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Culture Centered Digital Problem Solving

Digital is an assault to the senses whenever we scroll our feeds on Twitter or the hard copy pink papers such as the FT. There are a few characteristics of the digital which are exemplary, ability to aggregate users and for pattern recognition, and fundamentally to shrink space-time. We are surrounded by technology, and the ubiquitous nature of digital has taken quarter of a century to emerge as is gauged from a16z’s conversation to Kevin Kelly. The human being in the realm of the digital is a ‘data-double’ which is a data point or a coordinate available for transition. Data is the new oil, but for whom?

The prowess of the digital spans a spectrum from the core to the periphery as per my conceptualization as a scholar of technology and society. The traits of technology will interact, refract, and diffract of the terrain of the community and the company, which ensure that the other vital C, the client has its pain point in everyday operations remediated or solved. The sectors which generate a massive tranche of data at a velocity are well suited for the digital economy. Aggregators of any typology from real estate to retail will bring the service to the tap of a smart phone. ‘On Demand’ is a feature of digital economy, however the digital incorporates human labor as a technology in terms of ‘Humans as a Service’ as per Jeremias Pressel in his Oxford University Press Book of the same name. Digital is not sans human labor, however digital maps, morphs and mutates the human of the human into digital features, which are conducted by human coders only to optimize the business value. However, the question which cuts through a knife into the haze of digital rhetoric is.

What additional value is the so-called digital transformation, adding to the consumer?

The core purpose of a business is to serve the client at the point of their need, to solve their problems at the best sustainable price, rather than blindly jump on to a band wagon without critically thing through the second order impacts. Oman struggles with the digital economy as the local cartography is pinned to the building number and the way number rather than a name, which makes deliveries harder to make. The cash centric culture also makes it challenging for the digital players to map transactions. The Omani consumer is price sensitive client and seeks to touch the product before making a purchase, although the culture as other things with time evolve.

The cab transportation sector in Muscat was ripe for disruption as flagging a cab on the street at 45-degree August heat during peak summer was a strain especially when one is with elderly parents. But with the presence of digital cab aggregators such as O Taxi, it makes for a better quality of life in turn better businesses. In India, Cash on Delivery is a feature of local adaptation of the aggregator economy. The digital is therefore a plastic wrap which covers the product. The optimizer rather than the substrate, bringing a disparate set of actors to the consumer, and not a universal panacea.

Each local culture will lend imports into the digital paradigm, and Gulf will do the same. The applicability will also depend on the user case. It is about time that the focus is shed back on the need rather than the shiny possibilities that the digital offers, keeping in mind the culture.  With the gulf in the post oil, post pandemic scenario laser focused on job creation, digital is an opportunity for reskilling but also deskilling where low-income labor will be impacted. Digital is therefore deeply contextual, and the youth would have to be skilled as per the risks as well as the potential. 

Re-blogged from : Digital Transformation | Solving pain points (ketnode.com)

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Migrant Crisis Pandemic Porn

I think this is important to put out in the light of what i see as migrant crisis porn. As a second gen migrant with active work and family links to both the Gulf and Singapore i can feel the pain of a genuine migrant in trouble. I have not been paid my former employers whom i have taken to court and have got my pending salaries. I have absolutely no hard feelings for them, rather a sense of gratitude as salaries is not the only element we earn at work. These are skills, ideas and life long networks too. I work with non profits and write on migration issues regularly. In the pandemic i have pitch in to many civil society micro initiatives. As a migration researcher, i speak multiple languages including Bangla and see a lot of unnecessary banter of migrants playing the victim card. Singapore has done the maximum in this crisis as have other Gulf countries even more than passport countries, ask anyone from India or Nepal. There needs to be gratitude. If the elevator in your dorm is not working, complain to the dorm management rather than defame the country.

If things were that great back home, you would not have mortgaged your family land to pay the broker to arrive in Singapore. Get a sense of proportion. Do not blame the host country for your migration debt when the bribe was paid to your relative for the IPA?Many migrant workers have done really well for their families as well. Let these stories also come out.

India at 75 : Some Thoughts

This Azaadi Weekend, there are many more freedoms to achieve such as economic and that freedom is a starting point for a journey rather than an ossified ritual. Let Bharat or Hindustan have many articulations, as diversity is not a weakness. We have survived as we are decentralized, fragmented federal state as each state is on a different trajectory of evolution, some are dependent upon international diasporas such as Kerala and Punjab, others have internal circulations such as Bihar.

We are excellent at survival, the pandemic being a brilliant case study as we think on the scale of the family for sustenance. It is not a miracle that we have not been balkanized, as we are designed to fight. Some outliers are global standards, but we need to build benchmarks. Let’s make it happen in the next 75 years!

#IndiaAt75

Writing the Self

Writing is enriching when there are no ROIs to extract or CVs to manufacture. The key impulse is to excavate the erased histories that do not fit within neat frames of the politics of knowledge production. Do not write when one has nothing much to say. Writing is about the self.

Happy National Day, Singapore!

Happy 57th Singapore! There is a lot to be grateful for.

I am eternally indebted to the learnings, multiple work opportunities and generous scholarships at NUS and NTU over the past 13 years. I have made mentors, lifelong friends and have family in Singapore too. Even though i am way this year for NDP in Mumbai, i hope to be back for Laksa and Chicken Rice soon at the Block 107A Kopitiam on 112 Street on Clementi Road, which has been my urban kampung.

I shall follow the NDP programs on YouTube as a proud Singapore-Phile while i hum Majulah Singapura under my breath.

#ndp2022

ESG and Scale.

The issues with implementing #ESG are one of incomprehensibility of ‘scale’. ESG for a platform economy player will be one of ‘partner’ welfare, vis-à-vis a hydrocarbon major with deep pockets. Recognizing scale and appreciating contextual specificity is key to delivery.