IT & Telco: 2020 Predictions Vs Reality

    Kerry Consulting

    The IT and Telco space was relatively robust throughout Q1 of 2020, before the pandemic impacted the overall economy. Cloud-based products were doing well, as were the systems integrators implementing these products. However, Covid-19 took us to new and unchartered territories.

    By the end of 2019, as start-ups and newer vendors mushroomed, traditional players with large workforces were already restructuring. Consolidation continues to happen and we will see more of it in the coming months, especially within the SaaS space. Larger, established product companies will strategically buyout smaller companies to enhance or complement their offerings.

    Telco continues to struggle to make money from traditional business and the fight to find new streams of revenue. The upcoming 5G roll-out is creating anxiety for operators. A huge investment will have to be made in infrastructure and changes to business processes. That will provide opportunities for transformation work and we see demand for digital and IoT related work to increase.

    Hiring outlook for IT & Telco roles in Singapore

    Hiring activity has mirrored the above trends. We are seeing a lot of new roles being created in the IT sector due to external business demands. At the same time, there is a need for replacements as good talent moves with the opportunities in the market. Yet, a high percentage of roles for replacement are being redefined and end up having a lot more added to their scope.

    Pre-Covid, the demand for local candidates in Singapore was expected to remain high. There was a growing number of regional roles moving into Singapore from countries such as Australia, as well as overseas companies expanding their presence in Asia. However, by the middle of Q1 2020, these roles either got put on hold or were cancelled. We have also seen a high level of attrition in some of the large organisations and these have occurred across the region. In commercial roles we are seeing an oversupply of candidates at the senior levels, probably because they are a much higher cost to the company. We are also seeing re-employability being a challenge for some of these impacted employees.

    Even through the pandemic there is hiring going on in IT & Telco the industry. However, they are restricted to critical hires or replacements that are required. Where possible, most organisations try and recruit internally. Some sectors such as cloud infrastructure, productivity tools, remote working applications, communications, content distribution and security etc. have seen active but cautious recruitment happening. Some of the geographies that seem to be doing better than others are North Asia – especially China, Taiwan and to a certain extent, Japan.

    With regional travel coming to a standstill, a lot of projects have been delayed or rescheduled to 2021. As such, we see a stress for global systems integrators and consulting companies who depend on these projects. With these projects scaling down and low utilisation rates – these companies have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Some of them have made temporary salary adjustments and are trying hard to look for alternative sources of revenue.

    Through 2020 and beyond we expect to see demand for talent in relation to data analytics, AI, IoT, and security. We also expect much more interest in healthcare technology and AI/ big data as more governments will invest in these projects in response to the pandemic. Just as after the global financial crisis – we expect to see some market corrections to salaries in some of the more traditional roles. As companies reorganise themselves, we would expect some roles to disappear and new roles to emerge. The experience of working from home would also have a huge impact on the sales organisation and we expect to see roles emerging for this experience.

    Throughout the IT & Telco sector, we continue to see interest in growing customer success teams – being redefined to be more strategic. Alliance and partnerships will be even more critical, as will be channels. We expect a big demand in roles to cater to the small and mid-market which has seen a huge demand due to their rapid push to digitalise in the pandemic.

    SaaS providers, cloud services, IaaS, PaaS and data centre businesses will continue to hire throughout 2020.

    It is also likely that the expectations of hiring managers will get ever-higher as business challenges continue to increase – for example, for IT vendors that are striving to shift from selling a product or solution, towards being considered a value-based seller. This will create a talent shortage for candidates who have the right balance of domain and technical understanding.


    Take a look at the 2020 Predictions vs Reality mini-series so far: