Congratulating Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) on the launch of SAPPHIRE, an initiative to help SMEs in Singapore gear up for the future, Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower said, “SAPPHIRE is an important initiative and a timely response from SNEF, following the recently released report on the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) outlining strategies for Singapore to stay ahead in a fast changing and challenging global climate. In particular, it called on businesses to scale up, innovate and transform.”
The (SNEF) is a trade union of employers, with a mission to advance tripartism and enhance labour market flexibility, such as to enable employers to implement responsible employment practices.
Citing the growth culture at Silicon Valley as an example, wherein companies can only grow if they cross the two gates successfully, Mr Lim added, “The first is the “technology” gate. Technology is neutral. It can create and grow businesses. It can also destroy and kill businesses. So the challenge is to turn technology into our advantage, instead of allowing our competitors to turn technology into our disadvantage.”
He further said, “The second is the market gate. Since the globalisation of markets is also neutral, it can create growth for those who are able to compete for new markets with new products and services. However, it can result in stronger competition for those who are slow to respond.”
This is why companies in Silicon Valley, big or small, mature or new start up, are running fast all the time to try to cross the two gates – technology and market – ahead of the competition. In doing so, the companies recognise that customers do not buy technology. What they want are solutions: products and services that can meet their needs.
Hence, innovation holds the key for companies to cross both the gates – which means using technology to come up with useful products and services and deliver them to the customers in the borderless markets.
Highlighting on the mindset of “pervasive innovation” being practiced by companies in the Silicon Valley, Lim believes the challenge of crossing these two gates to fostering innovation in Singapore, with rapid advancements in technology and globalisation of markets could only be possible, when more companies across the globe embrace “pervasive innovation” as a mindset.
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This is more so applicable in the case of Singapore. Lim warned, “Singapore being an export-oriented economy faces greater risk of losing its competitive advantage if we allow our competition to cross the two gates ahead of us. Internally, with a workforce that is growing slower, we face a greater risk of running out of growth capacity, if we are not able to break our manpower bottleneck with pervasive innovation.”
He also highlighted on the need to adopt Pervasive Innovation and said, “Even though innovation and transformation may not be an entirely new concept for us, what is new is that this time round, we need to strive for not just innovation among the pioneers and early adopters, but also “Pervasive” innovation across all sectors (from hi-tech to hi-touch), and across all enterprises (large, medium and small).”
Having learnt from Dr Robert Yap, President, SNEF, on the reason behind coining the name SAPPHIRE, Lim said, “SNEF was inspired by how blue sapphires are formed. Deep within the earth, under intense pressure and heat, ordinary rocks are transformed into precious stones.
“As we gear up for the future, many of our SMEs are feeling the heat and pressure too. Therefore, we encourage them to join SAPPHIRE to transform today, become lean and growing enterprises in an innovation-driven economy of tomorrow.”
Government agencies will provide full support to SAPPHIRE’s focus on lean operations and innovation, aligned with the strategies of CFE. Since October 2015, the tripartite partners have worked together under the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (or LEDS) to support more than 2,000 companies to become more manpower-lean, competitive and sustainable. The Government intends to reach out to many more SMEs through SAPPHIRE.
Also read: Singapore on the cusp of Innovation and IT-led Business Transformation
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