revolution. The integration of digital technologies into every facet of the EV ecosystem is unlocking new possibilities and reshaping the way we perceive and use electric vehicles.
Also, central to the success of EVs is a robust charging infrastructure. Digitalisation has enabled the development of a smart charging network across Singapore. EV owners can easily locate charging stations through mobile apps, check availability in real time, and even make reservations. Additionally, predictive analytics help optimise the placement of charging stations based on usage patterns, ensuring convenience for users.
Digitalisation has transformed the way EVs are managed and maintained as advanced telematics systems allow for remote diagnostics, real-time monitoring of vehicle health, and over-the-air software updates. This not only enhances the overall reliability of EVs but also minimises downtime and reduces maintenance costs.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is devising incentives to support the implementation of 5G telecommunications network technology in Indonesia. This step is taken as part of a strategy to optimise the 5G network to enhance internet speed significantly.
Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Budi Arie Setiadi has revealed that the government’s efforts are geared towards encouraging investment in this sector. One specific measure is to incentivise telecommunications operators to encourage them to make large-scale investments. With these incentives in place, operators can avoid making a substantial upfront payment, which can reduce their investment costs.
Budi Arie Setiadi also expressed his belief that internet speed in Indonesia will continue to increase in line with the advancement of digital technology. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is committed to making Indonesia one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of internet speed by implementing a robust 5G network. Therefore, the government will continue to focus on developing the digital infrastructure to support this goal.
In addition, Budi Arie Setiadi emphasised the importance of establishing a strong digital infrastructure. He explained that includes the development of a reliable and extensive 5G network, which will help meet the needs of the public and industries as they navigate the ever-evolving digital era.
“5G in the future will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping not just the telecommunications landscape but also the broader digital ecosystem,” Budi Arie Setiadi elaborated. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and reliant on high-speed data transmission, Indonesia is positioning itself strategically to harness the potential of 5G technology for its growth and development.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has embarked on a mission to position Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, among the top 10 nations globally regarding 5G network deployment.
“When we discuss speed, it’s a measure relative to other nations, but what truly matters is our global ranking. We employ this benchmark because the world’s pace of internet adoption is not slowing down. Even if our target is to achieve 100 Mbps, if we observe that the global rankings are on the ascent, we remain steadfast in our pursuit,” he expressed.
Furthermore, he also underscored that the government is committed to assessing and crafting strategic initiatives to deliver improved-speed 5G network services. He emphasised that they are poised to collaborate closely with various mobile operators and industry ecosystems to formulate the most effective strategies.
In pursuing high-quality internet network services, the government also remains acutely attuned to the evolving dynamics within the domestic industry.
Budi Arie further highlighted the significance of fostering an industrial ecosystem that enhances quality sustainably and competitively. He said that it is paramount as it will ensure the industry sustains its health and engages in fair competition.
Commercial 5G services are already operational in 49 cities across Indonesia. Furthermore, the development of 5G networks is actively progressing in five super-priority tourist destinations and is being showcased at various international events.
The Minister’s emphasis on global ranking highlights Indonesia’s determination to benchmark itself against international standards. It acknowledges that the digital landscape is dynamic and constantly evolving, and being among the top performers globally clearly indicates staying relevant in the digital age.