13 March 2012 - Speech by Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the Asia Pacific ICT Summit 2012 - "Success With Digital Engagement" at Marina Bay Sands

Speech by Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at the Asia Pacific ICT Summit 2012 - "Success With Digital Engagement", 13 March 2012, 10:50am at Marina Bay Sands

Mr Eddie Chau, Chairman, SiTF

Mr Vijoy Varghese, SiTF Asia Pacific ICT Summit Organising Committee Chairman

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today at the Asia Pacific ICT Summit. I would like to congratulate the SiTF for organising this significant summit that brings together the infocomm industry from Singapore and the region to explore the many digital opportunities and challenges presented by infocomm.

2. Indeed, to have "Success with Digital Engagement", as the theme of the forum says, it is no longer sufficient today for enterprises to simply adopt technology. What is important is for businesses and governments to harness infocomm to better understand and even anticipate customers' needs. This is especially important with the increasing customer expectations today.

Business Analytics

3. One way to gain insights into an enterprise's customers is through the use of data analytics. Allow me to share an example. To maximize its market reach and revenue, the retail chain Parkson sought to better understand its customers' needs and shopping habits. It therefore uses data mining for predictive analysis of customer trends and behaviour, to enhance its marketing campaigns. As a result, the number of shoppers responding to Parkson's mailers increased by 40% and spending per shopper among those who responded to the mailers was also higher.

4. It is certainly not too early to consider the power of data analytics. A recent global study by IBM-MIT showed that companies with in-depth analytics experience saw increased competitive advantage over those without the capability in the past year. Businesses themselves are recognising how analytics can transform data into valuable insights to grow their sales, manage costs, optimise resources and improve decision-making. According to a report by Ventana Research, 77% of organisations see analytics as being crucial.

5. To catalyse the adoption of Business Analytics (BA), IDA launched a Call-for-Collaboration or CFC in short for Sectoral Business Analytics Shared Services in October last year. We received good response from the industry - 18 proposals in all, with participation from local and overseas BA solution providers. IDA has also engaged several businesses in the retail & wholesale and food & beverage sectors to be the early adopters of these shared services. I am glad that the CFC has helped to generate much interest amongst target businesses to deploy business analytics solutions. We are in the final stages of evaluation, and expect to announce the CFC award in the second quarter of this year.

6. Besides encouraging adoption of data analytics, we are also working with the industry to set up innovation centres to pilot emerging BA technologies and catalyse development of BA products and services with infocomm enterprises to build up local capabilities. One such collaboration is that with Citi Global Transaction Services (GTS) through its Citi Innovation Lab, which leverages new web, mobile, supply chain and analytics technologies to create innovative products and solutions for its clients.

7. Besides enterprise and customer information, government data is also a source that can be leveraged on for innovative applications. Today, there are more than 6,000 datasets from over 50 government agencies available on the data.gov.sg portal. To seek ideas from the general public on the types of innovative applications that can be developed using this data, IDA and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) launched the ideas4apps Challenge in January. More than 500 ideas were received. The public will be able to vote for the top 10 winning ideas from 19 March to 2 April 2012 from up to 50 shortlisted ideas. Application developers are also welcome to use the published ideas as inspiration for their own application development.

8. Following this ideas4spps Challenge, IDA and MOF plan to launch an initiative to spur the development of innovative applications and derived datasets using government data and mash ups of private sector data. Ideas from the ideas4apps Challenge will be used to develop the focus areas for this initiative. More details on this will be shared at a later date.

Cloud Computing

9. Along with the growth of data and data analytics, adoption of cloud computing is also expected to accelerate over the next decade. According to Forrester Research, within Asia Pacific, cloud adoption is strongest in Singapore and Australia. 42 percent of organisations in Singapore are currently leveraging cloud, up from 16% in 2010 and 6% in 2009.

10. In order to support the growth of cloud adoption, there is a need to address users' concerns on cloud security and to develop appropriate standards and guidelines. To this end, IDA and the Information Technology Standards Committee (ITSC) formed a Cloud Computing Standards Coordinating Task Force under ITSC in February last year. The task force aims to address the industry demands for cloud computing standards and co-ordinate the cloud computing standardisation efforts across the different Technical Committees in ITSC.

11. ITSC is currently developing two Technical References (TR)which will be published by May. The first on Virtualisation Security for Servers guides users on how to mitigate the security risks posed by compute hypervisor virtualisation. The second Technical Reference is on Security and Service Level Guidelines for the usage of public cloud computing services. It advises users on the security risks to look out for and what service levels they should consider when seeking public cloud computing services. Cloud computing service providers will also find this Technical Reference useful as it provides guidelines on the best practices that they can put in place to enhance users' confidence of their cloud services.

Mobility Solutions CFC

12. Mobile devices would certainly be important channels to access cloud services. In fact, they form a key platform for digital engagement since every person has in his hands a mobile handset or tablet or even both. Recognising the strong transformative role of mobility, IDA has been putting in place various initiatives to support businesses in adopting mobile solutions. One of these is the Mobility Solutions CFC that was launched in June last year. IDA, together with SPRING Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board and the NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute, has set aside S$15 million to support the creation, delivery and adoption of mobile solutions in the retail, hotel & attractions, and F&B sectors. We received 46 proposals at the close of the CFC, covering more than 300 companies in the target sectors with about 900 outlets between them. The successful proposals will be announced in the next couple of months.

Near Field Communications (NFC)

13. The mobile handset is also an invaluable device for electronic transactions. Consumers can look forward to greater power in the palms of their hands from the middle of this year when they can simply "tap" and pay for their purchases at more than 20,000 retail points and taxis using Near Field Communications or NFC-enabled mobile phones. Businesses can also provide interactive and targeted contents to consumers through NFC-enabled digital signages located at more than 600 locations in major shopping malls and office buildings throughout Singapore. This is the result of IDA's earlier CFC to accelerate the proliferation and adoption of mobile payment services using the NFC technology. The CFC was awarded to a consortium led by Gemalto and comprising seven companies. The participation by major players together with all mobile operators makes this collaboration the first interoperable nationwide deployment of NFC mobile payment system in Asia.


14. While many businesses may want to leverage on infocomm technology for competitiveness, some - especially the SMEs - may lack the means and the know-how to do so. To bridge this gap and empower businesses, IDA's iSPRINT scheme supports SMEs in their adoption of solutions ranging from simple IT systems that improve business operations to innovative uses of technology that transform a business or sector. More than 2,800 SMEs have been funded under the iSPRINT scheme by IDA, in collaboration with SPRING Singapore and IRAS, as of January this year, generating over $20 million in ICT expenditure and a projected $650 million in value-add. There have been many success stories to-date.

15. One example is that of Natrad Food Pte Ltd, a company that distributes a wide range of cheese and fine foods. Previously, the company relied on Excel spreadsheets extensively to manage and consolidate data of its goods delivery and accounts receivables. Now, after implementing an ERP system, the director is able to have visibility of his company's performance. With easy access to real-time inventory analysis, its staff are also able to identify sales trends quickly, anticipate customers' needs and fulfill re-orders promptly. This has allowed Natrad Food to improve its productivity by 60% due to the improved workflow and higher staff satisfaction.

Infocomm Industry Productivity Roadmap

16. While iSPRINT seeks to increase the productivity of SMEs across the economy, we would also like to help the local companies in our infocomm industry acquire new capabilities and resources to re-model their business for productivity growth. Earlier this morning, Minister highlighted the Infocomm Industry Productivity Roadmap that IDA has put in place, together with the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council.

17. The roadmap contains 4 key thrusts:

  • First, helping our local infocomm enterprises re-engineer their solutions so that they can sell their products globally through third party system integrators or directly through the cloud. This can allow a small company to serve a larger global market more efficiently without requiring a corresponding increase in manpower.

  • Second, providing cost effective access to shared resources to help local infocomm enterprises develop products faster and more efficiently. Examples of shared services or resources include manpower-as-a-service, software tools and resource templates. We will also be refining the iSPRINT incentive scheme to assist local infocomm enterprises in adopting software tools that can enhance their productivity.

  • Third, training a pool of infocomm professionals with specialised skills to drive productivity initiatives, such as product management and global outsourcing management skills.

  • Finally, helping our local infocomm enterprises to enlarge their market space by providing mentorship through in-market experts in key markets such as US and China. With guidance on their market strategies and product offerings, local infocomm enterprises can better grow their business through leveraging on new product models.

18. The journey to productise solutions or put services on the cloud would require investments in product or service re-design and training. We look forward to working with the industry to put in place the necessary resources and programmes to support companies to move in this direction, and grow their productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace.


19. Many of the companies that are quite focussed on digital engagement are the start-ups. They form an important and vibrant segment of the industry that we want to nurture. IDA launched the iSTART programme last year, which aims to support key start-up community activities, help start-ups go beyond Singapore, and develop their talent at all levels. Over the one year, iStart has supported more than 120 local entrepreneurs in acquiring business management skills and capabilities through international training programmes such as Founder Institute, Kauffman FastTrac and SeedCamp. It has also helped to equip 9 start-ups with high quality in-market mentorship, business and networking opportunities in the Silicon Valley. iStart has also supported some 20 Tech User Group workshops as well as key entrepreneurial events like DEMO Asia and eChelon, which I understand were very well attended by both local and overseas participants.

Home-based Work and Work Centres

20. Finally, let me mention a key enabler for digital engagement - our ultra-high speed Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, which enables enterprises and residents to be better connected than ever before. Its open access structure has allowed more players to come on board, increasing industry and market vibrancy. End-users can now subscribe to over 40 fibre-based broadband access plans offered by some 20 retail service providers to enjoy broadband speeds of up to 1Gigabit per second. Prices for a 100Mbps residential broadband connection have also fallen by 40% since the Next Gen NBN was launched less than three years ago.

21. With the Next Gen NBN, the way we work can now be transformed. Employers can exploit high-speed bandwidth and Next Generation services for employees to work not only from the office but also from their home. This gives employees more work options and better work-life balance, while allowing employers to expand their recruitment pool to tap on the economically inactive and better retain talent. Similarly, smart work centres equipped with shared office and ICT services and located close to residential areas can allow employees to work close to their homes and yet enjoy office facilities. This can be considered a kind of office-as-a-service concept, much like how we are enjoying infrastructure or software as a service through cloud computing.

22. IDA will be launching a CFC in a few weeks' time to encourage industry players to collaborate and conduct pilots of home-based work and smart work centres. This will involve multiple parties: (i) infocomm companies to develop and provide the enabling ICT services; (ii) potential operators to develop and manage the smart work centres; and (iii) user organisations to place a number of their workers to work from home or from the smart work centres.

Upcoming Events

23. Before I close, let me highlight a few events taking place in the next few months that we would welcome the industry's participation in.

24. From 14 to 17 May, IDA will be holding its annual CloudAsia event, CloudAsia 2012. This event comprises a congress and several tutorials and workshops, and features keynotes and panel discussions by thought leaders and industry leaders in cloud computing.

25. On the morning of 31 May, IDA will be organising the Industry Briefing 2012, to highlight some of the procurement plans and pipeline infocomm projects of the public sector for the financial year ahead.

26. On the afternoon of the same day, IDA will be holding a separate Business Analytics Seminar to promote and create greater awareness of the business value of business analytics among end users in the public and private sectors. At this seminar, you will hear from end user organisations that have adopted business analytics of their experience and how it has helped them create new opportunities.

27. The annual Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) 2012 -- Asia's largest ICT, digital media and entertainment platform -- will take place from 19 to 22 June this year, at the Marina Bay Sands. The event brings together business leaders, companies and industry professionals to showcase their latest innovations, network, exchange ideas and tap into new markets.

28. Last but not least, as Minister announced earlier in his opening address, we will again be organising the National Infocomm Awards with SiTF this year. There are four categories of awards for NIA 2012. Three of them are for the Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology in the Public sector, Private Sector (General) and Private Sector (SMEs), while the fourth category seeks to recognise the Most Innovative Infocomm Product/Service. You may find out more information about the Awards on the NIA website. I would like to encourage all infocomm and end-user organisations, big and small, to send in your nominations.

Closing Remarks

29. Finally, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and participation in IDA's various initiatives to develop and grow the infocomm industry in the past year. I wish all of you a fruitful and enjoyable time at the rest of this forum.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023