Looking towards a digital future


  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 23 Nov 2019

Dr Loo (second from right) and her colleagues Nor Salinun Ghazali (left) and Ahmara Theepen Manokaran (right) with Vogiatzakis at the conference.

DIGITALISATION in an organisation should not be a trend, but targeted, strategic and something people are willing to accept.

This is because in an era where technology will change the future of work, companies have to adopt the technology and tools to stay abreast of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0).

In her opening keynote called “Beyond Technology: The Human Factor”, UEM Edgenta Berhad digital advocate and knowledge management head Dr Esther Loo stressed that people need to continuously grow and upskill themselves and turn fear of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics into a positive challenge.

“Technology is evolving and what I say today may not be relevant tomorrow, so how do we future-proof digital transformation?

“It is about culture and people’s change in mindset and utilising social capital effectively to build the right influence,” she said at the “People 4.0: The Future of Work” conference organised by Star Media Group at Menara KEN TTDI in Kuala Lumpur.

The gamified conference gathered about 200 HR professionals, corporate leaders, culture-makers and key players who have the potential to influence change in the workplace.

The conference gamification partner was People Psyence and official venue partner was Menara KEN TTDI.

The event emceed by comedian Gajen Nad explored how employers could embrace the future of work — leveraging on people and technology.

Speakers included subject experts, game changers and industry leaders.

In his welcome address, Star Media Group chief executive officer Andreas Vogiatzakis said amidst the current changing landscape, the success of any IR 4.0 transformation strategy hinged on the organisation’s ability to leverage on human capital development to achieve organisational goals.

“Technology is changing things across the board for one thing – productivity. According to the World Bank, Malaysia’s productivity growth over the past 25 years has been below those of several global and regional comparators, which could mean disaster for us.

“But opportunities do exist and many organisations have successfully found the sweet spot that has taken them through the transformation and are now reaping the rewards,” he said.

Like other industries, he said the media industry had not been spared of disruption.

“The duopoly of Facebook and Google has forced us to look hard at ourselves and how we function.

“As we enter 2020, we have lined up some new initiatives and improved on existing ones to better equip our people to face yet another tough and challenging, but exciting year ahead.

“This includes the introduction of ‘Star University’, which will have talent advancement programmes, retraining and education programmes, and e-learning programmes,” he added.

In the first insightful power panel segment titled “What Women Leaders Have to Offer That Machines and A.I. Can’t Do” with CIMB group chief people officer Datuk Hamidah Naziadin, Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Lee and Petronas corporate programme head Zahira Sughra, they touched on, among other things, how we could be indispensable in an era where the rise of robots posed a threat of a jobless future for many people.

Elizabeth said robots were incapable of taking over the world because they could neither be creative nor feel human emotions.

“AI and designing algorithms are male driven, so we need more women employed to do these jobs, including coding,” she said.

She added that more women needed to get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and this should be inculcated at home.

“More girls need to learn computer science and coding,” said Elizabeth.

Zahira had the crowd laughing when she shared a joke about using virtual assistant Siri.

“I asked Siri to ‘call Iman’ and it instead replied ‘What kind of man do you want?’”

“We are so process-orientated that we lose common sense.

“There needs to be human connectivity, not just machines, and basic human values to push people forward,” she added.

Gajen later moderated the second power panel titled “Rise of the Gig Economy: What to Expect & How to Thrive In It?” comprising GoGet co-founder Francesca Chia, People Possibilities director Ramya Balakrishnan and Favser co-founder Lee Hock Mun, who spoke about how more companies in Malaysia were starting to utilise freelancers.

“The gig economy has exploded in the last five years. At GoGet, we connect businesses to part-timers who are not only millennials, but those over 30 years old.

“We allow opportunities to everyone regardless of their age,” said Chia, adding that they were working on giving financial inclusion to freelancers that includes working with insurance providers and Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Flexibility at work these days goes a long way, which is why we are seeing co-working spaces mushrooming as offices of the future.

In the power panel titled “Working Spaces Designed for the 21st Century Productivity”, Star Media Group R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee moderated the talk that spoke about how co-working platforms offer appealing employee engagement, flexible solutions, cost effectiveness and reduced risks.

Colony Coworking Space co-founder Timothy Tiah said they offered a hotel-like atmosphere that enabled clients to network with different people, with a bonus of short-term leases with no liabilities.

The “Deep Fried Chat: Flavours of Today’s Leadership: So Who’s The Boss?” panel discussed changing leadership styles in a complex business and economic landscape.

Teledirect Telecommerce chief HR officer Lim Chee Gay said 95% of the workforce now comprised millennials and leaders should allow them to explore different ways to excel.

In his talk “The Open Source Workplace”, Iclif Leadership and Governance Centre (Iclif) chief executive officer and executive director Rajeev Peshawaria said organisations could retain their talent pool by reinventing the employer-employee contract and rewriting the rules of engagement.

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