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Technology

Manulife PH ready for new normal from Day 1, says CEO

Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company's digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.
Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates said the company’s digital transformation journey for the past two years has empowered its customers, employees, and distributors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to businesses. Manulife Philippines, however, has found it easier to adjust to the new business environment. This is thanks to its digital transformation journey for the past two years.

“The changes the COVID-19 pandemic have forced upon us have both put our digital transformation strategy to the test, and validated that we, as an organization, have taken many steps in the right direction,” Manulife Philippines and CEO Richard Bates told Digital Life Asia.

“When Manulife Philippines moved to a new head office location in 2019, we also made investments in our hardware and network infrastructure to enable new ways of working. The introduction of FlexWork to our team provided us with the tools and flexibility that allowed 100 percent of our employees to work from home from the onset of the community quarantine. There was no disruption to our operations. We were up and running, from our homes, from day one,” he said.

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Technology

TRIPKO transport card helps Filipinos commute safely

By using TRIPKO, the passenger just needs to tap the cash card on the TICKETKO  automated ticketing system without any contact with the conductor or driver.
By using TRIPKO, the passenger just needs to tap the cash card on the TICKETKO automated ticketing system without any contact with the conductor or driver.

With thousands going back to the workplace in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the commuting public has to adapt to the new normal for their protection. The Department of Transportation has released community guidelines to address this, one of which is the mandatory use of cashless payments in public transportation. This has made contactless payment technology such as the TRIPKO transport card more important than ever.

Apart from the normal challenges of using public transportation, commuters must now also practice social distancing. They also worry about interacting with other people and touching shared items such as cash. This is why more Filipinos have embraced digital amid the pandemic. TRIPKO, which works in conjunction with the TICKETKO automated ticketing system, is geographically the most widely-accepted transport card in the country today. Using the TRIPKO transport card minimizes three main contact points. This allows transport companies to better protect the commuting public and their own employees.

“With TICKETKO and the TRIPKO card, there is no need for manual tickets, no need to hold money, and no need for manual logging in each and every trip manifest. The reloadable payment card is not new to the world, but the Philippines has been lagging behind our neighboring countries. Journeytech would like to contribute to nation-building with the TRIPKO card. Contactless payment is here to stay as our technology is able to address the general need for safety, hygiene, and ultimately convenience for the commuting public,” Journeytech Marketing Director Louise Yu told Digital Life Asia.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

EdVision launched to help schools embrace e-learning

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To help schools transition to the new normal and embrace e-learning, Lenovo Philippines, in collaboration with Microsoft, has launched the EdVision program.

Even though classes in the Philippines are scheduled to reopen in August, schools will have to maintain learning through virtual platforms. This is to comply with the community quarantine and social distancing protocols. Under the EdVision program, a number of pioneer schools in the Philippines will get free access to online resources to help them through their education transformation journey. They will also enjoy complimentary or subsidized access to the latest solutions in education tech.

How prepared are schools for distance learning, not only in terms of technology but also teacher training? I posed this question to Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan at this afternoon’s virtual press briefing.

“There are really some schools that actually were prepared, and there are also some schools that are in the midst of preparing for the new normal. This education program is not just about selling the hardware to these schools. What Lenovo and Microsoft would like to really do is bring our expertise to the schools. To empower teachers, to empower the students, to adapt faster to these technologies around flexible learning. And we see a big portion of the education market today lagging behind in terms of adopting technology. And I think it’s not just going to be Lenovo there, it’s not just going to be Microsoft there. There will be other components, like our telco friends, who will have to play a big part in ensuring that flexible learning or distance learning will be carried out smoothly,” Ngan told Digital Life Asia.

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Technology

Startup ecosystem in SG gets new voice, direction

James Tan, new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship, says he is confident that the startup ecosystem in Singapore will recover.
James Tan, new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship, says he is confident that the startup ecosystem in Singapore will become stronger.

The startup ecosystem in Singapore will recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the community will emerge stronger. This is according to James Tan, who has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE).

With more than 3,600 startups employing 18,000 people, more than 100 incubators, accelerators and venture builders, and 150 venture capital funds in Singapore, ACE’s scope has increased tremendously since its inception in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“This is an opportune time for ACE to revalidate and expand the role it was set up for — to support the startup ecosystem in their journey to become viable business going concerns. In this difficult period for startups, ACE provided ground-up support through public webinars and private matching activities such as the COVID-19 Seminar Series and Meet-The-VC Sessions,” Tan said in a press statement.

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Technology

Returning to the workplace? Check out the IBM playbook

Are some of your employees already returning to the workplace? Then you might find IBM's Return to Workplace Playbook useful in helping your company design its return-to-work plan.

Are some of your employees already returning to the workplace? Then you might find IBM’s Return to Workplace Playbook useful in helping your company design its return-to-work plan.

IBM has released this playbook for its 350,000-strong workforce across the globe. The company has begun to implement a staggered return-to-work plan in the Philippines and other offices globally. It is sharing the principles behind the playbook with its customers and business partners.

“It’s important for us to work alongside our clients so we can all build strategies that will adapt to the challenges that lie ahead. These business imperatives will definitely help them strengthen their resilience even further,” IBM Philippines Chief Operations Officer Rommell Silva said in a press statement.

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Technology

Suspected online fraud from PH doubles — TransUnion

The number of suspected online fraud originating from the Philippines has more than doubled during this global crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses and forced people to stay home. Not only that, but also the number of suspected online fraud originating from the Philippines has more than doubled during this global crisis. This is according to TransUnion, which recently released its analysis of digital fraud trends in the Philippines.

Based on its assessment, the percentage of suspected online fraud originating from the Philippines more than doubled when comparing the periods Jan. 1-March 10 and March 11-April 28, increasing 119%. This makes the Philippines the country with the 76th highest percentage of digital suspected fraud originating from it from March 11 to April 28, 2020. In comparison, TransUnion found the rate of suspected fraudulent online transactions rose 5% globally during the pandemic.

With social distancing changing shopping patterns, fraudsters have adapted accordingly. They have targeted the more digital forward industries while following the money globally. These industries include telecommunications, e-commerce, and financial services.

“Given the billions of people globally that have been forced to stay at home, industries have been disrupted in a way not seen on this massive of a scale for generations. Now that many transactions have shifted online, fraudsters have tried to take advantage and companies must adapt. Businesses that come out on top will be those leveraging fraud prevention tools that provide great detection rates and friction-right experiences for consumers,” TransUnion Philippines President and CEO Pia Arellano said in a press statement.

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Technology

Remote learning here to stay, says Mapua president

Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.
Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.

Online education has been around for many years. Yet just as the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses, so too is it changing the education system. This is why schools must accept that remote learning will be part of the new normal.

“The quarantine accelerated the adoption of online education. When the schools reopen, possibly in August, many students and parents, I believe, would still be fearful of face-to-face classes. There would be a need for an online option. Having developed their capabilities to implement online education, the schools would most probably want to keep it as an alternative mode of delivery over the long term. Online education will be a facet of life in the new normal,” Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea told Digital Life Asia.

“In order to thrive in the new normal, schools must prepare themselves to implement remote learning, whether the approach be through fully online education or through distance education. The former requires learners to have the required device and connectivity for it to be effective. The latter is more forgiving. The medium of the materials could be electronic (USB, DVD) and print, and the manner of content delivery could be electronic (internet, TV, radio) and physical (postal/courier, bookstore, in-school). Aside from satisfying demand from a segment of the student market, remote learning could also help schools solve physical distancing concerns in the classroom by reducing the resident student population at any given time,” he said.

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Science Technology

Cobots lending humans a helping hand in healthcare

Darrell Adams, Head, Southeast Asia & Oceania of Universal Robots, says cobots are gaining mainstream acceptance in different industries, including healthcare.
Darrell Adams, Head, Southeast Asia & Oceania of Universal Robots, says cobots are gaining mainstream acceptance in different industries, including healthcare.

Even without the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the global healthcare system is under tremendous strain. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a remarkable report on April 6. WHO has warned that the world needs at least 5.9 million additional nurses to meet global health targets. This is a staggering shortfall, indeed. Technology, however, may be coming to the rescue with the deployment of collaborative robots, or cobots, in the healthcare industry.

Unlike their heavy and large industrial robot cousins, cobots are nimbler and more user-friendly. As their name suggests, they are designed to work together with humans, rather than replacing them.

“Universal Robots is focused on how we can reduce the pain and suffering that has become part of our world since the evolution of COVID-19. Hence we would prefer never to sell a robot due to the pandemic. However, we are working hard on how we can support anyone in this field to fight back against this virus. We have in the past and will continue to see cobots used in healthcare, used to help people live longer and stronger lives — that will always be a focus,” Darrell Adams, Head, Southeast Asia & Oceania of Universal Robots (UR), told Digital Life Asia.

Founded in 2005 by three university students in Denmark, UR was the first company to deliver commercially viable cobots. Its mission is to make the world a better place, one cobot at a time.

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A Life Less Analog Science

Wildlife trade must end to help prevent future outbreaks

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Scientists have not yet identified the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. What we do know, however, is that the wildlife trade increases the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases. Do we want to reduce the threat of future outbreaks? Then we must take a serious look at the dangers posed by the wildlife trade.

Richard Thomas, head of communications for TRAFFIC, was the speaker in a webinar on April 23. TRAFFIC is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. Internews and its Earth Journalism Network held the webinar to provide more information on zoonotic diseases. Thomas discussed the role of the wildlife trade and the possible origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I asked Thomas what we can do to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of COVID-19. After all, what has made this pandemic worse is that it has been accompanied by an infodemic and fake news. Thomas, by the way, spearheaded the response to the H5N1 bird flu virus (also called avian influenza) outbreak in 2006 and 2007.

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Science

Telepsychiatry: Online consultations via Talk to Dr. Lee

Psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng says telepsychiatry allows her and her father Paul V. Lee to help patients cope with the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng says telepsychiatry allows her and her father Paul V. Lee to help patients cope with the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take care of both our physical and mental health. Through telepsychiatry, a father and daughter have been addressing the needs of their patients in the age of social distancing and lockdowns.

As all of us can attest to, dealing with the pandemic and the sweeping changes in the way we work and play has been very stressful.

“This sudden change in the daily routine can cause depression and anxiety. Other than this, the fear of getting the virus can also add to the stress,” psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng told Digital Life Asia.

Lee-Cheng, together with her father and fellow psychiatrist Paul V. Lee, offers online consultations via their Talk to Dr. Lee site. Note that these online consultations are not for emergency cases, which should be handled by going to the nearest hospital emergency room.