Microsoft’s Asenso Pilipinas Summit Gathers Government Leaders to Empower Stronger Digital Organizations across the Philippines
Microsoft recently held its annual ICT summit, Asenso Pilipinas, alongside partners Crayon, Radenta Technologies, NTT Data Philippines and KPMG International Limited.
Now in its 5th year, the event is the largest public sector cloud summit in the Philippines and brought nearly 3,000 public officials together in its 2022 edition. Carrying the theme, “Navigating change and emerging stronger in a digital era” the event aimed to enable leaders from the Philippine government and the broader public sector to build stronger digital organizations and achieve greater agility and resiliency as the country moves forward, post COVID-19.
“At Microsoft, we aim to empower governments around the world towards three key outcomes: Engage and connect with citizens to address increasing expectations and demands for higher levels of service from their government agencies. Modernize the government workplace to provide agencies and employees with the tools they need to do their jobs as efficiently as possible. And enhance government services to find new ways to optimize operations and transform its processes. We know that these three make the heart of digital acceleration, and we are committed to helping the government in all of their technology adoption and transformation journeys,” said Joanna Velez-Rodriguez, Public Sector Director of Microsoft Philippines.
Microsoft Corporation’s Corporate Vice-President & Deputy General Counsel, Antony Cook, delivered a keynote speech focusing on how organizations can navigate uncertainty in an ever-changing business and economic landscape, in addition to zooming-in on Microsoft’s efforts to empower organizations all over the world to achieve their greater digital ambitions.
“People, organizations, and societies will need to adapt to change more than ever before to pave the way for true economic recovery,” said Cook. “Today, we are helping customers to adapt and respond in real-time. As we see a focus on restarting economies, we will be engaged in helping businesses to rebound. Longer-term, we anticipate the need to reimagine the business world and in many places that is already underway, including how the public sector institutions will operate, manage, engage, and respond to their citizenry. We are committed to working alongside customers in all these spaces to help shape the future and realize new opportunities.”
Microsoft’s keynote speakers were followed by plenary sessions on four key focus areas:
- Optimizing for the new world of hybrid work
- Building a hyper connected government
- Accelerating digital capability through AI
- Protect everything with end-to-end security
These sessions were participated in by a collection of leaders from the public and private sectors including Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, Ph.D, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Lilia C. Guillermo, Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Assistant Secretary Evamay C. Dela Rosa, Department of Health (DOH) Dr. Enrique A. Tayag, Department of Education Director Abram Y.C Abanil, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Engr. Orlando Malaca and Supreme Court of the Philippines Court Attorney Atty. Jed Sherwin Uy.
Optimizing for the new world of Hybrid work
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Report, Hybrid Work is here to stay. Microsoft surveyed more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and found that 73 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while 67 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams. How organizations adapt to this trend and accommodate the expectations of their employees will define the post-pandemic workplace.
Crayon and Microsoft provided insights on how organizations and employees can adapt and thrive in hybrid work arrangements with the latest technologies that can be leveraged to optimize the modern workplace.
Meanwhile, Assistant Governor Guillermo of BSP shared their strategies for hybrid work and how their system migration to the cloud has helped the central bank function effectively despite the limitations caused by the pandemic.
“Even before the pandemic, we already migrated to the cloud-based platform. It will be very hard for us to address the COVID-19 situation if we had not. Because of this, we were able to prepare for our work from home arrangements, and we were able to provide core services to the public and different banks remotely,” said Assistant Governor Guillermo. The BSPs monetary policy adjustments in recent years played a crucial role in addressing the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
Building a hyper-connected government
Governments today are constantly challenged by evolving citizen demands, such as creating new economic opportunities, ensuring health and public safety, and improving the efficiency of government services. This merits greater agility through technology and data to better respond and prepare for emerging challenges.
To support and enable hyper-connection, Radenta Technologies presented cutting-edge solutions, like its Government Resource Integrated Planning System (GRIPS), which is specifically designed to empower the public sector to manage and maximize data.
Furthermore, Dr. Tayag detailed the steps the DOH is taking to become a hyper-connected organization through recent innovations implemented in their vaccine management strategy.
“Power BI, for example, has allowed us to improve data management and data sharing so that decision-making at levels of health care can actually happen. This was possible because of the timely, accurate, and secure dashboards we are using with Power BI. More importantly, the public is given access through this dashboard so that there will be a better understanding of our pandemic situation as it evolves,” said Dr. Tayag.
Accelerating Digital Capability through AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in helping the Philippines respond to and recover from COVID-19, build resiliency, and increase its competitiveness on the global stage in the years to come. According to research by Kearney, the adoption of AI can increase the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) by 12 percent by 2030, or equivalent to approximately $92 billion.
The challenge today is making the power of AI accessible and enabling its responsible and effective use for individuals and organizations.
The DTI is spearheading the national government’s AI ambitions with the launch of the national artificial intelligence (AI) roadmap in 2021. Usec. Aldaba stressed how AI can be an enabler in the country’s economic recovery.
“The Philippine AI roadmap focuses on using AI to uplift the lives of our people, industries, and the economy. The roadmap goes beyond our present difficulties as we envision the Philippines as an AI center of excellence in the future,” she said.” AI represents a big window of opportunity for the Philippines to leverage our existing comparative advantage, especially in the IT-BPM sector, and expand to key international AI markets in the future.”
The education sector also plays a crucial role in the country’s economic development, as it equips the workforce of tomorrow with the necessary skills and competence for a more digital economy. Director Abanil said that the DepEd is accelerating its adoption of innovations to optimize teaching and learning with the deployment of DepEd Commons and the Learning Management System (LMS).
DepEd Commons is a central repository system of open educational resources and learning materials accessible to students and teachers alike. While the LMS is a portal that enables teachers to efficiently and conveniently structure students’ academic activities. Director Abanil added that the DepEd would integrate predictive analytics into the LMS, which will allow them on a national scale to track students’ performance and accordingly make the necessary interventions to help improve learners’ competencies.
Protect everything with end-to-end Security
According to Microsoft’s digital defense report, cybercrime has evolved as a national security threat driven mainly by financial gain, with the government as the most targeted sector by cybercriminals at 48 percent. Moreover, based on Microsoft’s Global threat activity analysis, currently, 1,397,007 devices in the Philippines encountered cyber threats such as malware and viruses.
Microsoft is working closely with the public and private sectors across the world to enable stronger cyber security measures and policies. In the Philippines, the Supreme Court, is implementing end-to-end security in their processes as part of their digital transformation efforts.
“Cybersecurity and privacy will always play crucial roles in any digital transformation initiative, and they must be carefully balanced with user experience and productivity,” said Supreme Court of the Philippines Court Attorney Atty. Jed Sherwin Uy. “Aside from encrypting data, identity and access management is the key. We are currently able to achieve this through Azure AD (Active Directory). It allows us to secure access with single sign-on, verify identities with mobile factor authentication, control access with smart policies and enforce this privilege for just-in-time access.”
In response to cyber threats globally, Microsoft will invest $20 billion over the next five years to accelerate efforts to integrate cyber security by design and deliver advanced security solutions. This includes $150 million in technical services to help federal, state, and local governments upgrade security protection and help ensure they deploy the best and most up-to-date security tools available.
The entire event is available online for free and has garnered more than 150,000 views to date.
Microsoft Introduces Microsoft Entra to Help Customers Secure Access for a Connected World
Microsoft today announced a new product family, Microsoft Entra, which encompasses all of Microsoft’s identity and access capabilities. Microsoft Entra includes Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) as well as two new product categories: a Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution called Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, and a decentralized identity product offering, Microsoft Entra Verified ID.
Joy Chik Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Identity, said, “We are seeing an increasing need for trust in a hyperconnected world. Through Microsoft Entra, we’re expanding our identity and access solutions so that they can serve as a trust fabric for the entire digital ecosystem—now and long into the future.”
Vasu Jakkal ,Corporate Vice President, Security, Compliance, Identity, and Management at Microsoft, added, “Microsoft Entra embodies our vision for what modern secure access should be. Identity should be an entryway into a world of new possibilities, not a blockade restricting access, creating friction, and holding back innovation. We want people to explore, to collaborate, to experiment—not because they are reckless, but because they are fearless.”
The digital estates of organizations are growing, changing, and becoming boundaryless. Security challenges have become much broader, and there is a need for broader solutions. Organizations need access decisions to be as granular as possible, and to automatically adapt based on real-time assessment of risk. Microsoft Entra is part of Microsoft’s expanded vision for identity and access. It will verify all types of identities and secure, manage, and govern their access to any resource, by:
- Protecting access to any app or resource for any user;
- Securing and verifying every identity across hybrid and multicloud environments;
- Discovering and governing permissions in multicloud environments; and
- Simplifying the user experience with real-time intelligent access decisions.
Reducing access risk across clouds
The adoption of multicloud has led to a massive increase in identities, permissions, and resources across public cloud platforms. Without visibility across cloud providers, or tools that provide a consistent experience, it is become incredibly challenging for identity and security teams to manage permissions and enforce the principle of least privilege across their entire digital estate.
Following the acquisition of CloudKnox Security last year, Microsoft is now the first major cloud provider to offer a CIEM solution—Microsoft Entra Permissions Management. It provides comprehensive visibility into permission for all identities (both user and workload), actions, and resources across multicloud infrastructures. Permissions Management helps detect, right-size, and monitor unused and excessive permissions, and mitigates the risk of data breaches by enforcing the principle of least privilege in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform.
Microsoft Entra Permissions Management will be a standalone offering generally available worldwide in July 2022 and will be integrated within the Defender for Cloud dashboard, extending Microsoft Defender for Cloud’s protection into CIEM.
In addition, the preview of workload identity management in Microsoft Entra will allow Microsoft customers to assign and secure identities for any app or service hosted in Azure, by extending the reach of access control and risk detection capabilities.
Enabling secure digital interactions that respect privacy
Microsoft Entra Verified ID is a new product offering based on decentralized identity standards that implements the industry standards, making portable, self-owned identity possible.
Verified ID represents Microsoft’s commitment to an open, trustworthy, interoperable, and standards-based decentralized identity future for individuals and organizations. Instead of granting broad consent to countless apps and services and spreading identity data across numerous providers, Verified ID allows individuals and organizations to decide what information they share, when they share it, with whom they share it, and—when necessary—take it back.
Microsoft Entra Verified ID will be generally available in early August 2022.
Automating critical Identity Governance scenarios
IT and security teams are facing enormous challenges to provision new users and guest accounts and manage their access rights manually. Using Identity Governance in Azure AD, Microsoft’s existing cloud‑based identity and access management service, businesses can address these challenges with identity lifecycle management, which simplifies the processes for onboarding and offboarding users. Lifecycle workflows automate assigning and managing access rights, and monitoring and tracking access, as user attributes change.
Lifecycle workflows in Identity Governance will enter public preview in July 2022.
Visit the Microsoft Entra website to learn more about how Azure AD, Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, and Microsoft Entra Verified ID deliver secure access for our connected world.
Philippines among APAC winners of Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility Hackathon to accelerate inclusive innovation
Teams from Thailand, Singapore and Philippines are winners of the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon in APAC. In its third year, the AI4A Hackathon features teams who are deeply committed to solving real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities (PwD). The hackathon acts as a springboard for creators and developers to launch their applications, with cash prizes, access to Microsoft Technical experts to co-build their solutions on Microsoft Azure and continued mentoring support to build out their solution.
Drawing on real-life challenges faced by PwDs, 14 non-profit organizations (NPOs) shared problem statements that the 75 teams in the AI4A Hackathon used to build innovative solutions around the themes of transport, wearable devices and language tools.
Team Asclepius from Thailand, Team SWIFT Responders from Singapore and Team EIA from Philippines created solutions to bridge the disability divide, which include building an AI-enabled communication aid for people who are deaf, a smart system that allows people with physical disabilities to live independently, as well as inclusive banking for people who are blind.
In addition to these winners, two additional teams from Indonesia (Arabic Braille Converter) and Singapore (MeetMeHear) will receive coaching by Microsoft and its partners, including access to cloud architects, business consultation guidance to develop their solution, from a proof-of-concept to an application hosted on Microsoft Azure.
“We are inspired to see the continued enthusiasm of submissions this year for the hackathon to improve the lives of PwDs and congratulate the winners who so passionately brought their solutions to fruition,” said Pratima Amonkar, Chair for D&I and Accessibility for Microsoft Asia Pacific. “The month of May will be an important time for us to see the tremendous possibility of the contribution of PwDs as we roll out exciting awareness, training and mentorship programs with our customers, partners and wider community across the region.”
With more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, and 650 million in Asia, Microsoft believes that accessibility is essential to delivering on our mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Accessibility is the vehicle to enable inclusion of people with disabilities. To highlight how technology can unlock solutions that empower people with disabilities and enable transformative change within communities in APAC, Microsoft has dedicated the month of May in 2022 to Accessibility Awareness Month, with a series of workshops, trainings and events as well as awarding and celebrating winners of the AI for Accessibility Hackathon winners.
Thailand: Team Asclepius
To help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Team Asclepius from Thailand, developed a sign-to-text application that uses AI deep learning models to capture movement sequences and body postures that predicts alphabets, words and numbers based on American Sign Language. This group of passionate high school students from Thailand have ambitious plans to include other commonly used sign languages such as British and French Sign Language and enhance it for wider tech applications such as live web events.
Singapore: Team SWIFT Responders
From Singapore, Team SWIFT Responders designed an AI-enabled solution that supports the independent living of adult persons with muscular dystrophy who use motorized wheelchairs for mobility. The Support Wheelchair-user Independence Fall Tracker (SWIFT) smart system that they have developed renders immediate assistance to a wheelchair user who falls off-balance from their functional position. This inspires confidence for wheelchair users, and assures their caretakers, that they can live independently and engage in meaningful activity as their safety is assured.
Philippines: Team EIA
To build a more inclusive banking experience for the blind and the elderly, Team EIA from the Philippines developed an Accessibility and Vision Assistant (AVA), powered by AI and machine learning, that works as a smart financial assistant and mobile wallet for the blind and elderly that makes digital banking accessible and clear. This drives financial inclusion for these groups of people and enables them to access payments and banking services quickly and securely.
Two additional outstanding teams have won coaching by Microsoft and its partners to bring their projects into fully running applications hosted on Microsoft Azure:
Arabic Braille Converter (Indonesia): an app that could scan and convert Arabic text or graphics into Indonesian Braille format which can be read by screen readers or braille displays. It also has the function to back-translate from Arabic Braille into Arabic text.
- MeetMeHear (Singapore): an app to assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing to better communicate with others during physical meetings, through the use of AI for speech recognition to provide more accurate live captions.
Microsoft introduces Microsoft Security Experts to help organizations achieve more secure, compliant, and productive outcomes
Microsoft today announced that it is offering new and expanded services for security under a new service category, Microsoft Security Experts. Security Experts includes three new managed services—Microsoft Defender Experts for Hunting, Microsoft Defender Experts for extended detection and response (XDR), Microsoft Security Services for Enterprise—as well as two existing services, Microsoft Security Experts for Modernization, and Microsoft Security Experts for Incident Response.
The security landscape has become increasingly challenging and complex for all customers. Threats have grown at an alarming rate over the last year, and cybercrime is now expected to cost the world US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from US$3 trillion a decade ago and US$6 trillion in 2021.[i]
Last year, Microsoft Security blocked over 9.6 billion malware threats and more than 35.7 billion phishing and other malicious emails. Microsoft Security is actively tracking more than 35 ransomware families and 250 unique threat actors across observed nation-state, ransomware, and criminal activities, and its technology has blocked more than 900 brute force password theft attempts every second.
Vasu Jakkal, Corporate Vice President, Security, Compliance and Identity at Microsoft, said: “As attacks increase in scale, so must our defenses. It’s getting harder every day for organizations to build and maintain a full security team, let alone one with the ever-expanding skillset required to meet the range of today’s security demands. This is why we are launching Microsoft Security Experts, which combines expert-trained technology with human-led services to help organizations achieve more secure, compliant, and productive outcomes. It is our vision of delivering this category of services end-to-end, across security, compliance, identity, management, and privacy.”
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