Why It Matters

Going digital key to future

The ICM Industry Transformation Map may appear to be far removed from the lives of ordinary Singaporeans, but it will actually hit a lot closer to home.

First, the infocomm media (ICM) sector will be the recipient of 16,000 new jobs by 2020. This, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced last Friday.

There will be many openings in professional, managerial, executive and technician (PMET) roles in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, Internet of Things and immersive media.

PMETs have borne the brunt of layoffs in the past few years, but the ICM sector is one of five the Government has identified as having the greatest potential for growth.

Next, with labour shortages, businesses should be paying attention to the ICM plan.

It calls for a highly automated economy, for instance, through the use of AI to power chat robots to provide customer service or to recommend goods out of millions of options that may be of interest to customers - based on browsing or purchasing patterns.

And customers stand to benefit too. Parcels from online purchases may be dropped off in their chosen parcel lockers - akin to large mailboxes - that will dot every housing estate and train station.

The agency responsible for giving the private sector a helping hand in ICM matters, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), has its work cut out for it.

It needs to nudge those slow in innovating to upgrade to secure the new jobs in the digital economy.

IMDA is investing more in manpower training and providing more checklists to help companies assess what needs automation. Companies can also go to IMDA for a list of approved technology packages if they are unsure where to start.

Technology is a cost that must be paid now to avoid paying for it later with one's livelihood.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2017, with the headline 'Going digital key to future'. Print Edition | Subscribe