Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (right), with (from left) SCS President Howie Lau, Mr Eddie Chau, Ms Janet Ang, Mr Liu Lung Hao, Mr Tan Min-Liang, and Mr Oliver Tan.
By Janice Lin
Mr Oliver Tan, co-founder of ViSenze (right), receiving his award from Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (centre), and SCS President Howie Lau.
Have you heard of a 'shoot-and-shop' technology that is making waves globally?
Singaporean company ViSenze’s artificial intelligence (AI) and image recognition technology, which is able to identify items in any given image, is currently being used by online retailers like ASOS, H&M and Rakuten to help their consumers search and buy items more easily.
We have all seen items on someone else that we like, but trying to find the same product at online retailers can be difficult to impossible. Often, using terms like “black leather bag” will leave you with myriad options that are simply not what you’re looking for.
“Consumers today are searching but not finding. The natural language keywords that buyers use aren’t the same taxonomy used by retailers,” said Mr Oliver Tan, co-founder of ViSenze, which wants to change the way we shop by removing the need to use language at all when looking for an item.
Vizsenze's technology allows consumers to search online stores using just a single image shot with their mobile phones.
“What we do essentially is take keyword-guessing away, and in doing so, help online businesses uplift conversion rates,” Mr Tan added.
Honouring leading innovators
For his innovative contributions, Mr Tan was conferred the Entrepreneur of the Year title at the 22nd IT Leader Awards on 9 March 2018.
The annual event, which is organised by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS), recognises info-communications technology (ICT) and digital media professionals for their outstanding achievements in and contributions to the industry.
This year’s awards ceremony, which was held at Shangri-La Hotel and supported by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), was attended by over 900 ICT professionals from both private and public sectors.
A total of six individuals were recognised this year.
(From Left) SCS President Howie Lau, Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, and IT Leader of the Year, Mr Eddie Chau.
They included Ms Janet Ang, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame; co-founder and CEO of gaming company Razer, Mr Tan Min-Liang, who was given the Outstanding Achievement Award; Entrepreneur of the Year, Mr Richard Koh, who leads fintech start-up M-DAQ; and founder of consulting company Feezmodo, Mr Liu Lung Hao, who was given the IT Youth award.
Leader of the Year
Industry pioneer Eddie Chau, who has founded several start-ups and engineered successful exits over the course of three decades, won the IT Leader of the Year title.
Mr Chau has helped steer and mentor a number of start-ups through various growth phases, and is currently co-founder and chairman of V-Key, whose software-based digital security technology serves to make mobile and applications transactions more secure.
Its patented Virtual Secure Element mobile platform has been recognised as the most advanced mobile security solution in the world, with accreditation from IMDA and validation from the United States government’s National Institute for Standards and Technology.
Under his leadership, V-Key has helped secure millions of transactions across the world.
Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim was the guest of honour at the IT Leaders Awards.
Said Mr Chau: “I’m very honoured to have received this award. But it’s not just a trophy. The focus for me is, as always, looking forward to where this industry is heading.”
Scaling up Singapore’s digital transformation
Addressing the audience at this year’s awards, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim stressed the need for businesses in Singapore to continue in their innovation efforts, especially in today’s competitive landscape, where disruptive technology is a fact of life.
“As we enter a new phase of our digitalisation journey, the defining factors will be how much and how fast we can scale up our digital transformation. The ICT industry will have an instrumental role to play in this effort,” he added.
Dr Yaacob outlined three areas where progress was still needed.
The first was collaboration between ICT and non-ICT sectors in order to foster the “cross-sharing of knowledge and resources, which can help non-ICT sectors deepen their capability development in domain-specific IT skill sets”.
SCS President Howie Lau said that the SCS will continue to encourage more talent and innovation in its efforts to strengthen Singapore's ICT ecosystem.
“ICT is no longer a standalone, peripheral sector, but the central processing unit, or CPU, that will drive the whole economy… Industry associations like the SCS are important partners that can facilitate such exchanges,” he said.
And as the economy continues to digitise, Singaporeans must strive to build the necessary skills to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
“We must develop a workforce that continuously learns and relearns throughout every stage of their careers,” Dr Yaacob stressed.
Finally, to ensure no one gets left behind, it is important for us to nurture a digitally ready community that embraces ICT.
“To truly become a Smart Nation, all Singaporeans, young and old, must be able to participate in and benefit from the opportunities of a digital age,” he said.
Stressing that the SCS will continue to encourage more talent and innovation in its efforts to strengthen Singapore’s ICT ecosystem, SCS president Howie Lau said: “A healthy growth of the ICT sector is crucial for Singapore’s continuous drive towards a Smart Nation, as digital technologies are the backbone for businesses to transform digitally and the development of a robust digital economy."