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)


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.

We are all (Gig) Workers.

A fact which the small trader or the informal economy worker knows well, as organized work did not envelope them is that they are responsible for their own pay to bring the bread on the dinner table, and that the customer has multiple vendors to choose between. Many folks transition from doing various kinds of work in a year from a stall owner/operator to a driver to a tourist guide as per demands of the market.

This reality has now dawned on the tech bro class which was ensconced in their bubble. Since the pandemic, gig work is now the new normal from the coder to the consultant to the cleaner. The return of the glorified ‘day-rate’ worker to the fore, rings a certain discomfort to the sensibilities offered by the last couple of generations of salaried, lifelong work.

Each employee or the gig worker brings value to the table and that work package is a commodity to be traded at a price. The better and rarer the skills are the more the premium. Think like an entrepreneur, build your own brand. Learn continuously and do live projects through internships at any stage of life.

Find where your key skill is. And it is not your premier MBA nor the ‘ex-xyz’ in your LinkedIn Header.

Being ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ is a reality for survival.

Revenue Function for Purpose Sector.

A lot of professionals and academics with a purpose have an uncomfortable relationship with money. Money raised through business development or grants raised is demanding work and leads and proposals pipelines are built over years.

Money is what pays the salaries and funnels your research or development impact. We need to celebrate and build revenue functions way before time.

The Future of Work, An ESG Material Issue.

Sustainability and Resilience, or its quantified cousin ESG is a nudge towards the normative. ESG with all the strengths in reporting and measurement is an accountability instrument to gauge risk. However, it needs to respond to issues of note, such as tech layoffs. Why the silence? This is exactly the juncture where integrity, empathy, and ethics- the other strength of ESG along with transparency can lend a shoulder in the challenging times by saying, we care for you.

If the sustainability paradigm does not respond in the era of mass layoffs, then the soul less performativity will stand out once again, as the raging animal spirits of shareholder capitalism rather than stakeholder will reign.

Automation, and the gigfication of work is a critical call to action for the ESG community.

The Future of Work is a bleak future without proper work, or ones with adequate social protection.

#sustainability #community #empathy #automation #tech #ethics #work #futureofwork

Eurocentric Notions of Net Zero.

The faulty assumption behind the Eurocentric understanding of net zero transitions is that all of us have 24×7 power. Many parts of the world are energy insecure and energy inequity should be addressed as a part of the ‘just’ transition.

Many communities in mining areas in fragile states are fueling the metals needed for the EV race. Is access to energy for them a part of the net zero journey?

Responsible mining is a part of net zero transition by ensuring the dignity of communities through inclusive community development plans via marshalling of impact funds.

‘S’ for Social License to Operate

The ‘S’ in the ESG trifecta stands for Social, which is a shorthand of sorts. Social is ‘Social License to Operate’ where buy-in from your employees, consumers, communities, and vendors in a Global Value Chain is a dynamic process, and it needs a F5 routinely.

With the advent of the digital, each stakeholder is a whistleblower with a camera phone. Reputational risk impacts the brand, and in turn valuation. That should be a material rationale for the ‘fuzzy’ S.

A lot of companies conduct social listening to gauge sentiment to measure reputations.

The Sustainable Finance Spectrum

Funds which integrate ESG factors can be considered as ‘shallow green’, while additionality if proven can be categorized as ‘light green’

Authentic if the funds are directed towards the just transition, then it can be considered as ‘dark green’.

Sustainable finance spans the spectrum. The right nomenclature is key to avoid green washing.

The ‘S’ in ESG

BHR, DEI & Human Capital matters or the ‘S’ in the ESG, the cultural elements, the so-called soft variables are indeed the blood which runs in the circulatory system of responsible capitalism. There is ample scope for innovation in methods for quantification too, yet the fuzzy nature of the ‘S’ in terms of transnational torts amplify the risk, which ESG is a meta framework towards capturing non-financial risk.