July 7, 2012 by Dan Swinhoe
Singapore is one those places in the world where businesses thrive. It consistently rates as the easiest place in the world to do business; the infrastructure is world class, and one of the major financial sectors in the world. But what about IT? Although out of the Four Asian Tigers it’s South Korea and Taiwan that are traditionally known for their IT sectors, but that’s not to say Singapore should be forgotten about. It stands as one of the most up-to-date and connected places in the world.
According to World Bank data, Out of the estimated 5.3 million people living in the country has well over 100% mobile penetration- close to 150% in fact, and internet use is up in the mid-seventies for percentage of the population. There are just a shade under 6 million 3G subscriptions, and wireless internet subscriptions are hugely popular, again at over 100% penetration. The government is also working on deployment of fiber-optics throughout the island.
4G is also expanding, with Singtel announcing plans to grow coverage from the current 50% to 80% by the end of the year, and island-wide soon after. Though some people were unhappy about the data caps that were announced at the same time, as companies are scrapping unlimited data plans in a bid to balance out costs, as the company says 10% of its customers account for 64% of its overall mobile data consumption.
Smartphones make up around 54% of the market, and Apple is by far the most popular mobile OS. As well as being mobile-friendly, Singapore is one of the most tablet-friendly places in the world too. In terms of mobility, Singapore is showing the world how it’s done, and is just as clued up on desktops at home. All the high quality infrastructure means businesses and the public alike can make the most of mobility and the inevitible move towards the Cloud will be that much easier.
Who’s doing what
iDA Singapore has some detailed stats that really get to the heart of who’s using what. 84% have computers at home, while over half the country own two or more. Household internet access stands at over 80%. Breaking down the demographics, it’s only the over-50s who are yet to connect, and even then over half have used a computer in the last year.
The Singaporeans are very active as well. Having such a huge base of people used to being online means that Singapore has one of the most evolved social media networks in the world. Over half the population has Facebook (and spend more time on it than anyone else) and Twitter is gaining a substantial following, and people are using these networks to shop. Clearly using mobiles for shopping is a market which is full of potential, both for buying and contactless payments. For businesses, companies employing less than ten people are practically the only ones not using computers or the internet, while around half of companies employing less than 50 people have a website. These are great standards and businesses could learn alot from looking at using social/e/m-commerce to help their business.
According to government figures the number of people employed in the infocomms industry fell by around 15,000 between 2010/11, and growth in the sector also slowed, but over growth has been rising steadily. Though with so much of the market tapped, finding new revenue streams are a priority.
As with many countries across the world, future revenue may lie within big-data analytics. A survey found that 88% of businesses said ‘they still face obstacles in managing and analyzing their data and felt their companies need to develop new skills to turn information into business insights,’ compared to a worldwide average of 63%.
This modern and connected country didn’t get like this overnight. It’s a product of steady growth and a clear plan from the government. The iDA’s iN2015 Vision set out a ten year plan with goals to make Singapore’s infocomms sector one of the best in the world. The goals range in detail and ambition; from being ‘#1 in the world in harnessing infocomm to add value to the economy and society’ to additional jobs and training, and getting every home using a computer.
This kind of clear and long-term vision is a great example of how to do it right. Singapore is one of the best-equipped populations in the world and using their technology more than one else, with top class infrastructure. Whether developing or market-leaders, countries around the world should take heed and learn how to do it properly.