Singapore best in Asia at adapting to new technology
Study shows Singapore as only Asian country able to break western dominance
Singapore is tops in Asia for its ability to transform itself in the face of digital disruptions, said a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Well-known "disruptions" include car-sharing app Uber affecting the taxi industry and streaming site Netflix changing traditional TV.
When Asian countries were compared with Australia, the UK and the US, Singapore was seen as the only one that could break western dominance, ranking just below the US.
The report also introduced the Asian Digital Transformation Index which measures infocomm technology (ICT) infrastructure, human capital and industry connectivity in 11 Asian economies.
There are three reasons why Singapore ranks highly.
Singapore scored strongly in digital infrastructure and industry connectivity, particularly in ICT expenditure, percentage of population covered by 4G networks, ICT access and usage, smartphone penetration rate and ICT laws.
Government support also played a role - the Smart Nation initiatives and the introduction of the first driverless taxis, operated by nuTonomy, were highlighted in the report.
The chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, noted that Singapore, being a small nation, has an advantage as a test bed for new technology.
He said: "The challenge is for citizens to leverage on the quality infrastructure and for the infrastructure to translate into quality jobs and a better quality of life."
Our bank must move quicker, be more ambitious and act more as a technology company.
- Mr Neal Cross, chief innovation officer at DBS
Several industries are being disrupted by nimble and digitally-savvy new competitors. Instead of competing fiercely with them, some companies have decided on cooperation.
Local bank DBS, which chose to work directly with fintech companies traditionally seen as a threat to their business, was a case study.
"Our bank must move quicker, be more ambitious and act more as a technology company," said Mr Neal Cross, chief innovation officer (CIO) at DBS.
To achieve this, his unit operates as an innovation group, which means it supports projects rather than owning or delivering them.
To change the cultural mindset across the organisation, Mr Cross has created several structured programmes. For example, bank executives were challenged during a hackathon to create a fintech company in three days.
His team also pairs executives from DBS with those at fintech companies and gives them a challenge to work out together, after which they pitch their solution or idea to the CEO.
Mr Cross was named the world's most disruptive CIO in a contest in August.
Singapore ranks fourth in terms of human capital - below South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
Human capital is measured by the quality of maths and science education, the extent of tertiary enrolment and citizen e-participation, credit card ownership and Internet usage.
The study also noted that Singapore is establishing programmes to enhance computer science education in schools and getting the elderly online.
Mr Zaqy said Singapore would face more challenges with its diversity than countries with homogenous populations, especially in getting the elderly on board.
He added that access to more affordable data plans would also help the lower income group.