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Infocomm Media Development Authority Singapore releases Logistics Industry Digital Plan for SMEs

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has released the Logistics Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for SMEs, to help SMEs level up as well as push ecosystem-wide innovations for the sector, driving competitive advantage in a Digital Economy. The creation of IDPs under the SMEs Go Digital Programme was announced in this year’s budget by Finance Minister, Mr. Heng Swee Kiat. This is the first one of the IDPs.

In 2015, the Transportation and Storage sector, which includes logistics, contributed 7.4% to Singapore’s GDP and employed over 8% of the total workforce. The Logistics Industry Transformation Map (ITM), revealed in November 2016, identified strategies to catalyse enterprise level efforts to transform and grow the industry through productivity and innovation. It also focuses on developing strong local talent and enterprises.

The Logistics IDP for SMEs was developed by IMDA with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and SPRING Singapore.

It is targeted at local SME logistics companies operating in the areas of freight forwarding, warehousing and storage and/or land transportation in Singapore. It aims to provide them a guide to digital solutions that are specific to enhancing logistics operations and businesses.

It will provide step-by-step advice to help SMEs assess their digital readiness and identify digitalisation opportunities relevant for their businesses, as well as identify skill gaps in their workforce to support their digitalisation.

The Logistics IDP shall also guide SME logistics companies towards participating in impactful national innovation initiatives such as In-Mall Distribution, Federated Lockers, the HIVE (Highly Interconnected and Vibrant E-trade) portal and the National Trade Platform (NTP).

The Logistics IDP is a living document to be updated over time as digitalisation of the industry progresses and new technologies are introduced and made relevant for the sector.

The Logistics IDP for SMEs comprises four components:  An industry digital guide, including a self-assessment checklist; a list of pre-approved digital solutions and various assistance channels; projects co-created by IMDA and industry leaders to uplift whole sector; and a skills framework.

An industry digital guide, including a self-assessment checklist

The industry digital guide provides a reference on solutions relevant for SME logistics companies across 3 stages:

The first stage is ‘Getting Digital Economy Ready’. Ready-to-go digital solutions are identified to enable SME logistics companies to streamline business processes, enable seamless data flow and improve efficiency.

Growing in the Digital Economy’ is the second stage. Here, more advanced digital solutions will enable SME logistics companies to digitally connect with their business partners within the ecosystem or in the same value chain, facilitating tighter business collaborations and more comprehensive service offerings with service partners through resource and demand aggregation.

The final stage is ‘Leaping Ahead’. Digital solutions will help SMEs to maximise resource-value through advanced automation technologies. This includes the harnessing of aggregated data drawn from various systems to make informed business decisions involving themselves and their business partners in the ecosystem.

A Self-Assessment Checklist will be made available online where SME logistics companies 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.

For a more comprehensive review of their business, the companies can approach SME Centre business advisors for free business diagnosis and advice on relevant digital solutions. SME Centre business advisors will also refer SMEs that require specialist advice on more advanced digital solutions, such as data analytics and cybersecurity, to the SME Digital Tech Hub.

Pre-approved digital solutions

SMEs requiring productivity tools such as RFID-enabled solutions will continue to receive support through access to pre-approved digital technology solutions. The SMEs go Digital programme, which was rolled out in April 2017, helps SMEs in the adoption and use of digital technology. 

SMEs can visit the Tech Depot for more information on these solutions. The Tech Depot is a one-stop, centralised platform under the SME Portal aimed at improving SMEs’ access to technology and digital solutions.

Sector-wide projects co-created by IMDA and industry leaders

IMDA will also identify projects that aim to uplift the whole sector and help SMEs to grow in that sector. IMDA will work with large companies or industry leaders to co-create the solutions in such projects in the best interest of SMEs and at the same time align with national initiatives such as the National Trade Platform.

One of the first projects is the tripartite partnership between IMDA and cloud solutions provider, VCargo Cloud, together with 3 major players in the logistics sector, namely Bollore Logistics (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., Dimerco Express Singapore Pte. Ltd., and L.C.H. Lockton Pte. Ltd. Through MOIs, these major logistics players will lead their SME clients through the digitalisation process using VCargo Cloud’s eCargo Consolidation Platform. This is supposed to help SME freight forwarders or shippers to lower freight rates and develop internal capabilities and efficiencies.

At the same time, large freight forwarders or insurance providers can enjoy an additional source of revenue by serving SME freight forwarders or shippers. As a result, data is available for contribution to the National Trade Platform.  

To further efforts to create sector-wide innovations, an MOI has been signed between IMDA, SMU (Singapore Management University), Fujitsu Limited and A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) to develop a solution to optimise deliveries into malls, Offsite consolidation centres and any participating industrial facilities or drop-off points. This research project will address the large-scale computational requirements and optimisation for the growing number of trucks and delivery trips across Singapore.

This will also form a basis to extend the adoption of artificial Intelligence (AI), to be incorporated into this solution for sector wide optimisation in a steady state.

A skills framework

The Skills Framework for Logistics, which was launched on 22 September 2017, identifies a spectrum of skillsets, career pathways and job roles to cater to the new digital workforce. With the identification of the new skills sets, companies can also tap on Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Adapt and Grow initiatives such as the Professional Conversion Programmes. Concurrently, the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme will support the Logistics IDP by offering various programmes to develop ICT manpower needs to help businesses in their digitalisation journey.

Featured image: Zairon/ CC BY-SA 4.0 

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