STACK Developer Conference 2022 (Opening Remarks)
Opening Remarks by SMS Janil For STACK Developer Conference 2022
16 Nov 2022
Good morning, everybody.
Welcome today to the STACK Developer Conference. STACK connects developers across Government, industry, and the wider tech community, to discuss technology and find opportunities for collaboration.
Our theme this morning is cloud and tech culture.
Cloud technology has revolutionized the way we all work, but especially so for developers and teams.
The use of cloud has raised our productivity and has lowered costs.
Having the right tools and platforms for developers is an important aspect of an organisation’s tech culture. Developers want to work with a modern tech stack rather than outdated platforms and frameworks.
So, as we deliver quality digital services for citizens, for our businesses, we also have to provide quality tools for our developers.
Enhancing the Role of Cloud in Improving Government’s Service Delivery
In Singapore, the Government has been progressively moving our systems onto the cloud. Today, close to 60% of our eligible systems have already migrated onto what we call the Government Commercial Cloud, or GCC, platform. Last year, we did a cost-benefit study and found that for systems we moved to the cloud, we have been able to save about 50% in hosting costs.
And now, our new systems are being developed directly on GCC by default.
This has resulted in significantly shorter lead times as our engineers and our external partners become more experienced with cloud development and deployment.
We have also seen the need to improve the developer experience on the GCC platform in order to encourage greater cloud adoption. For example, streamlining the onboarding process and introducing fully automated self-service workflows for account creation.
Creating the Right Culture for High-performing Tech Teams
Delivering good tech products requires more than just the technology; equally important are the people and culture of the organisation. A supportive organisational and tech culture is essential not just for individual developers, but for whole teams to push for better products.
Conversely, we well understand that a dysfunctional or poor culture can severely limit even the best developers, or worse, result in them leaving the organisation.
For a tech company, the need to build a strong tech culture is understood as a given.
But, for governments, as well as non-technology companies, creating the right tech culture requires deliberate and conscious effort.
For us in GovTech, we have a strong learning culture. We hire talented people with many different backgrounds, skills, and competencies. They come in from both the private and public sectors. They bring with them diverse perspectives and experiences. And all of this facilitates learning and innovation within the teams. The teams and individuals exchange ideas and best practices, leading to the development of better tech products and services.
Our high-performing teams do not only have the best developers. They also have other important factors such as a clear vision, agile thinking, and a supportive environment.
Within the public sector, teams can be very well motivated by a common purpose to build tech for public good. They are also committed to our shared vision of digital transformation across government.
A supportive environment includes both the physical office spaces as well as the developers’ tools and platforms. A well-designed office, maybe something open and spacious, can encourage collaboration and innovation. In the same vein, adopting the right productivity or collaboration tools can make a big difference in efficiency, productivity, and quality of the services within a team and across teams.
Moving software development onto the cloud also allows developers to focus less on the infrastructure and compliance issues, and more on developing the application logic.
This saves countless hours and reduces human errors.
Strengthening Government-Private Sector Partnership
In our journey to grow cloud capabilities and create a strong tech culture, the Government cannot achieve this alone. Partnerships are vital. The Government Commercial Cloud (GCC) would not have been possible without the strong partnership that we have, and deeply appreciate, with the cloud service providers.
And there have been other very important successful partnerships that have delivered valuable services directly benefitting our citizens. I am going to list a couple of examples if you do not mind.
One notable example is the Singapore Financial Data Exchange, SGFinDex. It was developed in collaboration with seven participating banks, and it enables individuals to see a consolidated view of their financial information held across different government agencies and financial institutions.
It is the world’s first public digital infrastructure to use a centrally managed online consent system, backed by a National Digital Identity. SGFinDex has expanded beyond government agencies and banks, and now includes insurance companies, and so enhances the financial planning process for our users.
Another example of a very successful partnership is OpenAttestation. OpenAttestation is an open-sourced framework developed by GovTech to issue cryptographically trustworthy documents that can be verified independently.
And OpenAttestation has now been adopted by other countries and other institutions. One particular example I think many of you in the room may be familiar with is HealthCerts, which was developed using this framework and provides a reliable means of proving your Covid-19 vaccination status when you travel overseas.
Another example - we collaborated with the World Bank and published a detailed study of what is happening in Singapore, in the interface between Singpass and APEX, our API exchange framework. The study highlighted how we have improved these products over time by prioritising the user experience and focusing on use cases that generate the most value.
And we went into this, to develop the case study. The aim was to share this multi-year journey with other countries wanting to accelerate their development of their digital government infrastructure, and we hope they can adapt or learn from our experience.
STACK has not been around for very long, and in that relatively short time, the STACK community has grown to include over 12,000 developers, representing the many partnerships and collaborations. GovTech will continue to strengthen our engagements, our partnerships, our collaborations with the industry and with our professional tech communities.
That is why we are here today. That is why we take care of STACK in this way. Through the STACK developer conference, we want to encourage open sharing between governments and the industry, building valued networks and partnerships in the process.
And we look forward to many more opportunities for collaboration and for exchanging ideas.
Thank you all very, very much for your continued support and for being part of the STACK community. I hope you will enjoy the sessions and activities lined up for today and I wish you all a very meaningful conference ahead! Thank you very much.
Dr Janil Puthucheary
Senior Minister of State,
Ministry of Communications and Information
& Ministry of Health