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Tech News

15-09-2017
Innovation and Technology Venture Fund

The Government has launched the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund on 15-09-2017. It is now open for application by venture capital funds to become co-investment partners (Deadline: 15-01-2018). A briefing session will be held on 03-10-2017 at the Hong Kong Science Park. Interested venture capital funds are welcome to attend.

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18-10-2018
DHL Express partners SingPost to widen delivery offerings

DHL Express has partnered SingPost to expand its network of delivery options.With the partnership, more than 160 of SingPost’s parcel collection lockers, named POPStations, will be added to DHL’s network of lockers.This partnership is set to boost the number of parcel pick-up points in Singapore to over 400 locations. This is an increase from the existing 245 lockers in the DHL Express network of collection points established in collaboration with partners such as SwipBox, blu and Parcel Santa. An additional 46 Parcel Santa lockers, which are located in condominiums, are expected to be added to the network by the end of this year.Yasmin Khan, (Acting) Country Manager, DHL Express Singapore said, “The rise of e-commerce has established new shopping habits and expectations of the speed and convenience of package delivery. Singapore is no exception, given that it is one of the top drivers of e-commerce sales in the Southeast Asian region with the highest online share of total retail sales at 5.4% amongst the region’s five top economies. We hope to help deliver an exceptional online shopping experience to customers here from the first click, to the last mile by delivering packages when they want them, where they want them. We aim to do this by expanding our network, leveraging innovation across our service and offerings to better meet the needs of online shoppers.”Head of SP Parcels, SingPost, Freddy Chang said, “SingPost is happy to offer our POPStation services to DHL. As Singapore’s leading locker services provider, our goal is to provide maximum convenience to customers. As we approach the year-end peak season for online shopping, SingPost stands ready to satisfy the last-mile needs of eCommerce retailers, partners and customers in Singapore as well as worldwide.”Enhanced on-demand deliveryTo meet the needs of a highly mobile population and offer customers greater flexibility and convenience, DHL Express has also enhanced its On Demand Delivery (ODD) service. Offered via a mobile-optimized website, ODD enables customers to activate specific delivery options, including redirecting their deliveries to a parcel locker like a POPStation.A new Receiver Registration feature allows customers to store and re-use their delivery preferences for hassle-free experiences. Once registered, customers can specify and rank their preferences, with the first priority option being the default option for their next shipment delivery. These preferences can be changed at any time to suit receiver needs.The enhanced platform also features an improved shipment listing view. Users can now track multiple shipments according to their delivery status. This offers better visibility to customers who are on the go, making it easier for them to manage their delivery options. The enhanced ODD offers flexibility and convenience and caters to the demands of online shoppers who do not want to miss a delivery when away from home.Through ODD, DHL Express can proactively notify their customers of an upcoming shipment delivery via email and Short Message Service (SMS). A link to the platform is provided for customers to exercise specific delivery options from a desktop or mobile device. Customers can choose from six different options, including: redirecting to a DHL parcel locker or service counter; leaving shipment in a safe place or with neighbor, concierge or guard; changing the delivery date; and even putting shipments on hold during vacation. Delivery instructions make their way in real-time to DHL Express couriers, ensuring shipments are received at the right time and place, and at the convenience of the customer.  Caption: SingPost POPStation

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18-10-2018
Accenture introduces AI bots to improve patient health and care

Accenture has enhanced the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform with the addition of Ella and Ethan, two interactive virtual-assistant bots that use artificial intelligence (AI) to constantly learn and make intelligent recommendations for interactions between life sciences companies, patients, health care providers (HCPs) and caregivers. Designed to help improve a patient’s health and overall experience, the bots are part of Accenture’s Salesforce Fullforce Solutions powered by Salesforce Health Cloud and Einstein AI, as well as Amazon’s Alexa.The Ella and Ethan bots are part of the Patient Engagement Support solution in the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform, a digital health solution that supports patients throughout their healthcare experience, from participation in clinical trials to managing ongoing treatment and wellness. The bots are designed to deliver a more personalized patient experience and better patient support.Ella is a virtual care assistant for patients that provides medication reminders, vitals tracking and appointment scheduling. This information enables life sciences companies to provide patients with a personalized and interactive way to manage their health and engage with their care team members.Ethan is a virtual service assistant for health care providers that enables life sciences companies to help HCPs more easily engage with patients, better monitor their health activity, and coordinate with other care team members to provide critical services in a more holistic manner. This includes providing proactive recommendations on content and services for healthcare professionals to provide patients to support patient treatment and improve engagement.“The platform’s newest AI capabilities allow life sciences companies to make recommendations to best support the patient’s specific condition and lifestyle by gaining deeper insights into patient behavior — in real time,” said Tony Romito, managing director of Accenture Life Sciences. “With the inclusion of these new AI capabilities, the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform continues to expand the value of using analytics and collaborative technologies to support the healthcare industry’s goal to deliver better outcomes.”In addition to the introduction of the two bots, AI and process capabilities have been embedded throughout the Patient Engagement solution to improve the user experience, including:Onboarding Contact Center — that provides intelligent guided experiences on recommended steps to get patients access to therapy quicker and more easily. Adherence & Care Management Contact Center — where AI recommends actions at the point of need to keep patients on their treatment protocol with a more personalized and coordinated experience. Provider Portal & Mobile App — to provide physicians with better patient insights and fact-based, intelligent guidance on the content and services available for individual patient needs.

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17-10-2018
First wearable device addressing asthma launches own Kickstarter

Wearable respiratory device AireSone Junior launched its Kickstarter recently, and is set to run until 26th October 2018. The device stands to bring relief to parents of asthmatic children, with its campaign target set at $68,000.AireSone Junior is a respiratory wellness device developed by local-based company AEvice Health for children aged three and above. The device allows parents and caregivers to measure the vitals and sleep quality of children remotely via a wearable device which sends regular updates to their smart devices.AireSone Junior tracks the breathing rates of users through an innovative sensor which collects acoustic signals from the child which is in turn uploaded onto a cloud. The proprietary algorithm then analyses the respiration of the user according to the heart rate, respiratory rate and sleep quality.Based on the information gathered, the device ascribes an aggregate score, known as an AireScore to the child’s health. When it detects warning signs in a child’s vitals, or when the AireScore level falls below the expected rate, an alert will be sent to the parents’ smart devices on AireSone Junior’s accompanying app.The lightweight device which sits on the child’s chest via an adhesive hypoallergenic silicon patch, comes in three character designs with their very own backstories of overcoming their health issues. With Bobo the Bear, Ollie the Owl, and Fitto the Frog, AEvice hopes to make AireSone Junior an interactive experience between parents and their children.A cause for concernAccording to local studies, about 1 in 5 children in Singapore suffer from asthma, with the number expected to increase due to worsening air pollution levels and environmental conditions.“Parents who are anxious about their child’s health naturally wake up regularly at night to check on their child, resulting in stress, sleeplessness and exhaustion,” said Adrian Ang, CEO of AEvice Health.The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many young children are unable to properly articulate their own difficulties to adults. The asthma mortality rate in Singapore is 3 times that of other developed nations such as the United States and New Zealand.“By providing objective data on the child’s vital signs, we can equip parents with a better understanding of their child’s health. This allows them to intervene quickly if their child is feeling unwell,” said Rex Tan, CTO of AEvice Health.AireSone Junior is currently undergoing final developments and is expected to begin shipping from June 2019 onwards. Caption: credit: AEvice Health

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17-10-2018
Cryptocurrency mining surge continues in second quarter

McAfee, the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, recently released its McAfee Labs Threats Report: September 2018, examining the growth and trends of new cyber threats in Q2 2018. In the second quarter, McAfee Labs saw the surge in cryptomining malware growth that began in Q4 2017 and continued through the first half of 2018. McAfee also saw the continued adaptation of the type of malware vulnerability exploits used in the WannaCry and NotPetya outbreaks of 2017.Although less common than ransomware, cryptomining malware has quickly emerged as a factor on the threat landscape. After growing around 400,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017, new cryptomining malware samples grew a stunning 629% to more than 2.9 million samples in Q1 2018. This trend continued in Q2 as total samples grew by 86% with more than 2.5 million new samples. McAfee Labs has even identified what appear to be older malware such as ransomware newly retooled with mining capabilities.In some cases, cryptomining targets specific groups rather than a broad field of potential victims. One cryptomining malware strain has targeted gamers on a Russian forum by posing as a “mod” claiming to enhance popular games. Gamers were tricked into downloading the malicious software, which proceeded to use their computer resources for profit.While cryptomining malware primarily targets PCs, other devices have become victims. For instance, Android phones in China and Korea have been exploited by the ADB.Miner malware into producing Monero cryptocurrency for its perpetrators.“A few years ago, we wouldn’t think of internet routers, video-recording devices, and other Internet of Things devices as platforms for cryptomining because their CPU speeds were too insufficient to support such productivity,” said Christiaan Beek, Lead Scientist and Senior Principal Engineer with McAfee Advanced Threat Research. “Today, the tremendous volume of such devices online and their propensity for weak passwords present a very attractive platform for this activity. If I were a cybercriminal who owns a botnet of 100,000 such IoT devices, it would cost me next to nothing financially to produce enough cryptocurrency to create a new, profitable revenue stream.”Vulnerability exploit malwareA year after the outbreaks of the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, new malware samples specifically designed to exploit software vulnerabilities increased by 151% in Q2. McAfee saw the exploits from these two high-profile threats repurposed within new malware strains, and newly discovered vulnerability exploits similarly adapted to produce entirely new threats.“WannaCry and NotPetya provided cybercriminals compelling examples of how malware could use vulnerability exploits to gain a foothold on systems and then quickly propagate across networks,” Beek continued. “It’s still surprising to see numerous vulnerabilities from as far back as 2014 used successfully to spearhead attacks, even when there have been patches available for months and years to deflect exploits. This is a discouraging testament to the fact that users and organizations still must do a better job of patching vulnerabilities when fixes become available.”Pages1 2 » last »

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17-10-2018
US fashion label Theory launches on Tmall, targets Chinese market

New York-based clothing label, Theory has opened its first online store in China on Alibaba’s Tmall e-commerce marketplace.The fashion retailer launched its online store on Tmall Luxury Paviliion, a platform targeted at shoppers of high-end goods. The brand currently has 33 brick-and-mortar stores across 17 cities in China and expects to double this number in 3 years.The partnership will see Theory and Tmall will work closely to gain consumer insights, starting with providing the same bonus points, sales benefits and exclusive birthday perks to Theory’s VIP loyalty club members, both online and offline.Tmall also provided the brand with marketing support, such as promoting its popular merino wool and cashmere clothing on Tmall Cashmere Category Day, an online-to-offline, multi-brand marketing event that ran from Sept. 24 to 26. “Tmall’s partnership with Theory is a milestone in our continued market leadership in China as the premier B2C platform for fashion. We will empower Theory through our unparalleled data-driven consumer insight and New Retail technology to serve and discover fashion consumers across China, as well as build lasting relationship with customers,” said Jessica Liu, president of Tmall Fashion and Luxury. “We will continue to roll out similar campaigns with Theory. At the same time, the brand has already merged its online and offline membership system to ensure the most complete set of rewards and services for its customers across all its online and offline channels,” said Anita Lyu, vice president of Tmall Fashion.

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17-10-2018
UPS expands package delivery management service to Asia

UPS has expanded its UPS My Choice package delivery management service to 96 additional countries and territories, bringing the total to 112 served.With the entrance into countries and regions in Asia Pacific, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Caribbean and Central and South America, Middle East and Oceania, and an expansion in Europe, this package-delivery management service aims to help consumers and consignees around the world track, schedule, and redirect their packages.In Asia Pacific, UPS My Choice will be introduced in 13 markets, including Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. This expansion, the largest since the service was launched seven years ago, comes as membership in UPS My Choice crosses the 52 million-member mark worldwide. This combination of scale and geography provides shippers a distinct advantage as cross-border shopping increases. Every UPS My Choice user will have access to e-mail and text notifications that a delivery is on its way, a day before delivery alert and a delivery notification. In countries and territories where technology allows delivery change options, users can route packages to another address, opt to hold the delivery or reschedule for delivery on another day.The expansion comes in two phases: The first brought the service to 48 additional locations worldwide over the summer. Phase two, which includes another 48 countries and territories, begins this month.“While UPS has offered package tracking for more than a quarter of a century, we know that consumers today expect even more flexibility, control and convenience,” said Ross McCullough, President, UPS Asia Pacific Region. “The expansion of UPS My Choice into Asia, and other regions of the world, will equip both shippers and consumers with the tools they need to keep businesses and personal schedules running more smoothly, leading to a happier and easier transaction for everyone involved. With a new member signing up for UPS My Choice every four seconds, it’s easy to see that the benefits are valuable to online shoppers.” 

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17-10-2018
Worldpay extends real-time payouts to over 50 countries

Worldpay has launched new payout solutions that give multi-national eCommerce businesses more choices to disburse funds to partners and customers and across country borders.Worldpay’s dynamic payout solutions combine the enhanced Worldpay Bankout solution, which now delivers 154 direct bank disbursement destinations (up from 65), and Worldpay FastAccess – enabled by Visa Direct.With these payout options, partners and customers need no longer wait for days to receive funds or refunds as they now can obtain them via card in near real-time – through mobile wallet or directly to a local bank account.Bankout is targeted at businesses needing to make a large number of global payments to – or on behalf of – their customers and suppliers. With 89 new local markets, Worldpay now provides seamless cross-border payouts for businesses in local currencies without the expense of making multiple international bank transfers.Dynamic payouts allow businesses to make faster, seamless card-based payouts in near-real time within a maximum of 30 minutes. Building on its launch in the United States last year, FastAccess is now available to Worldpay customers in over 50 new markets across Europe and Asia.The new payout solutions are targeted at wide range of industries. For example, travel and tourism companies and marketplaces can pay out funds to accommodation vendors or disbursements to travellers in a variety of countries and currencies; gaming businesses can provide near-instant payouts to customers; insurance companies can save costs by replacing local checks with bank transfers; and marketplaces can allow independent sellers to retrieve funds more quickly.Shane Happach, executive vice president, Head of Global Enterprise eCommerce at Worldpay, Inc., said: “As more and more companies send payments at lower values, cross-border, it will become a competitive differentiator to send quicker payouts to consumers and inexpensive disbursements to vendors and suppliers. It is estimated that by 2025, the sharing economy will generate Europe-wide revenues worth over €80bn and facilitate nearly €570bn of transactions. At the heart are seamless, transparent, secure payouts, which can be made via card, mobile wallet or bank transfer in any currency, anywhere in the world.”

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17-10-2018
DBS/POSB enable instant approval for credit cards and loans via MyInfo

DBS Bank has launched an online application service that uses MyInfo, Singapore’s national personal data platform.The service enables new-to-bank (NTB) and existing customers to apply for a DBS/POSB credit card with instant approval, as well as open a DBS Cashline account online with immediate access to funds and related DBS Cashline account functions. The service is accessible to the 3.3 million registered SingPass holders in Singapore on both DBS/POSB internet banking and websites. It traditionally takes up to a week for NTB customers to receive their credit card or access to DBS Cashline. Application via MyInfo removes the need for traditional application processes and provides real-time application approval without physical documentation. Back-end operations such as Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes are also automated, while meeting MAS compliance standards.  To use this service, existing or NTB customers applying for a DBS/POSB credit card or DBS Cashline account can submit an online application via DBS/POSB internet banking or the bank’s websites, where they will be prompted to use MyInfo by logging in to their SingPass accounts. Upon customer consent, MyInfo will retrieve personal data from relevant government agencies to pre-populate relevant fields such as a customer’s official name, registered address and Notice of Assessment.  “Our focus here at DBS is to ensure customers can access our services with minimum fuss – MyInfo allows us to do this without compromising on quality, speed, and accuracy,” said Jeremy Soo, Head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore) at DBS Bank. “MyInfo adoption has been rapidly increasing since the service was introduced in March 2017. Today, one in four DBS/POSB customers will use MyInfo for online application services when given the option, and we expect this to increase with our latest credit card and DBS Cashline capabilities. We look forward to rolling out more services with MyInfo by the end of this year.” NTB customers who choose to apply for a credit card with DBS/POSB will be notified of the approved credit limit immediately. They will also receive a DBS/POSB digibank account for internet and mobile banking as part of the application. Meanwhile, NTB customers opting for a DBS Cashline account will be signed up for a DBS/POSB digibank account during application, where they can instantly access, transfer and withdraw funds, as well as pay bills, using DBS/POSB’s digital token. NTB or existing customers can soon use MyInfo to open a current or savings account, and benefit from instant access to the bank’s full suite of banking services via DBS/POSB internet and mobile banking.   

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17-10-2018
CIC launches blockchain-powered global physical commodities e-trading platform

Commodities Intelligence Centre (CIC) has launched Singapore’s first physical commodity B2B e-trading platform, together with its key industry partners ZALL SMARTCOMM (ZALL, a major B2B player in China), GeTS (Global eTrade Services) Asia Pte Ltd., a subsidiary of CrimsonLogic (a provider of eGovernment products and services, based in Singapore), and Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX).CIC is a one-stop global trading platform built on blockchain technology that aims to provide commodity traders around the world access to a range of services from transaction matching, one-click customs clearance, to supply chain financing and payment term options, as well as greater pooling of resources for both buyers and sellers.CIC trades in an extensive portfolio of products for which it has long-term and short-term business targets, including Oil & Petroleum, Chemical & Plastic, as well as Ferrous & Non-Ferrous Metals, and Agriculture Products. Since its trial operation in July, CIC has nearly reached a turnover of US$200 million - covering markets including China, Switzerland, Australia, India, Malaysia, and other countries within Asia – which includes successfully completing a Chinese silk reel transaction to India, as well as the import of a batch of UAE PVP materials into China.Powered by Blockchain, the CIC platform touts enhanced security across trade related documents, from Certificates of Origin, to Commercial Invoices. This enhances the transparency and trust between shippers, freight-forwarders and users, while providing a strategic edge to businesses trading on the platform.CEO Commodities Intelligence Centre, Peter Yu, said, “We are proud to launch Singapore’s first B2B e-trading platform that not only embraces blockchain technology to facilitate secure and compliant trade, but also creates greater trading synergies within and beyond ASEAN with China, and the rest of the world as well. With its strategic location and the opportunity to form an alliance with giants like Zall Smartcom, GeTS and SGX, Singapore was the perfect base to launch this platform.”“CIC is going to be a game-changing platform for Singapore’s commodity trading community.  As a shareholder and technology partner of CIC, GeTS and its CALISTA™ platform orchestrates the key physical and non-physical – such as regulatory and financial – logistics activities on a digital eco-system, making commodity trading easier, accessible, and predictable,” said Eugene Wong, Chairman of CrimsonLogic and GeTS.  “Importantly, CIC can revolutionize commodity trading by attracting more buyers and sellers globally to come on board, with the potential to lower and even stabilise the cost of commodities.”As part of its launch ceremony, CIC also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Marubeni Corporation (hereinafter, “Marubeni”), a leading Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate, to unlock commodities trade opportunities for Supply Chain Finance..Marubeni’s interest to collaborate with ZALL Smartcom comes off the back of the company’s plans to provide comprehensive trade financing capabilities to international SMEs through more finance channels.  The MOU sees Marubeni integrating the CIC to facilitate more payment term options to bridge buyers and sellers globally with greater ease and efficiency. The CIC platform will also help the business to streamline global trade by matching buyers and sellers of commodities, while also providing supply chain financing, faster clearance, and logistics services.

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16-10-2018
NETS launches service to facilitate payments collection for businesses

NETS has launched a new service that allows businesses to issue invoices and collect payments electronically, with the aim to speed up collections and and improve cash flow management for businesses. Named PayCollect, the service also aims to increase convenience for consumers when paying bills or invoices, due to the ability to make payments from mobile phones.With PayCollect, billing organisations can send e-invoices to their customers as a request-to-pay notification via SMS/email, for payment using DBS, OCBC, UOB or NETSPay mobile apps. After receiving the e-invoice, consumers can choose to pay by clicking on a link within the notification and be directed to a secure payment page for confirmation.PayCollect has also been integrated with popular accounting packages for corporates and SMEs who wish to go fully electronic for the entire billing, payment and reconciliation cycle. The organizations will be able to issue e-invoices, track payment status real-time and perform end-of-day reconciliation all within their accounting process. Accounting software MYOB offered by ABSS through a partnership with Mint Payments will be supported for a start, with other software packages following soon after.Smaller merchants such as delivery and personal services (for example, tuition providers, florists, drycleaners, handymen) without accounting packages will also be able to use PayCollect as only a customer’s mobile number is required for billing. An e-invoice can be sent to their customers for e-payments on-the-spot.  The service can also be used by charitable organizations to lower the operating costs associated with donations collections.KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital selectively implemented the PayCollect service with NETS in March this year for their wellness programmes and events to encourage more cashless payments.  Response has been positive with more participants using PayCollect to pay their fees.  The hospital is exploring extending the service. 

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16-10-2018
Not enough Singapore jobseekers looking for technology roles

An analysis of technology jobs on its platform by Indeed revealed that not enough jobseekers in Singapore are looking for technology roles. Job postings in cybersecurity, data science, machine learning, and robotics were compared to job searches/jobseeker interest in the same areas over a two-year period to understand the magnitude of the problem.Cybersecurity roles most challenging to fillIndeed’s research showed that the gap between job postings and job searches was most stark for roles in cybersecurity. From July 2016 to July 2018, growth in job searches for cybersecurity was negligible, despite job postings growing by over 500%. Recent high-profile cybersecurity headlines in Singapore, as well as an overall push by the government has led to an increasing demand for cybersecurity talent.Interest in machine learning and data analytics struggling to keep up with demandThere is increasing interest in machine learning and data analytics jobs in Singapore with searches for machine learning related roles increasing by 139% over two years. Jobseeker interest in data analytics is also on the rise, though at a much slower pace (48% growth).However, during the two years analyzed, the number of job postings in these areas grew exponentially. The number of roles in machine learning grew by more than 300% while data analytics was the fastest growing of the four fields analyzed, recording a whopping 700% increase in job postings.Gap in robotics slowly closingAt only 30%, growth in robotics jobs postings was not as steep as other industries analyzed. That said, jobseeker interest in robotics recorded the highest growth (64%), showing that the talent gap in robotics is closing.“We analyzed data for cybersecurity, machine learning, data analytics and robotics  due to their massive potential to be a disruptor of business. The demand for talent in these areas is currently going unfulfilled as evidenced by the lack of interest from job-seekers. Businesses, educators, and governments should make every effort they can to encourage talent in these areas and grow a diverse technology talent pool so that Singapore can continue to progress as a technology leader in ASEAN,” said Andrew McGlinchey, senior director, Indeed Asia-Pacific. 

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16-10-2018
Adobe unveils major updates to Creative Cloud

Adobe on Monday announced major updates across its Creative Cloud family of applications and released a new video editing app designed to cater to social media creators.Creative Cloud updatesApplications that are updated include Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, Illustrator CC, InDesign CC, Premiere Pro CC and Adobe XD. The latter adds new voice capabilities and integrates screen and voice prototyping within the same application. In addition, new workflows and integration apps were added to address the needs of the video animation industry, such as the addition of Animate to After Effects.Adobe dabbled in multi-surface creation with the preview of two mobile apps: Photoshop CC on iPad and Project Gemini. Photoshop CC has been redesigned for a modern touch experience and will now open and edit native PSD files, while the latter combines raster, vector and the ability to draw with dynamic brushes into a single app built for drawing.Adobe Premiere Rush CC, a new all-in-one video editing app was also introduced. Designed to help social media creators simplify video creation and sharing them on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, it offers one-click auto-duck feature to adjust music and normalize sound. Creators can use it to create and publish video content using different devices, yet deliver a consistent user experience across desktop and mobile.“Today, we unveiled a portfolio of next-generation creative apps that deliver meaningful value to our community by transforming creative workflows across devices and platforms,” said Scott Belsky, the chief product officer and executive vice president of Creative Cloud at Adobe.“By continuing to innovate in our flagship apps, extending into exploding segments such as experience design and social video creation, and pioneering in emerging mediums like touch, voice, 3D and augmented reality, Adobe Creative Cloud has truly become the creativity platform for all.”Further reading:Adobe announces new AI-powered features for personalized customer experiencesAdobe: Why it pays to be an experience businessAdobe unveils analytics for offline and online audio Caption: Image credit: Adobe

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15-10-2018
Cerulli: Interests in alternative will intensify competition for assets

The Cerulli Associates report, Non-Traditional Strategies in Asia 2018: The Changing Product Landscape, noted that the investment product landscape in Asia is changing as traditional managers are broadening their capabilities not only in alternative investments, but also in emerging long-term thematic strategies and low-cost smart beta products. Each of these segments offers opportunities to managers to varying degrees, but they need to overcome the unique challenges of each of these asset classes.Asian institutional investors’ allocation to alternatives is expected to intensify with the uncertain outlook in public markets. An increasing number of institutional investors—led by sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds—are embracing private equity, either on their own or through co-investments or the fund route. Strong demand has pushed private equity valuations to high levels, leading to a rise in dry powder. Although the healthcare and technology sectors offer opportunities, finding the right deals takes time.“Given that private equity is relatively high risk and less transparent, investors prefer to partner with managers with good and long track records, making it challenging for novice fund managers to promote themselves in this highly competitive environment. Further, institutions often utilize co-investments as an avenue to achieve fee savings and gain understanding of the direct investments arena,” said Della Lin, a senior analyst with Cerulli.The need for yield is also pushing investors to explore sub-investment-grade tranches and mezzanine debt. In real estate, most Asia-Pacific investors are keen on commercial property, but some institutions are toying with other sectors, such as student housing and senior homes, which are not correlated to macroeconomic events. Infrastructure, which is under-represented in asset owners’ portfolios, is essentially for big managers due to the long gestation period of assets, and the risk of a few projects being delayed by political uncertainties.The expectation of fee pressures is also pushing some active managers to come up with approaches to differentiate themselves from passive giants; for example, by building smart beta products. Such funds are still in their infancy in Asia, but consistent outperformance and greater product variety could encourage wider adoption by investors.Cerulli believed that both traditional and non-traditional, and active and passive strategies will have complementary roles to play in investors’ portfolios to help them respond to changing market conditions, without replacing each other.“New products and alternative strategies will continue to develop further in Asia, as managers broaden their product offerings and fill the gaps. Managers lured by the high fees of non-traditional strategies should take into consideration the challenges of the game, as they compete against well-established alternative specialists, with even the large traditional managers positioning themselves as full-service providers. The same goes for passives, where the market is dominated by a few giants,” Cerulli associate director Leena Dagade added.Managers are also exploring thematic ideas, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. However, the use of AI is very nascent in Asia, while ESG investing is hampered by the lack of clear definitions, the scarcity of data disclosures in Asian markets, perception of low returns, retail investors’ short-term investment horizons, and lack of awareness. Over the longer term, though, as asset owners increasingly prioritize ESG criteria in selecting managers, sustainable investing could become part and parcel of the investment process. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto/LeoWolfert

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15-10-2018
IDC says intelligent automation to reshape Indonesia financial market

At its annual Fintech Innovation Summit in Jakarta IDC Financial Insights revealed that the emergence of Intelligent Automation (IA) will be a key area of investment among leading Indonesian financial institutions to improve customer engagement.The analyst defines IA as the bringing together of cognitive-enabled channels, business process reengineering, robotics automation, and human-augmentation through artificial intelligence.IDC expects technology spending for the Indonesia financial services industry will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5%, reaching IDR 23 trillion in 2022 from IDR 12 trillion in 2017."Intelligent Automation will put the customer at the center of financial services. More than ever, the needs, behavior, and intent of Indonesian customers will be used to design personal and meaningful customer engagement. Interactions will be supported by greater automation so that not only are they efficient but that they also become more real-time," said Michael Araneta, AVP for IDC Financial Insights Asia/Pacific.IDC Financial Insights also predicts a clearer correlation between investments into new tech and the institution’s success in customer engagement. "The market for customer relationship management will grow by 12.9% in the next 4 years reaching to IDR 234 billion by 2022,” said Handojo Triyanto, Senior Research Manager for IDC Financial Insights.“The double-digit CAGR that we are expecting for customer centricity is driven by emerging technologies that will see massive customer adoption in the next 2-3 years such as mobile payments, external APIs, connected core, lending as a service, corporate banking analytics, customer experience, and next-generation security. Financial institutions in Indonesia need to be bold in their approach to reconfigure existing technologies to support the customer centricity,” Triyanto continued.IDC noted that the focus on the customer centricity has been sidelined previously by other areas of concern such as risk management, fraud management, and regulatory compliance. The Indonesian financial market is set to make new investments in customer experience which will be personalized, real-time, and proactive. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto/Oleksii Spesyvtsev

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15-10-2018
Novarica says digital tops IT spending among insurers

Total spending levels and patterns are roughly consistent with prior years as insurers attempt to squeeze new digital, analytics, and security initiatives into essentially static budgets. Overall budget trends and spending patterns continue to hold in aggregate, but there are significant variations between companies. Small shifts away from core systems spending toward digital, data, and security are starting to be visible.Novarica’s 11th annual insurer IT budgets and projects report identifies three important findings:Historical norms govern budgets, with total IT spending at 3.7% of premium. OpEx/CapEx splits and IT staff ratios are all similar to those in previous years. Run/Grow/Transform spending breakdowns remain at roughly 55/25/20. Life insurers are focused on digital, property/casualty insurers on analytics and speed to market. Both sectors increasingly see talent and improving IT operations as key IT challenges. Core systems replacement volume is starting to wane. Projects are still common, but new replacement projects are down slightly from previous years as prior investments start to come online.The report concludes that business leaders are demanding additional capabilities in analytics, digital, and speed to market; IT organizations are responding with enhancements of existing systems and replacements of legacy.While replacement activity is still significant, it is ebbing somewhat, especially among property/casualty insurers as the investments of the past decade are going into production.Across the board, there seem to be the beginnings of a shift away from investing in core systems toward digital and data/analytics systems.This reflects previous core investments, as well as the increased importance of digital and data. But overall, spending levels remain essentially consistent, with some insurers spending slightly more, some holding steady, and a smaller number making cuts. Caption: Image from iStockPhoto/stevanovicigor

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