By Nayela Deeba
March 7, 2017
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications & Information, at the Committee of Supply Debate
The Committee of Supply Debate on 6th March 2017 saw Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communication and Information, sharing Singapore's plans to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore thrive in the digital age.
Firstly, help is offered to SMEs at various stages of their digital transformation journey.
SME Centres will offer basic advice on off-the-shelf digital solutions that are pre-qualified by IMDA.
On the other hand, the SME Digital Tech Hub will provide help to SMEs requiring more advanced solutions such as data analytics. It will also conduct workshops and seminars that will help improve SMEs' digital capabilities.
As for SMEs who are interested to experiment with emerging technologies, they can co-create solutions with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA).
"At each stage, SMEs will continue benefiting from funding support to defray the cost of technology deployment," said Dr Yaacob.
Secondly, the IMDA will develop sector-specific Industry Digital Plans that are aligned to the respective Industry Transformation Maps. It will then ensure that the plans across different sectors are synergised to ensure interoperability. The aim here is to "not only identify areas that a solution can potentially value-add [to a particular company or industry], but also whether they can be deployed to other sectors with similar needs," Dr Yaacob explained.
Thirdly, IMDA will collaborate with large corporations that can influence their SMEs partners to digitalise through the SMEs Go Digital programme.
For instance, Robinsons uses an e-procurement platform to transact electronically with their 200 SME suppliers. "Robinsons saved 85 percent of the time used to manually process their numerous transactions with suppliers, whilst each SME on average, was able to redeploy two admin headcounts to other tasks. Furthermore, Robinsons could provide suppliers with their daily sales data, the system allowed both parties to benefit from better planning and inventory management," explained Dr Yaacob.
The SMEs Go Digital programme will focus on the retail, logistics, food services and cleaning sectors for now, he added.
Encouraging innovation through data
Understanding the power of data, IMDA will establish a Data Innovation Programme Office (DIPO) to facilitate data-driven innovation projects and the development of data ecosystem in Singapore. This was announced by Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications, during the Committee of Supply Debate on 6 March 2017.
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, at the Committee of Supply Debate
"[Many] companies cite a lack of good data, lack of good awareness, lack of expertise and some concerns about regulatory clarity," explained Dr Janil.