Singapore races Southeast Asia to get ahead on cloud

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

Philip Heah, Assistant Chief Executive of Technology & Infrastructure at IMDA, on how the government is accelerating cloud efforts.

Singapore needs to step up efforts to drive the development and adoption of cloud native solutions so that it can stay ahead. “Countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines are moving very fast,” said Philip Heah, Assistant Chief Executive of Technology & Infrastructure at the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) recently.

When it comes to the cloud, Singapore has the right conditions - and yet, adoption of cloud native solutions is low, Heah remarked. One factor is that many applications today have been built using monolithic legacy systems, Heah said in his keynote at the Cloud Transformation in the Singapore Public Sector summit presented by DXC Technology and Amazon Web Services on 26 April.

Organisations need to move away from their traditional way of developing systems, he continued.

Services 4.0 explained

Enter Services 4.0, the country’s new approach to service delivery. This was announced at the launch of the Services and Digital Economy Technology Roadmap last November, and will help businesses create services that are “end to end, frictionless, anticipatory and empathic”, according to Heah. Services make up a big slice of Singapore’s economy - contributing 72 percent of GDP and employing 74 percent of workers, he added.

How will Services 4.0 look in practice? For instance, a banking service that automatically raises credit card limits as the weekend approaches, meaning that users can make F&B transactions without worry. In a 1.0 environment, “we have to write in to the bank to have our credit limit approved”, Heah pointed out.

Heah emphasised that Services 4.0 is a journey and quipped that some of IMDA’s processes are still at 1.0, characterised by what he described as “manual services enabled by tools”. This rings true specifically for the grants process: “We still expect the industry to send to us forms manually, and there are a lot of submissions of paper; you have to sign before I process.”

To support companies’ participation in the Services 4.0 ecosystem, IMDA has already rolled out a few initiatives to support businesses who want to embark on the Services 4.0 journey. For instance, GoCloud, also launched last November, aims to equip ICT SMEs with digital capabilities in Cloud Native, Microservices and DevOps, transforming the way they develop, deploy and deliver applications.

What's more, Singapore’s Prime Minister announced in October last year that the government would be using commercial cloud services in a broader push to revamp existing IT services.

What it means for workers

Mark Diekmann, Offering Leader & GM of Cloud and Platform Services at DXC Technology, Asia, noted how “skills is consistently being named as one of the areas that are holding back agencies from moving to the cloud”. The government needs to “develop a sense of urgency” in reskilling the workforce to deal with this inevitable shift, he added in his morning keynote.

[blockquote]"We have to make technology more accessible to the worker.”[/blockquote] It is essential that workers are armed with the right skills and tools to ensure that they can be productive. An augmented workforce is a crucial part of the services 4.0 push, explained IMDA’s Heah. “We want to make sure that the workers are part of this overall strategy. We have to make technology more accessible to the worker.”

There are “great opportunities” ahead, Heah believes, as various industries in Singapore are showing how receptive they are to learning new technologies and skills.

Even developing countries such as Myanmar are going into cloud in a big way, not held back by legacy systems. The country is using cloud to power government services, according to Julian Lau, Head of Solution Architects, Public Sector at Amazon Web Services ASEAN. “They want to have agility, have a fast time to market, to provide the best e-services to citizens,” he remarked during his afternoon presentation.

In this region, cloud is a great leveller, and its advantages are anything but blue-sky thinking.

The Cloud Transformation in the Singapore Public Sector summit was presented by DXC Technology and Amazon Web Services to share key learnings and private sector experience on how to embrace cloud and derive the benefits.

This article was produced in partnership with DXC Technology.