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

The current wave of digital technology advances in Internet of Things, robotics, mobility, big data and analytics has empowered customers and raised consumer expectations. Our industry is also being disrupted by what is known as ‘PropTech’, where companies use technology to refine, improve or reinvent services we rely on in the property industry to buy, rent, sell, build, heat or manage properties. We also see developers offering more value-added services beyond just space such as personalised dashboards, food delivery, promotions and more.

For JTC as an industrial infrastructure developer, we need to go from being disrupted to a disruptor. We need to reimagine the way we conduct our business and create a customer-centric, tech-enabled and data-driven organisation. These technologies are applicable to the entire life cycle and value chain of our industrial estates and developments, from master-planning and development to marketing, lease management and facilities management.

One of these key areas JTC is focusing on is smart facilities management. We have developed J-Ops, an integrated smart estate and building operations system. For J-Ops, technology is used not only to give us better insights into our building systems but also as a key enabler for our centralisation strategy. J-Ops is supported by a centralised operations centre to monitor our estates and properties across Singapore. The use of sensors, data and analytics makes it possible for our officers to visualise and manage our properties remotely, from anywhere at any time.

Another area is the use of smart technologies to provide our customers and tenants in smart buildings and estates (e.g. Jurong Innovation District) with improved productivity and convenience. Initiatives such as smart parking, smart lighting, autonomous vehicles, pervasive Wifi and other services may be incorporated into our estates to help customers and visitors save energy, time and effort as they work, live, play and learn in JTC’s estates.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

My team and I are working on a project called MAPLE, which stands for ‘Make All Processes a Little Easier’. In order for us to free up capacity to achieve new heights in digital transformation, we first need to free up our officers’ administrative work. Part of this project involved consolidating and simplifying the forms used by JTC and our fellow agencies, Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), so customers now do not need to submit duplicated data to different agencies. The data can also be transferred direct into our database, and cut down 90% of the data officers needed to key in. The new workflow can be done on a mobile device, and can potentially help us save 12,500 pages of papers a year.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

Be ready for change and have a focus on change management as it’s a key factor for the success of digital initiatives.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

Data is definitely the new asset – in order for technology like AI to work, we need to collect and build a strong data infrastructure as a base. Only then, can we analyse the information we have collected and gain knowledge and understanding from it. Only at the last stage can machine-learning or AI come into place to be used effectively. This is definitely easier said than done, as we first need to establish a common data environment and allow systems to ‘talk’ to another. This requires a total rethinking and redevelopment of a system architecture and structure.

What are your priorities for 2019?

We believe that once we are able to re-engineer our data infrastructure – the sky is the limit. We can revolutionise the way we market and engage our customers, and even redefine our customer journey. For instance, we can push out multiple ‘best fit’ spaces for customers based on their search requirements, allow customers to use spatial visualisation tools for planning of operation and logistics and even select granularity of data for decision making.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

The ability to think through, simplify and get to the essence of where technology can make an impact or difference. It is important to be able to distil needs and marry technology into the solutions.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

Data and leveraging data for greater intelligence will not only change the way we work, but also change the models in which we do business with our customers and partners.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

Passion and a sense of fulfilment – to be able to improve and empower the work lives of people, to use technology to create new solutions and new business models.