IT ambition - Suntec's e-procurement initiative

Among the inhabitants of Suntec's sprawl of towers and shopping complex are 150 IT companies both local and foreign. With the launch of an e-procurement platform, the property complex is now a step closer to being the "Vertical Silicon Valley of Asia."

Singapore's Suntec City is taking another step toward making itself an e-business hub of the nation by putting forth an e-procurement platform for its tenants.

Sitting on 11.7 hectares of prime commercial land, the Suntec City is a S$5 billion real estate consisting of four 50-storey office towers, one shorter Suntec tower, a shopping complex and a convention center.

Styling the property as the Vertical Silicon Valley of Asia, managers and owners of Suntec City plan to build a community of IT businesses resembling that of US's Silicon Valley.

The e-procurement platform, designed to deliver office and stationary supplies to tenants through online transactions, is the management's latest initiative toward fulfilling that goal.

Suntec City boasts a daily working population of 25 000. According to VChain, which will be providing the solutions to build the platform, transaction volume is estimated to be around S$20 million over a period of 18 months.

"We are aggregating the demand of the whole community here," said Tay K.C., President of VChain. By doing so, and utilizing web efficiency, we'll be able to translate that into savings for the tenants."

According to Tay, corporate buyers can expect to save 5-10% from cheaper prices and a further 5% from leaner work processes.

Signing up has already begun. VChain plans to sign up at least 25% of Suntec City's 500 office and 260 retail tenants within the first three months.

For the managers of Suntec City, providing e-business initiative in the current economic clime makes perfect sense.

At S$8.50 per square foot, Suntec City already has the highest letting rate in the country, according to Wong Ah Long, CEO of Suntec City Development Pte Ltd.

Recent valuation of the property projects a doubling of its value within the next five years.

"Connectivity is more important than location these days," said Wong, "with the Internet, the application of knowledge has become the differentiator of success and failure."

"Because we are able to offer e-business services, our tenants don't mind paying a premium to be located here," Wong added.

The e-procurement platform, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.

On level 7, Suntec Tower 3, is the Atos Origin office that houses the redundant systems of proxy and firewall servers that caters to the entire complex.

All the buildings of Suntec City are wired up for 24x7 connectivity, according to Atos Origin, the third partner for the e-procurement project.

It was Atos' managing director for the region, Quah Siew Heng, who first broached the idea of building a humming e-business community in Suntec to Wong over a landlord-tenant lunch January this year.

Since then, Suntec City has pursued the course of fulfilling its vision of "e-bizhub@Suntec."

"We hope to erase the traditional model of landlord-tenant relationship," said Wong. "Instead, we aim to create an e-community here and increase connectivity for all our tenants and partners."

"An online procurement initiative seems a viable step in this direction," Wong added.

For now, the procurement platform will have only one supplier, OfficeA2Z. The partners plan to bring on more suppliers in the future, encouraging, especially, Suntec's own tenants to take up the role.

The site is exclusive to Suntec tenants and is slated to go live on the 1st of December this year.

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