Speech by DPM and Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of Microsoft's New AI Transformation Initiatives for Singapore's SMES

Speech by DPM and Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong at the Launch of Microsoft's New AI Transformation Initiatives for Singapore's SMES

Ms Andrea Della Mattea, President, Microsoft ASEAN


Distinguished Guests


Good Morning


1. It gives me great pleasure to be here for the launch of the Microsoft’s new AI transformation initiatives for Singapore’s SMEs.


2. This partnership between Microsoft, Enterprise Singapore, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and AI Singapore is the first of its kind in the region. With this partnership, we hope to accelerate Copilot and AI adoption among enterprises across different digital maturity levels.


3. Microsoft Copilot is aptly named because it encapsulates what the tool is intended to be – a trusted companion that works alongside us to optimise our daily tasks and improve our way of life and way of work.


4. This analogy of a copilot applies to the broader role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in supporting the enterprises and the workforce to streamline processes, enhance productivity, and drive innovation.


Embracing AI Opportunities


5. As I have shared in the Parliament earlier this year, AI will be a key driver of our economy and Singapore will invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to accelerate AI-driven growth in line with our National AI Strategy.


6. It is important to ensure that all our enterprises and our workers will be able to benefit from the use of AI.


7. The emergence of Generative (Gen) AI has further opened a wide array of opportunities for all.


8. Enterprises can harness the power of AI in their businesses – to boost productivity across core business functions, foster product and service innovation, and deliver superior customer experiences.


9. To help enterprises embrace AI, it is important that we recognise varying needs across different digital maturity levels – most companies will require solutions which are easy to deploy and use.


10. Digitally more mature enterprises may need bespoke and customised solutions to achieve targeted business outcomes and address complex operational needs.


11. These levels of maturity can be summarised with three As:

a. Adopting AI,

b. Adapting it to your teams, and finally

c. Augmenting your own enterprise capabilities.


Level 1: Adopt AI and experiment with usage


12. With tools such as Copilot, AI is no longer reserved for tech giants with the data infrastructure and talent to support AI models.


13. Instead, all roles and employees within SMEs and MNCs alike can now use AI to improve their respective functions.


14. Copilot is directly embedded within many of the Microsoft 365 applications we use in our regular work, such as Word, Excel, and Outlook.


15. This offers SMEs an easy-to-use AI tool that will help them thrive in this digital age.

a. To catalyse the early experimentation and adoption of AI tools, I am happy to announce that EnterpriseSG will be supporting more than 1,000 SMEs to adopt Copilot through the launch of the Microsoft Copilot for SMEs programme.


i. EnterpriseSG will subsidise 50% of the Copilot for Microsoft 365 license costs for a 12-month usage period, with each SME being eligible to purchase up to 50 user licenses at the subsidised rate.


ii. I encourage SMEs to take advantage of this opportunity to unlock AI-powered productivity for your business.


b. Earlier this year, EnterpriseSG and IMDA also launched Singapore’s first GenAI Sandbox for SMEs comprising 13 curated Marketing & Sales and Customer Engagement solutions.


i. The sandbox has enabled more than 140 local SMEs to get hands-on experience in understanding the functions, benefits, and risks of generative AI before they invest further in their deployment.


ii. We will review feedback from the sandbox to enable more companies to benefit from these solutions.


16. Capability building is also crucial in enabling SMEs to maximise the impact of their adoption.


a. Under the partnership between Microsoft, EnterpriseSG, and AI Singapore, Microsoft will be providing additional capability building support for SMEs and their workers, such as industry-specific and job role-specific training workshops, and AI adoption events to share impactful use cases and best practices with SMEs.


i. AI Singapore will also support SMEs with its suite of AI programs and workshops to share with them the broader applications of AI.


b. Microsoft also has skilling initiatives with SkillsFuture Singapore, NTUC LearningHub and the Institute for Adult Learning to uplift the AI literacy and capabilities of businesses and employees and empower them with future-ready skills for an AI-enabled economy.


Level 2: Adapt solutions to address pain points


17. At the second level, we are not just looking to encourage adoption of AI across enterprises, but supporting AI-enabled solutions for SMEs that are adapted to address their specific needs.


a. EnterpriseSG will be working closely with our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) to develop AI solutions to meet the needs of our SMEs.


i. Starting with Nanyang Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic, our IHLs will begin curating problem statements around AI in the next few months and developing market-ready solutions that can be used across many sectors and common business functions.


ii. This initiative will enable SMEs looking for a higher level of digital integration to address specific pain points in their business operations and to tap on NYP and SP’s domain and technical expertise.


iii. In the next two years, we aim to work with more IHLs and support up to 100 companies with this initiative.


b. IMDA also curates a list of pre-approved solutions under IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital Programme which are suitable for SMEs.


i. IMDA will partner Microsoft to uplift the capabilities of pre-approved vendors so that they can extend their applications with GenAI capabilities to SMEs and scale their adoption.


ii. We will continue to curate more relevant GenAI & AI-enabled solutions to keep in-line with various tech advancements.


Level 3: Advance enterprise capability in AI


18. Finally, we will aim to help our digitally mature enterprises advance their enterprise capabilities in AI and GenAI.


19. While these companies have the capacity and willingness to adopt AI, they may need extra help to deepen their understanding of the technology and raise their capabilities to develop AI solutions, given how nascent the technology is.


a. Following the announcement on GenAI for Digital Leaders (GenAI x Digital Leaders) at COS2024, I am glad that Microsoft is now partnering IMDA in this initiative to provide our enterprises with advisory and guidance on GenAI and connect them to credible partners to develop and deploy customised solutions to meet their business needs and outcomes.




20. To all the SMEs here, given the help and resources available to support you, I encourage you to start your engines and take flight on your AI journey.


21. I look forward to seeing what each of you can achieve with AI. Thank you.

Contact Us Feedback