December 25, 2021
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Industry leaders during a recent conference on the latest trends in Malaysia’s retail sector as tantamount to a ‘digital revolution’. The retail segment is steadily recovering from Covid-19 headwinds by ramping up digitalisation efforts akin to almost all other economic sectors.
Businesses are seeking ways to thrive and search for opportunities to move forward with especial focus on enriching and personalising their delivery of enhanced customer experience and engagement as a key priority.
The essential dots to delivering the prize of excellent customer engagement involve actionable stepping stones such as smart shops, customer analytics, omni-channel shopping experiences, enterprise-wide inventory visibility, and many-to-many fulfilment agility.
This was the consensus among keynote speakers at the Embrace to Survive the Digital Storm, a virtual event held to address current challenges and share digital insights with retailers, suppliers and partners. The leadership event was organised by TM One, the enterprise and public sector business solutions arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), with Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. as the technology partner, and supported by Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) and AFAB WORLD Sdn Bhd.
The pandemic effect has certainly accelerated the digitalisation of traditional business and consumer behaviour. For the retail industry, delivering a digital-enabled retail strategy and digital transformation is key to supercharge the retail operations.
According to the latest report from Facebook and Bain & Company, 70 million more people shopped online in six Southeast Asian countries since the pandemic emerged, and foresees the total online numbers in the region will reach 380 million by 2026.
This switch to online was noted by the Hong King Trade Development Council’s market research report which said that while offline retail constituted 91% of ASEAN’s total retail market, more than three out of five people in the region are now online. The strongest uptake being Indonesia, followed by the Philippines and Malaysia.
As with most sectors, the pandemic has pushed the retail industry into the digital revolution. This can be seen from a study conducted by VISA on Consumer Payment Attitudes 2021, which states that online purchases have increased by 72%, compared to a decrease of 44% who shopped at physical stores.
In the first keynote session, Stan Jit Singh, the secretary general of MRCA said that “the technology revolution has evolved at an unprecedented speed and depth, causing huge disruptions and are heavily impacting retail today.”
He emphasised that it is imperative for retail businesses to take advantage of the available technologies to avoid being left behind. “The ‘Digital Age’ is here today and technology and connectivity can be used to keep people, processes, positions and performance tightly connected and drive breakthroughs in the digital transformation.”
“Capturing business and customer data points, gathered through multi-channel and omni-channel offerings, will help in understanding customer habits, and give the ability to segment customers based on alignment with their needs.”
“The future of retail will not necessarily rely on developing an extensive variety of products, but will involve winning over consumers with thoughtful curation of products, experiences and innovations through building customer-driven new business formats,” added Stan Jit Singh.
This demands a comprehensive digital platform to help organisations make a quantum leap to harness the relevant technologies needed to pivot into the future, he said.
As the retail industry comprises multiple segments, often including ‘sub-industries’ that are independently managed, there is a need to comprehensively connect all the data points to enable end-to-end visibility of the entire business ecosystem.
Stan spoke about the revolution in retail as encompassing revolutions of technology, culture, information, social media and knowledge management. “This new era is about the retail landscape moving to the next level to conduct business, commerce, services, and provide options to utilise multi-channel and omni-channel capabilities: these will help to deepen customer engagement with their desired brands.”
“The ‘Digital Age’ is for everyone and today is the right time to start thinking and making those digital changes to transform your organisation to take advantage of all the technologies that are available in the marketplace for retail,” he declared.
“However, understanding where you are and where you want to be is key,” Stan cautioned. “This needs to be carefully weighed and sieved to ensure the business starts on the right footing. We need to use technology to keep people, processes, positions and performance tightly connected in order to break positively into the digital landscape.”
Maintaining a visionary element was a key point in the leadership session presented by Datin Patricia Pee, the founder and chief strategist of AFAB WORLD.
“Retail digitalisation should go beyond eCommerce today,” said Datin Patricia. “Digital Revolution is a phrase which has been used for more than two decades, now the force that really accelerated digitalisation and digital adoption so suddenly during the past two years is Covid-19.” – Datin Patricia Pee
She said the pandemic has boosted digitalisation globally with consumers adopting digital technologies more rapidly than most companies. “Changing consumer behaviour has become more sophisticated as seen in online engagements. Many companies, on the other hand, are digitalising faster because of FOMO (fear of missing out) pressure.”
Datin Patricia opined that retailers need to go beyond the notion of eCommerce in order to formulate strategies to deepen the engagement with their customers while building strong ecosystem partnerships to remain relevant in the digital economy.
“Fostering strategic alliances is vital as technology is developing fast and retail digitalisation is going through an extreme re-invention, as consumers become more sophisticated in their online behaviours. Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and metaverse are the technologies that will reshape the future especially the retail business.”
“Due to the complexity of technologies, the most important thing is seeking the right talent in technology deployment. It is best for retail businesses to have strategic technology partners to prevent from being lost in digitalisation – resulting in waste of money and time,” Datin Patricia added.
Underpinning the importance of key technology partnerships, Eng Chiew Hian, Business Development director of Huawei Cloud said that the company, as a global technology leader with local cloud presence in Malaysia, is proud to collaborate with TM One on α Edge (pronounced as Alpha Edge), the TM One hyperscale cloud service. As a collaborative initiative, this has resulted in the provisioning of additional expert technical assistance and guidance in helping SMEs to transform and stay relevant both during and in the post pandemic era.
“Huawei remains committed to work with customers and partners in providing intelligent solutions to help brick and mortar businesses survive during this challenging time,” he said. “Our cloud technology helps to accelerate industrial digital transformation, where retail business owners can move part of their operations onto the cloud to maintain lower overhead cost.” – Eng Chiew Hian
“Furthermore, working closely with partners like TM One and AFAB has provided an integrated platform for local businesses to go online with the aspiration to go global and uplift their sales, all these is made possible with cloud technology,” he added.
In the final keynote, the head of Innovative Solutions of TM One, Maznan Deraman presented insights to help retail business leaders pivot to a new mindset aligned to embracing the digital retail landscape evidenced by rapidly shifting consumer buying patterns.
He also highlighted the rationale in utilising cloud-based solutions to stay relevant and resilient in today’s rapidly changing environment. Consumer buying patterns have dramatically shifted from physical transactions towards eCommerce-centric behaviours, which deliver a huge impact to existing brick and mortar retailers.
“Cloud technology is able to manage the end-to-end retail ecosystem by syncing inventory with customer’s demands and interest while improving customer experience, driven by the data obtained via online and offline. A cloud-based platform provides greater insights on daily retail operations, for better visibility and decision making.”
“Cloud technology is able to manage the end-to-end retail ecosystem by syncing inventory with customer’s demands and interest while improving customer experience, driven by the data obtained via online and offline. A cloud-based platform provides greater insights on daily retail operations, for better visibility and decision making.” – Maznan Deraman
His presentation included case studies demonstrating TM One’s understanding of the scenarios and challenges retailers are facing today. Addressing these challenges with digital enabling strategies and solutions with smart retail applications provides a practical move forward, he said.
“As Malaysia’s only leading cloud service provider, the immediate value of TM One’s solutions to unlock consumer and in-store behavioural analytics, smart inventory management and single integrated platform is evident. All of these are hosted on TM One Cloud α (pronounced as Cloud Alpha) and can be connected seamlessly with third-party retail applications, to help build more meaningful customer loyalty,” concluded Maznan.
“Providing a digital option to customers and stakeholders is absolutely essential as today’s B2B and B2C business models are increasingly calling for end-to-end solutions, which connects manufacturers, logistics, supply chains and other key components in order to fulfil and excel customer demands,” he said in his concluding remarks.
Compelled by lockdowns and social distancing measures, retail businesses in Malaysia have uncovered a digital passion to seek out the most effective ways to survive and even to thrive beyond the current fragile conditions. Formerly factored by the industry as a ‘good-to-have’ option, the pandemic has now pushed the adoption of a digital ecosystem strategy to the top of the agenda moving forward.
This article was first published by Disruptive Asia.
May 31, 2022
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With technology advancing at its rapid pace, digital transformation has become a priority for many organisations, regardless of industry. Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to revolutionise existing, as well as non-digital business processes and services to create new ones in order to meet the market’s evolving needs.
Many businesses seek digital transformation for a number of reasons. Among them, having access to more in-depth data may equate to understanding customer insights better and, thus, having the ability to create a strategy that connects with them better. On top of that, there is also room for cost reduction as a result of time savings in operational processes.
Strategic partnerships may also be a strategy to employ when undergoing a digital transformation, as it allows different businesses to leverage and learn from each other in order to better meet any challenges the future may hold.
In March, Tune Protect, Huawei Malaysia, and TM announced an exciting new collaboration to re-platform Tune Protect’s existing General Insurance System (GIS) on Cloud via Huawei Malaysia and TM’s Cloud infrastructure, Cloud Alpha Edge. This significant shift signifies that Tune Protect is the first insurer in Malaysia to host its core insurance system on Cloud.
As part of the Cloud First strategy, the core system includes a collection of SAP HANA and SAP apps that will be comprehensively housed in TM Cloud Alpha Edge with full landing dependability and confidence.
According to Muhammad Ghadaffi Bin Mohd Tairobi, TM One’s Vertical Director of Banking & Finance Sales, “TM One is committed in accelerating the digital transformation journey of our customers by helping them to provide the best digital experience to their end-users. This is particularly true in these times where digital transactions have increased exponentially. Tune Protect’s success in adopting Core System in Cloud Alpha Edge is a benchmark for all companies in the Banking, Finance and Insurance industry to embark on the public cloud journey confidently. Not limited to just cloud adoption, we provide end-to-end digital solutions for innovative product development while providing the best solutions and infrastructure such as cybersecurity and big data analytics enabling omni-channel, data monetisation agenda, leading to cost optimisation.”
Tune Protect, on the other hand, always had Cloud as the centrepiece of the digital transformation. Prasanta Roy, Group Chief Technology Officer of Tune Protectshares that having the SAP insurance core platform on Cloud helps to fast track innovation in their products and services, achieve speed-to-market, and provide differentiation in service to their customers. “Being the first insurer is a mere coincidence, but it has definitely the right step to set up the right foundation for technology transformation,” he adds
Besides being a product of two large scale companies, Cloud Alpha Edge has an array of unique distinctions to its name. To date, it is the only Malaysian-owned Hyperscaler Public Cloud that actively advocates data sovereignty.
To date, Cloud Alpha Edge is the only Malaysian-owned Hyperscaler Public Cloud that actively advocates data sovereignty.
TM One is also the only local player with its own twin-core data centre, cloud infrastructure, with complete data residency and sovereignty. This infrastructure is strengthened through AI, and advanced cybersecurity solutions. This is especially suited for industries that are at high risk for cyber threats such as Public Sector and Healthcare. In fact, Cloud Alpha Edge already has multiple footprints in these industries, as well as Manufacturing.
With the rise of Insurtechs across the globe, it is quite evident that insurers will partner with various players in this space to bring in differentiation. Taking a closer look at data privacy, data residency and PDPA has to be taken into account. Tune Protect’s risk, governance/compliance and technology team worked together on all these aspects carefully while considering various public and private cloud options available within and outside of Malaysia. Cloud Alpha Edge came closest to meeting this need as the cloud data centres are based in Malaysia and customers are assured that their data remain preserved with the highest data sovereignty and confidentiality, as shared by Prasanta.
This also implies that data on the Cloud is stored in Malaysia rather than overseas, addressing the issue of data sovereignty. “They (Huawei Malaysia and TM One) are the right partner for Tune Protect based on all the considerations such as availability zones, SAP partnership with TM, and support availability around SAP from Cloud service provider,” explained Prasanta.
The working together between Tune Protect, Huawei Cloud, and TM One seek to improve a number of things. For one, Tune looks to support improvements in the area of speed-to-market, leveraging the agility and scalability of cloud services whilst also accommodating to the spike and decline of the market. In addition to that, enhanced customer experiences are also something they look forward to through improved IT productivity and a seamless user experience.
“As technology progresses and customers demand more personalisation, it is the right time for us to build the new SAP core system on Cloud to collaborate with other ecosystem partners to deliver a personalised experience for our customers in terms of product and claims,” continues Prasanta.
Not only will this partnership benefit existing and future users of Tune Protect, but the re-platforming also benefits company employees. With the presence of Cloud services like “racking and stacking” which can be completed by the Huawei or TM One team, this would free up the time of their internal technology team.
It’s only realistic for this transition to face its own set of unique challenges, such as converting the legacy on-premises software to Cloud-native. In preparation for any transitional friction the team may face, Tune Protect has lined up a mitigation plan that includes various Cloud certifications, online training, and on-the-job training for the respective team members to ensure a smooth and seamless process.
Prasanta also shared that the Infrastructure and Security teams will be upskilled so they are able to manage hybrid data centres, consisting of both on-premise and Cloud.
Migrating the critical systems to Cloud where on-premise hardware is nearing expiry would be next for Tune Protect, he adds. Consumers can look forward to new services such as health tech and other innovative solutions from Cloud that would enhance customer-centricity and experience as they aspire to grow more digital partnerships in the near future, in alignment with the overall Group’s business trajectory.
Huawei Malaysia believes that this collaboration is a strategic move that encourages data sovereignty in Malaysia, especially as no other public cloud service providers currently offer this, as mentioned by Lim Chee Siong, Vice President of the Cloud Business Unit at Huawei Malaysia. It marks a major breakthrough in FSI digitisation in Malaysia and Huawei Cloud also hopes they are able to help accelerate digital transformation in banks and insurance companies across the country.
November 10, 2021
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Reflecting the global surge of upskilling people for the increasingly digital normal, Asian countries are exploring new avenues of equipping their citizens with essential skills. Singapore, for example, is using computer games to train its naval officers while Thailand is tapping YouTube to help prepare its citizens.
Malaysia remains steadfast on its vision of becoming a regional digital leader as evidenced by the launch of its MyDIGITAL, a 10-year bid to revitalise its digital economy vision. As part of a nationwide implementation campaign, two digital companies – Cloud Connect and TM One, the enterprise and public sector business arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) – have collaborated to establish the Cloud Connect Academy. It aims to upskill government officials, and is part of a wide-scale effort to digitalise Malaysia’s public sector.
The academy will inculcate individuals with the necessary skills to work with digital technologies associated with Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Hanafiah Hassan, Managing Director of Cloud Connect shared further insights into the academy’s role in supporting Malaysia’s overarching digital transformation.
Pivoting to ‘future-ready roles’
We have seen a significant shift in public sector careers, Hanafiah said. System analysts and website developers are in the process of being replaced by ‘future jobs’ – such as ‘cloud consultants’ and ‘cloud engineers’, he said.
“Cloud Connect Academy aims to upskill civil servants to meet new demands on the job. It will equip them with knowledge on AI, big data, IoT and cloud computing,” he noted.
According to Hanafiah, public sector staff will learn how to create apps through the academy, which will enable the government to expand its digital services. One example is MySejahtera, Malaysia’s all-in-one app for managing its national Covid-19 vaccination programme as well as to help with contact tracing, connect citizens with testing and support facilities, and mapping Covid-19 hotspots.
Public sector workers will be introduced to DevOps, a systematic approach that helps development and operations teams to build and roll out tech services more rapidly and efficiently, he explained.
In addition, the academy’s offerings include new methods of website creation for public sector IT services, Hanafiah said. “Previously, it took three months to build a site; however, the introduction of these new systems will reduce the development time to a matter of just 15 minutes – without requiring any change to the coding language.”
He revealed that the programme was initially aimed solely at IT staff within the public sector agencies but later was extended to include all public servants. “This is in line with Malaysia’s digital transformation strategy, which plans to have 100 per cent of civil servants become digitally literate, and 80 per cent of the government will use Cloud storage.”
Cloud’s pivotal role
When the Malaysian government’s Economic Planning Unit (EPU) announced the MyDIGITAL initiative in February 2021, one of its key goals was to reskill the current workforce. This would ensure Malaysians ‘stay relevant’ in a world rapidly moving into the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Cloud technologies and systems form a fundamental part of the MyDIGITAL initiative, wrote the IDC. TM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have been appointed to build and manage Cloud services in Malaysia. These initiatives will help to reduce operating costs and enhance analytical efficiency, IDC highlighted.
Hanafiah confirms that: “TM has helped to support the academy’s Cloud computing curriculum. Its lead role as a Cloud service provider to the government is testament to TM’s world-class level of skills and extensive experience.”
Extending the talent base
Looking ahead, Hanafiah commented: “Cloud Connect Academy can play a significant role as an upskilling platform, not only for the public sector but also for graduates. The academy’s vision extends to support the new generation that is now entering the workforce to acquire the essential future-ready skill sets to greatly enhance their employability level.”
“Students will be taught ‘modern application’, ‘modern infrastructure’ and ‘modern processes,” he further explained. “Modern applications require moving away from older programming systems like Java and pivoting to programming frameworks that are more convenient and useable by a greater range of staff.”
“Modern infrastructure involves transforming legacy hardware into a Cloud environment,” he added. “The curriculum for graduates encourages the incorporation of new Cloud-native technologies into existing infrastructures, as part of an essential and timely shift from legacy systems.”
“Additionally, a modern process which involves Agile practices that advocate adaptive planning, cross-functional teams, evolutionary development, early delivery and continual improvement, encourages flexible responses to change,” concluded Hanafiah.
The upskilling of public sector staff is vital as key component of Malaysia’s vision to accelerate the implementation of digital technologies into its public sector. In addition, this talent push will help smooth the transition from old job roles into the future ready roles.
October 28, 2021
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Many digital transformation conversations among business leaders used to revolve around how to manage the transition from traditional brick-and-mortar to digital models and processes. Today, almost all businesses, whether fully online or bricks and clicks, would be considered digital businesses. Even roadside hawkers have supplemented the way they do business by using Grab or Food Panda services, compelled especially by lockdown requirements in the COVID-19 period.
People are incredibly adaptive when facing a crisis, and Malaysian businesses have robustly turned to seek out better, faster and more agile ways of innovating. With COVID-19 becoming endemic over time, digital transformation continues to accelerate as an ideal path to growth and recovery.
The escalation of digital adoption has been confirmed by IDC’s latest release of Worldwide Black Book: 3rd Platform Edition, which shows Asia/Pacific’s ICT spending, including IT spending in addition to telecom services and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Cloud, Analytics, and IoT, will increase by 9.3% in 2021 to reach US$1.3 trillion.
This healthy growth reflects the pivot by organisations towards rapid adoption of new technologies to face business disruptions as well as to drive growth.
From my conversations with customers and partners, I am pleased that more business leaders in Malaysia increasingly recognise that Cloud computing is the heart of productive digitalisation. This bodes well for the nation as it demonstrates that almost all organisations are now ‘getting it right’ – by leveraging the power of Cloud in one way or the other.
However, success is relative, not absolute. As a winner is usually the one who runs ahead of others, just getting it right is not enough anymore. The real prize today rests in whether your business is ‘intelligent’ enough.
Of course, winning does require enterprises to be able to meet customers’ consistently changing needs, at speed. It also demands agility and data-driven, automated processes. Compared to a traditional cloud system, an Intelligent Cloud approach takes transformation to a higher level of performance because it is aligned to the ongoing journey of digital transformation.
An intelligent Cloud will include the use of edge computing to process data closer to where it is collected, and it will make use of AI and machine learning (ML) to deliver actionable insights, at greater speed and enhanced efficiency.
Real world business benefits from intelligent cloud are demonstrated by the example of a large logistics company which saw speed and efficiency wins. Some of the gains included improvements of 30% in pickup efficiency and 5% in transportation path planning through use of AI in pickup path planning; while waybill single-check improved 3 times and VAT invoice processing rates improved by 10 times.
To become an intelligent digital enterprise, organisations need to leverage three (3) main elements – intelligent infrastructure that is flexible, scalable, automated and predictive; intelligent data, which is secure and collected at a massive scale; and intelligent applications and business processes that are powered by AI/ML.
To take stock of your current Cloud execution and to assess whether it is intelligent enough, I would suggest the IDC’s Cloud Maturity Framework.
At the ad hoc level, an organisation may still be exploring project-specific Cloud applications as a reaction to the competition. As it starts to build more applications on the Cloud, it evolves into becoming a digital explorer, but is still considered to be in a reactive mode, and therefore results in a poorly integrated solutions environment.
Only by moving up the Cloud maturity level, to becoming a digital transformer or disruptor – will it possess the capabilities to survive and move upwards in this fiercely competitive and challenging era.
Indeed, in some sectors where digital transformation has become an absolute imperative, such as the financial services sector, more organisations have grown into becoming digital players or transformers to stay ahead.
Cloud intelligence – the Cloud that matters
Powered by AI, the application of Enterprise Intelligence in the Cloud is helping to successfully modernise industries. Rapidly evolving technologies have helped to form a foundation of core Cloud benefits, which include enhanced efficiencies, facilitating core expertise and to create trend-setting achievements.
Examples of what these frontier technologies offer include data enablement services such as big data, data lake and data warehouse – as well as containerisation and microservices – which are tantamount to a key engine to upgrade industry intelligence.
Together with intelligent edge and intelligent network connectivity, which will be further enhanced by the emergence of 5G, we can confidently look forward to an even greater surge of implementations of innovative services and solutions in the market in the near future.
The additional critical attributes of a well envisioned and managed digital transformation strategy comprise: robust, reliable, and low latency connectivity; excellent Cloud and cybersecurity design and implementation, which must be effectively tailored to the needs of your organisation; and probably the most important in my personal opinion is the best team of professional and managed services to help facilitate and optimise your Cloud journey throughout the pre-, during- and post-deployment phases.
TM One Alpha Edge – the Intelligent Industry Cloud Platform
Deeply committed to taking transformation forward for Malaysian enterprises and the public sector, TM One’s Alpha Edge, the hyperscaler Cloud service and part of Cloud Alpha offerings, is powered by AI capabilities to enable organisations to seamlessly onboard the intelligent Cloud. We are also continuously developing tailored solutions for key verticals in collaboration with partners and customers.
Our comprehensive suite of solutions encompasses intelligent Cloud, robust and multi-type digital connectivity, cybersecurity, local expertise in professional and managed services, and which rightly positions TM One to help industries revolutionise themselves, reshaping businesses and cities, and bringing new possibilities to Malaysia in the important days that lie ahead.
There is no limit to innovation. Any organisation, big or small, can innovate ground-breaking solutions to better serve its customers. To deliver the best solutions and customer experience, TM One works with the best partners. This is an important aspect of our commitment to taking transformation forward for all Malaysian enterprises and public sector institutions.
Click here to know more about TM One Alpha Edge.
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Credit: Photo by Stuart Breckenridge on Unsplash
The public sector needs to catch up. Citizens now expect a level of service that can match the digital native businesses they often interact with on daily basis. Consider e-hailing, e-commerce, and e-wallet players — they provide a comprehensive service completely through digital means. Coupled with the advancements in e-KYC for digital onboarding, it comes with no surprise; citizens expect the public sector to follow suit.
The governments of today recognise this trend. In order to meet their citizen’s expectations, many government agencies are adopting Cloud computing progressively to enable their digital transformation. Recently, more than 60% of the governments’ Cloud initiatives have been successful, proving the effectiveness of this strategy.1
Some of the key benefits driving Cloud adoption among governments are:
By outlining the clear benefits of the Cloud, we want you to understand how governments are using it. Here, we will provide insights into how Singapore government agencies implement their Cloud strategy and share examples of services hosted on the Cloud.
In order to understand Singapore’s Cloud transformation, it is important to understand the role of GovTech first. Established in 2016, GovTech is the main entity spearheading the digital transformation of Singapore’s government services.
Parked under the Prime Minister’s Office, GovTech oversees the digitalisation of all the ministries and agencies of the government. It plays a central role in the 5-year plan (initiated in 2018) to migrate the government’s IT systems onto the commercial Cloud. GovTech has since migrated nearly 600 systems to the commercial Cloud.2
The role that GovTech plays here is vital; it helps the country’s agencies and ministries to move away from the traditional silos that government agencies typically operate under. Moreover, having a centralised agency to implement the digital transformation ensures that all ministries advance consistently.
Building the Singapore Government Tech Stack
A very distinctive feature of GovTech’s role is the development of the Singapore Government Tech Stack (SGTS).
Here, GovTech built a centralised technology stack hosted on a commercial Cloud. This technology stack acts as the backbone of all the government agencies’ digital services. It consists of three (3) main components –
All these components make it easier for Singapore government agencies to deploy and maintain applications.
For example, in the past, each government agency would typically build their applications on top of their dedicated infrastructure.
These layered steps severely limited the speed and scalability of building applications for the public sector. The agencies had to maintain each application individually with different sets of architectures. With time, this gets harder to sustain.
With SGTS in place, the base application becomes easily reproducible. Depending on the service that the agency wishes to provide, they can now customise the solutions on top of that base application.
As such, this substantially speeds up and eases the process for Singapore government agencies to provide digital services. More importantly, the agencies can focus primarily on delivering value without the need to manage its underlying infrastructure.
The benefits don’t end there. Here are some other key benefits of this approach:
1. Shifting from a monolithic model to a microservices model with SGTS
In simple terms, a monolithic model application works as a single unit. This means that the agency must make any updates and maintenance to the entire application’s codebase. The model essentially limits the scalability and agility for pushing out new services.
In contrast, a microservices model breaks down the application into smaller independent components. Hence, agencies can apply updates without the need to deploy a new version of the whole application.
The shift to a microservices model provides the much-needed agility for Singapore government agencies to develop digital services faster. Moreover, this approach is crucial; the public sector needs to adopt agile software development practices, similar to what the private sector is already using.
Running on legacy systems with outdated security practices may leave the government applications vulnerable to cyberattacks. SGTS ensures that all government applications come with modernised security practices and data protection policies.
This situation extends to services beyond security. For example, having a modern architecture with SGTS allows government agencies to adopt advanced analytics tools similar to those used in the private sector.
With the speed and agility provided by SGTS, the public sector can now keep up with technology developments. Moreover, this can also benefit the public sector by attracting and retaining top tech talents.
Traditional application infrastructures meant that Singapore government applications operate in silos. Hence, they were not able to integrate data across agencies.
SGTS’s architecture loosens these barriers. Using a set of secured Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), the agencies can now share confidential data securely. Furthermore, GovTech complements this initiative with the development of the Application Programming Interface Exchange (APEX).4
APEX enables the secure transmission of confidential citizen data. It is a centralised API exchange that allows government agencies to tap into the wealth of data acquired across the government. This ability significantly improves the speed at which data can be shared and creates a more streamlined business process.
Another game-changing benefit is the ability to enable collaborations. The technology industry is a rapid race. Open-source tools are dominating the scene with innovations every day. Without access to these tools, the public sector may inevitably fall behind.
Having a common platform with SGTS creates the opportunity for the government to co-create solutions with the ecosystem players. In 2020, GovTech chose 17 companies to co-develop solutions using the SGTS platform.5
This was simply impossible in the past. The private sector typically worked as outsourced contractors but not as collaborators. This approach changes that dynamic by allowing the government to foster closer relationships with the private sector to build valuable citizen services.
Example applications hosted on commercial Cloud
Let us see how these developments have advanced Singapore’s citizen services. We cover the top three (3) applications that work on SGTS. This will give you an understanding of how impactful cloud can be for improving government services.
Singpass is Singapore’s national digital identity system. Through this system, citizens can gain access to over 340 government agencies with over 1400 digital services. This singular platform eliminates the traditional customer experience of having separate logins for different government services.
Singapore citizens widely recognise Singpass as one of the best government services. It is ranked as the fourth (4th) most popular app in Google Play Store there, with an average rating of 4.8 stars. To date, there are more than 2.5 million users, with over 90% of them having at least one interaction per month.7
b. LifeSG (formerly known as Moments of Life)
LifeSG consolidates the best of Singapore’s government services onto one common platform – like a super app. Previously named Moments in Life, the updated app personalises a citizen’s journey based on their life stage. The services include birth registration, school registration, job-seeking portals, parking services, taxations, etc.
LifeSG simplifies the citizens’ search for information on relevant services. In addition, the app also has a user-friendly interface, giving an easy overview of important information. The application is widely in use, with over 140,000 downloads and 7 out of 10 Singaporeans registering births via LifeSG.
c. Health Hub
Health Hub aims to make it easier for Singapore citizens to access their health information and services under one platform. Built in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Board, this service contains information like immunisation records, medical appointments, prescriptions, dental appointments, etc.
This was possible by integrating several systems, ranging from the National Electronic Record System, School Dental System, School Health System to the National Immunisation Registry. The integration of multiple systems is a clear feature of how Cloud services have enabled the government to build this service. To date, the application has over 730,000 downloads and scores an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store.6
Meeting the expectations of citizens
Ultimately, customer experience matters the most. For the public sector, results are not as quantifiable in comparison to the private sector. Hence, metrics such as delivery time, user satisfaction surveys, and application ratings are applicable in performance reviews.
Singapore conducts the Survey on Satisfaction with Government Digital Services (Citizens) annually. Its recent results showed that their citizens rated the government digital services at the highest since FY2012. 86% of respondents said that they were extremely satisfied with the digital services. In addition, over 90% of respondents rated the government digital services as one of the best digital services they have used.
Lessons from GovTech
The approach taken by the Singapore government acts as a prime example of how governments can move forward in this digital era.
Singapore placed a strong priority on truly understanding their citizens’ pain points, which takes precedence over tools. For instance, each application goes through several rounds of pilots and surveys. Based on the feedback, the government agencies then apply amendments.
This is where migrating to the Cloud becomes valuable. It is not merely a ‘lift and shift’ process, but it enables the government to change how they build solutions for their citizens. Initiatives such as SGTS, APEX, data sharing, and fostering collaborations with the private sector are vital components of this renewed approach of building citizen services.
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