Dr Sanjay Kuttan, Chief Technology Officer, Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation looks back on a year when connecting with people remained key to moving forward.
Coming out of a pandemic, and into a series of challenging global and local situations — logistics issues, inflation, rising costs, workforce evaluation, disruptive technologies, clouded judgement etc. etc. — how will 2023 shape up?
STORM-ASIA talks to industry players about their observations and approach to the new year. The interviews will be featured over the month of December.
The Human Touch
As I see it, the 2023 will present to us, like always, both opportunities and challenges. In the case of the former, the top three for me are opportunities around the areas of Sustainability, Work and Entrepreneurship. Specifically, as these are huge domains on their own, I would distil the following sub-topics within each domain.
On sustainability, with rise of green washing in tandem with the rise of sustainability reporting under the banner of ESG policies, legitimate services that help organisations evaluate, execute and report their performance against ESG related KPIs, will become more valuable.
Data and information-driven software or technological solutions that can help close the capability — time gap faced by organisations to get these reports pulled together will have a unique value proposition. Capability building within organisations that bring together knowledge of company operations and sustainability reporting will be more important.
Two strong hands are need to clap loudly. New financial instruments that promote the proliferation of sustainability rather recolouring old instruments green is essential and presents an opportunity to value-add to the sustainability drive.
Input vs Output
The pandemic has also opened our eyes to the new work practice — working from home. Once considered a forward thinking approach to work, it has become the norm.
However, old habits die hard (at least for certain type of leaders). The reality is that companies should be driven by outputs rather than visible inputs. There is an argument for face-to-face presence in office e.g., brainstorming, relationship building, managing team dynamics of new staff.
However, as the pandemic period has shown, much can be done by working remotely. It also allows employees to better balance family and work needs. A few lazy recalcitrant employees should not drive an important trend backwards. To this end, enabling technologies, services and organised activities can enhance the overall working experience.
There is a cost to the organisation with high employee turnover — recruiting, training, loss of productivity, and increasing stress for remaining employees.
Human resource managers need to re-think retention policies, performance evaluation criteria and fair remuneration. New human resource models need to be developed, deployed and their success shared. Novel platforms that facilitate efficient team building, project management, Just-in-time capability building and new leadership mindset development will be needed.
The open access to knowledge and information has accelerated the emergence of entrepreneurs. The challenge is sifting through the myriad passion-driven ideas and choosing the winner. Investors who are not savvy about technological solutions and problem statements that are being addressed may find themselves in a quandary. Either jumping in because of the fear of missing out (FOMO) without proper due diligence or foregoing the opportunity because of fear of failure (aka ‘kiasi’) due to lack of knowledge. The opportunity then arises for those who have the knowledge to help those with the money to invest in solutions that will reshape our lives and make it better.
As the sun rises every day, the sun sets as well, hence the challenges in 2023 — at least my two cents’ worth — are not very insightful; it’s common knowledge.
At the global level, polarisation of economies and societies due to the prevalence of mis-information, rise in nationalism and ultra-conservatives. The dominant power of the corrupted continues to plague humanity and is becoming more prevalent.
At the national level, the increasing disconnect between policy and decision makers with the reality of the needs on the ‘ground’ will continue to diverge.
Especially where political survival overshadows the needs of the community they serve, it creates for poor nation building.
This also creates problems for businesses that are unable to strategize business investments due to incoherent policy making. The challenge is to create stronger business–union–government relationships to move national agendas forward that serve the needs of all communities within the nation.
At an individual level, mental health is being tested where the young, the weak, and the vulnerable are succumbing to economic and social pressures. Joblessness arising from economic slowdown, corporate restructuring and capability mismatch fuels the sense of hopelessness. Hopelessness is a disease that is spreading insidiously within the psyche of individuals where their silent cry is only heard by the discerning.
Regardless, especially after almost three years of the pandemic, like every year with the new year, we will have to move forward; hopefully with more love and care for our fellow men, courage to rise to the challenges and excitement about the possibilities from the opportunities that will present themselves in the coming year.
For the next 365 nights in 2023, we will go to bed and ponder about the day we just lived and be thankful that we can wake up in the morning ready to face a brand new day despite everything we carry on our shoulders, in our hearts and minds.