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Building Capabilities for Web Services - The Next Engine of Growth in Infocomm

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore - Speech XMLAsia on iTA Announcement, SICEC ...

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore - Speech
XMLAsia on iTA Announcement, SICEC

Singapore, 10 September 2003

Good morning,
Mr Kong Fook Wai, Chairman, XMLOne User Group,
Mr Alex Siow, Chairman, National Infocomm Competency Centre,
Ladies and gentlemen


I am pleased to be here today to be part of this specialised forum covering the issues, trends and developments for Web Services. This is the third year that the XMLOne User Group is organising XMLAsia and it is encouraging to see that it has grown to be a prominent XML event in Asia.

Web Services - Next Engine of Growth

Web Services has been identified as one of the next waves in IT which will bring about a new level of connectivity, communications and collaboration on the Web. Analysts have forecasted that Web Services will offer immense growth potential within the next three years1.  The three simple letters 'XML' could be to the IT what 'ABC' is to the English language. In a few years' time, any developer who wants to develop an IT solution will almost certainly have to use XML in one way or another. In fact, Gartner Consulting predicted that Web Services will dominate the deployment of new applications solutions for Fortune 2000 companies by 20042.

Given the above, it is only natural to ask how we in Singapore can tap onto this new engine of growth. It is IDA's aim to ensure that Singapore is ready and well equipped to ride this new wave.

To jumpstart the momentum, we will need to work on both the supply and demand sides.  It takes two hands to clap.   By supply side, I mean things like capability building, to ensure that we have a pool of trained manpower to develop applications on Web Services.  By demand, I mean encouraging companies in different sectors to take the first step, to use Web Services to help them become more competitive.  Through the positive experiences of the early adopters, other companies will be encouraged to deploy Web Services.  The two sides then mutually reinforce each other, and build a strong momentum for growth.  Then IDA can step aside and let the market take off.

In May this year, IDA announced the Web Services Programme, WEAVE, which stands for "Web Services Add Value to Enterprises".  Under this programme, IDA will contribute S$40 million to support Web Services initiatives. Since then, IDA has supported 13 Web Services projects involving 20 companies. The projects have a total value of S$20 million, with IDA contributing about one-quarter of the funding.  Through these projects, the companies have committed to creating 88 new jobs.  The potential revenue from the commercialization of these projects is projected to amount to S$46 million over the next two years. The participating companies come from a variety of industries, including high-tech manufacturing, insurance, property management, healthcare, arts and entertainment, banking, professional education and travel. 

MMI Holdings, a manufacturer of components in the high-tech manufacturing industry, is one example of a company which has taken the plunge.  It is using Web Services to link its IT systems in quality assurance to those of its customers, so that real-time information can be exchanged.  This allows for better communication and helps to build a stronger relationship between supplier and client. It is estimated that this closer integration will save both companies some hundreds of thousand dollars every month.

I hope that more companies will come forward to see for themselves how Web Services can be of use to them.

Building Web Services Manpower Skills

Now that we have businesses interested, we need to be able to deliver on the promise.  This is where we need to build the necessary manpower capability. We need a core group of software developers and system integrators to support cross-platform applications and infrastructures.

Since Web Services is still relatively new, infocomm professionals and the companies using Web Services need a "common language" to describe the different levels of competencies needed.  This is akin to having qualifications like the O levels or a university degree.   When someone says he has reached a certain educational qualification, others have a pretty good idea what he is able to do on the job. 

I am happy to announce the introduction of one of the world's first Web Services Certification Framework.   This is the joint effort of IDA, the National Infocomm Competency Centre (NICC), the SiTF Web Services Chapter, User Group and other industry players

The Web Services certification framework has three levels: Developers, Specialists and Architects.  Mr Alex Siow, Chairman of the National Infocomm Competency Centre will be elaborating more on what each level of certification means in his speech. With the certification in place, companies will be able to develop career and skills progression paths for their employees at all levels of the Web Services supply chain. We also hope to encourage more infocomm professionals to develop and upgrade their knowledge and skills to advance their careers.

CITREP for Web Services Developers

With the framework in place, we are now ready with specific programmes that train people up to each of these levels.  At the Web Services Developers level, there are now 8 Web Services courses endorsed under IDA's Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme (CITREP).  (CITEP is a programme that supports up to 70% of the course fees for infocomm professionals seeking to equip themselves with critical skills to remain relevant.) These courses are offered by Borland,GridNode, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Institute of Systems Science of NUS, Nanyang Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic). 

ITA for Web Services Specialists

For the next level, the specialist level, IDA has worked with Software AG and its seven local partners namely; Cicada Cube, CyanSYS, dotERP, Frontline Solutions,, Philip Tang and Sons, and S&I Business Applications to invest a total of S$5.4 million to train 51 infocomm professionals over the next 2 years. Out of these 51 training places, 10 are for existing employees of the participating companies.  The remaining 41 represent new jobs created, for fresh graduates and infocomm professionals seeking new opportunities. The trainees will undergo 12 months of training, either in Singapore or overseas. 

The collaboration between Software AG and its local partners is a good example of how companies with different strengths can combine their resources to help develop new capabilities for the Singapore Infocomm sector.

Moving forward, IDA will continue to work with partner agencies to flesh out the certification details for the third level, Web Services Architects.

Developing Capabilities for the Future

I am pleased to see that the different ingredients to make "XML" as ubiquitous as "ABC" are coming together well, with the strong co-operation from many partners, including members of the developer community present here today.   We can look forward to more exciting developments within the next month that will put Singapore on the world map. But for now, my lips are sealed.

On this note, let me wish you a most fruitful exchange of views at this seminar.

Thank you.

1 Source : Gartner Predicts 2002. It has also been estimated that the global spending on Web Services will  reach US$156 billion in 2005.
2 Source: Gartner Predicts 2002, Web Services will dominate deployment by 2004.