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The Space Race: A Sought for Inter-Planetary Colonisation?

SpaceX launched unmanned Crew Dragon craft from Florida to International Space Station (ISS). As per Sunday (3/3/19) the craft is en route to a rendezvous with the ISS. This launch is a part of Public Private Partnership (PPP) between NASA and two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX. This partnership was announced in 2014, as a means of replacing the retired Space Shuttle in 2011.

This PPP is called Commercial Crew Program, aiming for the development and launch of human space transportation systems. Initially, these two companies should begin ferrying astronauts in 2017. Simply, a clear objective is to enable US government to fly to ISS without the need to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules. Ever since Space Shuttle retirement, US government had to pay $70.7 million for each one-way ticket transporting astronauts with Soyuz to, or from the ISS. It is the task of these two companies to make it a reality. SpaceX with the recently launched Dragon Crew spacecraft. While Boeing with it’s CST-100, planned for unmanned launch in April this year.

In order to launch Dragon Crew spacecraft, SpaceX relied on its Falcon 9 rocket. Falcon 9 is a reusable rocket, designed and manufactured by SpaceX. Reusability of rocket is a key to reduce the cost required for space exploration. It was also Falcon 9, with which Nusantara Satu satellite was launched in mid-February this year. Using Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX has paved a history in 2012 for being the first private company ever visited the ISS.

Another thrilling fact that I could grasp is how exploration as a basic human natural instinct hasn’t ceased to exist. Keyword: colonisation. It’s interesting how the same old spirit driving european countries to sent out explorative sea voyage missions in 15th centuries, which eventually lead to worldwide establishment of european colonies, is now fueling this inter-planetary-scale quest. Natural exploitation is of course inevitable, but perhaps we can feel better knowing that there is no currently known inhabitants of Mars, so those tragic history of the conquests of indigenous cultures is unnecessary.

But humans, by their intelligence and free will alone, will sure to be always giving birth to conflicts. Natgeo’s docudrama, Mars, presented those possible disputes between private and public exploration teams, on the early habitation of Mars. Well, what do we expect? Those two parties came to Mars for different objectives. Yet they had this resource problems at hand to be resolved.

China’s Off-Balance Sheet Municipal Govts’ Bond

Total financial decentralisation should not be considered as a panacea. Especially when municipal govts are miles away from self-sufficiency. In China, local governments are given freedom to issue bonds in order to finance its activities. It is a rated bond, for both general purpose and project financing.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Some of these bonds are issued under off-balance sheet scheme, so it is nowhere to be found on local govts’ financial positions. How come? In some cases, it’s because the bonds are issued by local-government financing vehicles (LGFV). Say, for example, bonds issued by Qinghai Provincial Investment Group Co. (QPIG), govt-owned aluminium producer, as can be seen here. Bloomberg recently reported that QPIG had failed to wire funds for a coupon payment due Feb 22, suggesting it is currently in default status.

However, the use of these off-balance sheet LGFV bonds to finance municipal infrastructure construction had been forbidden since 2014. or this scheme is to be replaced by another form of off-balance sheet bonds. The project municipal bonds. Yes, you heard it right, those are local govt project-financing bonds, yet just like LGFV bonds, are excluded from local govts’ book. It’s considered as special bonds which issuance was meant to partake in the endeavor to reform the high-piling LGFV debts.

Under this scheme, the cash flows from underlying projects will cover for interest and principal payments. And investors shall shoulder any shortfall. For example Henan Province’s 1.5 bill Yuan, 15-year project bond to finance new subways. It’s offered at 3.79 percent interest rate. These off-balance sheet local government bonds are attractive. According to Bloomberg, these securities offerred corporate bond yields, yet being perceived among investors as having quasi-sovereign credit status. Even though, in 2015 China State Council had stated that these bonds issued by LGFV qualify as corporate bonds. Which means, no government backstop.
Despite the cases of the default risk that has befallen similar off-balance sheet instruments, yield-thirsty investors doesn’t seem to budge. Bloomberg recent opinion column showed how AA rated, 3-year LGFV issues yield got compressed to 3.9 percent from 5 percent in just half a year.

Let’s also remember how China local govts’ had begun to swap those less-transparent LGFV debts into on-balance sheet bonds since 2015. In addition to current economic quarrel with US for the tariffs imposed to China, it is quite ironic seeing how Beijing holds up to the global one belt and road ambition.

Adapt or Die (?)

A quick resume of “Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail” by Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman on HBR.
Cases Review
a. GE CEO Jeff Immelt recently departed the company under pressure from activist investors. Previously, in 2011, GE embarked upon an ambitious attempt to digitally transform its product and service offerings. The company created impressive digital capabilities, labeling itself a “digital industrial” company, embedding sensors into many products, building a huge new software platform for the Internet of Things, and transforming business models for its industrial offerings. GE also went to work on transforming internal processes like sales and supplier relationships. Investors however didn’t acknowledged this and therefore the company stock price has languished for years.
b. Lego recently defunded its Digital Designer virtual building program. The CEO leading the digital charge stepped into lesser roles.
c. Nike halved the size of its digital unit in 2014 by discontinuing its Nike+ Fuelband activity tracker and some other investments.
d. Procter & Gamble wanted to become “the most digital company on the planet” in 2012, but ran into growth challenges in a difficult economy. Its CEO, Bob McDonald, then was forced to leave by the board.
e. Burberry set out to be the world’s best digital luxury brand, but performance began to suffer after initially improving. The CEO leading the digital charge stepped into lesser roles.
f. Ford invested heavily in digital initiatives only to see its stock price lag due to cost and quality issues elsewhere in the company. Its CEO, Mark Fields, then was forced to leave by the board.
g. It happened with e-commerce, when companies like Staples and Walmart invested heavily in separate e-commerce units, only to have those units drain the company of resources.  It happened with analytics and big data, when companies like Sears and Zynga invested millions in creating analytics units that never paid back their investments.
While their companies had plenty of resources, the big digital bets did not pay off quickly enough, or richly enough, to counter the drain they represented on the rest of the business. 
 
Key lessons emerged when this heavy commitment upon technology face financial performance indicators:
A. Much other factors affect company success other than its digital capabilities. Managers should never see technology as a sure salvation.
B. Digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and doesn’t just involve technology.
C. It’s important to calibrate digital investments to the readiness of the industry — both customers and competitors. No digital initiatives should be undertaken when they don’t align with company strategy and are not hardwired to value. Digital governance discipline is the key.
D. When things are not going so well in the existing business, the call of a new business model can become more powerful than it should.  Many a person has allowed the excitement of a new relationship to destroy their stable, if less exciting, married lives.  Similarly, the prospect of launching a sexy technology-based business is tantalizing. The allure of digital can become all-consuming, causing executives to pay too much attention to the new and not enough to the old.
There’s something different about technological change that causes senior executives in large, established firms to act differently than they might otherwise. When investing in a typical strategic change, managers are usually pretty clear about what they want to accomplish and what it will take to get there.  There’s a lot of work to get things right, but they know where they’re going and how to measure progress.  If the indicators move in the wrong direction, they can take action to set them on the right path, or can make the choice to de-escalate the investment.
With innovative information technology, however, executives sometimes lose their rational decision approaches. Certainly it’s true that in times of radical technological change there’s a lot of figuring out to do.  Executives have to understand what new technologies can do, and understand their impact on markets, products/services, and distribution channels.
Amid the excitement and uncertainty of a new technological era, it can be very difficult to distinguish between investments you need to make ahead of the market and investments that must be in sync with market readiness. It can be tempting to think about the early phases of radical technological change as a chance to dominate a new market rather than learning about the market. Investing ahead of the curve makes sense when we know what the curve is. But with digital transformation there’s a lot of exploration and understanding to accomplish before the curve starts to take shape.
When digital investments don’t quickly pay off, CEOs can feel that the issue they’ve encountered is about not spending enough, rather than the company (or the market) not knowing what the end state actually looks like.  They can fear that reducing a highly public commitment to the new business could be seen as failure rather than smart decision-making.
In e-commerce, what started 20 years ago as a radical innovation — and then radical destroyer of market value — is now standard practice in every industry.  The leading companies, even those that made large unprofitable investments early in the transition, were able to pivot toward more profitable e-commerce strategies.
In digital, executives would be wise to be wary about the siren call of new technological innovation.  Instead of ramping up quickly, only to ramp down painfully, it would be much better if companies can make steady progress toward the right end state without making such costly mistakes.

Facebook Aquila Project: Pasca Ujicoba Arizona

Para raksasa di industri teknologi informasi saat ini terlibat dalam sebuah kompetisi besar bertajuk ‘internet space race’. Facebook menjadi salah satu peserta kontestasi ini. Melawan Google, SpaceX yang dimiliki Elon Musk, pun kabarnya Microsoft tak pula mau urung andil.

Kompetisi ini sebetulnya berbicara mengenai konektivitas global. Internet sudah sepatutnya menjadi penggerak utama pada era ini, mengantarkan informasi dan pengetahuan kepada siapa saja yang berhajat atasnya (Nandagopal, 2016). Pada kenyataannya, hanya sepertiga dari populasi dunia yang memiliki akses atas internet. Tiga hal yang menjadi tirai penghalang bagi setiap orang untuk menikmati internet. Yakni teknologi, keterjangkauan dan konektivitas.

Facebook mencoba mengurai halangan ini. Proyek internet gratis (Free Internet) sebetulnya merupakan salah satu inisiatif dari Internet.org, organisasi nirlaba yang diampu Facebook. Dimulai dari layanan Express Wi-Fi terrestrial di ratusan tempat di India, juga pengumuman rencana untuk meluncurkan satelit guna menghadirkan internet ke sebagian besar sub-Sahara di Afrika pada 2016. Meski begitu, rencana besar dari Internet.org dalam hal konektivitas adalah Aquila.

Social Engineering: Sebuah Metode Peretasan Psikologis

Awal tahun 2016, Office of Inspectorate-General (OIG) US Homeland Security Department (DHS), melakukan kontrak dengan firma audit independen, KPMG, untuk menyelenggarakan reviu keamanan atas DHS. Termasuk di dalamnya adalah pelaksanaan pengujian (pen-test) social engineering, beserta tur ke dalam fasilitas DHS setelah jam kerja untuk melakukan reviu pengamanan fisik atas informasi yang sensitif. Tujuannya adalah untuk mengidentifikasi pelanggaran kebijakan lembaga oleh pegawai DHS dalam hal perlindungan atas informasi sensitif.

Hasilnya, pegawai DHS terbukti semakin memahami dasar-dasar dari cybersecurity. Meskipun, beberapa pegawai masih meninggalkan dokumen-dokumen sensitif di atas meja. Hal ini sebagaimana diungkapkan melalui laporan hasil pemeriksaan OIG DHS yang terbit pada tanggal 6 Mei 2016 mengenai praktik keamanan DHS. Laporan tersebut dirilis secara publik di situs FTC.

Sebagai bagian dari pengujian social-engineering, auditor menyamar sebagai technical support dan melakukan panggilan telepon kepada pegawai DHS dan meminta mereka memberikan login credentials. Auditor mencoba menghubungi 28 orang pegawai dan kontraktor, dan berhasil terhubung kepada 8 orang di antara mereka. Hasilnya, tidak satupun dari mereka yang bersedia memberikan password.

Menyimak Seluk Beluk Mimpi Besar Government Integrated Data Center (GIDC)

Pusat data (data center) pemerintah Indonesia menjadi isu yang cukup sensitif di masyarakat. Pada akhir 2014 silam, publik dibuat gaduh oleh simpang siur kabar bahwa peladen (server) data KTP elektronik berada di luar negeri. Hal ini menyusul pernyataan Menteri Dalam Negeri, Tjahjo Kumolo, yang membeberkan beberapa kejanggalan berkenaan dengan proyek KTP elektronik, yang salah satunya adalah peladen yang berada di luar negeri. Pernyataan Menteri Dalam Negeri tersebut lantas dibantah oleh Kepala Pusat TIK BPPT, Hary Budiarto, yang mengungkapkan bahwa secara fisik peladen data KTP elektronik berada di dalam negeri.

Hanya saja, terdapat pengguna dengan hak akses superuser yang memungkinkan akses atas peladen tersebut dari jarak jauh (remote), termasuk dari luar negeri. Akses ini diberikan kepada pengguna yang berasal dari penyedia infrastruktur untuk keperluan perawatan dan perbaikan (maintenance). Meski risiko pencurian data tentu tidak dapat dinihilkan.

Berita simpang siur bernada serupa kembali mengemuka pada pertengahan tahun 2015 silam. Pada saat itu, PT Telkom Tbk melalui anak perusahaannya, Telekomunikasi Indonesia International Pte. Ltd. Singapore (Telin Singapore), baru saja melakukan groundbreaking pusat data ketiga di Jurong SIngapura, melengkapi dua pusat data yang telah dibangun sebelumnya di Changi dan Tai Seng. Pusat data ini, ditargetkan beroperasi pada kuartal ketiga tahu 2016. Lantas muncul beragam tuduhan di masyarakat, salah satunya adalah anggapan bahwa pusat data tersebut akan dimanfaatkan sebagai pusat data pemerintah, yang tentu saja tidak hanya menyimpan informasi yang bersifat umum, namun juga informasi yang bersifat rahasia.

Meskipun sebetulnya, pelanggan dari pusat data yang dikelola oleh Telin Singapore ini adalah korporasi di Singapura (74%) dan sisanya perusahaan-perusahaan multinasional dari kawasan regional maupun global. Dan pelanggan yang berasal dari pemerintah Indonesia dilayani oleh anak perusahaan Telkom lainnya, yakni Telkomsigma. Dengan pusat data dan pusat pemulihan bencana yang dikelola dan dioperasikan di Indonesia.

Lantas, bagaimana sebetulnya kondisi pusat data pemerintah Indonesia?

Panama Papers: Dilema Buah dari Pohon Beracun

Pada tahun 2015 Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), media massa yang berpusat di Jerman, mendapatkan sebuah kontak dari sebuah sumber anonim dengan nama samaran John Doe[1]. John Doe, memberikan kepada SZ dokumen internal yang terenkripsi milik Mossack Fonseca. Mossack Fonseca adalah firma hukum di panama yang menjual perusahaan offshore anonim ke seluruh dunia. Perusahaan offshore ini diistilahkan sebagai perusahaan cangkang (shell companies). Perusahaan cangkang ini memungkinkan pemiliknya untuk menutupi business dealings mereka, seberapapun abu-abunya.

SZ kemudian memutuskan untuk melakukan analisis data tersebut bekerjasama dengan International Consortium of Investigatve Journalist (ICIJ). ICIJ sebelumnya juga terlibat dalam riset atas dokumen-dokumen semisal, seperti Offshore Leaks, Lux Leaks maupun Swiss Leaks.

Beberapa kasus sementara diungkap oleh aliansi awak media. Tidak melulu soal pelarian harta kekayaan untuk meringankan beban pajak, ataupun pencucian uang oleh kartel-kartel narkoba. Kasus yang diungkap melalui dokumen-dokumen panama papers juga merembet ke masalah politik dan kemanusiaan.

Analisis Strategi Implementasi Qlue Pemda DKI

Sampah yang menggunung, jalanan berlubang, banjir dan kemacetan adalah pemandangan yang umum di sebagian wilayah Jakarta. Dan warga kota acapkali menumpahkan uneg-uneg mereka di sosial media. Berdasarkan data dari eMarketer, 77,4% atau sekitar 72,3 juta pengguna internet di Indonesia mengunjungi media sosial setidaknya sekali sebulan pada 2015, menjadikan Indonesia mempunyai penetration rate tertinggi di Asia Tenggara. Menangkap efek demokratis dari sosial media ini, PT Terralogiq membangun Qlue, sebuah platform pelayanan publik. Bukan hanya sebagai bentuk pelayanan masyarakat, namun utamanya sebagai wake-up call bagi birokrat di Jakarta, sebagaimana diungkapkan CEO Qlue, Rama Raditya.

Mempercayakan Data Negara kepada Pihak Ketiga: Analisis Kesepakatan Layanan (Terms of Service)

Laudon & Laudon (2016:92) mengungkapkan bahwa budaya kolaboratif yang berorientasi pada tim tidak akan menghasilkan manfaat tanpa hadirnya sistem informasi yang menjadi perantara bagi kolaborasi dan bisnis sosial (collaboration and social business). Oleh sebab itulah, penggunaan teknologi layanan kolaborasi dan bisnis sosial jamak digunakan. Tidak hanya di sektor komersial, tren ini juga merambah sektor publik.

Hanya saja, satu hal yang teramat perlu menjadi perhatian utama sebelum diambilnya keputusan mengenai penggunaan platform perangkat lunak untuk keperluan kolaborasi bisnis. Yakni berkaitan dengan hak apa yang dimiliki oleh pihak ketiga atas lalu lintas data, juga data yang disimpan.

Hal ini biasanya termuat dalam klausul perjanjian yang disetujui oleh pengguna ketika hendak menggunakan sebuah layanan. Perjanjian ini jamak disebut sebagai terms and condition serta privacy policy. Artinya, meskipun tidak ada biaya yang dibebankan oleh penyedia layanan pihak ketiga kepada para pengguna layanan, hubungan transaksional antara kedua pihak bukannya absen. Namun, pengguna layanan acapkali abai pada klausul-klausul dalam perjanjian yang, untuk menyatakan kesediaan atasnya pengguna hanya perlu memberikan centang dan klik tombol setuju.

Sistem Informasi Pengawasan Itjen Kementerian Keuangan

Inspektorat Jenderal Kementerian Keuangan terus berbenah. Sebagai Aparat Pengawas Internal Pemerintah (APIP) pada Kementerian Keuangan, Itjen Kemenkeu terus meningkatkan kapasitasnya terutama yang dirumuskan melalui prasyarat-prasyarat dalam Internal Audit Capability Model (IACM). Saat ini Itjen Kemenkeu berada dalam level 3: Integrated dalam penilaian IACM, yang berarti bahwa manajemen atas audit internal yang dilaksanakan oleh Inspektorat Jenderal Kementerian Keuangan beserta praktik profesional telah diterapkan secara menyeluruh. Salah satu usaha dalam manajemen atas praktik audit internal di lingkungan Itjen Kemenkeu adalah pengembangan sistem informasi berbasis ICT.