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Report: Asia-Pacific Factories Lead in Using Digital Technology

Cisco Systems’ Roy noted that small and medium firms “are at varying stages of maturity in terms of digital adoption” and could use collaboration with governments and corporations

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A robot is seen in the automobile production line of the new Honda plant in Prachinburi, Thailand, May 12, 2016. VOA

She may not be the warmest waitress, but she serves a nice, hot cup of “Joe” at a café on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City.

Though this robotic barista is still getting help from her human counterpart, she is a signal that Asia is ahead of the curve in embracing new technologies ahead of the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

A recent report from PwC Global, a professional services firm, studied 1,155 manufacturing businesses based on how much they were embracing and incorporating innovations in technology, from drones to 3-D printing.

Across the board, companies in the Asia-Pacific region scored higher than their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

In Thailand, for instance, manufacturing companies have widely adopted new technologies to transform their operations.

“Many are using robots to assemble products at their factories to rely less on human labor, reduce costs, and boost overall efficiency,” said Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, consulting lead partner at PwC Thailand.

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FILE – An instructor explains the operation of a drone to students at a school run by TT Aviation Technology in Beijing, Oct. 17, 2015. China has quickly emerged as a leading player in the international race for drone manufacturing. VOA

ASEAN catches up

The report graded firms based on questions about the kinds of tools they were introducing into their workplaces. For example, manufacturers were asked if they made use of virtual reality; 44 percent in the Asia Pacific said they did compared with 34 percent in the United States and 19 percent in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The regional group Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports that small and medium enterprises are using new technology to catch up to bigger rivals.

“Digitization is enabling SMEs across ASEAN to participate in cross-border trade, allowing them to grow and scale their businesses while reducing costs,” said Bidhan Roy, a general manager at Cisco Systems Pte Ltd.

Benefits of youth

Observers say the Asia-Pacific region benefits from its youth.

The relatively young population means people are amenable to different work environments and business operations, as well as having a keen interest in using new technology.

Another advantage? The region’s economies are also somewhat young, with many just opening up to global trade in the last two decades. In addition its underdeveloped infrastructure has the ability to adapt for future needs, like public transit or drone deliveries.

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An iPal couple social robots help teach children at a kindergarten in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, July 4, 2018. Designed to offer education, care and companionship to children and the elderly, the 3.5-feet tall humanoid robots come in two genders and can tell stories, take photos and deliver educational or promotional content. VOA

“Asian companies have the advantage of setting up robust digital operations from essentially a blank slate in terms of factory automation, workforce, and even organizational IT [information technology] networks as a whole,” the PwC report said.

Baby steps

But more is needed to make these companies successful.

Cisco Systems’ Roy noted that small and medium firms “are at varying stages of maturity in terms of digital adoption” and could use collaboration with governments and corporations.

PwC Thailand’s Vilaiporn agreed on the benefit of collaboration.

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“Thailand 4.0 will only be successful if both the government and private sectors understand their roles in fostering investment and focusing on research and development, as well as equipping the workforce with necessary skill sets and capabilities,” he said.

The “4.0” refers to the latest industrial revolution, which goes beyond mechanization and automation. It entails business processes becoming more efficient through a comprehensive application of technology, from smart devices to machine learning. (VOA)

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Students who Use Internet Excessively Likely to be Anxious During Tests: Study

Excessive internet use reduces study skills in students

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Students reporting more internet addiction also found it harder to organise their learning productively, and were more anxious about their upcoming tests. Pixabay

Students who use digital technology excessively are less motivated to engage with their studies, and are more anxious about exam tests, according to a new research.

This effect was made worse by the increased feelings of loneliness that use of digital technology produced, said the study, published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

“The results suggest that students with high levels of internet addiction may be particularly at risk from lower motivations to study, and, hence, lower actual academic performance,” said study researcher Phil Reed from Swansea University in UK.

For the findings, 285 university students, enrolled on a range of health-related degree courses, participated in the study. They were assessed for their use of digital technology, their study skills and motivation, anxiety, and loneliness.

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Students who use digital technology excessively are less motivated to engage with their studies. Pixabay

The research found a negative relationship between internet addiction and motivation to study. Students reporting more internet addiction also found it harder to organise their learning productively, and were more anxious about their upcoming tests.

The findings also found that internet addiction was associated with loneliness, and that this loneliness made study harder.

About 25 per cent of the students reported that they spent over four hours a day online, with the rest indicating that they spent between one to three hours a day.

The main uses of the internet for the student sample were social networking (40 per cent) and information seeking (30 per cent), the researchers said.

In addition to the links between levels of internet addiction and poor study motivation and ability, internet addiction was found to be associated with increased loneliness.

The results indicated that loneliness, in turn, made studying harder for the students.

The study suggests that loneliness plays a large role in positive feelings about academic life in higher education.

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According to the researchers, the poorer social interactions that are known to be associated with internet addiction make loneliness worse, and, in turn, impact on motivation to engage in a highly social educational environment such as a university. (IANS)