ACS shares vision of digital economy transformation


(From right, seated) Wong, Janet, Johnson and the award recipients posing for a group photo.

KUCHING: The vision of transforming Sarawak through the digital economy is one that strongly resonates with the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

“Our ties with Sarawak are strong, having accredited the Information Systems, Computer Science, and ICT Engineering Bachelor programmes of Swinburne’s Sarawak Campus,” said ACS president Anthony Wong.

Wong was present at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus to participate in the awarding ceremony of ACS memberships to 50 final-year students at Swinburne.

He said the future of the world is undeniably digital. Even in just the past twenty years, technology has drastically altered the social and business fabric of lives.

Roughly 3.5 billion people are on the Internet today, around 47 per cent of the world’s population. Ten years ago, it was 20 per cent. Ten years before that, it was 1 per cent.

The ACS report Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce produced in combination with Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the Australian government identified some of the jobs that would likely be seen in the near future.

These include roles such as Big Data Analysts, Complex Decision Support Analysts, remote-controlled vehicle operators, and even online chaperones.

He said last month, the ACS launched Australia’s Digital Pulse 2017, a report in conjunction with Deloitte Access Economics.

The report covered the recent emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, self-driving cars, blockchain and distributed ledgers, robots and virtual reality. This technology is changing the rules for how people live, work and play.

It is important to understand these changes and identify the opportunities for Australia and Malaysia to capitalise by innovating and building the capability.

“Education with a focus on digital capability, as we can see, must underpin any long-term plan for Sarawak.

“However, to achieve transformation through a digital economy, we must also remember that education applies to re-skilling the current workforce to adapt and take advantage of new technological capabilities, as well as extending education via the Internet to remote communities to raise the level of knowledge and skilling across the country,” he said.

Applying critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, creativity and complex problem-solving is key for students of today.

“Fortunately, there is already a great foundation in Sarawak with its schools and universities including, I am proud to say, an Australian connection with Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University both having campuses here.

“One important point I want to stress here – historically, rules and regulations trail behind technological development. It’s natural, as technology moves so fast that governments and bureaucracies can’t always keep up.

“Conversely, it is the lack of regulations that frequently allows new technologies and new economies to blossom – we only need to look at the disruption of autonomous services like Uber to the taxi industry to see this in action,” he said.

Local laws are now catching up in some countries to balance the Uber and taxi economies, but if rules were in place to stop Uber operating in the first place, there wouldn’t be any evolution at all and the industry would remain stagnant, said Wong.

“And remember that while Sarawak has many exportable industries like tourism and oil, skills and knowledge are also an export.

“There is growing demand globally in areas such as data analytics, cloud, and cyber security among others – services that can be exported internationally. Look to the world as a global marketplace and ask what part Sarawak can play within it,” he said.

The ACS is a professional body for those working in technology-related areas in Australia.

Also present was Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus deputy vice-chancellor and CEO Professor Janet Gregory and ACS chief executive Andrew Johnson.