Hasitha Abeywardena · Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives
As Sri Lanka continues to deal with the recent surge of COVID-19 infections, 74% of organizations in Asia Pacific say that innovation is now a ‘must’ for them to respond quickly to market challenges and opportunities, and ensure business resilience.
Leveraging their ability to innovate, leaders proved to be more resilient and able to recover faster. Almost half of them believe that they will recover from the pandemic in six months or less. In fact, 50% more leaders, as compared with the rest of the organizations surveyed, expect an increase in their revenue, and one in three of them expect to increase their market share despite the crisis.
These findings were released by Microsoft in its latest study with IDC Asia Pacific, which surveyed 3,312 business decision-makers and 3,495 workers across 15 markets in Asia Pacific within a six-month period, before and since COVID-19. Titled “Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific”, it uncovered how organizations can successfully fuel business resilience and performance through innovation.
The study also introduced the culture of innovation framework, which spans the dimensions of people, process, data, and technology, to assess organizations’ approach to innovation. It also provides guidance to help organizations progress to the mature stage and respond to challenges and recover faster, to improve their performance.
The culture of innovation maturity framework captures organizations’ approach to innovation. Through the research, organizations’ performance was mapped against four dimensions (people, processes, data, and technology), with organizations grouped in four stages – traditionalist (stage 1), novice (stage 2), adaptor (stage 3), and leaders (stage 4). Leaders comprise of organizations that are the most mature in building a culture of innovation.
The study found that in the span of six months, organizations in Asia Pacific have matured in the culture of innovation by 11%, an indication that they have increased their ability to innovate. Since COVID-19, the study also found a drop in leaders (68% to 36%) and other organizations (74% to 54%) that find innovation to be hard.
The faster pace of digitization is also key to building stronger organizations. The study found that 87% of leaders will speed up digitization by launching initiatives including digital products, payments, and e-commerce, as compared to 67% of other organizations, in response to the new reality.
Amidst the pandemic, ride-hailing company PickMe experienced a surge in business and app users which led to server downtime and extended passenger wait times. By tapping into Microsoft Azure, the company gained real-time intelligence across its operations allowing them to maximize driver benefits, minimize passenger wait times, and improve the PickMe experience for customers.
The Colombo Tea e-Auction platform developed by CICRA Solutions also leverages Microsoft Azure. The platform was built to safeguard a 150-year-old industry and protect the livelihoods of almost two million people. The platform was recently selected as Sri Lanka’s Best National Digital Solution for the World Summit Awards 2020 under Business and Commerce (Innovative Services) category.
Following the recent surge in positive COVID-19 infections in Sri Lanka, Arimac Digital and ZILLIONe developed contact-tracing apps for organizations to improve business resilience and economic recovery. Both apps leverage Microsoft Azure.
Azure is the cloud platform that underpins all of Microsoft’s cloud services, including Microsoft Teams. Before COVID-19, insurance company AIA Sri Lanka deployed Microsoft Teams to enable seamless engagement and operational efficiency. The company experienced little to no disruption during the pandemic because they had the systems in place to ensure business continuity and workplace preparedness. Microsoft Teams is also helping the governing body of the Maldives conduct virtual online parliamentary sessions thanks to Tech One Sanje as the country battles the COVID-19 outbreak.
These companies followed a process Microsoft calls tech intensity, where tools and technologies are utilized to invent unique digital solutions that would solve complex business and market issues. This would not only empower the business to be more agile in facing new market challenges but also move faster than their competitors.
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Unlimited music streaming platform in Sri Lanka
SLT-Mobitel, the nation’s ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider recently partnered with Spotify, to mark their launch in Sri Lanka. Spotify is a paid premium music streaming app which allows subscribers to listen to music to their hearts content. Both, SLT-Mobitel Post-Paid and Pre-Paid customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify by activating a monthly recurring subscription or one-time subscription plan and access unlimited music streaming and downloading facilities.
The subscription charges will get added to the user’s customary billing, where payment will be deducted in real time. Starting from the payment date, the user will be able to access Spotify and download their favourite songs, for the next 30 days. Users who sign up for their first monthly subscription will receive an additional one month, courtesy of Spotify. The one-month subscription plan is not applicable with one-time subscription plans. SLT-Mobitel data rates, depending on the user’s respective broadband charges, will apply.
Spotify also has some exciting features that will provide SLT-Mobitel customers with the opportunity to listen to ad-free music, access millions of uninterrupted music under one platform, play any song they like, anywhere they go, and also be able to enjoy their music offline.
SLT-Mobitel customers can select their preferred premium package under four categories; Individual, Duo, Family, Student. Each category has recurring and non-recurring plans. After one month of free streaming, the package will activate once the offer period terminates. While both, the Individual and Student premiums are limited to one account user, the Duo package offers two accounts and the Family premium is accessible through six accounts. To view Spotify plans, users can log on to https://spoti.fi/3aLWvce
Sri Lanka using ‘sovereign power’ over economy: CB Governor
by Sanath Nanayakkare
Anyone conversant with the elements of a political economy would know that Sri Lanka is using its ‘sovereign power’ to manage the different dynamics of the economy in a sustainable manner, Professor W. D Lakshman Governor of the Central Bank said on Wednesday.
“Some critics are saying that we adopt a so-called modern monetary theory. That’s not the case. In fact, Sri Lanka is using its sovereign power in a number of economic aspects to honour its external debt repayment commitments as well as to reduce its debt burden in the medium term as well as achieve resilient growth in the medium to long term, he said.
“We make policy decisions to boost our gross foreign reserves, meet our external debt servicing, to facilitate monetary expansion, to boost our GDP growth, to strengthen our current account balance and manage our domestic and external economic variables in a sustainable manner. This is not a modern monetary theory. This is an age-old tool used by central banks around the world when the circumstances demand it, he said.
“Certain trade-offs will be necessary when dealing with an economy which has a big fiscal gap to bridge. There are efforts to push Sri Lanka towards the IMF again which would in turn have influence on our policymaking. We have taken policy measures to stabilize the economy and we have adequate reserve levels to meet our debt repayments. Meanwhile, we are in negotiations with overseas central banks and multilateral agencies to further boost our reserve level and it would materialise within a matter of weeks,” he noted.
“One of the tools the Central Bank has introduced is in respect of repatriation of export proceeds into Sri Lanka and conversion of such proceeds into Sri Lankan rupees in order to strengthen the foreign exchange situation of the country,” he said.
The Governor made these remarks while delivering the keynote speech at a webinar organised by the Veemansa Initiative led by its Managing Director Luxman Siriwardene – the former Executive Director of Pathfinder Foundation.
The webinar revolved round the topic ‘External debt situation in Sri Lanka: Are we heading for a resolution or crisis?’
Professor Sirimal Abeyratne, Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, Dr. Nishan de Mel and Dr. Ravi Liyanage were the other speakers on the panel.
CSE on the rebound; indices close positive
By Hiran H.Senewiratne
CSE produced signs of a rebound yesterday with both indices closing positive, though turnover remained low. Central Bank Governor W.D Lakshman’s recent statement on managing foreign reserves gave some boost to the market yesterday, stock market analysts said.
The index experienced a zigzag movement within the early hours of trading; thereafter, it recorded a slight up-trend as it reached its intraday high of 7,439. Later, the market witnessed a down-trend at mid-day, followed by a sideways movement and closed at 7,372, gaining 43 points during the month of February, market sources said.
It is said the banking sector dominated turnover with a contribution of considerable parcel trades in Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank and HNB.
Further, the Commercial Bank’s impressive quarterly results during the recent turbulent period also built investor confidence. Commercial Bank was able to register a18 percent net interest income when other banks were reporting a decline. Its share price increased by Rs. 3 or 3.5 percent. On the previous day, its shares started trading at Rs. 85 and at the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 88. Due to the positive growth results, the bank announced a Rs. 4.40 dividend per share, plus a Rs. 2 script divergent for every share.
Further, Sampath Bank shares also appreciated in both crossing and retail. In crossings its shares appreciated by Rs. 1.At the end of the day they moved up to Rs. 154.50. In the retail market, its shares moved up by Rs. 2 or 1.3 percent. Previously, its shares fetched Rs. 154 and at the end of yesterday they moved up to Rs. 156.
Amid those developments, both indices moved upwards. The All Share Price Index went up by 104.48 points and S and P SL20 rose by 67.78 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3 billion with four crossings. Those crossings were reported in Sampath Bank, where 3.9 million shares crossed for Rs. 602.2 million, its share price being Rs. 154.50, HNB 375,000 shares crossed for Rs. 39.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 105, Pan Asia Power 9.5 million shares crossed for Rs. 33.2 million, its shares traded at Rs. 3.50 and Access Engineering 1.2 million shares crossed for Rs. 28.2 million; its shares traded at Rs. 24.
In the retail market top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Rs. 450 million (10 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 205 million (1.3 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 199 million (34.9 million shares traded), Sampath Bank Rs. 191 million (1.2 million shares traded) and Dipped Products Rs. 137.7 million (2.8 million shares traded). During the day 101 million share volumes changed hands in 18046 transactions.
During the day, Expolanka, the biggest contributor to the turnover, saw its share price appreciating by Rs. 6.20 or 15 percent. Its share price quoted on the previous day was Rs. 41 and at the end of trading yesterday it moved up to Rs. 47.
Sri Lanka’s rupee quoted wider at 193.50/195.50 levels to the US dollar in the spot next market on Thursday while bond yields remained unchanged, dealers said. The rupee last closed in the spot market at 194.50/195.00 to the dollar on Wednesday.