Information Technology (IT) innovation has evolved from e-business and e-government services to Internet of Things (IoT), FinTechs, Blockchains, Artificial Intelligence, use of APIs (application programming interfaces), Open Innovation and Open Organisations.
Speaking at the recent Conference on Digital Transformation Towards a Smarter Fiji, Professor Mohini Singh, Pro Vice Chancellor Research with Fiji National University, a Professor of Information Systems prior to this appointment, said due to these technological developments, petabytes and terabytes of data (Big Data) are emanating for which addressing issues of data velocity, volume, veracity and variety are required before Data Analytics.
Data analytics according to Prof Singh is a critical requirement for timely insights and for informed decisions. She explained that IoT’s are now being used in smart homes and buildings, smart offices and smart infrastructure which help reduce carbon enhancing greenhouse gas emission, manage water and energy consumption, and reduce operational costs.
She explained that FinTech is a new wave of companies (startups) that support peer to peer borrowing and lending which are transparent, cut middlemen costs, and shift control over money to end users.
This innovation she said has a social impact that is shifting power to the people who need banking and not banks. Will Fintechs disrupt the banking sector in the same way that Air BNB is disrupting the hotel industry and Uber disrupting the taxi business she said is yet to be determined. Disruptive innovation she said is an outcome of applying new technology or technological processes to the current market.
Professor Singh said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the other hand is transiting from just a research topic to the early stages of enterprise adoption. While vertical artificial intelligence can easily automate repetitive work such as scheduling meetings, horizontal artificial intelligence are able to handle multiple tasks for example Cortana, Siri and Alexa.
An Alexa she said has the potential to replace the position of receptionists in the near future. Open innovation and open organisations stem from Open Source, and promote transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration and community.
Although the opportunities of technology are vast, she emphasized on the need to manage the challenges of cybercrime, data breach and hacking. She said organisations need to focus on the importance of integrated systems for ‘one stop shop’ customer service, and have the foresight for shifts in jobs initiated by technologies which will require re-training on new ways of doing things.
Implications of technological developments in Fiji she emphasized by stating that in Fiji 82% of our population are educated in English, almost 75% of the population have access to mobile phones, and almost 50% of our population are social media users. Professor Singh said that Fiji needs to capitalise on the knowledge of ‘English’ and ‘level of education’ to embrace technology for delivering improved and integrated services, on becoming a networked and smarter society, and to service the Pacific as a Technology Hub.