Service-sector Productivity

In this digital age, with the world in the midst of a massive shift to the cloud, cloud computing skills are indispensable to help organizations transform their businesses. Worldwide cloud industry spending is expected to grow from USD257 billion in 2020 to USD364 billion in 2022 (Gartner, 2020), representing a 41% increase in just two years. As the cloud industry continues to grow, so will the demand for IT talent, presenting significant opportunities for both entry-level and experienced IT professionals alike. As this trend continues, it will be the source of new jobs over the next decade for cloud-native workers. This e-learning course aims to enable participants to build up basic skills in using cloud solutions for service-sector organizations.
The acceleration of cloud innovations in the healthcare sector offers new, exciting potential for future workers. While many other sectors struggle to survive during the pandemic, healthcare is one of the very few sectors that are thriving and making various breakthroughs, thus lending further strength to its resilience.
This e-learning course will acquaint participants with the value of the cloud, share examples of its applications in healthcare, and review cloud services for the healthcare sector. It will specifically examine how cloud computing technology can play important roles in the future of the healthcare sector and related services, which is especially relevant in the post-COVID-19 new normal. The course will also explain various cloud solutions that can increase productivity in other service subsectors. The knowledge gained will promote smart transformation efforts across APO member countries.

This course has the following objectives.

1) Discuss the most recent cloud solutions, concepts, tools, and methodologies for service-sector digital transformation.

2) Introduce innovation-led productivity improvements for service-sector organizations within the context of Industry 4.0 technologies, including cloud computing, cloud-native architecture, and cloud-based solutions. 

Module 1: Introduction to the cloud and cloud computing 

Module 2: Applications of cloud solutions in the service sector

Module 3: Relationship between cloud technologies and labor productivity in service-sector organizations 

Module 4: Case studies of cloud-driven productivity in the service sector

Module 5: Summary of concepts and future directions

Final examination
Course Duration in Hours: 30 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: Yes

As part of their resilience, SMEs should be flexible in business approaches to adapt to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and other unexpected circumstances. However, given the small size of their workforces and structures, SMEs are often less clear in their strategic approach. This includes adopting design thinking and design innovation, which is a holistic approach to system changes and process innovation aimed at enabling maximum returns.
According to the European Academy of Design (2019), SMEs around the world often lack an innovation culture. Compared to global giants such as Amazon, SpaceX, Apple, and Salesforce, which possess the resources for highly evolved innovation cultures, average SMEs have much fewer resources and therefore feel less compelled to promote innovation. 
Service design thinking, however, is not the sole purview of large global companies. The principles, methodologies, and tools of service design thinking are applicable to small enterprises. Developing the appropriate service design thinking tools for SMEs will therefore enable the creation of innovation cultures that are essential for the continued growth and sustainable operations of SMEs. This e-learning course will introduce the participants to the key concepts, benefits, and applications of service design thinking to optimize the profitability and business sustainability of SMEs across APO member countries.

This course has the following objectives.

1) Introduce the concepts, tools, and methodologies of service thinking for SMEs.

2) Enhance the adoption of service-thinking approaches in SME operations.

3) Examine future trends in service thinking and their application for the business sustainability and productivity of SMEs.

Module 1: Introduction to service thinking: Benefits to SMEs

Module 2: Essential service-thinking concepts and applications for SME operations

Module 3: Case studies I: Service thinking in the food and beverage industry

Module 4: Case studies II: Service thinking in the hospitality and tourism industry

Module 5: Future trends in service thinking and service design for SMEs

Final examination

Course Duration in Hours: 30 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: Yes
The digital economy relies on innovative, advanced technologies in both the manufacturing and service sectors to improve products and processes. What this means for factories and production floors is that manufacturing processes are enhanced through cyberphysical integration of assembly lines. It involves digitalization and automation using devices, sensors, and robotics for work processes. It also facilitates connectivity through the integration of information, computing, and networking to improve manufacturing productivity, customization, flexibility, predictability, and performance.
For the service sector, which includes professional services and financial technology (fintech) firms, however, the methods are quite different. Productivity is often enhanced through measures and techniques aimed at protecting the integrity of data, computing devices, and other systems from damage or theft, and preventing disruption to the system’s overall functionality. Specific measures may include encryption, cyberintelligence, and the development of security control mechanisms to reduce risks. It also involves collecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data to discover useful information and provide critical insights. Such value-added services in data and business analytics are geared toward informed decision making.

This e-learning course will focus on introducing productivity and innovation tools, techniques, and methodologies in the service sector to acquaint participants with the latest solutions. The knowledge gained and sharing of experience will prepare participants to advance smart transformation ideas and initiatives across APO member countries and therefore prepare them for the digital economy.

This course has the following objectives.

1) Discuss the latest productivity concepts, tools, and methodologies for service-sector enterprises.

2) Introduce innovation-led productivity improvement solutions for the service sector in the digital economy era, including big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cloud solutions.

Module 1: Service-sector productivity and innovation for the digital economy and Quiz 1

Module 2: Applications of productivity solutions in the service sector and Quiz 2 

Module 3: Data analytics, cloud computing, and AI contributions to labor productivity in service enterprises and Quiz 3

Module 4: Case studies of productivity and innovation in the digital economy and Quiz 4

Module 5: Summary and future directions for service productivity and innovation in the digital economy and Quiz 5

Final examination


Course Duration in Hours: 30 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: Yes

  • Course Description: The APO has been promoting the concept of Green Productivity (GP) since 1994, where the focus is to enhance productivity and simultaneously reduce negative impacts on the environment.  GP leverages various productivity tools and techniques to help organizations improve their quality, occupational safety, and environmental management. This course will provide participants with basic knowledge of energy efficiency techniques, specifically on different sub-components that are crucial for energy efficiency in organizations, together with an introduction to best practices. 
  • Course Objectives: To familiarize participants with the basic concepts, together with best practices, of energy efficiency techniques.

Course Duration in Hours: 40 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

The purpose of this e-course is to equip workshop participants and other APO professionals to continue their work in scenario planning and also to train other associates in the technique and associated tools. Scenario planning, the focus on this course, is a process that generates a group of plausible stories about the future. These can then be used to aid long-term planning. Well-written scenarios combine rigorous forecasts with immersive storytelling elements to bring possible futures to life. In so doing, they can help inspire readers to take action in a way that more “traditional” methods of communication might not. The traditional scenario planning methodology, pioneered by Royal Dutch Shell, emphasises that scenarios are not intended to present definitive predictions about the future. Rather, scenarios help to articulate the risks and opportunities present in a range of plausible futures, and serve as a discussion tool to stimulate debate about strategies to shape the future. Scenario planning can also be seen as a change management tool — specifically, a way to sensitise the participants in the process to indicators of change and to the unpredictability and volatility of the future. They can help cultivate a “contingency mindset” and build the capacity to react quickly when the need arises.

The course is structured according to the main elements of a strategic foresight / scenarios process. Throughout the report, there are also a number of call out boxes that describe different skills/techniques that are helpful in scenario work.
There are 10 modules:
1. Thinking About the Future
2. Introduction to Scenario Planning
3. Establishing a Project
4. Driving Forces
5. Building Blocks
6. Scenario Frameworks
7. Storytelling
8. Implications, Options and Indicators
9. Communicating Scenarios
10. Practical Considerations
There is also included, as an extra, a glossary of key terms and a further reading list. This e-learning course includes five interim quizzes and one final exam.

Course Objectives:
1. Equip participants with the fundamentals and principles of strategic foresight and scenario planning as well as explain its relevance and approaches specific to public and private organizations; and
2. Develop the capability of individuals to set forward-looking strategic directions derived from plausible scenarios for the future.


Course Duration in Hours: 15 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

The increased rates of female education and economic participation have gradually brought a change in women’s position in business. More women are attempting to be employers like entrepreneurs and business leaders rather than working in hired positions. According to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 163 million women were estimated to start or run new businesses in around 74 economies in 2016. Despite the upward trend and women’s greater involvement in the market, their visibility is still much lower compared with their male business counterparts. One of the possible ways to promote female-run businesses is to support women in developing good business models. For entrepreneurs setting up a business, the importance of a business model cannot be overemphasized. Currently, however, most female entrepreneurs are associated with the wholesale and retail industry in SME family businesses, which are run by traditional handover practices from predecessors. Especially, rural women’s active participation in business significantly affects household income generation, which contributes to improving the livelihoods of families.

In this regard, this course is designed to build the capabilities of female agri-entrepreneurs as CEOs, managerial professionals, and agribusiness enterprise operators contributing to prospering rural economies.


Course Duration in Hours: 20 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

The crux of business success lies in marketing. Marketing helps create awareness in the eyes of the public about a company’s products/services, increase sales, build brand reputation, and foster an environment in the market for healthy competition.

 A marketing strategy takes a comprehensive view of all activities related to selling a product or service and helps ensure that these activities support each other. It helps to determine the right price for a company’s products/services, establishes effective distributive channels, and assists in effective communication to the outside world, in addition to creating an organizational environment in which the various units or departments work together to achieve common goals.

Branding is especially important for SMEs as it influences people’s perceptions of the company’s quality of customer service, image, advertising, and logo. When these parts of the business are working well, the overall brand tends to be healthy. A good brand helps improve recognition, creates trust, reinforces advertisements, builds value, generates new customers, and, last but not least, inspires employees.

Today, many SMEs have great products and provide excellent customer service, although most do not know how to develop appropriate marketing and branding strategies to keep the business afloat. This self-e-learning course was developed by the APO with the sole aim of helping small businesses develop the ability to market their products and services effectively.

Course Instructions

– There are seven modules in this course. Please start with Module 1 and complete each module in order.

– The recommended timeline to complete each module is:

Days 1–2: Module 1 + Quiz 1

Days 3–4: Module 2 + Quiz 2

Days 5–6: Module 3 + Quiz 3

Days 7–8: Module 4 + Quiz 4

Days 9–10: Module 5 + Quiz 5

Days 11–12: Module 6 + Quiz 6

Days 13–14: Module 7 + Quiz 7

Day 15: Final exam

– To confirm your understanding, quizzes are provided in each module. Please answer the questions and check your score for self-evaluation. Please note that the quiz scores are not related to the final exam results.
– It is recommended that you proceed to the next module only after satisfactory completion of the preceding module.
– After completing all modules, each participant should take the final exam. Remember that you are only allowed to take the final exam once. Please ensure that you have thoroughly understood all modules before taking the final exam.
– After completion of the course, the APO will provide e-certificates to successful participants from APO member countries who pass the final exam (minimum passing score is 70% or 70 points).

Course Objectives

This module aims to help SMEs in developing their marketing strategies and product branding strategies. The self-learning e-course modules are designed to enable participants to:

  1. Gain perspective on developing new products and services;
  2. Describe and explain product development strategies and the stages of product development and product lifecycles;
  3. Identify the factors affecting pricing and determine relevant pricing structures for products and services;
  4. Develop promotional strategies and analyse the process of bundling and packaging products and services;
  5. Develop competitive distribution channels;
  6. Design relevant branding strategies;
  7. Create appropriate loyalty programs to grow customer bases; and
  8. Gain insights on the linkages between branding and intellectual property.

Important Notes:

1. Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a minimum score of 70% on the final examination is required to qualify for the APO e-certificate.

Course Duration in Hours: 40 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

Course Description

Entrepreneurship is a driving force for rural development. It involves strategic interventions to accelerate and revitalize declining rural economies by expanding business outreach to farm/nonfarm areas. People with entrepreneurial mindsets recognize unexploited market opportunities by thinking intuitively and reading future trends in given circumstances. In a rural context, entrepreneurship means building something meaningful by utilizing local resources not practically perceived or valued previously. In this way, the value of natural, capital, and human resources in rural communities can be recreated in a viable way to take the fullest advantage of them.

The interplay between rural development and entrepreneurship overcomes the constraints of primary industry, mainly agriculture, which is the principal source of income in rural areas. Rural populations are highly dependent on agricultural production, although its performance is volatile due to natural calamities such as droughts, flooding, insect pests, and others. Similarly, achieving drastic yield increases in agriculture is often not controllable.

In this regard, rural entrepreneurship can offer innovative, cost-effective sources of living by crossing the boundaries among primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. It enables local people to appreciate the value of resources in the area and utilize them as inputs for creating value-added products and services. Thus entrepreneurship diversifies sources of livelihood and increases per capita income. Furthermore, it creates jobs for the under/unemployed labor force and improves the autonomy and independence of rural households. In reality, however, nurturing successful entrepreneurs has often faced challenges such as a lack of financial support and social recognition, and rural people rarely start businesses or put their business ideas into practice. Therefore the social infrastructure that underpins entrepreneurs’ entry into markets and makes them resilient against failure needs to be discussed and developed. The entrepreneurial mindset is based on the idea of taking risks, and entrepreneurs should be able to enter and exit markets freely even after experiencing failure.

Course Objectives

The course is designed to build the capabilities of rural entrepreneurs, SME operators, and rural development planners, trainers, and consultants who are engaged in business advisory services and/or are interested in initiating businesses in rural areas. At the end of the course, the enrollees will be familiar with innovative entrepreneurial thinking and have an understanding of various entrepreneurial strategies in line with sustainable rural development. The specific objectives are for participants to:

  • Understand the concept and special features of entrepreneurship to provide livelihoods for rural populations and foster rural development;
  • Enhance the ability to design and manage rural enterprises using different techniques, tools, and models for strategic business development;
  • Recognize global trends, the changing environment consistent with agriculture 2030, and emerging topics to identify future challenges and opportunities; and
  • Learn about the role of government and institutional setups in developing entrepreneurial mindsets and conducive environments for rural entrepreneurship development.
Course Duration in Hours: 40 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No