This is Part II of a two-part series. Read Part I here.
In this increasingly VUCA world, governments and businesses across the globe are still 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 Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 – Virtual Edition Day 2 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 Philippine 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.
Philippines’ Road to Digital Government in the New Normal: Citizen-centric and service-oriented
The opening presentation was from Raymund Enriquez Liboro, Privacy Commissioner and Chairman, National Privacy Commission. He shared how digital transformation is being promoted as a national strategy to navigate the new normal and to achieve service orientation, procedural efficiency, and behavioural transformation into the very fabric of government operations.
Modern medical science now relies heavily on data and technology. For example, data and technology helped scientist determine the immune responses against the virus. Similarly, Raymund noted that about nine months into the pandemic, humanity was able to create a COVID-19 vaccine at record speed – in fact, several viable candidates were on the table. As in the health sector, information derived from data is crucial in the public sector’s decision-making procedures and service development.
Knowing its role in citizen welfare, the Philippine government utilised data and technology when it launched an online contact tracing app called StaySafe.PH in the battle against COVID-19. the app is the nation’s official health condition reporting, contact tracing and social distancing system that empowers the public in the fight against COVID-19.
By aggregating all reports, StaySafe.PH enables the government to immediately respond to peoples’ needs and make informed and timely decisions to keep Filipinos safe during this pandemic. The system, which is made available in desktop and mobile version, aims to complement the management of COVID-19 cases, remind individuals to observe distancing measures, record and monitor possible COVID-19 symptoms, and augment manual contact tracing processes.
Raymund firmly believes that digitising the government offers great benefit to the Filipino people and that data is the most powerful asset for any institution in this modern age. But just any asset or resource, data must be managed correctly to be useful. No matter how much data is collected and processed, if it is not analysed or made sense of, it cannot nor will not serve the intended purpose.
The country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC), therefore, endeavours to protect personal data – especially COVID-19 related – from misuse that can lead to discrimination, physical assault and other outcomes more harmful than the virus itself. Positioned as an enabler and as a protector, the NPC issues policies and guidelines to steer the government as well as the private sector in terms of data management during the pandemic.
In the age of COVID-19, poor data governance can do more harm than good. Poor data may give inaccurate views of a situation leading to poor decision-making. Lack of understanding of trends makes it hard to identify future opportunities and bad data prevents immediate responses in fast-developing situations. The government must adopt a digital data governance framework that will define data standards, its required roles and responsibilities within the government for governing and managing digital data. The framework can help determine a holistic way to control data assets so that the government can get the most value from the data.
A digital government should be citizen-centric and service-oriented. It should focus on providing the best services to Filipinos and these services should be accessible and integrated within different government agencies trying to respond to citizen needs despite changing times. A digital government promotes transparency, public accountability and access to information.
A digital government provides its citizens with accurate information uploaded almost in real-time through government webpages and portals. Digitally-enabled services allow the government to function with minimal dependence on the traditional work setup. The digital government ensures citizens have a seamless experience with interacting with the government for services in the digital space.
Only as good as its team, the government should set proper foundations in place and prepare its people for a complete digital transformation.
In terms of a digital government being integrated with the same digital data and information, Raymund cited the example of the country’s Philippine Identification System – PhilSys. Designed as an enabling platform, the system boosts digital transformation of existing services and systems to reduce costs, time and fraud.
It underpins sectoral IDs and databases to enhance accuracy, interoperability, and integrity. The PhilSys unlocks new services and systems for the digital economy, especially online transactions. The PhilSys-enabled services will allow governments and businesses to use technology to change how they do business, shifting to transactions that are paperless, automated and online.
Finally, perhaps the most important factor in a digital government is its ability to protect data. A digital government should not sacrifice data protection and data privacy resilience in its mission to digitise its services and trying to make information accessible.
It must be aware that while data may offer tremendous benefits to society, it is always accompanied by data privacy threats, risks, and harm that is directly proportional to the amount of the data collected used and processed. Recognising the importance of personal data for the benefit of society while at the same time mitigating and preventing risks should be at the heart of every government’s digital transformation. Governments have complete faith in systems, making citizens feel less threatened of availing public services that access their data.
To end his presentation, Raymund said that the government must continue to protect its citizens in the new normal and should be responsible stewards of data. With the help of technology and data, the world will beat the COVID-19 crisis.
Smarter, Safer, and Resilient Cities: Re-opening Our Cities in the Face of COVID-19
The session moved to a presentation from Sameer Sharma, Global General Manager, Smart Cities, Intelligent Transportation & IoT, Intel Corporation about learning how the Internet of Things and data can be leveraged to monitor, alert and protect citizens in modern cities as they begin to re-open.
Data clearly shows there is an explosion in populations in major cities all over the world; 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. With this surge, governments have been striving to find ways to make urban systems and infrastructure more efficient and effective. However, with COVID-19 hitting the world at the end of 2019 Q4, it has created a major pause in city innovation in specific areas.
The rapid spread of the virus affected countries globally on a massive scale. It severely hit areas like trade where the value of global exports increased by 4,000% in the last century; and the travel industry where 4.5 billion passengers boarded flights in 2019 pre-COVID. And on a personal level, human interaction was also reduced by the pandemic.
The pandemic made governments and policymakers looked at their vision for cities – such as better access to education, better healthcare and more opportunities for their citizens – in a whole new light.
Across the world, there are currently 33 megacities (>10 million people), 4,000 cities with 100K+ population and 2.5M towns. Serving this global population are 1.4 billion cars, 246 million trucks, 17 million buses, over 50,000 ships, 25,000 commercial planes and 1.3 million kilometres of railways.
All of these must be and can be managed even in an ongoing crisis. Improving and strengthening cities where the working society is in will be the key and, in the age of COVID-19, Sameer is convinced, that resilience will be critical; new threats and challenges must be anticipated and planned for.
Agencies and organisations across the board have tried to mitigate the effects of the pandemic by using technologies and new operational frameworks. Sameer reminded the delegates that legacy infrastructure cannot scale but disruptive technologies can make everything possible. Digital technologies must overlay the physical world, especially cities.
COVID-19 created shifted the focus specific sector improvement to overall infrastructure upgrade – that is, transforming ‘spaces’ to ‘smart spaces’. It is imperative to learn how to adopt technologies like AI, Cloud, 5G and IoT.
With the re-opening of the economy, safety and sanitisation will take precedence. Automated air filtration systems will be the norm in offices, commercial spaces, and industries where the physical presence of people is a must.
Organisations that use these spaces can utilise technology to upgrade their infrastructure. There are a plethora of tech-based solutions that enable smarter spaces: automated room access, keyless and touchless entry, touchless and on-demand elevators, ambient temperature control, fresh air circulation and quality monitoring, UVD disinfecting robotics, face mask and fever detection using AI, people-counting and spacing-analytics and digital contact tracing initiatives just to name a few.
With fears of the virus in public transport, for local, shorter commutes, most likely, people will use personal vehicles. Where longer travel is necessary by air, road, rail or sea, security agencies will add healthcare checks and screenings.
Schools and universities will opt to use online tools; hotels and restaurants will transition to digital menus, delivery models and contactless payments; retail will be increasingly driven online.
Intel’s Smart City Vision, Sameer shared, is built on effective policies, governance and financing. Transportation, buildings and energy, environment, healthcare, public services and homes stress citizen wellbeing and safety. Intel is a strong advocate for and champions the use of sensors and edge computing, wireless tech, access and core networks, cloud and analytics and AI and Automation to achieve their dreams of a Smart City.
Nations must understand that resiliency is the key and technology enable it. Decision-makers should think big, not just thinking about smarter cities, but better cities. The mantra is to start small and get going with obvious projects and opportunities; then learn, adjust, and iterate.
Sameer urges governments and organisations to the right partners across the industry to build sustainable cities for citizens. In closing, he quoted Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Smarter Way Forward – Essential Technology Solutions for a Digitally Connected Environment
The forum next welcomed Yasser Helmy, APAC Commercial IoT Solutions Sales Director, Lenovo who spoke on the future of work that is connected and organisations needing an ecosystem of solutions to make it easier for their employees to get back to a new, safe, and productive workplace.
Yasser conceded that COVID-19 redefined how we think about knowledge work. Now, there is a more dynamic workforce; a workforce with different expressions because of lockdowns and restrictions. The new workforce now has greater flexibility, able to work from anywhere -, be it at home, the office or even third options like dedicated workspaces, cafes, etc. The priority has shifted to a workplace’s experience and safety. And in the new normal brought by the pandemic, digital workplace tools are becoming more essential.
A study says that 72% of knowledge workers prefer a mix of remote and office work, promoting a hybrid approach. About 50% are happy to work remotely between 3-5 days a week without impacting productivity. However, 54% miss collaboration and quality of relationships in the office. The inference is that over half will return to the old working setup sooner than later.
Now, more than ever, employees expect flexibility and safety in addition to a more personalised experience in the workplace. In terms of organisational operations, more companies are trying to take advantage of this new norm working setup by increasing on-demand workplaces and by reducing traditional office spaces that reduce their operational costs. These new workplaces have transformed into destinations that attract and retain talent, support innovation and productivity – unleashing employees and collaboration. People are found to be happier in these creative and innovative workspaces.
Yasser expanded on a three-step framework to help organisations that have people who are returning to their workplaces amid the new normal. First is controlling who gets into the locations, by conducting elevated temperature screenings and touchless building access points such as wave to unlock doors, smartwatches, and mobile apps. The second step is managing behaviours within the space with policy communications such as information regarding certain emergencies and urgent issues that involve employees and thorough workspace monitoring from macro down to a micro perspective. Lastly is being prepared to respond to incidents via onsite contact tracing efforts.
The benefits of a workplace transformation are real, Yasser noted emphatically. He cited examples of global corporations that have already begun to optimise workspace and are now able to provide near real-time occupancy insights with space analytics.
Global energy technology companies leverage augmented reality solutions for employee training and incident-response drills. Some are enabling building operators to deliver frictionless/contactless access, further reducing on-premises cost with the use of mobile-based access controls.
Yasser concedes that most organisations think of the new normal as strictly working from home, but that is not the case. The new normal means that there should be an integration between the old office setup pre-COVID-19 and the ability to work from anywhere. Ultimately, people must have the best experience, regardless of the setup of their workplaces.
After the informative presentations from renowned speakers, the forum moved to an interactive discussion session a time of high-level engagement with delegates from various government agencies, FSI, education and healthcare organisations. Aided by polling questions, this session is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and impart professional learning and development for the participants. It an opportunity for delegates to gain insight from subject matter experts, share their stories and take back strategies that can be implemented in their organisations.
The opening poll inquired about delegates’ primary objective in their digital transformation strategies. Close to half (48%) of the delegates said their digital transformation is meant to improve their business processes while 43% said it is for the improvement of citizen and customer experiences.
On the question about the biggest challenges delegates face in implementing digital strategies, a third ( 32%) voted legacy systems and technologies that lack integration capabilities were the biggest. Just under a quarter (24%) signalled that the lack of skilled teams is their primary obstacle.
Participants were asked how they measure the success of their digital transformation efforts. Over two-thirds (68%) said that they are still looking for ways to measure it effectively while a fourth (25%) indicated they already have qualitative and quantitative methods in place.
Delegates were then asked about their most important IT priorities. A majority of the delegates (64%) said digital transformation and innovation are their top priorities while 33% said that improving efficiencies and reducing maintenance costs were the most pressing aspects of their IT strategies.
In terms of IT structures, delegates were asked how AI and Data Analytics impact or improve their current digital transformation strategies. Again a majority (64%) voted faster access to data to improve pre-emptive analysis can be achieved using AI and Data Analytics while 23% said that they need AI-ready infrastructures to manage large sets of data.
On being requested to share their organisations’ biggest pain points in the Big Data value chain, 45% went with data accessibility and sharing as their biggest pain points while 27% said data integrity was the real problem for their organisations.
Regarding the maturity of their data strategies, 40% conceded that it was currently siloed with pockets of data all around the organisation. Over a quarter (26%) indicated that a traditional approach with a central team managing data with all the analytics drivers through their data warehouse.
When asked to rate their organisations’ use of data and data analytics tools for decision-making purposes, 48% said that they needed improvement and better tools while 26% said they were doing good with adequate tools were in place.
Differentiating cloud providers for various workloads got a mixed bag of responses with voters almost evenly divided between price, service, performance and integration.
This led to delegates being asked how much of their organisations’ mission-critical/data-sensitive workloads are to be put onto public clouds this year. About 39% said that less than half of their workloads are set to be put onto the public cloud while 32% said more than half is earmarked for public cloud adoption.
On the issue of cloud adoption, delegates were polled on the biggest challenge CIOs face when complying with the government’s direction to go on the public cloud. About 40% agreed that security poses the biggest challenge, 25% said governance was an issue and 21% said skills to mitigates are lacking.
More mixed results were seen regarding delegates’ main concern for security operations in their organisations. The votes were almost evenly divided among advance and zero-day attacks, difficulties in determining actual attacks due to noise, cybersecurity skills shortages, automating responses and actionable threat intelligence.
Respondents were asked to rate their current level of security operations efficiency to detect and respond to attacks. Almost 44% said their security operations are currently based on log management, correlation aggregation, and basic reporting, while 37% said it was very good in terms of a partial mapping of the prediction, detection and response areas, but needs improvement.
Questioned on what drives their cyber resilience plans, almost half (49%) indicated compliance and incidents were critical factors for their cybersecurity strategies and programmes.
With COVID-19 still making its presence felt in most parts of the world, the delegates were asked about the areas most impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Over 38% said the well-being of their staff took a hit, 35% said their productivity was greatly affected, while 27% said they were able to launch new initiatives because of COVID-19.
Knowing that the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation especially for the working sector, delegates were asked about their perceived outcomes of a digital and automated workplace. About 42% believed that there will higher productivity in the future. The remaining votes were divided into greater collaborations, greater digitalisation, improved employee engagement and resource savings.
On the current challenges they face in the adoption of a digital workplace, 44% said the lack of effective technologies to optimise staff productivity and performance is an issue. Over 38% said the lack of executive leadership to drive a culture of process improvement and effective change management is their biggest challenge. Only 18% said that no clear articulation of digital workplace benefits and a supporting business case hinder their adoption of the new working setup.
Finally, delegates shared their organisations’ capabilities in supporting a remote workforce. Just over half (54%) indicated a lack of collaboration tools for seamless remote work (but they are looking for solutions). A quarter (26%) said they are not looking to implement a fully remote workforce while 20% said they already have the tools to implement a seamless remote working setup.
The Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum 2021 Virtual Edition ended with the closing remarks from Mohit who thanked the delegates, speakers and sponsors for their active participation and keen insights.
Feedback and conversations with participants clearly showed the need and demand for such interactive forums. With ongoing crisis-mitigation efforts and vaccination rollouts from both the public and private sector, Mohit was optimistic that OpenGov would once be able to host physical sessions or, at the very least, organise a hybrid version in the near future.
In this rapidly evolving and VUCA environment, it is important to learn from one another and also support each other. Adoption and adaptation of existing solutions, platforms and models is a far quicker way of getting things done. And what better space to collaborate than events like the OpenGov Leadership Forum.
For more of The Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum Virtual Edition: “Embracing Digitalisation to Navigate the New Normal” read Part I here.
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.
The Philippines’ Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is proposing to make the use of digital signatures mandatory in national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs).
During the Ease of Doing Business Summit, ARTA urged NGAs and LGUs to subscribe to the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to generate e-signature. The DICT can also accredit digital signatures of private institutions.
As per ARTA, the Commission on Audit (COA) is already drafting a circular to recognise the use of digital signatures in all government transactions as well as the crafting of the guidelines on the use of digital signatures.
Aside from the mandatory use of digital signature, ARTA is pushing for a unified online payment system for all fees, contributions, and taxes across NGAs and LGUs. They are already in initial talks and discussions with the concerned agencies, and they are proposing that the Land Bank of the Philippines as one of the government banks to be the payment aggregator of all these payments.
Along with the implementation of e-payment, the agency said that they are currently ironing out the guidelines in the issuance of electronic copies of receipts by the NGAs and LGUs. The use of e-signature and e-payment in government transactions is part of the administration’s push to automate services and processes in public offices.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the government said that integrating information and communications technology in government service is the best way to prepare for the digital demands of the new norm brought by the pandemic.
With a mandate to promote public trust and efficiency in the delivery of public services, ARTA is well positioned to deploy this initiative as part of its strategy. The adoption of digital signatures complements the ARTA’s Advisory Nos. 1 and 2, s. 2020, that urge all government entities to fast-track public transactions through alternative online procedures and the use of e-signatures for official documents.
The Ease of Doing Business and ARTA Council, the policy and advisory body of ARTA previously convened a video conference to discuss initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the virtual meet, the council discussed strategies towards the digitisation of government functions as the country transitions into the new normal as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis.
The council agreed that all government agencies should significantly increase the adoption of technology for efficient and timely delivery of government services. Such adoption of technology and deployment of online services will minimise the risk of further spreading of the virus as well as better serve citizens in general.
These efforts are in line with President Duterte’s directive to ease government-to-citizen transactions during the ongoing state of a public health emergency, and in compliance with the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for government agencies to minimise bottlenecks in the delivery of vital public services.
Previously, ARTA launched its flagship programme NEHEMIA or the National Effort for the Harmonisation of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies. Programme NEHEMIA is a sectoral-based streamlining effort that is directed towards speeding up and realisation of the Socio-Economic Agenda of the government. It targets to reduce the time, cost, requirements, and procedures in sectors of economic and social significance by 52% within 52weeks.
The programme NEHEMIA is in line with ARTA’s mandate to adopt a whole-of-government approach in the streamlining of government services. It is also aligned with the recently released Administrative Order 23: Eliminating Overregulation to Promote Efficiency of Government Processes signed by the President.
Since 1987 the Edison Awards have recognised and honoured some of the most innovative new products and services as well as business leaders from around the world and recently announced this year’s winners.
Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) collected two awards under the support of the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). With these accolades, ITRI has delivered again with MetabColor as well as the AI-Based High-Density Shuttle Rack Delivery System.
The ITRI is a government-funded applied technology research institute with more than 6,000 employees. ITRI’s AI-Based High-Density Shuttle Rack Service System wins a gold medal in the Innovative Services, AI Applications category. The institute also took home a silver award for its MetabColor microbial textile dyes produced via a non-toxic, environmentally friendly and renewable process.
The Director-General of DoIT stated that it was no easy thing that ITRI’s AI technology won a gold medal in the Innovative Services, AI Applications category. The automated vertical warehousing system is developed for space-starved cities and the rack can be 14 stories high, saving at least twice as much space storage. Moreover, ITRI has been working with several companies to develop AI technology. The AI-based warehousing system optimises logistics efficiency to meet the increasing needs of e-commerce, cutting shipping time by 60% and helping to increase logistics performance during peak season.
The silver winner, MetabColor, uses modified microbes and the fermentation, separation, and purification processes to create natural dyes that are more environmentally friendly than chemical dyes. ITRI has been cooperating with leaders in textile manufacturing and speciality chemicals on the preliminary verification of the technology.
ITRI President also stated that the honour demonstrates that the institute’s technological vision aligns with top global trends. ITRI will continue collaborating with industry leaders to offer efficient solutions aimed at minimising environmental impact while ensuring Taiwan is an integral part of green global supply chains. He also pointed out that the Edison Awards focus on the “real-world applications” of innovative R&D results. Winning two awards is a big achievement for their R&D teams.
2030 Technology Strategy and Roadmap
To innovate a better future, ITRI has drawn up its 2030 Technology Strategy and Roadmap, in which it enhances the development of “intelligentisation” enabling technologies and focuses on three application domains: Smart Living, Quality Health, and Sustainable Environment. The Institute strives to use technological innovation to shape new lifestyles, develop market-oriented solutions, and find uncontested spaces.
Digital transformation has become a driving force for global economic innovation. With the prevalence of IoT and AI, people are seeking a faster, easier, and smarter life with the introduction of intelligent devices/services and new business models.
Therefore ITRI is developing personalised devices and services, autonomous mobility systems, and smart industries and services for the Smart Living domain. ITRI is also working on human-machine interaction, enhanced imaging and perception systems, autonomous decision-making and control, and smart business technologies and services.
As many countries are moving towards hyper-aged societies, demands for medical personnel and healthcare resources are increasing. New business opportunities in the emerging diagnosis and treatment market are also created through integrated solutions that include smart long-term care systems, personalised/precision medicine, and healthcare models.
In the domain of Quality Health, ITRI leverages Taiwan’s strengths in ICT and medical care systems to develop smart medical and healthcare technologies. The R&D scope includes smart medical electronics, regenerative medicine, wearable devices, digital healthcare services, and many more.
Due to the current climate change, greenhouse effects, and limited energy sources and resources, how to coexist with Mother Nature has become an important issue when developing new technologies. A sustainable environment can be maintained by creating a circular ecosystem, cutting downtime and energy-consuming production processes, and discovering green energy sources.
ITRI is thereby enhancing the technology development in the circular economy, smart manufacturing, and green energy and environment fields by exploring high-value circular materials, smart manufacturing systems, and supply chain management to achieve ecological symbiosis.
The International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad (IIIT-H) is launching a month-long smart city start-up challenge, in association with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY). The programme will allow selected start-ups an opportunity to pitch to smart city technology multinational companies and smart city officials. The winner will get an equity-free grant of IN1 million (US$) for further development. Winners will also be featured in an innovation listing shared with smart city leaders.
According to a news report, the programme is run by Smart City Living Labs, part of the Smart City Research Centre set up with support from MEITY, the Smart City Mission, and the government of Telangana at IIITH. The focus areas for the challenge are water, waste, safety and security, health, and energy. Any start-ups with solutions or products with smart city use cases can apply, especially tech start-ups already working with products that provide use cases, with or without customers. Those with expertise in commercially deploying market-ready products can also apply. The application deadline is 1 June, the report added.
Ramesh Loganathan, professor- co-innovation and head research of innovation outreach, noted that the Smart City Living Lab is an attempt to discover cutting-edge innovations with smart city use cases and enrich them with knowledge from research. This start-up challenge will help discover innovations to enable smart cities. The winning teams will get capital, network, and knowledge support. The programme is envisioned to support and scale start-ups that are building sustainable, inclusive, and innovative solutions for smart cities.
Smart city technology can make cities more effective and efficient, which is necessary given the projected rapid growth in urban populations over the next few decades. Living Labs will use technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life. The report explained that Living Labs’ mission is to use technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life. By connecting start-ups with those searching for smart city solutions, the programme will amplify the transformation of city infrastructure.
It is also running a water challenge in association with the government of Telangana and the National Institute of Urban Management to find viable solutions to the problems faced regarding water quality, supply, and non-revenue water by cities in Telangana. The goal of the Living Lab plan is to create an urban area enhancing three value domains: social, economic, and environmental. It aims to enable acquire expertise in IoT for smart cities-related research and deployment; generate data for research; create a viable innovation and demand-driven ecosystem in universities; and provide a test bench for IoT-based smart city implementations to start-ups and big companies.
The government’s Smart City Mission aims to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology to create smart outcomes for citizens. Under the project, 100 cities will be covered for five years.