This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.
COVID-19 has advanced digital transition by years and has foundationally altered the way both the public and private sector across the world deliver services, products and programmes. Government agencies and institutions have fast-tracked digitisation of internal operations and delivery of citizen services. Businesses made temporary solutions, that are morphing into more permanent ones, to meet changing and new demands – far more quickly than was thought possible before the crisis.
Yet, to stay relevant, competitive and, indeed, survive, in this new business and economic environment, requires adopting new technologies, formulating evolving strategies and deploying best practices. In this increasingly VUCA world, governments and businesses across the globe are looking to ramp up their digital transformation to better citizens and clients in the post-COVID-19 era. This was the focal point of the discussion during the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 1 that brought the key decision-makers and influencers together for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most.
Convening the brightest digital minds for a strategic level discussion on the issues that matter the most, the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum offered a unique way of tackling challenges in its virtual edition. Intentionally planned, every activity and facet of the event was designed to let delegates garner exclusive insights from the digital leaders as well as demonstrate their thought-leadership.
As always, the forum provided intimate interaction between key ICT leaders from the Public Sector and the Financial Services Industry who influence and determine digital strategies across agencies and organisations.
Apart from informative presentations from renowned speakers, this year’s Forum continued its award-winning OpenGov Gamification Table (OGT) format in the new OpenGov Gamification Virtual Rooms (OGVRs). Every OpenGov Gamification Virtual Room was a virtual heuristic exercise allowing delegates to learn from varying decision-making scenarios just as they would in the physical world.
Digital transformation in the new normal
To kickstart the session, Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia delivered his opening remarks.
As early as 2018, there was consensus on the benefits of remote working and discussion on how to bring this about effectively and securely – but it did not happen in any significant way. Then, at the end of 2019 came a crisis so debilitating that it forced the world to come to a grinding halt almost overnight. Hit by COVID-19, the virus respected no borders, industries or community – devastating all with equal ferocity.
The public and the private sectors worked independently and together to fight the pandemic, coming up with a slew of ad-hoc solutions. Digital initiatives and tech platforms were launched left and right. The demand on the public sector shot up dramatically as citizens, forced to stay at home, looked to the government for necessities to survive. Compounding the situation was the need to urgently manage the sick, the vulnerable and the inaccessible population.
In the early stages, people were excited at the opportunity to work from home, a shift that had been in the offing for a while. Interestingly though, the step was considered a “pivot” – with the connotation of reaction rather than strategic. People and organisations were said to be “pivoting” to manage and mitigate the issues the pandemic brought.
Beyond a doubt, both sectors did their jobs in terms of providing relevant programmes and initiatives throughout the age of COVID-19. But the question remains, were those initiatives innovative and intentional? Was enough done with the available tech? Additionally, as the initial euphoria of remote working wears thin, people, once happy about the shift, realise that the new normal disrupts their work-life balance and their well-being.
The good brings with it the bad, the unsafe and the difficult. Deployment, in normal circumstances, of technology like AI, Cloud and Data Analytics are accompanied by cybersecurity challenges. In the pandemic where almost everything has moved online, cybercrime has mushroomed astronomically.
Knowing this, Mohit challenged the delegates, if you put digital transformation at the heart of your plan, is everything going to be magically in place? Or do we need to take technologies more seriously?
Organisations and institutions must find the right balance in their digital transformation journey using technology. They must also find leadership to achieve the ultimate end goal of a complete digital transformation in the new normal.
In closing, Mohit emphasised the need for agencies and organisations to find the right partner in this digital journey. Not just from the tech sector, but also the government, banking and FSI, to ensure that everyone is on the right path to an ideal digital transformation.
Public services at the centre of digital transformation in the post-COVID-19 era
After Mohit’s opening remarks, the forum heard from Azih Bin Yusof, Deputy Director-General, Information and Communication Technology, Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit.
Confirmed by the World Health Organisation on January 12, 2020, Azih acknowledged that the pandemic took the world by storm. In Malaysia, the government enforced a Movement Control Order that started on March 18, 2020, to break the chain of COVID-19. As of February 28, 2021, the nation reported two waves of COVID-19, with the first wave being successfully suppressed in less than 2 months.
Right from the start, as would be expected, there was increased demand for services and rising expectations of virtual services. As remote working became a necessity, there was an urgent need to test the resilience of working virtually and the need to protect data. Additionally, other disrupted sectors were looking to the government to provide adaptive and dynamic regulatory models.
Making the best of the situation, the Malaysian government took the crisis as an opportunities to move towards digital technology to enable government service in the future, fundamentally reshaping the government’s workforce and reinventing the future of regulations.
Azih shared the various initiatives taken by his government to combat the effects of the pandemic. MySejahtera is an application to assist in monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. It allows users to assess their health risk against COVID-19 and provides the Ministry of Health with the necessary information to plan for early and effective countermeasures and registering for vaccination. The government also launched a National Data Analysis Centre (DOSM) and the Public Sector Data Sharing Policy.
The government has been strong on adopting emerging technologies such as Facial Recognition tech, AI and Automation, a National Digital ID system and big data analytics to improve efficiency and productivity. They improved the government service delivery system through increased digitisation of services.
Malaysia is also focused on digital infrastructure, including their Hybrid Cloud collaboration between private cloud and public cloud systems. The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) services cover Infrastructure as A Service (IAAS), Platform as A Service (PaaS), and Software as A Service (SaaS). MAMPU also implemented a Cloud-First Policy where the value of cloud computing is magnified by requiring agencies to evaluate safe, secure, cloud computing options before making any new investments.
Malaysia aspires to compete and succeed in this new world by ensuring ‘Kemakmuran Bersama’ (Shared Prosperity). The nation firmly believes that digital government plays a critical role in the new normal and should focus on its digital leadership, data, services, infrastructure, and innovation. To this end, it has empowered MAMPU as the sole agency to drive the public sector digital transformation agenda.
Azih conceded that a viable digital government must provide platforms for small scale innovations, improve existing business process, new solutions, develop talent and disperse capabilities. It must have a vision for the future that defines the leadership and collaboration needed between all stakeholders.
COVID-19 impacts on Data Collection, Digitisation and Analytics
After the informative presentation from Azih, the forum moved to a presentation from J.R Helmig, Innovation Lead Global Security Intelligence SAS Institute on how the pandemic affected data collection, digitisation, and analytics.
J.R started by confirming that people, processes, tech, and data make up the ecosystem of data analytics. Analytical foundations, practical outcomes and future-focussed mindsets must take the helm in an effective ecosystem. While not all analytical opportunities apply to all locations, organisations or agencies every time, they are critical to success overall.
COVID-19 accelerated the need for a viable ecosystem of data analytics – not only in terms of healthcare, workforce, and public services but also to combat the rise of online fraud and cybercrimes. Data standardisation and modernisation with proper training would be key to combat these crimes in addition to automating investigative responses.
It was pertinent to note, pre-COVID problems still exist in current analytical efforts. Challenges such as the high volume of incoming data, low quality of incoming report data, a wide variety of data sources being manually integrated, inefficient ways to investigate and handle suspicious cases, limited resources with increasing pressure to perform more efficiently and effectively, manual checks of technical matches to identify the right business match, limited analytics capabilities to identify and analyse networks and relationships and so on.
Organisations must go from being reactive to being observant of what is happening to shape future outcomes. J.R and his team help create an analytical pathway that helps organisations identify their analytical baseline. This analytic continuum acts as the knowledge hub or library for organisations. This greatly reduces tech implementation risks as well as costs.
J.R suggested that organisations should adopt a case management system. An effective case management system must generate solutions whether be it automatically or manually. It must also be populated with any of the data available in the solution that is needed to successfully the desired result.
J.R encouraged everyone to predict and plan their new normal. They should be proactive with ongoing issues such as facial recognition efforts, fake personal protective equipment, news to manipulate stock prices, threats to military readiness or asymmetrical national security threats, just to name a few. Every organisation must anticipate criminality during COVID – both near term and long term – for both direct and indirect impacts, document and improve business processes during the recovery period, and plan for ongoing change – in business operations and consumer behaviour.
What makes Digital Transformation Successful and Sustainable
Moving on from the informative presentation of J.R Helmig, the delegates had an opportunity to hear from Dr Dzaharudin Mansor, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Malaysia.
AI and Automation kick-started during the 4th industrial revolution, and digital transformation is right at the centre of that change, was his opening premise. In today’s day and age, the competition between tech companies and organisations have changed because various transformative technologies are now democratised. Smartphones, drones, sensors, 3D printers, industrial robotics, solar-powered systems, mixed realities, and DNA sequencing are all made available to each user given by different companies, regardless of their structure.
With the increased adoption of these technologies, there are socio-economic trends that drive the need for digital government. The increase in expectations of digital culture is such that everyone expects the ability to interact and receive services in a fully digital operating model.
Cultural migration and urbanisation, where personal mobility creates multi-cultural urban centres, require new models to communicate and serve diverse populations. Citizen trust in government s fundamental – if citizens perceive a lack of digital maturity as an issue of competence it generates distrust in government.
Local and regional economies failing to effectively maintain public systems and infrastructure, create hurdles in attracting businesses and residents. Knowing all these factors, governments need to embrace digital transformation to stay relevant. To be efficient and effective in today’s complex, interlinked and fast-changing environment, governments need to redesign their structures and processes to capitalise on a new set of actors and tools.
Dr Mansor mentioned six tech trends that can enable an open digital government.
- Cloud provides an agile, flexible platform with unlimited scale for innovating quickly, maintaining compliance, and adapting to the latest security threats.
- Open data and advanced analytics paves way for new capabilities for analytics allowing significant improvements in decision making, performance analysis, policy development and financial management.
- AI maturity presents the capability to deliver and govern new models for community living, ranging from transportation optimisation to environmental stewardship.
- Service architecture with new design models allows rapid improvement of services by creating small applications that leverage an integrated data platform (moving away from silos).
- Cybersecurity implies governments can be trusted with public data.
- Mobility, where hardware tools and software platforms support the ability for many jobs to be performed in remote locations and with virtual communications.
Governments can adapt and become more resilient in the new normal by thinking in three basic phases. The first is to respond and navigate the flow of events. Adapt and respond to immediate challenges in real-time, enable remote work, maintain productivity and business continuity. The second is to recover and plan the comeback. Return business to scale quickly, adapt products, services, and business models, focus on value and cost reduction, restart customer demand. The third is to reimagine and shape the new normal. Reimagine and position people, processes, and technology for growth and new opportunities to build resilience post-COVID-19.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Taking over, Peter Buckmaster, Director of Digital Experience Design Department of Education New South Wales discussed how Artificial Intelligence has now a part of normal life and specifically education – where traditional methods are changing drastically.
Peter started by saying that AI began in classical philosophy to describe human thinking in a symbolic system. In Jungian psychology, symbols, (and is by interpreting these), symbols were a primary method for making sense of the world. They represented meaning, information and actions. In technology, AI is a machines’ ability to simulate natural intelligence (NI).
AI changing the way we interact and AI changing the way education is delivered. The evolution of AI and Automation has influenced the education sector in many ways. Cognitive Intelligence now plays multiple roles in the sector including grade assessments, improving personalised learning, facilitating connected analytics and programming.
Peter agreed that the academic world is becoming more convenient and personalised thanks to the numerous applications of AI for education and as educational material becomes accessible to all through different technologies.
The usage of bots and automation in the education sector has become widespread while AI and automation are being increasingly used in transcription. AI automates administrative duties, minimising the need for staff to complete mundane, repetitive tasks thus freeing educators to spend more quality time with students.
Customers, (citizens, customers or students), in the new normal expect to engage with service providers 24/7. Digital transformation is the way to be always on and its efficiency is moving us past simple automation to RF and cognitive intelligence. It changes the way education is developed and redefines the way we teach.
Increasing Your Agility with Multi-Cloud Flexibility
After Peter Buckmaster, the delegates were given a presentation from Ryan Tassotti, Enterprise Architect and Principal Engineer, Dell Technologies on how organisations can increase their agility by utilising multi-cloud systems.
Ryan defines the cloud as an on-demand self-service that has broad network access, resource pooling capability, rapid elasticity and can measure services. The cloud has four deployment models – private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The Top 3 objectives driving cloud spending for Asia Pacific’s customers are New technology, Digital Transformation and Cloud-First Strategy.
As an example of Cloud-first policies, Ryan pointed to Malaysia’s MyDigital blueprint. This framework accelerated innovation in the country, allowed eCommerce imperatives for micro and SMEs and promoted better experiences for its citizens.
The fact is, Ryan noted, that the pandemic ushered the world into a new era. The new normal brings new demands and the cloud is set to provide solutions to these new necessities. The world has made a paradigm shift and digital transformation must accelerate with it. Close to three-quarters (74%) of all organisations are investing in on-demand digital services, two-thirds ( 65%) of global GDP will be from digital by 2022 and on-demand models by 2023 will be 15%, up from less than 1% in 2019.
A recent survey of 900 IT leaders across verticals and regions found that 96% of organisations have an executive mandate to leverage cloud technologies. While 89% plan to deploy private cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months, 76% of organisations will leverage multiple clouds environments over the next two years.
Utilising a multi-cloud strategy caters to different workloads. Some organisations value performance, some prioritise data services, while some look at costs and data sovereignty. While hybrid-cloud seems to be the way forward, a hybrid-cloud platform must bring stability. It must stabilise workloads, apps, and data spread across multiple clouds – all in all, a consistent cloud experience for everything.
Ryan advised organisations to find partners in cloud adoption. “There are experts who can help you migrate without pain – why do it alone?”
Cloud adopters must ensure that the platform is consistent throughout. They must avoid hiccups throughout an application’s lifecycle with platforms that extend seamlessly, End-users do not want to be surprised by a new management interface so they must be informed.
Ryan and his team in Dell Technologies promote consistency. They facilitate consulting services, deployment services that accelerate technology adoption, managed services realising digital transformation value for client systems, storage, backup, and converged infrastructure, and education services that develop and retain valuable IT talent through continuous learning.
Ryan is firmly convinced that the future is hybrid, the future is multi-cloud and the Malaysia MyDigital blueprint embraces these advancements.
Cloud Computing for Service Innovation
Ryan Tassotti’s presentation was followed by one from Prof Eric Tsui, Professor and Co-Chair on Deployment of E-Learning, Hong Kong Polytechnic University who discussed how organisations must use the cloud for service innovation.
Using the cloud to manage data is no longer an option, it has become imperative for organisations today. This is more so for the public sector that is striving to stay agile and ensure seamless service delivery to the citizens while continuing to innovating concurrently.
Prof Eric felt that the cloud was the perfect knowledge storm; meaning, data growth from IoT and social media, application and tools in the cloud are growing as time goes by. However, software and hardware alone are not enough to create a successful cloud system. Organisations must know that the people accessing services via the cloud are as important as the tech itself. A trusted network of people and computational resources must be integrated to mix to make the cloud the best digital business model available.
Pertinently, there are different types of cloud connections. First is the machine-to-machine, where hardware is king; second is people-to-machine, where people are utilising services; and lastly is the people-to-people connection where users create their networks using the cloud.
Eric reiterated that The Knowledge Cloud is more than just hardware and software. It encompasses people that invest their trust in the technology and involves the storage of data vital to organisations conducting their digital transformation. People build communities for problem-solving, utilising social media for marketing, exploring, and building new business models, executing strategies at low risk and in real-time, and delivering personalised services.
In light of this, organisations must think outside the box. Cloud technology is disruptive. Adopters must perceive the cloud as a massively scalable backend resource with low upfront costs. They must perceive the cloud as an intelligent knowledge centre with massive data and problem-solving skills such as processors and human integration needs, that has a dynamic computational power.
Eric stressed the key concepts in service innovation – the co-creation of value, dynamic capabilities, enabling vs disruptive, open business models and customer experience. Cloud technology is the perfect digital adjustment to these key concepts.
Organisations use the cloud for cost reduction and data integration, innovation and transforming new segments using the knowledge cloud. But there must be a collaborative effort to achieve higher rewards from the tech. The integration of humans to solve complex problems using the cloud, letting the computer do the problem solving that it is capable to do, and the integration between humans and computers to create solutions.
Eric concluded his presentation by sharing various cloud service providers that organisations could partner with on their journey in cloud adoption and digital transformation in the new normal.
Embracing Big Data and Analytics Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
Brett Aimers, Adjunct Associate Professor, James Cook University Australia followed Eric with a presentation about Big Data and Analytics, exploring how to embrace big data and analytics today for a more resilient tomorrow.
Setting the tone for his session, Brett said major disasters would occur more frequently as time goes by. While COVID-19 has, undoubtedly, been the most disruptive global event since World War II, climate and weather patterns are changing adversely. Therefore, thinking about a resilient society is simply not enough.
In 2019, 396 natural disasters occurred across the globe. Costing more than US$ 146 billion, over 12,000 people lost their lives in these disasters. In a more regional context, Asia experienced 40% of natural disasters and 45% of all attributed deaths in the same year.
With data and information on hand, organisations must utilise big data and analytics more effectively to predict critical events and their impact; and must share this information. Big data, analytics and information sharing are key to survival and economic recovery.
Major disasters lead to major disruptions, loss of life, a sense of helplessness and lack of trust. Big Data and Analytics can create countermeasures to help mitigate these – early detection, advanced warning, maps and layers, decision making and effective communication – creating confidence within the community.
Decision-makers get relevant and timely insights about possible disasters, enabling early decision making that can protect critical assets, (including relocation of their resources) contribute to impact assessment and support economic recovery.
Brett urged the public and private sectors to acknowledge the significant drivers for change. The first is that research indicates that two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050. Another is that spending on disaster recovery is nine times higher than spending on prevention…literally, a stitch in time saves nine.
Brett concluded his presentation on a positive note. While COVID-19 may have an end date, climate change and natural disasters – of the scale critical events are inevitable. But big data, analytics and efficient information sharing can save lives and promote economic recovery.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series covering the Malaysia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition. Read Part 2 here.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IIT-Madras) have developed ‘BlockTrack’, a blockchain-based secure medical data and information exchange system for a mobile phone-based application. The application, which is the first of its kind, is currently being field-tested at the institute’s hospital.
BlockTrack aims to securely digitise healthcare information systems while ensuring the protection of sensitive personal information and medical records. It does this by decentralising the control and ownership of patient data, through a blockchain-based innovation. The BlockTrack innovation is now protected through a provisional IP filed with the Indian Patent Office, according to a news report.
The Android version has been developed separately for patients and doctors. It opens up universal and transferable healthcare information management and emphasises data privacy and tracking the spread of infectious diseases across geographies.
The report added that it allows the interoperability of systems from multiple hospitals, institutes, and healthcare organisations. The patient can choose to visit any healthcare facility on BlockTrack’s blockchain network without any concerns about duplication of records or re-registrations.
BlockTrack is developed by a team led by Prabhu Rajagopal, the Lead Faculty for Remote Diagnostics at the Centre for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE), under the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras. This is one of the first implementations of blockchain technology for securing healthcare data management systems. The approach is expected to make an impact in securely digitising and maintaining unique patient records across the country and eventually across the world.
K Vijay Raghavan, the government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, said that the objectives of the National Digital Health Mission launched last year was the secure processing of individual data and easy accessibility of digitalised personal and medical records by individuals and health service providers. The effective implementation of these objectives will require leveraging emerging technologies, and BlockTrack is a step in the right direction.
Recently, Raghavan launched the Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System (MANAS) mobile application to promote health and wellbeing in the country. MANAS was endorsed as a national programme by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
As OpenGov Asia reported, MANAS is a comprehensive, scalable, and national digital wellbeing platform designed to augment the mental well-being of Indian citizens. The app integrates the health and wellness efforts of various government ministries. Also, scientifically validated indigenous tools with gamified interfaces were developed and researched by several national bodies and research institutions. Though the app is still to undergo field trials and is not available for public use as yet, it will be a platform catering to the overall wellness of people of all age groups and genders.
The application supports teleconsultation, especially for mental health-related problems. It is capable of health tracking and data records will be maintained, which will help users for future consultations. According to the scientist that conceptualised and led the execution of the mission, MANAS intends to build a healthier, happier, and more self-reliant community. MANAS is based on augmenting life skills and core psychological processes and is universally accessible. It delivers age-appropriate methods and promotes positive attitudes that focus on wellness. The initial version of MANAS targets promoting positive mental health in citizens aged 15-35 years.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), issued the Microelectronics in Support of Artificial Intelligence (MicroE4AI) Seedling Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).
Technology solutions for advanced computing in support of artificial intelligence will require long-term advancements in microelectronics, which will result from fostering unified and multidisciplinary research and development approaches. The goal is to advance groundbreaking technologies that will help the Intelligence Community (IC) and the country deliver on the promise of AI.
The BAA solicits proposals for developing faster, more energy-efficient, and more resilient computing tools that are of importance to the future of the national security of the United States and its leadership in artificial intelligence. The solicitation focuses on advanced engineering and applied research efforts into novel computing models, materials, architectures, and algorithms to enable the advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are interested in research and development efforts that promote advances in microelectronic devices and circuits, and the chemistry and physics of new materials, which are aimed at overcoming challenges concerning the physical limits on transistors, electrical interconnects, and memory elements.
IARPA anticipates granting multiple seeding awards to explore and develop novel technology solutions. They invest in high-risk, high-payoff research programmes to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the IC. The agency collaborates across the IC to ensure that their research addresses relevant future needs.
This cross-community focus ensures our ability to address cross-agency challenges, leverage both operational and R&D expertise from across the IC, and coordinate transition strategies with their agency partners. It brings the best minds in the field to bear on their research by sponsoring a full and open competition to the greatest extent possible. A research programme gets started when both a powerful research idea and an exceptional person to manage the programme are available.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. has developed and leverage AI to achieve several results. A research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) develops an online tool called CitizenHelper. This tool can sort through millions of tweets to identify behaviours that could assist emergency agencies and give them an understanding of the population’s attitudes. The tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to filter the posts and then determine the relevance and information level of each tweet.
The AI tool helps to scale work that would be difficult for humans to do alone. Humans are good at contextual understanding to filter content but they cannot scale. Machines, on the other hand, are good at scaling, but they do not deeply understand the context very well. Hence, a human-AI teaming approach is invaluable. The algorithms need humans to help them improve their accuracy. CitizenHelper allows this very seamless interactive mechanism for humans and computers. The humans can provide feedback to the machine on what the machine has predicted.
Looking at social media has a huge benefit as it gives information in real-time. Therefore, it reflects people’s behaviour as opposed to expectations of what people’s behaviours are. The research team continue to work on improving the tool and teach the AI algorithms to be more specific. When a new data point comes in and the algorithm is unsure of what to do with it, a human user can provide feedback. This is a specific type of activity called active learning in the world of machine learning and AI.
The goal is to determine whether this human-AI interaction can make a community more resilient. Volunteers trained to recognise problems can better understand what is happening in the community and what is being done about it. The AI cannot learn what the important information is without being taught by humans. However, humans will always have a role because of the context associated with emergency response and how it varies by place and time.
The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) once again announced that it fully supports the Philippine IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector through its various initiatives to establish a nurturing ecosystem for innovative development.
The DICT’s Digital Cities 2025 Programme aims to develop the potential of the IT-BPM sector as an engine of growth to bridge the progress gap in the countryside and strengthen local economies. Previously termed Next Wave Cities, the Digital Cities 2025 programme aims to strengthen the industry-readiness of new centres by creating and developing ICT hubs in identified locations.
The programme is being implemented in cooperation with the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC).
The IT-BPM posted remarkable employment and revenue growth for 2020 despite the challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The IBPAP reported a growth of 1.8% compared to 2019 and revenue of $26.7 billion in 2020, amounting to a 1.4% increase from 2019.
Additionally, the IT-BPM sector also recorded an increase in the number of full-time employees in the sector by 23,000, bringing the total to 1.32 million employees in 2020.
With the Digital Cities 2025 Programme, the agency invests in the identified cities and provide all the necessary institutional development activities to prepare them for the demands of the global digital economy. The DICT is helping these cities grow into established ICT business hubs outside Metro Manila.
Through a collaborative approach with their partners, local government units (LGUs), regional clusters and ICT councils, the agency aims to develop these areas as focal points for the revitalisation of the country’s economy, and for sustained growth in the long-term, the DICT added.
To intensify these efforts further, as reported by OpenGov Asia, DICT said that the plan is for industry experts to be ambassadors through various interventions to help reinforce the role of the IT-BPM industry in economic growth.
The IT-BPM Ambassadors will be resource speakers in various events and awareness fairs, sharing their professional expertise as part of an industry marketing campaign, assisting in content creation to promote Filipino talent and working alongside the DICT and IBPAP to implement related initiatives.
To be potential ambassadors, persons must be currently holding managerial positions in the IT-BPM industry with at least a 5-year tenure. The role seeks IT-BPM leaders who can effectively build and manage stakeholder relationships. Applicants who had previously worked on countryside operations are preferred.
The IT-BPM sector continues to be a priority for DICT, and it is ready to support and take the lead in making the necessary interventions to ensure that these digital cities achieve their potential. By working together with other executive agencies, LGUs, industry leaders, and academic institutions, which will enable each location to grow into centres of excellence that spur the development of other business sectors, de-risk Metro Manila concentration, create jobs, and boost the local economy. This will involve the strengthening of ICT councils in the region.
The Department continues to provide the 25 Digital Cities for 2025 with the necessary support in four key areas: institutional development, talent attraction, infrastructure development, and marketing and promotion. These interventions aim to help these localities achieve their full potential because of the government’s pursuit for countryside progress and inclusive growth.
Additionally, the digitalcitiesPH portal will provide investors and locators with essential information on cities and municipalities all over the Philippines. It will help assess each location’s potential as a global business centre. The IBPAP said that it recognised locations that have been crucial to the continued and growing relevance of the Philippines as a global investment destination.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, recently urged the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to finalise and submit a national strategy on developing the digital economy and society by August this year. According to a press release, several other countries have already introduced strategies and programmes on digital transformation in a bid to optimise opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
In Vietnam, the digital economy and society have been growing rapidly, supported by the well-developed telecom and IT foundation, high Internet coverage, and a huge number of Internet users. The country is located at the centre of the Southeast Asian region and is poised to be a global hub of digital technology and the digital economy.
However, the country is coping with several limitations, including a favourable legal system for the digital economy, and especially a strategy on digital economy and digital society. The new strategy is expected to set a sound direction for ministries, sectors, and localities to get involved in the field.
In 2020, Vietnam kicked off a national digital transformation programme, under which the country will renovate management and administration activities of the government, production and business activities of enterprises, and the overall way of living and working. It aims to develop a safe, humane, and wide digital environment. The national digital transformation programme has the dual purpose of both developing the digital government and economy and establishing Vietnamese digital businesses with a global capacity.
In a press statement, MIC Minister, Nguyen Manh Hung, said that if Industry 4.0 is considered an institutional revolution, with changes in management and business models, Vietnam has many opportunities. It will be the revolution of new technologies in physics, biology, artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, and 3D printing, which can create landmark changes in the way people live. The Politburo has issued Resolution 52, which defines eight groups of policies for Vietnam to actively participate in the Industrial Revolution 4.0:
- Renewing thinking, unifying awareness, strengthening the Party’s leadership, State management over the Industrial Revolution 4.0
- Perfecting institutions to facilitate the 4th Industrial Revolution and digital transformation
- Developing essential infrastructure, especially digital infrastructure
- Developing the national innovation capacity
- Human resource development
- Developing priority industries and technologies
- International integration
- Promoting digital transformation
Vietnam’s digital economy will likely reach US$52 billion in value by 2025, as OpenGov Asia had reported. With the gross merchandise value (GMV) of its Internet economy accounting for over 5% of the country’s GDP in 2019, Vietnam is emerging as the most digital of all economies in the region.
Last year, the Vietnamese internet economy continued to record double-digit growth, at 16% year-on-year, the highest in Southeast Asia. All sectors except travel continued to grow in 2020, of which transport and food, and online media grew 50% and 18% compared to 2019. Only online travel dropped 28% in terms of GMV but is expected to grow 25% by 2025. This year’s seismic consumer and ecosystem shifts have advanced the Internet sector in unimaginable ways, putting it in a stronger position than ever.
The federal government has announced plans to invest nearly $1.2 billion to augment Australia’s digital capabilities through the Digital Economy Strategy. The funds, allocated as part of this year’s Budget, will seek to better prepare Australia to respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by the rapid digital transformation occurring in every sector.
The nation’s Prime Minister said the strategy will target investment in emerging technologies, building digital skills, encouraging business investment and enhancing digital government service delivery. He noted that every business in Australia is now a digital business, adding that this transformation is not merely a national one that needs to happen — it’s a global one that is happening.
The investment includes $100 million to support improving Australians’ digital skills, including a new pilot program for work-based digital cadetships. In addition, $124.1 million will be allocated to initiatives aimed at building Australia’s AI capabilities. This will include the establishment of a National Artificial Intelligence Centre led by the CSIRO’s data science arm Data 61.
Projects aimed at enhancing government services will include a $200.1 million overhaul of the myGov platform and $301.8 million to enhance the My Health Record digital health system as well as an expansion of the digital identity system.
Other initiatives will include an expansion of the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Service, a Digital Games Tax Offset aimed at helping Australia improve its share of the global game development market and a $50 million investment aimed at enhancing cybersecurity in government, data centres and future telecommunications networks. Australian Information Industry Association CEO Ron Gauci said the investments will be warmly welcomed by the technology sector, but added that some of the commitments do not go far enough.
The Prime Minister said, “We’ve been advocating for significant investment in health, skills, cybersecurity, digital payments and AI. Today’s investment of $124.1 million for AI shows the federal government’s continued commitment to ensuring Australia becomes a leading digital economy.”
“However, in April we demonstrated that to fully fund a National AI Strategy, $250 million was needed. While investment in R&D is important, more needs to be done to ensure that there is a significant investment in the commercialisation of AI here in Australia to deliver jobs and economic growth. Without it, we will continue to fall behind the rest of the world.”
The CEO of an NSW tech firm likewise urged the government to carefully plan the investments to ensure the funds are being spent efficiently. He noted that the government’s upcoming $1.2 billion digital economy fund and accelerate Australia digitally is a step in the right direction, reflecting the importance of digital technologies and tech-driven businesses in keeping the economy going and putting Australia squarely on the global innovation map.
However, the nation needs to see adequate and holistic approaches to every aspect of Australia’s digital economy in order for any of the planned budget to be spent effectively, he said. This is particularly true for the area of cybersecurity — the government will be devoting $50 million to enhancing cybersecurity, and to ensure Australians and Australian businesses truly benefit from every dollar spent, this must lead to nation-wide standards for cybersecurity adoption, appropriate upskilling and training programs, he said.
2020 was a year of transformation and accelerated disruption brought on by the pandemic. A critical lesson people learned was that every business needs to be a digital-enabled one. With this understanding, it is imperative to drive a sense of urgency among organisations towards accepting digital transformation.
During these testing times, empathy played a key role in the leadership style as it was critical to authentic and transparent communications. Ensuring the safety and well-being of the employees and looking out for their mental health became the foremost priority. Engaging teams effectively through frequent check-ins and reviews intermingled with fun engagement that encouraged sociability and bonding was fundamental to sustainability and continuity.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Olivier Croly, Senior Vice President APAC, Barco to discuss how the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a cultural shift in the workforce across sectors and industries.
Barco develops visualisation and collaboration solutions to help companies work together, share insights and wow audiences. In his current role, Olivier is responsible for leading and growing Barco’s APAC portfolio across its three core segments: enterprise, healthcare and entertainment. He leads the company’s commercial strategy and works with his team to deliver great customer outcomes and sales growth. The global development of the education business for Barco is also under his purview.
For Olivier, the pandemic has, in many ways, altered priorities – new offerings are being developed, and new go-to markets being explored, all while ensuring remaining connected with the consumer and listening more intently to what they want. Going forward, the role of a manager/leader should focus on the 3C approach: Compassion, Coach and Care while encouraging the team to upskill and reskill.
The foundation to counter the effects of COVID-19 in the initial stage was survival. To make it through the storm, Olivier and Barco’s strategy involved ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees while driving business continuity to the extent possible. Primarily this was done through the adoption of virtual conferencing and other telework tools.
Their internal teams adjusted quickly to the work-from-home model and were able to weather several challenges because of the robust digital infrastructure already available within the company, like Microsoft Teams, One drive, Yammer, etc. Most of the teams were used to working from home and flexible work hours.
The lockdown led to some disruptions in the supply chain, which impacted manufacturing output and resulted in shipment delays. However, strong IT support enabled the company to maintain continuity and productivity.
Olivier explained that they focused on employee reskilling, retooling supply chains and go to market strategies to enable a more sustainable, future-proof growth model that can withstand such black swan events in the future. While they have opened their office now, they are strictly following all guidelines with regards to social distancing, site disinfection and others to ensure employee health and safety during this time.
Technology will define success or failure in the new normal
2020 has been a transformative year for organisations. Across the globe, people had to adapt to remote working, with only essential service providers being allowed to work on-site. This successful transformation to a digital workplace requires effective team collaboration, and trust, supported by real-time collaboration solutions to deliver results. Any business is as good as its people and Olivier believes that empowering them with effective tools not only brings out the best results but also gives them a competitive advantage.
With the ongoing wave of technology adaptation and the ensuing culture shift, organisations are increasing their reliance on innovative solutions to enable seamless visualisation and collaboration between on-site and remote employees. Adoption of emerging technologies within the workplace was already a part of the digital transformation process that companies were exploring to reinforce future preparedness and competitiveness. With the advent of social distancing, these technologies have become enablers of business delivery and continuity, while adhering to safety protocols.
The office but not as we know it
As hybrid becomes the new normal at workplaces and changes the way we meet, collaborate, engage and impress our workforce, and inspire and communicate to crowds, it led Barco to rethink the physical office. The company transformed its Singapore office into a hybrid workplace. The office is designed and furnished with the latest video technology to accommodate the new normal of hybrid working. Barco Singapore has invested in safe, efficient, and fully-equipped offices and meeting spaces that will enable better engagement between in-house and remote employees seamlessly and in the most effective way. At the same time, the company’s India software team has also moved to a state of the art, hybrid work environment.
Step into tomorrow’s new hybrid way of working with Barco
As companies redefine their digital capabilities and physical workspaces to facilitate hybrid collaboration and visualisation, Barco has you covered with its premium solutions to enhance workplace agility and efficiency, ensuring that enterprises are primed for the new normal. Barco’s premium visualisation and collaboration solutions transform enterprises by enhancing productivity and continuity for businesses while facilitating a hybrid and resilient model that can withstand future challenges.
Barco’s innovative solution ClickShare Conference boosts team collaboration by enabling seamless and secure communication and ensuring that all members of the team feel included in the meeting. It enables personalisation and efficiency in hybrid workplaces and users are not tied to any specific video conferencing apps as ClickShare Conference is software-agnostic. The solution offers the flexibility to “Bring your own meeting” as it supports the use of a wide range of cameras and speakerphones.
Another technology enabling hybrid workspace is Barco’s media streaming solution SecureStream, which makes sharing content from control rooms to external stakeholders simple and secure. The solution allows control room operators to simply drag and drop content into a SecureStream channel and then provide the needed link to the receivers.
The company also facilitates efficient training and team collaboration through weConnect, a virtual classroom software dedicated to distance learning in real-time. With hybrid training and reskilling of employees being necessary for the new normal, employee engagement in training sessions can also be boosted through weConnect. The solution enables bright outcomes for learners as it optimises class engagement and boosts seamless contact between trainers and employees.
Work is not a place but rather, results and outcomes
Organisational leaders need to inculcate a sense of urgency in driving digital transformation which is now a necessity. A key reinforcement has been that the world can do more with less – less space consumption, less travel – and still drive efficient results.
Olivier acknowledged that the pandemic taught the world that profitability and sustainability are not necessarily conflicting goals; they can effectively come together to achieve equitable economic growth. Considering this, innovation, agility and flexibility are a must for business continuity and resilience.
In closing, Oliver shared his core belief that an organisation’s and its leadership’s outlook must be holistic, inclusive and equitable. Ultimately people will remember organisations that took care of ALL their stakeholders – not just employees, customers or shareholders.
A tech firm operating under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched new solutions which are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution description – factory-terminated optical fibre tip-to-tip network infrastructure cabling for offices and data centres
Thanks to fibre optics, invented in the firm’s lab in 1970, enormous amounts of data, phone calls and video can move around the planet. That movement of data has, in turn, enabled innovation after innovation, including the internet, cloud, mobile boom, streaming TV, autonomous cars, bitcoin, AI – and whatever comes next.
The firm’s solutions create an optical fibre tip-to-tip solution for LAN and data centres consisting of housings, modules, panels, trunks, harnesses, and jumpers. IT operators have an exhaustive list of desirable parameters they employ to ensure their facilities’ smooth and efficient operation the firm strives to exceed their expectations.
The company interviewed over 3,000 operators, and the outcome remained the same – the infrastructure must be reliable, high-quality, flexible, manageable, scalable, and visible to support a 24/7 year-round operation without question.
The tech firm’s award-winning EDGE™ solutions are high-density pre-terminated optical cabling solutions that simplify installation and improve performance in the office LAN and data centre environment. EDGE solutions provide increased system density when compared to traditional pre-terminated systems and offer the highest port density in the market.
The firm’s ClearCurve® bend-optimized optical fibre is the core element ensuring reliability when designing custom-engineered components thanks to its significant reduction in macro-bend loss even in the most challenging bend scenarios.
This technology enables the company to provide significantly greater density across the range combined with simple design and integration for LAN and SAN areas of cabling infrastructure. Infrastructure performance management is a traffic monitoring method being transmitted and received along with a link in a network providing real-time visibility.
This method can be done actively through electronic devices that can replicate and send the link’s data to the monitoring device (also called mirroring or spanning). Alternatively, it can be done through passive optical taps or port taps, transmitting all the data to the intended recipient and a monitoring device simultaneously. It can also filter the data and send it to various software tools for analytics, where it is then sent to an application-layer software for use by network administrators.
All EDGE solutions products, except TAP modules and 24-fibre MTP® single-mode assemblies, are manufactured with the firm’s proprietary CleanAdvantage™ technology, a new cleaning process implemented at the factory that uses residue-free cleaning fluids.
The firm’s proprietary nozzle design enables a focused and directed spray to the end-face, virtually cleaning the entire ferrule. All CleanAdvantage products are also shipped with optimized dust caps engineered to maintain the end-face cleanliness until the first mating connection. CleanAdvantage eliminates the need for scoping and cleaning before the initial field connection, reducing installation time and cost.
The solution was developed to be applied across the areas of City Management, Commerce and Industry, Environment, Finance, Housing, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Transport.
The solution employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Mobile Technologies and Virtual Reality.
The company’s EDGE factory-terminated solutions have been deployed by finance institutes, technologies enterprise and government in the global marketplace.
The factory-terminated tip-to-tip optical fibre components allow for reduced installation time and faster moves, adds, and changes (MACs). Corning factory-terminated solutions provide improved system performance, ensure component compatibility, and yield consistently high quality.
EDGE solutions consist of an extensive range of housings, trunks, modules, adapter panels, harnesses, patch cords, and accessories for extended flexibility. The universally-wired modular system components provide simplistic management for quick-and-easy networking MACs with none of the polarity concerns associated with special polarity-compensating components.
The deployment of a scalable optical connectivity solution allows infrastructure to meet current and future data rates’ requirements. Scalability enables the physical expansion of the cabling infrastructure to additional servers, switches, or storage devices and flexibility to the infrastructure to support a migration path for increasing data rates.
As technology evolves and standards are completed to define data rates such as 40/100/400G Ethernet, Fibre Channel (32G and beyond), and InfiniBand (40G and beyond), the cabling infrastructures installed today must provide scalability to accommodate the need for more bandwidth in support of future applications.