Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 30 November 2017


Enabling a connected future for all was a key focus at TechXLR8 Asia.

TechXLR8 featured five tech events under one branding: 5G Asia, Internet of Things (IoT World Asia), Network Virtualisation & SDN, The AI Summit and Project Kairos Asia.
Networking on the exhibition floor at TechXLR8.

By Yamini Chinnuswamy


The idea of technology as a tool for improving lives and solving the world’s problems reverberated at TechXLR8 Asia, which took place from 2 to 4 October 2017 at Marina Bay Sands.

Start-ups, businesses and investors discussed the role of infrastructure and networks in a connected world, and how technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing organisations from the inside.

Themed around “Enabling the Connected Future”, TechXLR8 encompassed five different tech events: 5G Asia, Internet of Things (IoT World Asia), Network Virtualisation & SDN, The AI Summit and Project Kairos Asia.

Headlining the event on 2 October were the Show Headliners series of talks, where leaders from across Asia’s tech industry zoomed in on what to expect in the digital future.

Here are some of the highlights.

Unlocking the world’s data

Connecting IoT with the physical world will be the largest transition in modern humanity since the invention of the internet, said Mr Bay McLaughlin, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of, an accelerator that helps IoT startups.

Bay McLaughlin
Mr Bay McLaughlin, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of (Photo: TechXLR8 website)

“This is going to be one of the biggest thing that will ever happen to humanity and will fundamentally change everything that we do as humans,” he added.

He urged start-ups, businesses, government agencies and investors to understand their role in unlocking the vast world of data that IoT will generate. “Start thinking about the fundamental building blocks of unlocking that data. I truly believe that in our lifetime, because we are going to unlock and connect everything… we’re going to be able to solve problems that have been plaguing humanity for all time.”

Mr McLaughlin noted that businesses that are slow to jump on the IoT bandwagon will lose out on being able to own and access data of their own – a huge disadvantage in an increasingly digital world. “If you don’t invest in [IoT], you won’t own your data. But you will eventually [have to] get the data from someone. I hope you understand that if you don’t get your data – you lose. He who gets data wins – period,” he added.

Likewise, investors will lose out if they fail to recognise the potential implications of IoT. “The amount of money and value that’s going to be pumped into the world as we unlock the world’s data is going to make the iPhone and Apple look like nothing,” he said.

“If you are an investor and you are not investing in IoT, you will lose. You need to participate. You cannot afford to miss something that’s going to make mobile phones look incomprehensibly small.”

Tan Kiat How
Mr Tan Kiat How, CEO of IMDA, spoke on "Delivering a Digital Economy that Drives Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative”.

Singapore’s digital economy is the future

Mr Tan Kiat How, CEO of IMDA, believes that there is no way to talk about the future economy without talking about digital transformation, sectors, companies and workers.

“Our view is that every business must be a digital business to survive,” he said.

During his Show Headliners talk on “Delivering a Digital Economy that Drives Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative”, Mr Tan highlighted that technology should not be considered for technology’s sake, but as a means of making life better for businesses, citizens and society.

“This is our world view – to be a Smart Nation, we need to be a digitised government, economy and society,” he said.

He pointed out that IMDA is developing industry-specific guides — Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) — to look at how digital transformation can be accelerated across every sector in Singapore.

“We will be releasing the retail and logistics industry digital plan [for SMEs] later this year, [and are] planning to invite partners, start-ups, technology companies, to give ideas, to come on board and work with us. There are many opportunities to develop products, services [and] to solve problems,” he said.

Tan Kiat How
Mr Tan Kiat How: "Our view is that every business must be a digital business to survive."

“One area that we are looking at is how to uplift the entire economy, not just companies at the frontier of technology, but also smaller [and] medium-sized companies [that] are looking to innovate and experiment with new technology,” he added.

Earlier this year, IMDA launched the SMEs Go Digital programme to help SMEs build stronger digital capabilities and adopt new technologies.

In September, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, highlighted four frontier technology focus areas — immersive media, AI and data science, cybersecurity, and IoT and future communications — that will help lay a strong infocomm media foundation for Singapore. 

Mr Tan stressed that artificial intelligence (AI) and data science is something that no country can ignore.

“There is enough foundation for us to think of it as a potential game changer, especially for small economies like Singapore,” he said. “As we become more digital, cybersecurity is also an area of concern.”