Opportunities Abound in ICT
In today’s digital era, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are disrupting industries worldwide and businesses are undergoing a digital transformation to prepare
themselves for the future economy. As Singapore makes strides in its vision to be a Smart Nation, local enterprises with the right capabilities will stand to gain a competitive edge in the new digital economy, creating value for themselves and their customers.
GovTech, the Government Technology Agency, was launched last October to drive Singapore’s digital strategy. Its National Trade Platform will allow trade and logistics businesses to access data and services that help them streamline and digitise their processes – something that will be especially valuable for SMEs that may have difficulties to digitise. Such initiatives are in line with the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE)’s efforts to help businesses tap on ICT solutions to capture growth opportunities and improve productivity. The adoption of digital technology can help to strengthen capabilities, uncover new opportunities and provide better products and services.
Digital business transformation is all about innovating and doing things differently. Not simply automating manual processes or incorporating technology into an existing process but taking on a digital mindset and creating new business opportunities with the seamless use of digital technologies, fused with creative ideas.
Virtual Reality (VR) has long been associated with gaming and entertainment, but it is also a technology that holds great promise in transforming customer experience and overcoming challenging tasks.
Take the military or medical field as examples. It is challenging to train soldiers or surgeons without subjecting them or others to actual risks.
A local multimedia firm, FXMedia has devised a solution. By incorporating VR technologies, they created a virtual classroom in which trainees can learn to handle dangerous situations safely, and practice high-stakes procedures in a risk-free environment.
As part of this new platform, FXMedia leased a lip-sync technology from ETPL, A*STAR’s commercialisation arm, to create the training scenarios. The technology analyses the dialogue, including the tone and sentiments of the voice, and automatically generates lip movements and body gestures to match. This allowed the company to develop the programme in a shorter time as they did not need to manually synchronise the character's mouth movements to the voice-overs.
Together with A*STAR, FXMedia further developed a VR Editor Technology, which brought various aspects of developing a VR program - such as graphic design and voice-over recording - into a single platform. This enabled FXMedia greater fl exibility to tweak their training programmes as desired.
The partnership has enabled FXMedia to enter new markets and develop new and exciting products. With a faster time-to-market, the company can customise its offerings to meet customers' needs. For example, an in-house artist may require one full day to animate a character for a 15-seconds speech, while the same task could be completed almost instantly using A*STAR’s lipsync technology.
Keeping it Clean and Green
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, while businesses across a multitude of sectors are digitising, the construction industry remains one of the least digitised industries. Some of our construction companies have however, made some successful strides to digitise. Through a partnership between A*STAR and PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, local building contractor Ho Lee Construction Pte Ltd implemented the Silt Imagery Detection System (SIDS) which allowed them to monitor Earth Control Measures (ECM) in a manpower effi cient manner. ECMs are typically implemented in construction sites to prevent silt from polluting our waterways. With this automated system, workers could now be re-deployed to other jobs such as the maintenance of treatment plants, inspection and cleaning of ECM perimeter areas and drains or mosquito vector-control work. This helped the company to save approximately 500 man-hours in a year, achieving higher productivity and greater efficiency.
SIDS also benefited Ho Lee’s CCTV vendor, Absolute Instrument System, which was able to reduce manual monitoring of the CCTV footages by automatically detecting issues such as CCTV downtime or images of silty discharge and alert Ho Lee instantly. Another area where ICT can be effectively deployed is the cleaning industry. Tech Firm, Smart Convergent Technologies tapped on A*STAR’s technology to develop a system that provides predictive cleaning and inventory usage, improving productivity of cleaning companies. Named the Restroom Visitilizer System, the new technology offers a "clean on demand" option, allowing cleaning supervisors to deploy resources in a timely manner. Already deployed in local malls including Marina Bay Sands and Parkway Parade, the system has improved manpower productivity by 50% and raised the service standards of our restrooms in Singapore.
Unlock the value of digitising today
The adoption of digital technologies has helped companies across various sectors identify new business opportunities, improve efficiency, and develop new products and services. Some of our homegrown companies in businesses as diverse as training and cleaning services have shown that going digital is not an impossible feat and may well improve or reinvent and add value to their business.
Together with SPRING Singapore, A*STAR is bringing a showcase of the latest productivity and innovation solutions, at its annual SME Day on 20 April 2017. Companies can come “Discover, Learn and Grow” their business with the right technology solutions in an increasingly digitised world. Visit www.smeday.com.sg to find out more.
Stay connected with us through ‘A*STAR and Industry’ on LinkedIn and subscribe to our industry newsletter, INNOVATE at www.a-star.edu.sg/innovate.
- Liau Eng Soon, Director of A*STAR’s Industry Development Department (SME) -