EXCLUSIVE - Are you the Disruptor or the Disrupted - Report on the Indonesia OpenGov Leadership Forum 2018
The Indonesia OpenGov Leadership Forum was held in Jakarta on 22 March, attended by around 200 delegates from the country’s public sector.
The day saw presentations on a range of topics from Fintech to design thinking, from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity.
As part of OpenGov’s Recognition of Excellence (ROE) series, four cities - Jakarta, Makassar, Surabaya and Semarang - were awarded for their smart and sustainable city initiatives, while three federal government ministries, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and KOMINFO (Ministry of Communication and Informatics) were recognised for innovative and disruptive use of technology in the public sector.
Technology is a tool – not a purpose
Mr Mohit Sagar, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia kicked off proceedings, asking the attendees if their agency or department was among the Disruptor or the Disrupted, whether they are following or leading.
He posed a question, “Are you actively rethinking the services your agency provides, and the manner in which they are provided? Or do you have a sinking feeling that your agency is struggling behind the curve, increasingly unable to deliver in a networked, digital society?”
Mr Sagar said that knowing technology trends is not enough. Neither is having the latest and greatest hardware. Exponential change brings unlimited possibility, but here too, things often go wrong.
It is important to remember that technology is but a tool – not a purpose. For governments, providing better services to citizens is the purpose, but along the way, some governments forget this. All too often governments drive digital initiatives dreamt up internally, and are largely unsuccessful.
“Now we have unlimited possibility, recognise that so do our citizens. THEIR expectations and requirements for the services we offer have also exponentially risen. We need to get our eyes more focused once more on purpose,” Mr Sagar said.
The unlimited possibility brings rising customer expectations. So, governments shouldn’t be surprised if their first attempts actually end up causing more angst to their citizens. Government attempts to serve citizens have a long history of misunderstanding the individual, highly personalised needs of those same citizens.
In the past, it was not possible to personalise services, but now personalised services are what citizens expect today, and they are dissatisfied when they don’t get those kinds of services.
Hence, technology has to be directed by governments towards fulfilling the needs of individual citizens. No individual should ever be reduced to a number or statistic.
“It is not an easy task, but it is the right one,” said Mr Sagar. One way to ensure that eyes stay on the organisational purpose is to dedicate continuous efforts to always having available the Right information, the Right people and the Right time.
Mr Sagar went on to provide examples of how different exciting technologies can be viewed in light of this principle. For instance, the beauty of blockchain, or distributed transactional ledger technology, does not lie in the cool things that can be done with it. Similarly, the beauty of big data, or predictive analytics, does not arise from the amazing answers to questions that data scientists can gain from mountains of data, which previously was impossible.
Rather it lies in the way these technologies can help transform and personalise government services to citizens.
Mr Sagar concluded, “Managing the risks of digital transformation is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. It is also difficult for the pessimist, because all the tools available to make digital transformation work – from the tech tools like big data, IoT, blockchain and fintech and many others – to the organisational change tools and methodologies designed to enhance and support purposeful change – all these tools require an optimist in order to work properly. So, if you are a half empty kinda guy, start filling that glass.”
Digital transformation in the financial sector
Finance is one of the sectors undergoing massive disruption today. There were two presentations on digital transformation in the financial sector, presenting the perspectives of a Fintech startup and an established bank.
Mr Kharim Siregar, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at BTPN bank talked about how the bank is leveraging technology and the ‘people’ aspect of transformation. BTPN aspires to be a leading mass-market bank, powered by digital. The bank’s strategic priorities entail driving change along four aspects. The first is become more customer-centric in designing and launching new capabilities. Customers experience should be the primary focus for every product decision making.
The second is to focus on increasing the speed of taking innovations to market by promoting re-usability and adopting modern development practices. Iterative Agile development and engineering practices, as opposed to the traditional sequential waterfall methodology, have decreased time-to-market.
Agile and devops, as opposed to the traditional sequential waterfall methodology. Devops makes continuous delivery possible by breaking down silos between development and infrastructure / operations and enables releases every 2-6 weeks.
Thirdly, the use of agile and DevOps practices in tandem has helped the bank in deploying solutions to production in less than 10 mins. Mr Siregar described DevOps as the integrated Agile approach that makes Continuous Delivery possible by breaking down silos between development and infrastructure / operations. DevOps is enabling releases every 2-6 weeks.
Finally, 2-speed IT and microservices architecture has helped the bank innovate fast and integrate capabilities. Core systems for which resilience is a priority have regular release cycles, while microservices are on short release cycles.
Mr Siregar concluded saying that transformation is tightly interconnected with people and culture in the organization. For instance, having self-driven, accountable, adaptive and feedback driven workforce rather than managed and instructed individuals who are reactive and situation-driven is essential to create nimble, responsive bank.
Mr Claude Spiese talked about linking entrepreneurship to national development, in order to improve quality of life. Mr Spiese built and launched Timo, Vietnam's first digital bank, in one year, and then ran Timo for one year with rapid customer acquisition, deposit taking, and product development, and led a successful Series A fundraising round. Thereafter he joined the BOD and focused on regional expansion.
Mr Spiese said that whenever he is asked what advice might he have for the regulator to support development of Fintech in developing countries, he dodges the question.
As Startup CEO, he focuses on understanding the regulatory environment and where it’s going, and build product and services accordingly, rather than lobbying for change. He follows the same approach with customer preferences and behaviour.
However, when asked by OpenGov about the essential building blocks for linking entrepreneurship to national development, he couldn’t dodge the question. He said that enterprise Law, which makes it easy and cheap to set up, change ownership, scale up, scale down, and shut down small businesses, with minimally prescriptive business activity licensing, would help.
Also, having tolerant regulation and regulatory enforcement, instead of “official, permanent, approvals” which often give “unofficial, temporary non-objections” would be a positive.
The potential of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a transformative technology, which is impacting all industries and apsects of our lives. Assistant Professor Lu Wei, from the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD) talked about unlocking the power of big data and artificial intelligence.
He noted that AI can currently play computer games, drive cars, and perform speech recognition, face recognition, translation, information extraction and anomaly detection. In the future, we might have AI which can perform human-level reasoning, undertake complex design and planning, understand intentions and detect emotions.
Assistant Professor Lu Wei also mentioned a few case studies. A Singapore government agency is interested in using natural language processing for converting manually typed text into tables based on their in-house machine learning tool.
The team is also working with DSO natural laboratories in Singapore for building models to understand malware behaviours based on cybersecurity reports. The researchers are also working with Alibaba on models for automatic understanding of semantics in text in the e-commerce domain for improved customer experience.
A holistic approach to cybersecurity
As governments and organisations undergo digital transformation, they could become increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats.
Dato’ Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer, CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) shared Malaysia’s experience in approaching cybersecurity from a holistic perspective. This consists of identifying potential threats to organization and impacts to the national security & public well-being and developing the nation to become cyber resilient, having the capability to safeguard the interests of its stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities.
Malaysia was among the earliest nation in Southeast Asia that undertake to design a National Cyber Security Policy. Malaysia was also among the earliest nations in the region to enact cyber related laws.
Malaysia was ranked in third place in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)’s Global Cyber Security Index (GCI) 2017. The GCI is a survey that measures the commitment of Member States to cybersecurity in order to raise awareness.
Currently, the Malaysian Government is reviewing all cyber-related laws in to ensure trust in networks and promote the development the Internet Economy in the country.
Dato’ Amirudin also said that the traditional approach to cybersecurity leaves significant gaps in cyber defence. Most APT (advanced persistent threat) malware lies dormant and remains undetected. A new approach is required to address APT and new breed of cyber attacks. Intelligent & automated threat detection and response is absolutely critical moving forward.
He emphasised the importance of building partnerships. As cyber threats become more diverse, persistent and sophisticated, there is a need for bi-lateral & multi-stakeholders partnership in cybersecurity capacity building and create a competent cyber security workforce both at national and regional levels. Domestic and global cybersecurity has to be strengthened through inter-agency cooperation and Public-Private Partnership;
“Being prepared is the key to prevent bigger cyber security problems,” Dato’ Amirudin concluded.