P&G to invest $140m in digital innovation centre in Singapore

(From left) Mr Nicolas Defauw, Mr S. Iswaran, Mr Magesvaran Suranjan and Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin activating a simulated panel yesterday to symbolically launch Procter & Gamble's E-Centre in Singapore. P&G said the project rea
(From left) Mr Nicolas Defauw, Mr S. Iswaran, Mr Magesvaran Suranjan and Economic Development Board chairman Beh Swan Gin activating a simulated panel yesterday to symbolically launch Procter & Gamble's E-Centre in Singapore. P&G said the project reaffirmed its commitment to Singapore and was aimed at strengthening the country's standing as a leading digital and e-commerce global hub.PHOTO: PROCTER & GAMBLE

It will expand tie-ups with SMEs, start-ups via the project; up to 50 staff could be hired

Global consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) is to invest US$100 million (S$140 million) over the next five years to set up its first digital innovation centre in Singapore. Up to 50 new staff could be hired, the company said.

Called an E-Centre, the project was officially launched yesterday in partnership with the Economic Development Board. As it does not have a single, fixed location, staff involved in its activities will work either in P&G's Singapore Innovation Centre in Biopolis Street or its offices at The Metropolis.

P&G said the project reaffirmed its commitment to Singapore and was aimed at strengthening the country's standing as a leading digital and e-commerce global hub. The centre will be pivotal to its digital innovation across its entire operations in three core areas: supply- chain management, analytics and e-commerce, it said.

"This E-Centre will develop digital solutions for our Asia-Pacific operations... It will synchronise the supply chain to increase revenues and lower inventory while serving emerging retail channels more efficiently," said Mr Magesvaran Suranjan, P&G's president for the Asia-Pacific region, at yesterday's launch.

For supply-chain management, the centre will focus on achieving greater accuracy, visibility and efficiency across operations.

PIVOTAL TO DIGITAL INNOVATION

This E-Centre will develop digital solutions for our Asia-Pacific operations... It will synchronise the supply chain to increase revenues and lower inventory while serving emerging retail channels more efficiently.

MR MAGESVARAN SURANJAN, P&G's president for the Asia-Pacific region.

Some projects in the pipeline include machine learning, where algorithms allow machines to predict parameters within the supply chain for better accuracy, as well as process automation, which uses robotics to eliminate repetitive tasks.

The centre will also use data analytics to optimise product distribution and marketing strategies across the region. For example, by analysing an area's demographics data, P&G will be able to determine the potential sales growth and prioritise store distribution accordingly.

Mr Suranjan also said that through the centre, the company will expand its partnerships with small and medium-sized enterprises as well as start-ups to strengthen their digital capabilities and jointly develop new digital solutions.

P&G also announced that it will be training 40 of its existing employees in the first year to take on digital-related roles in the centre related to the three core areas.

It will also look to hire up to 50 new employees to take on similar positions in the centre, said Mr Nicolas Defauw, P&G's vice-president of finance and accounting in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran highlighted the importance of equipping workers with digital skill sets.

"Digitalisation will have a profound impact on the nature and content of jobs, and the way we work. Hence, we will continue to partner the industry and education institutions to equip our people with the skill sets that are needed to succeed in the digital economy," he said.

"Preparing our industries, firms and workforce for the changes and opportunities of the digital economy is a major priority for Singapore," he added.

P&G's consumer brands include Gillette, Oral-B and Pampers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'P&G to invest $140m in digital innovation centre in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe