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With the growing need and dependence on data protection and management, investing in the right cloud application, finding the right partners and hiring the right people with innovative mindset are key solutions for government agencies to consider in giving their operations a boost in terms of efficiency and flexibility.

This was the cornerstone principle put on the table for discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight: Optimising Cloud Deployment for a High-Performance Digital Government held on 8 December 2020.

The virtual session was attended by ICT executives from governments across Singapore. The session saw a plethora of insights, perspectives and opinions being shared not only regarding problems that government offices encounter but about various data management solutions that agencies can utilise for effective operations.

The overwhelming response from digital executives from Singapore paved the way for intense dialogue. Top officials from a wide cross-section of government agencies presented challenges they encountered with the shift to data management as a tool to handle voluminous information. Solutions were also discussed at length on how to engage government agencies’ workforce in adhering to a rollout of innovative data and cloud storage systems.

Catering to citizens’ demand for government services through cloud solutions

Mohit Sagar: Government agencies have to look for data management partners

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, believes to keep up with the increasing demand for government services by increasingly tech-savvy citizens, agencies must invest in the right solutions and the partners to ensure that its glass is always kept full.

A smart nation means ensuring that everything is working in top shape, being flexible and being connected at all times. While this notion is not new, what has essentially surfaced during the COVID -19 pandemic is the importance of scalability.

To emphasise his point, Mohit expounded on how citizens have become smarter. They have technology at their fingertips to ask and receive services and can engage with private providers anywhere, anytime. What this means for government agencies is that they have to continuously invest in integrated, scalable and seamless data management applications, all tailored to fit both the needs of their offices and the general public.

One of the solutions offered by Mohit in his opening speech is quite simple – keep your citizens happy. This principle goes to the very core of public services that agencies have sworn to abide by.

Government agencies should go beyond putting up in-house data security systems but rather must capitalise on its big IT  arm. They must also team up with partners for data management services rather than try doing everything by themselves.

Finding the right data management solution

Neville Vincent: Mix and match modalities in a multi-cloud world

Expanding on the concepts laid down by Mohit, Neville Vincent, Vice President, South Asia Pacific, Nutanix, simplified the concept of using public cloud by likening it to a hotel. It needs to be available, convenient and flexible. While there is truth to the notion that investing in data management is an additional cost, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. 

The next level of cloud solutions was compared by Neville as a service department. There are many features in a cloud data service that can be customised by organisations. Regardless of whether an organisation is public or private, people should always look for three components: security, performance, and economics. 

 Neville eased the apprehension of participants by adding that there really is no such thing as the best cloud application in the market for a specific organisation. The answer is to mix and match between several modalities and apply a multi-level approach to achieve the right mix of quality performance, reliable security, and economics custom-fit to suit an agency’s needs. 

For Neville, finding the right cloud data service is a balancing act. All three elements must be considered by government agencies. When it comes tchoosing effectively which data system would work best, the question to be pondered is whether one has the right workload at the right workplace and at the right time. 

The power of taking risks

Glenn Ashe: To innovate and improve, we have to take risks and fail fast

Glenn Ashe, Chief Information and Technology Officer, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, highlighted the steps his office undertook with regards to teaming up with the private sector for secure cloud solutions. 

 Glenn addressed some of the usual problems that most agencies are exposed to in their daily operations. To solve these, Glenn and his team opted to transition from a traditional mode of gathering and storing data to cloud storage and management. This solution significantly improved operations. 

“We transferred the IT operating model. We went down the pipe to transform our ICT to be much more flexible, resilient, and to be able to deliver high-performance services. We have scaled on prime modes to meet business demands. It accelerated modelling turnaround time,” Glenn explained. 

 The benefits of shifting to innovative data services are many. For one, these solutions are flexible and on another standpoint, they are resilient. These elements allowed Glenn and his team to handle a massive amount of data in healthcare with data computing technology. Prime resources, he added, can be added much more flexibly. 

 He added that the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic also pushed the organisation to look for a strong system that would allow it to handle an immense amount of data while allowing the workforce to work within the confines of their homes. 

Polling questions

 After the presentation of the speakers, attendees were engaged in an in-depth discussion facilitated through the polling questions.

 The first question inquired about the current cloud strategy employed by the various attendees. More than half (56%)  said that they rely on a hybrid cloud system.

According to a senior delegate from the Accountant General’s Department, with so much happening in government operations including that of standardisation, a hybrid cloud program is the best way to go. Questions to be considered would be narrowed down to those related to end goals of an organisation and the type of data classification needed in storage solutions.

As to how their agencies leverage data, again almost half answered that they currently employ data integration. This is despite stringent government-instituted policies and classified data make agencies wary to share in an online platform. Notwithstanding, there is still data sharing that happens in some government offices, including those providing health services.

The issue of how organisations get the right skillset from the workforce it hires was also raised during the session, with about a third (37%) of respondents saying they consider other modes of acquiring appropriate skills from employees through means other than training, hiring, and partnership. This was tailed closely by training (33%).

For a majority of the participants, the trick is not just to train or to hire but to mix two or three modes. Hiring a good employee is one thing but hiring should also be followed by rigorous training.

 One interesting point made during the poll was that protection is a significant added value for agencies relying on cloud services and infrastructure. A majority (61%)  voted for protection as a significant added value.

An executive from the National Environment Agency felt that protection is closely intertwined with reputation. A breach on data would mean a breach of reputation which government agencies and organisations work hard to maintain.

When asked how attendees differentiate between cloud providers for workload solutions, the attendees identified services over than performance and integration as the main differentiator. The reason is that optimum performance from cloud service providers is already a given, as well as integration. With services, this feature must be fully integrated to fit a specific government function.

On the final question, almost three quarters (73%)  felt that the biggest challenge for agencies and organisations are the workforce and employee skill-set. While, as Neville stated, knowledge of people is important, it is critical to continuously foster a high level of curiosity with employees to make them open for changes – in the organisation and solutions, including shifting to online data management.

Conclusion

The session came to a close with some food for thought from Neville on how organisations can receive help in choosing the right partners and putting forth a new mindset for its employees. He said that cloud management is a real game-changer. With this technology, things have become more complex. The big question then is how to make the best of it and use it for organisations’ own advantage.

In the end, the answer lies in addressing the need to make the right cloud decision. This, Neville said, can be done by maintaining an appetite for knowledge, information, change, and guidance.

The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), has worked with Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to launch the Blockchain for Trade & Connectivity (BTC) Network – a unifying platform that allows blockchain and other technologies to operate together. This initiative is supported by the National Research Foundation.

Six commercial partners sign an understanding to develop the blockchain for trade & connectivity network

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 7, 2020, with an initial group of six commercial partners during the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology. The MOU aims to create, trial and lead the implementation of the BTC Network.

The commercial partners are Ascent Solutions Pte Ltd, Blockchain-based Service Network, Commodities Intelligence Centre, GeTS Asia Pte Ltd, Trames Pte Ltd and VeChain Technology.

Under the partnership, SUSS will also be working closely with academics and industry practitioners to curate courses and programmes to enhance the knowledge and skills of the local workforce.

SUSS Provost, Prof Tsui Kai Chong said, “The BTC Network is one of SUSS’s endeavours in harnessing transformative technologies to serve society’s changing needs and contribute to building an inclusive and resilient society for social good. We are excited that the resulting programmes and courses will better equip our students and adult learners with future-ready digital capabilities.”

Opportunity to testbed blockchain solutions

The BTC Network allows for innovation and test-bedding of blockchain solutions with multimodal global supply chain companies, digital trading platforms and technology specialists.

It will focus on enhancing interoperability between blockchains by integrating mesh networks to streamline connectivity between existing systems or platforms.

To help local businesses and workers understand the technologies’ potential, a risk assessment framework will also be developed for SMEs to assess how blockchain can be adopted to meet business needs.

The BTC Network is expected to reduce barriers to trade and advance the trade and connectivity sector into a digital future that is secure and effective.

Assistant Chief Executive, ESG, Mr Satvinder Singh said, “Assuring reliable supply chains and trusted connectivity to the world are key considerations that will maintain our status as a trade and connectivity hub. Through the BTC network, we can connect enterprises with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to co-create or adopt digital solutions that will promote greater efficiency and transparency across global supply chains.”

“We will continue to work with SUSS and industry partners to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) assess the resilience of their current operations with the risk assessment framework and promote the adoption of blockchain technology for business confidence and growth.”

Enterprise Singapore launched the inaugural Southeast Asia Open Innovation Challenge (SEA OIC), and expanded the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to include Manila. These are just two of the announcements made by Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry today at the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology 2020 – SWITCH 2020.

“As economies recover from the pandemic, it will be important for companies to adopt innovative solutions that enable them to operate more efficiently, or to strengthen offerings that cater to increased demand in emerging sectors like fintech and healthcare.”

“Through the SEA OIC, regional companies can develop innovations to help them adapt their business models and remain resilient. In turn, promising startups and SMEs gain the opportunity to partner these established corporates to testbed their ideas, and accelerate market access into the region,” said Mr Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore.

“With the addition of Manila to our GIA network on top of the existing ones in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta, we hope to further drive linkages between our innovation and tech communities, and facilitate collaboration.”

The SEA OIC spans five regional corporate-level partnerships in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Through the open innovation challenge, startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will get the opportunity to work on wide-ranging challenge statements in Media, Retail, Consumer Tech, Fintech, Proptech and Agritech.

Shortlisted solution providers will get the opportunity to work directly with the regional corporates to develop and refine their solutions in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

There are up to six eligible winners, one from each sector. They could win up to S$20,000 Startup SG grants each.

Strengthening ties between Singapore and the Philippines

Manila is the fourth GIA partner in Southeast Asia. Under GIA Manila, Enterprise Singapore will partner Plug and Play (PNP) to boost collaborations between Singapore tech startups and SMEs with their counterparts in the Philippines through Manila.

PNP will work with Launchgarage, one of the leading tech accelerators in the Philippines, to help participants engage key industry stakeholders in the Philippines.

PNP is a stage-agnostic open innovation platform that runs accelerator programmes and corporate innovation activities in more than 16 countries and 30 global cities. Since its founding in 2006, PNP has accelerated more than 2,000 companies and developed a network of more than 400 corporate partners globally.

PNP will run two types of Acceleration Programmes:

  • A market access programme that provides an overview of the innovation ecosystem in the Philippines, enabling Singapore businesses to sharpen their internationalisation strategy for the Philippines market. Participants will be able to meet with potential collaborators and customers through mentorship and business matching sessions.
  • A sector-based demand-led innovation programme that will target specific challenges faced by local corporates. PNP and Launchgarage will curate problem statements from potential demand drivers in-market, and connect them to suitable Singapore solution providers.

Targeted to commence in Q1 2021, these programmes will involve up to 50 Singapore tech startups and SMEs over a year. The programmes will take place virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is propelling digital transformation faster than imagined. This has afforded companies with ever-increasing opportunities to grow and innovate at scale and deploy technology rapidly.

The pandemic can be viewed as a game-changer to accelerate the digital transformation. Both businesses and the public sector can re-strategise, investing in more integrated digital infrastructure to manage current and future disruptions.

Some leading organisations have been able to do this – not by trying to outrun technological disruption, but by seeing it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves; and by learning to use it as an enabler to unlock new value sources.

OpenGov Asia organised a highly timely Virtual Breakfast Insight on 4 December 2020 to discuss effective and efficient multi-cloud data management strategies and how to ensure data availability, accessibility, and protection across any cloud environment while implementing strategies for reducing costs.

The importance of the highly timely topic was borne out by the fact that the session saw active participation, engagement, and full attendance from some of the leading enterprises from Singapore.

Winning Formula – Data intelligence, agility and insights

Mohit Sagar: Data explosion needs intelligent data management strategy

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia initiated the proceedings by acknowledging the fact that data has gone off the ceiling in the current digital landscape.

Data being the new oil, this massive amount of data represents intelligence and insights which cannot be missed by any organisation. But data is only as valuable as the actionable insights that can be drawn from it. He urged the delegates to focus on the five pillars of cloud data management strategy:

(1) Security
(2) Compliance and Governance
(3) Cost Management
(4)  Automation and Orchestration
(5) Performance Monitoring

Mohit acknowledged that while ICT professionals are juggling the tough job of maintaining a tight balance between data availability, protection and security. It is no surprise, then, that they are choosing to pursue cloud-based data management as their best business option. As such, across industries, the cloud has proved to be an invaluable tool for advancing business.

In the same vein, he also implored the delegates to look at the various possibilities that cloud data management provides. Although local data storage has been the industry standard for some time, the preference is shifting as businesses become aware of new developments and the advantages of cloud data management technology.

Mohit’s concluding remarks encouraged the delegates to incorporate a simple, secured, scalable, and robust data management system. He advised them to partner with technology experts in the field who can support them on this journey.

Future-Ready Enterprise: Automation, orchestration, and performance matters

Justin Loh: Automating data protection, orchestrating data recovery and ensuring the availability of business-critical applications

After Mohit’s opening, Justin Loh, Country Director, Veritas Technologies, gave an overview of Veritas Technologies’ effective offerings and the accolades they have received year after year. He elaborated on the benefits of Veritas’s Enterprise Data services platform with the audience.

Justin spoke about how the Veritas Enterprise Data Service (EDS) Platform brings new levels of availability, protection and insights at the enterprise scale. It can help the digital executives better manage, protect and simplify their data landscape.

Justin expanded on the innovative features of their platform and how it helps customers reduce risk, optimise cost, strengthen ransomware resiliency and manage multi-cloud environments at scale. The EDS platform allows organisations to get what matters to them most – highly available apps, always protected and recoverable data and insights that drive operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.

The platform also allows organisations to gain control of their data to help them manage their growth, reduce the impact of ransomware and improve compliance for on-premises and cloud environments.

Justin concluded his session by sharing his observations that have been gathered from interaction with various business leaders. He mentioned four key areas that have been in the spotlight:

  • Sustaining the business
  • Cost optimisation
  • Risk management & compliance
  • Reinventing future business models

Embracing cloud to innovate faster

Franco Chiam: On consolidation, cost optimisation empowerment and innovation

After Justin’s presentation, Franco Chiam, General Manager – Digital and Innovation Lead, Daimler South East Asia shared his organisation’s Cloud journey with the delegates.

Franco agreed with Justin’s remarks on accelerating digital transformation with the adoption of cloud strategy. He explained that his organisation’s cloud journey and its objective to ensure that they remain innovative and relevant.

Daimler pivoted its IT priorities to three pillars of – Move, Perform, and Transform. In the initial stages, the strategy veered around:

– Cloud & DevOps

– Security & Identity and Access Management

– API Architecture

– Open-source. etc

 

Over the years, the focus has now shifted towards:

  • Self-Services, Automation
  • Data Analytics, ML/AI
  • Connected Platforms
  • Software & Products

All these initiatives have helped the organisation to ensure that the plans and capabilities are optimised. They have additionally helped the team to redesign and provide better solutions that meet the current and emerging needs of their customers.

Franco divided the resulting top achievements into five areas:

  1. Automation and Innovation
  2. Capacity Building
  3. Service Experience
  4. Enable Workforce Transformation
  5. Control & Reduce Cost

Franco rightly took pride in stating that recalibrating and automating processes have resulted in building new digital services and agile innovation.

He ended his session saying that getting the right team members helps increase capacity building and in turn accelerate the journey of digital transformation.

Abstracting IT complexity, while improving application availability

John Abel: IT and data are  at the forefront of driving transformation and business

After Franco’s inspiring presentation, John Abel, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Veritas Technologieshared his valuable insights with the delegates.

John began by agreeing that the economic difficulties being faced by businesses have been exacerbated and their digital transformation efforts have been disrupted due to the ongoing pandemic.

Many industries have almost been decimated like the travel and hospitality industry, Many have had to rethink their strategy of how to serve their customers remotely and revitalising their IT applications.

He drew an interesting comparison between the Ford Corporation, Tesla and Airbnb. He emphasised how Airbnb has effectively utilised data and insights to create a better user experience.

He made a foundational statement on which he laid his premise:  with changing customer behaviour and the rise of a new generation of consumers who are digital natives, it is almost imperative for organisations to rethink their IT strategies and evolve to serve them better.

Data will allow organisations to draw actionable insights. He acknowledged the rapid transformation and the increased digital footprint of doing everything online, especially in the current landscape.

On the flip side, this data explosion and rapid digital transformation have exposed organisations to a lot of external risks like ransomware and dark data. All these factors together have increased the IT complexity, making it even more challenging for the organisations to stay resilient.

John urged the delegates to protect their organisations against the significant rise in ransomware and also referred to a recent survey done by Veritas in this area.

John concluded his presentation by saying that exponential data growth, prominent data threats like ransomware and a highly volatile and ever-changing data regulatory environment are some of the things that keep CIOs awake. But he could sleep well at night because he knows where his organisation’s data is sitting, readily available and secured and that he can draw insights to the benefit of his organisation. All this is possible because of the advantages of the Enterprise Data Platform.

Protection against the growing threat of ransomware

Andy Ng: Need for greater use of data protection solutions to protect against the growing threat of ransomware

After an enlightening session by John, Andy Ng, VP, Managing Director, ASR Sales of Veritas Technologies shared some very insightful findings from research recently commissioned by Veritas Technologies.

The study was conducted across 21 countries globally with a very strong representation from South East Asia. The objective of the survey was to gain insight into organisations preparedness against ransomware attacks.

Key findings from the survey indicated that:

– 64% store their data and applications in the cloud

– 61% use more than 5 different cloud services (data complexity/visibility)

– 70% of corporations who suffered a ransomware attack took more than 24 hours to resume normal business operations

– The third biggest concern occupying organisational time is how to fend off risks from external and internal risks and data loss

After shedding some light on the current cybersecurity landscape, he explained to the delegates how the Veritas Enterprise Data Service Platform can help delegates better manage, protect, and simplify their data landscape.

Polling Questions & Discussion

After the presentations from the speakers, it was time to engage in vibrant discussions with the audience through polling questions.

On the first question about the requirement that is shaping their landscape to be agile with the business needs, delegates were divided between the speed of change for applications, data and building/removing core business systems (40%) while an equal percentage of them voted for adapting to changing customer demands.

A senior delegate from a leading enterprise shared that incorporating the needs of the customers is of paramount importance and enterprises need to evolve and overcome their legacy infrastructure to be able to serve the next generation of customers. This has especially gained importance in the COVID-19 era.

On the next question about the biggest challenge faced by organisations when looking at digital transformation, the participants were split between skill shortage to implement and operate technology (31%) and dependency on the need to integrate with legacy systems and/or technology (38%). It came as no surprise that 23% of the delegates voted for securing against cyber threats as one of their biggest challenges.

For the third question on evaluating new technologies and considerations being taken as a priority, there were interesting answers from the delegates. Operational simplicity and product reliability were hands down the most preferred choice of answer from the delegates (50%).

At the same time, 25% of delegates chose vendor brand reputation and end-to-end capabilities and cost optimisation (25%) as their choices. This led to a presentation of varied but interesting insights into the buying decisions of the delegates.

On the final question about the area of interest for your organisation and what do they value the most, the audience overwhelmingly voted for delivering business resiliency through highly available applications and workloads and ease of doing business through a simplified technology consumption model (42%).

There was unanimity in the delegates’ choice of answers stating that there is no luxury of time and that simplicity is key. A delegate observed that simplicity means customisation and that the technology should be able to future-proof the business.

Conclusion

After the hugely interactive, exciting, and engaging polling session, John addressed the delegates to bring the informative session to its logical end.

The thought-provoking discussion and sharing by prominent Singapore enterprises undoubtedly provided food for thought for all the participants.

John urged the delegates to be prepared to evolve as new-age consumers who are more tech-savvy are on the rise. Data is going to explode and become even more complex and technology needs to rise to the occasion and become intuitive.

He acknowledged unequivocally that this is one of the best times for IT leaders. He urged them to get the seat on the board and have a say in business decisions.

Mohit added that these are exciting times and IT is not only the enabler but is in the driver seat. It is no longer just a “fix my computer” job for IT but how to drive the business into the next era.

SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, is launching a call for partnership for new private sector partners to co-invest in Singapore-based startups under the Startup SG Equity scheme.

SEEDS Capital aims to appoint between 10 to 15 partners and catalyse up to S$150 million of investments into early-stage, deep tech startups in the next five to eight years.

The call for partnership will focus on broadening, diversifying and refreshing SEEDS Capital’s current pool of 30 active co investment partners in three deep tech sectors: Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering; Health & Biomedical Sciences; Urban Solutions & Sustainability.

These sectors are in line with Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) Technology Domains, which aim to increase Singapore’s research capabilities, as well as to support economic growth in key focus areas such as digital health, agri-food tech, urban mobility and logistics & supply chain that have emerged due to COVID-19.

Said Mr Ted Tan, Chairman of SEEDS Capital and Enterprise Singapore’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, “Our industries are pressing ahead with digitalisation and innovation efforts, not just to overcome the impacts of COVID-19, but to pave the way for a new Startup SG Equity catalyses private-sector investment for startups through government equity coinvestment. Please refer to www.startupsg.net for more details economy. Through the co-investments with these private sector partners, we hope to provide the appropriate guidance and resources that will enable deep tech startups to succeed in developing new and disruptive technologies that can help our enterprises
emerge stronger.”

SEEDS Capital is seeking partners who can:

a. Identify and co-invest in Singapore-based, early-stage deep tech startups in the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Health & Biomedical Sciences, and Urban Solutions & Sustainability sectors

b. Provide hands-on assistance in helping these early-stage deep tech startups fasttrack commercialisation and connect them to potential clients globally.

The call for partnership will open on 7 December 2020 and close on 17 January 2021. Local and foreign parties with presence in Singapore are welcome to apply. For more information on the pplication criteria, please visit http://startupsg.gov.sg/programmes/4895/startup-sg-equity

In collaboration with 

 

 

 

As you might imagine during the COVID-19 pandemic, efficiency was key – particularly when it involved healthcare records.

The last thing you’d want to do while battling a deadly virus, is to fumble through paper records that are easily misplaced, replicated or replaced.

That’s why in May, while the frontline medical staff was busy containing the pandemic, teams from SGInnovate and Accredify were busy developing a product called Digital Health Passport behind the scenes.

By storing data on blockchain, Accredify built upon GovTech’s OpenAttestation framework for HealthCert, a verifiable travel credential standard created by GovTech, to enhance the safety and efficiency of travel for all outbound travellers and immigration authorities.

Digital Health Passport allows for medical documents – yes, including COVID-19 discharge memos and swab results – to be issued and stored in a secure digital wallet. The mobile app was created to resolve the issue of lost or damaged physical medical records by providing an easily accessible, portable repository of medical documents for citizens.

Verification is fast and easy, users can automatically access their digital records via SingPass and present it to officials via QR code when required.

Because of the open nature of blockchain, the health records are also tamperproof (we’ve explained how blockchain works in a previous article about degrees and diplomas, read that here).

PUT INTO ACTION IN TWO MONTHS

Time is of the essence during a pandemic and the development of the Digital Health Passport definitely reflects the urgency required. The project started in May, but by July an early beta version was already implemented in a pilot with both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower.

Put into action in MOM’s FWMOMCARE app, Digital Health Passport was deployed to enable the issuance of verifiable discharge memo that expedited the re-entry of foreign workers into their dormitory and workplace.

FUTURE PLANS ARE BREWING

Digital Health Passport might now be used mostly for discharge memos, but plans are already in motion to extend the usage to other healthcare records such as COVID-19 Swab results, proof-of-immunity and even vaccination records.

In a time where the world is still grappling with COVID-19, the app has the potential to become an essential tool for both the healthcare sector and travel industry.

FINDING THE SILVER LINING

Well, if there’s one thing we learnt during COVID-19, is that there are opportunities in even the darkest of crises.

It’s quite possible in the near future that it’ll be used to facilitate checks on travellers, or help other organisations manage their employee health and travel records better – in both Singapore and beyond!

If that happens, our tiny island nation can affirm its status as a Digital Hub in a post-COVID world – and a leader in utilising blockchain technology.

Of course, when that happens, you’d be sure to hear it from us!

Financial institutions are scaling up the utilisation of cloud services to enable innovation and new business models, as well as to meet the exponential need for and use of data.

Changing customer expectations, the rise of FinTech, and COVID-19 are accelerating banks’ digital transformation, forcing them to upgrade their infrastructure to meet the requirements of the data-intensive era.

Customer data protection is an absolute must. If the data gets into the wrong hands, it will cost the company greatly. It can engender a loss of customer’s trust, which can put the financial company’s reputation at stake.

OpenGov Asia organised a highly timely Virtual Breakfast Insight on 2 December 2020 to discuss enhancing multi-cloud data management, data availability, insights, protection, and compliance readiness to gain the coveted competitive edge.

The session saw active participation, engagement and full attendance from some of the leading financial institutions from Singapore.

Focussing on five pillars of cloud data management strategy

Mohit Sagar: Data management strategy needs to be revisited to orchestrate security, insights and availability

The session was kick-started by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia. Mohit pointed to the fact that we have been inundated with data in the COVID-19 era. But he was quick to note that, in a bid to keep the lights on and sail through this difficult time, data strategy does not need to take a hit.

Data would only be valuable if we could draw actionable insights from it.

He urged the delegates to focus on the five pillars of cloud data management strategy:

(1) Security

(2) Compliance and Governance

(3) Cost Management

(4)  Automation and Orchestration

(5) Performance Monitoring

Mohit emphasised that data strategy is not a zero-sum game, but it is about maintaining a delicate balance between data availability, security and insights. In the same vein, he also implored the delegates to not let governance and compliance hinder their cloud data management strategy as these should be the enablers of creating possibilities for them.

In conclusion, Mohit encouraged the delegates to incorporate a simple, secured and scalable data management system. He advised them to partner with experts in the field who can support them on this journey.

Reduce risk, optimise cost, strengthen ransomware resiliency, and manage multi-cloud environments at scale

Justin Loh: Leverage tech to drive automation,  efficiencies, agility, flexibility and scalability

After Mohit’s opening, Justin Loh, Country Director, Veritas Technologies shared his insights on Veritas’s Enterprise Data services platform with the audience.

Justin spoke about how the Veritas Enterprise Data service platform can help the delegates better manage, protect and simplify their data landscape.

Justin elaborated on the innovative features of their platform and how it helps customers reduce risk, optimise cost, strengthen ransomware resiliency and manage multi-cloud environments at scale.

The EDS platform allows organisations to get what matters to them most, namely: highly available apps, always protected and recoverable data, and insights that drive operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.

Justin concluded his session by sharing his observations that have been gleaned from his interaction with various business leaders. He mentioned that four key areas have been in the spotlight:

  • Sustaining the business
  • Cost optimisation
  • Risk management & compliance
  • Reinventing future business models

Infrastructure Automation, Application Modernisation and Operation Optimisation

Dr Amarit Laorakpong: Keeping Cloud security, compliance and governance on track

After Justin’s presentation, Dr Amarit Laorakpong, Executive Vice President, IT Strategy and Governance Bank of Ayudhya shared his organisation’s Cloud journey with the delegates.

Dr Amarit explained that cloud security is the linchpin of their digital transformation efforts. Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) leverages the cloud to transform its technology infrastructure to support its digital transformation.

Dr Amarit shared how his organisation built a secured and resilient cloud-enabled infrastructure to migrate to and managed a hybrid cloud environment which resulted in:

– Accelerated application development

– Extended security posture to applications running on cloud

– Optimised costs and utilisation

He further shared that at Bank of Ayudhya, there are over 300 applications on-premise which are being slowly migrating to the cloud. There are seven domains that Krungsri are building on the cloud which are as below:

  1. Identity and Access Management
  2. Cloud Risk Governance and Compliance
  3. Cloud Resiliency and Incident Response
  4. Monitoring risk of Cloud Traffic
  5. Cloud Applications Security
  6. Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Security
  7. Data Protection

Dr Amarit concluded his presentation by emphasising the importance of data protection. This has gained significance in the wake of Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). The act is in the process of being updated, and full implementation and compliance are expected by the middle of  2021.

Focusing on the three pillars – Data Availability, Protection, and Insights

John: Chose a reliable partner who can support you overcome data management challenges

After Dr Amarit’s thought-provoking presentation, John Abel, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Veritas Technologies shared his perspectives with the delegates.

John began by agreeing that this year has been topsy-turvy and the digital transformation efforts of most of the organisations have been disrupted due to the ongoing pandemic.

Many industries have been impacted like the travel and hospitality industry and the banking industry has had to rethink their strategy of how to serve their customers remotely and revitalising mobile applications.

He drew an interesting comparison and example of Ford Corporation and Airbnb. He spoke about how Airbnb has effectively utilised data and insights to create a better user experience.

He acknowledged the rapid transformation and the increased digital footprint of doing everything online,  especially in the current landscape.

The data explosion and rapid digital transformation have also exposed organisations to a lot of external risks like ransomware and dark data. All these factors together have increased the IT complexity, making it even more challenging for the organisations to stay resilient.

John concluded his presentation by saying that he could sleep well at night because he knows where his organisation’s data is sitting, readily available and secured and that he can draw insights to the benefit of his organisation. All this is possible because of the advantages of the Enterprise Data Platform.

Polling Questions & Discussion

After the presentations from the speakers, it was time to engage in discussion with the audience through polling questions.

On the first question about the requirement that is shaping their landscape to be agile with the business needs, a majority of the audience voted for speed of change for applications, data, and building/removing core business systems while 37% voted for adapting to changing customer demands.

A senior delegate from a leading financial institution shared that incorporating the needs of the customers is of paramount importance and banks have to overcome their legacy infrastructure to be able to serve the next generation of customers.

On the next question about the biggest challenge faced by organisations when looking at digital transformation, the delegates were divided between skill shortage to implement and operate technology (33%) and dependency on the need to integrate with legacy systems and/or technology (28%). Interestingly, 22% of the delegates voted for compliance with government regulations being the biggest challenge.

One of the delegates shared that compliance invariably becomes one of the biggest challenges when it comes to accelerating the digital transformation journey. There are a lot of legacy systems in place and integrating them into the new digital platforms is a very challenging task.

The third question on evaluating new technologies and considerations being taken as a priority, there were interesting answers from the delegates. Operational simplicity and product reliability were hands down the most preferred choice of answer from the delegates ( 69%).

On the final question about the area of interest for your organisation and what do they value the most, the audience overwhelmingly voted for ease of doing business through a simplified technology consumption model (50%).

There was consensus among the delegates that simplicity is the key and is the ultimate sophistication. A delegate said, when looking for a new solution in the organisation, they ensure that it supports the latest technology to bring ease to operations and processes.

After the hugely interactive and engaging polling session, John addressed the delegates to bring the informative session to its logical end. He whole-heartedly agreed that these thought-provoking discussions and sharing by prominent Singapore financial institutions undoubtedly provided food for thought for all the participants.

John acknowledged unequivocally that this is one of the best times for IT leaders. They have to push the envelope, they need to work around the data and make sure their organisations are cyber resilient.

Mohit added that these are exciting times despite the challenges; with the right partners, leaders can get assistance along their journey of digital transformation.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced this week that eligible non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure from February 2021.

This applies to non-bank financial institutions that are licenced as major payment institutions under the Payment Services Act, they will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) and PayNow.

FAST is an electronic funds transfer service that enables customers of participating entities to transfer Singapore dollar funds from one entity to another instantly.

PayNow is an overlay central addressing service that runs on top of the FAST payment system. PayNow allows consumers and businesses to make instant payments across accounts using a proxy such as a mobile number, NRIC/FIN number, or Unique Entity Number (UEN). FAST and PayNow is also available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Direct connection to FAST and PayNow will enable users of NFI e-wallets to make real-time funds transfers between bank accounts and e-wallets as well as across different e-wallets. Currently, most e-wallets require the use of debit or credit cards to top-up funds, and funds transfers between e-wallets are not possible.

Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS said, “Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s e-payments journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their e-wallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts.”

“Our vision to enable complete real-time payments interoperability will now become a reality. Adoption of e-payments will become even more simple for individuals and businesses. MAS thanks the members of the DFWG for their spirit of partnership that brought to fruition this major milestone for e-payments in Singapore.”

Businesses that partner any of the 23 FAST or 9 PayNow banks, or e-wallets that have traditionally been closed-loop ecosystems will soon be able to receive real-time payments from other users of e-wallets or mobile banking applications that will be joining FAST or PayNow. This will enable businesses to access a larger market of consumers than before for receiving e-payments instantly and seamlessly.

NFIs will be able to connect directly through a new Application Programming Interface (API) payment gateway developed by the Direct FAST Working Group (DFWG), with guidance from the Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA) and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which govern FAST and PayNow respectively.

The API payment gateway is better geared to the technology architecture of banks and NFIs, and can also be used by other banks and NFIs in future.

Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 - OpenGov Asia

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