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Jul 26 2019   5:55AM GMT

How Singapore’s SP Group is keeping pace with digital transformation

Aaron Tan Aaron Tan Profile: Aaron Tan

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The increasing use of renewable energy, consumer expectations of digital services and market liberalisation are some of the forces that have been reshaping Singapore’s energy industry in recent years.

Faced with this disruption, SP Group, the country’s main energy supplier and power grid operator SP Group – formerly known as Singapore Power – has been embarking on a slew of initiatives to transform digitally.

A few years ago, it formed a digital business subsidiary called SP Digital to build “energy tech” products for industries such as marine engineering. Sembcorp Marine, for example, is using SP Digital’s products to monitor solar energy generation, and to optimise energy usage using artificial intelligence.

SP Digital has also launched a renewable energy certificates marketplace based on blockchain technology, as well as built a consumer engagement platform that lets residential customers track their energy usage, among other capabilities.

When SP Group’s nationwide electric vehicle charging network is ready by 2020, the engagement platform could also be used to deliver new capabilities for consumers, such as locating charging points and paying for the use of them.

The transformation at SP Group so far has been nothing short of impressive. SP Digital’s digital energy products have so far generated new revenue streams, putting the group in a better position to compete with young energy start-ups in a changing industry that’s brimming with innovation.

“The utility and energy world has always been about infrastructure behind the scenes, but things are changing,” SP Digital CEO Chang Sau Sheong told Computer Weekly on the sidelines of the 2019 ConnectGov Leaders Summit in Edinburgh.

“I was recently at the IEA (International Energy Agency) conference and you can see that sustainability and energy efficiency is so huge that there are lots of start-ups embarking on it. It’s no longer the old utilities industry.”

Chang rise to the helm of SP Digital was just as transformational. He took over from his predecessor who was running a team tasked with managing traditional IT and operational technology systems at SP Group.

After his predecessor left the firm, Chang was asked by the group CEO to spin off his team to form SP Digital, with its own profit-and-loss (P&L) account. That paved for way for Chang and his team to pursue new digital opportunities – and the rest is history.

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