ICT to Singapore

Trends and opportunities

The market

In Singapore, the Infocomm and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is a key enabler for almost every industry sector, and has enhanced Singapore’s competitiveness by raising productivity and transforming business processes in industries like finance, services and manufacturing. The ICT sector in Singapore is regulated by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the country's infocomm industry master-planner focused on infocomm and media policy and regulation, industry and talent development and Personal Data Protection Commission. A separate agency, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) handles issues related to Government digital services and applied technology.

As an information and technology hub in the Asia Pacific, Singapore is a regional base for most of the world’s top infocomm multinationals including Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Google, as well as international technology startup companies. It is also a global data management hub connected to 15 active submarine cable systems, with a total submarine cable capacity of 114 Tbps and more than 50 per cent of the commercial carrier and carrier neutral data center space in South East Asia.

Based on a manpower survey in 2015, the ICT industry revenue saw a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.7 per cent for the period 2009 to 2014, reaching $167.1 billion in 2014. Currently, there are more than 150,000 ICT professionals in Singapore. The number is set to grow as Singapore progresses in its Smart Nation initiative (Smart Nation), launched 2014 by the Singapore government.

In Smart Nation, Singapore strives to support better living, stronger communities, and create more opportunities for all its citizens. “Smartness” here refers more to how well the society uses technology to solve problems and address existing challenges, rather than complexity of the technology. Effectively, citizens, rather than technology, are ultimately at the heart of Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.

Smart Nation is coordinated by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office in the Prime Minister's Office, supported by various government agencies. There are also policies in place to facilitate innovation and nurture a culture of experimentation, innovation, risk-taking, and eventual adoption of new ideas.

Smart Nation focuses on five key domains in which digital technology takes on a key role in Singapore:

  • transport
  • home and environment
  • business productivity
  • health and enabled ageing; and
  • public sector services.

In contributing to the Smart Nation eco-system, both the general public as well as businesses have been encouraged to co-create impactful technology solutions that would address challenges in the key domains. Examples of ongoing projects include:

  • Smart Home technologies being test-bedded in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates as part of the “Smart HDB Town Framework”
  • A committee on Autonomous Road Transport being set up to chart the strategic direction for Autonomous Vehicle-enabled land mobility concepts in Singapore
  • The setting up of a Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology (CHART) at Changi General Hospital to facilitate collaboration between academia, industry and research institutions, to develop healthcare solutions leveraging on robotics and assistive technology.

In line with nurturing a culture of experimentation and sustaining innovation, the Singapore government has enhanced a government open data portal, and will continue to release more government data in machine readable format so that the public and third party developers can glean insights and put them to good use in developing solutions. So Smart Nation will be built on data and the ability to move, collect and make sense before insights can be gleaned and lives can be improved.

Opportunities

Australian developers can leverage opportunities in Singapore, particularly those related to developing applications and contributing to building the Smart Nation infrastructure.

Four key frontier tech capabilities of focus are:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Internet-Of-Things
  • Immersive Media
  • Artificial Intelligence (or AI) & Data Science

There is opportunity for education/training sector in the ICT sector. The nature of jobs has been evolving with rapid development in technology as well as changes in business models and consumers’ behaviours, and the industry has been promoting the building of technical expertise such as Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, and Green ICT, in order to build a pool of highly skilled ICT professionals that are future and Smart Nation-ready.

Competitive environment

Singapore has an open business environment encouraging competition, so foreign infocomm companies and talent can build on and complement Singaporean ICT businesses. Competition is not only from Singaporean companies, but also from Asian rivals such as:

  • Japan, which currently leads in mobile services
  • Korea, in multimedia and broadband services
  • Hong Kong, in broadcasting and media services.

While the environment is competitive, it is also dynamic. It fosters collaboration between industry players that can work towards developing solutions, leading to positive commercial outcomes for the respective stakeholders.

Tariffs, regulations and customs

Singapore has few trade barriers and is one of the most liberal trading regimes in the world.

Industry standards

Standards play a key and integral role part in facilitating the development and adoption of new technologies. IMDA works with various industry partners and standards organisations both in Singapore and overseas to make standards a part of Singapore's infocomm and media eco-system.

Infocomm standards in Singapore are developed on a consensus basis and are the result of the collaborative efforts among government agencies, tertiary institutions, professional bodies and the infocomm industry. The IMDA Standards Team plays a key role in fostering and facilitating the industry's participation in local and international ICT standards forums. It is the Secretariat to the IT Standards Committee (ITSC), one of the 11 Standards Committee under the National Standards Council appointed by SPRING Singapore.

ITSC provides a neutral and open platform for interested industry and government parties to come together to agree on technical standards. The ITSC Council comprises a Council with representatives from associations, academia, research institutes and government agencies such as Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), Defence Science and Technology Association (DSTA), Institute of Systems Science (ISS) and SPRING Singapore, amongst other key agencies, which chart the directions and policies of Singapore’s IT standards.

In addition, there are also appointed Technical Committees and Working Groups comprising of technical experts from the industry, academia and research institutes to develop and promote national infocomm standards, and participate in international infocomm standardisation activities.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

It is important to work with local partners or distributors and system integrators who are well-connected and have a good knowledge of the Singaporean business environment.

The pro-business stance of Singapore’s infocomm sector reinforces Singapore’s ongoing interest in partnering and collaborating with global players to jointly identify and leverage on-market opportunities. Australian ICT firms find that the Singapore market is open to bilateral agreements and strategic alliances, research and development, and deployment of services to global markets.

Links and industry contacts

Info-communications Media Development Authority
Government Technology Agency
Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation 
Association of the Telecommunications Industry of Singapore
Singapore Business Federation
Smart Nation Singapore 

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