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Singapore’s Prime Minister: Businesses need to adapt to disruption

Nurdianah Md Nur | Aug. 22, 2016
The republic will also look at building new capabilities, promoting entrepreneurship, and developing skills of the workforce, to help companies thrive amidst disruption, said the Prime Minister in his National Day Rally Speech.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Screenshot of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presenting his National Day Rally 2016 speech

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) urged enterprises in Singapore to "embrace change and adjust to [disruption]" in his National Day Rally speech yesterday (21 August 2016).

"Among all the economic issues we are dealing with, the defining challenge which we face in this era is disruption. Old models aren't working, new models are coming in thick and fast ... because of technology and globalisation. And disruption will happen over and over again, relentlessly. We can respond to disruptive change in two ways: close ourselves off, and try to stop people from using the new technology; or embrace change, and let the disruption happen, and adjust to it," said PM Lee.

He went on to talk about how the taxi industry is being disrupted by private car hire services Uber and Grab, as well as the need for offline retailers to respond to the rise of e-commerce.

"It's not just doom and gloom [when it comes to disruption] because when you disrupt, you also create new jobs. Even though people order goods online, those items still need to [be delivered to customers] so the delivery services will gain business. And there'll be new opportunities for data analytics [which can be used to] figure out who's buying what, and how to get the item to the [right customer]," said PM Lee.

To help companies in Singapore use new technologies and invest in skills, the Economic Development Board (EDB), SPRING Singapore, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) will work with industries and with the trade associations and chambers to develop specific programmes.

Singapore also needs an overall strategy to spot the upcoming changes, respond to disruptions, keep companies resilient, and prepare Singaporeans for new job demands. The Community of Future Economy (CFE), chaired by Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister S Iswaran, is looking into this by focusing on three key areas: building new capabilities, promoting entrepreneurship, and developing skills of the workforce.

Building new capabilities

As Singapore is well-connected and its people are IT savvy, the digital economy is a promising area for the republic, said PM Lee. "There are opportunities in digital - it's virtual, doesn't require large areas of land, saves labour and we can do business with anyone from everywhere."

One company that is capitalising on digital is local logistics company Ascent Solutions, which developed iSPOT with SPRING's help. iSPOT is a tamper-proof lock for shipping containers that comes with a GPS tracker, to overcome the challenges of theft and delays in custom clearance.


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