Igniting Innovation in Singapore: The CIO view

Following almost 3 years of enabling remote working, securing business operations and enhancing productivity levels, forward-thinking CIOs are stepping up to spearhead transformation agendas in Singapore.

Leveraging a once-in-a-career opportunity, IT leaders are building new strategies to accelerate the potential of digital, mirroring boardroom ambitions to create competitive differentiation in 2023 and beyond.

According to State of the CIO 2023 findings, 90% of CIOs say that their role is becoming more digital and innovation focused.  

Yet such ambitions come with a caveat as CIOs build a foundation for innovation in Singapore amid an environment of legacy systems, out-dated mindsets, talent shortages and rising threat levels.

The level of uncertainty in the current operating environment was evident, and whilst companies were seeing no real direct impact at present, there is a mixed approach to investment with some being “cautious” and others seeing it as “essential.”

Those in the cautious camp are seeing new investments being delayed. Whilst those who see it as essential have a mandate to change as their business model is being disrupted.

Building on Success

The pandemic raised the status of IT within organizations, and the fact the businesses continued to run was down to the fast actions of the IT department.

The shift to digital also sped up decision making across enterprises with decisions being made in days instead of months.

The risk appetite of enterprises also increased as the risk of not implementing a technology could have lead to the business not operating at all.

Tech budgets are also growing with the State of the CIO survey (APAC) 2023 seeing that  58% of APAC CIO’s expect their budgets to increase in 2023, with another 32% saying that it will remain the same as the previous year.

“We are seeing a continuation of interest in innovation from the prior year across organizations,” observed XXXXXXXX at VMWare. He continues “however what is interesting is where this innovation is happening – for some it is innovation in simplification, for others it is disruptive innovation.”

Taking Stock and Driving Value from Investments

With many investments having been made during the Pandemic with accelerated decision processes, there is an activity of “taking stock” of what has been purchased, and driving value from past purchases, whether it be hardware, software or services.

In some cases, this has led to a more complex environment, requiring enterprises to take a step back and to evaluate.


A recurring theme is the need to simplify – whether it be applications or infrastructure, with the premise being a simpler structure is easier to manage.

“This is easier said than done, with 73% of enterprises using two or more clouds,” said XXXX. He continues “bringing the mixture of on-premise, public clouds, private clouds and edge together is key to moving forward and putting in place an architecture that not only works, but enables innovation.”

But this area is also the one where APAC CIO’s are seeing the greatest challenge with 42% saying that technology integration / implementation is the top skill required to support the ongoing digital business initiatives (State of the CIO survey (APAC) 2023), followed by IT/ Cloud architecture at 33%.

Overcoming Challenges

“Having the right partners is going to be key. As organizations struggle to find the right and affordable talent necessary to continue the innovation journey, bringing in partners who can share the load and bring their expertise is going to key.” Said XXXXXX. “We have worked with many organizations and have helped them overcome the challenges they face.

The top five areas where we see concerns are
1) risk related to security, data or privacy issues;
2) Inconsistent infrastructure in APIs, databases, networks and security;
3) the need to hire or maintain new, specialized skills to support public clouds;
4) the ability to manage / optimize spend; and
5) increased complexity from policies that manage individual environments.”

Innovation and Modernisation: What is the Appetite?

The appetite for innovation in Singapore is high, however the drivers of change vary. From strategic organizational change, where a de-centralization strategy requires splitting the business, through fundamental changes in technology, such as the shift to electric vehicles, and the impact on developing a new ecosystem.

New digital revenue models are also on the rise, with more organizations “white labelling” their platforms and licensing their usage to other companies. This has also allowed Singapore companies to expand to other geographies.

“A good example of this is Informatics Academy, whom we have worked with to modernise their IT infrastructure to better connect, secure, and coordinate operations across its global campuses in Singapore and the UK.” said XXXX.

The exploration of generative AI is happening across most organizations with ongoing projects to see where and how it can be adopted. Concerns remain with its use, especially around security and ethics. But the power of the tool is one that has most enterprises excited.

The challenge will be having the strategy to embed generative AI within the organization, and to also change the organization to take full advantage of the possibilities that exist in changing business processes.  

Tha ability to use generative AI to explore within a companies firewall to bring disparate data sources together is an area of great interest, being seen as a disrupting technology. It is clear that those organization that can adopt, embed, and change to take advantage of the power of generative AI will be better positioned for the uncertain times ahead.

Innovation is being ignited in Singapore.