Key sectors in economy cannot escape technological disruption

June 2, 201610:11 am375 views
Key sectors in economy cannot escape technological disruption
Reuters file photo

SINGAPORE — Nearly every key sector in the Republic’s economy is likely to face technological disruption in the next few years, the strategy consulting arm of professional services firm Deloitte has found.

Among those likely to experience significant disruption in the next two to three years are the retail trade, infocomm, financial and insurance, admin and support, and accommodation and food sectors, Monitor Deloitte said on Wednesday (June 1).

In the longer term, or over the next four years, sectors such as manufacturing, health and social services, and transportation and storage are likely to be disrupted.

Separately, a Monitor Deloitte survey conducted last month on disruptive digital technologies found that nearly five in 10 firms (46 per cent) considered their organisations a “late adopter or laggard” in embracing such technologies.

This is despite half of the 131 respondents to the survey, which is still in its initial stages, considering disruptive digital technologies and their underlying business models “highly important or extremely critical” to their organisations.

These findings were revealed on Wednesday at a discussion organised by a Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) group examining the impact of disruptive technologies on the Republic’s economy.

It brought together 50 individuals from 12 sectors, including retail and electronics, to devise strategies – be they legislative, regulatory or investment-related – that would help the economy and businesses deal with disruptive technologies.

These strategies will inform the responses the group proposes to the CFE, whose task is to develop economic strategies to position Singapore well for the future. The CFE’s report is due by the year’s end.

Speaking to reporters, Minister of State (Communications and Information, and Education) Janil Puthucheary, who co-leads the group, said the adoption of disruptive technologies must remain primarily “market-driven”.

But the Government can play a role on three key fronts. It must ensure a “deep pool of talent” by investing in education and developing and re-developing people. Legislation and regulation must also catch up with business processes or be “a little bit ahead to make things possible (and) enable (businesses)”.

The Government could also be an “early adopter” of some of such technologies, giving local businesses an opportunity to test some processes and “establish a track record”.

While it was still “a little bit early” to comment on specific changes, Dr Janil outlined key areas that must be considered, saying: “Fintech (financial technology) is at the centre of many of these processes … Another big piece is data, data regulation, and IP (intellectual property) protection.”

Mr Lim Chee Kean, chief executive of cloud-based solutions firm Ascent Solutions, said the company realised in 2013 that its efforts at reaching potential clients were inadequate, and it had to tap on disruptive technologies.

It beefed up its digital strategies, transforming its search-engine optimisation requirements and moving into other areas, such as display advertising on YouTube.

This, Mr Lim said, has led to an exponential increase in the number of impressions it garners online.

It helped the firm reach overseas markets and understand “what the global market requires”, he added.


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