IT vendors eye new S'pore tourist hotspot

Industry players are making moves to get involved in the country's two gaming resorts, where tech investment is estimated to be worth US$623 million.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The race may still be on for Singapore's integrated resort (IR) projects, but the tech community in the island-state is gearing up for a slice of the ICT component.

According to Bill Lee, managing director of SAS Institute Singapore, industry players have estimated that the IT implementation for the IR projects (see box below) are worth S$1 billion (US$623 million). Vendors are also looking to form consortiums in their bid to play a role in the projects, he added.

ZDNet Asia contacted various major vendors, several of which confirmed their interest and are engaged in discussions with bidders and other IT players.

Tan Yen-Yen, Hewlett-Packard's managing director for Singapore, said the company has put together a team to look into opportunities associated with the IRs.

Chong Yoke Sin, CEO of Singapore-based systems integrator NCS, told ZDNet Asia the organization has "engaged the IR bidders in discussions" with the intention of assisting them in their infocomm requirements.

Betting big on IT
The Singapore government announced in April 2005 that it would--for the first time--allow leisure facilities with a gaming component, dubbed integrated resorts (IRs), to be built in the country.
Two plots of land have been set aside for the development of the IRs--one in Marina Bay, which is near the country's commercial district; and the other in Sentosa, an offshore island which is a popular tourist attraction.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which is overseeing the IR projects, called for tenders or "Request For Proposals (RFP)" for the Marina Bay site last November. The winning bidder is expected to be unveiled within the next three months. A RFP for the Sentosa IR will be held from Apr. 28 to Oct. 10, and the winning bid will be announced by end-2006.

Spokespersons from Atos Origin, Cisco Systems and NEC Solutions have also indicated their companies' interest in the IR projects.

Putting hi-tech into IRs
Craig Gledhill, Cisco's managing director for Singapore and Brunei, said the IR projects are a way to "showcase innovation not seen in other casinos".

Cisco's Jonathan Yeo, senior business solutions manager for the Asia-Pacific region, added that Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure and applications can be used for various aspects of IR estates such as security and building automation. IP devices, for example, can be used to control various components in a hotel room including the room temperature and television.

HP's Tan also noted that the technology solutions required for Singapore's IRs will be "far-ranging" and will include tools in customer relationship management (CRM), networking and security.

To mitigate the social ills associated with gambling, the Singapore government has suggested that it would impose restrictions, for example, by introducing daily or yearly entrance fees for Singapore citizens and permanent residents. The restrictions, Tan said, mean the ability to identify visitors to the casino will be another important focus area.

SAS's Lee said that business intelligence (BI) would play a major role in the IR projects, and added that products offered by the BI vendor have been implemented in various casinos in the United States.

The winning bid for the first IR, sited near Singapore's commercial district, is expected to be announced in the middle of this year. Formal proposals for the other IR, to be located on a popular offshore island, will be called later this month and the winner announced by the end of this year.

Although it is still unclear which IT vendors will be teaming up in their bid for the IR projects, the consortiums are likely to follow in the footsteps of the Singapore government's standard operating environment project, where multinational corporations have joined hands with local players including SAS, Cisco, HP and NCS.

Vivek Chatrath, Avanade's director of business development, however, noted that local IT players may not get to reap the benefits from the IR projects.

He said the IR bidders, which currently include Malaysia's Genting International and Star Cruises, and Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage in the United States, are experienced gaming players that may choose to work with their existing partners, preferring to replicate built-and-tested models. This is a more likely scenario especially if there is a need to develop the IR infrastructure within a short timeframe, Chatrath explained.

"The players [are likely to] take the lowest risk option… they [would not] want to risk loss in technology investment," he added.

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