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Singapore's migration to cloud continues, and expect more SaaS once we secure it, says GovTech

Shifts strategy to work more closely with industry on digital projects

Singapore wants to change the role of industry to co-develop digital projects alongside government and leave behind the days of wholesale outsourcing, or so says GovTech, the city-state's digital services arm.

"It would be relevant to understand the changing role that industry plays in supporting the government in the digitalisation journey," said conversation moderator Shirley Wong in an online briefing today. "The government is not insourcing all projects with their engineering capabilities built up, as demand is very huge."

She added:

The role of the industry is changing from complete outsourcing to one of co-development with agencies leveraging collaboration available from GovTech's central platforms.

GovTech's director of procurement, Yu Ling Mah, encouraged companies interested in partnering to upskill their employees on cloud, data science, AI, ML, Agile, and secure cyber practices to win bids from the organisation.

Wong and Mah also emphasised that companies should not take on entire projects, but instead leverage central platforms built by GovTech to reduce overall effort.

In 2018, Singapore laid out a five-year plan [PDF] to migrate 70 per cent of its less sensitive government IT systems from on-premises infrastructure to the commercial cloud. A canned statement from GovTech last week said that close to 600 systems had been migrated to date.

Mah said the migration was on target.

As for SaaS, Mah said it was part of her workplan for 2021. "Beyond moving past applications to be hosted on the cloud, the next phase is a lot of adoption of the SaaS that agencies are looking at. We are reviewing some of our procurement approaches in terms of how best this can be done because the SaaS offerings out there may not be able to meet all our security requirements."

Mah is looking at aggregation of demand on common needs of SaaS, adding: "I think you'll probably see some things on this phase maybe this year, and the move toward SaaS is picking up too."

The government is expected to spend S$3.8bn (US$2.8bn) this year on ICT, up from S$3.5bn (US$2.6bn) in 2020. Of this amount, S$2.7bn (US$2bn) is earmarked for digital application services, with 44 per cent of the S$2.7bn going to cloud development. Over S$500m (US$372m) of the S$3.8bn will be spent to adopt and deploy public AI systems.

GovTech said SMEs will be eligible to participate in close to 83 per cent of the available contracts as it seeks to link up with industry and spend those earmarked billions.

A type of "crowdsourcing" of technology seems to be Singapore's modus operandi this week as the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in conjunction with global organisations, announced a competition to develop a retail Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) solution. Although there are cash prizes, tools, and mentorship involved, there's no promise they will actually adopt said currency at competition end. ®

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