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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.

Sunday Musings- 27112022

  • The gravest of soul shattering failures are also the greatest of learning curves. Embrace them as much as the spectacular successes in career and in life.
  • One of the profound learnings has been to decouple learning with the cv and the certificate. It is a survival skill, a life skill.
  • Too few startups and nonprofits do not focus on growing the revenue function with dedicated resources and teams. It is as important as the fancier product conversation.

Climate Capital for Climate Action.

Climate capital is the fuel that will move the needle on climate resilience, as adaptation should be the focus especially for at risk climate geographies. Loss and Damage makes for good optics. The global north aka rich countries want to survive hence climate action is an agenda otherwise sadly it would not.

It makes resources to have agency, to act and think of a better world. ‘Poverty-rianism’, a Shekhar Gupta neologism is an apt reference here- as poverty only looks aesthetic in Ray movies. Lack of resources stunts intellectual capacity to take long term action.

The main people who say money does not matter are the people with money. Let us all find a way to meet adaptation needs through climate capital. None of the resource colonialism arguments shall matter in an unlivable world where the poorest only suffer. Emissions reduction will be patchy are variegated with a reflection of the power dynamics of today. The global north exists within the global south with the elites migrating to places where their families and assets are secure.

Leave the abstract theory building to the seminar room, climate action needs action, and it is not a h-index temple run for tenure.

IAIA23 Acceptance.

Accepted for a presentation for the fourth year in a row at the International Association for Impact Assessment IAIA 2023 conference in Malaysia.

As an ESIA practitioner which has plenty of overlaps with ESG now a days, resilience is a key area of intellectual interest as the question – what do we do the assessment for? Or the disclosure deluge now occupies mind space as scale, place, spectrum and space impact how we think about what beyond the report apart from tick box measures ?

Hope to present my thoughts in Kuching next year as the previous two or rather three were pandemic pause hit.

Shukran to Hardik Bhai for his steadfast support over the years when no one else gave a chance to do pioneering work on ESIAs.

#iaia23

Sustainability is Essential Services.

In this climate zeitgeist, borrowing a phrase from the pandemic pause, sustainability is essential services and its commercial nomenclature called ‘ESG’.

Survival is essential, and the right quantum of finance available in operationalizing the transition. From the Internal Combustion era to the Electric paradigm, it would need greater implementation intensity of the ideas that are needed now. Access to climate capital is imperative, and fewer reports would help.

Ask the ‘how to do’ question.

#sustainability #finance

Mind Set.

Risk taking is a mindset, where to take the risk is a matter of tradeoffs as part of the game we intend to play. You can either take the main elevator, the service elevator, the KMP elevator or the stairs or the emergency routes. Think of which elevator we want to take.

Call ‘S’ for Context

The aspect of ‘S’ or the community of stakeholders of the business ecosystem enables the sustainability of operations with carbon and beyond. Carbon is quantifiable and can be benchmarked with peers albeit S needs some degree of measurement of impact, social value of initiatives is a good metric, as your consumers (scope one in social terms) is the primary agenda of business.

Some sectors such as resource extraction and manufacturing supply chains will always have a greater focus on social factors than others. Material conditions of businesses are the starting point of any ESG conversation.

People will deliver the emissions transition. Whether to insert the ‘Just’ prefix is dependent on the compliance pressures of the business.

#sustainability#community#business#compliance

A Year in Speaking in Review: 2022

The year started with me being interviewed by Al Monitor on Oman’s Environmental Governance in the aftermath of a new Sultan to speaking on a Club House session on the Qatar fracas in June to moderating a couple of leading ESG industry events to sharing on ‘S’ in ESG Supply Chains.

The surprising highlight of the year when I was interviewed by India Narrative on the history of Indian Labour Migration to the Khaleej.

Grateful to all mentors and friends who have offered precious touch points to share and engage my two cents on issues of the day.

Please do let me know if I can share, comment or moderate on ESG, and Labor in the Gulf or SE Asia.

#speaking