03 May 2019


Eng Se-Hsieng: On the Internet of Things and Singapore’s Tech Scene

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a big buzzword in today’s tech scene, but how does such a network actually impact the way the sector develops in Singapore and the region? Hear from Eng Se-Hsieng, former Head of Internet of Things, Northern Europe Sales, Vodafone Business, as she shares on what she foresees for Singapore’s tech future.




The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of Internet-connected devices, systems, vehicles, buildings and other tech-enabled tools and applications that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. On a personal level, for example, this could allow your smart fridge to detect that you are running low on eggs and automatically add them to your e-shopping cart. For businesses, IoT has the ability to enable new modes of engaging customers and driving growth. On a national scale, such a system allows cities to coordinate municipal services, such as public transportation or emergency response, for greater efficiency and better deployment.


IoT is a fast-growing market in the region and the world. With nearly half of all retailers worldwide adopting IoT technologies to some extent, the value of the market is anticipated to reach over 82 billion by the end of 2025.


So, what does this IoT trend spell for Singapore?



Dialling up Singapore’s potential


Se-Hsieng (left) with colleagues and partners from Vodafone IoT.


From her experience working and studying around the world, including countries like Abu Dhabi, France, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the U.K., Singapore tech leader Se-Hsieng believes that Singapore is in a unique position to draw IoT and tech investment to ASEAN. Singapore has the advantages of a highly-skilled workforce, a track record of major infrastructure upgrades, and a crop of high-growth enterprises. She added that Singapore’s diverse population, which has a high smartphone penetration rate, is also ideal for road-testing IoT innovations. 


In fact, IoT is one of the core elements that drive Singapore’s Smart Nation Transformation. As part of our ASEAN Chairmanship in 2018, Singapore brought together the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, a collaborative platform to coordinate smart city projects and initiatives and improve the lives of people in the region.


As for Singapore’s tech scene, while younger than that of other countries’, it has immense potential and is notably vibrant. Se-Hsieng explained that our compact size allows us to have a robust connectivity infrastructure. She added that Singapore is also able to compete effectively with larger economies because there is a strong focus on innovation here.


Taking advantage of this energetic scene, many tech startups are using Singapore as launch pads. Se-Hsieng attributes this draw to Singapore’s “ease of human and capital movement, widespread use of English, and a secure, developed infrastructure”.


In light of Singapore’s move towards an IoT-enabled infrastructure, she foresees that Singapore will gravitate towards using more Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, especially for government services, education and smart city applications. She sees Singapore as “a testbed for other markets in the region, which will continue to strengthen [our] role as a gateway to Asia”.


Looking ahead, she wishes for Singapore to remain as an attractive global hub, and for the institutions to continue providing a strong foundation in technical and soft skills for our future tech leaders. She also urges local business to not fear “starting small and failing fast”.


As for Se-Hsieng, she has since returned home together with her husband and their two boys, aged 8 and 10, and started a new role as the Director of Business Development in the tech start-up Skylab, leading in Smart Cities and industrial IoT solutions.  




Overseas Singaporeans in Technology: A people network


With over 15 years of experience in the international telecommunications industry, she certainly has much to bring to our Overseas Singaporeans in Technology LinkedIn group. As a female tech leader, she hopes to champion more female voices in the industry, as well as encourage more young women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in school and attain leadership positions in these related fields.


She also encourages budding Singaporean technopreneurs to join this LinkedIn network and connect with fellow professionals in the industry. “Overseas Singaporeans cherish a link back to home, whether it is for career opportunities or just emotional support. It is a great platform for Singaporeans to stay connected with one another and exchange their experiences. Being able to exchange the latest trends on the go is more important than ever in our connected world.”


Currently working overseas in the tech sector or know of any Singaporeans doing so? Be a part of our sharing space by dropping us a request here, whether you’re a fresh graduate or a business owner! This LinkedIn group is an initiative by Overseas Singaporean Unit.





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