Singapore Digital Transformation Insights
Singapore is arguably one of the most tech-savvy nations, not just within Asia, but across the world. In a 2017 Digital Evolution Index, the Southeast-Asia country ranked sixth among the most progressive nations in terms of digital economies development and integration of connectivity into the everyday lives of the citizens. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index also ranks Singapore as among the top countries where much of the economy is using technologies to advance its competitiveness and efficiency. The accolades are evidence of the digital transformation becoming useful in helping Singapore transition from being just an outsourcing factory destination to becoming a tech hub for next-generation technologies such as Blockchain, Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, and automation. The extent of these efforts is further portrayed in the recent rankings which saw Singapore once again lead in the current research paper, The Asian Digital Transformation Index 2018. In the research commission by Telstra, the Asian nation was top among a list of economies seeking to develop digital infrastructure, tech ecosystems, and skills. The ranking is the second iteration of the same research that also depicted Singapore as a digital transformation giant back in 2016.
How is Singapore scaling its digital transformation?
Despite the evidence of digital transformation in other Asia-Pacific markets, Singapore stands unique with its approach in the sense that the island nation receives solid backing and support from the key stakeholders. While the private sector is often responsible for driving global digital transformation, in Singapore, the script reads a different scenario for the participants.
Singapore’s government has a strong commitment to establishing and developing its digital agenda; a vital indicator of a tech-savvy government as well. But how does the Singapore government consistently improve the country’s digital footprint and domain? In our endeavor, we sought to compile some of the commendable efforts that the Singapore government has put in place to grow the pace of digital transformation through adaptation and implementation of new technologies. Here’s what we found as the lead enabling situations that are acting as the engine to Singapore’s digital conversion.
I. Increased digital governance and execution
Singapore is among the world’s leading advocates for a robust digital government. The country continues to raise the bar in terms of digital adoption in its government strategies and having government leaders that are real digital champions. For instance, the Smart Nation program launched in 2014 by Singapore’s government sought to harness the power of data, networks, and information technology to help improve the lives of Singaporeans, create economic opportunities and build a collective digital community. The initiative stands as one of the best government policies focused on enabling digital capabilities.
Additionally, Singapore’s government through the Ministry for Communication and Information has come up with the Infocomm Media 2025 plan, which will seek to generate capabilities and innovation relevant to solving the nation’s challenges. Infocomm Media 2025 is a succeeding digital governance strategy that recognizes areas of interest where digital transformation can have a significant impact. Overall, such efforts define the digital direction taken by Singapore’s public officials who are devoted to providing considerable efforts and resources to achieve the necessary digital transformation.
II. Functional and cooperation
While digital leadership is an excellent enhancer of the technology transformation, Singapore’s government is also well known for championing ideas through many collective official forums and channels. Different stakeholders, from both public and private sectors, can easily contribute their concerns regarding the government digital transformation strategy. The Committee on the Future Economy is an illustration of a forum where the digital landscape stakeholders can remit their contribution towards what the government is planning in terms of technology adoption and implementation. The consultative committee approach allows members from the government, local enterprises, multinational corporations, and academic professional to contribute towards the digital interests of Singaporeans. Such partnerships and collaborations help build a much higher digital transformation cycle with the multiple constituencies, citizens, businesses and residents having a better fit into the country’s overall digital strategy.
III. New technology training and implementation
The level of digital transformation within Singapore would not have been possible without the government push towards establishing an area of digital training and talent planning. Currently, Singapore provides a digital workforce through its GovTech Hive, a government-backed Software Design and Development Centre. The facility hires and trains tech professionals across different disciplines to enable them to provide active digital services and solutions. GovTech Hive further provides the government with a responsive and adaptive digital workforce that provides the necessary technical services to its agencies.
SkillsFuture is another initiative of Singapore’s government focused on using credits and subsidies to lower the training cost of professional digital skills. The initiative aims to continually allow for government-supported technological training that is complete and is able to develop various capabilities. Overall, the digital training aspect significantly boosts the country ability to keep abreast with its digital transformation strategies while also assisting young Singaporeans in getting exciting career pathways into digitally-oriented professions.
IV. Ambition and clarity of the digital vision
Also, behind Singapore successful digital transformation lays a core understanding by the government and its citizens of just how significant technological growth is responsible for the country’s prospects. In particular, Singapore has a strong backing of implementing ICT infrastructure strategies such as developing its 5G network and the rollout of fiber network technology. These actions sum up the efforts by the country to establish reliable and fast connectivity that grows its digital transformation. For example, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found out that the government’s initiatives are a clear indication of Singapore’s ambition to become a digital driving force within Asia. And to ascertain their clarity and enthusiasm, Singapore’s population already enjoys a superfast internet connection that covers about 97% of the country. The figures are way ahead of China and even Hong Kong, which only have 77% and 74% of their populations covered with an active internet connection, respectively.
V. Investment in research and development
There is no increased digital transformation without proper investment in research and development of emerging technologies. Singapore’s tech sector thrives due to a range of investment factors present in the nation. For starters, the government’s approach involves offering business-friendly policies with additional investments channeled into the tech sector. For example, Singapore currently is committed to investing 1% of its GDP into the research and development of emerging digital aspects and strategies. And as part of Singapore’s Research Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan, the government further pledges to invest $19 billion into the technological and scientific research programs. The Digital Government Blueprint is another government investment vehicle that outs its efforts into building digital technologies that are secure and interoperable. From these efforts, it is evident that Singapore’s tech investment is another major player in helping the country realize its digital transformation capabilities.
VI. Competitive Asian market
For quite a long time, Hong Kong, China, and India have been the tech hubs of the Asian market. However, recent developments have seen Singapore emerge as a gateway to Asia’s digital market. With a friendly business environment, tech-minded population and equally excellent investment into the tech industry, Singapore can now take pride in becoming one of the most in-demand destinations for tech firms. Already multinational companies have set up regional headquarters within Singapore to leverage the different positive factors that come with doing business in the nation. IBM, the multinational software systems giant, is a case of a firm that has taken the initiative to set up innovation centers in Singapore, where the necessary tools and insights are available to innovate and come up with solutions. The company saw it fit to establish its center in Singapore due to its tech culture and the country is home to the most significant financial center in the world. In addition to IBM, more multinationals are also considering Singapore as a natural fit for their technological advancement within Asia. The motives will gradually increase Singapore’s capabilities as a digital transformation haven for companies and individuals in a range of different settings, including banking, finance, IoT, supply chains, healthcare, manufacturing, and government.
What next for Singapore’s digital transformation
As the digital transformation era dawns, Singapore offers much promise as a new use case for companies looking to explore new tech-hub destinations. And as with any growing tech interest, there are bound to be positive implications from the emerging technologies and their markets. In the case of Singapore, the advancing digital transformation could fan out the following scenarios.
I. Singapore becomes a front-runner in the digital era
After decades of letting the likes of India, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines lead in digital transformation, Singapore could potentially rise to become the leader in the fusion of digital and physical systems. Efforts by the CFE are already pushing to promote Singapore’s innovation, R&D investments, and digitalization in a bid to support the economy through technology. The end game would see Singapore become a technological gateway to Asia.
II. Singapore becomes a test-bed for innovative technology
The digital transformation has also seen Singapore hosts some emerging and next-generation technologies such as Blockchain, AI, robotics and IoT. The rate of digital transformation plus attractive government incentives has made Singapore an excellent, innovative hub where companies can explore the use cases of these emerging technologies. Expect the tech-focused culture within Singapore allows the nation to quickly warm up to profound and disruptive technologies such as the Blockchain and other cognitive technologies.
III. Expectations of 5G Connectivity
The high rate of digital transformation would not be possible without fast connectivity within Singapore. With over 90% of the population connected under different mobile networks, Singapore would further seek to explore investing in 5G network. Already the nation expects to roll out its 5G connection by 2020, with some indications pointing to 2022. The critical element remains that the investment in digital transformation will boost the development and deployment of a 5G network to allow for better efficiency in terms of connectivity. The digitally-oriented departments realize that only good connectivity is key to building the rate of digital exposure and consequently ensure transformation. Insights indicate that tech-savvy consumers are keeping the tech world stakeholders on their toes with the ever-growing need for innovative and efficient connectivity
IV. More regulatory and legal reforms
Already the Singapore government is establishing more regulatory frameworks for the country’s laws not to outgrow the digital economy. Issues such as monopoly, tax, data privacy, and security are some of the areas experiencing more clear and robust rules such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit(PIC) incentive scheme that help promote digital innovation and establish a sound footing for digital transformations. Likewise, SMEs and large companies and organizations will look to overcome more internal hurdles by ensuring their rules undergo adjustments to match the ever-changing tech landscape. True to this, a top obstacle for most firms was the lack of organizational agility towards digital transformation.
Singapore as a blueprint
From the analysis of the Asian Digital Transformation Index, Asia is witnessing an evolving digital transformation process. And Singapore appears central to this technological change, overcoming even much popular tech hub destinations.
There are also clear lessons from our assessment that Singapore offers a perfect example of a country consistently succeeding in staying adept with the tumultuous technological disruption. The government is at the forefront of leveraging the strengths that come with visionary ICT policies and implementing them to ensure the acceleration of digital transformation. Their efforts are not going unrewarded as Singapore is on the verge of cementing plans for 5G, advance its AI development plus establish a talent training center with applicable IT lessons.
These steps are quite progressive considering the slow pace at which most Asian countries adapt to digital transformation. While most governments would shy away from the advancing tech landscape, we can confidently see that Singapore is quick to accommodate and adjust to these new technologies. Hopefully, the country will continue to lead in digital transformation success and become a lesson for the rest of Asia and the world.
As elucidated above, there is no doubt whatsoever that Singapore’s future as a digital transformation hub looks very bright. Tie in the fact that the Asian smartphone target market is now on an ever-growing unprecedented boom, it is easy to see why Singapore is likely to rule the airwaves for the next couple of decades. A good example of some of the
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