NCS, IBM to welcome SMBs onboard IT bid

One Team consortium will partner small and midsize businesses to provide products and services for the Singapore government's SOE infrastructure.

SINGAPORE--NCS and IBM today announced plans to team up with small and midsize businesses (SMBs) if they win their bid to provide for the government's Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) project.

Speaking at a media briefing, Chong Yoke Sin, CEO of NCS Group said "a portion of the contract will be devoted to SMBs". NCS and IBM are part of a consortium, dubbed One Team, vying for a piece of the SOE tender and comprises other major vendors including Alcatel, Cisco Systems and Dell Computer.

If the consortium wins the bid, Chong said, One Team intends to involve not only SMB IT players, but also SMBs that can provide services in areas such as cabling, manpower and delivery.

"The market will become bigger, and definitely, the SMBs will have a chance to grow to become bigger SMBs," she said.

According to Chong, the selection of SMBs will be done through a "transparent process" that would include tender or quotations, depending on the type of services that need to be provided. The selection process will begin if, and after One team wins the bid.

"But definitely, we will be looking [out] for the commitment of the SMB, in terms of services, pricing as well as the performance of the SMB," she added.

In addition, she noted that One Team will provide training to the selected SMBs in SOE governance and structure, so that the smaller companies will be "familiar with the [expected] service provision".

SMBs can also "come together to form their [own] little consortiums", Chong said, adding that these companies could "easily" receive 10 percent of the S$2 billion (US$1.3 billion) contract, spanning eight years.

First announced in April 2005, the SOE project is an effort by Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to standardize technology usage across all government departments in the island-state. It is currently in the tender process, where One Team is one of four consortiums bidding for the project.

Ong Peng Tsin, Encentuate's founder and executive chairman, said in a statement: "One Team's ecosystem approach to delivering the SOE will push SMB IT companies toward integrating their technical and business capabilities, so as to address 'big picture' business needs." A provider of security tokens, Encentuate is an existing SMB partner of IBM and NCS.

"One Team's vision of SOE could also spur greater collaboration among the SMBs, [and therefore], has the potential to bring together an integrated SMB community and provide a springboard for Singapore to become an innovative hub," Ong added.

In October last year, Hewlett-Packard inked a partnership with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) to provide training in information and communication technology (ICT), as part of its bid for the SOE project.