Maintaining an Innovative Spirit in the Face of Emerging Challenges

16/06/2005

Speech By Dr Balaji Sadasivan at The Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Technology Awards 2005

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

It gives me great pleasure to join you tonight for the second run of the Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Technology Awards ceremony.

2.     2004 has been a year of strong growth for the info-communications technology (ICT) industry for Singapore. The latest preliminary figures from the Infocomm Development Authority’s (IDA) Annual Survey on the Infocomm Industry for 2004 revealed that the revenue for the infocomm industry grew by five percent to reach S$34 billion in 2004. Companies surveyed also gave a positive revenue growth forecast in the region of three to five percent over the next two years. Given such a positive outlook, the demand for infocomm jobs is anticipated to increase by three to four percent in the next two years.

3.     In a knowledge-based economy, ICT serves as a key enabler for various industries in the economy. In recent years, ICT has greatly enhanced our lives. On a personal level, it has revolutionised the way we work, learn and play. At the sectoral level, we witnessed its immense transformative power unfold in various industries such as healthcare, education, logistics, transport and financial services, where ICT unleashed efficiency and effectiveness previously out of reach under manual processes.

4.     With ICT being such an important enabler in our lives, it is therefore imperative that our ICT sector continues to sustain healthy growth and stays vibrant and competitive. It is with such an outcome in mind that we liberalised Singapore’s infocomm sector back in 2000. Today, the increased competition brought about by liberalisation has not only resulted in reduced prices and wider consumer choices, we are also able to enjoy new and innovative infocomm services such as 3G, wireless broadband and Voice-over IP.

Challenges of New Emerging Technologies

5.     With the advent of such next generation technologies, work and entertainment will never be the same. Just as the Internet transformed our lives and revolutionised many industries, we are excited to see what bold new future these emerging technologies hold for us.

6.     The progress we enjoy today are the fruits of yesterday’s innovations. The innovative spirit enables us to make changes and introduce new things, to think beyond the given boundaries and current day constraints. Most organisations are well aware that they must constantly innovate on their product or service offerings in order to survive - either by improving their current features or by inventing something completely new. In the face of emerging next generation technologies, growing convergence among existing technologies, and increased competition as more telecommunications jurisdictions around the world are liberalised, the case for innovation is even more imperative now than ever before. With changes in technolog y , product offerings and business models become obsolete very rapidly. Hence, companies must always seek to innovate and carve a niche in the market. A winning company is one which possesses a daring and boundless mindset as it would be well poised to generate new market ideas and induce new growth in demand.

7.     An example of such an innovation can be seen in the retail sector. The mode of operation for retailer was transformed just not too long ago with the emergence of barcode scanning, which resulted in higher productivity, cost and time savings through the speeding up of work processes and communication across the whole supply chain. With the availability of cost-effective Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags, the industry is on the threshold of another quantum leap in productivity and cost savings. In the US , Wal-mart has mandated that its top 100 suppliers have their pallets and cases fitted with RFID tags starting next year. It expects to save US$8.4 billion per year when RFID is fully deployed throughout its supply chain and in the stores. Similarly to capture value arising from this technological breakthrough, IDA has implemented a number of strategies to develop RFID capabilities and adoption in Singapore . IDA expects RFID to generate more than S $50 million industry spending over next three years.

iN2015

8.     I have previously in March announced that IDA will be embarking on iN2015, the Masterplan to shape the next phase of growth in Singapore ’s ICT landscape. This is going to be a challenging and exciting plan as we see the potential of growth and confluence in the fields of ICT, biometrics, nanotechnology, biocomputing, and even sentient technologies. The Masterplan is currently being formulated, and this blueprint will look into the prospective opportunities and benefits for the infocomm sector, as well as the infocomm infrastructure and capabilities needed to support such growth. I urge all of you, as stakeholders and practitioners in the ICT field, to participate actively in the ongoing consultation process to help shape the next phase of infocomm development in Singapore .

Conclusion

9.     On this note, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the recipients of the Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Technology Awards 2005. I was told that the judges were very impressed by the finalists’ creativity and innovativeness and had a challenging time picking the deserving recipients. The spirit of innovation is evidently very much alive. In light of the achievements showcased this evening, I am confident that the future of ICT in Singapore and the region is a vibrant and promising one.

Thank you.

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