Singapore

Digital transformation key for Singapore to stay ahead: Chan Chun Sing

Time has come to build a new economy with digital transformation, he says

Singapore must act now to transform its economy, or risk losing its hub status and seeing its businesses' and workers' competitive edge erode, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.

Companies here should not be preparing to return to business as usual, he said. Instead, digital transformation is the key to helping the country thrive and transcend "the tyranny of geography", he said, referring to Singapore's small size.

Now is the time to re-engineer processes, build a new economy, and transform to create the right opportunities for businesses and people, said Mr Chan, who was speaking at the opening of the Future Economy Conference and Exhibition.

"Digital transformation will truly unlock for us the world as our hinterland and market.

"But that is if we make the right moves now, harness the power of digital to grow our businesses, drive our economic recovery, redefine our competitiveness and relevance to the world."

More than 1,000 business leaders registered for the two-day conference, which is being held online. It is focused on how businesses can rebuild in the new normal using digital tools such as data analytics.

The 19 speakers include representatives from United Overseas Bank, online payments giant PayPal and professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who shared their experiences going digital.

At the virtual meeting, it was also announced that the Singapore Business Federation and Infocomm Media Development Authority have renewed an agreement to continue driving digital transformation across the business community and to position firms to seize opportunities over the next three years.

In his speech, Mr Chan noted that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitalisation.

Going digital comes with challenges, but these should not prevent the Government, businesses or individuals from working towards change, he added.

"Be it digitalisation or globalisation, they require us as individuals and businesses to adjust and adapt. To not do so, to resist change, inevitably means that we will be left further behind.

"The faster we adapt, the faster we recover. There is no place for treading water and waiting for normalcy to return. Others will overtake us, and the opportunities will pass us by."

The Government is providing help for businesses through schemes such as the SMEs Go Digital Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises. It has also introduced financial incentives such as the Digital Resilience Bonus for firms that use digital solutions.

At the same time, 1,000 digital ambassadors have been deployed to help the less tech-savvy segments of society keep up.

Placements, traineeships and skills upgrading under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package and other reskilling programmes like the Tech Skills Accelerator have also been ramped up, Mr Chan said.

BUSINESS & FINANCE