Asia

Time for super-apps: Jakarta Post contributor

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Technology was born out of humanity’s craving for convenience. In the digital era, we can get anything delivered to our doorsteps with just one click.

Even work and school routines have been made easier by the presence of technology. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for technology has become even more paramount. From devices and internet access to productivity – these can no longer be excluded from our daily lives.

Workers and students turn to technology to accomplish their tasks and academics. The convenience provided by technological innovation is undeniable.

Our life has become easier and wider in terms of networking with friends and colleagues. However, there is also an illusion that goes unnoticed in all the conveniences technology has to offer.

First, with all the conveniences there will be job losses. Many masonry workers went out of work when wheelbarrows were invented. And in the digital era, the same thing is happening.

City transportation companies have lost a large number of passengers as groceries and food are now delivered by couriers through mobile apps.

The total number of internet users now exceeds 4.39 billion people globally and from year to year, there has been an increase of 10 percent of global internet users. People in Indonesia also don’t want to miss out on the trends in digital technology.

Since 2019, around 355 million digital devices have been owned by 268 million Indonesians.

When comparing the total number of digital devices such as computers, laptops and smartphones with the population of Indonesia, there are around 133 percent digital devices. This indicates that Indonesians are deeply dependent on technology.

The internet has changed the landscape of human civilisation.

Several benefits of using the internet that we have enjoyed include: An instrument to boost a country’s economy; connect users across the country and help them to grow their networks; enable platforms to support knowledge sharing activities; empower users’ capabilities; and allow user interaction without language or geographic barriers.

Second, the implications of using technology may include increasingly complex and “hyper-productive” work.

Jobs that were done by several people can now be done alone. With the help of computers, a teacher or researcher who used to seek help from a lot of people to find resources and literature, now with the help of a search engine, can finish their research in just a few clicks.

With the complexity of work, many employees are required to work 24 hours a week. In the past, an accountant would stop working right after leaving their desk.

Today, with how technology has changed the way we communicate, work might still follow someone even into the bedroom. The pandemic has increased the complexity and productivity of a job.

Routines have become duller with a lot of tasks, goals and endless demands for productivity. Even though working from home can be considered relaxing, the reality says differently.

The lines have been blurred and the home is no longer a sacred space where work is off-limits. As work has become more complex, this also results in many obstacles.

Technical barriers such as access is the first to be faced when using digital devices, especially for those who live in far-flung areas with low network connectivity and incompatible devices.

Another obstacle in achieving productivity is the navigation and operation of an application or the web.

For workers who are not familiar with digital devices, this can decrease their productivity. Even in face-to-face classes, students can experience technical difficulties when a teacher or lecturer uses a new learning technology.

The last obstacle is technical problems when conducting online activities. Unstable internet connection and errors in operating devices such as laptop audio-video components can also occur.

Although it is not quite often, cyberattacks to user’s privacy and personal data might also happen. UNICEF’s education specialist Nugroho Warman stated that parents were too busy focusing on other obligations to support their family during the work from home period.

So this results in them having less time to take care of their children. Many students report that they have experienced a number of academic difficulties and high levels of mental health problems while studying from home.

There are high indications that depression is associated with difficulty in focusing on academic work, to loss of jobs.

Despite digital technology helping work and human activities in general, in practice this also implies complexity and high productivity demands.

Increasingly segmented jobs and unattainable online activities demand a solution and smart innovation.

For these two issues, many technology developers have been looking for solutions.

Creating a super-app is one of the solutions to the existing problem. For example, an e-commerce app is a common super-app.

In e-commerce apps, we will find merchants, e-wallets, chat, blog reviews, delivery services, and also games.

This means, users do not need to use separate applications for each feature.

Unfortunately, a super-app to support productivity is still rare and users still use separate apps to support hyper-productivity, which can be time consuming and affect productivity. Therefore, a digital collaboration super-app like Lark is needed.

By using a digital collaboration super-app, we could expect to restore the essence of convenience in using technology to support our creative and productive processes; reduce technical barriers and constraints often encountered by other productivity apps; a hyper-productivity medium for work and study during or after the Covid-19 pandemic; a benchmark to other super-apps within the productivity landscape for future innovations.

The writer is a lecturer and researcher for the public relations program, University of Indonesia. The Jakarta Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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