Disruptive Technologies in Singapore

Singapore Needs to Embrace Destructive Technologies

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“Disruption is inevitable, and it’s happening in the fastest pace than I have seen in the career. And when you see this kind of disruption, it calls for whole new approaches.” – Meg Whitman, Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

By Epoch Newsroom

Can you predict the next technological trend five or ten years down the road?

In this digital era, unprecedented new technological developments such as IoT, analytics, mobile technology, cloud communication, blockchain, digital commerce, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing and automations are radically changing the way we work and live, and shaping our local industries. While these technologies might make our lives easier, they also interrupt the industries, upending job sectors and unexpectedly eliminating redundant jobs.

This situation, known as “disruptive technology”, was first coined by Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman was quoted as saying: “Disruption is inevitable, and it’s happening in the fastest pace than I have seen in the career. And when you see this kind of disruption, it calls for whole new approaches.”

Picking Up New Skills to Adapt to New Opportunities

“Businesses and individuals should be aware of the disruptive power of technology,” said Azhar Othman, Regional Managing Director of Enercon Asia Pte Ltd.

Mr Azhar cited the technological disruption in the taxi industry: “In the past, ‘taxi driver’ was the safest job to go to assuming you have no other job.” But now, with the advent of uber and grab, “[people] are not taking taxi”.

He asserted that jobs and business are volatile in the face of new technologies, and due to exponentially growing technological advances, “it is essential for businesses and individuals to improve [themselves]”.

As such, it is increasingly vital for firms and individuals to embrace disruptions by constantly upgrading themselves to stay relevant. As Bill Clinton famously said, “We are living in a world, where what we earn is a function of what we learn.”

In like manner, Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry, told Channel NewsAsia, “What we have to do at a system level is to find ways for Singaporeans to pick up the skills and adapt to new opportunities.”

Agency to Tackle Disruptions

To tackle the opportunities and challenges posed by disruptive technologies, a 30-member committee has been formed. Co-led by Dr Janil Puthucheary and Mr Caesar Sengupta, vice-president of product management at Google, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) has pointed out three approaches:

(1) Investment in education and upgrading people’s skills

(2) To make sure that legislations and regulations are on par with the new business processes

(3) The Government authorities should be the early adopter to encourage and help companies, notably SMEs, to move on with the new technologies.

After all, in spite of the disruption, it is not doom and gloom as disruptive technology creates new jobs and presents new opportunities, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the launch of Watson Centre on June 9.

Be it blockchain, digital commerce, or even artificial intelligence, we should embrace disruption as this wide range of emerging technologies “is going to be profoundly enabling for a broad range of enterprises [and] us as human beings” and we could maximise their enabling potential “for enterprises and people”, Mr Tharman said.

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