The skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution

IT has been widely reported that the fourth industrial revolution could lead to many jobs being replaced by robots or AI, however, in industries and sectors such as digital technology the opposite could be true, according to recruiting experts, Hays.

The advancement of technology continues to change and shape the world we live in, this has led to questions about the possible implications for employees as some roles look to be affected by the automation of the workforce. However, as new technologies continue to emerge and change the way the way we work, many new and exciting opportunities could be created for those with digital tech skills as some roles within the sector evolve too.

Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia says, “With each new industrial revolution we have seen a shift in the types of jobs within the affected sectors. While we can expect some roles to become extinct, demand will be created for newer roles essential to the running of the new technology. Those with digital technology skills will be in high demand and could reap the rewards.”

Tom Osborne provides some of the potential implications for the digital recruitment sector:

1. Developers who understand AI will be in high demand
“Businesses will need developers who are not only capable of the technical aspects of the job, but developers who are able to spot the wider business opportunities too. So the candidates in greatest demand will be those able to tailor AI applications to enhance companies and optimise business processes.”

2. Increasing need for digital project team members
“Team members, such as product owners/managers, channel managers and other similarly highly skilled talent will also find themselves in high demand. The delivery method for AI-based projects more than likely continue to be Agile, increasing demand for those with the right experience.”

3. Increased use of AI and automation in the technology industry
“The tech industry is already realising the benefits of AI and automation, especially those operating within areas such as IoT, big data or FinTech. This again is resulting in increased demand for those candidates with experience of these technologies.”

4. Heavy reliance on the tech industry to provide business-ready solutions
“Companies looking to improve efficiency through AI or machine learning will need the tech industry to deliver the right solutions quickly and efficiently. This will present those in development with a great opportunity.”

5. The challenge of finding and keeping top talent
“In this skill-short market, companies are already experiencing difficulties in attracting and retaining top talent. Much more will need to be done to attract future generations and ensure there is a talent pipeline for the future.”

6. New industries will be born
“There are many jobs in existence today that didn’t exist ten or even five years ago. With the continued advancement of technology we must be prepared for new roles, even industries, to be created and ensure we have the talent with the necessary skills.”

7. Cybersecurity will be a major focus
“As the workplace becomes more and more digitalised, companies will need to make sure their cybersecurity stands up to any potential attacks. So having the necessary skills and experience in place is a must for any business.”

8. Increased recruitment by start-ups
“Any start-up experiencing exponential growth will need a highly skilled workforce. They will need to recruit them quickly as the start-ups look to capitalise on their growth. This will be good news for contractors, whose flexibility will be attractive.”

Tom Osborne closes by saying, “It’s important that businesses keep up with the demand that the fourth industrial revolution will bring and that it doesn’t leave any negative impact on the current workforce. This means upskilling current employees and looking at potential regulations to safeguard workers.”

This content originally appeared on Viewpoint, the careers advice blog from recruiting experts Hays. To view the original article, click here.




4th Industrial revolution and the age of optimisation

INNOVATIVE technologies defining the Fourth Industrial Revolution hold the promise of a path to environmental sustainability. Their introduction is also transforming the world’s workplaces, with expectation of countless jobs being created and eliminated at a rapid pace, with the many social implications such disruption entails.

Such was the basis of discussion at last week’s Global Innovation Summit 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, organised by the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC) and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).

The issues addressed at the summit could not be more important. How to achieve an innovative, competitive and environmentally sustainable economy is fundamental to our national well being. There are major opportunities and rewards, but serious risks are also abundant in the decisions made today.

According to Deborah Wince-Smith, president of GFCC and chief executive officer of the United States Council on Competitiveness, the world is entering “a technology-driven Age of Optimisation” bringing about more sustainable production and consumption. These technologies “could answer the grand global challenges of adequate food, clean water, energy, the environment and global health”.

Digitisation, sensorisation, and big data will help optimise all aspects of manufacturing production, according to Wince-Smith.

“We will have the ability to illuminate the operation of every machine and device, the cut of every blade, every movement of material, and the consumption of energy minute by minute — providing insight for greater efficiency, waste reduction and lower energy consumption.”

Other examples of high-tech driven change include sensor-enabled smart farming, focused down to square meter scale, with irrigation water delivered precisely when and where needed, while saving energy.

With sustainability heavily dependent on innovation, GFCC outlined 10 guiding principles for nations, regions and cities to succeed in ever more fierce global trading rivalries and achieve environmental sustainability.

The principles emphasise key competitiveness drivers: research and development; education and training for all; sustainable and responsible natural resource development; strong intellectual property rights; open trade; and, a stable, transparent, efficient and fair environment for business investment, formation and growth.

The key message from GFCC: Nations that lead the world in innovation will also lead in environmental sustainability and economic success.

Many delegates later joined the inter-sessional meeting of Malaysia’s Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), an informal group of distinguished national and international leaders in economics, business, science and technology, mandated with helping Malaysia reach developed country status by 2020.

GSIAC, likewise, took up technology issues, but from the perspective of Malaysia’s readiness for “Industry 4.0” — the automation and digitisation of industrial processes through robotics and emerging technologies, also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Presented at the meeting was a GSIAC survey of nine senior business and government executives in Malaysia, revealing major concerns, most notably regarding shortfalls in talent, coordinated direction and a lack of awareness about the profound industrial revolution under way worldwide.

The assessment was to help inform and complement a policy document on Industry 4.0 being developed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

The world’s three past industrial revolutions evolved from the invention of the steam engine, the electrification and expansion of industries for mass production and the digital revolution produced by computers and information technologies.

Industry 4.0 is being driven by the convergence of advanced technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing.

Industry 4.0 includes “the digitisation of the manufacturing sector, with embedded sensors in virtually all product components and manufacturing equipment”, and real-time analysis of data during the manufacturing process.

This transformation has the potential to disrupt “almost every industry in every country” and “is evolving much faster and with greater impact” than any of the previous industrial revolutions, according to the assessment. And “in an ever more globalised world, Malaysia is compelled to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution in order to stay competitive”.

But, the nation needs to be better prepared to confront the profound challenges ahead. With that in mind, the report elaborates on eight major recommendations:

STRENGTHEN talent development;

SET clear governmental directions;

INCREASE awareness;

FOCUS on the 20 per cent of corporations with the conviction to embrace Industry 4.0;

LEVERAGE large corporations;

CREATE a conducive business ecosystem;

IMPROVE Internet infrastructure; and,

FOCUS on the service sector.

With respect to the first recommendation — talent development — the last word belongs to my joint chairman at MIGHT, Tan Sri Ahmad Tajuddin Ali: “As a nation, our future competitive advantage will rely largely on our strength and depth of science and technology-based innovation capacity. Otherwise, our ability to compete in the global marketplace will be severely jeopardised. If we do not do the right things today, especially in the field of education, when the time comes, it will be too late, as the real outcome of what we do today will only be realised 20 to 30 years from now.”

Zakri Abdul Hamid is science adviser to the prime minister and recipient of the 2017 Global Competitiveness Award from the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils



What The World’s Central Banks Are Saying About Cryptocurrencies

HONG KONG: More than eight years since the birth of bitcoin, central banks around the world are increasingly recognising the potential upsides and downsides of digital currencies.

The guardians of the global economy have two sets of issues to address. First is what to do, if anything, about the emergence and growth of the private cryptocurrencies that are grabbing more and more attention — with bitcoin now sitting above $16,000 and futures trading this week heralding a new level of mainstream acceptance. The second question is whether to issue official versions.

Following is an overview of how the world’s largest central banks (and some smaller ones) are approaching the subject:

U.S.: Privacy Worry
The Federal Reserve’s investigation into cryptocurrencies is in its early days, and it hasn’t been overtly enthusiastic about the idea of a central-bank issued answer to bitcoin.

 Jerome Powell, a board member and the chairman nominee, said earlier this year that technical issues remain with the technology and “governance and risk management will be critical.”

Powell said there are “meaningful” challenges to a central bank cryptocurrency, that privacy issues could be a problem, and private-sector alternatives may do the job.

Randal Quarles, vice chair for supervision at the Fed, said Dec. 1 while the central bank has no policy toward regulation of bitcoin it is “worth thinking about.”

The volume of cryptocurrencies could at some point “matter” when it comes to monetary policy, Powell said in answering a question at his Senate confirmation hearing in November. “They’re just not big enough” today, however, he said.

Euro Area: Tulip-Like
The European Central Bank has repeatedly warned about the dangers of investing in digital currencies. Vice President Vitor Constancio said in September that bitcoin isn’t a currency, but a “tulip” — alluding to the 17th-century bubble in the Netherlands.

Colleague Benoit Coeure has warned bitcoin’s unstable value and links to tax evasion and crime create major risks. President Mario Draghi said in November the impact of digital currencies on the euro-area economy was limited and they posed no threat to central banks’ monopoly on money.

China: Conditions ‘Ripe’
China has made it clear: the central bank has full control over cryptocurrencies. With a research team set up in 2014 to develop digital fiat money, the People’s Bank of China believes “conditions are ripe” for it to embrace the technology. But it has cracked down on private digital issuers, banning exchange trading of bitcoin and others.

While there’s no formal start date for introducing digital currencies, authorities say going digital could help improve payment efficiency and allow more accurate control of currencies.

Japan: Study Mode
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said in an October speech that the BOJ has no imminent plan to issue digital currencies, though it’s important to deepen knowledge about them.

“Issuing CBDC (central bank digital currency) to the general public is as if a central bank extends the access to its accounts to anyone,” Kuroda said. “As such, discussion about CBDC revisits fundamental issues of central banking.”

Germany: ‘Speculative Plaything’
In a country where lot of citizens still prefer to pay in cash, the Bundesbank has been particularly wary of the emergence of bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said in September bitcoin was “more of a speculative plaything than a form of payment.”

A shift of deposits into blockchain would disrupt banks’ business models and could upend monetary policy, Thiele said. At the same time, the Bundesbank has been actively studying the application of the technology in payment systems.

U.K.: Potential ‘Revolution’
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has cited cryptocurrencies as part of a potential “revolution” in finance. The central bank started a financial technology accelerator last year, a Silicon Valley practice to incubate young companies.

Carney says technology based on blockchain, the distributed accounting database, shows “great promise” in enabling central banks to strengthen their defenses against cyber attack and overhaul the way payments are made between institutions and consumers. He has nevertheless cautioned the BOE is still a long way from creating a digital version of sterling.

France: ‘Great Caution’
Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said in June that French officials “advise great caution with respect to bitcoin because there is no public institution behind it to provide confidence. In history all examples of private currencies ended badly.”

Bitcoin even has a “dark side,” he said, citing data attacks and warning that people who use the cryptocurrency “do so at their own risk.”

India: Not Allowed
India’s central bank is opposed to cryptocurrencies given that they can be a channel for money laundering and terrorist financing. Nevertheless, the Reserve Bank of India has a group studying whether digital currencies backed by global central banks can be used as legal tender. Currently, the use of cryptocurrencies is a violation of foreign-exchange rules.

Brazil: Support Innovation
The Banco Central do Brasil sees “no immediate risk for the Brazilian financial system” but remains alert to the developments of the usage of those currencies, it said in a statement in November. The bank pledged “to support financial innovation, including new technologies that make the financial system safer and more efficient.”

Canada: Asset-Like
The Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor, Carolyn Wilkins, who is leading research on cryptocurrencies, said in a November interview that cryptocurrencies aren’t true forms of money.

“This is really an asset, or a security, and so it should be treated that way,” Wilkins said. As others, she viewed distributed ledger technology as promising for making the financial system more efficient.

South Korea: Crime Watch
The Bank of Korea’s focus has been protecting consumers and preventing cryptocurrencies from being used as a tool of crime. Deputy Governor Shin Ho-soon said in November that more research and monitoring was needed. So many Koreans have embraced bitcoin that the prime minister recently warned that cryptocurrencies might corrupt the nation’s youth.

Russia: ‘Pyramid Schemes’
Russia’s central bank has expressed concerns about potential risks from digital currencies, with Governor Elvira Nabiullina saying “we don’t legalise pyramid schemes” and “we are totally opposed to private money, no matter if it is in physical or virtual form.”

For the moment, the Bank of Russia prefers to delay a decision on regulating the financial instruments unless President Vladimir Putin pushes for action sooner. The central bank will work with prosecutors to block websites that allow retail investors access to bitcoin exchanges, according to Sergey Shvetsov, a deputy governor.

Australia: Speculative Mania
Australia’s central bank chief criticized cryptocurrencies in a speech in Sydney Dec. 13, arguing the asset is more likely to appeal to criminals than consumers.

“The current fascination with these currencies feels more like a speculative mania than it has to do with their use as an efficient and convenient form of electronic payment,” said Philip Lowe, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor.

The bank is not planning to issue its own digital currency as a case hasn’t been made to do so, Lowe said. The RBA is in close contact with its peers in other countries and few see electronic banknotes coming, he said.

Turkey: Important Element
Digital currencies may contribute to financial stability if designed well, Turkish Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya said in Istanbul in November. Digital currencies pose new risks to central banks, including their control of money supply and price stability, and the transmission of monetary policy, Cetinkaya said.

Even so, the Turkish central banker said that digital currencies may be an important element for a cashless economy, and the technologies used can help speed up and make payment systems more efficient.

Netherlands: Most Daring
The Dutch have been among the most daring when it comes to experimenting with digital currencies. Two years ago the central bank created its own cryptocurrency called DNBcoin — for internal circulation only — to better understand how it works. Presenting the results last year, Ron Berndsen, who was in charge of the project, said blockchain may be “naturally applicable” in the settlement of complex financial transactions.

Scandinavia: Exploring Options
Like the Dutch, some Nordic authorities have been at the forefront of exploring the idea of digital cash. Sweden’s Riksbank, the world’s oldest central bank, is probing options including a digital register-based e-krona, with balances in central-database accounts or with values stored in an app or on a card. The bank says the introduction of an e-krona poses “no major obstacles” to monetary policy.

In an environment of decreasing use of cash, Norway’s Norges Bank is looking at  possibilities such as individual accounts at the central bank or plastic cards or an app to use for payments, it said in a May report. Denmark has backtracked somewhat from initial enthusiasm, with Deputy Governor Per Callesen cautioning against central banks offering digital currencies directly to consumers. One argument is that such direct access to central bank liquidity could contribute to runs on commercial banks in times of crisis.

New Zealand: Too Unstable
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Acting Governor Grant Spencer warned bitcoin’s runaway gains look like a speculative bubble. “Digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, are a real and serious proposition for the future,” Spencer said in a Dec. 10 interview with TVNZ.

“I think they are part of the future, but not the sort that we see in bitcoin.”

The central bank, once a pioneer on the global stage with its early introduction of an inflation target, had said in what it termed an analytical note in November it’s considering its future plans for currency issuance, and how digital units may fit into those strategies.

Morocco: Violating Law
Representing one of the more stringent reactions, the country has deemed that all transactions involving virtual currencies as violating exchange regulations and punishable by law. Cryptocurrencies amount to a hidden payment system, not backed by any institution and involving significant risks for their users, authorities said in a November statement.

Bank for International Settlements: Can’t Ignore
The central bank for central banks has said that policy makers can’t ignore the growth of cryptocurrencies and will likely have to consider whether it makes sense for them to issue their own digital currencies at some point.

“Bitcoin has gone from being an obscure curiosity to a household name,” the BIS said in September.

One option is a currency available to the public, with only the central bank able to issue units that would be directly convertible to cash and reserves. There might be a greater risk of bank runs, however, and commercial lenders might face a shortage of deposits. Privacy could also be a concern.

Agustin Carstens, the incoming head of the BIS, told Bloomberg that bitcoin deserves close scrutiny. “Anything that grows in price as fast as bitcoin has done it, without having a real clear understanding of what is behind it, should at least raise some eyebrows,” he said. -Bloomberg


M’sian And Dutch JV On Big Data Business

AMSTERDAM, Nov 14 (Bernama) — Malaysia Infocomm Foundation (MIF) and Xomnia B.V. of the Netherlands signed a framework cooperation agreement on Monday to set up a joint venture (JV) company in Malaysia specialising in the big data business.

Big data refers to data sets that are so large or complex data that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them.

The agreement was signed by MIF Chairman Raja Mazhar Mohar Tun Raja Mohar, Executive Director, Saad Mohib and Xomnia Founding Partners William van Lith and Ollie Dapper.

It was witnessed by Infocomm Founder Datuk Mohd Radzi Abd Latif.

Raja Mazhar told Bernama that the JV company would be set up within a year to help realise the Malaysian government’s goal of producing 20,000 data analysts and 2,000 data scientists by 2020.

“We want to be in the forefront to support the government’s policy under the Big Data Framework and the digital economy,” he said.

Raja Mazhar said by partnering Xomnia, a pioneer in datathon in the Netherlands, the new company also aimed to make Malaysia an international hub for big data entrepreneurship.

It would also focus on developing young talent through competitive environment in datathon.

Xomnia Founder van Lith said his company was “very excited” with the partnership as it would provide a chance to achieve its big data and artificial solutions on a global scale.

“We are also very happy that we can now educate talent on a larger scale than ever before,” he said.

Citing examples of the big data business, he said Xomnia created and developed predictive models such as when a burglary would happen and predicting an energy crisis.

Another key business model is to predict how long an employee would work with a company.

Its major clients include the government, banking and insurance sectors, Dutch international airline, KLM, and the police.

Infocomm Founder Mohd Radzi said the venture aimed to expand its business to the Asian market.

MIF is focused on catalysing digital innovations, developing highly-skilled human capital for the digital industry and promoting digital area development strategies.

From Azman Ujang



Nation – How the law is changing with big plans for Big Data

Singapore has set course towards building a Smart Nation that is driven by big data, and changes in the law and regulations are pertinent to that end.

Singapore Smart Nation – How the law is changing with big plans for Big Data

Singapore’s Prime Minister first announced the government’s vision to become the world’s first Smart Nation in November 2014. Since then, Singapore has been revising its legal and regulatory framework to create the ideal state-incubator for a tech-revolution.

3 years later, on 24 February 2017, the Prime Minister lamented, “We really are not going as fast as we ought to”. He championed the idea that Singapore should leverage on big data analytics to reach its Smart Nation aspirations. These statements were early signs of the government’s intention to ramp up its efforts in 2017 to become a Smart Nation.

New Government Agencies and Initiatives after the Prime Minister’s Remarks

Less than 2 months after the Prime Minister’s remarks on big data, it was announced that a Data Innovation Programme Office (“DIPO”) and a data sandbox programme will be set up in Singapore.

Amongst its various functions, DIPO will work towards developing a forward-looking and clear data regulatory environment, assist small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) to adopt data analytics, and facilitate the data sandbox and other data sharing initiatives. The data sandbox will allow for more big data experimentations to be carried out in a neutral environment with relaxed regulations. The data sandbox will also be utilised by different regulatory authorities to work towards new norms for the new economy.

Subsequent Changes in Law

A flurry of consultation papers, bills and guidelines also were introduced to the public to futher the big data plan.

Privacy Law – proposed amendments to give organisations more leeway to use data

At the forefront, there are proposals to amend the Personal Data Protection Act (“PDPA”) so that organisations are better enabled to carry out big data analytics. The proposed amendments will allow organisations to repurpose personal data for data analytics without obtaining consent; they may not even be required to notify data subjects under certain circumstances! The Personal Data Protection Commission has also published a ‘Guide to Data Sharing’ to help organisations to determine whether they may share personal data and the proper methods to do so.

Copyright Law – potential exceptions for “text and data mining”

For the Copyright Act, there is a proposed exception to copyright infringement to permit “text and data mining” activities to support the growth of the data analytics business sector.

Patent law – leveraging on data analytics to improve patent application process

In the realm of patent law, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) has announced that they will be utilising data analytics to create a more economical, efficient and accurate patent examination process.

Competition law – call for greater data sharing

On the competition law front, the Competition Commission of Singapore has released publications highlighting the economic benefits of data sharing and clarifying what type of data analytic practices would not constitute a breach of the Competition Act.

Cybersecurity Law – tighter cybersecurity needed as reliance on technology increases

While other legislative changes suggest a liberalization of the current laws to allow organisations to leverage on big data, one of the most major legislative changes was the introduction of the Cybersecurity Bill.

The Cybersecurity Bill formalises the duties of owners of critical information infrastructure, including having in place the appropriate cybersecurity measures to protect the computer and computer systems of critical information infrastructure. An increase in volume and reliance on big data analytics in Singapore would mean that appropriate safety measures must be put in place.

The Obstacles

While Singapore has taken significant steps towards becoming a Smart Nation, there is still a lot to be done.

Firstly, the devil is in the details. Until the dust settles, it is unclear how the proposed plans will be practically executed. For example, while IPOS has made multiple announcements on utilising big data for the patent examination process, no further details have been released so far on the actual mechanics of the new system. Organisation will also need more time to understand how the changes in the law will translate into practical consequences. While government agencies have indicated that they will be releasing more guidelines in the future to assist businesses, norms and market practices will only emerge with time and trial and error.

Secondly, further clarity on the effect of the new and revised legislation on technology stacks will be welcomed. For example, it is currently unclear how the Cybersecurity Bill will affect vendors and intermediaries who provide services to owners of critical information infrastructure.

It will also be curious to see how Singapore will balance its drive to be more innovative with its need to meet international standards and obligations. While Singapore liberates its technology regulations with the hopes of attracting more entrepreneurs and tech companies, this appears to be heading in the opposite direction of other nations who are moving towards crystallising the right to privacy as a fundamental human right. An example is the difference between Singapore’s proposed ‘Legal or Business Purposes’ basis for the Personal Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation’s ‘Legitimate

Interests’ basis; although the former was adapted from the latter.

Navigating the Changes

As Singapore continues to sail towards its big dreams of being a Smart Nation, it will be interesting to see how it navigates potential rocks in the waters.

However, time and tide waits for no man and there is much to be gained for first movers in the Big Data economy in Singapore. Organisations that aspire to catch the first wave must be agile and sensitive to the ambiguities and fast-evolving nature of the legal landscape. With a smart and flexible legal strategy, a close working relationship with the new government authorities, some leverage on the new initiatives and a speckle of boldness, an organisation who chooses to adopt big data now can go far in and with Singapore.

Governments also going omnichannel

In a journal article published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, “Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing,” authors Eric Brynjolfsson, Yu Jeffrey Hu and Mohammad S. Rahman, wrote that as the retailing industry evolves toward a seamless omnichannel retailing experience, the distinctions between physical and online will vanish, turning the world into a showroom without walls.”

The paper emphasized that the retail industry is shifting toward a concierge model geared toward “helping consumers, rather than focusing only on transactions and deliveries.”

It’s not just retail. In recent years, other industries that are deemed far more traditional than retail like banking or telecommunications have also adopted a strong customer-focused strategy aimed at “delighting the customer” at the branch, at the retail outlet or the customer center, online, or mobile.

Can the government be far behind?

A recent webinar hosted by research firm IDC entitled “Citizen Experience in the Third Platform” shows proof that government is actually catching up.

Using the websites of the Italian and UK governments as examples, Masimiliano Claps, EMEA Research Director, IDC Government Insights, IDC Health Insights, shows how governments are “streamlining from the old paradigm of one-stop-shops with a long list of drop down menus to using a more Google-like interface.”

“The next step is personalizing that experience for the citizen or a taxpayer and joining up that experience in an omnichannel platform,” he said.

The shift from the traditional call center in providing a citizen helpline for public services and getting feedback didn’t happen overnight. Using a case study from the City of San Francisco, IDC shows that the channel shift happened in the last five years.

Claps said in 2009, many government services were still in the call center or web self-service. In 2010, Twitter was included in the equation. The Open 311 technology platform, email, and other collaborative tools were eventually introduced.

“Channel shift can be tackled by differentiating what we call the transactional services, or historically the sweat spots for web self-service that now leverages mobile enablement, and the relational services as the technology frontier shifts, which allows more personalization of services offered to citizens,” Claps explained.

“This concept of the omnichannel that has been applied by other industries is the channel that citizens find convenient to use rather than the channel that is cheapest, the most update in terms of technology, or the less complex in terms of the workflow. It is the experience that is consistent for the citizen,” he added.

4 schools of thought

Claps noted that there are actually four schools of thought on how best to improve the citizen experience when transacting with their government, and in an omnichannel world, they need to be aligned.

The first is the view of the government executives, which is more focused on driving the cost down. A case study from the Tameside Borough Council in 2006 shows the comparative cost of channels for accessing services (or cost per visit) as follows: self-service website (GBP0.25), customer contact center (GBP1.39), Face-to-Face (GBP14.65).

The potential shortcoming of this view, according to Claps is that it drives standardization too far for types of services that would benefit from personalization and neglect interdependencies with other services.

Another view is the technologist point of view, which encourages agencies to web-enable, mobile-enable. Scott Lundstrom, Group Vice President and General Manager, IDC Health, Financial, Government Insights, said in the US this point of view revolve around the four pillars of the government’s digital strategy: information-centric, shared platform, customer-centric and security and privacy.

“There’re a lot of discussions from the technology perspective about the availability of cloud services, better mobility capabilities, much stronger analytics throughout the application of big data and new technologies there,” he said.  “Social frameworks and social media applications really do create a new technical platform for citizen engagement, and we really do see a focus on the cloud first policy…we see increasing investments in analytics, and  much on creating an information-centric shared platform that will truly deliver better citizen services while maintaining security and privacy.”

The IDC executives, however, said this has the potential to take an asset-centric, rather than a service-centric view, runs the risk of building “taller” silos for web, mobile, social, cloud, ad may marginalize the non-IT literate citizens.

Meanwhile, the service manager view is always on how the end-to-end workflow could be optimized, which may include efforts to minimize the number of unnecessary interactions with citizens or focus on preventing mistakes that can lead to rework.

What do citizens have to say?

“Citizens want it their own way. They want the government to be aware of their requirements…citizens want services delivered as soon as possible in the most convenient channel…and sometimes they forget there are some regulatory compliance and security risks and the intricate organization boundaries,” Claps said.

At the end of the day, the IDC executive said it’s not just about the tools, it’s always about excellent and consistent service.

In a Customer Experience and Social Survey of government executives conducted by IDC this year, it showed that the three most important factors in achieving a superior customer services are: customer-facing personnel that are motivated, capable and friendly (43 percent), consistent experience across different channels of customer communication (38 percent), and presence across many channels of communication, including mobile devices, social networks, chat (31 percent).

“What we want to recommend to government executives is that if you have not yet thought of the omnichannel strategy for citizen experience you should go into that direction and engage with suppliers that can support that consistency of interaction, consistency of data, consistency of workflows as new channels are added such as mobile,” Claps concluded.


First seen here:


Customer Experience: Delighting Your Customers in the Digital Age

Last time, I have asked about how big data can save lives and this time, I’d like to touch the subject of customer data as your next best ally when it comes to moving your business forward.  The key to making this strategy succeed lies with customer service – more specifically, Customer Experience.  Learn that communication with customers have won them over call scripts each time someone asks for help.  These customers want to feel that you care about their requests and that they’re treated as individuals; not some bunch of numbers on your list.  No matter how big or small they may be spending on your products or services, it’s their experience with your brand that makes a lasting impression.  So, why are we still failing in the art of conversation?

Customer Experience for the Uninitiated

You can find lots of definition about it.  Customer experience is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier (Wikipedia).  The challenge is how to meet customers’ expectations to make sure that they will have a positive experience with your brand.  For this, businesses support it with their sales, marketing and customer service departments to make sure that customer issues are resolved at every touch point.  This is why we see customer loyalty programs that turn into a valuable resource of customer intelligence, of knowing what to improve to adapt your offer to their preferences.  Still, there is this huge gap in providing a seamless service and plotting customer’s intent to purchase.  That’s where things start to get complex.  How do you deal?

A Fatal Attraction With Numbers

I can’t believe that there are still those who are running call centers on call scripts – because they’re missing out on opportunities to do more business with their customers.  This is the age of dialogue and it amazes me how many companies are getting it wrong.  Even the C-suite don’t get the reasoning behind a poor customer experience.  With all the training that management can provide about delivering that Wow! factor in customer experience – the message don’t match the intent.  We still see products that are too complicated, fine print that leaves people scratching their heads, promotions that don’t match reality, rude customer service.  All those metrics we measure on customer satisfaction have made us obsessed with numbers and the more we do, the less we feel respect for the very blood where our business thrives.  Those analytics are working against our capacity for empathy.

The Price of Efficiency

Standardization of processes are done to minimize waste and maximize efficiency, no doubt.  While this may work in the production line, with computers and machines replacing the human assembly line – the same principle may bite you in the hand if you implement it in your front line.  To provide your customers with consistent, compelling experiences is a huge task.  It’s not just about responding quickly to customer requests that will win them over, but it’s also about making each customer interaction highly personalized.  It’s leading from bottom to the top which will define your brand’s value and profitability.

Next time, I will share with you essential lessons to learn when it comes to delivering top-notch customer experience.

For now, I’d say.. “Ditch that Script!”

-End of Part One-

First seen at:


It Takes Data to Delight Your Customers

Digital transformation is what everybody wants, but there are many views on what constitutes a “digital transformation.” Is it online services? Is it a social enterprise? Is it legacy transformation? Is it an analytics-driven enterprise?

The definition of digital enterprise may be all of the above, or maybe one of the above. What really matters in the end, however, is one thing and one thing only: whether the digital effort is delighting the customer and encourages him or her to keep on doing business with you.

It takes data– delivered at the right time, in the right way and in the right format– to be able to realize this goal, as explored in a recent report from Forbes Insights. “It is by pulling together high-quality data on customers from multiple sources, and capturing insights from advanced analytics and software tools, that customer engagement can be transformed across digital touchpoints,” the report further states “The goals of digital transformation of customer engagement— the hyper-personalization, relevancy, real-time feedback and on-the-fly agility are not attainable without access to relevant data available at the right time.”

The need is urgent, as it is estimated that demand for digital-related services will account for more than 70% of all external services growth, and within the year, revenue growth from data-based products will be double that of the rest of the product or service portfolios for one-third of all Fortune 500 companies. Many organizations are having difficulties joining this movement, however, as they may be encumbered by “the sheer volume of data in organizations that might have decades-long histories, as well as the dispersal of that data—in multiple CRMs, on spreadsheets, in filing cabinets— much of it conflicting, incomplete, inaccurate or otherwise untrustworthy.”

The Forbes report outlines three strategies that need to be the cornerstone of any digital transformation strategy:

Build a single view of your customer: A “single view of the customer” has been the Holy Grail of data, systems and application integration initiatives for many years now, seen in such initiatives as data warehousing and master data management. These efforts are required to be augmented by the wealth of external data now available. Enterprises need to start off by “inventorying and cataloging data, whether it is in a spreadsheet or a CRM system, and assessing it according to its completeness, accuracy and trustworthiness, as well as where it needs to be enriched by external data sets.” Relevant data may include purchase histories, communication preferences, purchase power, shopping behavior and social media activities. This requires synthesizing “structured data (addresses, household composition, socio-economic bracket, etc.) with unstructured data (like the free-form text of a Twitter feed). Doing so requires systems and processes that can handle both kinds of data, pulling together historical information along with the real-time data being generated by customers’ real-world activities.”

Use location data to add precision and context: “In a mobile world, it’s no longer enough to know who your customers are; you also need to know where they are in order to deliver a real hyper-personalized and responsive experience,” the report advises. Customer location needs to be captured within two contexts– their physical location and their digital presence such as social media usage. “Location helps to provide an important context by which to align data. For example, if a business experiences a sudden spike in returns of a faulty product, they may understand there is a problem but not what’s causing it. However, if they can see that the returns are predominantly confined to a geographical region, that may reveal a problem relating to temperature or humidity— two elements that may be affecting their product in a specific way.”

Create relevant communications at the right time on the right channel: As data reveals important details about customers, it’s important to then be able to engage them through multiple points of conversation. This requires “the use of data to inform personalization preferences around channel and device, to understand response rates at different times or days of the week, and how to devise an optimal channel mix for your audience.” It’s important to note that “sending information via a new channel requires more than simply digitizing it,” the report cautions. “Think about how unwieldy it is to view a PDF copy of a phone bill on a mobile screen that requires pinching and zooming to navigate it. Digital transformation requires a rethinking of the process, in a way that best serves the customer in the channel they are using. In the PDF example, that might mean prioritizing the important information— how much is owed, what the usage and due dates are, perhaps— and making interaction, such as paying the bill, frictionless.”

First seen:


UserReplay Market America case study

Delighting customers is critical today—you can’t
ignore it. If customers have a challenge with your
experience, they’ll quickly leave for a competitor
Michael Brady, CIO, Market America

UserReplay_Market America case study


Citizen data sharing platform launched in Singapore

myInfo pulls citizens data from across agencies.

Singapore has built a platform to let citizens check and given consent on what data they are sharing with the government.

myInfo pulls together their personal data from across government agencies into a single profile for each citizen. Users can key in additional information on their income, education, employment and family.

“Our goal is to make transacting with the government that much easier, using digital means to work jointly across agency lines to do so,” said Peter Ong, Head of Civil Service, at the Digital Government Exchange today.

Agencies will use this profile every time a user needs to fill a government form. This will do away with the need for citizens to submit the same data for different transactions, and eventually, verification of any physical documents.

“Citizens often ask why they need to give different government agencies the same data about themselves”, Ong said. “We must aim to remove that inconvenience and friction.”

myInfo screenshot

Citizens can choose whether they would like to sign up for myInfo. Every time they choose to use it, agencies will ask for consent on the specific data that will be used.

myInfo is a project by the Ministry of Finance and Infocomm Development Authority. The portal was built over a year led by the Government Digital Services team, using agile methods to design the user interface. It is undergoing constant testing and feedback to improve user’s experience on the platform.

The service is a key part of the government’s move towards delivering more predictive digital services. With sufficient data, agencies would be able to understand citizens’ needs in advance and push services to them when they need it.

myInfo will be available for 15 services by June, including registering for public housing, applying for the baby bonus scheme, updating contact details for tax payments and jobs recruitment. By 2018, all digital services that require two-factor authentication will be linked to the myInfo platform, estimated to be 200 services.

The service was piloted from January to April 2016 with 32,000 people.

The services offered by myInfo will be constantly expanded. The government is “looking to increase the number of personal data items that could be shared”, Ong said. Its remit will also grow to cover private sector transactions, such as banking, he added.

Correction: This story incorrectly identified myInfo as a digital identity scheme. It has been edited to more accurately describe the purpose of myInfo