IMDA pushes for AI adoption and retail transformation

The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has launched the InfoComm and Media (ICM) Industry Transformation Map (ITM), in conjunction with its first anniversary. ICM ITM reveals the Singapore government's plans to transform the ICM sector and bring about the growth of the country's future economy.

To strengthen Singapore's ICM sector, IMDA will invest in building four key frontier technology capabilities - artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, Internet of Things, cybersecurity and immersive media. According to Yaacob Ibrahim (pictured), Minister for Communications and Information, the ICM industry's value is expected to grow at approximately 6% annually.

By 2020, over 13,000 new PMET jobs will be created, with the ICM sector employing over 210,000 workers.

To kick start the investment, Ibrahim announced during the launch of ICM ITM that IMDA will first focus on AI initiatives, especially in the areas of adoption, tech creation and talent development. IMDA will help local companies adopt AI solutions through its new AI Business Partnership Programme, and matching them with AI solution providers for their business challenges. Workshops will also be conducted by IMDA where AI solutions providers will share their technologies with interested companies from specific sectors.

The first workshop for the retail and advertising sector was conducted with 12 companies.

IMDA will also help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) assess if they are AI-ready, through the SME Digital Tech Hub. The tech hub will offer specialist digital technology advisory services to SMEs with more advanced digital needs in the areas of data analytics and cybersecurity.

Additionally, IMDA aims to help grow companies that produce AI products and solutions, in a bid to construct "deep frontier tech capabilities" within the ecosystem that all companies can make use of. This will be done by building on its Accreditation@IMDA programme, which offers customised assistance to high-growth tech companies to quicken their growth and to internationalise.

Ibrahim announced that the programme will be expanded and rebranded to Accreditation@SG Digital, to help companies leverage the Singapore brand for better recognition worldwide. The programme will have a "dedicated focus" on the four frontier technologies Ibrahim stated earlier.

Lastly, IMDA will build on its SkillsFuture initiative TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), to equip Singapore employees with frontier tech skills such as AI. Ibrahim said that TeSA will work with AI Singapore, a national initiative to develop capabilities in AI, to unveil an inaugural AI apprenticeship programme. Individuals will be trained as AI professionals through a combination of in-depth AI training courses and on-the-job training on industry projects. According to Ibrahim, IMDA is targeting 200 apprentices to be trained over the next three years, equipping them with key AI skills such as machine and deep learning, as well as in deploying AI.

Industry digital plans to help guide digitalisation journey

IMDA will lead the digitalisation journey of key sectors in the Singapore economy through the Industry Digital Plans (IDP), which will enable the various sectors to capitalise on digital technologies for growth.

IMDA has collaborated with SPRING to develop the Retail IDP for SMEs, in a bid to accelerate the pace of transformation for over 22,000 establishments in the retail sector.

With the Retail IDP, retailers can go through a self-assessment checklist to find out how digitally ready they are, make use of the relevant pre-approved digital solutions for their businesses, and better understand the type of skills that their employees require to capitalise on digital opportunities.

To complement the Retail IDP, IMDA and SPRING have also worked with partners, such as One Kampong Gelam Association and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI), to leverage on digital technologies to create richer and more immersive retail experiences for consumers. The partnership with One Kampong Gelam Association and SMCCI will enable retailers in the precinct to provide personalised consumer services using data analytics. Consumers can also navigate the area more effectively by accessing real-time discounts and offers on the go.