Singapore on the cusp of Innovation and IT-led Business Transformation

Fostering a culture of innovation and supporting entrepreneurship development in Singapore, a recent event titled, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Business Networking Forum was organised by Informatics Education in association with GloApp Human Capital earlier this month.

This one-of-a-kind business networking forum held at the National Library Building saw gathering of respected professionals, industry experts and senior business leaders deliberating on the IT revolution setting the pace of rapid change, the local economic climate and need for companies in Singapore to realign their business objectives with IT.

Technology Transforming Today’s Business

IT governs the way businesses work across geographies and the rules that govern IT are responsible for the dramatic shifts experienced by organisations today.

While at one end of the spectrum, there are challenges such as volatile economy, talent shortage and dearth of technically skilled manpower, at the other end, “There is this huge communication gap between business and IT, which needs to be bridged. IT is now playing the role of business strategist,” says Dr Charles Ling, Chief Operating officer, Informatics Executive Education – Singapore at the opening address of the forum.

Dr Ling suggested three key pillars for organisations to look at, when considering transformation and digitising business. They are:

  1. Technology-Centred Business Innovation to include cloud, social media, analytics and mobility. Agile businesses are required to look beyond technology.
  2. With more CIOs making it to the boardrooms now, there is a need for strategic professional development, wherein the role of IT as a collaborator is no longer just a technical workforce. They need to be able to manage the way business works in a dynamic competitive environment.
  3. Capability gaps and succession planning are some key areas for organisations of tomorrow to focus on.

Technology with business intelligence will be heralding the era of change for businesses to evolve, compete, stand and stay.

Leveraging Technology for Better User Experience

The changing times call for organisations “to design a blueprint on how to leverage technologies for better user experience. There needs to blend technology, not just to retain talent but also embrace the multigenerational workforce,” said Lim Wei Wah, Director, Asia IT Site Operations, User Experience Services, Microsoft IT Singapore during the panel discussion.

The panel discussion was on ‘Empowering Local Businesses to Contribute Innovative Ideas and Solutions towards a Smart Nation.’

During an interesting Q&A, Shiva Venkatraman, Former Chief Technologist & Strategist, Hewlett-Packard, Singapore suggested businesses in the country to, “Find friendly customers who are willing to co-innovate. The future revenue stream might always look small. However, it will be serving the customer segment that is actually adjacent to your customer segment.”

Redefining competency, Dr Ling said, “Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Attributes a person must demonstrate to be effective in performing a given job or role.” There is a need for developing T-shape mindset and ambidexterity to develop talent that is technology savvy, possess business acumen and digital leadership.

Cost Optimisation with Lean Management

“What is Lean? Lean is about delivering the customer what he wants, when he wants it,” said Gurbachan Singh, Principal Practice Leader, Lean Management Specialist, GloApp Human Capital – Singapore during his session focusing on the need for organisations to realise the importance of lean management and optimise savings.

Singh said, “Lean Management is not about tools but behaviours and practices. Lean Management has to come from the top. Aligning your training activity to meet your business objectives is lean. Lean is not about cost cutting. Lean does not just talk about hard savings but also soft savings.”

“Lean companies make special efforts to know the customer and the customer perception as well. Lean companies are top down, bottom up and cross-functional, wherein people working across departments collaborate.”

Change is Here, Change is Now

Stepping up efforts to embrace change in business workings empowered by technology and automation, the business leaders of tomorrow are required to be tech-savvy, agile and showcase digital leadership.

Dr Ling rightly concludes, “In a nutshell, organisations should be prepared to embrace some paradigm shifts. To begin with, these include the need to put in place a perfect blend of IT and business analysis, change in mindset of the organisation to manage beyond line responsibilities and maximise business value delivered via technology. IT has transformed itself from cost management to what we call ‘a profit centre for business transformation and success in the future.”

Businesses empowered by technology would enable the following transformations to be witnessed in the times to come, wherein:

  • The role of a CIO (Chief Information Officer) will now become the Chief Innovation Officer
  • CTO (Chief Technology Officer) would become the Chief Transformation Officer
  • Technology Centricity will transform to become Technology Empowering Business Strategies
  • Information Management to be ‘Information Intelligence’
  • And, IT Systems Management to become a platform to Enable Value Creation.

To stay competitive in the current economy, companies are required to challenge the status quo, build teamwork, culture of respect and be open about allowing room for mistakes. This would help innovation to breed and creativity to grow. Being in sync with change, would help Singapore get closer to meet its Smart Nation goals.