Mr Kevin Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon Singapore
Mr Andrew Koh, Vice-President and Head of Singapore Operations, Canon Singapore
Mr Vincent Low, Head of Enterprise Business, Singapore Operations, Canon Singapore
Mr Parminder Singh, Chief Commercial and Digital Officer, MediaCorp Pte Ltd
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning.I am delighted to join you in opening the Think Big Leadership Business Series 2023.
2. Today, we face a rapidly evolving business landscape as business modelsand consumer behavioursare constantly reshaped. The relentless pace of technological advancements and shifting geo-political forces challenge the order of the day. Businesses that are agile in adapting and leveragingdisruptionswill emerge as winners.
Navigating a Changing Geo-Political Landscape
3. First, let me touch on the potential which businesses can seize in the broader operating environment. Despite afragmenting geo-political landscape, opportunities abound. As global supply chains are reconfiguring,new diversified markets and partnerships are being created. The centre of economic gravity is shifting to Asia.
4. As a region, there is much that Singapore and Southeast Asia can offer businesses.For example, Singaporeactively collaborates with our neighbours to provide companies a gateway into Southeast Asia. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement is the world’s largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA), accounting for about 30% of global GDP and reaching a third of the world’s population. For businesses seeking market diversification, this 15-party agreement offers companies greater transparency, certainty, and ease of doing business in the region.
5. In addition,Southeast Asia has strong trade links withChina, the world’s second-biggest economy. In 2022, China wasthe largest trading partner of ASEAN and vice-versa. For businesses seeking to widen market access, the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA)eliminates tariffs for 94.6% of exports from Singaporeto China. It ensures a more predictable operating environment for service suppliers and protects investors by establishing a more transparent, facilitative, and secure investment environment. ASEAN and China are now working together to upgrade this Agreement.
6. Furthermore, Singapore businesses can tap into ASEAN's vibrant economic ties with Australia and New Zealand.The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)offers businesses access to an area with a combined population of over 600 million and an estimated GDP of $3 trillion. The recently upgraded AANZFTAwill chart new inroads tomarkets in the digital economy, green economy and supply chain connectivity.
7. The Government is committed to expanding our FTAs into new growth areas with key external partners to expand further business opportunities. I encourage businesses to take advantage of the vast hinterland of trade networks that Singapore has established. Think big and use these links to spread your wings and conquer new markets.
Leveraging AI for Greater Productivity
8. Besides expanding beyond Singapore, a fresh and open mindset towards the “next big thing”, like artificial intelligence (AI) and technology use, can determine the success of your business. Companies that leverage AI, cloud computing, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things can improve their operations, enhance customer experienceand create new sources of income. Businesses thatmove quickly to adopt these technologies stand to gain from improved efficiencies and reduced costs.
9. OCBC bank is one example of a financial institution leveraging generative AI to increase productivity. They plan to triple their investment in AI technologies and talent over the next few years. One of their novel solutions is a generative AI-powered internal chatbot, OCBC GPT, which helpsemployees with basic knowledge-generation tasks, such as drafting responses to customer letters.
10. Infineon Singapore uses AI to improve decision-making and solve production bottlenecks in manufacturing.A “control tower concept” has been applied to monitorfactory flow using real-time data, analytics, AI, and robotics.This has resulted in increased productivity and optimised production schedules.
11. These are not isolated examples. Singapore has ranked No. 1 in the Salesforce Asia Pacific AI Readiness Indexsince 2019.In terms of Overall AI Readiness, Singapore is recognised for introducing decisive AI-related initiativesthatempower public- and private-sector organisations to adopt AI responsibly. Examples of initiatives include the National AI Programme in Government, the National AI Programme in Finance, the AI in Healthcare Guidelines and AI Verify. Singapore also emerged as the top in Business AI Readinessfor equipping our enterprisesto operate in a data-driven global economy. Under Government AI Readiness,Singaporecame up firstwith policies and business ecosystems conducive to AI adoption. I urge companies to ride on theprogress made to harness AI for higher productivity and to realise fresh business potential.
12. Think big on how you can deploy AI to help you run faster and do your business better.
Cultivating our AI Talent Pipeline
13. The Government is growing a strong pipeline of availabletalent to help drive companies’ adoption of AI. The TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiativeaims to nurture a skilled workforce for Singapore’s digital economy. Since 2016, TeSA has placed and trained more than 2,600 individuals in AI & data analytics job roles. With support from TeSA, AISingapore (AISG) has partnered with companies to train mid-career Singaporeans for AI-related jobs. AISG trainees receive hands-on practicethroughprojects from participating companies and government agencies. The majority, like 80% of AISG participants,received multiple job offers before graduation and an average pay rise of 25 per cent. This tells us about thestrong demand for AI expertise as companies adopt AI increasingly.
14. To shape a vibrant and forward-looking AI ecosystem in Singapore, we will continue growing our pool of AI research talent. Through initiatives such as the AISG PhD Fellowship Programme, we will groom top minds for advanced AI research. We are also expanding public awareness of the value AI can bring to our economy and society. AISG has launched various AI literacy outreach efforts,like AI for Everyone,which has drawn over 100,000 participants.
15. As leaders looking for the next big thing, I am sure you are already making your moves in AI. Let us work together to make this technology an asset for Singapore’s growth and ourfuture success.
16. Iwish to thank Canon and MediaCorp for giving us the chance to ‘think big’ at this event. As we adapt, innovate, and take hold of the opportunities around us, we can transform and lay hold of the success that lies ahead. I wish you all a fruitful and fulfilling session.
17. Thank you.