It’s true to say that COVID-19 is the most disruptive driver of digital transformation in 2020. Some employees are still working from home as they are either vulnerable to COVID-19 or their employers have implemented a split-team arrangement to reduce the number of people working in the office.
The dependency on a stable WiFi connection as well as reliable hardware and software has never been higher. In a densely populated city like Hong Kong SAR, it is not uncommon for a router to support 10 mobile devices, which could result in a stretched bandwidth and poor connectivity. Streaming services such as YouTube had even changed their default to a lower-resolution to support users.
There is a common belief that all technology companies are able to thrive this year, given the increased reliance on them. However, we’ve actually observed targeted growth within specific areas of technology. The demand in technology products and services has shifted - from traditional software to cloud network and services. There is also an increase in talent demand for data centres to support the demand in cloud services.
For example, the number of daily Zoom users continues to balloon from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020 despite a series of unsolicited attacks. The sales of technologies that enable remote working have soared exponentially in the first half of 2020.
boom in cloud computing, virtualisation solutions and cybersecurity
During the work from home period between January and April this year, employers have definitely faced some IT challenges or received complaints from their staff about the limitations they face when working remotely. According to a survey we’ve conducted with 372 employers and HR professionals in March, we found that:
- 51% will review and upgrade their digital tools and infrastructure
- 34% will issue laptops to their employees
- 20% will upgrade their network security system for better data protection
When COVID-19 first hit our shores in January 2020, many companies purchased cloud computing and virtualisation solutions in a flurry to quickly enable remote working. As COVID-19 quickly spread to more cities and countries around the world, the demand for sales professionals in cloud computing services and virtualisation solutions spiked in quarter one of 2020.
These products are developed and designed to simplify a company’s IT networks, which will provide employees with the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere and with any device. While it met the short-term demands of companies, organisations are also considering how these cloud based technologies can help drive productivity and create positive employee experience in the future.
Cloud computing and virtualisation solutions can help companies become more flexible and agile. It would be easy for employees around the world to share information and knowledge. Leaders can quickly shift resources to map and meet actual market demands.
Companies that have invested in building a fully-integrated digital ecosystem would also find it easier to implement new HR policies in the future. Since the foundation of sharing is already built, employers can effectively enable remote working or create more global talent exchange programmes for talent pipelining purposes.
The talent demand for experienced cloud sales professionals will grow steadily throughout 2020, as firms anticipate the increasing number of customers. Employers would also more likely hire candidates from their direct competitors as they have good product knowledge and an extensive customer network to tap on.
industry-targeted software loses popularity
We have also observed that there are some tech companies that specialise in developing tech products and solutions for specific industries that have either maintained or reduced their headcount due to lower market demands.
For example, operations of software firms that predominantly serve the aviation, hospitality and retail industries may have come to a standstill with the travel bans. Rather than expect sales professionals to meet the initial targets that were set before COVID-19, employers will be revising sales targets to be more realistic with the current climate.
It is also possible for the aviation, hospitality and retail industries to forecast differently after COVID-19 due to the expectations on ongoing safe distancing measures. There are already discussions of leaving an empty seat between passengers on flights and enhancing the online experience in retail.
Rather than wait and see what happens, tech firms in this space should also take this time to upskill their current workforce to improve their agility and creative thinking skills. These skills can help them become better problem solvers and be ready to make changes based on the new recommendations that will be set by global industry associations.
If the talent chooses to exit these verticals to search for job opportunities elsewhere within the technology sector, they must be prepared to accept a lower position and salary, and play catch-up with career development opportunities.
a window of opportunity for e-commerce
As a result of the months-long protests and pandemic, the retail industry in Hong Kong SAR has come to a standstill for about 10 months now.
During this time, a number of employees have been put on paid or unpaid leave, or have resigned due to weak foot traffic. Being unable to sustain operations further, some retailers have been compelled to close their stores in Hong Kong SAR, gradually reducing the options for local customers.
However, this has created a window of opportunity for e-commerce companies to enter and disrupt the local marketplace.
Big e-commerce firms such as Amazon and Lazada can establish and build a noticeable presence in Hong Kong SAR. Retailers can leverage these platforms as an additional sales channel to reach their customers, as opposed to paying the high commercial rental fees in expensive districts.
Besides retailers, the e-commerce industry can also drive demand in the logistics and supply chain space, as delivery services need to be ramped up to fulfil door-to-door deliveries.
There will be a strong demand for digital sales and marketing professionals to create low-cost, high-impact sales campaigns and customer engagement activities. Those who have prior sales and marketing experience in B2C or C2C companies would be highly sought-after.
all about agility and creativity
In the post-COVID-19 world, the way we work and play is going to be different.
During a period where customers are averse to spending more money, sales professionals need to be able to help their clients solve problems. They will also have to keep a pulse on the latest industry developments and anticipate the changes in the market to stay a step ahead of their competitors. These will be the key differentiators of a great salesperson.
If you have what it takes to solve problems for your clients but are facing unbreakable barriers, reach out to me. I’d like to hear them and find a spot for you with some of Hong Kong SAR’s most attractive employers.
We know that hiring great talent who can protect and advance your business growth can be challenging in a market that is in full-employment. With a team of specialist recruiters, we are confident that we can match you to the perfect talent. Connect with us for more market insights or your upcoming hiring needs.
randstad blue suite
The Randstad Blue Suite is a collection of personal insights from the Randstad leadership team.