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MCI (P) 105/07/2018

DATA: QUALITY VS QUANTITY 02 How Data will Drive Your Business Forward

SOCIETY The Magazine of the Singapore Computer Society

04 Secrets to Making Innovation Happen 06 Decentralised Ledgers are Changing the Way We Transact 08 Yeong Zee Kin Shares Perspective on Data Protection


02 2019

Contents Vision To be the leading infocomm and digital media professional society in Singapore





Four Reasons to Care about Data


Data as a Language


Mission Lead the Way To lead and contribute to the vibrancy and growth of Singapore’s infocomm and digital media industry

Is Data the Bigger the Better?

04 06

How Data will Drive Your Business Forward


Secrets to Making Innovation Happen

SCS Elects New President and Executive Council


Decentralised Ledgers are Changing the Way We Transact

Honorary Advisory Council Gives SCS Leadership a Boost


Outstanding Members Honoured as SCS Fellows


Inaugural Business Resiliency Exchange & Masterclasses


Youths Get Ready for Splash Awards 2019


SCS Inks Partnerships to Enhance Digital Skills of Non-Tech Professionals


Add Value


To add value to the infocomm and digital media professional’s career and personal development

Yeong Zee Kin Shares Perspective on Data Protection


Foong Sew Bun Reveals Why the World of Tech is Like Disneyland

Be the Voice GEEK SPEAK

To engage and be the voice of the infocomm and digital media community



Fortune Telling is Just Like Data Analytics


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9:41 AM

Data – The Bigger the Better?


hether knowingly or unknowingly, like it or not, you and I are generating data as we go about our daily activities. The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries you drive past inform the authorities about the road use situation while the cashless payment made for your cuppa tells the bank about your consumption habit. And these are just two examples. As our nation becomes smarter, and businesses become savvier in mining data, you can imagine: data – yours and mine – will become one of the most valuable assets in the world. But first, let’s find a way to effectively gather quality data, make sense of them, and give data access to relevant people. Simple as it sounds, it is actually a tall order to unlock data from legacy systems and change how most businesses are currently organised – from functions to “blended teams”. Then, there is also the mammoth task of equipping both tech and non-tech professionals with ability to speak the language of data.

EDITOR Tan Teng Cheong CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Khoong Hock Yun Vladyslav Koshelyev Sean Low Benjamin Mah Leslie Ong EDITORIAL SUPPORT Claudia Lim

ADVERTISING SALES & ADMIN Claudia Lim For ad sales enquiries, Tel: 6226 2567 ext 12 Email: claudia.lim@scs.org.sg Mailing Address 53 Neil Road Singapore 088891 EMAIL scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg EDITORIAL & DESIGN Lancer Design Pte Ltd

The rising concern for data privacy – thanks to recent high-profile data breaches incidents – adds on to the challenge. A partial solution is found in blockchain technology which provides an immutable data interaction trail to enable secured peer-to-peer transactions. Concurrently, Zee Kin and his team’s efforts at Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to build a data protection framework – that provides a safe environment for sharing data while encouraging innovation – is expected to also help the case. As tech professionals, you and I can also contribute to the cause by taking a leaf out of Sew Bun’s book – make learning a lifelong affair and our career in tech a fun adventure in Disneyland. These perspectives could well be the key to staying on top of the big data game. Enjoy the read! TAN TENG CHEONG Editor Fellow, SCS tan.teng.cheong@scs.org.sg

FEEDBACK We value your feedback for this magazine. Simply email scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg with your comments to help us produce an even more interesting and relevant magazine for you in subsequent issues. You are welcome to submit articles for inclusion consideration. For advertising enquiries, please call 6226 2567 or email scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg. The IT Society is the official publication of the Singapore Computer Society. Any part of this publication may be reproduced as long as credit is given to the publisher, Singapore Computer Society. All views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.




THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

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How Data Analytics can Empower Organisations of the Future

Technology has brought waves of change to our working practices since the industrial revolution days. First, personal computers, then broadband internet, and most recently, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As all eyes focus on securing the future with these technologies, it pays well to remember that central to these developments is – data. Yes, easily accessible, good quality and timely data.


research by McKinsey suggests that up to 30 percent of the hours worked globally could be automated by 20301. Indeed, AI is impacting every aspect of our lives – automating mundane tasks or simplifying complex work across diverse industries. However, unbeknown to many, a similar automation process is also happening in the data analytics domain – transforming the way businesses today utilise data to get ahead of the competition. The organisation of the future is one in which all knowledge workers are empowered with data. Question is, how can businesses tap into the current trends and turn their use of data into a competitive advantage?

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LESLIE ONG Fellow, SCS Southeast Asia Country Manager, Tableau Software

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company data is crucial because overly restrictive governance could indirectly encourage employees to generate their own data sources in spreadsheets, or download data from web sources. The use of such unsecured and uncertified data might pose a risk to the whole organisation. On the other hand, with the selfservice approach in data analytics, the processing time of data reports which could previously take weeks has the potential to be significantly shortened. Furthermore, easyto-use visual analytics tools like Tableau offers a modern visual analytics approach to enable high usability across all skill levels, and give knowledge workers across departments and levels easy access to governed data. The result is, faster decision making and better results. Case in point, Tableau helps online grocery retailer RedMart reduce report generation time by 70 to 80 percent. Its company-wide deployment also empowers informed decision making in a timely manner. MAKING ANALYTICS SIMPLE As AI advances, smart technologies are adopted to automate stages of the analytics process, lowering barriers to analytics and enabling more people to work with data. One such technology is natural language processing (NLP), which combines computer science and linguistics to help computers understand the meaning behind human language.

MAKING DATA ACCESSIBLE Businesses must make the right data available to the right people. The IT team is traditionally responsible for providing data reports. With the increasingly common self-service approach in data analytics, their key role now will instead be to provide clean, governed datasets while ensuring everyone has access to the data they need. The proper creation and access management of

For example, the natural language feature – Ask Data – in Tableau allows users to ask questions as they think of them, without needing deep knowledge of analytics or the tool. By leveraging context within the conversation to understand the user’s intent behind a query and further the dialogue, the system is able to create a more natural conversational experience. When a user has a followup question about their data, they don’t have to rephrase the question to dig deeper or clarify an ambiguity.

What the Future of Work will Mean for Jobs, Skills, and Wages, McKinsey, Nov 2017




They can simply ask, “What are our sales figures in APAC?” and then follow up with a direct question such as “How about in Singapore?”. Users are therefore no longer limited by their analytical skill set – only the breadth of their questions. Advanced users can also get answers to more complex questions in less time, and all users can enjoy a dashboard with more engaging capabilities. It is foreseeable that as natural language matures across the business intelligence industry, analytics adoption will increase across organisations and further embed data into the core of workplace culture. MAKING ANALYTICS INTEGRAL However, as important as it is to inculcate a strong belief that data can and should play a crucial role in every business conversation and decision, one should be mindful that although everyone across the organisation can use data in some way, their requirements can be very different. Some might need the data for complex modelling and analysis, while others simply want to see the data to guide their decision making process. Companies should therefore invest in an analytics platform which caters to different requirements – and at a reflective cost – rather than opt for a one-size-fits-all solution. This will help put data in the hands of more people within the organisation – managers will no longer need to base decisions solely on experience and gut feeling, and the decision making process can be expanded to workers at every level. With AI augmented platforms, it is increasingly possible to put powerful analytics capabilities in the hands of every worker, allowing effective and informed decisions to be made. Hence for businesses looking to survive and remain competitive, this transition is not a case of if, but when. Many leading companies have already embraced the modern analytics model – for the rest, the hard decision has to be made now, unless they decide to settle for trailing behind.



THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

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BENJAMIN MAH Senior Member, SCS Director, Digital Transformation, Oracle APAC

A recent innovation survey from cloud company Oracle shows that less than 20 percent of innovation-focused projects in Asia are coming to life. This is despite the fact that respondents recognise a clear link between growth and innovation. Why do most of them have few proactive innovation plans for the next three years?


ccording to reports like the annual Bloomberg Innovation Index1, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and China are among the top 20 most innovative economies. Yet, even as Asian companies are upping their efforts in innovation, there seems to be a growing sense of an impending innovation winter as recent economic reports show a tightening of Eastern economies in the first few months of the year.

However economic factors aside, Oracle’s innovation survey suggests that there could be other reasons that get in the way of innovation: a lack of focus and leadership, poor processes and not having the right technology in place. This broad range of reasons confirms what most people already know – successful innovation is hard.

These are the World’s Most Innovative Countries, Bloomberg, 2019


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BARRIERS TO INNOVATION Insufficient commitment from leadership, coupled with a lack of clear ownership and vision, are key barriers to successful innovations. Additionally, over-commitment of resources, particularly in high-growth companies, could also prevent innovation initiatives from being brought to life. In the survey conducted, 41 percent of highgrowth companies admitted to being overwhelmed by too many projects and having an excess of parallel initiatives. The lack of proper process is another factor cited by over a quarter of those surveyed as hampering innovation efforts. This problem can typically be traced to organisation structures where innovation teams are separated from core business teams. When a company’s innovation team acts as a standalone silo, the result is that it ends up neither understanding nor investing sufficient effort and time to learn about the actual reality of the company’s operations. Likewise, because operations are so removed from the innovation team, innovation becomes a secondary priority for the company. Technology, or more specifically – data, also presents a unique set of challenges to the innovation process. In today’s data-driven world, the growing volume of data is swiftly outstripping human capability to keep up. Overwhelmed by the data deluge, many companies fail to make use of the rich data locked in multiple legacy systems and managed by different departments. To make matters worse, Chief Information Officers put all their focus on keeping the business going. As a result, little attention and resources are allocated to free up data – eventually causing possible innovations to fall by the wayside and transformation initiatives to be pushed down the priority list.

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ENABLERS OF INNOVATION However, all is not lost for innovations. Data, if properly harnessed, can give companies insights into new products and business models. And with emerging technologies like machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, businesses now have access to powerful tools that can both drive transformation initiatives and streamline day-to-day operations to support innovation projects. Through a combination of AI and automation, new autonomous data management and visualisation solutions are bringing new and powerful ways of harnessing and leveraging the growing data tsunami to yield key insights, giving organisations a competitive advantage. Notably, these self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing autonomous solutions also free up time and resources to enable a stronger focus on innovation. The opportunity to leverage new emerging data-driven technologies doesn’t stop there. Another technology – blockchain – responds to the need for managing and securing data in a connected ecosystem to create competitive advantages. By providing an immutable data trail of interactions and transactions in a distributed ledger that can be made instantly available to verified participants, blockchain holds innovative possibilities in areas like fintech and supply chain management – with the potential to impact industries as wide-ranging as diamonds, manufacturing and transportation.


KEYS TO UNLOCKING A VIRTUOUS INNOVATION CYCLE It is evident that successful innovation can happen. As opposed to standalone silos, “blended teams” across various lines of business must become the new normal. Through integrating innovation and operations into a single growth engine and adopting an agile and disciplined designthinking approach, it becomes possible to frame, ideate and build a minimum viable product or service within months. In addition, emerging technologies should be tapped on strategically. The cloud era has afforded new technologies to not only be embraced in bite-sized, modular chunks, but also turned on and off at will – enabling companies to stay agile. Even in times of economic uncertainty, companies can drive innovation effectiveness and cost efficiency by experimenting, trying out and learning new things fast. Today’s innovators need to learn fast and fail faster to succeed in the modern innovation business. And maybe then, innovation and operations teams can both create a virtuous circle and bring tomorrow’s solutions to reality today.




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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019


Transforming the World of Digital Transactions More than an alternative to classic ownership ledgers using doubleentry bookkeeping, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is known for its propensity to reduce cost, increase business speed, enforce data integrity and enable direct peer-to-peer transactions in a trusted environment. But how did DLT come to be as highly valued, if not more, than the doubleentry bookkeeping system that has been in use for over 500 years?

KHOONG HOCK YUN Fellow, SCS Partner, Tembusu Partners


he Internet enables rapid business growth through global connectivity – empowering strangers to easily conduct business with one another. However, despite increasing volumes of business transactions made over the Internet, trust continued to rest in the hands of third party intermediaries – firms and regulators – who confirm the veracity of digital dealings made between two parties. Thanks to repeated financial crises such as the collapse of Enron (2 December 2001), WorldCom (21 July 2002) and Lehman Brothers (15 September 2008), mindsets began to change. The public felt

that the trust in firms, intermediaries and regulators might have been misplaced. How can corporate executives be trusted to deliver on their promises? How can one verify if the data provided is true?

as transaction fees from the user who initiated the transaction. In other words, the role of verifier has been decentralised to all network participants in an open competition.

DECENTRALISING RECORDS For a long time, there was no efficient way to address the issues. Then in 2008, at the height of distrust for the financial establishment, Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the concept of blockchain to track ownership of an electronic cash called Bitcoin.

As soon as a block is confirmed in a blockchain, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without modifying all previous blocks. Changes would require the consensus of the network – making blockchain secure by design. Data is also harder to manipulate or attack as records are held by different nodes in the network. In addition, the decentralisation of records not only puts data in the hands of participants, but also enables them to access the original data and carry out transactions with each other directly.

Most notably, this new technology does away with the need for a sponsor or intermediary to verify the addition of new transaction records. Instead, all Bitcoin transactions are tracked in a decentralised ledger with blockchain, which utilises a form of DLT. For a Bitcoin transaction to be added to the ledger, powerful computers in the network (called “miners”) compete to be the first to solve a cryptographic puzzle that will enable them to verify and secure the new transaction. As an incentive, winners are awarded Bitcoins, which are collected

BUILDING NEW LEDGERS Today, DLT is seen as a “disruptive technology” as developers and researchers build new DLT solutions for diverse industries. According to research by the International Data Corporation, global spending on DLT research is expected to reach US$9.2 billion by 2021.

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While Bitcoin is one of the most famous examples of DLT in use today, the usage of DLT is expected to spread as its potential to record ownership of assets – including stocks and bonds, real estate properties, automobile titles, academic records and works of art – are explored. Foreseeably,


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DLT can soon be used for anything that requires trusted records – of what we have, who we are, what happened and where. Some authors have hailed DLT as the “internet of trust” or “internet of value”.

Truly, by fostering clearer corporate oversight and enabling access to trustworthy data through top-to-bottom collaborations, DLT is likely to not just transform the way we carry out digital transactions, but also the very foundations of our societies and economic systems.

HOW DOES DLT ENSURE DATA INTEGRITY? Hash functions are used in DLT to ensure data integrity of digital signatures and Message Authentication Codes (MACs). Apart from creating fixed length (128 bits to 512 bits) digests of arbitrary long input strings, message integrity and authentication are also upheld with the possession of a Private Key (that you hold yourself) and a Public Key (for everybody to use) to enable encryption and decryption. Key properties of hash functions: • Pre-image resistance. If a hash function h(x) = y, y cannot be reverse computed to x. • Collision resistance. Two different input messages should not hash to the same output i.e. h(x) != h(z) when x != z

Application 1: Sending Private Messages 185f8db32271fe25f 561a6fc938b2e264 306ec304eda51800 7d1764826381969

Hello Original Message from A

Encrypt with Person B’s Public Key


“Hashed” Message

Decrypt with Person B’s Private Key

Restored Message to B

Application 2: Sending “Signed” Messages 185f8db32271fe25f 561a6fc938b2e264 306ec304eda51800 7d1764826381969

Hello Original Message from A

Encrypt with Person A’s Private Key


“Hashed” Message

Decrypt with Person A’s Public Key

Restored Message

Application 3: Making Payments Bitcoin Transaction Flow: Person A (with 5 Bitcoins) pays to Person B 1 Bitcoin

Person A’s Bitcoin Address Person A’s Private Key digitally signs the transaction and broadcast this to the Bitcoin network (everyone can see that Person A has authorised this transaction)

Person B provides his/her Bitcoin address to Person A


The transaction to A is 4 coins less the Fee (for the miners).


Person B’s Bitcoin Address


2 Bitcoin Network



Person B’s Public Key encrypts the transaction that transfers 1 coin from Person A to Person B. Only Person B can see what there is.

Miners verify the transaction for validity, and add transaction to the next Blockchain block to be mined. Once mined, the newly mined block is broadcasted to all nodes on the Bitcoin network.



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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019


Leveraging Data Protection for Innovation YEONG ZEE KIN Senior Member, SCS Deputy Commissioner, Personal Data Protection Commission and Assistant Chief Executive (Data Innovation and Protection), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Age: 47 Earliest Tech Experience: Playing Castle Wolfenstein in the earliest form of “cyber café” – before this term was even invented – in Peninsula Plaza Currently Reading: If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura Pet Topics: Human-AI collaboration, blockchain smart contracts are not actually contracts, data portability Favourite Way to Relax: Reading

Recent high-profile data breaches have alerted many of us to the importance of securing our personal data. Yet, as we look to organisations and regulators to manage our data responsibly, questions arise: would stricter laws stifle innovation, and should businesses do just enough to comply? Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s Yeong Zee Kin shares his perspective from the frontiers of data protection. Q: Question, ZK: Zee Kin Q: Why is data protection important to businesses and Singapore as a whole? ZK: Put simply, data protection is good for business. Data breaches can happen to any organisation, and given the number of prominent cases in recent years, consumers want to know how organisations can safeguard their data. And as Singapore advances its digital economy, data protection will play an increasingly vital role. It is important to address issues such as trust and security of data use to fully reap the benefits of data-driven technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), and facilitate industry progress. Q: What is the current state of data protection in Singapore? ZK: Singapore’s data protection regime is relatively young and supple.

It enables us to be nimble in anticipating challenges and opportunities as well as learn from our counterparts – important attributes for a new area of law that has to respond to and support technology developments. In this spirit, we are reviewing our Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) to ensure it keeps pace with technological developments. In addition, to enable more seamless data exchanges with organisations in participating Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies and uphold higher standards of data protection for cross-border exchanges, we support and participate in international systems like the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules and Privacy Recognition for Processors Systems.

By staying open to change and learning from our counterparts, Singapore’s current approach is a balanced one that combines strong safeguards and protection, while also enabling innovation to flourish. Q: How is the balance struck between data protection and innovation? ZK: Contrary to common belief, data protection and innovation are not mutually exclusive. Take for example ride-hailing apps. They are useful for matching supply and demand between drivers and riders. Now, imagine how user experience can be personalised, driver assignment algorithms better optimised, and rides made cheaper with greater economies of scale if data on users’ work schedules and preferred travel routes are available. But before that can happen, consumers must first feel comfortable providing their personal data,

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with assurance from organisations that the data is being handled with respect and care. As more data-driven innovations move to the fore, mutual trust on the topic of data management has to be built between users and organisations. Only when organisations start being accountable and meet expectations for responsible and ethical use of data, will they be able to gain consumers’ confidence in sharing their personal data for generation of better solutions. Q: How then should organisations approach the issue of data protection? ZK: As of now, many companies are still adopting a compliance-based approach – where regulations are translated into


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items on a to-do list, and simply checked off as they are completed. However, that does nothing to foster understanding of the intention behind the laws, nor is it adequate for a world where products, services and business models are constantly evolving. This is why the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has been urging companies to adopt an accountabilitybased approach, by first understanding the data protection principles, before adapting them into practices tailored for their organisation. This makes for a far more flexible approach that is crucial to tackling the issues surrounding data protection. Q: What is PDPC doing to help organisations make this change? ZK: To guide businesses on their data protection journey, we have introduced guides on accountability practices, and the first comprehensive Trusted Data Sharing Framework to push for responsible


practices in data sharing. We hope that by publishing these best practices, key decision makers will become better informed and take the first step towards prioritising data protection. For a more hands-on approach, organisations can also utilise our suite of data protection tools, such as a PDPA assessment tool to conduct a self-assessment on policies and practices, and the personal data asset inventory tool to map and track how they are currently using personal data. To help organisations with transparent and accountable data protection practices gain a competitive advantage, we have also developed the Data Protection Trustmark (DPTM). Our research shows that two in three consumers prefer to buy from a DPTM-certified company, and four in five companies have also stated their preference to work with vendors that can manage personal data properly. Hence, we see the value of DPTM in fostering a virtuous data use ecosystem.

“To be truly effective, data protection has to be embedded in every step of an organisation’s data governance, down to the design of systems and processes. And not just limited to a small group of individuals – but involving the entire organisation with transparent and robust policies and controls.”

What is a quote you live by?

Data protection is important because...

What is one thing individuals can do to safeguard their personal data?



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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019


Growing Never Gets Old

FOONG SEW BUN Fellow, SCS Deputy Chief Executive (Services, Governance, Cybersecurity), Government Technology Agency (GovTech) Age: 56 Earliest Tech Experience: Etching a circuit board to build my first radio as a teenager Recently Watched: Avengers: Endgame Currently Reading: The New Human Revolution by Daisaku Ikeda Pet Topic: Transformation Ways to Relax: Running, reading, Soka activities, spending time with family

In today’s fast-moving world, change is the only constant – and we all know that to keep up, learning and upskilling are vital. But is self-development limited to individual growth, or can it also positively impact the community and industry at large? The IT Society speaks to Foong Sew Bun to find out how his quest for self-development has brought him to places over a fulfilling career that spans close to 30 years. Q: Question, SB: Sew Bun Q: What first sparked your interest in technology? SB: I was studying Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic, and built a home automation system for my third year project. The team had wanted to create a smart system to improve daily living, but with knowledge only in Electronics Engineering and assembly language programming, it was not easy to program a higher level of intelligence into the system. Therefore, when I subsequently came across computer science, I was curious to find out if I could combine the best parts of electronics engineering and computer science to achieve more intelligent outcomes.

Q: Since then, you have spent almost 30 years working in tech. What keeps you going? SB: The field of technology is like Disneyland to me. I continually discover new and fun ways to use technology to bring smiles to many. Each day, there are exciting opportunities to create solutions that can bring value to our daily lives and even shape new business models. In such an environment, I am always looking forward to the next challenge – which keeps me young at heart and drives me to search for possibilities with fresh perspectives.

Q: Was this also why you have explored diverse tech roles in different industries? SB: Yes. I am always looking for new breakthroughs and new learnings. Hence when opportunities come along, I will make the most out of them. Some of my adventures led me to find solutions for optimising port operations and clone phone detection, lead technical development of military aircraft simulators, explore delivery of patientcentric healthcare services, and transform banking experiences with digital services. Along the way, I was fortunate to work with one of the tech giants of our time – IBM. During my time there, I was grateful

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“To me, the world of tech is just like Disneyland. The constant pace of change means that there are surprises at every turn, and more importantly, opportunities to actualise life-changing innovations which bring smiles to everyone.”

to be part of the network of IBM Distinguished Engineers and Fellows which drives exciting new technology developments. It was also at IBM that I discovered the importance of having a culture of mentorship. I benefitted from the guidance of very good coaches and mentors; in turn, I returned my gratitude by helping my younger peers. That was when I truly saw the value of mentoring and growing by sharing knowledge and teaching. It also made me realise the importance of fostering capable people in my team – because you are only successful when your team is successful. Q: Is your teaching at NUS another form of mentorship? SB: Indeed. I think it is important that industry professionals like us share with students our experiences and the opportunities available in the real world. I have been teaching as an Adjunct since 2008, and to this day, it is still a lot of fun talking to the undergraduates. They are bright, articulate, ambitious, and have many ideas about the future. I see my role as one that encourages them to dream big while also giving them a realistic take on matters, so I always make it a point to share life stories – especially the ones about failure – with them. This is my way of helping to shape and grow the next generation of local tech professionals. Q: What prompted you to join GovTech last year after such a long time in the private sector? SB: I have enjoyed a long and varied career in the private sector – and after all these years with all the experience and knowledge I have accumulated, I felt it was time to give back to the tech community by serving in the public sector.

It also resonates with my belief that tech professionals today need to go beyond keeping up with tech developments to be more engaged with the tech community and have a better understanding of governing policies and laws. In the world today, boundaries are blurring with digitalisation and global interdependencies – physical borders no longer limit activities, and emerging tech trends impact traditional industries as much as the new ones. The implication of these developments is that there are now more opportunities for innovations to make bigger impact, but it also means that we need to have greater awareness of the governance surrounding different industries, technologies and countries. And with GovTech being one of the key agencies leading the Smart Nation initiative, I see its importance in laying a strong foundation with future-proof policies to empower the continued growth of the tech community, industry and our nation. I want to contribute towards this cause, so here I am. Q: How has this transition from the private to public sector been for you thus far? SB: Fundamentally, companies and corporations are profit driven so everything is purpose driven and time critical – because time is money. Government agencies, on the other hand, confront great complexity because policy considerations often have to go beyond monetary factors to ensure relevance and inclusivity to many different stakeholders – such as citizens, partner agencies, private sector, partners, and staff. There is also the need to ensure that the designed policy is sufficiently resilient to meet both present and future needs. Thus, I find myself having to do a lot more groundwork

to understand the issues various stakeholders face, and to get their buy-in on solutions and implementation. In addition, my teams and I need to oversee culture and change management so as to facilitate a successful digitalisation journey for the Government. Q: How has your previous experience helped you cope with these challenges? SB: If there is one thing I learnt through the years, it is to never give up. One becomes stronger and discovers oneself after overcoming adversities. Various skills that I have picked up over the years also come in handy. On one hand, I am able to pick up new technologies through building upon my current set of core skills. On the other hand, soft skills like leadership and nurturing team members have equipped me with the ability to rally together capable teams to work towards our collective vision. Q: What is a good piece of advice for aspiring tech professionals? SB: Put simply – keep learning and be humble. It used to be that tech changes take place one wave at a time. But the pace of open innovation is accelerating with the convergence of multiple waves of different tech developments, like intelligence augmentation, cybersecurity, and autonomous computing. In such an environment where job roles are in constant flux, you have to upskill fast to keep up. Amidst all these changes, you also need to be prepared to fail and get your hands dirty. Because that’s the only way you can accumulate battle scars to strengthen your foundation, and create fresh opportunities to learn from.



THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

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Data is big. Over



quintillion bytes

created in one day.

That’s the equivalent of 10 million blu-ray discs.

of data today was created in the

last two years. The big data and analytics market is currently worth




Sources: • Data Never Sleeps 6.0, Domo (2018) • Big Data – for Better or Worse, SINTEF (2013) • Forecast of Big Data Market Size, based on revenue, from 2011 to 2027 (in billion U.S. dollars), Statista (2019)


It is getting even bigger.

By end 2019, Internet of Things (IoT) devices are expected to generate


zettabytes yearly.

Ten years ago in 2009, the entire Internet was estimated to contain half a zettabyte.

Reasons Big Data Matters

People create data whenever they interact with digital devices.

Take social media. Every minute, users: • Post 49,380 photos on Instagram • Send 473,400 tweets on Twitter • Stream 750,000 songs on Spotify • Watch 4,333,560 videos on YouTube And that’s just a fraction of all data created. Sources: • Big Data – for Better or Worse, SINTEF (2013) • Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021 White Paper, Cisco (2018) • Internet Data Heads for 500bn Gigabytes, The Guardian (2009)

By 2020,


megabyte will be created every second for every person on earth.

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Data is used to solve problems.

United States Predict flu trends faster than traditional methods, which relied on positive flu tests from doctors and hospitals.

Urban Traffic Singapore Analyse congestions, traffic patterns and commuter behaviour for more effective traffic flow management.

Water Barcelona, Spain

From analytics to zettabytes, big data can sound too big to be relevant to your daily life. The IT Society shows how data is being used to tackle everyday problems from healthcare to transport and the part you play in this global explosion of data.

Determine amount of irrigation needed for each area, amounting to a 25% increase in water conservation. Sources: • Track Influenza With Google Flu Trends, Lifewire (2019) • Scoping Study into Deriving Transport Benefits from Big Data and the Internet of Things in Smart Cities, Ricardo Energy & Environment (2017) • How Smart City Barcelona Brought the Internet of Things to Life, Data-Smart City Solution (2016)

Up to


of enterprise data is not analysed.



There is a future for big data.

of companies reported challenges in adopting big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) .


Correct mindset and appropriate skills are essential for leveraging data fully to make an impact.

are investing in big data and AI.

Sources: • Hadoop Is Data’s Darling For A Reason, Forrester (2016) • Big Data and AI Executive Survey 2018, NewVantage Partners (2018)

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Do You Speak Data? Data literacy is fast becoming as important as writing or math. It has been compared to gold, oil and other precious resources of the world. Today, data skills are essential not only for engineers and researchers, but also business workers, entrepreneurs and, increasingly, creative professionals. However, working with data can be challenging even for technical specialists, let alone for people from other backgrounds. So where does that leave us?


efore you jump to the conclusion that data is not for you, perhaps you can draw some inspiration from my experience of learning and later teaching this important skill set.

SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF DATA I immersed myself in the early Web when dial-up Internet was introduced. Among other interests, the Internet sparked my passion for learning new languages and connecting with people around the world. Subsequently, working in different countries further spurred my determination to pick up local languages and use them to share the amazing world of technology with my friends. Fast forward to several years ago, I joined the tech industry. As it happens, the years I spent in the industry were characterised by the emergence of Big Data. One day, a colleague who worked in analytics introduced me to SQL. I recall staring at a barrage of symbols and commands, and imagining not ever producing anything similar.

Then, I started dabbling with this mysterious “Sequel”, and an unlikely analogy crystallised. Like every language I learnt – be it English, Spanish or German, each has its distinct grammar and vocabulary. And as long as these two pillars are mastered, the road to fluency becomes open. Similarly, I realised that SQL commands are in fact a tongue in its own right with its unique grammar and vocabulary. SHARING ABOUT LEARNING THE DATA LANGUAGE This realisation turned a previously technical subject into something close to every human being – speaking languages. It helped me to learn SQL as well as relate to people who struggle to grasp it. So now, whenever someone asks me to explain SQL, I would approach it as if we were learning to converse in a new language – ask a question, get a reply, make a statement and so on. And when people struggling with this technical subject can finally “have a chat” about it, I would feel really proud. It also

VLADYSLAV KOSHELYEV Member, SCS Academy Lead, Facebook Editor, Two Footsteps

heartens me to know that a training course which I created and deployed using this approach for my organisation stays relevant even after several years. Hence from my experience, it shows that even the most technical subjects share parallels with concepts naturally intuitive to people – such as languages. Simply by applying such analogies, learning data skills can become a lot more accessible for everyone.



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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

SCS Refreshes Leadership with New President at the Helm


t the 52nd Annual General Meeting on 28 March 2019, SCS announced its new Executive Council line-up and welcomes a new President for 2019/2020. The new President, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, took over the reins from Howie Lau, who served as President for the past four terms. Moving forward, the new President and Executive Council reaffirm the Society’s commitment to helping tech professionals seize opportunities and play critical roles in Singapore’s digital transformation.

“Technology has moved from being an enabler of industries to a disruptor of business models and roles, making it imperative that tech practitioners work closely with others in various industries to redefine the skills required to thrive in the new economy. By advocating constant skills development, SCS paves the way for tech professionals to continue driving digital transformation efforts across industries.” – Dr Chong Yoke Sin, SCS President


Digital Proficiency Programme (DigiPro) – A nationally recognised programme to empower workers with knowledge and application of essential digital skills.

SESSIONS – Tech Workshop Series by the IT Youth Council to reach out to young working professionals and graduating students.

Data Centre (DC) and Women in Technology (WiT) Special Interest Groups – To fuel the next wave of technological improvements and strengthen the community of women tech professionals respectively.

Council members elected at the SCS 52nd Annual General Meeting. First row (from left): Dr Toh See Kiat, Tan Teng Cheong, Lum Seow Khun, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, Dr Kwong Yuk Wah, Ong Whee Teck, Adrian Chye, Dr Timothy Chan Back row (from left): Lawrence Wong, Daniel Wee, Khoong Hock Yun, Yeo Teck Guan, Sam Liew, Andrew Lim, Tony Tay, Leslie Ong Not in photo: Stephanie Davis, Foong Sew Bun, Han Chung Heng

The Magazine of the Singapore Computer Society

SCS EXECUTIVE COUNCIL 2019/20 President Dr Chong Yoke Sin, FSCS

Immediate Past President Howie Lau, FSCS Infocomm Media Development Authority

Vice-Presidents Adrian Chye, SMSCS Mediafreaks Group Lawrence Ng, SMSCS PSA Corporation

Andrew Lim, SMSCS Singtel Lum Seow Khun, FSCS IBM Singapore Leslie Ong, FSCS Tableau Software Tony Tay, FSCS Accenture

Co-opted Members Chak Kong Soon, FSCS Stream Global

SCS Honorary Advisory Council Adds Dynamism to SCS Leadership


s SCS sets to build on our momentum to become the leading infocomm and digital media professional society in Singapore, we draw upon the invaluable advice of the SCS Honorary Advisory Council, comprising leaders from diverse expertise and industries, to shape the Society’s direction and strategies.

Bill Chang Chief Executive Officer, Group Enterprise/ Country Chief Officer, Singtel

Eddie Chau Founder & Chairman, Neeuro

David Koh Chief Executive, Cyber Security Agency

Koh Soo Boon Chief Executive Officer, iGlobe Partners

Kok Ping Soon Chief Executive, Government Technology Agency

Ng Cher Pong Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore

Tan Choon Shian Chief Executive, Workforce Singapore

Prof Tan Eng Chye President, National University of Singapore

Tan Kiat How Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Media Development Authority

Patrick Tay Asst SecretaryGeneral, National Trades Union Congress

Robert Yap Chairman, YCH Group

Jason Chen, MSCS IBM ASEAN Kaylee Fung, MSCS Google Asia Pacific

Council Members Stephanie Davis, SMSCS Google Asia Pacific

Bruce Liang, FSCS Integrated Health Information Systems

Foong Sew Bun, FSCS Government Technology Agency

Benjamin Mah, SMSCS Oracle APAC

Philip Kwa, FSCS Cyber Test Systems

Han Chung Heng, FSCS Oracle EMEA & JAPAC

Prof Miao Chun Yan, SMSCS Nanyang Technological University

Khoong Hock Yun, FSCS Tembusu Partners

Joshua Soh, FSCS Nogle



Yeo Teck Guan, FSCS Singapore Pools

Honorary Treasurer Dr Timothy Chan, FSCS Singapore Institute of Management

Dr Kwong Yuk Wah, FSCS National Trades Union Congress


Daniel Wee, SMSCS Nanyang Polytechnic

Ong Whee Teck, FSCS Trusted Services

Honorary Secretary Tan Teng Cheong, FSCS BetterIDEAS

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Honorary Legal Advisors Dr Toh See Kiat, FSCS Goodwins Law Corporation Jeffrey Lim, MSCS Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC



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17 Outstanding Members Conferred as SCS Fellows


hese members have made notable contributions to SCS, positively influence the tech industry, and are well respected in their fields. As our way of recognising their efforts and achievements, they were presented with the prestigious title of SCS Fellow at the 52nd SCS Annual General Meeting. Our heartiest congratulations to the newly conferred Fellows! Foo Jong Tong Director, Shift Technology Han Chung Heng Senior Vice-President, Oracle Ho Seong Kim Managing Director, Accenture Lau Shih Hor Chief Executive Officer, Elixir Technology Bruce Liang Chief Executive Officer, IHiS

Ong Chin Ann Chief Information Officer, Prime Minister’s Office Leslie Ong Country Manager, Tableau Software Ong Whee Teck Chief Executive Officer, Trusted Services Pang Hee Hon Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Crescendas Group

Lim Bee Kwan Assistant Chief Executive, GovTech

Dr Anton Ravindran Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Rapidstart

Vincent Lim President, Telechoice

Benjamin Tan Managing Director, Supernet

Lum Seow Khun General Manager, IBM

Tony Tay Managing Director, Accenture

Alvin Ong Chief Information Officer, NTU

Yeo Teck Guan Chief Business Technology Officer, Singapore Pools

THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

HEAR FROM OUR NEW SCS FELLOWS! “Being an SCS member allows me to feel the pulse of the tech industry and stay relevant in this exciting digital era, while participating in the SCS Executive Council and advising the Chapters have exposed me to great local talents who are passionate about contributing to this community. I am truly humbled and honoured to be conferred as a SCS Fellow.” – Han Chung Heng

“SCS as the premier professional body for tech professionals has been actively contributing to the advancement of the ICT profession. This role is expected to become more important as Singapore continues to embrace technology to enhance the lives of its citizens. It has been a rewarding experience and I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute to SCS and the industry.” – Dr Anton Ravindran

From left: Dr Anton Ravindran, Howie Lau (Immediate Past President), Yeo Teck Guan, Foo Jong Tong, Alvin Ong, Bruce Liang, Lum Seow Khun, Tony Tay, Lau Shih Hor, Benjamin Tan, Leslie Ong, Ong Whee Teck, Pang Hee Hon Not in photo: Han Chung Heng, Ho Seong Kim, Lim Bee Kwan, Vincent Lim, Ong Chin Ann

The Magazine of the Singapore Computer Society

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Strengthening Cyber Resiliency with Business Continuity and Enterprise Risk Management


s cyber risks in Singapore and around the world continue to evolve, organisations need to maintain cyber resiliency – with effective business continuity management (BCM) and enterprise risk management (ERM) frameworks. To tackle this growing challenge, the SCS Business Continuity (BC) Chapter partnered US-based Risk Management Society (RIMS) to co-organise the inaugural Business Resiliency Exchange & Masterclasses on 5 April 2019, to strengthen corporate resilience all round and grow the fraternity of BC, risk and cyber professionals. Comprising presentations, a panel discussion and three masterclasses, this one-day event engaged close to 130 participants, and brought together local and overseas experts such as Thomas Kok from OCBC Group, Sigfried Ching from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Wolfram Hedrich from Marsh & McLennan Insights, Jennifer Santiago from Novartis and Julie Cain from Educational Testing Service to explore the interlocking

disciplines of BCM, ERM and Cyber Resilience Management. Another key event highlight was a discussion about proposed changes to the Technology Risk Management (TRM) and BCM Guidelines recently released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.


The Magazine of the Singapore Computer Society


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Gearing Up for Splash Awards 2019


hemed “Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Our Daily Lives”, this year’s Splash Awards organised by the SCS Student Chapter is challenging students to think out of the box and create impactful AI solutions with a focus on cybersecurity. In the lead-up to the competition, close to 300 tertiary and secondary students attended the preview workshops at the Google Developer Space to get equipped with basic know-how and tools related to AI. Given that networked and digital solutions are often the target of malicious adversaries, students were also introduced to the concept of cybersecurity, including its importance and applications.

One of the preview workshops in April

Cybersecurity-by-Design Workshop in June

This was followed by a preliminary judging stage, and shortlisted teams were given more in-depth and handson training at workshops on advanced AI tools, Cybersecurity-by-Design and Huawei AI Developer Kit. Equipped with their newfound knowledge, the teams will be presenting their AI solutions and prototypes at the next round of judging in August. One of the Advanced AI Tools Workshops in June and July

YOU ARE INVITED! Come on down to view the digital showcase of the winning entries, and experience AI in action for yourself.



13 September 2019, Friday

9.30am – 3.00pm


For more details, visit

Singtel@8 George





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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 02/2019

New Partnerships to Upgrade Digital Capabilities of Non-Tech Professionals


his May, SCS inked Memorandums of Intent (MOI) with three associations to collaboratively promote and enhance the digital skills of professionals working in the accounting, legal and manufacturing sectors. The signings took place on 8 May 2019 with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), and on 31 May 2019 with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF). Under the MOIs and as an extension of the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) TechSkills Accelerator

(TeSA) initiative, SCS will offer its resources and tech programmes to help bring about greater depth and breadth in the local workforce’s digital skills. Speaking at the signing on 8 May 2019, Chief Executive Officer of IMDA Tan Kiat How said, “The collaboration is a timely one. As digitalisation continues to transform Singapore’s economy across various sectors, it is important that industry associations work together to prepare professionals to enhance their digital skills.” Through these partnerships, members of the three associations are encouraged to

join the tech interest groups formed within their respective professional bodies. A host of carefully-crafted joint programmes, curated tech-centric events and sector dialogues will also allow association members to engage with tech trends and learn how to cope with disruptive technological changes. Currently, SCS is looking into extending its outreach to other sectors. These collaborative efforts will bring invaluable benefits by upskilling professionals in non-tech sectors to ensure that they stay relevant in the face of digital disruptions.

MOI Signing with ACCA and SAL on 8 May 2019. From left: James Lee (Chairman of ACCA Singapore Network Panel), Reuter Chua (Country Head of ACCA Singapore), Tan Kiat How (Chief Executive Officer of IMDA), Dr Chong Yoke Sin (SCS President), Lum Seow Khun (Chairperson of SCS TAC Engagement Steering Committee), Serene Wee (Chief Executive of SAL), Justice Lee Seiu Kin (Chairman of SAL Legal Technology Cluster)

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MOI Signing with SMF on 31 May 2019. From left: Dr Michael Teng (Assistant Secretary-General of SMF), Douglas Foo (SMF President), Dr Chong Yoke Sin (SCS President), Lawrence Ng (Co-Chairman of SCS TAC Engagement Steering Committee)


22 JUL

23 AUG


22 SEP


Cloud 201 Series: GraalVM – One Virtual Machine to Rule Them All

IDEAS Series: AI and Augmented Reality in Financial Analytics


22-24 JUL


Business Strategy for Today’s Digital Era


Site Visit to Singapore Exchange


7 23

Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA) Programme

ASCENT Series: Supply Chain Agility & Resilience – How to Stay Competitive in Global Trade Conflict Fake News, Doxxing and the New Cybercrimes – Primer for the ICT Industry

SCS Golf Day


22-26 JUL

25 AUG

19-20 SEP


Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO) Workshop & Exam

YES! Life in a Hypergrowth Startup

Secure Software Development Model (SSDM) Workshop

Industry 4.0 Technologies (Blockchain, Big Data, AI, IoT, Robotics, Nanotech, Biotech etc) – The Critical Legal Issues Businesses Must Look Out

Splash Awards 2019 Finals & Award Ceremony The event listing provided above is correct at the time of printing. You are encouraged to visit the SCS website for updates and latest information about the events.

Hybrid Cloud | Containers | Automation | Cloud-native App Dev


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May Fortune Favour Your Data By

Sean Low


once had an interesting online conversation with Nic.kohlaz – a professional Russian fortune teller, who complained how hard it was to read the future of customers who refused to reveal their personal data ever since privacy laws were tightened around the world. “Why don’t you just make stuff up to entertain them? Or how about using search engines and social media to do research on your customers instead?” I suggested. “I am a professional. I use real data to reveal life-changing truths! Besides, that would be infringing on their privacy and most customers tend to be disorganised which means I’ll have to clean their data. I am particular about using clean data to do my work,” he retorted. He continued, “You see, we start the sessions by extracting and consolidating specific data about our customers through a series of questions, which we

then analyse in real time for patterns and trends. We mentally build predictive models, derive personal insights unknown to themselves, and then make suggestions on implementing proof of concepts to test proposed solutions.” Unfortunately, as Nic.kohlaz shared, the gap between the growing demand for good fortune telling talent and clean data means that many in the industry resort to faking insights – which often leads to disastrous outcomes. Though with the advent of cloud and blockchain services, fortune tellers now have the ability to predict more accurately with less manpower. In the foreseeable future, with AI, manpower can possibly be further reduced to one man. As far as I am concerned, the art of fortune telling is beginning to sound very much like the data analytics department of any company – only more advanced.

He grinned, “Same same but different. We do away with unusable data by keeping it structured, simple and clean with controlled verified sources of truth to prevent overload. And of course, it helps that my industry is also quite well-known for implying that correlation is the causation of customers’ problems.” Turns out that before foraying into fortune telling, Nic.kohlaz was once based in the North Pole running a cloud delivery service with a product placement advertisement agency collecting data on who was naughty or nice. However, he was retrenched and replaced by a delivery drone after failing to meet the weight requirements. We did not meet again after that online conversation as he has since wound up his fortune telling business – to be a Zen practitioner for very stressed data scientists. And last I heard, he is very well sought after.

Profile for SCS secretariat

SCS Magazine 2019 Issue 2  

Singapore Computer Society Quarterly Magazine - 2019 Issue 2

SCS Magazine 2019 Issue 2  

Singapore Computer Society Quarterly Magazine - 2019 Issue 2