Industry Watch
 

Digital Economy: Empathy, Care and Sharing

24 Feb 2017

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS

The Committee for Future Economy (CFE) recently published 7 sign-posts to guide Singapore into the future while Budget 2017 provided some insights into how some of these strategies could be supported through national budgetary prioritisation.  

A veteran in the financial industry succinctly summarised some related CFE strategies into two core themes:-connectivity and inclusiveness:

·       1) Build up both hardware (infrastructure) and software (talent) capabilities to seize mover-advantages in connectivity as the world transforms into digital economies. 

·          2) Minimise social economic gaps between the digital and analogue population by ensuring that critical public services in education and health care are affordable and easily accessible to the less privileged. 

So how does these recent priorities and strategies dove-tail into Singapore’s vision as a “Smart Nation” announced in Nov 2014 by the Prime Minister before Singapore celebrated its 50th anniversary since independence? And how is the new digital economy being developed as part of this grand master plan? 

From my limited research, I see “Smart Nation” as the blueprint pulling together the disparate and very often siloed initiatives being formulated by different government agencies, ministries and the private sectors. The CFE on the other hand provides the medium term strategies to reach the goal while Budget 2017 avail the financial muscles for the next 1 to 3 years. The digital economy with its corresponding benefits (enhanced liveability, workability and sustainability) is the outcome of a successfully executed plan.  

Whether we like it or not, a “Smart Nation” has to be supported by “smarter” technologies that inter-connect people, things and devices.  

Connectivity will re-emerged as one of the more popular words amongst Big Data Visualisation, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, etc.  While being constantly connected is embraced largely by the millennial generation, there are already concerns over greater loss of privacy, higher frequency of digital frauds and real fear of those encapsulated in the analogue world that are being left behind. 

In response to the impact of high-tech, Yuval Harari (1), an Israeli historian, author of the international bestseller “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” was quoted as saying, “The most crucial choices about the future are made not by bureaucrats or lobbyists but by engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists who are hardly aware of the implications of their decisions, and who certainly don't represent anyone".

So how the digital economy should be developed around people and for the people? 

Since I’m not a social scientist, I can’t offer solutions supported by research-based findings but I can share a personal experience on why the digital transformed community has to promote core values of empathy, care and sharing as part of inclusiveness.  

Recently, I participated in a mini-project with a relevant project statement “How can the elderly living alone be better taken care of using smart technologies?”   

Considering this is a “wicked” problem, the project team adopted Design Thinking framework and used tools such as “AEIOU”, “POETS”, etc to help understand the environment, identify the target users, assessed their needs, and developed insights of the appropriate persona. Throughout the process, empathy was emphasized as the pre-requisite mindset to be adopted. 

Since there are numerous challenges faced by the elderly living alone, the project team decided to focus on one specific need: providing “meal of choice” to the elderly living alone.  

While there are over 10 voluntarily welfare organisations (VWOs) currently involved in the “meals-on-wheel” programme catering to the frail and home-bound elderly (2) by providing more nutritious and healthier meals; the insights garnered showed that further improvements could be made to cater to elderly with difficulties chewing their food (use of dentures or weak gums), inability to consume standard food portion (wastage) and lack of food choices (personal preference).        

Given the short project duration, only a conceptual prototype was developed to leverage on the power of connectivity supported by “smart” technologies that match demand and supply patterns.  

Basically, 24x7 kiosks designed for elderly who could still move about on wheelchairs are located at senior citizen corners, outside Residents Committee and Social Welfare offices. For those home-bound, large screen tablets with basic functions would have to be provided at appropriate location within the household. 

The “meal of choice” software on the kiosk or tablet would have to be designed to cater to elderly with eye-sight challenge, limitation in language literacy and technology unfamiliarity.  With the app, these elderly could “compose” their desired meals and portion after using one or several biometric attributes for identification. Overtime, the system recommends their preferred choices to further simplify the ordering process.  

At the back-end, the system assigns the various “individualised” orders to respective VWOs and other supporting organisations based on a host of parameters such as availability of food supply, quantities, proximity of locations, timing required, resource availability, delivery logistic, etc. 

As part of social responsibilities, restaurants, food caterers, bakery shops, Uber, Grab, etc and individuals are encouraged to participate on ad-hoc or regular basis to meet specific needs on special occasions or to make “last-mile” fulfilment responsibilities e.g. Uber/Grab cab nearby but not on hire.     

The desired outcome is a sharing and caring community that uses technology to match “individualised” demands by “aggregating” supplies and resources from multiple sources founded on empathy, inclusiveness and connectivity.     

Digital transformation leading to our journey as a Smart Nation will have profound impact on economic, social, legal and political dimensions across all levels in our society. It is understandable that there will be concerns and confusion of varying intensity. 

But, as a nation, we must always remember the underlying core values that guide Singapore successfully over the past 50 years. Digital or not, core values should remain.    

Note:

     (1)  His latest book “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” was published in Hebrew in 2015. An English translation was published in the UK in Sep 2016.
(2)     In 2015, there were over 41,000 elderly over 65 years living alone. The number of elderly over 65 years is projected to increase from 440,000 in 2015 to 900,000 by 2030 (13 years from now)

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Owner of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jobs & Future Skills

03 Oct 2016

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS

The economic situation ahead is a gloomy one. In Singapore, the Deputy Prime Minister was quoted recently that the country’s GDP will come in the lower end of its official forecast of 1-2% this year given the weaker global growth outlook. 

To prepare for the medium term, the Singapore Committee of the Future Economy (CFE) has identified “Jobs and Skills for the Future” as one of its 5 key focus areas. Creating jobs has been one of the government’s priorities so let’s take a brief look at how Singapore has been preparing its workforce over the years. 

Export-led industrialisation through multinationals
As a young nation, Singapore’s founding leaders with foresight chartered its destiny through the development and successful implementation of exceptional economic strategies of its time. To survive, Singapore during the 1960s to 1980s, aggressively promoted export-led industralisation while concurrently attract global multi-corporations to achieve industrial growth.  

During those two decades, Singapore moved from labour intensive manufacturing to value-added engineering industries, e.g. electronics, petrol chemical and precision engineering. With electronics as the underpinning growth engine (~30% of total manufacturing value-add in 2013), Singapore accounts for one in 10 wafer starts in the world and 40% of the global hard disc media manufactured. 

Recognising the needs for engineers, Nanyang Technological Institute (aka Nanyang Technological University) was set up in Aug 1981 with the charter to train three-quarter of Singapore engineers. Many of my cohorts including myself became the pioneer batches of NTU responding to the government drives to support value-added engineering industries. 

However, Singapore went into a recession in 1985 despite the growing global economy hitting the initial batches of NTU graduates. In 1986, unofficially estimates indicated over 50% of civil engineering graduates were unable to find jobs in construction related industries.  

Liberalisation and the rise of modern services
1985 was the turning point in Singapore economy signalling the start of the new phase known as “Liberalisation and the Rise of Modern Services” from 1985 to 2010.  

It was during this period that saw the acceleration of the liberalisation and consolidation of the financial, telecommunication and utilities services and schemes to drive Singapore businesses to tap growth in the regional markets.   

During these 15 years, 7 local banks consolidated into 3 while expanding their networks into the region. The telecommunication market was liberalised resulting in the current 3 telco. Accountancy, banking/financial services and Information Technology became top pursuit for tertiary education. Investment bankers, lawyers, accountants, financial service advisers and property agents were drawing much higher salaries than doctors, dentists and engineers. 

The global economic crisis from 2008 pulled the plug on the run-away economic growth founded on questionable elements. Everything grind to a halt and the new slogan emerged at that time was “Back to Basics” as the new normal.     

Demographic slowdown and economic restructuring
According to the MAS, Singapore is entering its 3rd phase of economic history from 2011 to 2025 “Demographic Slowdown and Economic Restructuring” whereby resource constraints (land, manpower and infrastructure) become significant challenges hitting the entire economy instead of selected sectors. 

The government’s response is to shift to a productivity-driven growth model through 3 key areas: 

1.       Reduction in the foreign worker dependency ratio ceiling

2.       Financial incentives to firms to improve productivity through adoption of technological solutions

3.       Programmes to help Singaporeans to develop and master skills in new growth clusters 

So what are these new growth clusters? 

Two clusters namely, education and health care were identified.  

Singapore is currently positioning itself as a choice location for quality education for a growing Asian middle class and by 2025, to become the premier education hub of Asia. Concurrently, the health care sector was opened up to transform Singapore to become a multi-faceted medical hub hosting the world’s top medical professionals and multi-national healthcare companies. 

On 30 Sep 2016, the newly minted Info-communications Media Development Authority (IDMA) announced its charter to help Singapore seize opportunities in the converging infocomm and media sectors. 

But for those who are not keen to pursue education or career in these three sectors, what are the options? 

Preparing for the Future
Below are some take-away I would like to share: 

1.       Trying to predict the economic cycles to develop our education and skill development roadmap could be like trying to time the bull and bear runs of the equities markets. This becomes more challenging as there is always a time lag between acquiring the qualification/skills and matching the immediate needs of these sectors. 

2.       Plunging into “hot” careers; e.g. in Fintech could be a short-lived one as previous experience from dot.com could be a lesson for all. Think instead of what are the core factors driving the Fintech frenzy. As an example, BlockChain, one of the hottest technologies besides Big Data, VR-AR, AI, etc currently being pursued by many banks for trade finance could also be solutions for accounting, logistics, fulfilment and even the healthcare industry! 

3.       Disruptions arising from digital revolution will hit the economies and societies across the world affecting governments, organisations and individuals. Ability to adapt and embrace changes quickly become essential life skills. In Singapore, we are fortunate to have the SkillsFuture scheme – make use of the credits. 

4.       Beyond getting a satisfying job with an attractive pay, what is the purpose of education? While there is no universally defined purpose, majority of educators in the world agreed that education is meant to prepare each individual for life, work and citizenship. Critical thinking, creativity, interpersonal skills and a sense of social responsibility should be core components in any sustainable educational curriculum but these likewise must be our individual’s goals.

5.       Finally, to stay ahead of the curve and to live and work alongside robots in the knowledge economy, we need to be more critical in our thinking, ask questions and define problems, investigate, analyse data, design solutions, evaluate options and communicate information. To do all these, we need to excel in 3 areas: a strong command of a widely used and accepted language, deep understanding in science and a good foundation in mathematics. So it has been a big circle going back to: Language, Science and Mathematics!

Changing Mindset
Whatever the approach taken, there is also the need to be prepared to move away from the well entrenched contract of service (permanency of employment) to contract for service (ad-hoc) nature of employment.

Going forward, it is envisaged that a large pool of professionals each with specific domain knowledge coming together to collaborate and deliver a project on a less rigid structure. Upon completion of the assignment, roll off and re-assemble based on demands in the future. Such idea frightens many who still believe the future is about medium to long term employment.

Two weeks ago, I overhead a listener calling a local Mandarin radio programme catering to the silver generation. She said “要活到老, 就要学到老”. Translating to “If one desires to live to a ripe age, one has no choice but to embrace live long learning!”

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Owner of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Prime” Time: Looking Back and Ahead

26 May 2016 

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS

According to the WHO, global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 79.1 years.  In Singapore, this was 82 years, similar to most other global cities.  

Give and take 3 years, our typical lifespan broadly follow 3 major phases; first 25 years of knowledge/skills acquisition, the next 30 years of active contribution and “asset” accumulation with the remaining phase in consolidation, nurturing and reflection. 

Trained as an engineer, I joined the banking industry in May 1986. Thirty years is a long time and for many, it is the prime phase of one’s life.  

Many things happened over 30 years and looking back at Consumer Banking, an area more familiar to me; I have the privilege of experiencing 4 distinct phases over this period: 

1980s: Self-Service Banking and “Branch of the Future”
Challenged by the high costs of setting up manned branches and spurred by customers demand for more banking “touch points”, banks invested heavily in self-service banking (SSB) terminals, e.g. ATM, dedicated cash dispenser, notes recycling machines, rates/information terminals, interactive phone banking systems, etc.  

After researches shown that customers preferred to bank where they worked, shopped and played; banks started to either set up new or relocate their existing branches/ATMs to office complexes, retail malls and supermarkets. As part of this major review, branches begun to discard their traditional formal “look-and-feel” to be more like retail stores with customer greeters, merchandise display and advertising panels.   

An interesting development was the “queue-comber” where assigned staff combed the long queue to “pull” customers out to use SSB terminals. Years later, banks that successfully migrated customers to SSB lamented their branches were seeing much fewer customers leading to the loss of marketing opportunities. Some banks went on to re-design their customer servicing areas making them more suited for personalised banking consultation. 

Another challenge faced by most banks then was how to offer extended banking hours service while being constrained by staff shortage, operational issues like cheque cut-off time, and security concerns over cash deposits overnight. 

While several research papers provided glimpses of the “Branch of the Future”; these typically showed branches with a more modern retail façade coupled with an extended banking hours lobby for customers to visit when the branch was closed. Facilities in SSB lobbies would include ATMs, cash acceptance machine, a wall mounted phone for customers to speak to a call agent and a kiosk with information on banking products, exchange and deposit rates.    

1990s: Anytime and Anywhere Banking
The 24X7 internet banking era brought numerous challenges for the Consumer Bank. One was the dis-connect between front-end presentation and backend batch processing – straight-through processing was limited. Customers were disappointed as online applications were just mail-drop feature resulting in over-promise and under delivery.  

The emergence of mobile banking brought other challenges including small screen size, lack of bandwidth, limited programming capabilities for mobile application development and the upper hand of telcos over the control and ownership of the SIM card.  

With telcos setting up “walled gardens” limiting banks from offering dedicated banking applications, this resulted in banks and telcos fighting over “mind” and “wallet share” of their common customers and the wars on “telco-centric” and “bank-centric” business models. With the mobile phone becoming a ubiquitous personal device, there were intense discussions about telcos becoming banks and everyday payments made via telcos’ monthly billing statements. 

As banks expanded their range of self-service banking options, channel disintegration became a major issue; i.e. how to present a unified front to the customers of their recent transactions and relationship with the bank. One was the investments in call centre systems with computer-telephony integration (CTI) functions to complement non-personalised services offered at SSB terminals. 

The other was trying to display similar customer data regardless of the channels they used – on hindsight, this was a futile effort as technology at those time were not ready for the formidable task on hand. Attempts to roll out the “multi-channel, integrated approach” to achieve a 360 degree view of the customer became the holy grail of service industry! 

The late 1990s was also a period of market liberation and consolidation.  

In Singapore there were numerous speculations on whether the market could support up to 2 or 3 major local banks. Arising from these mergers, local bank staff enjoying years of job stability experienced first-hand the uncertainties brought about by merger-integration and to adapt to different corporate culture and management approaches.   

While there were no formal estimates on the productivity and economic losses during the major merger-integration period for which a couple of banks took several years; local banks were largely inward focused instead of reacting to prevailing marketing conditions.  

However, the greatest feat and worry faced by banks around the world was getting ready for Year 2000 (Y2K). As it turned out to be a non-event of the new century, there were numerous speculations as to whether the risks were intentionally played up by some technology companies or the preparation works themselves had averted a major technological disaster.  

2000s: e-Banking and e-Payment     
Exhausted by the over-preparation for Y2K and integration nightmares from merger-acquisition (M&A) activities; banks especially in the US and Europe woke up to the emergence of non-bank disrupters (precursor to Fintech) chipping away banks’ established franchises; one of which was banks’ payment service for both domestic and cross border customers. 

Capitalising on the gaps of banks’ inefficient, slow and expensive payment services, technology and non-bank companies acting as payment intermediaries were soon setting up payment gateways as well as offering “instant”, innovative, and cheaper remittance and fund-transfer options. One such creative fund transfer and payment service was to use the email address of the recipient instead of a bank account number.

At the height of this frenzy period, one major technology development was cryptography and its application in digital certificates to offer digital signing and as an underlying technology for virtual currencies.  Almost every month, there were announcements of new variations of virtual cash, e-monies; notable examples include Checkfree, CyberCash, DigiCash, etc.  

Riding on the popularity of the internet and the mushrooming of e-retailers, E-Commerce became the buzzword of this decade.  

Besides fraud and security issues, the e-commerce era also saw intense debates over card-based versus account-based (direct-debit) payment mechanisms. The “super all-in-one” card was also one of the favourite products being explored.  This was soon followed by the prediction that the days of cashless society was finally in the horizon.  

The dot.com bubble burst brought temporary relief as banks tolled to enhance their legacy systems to become more technologically agile to offer fast-to-market financial products to meet customers’ expectation and banks’ own internal business users demand for better control and flexibility to configure product features for their customers. 

The technology departments in banks were having an “exciting” time exploring ways to use thin client (browsers) for their non-mission critical services, hooking up middle-ware to their legacy backend host systems.  All these at the same time while replacing their aging core banking systems with new systems that could scale easily by plugging in new modules similar to a Lego set.  I recalled it was the time when “plug and play” was heard ever so often! 

At the organisation level, banks struggled to decide if they should operate a separate online entity catering to the internet and mobile-savvy customers. One local bank started a standalone e-bank with a big fanfare only to close it discretely shortly afterwards. 

It was also during this period many banks merged their operations and technology units and naming the new outfit “T&O” or “O&T”.  As banks had conducted centralisation activities following M&A, outsourcing became a natural option for banks with cheaper overseas options. Focusing on core activities and shedding non-core assets were also on the radar of many banks.  

The “armageddon” for this decade was the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2008 which was even worse than the Great Depression in 1930 in economic terms.  

2010s: The Rise of Digitalisation and Fintech
The sky-rocket adoption of mobile phone and broadband services shrunk the world in terms of connectivity and accessibility. It is also an era of the digital natives and social media becoming the new normal lifestyle. The Chinese saying; “like fish in water” is probably an understatement in describing the current phenomenon. 

The ubiquitous smartphone has evolved overtime into a multipurpose device beyond communication, entertainment, photography and storage functions.  

Most smartphones now offer biometric authentication, e-wallet applications that could store unlimited number of credit and debit cards, payment with more secured means such as Near Field Communication (NFC) as well as scanning and sensing capabilities whereupon a wide range of useful daily applications could be developed. The previous prediction that the mobile phone is the “bank in our pocket” is finally near. 

However, banks (known as “dinosaurs” rightly so by non-banks and customers) are slow in embracing digitalisation as part of their growth strategies. Forced by non-banks and technological companies, banks are progressively taking on these head-on challenges threatening their businesses and survival.  

For hundreds of years, monies are never wired across continents in the physical sense; these are but records maintained in digital ledgers of collaborative parties. Banking in this sense has always been digitalised. 

Most banks are confronted by 3 key considerations when embarking on their digitalisation journey: the role of branches and systems (costly investment), transforming bank staff (mindset) trained for face-to-face interaction and the offering of greater accessibility and real-time services to customers (risk and security management).   

These are not new challenges and banks have demonstrated their abilities to surmount them as shown in the past, sometimes with the help of government assistance. 

Nonetheless, banks should remember that success goes to banks that are able to execute their implementation well rather than those coming up with just a robust business strategy.  

Looking Ahead
As there is no universally accepted definition of “Fintech”, I loosely define it to mean the use of technology to enhance finance services. But the use of technology in banking industry is not new; I recalled reading a popular paper-based magazine, “Banking Technology” since 1986.  

So how it is that Fintech becomes so popular over the past few years? 

My internet searches showed that Fintech evolved shortly after the global financial crisis (GFC). The aftermath of GFC revealed there was much inefficiency in the banking industry. Secondly, regulators around the world started to impose more stringent risk management and control requirements to better manage their financial systems. Finally, the social media and mobile savvy customers are expecting a different level of interaction and fulfillment from financial service providers.   

The situation presents enormous opportunities for banks and non-banks but the latter were much quicker to seize these opportunities. 

Currently, there are two “popular” technologies, the poster boys of this era: Block Chain and the “rebirth” of Application Programming Interface (API). Although not an IT person, I believed Block Chain and API are not new technologies. These are extension of existing technology in new application areas supported by a more conducive environment.   

When I looked back the past 3 decades, there are many lessons to be learned, many of which I admit are with the benefit of hindsight.  

One is the global rapid adoption of mobile application services that drastically changed the world beyond the imagination of many. The other is the unfulfilled promises brought by the dot.com era – there were much excitement in developing cutting edge technological products but not solving day-to-day problems.  

From some examples of earlier not so successful launches of digital certificates, account aggregation, e-cheque, NFC-enabled phones, etc; we learned that early customer involvement, thorough pre-launch planning and customer education programmes are found to be key success factors when transiting customers to use new technology and services. 

Another important factor for organisations and banks alike, the litmus test is where is the money and if the solution is a sustainable one. 

Finally, beyond technology (Fintech included), every organisation is supported by 4 core pillars; People, Product (or service), Process and Paradigm that distinguish itself from the competition.  

Under the Fintech umbrella, banks and non-banks in Singapore are in a privilege position as the country central bank is taking an exceptional proactive role in encouraging and nurturing the adoption of Fintech initiatives not seen in the past 30 years. 

Will Fintech be the revolutionary champion, a passing fade or a Dot.Com 2.0 in the making? 

The outcome to this question is shaped by the practitioners that glean valuable lessons from the past, innovate for the present and influence the future. 

Watch this space in 2020.

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Owner of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

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Our “common” wealth

29 Apr 2016

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS 

After I published an article last month about the rapid advancements in AI, several wrote me to express concerns that one day in the future, human would be ruled by smart machines – indeed a tragedy for mankind.

Before that dreadful day descents on us, we could be facing yet another kind of tragedy: “Tragedy of the Commons1” put forth by an economist back in 1833 but made popular in 1968 by an ecologist, Garrett Hardin. 

Tragedy: Work in progress
As a brief introduction, “Tragedy of the Commons” basically refers to the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group's long-term best interests. In Hardin’s paper, the shared resources could be air, water, natural vegetation, food supply, or even our dear mother earth. 

As there are two sides of a coin, some criticised Hardin’s theory as lacking in empirical evidence and argued that there are abundance of examples illustrating co-operations amongst users of “common” properties. 

In reality, how many of us actually put common interest ahead of self-needs? 

Look back and reflect when was the last time the common refrigerator or micro-oven in the office or dormitory pantry is in clean condition or when the beach has no left-over rubbish. 

Even nature seems to encourage such selfish and self-centred behaviours. When I was studying molecular biotechnology, I learned cancer cells are “programmed” to colonise as much of the host they have infected knowing very well that they would perish if the host dies.   

Larger examples
Again, there are many incidents happening around the world but at much larger scale – from the contamination of ground water through irresponsible disposal of toxic waste to the release of methane gas in Murray-Darling Basin2, a river network sprawling across five Australian states due to coal-seam gas mining activities (fracking).

The largest and recent tragedy in South-East Asia was the regional haze in 2015 when Indonesia shot up to become the world’s 3rd biggest polluters after the US and China by emitting over 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide through slash-and-burnt of peatland3

Last week, 22 Apr 2016 was Earth Day4 and on this day, the Paris 2015 Climate Accord was signed but this agreement can be enforced only when 55 countries representing 55% of global Greenhouse gases emissions have formally joined it. The target date is set in 2020 but will this be achieved?  

Closer to home is the depletion of water to critical levels of Linggui reservoir in Johore where Singapore draws water to meet up to 50% of Singapore’s current water needs. To ally concern, the government outlined plans to build the island’s 4th desalination plant. However, should we be curbing demand instead of trying to increase water supply? 

Wiser forefathers
Next month, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 90th birthday. Despite the downfall of the British through decolonisation, Queen Elizabeth II is currently the monarch of 16 members of the Commonwealth known as the Commonwealth Realm5. While these member states have no legal obligation to one another, they are united by language, history, culture and shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  

Maybe, the British government and Heads of those former colonized countries knew back in 1949 after the London Declaration6, the importance being associated with the Commonwealth or the need to protect our shared “common wealth”. 

References:

1 Tragedy of the Commons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

2 Australian MP sets river on fire and then blames fracking: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/australian-mp-sets-river-on-fire-and-then-blames-fracking-a6998221.html

3 Regional haze one of the worst in history: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/3-regional-haze-one-of-the-worst-in-history

4 Earth Day at EcoInvest Singapore: https://www.facebook.com/EcoinvestSG 

5 Commonwealth Realm: http://www.wow.com/wiki/Commonwealth_realm 

6 London Declaration: http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/history-items/documents/London%20Declaration%20of%201949.pdf

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Director of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time to Think

22 Mar 2016 

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS 

Man vs Machine
Less than 20 years ago, Deep Blue, an IBM super computer defeated Garry Kasparov, a reigning world champion Chess master. This month, Google DeepMind (AlphaGO) beat Lee Sedol, one of the world strongest GO players with a 9-dan ranking. 

What are the key takeaways from these two world historical events associated with Human Intelligence1 and Artificial Intelligence2 (AI)? 

Basically, Deep Blue was designed based on telling the computer what we know and letting its brute computing power “evaluate” against a huge database of master chess games to derive the best option for a particular scenario. Put in another way, it is to select the best “If-Then” option. In real-life situation, it means the computer will beat us in executing activities that can be defined clearly in a structured process.  

This programming approach is limited because there are many activities that our human brain could perform but cannot be explained clearly. Some of these include riding the bicycle, swimming, etc.  GO is one of such activities where human players know more than they could tell – identifying a familiar face in a photo with many people in it. 

To overcome this constraint, AlphaGO is designed differently to mimic the human brain; deep learning and reinforcement learning.  

For deep learning, the software has a network of billions of “nodes” and “connections” that use “training sets” to strengthen these connections (similar to neurons in our brain) in responding to stimuli (a GO process) and elicit a response (the next move). As part of reinforcement learning, the computer played millions of GO games against itself to “remember” those moves that worked well. 

A couple of friends insisted the recent GO game isn’t about Machine vs Man but a triumph for mankind because after all, AlphaGO is built by human programmers.  

Let’s put on our critic hat – was this the case? 

Big Data
Before we enter into endless discussions, one common denominator between Deep Blue and DeepMind is the huge databases of past games (Data). Without these data, both computers are in no position to “evaluate” If-Then options or perform deep learning and reinforcement learning.  

In the present environment, data has to be specifically collected and fed to these computer systems but this situation is changing rapidly with “Cloud Computing” or the “Global Computer”. 

On social media platforms, millions of users across the globe are posting and sharing more data voluntarily and more frequently. Increasingly, data are also collected without our explicit knowledge when we browsed pages on our computers or mobile phones, set our mobile phones with default location tracking feature or activate auto-upload on our wearable devices that track our daily activities, heart beats and sleep patterns. 

Adding to these input sources are other little sensors and transmitters collectively known as Internet of Things (IOT) that are increasingly invading many aspects of our daily lives. Each day, the list comprising CCTV cameras, thermostats, smoke detectors, air-quality detectors, water detectors, baby monitors and even pacemakers, etc becomes longer. 

Have we ever wondered why companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple are collecting data vigorously? 

Data has value. 

In aggregated form, it provides information of emerging and new trends; at individual levels, it is valuable to marketers for sending targeted information. Data analytics also support decision making, facilitate development of products or services to address existing or new needs and for some organisations, selling of customer data is their core revenue stream. 

Two years ago, one of the leading fitness tracker companies started working with corporations in Singapore to provide fitness trackers to staff as part of their corporate wellness programmes. To-date, more than 2,400 employees from some 20 companies have enrolled in various schemes. These fitness trackers are usually sold to companies at bulk discount with some companies subsidising or sharing the cost with employees. 

These schemes look like a win-win situation for all parties. The fitness tracker company sells more products and with more data points; they get inputs on how to refine and improve upon its products. The companies benefit from a group of more health conscious employees and even save on medical costs and employee insurance schemes.  

In smart homes, thermostats monitoring outside and room temperature automatically adjust temperature of air-conditioners or heaters; infra-red sensors turn lights on and off depending on presence or absence of human bodies (heat); baby monitoring system sending remote alert to parents in case of irregularities of baby movements are just some of the many examples facilitated by IOT devices.  

Smarter = Better?
The problem starts when our data are used against us in the scenario when companies and insurers use the stick instead of the carrot approach. Imagine salary or bonuses of employees are deducted for a less healthy lifestyle or a higher premium for corporate medical schemes. 

Also consider the situation when energy companies decide to remotely tune the temperatures of our home cooling/heating appliance in their own interest; to level out the power loading on the electricity grid to save costs on electricity generation. 

The combination of IOT and AI has become such a powerful threat that it warrants James R. Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence to highlight the concerns to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 10 Feb 2016. In the Report3, IOT and AI were listed as the first 2 items under the chapter, “Global Threats: Cyber and Technology”. 

Threats from IOT were described by Clapper as follows: Security industry analysts have demonstrated that many of these new systems can threaten data privacy, data integrity, or continuity of services. In the future, intelligence services4 might use the [Internet of Things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials. 

Other than IOT, the report is specifically concerned about the rise of AI as AI systems are susceptible to a range of disruptive and deceptive tactics that might be difficult to anticipate or quickly understand. Efforts to mislead or compromise automated systems might create or enable further opportunities to disrupt or damage critical infrastructure or national security networks. 

In an earlier article5 by this author, the latest 007 movie; “Spectre” dramatise the scenario of an international terrorist group turning surveillance devices against us and bringing “IOT” to the next level with “Smart Blood”. These reel scenarios could become reality much sooner than we expected.   

Looking Ahead
There is always the flip side to everything including the use of smart technology, AI, IOT and being always connected to the super computer (Cloud). Issues concerning the uncertainties of AI outcome due to its complexity, loss of privacy arising from inappropriate use of collected data, monetary and asset losses from security breaches due to our ignorance and laziness (not changing default values), etc can and will happen.     

The short answer to the above is to make time to think about and stay on top of these developments. Be vigilant against and report potential suspicious activities. 

 

References:
1
Human Intelligence
Linda Gottfredson et al: Very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience….   

2 Artificial Intelligence
The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages 

3 Statement for the Record - Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community dated 09 Feb 2016: http://www.popsci.com/clapper-americas-greatest-threat-is-internet-things 

4 “Intelligence services” refers mostly to spy networks from other countries 

5 Reeling in 2016: http://www.innovar.com.sg/more.htm#Reeling_in_2016

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Director of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradigm 

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS 

03 Mar 2016 

The 4 Core Pillars
At the fundamental level, every organisation is supported by 4 core pillars; People (Talent & Knowledge), Product (or Service delivering the organisation’s value proposition), Process (making things happen in a defined manner) and Paradigm that embodies the culture, climate and strategies that drive the organisation towards its vision. We could add the 5th P which is Passion injecting the emotional element. 

While one could enters into endless discussions on which of the 4 or 5 “P” is more important, I am inclined to argue that Paradigm differentiates an organisation from its peers.  

Paradigm or put simply is the “Mindset” of the organisation and its people in solving problems, developing innovative ideas to create new values or in the opposite direction, stifle growths at the organisation and individual levels. 

I am sure all of us have come across many live examples of how the strong mindset of powerful leaders has lead an organisation or a country either into successful or destructive path. 

In the more complex and interconnected world that we live in, decision making has increasingly become more challenging arising from the greater need to engage a much wider segment of stakeholders; each defending its self-interest with added vigour supported by social media platforms. 

Don’t get me wrong as I fully support stakeholder engagement but such activity like other activities require resources and time and there is a need to take a balance approach. 

Direct or Skirt?
In Singapore, other than the concerns over the gloomy economic situation and uncertainties over the next two years, recently, there have been active and lively debates on 3 topics:  Changes to the Elected Presidency, Madonna’s concert on 28 Feb and the Cross Island Line (CIL). 

I will use CIL as an example to support my earlier statement on the greater importance of Paradigm. 

From press reports either on print or online, there seems to be a 50:50 split on the two possible alignments. For the benefits of overseas audience, the debate; is whether the CIL should cut across the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) thereby impacting the core natural catchment area in Singapore or for a diverted route that skirt around the CCNR which is longer and at an additional estimated cost of S$2B more. 

Before I draw a line in the sand and incur the wrath of at least 50% of the “population”, let me share an observation I made recently at the “Future of Us” exhibition. 

At the “Future of Us” exhibition, it further reinforces the point that given the scarcity of land in tiny Singapore, there are only two practical options; build UP or go UNDER.  There is no third option of growing sideways.         

Now, let’s put on our thinking hat and challenge our current MINDSET for this CIL.

The first question that came to mind: is there an alternative to the precious CCNR?

 The Future Now?
Looking at Google Map, Pulau Tekong; the largest island appears to be similar in size with CCNR. Further research: Pulau Tekong (24.4 sq km) and CCNR (28.8 sq km). If Pulau Ubin (10.2 sq km) next to Pulau Tekong is combined, the gross land area for a potential new nature reserve is 34.6 sq km (20% more than CCNR). 

The issue on hand is Pulau Tekong is the only island designated for military training and the implications if the island is “converted” into a Core Nature Reserve. 

Before tackling this military training issue, our mindset of time dimension has to change. The future is not about 10, 20 years but 50 years and beyond.  

Firstly, the type of military training that is required in the immediate and near future is already changing rapidly due the benefits and disruptions that technology brings. Secondly, the current deliberation on the two current CIL options seems to focus on more immediate time horizon of our liveability and environment in the next 10, 20, 30 years. 

Before those of you who are naturalists come hard on me, I’m not suggesting CCNR be replaced with concrete “jungle” but to think very hard (paradigm shift) in how to transform the areas around our 3 key national “water taps”, MacRitchie, Peirce and Seletar reservoirs into a lively water hub that is integrated into the Smart Nation master plan for Singapore over the next 50-100 years!   

Since there is no right or wrong answer, our future generations would probably look back and decide if a more forward looking decision was made by us now.  

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Director of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

This article was first circulated to a private email group on 26 Feb 2016 and re-adapted for publication at the Innovar website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hua Wu Bai Ri Hong (Flowers don't bloom for a hundred days)

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS

 29 Jan 2016 

Turbulences ahead
The starting weeks of the new 2016 brought about various mini “disasters” across the globe, from the drastic decline of various major stock markets by 20% from their recent peaks, the terrorist attack in Indonesia, oil prices plunging to below US$30 per barrel – a 12-year low and the unabated slowing of the China economy.    

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index (STI) fell 28.8% over a period of 9 months from its high of 3,550 on 16 Apr 2015 to a low of 2,529 on 21 Jan 2016. The Hang Seng Index isn’t any better as Hong Kong stocks fell below the value of their net assets for the first time since 1998. In fact, a recent survey ranked Hong Kong as the most unaffordable housing market among 367 metropolitan cities in 9 countries with median home prices about 19 times the media annual gross household income in 3Q 2015.  

Singapore came in 5th with its median multiple at 5.0 similar to 2014. The saving grace for Singapore property market is that since the HDB accounts for about 90% of the owned property market, the government has the ability to increase production and reduce new home prices.  

Reading so far, you are probably wondering why I am just sharing gloomy stuff. 

Happier times – the not so distant past
As a reminder, against this backdrop of negativity; most economies in the world have enjoyed positive economic growth for many years after the 2008-2009 global financial crises. 

In Singapore, beyond cyclical and one-off events, the “net” index of STI was an average of about 3,000 from Apr 2009 till Jan 2016 or a period of 6.5 years! Companies such as Keppel Corp and SembCorp, world’s number 1 and 2 rig manufacturers were doing roaring good business riding on rising oil prices supported by low interest rate environment. Likewise, property developers were benefiting for several years from the rising property prices until the Singapore government decided to put in place most of the property curbs in 2013. 

With China’s GDP registering an average of 10.5% per annum over a 10-year period from 2003 to 2012, several African economies such as Nigeria and South Africa enjoyed unprecedented growth especially from infrastructure related investments leading to the catchphrase “Africa rising” that symbolized the continent’s fortunes. 

These are but some examples of how various economies and companies have benefitted during the “good times” that were soon forgotten when the large economies including China began losing steam two years ago. Memory is indeed short! 

Building resilience
While I am not familiar with other markets; property statistics suggest that each financial crisis has led the average home buyers in Singapore to be more financially resilient. For instance, there were 200 mortgagee sales in 2015 compared to 270 during the global financial crisis in 2008 and significantly lower than the 2,462 mortgagee listings during the 2004 market downturn. 

History has also shown that the human race becomes stronger after each major crisis. The two World Wars combined inflicted nearly 100 million fatalities but many nations not only rebuilt themselves in very short time but emerged stronger economically; Japan is an excellent example until the recent 15 years.  

It was also during such detrimental conditions that sparked creativity that lead to many great inventions; e.g. pressurization of air-craft interior (for flying high attitude), radio navigation and landing safety for aircraft (especially in darkness), radar, penicillin, synthetic rubber, nuclear technology and modern computers just to name a few.   

We don’t want a repeat of these humanity crises but some form of “burning” platforms would probably spur us to become more resilient and enterprising. The insight of seeking opportunities during a crisis (危机) is familiar to us. The gloomy situation and uncertainties ahead in 2016 seem to suggest such as a possibility.  

Since we were young, our mother; though an illiterate constantly reminded us “Hua Wu Bai Ri Hong”, meaning a flower’s bloom doesn’t last over a hundred days. With this staunch belief, she saved 50 cents out of a dollar she had in preparation for the “non-blooming” period. Our family survived several financial hardships over the years because of her financial prudence. If someone had taught her about compounding fifty years ago, she would probably be very rich now.       

So what can we do during this period of economic downturn and uncertainties?  

Firstly, from experience, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Secondly, take stock of our situation, review and adjust our lifestyle to adapt and don’t put all our eggs in the same basket. Next, find innovative ways to leverage on the current situation and how to stretch the blooming phase of our “flowers”. Finally, prepare for the next down turn. 

A winning product
For those who are still in financial practices, I have a challenge for you guys.  

I believe there are others like me who are in our 50s but have missed the golden opportunity to capitalise on the power of compounding during our earlier years. You would have a winning product if it has (a) safety (b) an attractive return and (c) a high chance of appreciating in price.  

Since the lunar New Year is just round the corner, here’s wishing you a fun and fulfilling Year of the Monkey!

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Director of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

This article was first circulated to a private email group on 29 Jan 2016 and re-adapted for publication at the Innovar website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reeling in 2016

Sherman Tan, PMP, CSRS

28 Dec 2015 

As there are many articles summarising the top 10 events or personalities in 2015, I will focus on looking forward to 2016 and beyond.  

Will 2016 be any better? The short answer is no.  

World uncertainties & regional developments
Many analysts predicted lower overall growth rates for 2016 as key economies such as China and India are losing steam. A research report released recently projected an aggregated growth rate for Asia ex-Japan in 2016 of 5.7%, the lowest since 1998.  

The same report indicated Singapore’s economy will not fare better primarily for four key reasons; weak global demand, higher interest rates, a tight property market and constraints in productivity improvements. It forecasts next year growth at 1.8%. 

But will these gloomy forecasts be something that would keep us awake at night – I don’t think so. Why? 

With a high degree of certainty, the Singapore government has very likely foreseen the coming predicaments. We will know the answer when details of Budget 2016 are released in March.

Unfortunately, there are other issues that are definitely beyond our control and if not managed well could put not only our economy at stake but cause social, religious and political instability. 

These include the growing threats of IS militants in this region, fighting for dominance and control over South China Sea, signs of transition towards a more conservative Islam by our immediate neighbours; and increased protectionism policies being implemented especially over air and land sovereignty. 

Reel vs Real
Am I out of my mind in raising issues we have no control over especially during this period to spoil the festive mood?  

If I exclude the standalone “The Clone Wars” movie in 2008, it was more than 10 years since “Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith” (May 2005) that we now have “Episode VII – The Force Awakens” splashing across the screens, MRT and many billboards. 

Speaking about movies; anyone remembers “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock? This 1995 movie, yes twenty years ago depicted the danger when one’s identity was deleted (stolen) from the Net. In our time, it means we could be totally non-existence in the social media world and probably more than being inconvenienced in the real world!  

What about “Minority Report” starring the age-defying Tom Cruise? The 2002 science fiction thriller portrayed how a specialised police department in 2054 could apprehend criminals based on foreknowledge.  

While “Big Data” is still unable to deduce when criminals will commit crimes; there are numerous analytical works being done to predict what we are likely to buy, read and eat or even where we take our vacation.  

In the immediate future, what if we are denied insurance schemes when “Big Data” predicts that it is not viable to offer health policies because of our future medication conditions. Or we are rejected from job applications because some data sciences predict that we are likely to be low performers in the future? 

I like Bruce Willis because I’m going to look like him - “Bald”.  In “Die Hard 4”; the 4th instalment of “Die Hard” series in 2007 depicted the terrorists’ attack on financial, power utilities and traffic control systems.  Are such attacks fact or fiction?

According to a press article, the US Department of Energy’s network was attacked more than 150 times in the past four years. Statistics from Dell Security showed that attacks on industrial control systems increased by over 4 folds to 675,186 in Jan 2014 from 163,228 in Jan 2013.  Twenty years ago, US policy makers predicted catastrophic scenario whereby hackers sabotaged oil pipelines, contaminate water supplies and cause air and land traffic collision by manipulating traffic control systems.  

Smarter devices for our own good?
With more of us relying on GPS, the arrival of driverless cars and the predicted extensive use of drones for commercial activities; is there reason for concern? 

The Internet of Things (IOT) as part of a Smart City means every devices such as camera, smartphone, wearable, PC, audio device, etc will be managed by either a centralised or a regional set-up. If such a control system is breached, the protected becomes the victims. 

Currently, we could remove the hard-disks of photocopier and fax machine for degaussing to erase sensitive data before returning or disposing these equipment.  However, with all of them equipped with an IP address and communicating with each other via wireless channels; data exchanges amongst these appliances could be intercepted by unauthorised parties.  

Look around us – along the streets, in MRT trains, buses and cars. Are we not behaving as what was depicted in “Terminator Genisys”, the 5th instalment of the Terminator series of movies shown this year?  The latest 007 movie; “Spectre” dramatise the scenario of an international terrorist group turning surveillance devices against us and bringing “IOT” to the next level with “Smart Blood”. 

There is a popular Chinese proverb; 书中自有黄金屋 - means we could find hidden treasures (knowledge) in books.   On this, I propose that science fiction movies provide us with a glimpse to the future.  

The above was inspired by a recent conversation I had with a banker friend who used the first 3 movies as “guidance” for his team to work towards minimising stolen identities of bank customers, using data analytics to identify potential fraudulent transactions and putting measures in place against possible attacks on the bank’s systems. 

Know yourself and win ...
So what can we do? I intentionally avoid answering a similar question earlier about raising concerns on regional issues that we don’t have control over. 

To me, knowing is half the battle. The other harder part of the battle is active participation. 

While our participation is miniscule on an individual basis – this adds up. So, we could use social media, public consultations and other legal platform to participate in dialogue with government bodies, profit and non-profit organisations if we believe a certain social, technological development or legislation is leading us to potential pitfalls.  

Secondly, we should always be vigilant to look out for fraudulent schemes or activities and warn others of these happenings. The recent exploitation of the 2-week down time of Singapore’s CPF Board by unknown parties to create identical phishing websites, several fake ICA websites and the setting up of a fake Facebook site of the Speaker of Parliament are case in point of attempts to steal personal information and impersonation in the social media world. 

In addition, make efforts for continuous upgrading in our professional and personal development using SkillsFuture and if you are among the lucky ones, upgrading schemes sponsored by your organisation. 

Finally, while on leisure, watch or read science fiction movies and novels for inspirations and ideas! 

Welcome to 2016!

 

The writer is the Principal Consultant & Director of Innovar Pte Ltd and a Director at EcoInvest (S) Pte Ltd     

This article was first circulated to a private email group on 21 Dec 2015 and re-adapted for publication at the Innovar website



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Articles

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Climate Change & Low Carbon Economy
Landmark Climate Agreement signed: The Road Ahead after Paris 2015: 14 Dec 15
Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit - Making the Difference: 30 Nov 15
The Long and Arduous Road to Paris 2015: 20 Dec 14
The Long Road to Paris 205: 02 Oct 2014
Climate Change and Water Resources: 28 Apr 2014
Urbanization and Global Warming: 31 Mar 2014
The Urgency to Combat Global Climate Change: 24 Feb 14

Combating Air Pollution in China: 02 Jan 14
The Road Ahead-Paris 2015: 01 Dec 13
Update on Sustainability Reporting: 09 Sep 13
More on Sustainability Reporting: 31 Aug 12
Taking Action: Sustainability Reporting: 27 Jul 12
Sustainability Reporting for Companies: 28 Jun 12

Cleaner Safer Energy: 03 Apr 11
Business Transition: Going Green: 06 Mar 11
Banking on Banks: 06 Feb 11
The Politics of Climate Change: 06 Dec 10
Climate Change & Alternative Energy-An Update: 08 Nov 10
Implementing Green IT: 28 Jun 10
Is Climate Change Real: 26 Nov 09

Singapore's Role in tackling Climate Change in the Post-2012 Regime: 30 Oct 09
Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Singapore: 25 Sep 09
Transiting to a Low Carbon Economy: 28 Aug 09
Whither Carbon Trading: 24 Jul 09
Towards a Greener Asia: 26 Jun 09
Doing more for Climate Change: 29 May 09

Alternatives to Fossil Fuels: 23 Apr 09
Awareness of Climate Change: 27 Mar 09

E-Banking & E-Payment
Security and Social (Media) Banking: 30 Oct 14
Digital Transformation in Banking is No Longer an Option:25 Aug 14

The Everyday Bank: 25 Jun 14
Innovation in Retail Payments: 17 May 14
Commentary: Digital Banking in Asia: 05 Jul 13
Branchless Banking: 03 May 13
The Future of ATMs: 27 Mar 13
The Future of Banking and Payment: An Overview: 09 Aug 11
The Return of Mobile Banking - Part 2: 24 Sep 10
Will NFC revives mobile payment?: 27 Feb 09
Mobile Payment-The Next Big Thing: 01 Dec 07
Are banks losing out in e-payment services?: 17 Mar 07
One Payment Card? : 08 Jul 06
Mobile Payment - Telco Centric Model? : 09 Jun 06
Mobile Payment - A Reality?: 05 May 06
The Return of Mobile Banking: 28 Oct 05
Driving e-Payment in Singapore: 26 Aug 05
Payment Services Industry in China: 29 Jul 05
Part 3: Virtual Banking for Real?: 9 Jun 05
Part 2: Rise of the Machines: 18 May 05
Part 1: The Many Faces of ATM: 28 Apr 05
Demand for Mobile Banking: 20 Feb 05
The Demise of Mobile Banking?: 22 Jan 05

Financial Services & Management
Challenges for Retail Banks: 05 Jun 13
Learning from the Manufacturing Industries: 26 Oct 12
Integrated Service Delivery for Retail Banks: 28 Sep 12
Why can't banks learn from the Civil Service?: 29 Apr 10
Can Cost Management be Sustained?: 29 Jan 10

In Search of Equilibrium: 08 Aug 08
Market Forecasting-A Fresh Perspective: 31 Jan 08
Wealth Management in Asia: An Overview: 23 Sep 07
Asset Allocation and Balancing: 18 Aug 07
One Bank One Customer: 22 Jun 07
Branch of the Future - Part II: 04 Nov 06
Branch of the Future - Part I: 06 Oct 06
The Most Important Money Lesson: 07 Apr 06
Efficient Markets-Fresh Perspective: 25 Nov 05
History of Money: 30 Sep 05
What Makes the World Go Round?:1 Jul 05

General Management
Do more with Less: 05 Oct 13
Leadership Renewal and Transformation: 05 Jun 11
Learning from Failure: 08 Aug 10
Leadership in a Crisis: 07 Nov 08
The World in a Flux: 03 Oct 08
The Year in 2007: 29 Dec 07
What moves the enterprises?: 18 Apr 07
Looking back on 2006: 05 Jan 07
Part 2: Do You Know Your Customers?: 2 Apr 05
Part 1:
Do You Know Your Customers?: 12 Mar 05

Online Services & Security
Online Security Breaches: 09 Jul 11
Security Compromised: 08 May 11
A Common Login System: 09 Apr 10
The Power of Search: 12 Jul 08
You Cannot Hide When You Are Online: 16 Jun 08
Estimating the Cost of a Security Breach: 23 Feb 08

Online Security - A Different Perspective: 01 Sep 06

Operations Management
Training for Productivity: 01 Jun 10
Out-Sourcing Services: Today and Future: 11 May 07

A Boost for Business Process Outsourcing: 1 Jan 05
Outsourcing as a Strategic Tool: 12 Dec 04
Business & Operational Process Outsourcing: 12 Nov 04

Project Management
The "P" in Project Management: 25 Oct 13
Understanding Project Failures: 06 Aug 13
The Project Management Office: 28 Feb 13
Project Management - An Overview: 26 Jan 13

Technologies & Innovations
Commentary: Adopting Emerging Technology: 30 Nov 12
Technologies that make the difference: 21 Jan 09
Beijing 2008 - Technologies behind the Olympic: 05 Sep 08
The Demise of HD-DVD: A Lesson for Us-Part Two: 26 Apr 08
The Demise of HD-DVD: A Lesson for Us-Part One: 22 Mar 08

Disruptive Innovations: 27 Oct 07
Software Testing: 20 Jul 07
Predicting the Future - Part 2: 04 Mar 06
Predicting the Future - Part 1: 01 Feb 06