14 October 2010 - Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the 14th Infocomm Commerce Conference, Suntec City Convention Centre
Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the 14th Infocomm Commerce Conference, on 14 October 2010 (Thursday), 9:30am, at Suntec City Convention Centre
ICT: Essential Tool for Sustaining Growth and Improving Productivity
Mr Teo Siong Seng, President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the 14th Annual Infocomm Commerce Conference, jointly organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
Building Capabilities for Sustained SME Competitiveness
2. We have emerged stronger from the global economic crisis. The Jobs Credit Scheme and SPUR have served us well. Enterprises in Singapore rallied to NTUC's call to "Upturn the Downturn". Our people and workforce responded cohesively to the testing times.
3. In order to prepare Singapore for new challenges ahead, the Economic Strategies Committee was formed to develop and recommend strategies to enable sustained and inclusive economic growth in the next 10 years. One of the ESC's main recommendations is to focus on skills, innovation and productivity as key drivers for Singapore.
4. Even during the economic slowdown, it was encouraging to see our SME community investing in new infocomm technologies through a number of joint projects with IDA. With the SMEs making up 99 per cent of all the enterprises in Singapore, this commitment and responsiveness towards new business trends to leverage on technology will have a significant impact on Singapore's economic performance.
Empowering SMEs with ICT Capabilities
5. Having said that, there are, of course, some SMEs who are still unsure of how to leverage ICT for business. I therefore propose to address two questions that are of relevance to SMEs: Why should my business adopt ICT and what are the tangible benefits? What support is available to help maintain and update the technology?
6. Why adopt ICT? ICT is both a business enabler and a potential creator of new business opportunities. Let me cite the example of Laundry Network Pte Ltd, which re-invented its business by investing in a RFID system to track its laundry load and movement. Through this system, the SME increased its garment handling throughput capacity from 20,000 pieces to 60,000 pieces a day. This enabled them to provide laundry services for 5,000 athletes and officials during the recent YOG without a hitch. For their contract with Resorts World Singapore, Laundry Network's system to automatically track the RFID-tagged laundry also enabled it to automate billing and speed up collection. With the help of ICT, the company now has the capacity to further grow its customer base.
7. What support is available? To help SMEs embrace ICT for greater competitiveness, IDA launched the Infocomm@SME programme in 2007. One of the key initiatives of this programme is to increase awareness of the potential benefits of ICT for SMEs. In addition to outreach events for the SME community, IDA worked with SCCCI and Singapore Polytechnic to set up the SME Infocomm Resource Centre to provide SMEs with training and advice on business possibilities of using ICT.
8. Since the inception of the Infocomm@SME programme, close to $15 million worth of funding support has been awarded to more than 5,000 SMEs to help them either establish their web presence to reach new customers, or to improve overall efficiency through ICT.
9. In addition to that, IDA, in partnership with SPRING Singapore and IRAS, launched the $25 million iSPRINT initiative earlier this year to enhance the benefits of the Infocomm@SME programme. iSPRINT offers a one-stop contact point for SMEs which need assistance on ICT. It also subsidises packaged infocomm solutions when SMEs make their first purchase. I am pleased to learn that over a short period of five months since the launch of this initiative, more than 200 SMEs have responded and collectively invested $2 million in ICT-enabled business improvement and transformation projects.
iSPRINT - Simplified Access to ICT Solution
10. One of the new features under iSPRINT is to make pre-qualified packaged solutions available. Through this approach, IDA helps SMEs decide on which solution to adopt and simplifies the subsidy application process. I am glad to learn that for IDA's initial call for proposal, more than 30 Accounting, Payroll and Point-of-Sales "packaged solutions" have been availed to SMEs.
11. Another important feature of iSPRINT is the focus on achieving sector-wide impact for SMEs using technology. IDA is working with sector-specific trade associations and business bodies such as the SCCCI, and partnering other Government agencies to identify opportunities to apply ICT to address challenges at the sectoral level.
12. Earlier this year, 19 stevedoring companies in Singapore came together to develop "Stevedore Net", a mobile pay-as-you-use software portal for the industry. Once the system is in place, many day-to-day operations will be automated, resulting in a projected 10% increase in productivity and up to a 12-hour reduction in the turnaround time for each vessel at Jurong Port.
13. Another sector to adopt ICT solutions to address business issues is the employment agency sector. "Integra" is a Software-as-a-Service portal which was developed to streamline the typical documentation operations of employment agencies. It was piloted by a consortium of 10 members and has been made commercially available since July to more than 700 agencies in Singapore.
14. On the electronic payment front, IDA's e-payment project extends to low-value purchases, catalysing the proliferation of CEPAS-compliant Point-of-Sales terminals in traditionally cash-based retail segments. These are places such as food courts, provision shops and convenience stores. Merchants accepting CEPAS payments save in transaction fees of up to 50%, and see increased productivity as well as reduced administrative overheads. IDA plans to continue its outreach to sectors such as Manufacturing, Logistics, Wholesale, Retail, Education
15. SMEs are now empowered to adopt infocomm for their businesses through wide-ranging support, including financial incentives, domain knowledge and enhanced infrastructure. I urge everyone to tap on these available programmes and to get in touch with the officers at the IDA exhibition booth at today's event. Do pay a visit to the SME Infocomm Resource Centre at SCCCI or at Singapore Polytechnic as well. I look forward to hearing more success stories of SMEs using ICT to increase productivity and to expand their businesses.
16. On this note, I wish all of you a fruitful conference.