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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Singapore
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Effendy Ibrahim

Digital transformation drives Singapore businesses in 2017

BY EFFENDY IBRAHIM

We are well and truly into the year 2017 and many of my peers have been asked similar questions when chatting at forums and industry conferences: what will drive the technology sector in 2017?

2017 will be a year driven by digital transformation. No doubt, this is an overused buzzword, but digital transformation is not a trend; it’s an essential component of modern business strategy to deliver of the needs of today’s highly connected world. Now that essentially any product can be linked to the Internet, and the vast majority of the world is already constantly connected via a pocket-sized device, consumers, employees and partners expect that almost every experience will have a digital component. Organizations in Singapore have also started undergoing digital transformations to remain viable and competitive.

While digital transformation is a long-term strategy that will span years, we have already started feeling its repercussions which will continue this year. They include:

90% of all new products in ALL industries will be digital or will have a substantial digital component

Smartphones are just the tip of the iceberg. Every new product, from coffee makers to golf clubs, will have some sort of digital component. In fact, many of these products already do. Some clubs can now track a player’s golf swing and recommend ways to improve shot performance, while some coffee makers come with apps that enable one to adjust brewing parameters and start the brewing process from the comfort of one’s bed. Local businesses have also caught on to this shift. In just the first five months of 2015, Spring Singapore, the government agency focusing on helping local enterprises grow, supported 120 food service companies to adopt digital service solutions. Since then, the number has grown and can be expected to continue rising.

Software-defined and cloud-based services will increase in value

The increased digital connectivity in products and services will also be fueled by the internet of things (IoT). IoT enables connectivity in nearly every product category such as self-driving cars or digital health. While it adds much convenience and efficiency, IoT causes strain on the Internet infrastructure. Cloud computing will play a major part in alleviating this strain as IoT continues to grow and expand. For organizations relying on cloud computing, we can expect them to shift from enterprise IT to a service provider model. IT increasingly wants utility and consumption billing, even for traditional infrastructure items like storage. New IT projects will begin in the cloud, and while traditional infrastructure will migrate more slowly, it will nevertheless inevitably trend toward the Cloud. Just last August, UOB launched BizSmart in Singapore, an integration of five cloud-based digital apps that helps SMEs cut costs by up to 60%. For instance, Xero provides direct account feeds to business owners to view operating account transactions, while HReasily ensures requirements by Ministry of Manpower on itemized pay slips are met.

Protecting against cyber-security attacks and ensuring the availability of cloud services will become the top two priorities on everybody’s agenda

And by everybody, I mean everybody. Not just the CIO, but also the CEO, heads of government, small business owners—everyone—knows that operations now depend on data center and cloud services availability. Cyberattacks or ordinary downtimes aren't just inconvenient; they can bring an organization or even a whole nation to its knees. Singapore has also fallen victim to a number of cyber-attacks, which costs her up to an estimated S$1.25 billion annually. To combat the rise of cybercrime, the Singapore government has started introducing a slew of initiatives, such as the Singapore Cybersecurity Strategy launched last October, which sets out Singapore’s vision, goals and priorities for cybersecurity. It induces coordinated action and facilitates international partnerships to help build a safe and reliable cyber environment in Singapore.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Effendy Ibrahim

Effendy Ibrahim

Effendy Ibrahim is Veeam Software vice president for Asia & Japan, responsible for P&L, revenue targets, regional growth, as well as all marketing programs and activities across both customers and channel partners, from small businesses to enterprises.

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