Intercepting the Digital Divide

“Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” – President Obama, January 14, 2015.

Let’s pause and reflect on what we have.

In some parts of the world we have GPS controlled drones and in the rest, we have around 3.6 billion people, who do not have regular access to the internet. These are the people who are terminally failing to get the benefit of the internet as an economic engine.

Digital divide is the gap in availability and access to information and communication technology (ICT) among individuals and communities. Numerically, this gap, i.e. people with no/limited access to computer or the internet, is three times the Indian population. The idea of digital revolution cannot be achieved when 50% of the world population is excluded. In other words, this population can’t compete on an equal footing in the labour market. The ‘optimistic path’ surmised by UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 9 and Agenda 2030 also envision avant-garde industrial revolution dubbed Industry 4.0. As this industrial breakthrough is heavily dependent on the adoption of technological innovation, the population disconnected from this technological grid will be less informed and under-represented in the capital and labour market.

The ability to access computers and the internet depends on many interwoven factors i.e., social, and economic dimensions. Nonetheless, the digital split can easily be bridged if these factors are broken down into specific action plans. Aside from these obvious barriers, the following would help narrow the gap:

Develop physical infrastructure: The Mason Analysis shows that the lack of proper infrastructure conducive to internet connection is more prevalent in the developing countries, especially in Africa. In this regard, key inputs such as development of terrestrial connectivity between the submarine cables, development of training centres and data module are perquisite to overcome the induction barriers of digital divide.

Promote investment and cooperation: The cardinal element to independent development of physical infrastructure is the liberalization of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment. Such a measure would boost investor confidence and could maximize the effectiveness of new investments conducive to financial and infrastructural resources. At this stage, policy remedy is required to lower licensing cost and high taxes on equipment and services. At the same time, integration of internet into the service delivery of government agencies and usage of communications infrastructure should also be highly prioritized.

Develop customized content: Developing physical infrastructure and providing training modules are not enough if local demand is not met. To welcome the next billion users, technologists need to deeply engage with local communities to understand their demands and ways to use this access. That way, internet and communications networks can be built to serve the demand. Responding to internet’s actual demand is equally important as devising new schemes.

Less dependency on social media: Excessive indulgence into social media cannot help uplift the internet penetration because of its limited use. People can disregard the real power of internet penetration and benefit of usage if they are confined into the 140 characters on Twitter or the square boxes of Facebook profile. The challenge to adopt and apply the divergent tools of internet can be overcome if internet platforms and its hosting devices are used in smarter ways.

With its ubiquitous and inclusive presence, internet is the key to next-gen technological access. Realizing it, companies such as Google and Facebook are assessing the form factors of attracting more people online. Individuals, government, and corporations are equally responsible in bringing the mass people into the internet bracket. At the same time, the government should also have smart policy interventions to combat the handicaps brought by the usability divides and any other forthcoming obstacles for digital divide.

During Industrial Revolution 4.0 Era, Palm Oil Plantation Have to Implement Digital Technology

At this time the world is in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) which is characterized by the implementation of artificial intelligence, super computer, big data, cloud computation, and digital innovation that occurs in the exponential velocity that will directly impact to the economy, industry, government, and even global politics.

The Industrial Revolution 4.0 is characterized by a smart industrialization process that refers to improved automation, machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence (AI), and the development of sustainable digital technology.

Industrial Revolution 4.0 is also interpreted as an effort to transform the process of improvement by integrating the production line (production line) with the world of cyber, where all production processes run online through internet connection as the main support.

Road Map to Industrial 4.0 in Palm Oil Industry

In Indonesia the application of industry 4.0 is expected to increase productivity and innovation, reduce operational costs, and efficiency that led to increase the export of domestic products. In order to accelerate the implementation of Industry 4.0, Indonesia has developed a roadmap for industry 4.0 by establishing five manufacturing sectors that will be a top priority in its development, including food and beverage industry, automotive, electronics, textiles and chemicals.

The five industry sectors are favored considering that they have shown their great contribution to the national economic growth. For example, the food and beverage industry, especially the palm oil industry, has a market share with growth reaching 9.23% in 2017. In addition, the industry also became the largest foreign exchange contributor from the non-oil sector which reached up to 34.33% in year 2017.

The magnitude of the contribution of the food and beverage industry sector can also be seen from the value of exports reaching 31.7 billion US dollars in 2017, even having a trade balance surplus when compared with the import value of only US $ 9.6 billion. This figure also places the palm oil industry as the largest foreign exchange contributor to the country.

In order to increase productivity and efficiency optimally, the technology supporting the industrial revolution 4.0 is imperative to implement, including the implementation of Internet of Things (IOT), Advance Robotic (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digitalized Infrastructure (DI).

The structural transformation from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector has also increased per capita income and driven Indonesians from agrarian to economies that rely on an industry-driven value-added process accelerated by the development of digital technology.

In the context of this industrial revolution 4.0, the palm oil industry sector needs to immediately clean up, especially in the aspect of digital technology. This is considering the mastery of digital technology will be the key that determines the competitiveness of Indonesia.

Because if not, then the Indonesian palm oil industry will be increasingly left behind from other countries. If we do not improve our capabilities and competitiveness in priority sectors, we will not only be able to reach the target but will be overridden by other countries that are better prepared in the global and domestic markets.

Digitalization Era in Palm Oil Industry

As a major player in the global palm oil industry, Indonesia needs to clean up soon. Absolute process and operational efficiency is immediately undertaken especially concerning activities involving many manpower such as field work (infield activity) such as crop maintenance, land treatment, fertilizing activity, weeding, harvesting and transporting fruit to weighing and sorting. This is because in this sector there is often time and cost inefficiency.

Digital technology has facilitated a lot of work in the palm oil industry. Now no longer need to make statistical data collected from a number of palm plantations manually. Ease and other advantages of digital technology is able to capture images or photos of fresh fruit bunches, as well as precise location of the garden using a tablet that can access the GPS.

That way, field managers can not only easily track and monitor real-time activity in the garden, but they can also see for themselves the quality of the palm fruit and know exactly which areas are experiencing the problem. And incredibly, it does not need their presence on the field.

In addition to the ease of transferring data from the field to the Excel sheet on the computer and also making reports on the quality of the palm fruit, digitization also facilitates in recording the presence of employees and field workers to then process the data for the purposes of remuneration and incentives.