Wired with Wireless - Collaborative Intelligence for the Marketplace

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address Gartner's Strategic Briefing, Grand Corpthorne Waterfront Hotel

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address
Gartner's Strategic Briefing, Grand Corpthorne Waterfront Hotel
Singapore, 20 March 2001


1 I would like to thank Gartner for the invitation to participate in this event. I think you would all agree that "wireless" or "mobile communications" has caught the attention of many industry players like telco operators, telco technologists, equipment providers and content providers, etc. Like other distinguished presenters today, I hope you will find the information sharing useful.

2 Today, I would like to share with you 3 things:

i. Firstly, some thoughts on the opportunities provided by the internet revolution particularly, the role of web-based information devices and appliances in helping us stay totally connected to the web as a way to enhance our quality of lifestyle and the competitiveness of our businesses; and our government's response to this opportunities through our "Wired with Wireless" Initiative.
ii. Then, I will highlight an important - the availability of market intelligence for developing successful wireless products and services in Singapore and beyond; and
iii. Finally, how "Wired With Wireless" can play a role in gaining wireless intelligence for the Asian marketplace.

The beginnings of the Internet Revolution

3 Before the easy availability of the Internet, our computing devices primarily communicated with each other through dedicated communication infrastructures such as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), and metropolitan area networks (MAN). In essence, such communications were based on fixed or pre-established communication links.

4 The Internet arrived and freed us of these constraints. For the first time, computing devices could use a common language, the Internet protocol, to communicate with other computing devices on the Web. The Internet gave computers their first "International language".

5 The Internet revolution that we experienced over the last 5 years is just the beginning, perhaps Phase 1 of many phases. The way we exploit the internet technology today is just a tiny example of what is possible and available through such a fundamental change in communications capability.

  • In Phase 1, the concentration was on deploying the Internet technology, pushing content on to the Web, providing directory services, search engines, .... many of such basic things. Many companies actively pushed content to consumers through developments like Internet marketing web pages, banner advertising, media content streaming, etc. Being deluged with content is not necessarily a good thing. For one, it could be very confusing to find anything or to see the relevance of any available content that meets our individual needs. In Phase 1, we are all expected "to work the Web".
  • What we are doing today is liken to putting up advertisements during a major broadcast event. During event intermissions, people run off to washrooms only to completely miss the expensive advertisements. Obviously our immediate need was to be at some place else. The usefulness and relevance of such information was of secondary importance. Always on internet technology allows us to retrieve the relevant information when we need it. Even better, the mobile internet will enable such information to be available when and where we need it. Web-enabled information devices and appliances will enable us to get the information and services when, where and in the manner we need it.

Role of web-based information devices and appliances

6 What can we expect from Phase 2? Phase 2 must focus on how to make the Web work for us, how the Web can be leveraged to deliver appropriate content and services to us through appropriate web-enabled information devices and appliances.

7 Think of the internet as a big cloud of relationships of data about the world - both static and dynamic information - data about corporations, people, service offerings, service status, location of useful things, etc.

  • An internet data centre can be one repository of such data in such a cloud. Conceivably, even our personal data can be kept in such an internet cloud so that we can access our data anywhere in the world, anytime, using relevant forms of web-enabled information devices and appliances.
  • A web of connected computers that provide services to us can process such data, and the relationships of such data. For example, today, stocking trading services can inform us of stock buy/sell opportunities if a stock price has reached a predetermined decision triggering level. Therefore such an internet data cloud also represent application and service providers who supply the consumers with services that they most need.
  • Such data and services are made accessible to us through web-enabled information devices and appliances at the edge of such a cloud. Such devices and appliances need to be web-enabled and typically be always-on in order to enable us to fully hardness the power of the data and services within such an internet cloud. These web-enabled information devices and appliances need to be simple, personalised and pervasive.

"Wired With Wireless"

8 The third generation of cellular systems then bring with it the challenge to unite the various elements mentioned earlier so as to bring beneficial solutions to the public and businesses. Much of the possibilities must also leverage our strong existing broadband infrastructure and the systems in the internet cloud. Launched in October 2000 by Minister Yeo Cheow Tong, the "Wired With Wireless" programme aims to position Singapore as having the best integrated wireline and wireless infrastructure. We look forward to the proliferation of technological innovation, exports of innovative wireless products and services, development of leading edge mobile communications talent and mass adoption of the wireless lifestyle.

"Wired With Wireless" - Focus areas

9 "Wired With Wireless" is focused on 3 key areas, namely: wireless multimedia; M-Commerce and location-based services. IDA looks forward to work with the industry to identify key projects in the areas of: retail, entertainment, transportation, finance and banking, manufacturing and logistics, healthcare, trading and intelligent homes. We are continually open to your views and ideas on deployment and implementation of wireless technologies in other areas.

"Wired With Wireless" - Strategic thrusts

10 The strategic thrusts that have been identified to stimulate the growth of wireless development in Singapore include: thought leadership, market access and manpower development, technology and infrastructure development, product and service development, as well as industry and consumer adoption.

"Wired With Wireless" - Establishing market knowledge

11 Specific to the thrust on market access development, "Wired With Wireless" has identified market knowledge as one of the crucial elements in helping our Singapore wireless industry to penetrate the Asian markets. Access to intelligence such as product or service planning and rollout; as well as export market attractiveness and ease of market penetration may mean a make or break point for first-timers to the Asian markets.

Defining market data for product development - the challenges

12 As a company develops from service provision to product development, it is confronted by 2 challenges:
i. Customer needs. First of all, while a service aims to meet the needs of a specific customer, a product serves to meet the needs of multiple customers.
ii. Market heterogeneity. Next, while a service effectively serves the needs of one homogenous customer segment, a product can also serve non-homogenous market needs. However, it is difficult to create homogenous product, especially for a non-homogenous Asian market that is fragmented in terms of languages, cultures, consumer tastes and usage paradigms.

Hence, there is a need for detailed marketing data and information to successfully design, develop, test and market products for multiple, different market needs.

13 However, while there may be an abundance of general data on the wireless industry in Asia, there seems to be a lack of data to address specific research needs. According to eMarketer's eWireless Report, there are disparities even among various research organisations on Asia's Internet users for the year 2000. While general data can still be used for forecasting purposes, serious application can be hampered in the areas of test marketing and fine-tuning of market strategy.

Other difficulties in international market research

14 Apart from the lack of data, other difficulties faced by our wireless industry with regards to market research in the Asian marketplace include:

i. High costs involved in primary data collection, particularly in markets where data sources are scarce or unreliable; and
ii. Difficulties in establishing data comparability and equivalence for research conducted for the same purpose in different parts of Asia, as I have mentioned earlier. Take for instance, mail questionnaires may be known to have a given level of reliability in one country; but personal interviews or even focus groups may have an equivalent level of reliability in another country.

"Wired With Wireless" - Suggested approaches to establishing market knowledge

15 Under the "Wired With Wireless" programme, there are potentially 2 ways to help our local wireless industry in getting the necessary market intelligence:

i. Firstly, test-marketing for Singapore-based wireless companies; and
ii. Secondly, through surveys that are either IDA-commissioned, or in partnership with the industry through selected projects with sector-wide impact.

Test marketing for Singapore-based companies

16 Let me now take you through these 2 approaches. In test marketing, the "Wired With Wireless" programme aims to help individual companies:

i. Gain needed information or experience with the users in the target market before undertaking the project on a larger scale; and
ii. Provide data for possible alternative courses of action, and decide whether or not to understand a course of action in the particular market.

The wireless product or service applied under test marketing assistance should still be under product development stage, that is, it is not a soft launch of the product or service.

Customised market research

17 The second approach will involve customised market surveys. Unlike syndicated reports that can be widely purchased by companies, the "Wired With Wireless" programme aims to provide assistance in customised research for specific areas that have sector-wide impact.

18 Apart from IDA-commissioned surveys, industry partnerships can be formed to conduct market research on selected projects that meet 3 criteria:

i. Firstly, a sound business plan that demonstrates the ability for execution;
ii. Secondly, the products or projects need to demonstrate sector-wide impact and good export potential beyond Singapore; and
iii. Last but not the least, the results from market research must be made accessible to the industry on an agreed basis.

19 In addition, research partnerships can be formed:

  • With at least 3 Singapore-based wireless industry players; OR
  • With industry associations that can help further the interests of Singapore's wireless industry;
    Together with,
  • Research organisations such as Gartner or other companies, e.g. Jupiter Communications, etc.


20 In conclusion, Singapore already has the hard and soft infrastructure necessary for companies to test bed, deploy and market their end-to-end mobile communications offerings. However, we are also aware that the Asia market is not homogenous and there is no one-size-fits-all data and information available to drive productisation and overseas market access efforts.

21 Through test marketing and market research assistance under the "Wired With Wireless" programme, we hope that more wireless industry players and research organisations will come together to build the market knowledge essential for the building of products and services that will succeed in the global marketplace. We would like to invite you to share with IDA on how "Wired With Wireless" can help our local industry do just that.

22 Please write in to: wireless@imda.gov.sg