APO Adopts Strategic Foresight-Based Approach to Make Member Countries Future-Ready

To enable member economies to adopt digital technologies in the
industry, agriculture, public, and service sectors for holistic
socioeconomic development, the Asian
Productivity Organization (APO) is incorporating a strategic
foresight-based approach and practices to assist them in developing
future-ready capabilities and national productivity frameworks.

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APO Secretary-General Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn delivering welcome remarks at the Sustainable Productivity Summit 2018 in Tokyo, 10 July 2018. (Photo: Business Wire)

At the first APO
Sustainable Productivity Summit, Secretary-General Dr. Santhi
Kanoktanaporn stated that accelerating economic and technological
changes had generated multiple global challenges ranging from climate
change to emerging crises in food, energy, water, financial markets, and
the global economy. “At the same time, those changes have also brought
development and prosperity to much of the world. Central to this story
of change has been productivity, in the form of new ideas, technologies,
and skills that drive growth. Productivity will remain the key engine of
growth in the future.”

The Secretary-General reported that the APO had set up a Futures Team
and started using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify emerging
global trends and driving forces to develop initiatives that promote not
only traditional productivity but also sustainable productivity.
“Corporate leaders and decision makers in government who adopt the
business-as-usual approach risk being left behind. We cannot rely only
on existing models and expect to remain relevant in the decades to
come,” warned Dr. Santhi.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Director General Dr. Minoru Masujima of
the International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Japan, acknowledged that the rise of the Internet of Things, big data,
robotics, and AI had resolved social issues by creating innovative
businesses and services: “Such innovations contribute not only to
efficiency and labor saving but potentially boost productivity through
creating totally new added value in Society 5.0.”

Delivering the keynote address, Deloitte Center for Government Executive
Director William D. Eggers stressed that good government mattered a
great deal when it came to a nation’s productivity. “It can either deter
it or help to accelerate it,” he said, adding that, “In an age of
exponential technologies, governments need to close the growing gap
between how the private sector is adopting these technologies and
transforming work and how the public sector now operates.”

“Governments around the world are wrestling with how to regulate
technologies like AI, drones, and autonomous vehicles in ways that
protect the public but allow companies to innovate. How governments
regulate these technologies will have a big impact on how the
technologies progress,” he concluded.

The APO Sustainable Productivity Summit will be followed by a two-day
Strategic Planning Workshop where APO Directors and Heads of National
Productivity Organizations review specific requirements and draft future
development programs.

Speakers at the Summit included Ryan Janzen, Co-Founder and Chief
Technology Officer, TransPod Inc., on the impact of emerging
technologies such as the hyperloop and tube transport; Dr. Niklas
Arvidsson, Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Economics and
Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, on key factors in the
development of a cashless society; Andrew W. Brentano, Chief Executive
Officer, Tiny Farms Inc., on alternative options to conventional crops
and practices; and Takeshi Arawaka, SST Management Team Manager of the
Business Solution Division, Panasonic Corporation, on sustainable smart
towns and smart homes.

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