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Budget debate: New programme to help promising Singapore firms speed up digital transformation

SINGAPORE – A new initiative will be launched next month to help promising local companies to speed up their efforts to transform digitally.

Called the Digital Leaders Programme, it will help companies ready to integrate technology in their business to build new digital capabilities so they can develop new business models and capture new growth opportunities.

It will co-fund up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs, over two years, to help companies hire and build a core digital team and execute their digitalisation strategy.

This team is a dedicated one with deep subject matter expertise and capabilities deemed to be essential in driving digital transformation within the organisation.

This includes skills in areas such as software development, data science, cyber security and a strong understanding of business operating models.

Announcing the programme during the debate on his ministry’s budget on Tuesday (March 2), Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said that it will also connect companies with tech partners to develop new digital products and services, as well as better position them to compete internationally.

For a start, the programme will support up to 80 companies, starting with those that are further along in digital transformation and have management teams that are committed to drive such transformation for sustained growth, he added.

The Digital Leaders Programme was developed jointly by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore. They will manage the programme too.

The core digital team will comprise a senior digital leadership role, such as a chief technology officer, as well as up to five staff with digital skills, such as enterprise architects, to execute digital initiatives for the organisation.

While existing information technology employees can potentially form part of this core team, only new hires are eligible for salary support under the Digital Leaders Programme.

IMDA added that the hires will be able to “inject new ideas and bring new digital expertise into the company”.

Other areas where companies can apply for funding of up to 70 per cent are engaging consultancy services to develop digital road maps to guide plans and the implementation of digital projects.

Another eligible area for funding is developing proof of concepts for digital products and services for new markets and customers to create new revenue streams for the companies.

Companies will be assessed based on factors such as their commitment to digital transformation, ambition in their digital plans and the ability to create economic spin-offs, such as developing new business models and creating job opportunities for local talent in Singapore.

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IMDA said that while many companies have started to adopt digital technologies, the adoption of digital solutions are based on functional and specific needs such as for online shopping.

Companies may not have taken a broader review to digitalise their business processes and to better address the needs of customers.

This review also requires the development of a digital transformation road map to drive a more data-driven business strategy and digitalising operations and processes to improve overall customer experience and enjoy productivity gains.

The Digital Leaders Programme “aims to facilitate this transformation process and supports companies to put together a team that can coordinate the next chapter in their digitalisation journey”, said IMDA.

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