Above photo: (R-L) Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms. Sim Ann, at IMDA booth which is showcasing pre-approved digital technology vendors
The lnfocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) signed seven Memorandums of Intent (MOI) with telecommunication and financial institutions to provide Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) easier access to digitalisation technologies to expand their digital capabilities. The signing of the MOIs was announced by Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, at the Singapore Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (SCCCI) Annual SMEs Conference and Infocomm Commerce Conference.
These MOIs are part of IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme. The programme which was rolled out in April 2017, helps SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the adoption and use of digital technology to boost their productivity and build their digital capability.
SMEs contribute to almost 50 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and employ two out of three workers in Singapore. This programme channels the Singapore government’s support for SMEs to transform the way they function and boost revenue in the long-term, by using digital technologies to manage operating costs, improve compliance and financing. As of end July, close to 200 SMEs have adopted over 30 out of the 56 IMDA’s pre-approved digital solutions, in areas such as digital ordering and payment, and fleet management.
The MOls signed under this programme will help SMEs accelerate the adoption of pre-approved robust, secured and interoperable digital technology solutions, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity and data analytics. In the second industry briefing in July, IMDA announced that it is progressively raising the standards of the pre-approved solutions, incorporating cybersecurity, data protection, data analytics, inter-operability and compliance to Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) standards.
The three local telcos, Mobile One (M1), Singtel and StarHub, will provide SMEs a one-stop service through digital technology-bundled packages. These packages offer broadband or Wi-Fi connectivity bundled with IMDA's pre-approved digital technology solutions, cybersecurity and data analytics tools and services.
The partnerships with the DBS Bank, Hong Leong Finance, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd (OCBC Bank) and United Overseas Bank (UOB) will provide SMEs access to financial instruments such as bridging loans to help defray costs when investing in building new capabilities. The banks will also work with business leaders to kickstart innovative solutions with SMEs and industry partners.
Several of these banks and telcos have already working closely with SMEs to facilitate technology adoption. For instance, DBS has SME initiatives like DBS TechMatch, where SMEs are matched with Tech Providers for more efficient technology adoption and DBS BusinessClass, an engagement program/app platform that connects SMEs with business mentors from around the world. In another example, Singtel launched the 99%SME e-marketplace to help accelerate SMEs’ e-commerce adoption SMEs participating in the e-marketplace can access digital marketing tools, mobile payment and cyber security services.
“We believe our SMEs need to embrace technology to thrive in a Digital Economy. Through collaborations between IMDA and key industry partners, SMEs can more easily assess digital technologies and financing support to embark on their digitalisation efforts. We welcome more partners to join us in supporting our SMEs in their digital journey,” said Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Other initiatives under SMEs Go Digital
By end 2017, IMDA plans to establish a SME Digital Tech Hub year to provide specialist tech advisory to SMEs with more advanced digital needs, such as data analytics and cybersecurity. The Association of Small & Medium Industry (ASME), has been selected as the agency to operate the SME Digital Tech Hub.
The Hub will complement the business advisors in SME Centres, which provides basic advice on off-the-shelf digital solutions that are pre-approved for funding support. The Hub will also help to connect SMEs to ICT vendors and consultants, as well as conduct workshops and seminars to help SMEs to build their digital capabilities.
IMDA also plans to develop sector-specific Industry Digital Plans that are aligned to the respective sectors’ Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), which lay out strategies to promote innovation and productivity growth in the major industries. These plans will be used to guide SMEs technology deployment at different stages of their growth and help them to progressively acquire advanced capabilities in cyber security, data protection and data analytics. For a start, IMDA will focus on SMEs in sectors where digital technology can significantly improve productivity, such as retail, food services, wholesale trade, logistics, cleaning and security.
IMDA intends to place greater emphasis on supporting pilot projects that are new to SME sectors with significant potential to scale and uplift whole sectors to help more SMEs at once. This will be achieved largely by partnering influential intermediaries or large companies who can play leadership roles in their sectors to help digitalise the SMEs