Speech by Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the SiTF ICT Business Summit 2013

  • Date: 28 Mar 2013

Speech by Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the SiTF ICT Business Summit 2013 – "Technovation: The Convergence of Technology & Innovation", 28 March 2013, 8.50 A.M. at Grand Copthorne Waterfront

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Member of Parliament, Choa Chu Kang GRC

Mr Eddie Chau, Chairman, SiTF

Mr Vijoy Varghese, Organising Chairman, SiTF ICT Business Summit 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning

1. It is my pleasure to join our infocomm industry members once again at this annual SiTF ICT Business Summit. As always, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss interesting ICT trends and opportunities that are shaping the dynamics of the infocomm industry.

Technovation Creates a New Paradigm

2. This year's Summit theme "Technovation" is indeed apt in today's competitive and connected ICT landscape. There are many positive trends we are seeing with the convergence of technology and innovation. Let me highlight three of these.

3. First, this convergence has made possible ideas and concepts previously thought impossible. In the days when mobile phones were not so smart, innovators went ahead to combine the functions of a PDA with those of a mobile phone. This gradually evolved to adding more functionalities - from media players, digital & video cameras to GPS navigation, touchscreens and web browsers. Today, the rapid development of mobile app markets and mobile commerce has further accelerated the rate of smartphone adoption, presenting a viable platform for companies to develop innovative products on.

4. Our local start-up, Burpple has leveraged this to develop a social media application connecting people in more than 3,300 cities and 115 countries, enabling them to share their food experiences through the mobile phone. The innovation success of this 1-year-old start-up recently attracted USD$500,000 in seed funding and earned it recognition as one of the Top 10 Start-ups in Asia.

5. A second trend is that of companies using "technovative" solutions to redesign their products and processes to not simply meet, but exceed the needs and expectations of today's sophisticated consumers. Starbucks is one such brand which has armed itself with an arsenal of digital tools from web, mobile, social media and e-commerce, to connect with its increasingly mobile and social customers. By creating innovative payment platforms such as pre-paid loyalty cards and mobile apps, this coffee giant has built an immensely loyal customer base that has resulted in US$1 billion being loaded on the Starbucks Cards just in the first quarter of 2013 alone1.

6. Thirdly, technovation today is not just about individual breakthroughs in the infocomm industry, but also breakthroughs in collaboration between the different industries and sectors. With increasing emphasis on emerging technologies including cloud computing, big data, mobility and social media, user organisations are seeking to transform business operations and stakeholder engagement with novel products and solutions.

7. Maven Lab is one home-grown technology SME which has provided innovative web and mobile technology solutions to help businesses reach out to their customers more effectively. Recently, Maven Lab's capability in mobile solutions attracted German semiconductor MNC, Infineon Technologies, to co-develop a mobile product catalogue application with it. This enterprise mobility app has empowered Infineon's customers to access product information easily, enhancing user experience. We hope to see more of such co-innovation success stories springing up.

Priming Singapore for the Technovation Journey

8. IDA seeks to build strong innovation linkages between the public, private and people sectors. I would like to share four strategies through which we do this.

9. First, we enable technovation by putting in place a Next Generation infocomm infrastructure and forward-looking plans to ensure that Singapore is future ready. Last year, we achieved our key milestone of deploying the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network to 95% of homes and businesses in Singapore. Enterprises, large and small, have benefited from the ease of access to ultra high-speed broadband.

10. On the wireless front, we have also been seeing an increasing trend of enterprises adopting and subscribing to Wireless@SG for their own operations as well as providing innovative services and free Wi-Fi access to the general public. For example, Infinity E-Solutions Asia, a licensed reseller of Apple products in Singapore, has enabled Wireless@SG access in its stores for potential customers to better test out the functions of Apple products. It is also planning to use Wireless@SG to link up in-store security networks and even possibly introduce customer relations programmes.

11. In the Next Phase of the Wireless@SG programme, free public Wi-Fi will be extended till March 2017. From next month, we will progressively get to enjoy higher access speeds of up to 2Mbps, allowing the use of more high bandwidth functions and apps. Enterprises can also look forward to more innovative services, such as targeted advertising, office communication suite and Software-as-a-Service. By April next year, user experience will be enhanced through simplifying the login process for Wireless@SG. Registered users will be able to gain access through the SIM cards in their mobile devices. The new system will complement existing mobile networks and allow users to seamlessly switch between 3G and 4G networks and Wireless@SG.

12. With the exponential growth in Singapore's mobile data traffic, IDA will hold a 4G spectrum auction in the middle of this year, which will allow mobile operators to expand their service offerings. This will in turn drive new and data-intensive growth areas such as consumer services and data analytics, with greater coverage, bandwidth and product choices.

13. The enhancement in infocomm infrastructure and ensuing services, as well as the widespread use of computers and broadband, has also made flexible work arrangements more viable than ever before. In encouraging the adoption of New Ways of Work through the use of ICT, IDA has awarded two CFC proposals to pilot home-based work earlier this year. We will also launch a Call-for-Proposal to establish Smart Work Centres, which are alternative working spaces equipped with professional workplace facilities and shared by employees of different companies. I encourage our industry to take up such work arrangements to promote better work-life balance and optimise the use of resources.

14. ICT can also enable Singapore to address complex challenges as a global city through practical and efficient solutions. We need to adopt an approach that is based on experimentation and risk-taking to enable the development and piloting of new concepts. Toward that end, IDA will be working with other agencies to implement our Smart Cities Pilots & Trials Programme in the Jurong Lake District, one of the new growth areas identified in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan. IDA will deploy connectivity-enhancing infrastructure and sensors in JLD and enable access to real-time data and pervasive ICT connectivity, in order to improve the quality of life for residents, as well as bring about more efficient operations and informed planning for government agencies and user organisations. We will be launching a CFC today to call for proposals to deploy Smart Cities pilots and trials at JLD.

15. The second strategy to encourage technovation is to drive adoption of ICT to transform the economy and society. In the area of location-based services, IDA launched a CFC for Mobile Positioning and Analytics Services in May last year. We have received good response from the industry and I am pleased to announce today the award of the CFC to four consortia: Starhub and Changi Airport Group; Cold Storage, YFind and SangInfo; YFind and Perennial Real Estate, and YFind and Tangs.

16. All four consortia will leverage location analytics to bring about a new interactive experience for consumers and retail businesses, such as indoor navigational features combined with targeted marketing. Through analytical services, mall operators and retailers can also better understand their premises' traffic flow, crowd density and customer behaviour. Various enterprise and consumer location-based services are expected to be deployed from the fourth quarter of this year. IDA will also work closely with the consortia partners to jointly establish an Open Positioning Framework as a common standard of communication between different service providers, which will reduce the cost of future implementation in other venues.

17. In the logistics sector, IDA connects the logistics and ICT community to co-create and streamline complex supply chain processes, bringing about improved productivity and significant cost savings. IDA and CAAS awarded the "e-Freight@Singapore" CFC to three consortia last year to develop ICT solutions to manage paperless airfreight processes in Singapore. Two of these solutions, to be deployed this month, will enhance the inter-connectedness of the entire supply chain, from shippers to freight forwarders, airlines, ground handlers and government agencies.

18. The mobile payments arena has also been given a boost with the deployment of the interoperable Near Field Communications infrastructure last August by a consortium of industry players led by Gemalto. Consumers are now able to make contactless payments with their NFC-enabled phones at over 30,000 acceptance points, and at least seven additional NFC mobile payment and value-added services will be launched by next year. IDA is also working closely with the industry to deploy services beyond payment, such as loyalty and rewards programmes, secured access control and mobile ticketing through NFC.

19. We also target players in other industries, particularly the SMEs, to help them integrate innovative ICT solutions into their businesses. To date, IDA has supported the efforts of more than 5,000 SMEs to raise business productivity through the iSPRINT programme. There is also an ongoing "iSPRINT Packaged ICT Solutions for SMEs" Call-for-Proposal to garner ICT solution providers to offer quick-to-implement ICT solutions suited to the needs of SMEs. I look forward to our industry's proposals to introduce more new ideas to enhance business processes and productivity.

20. To further encourage our ICT industry and global enterprise users to co-create value through technovation, IDA will be launching the Enterprise Mobility CFP today and a Business Analytics Innovation Challenge in May. Local infocomm enterprises selected through the Enterprise Mobility CFP will be supported by incentive schemes to aid their development of enterprise mobility solutions, focusing on areas such as enabling a mobile workforce, field services automation, supply chain management and operations efficiency. The CFP will close on 26 July, and you may visit the IDA website today to find out more. The BA Innovation Challenge, on the other hand, is a competition platform where global enterprise users can crowd source, prototype and potentially develop data analytics models, products or solutions to solve real-life industry problems, in collaboration with data scientists, Institutes of Higher Learning, research institutions and solution providers. I would like to encourage our industry members to participate actively in both initiatives.

21. With the aim of fostering the development of apps that use government data, IDA and MOF issued the "Harnessing Data for Value Creation" CFC in May last year. More than 20 proposals have been received, and we are currently evaluating their feasibility to better enable the public in informed decision-making, and business enterprises in improving productivity, enhancing planning and creating new value.

22. The third strategy to enhance technovation is to level up the productivity of our infocomm industry. At this SiTF gathering last year, we announced the S$46 million Infocomm Industry Productivity Roadmap. Today, I am happy to share that we have made good progress in the push for productivity in the ICT sector, in close collaboration with SiTF. We have assisted more than 70 companies and trained close to 6,700 infocomm professionals to date, on productivity improvement courses such as project management, outsourcing and scrum methodology. Last August, IDA also facilitated SiTF's setup of the Productivity and Productisation Programme Office, or PPPO, to assist local infocomm enterprises to reshape their business models and improve productivity. Since then, PPPO has organised three Infocomm Productivity Masterclasses with support from IDA and the WDA, on topics such as product management, business strategy, agile software development and user experience design, benefiting about 200 infocomm professionals, of which 70% are CXOs. The industry can look forward to more of such Masterclasses, as well as specialised courses that IDA is organising with the Institute of Systems Science, to provide more in-depth knowledge and training.

23. IDA has also helped to make available specialised tools for ICT SMEs, such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2012, as packaged solutions under iSPRINT, and the industry can expect more of such tools in the near future. The PPPO will also be launching an online shared services portal to aggregate demand for products and services and facilitate our infocomm enterprises’ access to knowledge resources that could further help improve their productivity.

24. In line with the Infocomm Industry Productivity Roadmap's objective to encourage ICT SMEs to move towards more product and SaaS centric business models and scale their businesses faster, IDA launched a multi-agency supported Software-as-a-Service CFC last year to spur the development and adoption of sector-specific SaaS solutions. I am pleased to say that the evaluation of 84 proposals received at the CFC is now almost complete. We expect the CFC to bring about more than S$20 million worth of business opportunities for the ICT industry, and catalyse the development of more than 20 SaaS-based solutions. The CFC is expected to support more than 600 companies in adopting ICT in more than 10 different sectors, ranging from education, property, travel, retail to construction, and eventually reach out to 3,000 more companies.

25. Strengthening our start-up ecosystem is another key thrust in driving technovation, as cutting-edge ideas often come about with the risk-taking, entrepreneurial and vibrant nature of start-ups. To increase the depth and potential of our start-ups and speed up their access to the global marketplace, IDA plans to draw on the experience of start-up hotbeds such as those in the Scandinavian region, and launch what our team calls a "start-ups sauna" to help Singapore-based start-ups scale up. Through such a business accelerator run by enthusiasts, and supported by government, businesses and academia, we can help to bring ideas to commercial launch.

26. This is also the intention behind the In-Market Accelerators programme, which aims to link Singapore-based start-ups with market- and infocomm-savvy mentors in target markets. This programme has so far brought close to 60 local start-ups and infocomm enterprises to Indonesia, Beijing, Shanghai, the Philippines, Vietnam and Silicon Valley, where they have benefited from the opportunity to connect with potential partners, customers and investors through networking and pitching events. We plan to launch more of such collaborative and synergistic initiatives in relevant markets around the region.

27. We are encouraged to see SiTF's 123Jumpstart programme and SiTF leaders' efforts in giving back to the industry by providing seed funding and mentorship to younger companies. The recent Investment Readiness Programme that SiTF jointly conducted with Angels Den has allowed our start-ups to develop a stronger understanding of what is required to become 'investment ready', in order to attract and utilise angel investment. We look forward to more collaboration between SiTF's 123Jumpstart and IDA.

28. Fourthly, to remain at the forefront of technovation, Singapore needs to build a good pipeline of infocomm talent that can keep pace with technological changes. In anticipation of changing job profiles and to attract greater talent into ICT, IDA will continue to review our existing infocomm manpower initiatives to develop necessary skill sets for our local infocomm professionals. Given the increasing industry demand for manpower, IDA and WDA jointly developed the NICF Readiness Kit to help enterprises in the infocomm sector better attract, up-skill and retain their workforce. Enterprises will also be able to transit their infocomm workforce towards greater productivity and achieve quality growth. You may visit the NICF booth later to find out more details. I would also like to encourage our industry members to join Singapore's first IT online community, InfoPier, which serves as a platform for IT professionals to form communities of interest and collaborate to conceptualise innovative solutions for the industry.

Closing Remarks

29. Before I close, allow me to highlight a few upcoming infocomm events that we would welcome the industry to participate in.

30. IDA will be holding its annual CloudAsia event from 14-17 May. The agenda will focus on enterprise and telecom cloud business opportunities, cloud computing marketing strategies, implementation and solutions for the Asia Pacific region.

31. On 23 May, IDA will be organising its annual Industry Briefing to share the latest Government ICT vision, direction and plans for infocomm projects that are in the pipeline for the public sector for FY13.

32. The annual imbX will take place from 17 to 21 June at Marina Bay Sands. I would like to highlight that this year, in conjunction with imbX, IDA will also be organising the eGov Global Exchange, which will bring together senior e-government policy makers and practitioners from around the world. This event comprises a eGov Forum on 17 June and an Exhibition from 18 to 21 June.

33. On 24 July, we will be organising the Information Security Seminar and Cyber Security Awareness Day, to provide useful insights on key infocomm security issues and challenges faced by public and private sector organisations.

34. From 11 to 15 November this year, Singapore will be hosting the 14th Telecommunications and IT Senior Officials Meeting (TELSOM) and 13th Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting (TELMIN). The last time Singapore hosted this event was 10 years ago, in 2003. This is ASEAN's main platform to discuss and enhance co-operation on ICT issues. In conjunction with this, the 2nd ASEAN ICT Awards will be held, and I encourage our ICT industry to take this opportunity to gain recognition for your innovation solutions at this regional platform.

35. On the international front, the industry can also look out for overseas tradeshows, thematic mission trips, roadshows and seminars organised by IDA, as part of our effort to help our infocomm enterprises go global. I just came back from such a trip to Oman two days ago. Our companies on this occasion participated in the COMEX ICT Exhibition, and had the opportunity to profile their innovative capabilities and meet with foreign government officials, partners and potential customers. An e-Education workshop was also jointly organised by IDA and the Omani Ministry of Education and Information Technology Authority, which provided a platform for our companies to pitch their solutions to their target audience as well as gather valuable market insights through networking.

36. Finally, we can see that Singapore is well-positioned to succeed in the technovation journey, and strong public, private and people partnerships will be key to that. I encourage all industry leaders and SiTF members to continue to break new barriers and embrace disruptive innovation to create new business models and products.

37. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to you for your support and participation in IDA's various initiatives and programmes over the past year, and hope you have benefited from them in one way or another. I wish all of you yet another successful year ahead.

Note to Editor:

1www.forbes.com/sites/thestreet/2013/02/22/starbucks-secret-recipe-for-growth


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