27 August 2005 - Opening Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore At The National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS) Awards Ceremony cum National Software Competition (NSC), Singapore Polytechnic.
Opening Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore At The National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS) Awards Ceremony cum National Software Competition (NSC) on 27 August 2005, Singapore Polytechnic.
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. I am very happy to be part of this exciting event. We are not only here to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the National Software Competition, and to congratulate the awardees of the National Infocomm Scholarship, but we are also here because we all have a common interest and passion for infocomm and the difference it can make to our lives.
Infocomm is Pervasive in Our Daily Lives
2. Technology has certainly come a long way. Back in my school days, computers had large monitors with green text and blinking cursors and CPUs that filled half the room. Computer games were mostly two-dimensional figures that could only move left, right, up or down. I used to play the arcade game "Pong", which is a video tennis game where you manoeuvre the paddle up & down with the joystick to hit the ball across the playing field and past your opponents paddle. As crude as this may appear to you, these games fascinated us with what graphic animation could do. And look at what we have today! I was watching some of the X-box games and I was amazed at the eye popping graphics and sound effects.
3. In a relatively short time, computers have evolved into things that are no longer recognisable. Computing power that used to fill half a room can now fit into your hand, your pocket, your wrist watch and even your ear. Hearing aids, for instance, come with digital signal processing ICs to enhance the listening experience Many cars today have dozens of computers to manage the performance of their engines, to control the air-conditioning for the comfort of the driver and to enhance safety.
4. Whether we know it or not, we live and breathe infocomm! And like it or not, it has become an important part of our lives. Today, you download music from the Internet to your MP3 players. You interact and play with fellow gamers from all over the world. You communicate by sending messages and pictures to your friends via SMS and MMS. You decide who the next Singapore Idol or Project Superstar will be with your handphone, and you use email and instant messaging to discuss your home work and projects with your teachers and fellow friends.
5. Indeed, infocomm has changed the way you and I learn, work, live and play in more ways than we realise. Just imagine for one moment, what it will be like without the Internet, email, instant messaging and your mobile phone, and you will begin to understand the impact infocomm has on our lives today and why we just can't live without it. The lights in this hall, the handphones and MP3 players in your pocket, even the ATM cards in your wallet all contain vital pieces of IT hardware and software. Today, hardly any new innovation or discovery occurs without the aid of IT. Think about it ? without computers, the human genome would never have been sequenced, and NASA's 'Discovery' space shuttle would never have been successfully built and launched.
The Potential of Infocomm
6. Infocomm is indeed making its presence felt. But this is only the beginning! As infocomm becomes more pervasive to take on bigger roles in our society and personal lives, the need for newer, faster and more innovative infocomm services and products will intensify. If you watched Steven Spielberg's movie "Minority Report", you will agree that the possibilities of infocomm are limited only by our imagination and that we have just barely begun to scratch the surface of infocomm's potential.
7. It is this yet-untapped potential that provides Singapore's infocomm industry with tremendous growth opportunities, both here and abroad. Currently, the infocomm industry in Singapore generates a whopping $34 billion dollars in revenue, and employs over 100,000 people.
8. Over the years, infocomm has become a powerful agent of economic growth and remains an important industry for Singapore as the enabler of other key sectors. For example, in the healthcare industry, IT is used to analyse genes for personalised medicine and medical history for personalised care. In the logistics sector, IT is increasingly used in warehouses for inventory tracking and control.
9. YCH, a local logistics company celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is using Radio Frequency identification, or RFID, to automatically trace the movement of goods in its warehouse. Speaking of RFID, you may have seen the RFID tags inside the covers of library books. This technology enables the efficient and flexible borrowing and returning of books at any library branch. It is also the same technology that collects toll charges at Electronic Road Pricing gantries and your MRT and bus fares through your EZLink cards. As drivers will tell you, the ERP system is perhaps too efficient for some of us who may sometimes forget to slot in our cashcards!
10. Even in a traditional sector such as retail, supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice and Cold Storage are using infocomm to link up with their hundreds of suppliers.
11. Even though I have barely touched the surface of infocomm usage in various sectors, you can see that it provides the horsepower to grow our economy and to make our lives better in Singapore. We believe that Singapore's infocomm landscape will see even more exciting developments in the coming years.
12. On IDA's part, we are drawing up the iN2015 (Intelligent Nation 2015) masterplan that will look ten years into the future, and identify new possibilities and opportunities for Singapore's industries, economy and society. This naturally means that infocomm professionals will be in demand across all sectors of the economy, and that there will be plenty of exciting options, opportunities and monetary rewards in store for infocomm graduates.
Infocomm as a Career
13. The infocomm profession is one where you can be more than just an employee number in a humongous organisation. It is an exciting and challenging profession which offers a wide scope of career options. Where else do you have the ability to create a new world, discover new information from a mass of data or control a robot from across the solar system? It is a dynamic profession where you can make a difference - where the work that you do can have an impact across the whole organisation, society, or even the world.
The National Infocomm Scholarship - Attracting the Best and the Brightest!
14. None of this is possible without the right talent. Computers are only as intelligent as the people who programme them and the benefits of infocomm only as impactful as envisioned by solutions designers and application architects. Manpower has always been, and continues to be one of Singapore's most valuable resources. Especially in the fast changing infocomm industry, Singapore needs to continually grow our manpower capabilities and nurture talent in order to sustain the industry's growth and maintain our nation's competitive edge. To ensure this continued growth and vibrancy, IDA will intensify our efforts to attract the best and brightest to the industry.
15. The National Infocomm Scholarship was launched by IDA last year, in partnership with the industry, to groom future leaders to drive Singapore's infocomm Industry into the next decade and beyond. Later, you will be witnessing the awards ceremony for this year's batch of 20 new NIS scholars. This is almost twice the number of scholarships we awarded last year. A unique feature of the NIS scholarship is the overseas attachment and mentorship that is provided by leading infocomm companies to allow the scholars to gain wider exposure, industry guidance and international experience.
16. To our partners, namely, Computer Associates, Frontline, Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NCS, Oracle and SCS, thank you for your support. I hope you will continue to work with IDA to expand the scholarship to benefit and attract even more future leaders into infocomm to contribute to your company and the nation.
17. To the rest of you wondering and deciding if you should make infocomm part of your studies and even a career, I would like to emphasise the importance of having infocomm skills in today's workplace. Whether you aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or entrepreneur, you will need to leverage on infocomm technology to perform your job effectively and efficiently. It is therefore critical that today's students are equipped with essential infocomm skills to excel and succeed in a competitive global economy.
18. You may want to follow the footsteps of four friends who founded Aurica - a web applications and solutions company - right after graduation, and made it into a successful infocomm venture. Seven years later, each of them received a sum of money - seven digits to be exact, after they sold it away to start a new business. Now, how's that for a success story! And who knows? You just might be the person who will invent the next revolutionary application or device that will give Sim Wong Hoo and Bill Gates a run for their money!
19. In closing, let me encourage you to be innovative, be passionate and to dream the impossible. The future is in your hands.
20. Thank you.