Private sectors across the globe are driving digital innovation, but in Singapore, it's the government that is leading the way.
If the world's governments went digital using today's technology, the value of that digitisation would be worth more than US$1 trillion annually, according to McKinsey & Company.
Singapore is already well on its way to attaining the benefits of digitisation, thanks to the clear leadership of the Singapore government and the technological maturity of its citizens, which has enabled the nation to readily adopt new strategies for delivering more efficient and effective services.
Singapore's digital leadership
A strong advocate of digital government, Prime Minister Lee initiated the Smart Nation programme in November 2014 to “harness the power of networks, data and infocomm technologies to improve living, create economic opportunity and build a closer community”. A high priority for Singapore, the Smart Nation programme is headed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.
"Government leaders have been outspoken digital champions," said Diaan-Yi Lin, senior partner and managing partner, Singapore at McKinsey & Company. "Few governments have had their leaders align themselves with digital efforts as closely and visibly as Singapore’s."
The Smart Nation programme is one of many initiatives that has led to the Singapore government being recognised as “among the world’s best for digital capabilities and achievements,” said Lin.
In general, the city-state’s big-picture goals have been highly ambitious since the 1980s, most notably the first e-Government Action Plan launched in 2000.
Succeeding this is the Infocomm Media 2025 plan, overseen by Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. It outlines Singapore's aim to "generate capabilities and innovations that are relevant and contribute towards solving big national challenges".
The Infocomm Media 2025 report recognises four areas where the infocomm media can have significant impact: productivity growth of businesses, creation of high-skilled jobs for Singaporeans, support for an ageing population through health solutions and services, and strengthening national identity through the collective pursuit of positive social goals.
There's a lot to be said about having a defined direction. “These goals have challenged Singapore’s public officials and agencies to devote considerable creativity, effort and resources to achieving them,” said Lin.
The advantage for businesses is clear: It incentivises private organisations to adopt a technology-forward mindset. “I’ve heard a number of stories from business leaders in Singapore about how digital efforts in the public sector have pushed their businesses to digitise more quickly than they might have otherwise, resulting in cost savings and value creation," Lin added.