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Advancing Singapore’s Digital Economy in the Age of AI

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In his speech delivered at the Committee of Supply Debate, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, Tan Kiat How, outlined Singapore’s progress in digitalising the economy and unveiled plans for further advancement in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). With the digital economy accounting for a significant portion of Singapore’s GDP, Minister Tan underscored the importance of empowering enterprises and workers to leverage AI and digital solutions to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

The digital transformation of Singapore’s economy has seen significant growth, with the digital economy contributing $106 billion or 17% of GDP in 2022, up from $58 billion or 13% in 2017. This growth reflects the increasing adoption of digital solutions by enterprises, including SMEs. Minister Tan revealed that 95% of SMEs had embraced digital solutions in 2023, compared to 74% in 2018. Even traditional sectors such as hawkers have embraced digital payments, with 60% accepting SGQR digital payments as of November 2023.

Central to Singapore’s digitalisation efforts is the Digital Enterprise Blueprint (DEB), aimed at uplifting enterprises and workers in the age of AI. Minister Tan outlined three key thrusts of the DEB: empowering enterprises to be smarter through AI-powered solutions, supporting scaling faster through integrated digital solutions, and enhancing cybersecurity resilience to ensure businesses are safer in the digital landscape.

Under the DEB, initiatives like SMEs Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital have played a crucial role in driving digital adoption among SMEs and traditional businesses. Through these programmes, enterprises gain access to pre-approved digital solutions tailored to their needs, with around 20% of these solutions already incorporating AI capabilities. Additionally, Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) provide sector-specific roadmaps for enterprises, with plans to incorporate AI-enabled solutions to meet evolving industry needs.

To support SMEs further, initiatives like the CTO-as-a-Service platform and Advanced Digital Solutions scheme offer tailored digital consultancy services and access to cutting-edge AI solutions. For larger enterprises, the Generative AI X Digital Leaders initiative provides opportunities to develop and deploy custom AI solutions, fostering innovation and competitiveness.

Recognising the importance of scalable digital solutions, Minister Tan highlighted the need for interoperability and scalability, particularly for growing enterprises. Initiatives like the Connected Business Suite for food services SMEs demonstrate the value of integrated solutions in streamlining operations and driving growth.

Addressing cybersecurity concerns, Minister Tan outlined a three-tier approach focused on improving cyber hygiene, enhancing the security of digital systems, and developing industry-specific guidelines. Initiatives like the Chief Information Security Officer-as-a-Service (CISOaaS) scheme and cybersecurity health check tool aim to support SMEs in bolstering their cybersecurity posture.

Beyond digital transformation, Minister Tan stressed the importance of developing tech capabilities within the workforce. Initiatives like the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative and Skills-Based Hiring Movement aim to equip workers with the skills needed to thrive in the digital age. By fostering a culture of lifelong learning and skills-based hiring, Singapore aims to ensure a steady pipeline of tech talent to meet evolving industry demands.

Minister Tan emphasised the importance of collaboration with industry partners and continuous consultation to refine and update the Digital Enterprise Blueprint. By fostering a collaborative ecosystem and remaining agile in response to technological advancements, Singapore aims to stay at the forefront of digital innovation and economic growth.

Minister Tan reiterated Singapore’s commitment to advancing its digital economy and empowering enterprises and workers in the age of AI. By leveraging technological enablers like AI and digital solutions, Singapore aims to create opportunities for growth and innovation, positioning itself as a leading digital hub in the region. Minister Tan urged all stakeholders to join in this exciting journey of digital transformation, reaffirming the government’s role as a steadfast partner for enterprises and workers alike.


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