IMDA releases transformation plan for infocomm media sector

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Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has released its Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the infocomm media (ICM) sector that outlines the strategies to prepare Singapore for the digital economy.

At the launch of the ITM, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said the ITM aims to grow the ICM industry’s value-add by around 6% annually (almost twice as fast as the overall economy). It is also expected to employ more than 210,000 workers (compared to approximately 194,000 workers in 2016), and create more than 13,000 new PMET (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) jobs by 2020.

The ITM outlines a three-pronged strategy to prepare Singapore for the digital economy, starting with investment and development in four frontier technologies – namely, artificial intelligence/data analytics, cybersecurity, immersive media and IoT.

Of the four, the IMDA emphasized the importance of AI as a key transformation technology for the ICM sector.

AI Singapore was set up in May 2017 with a S$150 million fund to catalyze, synergize and boost Singapore’s AI capabilities. IMDA will work with AI Singapore to develop the AI ecosystem and make AI an enabler for growth and jobs.

Planned initiatives to help companies adopt AI solutions include an AI Business Partnership Program to match business requirements with appropriate solutions, an apprenticeship program to help grow a pipeline of locally-grown, globally-known AI-ready professionals, and open AI assets, starting with a National Speech Corpus.

IMDA will also leverage the SMEs Go Digital program to widen availability of AI solutions.

Next-gen skillsets

The second prong of the ITM involves strengthening the core of the ICM sector and preparing the next generation of ICM professionals and companies for future job roles and business opportunities.

The availability of manpower with the appropriate skillsets is key to ensure Singapore’s growth in the digital economy. IMDA will partner industry on programs to strengthen the ICM core and prepare Singaporeans for a variety of ICM job roles in other sectors, here and around the world.

In AI for instance, the AI apprenticeship program aims to grow the talent pipeline by training 200 professionals over the next three years. This will be achieved via the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), a SkillsFuture initiative. IMDA will adopt a similar approach to grow our manpower core in the other identified new growth areas.

IMDA is also collaborating with the industry and community to grow new digital champions. On Friday, IMDA inked partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and Samsung under the Strategic Partners Program (SPP), which aims to help local tech companies scale up and build digital capabilities through joint development of innovative solutions and products for global problem statements.

To further develop and deepen Singapore’s ecosystem of tech companies, IMDA will also expand the Accreditation@IMDA program, which currently helps to accelerate the growth of promising tech start-ups. Accreditation@IMDA will be re-branded to Accreditation@SG Digital (Accreditation@SGD), to underscore its value as a national programme. Leveraging on Singapore’s branding allows the accredited companies to be better recognised overseas and help them export their capabilities and products. Accreditation@SGD’s scope will also be expanded to go beyond tech start-ups and young SMEs to include the more mature SMEs, and a selective pool of international deep technology companies to be anchored in Singapore.

Cross-sector cooperation

The third thrust of the ITM plan is to guide companies and workforces from the other sectors in adopting digital technology to improve productivity and efficiency.

IMDA said it will work with the various sector lead agencies to develop industry digital plans (IDPs) for SMEs. The IDPs aim to guide these companies in technology adoption by helping them to understand the benefits of adopting relevant digital technologies, and by providing guidance to ICM vendors to meet the companies’ specific digital technology needs.

Through the IDP, SMEs can:

  • Assess and identify their digital readiness and the digitalisation opportunities based on a broad understanding of their business operations, current level of digitalisation, and business expansion plans
  • Adopt pre-approved digital solutions and seek advice on digitalisation needs relevant to their sector
  • Participate in sector projects co-created by IMDA and industry leaders that aim to uplift the whole sector, enabling SMEs to exploit growth opportunities
  • Understand the training options available for their employees to build up a digital ready workforce.

The Retail IDP, announced Friday, will provide step-by-step advice to SME retailers in their digitalisation journey. Taking reference from the Retail ITM, IMDA and SPRING will also work together on new initiatives to catalyze the transformation in the retail industry. The agencies will pull together retailers and other industry stakeholders such as wholesalers, logistics companies and e-commerce marketplaces, to create omni-channel solutions to benefit traditional retailers. This will grant retailers the opportunity to both sell from their physical shops and be competitive online with the ability to transact and fulfil deliveries efficiently.

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