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Singapore supports SMEs’ digital transformation

With its mission to further improve the digitalisation of various business sectors, Minister for Communications, and Information S Iswaran noted that Singapore’s digital future is underpinned by several things including competitive enterprises that leverage digital technologies to innovate and grow. He also highlighted that because of the pandemic, many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have pivoted towards hybrid online-offline models to engage and transact with consumers.

For the Government to further adapt, one of the new initiatives announced was a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO)-as-a-Service scheme that will include a one-stop, self-help tool for small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs) to assess their digital needs and gaps. SMEs can then access customised recommendations on digital solutions based on the company profile, and information on Government support, adding that the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) would work with the relevant agencies on the initiative as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation drive. SMEs that need more in-depth advice can tap on a shared pool of CTO- equivalents or digital consultants with expertise in areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

Minister also noted that these digital consultants will be managed by IT consultancy firms appointed by IMDA and will be selected based on their digital skills and experience in relevant industries. Firms will receive both digital consultancy and project management services to identify needs and solutions, as well as manage project implementation. These resources will be accessible to all registered SMEs, including home-based businesses which are sole proprietorships. The service will come in the form of a web application for the service, accessible via computers or mobile devices. said, Minister.

He also announced a new Digital Leaders Programme, which will equip firms with the capabilities and talent to accelerate their digital transformation journey. The programme will provide up to 70% support on qualifying costs to help companies build a core digital team to develop and execute their digitalisation strategy. It will also connect companies with tech partners to develop new digital products and services, and better position them to compete internationally.

The minister said the programme will initially support up to 80 companies, beginning with those more advanced in their digital journeys, with management teams committed to driving digital transformation for sustained growth. It will be managed by IMDA and Enterprise Singapore as well as other economic agencies. Firms in the programme will participate in a two-year pilot, receiving funding support to help build an in-house core digital team, and develop a proof of concepts for new digital products and services, adding that the programme will be launched this year.

The IMDA is also introducing the Better Data-Driven Business (BDDB) programme, which will provide firms with free tools and guidance to help safeguard their customers’ data while more effectively using data to remain competitive. The programme will also provide a free business intelligence tool that can convert raw data into visual dashboards that can aid business outcomes such as better sales and operational efficiencies. It will also enable more advanced data uses, such as for R&D and innovation, through curated resources such as case studies and videos.

Meanwhile, another S$50 million will be invested in IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform – a crowd-sourcing platform that matches business challenges to technology solution providers – to enhance its capabilities, the Ministry said. This will help more enterprises access innovative solutions and accelerate the deployment of digital innovation at scale. IMDA will also co-fund the prototyping of matched challenges to help innovative tech companies expand their market base.

In support of these efforts, it has been reported that more than S$500 million of the Fortitude Budget will be allocated to support the digital transformation of businesses, including support for e-payments, adopting digital solutions and deepening digital capabilities, announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.


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