#39 - Relearning ABCDEFG & Enabling Technology for Social Impact - Jim Lim

 

 

“Technology is really impacting our daily life, sometimes without us knowing, and it’s important that we start understanding or relearning what is ABCDEFG. In the future of business, or future of work, there are many use cases of technology that are non-traditional, non-techie people need to learn and know how to use them."

Jim Lim is the founder of the socio-techno network 59stVentures, the healthcare sector lead for NCS, and previously the CEO of Good Doctor Technology. In this episode, I had a fun conversation with Jim to redefine ABCDEFG, which is a shorthand for a set of modern immersive technologies that are rapidly affecting our daily life, sometimes without us even knowing. ABCDEFG stands for AI, Blockchain, Cloud, Data, Ecosystem, and 5G. Jim also shared with me his unique multicultural career journey and the reasons why he started 59stVentures as a way to pay it forward and contribute back to the society.  

Listen out for:

  • Career Journey - [00:05:25]
  • Embracing Multicultural - [00:11:15]
  • Pay It Forward - [00:15:10]
  • The 59 Number - [00:19:43]
  • Redefining ABCDEFG - [00:21:57]
  • A = AI - [00:26:15]
  • B = Blockchain - [00:36:40]
  • C = Cloud - [00:42:33]
  • D = Data - [00:47:41]
  • E = Ecosystem - [00:49:56]
  • FG = 5G - [00:54:39]
  • 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [01:01:50]

_____

Jim Lim’s Bio
Jim is the founder of 59stVentures, a socio-techno network focussing in leveraging expertise, experiences and connections of senior executives globally to contribute back to the society. He is currently also the healthcare sector lead for NCS tasked to build digital healthcare ecosystem and to expand NCS footprint regionally. Jim also sits in the board of startup companies in China, Taiwan, Singapore and India. Prior to this, he was CEO for Good Doctor Technology, a Joint-Venture between PingAn Good Doctor from China and Grab. He joined the company as first employee to setup the entire business in Indonesia and Singapore. Jim is currently also adjunct lecturer for NUS, SUSS, Huawei University and FinTech Academy.

Before Good Doctor, Jim was the Global Senior Director in Group Chief Transformation Office in Huawei Technologies and its Regional Chief Technology Officer for strategic digital transformation projects in APAC, focussing on digital transformation cross industries (e.g. Telco, Smart Nation/City, Retail, Healthcare, Logistics, Agriculture), domains (e.g. Cloud, IoT, Big Data, Mobile Money, Connectivity) and aspects (e.g. Business Modelling, Customer Journey, Design Thinking, Org. Change).

With 20+ years of high tech and ICT industry experiences in Business, Customer & Project Management, Jim has proven track records in exceeding client/partners expectations and strong in providing business and strategic advice to complement the technicality of the initiatives and programs.

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Quotes

Career Journey

  • If you cannot repay someone who is more senior than you and much more established because you are not there yet, then one way is to pay it forward.

  • I think that part of learning I treasure a lot, because I don’t want to just work for a single culture, a single way of doing things, because I believe the world is made out of many different races, cultures, and everyone have different ways of achieving success.

Pay It Forward

  • Technologies will be useful, but if you can use technology to benefit a larger society, that will be even more meaningful.

  • We also realize that technology is just one part of things. Many ICT professionals look at technology as technology. Yes, we always come up with use cases and business value, but at the end of the day, it’s still about technology and about KPIs. But actually many of the technology we are already using in today’s world, and many of them actually can make an impact life.

The 59 Number

  • Five 9s is a carrier grade, 99.999% availability. So it is something that’s very trustworthy. Five 9s in a telco world is a carrier grade network, very trustworthy. Downtime is very minimized. So that’s what we hope ourselves to be, trustworthy, minimal downtime.

Redefining ABCDEFG

  • I always view that why we want to relearn ABCDEFG is that technology is really impacting our daily life, sometimes without us knowing, and it’s important that we start understanding or relearning what is ABCDEFG.

  • In the future of business or future of work, it’s very important to know about technology, whether you are technologist or not. What we are seeing in many companies that I work for, or work with, the people, whether you are accountant or someone else, you need to use basic technology. Some of them even need to use slightly more advanced technology like AI chat bot for customer service, like blockchain, when you want to do a digital certification. So there are many usage or use cases of technology that are non-traditional, non-techie people need to learn and know how to use them.

A = AI

  • People always think AIs are robots, but I always want to change this metaphor. It’s not. AI is not robots.

  • One of the key things for AI to work is you need data. The data will help you to program it, using the algorithms to look at what should the actions to be.

  • First of all, if it is a mundane task that is repetitive, to be very honest, just like we have gone through so many industrial revolutions. Just few years ago, we say we are in industrial revolution 4.0. So definitely there will be some work that’s going to be replaced, especially those that are mundane, repetitive. Because you want to spend the human brain power to do something more creative and meaningful to improve the way that we are going to live. So definitely, those works will be replaced.

  • How AI can work together is that you don’t need to be an AI expert to work with AI.

  • The other key thing about AI is people are worried about data. Because AI needs a lot of data. Are you constantly 24/7 under watch of a AI machine?

B = Blockchain

  • Today, we are not seeing a lot of it because a lot of that is subsumed under Bitcoin. People are overwhelmed with Bitcoin that they forgot what blockchain is really used for.

  • What is the technology used in blockchain? It’s actually what we call in techie world, a distributed ledger. So there’s a lot of information sharing, and you cannot actually change the record in that whole chain itself.

C = Cloud

  • We always think that cloud technology should promote SME business, reducing CAPEX and controlling OPEX pretty well.

  • Unfortunately, a lot of SME may not be tech savvy enough. So all the SME, not really exploiting or exploring the benefits of what cloud technology can bring to them. We really think that there’s a lot SME can benefit from going to cloud.

  • The same old concerns that people will have about cloud security. Every day we hear about hacking of this cloud and that cloud, but again, hacking can also happen for your server and your own premises. It’s always there just that because a lot of time, all these were handled by the IT department. But in cloud, a lot of the IT functionality are in the hands of the actual business users. So people start becoming worried.

  • I want to maintain my privacy, and for all my intranet or internal enterprise applications. But I need to start exposing my services to the public, the e-services that people can do in the digital government world. You need to have the e-services extended to the public. You cannot keep everything in a private cloud. So that’s where a lot of mixture in a hybrid cloud manner is going to happen.

D = Data

  • There’s what we call unstructured and structured data. Big data really is trying to analyze through any of these different types of data, and what we call sea of data, to be able to get actionable insights.

  • With all this information, like the different form of the data, we can extract, we can analyze, we can refine it so that we can use it for all the things that we’ve just talked about.

E = Ecosystem

  • E, many people would think of it as e-commerce. At the end of the day, they look at E as an ecosystem building. Because you need the tech companies who build applications, build infrastructure, you have the people who want to consume these services. So ecosystems of partners, of infrastructure providers, of end consumers, ecosystem of corporations become very important.

  • Today, it’s an ecosystem selling, even for cloud. That’s why you can see all the cloud providers, the more established one always have my use cases and also buy by the industry solutions. That’s where the enterprises are really looking at things. No longer just on the simple compute and storage cloud usage.

  • They can use all the IaaS, PaaS capabilities in the cloud itself to build e-commerce. But they also thought of ecosystem because they need distribution. They need delivery. They need payment. Yeah, I can go and build all these things myself, but it’s going to take time and money.

FG = 5G

  • Many people today may think that 5G is all about faster download speed, and I can download my video much faster.

  • 2G is like the Nokia 3210, where the killer application is SMS.

  • 3G was very interesting because then we start to realize we can do mobile data. So I can serve internet, although not fast enough, but I can serve internet. So data is a time where 3G actually does a lot of good for data, where really you make full use of data and making it meaningful and mobile. So 3G is a world of data or internet.

  • 4G is a world of video. So that’s where we start saying stop putting static websites or putting apps that are just photos, but you need to do video. With 4G, with better data, you actually can go into video streaming and a lot of all these apps and social media.

  • There’s this thing, I call it 5G capabilities triangle. There are three capabilities that 5G will offer to us in this world.

    • EMB, Enhanced Mobile Broadband. This is the one that gives you your faster speed, better throughputs, and everything.

    • MMTC, Massive Machine Type Communications. MMTC is something that is very similar to IOT today, Internet of Things.

      • So you are going to have a lot of these sensors, like from a home is a smart home talking to each other, to a larger city that’s talking to each other. So there are so many things, so many communications, so many data that need to be communicated here and there.

      • You can imagine 5G is like a pipe. This is a big enough pipe where you can have many data, a lot of data that is going to float around inside, and be able to contribute to this massive machine type communication. Because if you have a small pipe, the pipe will get choked. Not just human talking to each other, now machine are also talking to each other.

    • URLLC, Ultra Reliable Low Latency Connection. 5G enabled ultra low reliable low latency that you can do a lot of remote work without delay.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom

  1. Communication

    • A lot of people think that techies need to go the techies way, which is accuracy, and build systems, and implement things.

    • For us who have done digital transformation, business transformation, run large complex system integration project, it’s all about human communication. Of course in future, you need to add in machine type communication.

    • Communication is two ways. It’s not just I tell you something. So it’s communicated, it’s told, and understand by the receiving party.

  2. You need to be bold enough and daring enough to try new things.

    • Today’s world, there are many, many new technologies. You need to be daring enough to try new things.
  3. When we talk about AI and the data, I want to mention the ethical and social side of things.

    • Don’t just do technology because it looks cool. Don’t just implement technology because it looks cool, it’s fun, and all those things. Those are important. But at the end of the day, we should always think back how this technology can help people.

    • At the end of the day, if you want to have a better society, you should look at how technology can help to bring a better wellbeing to the society. Look at how technology can bring good social benefits to the society and the wellbeing of human.

Transcript

Episode Introduction [00:00:58]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:00:58] Hello everyone. This is Henry Suryawirawan. I’m back here again with another new episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Thanks for tuning in and spending your time with me today, listening to this episode. If you haven’t, please subscribe to Tech Lead Journal on your favorite podcast apps and also follow Tech Lead Journal social media channels on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you’d like to make some contribution to the show and support the creation of this podcast, please subscribe as a patron at techleadjournal.dev/patron, and help me towards producing great content every week.

For today’s episode, I had a fun conversation with Jim Lim. Jim Lim is the founder of the socio-techno network 59stVentures, the healthcare sector lead for NCS, and previously the CEO of Good Doctor Technology. If you’re wondering, based on the episode title, whether we are going to relearn how to spell the alphabets, worry not as the ABCDEFG are only the shorthand for a set of modern immersive technologies that are rapidly affecting our daily life. And sometimes without us even knowing or realizing it. ABCDEFG stands for AI, Blockchain, Cloud, Data, Ecosystem, and 5G. So in this episode, we are going to hear and learn from Jim on how these set of new technologies have impacted and are going to impact our life in near future. Jim also shared with me his unique multicultural career journey, and the reasons why he started 59stVentures as a way to pay it forward and contribute back to the society.

I personally learnt a lot from Jim about the 5G technologies and the massive potential that it could offer once it gets more wide adoption. And I hope that many of you could also benefit out of this episode. If you like it, please leave this episode a rating, a review or comment on your podcast app or social media channels. Those reviews and comments are one of the best ways to help me get this podcast to reach more listeners. And hopefully they can also benefit from the contents in this podcast. So let’s get this episode started right after our sponsor message.

Introduction [00:03:40]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:03:40] Hey, everyone. Welcome to another new show of the Tech Lead Journal. Today I have with me, someone who is very experienced in the industry. His name is Jim Lim. So let me read a little bit about Jim, his biography. Jim is actually currently the founder of 59stVentures. So it’s actually a socio-techno network company focusing in leveraging expertise and experiences, and connections of the senior executives globally to contribute back to the society. I’ll let Jim explain further what it means by this company. He is also currently the healthcare sector lead for NCS, which is tasked to build digital healthcare ecosystem, and to expand NCS footprint regionally. Jim also sits on the board of startup companies in China, Taiwan, Singapore, India. Prior to this, Jim was the CEO of Good Doctor Technology, a joint venture between Ping An and Grab. And before that, he was also global CTO in Huawei Technologies and all that. There are so many things from Jim. So it’s really a pleasure to meet you and also have a chance to talk with you. I hope that we can have a great conversation today. Welcome Jim to the show.

Jim Lim: [00:04:47] Hey, thanks Henry. Thanks. Thanks for giving me a chance to share some of my experiences. I think it’s great to be able to be on your show, because I heard a lot of good things about this show, and many tech leaders highly recommend to join your podcast. Yeah, so that we can actually share some of our view about technology, how we actually get started. In my particular case, I’m very interested to see how technology and sociology or society can be linked together. And that is one of the reason why we founded 59stVentures, where st stands for socio-techno. It’s a socio-techno networking of like-minded people since 2017.

Career Journey [00:05:25]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:05:25] I’m sure it’s very exciting. Before we start and going into that area, maybe for you to introduce yourself to my audience first. Because I know I’ve read your biography a lot, but many people might not have heard about you. Maybe you can specifically mention your highlights or major turning points in your career.

Jim Lim: [00:05:40] Sure. Yeah. Thanks Henry. So there are two parts. Actually, I gave a similar talk before to ITE students through my alma mater, which is Hwa Chong Institution, and also poly students before and university. Yeah. So, there’s two parts of me. One is the corporate titles where, like you mentioned, I’m a founder of this 59stVentures network. I worked for NCS as the health care sector Lead. I was Founding CEO of Good Doctor technology, which is a joint venture between Grab and others. And I worked for an Israeli company. I worked for Indian companies. I worked for Accenture, which was Anderson Consulting. So these are my corporate titles, and I play different roles in this corporate world. But when I talked to the students, usually how I like to introduce myself is that I’m actually a globe trotter who likes to try many different things. So I have two slides that I will send it to you. But these slides, when I present, I actually usually start with, I started working as an intern in Telecom Authority of Singapore. Today, it’s called IMDA. That’s back in 1997. So I start building applications for the company during my internship. I also founded company during my university day called Homerun Networks, which today you look at all the web searching for home, whether is it I-property or some others, we were like the fore founder back in 1997, to do something similar.

I think the biggest foundation that was built was when I was in Anderson Consulting. I joined in year 2000 in Anderson Consulting, before it changed its name to Accenture on 01/01/01, which is the 1st January 2001. So Accenture, I spent about five and a half years there. If you ask me, that is my strongest foundation. It’s all about exploration and foundation building. There’s a lot of hard work resilience. You probably have heard that working in a consulting firm like Accenture, there’s a lot of late hours, long hours, weekends, and so forth. And you are supposed to work with people who are much senior than you. We talked to the C level to draft out strategy, to draft out technology, to build systems, and we have to lead. Even during my time when I was like only 23, 25 years old, I have to lead a team of people who are much older than me from the client side. So these are a lot of learning, and you have to really learn how to get the knowledge of many of the people and become yours and improvise. And then because you know what is the to-be systems or to-be processes so you can actually leverage on and digesting, breaking down information, and becoming yours and giving them good advices. So I will say Accenture in a consulting world built very strong foundations of my analytical thinking. Because I was involved in multi-disciplinary work from process work, technology work, organization performance, re-org, organization design and strategy. So there’s a lot of foundation building during that part of my career.

Of course at the same time, I’ve maintained some of my whether is it life core values, which also extended to my career, from my school days to Accenture building. So things like hard work and resilience to perfections, pay it forward. We actually learn a lot from our seniors, whether is it during my school days or Accenture days. Some C-levels they are so good, you probably cannot repay them enough. So one way that they have taught me too, is to pay it forward. If you cannot repay someone who is more senior than you and much more established because you are not there yet, then one way is to pay it forward. That’s why I’m nurturing as an industry mentor for young NTUC currently, and also university. Yeah. And of course, in Accenture, what we do, large system implementation, transformation, process work. That one is actually a lot about teamwork and team spirit. So we learn how to work as a team. And at the same time, win-win. We want to win together with the clients as well. So win-win is another core values. Last but not least, entrepreneurship. Because we are doing a lot of things for the first time. Nobody in the world has done a certain system or process. That’s where the entrepreneurship spirit needs to also happen in a corporate world. So if you asked me, I highly treasured my days in Accenture, although it was very tough.

Then I move on to what I call establishment. I established myself in the industry, getting known to companies and get headhunted. At the same time, there’s reflections and achievements as well. Because every time I achieve something, I will ask myself, what I can do. Can I do more? Is this what I’m doing right, or am I doing something wrong? Or I have more learnings. So there’s a lot of reflections after I left Accenture, and I want to expose myself to multicultural, multi-disciplinary, multi locations. So I spent about 15 years traveling outside Singapore. Most of the time from joining companies like Tech Mahindra. It was called Mahindra British Telecoms. So it’s an Indian and British joint venture. Totally different from an American Singaporean culture. Then I joined Amdocs, which is really a Jewish kind of company. Most of my managements are from Israel, or they are Jewish. So again, it’s totally different direct culture as compared to indirect culture from the Indian side of things. Then I joined Chinese company like Huawei, which is what is known as a wolf culture. Then I joined Ping An Good Doctor as the founding CEO for the joint venture with Grab in Southeast Asia. And then now I am with NCS. So if you ask me, I try to experience very different culture, working and trying to assimilate myself into the environment, so that I can learn, how was it like working for Indian, how was it like working for Jewish, and so on and so forth. And I think that part of learning I treasure a lot, because I don’t want to just work for a single culture, a single way of doing things, because I believe the world is made out of many different races, cultures, and everyone have different ways of achieving success. So I want to learn that.

Embracing Multicultural [00:11:15]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:11:15] Thanks for sharing that. I mean, I’m very impressed with your a lot of experience. And the key that I pick up here, you seem to choose this path where you want to embrace multiple culture, multiple countries, and multiple backgrounds. Maybe you can share with me, for example, what made you make the decision? Like you wanted to try out different culture, background and things like that. Because in this era, we are integrated in multicultural systems in most part of the world, and also diversity and inclusion is also a key message now, right? About embracing this multicultural thing. So maybe you can share a little bit, why did you make that decision? And how that nurture you to become you yourself at this point in time?

Jim Lim: [00:11:54] Yeah. So actually, to be very honest, I didn’t think much, but I was also a little bit concerned. Because people like myself, graduating from a Singapore university for our bachelor’s degree, we always try to take the comfortable path. Especially I was in Accenture, Anderson Consulting, so I can always join like a Singapore company or American culture, that’s where many of my peers do, and then you will be used to it. But to me, my life motto has always been YOLO, You Only Live Once. So yes, I can take the traditional path, same as everybody. But I think I have some kind of risk-taking mindset in me. Because I was actually a Malaysian, and then since age 13, I actually come out all the way by myself, live in a hostel, and study secondary school in Singapore. So from there, I like to mix with different types of people, and I did. Although it’s mainly South East Asians. Then I start wanting to see how does the world really look like? Yes, I can be working for an American company or Singaporean company and be sent overseas, but I may not really always understand how is it like working with the culture itself. That’s why I took the plunge and say, let’s try.

At that time, opportunity knocks. One of my ex-Accenture manager say, “Why don’t you join Tech Mahindra, Mahindra British Telecom, and try it out? You’ll get to the old Indian world to see how is it like.” So I took the plunge and go for it. And then subsequently, opportunity knocks again. Israeli company. I was thinking, “Okay, I can never understand how Israeli works, and they are not many Israeli company hiring in Singapore also.” So I thought, “Okay, it was a very nice try. Let’s go for it.” So I took the plunge and try. Of course I can tell you, it was very tough for the initial months, trying to know how to work with Indian, because they speak a lot of Hindi and other different languages. In India, there are many different languages, even within India. Same thing for Israeli culture, it’s very direct culture. We in Singapore usually is a little bit of direct and indirect. So it was quite a shock to me to expose to a very direct culture also. Although I like it now because it makes things easier. And Israeli are really very smart people. The Jewish are very smart people. It was very good working experience to learn from them and spar with them on your ideas. I will think that actually got many good ideas working for Israeli and Jewish.

Actually, when I was in Indian and Israeli company, I already worked with Huawei. We become partners and sometime we’re competitors. So I read a lot because I’m very familiar with Chinese culture. But getting into Huawei and work inside is still a different experience. So all in all I will say, I didn’t think too much. But maybe because of my background since young, that I was able to come out all by myself, live in a hostel, not knowing everybody, start making friends, learn how to live in a totally foreign countries and environment. So I took the plunge. It was tough also. But I learned, and I always reflect back when I was young, if you’re 13 years old you can do it, why can’t you do it when you are 20, 30 or 40 years old?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:14:50] So I’m sure like all these experiences and seeing it for yourself, it gives you a lot of different perspectives, and I think that’s what the world currently needs as well. Because some are trying to come and close the country, right from the outside influence and perspectives. So I think like having this multicultural view and perspectives is very important at this modern time today. So thanks for sharing that.

Pay It Forward [00:15:10]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:15:10] Another thing that I picked up from your introduction just now, is the concept of pay it forward. So you mentioned that you had received a lot of good guidance from the seniors, the executives. And not necessarily sometimes you can give them something back, just to express your gratitude or, you know, to say thank you. And the concept here is to pay it forward to the people, maybe less senior than those people, or maybe sometimes junior than you. So maybe this is also a good time to explain about the 59stVentures. I’m sure it’s quite related. Maybe you can share a little bit about this pay it forward thing that you mentioned.

Jim Lim: [00:15:44] Yeah, sure. Thanks, Henry. So, yeah, definitely 59stVentures, one of the motto is also pay it forward. It all started in 2017. Me and my JC schoolmate, we wanted to take part in a NUS competition, which is a socio-techno challenge. To see how technology can be used to improve the wellbeing of society. So that’s where we actually took part, think of a name of a company, and jump in. I have to tell you that we didn’t win the competition, but we kind of decide that, eh, it’s very interesting because we have been working as technologists. And we always say, okay, let’s implement large-scale systems. Let’s transform a company and so on and so forth. And in recent years, digital transformation is such a hot topic. But we also realize, yes, technologies will be useful, but if you can use technology to benefit a larger society, that will be even more meaningful.

That’s where we also start realizing because when I formed in 2017, I was 41 years old. So I was thinking already. Okay. I have seen my uncles, my seniors. I’ve seen people who are older than me, or even people who are my age, being either retrenched, or probably they retired. Some are retiree in their late forties because they are rich enough to retire. But then if you ask me, it’s quite a waste of their talent, experience, and network. Many of these people I know, including many of the C levels, they retire at 50 years old, then they start retirement work, golf. Okay. That’s fine. But after a while, they also feel, eh, you cannot keep on relaxing every day. So that’s where I actually thought of, eh, why don’t I gather these people I know who has a lot to offer. And we offer as a social networking because I was with Huawei at that time, so I can’t set up a company to do that, and I also did not have the time.

So we form a socio techno networking where I get many of the retired C-levels, or some retrenched people who have good experience and networking, or people who just want to look for a change. So we gather them, we discuss a lot. We start coming up with ideas, so it was like social networking. Nothing much being done until 2018, where I was a mentor in the free mentor for young NTUC. And I met SUSS provost, Professor Kai Chong. He recognized that, eh, you have a lot to offer. I’m very interested to know what we can offer. And then I start talking to them and did some presentation, webinar, seminar at that time. And then they realized that, okay, although we are social university, SUSS, but it’s important. They also understand that it’s important for the people, whether it’s the accountancy, marketing, and so on, and so forth, to learn something about technology. That’s where I started as myself, and subsequently bringing some friends to SUSS, and subsequently to NUS, to Ngee Ann Poly and some other universities or institutions, and even giving talks to ITE, to share what are the things that people can use technology for.

And this gelled in very well in today’s world, and also today’s topic that we want to talk about, ABCDEFG. Because we also realize that technology is just one part of things. Many ICT professionals look at technology as technology. Yes, we always come up with use cases and business value, but at the end of the day, it’s still about technology and about KPIs. But actually many of the technology we are already using in today’s world, and many of them actually can make an impact life. That’s why today, many of the IT companies or ICT companies, the big ones, are talking about sustainability. United Nations have what we call the Sustainability Goal, SDG, Sustainable Development Goals. So I think people are recognizing that you need to match and marry technology together with a bigger society benefit. So this gels in very well with 59stVentures motto as well. You don’t waste. No waste or minimize waste. So the knowledge, the network, and the brain of these people, PMETs also, they actually has a lot to offer and contribute. So we are not wasting any of their talent, experience, and networking, and we use that to benefit a younger generation, and that brings back again to pay it forward kind of a vision.

The 59 Number [00:19:43]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:19:43] So you mentioned st is social technology, but what is 59? Is there any meaning behind it?

Jim Lim: [00:19:49] Okay. Yeah, so it’s very interesting. When we came up with 59, there are many reasons. First of all, 59, for those in the telecommunication industry, you know what we always call Five 9s. Five 9s is a carrier grade, 99.999% availability. So it is something that’s very trustworthy, right? Five 9s in a telco world is a carrier grade network, very trustworthy. Downtime is very minimized. So that’s what we hope ourselves to be, trustworthy, minimal downtime. And also, I realized many of my friends, where people turning from 59 to 60, is an age where people start thinking about retirement, or retirement planning, or some even retired. So that’s an age that we see many people is treating as a turning point. Of course, at that time in 2017, something interesting is that we read somewhere that 5-9, that means 9th of May, is the day where elections are held and things are changed. For example, Malaysian changed government after so many years for the first time on the 9th of May. If I’m not wrong, we also heard Philippines did the same on 9th of May, and also we heard Korea had the same.

So it’s like a moment or day of change. So we hope that people can change from a retiree mindset or people can change from a pure technologist to look at things that benefit the society at large. And of course, those of people who buy gold, five 9 is also a very high grade, the gold itself. So it all goes back to being trustworthy. Trustworthy, but yet it’s a moment of change, and there’s a lot to offer from a 59. Personally, I never tell anyone, but a personal reason, I was 41 years old in 2017, when we founded 59stVentures. 41 plus five nine is 100. So we hope that we can be like, those Chinese always say “bai nian lao dian”, a hundred-year-old shop or business. So that was the reason.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:21:46] Wow. I didn’t know that there’re so many things behind that number 59. So, thanks for sharing that. I’m quite fortunate to ask that question because now we know so many things behind the number 5 and 9.

Redefining ABCDEFG [00:21:57]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:21:57] So Jim, you also mentioned, the topic of our conversation is supposed to be redefining ABCDEFG. I thought I’m going to a kindergarten class or something when you said that. So maybe for the audience here, can you explain a little bit, what do you mean by redefining ABCDEFG?

Jim Lim: [00:22:15] Yeah. Sure. Sure. I think for those who are in the technology world, ABCD probably can be quite familiar with some of you. I think three or four years ago, NUS where I was a fellow in the School of Computing, we also launch ACE program, which I’m a fellow with ACE, Advanced Computing for Executive where Prof Alex Siow is the director as well. So we actually launched ACE, and we actually talked about ABCD, which is AI, Blockchain, Cloud, and Data. So many people talk about ABCD. But then I was talking to my niece, and then I started realizing that actually they are watching YouTube videos, which actually keep us singing ABCDEFG, and there are some redefinition of that as well. So to me is that, okay, maybe we should relearn, right? Not just redefine, but relearn what is ABCDEFG? Because we hear about this mystery rhymes since young. Everybody knows how to sing. We sing for our children, and our children also learn. But if we just say, A for apple, B for boy, I think that’s a bit of passe. We can mesh the young people or the young things that we learned, together with the more senior people. That’s why we want to kind of redefine or relearn our ABCDEFG.

I’ve done a couple of seminars a few years ago before COVID on this topic. I tried to make it less technical because I always view that why we want to relearn ABCDEFG is that technology is really impacting our daily life, sometimes without us knowing, and it’s important that we start understanding or relearning what is ABCDEFG. And many people I know who are not techies, not from ICT industry. Some are business, some are accountants, (some) are marketing. But they always feel that, okay, let’s leave the technology to the IT or ICT people. I don’t need to know. But I also realized that no, actually in the future of business, or future of work, it’s very important to know about technology, whether you are technologist or not. What we are seeing in many companies that I work for, or work with, the people, whether you are accountant or someone else, you need to use basic technology. Some of them even need to use slightly more advanced technology like AI chat bot for customer service, like blockchain, when you want to do a digital certification. So there are many usage or use cases of technology that are non -traditional, non-techie people need to learn and know how to use them. So that’s why we want to redefine and relearn.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:24:36] So you mentioned the four alphabets, ABCD, which are for AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Data. What are the E, F and G?

Jim Lim: [00:24:44] Okay. E, many people would think of it as e-commerce. So that’s where many of us start from. Whether you buy from Amazon, you buy from Taobao from China, and of course in Singapore, Shopee and Grab and many others, they’re kind of e-commerce platform. But you also know if you are in the techie world, even if you’re not, you probably also realize, Grab wants to be a super apps. What is super apps? Super App means e-many things. It can be e-commerce, e-delivery, e-finance. So all these are the E. If you talk to some of the tech companies, tech giants like Huawei, like Amazon, at the end of the day, they look at E as an ecosystem building. Because you need the tech companies who build applications, build infrastructure, you have the people who want to consume these services. So ecosystems of partners, of infrastructure providers, of end consumers, ecosystem of corporations become very important. So I will define E moving from e-commerce, e-health, e-payment, e-whatever, all the way to ecosystem. So that’s E. F G, I kind of want to make it rhyme. So there’s a lot of talk for the past few years, even till now about 5G. So F G goes very well with 5G, and I’m one of the lecturer and course leader who created many of the courses in NUS on 5G.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:26:04] So let me repeat those again. A is for AI, B for Blockchain, C for Cloud, D for Data, E is for Ecosystem and F G is short for 5G, right?

A = AI [00:26:15]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:26:15] So if you don’t mind, let’s go through one by one, the ABCDFG. What do you want to redefine for AI? Because AI is like hot these days, everyone is talking about AI and ML, usually they are together, AI and ML. So what do you think that people need to be aware of on this AI?

Jim Lim: [00:26:31] I think in today’s world, before we even start about what people need to know about AI, I want to share again, like what I always say, ABCDFG, why I think everybody needs to know is because it’s affecting our daily life. So I don’t know whether Henry, are you using any of the AI functions today in anything that you do in your daily life? Outside your work. I know you work for tech companies, but outside your work. Do you use AI in any sense?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:26:55] Yeah, sure. Certainly. In fact, as of this moment, I’m using AI to block out the background noise. Sometimes my home is not so quiet, so I use that software to actually help me block out noises from my background.

Jim Lim: [00:27:08] Yeah. Interesting. So, we are techie. So you definitely are user of the technology such as AI. But a lot of people I talk to, like some of my family members who are accountants or lawyers, they always thought, “No lah. AI is so advanced. I know nothing about AI. Yes. I know AI is robot.” People always think AIs are robots, but I always want to change this metaphor. It’s not. AI is not robots. You watched Terminator, yes, maybe the brain has some AI component, but definitely robots and AI is not equate. Robots, probably, is a physical form of some AI algorithm inside. Yes. But it’s not always equate. The other thing is that many of our phones today, I think people know, is that it has AI capabilities. Whether is it from AI to help you to take the picture nicer, and focusing on let’s say smiley face or something like that, these are AI use cases for photograph taking. Some of the phones, like some of the more advanced Samsung and Huawei phone, you can actually flash your camera on, let’s say, some food, and it can show you calorie. So that’s another AI applications. And also you can flash on goods, like a shirt or t-shirt, or maybe a bag, and AI will pick that up, and start comparing across the internet to find who are the ones offering and at what price. So these are all AI that unknowingly, we are actually already using in our daily life, from using a phone perspective. Now, of course, I think the other case is that some of us have smart home, whether is it the Google or is it the Xiaomi, we are all using voice control of curtain, air-con, turn on/turn off TV and all those things. So again, many of these have the AI built-in capabilities for us to be able to do that. So these are all AI already in daily life.

And of course the more advanced one is to go into enterprises where the most common one is AI chat bot. So Singapore is doing that. If you’re a telco subscriber, let’s say myself is Singtel subscriber, you use AI chat bot to do some of the customer service. But what impressed me is about three years ago, when I was in China, I take DiDi. DiDi is like the Grab in China. Wow, their AI customer service is fantastic. It basically can solve all your problems just talking to an AI. So the AI chat bot capabilities is really there. So these are what we already use and see in our daily life.

And let’s move into the more enterprise usage, which again for those of you would know, AI has many applications in many different industry. The more common one, again, that we may be using as a consumer is AI in financial sector. Many of them are FinTech related. So you have your robotic process automation, which is something like automation of data entry work. So that is part of using AI. I myself use a robot adviser in some of my investments. So that’s again, using AI algorithms to look at your past data, and then analyze what’s the best investment based on your risk profile. I think a lot of people confuse a little bit between data analytics and AI and many other things. So yes, one of the key thing for AI to work is you need data. The data will help you to really program it, using the algorithms to look at what should be the actions to be. So in the olden days, I would say five to maybe seven years ago, when AI doesn’t really have a lot of use cases yet, many companies come up with what we call actionable insights. So data is there, you do analysis, and you always need to be able to use the data to do something, and that’s where the word actionable insights come about. Today’s world, people are more familiar with AI already, together with machine learning or deep learning, which is the learning capabilities that’s built into the algorithm of a AI machine. That is where people are working on AI.

The other key one that I’m doing a lot today is healthcare. In the healthcare industry, again, from the most basic one from a consumer standpoint, you look at AI triaging. Singapore telehealth may not have so much yet. But the one that are globally quite well known like Babylon Health, and the one where I came from, Ping An Good Doctor, are the top two global AI telehealth company that actually do what we call AI triaging. So you answer a list of questions about your profile, your health profile, and then the symptoms, and then at the backend, what really happened is that in healthcare, what we do is we chart out what we call clinical pathways. So we will say, okay, if you see symptom ABCDE, response, ABCDE, and all this, you mix and match into a large file. And then those data start collecting, and then you will have a clinical pathway to deduce that based on the response to the questions that’re being asked. You are having diarrhea, or you’re having dengue, or you’re having heart problems. So this is where AI use a lot of data to mix with the algorithm to come up with an outcome. So these are just some examples of using AI, and there are many more that will be coming out from facial recognition.

Actually, to tell you the truth, in China, now primary school students also learn Python programming. So I used to learn what we call Further Maths, Integration, differentiation, a lot of those formulas. But we learn maths for the sake of learning maths. But in China, they put all these FMaths, Further Maths, into AI. They start explaining how AI and the maths are linked very closely together. So that was quite impressive. And I thought it was a very good idea to learn about AI from there. And of course, AI, we all know that facial recognition, voice recognition basically is a pattern recognition, is very good to use AI to start studying and come out with an outcome. So that’s the whole thing I want to briefly share about AI. It’s all over the place in our daily life already. There are many, many enterprises or industry already using AI for various reasons, and there will be more and more that will be coming up.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:32:48] It’s very interesting, like you mentioned a couple of cases, which I wasn’t aware of myself, but now that you said it, actually I realized, Oh yeah, AI is behind all of them. And we will probably see a lot more cases seamlessly integrated in our daily lives without us knowing, because there are so many technologies these days enable you to use AI easily. In fact, like some cloud providers also provide tools and technologies for us to just tap into rather than building ourselves. So a lot of people, these days, still think AI is a complicated thing. What are the use cases that I can use for AI? Even some of them like afraid their job will be replaced by AI and robots, like you mentioned in the beginning. So, what’s your view on all those? How can we embrace more use cases where we can apply AI? And about the concern from people about AI taking over our lives.

Jim Lim: [00:33:37] Okay. That’s quite a common question. Even when I teach AI in school, that question always come up. But of course, today’s world, you may hear about this term called Ethical AI. How to use AI in an ethical way? So there are many considerations. First of all, if it is a mundane task that is repetitive and all those things, to be very honest, just like we have gone through so many industrial revolutions. Just few years ago, we say we are in industrial revolution 4.0. So definitely there will be some work that’s going to be replaced, especially those that are mundane, repetitive. Because you want to spend the human brain power to do something more creative and meaningful to improve the way that we are going to live. So definitely, those works will be replaced. It’s just like industrial revolution, one or two, division of labor where you actually put people to do packaging in a supply chain, or a production line, that is slowly being replaced by automation as well. So AI replacing work really is nothing to be afraid of. It will come just like how we survived through in the past, more than hundred years through so many industrial revolutions.

Then second thing is that I think how AI can work together is that you don’t need to be an AI expert to work with AI. As I mentioned just now, you can be a customer service person, but you know how to use AI chat bot to get your work done. Is AI chat bot going to fully replace a customer service officer? The answer is no. So again, it goes back to mundane and repetitive work for now and ethical use of AI. So it’s a balance of many things. Today I may be talking to an AI to get my basic queries about my bills from a telco, for example. But if there is any dispute, yes, AI may be able to handle some of it, but they may be a need for human intervention. For example, okay, this is a highly loyal customer, or this customer is raising his voice, or maybe this customer, I really want to give something special because I’m running a promotion now. So that’s where human intervention will come in. Although you can also program it with AI, but if there are too many permutation combination, and a balance of keeping the work for the human, that’s where you will access the cost versus benefits. So this is an example.

And as I mentioned, the other key thing about AI is people are worried about data. Because AI needs a lot of data. Are you constantly 24/7 under watch of a AI machine? I think it’s called SkyNet in Terminator movie. Basically, SkyNet is AI watching over you. So is it good? Is it right way to do? I don’t think there are good answers yet. So there’s a lot of considerations on that. Capabilities is there, but why today we are not all under a watch yet? Because there’s ethical use, that’s the human part of thing to be considered. Same thing, if you watch Ironman. Ironman has Jarvis. Jarvis is actually his AI partner. I don’t know whether you may watch some of the episode where Tony Stark actually scolded Jarvis for doing something more than what he supposed to do. So again, capability is there, is how you want to balance that with ethical use of AI itself.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:36:31] Yeah, I’m sure going forward, we as a human will come up with more and more solution with AI, and also the important part, which is the ethical part of using those technology for good.

B = Blockchain [00:36:40]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:36:40] So let’s move on to the next character, which is B, Blockchain. Many people associate blockchain with crypto. A lot of hype these days, because of the Bitcoin prices increasing and also decreasing a lot. So maybe you can shed a little bit of light here, what are some of the technology from blockchain that people should be aware of?

Jim Lim: [00:36:59] So I think, yes, Bitcoin actually maybe for good, or for bad, people always link blockchain with Bitcoin. But it’s actually more than that, we all know that. So even Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency. So Bitcoin doesn’t equate to cryptocurrency, vice versa. For those of you who knows a bit of cryptocurrency, there is also EduCoin. There is also many other different types of coins, with some of that industry specific. So I have EduCoin myself, which in the education sector, people come up with that. So to some extent, to make it in a layman term, Bitcoin, we can consider them as like vouchers or point systems that you actually can use it, but of course this one has a trading kind of things. So there is actually the cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. Blockchain itself has a very, I would say, large use cases and applications of that technology. Today we are not seeing a lot of it because a lot of that is subsumed under Bitcoin. People are overwhelmed with Bitcoin that they forgot what blockchain is really used for.

When I was in Korea six years ago, there are some use case that was presented by Korea Telecom about blockchain for food safety. We actually call that things like from farm to mouth or farm to table. So in the whole supply chain of the food chain itself, it actually started from the farm. Let’s say your fruit trees or your vegetable farm, it has to go through packing houses, then it has to go through transportation. It has to go through maybe even cross border, where many of the agriculture may not be, let’s say in Singapore, you need to go to Korea, China, Malaysia, and then you process some of this. You go to distribution center, then go to supermarket and reaches the customer on the table. So this chain itself has got at least seven to eight middle point. So the capability of blockchain is really to ensure that every of this chain, or every of this node or point, no matter what we use it, has the safety consideration inside. So how do you know the food, the fish or the vegetable or the fruit that you are going to eat next is safe? Did they get contaminated along the way or not? So that is where blockchain can actually track the entire safety chain itself for the food distribution, from farm to table.

And how does blockchain do it? What is the technology used in blockchain? It’s actually what we call in techie world, a distributed ledger. So there’s a lot of information sharing, and you cannot actually change the record in that whole chain itself. So if today I say, okay, from farm to a packing house, who is sending it? The date, the time, and the quantity, the volume, and even maybe the shape of the fruits, all this information will be stored in a chain from the farm, which will be passed to the next node, which is the packing house. So people cannot just change the record like you would do it in a normal system, where you do data entry and so on and so forth. So blockchain actually is secure from that angle. And then it’s open enough. It’s like very similar to the new digital world that we always talk about P2P. So like GPS is giving you information, but there is this thing called Waze, which was an Israeli company that actually has a lot of P2P information. So I have so many people giving or telling me that, okay, there’s this jam on ECP. You cannot just suddenly say that there is no jam on ECP. So it’s very similar concept to that technology as well, in a blockchain world. So these are some of the things that blockchain can offer.

I believe, I think NUS or some of the institutions are using what we call digital certificate as well. There were a time when people can forge their degree certificate. And yes, you can bring back to do what we call certified true copy, go to the registrar and do that. But how certified true copy is that? The signature can also be fake. So I think universities are trying to do digital certificate. From the time that you complete your studies, it’ll go straight and it will lock and it will endorse that this is the correct one, and people can download and get a copy of that. So this will help to prevent all this forging issues. So by the same token, not just your academic certification, it can be a product certification, and many other things. It can be your trademark registration. It can be your patent, which is used a lot. So these are all the potential use cases of blockchain, where you need even in insurance industry, people are looking at, can I use blockchain to make sure that the insurance that I sign, all the way to subsequently the claims and other things are correct.

Of course, it also can go into the media industry where in the olden days we look at things like Digital Rights Management, this can also be done in a blockchain manner. And the most recent one that I’m doing is similar to healthcare insurance. So same thing, you want to buy an insurance you want to submit the claims to the hospitals. So you’re trying to blockchain entire patient journey of interaction, from getting what we call Letter of Guarantee from the insurance company. How can hospital think that, eh, this is the True LOG from insurance company? And then after that the person do the operation. You want to claim. So you go and get billed and you can go and get a hospital letter. So the insurance company wants to pay you the claim, but how do they can ensure that this is not forged? This is the correct insurance claim? So a lot of all these things depending a lot of manual human handling, and they may be a possibility of forging documentations. And that’s where the whole thing is being proposed as a blockchain now. And nobody can really go and forge anything along the way. So this is a very good use case of blockchain, if you ask me. All outside of Bitcoin.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:42:25] So yeah. Now I know a little bit more use cases apart from the crypto and the Bitcoin. So hopefully more and more use cases can be used for good for blockchain.

C = Cloud [00:42:33]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:42:33] Let’s move on to the C, which is Cloud. So many people in enterprise as well using the cloud technology, and also our phones enable a lot of cloud technologies as well. For example, saving your files, your photos and things like that. What else to redefine here in cloud?

Jim Lim: [00:42:48] Just like AI, a lot of people think cloud is very complex. Why do I want to put onto cloud? What is cloud? It’s an ICT thing. But again, I always like to remind people you are using cloud in your daily life. When we have a Gmail account, when you want to go to Google Drive to store your videos and your photos, that is using cloud already. It’s a cloud storage capability. And then you do collaboration using Google Docs, that is cloud capabilities. So those are already happening to us, which we may not know. Some of you maybe using Microsoft 365. That is what we call Software as a Service. It’s a true cloud as well. The most common business model of many of these applications is what we call starting as a freemium. So you use as a freemium, and if you want to get better quality services, or software or capabilities, you pay. And that’s where the subscription model, whether monthly, yearly for SaaS, Software as a Service come about. So again, these are some of the very good example of cloud that we are using, and some of the non-techies may not know that we are already using.

Of course, if we look at cloud itself in the enterprise perspective, you may buy many computers and some of that serve as a server. So that is the way that on-premise actually work. The same goes to data center, big data center, where you have a lot of servers and storage inside. But in a cloud way, for the enterprises, you probably no longer need to buy a server. Some of you may still want to do it for various reasons, but logically you do not need to use it. So we always think that cloud technology should promote SME business, reducing CAPEX and controlling OPEX pretty well. Unfortunately, a lot of SME may not be tech savvy enough. So all the SME, not really exploiting or exploring the benefits of what cloud technology can bring to them. That’s something that I’m trying to promote quite a lot with some of the institute of higher learning, and even some of the government agency. Because we really think that there’s a lot SME can benefit from going to cloud. But the same old concerns that people will have about cloud security. Every day we hear about hacking of this cloud and that cloud, but again, hacking can also happen for your server and your own premises. It’s always there just that because a lot of time, all these were handled by the IT department. But in cloud, a lot of the IT functionality are in the hands of the actual business users. So people start becoming worried. I’m not IT trained. Eh, I got hacked what should I do? But that is where you have many of these cloud company, they are also very focusing on tech security to make sure that’s okay.

Another very common question that I’m always asked, “Oh, I put all my customer database on the cloud. My competitor also uses your cloud. They will see all my customer. I’ll lose all my customer. So again, that’s not true, right? The cloud providers whether it is the Western cloud or the Chinese cloud provider, they all treat data security and intimacy very well. Because that is their bread and butter. So I don’t think that needs to be worried. And if we look at cloud, I’m sure those techie knows we have public, private, and hybrid cloud. I’m also in the Cloud Security Alliance Singapore chapter. Apart from looking at cloud security, we also do a lot of research area, and one of the research area we are going to do this financial year by our research director, who is the CTO of one of the local conglomerate, is to look at hybrid cloud. Because we realized that many people start with private cloud in Singapore. Many enterprises. And slowly and steadily, the public cloud is getting some traction.

But then we also realized that, okay, you have these two cloud now. Especially for let’s say, government agency. I want to maintain my privacy, and for all my intranet or internal enterprise applications. But I need to start exposing my services to the public, the e-services that people can do in the digital government world. Whether is it through OneMotoring for land transport, or is it through telemedicine health app like HealthHub that is linked to clusters of hospital. So you need to have the e-services extended to the public. You cannot keep everything in a private cloud. So that’s where a lot of mixture in a hybrid cloud manner is going to happen. Not just in Singapore, but all around the world as well. So that’s from a cloud perspective. But those who don’t know what is cloud about, we already shared some of the living example of cloud. Mainly in the storage and application area. For those who are very familiar with cloud, one of key trend we are seeing apart from security is definitely in a hybrid cloud manner. So that are some of the key things I would say that we should be aware about cloud in recent, I’ll say, months or years even.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:47:15] So having worked in the cloud business model as well, in one of the cloud provider, I’m sure like the target market for these cloud is still very large. In fact, many people from enterprise point of view may not be putting a lot of things on the cloud. So I’m sure we will be getting more and more enterprise going into the cloud just to tap into the capabilities. And yes, you’re right. Probably the hybrid cloud model and also the security will get into play when that happens more frequently.

D = Data [00:47:41]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:47:41] So the D stands for data, if I’m wrong. Data has been around for many years, if not decades. So what do you mean by redefining data here?

Jim Lim: [00:47:50] So like you say, data is very common. We all have some health data. All our profiles are some of data. Of course, when it comes to data in a tech role, people usually link it to big data. So what is small data, big data, mega data, or whatever? So just very quickly, there’s what we call unstructured and structured data. Big data really is trying to analyze through any of these different types of data, and what we call sea of data, to be able to get again, like I mentioned just now, actionable insights. So this is some part of a big data analytics. And of course the other key word is people always say data is like the future oil. Where you need to do like oil refinery. You need to get the data, which is the raw material, and then you do refinery, which is your, whether is it analysis or so and so forth to be able to use the data for some purposes. So data, I think, is a very simple concept. With all this information, like the different form of the data, we can extract, we can analyze, we can refine it so that we can use it for all the things that we’ve just talked about.

AI, you need data for AI to really make something meaningful out of all the applications. Blockchain, not many people link blockchain with data. But yes, blockchain is also trying to chain or ensure that you have a secured distributed data flow of things as well. So you also need data insight. For cloud, again, what’s the purpose of having cloud? It’s basically because your data becoming enormous. And then you have to do a lot of analysis itself. So the cloud provide whether is it a storage, or the computing power for the AI algorithm to run on different big data itself. So this is actually where data actually adds lots of value to the whole technology world. And of course we haven’t talked about EFG, and I can even extend all the way to HIJKL, whatever. I can be IOT. So things like this is that there’s a lot of data involvement in different forms of the technology. Later on, we can briefly also talk about data. How is it going to be like in the ecosystem or the e-services, as well as in the 5G?

E = Ecosystem [00:49:56]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:49:56] So let’s go with the ecosystem. You touched on it briefly, like a few minutes back. So because people used to think about e-commerce or E electronic something, for example, electronic payment, all the e-services that are available. But you’re talking about the importance of putting them together into like ecosystem. Does it mean that everyone needs to create ecosystem on their own? Or how do you judge between being part of an ecosystem or being the creator of the ecosystem?

Jim Lim: [00:50:23] So like you mentioned, E is always starting with E something, right? E-commerce, e-learning, e-payment, e-transaction, e-whatever, e-health, right. So that was where all the electronic something happen and take place. And why I want to redefine E from all these, which are still valid if you ask me, depending on the countries or the industry we talk about. So some countries are not there yet, so they can still talk about E stand for e-commerce. Some countries are more established like in China. Today, nobody will go and talk about E as e-commerce in China because that’s like a given thing. But in whole of China, people are looking at ecosystem building. So I was just talking to Huawei cloud people this afternoon. Ecosystem building is very important because it’s linking to even things like cloud. So, I mean, of course the Western cloud are very established, AWS, Google, and so on and so forth. And Chinese cloud like Alibaba is also quite established. But Huawei cloud doesn’t really have a big market share globally yet, and they just formed a cloud and AI business unit, like few years ago, I think two years ago and now picking up a hot steam on that.

So it’s very important that they want to show, let’s say I want to sell a Huawei cloud. Very important to have an ecosystem building, because in a cloud world, we actually call them sellable services. Why do enterprise want to go to a Huawei cloud versus let’s say Alibaba cloud? There must be enough targeted sellable services for me to use. So, for example, let’s say I’m a healthcare provider. I’m a private hospital. I want to choose a cloud to onboard myself on to. I will look at which of this may have sellable services for me to use, plus things that are in a safe ecosystem. Let’s say, for example, Huawei cloud has five telediagnostic startups who can provide either integrated 3-in-1 SPO2 blood pressure and ECG monitoring. And today I’m a telehealth platform or I’m a private hospital, I want to get that services. So of course I can buy from the company, but today many of these applications or services are already on some form of cloud. For example, if this company only is available in Huawei cloud, and I like it so much, then I will onboard myself to Huawei cloud so that I can use it. So this is what we call the ecosystem building. Today, it’s an ecosystem selling, even for cloud. That’s why you can see all the cloud providers, the more established one always have my use cases and also buy by the industry solutions. That’s where the enterprises are really looking at things. No longer just on the simple compute and storage cloud usage. Whole system building is very important. For cloud and for many other advanced technologies.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:52:52] It’s interesting, like you see it from the point of view, like cloud provider. But how about the SMEs or the people who are not into the cloud? Is there any significance about ecosystem for them?

Jim Lim: [00:53:04] So again, SME is not so cloud native or cloud ready yet, unfortunately, although I think they should. But how I will sell or how I would advise SME is, for example, I was talking to someone, and we quote the example of Mr. Bean. Mr. Bean is in Singapore selling soya bean kind of food, and in many MRT station, they have that. It’s to some extent an SME. So they can benefit from cloud, and they can benefit from ecosystem building. Because I was listening to a webinar by the founder, the chairman just a few months ago. He was saying that, okay, due to COVID, they were never doing e-commerce, they need to build an e-commerce for that. So they were trying to choose a cloud provider for that, because it takes a long time for them to buy their servers and build an entire e-commerce from there. So they can use all the IaaS, PaaS capabilities in the e-commerce, in the cloud itself, to build e-commerce. But they also thought of, hey, I need my ecosystem because I need distribution. I need delivery. I need payment. Yeah, I can go and build all these things myself, but it’s going to take time and money. So if I can go onto a cloud, which has an ecosystem of partners who offer payment solutions, who offers delivery solutions, someone who offers supply chain tracking. All these things which Mr. Bean, when they are in the traditional retail selling in the MRT station, do not have, but until they move into e-commerce kind of way, all this ecosystem of partner solutions really benefit them a lot. Save time, save money. So this is a very simple example of SME going cloud, and leveraging on ecosystem play to really help them to grow their business.

FG = 5G [00:54:39]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:54:40] Definitely makes sense. So now we move to the last one, which is the 5G, the F G. So it’s a pretty promising technology. Many people are talking about it. There are so many use cases, probably will be unearthed because of this existence of 5G. There are some countries who have adopted 5Gs. But I’m sure I haven’t seen the whole potential how I can use 5G for myself and also for many people. So maybe you can help us here to redefine what would be the future with 5G enabled more widely?

Jim Lim: [00:55:10] Okay, this is a hot topic, but maybe before that, Henry, if I can ask you, what is the generation you are in? When you first start using, are you a 2G person or 3G or 4G?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:55:22] Actually, the technology 2G was widely available during that time, but I only started having hand phones since 3G.

Jim Lim: [00:55:29] 3G. So you don’t use the Nokia 3210?

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:55:33] I used it, but it was not mine. So it’s my parents'.

Jim Lim: [00:55:37] Nice, nice. Yeah. So we always joke about all this 2G phone, you have a representation, right? Nokia 3210 is a very famous one. But now you probably see that Nokia doesn’t do phones anymore. So that’s how fast the technology world is moving, the telco world. I think people always link all this 1G, 2G, 3G, all the way to 5G with just phone capabilities. And I think many people today may think that 5G is all about faster speed, faster download speed, and I can watch my video much faster, I can download my video much faster. I think that’s what people are expecting of 5G. But if we look at it that way, for 1G phone where people may remember what we call the “da ge da” phone, like a big water bottle, where you can even hit someone. So that is enabling the mobile technology. So you can do mobile communication instead of your home fixed line phone. So that’s 1G. 2G is like the Nokia 3210, where the killer application is SMS. So everybody remember, when 3G, 4G come, everybody say, what’s the killer application? Nobody knows. So SMS was the hottest killer application in the 2G world.

Actually I started using, it was 2G world. I actually implemented, when I was in Accenture, 3G in Singapore. I implemented 4G in Taiwan. So there was a lot of learning there. 3G was very interesting because then we start to realize, Hey, can do data, mobile data. So I can serve internet, although not fast enough, but I can serve internet. So just now we talk about data again, right? So data is a time where 3G actually does a lot of good for data, where really you make full use of data and making it meaningful and mobile. So 3G is a world of data or internet. And 4G is a world of video. So that’s where we start saying stop putting static websites or putting apps that are just photos, but you need to do video. Yes, we have YouTube for longest time. YouTube was surviving on internet, on website. But later on, with 4G, with better data, you actually can go into video streaming and a lot of all these apps and social media. That’s where WhatsApp in the 3G world also killed the IDD call. Who still use an IDD call nowadays? So things like this, and that’s probably precisely the reason people think, oh, it’s all about faster speed because that’s what happened from 2G to 3G, 3G to 4G.

So 5G, yes, it will give you better speed. But as I teach my students, in 5G, if you say you attended my 5G course before, you only need to remember three things. If you forget everything, remember three things. There’s this thing, I call it 5G capabilities triangle. So there are three capabilities that 5G will offer to us in this world. One is what we call EMB, Enhanced Mobile Broadband. So Enhanced Mobile Broadband, this is the one that gives you your faster speed, better throughputs, and everything. If you take five minutes to download something on your 4G phone today, tomorrow takes you less than one minute. So yes, this is the one that we will get. And this one we will even extend it further into AR/VR. Because you will be able to do 3D looking, doing virtual reality games and shows, doing smart tourism. So that is where EMBB capabilities offer you.

But there are two other capabilities that 5G can offer that 4G cannot. One is what we call MMTC, Massive Machine Type Communications. MMTC is something that is very similar to IOT today, Internet of Things. For those of you who know what’s Internet of Things, it’s actually in layman term, a lot of sensors connected with each other. Even in your smart lamppost, that kind of thing that will turn on, turn off, according to the people walking path, walking by. Or the smart metering that you have in your HDB flat. So those are IOT. So in future world, we are seeing that there will be more, especially in Singapore, we call it the Smart Nation, and in some of the companies called it connected world. So you are going to have a lot of these sensors, like from a home is a smart home talking to each other, to a larger city that’s talking to each other. So there are so many things, so many communications, so many data that need to be communicated here and there. And that is where the 5G capabilities enable, is you can imagine 5G is like a pipe. This is a big enough pipe where you can have many data, a lot of data that is going to float around inside, and be able to contribute to this massive machine type communication. Because if you have a small pipe, the pipe will get choked. Not just human talking to each other, now machine are also talking to each other. So that is MMTC.

The last capability is URLLC, Ultra Reliable Low Latency Connection. This is again something special for 5G. Because from a simple case of VR gaming, you may get giddy because your latency is high. The latency, not low enough, you will have some delay, for example, and people may feel giddy. So by the same token, there are a lot of remote work that can be done. In a health care, it will be like remote surgery. In other industry, it can be remote education. How to ensure that it’s very smooth. Like when you play a video on Zoom, there is latency. It’s not as smooth over a normal network. So 5G enabled ultra low reliable low latency that you can do a lot of this remote work without delay. And it’s very important. Because you imagine autonomous driving. Your delay in communication has to be sub-millisecond. If it’s too long, you may hit the person and kill the person already. Remote surgery, same thing, if I’m going to do Singapore with let’s say, a small rural area in one of the rural country, if I have not enough good low-latency, my one second here, will translate into one minute over the other side, and the patient may die already. So these are the things that ultra low latency is very important.

So 5G is a big topic. There’s a lot, we can talk about that. But I would just say that as a beginner, and even as a key takeaway for 5G, know this thing called 5G capabilities triangle. It was from IMT 2.0. And three key capabilities, EMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), MMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications), URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Connections).

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:01:40] Wow. In my mind, I can already think there are so many things that maybe the future, what we saw in movies, will be enabled by the introduction of these 5G more widely in our daily lives.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom [01:01:50]

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:01:50] Thanks so much for sharing all this. I know our time is reaching to the end. So maybe before we end that, just one last question that normally I ask all my guests. So Jim, do you have technical leadership wisdom that you want to give to the audience for them to think about and maybe adopt in their lives? Normally I would ask three. So do you have three technical leadership wisdom?

Jim Lim: [01:02:10] Yeah, sure. Maybe the first one I will say, not many people will think about is communication. A lot of people think that we are techies. Techies, you just need to go the techies way, which is accuracy, and build systems, and implement things. But for us who have done digital transformation, business transformation, run large complex system integration project, it’s actually all about human communication. Of course in future, you need to add in machine type communication. Communication is very important to ensure that whatever thing they were trying to do from a technology world is communicated. Communication is two ways. It’s not just I tell you something. So it’s communicated, it’s told, and understand by the receiving party. So I would say communication is very important as a tech leader. Don’t just go the techie way. You need the communication.

Then the second thing I will think about is just like any leaders, you need to be bold enough and daring enough to try new things. Today’s world, there are many, many new technologies. Like what we go through, ABCDEFG, and there are many others. Even things like quantum computing and many things that’s coming up. And then the EV and all those cars. So you need to be daring enough to try new things. And some of these may turn out to be not well. When I first started the Good Doctor, it’s very difficult to convince Singapore to do AI triaging. Because we still want to do video calls. But I can tell you, I launched Grab Health in Indonesia within six months. Yeah. So I think the willingness and daring to try something new, of course, considering all the risk factors is very important to keep innovations going for technology players. So in this case, that’s where we also see, apart from China, we can even see people like Middle East, and to some extent, Africa, leapfrogging the technology. Because they don’t have so much baggages and legacy as compared to some of the more developed countries. So they are more daring and willing to try. Actually, when I was in Huawei, there’s a company in Kenya, a telecom company. So the digital payment in Kenya is very, very well established. Much more established than all of us outside of that country. So I would say willing and daring to try new things so that you can leapfrog technology is very important as a tech leader as well.

And the last but not least is when we talk about AI just now as well, and the data, it’s the ethical side of things, and I will want to mention ethical and social side of things, gels back with what I want to do at 59stVentures. So don’t just do technology because it looks cool. Don’t just implement technology because it looks cool, it’s fun, and all those things. Those are important. But at the end of the day, we should always think back how this technology can help people. So, for example, I’ll say this whole year or last whole year, I was focusing a lot on elder care. Not many people are focusing on that. People are asking, Hey, these people are elders. Yes, we have an aging population. We have a silver tsunami. But why do you want to do technology for elders? First of all, they may not know how to use it. Secondly, is that your ROI may not be very high, because their life span is not as long. Yes, to some extent, yes. But at the end of the day, if you want to have a better society, you should look at how technology can help to bring a better wellbeing to the society. And elders is one part of it, and we are all going to be elders one day. Right? So to a more selfish note, I’m also trying to see how can I build technology for elder care, so that I may be the one who can benefit from it when I grow much older in a couple of years time. So I think, look at how technology can bring good social benefits to the society and the wellbeing of human. So these are my three, I’ll say, key takeaways as a tech leader.

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:05:53] So thanks for sharing that story. I think the story of the social goods for the elders, it means a lot especially, yeah, I’m thinking that I’ll be going through that age myself. So having those technologies available by then will be great as well. So thanks Jim for all the time that you spend. So if people want to connect with you or know more about you, is there any place online?

Jim Lim: [01:06:13] My LinkedIn. So you can search for Jim Lim. You will be able to see that. You can Google me, whether Jim Lim NCS or Jim Lim Huawei, you’ll get a lot of my contacts, and of course, I’ll pass you my personal email as well. You can email me, shienmin, SHIENMIN@gmail.com.

Henry Suryawirawan: [01:06:32] Thank you again, Jim. It’s a pleasure to have you in the show.

Jim Lim: [01:06:36] Thank you very much, Henry, for your invitation, and very nice talking to you. Very interactive.

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