Businesses' ability to tap tools key to success in digital transformation: Panellists at MCI event

Paypal Singapore CEO Aaron Wong said that first step is simply to digitalise. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Businesses today have all the tools they need to transform for the digital economy, but the key to success lies in being able to leverage these tools both quickly and effectively.

This was the message from tech industry players at the inaugural Ministry of Communications and Information's (MCI) Insights Conference on Monday (Nov 16).

"The first step is simply to digitalise. Don't be afraid to do so, and to get used to online tools such as e-invoicing, e-logistics or e-commerce marketplaces which are already out there," said Paypal Singapore chief executive officer Aaron Wong.

"The second thing is to find an ecosystem partner you can trust to protect your data and your transactions amid the sheer volume of digital commerce that's going on."

Paypal is one of a number of companies offering digital solutions to businesses under the Infocomm Media Development Authority's SMEs Go Digital programme.

During Monday's dialogue at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, panellists were also asked what Singapore companies needed to do to differentiate themselves and be competitive at the international level.

Temasek Holdings strategy office and enterprise development senior managing director Russell Tham noted that all companies are dealing with the same broad technological trends around the world.

"So you have to be very clear about what you cannot control, and what intrinsic capabilities you have within your firm (that give you an advantage) vis-a-vis the competition," said Mr Tham.

"Do you understand how the markets and technology are interacting? Through this interaction, there are typically pain points to be solved, and that customers are willing to pay for."

He added that the top technology companies are "perpetually moving the bar" and have a whole host of competencies that are constantly being refreshed and adjusted.

Having the right combination of soft skills and technical skills will be crucial at a time when machines are becoming more and more capable, said IBM managing director Martin Chee.

"The truth is that there has always been (technological) disruption but we also need to recognise that there are things that humans are very good at doing - the ability to co-create, creativity and critical thinking," he added.

"With mid-career professionals, for example, we are talking about people with tremendous experience and soft skills, and (the question is) how do we help them with technical skills."

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