S’pore starts to chart great tech unknown of 2025

19 June 2013

Business Times Singapore



(c) 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Limited  

Media and infocomm convergence a key theme; meanwhile, business analytics gets a boost

[SINGAPORE] As Singapore peers into a future where technology is indistinguishable from media, the government has set about arming itself with the new Infocomm Media Masterplan that will see it into 2025.

Yesterday, the 14 members of the committee tasked with developing the masterplan report were announced by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

This committee, headed by veteran money man Koh Boon Hwee, will release its recommendations in mid-2015. The new 10-year masterplan will pick up where the existing Intelligent Nation 2015 masterplan – developed in 2005 – leaves off.

While the Intelligent Nation plan was preoccupied with keeping the infocomm technology field competitive, the new plan will take into account how media and infocomm interests have become intertwined in the intervening years.

“We will need to seize the opportunities arising from the growing convergence of the infocomm and media sectors . . . To take advantage of this potential, we must look at the development of media and infocomm in a holistic and integrated manner,” Dr Yaacob said yesterday, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.

The committee will study five areas: technology and R&D, infrastructure, enterprise development, manpower and talent development, as well as sectoral transformation. The last area will study programmes that use infocomm and media to improve the way people live and help businesses to thrive.

Yesterday, Dr Yaacob lauded the progress made under the Intelligent Nation masterplan, noting that last year, Singapore’s infocomm industry clocked $102 billion in revenue – a “strong and healthy” year-on-year growth of 23 per cent. The sector currently employs more than 144,000 professionals.

Even as the transition to the next masterplan gets underway, key developments in the field are underfoot.

Yesterday, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to use the 700 Megahertz digital dividend radio frequencies for mobile broadband, which is set to improve data rates and improve regional mobile roaming.

“With smartphone and tablet usage resulting in increasing data volumes, a regional agreement to provide additional spectrum to support mobile broadband will be welcomed by consumers. This initiative positions Singapore and its neighbours as global leaders,” said Rob Bratby, managing partner of technology law firm Olswang Asia.

This move will kick in when the broadcast spectrum is freed up after the Asean region switches over from analog to digital broadcasting by 2020 .

Business analytics in Singapore will also see advances this year. According to Dr Yaacob, a suite of shared business analytics services will be progressively made available to retail enterprises from the middle of this year.

As big data looms, firms have increasingly turned to business analytics to make sense of noise. According to Sudipta Sen, regional director of SAS India, Thailand and Singapore, this growth in interest is especially pronounced in the banking and finance, healthcare and telecommunications fields.

“With the government’s support, Singapore is gradually maturing into a hub for high-performance analytics in Asia, and companies here are realising that business intelligence and analytics plays a critical role in increasing productivity, reducing costs and saving time,” he said.

To this end, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is supporting a Business Analytics Centre of Excellence with Revolution Analytics which will hire data developers and scientists.

“This will ensure we are equipping our workforce with the necessary skills around the open source R programming language and advanced analytics which are rapidly shifting from ‘niche’ to ‘standard’ requirements in today’s world,” said Kurt Bilafer, regional vice-president of analytics for SAP Asia Pacific Japan.

On the exploratory fronts of technology, myHealth Sentinel Pte Ltd – a firm which enables the remote monitoring of a chronic disease patient’s vitals – has been awarded a grant under the government’s Telehealth Call-For-Collaboration.

The average consumer will also have something to look forward to, with Wireless@SG being interoperable by month-end, which means that users will be able to get on the Internet islandwide.

Now, the next frontier of technology is already being scoped out, with a Data Innovation Challenge that IDA is launching next Wednesday.

The first of its kind in the region, this challenge will see data scientists, tech firms and think-tanks pooling their efforts for more innovative ideas. By early 2014, awards will be given for winning ideas and prototypes.

As Singapore peers into a future where technology is indistinguishable from media, the government has set about arming itself with the new Infocomm Media Masterplan that will see it into 2025.

Joyce Hooi

Sectors: Creative & Media and Technology
Countries: Asia Pacific and Singapore
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