CIOs Roundup 2016: Assistant Chief Executive (development group), IDA

What are the top priorities of Singapore’s public sector IT chiefs?

The Assistant Chief Executive (development group) of the Infocomm Development Authority is most excited about how Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and shared services will affect government this year. The IDA is restructuring this year, and one of Khoong Hock Yun’s priorities will be to ensure a smooth transition to the new Infocomm Media Development Authority. Khoong, Assistant Chief Executive of IDA, tells GovInsider about his year ahead. What technology are you most excited about in 2016? I am excited by the rapid pace in which new, incredibly exciting, technologies are developed. Innovation is very much alive. In the software world, the new advancement of Artificial Intelligence such as in Cognitive Computing is particularly exciting. It promises useful new possibilities and capabilities that help us get access to better services. It can help us connect societies through accurate language translations, and connect our lives by getting the most relevant information ‘just in time’. It can connect our work with greater automation, and quicker and deeper data analysis that helps increase our productivity. In the area of networks, new technologies like Heterogeneous Networks, Software Defined Networks, Self-Optimised Networks and Network Function Virtualisations help increase the capacity and intelligence of our communications networks. These provide us with higher capacity and resilient communication networks that we have grown so dependent on in every aspect of our lives. Another exciting technology is Blockchain. It is gaining a lot of momentum in the finance sector to help expand capabilities in areas such as compliance, reduction of fraud, ‘know your customer’ initiatives. Blockchain will soon expand into other industry sectors as well. Last but not least, a lot of exciting development is often found in new ways of using existing technologies that create new business models. For example, existing mobile and cloud computing technologies have enabled growth in the sharing economy – for example, Uber, co-working spaces, and AirBnB. Such new use of existing technologies often have the largest impact on society because the technology is often pervasively deployed and new ideas are able to rapidly reach the mass market. How does Smart Nation affect your agency? Smart Nation gives a new meaning to our work, a new mission to use technology as a force multiplier to help Singapore continue to grow exponentially in economic and social terms, with a significantly lesser incremental demand on limited resources like manpower, water, land, and energy, as we grow. What is the biggest challenge that you had to overcome in 2015? Changing mindsets remains the greatest challenge, any time. In a fast changing world of new possibilities, innovation and challenges, the need to adapt our mindsets and perspectives to the new reality is often one of the hardest. We are naturally more comfortable with how we have always done things, and the success that has given us. What other new ways of doing things are appropriate for the future, what steps we need to take, and what new capabilities we need to build, are often difficult conversations. What is your key priority in 2016? My key priority in 2016 would be to continue to build a professional organisation and develop people that will add significant value in our journey with our partners to help Singapore build new technology businesses and adopt technologies to become more competitive, more productive, more relevant, more liveable, and grow to be the world’s First Smart Nation. And while doing this, as part of a senior management team, I will execute a smooth integration with the Media Development Authority to become a better organisation - the Infocomm Media Development Authority. Where did you work before you joined your current agency? I was with an American MNC, Mentor Graphics Corporation, which builds software tools to help companies design electronic systems. I managed one of their worldwide businesses that covers R&D, manufacturing and customer service. As a lighter question, how do you like to unwind after a long week at work? I often spend time exercising, and occasionally chill out with friends. I am also in some social work, as a church leader and school board member. This is an ongoing series of interviews with Singapore CIOs, outlining their top priorities over the coming year.