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Expanding Businesses Through Collaboration And Innovation

14 August 2008 - Speech By RADM(NS) Lui Tuck Yew, Senior Minister Of State For Education, And Information, Communications And The Arts, At The 12th Annual Infocomm Commerce Conference, At Suntec Convention Centre, Theatre

Speech By RADM(NS) Lui Tuck Yew, Senior Minister Of State For Education, And Information, Communications And The Arts, At The 12th Annual Infocomm Commerce Conference, On 14 August 2008 (Thursday), 9.30am, At Suntec Convention Centre, Theatre

Mr Chua Thian Poh, President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA),
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the 12th Annual Infocomm Commerce Conference, jointly organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI) and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). Since launching the conference 12 years ago, SCCCI has been instrumental in promoting the use of infocomm technology among businesses, particularly the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Harnessing Infocomm Technology For Business Success

2. The advent of the Internet has given rise to new business models. For instance, commercial transactions are increasingly conducted online instead of at the physical retail fronts. According to the IDA Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households and by Individuals for 2007, the proportion of our internet users who shop online has more than doubled from 17 per cent in 2003 to 35 per cent last year.

3. To meet the demand of online consumers for value-for-money products and services, SMEs must differentiate themselves through innovation in order to capture mindshare and market share. Enterprises do not have to dig deep into their pockets to market their products and services. They can leverage infocomm technology, as the Internet offers a ready, low-cost platform for SMEs to effectively market their products and services. Harnessing infocomm technology also gives SMEs an edge by shortening their time-to-market and gain a first-mover advantage.

4. In the IDA Survey on Infocomm Usage by Enterprises for 2007, it is encouraging to note that two out of every three SMEs leveraged the Internet to improve their business operations. Almost one of every three SMEs has already established a virtual shop front on the Internet. However, there is still a substantial number of SMEs who have not automated their basic business processes, ranging from inventory management to accounting and finance. With increasingly infocomm-savvy customers who want quick and effective services, these companies can do well to tap on infocomm technology and digitise processes to bring about greater efficiency and better serve their customers' needs.

5. Let me share with you a story about how an SME benefited from the adoption of infocomm. Union Energy Corporation has been manufacturing and distributing liquid petroleum gas products to both commercial and retail sectors in Singapore for more than 30 years. In 1997, its Managing Director, Mr Teo Kiang Ang, began automating his business with a humble computer. He first installed a customer relationship management system to manage customers' orders, and an inventory and warehousing management system to track and monitor the stock level of collected and returned cylinders. A third system was established to handle mobile sales and to print invoices on-the-spot, and a fourth system was set up to keep track of the company's accounts.

6. 11 years later, Union Energy saw a two-fold increase in productivity and efficiency, with a reduction in manpower and operating costs. Union Energy's customers enjoy more personalised service, and in fact, recommend new customers to Union Energy. Staff productivity and morale have also gone up. I hope Union Energy's success story will spur companies to take advantage of infocomm technology to enhance business strategy, processes and outreach.

Earlier Initiatives Show Promising Results

7. IDA has been collaborating closely with the industry to accelerate the adoption of infocomm among SMEs. The Infocomm@SME programme launched by IDA in June 2007 has produced some promising results.

8. IDA's Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) for interested companies to develop infocomm solution packages for SMEs, received 31 proposals from the industry. Three consortia have since been appointed under the SME Infocomm Package (SIP) initiative. SMEs can now procure attractively priced infocomm solution packages comprising various components including hardware, software, website development and hosting, broadband connectivity and sector-specific applications. Since June 2008, more than 120 SMEs have already signed up for these packaged solutions.

9. IDA also partnered SPRING Singapore for the Technology Innovation Programme (TIP) since June 2007. This $5-million initiative helps SMEs defray up to half of their manpower, hardware and software costs incurred in setting up infocomm solutions for their businesses. To date, over $1 million have been awarded in grant to 17 SMEs to help transform their businesses through infocomm technology.

10. More SMEs are also seeking greater web presence. Through the SME Domain Name Reservation initiative launched in December 2007, SMEs now enjoy a discount of up to $30 on their first website domain name registration, and to date, more than 1,000 SMEs have already reserved domain names with the Singapore Network Information Centre.

New Initiatives

SME Infocomm Resource Centre @ SCCCI
11. Today, I am pleased to announce two new initiatives that will further help SMEs utilise infocomm to grow their businesses. Firstly, a second SME Infocomm Resource Centre or SIRC will be opened at SCCCI. Similar to the first SIRC at Singapore Polytechnic, this new resource centre offers SMEs the opportunity to learn more about infocomm technology and its applications to specific businesses. SMEs can also look forward to a series of technology learning sessions available throughout the year. These sessions comprise half-day seminars, hands-on laboratory learning with online tools, one-on-one clinical sessions and site visits to solution centres. You can try out the one-on-one business clinical consultation session at the exhibition later on.

Launch of i-Directory
12. Secondly, i-Directory will be launched for SMEs. It is the first one-stop portal in Singapore that houses an extensive directory of infocomm products and services offered by locally-based companies for the SMEs. This new online infocomm directory will come in handy for SMEs that are more infocomm-savvy and may already know the specific infocomm solutions required for their businesses. It offers user-friendly search features allowing convenient listing of the infocomm solutions, along with the contact details of the companies.

Cyber Security Awareness Alliance
13. In addition to the two new initiatives, advice and help on infocomm security will now be available through Cyber Security Awareness Alliance, of which SCCCI is also a member. The Alliance, a new initiative under the Infocomm Security Masterplan 2 launched earlier in April, aims to raise awareness and adoption of cyber security measures among individuals and businesses. It brings together partners from the public and private sectors to reach out to the SMEs through training workshops, talks, public education materials, and the provision of infocomm security advice.


14. Infocomm has certainly become a way of life, for people and businesses. SMEs need to tap on infocomm as a key enabler and differentiator. You can learn from your peers who have already made some headway. You can also approach industry associations such as SCCCI to learn about IDA's various Infocomm@SME initiatives. I encourage more SMEs to take the first step to embrace infocomm.

15. On this note, I wish you all a fruitful conference.