Last updated: 13 March 2023
Published on: 04 July 2018
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SG:D Industry Day recap: New initiatives will offer local firms more support in going digital
By Janice Lin
A slew of initiatives, from a nationwide e-invoicing system to getting help from digital project managers, have been rolled out by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) as part of the new Digital Economy Framework for Action, aimed at helping companies go digital and compete internationally.
Unveiled during IMDA’s first Singapore Digital (SG:D) Industry Day at Suntec Singapore in May, the framework is part of the government’s effort to collaborate with industry and support local companies on their digital journeys. This will help raise Singapore’s competitive edge to become a global node in the digital economy.
Here are five things you need to know about the Digital Economy Framework for Action:
1. Nationwide e-invoicing system will make payments much easier
Singapore will be implementing the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) standard as a nationwide e-invoicing system, in a move to help firms accelerate business transactions, minimise invoicing errors and disputes, lower operating costs and get better access to financial services. As part of this, the IMDA will be the national PEPPOL Authority, the first in Asia and outside Europe.
Plans for a nationwide e-invoicing system were first announced during the Budget statement in March. Ten European countries, including the United Kingdom and Norway, are currently PEPPOL Authorities.
Adopting e-invoicing is one of the first steps in getting companies started on their digitalisation journey. The automated creation and processing of invoices gives companies accurate, real-time visibility of their payment cycles and enables better cash flow management.
“Through this interoperable and low-cost standard, Singapore companies can more easily adopt e-invoicing on a large scale. In addition, this will help our companies transact internationally, with businesses from many other countries that are also in the PEPPOL network,” said Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran at the launch of the Digital Economy Framework for Action.
More than 40 organisations and companies have voiced support for the adoption of PEPPOL, from government agencies (such as the Accountant-General’s Department and the Singapore Accountancy Commission) to private-sector users (such as IBM, CapitaLand and Jay Gee Group) and technology solution providers (such as PwC Singapore, PracBiz and Xero).
2. Open Innovation Platform will enable firms to crowdsource digital solutions
To bridge the gap between the demand and supply of digital solutions, IMDA will launch the Open Innovation Platform (OIP) in mid-2018.
As a crowdsourcing platform, the OIP will connect and match problem owners and problem solvers, and will be supported by a structured innovation process that will run from ideation to commercialisation. It aims to provide Singapore-based companies and sectors with access to multi-disciplinary talent, expertise and technology to accelerate their digitalisation efforts. The OIP will also provide local tech companies with access to regional business needs and opportunities to co-create innovation and exportable solutions.
“We believe that an open innovation ecosystem is a crucial ingredient for innovation and creating new ecosystems in Singapore and in the region,” said IMDA Chief Executive Tan Kiat How at the launch. “Open innovation ecosystems are less mature in Asia, compared to many other jurisdictions like the US, and we are seeding the Open Innovation Platform as a means of galvanising problem owners.”
The OIP will launch with its first challenge call, along with more than 20 organisations that have committed to come on board the programme as supporting partners.
3. SMEs can engage services of digital project managers
While the digital economy has benefited many local firms, going digital can be difficult for some SMEs. The challenge, said Mr Iswaran, lay not so much in the adoption of digital technologies, but in “sustaining the momentum and adapting to the fast-changing environment”.
“Our SMEs need to be able to effectively implement digital solutions if they are to reap the full rewards of digitalisation,” he said, adding that many SMEs do not have the expertise necessary for this.
To aid these businesses, IMDA has enhanced its SMEs Go Digital programme to provide digital project management services to SMEs that are embarking on digital transformation. The Singapore Manufacturing Federation, which has been appointed the first operator of this programme, will help train, certify and mentor experienced professionals, managers and executives and match them to SMEs as in-house digital project managers.
The three-year pilot initiative will focus on six sectors for a start: Retail, security, logistics, environmental services, food services and wholesale trade, with the aim of driving the sustainable implementation of digital technology by SMEs.
4. Federated Lockers and Collection Points programme will help boost last-mile deliveries
To alleviate the challenges of last-mile delivery and hasten the transformation of the logistics industry, the Federated Lockers and Collection Points programme will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The programme aims to provide a boost to the e-commerce market, which is estimated to be worth S$7.5 billion by 2027. It enables consumers to receive their deliveries by simply collecting them from locker stations located near MRT stations and at housing estates. For businesses, it helps generate cost savings through aggregated deliveries to a single locker station, increase delivery efficiency and productivity, as well as improve the quality of jobs in the consumer retail sector.
This initiative will begin with a year-long pilot involving Bukit Panjang and Punggol. Blu Logistics will build 23 locker stations around Bukit Panjang town and another four at nearby MRT stations. Correspondingly, Singapore Post will implement 39 locker stations in Punggol town and another four at neighbouring MRT stations.
5. 200 ICT firms will get cybersecurity know-how with GoSecure
As Singapore ramps up its digital transformation and an increasing number of businesses adopt technology, there is a greater need for tech solutions to be secure and reliable.
IMDA has thus partnered the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to administer GoSecure, a two-year programme that begins in July 2018 with the aim of increasing the cybersecurity capabilities of 200 local information and communications technology (ICT) companies.
Participating firms will learn how to incorporate cybersecurity considerations in designing and developing their tech solutions, as well as identify and fix vulnerabilities in them. SIT students will also work with these ICT firms in conducting vulnerability tests, and in the process gain hands-on experience and exposure to commercial industry projects.
“(GoSecure) is a pathway for ICT SMEs to upscale (and) level up the cybersecurity capabilities of their products … It's (also) a great opportunity for bringing industry and academia together to work on real-life situations,” said Mr Tan.