SingTel prepares for the digital future

Low Lai Chow

Just over a year ago, SingTel, the Singaporean telecoms company, acquired Amobee, the US-based mobile advertising start-up, for $321 million. And the latter firm has now opened an office in Singapore.

But while speaking at an event organized by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Singapore, Michael Smith, chief commercial officer of SingTel's Group Digital Life, revealed that rather than trying to integrate the two firms, "we do our best to keep them out of SingTel".

"There's a reason to keep digital businesses, when you're a big company like ours, as far away as you can, and try to build bridges between the two to make sense of it, but joined," he said. "If you bring the digital business too close, you'll destroy the ecosystem of the big company."

Within SingTel, hiring the right people to make the right business calls, he said, is currently a huge priority. "At SingTel Digital Life, really, we've had many more failures than outbreaks, and I suspect we'll probably have even more," Smith confessed. "The biggest issue we have as a business is not the failures, and we fail probably more than others; it's the ability to quickly move and adapt. You've got to get the right people to do that."