SME digitisation drive vital to Singapore’s growth: IMDA
By Ong Kai Kiat August 29, 2017
- Digitisation wave would disrupt businesses, patterns of employment and ways of living
- The SME Digital Tech Hub will help SMEs to link up with the digital application vendors
THE importance of digitisation for Singapore’s growth was laid bare by the chief executive of Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).
In front of a packed audience, Tan Kiat How (pic) described the digitisation of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) as key to Singapore’s growth, emphasising the need to bring human capital and technology together for this national effort.
Key to Singapore’s continued prosperity
According to IMDA, this roll-out has achieved significant success. In just two months, 100 SMEs had adopted 24 pre-approved digital solutions and generated SS$2.4 million in revenue for Infocomm Media (ICM) suppliers.
Tan underscored the urgency of this government initiative by noting that SMEs account for 99% of enterprises in Singapore and employ 70% of the workforce.
He noted that the upcoming digitisation wave would severely disrupt businesses, patterns of employment and ways of living. Therefore, IMDA wants Singaporeans SMEs to digitise and be the first mover in terms of disruption and has provided a series of employment assistance for the upcoming disruption.
IMDA wants to push the digitisation wave to all sectors from retail to financial services to manufacturing. IMDA would also serve as the chief digital officer (CDO) for Singaporean government’s industry transformation roadmap and would be collaborating with other agencies. The first major focus would be in the area of smart facility management due to the ageing population and estates in Singapore.
Signing up SMEs
Recognising that SMEs might not have the capability to navigate the approval process of SME Go Digital, IMDA had appointed the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) as the agency to operate the SME Digital Tech Hub.
The would provide SMEs with consultancy services to gain access to the SME Go Digital programme and more advanced technologies such as data analytics and cybersecurity by the end of year.
The SME Digital Tech Hub will help SMEs to link up with digital application vendors for their digital transformation journey which will be rolled out at the end of the year.
IMDA would also be raiSME Digital Tech Hubsing the cybersecurity standards in August 2017. For pre-approved vendors, the IMDA stamp of approval will be helpful in securing customers.
Woo Sze Ming, founder of Gamurai Pte Ltd, the maker of AI chat bots for hair salons noted that his sceptical clients are more willing to give them their services after getting the IMDA stamp of approval.
His clients just need to know the functionalities of his product without having to understand the complexity of his artificial intelligence system that chats and books appointments automatically with salon users.
Toon Wee, director of SmartComm Electronics Pte Ltd, also noted that SMEs are more willing to purchase their Internet of Things (IoT) solution for smart fleet management when they didn’t have to pay for hefty capital outlay with IMDA’s grant.
His company signed on 48 SMEs in the first three months of the SME Go Digital programme. Previously, many SMEs were unwilling to purchase his solution even after they were convinced of the benefits of real time vehicle monitoring.
The SME Go Digital Programme is an extension of the Enhanced iSPRINT programme to help SMEs to cut costs, improve their internal efficiencies and offer better services in the digital economy for sustainable growth.
Besides the pre-approved solution, SMEs can also get tailored solutions from the SME Digital Tech Hub. Every SME would get up to 70% funding capped at S$300,000.
Inviting the vendors
There are currently 56 pre-approved SME Go Digital solutions with a validity period from May to December 2017. The pre-approved list applies to proven ICM solutions such as digital ordering and payment, supply chain management and billing management. Sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, data analytics, data protection and cybersecurity are considered specialist solutions.
There has been a Call for Submission from July 21 to Sept 8, 2017 for industry players to propose game-changing technologies such as AI on commercially-managed digital platforms.
IMDA notes that there will be large opportunities and cited a study by IDC that 50% of large companies will either create or partner with industry platforms.
ICT leading Singapore’s growth
Tan noted that Singapore’s ICT industry grew at 6% which is three times the national growth rate in 2016.
IMDA will continue to push for the growth of the digital economy by matching demand drivers and suppliers.
Singapore will continue to be the living lab for the digital economy and allow SMEs to benefit from complex digital solutions without having to understand it.