22 September 2010 - Speech by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at The SingTel Accelerate 2010 "Apps.Access.Asia", at Suntec Singapore
Speech by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at The SingTel Accelerate 2010 "Apps.Access.Asia", 22 September 2010, 9:10am at Suntec Singapore
Ms Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO SingTel
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am very pleased to be here this morning at the opening of the SingTel Accelerate 2010 event, and join in this distinguished gathering of developers, researchers and investors, from Singapore as well as the region and beyond.
Encouraging Innovation at Various Levels
2. Infocomm plays a key role today in driving Singapore's economy, contributing about 7.7% percent to GDP in 2009. The infocomm industry is not only an important vertical in itself, but also enables productivity and innovation in all the other sectors of the economy. The Government has been working closely with the industry to foster infocomm innovation and to put in place an ecosystem conducive for businesses to innovate with infocomm.
3. Underpinning this ecosystem is an advanced infocomm infrastructure that offers fast, affordable and readily-available connectivity. As a key enabler for catalysing Next Generation innovative services, IDA has put in place the Next Gen National Infocomm Infrastructure, which comprises a wireless network called Wireless@SG and a Next Gen Nationwide Broadband Network. The Next Gen NBN is on track in its deployment. To date, this all new optical fibre network has been rolled out to 50 percent of homes and businesses, and its coverage will be nationwide by mid-2012. Earlier this month, live services were launched on the Next Gen NBN, and various operators have launched a range of ultra high-speed plans, from 100Mbps to as fast as 1Gbps.
4. More than speed, the Government has envisaged that the Next Gen NBN will catalyse the development of new innovative services. Being an open access platform, the Next Gen NBN will encourage innovation and competition from both existing and new players. A range of new services in the various end-user sectors, such as healthcare, education, and trade and logistics, can now be developed and offered on the Next Gen NBN.
5. In this regard, IDA has initiated several programmes aimed at spurring innovative Next Gen services for both the consumer and the enterprise markets. For instance, developers can tap on the Next Gen Services Innovation Programme to develop services for businesses and consumers. We had a good response in the first call for proposals last year, and two days ago, we announced the second call for proposals under the NGSIP. I am heartened to note the industry's keen interest in developing such services, going by the strong participation in the Lighthouse and Beacon series of seminars and workshops IDA has organised over the past year.
6. In addition, IDA has also supported leading technology providers such as Cisco, IBM and Oracle in establishing Next Generation Innovation Centres that leverage on emerging technologies to develop solutions for both local and overseas markets.
7. The younger companies such as the start-ups also play an important part in creating new technologies and business models in our infocomm ecosystem. The opportunities provided by the Internet, the almost universal use of the mobile handset, the creative ideas and high energy of entrepreneurs all contribute to that. Here in Singapore, we are encouraged to see a good array of such companies from our local infocomm entrepreneurs as well as those from overseas. One local example is Foound, a local infocomm start-up that has developed a location-based web and mobile application that makes it easy for users to organise events, update their locations and invite friends to join them for activities in real-time.
8. We also have here a number of global infocomm start-ups and entrepreneurs looking at using Singapore as a development and engineering base to tap on opportunities in Asia. Within the last year alone, Singapore has anchored the Asia HQ and engineering centres of 26 foreign infocomm start-ups from countries such as the U.S, Israel, Sweden, and China, bringing some $50 million of investments and more than 260 high-value engineering jobs here. Apart from injecting infocomm investments and jobs, VC-backed start-ups such as ReQall and mig33 also infuse new business models and talent into the infocomm ecosystem.
Bridging Innovation to Demand
9. As companies develop innovative products and solutions and bring them to customers here and overseas in a globalised marketplace, I would like to suggest two thrusts that can help companies and organisations gain a competitive advantage.
10. One would be that of bridging innovation and demand. Winners may not necessarily be the fore-runners nor the largest players, but those who are able to capitalise on their innovations to meet the needs of consumers and customers.
11. With the wealth of data available today, enterprises can leverage on data to optimise their resources and processes and make strategic business decisions. Business analytics techniques and tools help to analyse data to derive useful knowledge and insights. One example of an enterprise leveraging business analytics is the US retail chain Walmart, which integrates its entire supply chain from cash registers to overseas suppliers, for real-time updates and forecasting of inventory levels. Locally, PSA Corporation also employs business analytics for forward planning and resource optimisation in managing the millions of containers that it handles annually.
12. Furthermore, the development of powerful computing software and Internet technologies has enabled cloud computing to become a viable business model, providing software, platforms and infrastructure on a pay per use basis. This allows rapid scaling of infrastructure needed to store, distribute, process and analyse data. It also enables infocomm companies to increase their flexibility to reach markets and solve their customers' business problems quickly.
13. For example, for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games held here recently, we leveraged cloud computing for the hosting of the Singapore 2010 Odyssey to present an immersive virtual experience of the YOG to a global audience. Another example of an organisation leveraging on cloud computing for its needs is SIM University. To meet the increasing data storage demands as it takes in more students and offers more courses each year, SIM University uses storage-as-a service solutions to optimise its archival storage capacity instead of the traditional way of buying more servers. This has allowed SIM University to achieve costs savings of close to $140,000 over 3 years.
14. Even as enterprises anticipate demand and tap on customer insights to create market opportunities, it is also crucial that our infocomm manpower are equipped with the right skills and innovative capabilities that meet industry requirements, and this is an area which IDA works closely with industry and academic institutions in. One of the initiatives which IDA launched recently to prepare our infocomm professionals and spur their innovative capabilities is the "Applications-on-Multi-Platforms Simplify" programme, or AMPlify for short. This programme aims to enable local mobile developers to gain advanced technical skills and hands-on experience by working with leading MNC partners such as Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Research in Motion. The developers will also be able to leverage the partners' channels to promote the solutions they developed during the training period.
Scaling Innovation to Market Opportunities in Asia
15. A second thrust for competitive advantage is the ability to quickly scale innovation to market opportunities. Besides having a product that can solve problems and meet user demands and needs, the ability to scale and access markets quickly is another determinant for profitability and even survival of the infocomm enterprise.
16. Asia has emerged as a strong contender in the global marketplace today. Asia's growth is driven primarily by the rising middle-class and the rapid urbanisation of China, India and Southeast Asia. This is particularly so in the mobile space. China and India are expected to host the next billion mobile subscribers, according to a recent Ernst and Young report1. Asia is also leading in Internet usage and broadband growth. Research findings show that Asia accounted for more than 53% of the broadband lines added in the world in the first quarter of 2010. The surge in broadband users in Asia has increased Asia's market share to 32.4 per cent - almost one-third of the global market2. With the rapid growth in Asia's online population, global and regional enterprises see the need to customise their products and services for Asia and hence are investing to expand their businesses in this part of the world.
17. The nature of mobile and online businesses being less geographically bound presents the opportunity to be able to scale innovative products and services, and access multiple markets faster. For example, Infocomm Asia Holdings, a major online game publisher and operator in Southeast Asia, has a "One Market One Asia" vision, to unite the gamer community and bring quality content to the region. IAH has also partnered Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of the renowned "World of Warcraft" game, to publish and operate Blizzard's recently launched Starcraft II game in Singapore and the region. This deal has contributed significantly to IAH and is testament that Singapore is an attractive and leading location in Asia for games hosting.
18. Being at the heart of Asia, Singapore is home to more than 7,000 MNCs, many of which are major users of infocomm. With a tech-savvy population, advanced infocomm infrastructure and good IP protection, Singapore is well-positioned to serve as a test-bed for innovative emerging solutions and to capture the opportunities of Asia. Leveraging our hub status and conducive business environment, Singapore is a good launchpad for innovative products and services targeted for Asia and elsewhere.
19. Today's Accelerate 2010 event is an excellent platform where the different innovation communities such as developers, researchers, academia and investors can come together to share best practices, insights and provide business connections. It is a good opportunity for collaboration and partnership that can bridge innovation to demand, and for innovation to be scaled in Asia. I wish one and all a most engaging and enriching gathering over the next two days.
20. Thank you.
Notes to Editor:
1 Serving the Next Billion, Ernst and Young