Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute (SiPi), the organiser of the conference and a subsidiary of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), has been advocating innovation-led productivity as well as value creation through business model innovation for the last six years. Besides conducting the BMI Masterclass Programme which was launched last November, it has been organising annual events such as the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference (SIPC) with the aim of raising the awareness of SMEs on this subject.
Supported by SPRING Singapore, this year’s annual SIPC - now into its 6th edition -- focused on Innovation-led Productivity as the theme for the event held at the auditorium of the HDB Hub Convention Centre. Ms. Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Mayor of South West CDC, was the Guest-of-Honour.
The conference included panel sessions highlighting the successful case studies for MNCs and SMEs, as well as a plenary session by Dr Michaela Csik, co-author of the book “The Business Model Navigator” which has become an international bestseller. Currently the Global Project Manager for New Business Models at LafargeHolcim, a leading company in the construction material industry, Dr Csik also led a workshop on 23 September for SME executives keen to grasp the ins and outs of business modelling.
Besides presenting case studies of their own companies’ innovation journey, these speakers also took part in panel discussions moderated by Dr Michael Teng, CEO of SiPi.
Speaking at the SIPC, SMF President Mr Douglas Foo said, “Companies often invest in substantial efforts to innovate their processes or products, which can lead to incremental improvements in productivity. But that is not a holistic approach. The pressing and pertinent first step is to examine your business model.”
BMI is defined as an innovative way to create, develop, capture and deliver value to the customers’ market. Studies have shown that BMI can lead to exponential productivity growth. For example, according to a global study conducted by IBM, in which over 750 corporate and public sector leaders were interviewed on the subject of innovation, it is found that Business Model Innovation can generate 25 times the return on investments compared to product or process innovation.
In her opening speech, Guest-of-Honour Ms. Low Yen Ling stressed the importance of innovation in maintaining a company’s competitive edge, especially for Singapore which is a small, export-driven economy. She cited Ka Shin Technologies as an example of how a home-grown precision engineering company has automated their supply chain processes by deploying software using advanced algorithms. Their approach towards innovation has resulted in a reduction in time taken to cut precision mould inserts by more than a third – from 180 to 114 hours per piece. Robots were also introduced to load and unload pieces. As a result of these improvements, Ka Shin Technologies was able to re-deploy two-thirds of its staff from milling operations to other functions such as mould design to grow the business.
Ms Low added, “Productivity and innovation are crucial responses to this new ‘normal’. Both do not happen by chance, but through deliberate planning and investments in technology and innovative business models. Neither should we let change be forced upon us. Instead, we should take the initiative to transform and grow. We can all learn from Ka Shin Technologies’ initiative and resourcefulness in technology adoption. These need not be high-brow, esoteric technologies.”
Participants of the SIPC have found the event useful. One participant, Ms Sally Chen, a project executive of Wee Meng Construction Energy Pte Ltd, said, “We’re already half-way through the transformation phase as we are now installing industrial robots for our manufacturing. Attending the conference enables us to hear first-hand the success stories of the MNCs and the local companies, and it gives us a clearer vision of what we are doing, while reaffirming our belief that our transformation journey is on the right track.”
Another participant, Mr Stephen Lee, Operations Manager of i-Spray Pte Ltd, also commented, “The conference content was relevant and applicable to my work. After attending the conference, I am able to conceptualise the gaps in my business operations. Overall, the conference met my expectations and I would recommend to other SMEs to attend such an event in the future.”