by Zafar Anjum

Singapore’s new programmes to help enterprises digitise their businesses

Mar 07, 2021
CTODigital TransformationGovernment

The CTO-as-a-service initiative will launch later in 2020, whilst the Digital Leaders Programme and Better Data-Driven Business programmes are now in operation.

As announced in Singapore’s 2021 budget, the Singapore government will start offering its CTO-as-a-Service programme to small and medium enterprises in the country later this year.

“The CTO-as-a-Service initiative will include a one-stop self-help web app for SMEs [small and medium enterprises] to assess their digital needs and gaps,” said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on 2 March 2021 in Parliament. They “can then access customised recommendations on digital solutions based on the company profile, and information on government support.” The service will be free or be made available at an affordable cost.

He also added that small and medium enterprises that need more in-depth advice can consult with “a shared pool of CTO-equivalents or digital consultants with expertise in areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence”.

Small and medium enterprises that choose this in-depth advice will receive both digital consultancy and project management services to help them to not only identify needs and solutions, but also manage project implementation.

Along with this service, Iswaran also described the recently launched Digital Leaders Programme (DLP), which “aims to equip firms with the capabilities and talent to accelerate their digital transformation journey”. Companies can get up to 70% support on qualifying costs to help build a core digital team to develop and execute their digitalisation strategy.

Through this initiative, companies can also get connected with technology partners to develop new digital products and services. This can help companies better position themselves to compete internationally, Iswaran said.

Initially, the DLP will support as many as 80 companies for a start, and priority will be given to those small and medium enterprises that are more advanced in their digital journeys.

In today’s world, the most successful businesses are data-driven ones. Keeping this perspective in mind, the government highlighted a third programme to help small and medium enterprises speed up their digitisation process: the Better Data-Driven Business programme, which helps businesses better use data in service of their customers.

Through this programme, business can get access to free tools and guidance, including through videos and case studies, to use their data responsibly to drive business growth.

All three new programmes are parts of the government’s efforts to both broaden and deepen the digital reach among small and medium enterprises, especially in a world shaped by COVID-19, when “many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have pivoted towards hybrid online-offline models to engage and transact with their consumers”, Iswaran said.

As of now, more than 63,000 small and medium enterprises have adopted digital solutions with the support of the SMEs Go Digital programme, which was launched in 2017. About 40,000 of them signed up just last year, in 2020 alone, Iswaran said.