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CIO Workshop: Public outcry drives social media

Jack Loo | June 1, 2011
Speakers share their experiences in social media and dealing with retiring workers.

HONG KONG, 1 JUNE 2011-It was a strong protest by civilians over a proposed railway project early last year that made the Hong Kong government step up its social media efforts to engage citizens, according to a government official.

“The planned line had already went through an extensive public consultation process over two years, and updates have been regularly released to the mainstream media,” recalled Kenneth Cheng, assistant government chief information officer, (head of e-government service delivery), Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government.

He was speaking at the CIO Workshop, an event jointly organised by Accenture and Singapore’s Information Technology Management Association (ITMA). The conference was held from 24 to 28 May in Singapore’s Red Dot Museum, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Right when the proposal was due to be approved at the city’s legislature, the sudden public outcry stunned government officials. Even more surprising was that the majority of the protesters were Hong Kong’s younger generation.

That was when Cheng and his colleagues from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) realised “the young do not track traditional media, but stayed on social media platforms like Facebook,” he said.

As a result, the OGCIO started organising social media awareness workshops and developed three Facebook template tools including one that streams live video for fellow public sector agencies to use. Eventually, the Hong Kong government set up its first live question-and-answer session on the Chief Executive's Office (CEO) Facebook page earlier this month.

Out with the old

Meanwhile, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s (HKUST) director of planning and institutional research Michael Fung pointed out that China’s growing wave of R&D talent meant that there has been a drop in jobs from the technology sector for Hong Kong graduates.

“We have engineering students taking up jobs in the financial sector,” said Fung. To address the challenges faced by the Hong Kong graduates, one of the solutions implemented by the school was to introduce the format of double majors and minors, giving the students more skills and flexibility when they join the workforce.

The need to address a possible talent gap caused by retiring employees was another main theme that emerged at the CIO Workshop.

The recent economic downturn prompted Dominic Leung, managing director, business process, PCCW to embark on a plan to refresh his company’ legacy mainframe systems. Replacing the 17-year old platforms meant the reduction of operational costs, and more importantly, preparation for the future, he said. “The developers who are familiar with the mainframes are going to retire,” Leung added.

MTR’s head of information technology Daniel Lai is facing the same issues in his workforce. He estimated that some 700 employees will be retiring from the organisation over the next three years. “Each of them has about 20 to 30 years of experience. There are a lot of things that you cannot just learn from the books,” said Lai.


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