CXO Breakfast Talk – In Conversation with Mr. S Iswaran,

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry)

The ICT industry offers tremendous growth opportunities, to be specific double the growth rate of the Singapore economy, creating more jobs and bringing in talent into the sector.  This message was delivered by Mr. S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) at SiTF’s CXO breakfast talk event held on 15 November 2017.

Attended by over 80 industry leaders and senior managers from the ICM industry, Mr. Iswaran painted an optimistic picture about the burgeoning opportunities in the tech & digital space driven by technologies like IoT and AI supported by data analytics gaining momentum.  The Minister pointed out that the rapid urbanisation in Asia and the region demands for a specific type of solutions like sensors to understand the characterization of the growing middle-class consumers and to serve their needs that would be relevant for decades to come.  

Data is the focus

“Data has become the new resource of the future economy,” said the Minister while acknowledging the challenges of harnessing, organizing and analyzing the data in a coherent and real-time way to support the economic and business objectives.   He also cautioned about the pitfalls of jealously guarding its data by the private sector, “Data is one of increasing returns to scale, the more you aggregate the greater the potential with the insights you can derive.”  The Minister called for the industry to see the value of being part of the larger aggregate and derive the broader trend of analysis, ultimately translated into specific actions companies can take.

Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)

Moving on to the topic of the ITMs, the Minister touched on 3 elements that impacted every sector in this arena:

  1. Internationalisation – less than 30% of the revenue is from overseas activities for the ICT sector.  In other words, this sector is more domestically oriented and need to leverage the opportunities in the region and beyond for more overseas business.  The government can assist by helping companies go international using government procurement as one of the platforms for businesses to acquire the credentials and track record needed when they go overseas.  

  2. Talent – a global shortage which the government is addressing through multiple fronts. One route is via the universities to train more students but this needs a long lead time.  Another initiative which has seen success is the Tech Skills Accelerator programme which brings in people already in the workforce to be retrained with new skills.

  3. Collaboration with industry associations like SiTF – with the government evolving, the different trade associations and chambers can build on the substantive relationship offering tremendous potential to work together given the multiplicity of opportunities as well as challenges.

Enterprise Singapore

On the subject of internationlisation, the Minister explained the rational for the formation of Enterprise Singapore.  IE Singapore is charted to take our businesses go international while SPRING assists domestic enterprises.  This concept had worked well in the past, but to address new challenges, these two entities must come together to tap on more possibilities.  

“The objective is clear – we want to grow strong enterprises who are competitive regionally if not globally that has both the capability dimension and the market access dimension and we will bring the two together,” said Mr. Iswaran.

We thank our sponsors Cloudera, Huawei, and SP Telecom for their generous support; IE Singapore and SPRING for being our supporting partners.  

For sponsorship opportunities for the next CXO Breakfast Talk, please contact Jacquie Khoo at 6325 9713 or