Mr Rafik Mansour, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Singapore,
Mr Ralph Haupter, President, Microsoft Asia and Corporate Vice-President, Microsoft Corporation,
Ms Andrea Della Mattea, President, Microsoft Asia-Pacific,
Senior management teams from Microsoft in Singapore and the region,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to all of you. I am pleased to join you today at your new Asia-Pacific Regional Headquarters for the launch of your Experience Center Asia.
Singapore as a Valued Location for Companies
2. This morning’s launch event reminds me of our earlier conversation in San Francisco in August this year, where we exchanged views on how the Government can work with Microsoft on your plans for expansion in the region. The launch of the Experience Center Asia today affirms Singapore’s standing as a trusted partner for companies like Microsoft to explore new business and technological opportunities in Asia and beyond.
3. Singapore remains open to new ideas, technologies and engagement platforms with emerging markets. That makes us a good location for companies to test-bed and pilot new products, services and solutions quickly, as well as bring them to the market. In fact, many tech companies like Microsoft, including many fast-growth start-ups, have established their operations in Singapore, with 80 of the world’s top 100 tech companies calling Singapore their “home” in Asia.
4. Microsoft, as we have heard, has had a remarkable journey in Singapore. It started as a three-man operation in Singapore in 1990, and has since grown to about 1,400 full-time employees. Singapore is not only Microsoft’s home for local operations, but it is also your Asia-Pacific Headquarters, Transparency Center and Cybersecurity Center, and Southeast Asia Azure data centers. Next year, we look forward to 30 years of Microsoft’s presence in Singapore.
5. Microsoft’s story in Singapore is one of partnership and trust. It is a partnership between Microsoft and the Government and our agencies, and the broader ecosystem partners that you have here. It is anchored on trust – trust that we understand each other’s needs, and we work collaboratively to find solutions. As a result, not only have you grown from strength-to-strength, you have also created many good jobs for our workers, built on a strong foundation of trust and collaboration.
Partnership for Success
Trusted Partner of the Government
6. The Singapore Government has always viewed Microsoft as a valued partner. In August this year, Microsoft signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SkillsFuture Singapore, which offers training and certification programmes, with the aim of benefitting 5,000 individuals and 100 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
7. Microsoft is also working with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), through the SMEs Go Digital programme, to help SMEs use digital technologies and build their capabilities. The programme aims to help SMEs venture into new markets and enhance their business processes for the digital economy.
Partnership between Tech and Non-Tech Sectors
8. Increasingly, our tech sector needs to strengthen its partnership with our non-tech sectors to drive digital transformation and the adoption of technologies, in areas such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud solutions, cybersecurity, and 5G technology.
9. We already saw such partnerships taking place under the Start Digital initiative, with some success. When I visited the Kampong Gelam heritage precinct last month, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that more than 230 of its merchants have adopted digital solutions, ranging from e-payment to e-commerce. Their motivations were simple - to give their customers a better retail experience and eventually, gain better business for themselves. More importantly, the merchants discovered and shared that going digital is not as hard as they had initially thought.
10. This demonstrates that regardless of the size of the enterprise or the nature of the business that they are in, the ability to access these technologies, adopt and adapt them to your business context in order to go forward is something that is universal. We can work with all our partners in this endeavour.
11. Some of our banks and telcos also work with IMDA and Enterprise Singapore to help curate a suite of digital solutions that SMEs typically need when starting their business. These include digital transaction, cybersecurity and digital marketing. In this regard, Microsoft can play an influential role in building up capacity for both the tech and non-tech sectors. As one of the largest cloud players, Microsoft is already partnering big and small companies across various industries to help drive cloud adoption and innovation for business productivity and efficiency. You already have a significant impact on the larger economic and digital ecosystem.
IMDA-Microsoft 5G Collaboration
12. Beyond cloud solutions, we believe we can do more together and advance our partnership, in particular, in areas like 5G technology. Given Microsoft’s strengths in creating applications, I am glad to share that Microsoft has signed a Memorandum of Intent with IMDA to participate in our 5G trial. This new collaboration is part of our plans announced earlier this year to develop an open and inclusive 5G innovation ecosystem, with a series of open testbeds for both government and industry use.
13. Under this collaboration, IMDA will make available PIXEL as a shared 5G Living Lab for the One-North’s tech and media start-ups community to develop 5G use-cases. PIXEL will be the first open testbed for government agencies, end-user enterprises and technology companies to develop 5G capabilities and applications, and it will be ready in the first half of 2020. PIXEL will provide 5G connectivity to support 5G proof-of-concept use cases on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, as part of the Center-to-Center collaboration between Microsoft’s Experience Center Asia and IMDA’s PIXEL.
14. Beyond that, IMDA and Microsoft are also exploring 5G use-cases in strategic clusters, such as Smart Estates, Urban Mobility, Industry 4.0, Maritime Operations, and Consumer and Government applications. Even as we work towards creating a strong and robust digital infrastructure enabled by state-of-the-art 5G, we are in tandem developing, in partnership with entities like Microsoft and our MNOs, solutions and end-user applications which validate the use case for 5G and strengthen the business proposition going forward.
15. To conclude, I hope that IMDA’s collaboration with Microsoft on 5G innovation, as well as this newly-launched Experience Center Asia, will inspire more collaboration between companies in the tech sector and non-tech sectors, encourage them to push the boundaries of digital transformation and to explore new business possibilities. The presence of Microsoft’s partners at this morning’s event is a promising start that will hopefully pave the way for more companies to come onboard this digital journey.
16. I wish Microsoft’s Experience Center Asia, the entire Microsoft team, and all of you, every success. Thank you.