How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I lead an IT team, largely made of up GovTech staff based at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), to implement digital systems and ensure smooth daily digital operations for our IPOS users.

Digital transformation is the buzzword here at IPOS, and my work helps drive digitalisation at the agency. One interesting programme I was involved in recently was IPOS’ drive to go paperless. Together with users, we pushed boundaries and eliminated the need for our customers or users to use wet-ink signatures.

We try as much as possible to digitalise our processes; we have had an 80% reduction in printers and physical files. These days, I hardly print hardcopies or use my pen!

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2019?

We had a few key exciting milestones in 2019. One such milestone was the launch of IPOS’ first mobile app, IPOS Go, on 21 August 2019. As the world’s first mobile app for trademark registration, the app allows applicants to search for similar trademarks using an AI-powered trademark image search engine. With the app, applicants can file for trademarks on the go, and at the snap of their fingers. It takes an estimated 10 minutes to complete a trademark application with IPOS Go, instead of 45 minutes with the web version.

The team managed to implement IPOS Go within five months by using agile methodology. As an integral part of IPOS’ application modernisation journey, the app was built iteratively. With any new initiative, people may not be comfortable with the changes and it is common to get some negative feedback.

For IPOS Go, there were quite a good number of positive reviews from both internal and external stakeholders since its launch. Knowing that we built a good product is definitely one of my proudest moments!

The second most exciting milestone was the IPOS Office Move project. IPOS shifted from our original office at the Manulife building to the brand new Paya Lebar Quarters. We were given about ten months to move the office, our IT systems, and every single member of staff by August 2019.

Not many of my staff had office move experience, myself included, so we went through a learning phase collectively. As a team, we faced many different challenges and surprises almost on a daily basis. As we counted down to D-Day, I even found myself waking up in panic mode on some nights. Despite that, I felt very proud when I saw my team working hard for the project.

On the actual move-in day, every one of us in the team rolled up our sleeves and got down to business. All staff had their laptop and IT services set up within an hour of stepping into the new office. We had several compliments from staff who appreciated the team’s effort in ensuring a smooth transition to the new office. Kudos to the team! The countless nights and weekends my team and I put in for this office move project were all worth it!

What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?

One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced is watching my staff grow and improve. We have a close bond, and share knowledge, experience, and even jokes with one another. Even though some of us may have moved on to other agencies, we still remain in contact with each other!

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2019, what would it be?

2019 has been a busy year for my team and me with an office move, system implementation, and on-going audits. Despite all of these, my team is still pushing on and doing their very best. We learnt to adapt, be agile and act quickly to ensure things are under our control.

In tough and pressing situations, we also learnt that it is important to engage stakeholders early to gain their support, and to always remember that we have to work together as a team.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2020?

I would like to study the product-centric delivery model. With this model, we have to draw out a product roadmap to ensure continuous upgrades throughout the product’s lifespan. The focus is to deliver business outcomes and products that users love and love to use.

This year, GovTech set up a new taskforce (of which I am a member) to look into product-centric delivery models, and to come out with recommendations on how this can be adopted into our current landscape.

What are your priorities for 2020?

In the next two years, we will be focusing our efforts on implementing a national IP registries system equipped with smart technology. We envision that the new system will help IPOS maintain its status of having a top-class IP registry in the region and beyond. It will provide a strong foundation for us to broaden our work, use IP for enterprise growth, and connect to global innovation flows.

What is one challenge you would like to take on in 2020?

I would like to challenge myself to get a Specialist Certificate in Intangible Asset Management from IPOS.

What has been your fondest memory from the past year?

Catching my idol Andy Lau in concert! Most of my colleagues may not know this, but deep down, I’m a huge Cantopop fan.