Data and technology transformation underpin the path to global recovery from the Covid-19 catastrophe.
So says tech company Oracle (Thailand), which said it is committed to helping overcome the public health crisis both here and abroad.
Taveesak Saengthong, managing director for Oracle (Thailand), remarked that collaboration between the public and private sector, and across industries, will be crucial to this effort.
In Thailand, where the technology company is marking 30 years in the market, Taveesak said that Oracle is constantly innovating to offer a solution for every piece of the puzzle.
He shared that Oracle can contribute towards Thailand’s recovery in two ways – addressing the healthcare sector requirements and economic recovery through support for businesses.
Oracle said its National Electronic Health Records (EHR) Database and Oracle Public Health Management System, two solutions which were built by Oracle teams around the world when Covid-19 became a global pandemic, have been instrumental in helping government efforts in collecting, processing and analysing health updates from patients and healthcare providers.
In Africa, Oracle is also working with Tony Blair Institute to support a yellow fever vaccination program in Ghana, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, with a modern, cloud-based, electronic health records system to help manage their large-scale vaccination programmes.
To get the vaccine to people on the ground, it said governments need to put the processes and infrastructure in place to adequately and effectively manage the vaccine development ecosystem.
“Compounding the issue, cold chain logistics are particularly difficult in warmer climates, and with most parts of Southeast Asia being in the tropics, this could pose a significant obstacle. To address this challenge, Oracle offers its Supply Chain Management [SCM] Cloud to help customers maintain a resilient supply chain to keep the economy going,” said Taveesak.
Meanwhile with Covid-19 impacting the economy, governments and businesses would also need to look at boosting morale of people by enabling upskilling for digital talents and also how businesses manage their workforce, Oracle said.
Said Taveesak: “With the demands for remote working, there is increased demand for more digital, including the need for digital talents. Oracle is also contributing to the upskilling of talents through our Oracle Academy programme.” In Thailand, Oracle Academy partners with 89 institutions and support 178 educators, to train students on core as well as up-and-coming technical skills, enabling them employment in the technology sector.
Oracle said it is also working with Thai customers to ensure their business continuity during the pandemic.
Ngern Tid Lor, a microfinance leader in Thailand, decided to migrate to Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (Oracle Cloud ERP). This move offers them an array of improved features with richer data intelligence in a single management platform that brings about an overall reduction in cost. Minor Hotels has moved its use of Oracle E-business Suite, Hyperion and BI for its food business to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).
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Top ‘new normal’ trends waiting to shape the world in 2021
Biz insightsJan 06. 2021Thawipong Anotaisinthawee, country manager for Nutanix (Thailand)
By Thawipong Anotaisinthawee
Special to The Nation
2020 was a year of shocks and rapid change, reshaping the way we work and the ways in which technology was used to support the new normal.
Organisations that adjusted quickly were able to weather the storm and come out on top, though others struggled to keep pace with the digital acceleration required to survive.
This digital acceleration will continue to shape the tech and business landscape into 2021. Here are my top predictions for trends that will shape the next 12 months.
Agile strategy implementation
As countries begin to look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, we will start to see a slow, staggered return to physical workspaces. But it will be an uneven recovery. Across the Asia-Pacific region and further afield, our countries and economies are very interconnected. So, even if one country’s recovery is going well, global uncertainty will continue until all major international players return to an even keel.
Naturally, this will create a scattered return to growth. To deal with this, organisations will need the agility to shift their strategies and spending on a quarter-by-quarter basis to ensure they can react to the macro situation. The appetite for traditional, large capitalised IT spending will be replaced with just-in-time agility.
A traditional approach to technology doesn’t allow this agility. Instead, enterprises and governments will look to subscription models over longer-term contracts or lock-ins, to ensure they have the ability to shift and innovate in the face of uncertainty.
A pay-as-you-grow model which encourages “fail fast” strategies will balance the imperatives to innovate with the need to reduce exposure.
Validation for digitisation a top priority
Regardless of how far they lag behind pre-COVID-19, countries and businesses alike will be pushed to a new level of digitisation in the coming 12 months.
Every organisation will have to rethink its model – even if we snapped back to how things were (which we won’t), our environment and peoples’ expectations have changed. To cope, even the most brittle organisations will need to embrace agility. This is being seen already – Japan, for example, has gone so far as to mandate increased digitisation across key government departments.
Previously, digitisation was the priority of the chief information officer or CIO, and not given attention by the CEO or the rest of the management. This changed rapidly with the pandemic when finally, the enabling power of digital transformation was recognised across the business world. It will remain a top priority throughout 2021, when having the right level of digital ability will continue to be vital for business agility and survival.
As a result, the CIO will become more prominent in business decisions and leadership, with their tech investments having been validated in a big way. The shift of IT from a cost centre to a key business driver will accelerate. Every business is now a technology business, even if they don’t realize it yet.
Climate change to be back on agenda
If it hadn’t been for COVID-19, climate change would have been the biggest global story of 2020. After being pushed off the global agenda this year, climate change will return to be the dominant subject in 2021.
Politics aside, it’s clear the effects of climate change are real and we need to find a way forward. This is particularly true of industries like resources, transport and agriculture. As companies continue to embed and accelerate their digital transformation, they need to do this with a view on climate change and its effects.
Distributed businesses, for example, will need to increase their resilience. Major weather events will impact supply chains and factories in vulnerable areas.
In the face of these concerns, technology can enable better practices. Innovative solutions like edge computing will play a key role in this space – for example, implementing and tracking efficient and sustainable practices on the ground, tweaking and optimising on the go to increase yield, decrease emissions, better manage productions lines, and so on.
Recent political shifts should also bring the US back to the table as a partner and driving force for dealing with climate change, with reverberations globally.
Hybrid and multi-cloud strategy
Many Asia-Pacific companies that wanted to run head first into the cloud are catching up with their US counterparts, who realised several years ago that many mission-critical or legacy applications vital to the running of a business aren’t right for the cloud.
Companies want cloud-like capabilities but need to keep optionality and flexibility. No one wants to be locked into anything. As such, CIOs will begin insisting on hybrid and multi-cloud strategies, or at the very least insist on portability assurances as they become increasingly cloud smart.
Globally, we have seen many organisations begin to modernise their applications and shift to a “cloud first” strategy, only to hit a wall when they find that key applications cannot be efficiently migrated nor refactored to a cloud-friendly model. Instead, a hybrid and multi-cloud strategy will be necessary to balance desire for cloud agility and economics with the reality of sustaining operations.
This will also enable the quarter-on-quarter agility businesses will need for the foreseeable future. Organisations will learn to take the long-term view and avoid being locked into something that next quarter might not work, if the world suddenly looks completely different.
If there’s one thing organisations should take from 2020 and apply to their 2021 strategies, it’s this: Disruptive change is inevitable. Flexibility and adaptability need to be core to business thinking.
Thawipong Anotaisinthawee is country manager for Nutanix (Thailand).
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New normal heralds renaissance of the PC
Biz insightsJan 06. 2021Sam Burd is president for Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group.
By Sam Burd
Special to The Nation
The term “tablet PC” was coined in around 2000, and 10 years later we saw the first headline – “The PC Officially Died Today” – giving rise to a decade-long debate, with most tech pundits convinced that the PC would go extinct by 2020.
Fast forward to today and the narrative has changed. Worldwide PC shipments rose 17.1 per cent year on year in the third quarter of 2020, while smartphone shipments are projected to drop 1.3 per cent year on year in the same quarter, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
While the PC has always helped us connect, collaborate and communicate, 2020 has proven the value it brings to our lives more than any other time. I believe we’re witnessing the renaissance of the PC. Not a resurgence, as that would imply a period of little activity, but a renaissance – an entirely new way of thinking about something.
We’ve been designing innovative PCs that can help you “work from anywhere” for years, but now we’ve been given a rare opportunity to step back, rethink and use this time as a catalyst for positive, innovative change.
IT doesn’t touch the PC
Dell has always put the needs of people at its core, with support available at every stage of a company’s journey to provide a productive and connected digital workforce.
But how does this evolve in our renaissance phase? Think of PCs that self-heal to keep you working instead of looking for help. Think how the combination of AI, analytics, the cloud and improved connectivity will make remote management of PCs a breeze. And how the promise of predictive maintenance means problems fix themselves before they manifest.
A future where an IT professional never physically touches a PC again? That’s a revival that could benefit us all.
With AI, PC stands for personal companion
With ever-increasing demands, we need PCs that do more than just work. We need PCs that are more intelligent, self-aware and user aware. We recently introduced Dell Optimizer, our AI-based software that learns and adapts to how you work and provides faster app launches, extended battery life, easier log-on and secure lock-outs.
Future AI capabilities will benefit us in ways we haven’t imagined yet. AI will make PC usage more seamless, customised and hassle-free, getting rid of challenges like connecting to the local network or setting up a printer.
Imagine ubiquitous connectivity and continuous experience that translates across all your preferred devices so you can always pick up where you left off. Think about having a personal AI assistant on your PC to help manage work and home life. Setting appointments or making recommendations based on contextual data will be simple tasks completed in the background for you.
Collaboration, connectivity take spotlight
The industry has long focused on offering the smallest and lightest devices possible. And Dell has worked towards balancing the demand for compact form against the convenience of a variety of ports, long battery life and the connectivity options remote workers need. The themes of “work from anywhere” won’t change, but the way they manifest will.
As your PC gets more intelligent, it understands when you want to be seen and when you don’t. If you’re participating in a video conference but get distracted – it could be a phone call, or your officemate/partner/child/dog needs you – you can trust your PC to turn off the camera until you choose to re-engage.
Remote workers need baseline internet connectivity and 5G availability is expanding. However, we still need more PCs that can leverage 5G for anywhere, secure connectivity or that can default to 5G when wi-fi is slow. Collaboration and connectivity that make you feel like you’re with your colleagues when you aren’t – that’s the next frontier.
PC luxury within reach
When I think about a renaissance of the PC, I imagine us being able to bring these “premium” experiences to more employees.
Beyond the look and feel of devices, premium is about offering features you care about, like low blue-light technology and privacy shutters for when you log many hours a day on your device.
Better PC designs engineered for disassembly and material recovery will become more important. And look for more options like PCaaS that provide flexibility in IT spending, simpler ways to refresh to the latest PCs and peace of mind with secure data removal and recycling of the device at its end of life.
Security conquers all
This new way of working comes with more opportunities for security vulnerabilities, making it crucial to secure PCs. According to a recent study, more than three-quarters of organisations prioritise supply chain security during vendor selection to address counterfeit components, malware and firmware tampering.
We also need to rethink security in a creative way. Not through patches and updates, but by offering PCs that use machine learning and AI to eradicate malware before it even settles. PCs should offer best-in-class security products and practices to lower the risk of having end-users accessing internal networks from home.
For me, a renaissance in this area means I never question if my PC –or the information on it –is secure.
Time for a renaissance is now
We have learned the PC is far from dead. It’s the gateway for us all to work, play and learn. Because of this intimacy, people expect more from their PC now than ever before – and we’re listening.
We’re working on augmenting PCs with technologies like cloud, 5G and AI to offer smart, personalised and wonderful experiences. While we’ve long been on this journey, this “renaissance” moment gives us the opportunity to pause and rethink how we bring about this future.
Sam Burd is president for Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group.
Biz insightsDec 03. 2020U.S. one-hundred dollar, ten-dollar, five-dollar and one-dollar bills. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Paul Yeung. Photo by: Paul Yeung — Bloomberg
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Bill Dudley · OPINION, OP-ED
A lot of people believe that inflation in the U.S. is dead or, if not dead, in a state of suspended animation for the foreseeable future. They could be setting themselves up for an unpleasant surprise.
In official projections and market prices, it’s hard to see any concern about the possibility of excessive inflation. According to the Federal Reserve’s September Summary of Economic Projections, inflation won’t get back to the Fed’s 2% objective until 2023. The yields on different types of Treasury securities suggest that investors expect annual inflation to average 1.9% over the next decade – or an even lower 1.6% by the Fed’s preferred measure.
No doubt, inflation has been very low for a long time, despite extreme monetary stimulus. But is it right to believe so strongly that the trend will persist? I see a number of reasons inflation might come back much more quickly than the consensus suggests.
First, the onset of the pandemic in March and April drove prices down sharply – by half a percent, according to the Fed’s preferred measure (the price index for personal consumption expenditures, excluding food and energy). This has depressed year-over-year readings of inflation. But after April 2021, the lower readings will become the new basis for comparison, and year-over-year measures of inflation will jump.
Second, the development of effective vaccines will allow people to return to their normal spending patterns by the second half of 2021. The leisure and hospitality industry – including restaurants, hotels and airlines – will probably regain pricing power as demand recovers. Sharp price increases might even be needed to balance demand with the available supply, which the pandemic has undoubtedly diminished. These are unlikely to be offset by price decreases in areas that probably will see less demand, such as online streaming (Netflix) and videoconferencing (Zoom).
Third, the lingering effects of the pandemic will make it difficult for companies to meet increased demand by simply producing more with the same people and capital. When the crisis period ends, capital will not be allocated to its most productive uses: Many expansion projects and investments have been suspended and new demand patterns will likely emerge post-pandemic. Also, many workers will have left the hardest-hit sectors, making it difficult for businesses to find the labor needed to expand. Some businesses, such as restaurants, will simply have disappeared, reducing the capacity available to meet resurgent demand.
Fourth, the Fed has revised its long-term monetary policy in a way that allows for more inflation. Previously, the central bank aimed to hit its 2% target regardless of how far or how long inflation had strayed from that objective in the past. Now the Fed wants inflation to average 2%, which means it will have to exceed 2% for a significant time to offset the chronic downside misses that have accumulated over the past decade.
Specifically, Fed officials have said that they won’t raise short-term interest rates until employment is at its maximum sustainable level, and inflation has reached 2% and is expected to go moderately higher for some time. This means they’re unlikely to respond to any inflation uptick until they expect it to be both persistent and sizable.
Fifth, the government is much more likely than it used to be to support the economy with added spending. Fiscal orthodoxy has shifted: Instead of worrying about rising federal debt burdens, economists now see much greater scope for aggressive action to offset significant shortfalls in demand. As a result, the government probably won’t want to remove fiscal stimulus as quickly as it did after the 2008 financial crisis (a move that led to a disappointingly slow recovery). That said, the Joe Biden administration might not be able to do what it wants if Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate.
All told, inflation might be a greater danger precisely because it’s no longer perceived as such. Policy makers want to push it higher. Most households and businesses are not concerned about the risks. Once the pandemic abates, those risks will no longer be entirely on the downside. And given how completely financial markets have come to expect low inflation and interest rates, and how much support those expectations are providing to bond and stock prices, an upside surprise could prove nasty.
– – –
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners. Dudley is a senior research scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Economic Policy Studies. He served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2009 to 2018, and as vice chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee.
The need for remote work arrived quickly when Covid-19 triggered work-from-home orders virtually overnight.
The world has never experienced such a large-scale resourcing challenge.
The Covid-19 crisis forced many companies to review their business continuity plans and scramble to find ways to deploy and manage resources differently in light of government travel restrictions.
With the crisis ongoing, companies continue to seek ways of making their resource deployment more flexible to support operations with the least disruption possible.
Some companies were able to continue with minimal disruption thanks to the nature of their business and the technology they adopted.
But for many others, challenges in resource planning are unlikely to go away quickly. “New normal” resourcing planning will be part of their strategy for the foreseeable future.
Outside Thailand, many countries were experiencing demand for remote working options before the pandemic. Technology that enabled virtual connections and meetings meant geographical location was often less of an issue when it came to acquiring talent.
This trend in workforce planning and talent acquisition will most likely grow as technology rapidly improves and enables companies to become more connected and agile. New-generation workers are also more technologically savvy and require more balance and flexibility in their work locations.
The landscape is changing quickly under pressure from government regulations and restrictions in reaction to the pandemic. We are seeing remote work evolving into various scenarios, from virtual assignments and international remote work to domestic remote work, work from home and other similar arrangements. And these are still evolving as the world and companies continue to understand the impact of Covid-19 and what this means for their present and future planning.
Each company has different features, considerations, challenges and possible remote-working solutions to choose from.
A variety of stakeholders within the company will need to align and agree on shared goals to ensure that successful remote working can be achieved. For example, implementation of remote work can have an impact on various functions of the company – including global mobility, human resources, talent, immigration, corporate tax, finance, and operations, to name a few.
At the same time, remote work can trigger unintended legal/regulatory issues concerning corporate tax, permanent establishment, withholding tax, individual double tax, social security and employment.
Thailand, for example, has various laws and regulations surrounding immigration and work requirements as well as corporate and individual income tax obligations if working in Thailand or performing work for Thailand.
To legally work in Thailand, a foreigner needs to have the right visa and work permit. The concept of “work” is broadly defined under Thai regulations and often includes working on the computer at home or at a remote location without having to be a workplace or client site.
Under the Foreigner’s Working Management Emergency Decree BE2560 (2017) and Amendment BE2561 (2018) (“Foreign Working Law”) “work” is defined as engaging in an occupation regardless of whether or not there is an employer or wages or other form of compensation.
Therefore, to legally work remotely in Thailand, a foreigner is normally required to have a work permit. This may create challenges and issues for the individual and employer since generally a work permit application must be sponsored by a Thai entity.
The risk of working remotely without the right documents typically increases over time and can also trigger other employer issues such as corporate tax, permanent establishment issues and possibly violation of the Foreign Business Act (“FBA”) if the proper foreign business licence or certificate is not obtained.
The complex laws and regulations around mobile employees are not unique to Thailand. In Southeast Asia and beyond, each country has laws governing how foreign work is defined and regulated as well as having its own laws governing individual and foreign company regulations and tax obligations.
Meanwhile in many countries there is increasing connectedness between agencies such as tax and immigration. Information sharing between countries is also increasing quickly.
The risks of not complying with country regulations can vary from financial penalties, detention, deportation or other sanctions for both the individual and companies, not to mention reputational risk.
In Southeast Asia, some countries have very active monitoring processes as well as stiff financial and operational penalties for non-compliance. With the advent of Covid-19, many national regulatory agencies have issued new rules to keep up with these changes, and this is expected to continue as the situation unfolds.
It is more important than ever for employers to be on top of these changes and plan carefully with each of their relevant stakeholders to see how this will impact their current and future workforce and to minimise any risk and disruption to their operations.
Mark Kuratana is Global Employer Services leader for Thailand, Myanmar and Laos at
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You may regret staying parked in U.S. stocks
Biz insightsNov 13. 2020A person wearing a protective mask passes in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Nov. 9, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Michael Nagle.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Nir Kaissar · BUSINESS, PERSONAL-FINANCE, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS Money managers cherish the role of contrarian, trendsetter and freethinker — even if it’s in words more than deeds. Ask 10 managers an investment question and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.
So during the rare moments when they agree, it’s worth paying attention. And right now there’s widespread agreement on this question: Which investment will perform better over the next several years, U.S. or foreign stocks? The answer isn’t in dispute, and it’s not the U.S.
Big asset managers such as BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group and JPMorgan Asset Management, and even some smaller ones, spend a lot of time trying to estimate future returns from stocks, bonds and other investments. Those estimates – capital market assumptions in industry jargon – are crucial inputs in the financial plans and investment portfolios they deliver to clients. They’re also handy for managing investors’ expectations.
Coming up with those estimates isn’t easy. As investors are constantly warned, when it comes to markets it’s not safe merely to assume that the past is a roadmap to the future. Instead, capital market assumptions require thoughtful, detailed judgments about the variables that drive investment returns. For stocks, that means at a minimum, estimates around future dividend yields, corporate earnings growth and changes in stock valuations.
Given the guesswork involved, there’s often lots of disagreement about which investments are likely to be the best performers, which is why the current consensus that foreign stocks will outpace those in the U.S. is so unusual. BlackRock, for example, estimates that U.S. stocks will produce a return of 5.8% a year over the next 10 years, compared with 7.1% for European stocks and 7.3% for emerging markets. Vanguard estimates that U.S. stocks will deliver a return in the range of 3.9% to 5.9% a year over the next 10 years, while foreign stocks will generate a return closer to 7.4% to 9.4%. JPMorgan and UBS, to name two others, agree that more value lies overseas. In fact, it’s hard to find publicly available capital market assumptions that favor the U.S.
That consensus makes sense when you unpack the three main drivers of stock returns. First, dividend yields are generally higher outside the U.S. Second, covid-19 has dampened business prospects around the world, so the jaw-dropping earnings growth generated by U.S. companies in recent years – and which propelled U.S. stocks past foreign markets during the last decade – is unlikely to return anytime soon. Third, and probably most important, valuations are considerably lower outside the U.S. By any measure, the U.S. stock market is as richly valued as it has ever been, or close to it, so valuations are unlikely to rise meaningfully from current levels. Meanwhile, many foreign stock markets are trading near or below their historical average valuations so there is considerable room for them to rise and boost future returns.
And that may even be understating the potential impact of valuations. When they move from low to high and vice versa, they often overshoot. There are lots of historical examples. In the early 2000s, for instance, emerging-market stocks traded at depressed valuations; just a few years later in 2007, they were the priciest on record. More recently, the U.S. stock market traded well above its historical average valuation just before the 2008 financial crisis; by early 2009, U.S. equities had tumbled well below that average.
That tendency for wild swings in valuation is one reason some managers anticipate even starker outcomes for U.S. and foreign stocks. Boston-based money manager GMO, whose forecasts are widely followed, expects U.S. stocks to lag those in other developed countries by roughly 5 percentage points a year over the next seven years after taking inflation into account. And it estimates the margin could be as high as 15 percentage points a year relative to emerging-market stocks.
All of which raises another question: Given the widespread agreement that foreign stocks are the place to be, why isn’t more money invested outside the U.S.? Of the assets in stock funds favored by ordinary investors, which includes exchange-traded funds and mutual fund share classes sold directly to individuals, roughly 74% are in U.S. stocks, according to Morningstar data. That’s a big bias given that the U.S. accounts for about 58% of global stocks by market value and just 15% of global gross domestic product. It’s even bigger considering the opportunity foreign markets present in this moment. Perhaps individual investors overestimate the importance of U.S. companies in the global context. Most have almost certainly never heard of capital market assumptions.
What’s more surprising, though, is that professional investors favor the U.S. just as much. Of the assets in stock mutual funds favored by institutional investors and money managers, roughly 76% are in U.S. stocks. Some of the pros undoubtedly suffer from the same biases that afflict ordinary investors, but there’s a more powerful force driving them: career risk. As any seasoned money manager will tell you, the quickest way to get fired is to fall behind a runaway U.S. stock market. And the best way to avoid that ruinous outcome is to cozy up to U.S. stocks.
Indeed, managers who have cut back on U.S. stocks in recent years have paid a price. GMO is one of them. In a recent note, it acknowledged that, “our underweight to U.S. equities, and our overweight to EM equities have not worked as we had hoped, as expensive assets have gotten more expensive and cheap assets have gotten cheaper.” The result: “clients are losing patience.” GMO likens the experience to 1999, when it was “fired, ridiculed, and pilloried in the financial press” for its faithful adherence to value investing during the height of the dot-com mania.
That doesn’t mean foreign stocks are a surefire bet. And even if the consensus proves to be right, there’s no way to know when fortune will begin to favor foreign stocks. So it’s not smart to abandon the U.S. and move everything overseas. But for those still clinging to the comforts of home or chasing a hot U.S. stock market, there’s no better time to sprinkle some money abroad.
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How resiliency forms the strongest link in the digital supply chain
Biz insightsNov 11. 2020Fabio Tiviti, vice president for Asean, Infor
By Fabio Tiviti Special to The Nation Recent times have brought the importance of supply chain resiliency into even sharper focus. Organisations that had already built resilience into both their technology and operational networks have weathered the turbulent times through the Covid-19 pandemic better. For others, it has been a huge wake-up call.
As we now stand back and attempt to regroup, rebuild and regenerate, every business has a chance to reflect and decide how to become better prepared.
This is the point at which organisations in every vertical market should realise that resiliency needs to be built in at a granular executional level; it is a function that should apply to and connect with the architectural foundations of every process in the company. It is not some sort of dial or switch that you simply turn on or up at the start of a crisis, whether it is a global contagion or some other form of economic upheaval.
The shape of change
But before we consider the nature of resiliency, we need to decide what we really mean by “change” itself in order to understand the various forms that it manifests itself in.
At the force majeure level, there is sudden catastrophic change, the likes of which we have of course witnessed in 2020. Outside of pandemics, we should also include other “black swan” events that disrupt supply chains, such as a sunken container ship, a hurricane, or perhaps a widespread contamination incident.
While these massively disruptive and dreadful events typically cause chaos and the loss of life, they are comparatively infrequent and so (in any normal world) they don’t threaten the long term viability of a business with the same types of market forces and fluctuations that emanate from deeper-set market trends.
There are more ground level changes in demand patterns that nibble away at margins and service capabilities slowly. Less cataclysmic, these changes can ultimately have even more impact than a hurricane.
Even longer term, when securing essential strategic resources for the business itself is threatened, change happens in a form that can lead to business closure. Knowing how and why change itself occurs (and what shape it comes in) can help us to build a resilient supply chain capable of driving business operations today, with a constant eye on every variable factor that could impact business tomorrow.
Visibility, intelligence, digital connection
A resilient supply chain is based on three core capabilities: visibility, intelligence and a digitally connected ecosystem. To restate these cornerstones in more depth, we are talking about end-to-end real-time visibility; intelligence across root cause identification, exception detection and resolution management; and an exceptional ability to execute through a digitised ecosystem that provides a path to autonomous “sense and respond” activities.
Taking each of these elements in turn, let’s look at visibility. In a traditional business model, an enterprise bases its visibility only on what its suppliers are telling it. You don’t really know where your order is, or when it’s going to arrive. However, cloud-based supply chain networks offer the opportunity for all parties to view and interact with one single view of an order in real time. The net result is that the business, its suppliers, and its carriers operate using a single instance and version of data – a single source of truth.
This singularity is important. It cuts out uncertainty, delays and eradicates separation so that there is little or no contingency factor in daily operations. But visibility needs to run end-to-end for true clarity. The business needs to know the impact of its actions upstream (on its suppliers) and as far as possible downstream (into its sales channel and customer base).
Additionally, end-to-end visibility needs to happen in real-time, that is all the information relating to all supply chain transactions, movements, price fluctuations and so on needs to be available all of the time, in real time. Without real-time super high data quality, it is not possible to drive the supply chain by exception and take advantage of machine learning technologies.
Intelligence, to separate the noise
As the resilient supply chain company moves forward, it has the advantage of software algorithms that are able to detect events that can cause disruptive issues. It’s important to remember that there will always be an element of “operational noise” throughout both the physical and financial supply chain, so the organisation will need to qualify just how much noise it can live with in the normal course of business.
At this point we can then drill down into the root causes behind any single event. When there is a shortage of materials for a production plant, or perhaps a shortfall in the supply of finished materials for a retail store, we need to understand the why-factor behind these events. Knowing the difference between a shortage caused by a shift in market demands and scarcity resulting from a container ship being stuck in a port is fundamentally important.
The real intelligence here comes from being able to group together different events happening in various locations around an organisation’s total global supply chain. If the business can pinpoint the same root cause across multiple operational issues, then it can deliver resolution management more quickly.
The digital ecosystem
An intelligent resilient supply chain can process thousands of variables and data sources across a single cloud-based platform in order to help the business navigate forwards. Working at speeds far in advance of any human capabilities, a digital supply chain ecosystem helps all parties connect and collaborate over dates, times, shipping orders, financing and so on. When all partners open up the external-facing portions of their own systems accordingly, business decisions happen faster, with improved accuracy and less uncertainty. More problematic is the fact that it is an uncertainty that breeds contingency and cost.
Onward from automation 1.0
In the immediate future, more and more of the actions we take inside our most resilient digital supply chains will be carried out autonomously by intelligent agents and smart algorithms. Our physical and our accompanying financial supply chain networks will reflect the automation intelligence already being applied to manufacturing via Industry 4.0 practices.
If today we stand at automation stage 1.0, then business is set to apply more algorithmic intelligence in the future. When and where this intelligence is not just smart, but also resilient, is when it starts to make decisions not just based on short term prices, supply availability and market demand, but also on perceived business longevity. The core truth is, building a supply chain capable of resiliency to “normal” change will allow a business to adapt to massive upheavals if and when we have to adjust to some wildly different “new normal”.
As for Thailand, according to kidkah.com, a website under the Commerce Ministry, the logistics services sector’s GDP (transportation and warehouse) in the first half of 2020 accounted for Bt300.91 billion, ranking as the fourth of the highest valued-services industries.
The Department of Business Development indicates, as of August 2020, that Thailand has registered 20,077 of supply chains and logistics providers, but since the country’s logistics services’ GDP has been wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the real GDP shrinks to a negative growth of -21.7 per cent when compared to the first half of the previous year.
However, postal / documents / goods delivery are continuously achieving a leap in growth in accordance with e-commerce and online shopping expansion, especially express delivery services and food deliveries.
One of the challenges Thai logistics providers have faced is how to leverage the use of expensive logistics technology and elevate their businesses to the next step. And of course, like the other countries, innovations and technologies will be deployed for logistics services, in both IT and communications improvement, to support working networks, real-time display, monitoring and tracking, punctuality, including data analysis to meet customers’ needs, for enhanced performance and continuous changes.
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Here’s what a Biden victory means for the Federal Reserve
Biz insightsNov 09. 2020Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, listens during a House Select Subcommittee hearing in Washington, on Sept. 23, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Stefani Reynolds.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Christopher Condon · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, POLITICS, WHITEHOUSE, RACE, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS A victory for Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election may eventually reshape the Federal Reserve’s leadership and the way it regulates big banks, but it won’t change what matters most for financial markets and the economy: monetary policy.
With the economy struggling to regain its pre-pandemic strength, Fed officials have telegraphed clearly that interest rates will stay near zero for at least three more years. Moreover, in August the Fed’s rate-setting panel unanimously endorsed a new long-run strategy that promises to keep rates lower coming out of this recession than officials had dared during previous recoveries.
That strategy won’t change. On Thursday, Fed officials voted once again to hold rates at rock-bottom levels for the foreseeable future as risks to the economy remain elevated.
“We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy and to help assure that the recovery from this difficult period will be as robust as possible,” Chair Jerome Powell told reporters after the Fed’s decision. A divided Congress through at least the end of this year means Powell will keep calling on lawmakers to reach a deal on more fiscal support, especially for those out of work. He sounded hopeful during the press conference on the prospects for more aid, noting that “plenty of people on Capitol Hill” see the need for more action.
Biden can remake the Fed’s leadership by 2022. By then, Powell’s term — as well as the terms of both vice chairs — will expire.
Powell’s fate under Biden is difficult to predict. In a recent survey of economists, 57% said they expected a President Biden would offer him another four-year term. Powell hasn’t said whether he would accept another term if asked to stay.
The chair has earned a high degree of respect from both sides of the political aisle, first for how he handled President Donald Trump’s attacks on the Fed for much of the past four years, and second for how he managed the Fed’s response to the pandemic. Biden certainly will be pleased with the Fed’s pledge to provide as much monetary policy as is needed.
But the new president could come under pressure from some in his party to pick a Democrat. For most of the last 50 years, presidents have reappointed first-term chairs chosen by their predecessor. Trump broke with that when he dumped former Chair Janet Yellen in 2018 in favor of Powell, a Republican and then a Fed governor. Powell was appointed to the Fed in 2012 by President Barack Obama.
Extra pressure will come from Democrats displeased by the Fed’s steady push to soften some of the regulatory reforms introduced following the global financial crisis with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
At the least, Biden is expected by economists who follow the Fed to replace Randal Quarles, the vice chair in charge of banking supervision. His term expires in October 2021.
The other vice chair belongs to Richard Clarida, the Fed’s highest ranking Ph.D., whose term runs through September 2022.
Biden is already being lobbied by some groups to use appointments to improve diversity at the Fed, which has traditionally been dominated by White men, notwithstanding Yellen’s four-year term. There are also currently two vacant Fed board seats, and possibly a third if Biden, as some expect, makes Fed Governor Lael Brainard his Treasury secretary. Already a strong candidate for the job four years ago had Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Trump, Brainard looks even stronger now, given that close coordination between the Fed and Treasury may prove crucial in helping the economy recover from the pandemic-induced recession.
Trump failed multiple times to fill those vacant Fed seats when he couldn’t convince enough Republican senators to back his nominees. His most recent selections — Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller — are unlikely to be approved in the lame-duck session following the election, and their nominations will expire when the current Congress adjourns at the end of the year.
Biden’s economic team also wants the Fed to focus more on racial inequality in the economy. Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to add that goal to the Fed’s existing mandate for price stability and maximum employment. This could have implications for the central bank if a Biden administration decided to endorse it.
But Powell and his colleagues have repeatedly addressed this topic themselves, particularly since Black Lives Matter protests swept through the nation earlier this year. Importantly, their new strategy introduced in August explicitly promises more patience in raising interest rates than in the past to push the benefits of a tight labor market deeper into minority communities.
No matter what changes Biden introduces, the public relationship between the White House and Fed is widely expected to improve. The days of the president calling the Fed chair an “enemy” are likely soon over.
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Inside the chaotic unraveling of Jack Ma’s $35 billion IPO
Biz insightsNov 06. 2020Jack Ma in 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Cole Burston
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · BUSINESS, WORLD, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, ASIA-PACIFIC The midlevel bureaucrats left China’s richest man waiting as they prepared for a meeting that would send shock waves across the financial world.
It was Monday morning in Beijing, and Jack Ma had been summoned to a conference room at the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) just days before he was set to take Ant Group public in the biggest stock-market debut of all time.
Liu He in 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer
When the bureaucrats finally turned up, they skipped over pleasantries and delivered an ominous message: Ant’s days of relaxed government oversight and minimal capital requirements were over. The meeting ended without a discussion of Ant’s IPO, but it was a sign that things might not go as planned.
The subsequent unraveling of the $35 billion share sale has thrust Ma’s fintech giant into turmoil, offering a stark reminder that even China’s most celebrated businessman is not immune to the whims of a Communist Party that has steadily tightened its grip on the world’s second-largest economy under Xi Jinping’s leadership.
Among the questions that linger as international investors try to make sense of a chaotic 72 hours: Why would China scuttle Ant’s IPO at the last minute after months of meticulous preparation? And what does the future hold for one of the country’s most important companies?
Interviews with regulators, bankers and Ant executives offer some answers, though even insiders say only China’s top leaders can be confident of what happens next. Most of the people who spoke for this report did so on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
Ma’s meeting in Beijing on Monday triggered a behind-the-scenes scramble by Ant and its bankers for more clarity from Chinese regulators. While CSRC officials signaled at the time that they were not aware of any changes to the IPO plans, the regulator’s cryptic social media post later that day about a “supervisory interview” with Ma set tongues wagging from Hong Kong to New York.
By Tuesday afternoon, the mood had worsened as whispers of a delay began circulating in Shanghai. At about 8 p.m., the city’s stock exchange called Ant to say the IPO would be suspended.
When the official statement landed less than an hour later, it cited a “significant change” in the regulatory environment but offered few additional details on why authorities would scupper the listing two days before shares were expected to start trading.
At a hastily arranged meeting between Ant’s bankers and the CSRC later that evening, officials noted the company’s need for more capital and new licenses to comply with a spate of regulations for financial conglomerates that had begun taking effect at the start of November. There was no discussion of how quickly the IPO could be restarted.
An Ant spokesman said the need for more capital and new licenses was not discussed in the meeting, but he declined to provide more details.
One concern among regulators was that the stricter rules may not have been fully disclosed in Ant’s prospectus. On top of the new financial conglomerate regulations, the government had on Monday released stringent draft rules for consumer loans that would require Ant to provide at least 30% of the funding for loans it underwrites for banks and other financial institutions. Ant funds 2% of its loans, with the rest taken up by third parties or packaged as securities.
Several officials said it was better to stop the listing at the 11th hour than to let it proceed and expose investors to potential losses.
That sentiment was shared by at least one institutional money manager, who said he had practically begged an Ant executive for an IPO allocation during a meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. Now that he has a clearer idea of the regulatory risks, he’s relieved the share sale was shelved.
The CSRC said in a statement on Wednesday that preventing a “hasty” listing of Ant in a changing regulatory environment was a responsible move for the market and investors.
Still, some China watchers have an alternative theory for why Xi’s government acted the way it did: It wanted to send a message.
Ma, a former teacher who’s widely revered in China, faced an unusual amount of criticism in state media after he criticized the country’s financial rules for stifling innovation at a conference in Shanghai on Oct. 24. His remarks came after Vice President Wang Qishan – a Xi confidante – called for a balance between innovation and strong regulations to prevent financial risks.
“It appeared that, intentionally or not, Ma was openly defying and criticizing the Chinese government’s approach to financial regulation,” Andrew Batson, China research director at Gavekal Research, wrote in a report.
The weekend before Ma was summoned to Beijing, the Financial Stability and Development Committee led by Vice Premier Liu He stressed the need for fintech firms to be regulated.
In one sign authorities may keep up the pressure on Ant, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday that regulators plan to discourage banks from using the fintech firm’s online lending platforms. The directive strikes at the heart of Ant’s commission-based lending model, which generated about 29 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) of revenue in the six months ended June.
Any suggestion that banks will stop using its platforms is unsubstantiated, Ant said in a response to questions from Bloomberg.
Some investors are bracing for tougher times at Ant and the rest of Ma’s business empire. Shares of Alibaba Group Holding, which owns about a third of Ant, tumbled more than 8% on Tuesday in New York for the steepest drop in five years. The slump cut Ma’s wealth by almost $3 billion, to $58 billion, dragging him down to No. 2 on China’s rich list behind Tencent Holdings’s Pony Ma.
The IPO debacle has also raised broader concerns about China’s commitment to transparency as it tries to lure international investors.
On Tuesday, confusion over the suspension triggered a flood of calls to Ant’s bankers from baffled money managers. The sense of whiplash in some cases was stark: An hour or two before the suspension was announced, Ant’s investor relations team was still trying to confirm attendance at a post-IPO gala in Hong Kong. One of the company’s biggest foreign investors predicted the episode could do lasting damage to confidence in China’s capital markets.
It may also have spillover effects on Hong Kong, whose status as a premier financial hub has already come under question amid increased influence from Beijing. Nearly a fifth of the city’s population by one estimate had signed up to buy Ant shares; many who had planned on a windfall were instead stuck paying interest expenses on useless margin loans.
“The lack of transparency reminds us that the ‘Chinese way’ remains fraught with issues,” said Fraser Howie, author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”
As for Ant itself, it’s unlikely that the IPO suspension will deal a fatal blow. The company had 71 billion yuan of cash and equivalents as of June and is one of China’s most systemically important institutions. The last thing authorities want is a destabilizing loss of confidence in a business that plays a key role in the nation’s financial plumbing.
The more pertinent risk for Ant is a decline in its breakneck pace of growth and lofty valuation. China’s new regulations will force the company to act more like a traditional lender and less like an asset-light provider of technology services to the financial industry. That will almost certainly mean a lower price-earnings ratio for the stock if it eventually lists.
Also looming is the introduction of China’s central bank digital currency, which threatens to erode Ant’s dominance in payments. That could have implications for the company’s other businesses as well. Ant’s credit platform, for instance, utilizes its huge trove of payments data to assess the financial strength of borrowers who often lack collateral or formal credit histories.
All of that will be bad news for shareholders who propelled Ant’s valuation to $315 billion – higher than that of JPMorgan Chase & Co. But it may suit regulators and party leaders who worry that Ma’s creation has grown too big, too fast.
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Fed has the economy’s weight on its shoulders again
Biz insightsNov 05. 2020Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, during a news conference in Washington on March 3, 2020. CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg Opinion · Brian Chappatta · OPINION, BUSINESS, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS For the past few weeks, investors dared to dream of a U.S. government that worked hand-in-hand with the Federal Reserve to provide ample fiscal aid and get the world’s largest economy through the coronavirus pandemic.
This “blue wave” scenario has come crashing down in the wake of Tuesday’s election results. Yes, Democrat Joe Biden looks as if he has the advantage in reaching 270 Electoral College votes, but his party fell far short of expectations in the Senate, where Republicans are all but guaranteed to retain control, and it lost some seats in the House. Democrats alone won’t be able to pass legislation to send money out to unemployed Americans, closed small businesses and strapped state and local governments.
At least for a day after his re-election, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell sounded amicable to compromise, even on the thorny issue of large-scale aid to states and cities. “Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing a rescue package have subsided,” McConnell, who pushed for a much smaller package than the $2 trillion one that had been discussed by the Trump administration and Democratic leaders, said on Wednesday. “That’s job one when we get back.”
Yet even taking McConnell’s comments at face value, it’s hard to imagine Senate Republicans willing to do “whatever it takes” on the fiscal spending side to get the U.S. economy back to its pre-covid levels, especially if Biden is in the White House and can take credit for the rebound. More likely, the burden of stimulus will once again fall to the Fed and Chair Jerome Powell.
A prolonged presidential election and political gridlock are the backdrop to the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision on Thursday, when Powell and his colleagues aren’t expected to offer much in the way of new information. Recall that at the last meeting in September, they unveiled enhanced forward guidance that pledged to keep the fed funds rate unchanged in a range of 0% to 0.25% “until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.” That followed Powell’s August reveal of the central bank’s new monetary policy framework, which would seek inflation that “averages” 2% over time, therefore allowing overshoots after periods in which it falls short of the target.
Heading into this week, it looked as if the biggest question for the Fed was whether it would step in to combat an aggressive steepening of the Treasury yield curve, with traders positioned for a large round of fiscal stimulus. The election aftermath took care of that question: 10-year yields fell 14 basis points on Wednesday, the most since March, to 0.76%, while 30-year yields tumbled by roughly the same amount to 1.54%. That’s well within the central bank’s comfort zone.
But judging by the reaction across other financial markets, it’s clear traders are thinking beyond the votes and betting on the Fed having to shoulder almost the entire burden of resuscitating the U.S. economy. These investors most likely remember 2011 through 2015, when a tea party Congress brought the U.S. to the brink of default under President Barack Obama and forced the budget deficit to narrow each year in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”
What happened during that period? From the time of the debt-ceiling showdown in 2011 through the Fed’s first interest-rate increase of the cycle in December 2015, the S&P 500 Index returned 90%, or 15.8% on an annual equivalent basis. The 30-year Treasury yield fell from about 4% to 3%, dipping to as low as 2.22% along the way. Corporate bonds delivered strong returns. In other words, it was a great period for financial assets. Meanwhile, the average annual increase in U.S. hourly earnings was barely above 2% – hardly enough to keep pace with inflation.
This is the conundrum the Fed finds itself in now, less than 48 hours after the U.S. elections. Is it possible, given the current set of tools, for monetary policy to deliver broad-based economic prosperity? Or is it confined to primarily propping up asset holders and debtors, then counting on the wealth effect to make its way through the economy?
I’ve tackled this question from a number of angles in the past month with a fiscal aid package stalled in Washington. For one, the Fed could make a more explicit link between its bond purchases and fiscal policy initiatives to push lawmakers into more aid, but it’s unclear whether Powell wants to open that potential Pandora’s box. The central bank could also throw the doors wide open to its Municipal Liquidity Facility, lowering interest rates and encouraging more states and cities to take out a loan. But it seems keen for the facility to remain a last-resort backstop rather than a substitute for federal grants.
Put it all together, and it’s hard to see how the Fed would make up for a smaller dose of fiscal aid on its own. Yes, it moved last week to sharply reduce the minimum loan size in its Main Street Lending Program to $100,000 from $250,000, potentially making it open to a broader swath of U.S. businesses. But with fewer than 400 loans made since the program became operational in July, and just 14% of Main Street lending done through the end of September for loans of less than $1 million, it’s questionable at best whether it’ll receive widespread interest. Powell himself has stressed that these businesses may need grants, not loans that they have to repay, to get through the pandemic. Also, as it stands, the program is set to expire on Dec. 31, as is the muni facility, though that could change at a moment’s notice.
So that leaves the Fed with its tried-and-true monetary policy toolkit: Simply keep interest rates near zero for even longer and perhaps increase the size of its bond-buying program or have it target the long end of the yield curve. That should keep bonds well-bid, corporate debt deals flowing and equity markets elevated. As for fiscal aid, though, that’s looking as if it still has to run through Capitol Hill.