Address by IDA CEO at the Third Infocomm Industry Forum

25 October 2011 - Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at the third Infocomm Industry Forum, Orchard Hotel Singapore

Address By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at Infocomm Industry Forum, 25 October 2011, 2.00 PM at Grand Ballroom, Orchard Hotel

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Welcome to the third Infocomm Industry Forum jointly organised by SiTF and IDA. I would like to first take this opportunity to congratulate the new SiTF Chairman Mr Eddie Chau and his new Council, elected last month. I look forward to the many useful and exciting activities and events to be organised by the new Council. I also want to thank the immediate past SiTF Chairman, Ms Tan Yen Yen for all her support to IDA and the industry during her term of office; indeed, Yen Yen and her team have put in great effort in serving and bringing the infocomm industry forward over the past three years.

Innovating In A New Converging World

2. Let me begin by mentioning a couple of trends that have been highlighted recently. According to a Bain report, we are in a period where "everything is the same, but nicer". This trend "everything the same, but nicer" focuses on increasing the intangible value of an existing product for both the consumer and the business. Coffee is cited as an example of that. A cup of coffee is no longer merely a cup of coffee. In the last 2 decades, innovations have created premium, and not so premium, substitutes for what we call "a cup of coffee". Starbucks has made coffee-drinking a new experience, complete with free wi-fi. We also have local players like Killiney and Ya Kun which remind us of the kopi and the kopitiam of the good old days. We also see form factor innovations, like the latest cool Nespresso machines. For a relatively low-tech product like coffee, players have innovated and enlarged its space to a US$135b market.

3. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen recently said that "software is eating the world"1. What does that mean? This is a trend where traditional businesses are losing to new software-based companies. Borderswas much challenged by In the US, the largest and fastest growing companies in each category are essentially software companies. In music, there are iTunes and Spotify. In gaming, Zynga and Rovio.

4. What do the two trends have in common? Convergence. The theme for this year's forum is "Innovating in a New Converging World". The English definition of the word convergence is "the process of coming together toward a common point." Indeed, we are seeing a converging world today - "Everything the same, but nicer" and "Software is eating the world" are examples of that, where different industries combine to improve existing products in the market. For example, convergence between gaming and social media - the biggest growth in games is no longer on PC and console platforms, but those on social platforms like Facebook. Healthcare and IT are also converging - our health records are being digitized, transmitted and accessed, and play a key role in medical treatment.

5. Convergence is also occurring between the offline and online worlds. Internet banking, and searching for online reviews before buying in brick & mortar shops, are examples. There is also the opposite: trying out products in brick & mortar shops first, then ordering online. Even grocery shopping is seeing convergence - a recent report in the Straits Times said that online grocery shopping has seen a more than 200% increase from last year2.

6. Much of all this convergence is underpinned by enablers in infocomm. In turn, convergence is leveraged upon in the innovative products, services and solutions being developed in various areas. In that regard, I would like to briefly highlight 5 focal themes that IDA has been working on.

Theme #1: Mobility

7. The first is mobility. One of the key enablers of convergence is the mobile device, through which many innovative services and applications are provided. The convergence of social networking, location sharing and mobile devices or "SoLoMo" has created new opportunities. One interesting example is Dianping3, a China-based social rating site with a mobile app. When checking in at a restaurant, users can publish how many people they see queuing to go in. Other features of the app include recommendations for restaurants in the area and discount coupons for selected restaurants.

8. Singapore has already produced successes with solutions by our home grown companies. An example is YFind Technologies, which has developed an enterprising indoor-positioning platform which allows navigation and tracking within complex indoor environments. This opens up opportunities for retail mall owners, for instance, for location-based advertising. Another example is 2359 Media, which has developed a platform for marketers and designers to easily create, publish and share fully customizable rich media mobile ads, without the need to code, and within minutes.

9. We have been putting out various initiatives to support innovation and adoption in the mobile arena. One of these is the Mobility Solutions CFC that was launched in June. IDA, together with SPRING Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board, the Employment and Employability Institute, set aside S$15 million to support the creation, delivery and adoption of mobile solutions in the retail, hotel and attractions, and F&B sectors.

10. The CFC closed last month, and we received 46 proposals, covering a total of 147 F&B companies, 85 retailers, 45 attractions and 37 hotels. These add up to more than 300 user enterprises with about 900 outlets between them. I am glad that the CFC has helped to generate much interest amongst target businesses to deploy mobility solutions.

11. As mobility is dependent on the availability of spectrum, we have adjusted our policy and regulatory frameworks in response to market demands, and facilitated mobile operators' network upgrades in a timely manner. We were one of the first jurisdictions in the world to allow operators to deploy 3G networks in traditional 2G spectrum bands. We have also allowed operators to deploy 4G/LTE networks in their existing spectrum bands. All the 3 mobile operators have announced LTE deployments, and commercial deployments are already commencing in some localities.

Theme #2: Internet of Knowledge

12. The next theme "The Internet of Knowledge" is a direct result of convergence. With the information explosion of recent years, the challenge is now to store and manage data, and use it to help us make right and timely decisions. It is therefore unsurprising that the data-related industry of cloud computing and analytics are fast growing.

13. As part of our initiatives under the IOK, IDA will be calling a CFC next month for Sectoral Business Analytics Shared Services to drive the adoption of BA in selected sectors. The CFC will call for service providers to establish and offer BA shared services in the areas of Retail Customer & Marketing Analytics, Retail Inventory Optimisation, and Operations Analytics for the manufacturing and F&B sectors. These shared services will make BA technology and services more readily available to the sectors, and lower the costs and barriers of adoption for businesses. We hope that this would also develop and propagate industry best practices for the application of BA.

14. In the Cloud Computing arena, IDA is carrying out its Fourth Call for Cloud Computing Proposals, where we invite interested parties to submit their proposals for innovative cloud-based projects to promote the use of cloud infrastructure. Through the three calls made previously, we have supported 14 projects, in sectors such as digital media and transportation.

15. IDA has also established a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Enablement Programme. This is aimed at supporting efforts to convert our companies' existing software operating on the traditional software licensing model to one that is cloud-based on a utility pricing model. Under this programme, funding support will be provided for manpower, professional services and training expenses in relation to SaaS enablement efforts.

16. In addition, I am pleased to share that IDA, together with IRAS, has put together something that SMEs and the Cloud Computing community would be glad to hear. Cloud computing, specifically Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, will now be allowed under the Productivity and Innovation Credit or PIC Scheme. The first $400,000 of costs incurred to acquire cloud computing resources can qualify for a 400% tax deduction. I encourage businesses to make use of the PIC Scheme to invest in productivity and innovation. To take advantage of this, no application is required, and businesses can claim the tax benefits as part of their tax filing. For further information on the Scheme, you can visit IRAS's website.

Theme #3: e-Government

17. The third theme is e-Government. With convergence, we can leverage the same technologies - social media, cloud, BA and so on - to enable the public sector to deliver efficient and effective services, and this is part of our eGov 2015 masterplan that was launched in June.

18. One of the initiatives under the masterplan is OneInbox, a one-stop trusted platform for the delivery of government e-correspondence. The OneInbox tender has been awarded and the system requirements study is currently underway. The OneInbox project is targeted to be commissioned sometime in the second half of next year.

19. We also have plans for the Central Government Cloud, which will be the Next Generation Whole-of-Government hosting infrastructure. The G-Cloud tender was called last month. We hope that it will achieve cost synergies and provide a full spectrum of cloud offerings, in addition to providing a platform for developing new innovative services for public service applications.

Theme #4: Smart Cities

20. The next theme is Smart Cities. Smart Cities can be said to be about the convergence of ICT, urban infrastructure, and data that enable cities to increase their liveability and sustainability. This is manifested in various areas, whether in smart energy management, transportation or urban living.

21. There are examples of these in many cities in the world. For example, in Madrid, the bus transport operator EMT has put in place a smart transport management system that allows real-time fleet management. Each bus knows in real-time how many people go up the bus, how many people are on the bus, and what other buses are in front and behind the bus. This allows the transport routes to change based on real-time demand. Changes in bus routes are communicated in real-time to commuters through mobile apps, screens on the bus, websites and bus stop information screens. There is also a multimedia information system on the bus that communicates cultural information and information about points of interest around the bus, based on the real-time location of the bus.

22. In Barcelona, there is a project to create a smart city environment based on the management of street lighting. Sensors installed on streetlights measure energy consumption, movement, noise and pollution while CCTVs conduct surveillance. This information is recorded and tracked at a control centre to derive insights on the activities that occur on the streets. Such information can be used to provide new services and apps to meet the needs of citizens. The street lights are also equipped with wi-fi as well as serve as charging points for electrical vehicles.

23. In Singapore, our infocomm infrastructure as well as the application of infocomm in the various sectors enable us to further grow Singapore as a Smart City. Near Field Communication or NFC is one of the enablers of a Smart City. It opens up opportunities of multiple transactions in one touch of the NFC mobile phone. We can touch to pay for our shopping and collect loyalty points in one transaction, using the NFC mobile phone. Soon, we may not even need to carry credit cards or loyalty cards in our wallets. NFC also brings the potential for companies to provide personalised offers like special discounts in the form of Smart Posters.

24. With such exciting opportunities in NFC, I am pleased to say that IDA has awarded the NFC CFC to the consortium comprising Gemalto, DBS, Citibank, EZ-Link and all the three mobile operators. We expect to see the deployment of a Trusted Third Party NFC infrastructure and the progressive roll-out of at least 10 NFC mobile payment and value-added services over the next two to three years.

25. The "Image of Singapore or i-Singapore" programme under the Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment or SG-SPACE initiative is a step towards a geospatially enabled nation in a smart city. IDA issued the i-Singapore@Work CFC in April. The CFC aims to promote the integrated use of Government's geospatial data with the private sector's data to derive benefits for our citizens and businesses. It attracted 14 proposals with more than 35 companies participating. Projects proposed were related to workforce productivity, demand-supply matching, lifestyle services, planning and decision-making. We expect to make the announcement of the award before the end of this year.

Theme #5: Innovation and Convergence

26. The last theme is "Innovation and Convergence". Companies are emerging on an Internet scale and at Internet speed. There are new service models such as the apps model and everything-as-a-service, and new fields such as social gaming and social commerce. A local example is Wavesecure. It is a mobile security suite that protects data on mobile phones and ensures privacy in the event of theft. Wavesecure was started by a Singapore-based company which has since been acquired by McAfee.

27. We will continue to support the growth of innovation and convergence through leveraging on our strengths - a tech-savvy population, high mobile & Internet penetration, innovative platforms with Next Gen infocomm infrastructure, and strong R&D investments. Innovation is made possible by ICT, and we are therefore accelerating the adoption and innovative use of infocomm by our SMEs with the iSPRINT Programme. iSPRINT makes it easy and convenient for first time adopters by providing packaged solutions pre-qualified by IDA. It also offers customised solutions. Such solutions utilise infocomm technology to improve the company's business operations, resulting in increased productivity and value-add for the business.

28. Entrepreneurship is recognized to be an important driver for innovation, talent development and investment attraction. With IDA's iStart programme, we aim to foster a vibrant start-up ecosystem, build talent, accelerate the formation of business communities and encourage start-ups to go beyond Singapore in their expansion plans. Over the past year or so, IDA has supported more than 19 entrepreneurial and tech developer training initiatives. We have also developed In-Market Access platforms to Silicon Valley and Vietnam, and supported entrepreneurial launch events such as eChelon4, all of which have been met with very enthusiastic participation by our young companies.


29. Infocomm is an enabler and facilitator of innovation. We need to continually think of how to use infocomm to create new business models for the new world.

30. Today, we have invited prominent speakers, all experts in their respective areas of business innovation, who have kindly agreed to share their experience and thinking. They will cover a variety of areas, such as the latest trends in convergence, innovation in the "Internet of Things", convergence in "SoLoMo" technologies, opportunities and new spaces for start-ups in the converged infocomm space, unlocking the potential of big data, and leveraging the convergence of disparate data in a smart city/

31. I am sure the insights of our speakers will be most valuable as we continually look for new ways to create value through innovation in our new converging world. Thank you all for your support and I wish everyone an enjoyable time at this afternoon's Infocomm Industry Forum.

Related Resources:

Notes to Editor:


2 The Straits Times, 3 Oct 2011, page B12.


4 eChelon is a startup launchpad event organised by a grassroots association, E27