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A Tale Of 2 Cities - Innovation & Technology

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer, IDA - Speech itsAsia 2003 Conference, Ballroom, Marina Mandarin Hotel ...

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer, IDA - Speech
itsAsia 2003 Conference, Ballroom, Marina Mandarin Hotel

Singapore, 27 February 2003

Mr Wilson Tan, Chairman, IT Standards Committee
Mr Martin Tsang, President, Singapore Computer Society
Mr Robert Chew, Chairman, itsAsia 2003 Organising Committee

Distinguished Speakers, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen


I am delighted to be here with all of you at itsAsia 2003. It is heartening to see so many Infocomm professionals and experts gather at this forum to exchange ideas on the latest developments in Infocomm technologies and standards.

Many of us who are interested in technology would argue that technology is the basis of all innovations, and indeed can point to many examples of this. However, innovation can also come about because of changes other than technology, like changes in the regulatory environment or even pure chance.

I am reminded of two such examples. The first is A. J Hackett, a New Zealander jumping off the Eiffel Tower and igniting a bungy jumping industry around the world.

Even then, a good idea, whether it originates from technological progress or business innovation, does not automatically assure commercial success. There is always the consumer to reckon with. There are many of us who would not try something, until many others have done so. Early adopters are rare birds; they suffer all the inconveniences of using products or services that are barely out of de-bugging phase and may see all their efforts in learning to use them go to waste if the new products fail to make it to mass market. Yet, without early adopters, innovations and progress will be stunted.

Therein lies the fundamental dilemma in standards-setting work. It is a bit like trying to figure out if that Christmas turkey has stayed long enough in the oven. If standards are set too early, we end up stifling creativity and innovation. A cold turkey! Consumers end up being losers because new products and services are created without fully exploiting their full potential. If standards are set too late, much resources are wasted in duplication and fragmentation of the market. A rubber turkey! Consumers too lose out because when markets fragment, new products do not inter-operate with one another, and some could die out. Hence reliable Infocomm standards have become the cornerstone of building a strong and stable Infocomm infrastructure, and in enabling the exchange of information and technology globally.

Singapore, is a small country, can attempt to be a valuable player in standards-setting. As one of the key Infocomm hubs in the region, Singapore hopes to play a constructive role in standards matters. At the same time, we believe that timely and active engagement of our local industry in standardisation activities would help local Infocomm companies better exploit their investments and bring their products to the global market successfully.

As part of its efforts to support local industry, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) supported the ITSC PlugFest 2002 initiative held in July 2002. This is a platform for multiple vendors to test and demonstrate interoperability of their products in an independent and neutral setting. A total of 21 companies from the 2 technical domains of eLearning, and Smart Cards & Personal Identification successfully completed the PlugFest test and received the Certificate of Interoperability. This initiative has helped to raise the awareness of emerging international and Singapore standards, and encouraged local Infocomm players to adopt standards in the their products and services.

IDA is also taking a calibrated step forward by increasing modesty its participation in standards work in areas of key interest at the international and regional levels. For example, IDA is a member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). Through the ITSC, IDA also participates in the Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) of ISO and IEC. Later this year, IDA will work closely with the ITSC when it hosts two major international standards events in Singapore - the JTC1 subcommittee meetings on Smart Card and Personal Identification in October, and the JTC1 Plenary meeting in November. These events will gather international technology experts in town, providing opportunities for Infocomm professionals here to interact with them and exchange information on the latest trends in Infocomm technologies and standards. It will also help raise Singapore's profile as an Infocomm hub. Through efforts like these, IDA hopes to fulfil one of the recommendations of the ICT Working Group under the ERC Services Sub-committee, chaired by Mr Winston Tan which is to position Singapore in the development and deployment of standards in the region.

IDA is grateful to the ITSC for its untiring efforts in promoting the awareness of Infocomm standards to the industry, encouraging the adoption of standards, and aligning the local standardisation activities with the international scene. IDA is committed to working closely with ITSC to bring the benefits of its more active participation in key international and regional standards fora to local industry, so that local companies can create new products and ideas that are commercially successfully in the global market.

On this note, let me wish all of you a fruitful and enjoyable day.