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Singapore firms streamline operations, fend off disruption with cloud

Certis and financial institutions are among those in the city state that are turning to cloud services to gain a competitive edge

Cloud computing has eased and sped up operations for organisations across industries in Singapore, experts said at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit Singapore last week.

When security provider Certis Singapore wanted to rework its silo operations of security, facilities management and guest management into a “single, seamless service”, the organisation decided that cloud was the way to go.

This move resulted in a 20 to 30% decrease in security manpower deployment in major retail malls.

“Digitalising our operations end-to-end will give us better data, which allows us to reimagine our customers’ journey and redefine problems that we are helping them to solve,” said Chua Chwee Koh, chief of group technology and operations at Certis. “To do that, we need to be agile – to fail fast but learn faster, and be able to scale quickly.”

When it came to choosing its cloud service provider, Certis did in local style. “Like a typical Singaporean in the new neighbourhood food centre, when you are not sure which stall is the best, you join the one with the longest queue,” quipped Chua. 

After AWS ticked all the right boxes, Certis had to decide whether to lift and shift, re-platform or re-architect its existing setup for the cloud. Opting for the re-architecting route, it had to quickly rebuild its legacy applications.

Certis has found the AWS cloud to offer 30% shorter development time, up to 75% less operations and support, up to 10 times lower security costs and is highly scalable.

However, the biggest challenge is people and culture. While AWS certification options helped, there is the need to “educate, retool and reskill” to a cloud mindset. By the end of this year, up to 70% of Certis’ staff will be cloud computing trained.

Telco Singtel also talked about how traditional banking has been disrupted, as financial technology (fintech) startups and neo-banks are now offering integrated banking services through the cloud.

As a result, traditional financial institutions have had to adapt to this disruption, by offering new digital services that build deeper and more meaningful relationships with customers. They are also merging to get access to scale and new capabilities, as well as partnering with fintech startups to deploy know-your-customer, blockchain and payment services.

“Cloud is the common denominator for transformation across all industries, including financial services,” said Sudesh Shah, Singtel’s vice-president for cloud.

At the event, AWS announced that it will open a cloud region in Indonesia by 2021 or early 2022.

The new AWS Asia-Pacific (Jakarta) region, comprising three availability zones, will be the cloud supplier’s ninth region in Asia-Pacific. Other AWS cloud regions include Beijing, Mumbai, Ningxia, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and an upcoming region in Hong Kong.

Peter DeSantis, vice-president of global infrastructure and customer support at AWS, said opening an AWS region in Indonesia will “support the country’s fast-growing start-up ecosystem, large Indonesian enterprises and government agencies by helping drive more technology jobs and businesses and boost the local economy”.

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