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The cloud, BI and rich applications

Ross Storey | April 28, 2011
Singapore’s new Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts shares his thoughts on the importance on technology and the government’s IT strategies.

Singapore has a new senior politician who is in charge of the Lion City’s IT industry.

He is Lui Tuck Yew (49), the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA). Lui, who took up his new role from November 1, 2010, was promoted to full minister in a recent government re-shuffle, having been acting MICA minister for two years previously. We shared thoughts with him about his key portfolio responsibilities.

Computerworld Singapore: How important is Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) for the information technology future of the Lion City and what benefits will it bring to Singapore’s economy?
Lui: Singapore embarked on the deployment of a seamless, trusted and high-speed infocomm infrastructure in the form of the Next Gen NBN back in 2006. 

When fully laid out, the Next Gen NBN will provide a nationwide ultra-high speed broadband access of one Gbps and more, to all physical addresses including homes, government buildings and businesses. This infrastructure will be a critical national enabler, spurring the development of new knowledge-based sectors, such as interactive digital media and the creative industries. The Next Gen NBN is expected to enhance Singapore’s economic competitiveness significantly. We hope businesses can leverage on more sophisticated use of ICT through this infrastructure to improve their productivity and increase their competitiveness. Based on international studies and experience, broadband deployments are projected to bring about an increase in annual GDP growth by between 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent1.

What is your perspective on the importance of information technology to Singapore’s economic future and what is the government’s overall strategy for assisting the IT sector in making the maximum contribution?
As an economic sector, the ICT industry currently contributes more than seven per cent of Singapore’s GDP. The revenue from the ICT industry has grown 38 per cent since 2006 to reach S$63 billion (US$48 billion) in 2009. Correspondingly, the ICT export revenue grew by 39.5 per cent since 2006 to reach S$40 billion (US$30 billion) in 2009. ICT, as a key enabler for competitiveness and productivity, also enhances business efficiency in sectors such as finance, retail and logistics.

In Singapore, we believe in taking a holistic and long-term approach to developing the ICT industry. We are in the midst of implementing our sixth national ICT masterplan, Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015). This 10-year plan was launched in 2006 to help us realise the potential of ICT in enriching our people’s lives, and to enhance the economic competitiveness of Singapore’s ICT industry. In addition to the deployment of the Next Gen NBN, the masterplan spearheads the transformation of key economic sectors and society through sophisticated and innovative use of ICT. We also seek to develop a globally competitive ICT industry, supported by an ICT-savvy workforce.

What advice do you have for Singapore’s IT sector and what do you see as the major challenges for the Lion City on the development of the IT industry here?
Today, Singapore has a vibrant infocomm eco-system supported by high quality technology infrastructure, good business environment and legal regime. However, competition for the best IT talent remains and we need to develop our talent pool to ensure it keeps pace with the rapid developments in infocomm technology and usage We also have to constantly find ways to create an environment that promotes innovation, in the development of new solutions and business models. In this regard, I would strongly encourage Singapore IT enterprises and IT multinational corporations (MNCs) to foster greater collaboration and partnerships for greater synergies to be realised.

What IT trends do you see as having the most impact on Singapore in 2011 and how is the government responding?
We are looking at trends such as cloud computing, data analytics and changing consumer demographics, and how these trends can be incorporated into our formulation of ICT policies and programmes. The cloud allows for businesses to procure IT services such as computing infrastructure and software resources through a ‘pay-as-you-use’ utility model.  This lowers the cost of ICT adoption and scales up ICT usage. We are already seeing many cloud service providers in the marketplace. In fact, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has a Cloud R&D Programme that creates opportunities for Singapore-based enterprises to develop Internet-scale applications for critical business functions.


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