6 November 2012 - Speech By Mr Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore At i.luminate, 6 November 2012, Resorts World Convention Centre, Compass Ballroom

Speech By Mr Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority Of Singapore At i.luminate, 6 November 2012, Resorts World Convention Centre, Compass Ballroom

Mr Bill Chang, Chief Executive Officer, Group Enterprise, SingTel
Ladies & Gentlemen

Good morning

1. I am pleased to join you here at this morning’s i.luminate event that discusses the forces that are shaping the ICT world. The theme of this year’s i.luminate is “Powering the Future”, which prompts us to take a look at how new emerging technology can prepare us to meet future needs.

ICT Powering the Future

2. ICT today is rapidly moving towards new technologies. Brain-computer interfaces and controlling objects with our thoughts is no longer the stuff of futuristic movies, but becoming a reality. In fact, there are even “futurist schools”, like Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, that offer courses to understand and develop exponentially advancing technologies. The pace of innovation is outstripping organisations’ ability to assess, plan and harness it for growth. This has led to their becoming increasingly open to embrace the concept of co-innovation with technology companies. Two important manifestations of co-innovation are crowdsourcing, the tapping into the collective intelligence of the public at large, and open data, or data made freely available to everyone to use as he wishes.

3. One success story for crowdsourcing is Kickstarter, which is a great platform for bringing innovative products to market, for those who have all the ideas but just lack the capital to realise them. At Kickstarter’s website, the public can browse through proposals and fund creative projects. Kaggle is another example of a crowdsourcing approach using open data. It is a platform for predictive modelling and analytics competitions, where various companies and researchers can post their data, and allow statisticians and data miners from all over the world to compete to produce the best models. Many successful projects are being developed as a result of Kaggle competitions.

4. Governments have also embraced crowdsourcing and open data. In the US, the ‘Datapalooza'1; events aim to encourage entrepreneurs to find applications of innovation to combat contemporary challenges such as energy and health, through the use of government data and contributed data. In Singapore, you might also be familiar with data.gov.sg, which was launched in June 2011; data.gov.sg now provides more than 7,000 government data sets for developers to leverage for innovative application development. To date, we have seen the development of more than 90 apps that tap on government data, such as “WeatherLah”, where local weather information is supplemented by real time information that is crowd sourced by users and StreetSine, where property agents can co-broke property. Such emerging concepts of crowdsourcing as well as making data available to all enable new, creative and useful applications to be developed while helping organizations to keep pace with new requirements in the marketplace.

IDA Helps Industry to Keep Abreast of Future ICT Trends

5. While there are social trends like co-innovation and crowdsourcing using ICT, we would also need to look at technology trends that are evolving. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight IDA’s recently launched Infocomm Technology Roadmap 2012 or ITR, which aims to chart the vision, trends and developments of the technology landscape in Singapore. The roadmap serves to guide and help the industry keep abreast of future directions and trends and hence identify business opportunities for competitive advantage. Early adoption of emerging infocomm technologies is essential to give Singapore an added competitive edge in business and economic opportunities. Let me mention just three of the themes that will see impact on business growth, namely Big Data, the New Digital Economy and the Internet of Things.
6 The convergence across business domains has ushered in a new economic system that is re-defining relationships among producers, distributors, and consumers of goods and services. In an increasingly complex world, business verticals are intertwined and what happens in one vertical has direct impact on other verticals. Within an organisation, this complexity makes it difficult for business leaders to rely solely on experience or intuition. They need to depend on data for decision-making.

7. In addition, the velocity of data growth has also changed dramatically. In 2004, Wal-Mart was said to have the largest data warehouse with 500 terabytes storage, which is equivalent to 50 printed collections of the US Library of Congress. In 2009, eBay storage amounted to eight petabytes, that’s 15 zeros, which is equivalent to 104 years of HD-TV video. Two years later, the Yahoo warehouse storage amounted to 170 petabytes. From organizations’ perspective, such exponential growth of data is beyond the human capacity to assimilate on its own, and we will need to employ Big Data technologies to manage and process the data to obtain insights.

8. Indeed, as the vendor ecosystem around Big Data matures and users begin exploring more strategic business use cases, the potential of Big Data’s impact on data management and business analytics initiatives will grow significantly. According to IDC, the Big Data technology and service market was about US$4.8 billion in 2011, and is expected to grow to US$16.9 billion by 2015. However, while volume tends to be the central issue of Big Data, it is certainly not the only issue. Big Data is moving out of the server room and is touching the entire enterprise. In the near future, business users will need to learn to make use of data and the analysis of it for decision-making as a fundamental requirement.

9. Another key technology area to note is the rise of the New Digital Economy. Built on the pillars of mobility, consumer infocomm technologies such as social media as well as the Apps economy and e-payment, the New Digital Economy will transform businesses and governments in their processes and operations, which will in turn lead to greater wealth creation around the world.

10. We are aware that the increasing market adoption of mobile devices that are cheaper, more powerful and packed with apps and functionalities is a major driver of this transformation. What is beginning to flourish is the growth of community-driven solutions and business models known collectively as collaborative consumption and yes, crowd-sourcing. This is enabled by social media, which has garnered a greater level of trust versus the anonymous Internet. In fact, social networking sites are fast becoming consumers’ first site of visit on the web, replacing ‘Search’.

11. Coupled with the explosion of Apps, with more than 50 billion apps downloaded over the last four years, we are seeing a new era of infocomm-enabled business models that can potentially either disrupt traditional businesses or be leveraged for unprecedented growth and opportunities. For the first time, whether you are a hobbyist coder or a large enterprise, you now have direct access to the mass consumer market through the apps eco-system. And consumers are also spending heavily in this new consumption category, which brings us to the next pillar of the new digital economy – e-payment.

12. E-payment, the ability to pay for goods and services online, is key as people want to be able to browse and buy anytime and anywhere, from shops not bound by geographical constraints. Businesses want to be able to reach out to consumers in real-time and translate these interactions into revenue. The ability to leverage these new buying behaviour and frictionless payment means are important considerations for companies moving forward. According to Gartner, companies will generate 50 per cent of web sales via their social presence and mobile applications by 20152.

13. A third key trend is the blurring of the boundary between the physical and digital worlds, with mobile and fixed sensors collecting information about everything from ambient temperature to light intensity to an individual's location. Through connecting these devices together in the Internet of Things or IOT for short, intelligent and contextualised services can be delivered. In 2010, the number of everyday physical objects and devices connected to the Internet was said to be around 12.5 billion. CISCO forecasts that this figure is expected to double to 25 billion in 2015 as the number of smart devices increases, and double again to 50 billion by 2020.

14. With more physical objects and smart devices connected in the IOT landscape, the impact and value that IOT brings to our day-to-day life will become more significant. People can make better decisions in their daily lives, such as taking the best routes to work or choosing their favourite restaurant. New services can emerge to address societal challenges such as remote health monitoring for elderly patients and pay-as-you-use services. For enterprises, IOT brings about tangible business benefits from improved management and tracking of assets and products, new business models, and cost savings achieved through optimisation of equipment and resources usage. Added together, Big Data, New Digital Economy and IOT create a totally new playing field for consumerism.

IDA is taking the Necessary Steps to Power the Future.

15. Already, we have been harnessing these technology areas outlined in the ITR 2012 in Singapore’s Smart City initiatives as we move towards the future - as cities develop, they face more complex challenges in areas such as energy, environment and security. With the growth of data, the New Digital Economy, and connected devices which make up the Internet of Things, cities can make use of the influx of information to provide many exciting possibilities and solutions to meet these challenges. The provision of contextualised and personalised services to consumers and residents means cities can also be made more liveable, and enjoyable, even as they support a higher level of demand for public and private services.

16. For sustainable growth and greater effectiveness, it is essential that we adopt a system-of-systems approach, which require cross-cutting enabling infrastructure, integration across domains, and leveraging on data. By their nature, Smart City initiatives also require a more Whole-of-Government approach, and demand strong public-private partnerships. This will provide for joint capability development in terms of infrastructure, manpower, technology and innovation. Through such Smart Cities approaches, we can enhance the social, cultural and economic aspects of life for all.

17. To Power the Future and to strengthen the growth of Singapore as an infocomm hub, IDA supports businesses as they strive for innovation and competitiveness. For example, IDA aims to cultivate a vibrant start-up ecosystem which helps drive innovation and nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit. Our iSTART programme seeks to empower the start-up community by attracting world-class start-up development platforms such as the Founder Institute, which provides training and mentorship for startup founders, and DEMO Asia, an Asia Pacific event which serves as a launchpad for new products and services. We support grass roots Tech User Groups, where many vital discussions and sharing of ideas among like-minded technopreneurs take place. We also help start-ups expand their overseas market via In-Market Accelerators.

18. Just a few weeks ago, we brought a group of 12 Singapore ICT start-ups to Shanghai and Beijing, to hear from experienced businessmen, practise pitching their business ideas and gain the necessary market knowledge and right business connections. In terms of building the start-ups’ technology depth, the Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme, a joint initiative between IDA & SPRING, funds innovative new ideas and supports the creation of viable regional businesses.

19. But it is of course not just the IT enterprises who will need to innovate for the future, but also the user enterprises. In this regard, IDA provides a wide range of financial support to SMEs through iSPRINT, when they use infocomm technology to improve business operations resulting in efficiency and better productivity. SPRING’s Technology Innovation Programme or TIP which is co-administered by IDA for ICT projects also aims to strengthen the technological innovation capabilities of enterprises. I would like to encourage enterprises to consider the iSPRINT and TIP schemes for assistance when they seek to incorporate automation in their business functions.


20. I have touched on co-innovation such as crowd-sourcing and open data, as well as some of the key technology trends that will impact the industry. I have also highlighted some of IDA’s industry initiatives that support enterprises’ adoption of ICT and innovation. It’s all about Powering the Future Together. Whether as government, industry or consumers, we have increasing opportunities and perhaps even necessity, to collaborate with one another. We have not yet tapped all the potential and possibilities. IDA looks forward to providing further support and charting the directions for the infocomm industry so as to catalyse innovation, creating value and impact for our economy and society.

21. I wish you a pleasant day at the conference and hope you will enjoy the exciting discussions to come.

1 http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/18/entrepreneurs-and-innovators-rock-3rd-annual-health-datapalooza