Above photo: Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim speaking at the launch of the ITM for the Infocomm Media sector
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has released the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the Infocomm Media sector, which outlines the strategies to prepare Singapore for the digital economy. (Roadmaps are being developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers.)
Speaking at the launch of the ITM, Minister for Communications and Information, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, said the ITM aims to grow the ICM industry’s value-add by around 6% annually (almost twice as fast as the overall economy). It is also expected to employ more than 210,000 workers (from approximately 194,000 workers in 2016), and create more than 13,000 new PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) jobs by 2020.
The ICM ITM will prepare Singapore for the digital economy through three thrusts. The first is to invest and build capabilities in four frontier technologies, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics; Cybersecurity; Immersive Media and Internet of Things (IoT). (Dr. Ibrahim outlined the four frontier technology focus areas in his speech at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) opening ceremony in May this year).
The second thrust is to strengthen the core of the ICM sector, and prepare the next generation of ICM professionals and companies for future job roles and business opportunities. The third is to guide companies and workforce from the other sectors in adopting digital technology to improve productivity and efficiency.
Today, a number of AI initiatives was announced, as part of the focus on frontier technologies. Over the coming months, concrete and specific initiatives in the other three frontier technologies will be revealed.
AI Singapore (AI.SG) was set up in May 2017 with up to S$150 million fund to catalyse, synergise and boost Singapore’s AI capabilities.
IMDA will work with AI Singapore to develop the AI ecosystem and make AI an enabler for growth and jobs. Companies can look forward to the several
initiatives to help them adopt AI solutions.
An AI Business Partnership Programme will help match business requirements with the appropriate solutions, as part of which IMDA will also conduct workshops where AI solutions providers will share their technologies with interested companies from the relevant sectors. IMDA has conducted the first workshop for the retail and advertising sector with 12 companies.
An AI Apprenticeship Programme will help grow a pipeline of locally-grown, globally known AI-ready professionals.
Libraries of open AI assets will be created, starting with a National Speech Corpus to facilitate development of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technologies.
The availability of AI solutions via SMEs Go Digital will be widened. The SMEs go Digital programme, which was rolled out in April 2017, helps SMEs in the adoption and use of digital technology.
Developing a skilled workforce
Noting that the availability of manpower with the appropriate skillsets is key to ensure Singapore’s growth in the digital economy, IMDA will partner industry on programmes to strengthen the ICM core and prepare Singaporeans for a variety of ICM job roles in other sectors, here and around the world.
In AI for instance, the AI Apprenticeship Programme aims to grow the talent pipeline by training 200 professionals over the next three years. This will be achieved via the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), a SkillsFuture initiative. IMDA will adopt a similar approach to grow our manpower core in the other identified new growth areas.
IMDA is also collaborating with the industry and community to grow new digital champions. Today, IMDA signed partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and Samsung under the Strategic Partners Programme (SPP), which aims to help local tech companies scale up and build digital capabilities through joint development of innovative solutions and products for global problem statements.
These new partnerships aim to benefit between 80-100 companies. As a start, IMDA will work with these MNCs to enable a pool of Singapore-based tech companies to enhance their solutions and meet the requirements of IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital Programme. In addition, they will provide the SME Digital Tech Hub with access to their technologies to support SMEs in their digitalisation journey, starting with Microsoft and IBM providing their AI technologies.
IMDA and Microsoft will work with local tech companies, leveraging on the Microsoft Azure platform, and Microsoft’s expertise in workplace productivity, data and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, to provide robust, enterprise-grade, cloud-based solutions in the targeted sectors identified by IMDA.
Samsung will provide global problem statements and market opportunities curated from its 13 regional offices around Asia Pacific to Singapore-based tech companies. Samsung will, where appropriate, allow Singapore-based tech companies access to their KNOX and SmartThings platforms, to build mobility solutions that are cyber secured to address SMEs’ needs in targeted sectors, starting with Smart Facility Management, Transport, Logistics, Financial Services and Insurance. IMDA is also working with Apple to bring the best-in-class iOS solutions to SMEs to help transform businesses in areas like Retail, F&B, Wholesale, Field Service and Hospitality.
To further develop and deepen Singapore’s ecosystem of tech companies, IMDA will also expand the scope of Accreditation@IMDA programme, which currently helps to accelerate the growth of promising tech start-ups.
Accreditation@IMDA will be re-branded to Accreditation@SG Digital (Accreditation@SGD), to underscore its value as a national programme. Leveraging on Singapore’s branding allows the accredited companies to be better recognised overseas and help them export their capabilities and products. Accreditation@SGD’s scope will also be expanded to go beyond tech start-ups and young SMEs to include the more mature SMEs, and a selective pool of international deep technology companies to be anchored in Singapore. Furthermore, Accreditation@SGD will work with the Economic Development board (EDB), SG Innovate and other industry accelerators to expand the pipeline and pool of promising high growth tech companies in the 4 tech pillars.
Guide companies and workforce from other sectors to adopt technology
IMDA will work with the various sector lead agencies to develop the Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) for SMEs. The IDPs aim to guide these companies in technology adoption by helping them to understand the benefits of adopting relevant digital technologies, and by providing guidance to ICM vendors to meet the companies’ specific digital technology needs. The creation of IDPs under the SMEs Go Digital Programme was announced in this year’s budget by Finance Minister, Mr. Heng Swee Kiat. Earlier this week, the first IDP was released for the logistics industry.
Through the IDP, SMEs can:
- Assess and identify their digital readiness and the digitalisation opportunities based on a broad understanding of their business operations, current level of digitalisation, and business expansion plans;
- Adopt pre-approved digital solutions and seek advice on digitalisation needs relevant to their sector;
- Participate in sector projects co-created by IMDA and industry leaders that aim to uplift the whole sector, enabling SMEs to exploit growth opportunities; and
- Understand the training options available for their employees to build up a digital ready workforce.
The Retail IDP was announced today to provide step-by-step advice to SME retailers in their digitalisation journey. Taking reference from the Retail ITM, IMDA and SPRING Singapore will also work together on new initiatives to catalyse the transformation in the Retail industry.
The agencies will pull together retailers and other industry stakeholders such as wholesalers, logistics companies and e-commerce marketplaces, to create omni-channel solutions to benefit traditional retailers. This will grant retailers the opportunity to both sell from their physical shops and be competitive online with the ability to transact and fulfil deliveries efficiently.