Exciting times for commercial tech: Could there be more opportunities for you in the contracts market?

For many years now, Singapore and Hong Kong have been fertile grounds for tech companies to thrive. Recognised globally as two of the ‘Asian Tigers’, tech giants and start-ups have set up their businesses in these regional hubs to take advantage of the support of advanced infrastructure and technologies. In 2018, Singapore and Hong Kong were ranked first and third respectively within the digital infrastructure sector in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Asian Digital Transformation Index.

This notable achievement has placed both countries favourably – especially within the financial industry where digital disruption is at its peak. We are further seeing immense growth within commercial technologies as organisations continue to prioritise the evolving needs of their customers to ensure the sustainability of businesses in the long-term.

Such trends have had a great impact on the hiring market as skilled talent continues to be scarce in spite of growing job vacancies in tech. Tech giants are hiring more than 1000 tech specialists year on year to keep up with competition of niche talents.

Shortage of talent for niche tech-based contract roles

The ratio of contract workers to permanent employees in Asia is shifting as the gig economy continues to grow. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber and other Silicon Valley tech companies now employ thousands of contract workers to perform a host of functions – from sales, writing code to managing teams and testing products. Contract workers at Google have today outnumbered permanent employees for the first time in the company’s 20-year history, as reported by the Economic Times.

The supply of contract jobs are on the rise as companies prefer hiring contractors with in-demand skills for short periods of time only – thereby contributing to the already tight labour market. In recent years, workers with a niche skillset who were placed in a higher salary band have been more likely to have their services contracted out compared to workers in jobs in a lower salary band, according to a Princeton study.

2019 is looking very promising for the commercial tech sector in Singapore and Hong Kong. You might even find yourself working on innovative projects that have been influenced by the following upcoming trends:

  • ‘Phygital’ delivery of services

A ‘phygital’ delivery of services is achieved by investing in technology that bridges the physical and digital worlds—creating a seamless and integrated ‘phygital’ experience. In a move to reduce operational costs, various traditional financial services companies are collaborating with tech companies to introduce digital-only ‘banks’ to collect deposits, while other financial firms are using digital platforms to provide lending, investing and specialty services.

Banks like HSBC have partnered with tech giant, Samsung, to integrate Galaxy devices and Gear wearable technology with the bank’s financial services. Samsung’s wearables have also been used to create more efficient communication channels amongst HSBC team members by allowing them to easily engage with one another across the different floors of its flagship store. This technology is an example of how we no longer have to be in fixed locations like our desks to be able to work efficiently. Instead, employees can enjoy the flexibility of communicating with one another, irrespective of the location and time to better serve customers.

  • AI-Driven predictive technologies

Singapore and Hong Kong are attracting the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) talent because of their status as a cosmopolitan hub and strong state backing for technology research. Known to support home-grown talents, the Singapore government has set aside an additional S$100 million (US$74 million) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), finance minister Heng Swee Keat announced in Parliament during his annual budget speech back in February this year.

AIDA Technologies – an AI and predictive analytics provider, announced in April 2019 that Mastercard, Kuok Ventures and SGInnovate have invested in the company in a Series A funding plan. This is part of a development plan to launch advanced solutions that integrate with customer workflows, leveraging world-class and high-performing machine learning models that generate actionable business insights.

By moving from a rear-view-mirror perspective of customer communication to services deployed by AI-driven tech; financial institutions will able to provide their customers with targeted services that are tailored to their needs. This enhanced use of data will improve the consumer experience, security and efficiency.

  • Biometrics and security

When adopting new payment methodologies, banks must strike a balance between ease-of-use, ease-of-access and security. Consumer payment methods using biometric authentication have already become mainstream and companies will soon expect the same service.

In line with this, Standard Chartered is launching a corporate mobile app, Straight2Bank Pay solution, which enables companies to accept payments via QR Code straight from a consumer’s phone. The app will launch in Singapore and is expected to expand to broader markets in the future. According to Judy Bei, Standard Chartered Global Head of Payments and Receivables, Cash and Transaction Banking; this initiative will tap into the e-commerce market and account for one-fifth of the total commerce market by 2021 – with more than half of the market value driven by mobile payments. We expect that opportunities for contract positions will grow as the above trends continue to influence the commercial tech markets in Singapore and Hong Kong.

What is in it for you?

With the nature of commercial tech jobs, tech specialists are opting for flexible work schedules as well fixed-term project roles. This is especially relevant for commercial tech roles within e-commerce and fintech where the market is candidate-led; i.e. contract workers can choose the projects they want, command competitive salary rates, take time off or move on to another project.

Within the commercial tech space, organisations will continue to on-board more talent to test, innovate, and develop products that empower their customers to experience greater services. If you are interested to find out more about current opportunities in the market, don’t hesitate to contact us below.

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