How we work, how we live, how we lead, how we think about the future has changed dramatically for many millions of us. Our world is being shaped by pandemic ‘crisis crucibles.’ What do I mean by this? A crucible is a situation of severe trial, where different elements react, leading to the creation of something new. We may be being tested as citizens, as communities, as nations, but through the adoption of Cloud+ Data & AI at scale in the public and private sectors, we can react swiftly to the opportunities of Instant Social & Economic Outcomes through the smart use of data; of Skilling and Re-Skilling to match the millions of new jobs available and turn the tide on COVID-driven inequality and fight climate change.
The pandemic is far from over. The virus evolves but human ingenuity, leadership and kindness evolves too, to meet it. We have seen that when communities, governments, and industry leaders come together – and are empowered by technology – we can do more than just bounce back. We can enable a digitally inclusive future for all.
Technology has always been a force multiplier for change, especially during challenging times. Nowhere is this more evident than in Asia Pacific, where governments are embracing digitalization to keep citizens safe and maintain continuity of public operations. A survey showed that 87% of business leaders also plan to speed up digitization by launching initiatives including digital products, payments, and e-commerce to stay competitive and resilient.
As economies continue to recover and as more businesses, enterprises, and communities pursue digitalization, they will need strong policy and infrastructure support to help them make the leap.
At Microsoft we know that we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to help businesses and governments create a policy environment that does more than aid recovery efforts. It must be an environment that becomes the foundation for a sustainable and inclusive future.
To support the decision-makers leading this change, Microsoft and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy launched the APAC Leaders Digital Alliance. This first-of-its-kind consortium brought together public and private industry leaders, The World Bank, IDC, and policymakers from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The meeting explored digital adoption and policy considerations for data-driven decision making, while global and regional public sector leaders shared their perspectives on the future of work and the critical need for digital skills in the civil service.
Why Here and Now, in Asia Pacific
The pandemic has revealed areas requiring improved critical infrastructure to manage crises on both a national as well as organizational level. It has made clear the need for evolution to survive in the new world. I have previously shared how AI can transform critical sectors such as education and agriculture, and various reports have also shown how cloud technologies can be a catalyst for inclusive economic recovery and growth.
Speed and collaboration are critical to fully realize the region’s digital ambitions, and this is why Microsoft has been working closely with partners, customers, and other members of the ecosystem to accelerate innovation in technologies such as cloud computing and AI and to help ensure digital skills and computer science education are accessible to young people.
We recognize the need for alliances for digital-first policies. Through Microsoft’s engagements with government bodies, industry organizations, and trade groups to promote ethical and responsible Cloud and AI policy, we’re committed to our role in supporting responsible innovation policy at both a national and industry level if we are to meet the growing expectations of an expanding set of stakeholders to advance their digital capabilities to ensure economic recovery to build resilience.
The APAC Leaders Digital Alliance brought together policymakers from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as leading academics and subject matter experts from the National University of Singapore, World Bank, IDC to discuss the next steps for inclusive economic recovery and sustainable growth. In the next three years, the alliance will seek to drive action and accelerate adoption in both the public and private sectors. We hope that the discussions from the inaugural meeting will help to provide a direction on data-driven policy recommendations for a holistic approach to digital adoption.
Insights and recommendations shared at the inaugural closed-door meeting will be articulated in a paper by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the School of Continuing and Lifelong Education at the National University of Singapore, focused on national recovery and the digital economy. The paper is intended to serve as a roadmap for the participating countries to accelerate the next steps needed for economic recovery and digital integration. It will be published in early 2022., And the group will continue to convene regularly to build on dialog and drive action in economic recovery and digital integration.
The power of collaboration
Microsoft understands how powerful collaborations between business and government can be and the impact that they can have. We recognize that to be the trusted partner of Governments and of citizens, as well as business, we cannot have a single approach that works everywhere in the world. Instead, we work one country at a time and are sensitive to national and regional differences. This approach will ensure resilience is built into the system; it will fuel job creation; help train skilled populations and drive innovative new services and industries.
This has included:
- Partnerships with government leaders, telco players, and postal service providers in the region – including the Republic of Maldives, National Telecom in Thailand, Grab, the Vietnam International Joint Stock Bank, and the Singapore Post – Microsoft is reimagining the way that citizen services are delivered in the region.
- Support to transform the delivery of digital services and contributing to the livelihoods of micro, small, and medium enterprise owners in the region, such as through our partnership with Indonesian e-commerce giant Bukalapak and by empowering and supporting the startup scene in the region.
- Expanding our regional infrastructure, with several datacenter regions in Asia Pacific, including Malaysia and Indonesia, to fuel revenue for our ecosystem of partners and cloud-using customers and help generate jobs, including skilled IT jobs.
- Close collaborations with our customers and partners, such as the developer community for the Code Without Barriers initiative to build our pool of female technical talent who will contribute to inclusive growth in the region.
Leading the way as a trusted technology partner
Our goal at Microsoft is to help nations build strong, inclusive digital economies where everyone can experience the benefits of technology and participate in the creation of the new digital economy.
The APAC Leaders Digital Alliance explores Cloud and AI technologies and policies for inclusive and sustainable economic recovery and growth. This means helping governments, non-profits, civil society participants, and even our customers, to partner with Microsoft to promote prosperity while preserving the planet.
At the same time, finding ways to alleviate the unequal progress of digital adoption across the region, with the consortium serving as a platform for policymakers and other stakeholders to share experiences, challenges, and learnings that will ultimately benefit the region.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that together as a society, empowered by technology, we can not only imagine a better future, but we can take the steps to build it.
I know that this new platform will enable the facilitation of much-needed discussions and debate, and consequently, drive action for an inclusive economic recovery in Asia Pacific.
We share the region’s vision of a digital future that is innovative, inclusive, trusted, and competitive. Together with our network of partners and customers, and with policymakers and academics, we hope to contribute to the next level of success in the Asia Pacific.
You can read more about the initiative here: https://news.microsoft.com/apac/2021/12/01/microsoft-and-lee-kuan-yew-school-of-public-policy-launch-apac-leaders-digital-alliance/