IN GUIDING the next generation into the modern working environment, Asst Prof Ben Choi has to serve as a bridge between the past, present and future.
At the Nanyang Technological University, he instructs on information technology and operations management, which is a dynamic area that is undergoing constant change.
The growth of the sharing economy and its opportunities is an area that Choi is closely following and he talks about the opportunities ahead Keep It Going: By Design — The Biz Behind The Sharing Economy.
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STORM: What will be the ongoing impact of the sharing economy on traditional businesses?
A/P BEN CHOI: I think traditional businesses are forced to change or they will be replaced.
The sharing economy has in some way changed consumption behaviour and habits, which fundamentally challenge the traditional way of doing certain businesses.
This challenge is likely to expedite transformations in traditional business, either turning entirely to the sharing model (though this is not likely), opening sharing-like operations, or buying over existing sharing economy businesses to rapidly get on the hype wagon.
STORM: What are the big drivers of the sharing economy?
CHOI: I think some notable drivers are emerging customer demands, customer experience, price competitiveness, and flexibility. I think the new mobility industry, like the e-scooter, can play an important role in this space, if the notion of sharing can be applied effectively and innovatively.
STORM: Are there any new industries or sectors in Singapore you see benefitting from the sharing economy?
CHOI: The new regulation framework of electronic scooters potentially presents some novel opportunities for personal/green transportation beyond bicycles. I see some this developing space to be somewhat overlapping with the push for electronic car rental services like BlueSG.
The notion of the sharing economy might present some interesting benefits to this new industry — e-scooter sharing, battery sharing, redeployment of devices.
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STORM: How are you preparing your students for this changing business environment?
CHOI: I think we are trying very hard to infuse the notion of uncertainty and dynamicity in our teaching.
As a starter, as far as possible, we create an environment in which students are frequently challenged with dynamic situations and changing demands.
We encourage students to observe, and predict, emerging consumption behaviours and habits, which are used as the basis for devising novel business proposals and solutions.
STORM: What should employers look out for in new hires?
CHOI: I think innovativeness and adaptability are becoming increasingly important, if not already critical, attributes in new hires. I think we need people who have the skills and mindset to tackle the unknown, and the rapidly changing nature of technology.
STORM: How are students adapting to the sharing economy?
CHOI: In general, students seem to prefer a flexible and time-based subscription model to the traditional one-timed purchase model. A typical example is the consumption of learning materials in which students are much more willing to pay for a time-based subscription to electronic textbooks, compared with purchasing physical copies.
Ben Choi was one of the panellists at the STORM event Keep It Going: By Design on The Biz Behind The Sharing Economy.
Ben Choi is an assistant professor in Information Technology and Operations Management at the Nanyang Technological University. He has published multiple papers in premier information systems journals including, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, and Journal of the Association for Information Systems. His research interests focus on mobile healthcare and analytics, new mobility solutions, and information privacy.