Singtel taps third-party developers for new apps

Mr Mark Chong, Singtel's chief executive international, said the telco's business units share ideas among themselves.
Mr Mark Chong, Singtel's chief executive international, said the telco's business units share ideas among themselves.

Strategy has resulted in its regional affiliates adopting new revenue-boosting technologies

A Singtel strategy to pick up ideas from independent developers across the region has resulted in affiliates of the telco adopting new revenue-boosting apps and technologies.

The initiative seems to have helped boost revenue at some of these affiliates while also bolstering Singtel's role as an incubator of new technology.

Globe in the Philippines and Telkomsel in Indonesia have lifted turnover in their mobile segments, thanks, in part, to new apps devised by third-party software developers. This came about after Filippino customers downloaded an app called Epic Life, a mobile adventure game, while the photo app Jepret Story proved popular in Indonesia.

Both apps were developed by outside software firms, which then worked with the telcos to fine-tune the final products.

Mr Mark Chong, Singtel's chief executive international, said the telco's different business units share product ideas among themselves.

"Our thinking was to shorten the product development cycle. So we decided to combine our own products with apps from external sources to present a more holistic suite of products and services."

Singtel's challenge was to select new content that its customers would find useful, so it held app competitions in different countries for local software developers. This resulted in fresh apps customers in those countries could relate to.

Take Jepret Story, which won the app challenge in Indonesia. It struck a chord with mobile customers because Indonesians are big social media users. An eMarketer report this year said 63 million people in Indonesia will access Facebook via mobile phones.

A new round in the process is under way.

Singtel affiliates will have a chance to work with the 14 apps featured in the Singtel-Samsung mobile app challenge held last Tuesday in Jakarta. The apps cover sectors such as lifestyle, on-demand economy, smart living and health .

Chief judge Edgar Hardless from Singtel said the affiliates can check out the apps to see if they are suitable for their own markets.

Among other things, the affiliates must ensure that the apps work seamlessly on their mobile networks and that they would be able to scale up so that millions of customers can use the service.

Mr Hardless, who is also chief executive of Innov8, Singtel's venture unit, said investing in start-ups has allowed the telco to innovate as well.

Since it began in 2010, Innov8 has invested in nearly 40 start-ups here and around the world, giving it an insight into the latest emerging technologies and business solutions.

"Through these activities, there're start-ups that we can refer to our business units, leading to commercial arrangements," he added.

One of Innov8's portfolio companies is Jasper Wireless, which has been used by Singtel here and by Optus, its Australian subsidiary.

Jasper helps companies rapidly and cost-effectively manage and monetise Internet of Things services such as security and analytics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Singtel taps third-party developers for new apps'. Print Edition | Subscribe