Leveraging on open data

(Above) The home page of the Sarawak Open Data platform, which can be accessed at https://data.sarawak.gov.my/.

At the recent International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) 2018, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg launched the Sarawak Open Data platform.

It was designed to give people access to open government datasets for research, application development, and other purposes.

Sarawak’s Open Government Data platform will now be a part of the hundreds of open data initiatives available around the world.

They are usually developed at different levels, from country-level open data such as Australia, India, and Malaysia, to cities like Buenos Aires, London, and Vancouver, and even individual agencies or sectors such as government agencies in the United States.

Open data is meant to be used, reused, and shared with anyone without restrictions, and while its concept isn’t new, it has become more defined and important in stimulating a country’s economy through digital advancement.

Numerous studies have highlighted the values of open data; for instance, improving efficiency and effectiveness of public services, and building better relations between the government and citizens through transparency, accountability, and engagement.

Here are some other benefits from leveraging on this largely untapped resource:

Makes research less tedious

Finding information through an open data is more convenient because it can be accessed from a single platform at any time, making it easier for academics, the public sector, industries, and students to gather necessary facts and figures during their research.

As the data gets updated, analysing their trends and changes also becomes less cumbersome since both old and new information can be found in one location.

Drives innovation

Reusing and combining information from different datasets in the open data can lead to greater potential in the development of new products, services, and applications, or improvement of existing ones.

In fact, open data has been a means to encourage innovation through the promotion of its usage as seen from the likes of competitions, hackathons, and datathons.

Fosters entrepreneurship

Whether in fulfilling unmet needs or solving problems that can uplift community wellbeing, aspiring entrepreneurs that are in need of information can use the open data to further understand their potential target market.

Entrepreneurs and general users can also provide feedback to data providers regarding the data they are using or data they hope to see in the future, thereby increasing the demand for more enhanced open data.

Creates new jobs

As the digital economy progresses, the need for more open data professionals will increase as a result of jobs created from more open data initiatives or data-driven organisations.

Sarawak, in particular, hopes to develop data-driven technologies that can enhance major sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing in order to spur the state’s overall economic growth.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2LfuyKZ

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Soft skills needed to thrive in the IT field

If you think working in the world of tech only requires you to deal with computers and code, then you’re in for a surprise.

Since information technology (IT) personnel deal with the matter of tech itself, most people assume that IT professionals don’t have to deal with the various stakeholders including clients.

While it’s true that the IT field does require you to be equipped with the right technical skills, the job also requires having the right ‘soft skills’ in order for you to be able to collaborate with colleagues or gather specifications from clients.

Known as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’, these soft skills including having a positive attitude, enthusiasm, and good organisational abilities refer to the way you relate to and interact with other people.

Good communication

A good IT professional should be able to understand the needs of clients when delivering tech solutions and this would require good communication skills.

When working in a tech environment, you would often have to deal with non-technical people and as such you will have to explain technical terms and processes in easy-to-understand language, especially to customers and employers. This is particularly important if you need people to support and understand your projects.

Creativity and problem-solving skills

As an IT professional, creativity and innovation in problem solving, as well as a high level of imagination are vital for coming up with unique solutions.

Problem-solving is also more than merely solving technical issues, as you would also need to give suggestions on how to enhance your existing products, procedures and services.

Teamwork and building relationships

Often times, IT projects would be handled by a team of professionals with different expertise rather than by just one individual. So, for a team of IT professionals to work together, teamwork would be essential.

This is because you will need to understand each other’s problems, ideas and suggestions for you to ensure the project outcome is a success.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, May 12, 2018.

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels.

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A peek into the e-commerce landscape in Malaysia

(Above) iprice.my’s “The Map of E-Commerce Malaysia”. Read iprice.my’s story here for the details.

Electronic commerce or e-commerce will play a much bigger role in the development of Sarawak, especially with our state’s focus on developing a digital economy.

For those unfamiliar with what e-commerce is, ecommerceguide.com presents one of the simplest definitions: “e-commerce refers to commercial transactions conducted online, so whenever you buy something or sell something over the Internet, you’re involved in e-commerce”.

For those of you who are involved in selling products or services over the Internet, or are interested in setting up an online business, it may be useful to learn what the current scenario of e-commerce is like in Malaysia.

Recently, iprice.my came up with ‘The Map of E-commerce in Malaysia’ for the first quarter of this year, which ranked the country’s top e-commerce players, namely the online marketplaces, based on their average quarterly traffic, mobile application ranking, social media followers and number of staff.

The list of online marketplaces included e-commerce players with more than 100,000 visitors per month or at least 100,000 social media followers.

For this article, we’ll only look at the Top 5 e-commerce players on this list, based on average monthly visits, which is led by Lazada with 48.5 million visits, followed by Shopee (13.7 million), 11 Street (13.2 million), Lelong (9.6 million), and Zalora (2.5 million).

Unsurprisingly, most of the same players also had the largest following on Facebook, namely Lazada with 22.8 million followers, followed by Sephora (17.4 million), Shopee (9 million), Zalora (7.2 million) and 11 Street (1.6 million). On this list, however, only 11 Street featured country-specific numbers of Facebook followers.

With social media playing a big role in terms of creating awareness on the latest deals for their customers, figures such as the number of followers on the main social networks are an important aspect of business for these online merchants.

No doubt, these online marketplaces are familiar to most online shoppers, and as such for those of you thinking of starting your online business, some of these could be the perfect platform for you, while others may not be a good fit.

When looking for the best online marketplace, you should find out what they have in terms of training support, market rate commissions, shipping system, and the traffic that they have.

Most importantly, take the time to research each and every one of the platforms that you are considering so that the online marketplace you pick will be the best fit for your online business.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2wfOidT

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Ask away!

To thrive in a digital economy, we need to be innovative and creative, and that requires the habit of asking questions.

Making it a habit isn’t very hard, but sometimes we find ourselves unwilling to ask questions – perhaps because we don’t think it’s necessary (apathy) or we feel we know ‘enough’ (overconfidence), or we don’t want to appear rude, weak, ignorant and unsure (fear) by asking ‘stupid’ questions.

Yet, asking questions is essential in innovation and entrepreneurship because it’s an effective way to find and identify issues that would come to define the nature of our product, service, or overall business.

Moreover, as we become more dependent on technology in our daily lives, it’s always helpful to know how the apps or devices we use function aside from knowing the basics.

For instance, if we’re not sure how to maintain our smartphones, we can find out with questions such as “How do we ensure our phone is always in good condition?” or “Why do some apps consume more power and space?” or “How can we protect our phone from being hacked?”

Beyond just answers, asking the right questions can bring about other benefits:

A better understanding

Asking a combination of open-ended and detailed questions can lead to answers that clarify your doubts about a process, situation or issue.

The more in depth these answers are, the clearer your understanding becomes, and that can improve your critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

A more open mind

Making ‘questioning’ a habit, particularly when talking to people of different cultures and values, can broaden your knowledge, especially as you listen to their points of view without prejudgment.

This is also applicable to your tackling of new topics because it encourages new exploration and insight.

By keeping an open mind, your brain becomes more flexible, thereby enabling you to absorb and access information more easily.

A greater sense of empathy

Gaining new perspectives can also strengthen your empathy, particularly in being aware of the nature of professionals from different fields.

For example, non-IT individuals will be able to identify with IT professionals by considering their work function and process.

This is because, despite their highly technical proficiency, IT professionals need time to produce the likes of apps and software, given that these products don’t develop overnight.

A better lifelong learner

Above all, asking questions and finding answers constantly helps to boost your learning ability, and even enables you to be more aware of yourself.

This is due to your willingness to take the time to learn about a subject in depth, making you an active learner instead of a passive observer.

So, make it a habit to ask the right questions so that you can become a more capable individual.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Za man Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2Fp97TA

Image Source: Inspiration Bits

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Creating content in the digital era

(Above) Instead of consuming too much content, we should try to create them.

The Internet revolution and development of digital technologies have made information more available and accessible than ever before, transforming the way we watch, listen, read, and share information.

Rather than just constantly keeping up with our social media feed or checking out the latest viral videos, we should also think about the process of generating such digital media content, especially if you’re communicating on behalf of your business or organisation.

Content creation involves producing ideas, facts, concepts, or messages for end users; in the digital age, content can be found in the form of infographics, blog posts, podcasts, videos, and other digital media.

Be it for entertainment, education, marketing, or any other reason, content creation in the digital era can come from official online media outlets such as news portals, magazines, and broadcasters, as well as the general populace, who are getting more connected worldwide through the Internet.

As content creators, the digital platform gives you the advantage of having a better understanding of who your audience is and their responses to your content in real time allow you to engage with them immediately and improve your materials based on their feedback.

If you’re running an online business, having high-quality content crafted as part of your marketing strategy not only draws customers and drives traffic, but also boosts brand recognition and increases revenue.

Building an online presence can be achieved through, among others, the design of your business website, keywords incorporated into your social media posts, or how you title your video to gain more views.

Also, in a world where many might become excessive in absorbing online content, content creation actually helps to enhance your creativity and reduce the stress from being too attached to the source of your compulsive digital consumption.

In fact, creating digital content gives you the opportunity to express and share your perspective on issues that mean something to you, as well as learn different viewpoints from others, thereby building connections with them.

Some common factors to take into account when producing successful content include your target audience, the genre of the material you’re creating, and the medium in which you intend to present your content.

What matters most, however, is the purpose, quality, and value of your content; at the same time the content needs to be produced responsibly for long-term relationships instead of short-term popularity.

Improving your content creation skills requires continuous experimentation and consistency in crafting your materials. With time and effort, you’ll be able to find your unique voice as a content creator.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2qQZM2F

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Common misconceptions about a tech career

There are a lot of mistaken beliefs surrounding working in the field of technology. This has made some youths reluctant to venture into careers in tech.

To help you better understand jobs in the tech industry, this week’s column will debunk some of the common misconceptions that you might often hear about tech careers.

Misconception 1: It’s all about math, science and coding 

Unless you specialise in data analysis or cyber security, you do not need to excel in math, science and coding, as there are plenty of jobs in the tech field that do not directly involve the application and development of technologies.

Among jobs in the tech sector that do not require you to be a programming genius include graphic designer, project manager, system administrator and technical writer.

Instead, these jobs require you to have ‘soft skills’ such as good communication skills and organisational skills.

Misconception 2: Tech is not a field for women

While it is true that the tech industry is predominantly dominated by male workers, more and more women are beginning to pursue careers in the industry.

This is probably due to the waning myth that women are not as good as men in math and technology, as equal opportunities have enabled more women to be represented in the field.

In fact, today’s tech field is made up of a diverse group of individuals with different sets of skills and specialities.

And with access to the right technology, education and opportunities, women can challenge that perception by showing what they can do in the field.

Misconception 3: There is no creativity in the tech field

Strangely many people assume that working in this field requires no creativity. In reality, however, creativity is needed for a successful career as the industry requires workers to have creative ways of solving problems as well as creating new products and applications.

Misconception 4: You will work in a tech company

When pursuing a tech career, you might think that you need to work in tech companies to be relevant. However, technology has created vast opportunities in plenty of other fields such as business, sports, fashion, medicine and art.

As more companies begin to rely on different technologies, you might find that there are numerous opportunities to work in various fields by focusing on the technological aspects.

In the age of technology, the tech sector is booming and there are plenty of opportunities for youths to grab and explore. As the fourth industrial revolution continues to expand, demand from companies seeking employees with various sets of skills will continue to soar.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

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Get ready for artificial intelligence

In movies, artificial intelligence (AI) is usually portrayed in a bad light; depicted as human-like machines taking over the world and ultimately controlling human lives, such as in the ‘Terminator’ movies.

However, these days, AI, which is the ability of digital computers to perform tasks commonly associated with human intelligence, has become not just a hot topic of conversation but has also started to play a bigger role in our lives.

You may or may not realise it, but the present generation has been exposed to applications of AI, most popularly in Apple’s ‘intelligent personal assistant’ Siri, and even on websites such as Amazon.com, which uses transactional AI, and on Netflix, which employs sophisticated predictive technology.

While machines may not be taking over the world just yet, demand for AI continues to increase as it cuts across almost all fields and industries including finance, biotech, healthcare, and education.

As great as AI is, there have been long-term debates on how it could potentially take jobs away in the future.

In 10 to 20 years, jobs involving routine tasks such as cashiers, manufacturing workers, and accountants, might be in danger of being replaced by automation.

But, while that is happening, the revolution of AI will also create new job opportunities.

According to the research firm Gartner, the adoption of AI technology could wipe out 1.8 million jobs, but on the other hand it could also create 2.3 million jobs by 2020.

With AI displacing more and more jobs, work is shifting more towards creativity, entrepreneurism, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence.

Within the present education system, some of our students are already exposed to new skill sets such as programming, which will help prepare them for the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ that is just beginning.

Apart from exploring the necessary knowledge and skills such as programming languages, those of you interested in pursuing careers in fields related to AI should also be familiar with all the industry trends in the usage of this technology.

And as AI technology becomes more pervasive, you might also find it helpful that there are a handful of degree courses available in this field that can prepare you for future job and career opportunities such as data scientists, research analysts, software developers, and computer engineers.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2IefFq3

 

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How to ensure that you are digitally literate

As citizens of a world that is increasingly influenced by technology and the Internet, it is very important for us to be ‘digitally literate’.

The definition of ‘digital literacy’ has changed with the evolution of technology; at present, it refers to our competence to find, evaluate, share, communicate, and create content digitally in an ethical manner.

Compared to digital skills that focus on technical usage, digital literacy looks at our navigation through numerous forms of digital media, whether offline or online via our computers or mobile devices.

For instance, conducting an online search or posting on social media sites are digital skills, while our ability to search effectively or use social media carefully (such as authenticating which information is real or fake) is part of digital literacy.

A digitally literate person is highly aware of the aspects of digital media and information, and is responsible in using technology when interacting with others.

This means having skills relevant to the digital age such as critical thinking, communication and information management, and in the global environment, having a great understanding of different cultures, languages, and communication approaches.

With the advent of digital economy, more businesses and public services are going online, while technological productivity and innovation across industries have become key factors in a country’s economic growth.

Thus, beyond technological skills, a digitally literate workforce is capable of adapting and thriving in various digital environments, and creating meaningful content through collaborations.

In fact, more jobs require high ICT competencies, and several studies suggest that talents with a strong foundation in digital literacy are more employable in the labour market.

The demand for digitally literate workers is perhaps the reason why many digital literacy discussions focus on early exposure through education, for today’s generation of children and youths are digital natives, who are already familiar with digital technology from an early age.

Parents and teachers are encouraged to teach them crucial digital literacy skills such as online privacy and protection, effective online research, and appropriate online behaviour.

Still, it is never too late for you to improve your digital literacy; regardless of age, having digital literacy not only supports your academic and career endeavours, but also your participation in the society at large.

Therefore, you need to be comfortable with being in the digital landscape and understand the value of using digital platforms to improve your confidence and fluency in digital literacy.

You also need to practise and hone your skills in using these platforms constantly, and commit to becoming a lifelong learner of digital technology so that you are prepared for the next digital technological evolution.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2G6h70S

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels.

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Are you 3D printing yet?

(Above) A 3D printer on display at the Anybook Oxford Libraries Conference in 2015. Image Source: Karen Blakeman @ Flickr.

Perhaps 30 years ago, three dimensional (3D) printing seemed to be a thing that would only appear in science fiction movies.

These days however, 3D printing has been gaining momentum globally and in Sarawak it has been made available to a wider audience through TEGAS Digital Innovation Hub and the Digital Economy Hub (DEH) for commercial uses.

For those who want to learn more about the process, there are various websites that offer online courses on 3D printing to create digital designs and turn them into physical objects.

In line with Sarawak’s vision of developing a digital economy, 3D printing could be a good platform to promote innovation and creativity, especially among youths.

Essentially, 3D printing is achieved through a method known as additive printing; it is an interesting piece of innovation that works by ‘printing’ objects using materials such as rubber or metal instead of ink.

It is a process of making three-dimensional objects from digital image by adding successive layers of materials until the final object is created.

According to some reports, the potential for 3D printing is highest in the automotive and aerospace industries for product development and prototyping.

Although popular with the big companies in those industries, some might wonder how it’s going to be relevant for everyday use by the masses.

Actually, the potential uses of 3D printing are endless, as it has now managed to infiltrate almost every industry at some capacity such as arts and design, manufacturing, education and research.

For instance, in the healthcare sector, 3D printing provides a platform for emerging research areas including muscle and organ printing.

Besides commercial industries, 3D printing is now paving its way towards education as some educators found that 3D printing to be an engaging and interactive tool among their students.

This ability to produce objects in 3D form is revolutionising the way people learn and even teach.

For instance, 3D printers can be used in geography courses to print out maps showing the topography of an area.

Apart from that, engineering and design students could create 3D versions of their prototypes, while medical science students might find learning to be more interesting when they can study cross sections of internal organs or molecules by using 3D models.

Globally, there is a tremendous increase in the number of people using 3D printing and as such it would be a valuable skill to be familiar with, regardless of what field you decide to enter in the future.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, March 17, 2018.

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Debunking the myths of STEM

(Above) A creative field like filmmaking can be as technical as it can be artistic, hence the need for STEM skills. This is a behind-the-scenes look at 2013’s Man of Steel (dir. Zack Snyder), which you can check it out in this source link.

By now, you’ve most likely heard of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – which continues to change the world through scientific and technological advancements.

In fact, Sarawak has been taking necessary steps to develop and strengthen STEM culture through education and community engagement in order to build a STEM-driven workforce as part of its digital economic transformation.

However, while consisting of careers that can guarantee success for both men and  women, there are still misconceptions regarding STEM. As you will find out below, these myths are no longer relevant with current realities:

Myth 1: STEM is a serious field

Most of the time, STEM is considered serious and is associated with indoor  laboratory research, microscopes, gadgets or electronic circuits.

In truth, it can actually be fun because you have the opportunity to perform experiments and possibly discover something new out of your research, whether in an actual laboratory or out in the field.

Plus, today’s STEM isn’t limited to agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing, instead it can be found in game development, cosmetics and even sports. Suffice to say, you have a wide range of career paths to choose from when it comes to STEM.

Myth 2: There is no creativity in STEM

When you conduct experiments, you need to find ways to tackle them, which means your problem-solving abilities depend on how creative and innovative you can get.

Studying and working in STEM-related fields also enable you to develop your soft skills, be it working with others, thinking critically, making decisions or learning from your failures.

Myth 3: A STEM job requires a degree

Some of today’s STEM jobs such as graphic designers,  mobile application developers, and technicians don’t necessarily require attending a three- to four-year university degree programme.

Instead, you can learn and master the needed skills through online courses or STEM-based programmes at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, which can be completed for less than two years.

Myth 4: STEM is only for scientists and engineers

As mentioned earlier, today’s STEM offers many career paths in a number of industries due to its basic principles and skills that can be applicable to various fields.

Given that Industry 4.0 is upon us, the demand for STEM talents is high, even in fields that are supposedly unrelated to STEM, including education, finance and media. Thus, you need to build on your STEM literacy so that you are capable of approaching a problem logically.

Ultimately, you need to have the interest, be willing to adapt and constantly stay up-to-date with the latest scientific and technological news and research to thrive in and contribute to your community through STEM.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2DjYBMk

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