RealTime IT News

Singapore's E-Commerce Sector Lacking Buzz

The Singapore government has taken tremendous efforts to develop the e-commerce infrastructure and business in the republic but it is still lacking the "buzz," National Computer Board chief executive Michael Yap said.

"To become an e-commerce hub will take more than infrastructure and sound legal frameworks. It also takes 'buzz,'" Yap said at the launch of the ec.Think consortium and the eAwards program.

The ec.Think consortium, which comprises the private sector, aims to promote e-commerce here while the awards aim to recognise companies leading the push.

"Buzz" is a concentration of talent, activity, debate, research and experimentation about a particular topic. It is about the velocity and volume with which quality information and ideas are being shared and exchanged, where intellectual capital, original thoughts, ideas and concepts are being generated," he said.

"This exchange is felt not only in one small area, but will cross-fertilize and impact the whole value chain," said Ya. Such a "buzz" in e-commerce is essential if Singapore is to become an international center of e-commerce activities.

Highlighting the point, Yap said it was an unhealthy fact that 60 percent of Singapore companies showed in a recent survey that they weren't interested in embarking on e-commerce.

This was the case despite the forecast growth in e-commerce transactions to S$470 billion by 2003, up from the S$13 billion expected this year across the region.

"The aim is (still) to have 20 percent of Singapore companies use some form of e-commerce in the next two years, and 50 percent by the year 2003," he said.

Yap said the NCB, which has driven computerization in the public sector and the republic at large, said there are four thrusts in its e-commerce push.

First, by encouraging academia, consultants and businesses to take up thought leadership projects on Singapore and the region.

Second, the republic will build our research capability by encouraging leading e-commerce research companies to be based in Singapore.

"We are particularly interested in cross fertilization of ideas for Asian e-commerce markets," he said.

Third, Singapore aims to facilitate and generate forums for discussion on the latest thinking. Apart from a conference being co-organized together with the Department of Statistics and the National University of Singapore, Yap said the NCB will also organize an Asian E-commerce Festival in Singapore next year.

"It will have a forum for debate among the e-commerce stakeholders, academia, venture capitalists and engineers," he said.

Fourth, NCB will continue to excel and take greater leadership at international policy fora, he said.