Strategy

How Singapore plans to become Asia's big data hub in 2018

30 January 2018

Big data ambitions? Look no further than Singapore

Businesses have universally been influenced by big data, and Singapore is at the forefront in Asia, quickly positioning itself as the region's big data hub. Studies have indicated that the data analytics industry contributes at least S$1bn to its economy each year. For foreign companies working in this sector, there's never been a better time to consider opening an office in Singapore.

Leading the world in connectivity

According to a recent report from the internet metrics company Ookla, internet speeds in Singapore are among the fastest in the world, rivalled only by Norway. This is largely the result of the city-state's significant infrastructure investment as part of its Smart Nation initiative, which is championing innovation and ambitious tech projects.

With an average fixed broadband download speed of 180.61 Mbps and an average mobile download speed of 44.37 Mbps, Singapore is the perfect choice of location for companies looking to expand their big data operations in Asia. After all, the ability to process data quickly, reliably and effectively does depend, at least in part, on the speed and quality of a company's connection.

An outstanding business ecosystem

Singapore has long been known for its thriving business scene, with The Economist dubbing it "the world's most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem." Its accessible environment for doing business, including English being its first language, puts the country ahead of other ASEAN destinations.

Global tech firm HP knows this all too well, having been based in Singapore since 1970. At the end of 2017, the company renewed its commitment to Singapore by opening a new data-driven research campus for advanced manufacturing. Through better, data- driven insights on its manufacturing systems, the company anticipates a 20% boost in its printer supplies factory operations.

For big data, the entrepreneurial nature of Singapore means being able to take advantage of connections with well-established companies and learning from emerging startups that are building the tools and solutions of tomorrow. Industry events such as the annual Big Data & Analytics Innovation Summit, now in its sixth year, showcase Singapore's world-class business community for data topics.

Educating the next generation

Universities in Singapore are setting high standards for the ASEAN region when it comes to technical education. The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have recently introduced initiatives focused on data science and artificial intelligence, partnering with tech companies to develop the big data talent they need to thrive.

NTU launched the new Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Centre at the end of 2017, for example. It has S$8 million in funding over the next three years, more than 60 scientists and researchers on staff, and the support of leading global companies including PayPal and Nvidia. For companies looking to expand and hire locally, Singapore is an inviting prospect because of its excellence in education. Pair this with the ease of doing business and English being a strong and first language in Singapore, and the proposition is irresistible.

The culmination of Singapore's Smart Nation program, high internet speed and significant internet penetration rate has yet to be reached, allowing for further innovation, investment and growth in big data, A.I, machine learning, IoT and beyond. Today, it is clear that these continuously advancing segments make the city-state an extremely attractive location for external organizations and influencers looking to make their name globally. With its strong digital talent, robust tech ecosystem and digitally-savvy population of 5.6 million, Singapore makes for an ideal test-lab for companies looking to gather and analyze data, innovate and scale their business to the rest of Asia and beyond. While big data in Singapore is advanced, the critical mass is yet to be realized. But when it is, wouldn't you want to have an advantage as the intersection of computation and data unfold?