18 August 2005 - Opening Address By Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts, and Health At 9th Infocomm Commerce Conference, Singapore International Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Opening Address By Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts, and Health At 9th Infocomm Commerce Conference on 18 August 2005, Singapore International Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Mr Chua Thian Poh, President of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

1. It is my pleasure to join you at this event and I am happy to see such a good turn out. Your presence shows that all of you recognise the importance of Infocomm Technology (ICT) and are eager to find out how it can help your businesses develop a global competitive edge.

Trends in Infocomm Technology Usage by Businesses

2. Infocomm technology has come a long way since the days of Wordstar and Lotus123, as some of you may be old enough to remember. From being a typing tool, infocomm technology has now emerged as an indispensable technology, powering manufacturing plants, power stations, and even our defence systems. It is increasingly used for information exchange across companies and across vast geographies.

3. Fortunately, our companies are fast becoming more sophisticated in their use of infocomm technology as they embrace it to create new business models and optimise their business strategies and operations. Over the last year, IDA has supported many projects that use infocomm technologies in sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, finance and banking, media and education. Our goal is to help such sectors become more competitive and effective in accomplishing their goals through the use of infocomm technologies.

4. For instance, companies are now adopting wireless technologies to reap the benefits of a mobile workforce. According to IDA's Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Businesses for 2004, an increasing number of companies are getting wired with wireless technologies like Wireless LAN and GPRS. Among companies using infocomm in their business processes, the percentage of companies using wireless technologies increased from 40% in 2003 to 43% in 2004.

5. Local companies are also starting to realise the benefits of using Web services to change the way they conduct their business, from facilitating e-commerce to enabling closer links with suppliers and distributors. By 2006, we hope to see a 20% industry adoption of web services.

6. Another trend is the shift from narrowband to broadband connection. In the same survey conducted by IDA, broadband uptake by companies increased from 54% in 2003 to 59% in 2004, substituting narrowband which declined from 40% to 33% over the same period.

7. Beyond benefiting businesses, the increased adoption of infocomm technology is also spurring economic growth; As a result, the demand for skilled IT professionals has increased. According to IDA's 2004 Survey on Infocomm Manpower, the number of employed infocomm workers in 2004 was 108,000, which represented a 4% increase from 2003. The 2004 figure exceeded the number in the dotcom boom year of 2000 for the first time. This is an indication that more and more companies recognise the importance of ICT, and are devoting more manpower resources to their ICT and ICT-related functions.

8. To support infocomm growth, the government recognises that the necessary infocomm capability and manpower resources must be in place. As such, the National Infocomm Competency Framework was formed early this year. This framework will seek the inputs of the people, private and public sectors to create a career progression chart for infocomm professionals. With this framework, infocomm professionals will have a better understanding of the competencies and training required for different levels of infocomm occupations.

Infocomm Technologies to Generate Business Benefits

9. Infocomm technology has the potential to generate economic and business benefits. In many instances, it is a key differentiator for many companies, giving them that competitive edge in today's global business environment. As such, companies, both big and small, should use ICT to their advantage.

10. So how can ICT transform companies to help them become more competitive? Let me give you some examples from companies that IDA has worked with, to implement certain new technologies in their business. With the successful implementation of these pilot projects, IDA hopes to encourage greater industry-wide adoption of these new technologies.

Web services

11. Web services adoption has benefited the financial services sector. For instance, insurance companies American Home Assurance Company (AHA), AXA Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd (AXA) and NTUC Income recently implemented a web services-based No Claims Discount (NCD) solution for Motor Vehicle Insurance. This solution allows the organisations to share information and process the vehicle insurance documents more efficiently. It now takes a few minutes to process these documents instead of the original turnaround time of 15 days. Customer service has also improved as the companies are now able to respond to customer queries promptly and accurately.

12. The successful implementation of this project has spurred other insurance companies like Asia Insurance, Liberty Insurance, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, and Royal Sun Alliance to adopt web services. Together, these 7 insurance companies have set the de-facto data exchange standard for the motor insurance industry.

13. This example illustrates how web services have enabled a new level of connectivity and communications between businesses and their partners and consumers. The industry-wide adoption of this new technology has also raised the service level of the motor insurance industry.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

14. Another promising technology is Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID. RFID uses radio frequency communication to automatically identify, track and manage objects, people or animals. It is a strategic tool that promises companies great cost savings.

15. In sectors like retail, manufacturing and logistics, RFID is used to access, track and control inventory. And in the transport sector, RFID is used for vehicle identification, for instance, in Singapore's Electronic Road Pricing System.

16. One instance of a successful implementation of RFID is by YCH Group, a local logistics company. In this pilot RFID project supported by IDA, YCH used RFID technology to tag liquid-based products and inventory, reducing their order lead time by up to 40% and ensuring 100% data accuracy.

17. This is a major achievement and clearly demonstrates the benefits and feasibility of RFID for the logistics industry. For companies in the logistics business, I urge you to study the YCH experience. YCH is now exploring the use of RFID in linking up with its business partners along the supply chain.

Mobility Tools

18. In the past few years, mobility has taken on various shapes and sizes. Technologies such as SMS, MMS, WiFi, GPRS and 3G are leveraged by companies to improve workforce efficiency and as additional avenues to reach their customers and prospects.

19. For instance, local retail goods supplier PSC Corporation equips its salespersons with PDAs that connect to the backend system via GPRS. The result is an increase in business efficiency, with 12 salespersons looking after 1,200 provision shops and mini-markets all over Singapore. PSC has also gained 35% more customers after implementing this wireless technology. And this was achieved without increasing the size of its sales force.

20. If you are interested in finding out more on how wireless technology can help your business, you can visit the remote wireless showcase at the IDA pavilion.


21. I hope the examples that I have just shared with you will inspire you to be more adventurous and innovative in using ICT to grow your business. There is a good range of technologies on exhibition here today, and I urge you to seriously explore their business potential.

22. Singapore will continue to explore new technologies that will benefit businesses. We strongly believe that infocomm technology, if effectively harnessed, can help businesses realise their full business potential. And we hope you share our vision, and tap on infocomm technology to develop an ICT-savvy business.

23. If you have ideas and thoughts on how infocomm technology can help you at work, do share them with us. IDA is spearheading Intelligent Nation 2015 or iN2015, a 10-year master plan to grow the infocomm sector, and chart the use of technology for work, life and leisure.

24. On this note, I wish you all a day of fruitful discussion at this conference.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023