Saturday 13 Apr 2024
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This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on October 10, 2022 - October 16, 2022

NEWS

MDEC adopts OutSystems’ high-performance low-code platform

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is partnering with OutSystems, a high-performance application development company, to consolidate its numerous applications hosted on the Malaysia Digital and SayaDigital platforms.

Having replaced MDEC’s legacy system with a more modern platform, users are now able to easily navigate and register for the programmes hosted by the agency on a centralised database, eliminating the need for multiple data entries.

Prior to deploying OutSystems, MDEC relied on vendors to develop its applications. With more than 50 applications hosted in the cloud, it was becoming more challenging to maintain the applications due to limited resources and a lack of governance.

OutSystems provided full support to MDEC’s internal development team in setting up and establishing the system architecture by providing team members with online training and certifications. This allowed MDEC to focus more on business requirements than on technical operations so it can serve its business units in a more organised and effective manner.

Adopting a high-performance low-code development platform has enabled MDEC to develop applications quicker, saving more than half the time compared with normal development methods. The shortest time taken to develop the grant approval committee application was seven days, which used to take 100 days. Meanwhile, applications developed under SayaDigital and Malaysia Digital took less than a month and four months respectively.

With the help of OutSystems to transform its applications, MDEC was able to consolidate more than 50% of targeted applications, reducing by 50% the risk of applications becoming obsolete in the near future. There is only a one-time cost incurred instead of having to pay for each new application developed, which significantly reduces cost.

Uniqlo, IMU and WAO offer digital literacy training programme for disadvantaged women entrepreneurs

Global apparel retailer Uniqlo partnered with International Medical University and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) to provide a digital literacy training programme for 25 women entrepreneurs from socially vulnerable communities. The programme was attended by women from the UNHCR Kachin Refugee Learning Centre, WAO and the Community Transformation Initiative.

Topics covered included data security, basics of customer service, product design and quality control, marketing and social media, and the basics of e-commerce. Participants were also given RM200 each to spend on the Uniqlo app and learn about the mechanics of e-commerce through Uniqlo’s online shopping experience.

Premier League launches ‘Boot Out Piracy’ campaign in Malaysia

Premier League’s anti-piracy campaign was launched in collaboration with its broadcasting partner Astro and features stars such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jamie Vardy, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Harrison.

“Boot Out Piracy” aims to raise awareness of the dangers of viewing the football league on illegal websites and devices. Fans who do so run the risk of having their bank accounts hacked, their identities stolen or their devices locked and held to ransom.

Reflecting the world through search experiences

For the third year running, at Search On 2022, Google has shared how advancements in machine learning have unlocked new ways for people to gather and explore information.

Google Lens enables users to search the world with their camera or an image, with more than eight billion questions answered every month. With “multisearch”, text can be added to a picture or screenshot — a major milestone in how information can be searched. Meanwhile, “multisearch near me”, which will roll out in the US by December, will connect users to local businesses.

Google Lens goes beyond translating text to translating pictures. Users can rely on Google to translate text in images over one billion times across more than 100 languages every month. For instance, users can point their camera at a poster in another language and see the translated text realistically overlaid on the pictures underneath.

In the Google app for iOS, there will be shortcuts under the search bar to allow you to shop your screenshots, translate text with your camera and hum, whistle or sing a melody to solve your earworm, among others.

Google will roll out a faster way to find what users need by navigating more relevant results. For instance, when users begin typing in a question, it will provide relevant content straightaway, even before they have finished typing. To do this, keywords or topic options will help users craft their questions as they start typing in the search box. Additionally, with Google’s deep understanding of how people search, users will be shown topics to help them delve into a subject.

The way results are displayed will be reimagined to reflect the ways in which people explore topics. Users will see the most relevant content from a variety of sources, no matter the format the information comes in, be it text, images or video. As users continue scrolling, they will be able to see topics related to their search. 

CNCRD launches digital sneaker trading platform

Retail e-commerce company CNCRD has launched a curated platform that acts as a one-stop centre to buy and sell shoes on the secondary market. The platform aims to make it easier for sneaker enthusiasts to manoeuvre their way through the saturated marketplace, ensuring that they do not get caught purchasing replicas or a product that is not accurate.

CNCRD founder Ryan Ng, who is an avid sneakerhead, said the company has taken into account the recent shifts seen in the reselling culture, locally and globally. “A great deal for a pair of shoes today could be terrible tomorrow. This is where CNCRD comes in, to ultimately cement our vision to provide the best retail e-commerce experience for our users.”

CNCRD has simultaneously launched its brick-and-mortar showroom at The Five in Damansara Heights to offer customers the best of both worlds — the scalability of technology to sellers and the intimacy of a physical space for its customers. The company is also developing an app that will be launched in 2Q2023. In the meantime, those interested can view the products on cncrd.com.

Bridging gap between hybrid cloud adoption and firms to drive modernisation

A hybrid cloud approach can help drive digital transformation, yet organisations are struggling with the complexity to make all of their cloud environments work together. This was a highlight of the IBM Transformation Index: State of Cloud report, which is based on a survey of 3,014 business and IT professionals across 15 industries in 12 countries.

Hybrid cloud is the dominant approach, with 77% of respondents utilising it. Seventy-one per cent of respondents agreed that without a hybrid cloud strategy, it would be difficult to realise the full potential of a digital transformation.

Only 27% of those surveyed possessed the necessary characteristics to be considered advanced due to the complexities and concerns regarding integration, security and skills.

Lack of technical skills is among the top three global challenges for businesses that want to integrate business partners into their cloud environments. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said their team lacked the skills to be proficient, a major roadblock to innovation as these limitations also prevent organisations from leveraging the power of partnerships.

Adoption and use of security tools such as multifactor authentication, single sign-on and confidential computing are high and pervasive. But only 32% of respondents cite security as the top barrier for integrated workloads across environments.

Additionally, data privacy concerns hold back enterprises from unlocking the full potential of partnerships. The top challenges of integrating business ecosystems into the cloud are data governance and cybersecurity.

Finally, regulatory and compliance requirements present themselves as roadblocks in the way for integrating workloads across private and public IT environments. Fifty-three per cent of respondents agree that ensuring compliance in the cloud is too difficult, with 82% stating their team lacked the skills necessary to be proficient at managing cloud applications.

IBM will launch an interactive tool based on the index to serve as a continual source of feedback for organisations to measure their transformation progress and provide business leaders with valuable benchmarking insights that can inform their hybrid cloud strategies.

DearTime rolls out digital insurance policies

In the hope of closing the insurance penetration gap in the country, DearTime — the first life insurer to graduate from Bank Negara Malaysia’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox — has launched its services.

“For years, life insurance has been unaffordable, complicated and inaccessible to many Malaysians, especially the B40 community as well as those in less urban areas. We believe life insurance is a fundamental human right, not a privilege,” said the service provider.

DearTime’s fully digital business model allows customers to buy, edit and claim insurance directly from the company via the app. The insurance products prioritise protection only, doing away with terminology and frills such as savings and investments, it stated in the press release.

DearTime also announced its Sponsored Insurance initiative — a programme for customers to pay forward and, ultimately, help get every Malaysian covered. Through the initiative, customers can allocate up to 10% of their premiums to the DearTime Charity Fund. The funds are automatically used to sponsor eligible persons from the B1-B2 groups (those with household incomes of less than RM3,170) with DearTime’s insurance.

The DearTime app is available for download at the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information, visit deartime.com.

 

PEOPLE MOVES

Grab names new group CTO

Grab Holdings Ltd, Southeast Asia’s leading super app, has appointed Suthen Thomas Paradatheth, who previously served as chief technology officer (CTO) of mobility, automation and platform excellence, deliveries and experiences, as its group CTO.

Suthen has been Grab’s first technical lead since the founding of the company in 2012. In the past decade, he has held both technical and operational leadership roles. He also founded the business operations team. With his expertise in technology and operations, he will spearhead Grab’s technology, vision, strategy and execution across its businesses as well as strengthen its technical infrastructure for an efficient marketplace for everyday services.

Former U Mobile CMO to lead TM’s mobile business

Jasmine Lee, former chief digital officer and chief marketing officer (CMO) at U Mobile, is the new executive vice-president for mobile at Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM). She is also CEO of Webe Digital Sdn Bhd, TM’s mobile venture. Lee’s new responsibilities extend to reviving unifi Mobile.

Prior to her eight-year-stint at U Mobile, Lee was group commercial director at AirAsia Bhd. She was CEO of MNC Wireless Bhd for more than seven years.

 

COMPETITIONS & GRANTS

Shell LiveWIRE Malaysia seeks entrepreneurs

Shell LiveWIRE Malaysia is looking for entrepreneurs focused on environmental sustainability, social impact and business innovation. The annual programme, which started in 2015, takes entrepreneurs through a series of workshops that will assist them in generating or enhancing their business ideas, testing their business models and preparing them to be successful business owners. Towards the end of the programme, participants will participate in a pitching workshop and competition.

Shell LiveWIRE Malaysia will run in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and the Klang Valley. Five winners from each state will receive seed grants of RM10,000. They will then compete at the national level, where five national winners will stand a chance to win an additional RM30,000.

Along with the grant, for the next three years, the winners will be provided mentorship and guidance by Shell LiveWIRE Malaysia facilitators, who will help them to kick-start and run their businesses, as well as stand a chance to be absorbed into Shell’s supply chain and to go into partnership with Shell retailers. For more information, visit livewire.shell.com.my.

 

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

The slashing philodendron

Scientists have long studied the language of plants and fungi, and artists have made awe-inspiring music by recording their interactions. Visual artist and researcher David Bowen chose to present the electrical signals found in a live philodendron, mapping them in real time to the movements of the joints of an industrial robot holding a machete instead. “Essentially, the plant is the brain of the robot controlling the machete, determining how it swings, jabs, slices and interacts in space,” said Bowen, describing his visual installation.

 

“In America and around the world, systems supposed to help with patient care have proven unsafe, ineffective or biased. Algorithms used in hiring and credit decisions have been found to reflect and reproduce existing unwanted inequities or embed new harmful bias and discrimination. Unchecked social media data collection has been used to threaten people’s opportunities, undermine their privacy, or pervasively track their activity – often without their knowledge or consent.

These outcomes are deeply harmful – but they are not inevitable.”

The US government unveiled its “AI Bill of Rights” on Oct 4 to establish tenets around the ways artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms should be deployed and necessary safeguards in the age of AI.

The blueprint affirms that its citizens have the right to control how their data is used, to opt out of algorithmic decision-making, to live free from ineffective or unsafe algorithms and not be discriminated against by unfair algorithms, among others.

As the non-binding white paper only applies to agencies under the federal government’s purview, it is already being criticised for being toothless against private corporations, which have the most power in shaping AI technology.

 

TECH BOOKS

AI by Design: A Plan for Living with Artificial Intelligence by Catriona Campbell

This book introduces the reader to artificial intelligence (AI) and its importance to our future. Using behavioural psychology, Campbell explores technology, economics and real-life and historical examples to predict five future scenarios with AI. Illustrating through speculative fiction, she describes possible futures after AI exceeds human capabilities. We are at a tipping point in history and must plan to ensure a successful coexistence with AI. This book explains how to design for a future with AI so that, rather than herald our downfall, it helps us achieve a new renaissance. — Amazon

 

EDITOR’S MUST-HAVES

Regain control of your smartphone — Unpluq Tag

Distractions are aplenty with the internet at our fingertips. Relying on willpower or focus apps — as these apps are easily turned off — to avoid distractions just does not work sometimes. This is where the nifty Unpluq Tag (a little tile built in with near-field communication [NFC] that requires users to physically lock and unlock their phone) comes in handy.

“With the addition of a physical key, you have to make a conscious decision to physically plug the key in and access distracting apps. Furthermore, we give you the option to create the barrier to distraction yourself: you can decide where to store the Unpluq key when you want to focus,” say the makers on their Kickstarter page.

The tag works on most Android OS and iOS phones and works seamlessly with the Unpluq app — an all-in-one app that lets you block distracting apps of your choice, as well as plan your spare time and set schedules for which apps to block at certain times.

According to the developers, with Unpluq Premium — which is needed to use the tag — users can save 51 minutes of screen time on average every day.

The tag and subscriptions to Unpluq Premium are available from €9.95 at unpluq.com/shop/

 

DIGITIONARY

Smishing

Smishing, a portmanteau of short message service (SMS) and phishing, is a cybersecurity attack carried out over mobile text messaging instead of email. It is a type of social engineering attack that relies on exploiting human trust rather than technical exploits. While most people are cautious about email fraud, they are less wary when on their phones, mistakenly assuming that their smartphones are more secure than computers, says Kaspersky. It warns that smartphone security has limitations and cannot always directly protect against smishing.

As a variant of phishing, victims are deceived into giving sensitive information to a disguised attacker. SMS phishing can be assisted by malware or fraud websites. It occurs on many mobile text messaging platforms, including non-SMS channels like data-based mobile messaging apps, adds the cybersecurity behemoth.

Smishing text messages are often disguised as a request for action from one’s bank, asking for personal or financial information such as account or automated teller machine PIN numbers.

The good news is that these attacks are easy to stave off. The easiest way is to do nothing at all, as smishing attacks can only do damage if you take the bait.

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