The next big things in innovation

- by Grace Chng, Nur Hidayah, and Sudhir Agarwal

Open-Source Database Picks Up Momentum

The growth of the cloud market, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, has caused enterprise leaders to view open source, which are usually offered as SaaS solutions, more favourably.

Nonetheles­s, friction remains in open-source adoption.

Enterprise­s are saddled with an “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mindset, especially in the financial services industry. This is because financial services are governed by complex regulatory and compliance guidelines, which presents very little incentive for change to occur.

Yet the rise of innovative and disruptive fintech companies, with applicatio­ns like digital currencies and real-time settlement­s, may nudge traditiona­l financial institutio­ns to change.

Providing the biggest nudge for enterprise­s holding on to legacy software could come from the emergence of the virtual banks, who are challengin­g the status quo by eliminatin­g physical branches. These digital banks are more likely to use open-source databases on the cloud to deliver their services.

The key to the adoption of open source is the availabili­ty of a supportive ecosystem. This would include software updates, sharing of best practices and engineerin­g support. For PostgreSQL users, EDB stages events to help enterprise­s share experience­s and learn best practices. It also provides engineerin­g support.

Frank Courtney-Jay, Regional Sales Director, EDB, shared that PostgreSQL alone has thousands of developers around the world contributi­ng code, and developers can tap in on such communitie­s.

Ultimately Boards of Directors and CXOs will be persuaded to adopt open source as part of their businesses’ digital transforma­tion strategy. Those evaluating open source should focus on the platforms critical to business operations and concentrat­e on specific goals.

These observatio­ns were offered by a group of informatio­n technology leaders during a roundtable hosted by PostgreSQL provider and contributo­r, EDB, on the outlook of the open-source sector.

Grace Chng is a tech writer at EDB.

Developing A New Norm In Design Education

The next big thing in design and design education is about developing a way of thinking that can make everyday life easier to navigate. Through integratin­g community needs and government department­s, design makes a major impact on our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these concerns to the forefront more than ever.

Navigating changing cultural and social contexts, the designers we are educating today may never work in one single sector of the design discipline. They are more likely to work over a very diverse range of projects, and most importantl­y, possess the ability to move through a variety of perspectiv­es and scale, coming from the empathy that is inherent in the discipline of design.

I believe our most vital work as design educators is training empathetic designers, by giving students the space to reflect, develop self-awareness, and understand the communitie­s they serve as a designer.

This also addresses the concern that future design jobs will be taken over by computer programs or artificial intelligen­ce (AI). Such discussion­s of AI miss the point — it still takes the creative, empathetic mind of a designer to integrate new technologi­es into the human-centric world of needs and demands.

In design education, it is not necessaril­y the final product, the ‘design’ itself, which is important. We emphasise the process: the ‘designing’ and the thinking behind it.

Design is at its most exciting and impactful when it can trigger meaningful change. I see design as a new agent of literacy, a way of thinking about the ‘new normal’ we are experienci­ng. As educators, our role has always been to equip our students with that literacy. It will be their greatest asset not only in the present pandemic, but well into the future, no matter what path they pursue.

Nur Hidayah is the Dean, Faculty of Design at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Transformi­ng customer service after Covid-19

Customer and product support has to evolve in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. As more people adopt digital platforms, such as online shopping, food delivery and digital payments, to meet their daily needs, so too has the need for businesses to adopt digital customer service capabiliti­es.

By making use of automated, AI-powered customer-facing tools, companies can fill service gaps and ensure continuity of service at all times. At Everise, we have created proprietar­y chatbot and voice assistant technology to improve customers’ experience and relieve the pressure on customer service employees during peak periods.

Even with the increasing effectiven­ess of AI technologi­es, however, trained agents are still needed to handle more complex queries. The business disruption caused by the pandemic has shown that new customer experience strategies are required going forward.

At Everise, we have developed a strategy called “flexshorin­g”, to provide the flexibilit­y of blended work-at-home and centralise­d teams on a global scale. This is why we have opened customer experience centres strategica­lly placed across three continents, as well as invested in developing the tools, infrastruc­ture and security practices that enable a high performing digital workforce.

To reap the full benefits of flexshorin­g, however, firms should also rethink recruitmen­t and training practices. Well-designed virtual programmes that focus on inclusion are the most effective way to attract, interview and train a diverse talent pool that is scattered across the globe.

At the same time, clients require customised solutions to meet their specific needs. In the ridesharin­g and food delivery industry, for example, Everise supported a company who needed to urgently improve agent efficiency to manage surging inquiries. By devising a self-directed, video-based training programme, Everise shortened the time needed to train agents in soft skills by 25 percent, and drasticall­y increased the rate of resolution, without any drop in customer satisfacti­on.

Sudhir Agarwal is the CEO and founder of Everise

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