Singapore / Malaysia – convergence & ambition

Two striking impressions from a recent trip to Singapore

The first was the convergence of digital and creative.

This was exemplified by simultaneous trade shows CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia. Whilst always at the tech-y end of the spectrum the similarities between the two were striking – a mass of data management, file workflow, digital infrastructure, cloud services (and disappointing reliance on girls in shorts to attract attention). One had some space rockets, the other some cameras, but to all intents and purposes they were macro and micro views of digital communications management.

In presenting to three audiences across UK creative, digital and e/m commerce opportunities, the businesses I met may have come from differing sectoral or product positions but were recognisably part of a coherent digital narrative – whether brand engagement, public service analytics, social retail engines, online gaming or digital publishing – that of a technology enabled convergent blend of content, commerce and platform.

The second was of ambition.

The picture is from my hotel room on the 54th floor, every time I stay here the view is different and the sheer dynamism and drive of the place is written across the changing skyline.

Meeting with the Singapore InfoComm Development Agency and Media Development Authority the clarity of their strategic drive and investment in support of targeted goals – whether the growth of e-health services or development of multiplatform content delivery – was striking. These investments range from catalytic start up funds through to development / production support and training, significant enough to drive impact and clear in required outcomes.

A small island with a geographic and cultural advantage, seeking to define its value add proposition within a globalised creative/digital economy in the context of a position as an international network hub – sounds familiar, but I’m not sure in the UK we are as driven by an urgent strategic need to find the solution.

Across the Causeway into Malaysia another display of staggering ambition. In the next 10 years the Iskandar Development Authority is seeking to create an international metropolis and double the population of the city of Johor Bahru. A holistic masterplan embracing industries from agro and chemical to creative and medicine – with the creative development anchored by Pinewood Malaysia (site above).

From a relatively low base (1.5% GDP) the Malaysian Government is targeting double digit growth of its creative economy focused on animation, gaming and digital (with the SE Asian populations rapidly adopting social media and mobile tech).

The historical links between the UK and Singapore still endure and a constructive collaboration between British creative excellence and Singaporean digital ambition could provide a strong economic axis – with opportunities for businesses from both locations in accessing wider global markets.

Late last year UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and Singapore Minister for Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang signed a UK / Singapore Economic & Business Partnership Agreement establishing a strategic dialogue. Creative Services / Digital Media were highlighted as an area of potential business co-operation – it feels like an opportune moment to put some proactive detail onto that framework.

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