What the Numbers Say

US$200 billion

The value of the virtual goods market in the metaverse, with an expected 2 billion people worldwide spending at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026.


Percentage of executives that think that automation can be applied to any business decision in a 2021 survey, of those who adopted or are planning to adopt AI within 3 years. 


US$5.5 trillion

The expected value of global e-commerce, with an expected 21% of purchases being made online by 2022. The growth is expected to reach 24.5% by 2025. 



Percentage of Gen Z who envision doing some of their work in the metaverse in the next two years, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2022.


Big Questions

  • “Does the region trust cross-border data sharing?”

    Cross-border data sharing opens up a world of possibilities for economic growth in the region but a significant number remain cautious or resistant because they do not feel comfortable with companies having access to their spending and behavioural data in exchange for their personal convenience.

    In response, many ASEAN member states have developed their data governance initiatives. The ASEAN Management Framework developed in 2018 has helped organisations to discover the datasets they have, assign them to the appropriate categories, manage the data and protect it all while continuing to comply with relevant regulations. Improved governance and protection instilled trust in data sharing between organisations and countries and promoted the growth of trade.

  • “How do we earn people's trust in AI?”

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made life more convenient in many ways. However, there is a gap between AI and humans due to its complexity, its autonomy and the fact that it involves the user for machine learning.

    First, before AI is introduced, people's fears and concerns must be heard. These must also be relayed to AI designers and policymakers. Second, the motivation for AI cannot just be about profit. AI has the potential to boost economic development but communities must be confident that there is a public good purpose for AI from which they can collectively benefit. AI and communities can come together in areas like safe autonomous vehicles and ethical AI ecosystems.


“Go slow and go small.”

“Go slow and go small.”

Lily Kong

SMU President

To navigate the challenges in the journey towards this digital future, slowing down helps to minimise the potentially negative effects that come with speed. Smart solutions are not quick fixes to systemic problems; they are a catalysing glue that is only as effective as the policy regime and material environment within which it is deployed. Going small then minimises the potentially negative effects of transformation. Compared to major transformations, small incremental steps are often more in sync with the material conditions of the city in question.

"New AI developments are proceeding at breakneck speed.”

"New AI developments are proceeding at breakneck speed.”

Steve Miller

Professor Emeritus of Information Systems

Bringing everything together across technology, people and job roles in any real-world work setting is a very complex undertaking. Companies committed to harnessing AI-enabled strategies should begin by identifying and engaging the complex ecosystem of stakeholders, participants and other companies who will be impacted.

Tomorrow, Today

Here’s how working with smart machines can elevate the future of work.

  • Determine the right platforms

    The choice of platform is critical in enabling a smooth flow, from providing the inputs for the AI application to handling the outputs.

  • Provide adequate training of human users

    While such intelligent systems can automate workflows and increase productivity in organisations, the human user needs to be equipped with a practical understanding of the system’s decision-making process and the data it relies upon to do so, before they can accurately review, modify, or override the decisions by the smart system.

  • Embrace human-machine collaboration

    An advantage of humans and smart machines working hand-in-hand is that humans can affirm that an automated decision is appropriate for the specific context and circumstances at hand.

  • Work from anywhere

    Automation is one of the top benefits of adopting AI systems, such as the use of intelligent computer-based CMS to eliminate manual paper flows, or integrate inputs from disparate online data sources and support tools and streamline workflow. Employers should mix remote work with other tasks that could integrate social activities and non-computer work, to make jobs more fulfilling and avoid employee burn-out

  • Explore new job specialisations

    The increased adoption of AI has also led to the rise in the “hybridisation of business-related roles with IT and AI deep tech-related roles”.

Over to You

Collect better data

Technology can now help to collect highly precise and detailed information about complex socio-ecological systems more efficiently. This mitigates blind spots and improves the quality and quantity of knowledge for decision-makers who want to prioritise sustainability.

Create new markets

Tokenisation” and “packetisation” are two ways new technology can help to create new markets.


Amplify communication

Technology can help to make public education of sustainability issues more engaging and effective, catalysing meaningful mindset and behavioural changes.

Ensure provenance and efficiency

A dynamic digital log of agreements, contracts, store locations, delivery times and transfer points reduce risks of fraudulent data flow, enabling faster identification of volume, quality and origin discrepancies.