The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) have urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of digitalisation and e-commerce to expand their businesses.
In a collaboration webinar held earlier this week, titled “CTRL+Biz: Reboot Tourism Now,” the two agencies advised business owners to use computer processes to complete business needs.
The webinar was for tourism workers and stakeholders to be guided by experts in the digital economy in their digital conversion.
The DOT Secretary noted that one of the most important steps that business owners need to take is to digitalise their business operations.
A press release quoted a recent survey that said 44% of Filipinos from the 35-44 age group have increased online purchasing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, according to a 2020 Philippine Travel Survey Report, more than 12,000 individuals all over the country are still willing to travel but prefer contactless activities.
The same report also cited that individuals prefer the convenience of using online platforms and contact reduction.
Stores and restaurants can offer their merchandise and meals, then receive payments online. Hotels and other accommodation establishments can accept bookings and account settlement without the need for face-to-face contact. E-wallets provide convenience in terms of seamless transactions.
As a safety net for online financial dealings, the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), instituted three consumer and seller protection measures:
- Section 4 of BSP Circular No. 649 requires electronic money issuers (EMI) to maintain a record-keeping system, which will store the e-money instruments issued, the identity of e-money holders, and individual and consolidated balances.
The system must be able to keep track of the movement of e-money transactions and link the instruments issued to common e-money holders. This must be communicated to the client who will acknowledge the same in writing.
- BSP requires EMIs to maintain a redress mechanism that would allow customers to file a complaint.
- EMIs should have minimum risk management systems and controls before they operate.
Further, DTI is providing online seminars to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) bounce back from the crisis.
The Trade and Industry Secretary shared that the department has partnered with major online platforms to guide MSMEs in doing e-commerce business.
Over 500,000 have participated in the webinars conducted to help MSMEs. DTI also provides product development and free space to give exposure to the products.
OTOP or the ‘One Town, One Product’ has 34 hubs and has already helped over 30,000 MSMEs. The DTI’s Go Lokal has 123 outlets, which have helped over 600 MSMEs.
The Secretary also encouraged MSMEs to visit or contact the nearest Negosyo Centers for business advice. To date, there are about 1,130 Negosyo Centers nationwide. The DTI also offers a micro-financing program through the Small Business Corporation to help small online businesses.
Countries all over the world have yet to see the end of the pandemic as there is still no approved vaccine in the foreseeable future. Hence, it is inevitable for businesses to shift to e-commerce to survive amidst this health crisis.
Missions With Monty is a quest game developed at North Carolina State University that uses Monty the Monitor Lizard to guide students through complex climate problems. The game will be adapted to Australian conditions thanks to a University Global Partnerships Network (UGPN) grant that allows a partnership with institutions around the world to develop solutions to a universal issue.
The project leader, Associate Professor Sarah Howard, said the game was aimed at primary school students in Years 5 and 6. Students may be given a challenge such as why a population of frogs has migrated away from a pond, she said.
They may have to learn about the frog, its environment, what’s happened to the pond’s catchment and what’s happened to the weather. With the help of Monty, they encounter scientists, points of data and other animals to investigate the issue.
The funding would adapt the game to Australian conditions, such as drought and fire, and with Australian animals. With the help of researchers from the SMART Infrastructure Facility, new ways of capturing data from the game would be developed, giving teachers valuable insights into the ways that their students learned.
Finally, new ways would be developed to allow international collaboration among students, building on the existing framework for collaboration within the classroom. The interdisciplinary nature of the project – educational psychology, educational technology, computer science, science education, and design – provides the potential for increased faculty collaboration across institutions.
This process has the potential to provide a model for data collection and international teacher and student multi-national collaboration that could then be extended to any educational context. The UGPN aims to develop sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer through an active international network of selected Universities collaborating in research, learning and teaching to benefit global society.
The program will develop a range of jointly enabled innovative solutions to world problems based on shared research expertise and a mobility strategy for increasing the number of faculty, staff and students with international experience. The UGPN annual conference will be held in Wollongong next year.
The need for education around climate change in Australia is pertinent. The global economic and environmental impact of wildfires is likely to worsen as a result of human-induced climate change and land-use patterns, according to a team of international fire researchers.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Reviews: Earth & Environment, researchers describe global and regional trends in fire activity and project what is expected to come down the pipeline in the future. The interaction between climate, vegetation and fire occurrence has led to distinct fire regimes, which are characterised by their frequency, seasonality, geographic scale and pattern, and environmental effects.
Past climate change is known to have influenced the extent, frequency and intensity of landscape fires by affecting vegetation patterns, fuel abundance and drought. Currently, human-induced climate change is altering rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures, resulting in more frequent extreme fire events.
Extremely intense fires can trigger the development of pyrocumulonimbus storms, which are powerful convective thunderstorms that can reach the stratosphere and create localised weather, including rain, hail, lightning and pyro-tornadoes.
In Australia, the difficulties in separating the influences of climate change from the effects of stopping traditional Aboriginal fire management practices following European colonisation in the early 19th century.
However, the effects of climate change are evident in the increasing number of extreme fire events – including the Black Summer fires of 2019-20 during which 35 pyrocumulonimbus storms were recorded, doubling the known records of these extreme events. This spike in fire intensity and severity has also been recorded at various other locations around the world, including Chile, Canada, Portugal and California.
Development of these fire management interventions requires transdisciplinary research that combines insights from natural and social sciences, engineering and technology, and humanities. Such research is also prerequisite for improving global and regional fire models of future fire activity.
Covid-19 has dominated 2020. It has been the top priority for almost every nation across the globe, and while dealing with the pandemic, many governments have also had to tackle national natural disasters and severe weather incidents.
In the first half of 2020, the world experienced many major natural disasters. And Asia has experienced at least ten of them in the first six months. The continent has faced everything from earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes, typhoons, bushfires, all while dealing with the pandemic.
This year really has kept governments on edge, waiting for what is to come next. And this is a key point – What will come next? And are governments prepared for all eventualities? Have they planned for what would happen if a natural disaster were to occur? And how would they deal with a severe weather event while also dealing with the ongoing global pandemic?
Major Natural Disasters that Occurred in the first 5 months of 2020 in Asia
At the end of 2019 and early 2020, the bushfires in Australia spread quickly across the country. A state of emergency was declared in Queensland and New South Wales in November 2019, and slowly all the other states followed as the fires continued to spread.
The Australian bushfires are considered one of the biggest natural disasters of the year. The extent of damage ranged from an estimated 18 million hectares burned, over 9000 buildings and homes destroyed, and 400 deaths directly or indirectly.
Flash Floods, Indonesia
Flash floods occurred throughout the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and its metropolitan area on the early hours of 1 January 2020, due to the overnight rain which experienced nearly 400 millimetres (15 in) of rainwater, causing the Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers to overflow. At least 66 people have been killed, and 60,000 displaced in the worst flooding in the area since 2007.
Volcano Eruption, Philippines
The second most active volcano in the Philippines, Taal Volcano erupted in January 2020. On 12th January. As a result, a large amount of ash dust was emitted and forced authorities to evacuate over 8,000 people close by and 3,00,000 people overall.
Cyclone Amphan, Bangladesh-India
Cyclone Amphan is classified as one of the most powerful, deadly tropical cyclones to ever impact Bangladesh and India. It was categorized as a category 5 hurricane and the havoc it wreaked was devastating. It caused landfalls, heavy rains and lightning causing major destruction and killing 12 people.
Forest Fires, Uttarakhand – India
In May, a forest fire that lasted for days caused Uttarakhand to burn. What may have started as a small fire has managed to engulf 51 hectares of forest land. 2 deaths and several others have been injured.
Assam Floods, India
Many parts of Assam have experienced heavy rains and as a result, have been negatively affected in the form of floods. 128 villages, 5 districts and many more have been affected.
Disaster and Emergency Management Agencies release figures showing the true extent of the cost of severe weather
As Governments throughout Asia release the figures relating to severe weather and natural disasters, it is evident how costly these events are in terms of lives, homes, economy and infrastructure.
Natural disasters continue to hit China, and the country lost 271 lives during the first half of 2020, an official report showed. Some 19,000 houses were destroyed and 785,000 houses damaged during the last six months across mainland China, causing an economic loss of $11.5 billion, Global Times quoted a report by the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Last month’s heavy floods in eight provinces and regions of southern and eastern China affected more than a million people. The June 8 floods affected at least 1.76 million people, with 120,000 evacuated, nine dying and five missing, according to the Centre of Disaster Reduction in China.
The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) released numbers this week, they recorded 2,059 natural disasters that struck Indonesia during the period from January to September 20, with the number of deaths reaching 282.
Indonesia was hit by 771 incidents of floods, 534 whirlwinds, and 377 landslides. The natural disasters had affected and displaced a total of 4.2 million people, claimed 282 lives, and rendered 25 people missing while causing injuries to 427 others.
Furthermore, natural disasters damaged 30,655 homes and 1,419 public facilities. The country also recorded a total of 302 forest and land fires as well as five volcanic eruptions.
Governments Urge For Better Response to Severe Weather and Natural Disasters
Governments are quickly realising the need to act now to prevent, or rather, manage the events that they already know could happen at any time. This week saw governments in Asia review emergency planning and funding strategies as well as call on their technology institutes to work on preventing future disasters.
The Royal Commission in Australia, heard this week that more frequent natural disasters in Australia will become ‘a major strategic problem in its own right’. The commission is in its final week of hearings and is due to deliver its final report to the federal government on 28 October.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) was called in to help the bushfire response this summer, and have been integrated into health and police departments as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Peter Jennings, the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the Royal Commission on Tuesday this week that the ADF would not be able to continue support with its actual defence responsibility without additional funding.
Peter Jennings added that more frequent and more severe national disasters, exacerbated by the climate crisis, would become “a major strategic problem in its own right”. And that the Pacific region, and south-east Asia, would be “the epicentre of natural disaster risk going forward”.
One of the initiatives that the Australian government is using to help with crises is a public warning system. In combination with Australia’s major telecommunications companies, the Everbridge Public Warning solution will be used to power Emergency Alert Australia, providing population-wide alerting to help reach the country’s over 25 million residents and approximately 9 million annual visitors.
Anyone in an area where a sudden, critical event occurs such as fire, extreme weather or a terror attack, residents and visitors to Australia will receive location-based SMS notifications on their mobile phones, in addition to smartphone mobile app notifications and fixed-line voice alerts, among other modes of communication.
Also, this week, speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology, on Tuesday 22nd of September, Prime Minister Modi, India urged the IIT to use this experience in helping the state governments of the Northeastern region to tackle the various natural and other disasters which have been having a negative impact on the development prospects of the region.
He called for the IIT to form a centre for disaster management and risk reduction for the region. The Prime Minister said “The North East is full of possibilities. But it has problems of floods, earthquakes, life slam hand industrial disasters also, and the governments have to spend their time tackling these.”
The Missing Puzzle Piece: An Integrated CEM Platform
Many governments and national, regional and state authorities rely on multiple, separate systems for their critical event management (CEM).
According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, these silos can spell redundancies in information and processes, data contradictions, and, in worst-case scenarios, greater loss of life and damages.
Without an integrated CEM platform, command centres and security teams can’t respond as quickly and as thoroughly as situation warrants, which in turn negatively affects budgets, stakeholder confidence, and employee and customer trust.
With an integrated CEM platform, however, rapid, consolidated responses are more easily coordinated. Emergency response teams and command centres receive threat alerts ahead of time, so they can identify, assess, and locate the risks, affected assets, and appropriate responders.
A CEM platform can also automate communications and by using a public warning system, action plans, and SOPs, so your teams have immediate access to information and can act at lightning speed. Later, analytics pinpoint where bottlenecks and delays surfaced and where they might be avoided in the future.
As the pandemic looms over the world for the foreseeable future, planning responses to severe weather events will continue in tandem with coronavirus risk management. And, as natural disasters are occurring more frequently throughout the region – it’s more important than ever for governments to evaluate the processes, systems, tools, and platforms they have to respond to critical events.
APAC CEM WEBINAR: BUSINESS CONTINUITY DURING SEVERE WEATHER
September 30, 2020 | 9AM IST | 11:30AM SG/HKT | 1:30PM AEST
Download Everbridge’s Whitepaper: MANAGING SEVERE WEATHER EVENTS DURING OTHER CRISES
As medical technology advances, breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating various critical illnesses are achieved, and as the design of patient treatment plans becomes more precise and personalised, healthcare practitioners are expected to keep abreast of the latest developments to master the most sophisticated technologies.
In a cancer treatment team, members are specialised in their respective fields, yet they work together seamlessly to devise the most effective treatment for patients. One of the lesser-known of the specialists in such a team, the Medical Physicist, is responsible for formulating treatment plans, as well as monitoring and maintaining radiation equipment used to ensure the precise, effective and safe delivery of treatment.
Medical Physicists specialise in radiation treatment technology, with their expertise spanning from diagnostic imaging to radiotherapy, and they are “strong backers” of the cancer treatment team. However, a higher degree programme in Medical Physics was previously not available in Hong Kong or nearby regions.
To meet the future demand for Medical Physicists, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has, this academic year, launched the first Master of Science in Medical Physics (MScMP) programme in Hong Kong. The curriculum is designed to cover various aspects including health technology, physics and engineering, offering interdisciplinary training for professionals who are keen to pursue a career in the field of medical physics.
High demand for cancer treatment Creating local training opportunities
The ageing population in Hong Kong poses immense challenges to the local healthcare system and the rising demand for cancer treatment is one of them. To maintain the quality of healthcare services, it is essential to have more qualified professionals in the workforce.
There are about 150 Medical Physicists currently practising in Hong Kong, serving at the Hospital Authority as well as in public and private hospitals. They possess both physics and medical expertise, playing a vital role in diagnosis and the formulation of treatment plans, as well as ensuring proper operation of equipment to achieve the treatment goal.
The Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of PolyU stated with the advancement of technology and patients’ growing expectation of higher service standards, there is a need for the additional workforce. Besides those working on the frontline, experts in innovative health technology at the back-end to achieve effective treatment are needed. Thus the new masters programme in medical physics will both prepare students for a career in medical physics and help to promote the development of the field itself.
Leveraging interdisciplinary expertise Striving for the well-being of patients
Medical Physics is an interdisciplinary field that crosses the boundaries of medicine, physics and engineering. The Head of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics of PolyU pointed out that the demand for radiotherapy is ever-increasing.
In Hong Kong, cancer has long been the leading cause of death and radiotherapy plays a crucial role in cancer treatment. In the past, no dedicated master programme was offered by local institutions, and people have little understanding of the role of the Medical Physicist.
It is hoped that through this new programme, more people will understand the importance of medical physics and hence help to open new research areas in this field.
The programme leader and Professor of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics, added that the programme is taught by an interdisciplinary team, striking a good balance between theory and practice by incorporating modules in health technology and informatics, applied physics, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering and computing. The aim is to broaden students’ perspectives in medical science and technology development and equip them with professional knowledge, relevant skillsets as well as research capabilities.
The Vice President (Education) of PolyU noted that the university is considering switching some of its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from single-disciplinary to interdisciplinary, to better address societal needs. This new MScMP programme is a good example of PolyU’s interdisciplinary efforts. Thus, while students enrolled on this programme already have a bachelor’s degree in a specific discipline, they can acquire new professional knowledge in the areas of health technology, physics and engineering, and create a synergy of different subjects. This will provide a solid basis upon which they can develop a career in the field of healthcare.
Contribute to the community with medical physics knowledge
According to the President of the Hong Kong Association of Medical Physics half of the practising Medical Physicists in Hong Kong obtained a relevant higher degree overseas, while the other half pursued their master degree in physics or engineering in Hong Kong, and received “on-the-job” training while working as a Resident Physicist.
He is encouraged to see the launch of the first MScMP programme at PolyU, noting that Medical Physicists play a pivotal role in a medical team, although they spend most of their time behind the scenes, they are irreplaceable in the planning and implementation of cancer treatment. They are responsible for formulating treatment plans, calculating radiation doses, as well as testing and monitoring equipment to ensure that all arrangements are perfectly executed.
Currently, the minimum entry requirement for Resident Physicists in Hong Kong is a master degree in medical physics, physics or engineering-related subjects. While working as a Resident Physicist in a hospital, one can start taking a three-part professional examination. Generally speaking, it takes about four to five years to attain certified recognition as a Medical Physicist.
Authorities in the central city have put on trial the DaNang Smart City app for smartphone users to access public information services and connect with local authorities. The Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Information and Communications, Tran Van Thạch, noted that all local residents and tourists can download the app to search for information related to public services, tourism, rescue, bus trips, open data, smart car parks, hotlines, or send comments and complaints to the local government.
He said the application would be a step towards the city becoming ‘smart’, an objective the city has been following since 2014. Local authorities were available for all online connections or switchboard 1022; zalo 1022 and chatbot. In 2016, the city launched gopy.danang.gov.vn to get feedback on city services from the local community.
The online portal, available in English and Vietnamese, allows residents and tourists to conveniently post opinions and suggestions, as well as complaints on urban, environmental, administrative, and tourism-related services. Apps for public bus routes (Dana Bus and Bus Map) are also available from the Apple and Google Play stores.
All problems related to security, tourism, public disorder, environmental pollution, and administrative procedures sent via the website will be dealt with within three working days.
Da Nang was the first city in Vietnam to offer free wireless internet, with a maximum of 20,000 connections at a time for locals and tourists on major streets in the city, including living quarters, schools, and beaches. Da Nang plans to become a smart and green city by 2025.
According to statistics of the Department of Informatics, by September this year, the rate of online public services at level 4 reached 19.1%, nearly 4.2 times higher than in 2018. Nine ministries and agencies under the government and 15 provinces and cities reached a rate of over 30%. Typically, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) have provided 100% of online public services at level 4.
Earlier, MIC launched an online portal, which provides data on state agencies in service of political and socio-economic activities, contributing to the process of e-government building in Vietnam. New digital services, in the process of a digital government building, as well as open data will be provided on the portal. This will make it easier for the public to use them to serve research, study, or product invention, as well as offer feedback to state agencies to improve operating efficiency.
The state-owned group Viettel also recently developed an AI platform, which is part of a chain of events to introduce Made-in-Vietnam digital platforms to serve the national digital transformation program for 2025, with a vision to 2030 approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
As OpenGov Asia reported earlier, the platform is currently focusing on areas such as Vietnamese speech processing technology (Speech Processing), Vietnamese natural language processing technology (Natural Language Processing), and computer vision technology (Computer Vision).
An American multinational developer of analytics software has committed to up-skill a minimum of 500 students in analytics across Malaysia by the end of 2020, in response to increased demand for data science expertise. Under the banner of the firm’s Software Certified Young Professionals (SCYP), the program will collaborate with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to help drive the adoption of emerging technologies across the country.
Central to such efforts will be enabling students to work towards the certification in programming, machine learning and visual analytics through e-learning courses, supported by access to online communities and webinars.
The Managing Director of Malaysia at the firm stated that the company has a deep-rooted history in academia. Launching a program to empower Malaysian students with the firm’s analytics knowledge and expertise helps in answering the rising demand for technology professionals in Southeast Asia.
Business organisations need people who can make sense of data, manage and analyse it, build models and determine what information delivers the most value. Students with an analytical skillset will be highly sought after.
Once students have completed the e-learning courses and attended the associated webinars, a certification exam will follow before connections with SAS customers seeking young data science professionals.
Within Southeast Asia, “free or heavily subsidised” online courses are available to undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students who are enrolled at a university, business school or university college in Malaysia, Indonesia or Vietnam. There are currently three courses available for students in Malaysia and Vietnam, and five courses on offer in Indonesia, spanning data analytics, statistics, machine learning and virtualisation.
The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency’s strategic partnership with the software company aligns perfectly with its commitment to ensuring delivery of technology relevant programmes to Malaysian students and help Malaysians make the digital leap into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The agency sees its public-private partnership initiatives such as the tech firm contributing to Malaysia’s overall growth of the data science skills required in the workforce to support the digitally-driven economy, which is also critical to meet the demand of the current and future job market.
Growing demand for tech professionals
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that Malaysians with niche skills in technology have far brighter prospects in 2020 as many sectors are hiring in their push forward with digitalisation. A Malaysia-based consultancy’s 2020 salary survey revealed that job opportunities and higher pay were expected for those in mid to high-level management positions in eight sectors.
Talents with niche skills who are changing jobs, on the other hand, are looking at an increment of up to 30 per cent due to demand outstripping supply, the firm’s Country Manager for Malaysia said in a statement accompanying the survey report.
The survey also encouraged as employers may be more open to hiring job seekers with the necessary tech skills but who may have less industry experience.
Moreover, as Malaysia invests more into its technological infrastructure, the more it will see tech talent flooding into the nation, thereby growing its digital economy and pushing forward its Industry 4.0 goals.
The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have officially renewed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) on 22 September 2020 to reaffirm both party’s continued commitment to help drive digital transformation across the Singapore business community, promote the adoption of digital technologies and position them to seize opportunities in the digital economy over the next three years.
Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA said, “Digital transformation is necessary for businesses to grow and thrive in this new economic reality. Companies that can quickly move to adopt digital technologies and leverage digital platforms, stand to benefit not only from operational efficiencies, but importantly, the potential to scale and reach more partners and customers beyond Singapore. As IMDA leads Singapore’s digital transformation, the collaboration we have with SBF underscores the importance of supporting our businesses to catalyse growth in our Digital Economy.”
The areas of focus include:
Digital Transactions between Businesses – Help businesses understand and adopt digital B2B technologies such as e-invoicing and e-signatures, through outreach and awareness activities, and work with key industry partners to raise their level of adoption.
Digital Economy Agreements (DEA) and Cross Border Data Flows – Help businesses understand how they can leverage Singapore’s DEAs and initiatives such as the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules and ASEAN Cross Border Data Flows Mechanism to operate seamlessly across borders.
SMEs Go Digital Outreach – Support the development of digital platforms and outreach to SMEs to help them understand their current digital readiness and facilitate the adoption of suitable digital solutions.
Empowering People & Embracing Digitalisation for Resilience & Resurgence
Speaking at this year’s Future Economy Conference and Exhibition (FECE), Mr Lim Ming Yan, Chairman of SBF said, “The COVID-19 situation has highlighted the need for businesses to adopt digital transformation to remain relevant and competitive. This collaboration between SBF and IMDA seeks to provide relevant support to businesses in their digital transformation efforts, including efforts to push boundaries and explore new growth markets.”
FECE 2020, from 22 to 23 September, features 19 industry-leading speakers from businesses such as banking, logistics, e-payments and e-commerce.
Themed “Empowering People & Embracing Digitalisation for Resilience & Resurgence”, this year’s FECE is held online and more than 1,000 business owners and leaders have registered. The focus for FECE 2020 is on how businesses can optimise their digitalisation efforts and upskill their talent to reap sustainable business growth during this challenging period.
FECE 2020, now into its fourth annual edition, is organised by SBF in collaboration with five government agencies as strategic partners – Ministry of Trade and Industry, IMDA, SkillsFuture Singapore, Enterprise Singapore and Workforce Singapore – and 26 trade associations and chambers as supporting organisations.
Adoption and convergence of cloud, virtualisation, cybersecurity technologies, etc. have caused a dramatic change in the financial services industry significantly impacting its functioning. Further, most organisations were already on their digital journey when the pandemic hit – forcing a seismic shift in urgency and scope of the transformation.
The OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight on 22 September 2020 engaged delegates from the financial services industry across ASEAN to better understand the impact of digital disruption in this sector. The session witnessed overwhelming attendance and engagement from senior digital executives, keen on sharing and learning more about this timely and highly relevant topic.
The pressure to transform digitally should not out innovation on a back seat
The session was opened by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia.
Mohit concurred that the financial sector industry was seriously hit during the pandemic and were, for the most part, reactive in their response.
Before COVID, organisations were working hard balancing different aspects of their business – regulations, stakeholders, customers, employees – in a F2F, physical context. With strict stay-at-home, remote working and quarantine measures in place, almost all fiscal and commercial transaction transitioned online. The need to go digital almost immediately, besides managing the regular aspects of business, has put the financial sector under immense pressure.
Under such pressure, Mohit cautioned delegates, organisations must not hold back on innovation. In fact, the industry should look at the pandemic as an opportunity to pivot – to ramp up digital transformation.
None the less, in this expedient endeavour, operational resilience must be maintained and security strategies must be reassessed. Existing protocols and processes must not only be maintained but need to be strongly augmented – adding new chapters as appropriate and necessary.
Mohit encouraged delegates to prioritise the well-being and happiness of employees as much as that of their customers. In urgent times like these, it is a well-trained, motivated and committed workforce that will help organisations stay afloat and thrive.
In closing, Mohit advised delegates to must partner with the right people who are experts in this field, it if they want to correctly balance the different aspects of their business efficiently and have a smooth transition into the digital world.
Empower and augment employees to achieve operational resilience
Elisha Harrington, Head of Financial Services Innovation, ServiceNow shared her insights with the delegates.
Elisha spoke about operational resilience as a driver of transformation and coordinated delivery of business outcomes. She echoed Mohit’s sentiments about financial institutions being under a lot of pressure as they were pivoting to paradigms that were unknown to them.
They had to deal with technological shortcomings, cybersecurity issues, connectivity gaps, compliance requirements, etc. along with adjusting to remote working. In such an environment, operating at scale necessitates that employees collaborate across teams and work with each other virtually.
Elisha opined that operational resilience comes down to an institution’s ability to absorb shock and set out risk tolerances for those parts of the business that are highly critical to its survival.
The strategy to survive she proposed, and indeed, thrive rests four main pillars: People, Technology, Facilities and Supplies. These pillars need to be in place and need to be consistently and continuously improved.
Additionally, technology and supplier resilience are critical in keeping organisations going. Elisha outlined three major components under this:
- Technology Supply Chain
- IT resilience and Outsource
- Cost of Resilience
Elisha concluded by highlighting the need to transform the risk and controls management across the organisations. To successfully transform, there needs to be integrated risk management which coupled with workflow optimisation will lead to better customer outcomes.
Digitisation is essential to serve customers effectively and efficiently
Kaspar Situmorang, Executive Vice President & Head, Digital Center for excellence at PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia spoke to the audience from a scale of operations perspective. For organisations serving a large number of customers more effectively and satisfactorily, Kasper felt, it is imperative to go digital.
To underscore his position, he then shared that his organisation’s digital transformation strategy that has two major focus points: First is digital business optimisation, that focuses on increasing efficiency and productivity by bringing in new business processes. The second is making the business digital, that includes creating new business models, generating new revenue streams and improving gross margins.
Kaspar stressed that good customer experience in both digitising and digital is their organisation’s top priority. To do that, they utilise AI as to both expand their customer base and better the customer experience.
He listed five critical competencies in which they invest heavily to grow: People with the right customer-centric mindset, Open Innovation Ecosystem, Data-driven organisation, Agile way of working and Scalable, reliable and secure technology
In conclusion, Kaspar shared the transformation framework of his organisation that comprises:
- Digitising core: Digitising their existing services. transactions and business processes
- Digital Ecosystem: Building an ecosystem to offer products and services beyond core business
- New Digital Propositions: Creating and launching an independent greenfield digital bank in Indonesia
He also shared various examples of the products and services under the above three categories to give delegates a better understanding of their work.
After Kaspar’s presentation, it was time for a more interactive and engaging session. The delegates were polled with a series of questions that was the foundation for discussion around the topic.
On the first question regarding major challenges faced by their organisation in operational resilience, a majority of delegates voted for lack of definition for ‘client business Services’ across organisations (30%).
A senior executive from Malaysia shared that it was imperative that the top management, (who grant the budget and the IT personnel in an organization), are aligned in one direction; if they are not aligned then there will be a lot of ambiguity around the business goals and objectives.
On the next question regarding the most important consideration for the future of their organisation, over half (52%) of delegates voted for data-driven decisions, i.e. using insights from big data and advanced analytics in workforce decision making.
A delegate from Singapore shared that he chose this option because he has observed that while there is a lot of data, it is not easy to assimilate and draw insights from it. So that is a journey they need to undertake.
On the final question about the need to do things differently in your organisation, the largest section voted for creating a better digital experience for customers (37%).
A delegate reflected that they chose the above option because it is a changing environment for the customers as well. Due to the pandemic, they want to go more and more digital. They want to avoid coming to the branch physically for things. So, the focus is on creating a better digital experience for customers.
After the polling session, Elisha addressed the audience with closing remarks. She thanked all delegates for their participation in the session.
Elisha concluded that if organisations have a good handle over their system, service health and necessary automation in place, they have the ability to start to innovate the core business services. This allows employees more time to add value to the core rather than spending time resolving simple/routine problems or getting lost in too many fragmented systems. This is the ultimate goal of service excellence.
She signed off by reminding delegates that ServiceNow solutions can assist and support them in attaining this goal and encouraged them to reach out to the ServiceNow team to explore ways they can collaborate.