What's the roadmap for Singapore's digital transformation?

Posted by Sandy Tsang on 19 May 2016

Singapore’s technical skills shortage may have been an industry pain point, hindering growth for the past few years, but the sector is finally shifting. Just not the way we expected.

The government has been proactively spurring the economy with initiatives such as grants, resources and consultancy to achieve the Smart Nation vision.

It’s no wonder, according to the Singapore government’s Economic Development Board, the data analytics sector alone is set to contribute at least $1 billion to the economy per year by next year. As a result, Singapore is home to a growing movement of over 2000 data analysts since 2014 and there are no signs of this demand levelling out.

Taking the leap

With new tools, algorithms, and technologies, the skills gap is no longer limited to a few job functions. The information revolution has an impact on every sector, every role, every job: sales, marketing, business development, data, even HR and finance. Roles are changing - we now need to think about operating in a digital world, not just about marketing digitally.

The only way to propel our businesses forward and retain staff is by empowering the existing workforce to learn and be confident about the fundamentals of how they fit within the new digitised business world. Furthermore, to truly make Singapore a global leader in embracing tech, there needs to be cross-functional collaboration within organisations to truly maximise on the connection between technology, business, strategy and execution.

So far, the low digital spend in Singapore is evidence that companies haven’t quite made the leap, despite Singapore being one of the most connected countries on earth.

According to a recent report by Econsultancy.com, Singapore’s 4G mobile internet coverage is among the fastest in the world. Over 99 per cent of the island has LTE coverage at the street level and mobiles are working at an average speed of 38Mb/s. Yet our digital ad spend is sitting at a mere 15 per cent compared to similar sized markets such as Australia which is at 43.3%.

Few brands have made the bold jump to go digital. Perhaps it’s because media buyers and planners don’t have the knowledge-driven confidence to demonstrate effectiveness.  Perhaps it’s because senior leadership teams are wary of what’s unproven and new. What we need is to teach an approach from the ground up, where digital is absorbed seamlessly into normal practice so that it is part of every strategy and execution, just like how the Internet and smart phones are now part of our daily lives.

The next big wave

Today, we’re seeing spikes in key digital trends - programmatic, SEO and m-commerce are just a few. By keeping up with just a few trends and key topics isn’t going to join up the overall brand direction and strategy. Continuing education in digital so that teams are able to understand the entire ecosystem, apply their learning to drive the industry forward and stay passionate and curious about the next big thing is the type of behaviour we need to be encouraging.

Data analytics may be an essential and important skill, but training entire teams to think analytically from several different functions will ultimately be what puts Singapore ahead across many industries and sectors.

While smart investment in technology has brought the country far, the next big investment needs to come from companies, in its people, to drive change...

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Topics: Digital trends, Business, Asia Pacific, digitale Transformation