Singapore a 'global leader' in embracing technology: Deloitte

By embracing digitization, Asia will continue to lead global economic growth over the coming decade

SINGAPORE has been touted as a "global leader" when it comes to embracing technology in order to stay competitive and to drive economic growth for the long haul.

In a new report released by global consultancy firm Deloitte, the Republic was mentioned in the same breath as the likes of South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong for being among the most digitally-engaged nations in the world.

The latest edition of the company's Voice Of Asia series, released on Wednesday morning, highlighted the fact that Asian economies and societies are at the vanguard of the digital revolution.

Many Asian governments have recognised the importance of technological development for their economic agenda, said Deloitte in the report.

It cited Japan for being a "pioneer" in technological innovation over many decades and for continuing to invest heavily in its development.

The report praised the governments of Singapore and South Korea for continuing to actively explore ways to embrace the latest waves of technological advances so that they remain ahead of the competition.

The large population bases in countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam all have "considerable opportunities" waiting to be seized.

Singapore received recognition on several fronts: It is ranked first on the World Economic Forum's Networked Readiness Index, which measures the performance of 139 economies in leveraging ICT to boost competitiveness, innovation and well-being.

The United Nations 2016 e-Government Survey ranked Singapore and South Korea among the top five world leaders on the Online Service Index.

Singapore has promoted data centres in an effort to attract private entities. It also has a Personal Data Protection Commission that champions the development of good practices in data management.

Deloitte noted that Singapore was hailed for establishing the Smart Nation initiative in 2014 to become a smart city, with nearly 98 per cent of public services currently available online.

The country has a network of sensors, cameras and GPS devices embedded in taxis to track traffic and to predict future congestion to warn drivers to take alternative routes.

The report went on to say that Asia has become the centre of global economic growth and, by embracing digital, it will continue to lead global economic growth over the coming decade.

Ric Simes, an economist at Deloitte Australia, said in a news release that digital technologies have been synonymous with rapid and evolving change over the past four decades.

"While we have made significant progress, we are only at the tip of the digital iceberg when it comes to what's possible in the future. When applied on a global scale, we can see that Asian economies and societies are at the forefront of this revolution," he said.

Mr Simes added that Asia is leading the way in how digital developments can enable individuals, businesses and governments to do things differently and more efficiently.

The Deloitte report stressed that as countries become more digitally savvy and economies develop, the role of businesses and consumers will come to the fore as governments take more of a back seat.

"Asian economies are leading the race in terms of digital engagement. However, each country is running its own race and there are clear opportunities for countries to accelerate their growth and development by learning from each other's experiences," the report said.