blue suite: hong kong data centre talent trends 2020.

School closures, remote working arrangements and social distancing measures are driving a burgeoning demand for web-based platforms. In 2020, higher speeds and larger data storage have never been deemed more necessary for businesses to operate and consumers to work, play and live.

We have also observed an exponential demand for data centre space this year, largely from opportunities that were created by the pandemic.

For instance, Netflix has expanded its bandwidth due to an increase in subscriptions. Gaming companies are facing the same surge demand as their user base has multiplied during lockdown. Cloud service providers have to increase their data storage capacity to meet the demands of their enterprise clients to provide support for their remote workforce.

Besides the critical requirements, developments in Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and cloud computing are some of the other key factors driving the growth in demand for cloud storage in the long term. 90% of corporations in finance, insurance, real estate and professional services have already acclimated well to big data, as they have been transforming to keep up with the sophisticated digital environment.

For example, financial institutions have already started using big data and artificial intelligence technology to forecast investment risks, expose fraudulent activities and manage portfolios more efficiently.

Hong Kong SAR accounts for 54% of all investments in the Asia Pacific data centre market in August 2020. One of the most recent investments came from China Mobile, which secured an industrial government site for HKD5.6 billion in July 2020. It is expected that leading global cloud service providers such as Google, Tencent and Alibaba, will fuel the future demand for data centres in Asia Pacific.

data centre trends in hong kong

Hong Kong SAR is an important data centre hub, providing access to China, Australia, Japan, United States, Europe and India through subsea cables. International data centre operators are present in Hong Kong SAR to expand their Chinese customer base and China operators want to acquire more western clients. With a very low risk of natural calamities such as earthquakes and tornadoes as well as a highly reliable electricity infrastructure, Hong Kong SAR makes an ideal location for many companies to establish and build their presence.

There are two broad types of sales activities that take place in the data centre world.

The first is enterprise-focussed data centres. These firms diversify their real estate by providing flexible increments of racks to a wide range of customers based on their usage requirements. This will allow the data centre to have a wider pool of customers which will safeguard their bottom line. The second is the wholesale data centres, which sell a large portion of their racks to big firms that have more complex data requirements, such as major telecommunications companies or large cloud service providers, allowing them to offer a broader solution to their customers.

meeting the rising demand for data centres despite the land scarcity

Amid the industry’s rapid expansion, the limited land space and existing infrastructure in Hong Kong SAR could hamper the ambitious growth plans of the data centre market. However, the government initiative to convert industrial buildings into data centres have helped speed things up.

This initiative would help Hong Kong SAR keep up with the demand for small-scale cloud calculation data centres. The aggressive competition for land as well as the industry’s rapid growth have raised the urgency of increasing the land supply for the data centre market in the coming years.

the impact of COVID-19 and political differences on data centres

Hong Kong SAR remains a highly attractive city for companies to invest in. In 2020, it ranked third (after New Zealand and Singapore) in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. The city is also ranked fifth in IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook.

However, COVID-19 has temporarily halted some of the international organisations’ plans to expand their footprint in Hong Kong SAR. It has proven difficult for employers to facilitate the movement of global talent with strict border control measures still in place. Some companies are also choosing to expand their Asia Pacific presence in other markets such as Singapore, India or Australia due to the political turmoil between mainland China, Hong Kong SAR and the United States.

Commercial growth is still expected in the data centre space, albeit at a slower pace should the political tension escalate further

talent trends in hong kong’s data centre market

It is important not to underestimate the knowledge and skill sets required for any data centre jobs. Employers are not just looking for talent with relevant background knowledge and transferable skills, but also candidates who are proficient in both English and Mandarin languages to establish and build their customer database.

appetite for growth and development drives career paths

The career progression of sales professionals in data centres varies from those who work in software companies.

Sales professionals in data centres usually get a salary increment and promotion when they switch employers. Their career progression typically sees them moving from smaller data centres to bigger, international firms, where they will get the opportunity to work with highly-sophisticated technology and bigger client accounts. Those who work in first tier data centres are highly sought-after in the market and paid more handsomely in exchange for their niche skills set and client relationships.

Ultimately, the decision to progress in their careers depends on the candidate’s change and risk appetite. Talent who are driven by money and industry recognition would aim to land positions in bigger companies. However, those who want to hold strategic leadership offices are more inclined to stay with smaller companies where they can move up the ladder as opposed to chasing bigger deals.

in-demand roles and skills within data centres

There is a constant demand for account managers to be responsible for acquiring and growing customer accounts. Besides acquiring new clients, these managers would also need to upsell to existing customers, by offering value-added services or bundle packages to increase their storage space or expand their application usage.

Many companies are hiring client success managers to work alongside account managers and provide the technical support in setting up new customer accounts and maintaining their systems. Data centre specialists who can manage the data centre from a technical viewpoint, such as network engineers and facility operations managers are equally highly sought-after.

exclusive searches yield the best results

However, experienced talent in data centres are hard to come by. For instance, there could only be up to three eligible candidates for a role in the local market. To protect their employer brand and convince these candidates to join them, many companies often engage recruitment agencies to conduct an exclusive search. Candidates will have a more positive experience if they are not approached by multiple recruiters representing the same employer. They can also inquire more about the job responsibilities and organisational culture to determine their fit.

Due to the limited talent pool, many employers are willing to enter a price war to attract the high performers, even if it means offering a remuneration package that is significantly higher than their competitors.

revised salary expectations amid a volatile market

When searching for a new job opportunity, job seekers often look for a match in organisational culture, personal beliefs and even personality traits. Data centres are considered a staple in the data world and having a stand-out company culture and brand would significantly help increase the firm’s ability to attract talent.

There are different salary increments to consider when switching employers, depending on the job seeker’s skills and appetite to take on more responsibilities with a bigger organisation. Candidates in data centres can expect to receive on average HKD$350,000 per annum as a junior salesperson and HKD$700,000 as a senior salesperson when they join a local firm. International firms that promise more exposure and opportunity to work on new accounts will offer eligible candidates a remuneration package that is worth between HKD$1,000,000 to HKD$2,000,000 per year.

Salespeople can expect a large portion of their compensation to be made up of commissions, while technical and marketing roles can potentially look to receive higher bonus packages.

we know the sales and marketing talent you’ll need

Data centres are essential to maintaining our economic activity and are woven deeply into our social fabric. Given how the pandemic has turbocharged the growth of the data centre market, the industry outlook looks to be highly optimistic as long as the investments are matched by the right talent capabilities and capacity.

If you are looking for specialised end-to-end recruitment services to identify and secure talent or a job in the data centre industry, please reach out! We’d like to hear from you.

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.

sales and marketing recruitment specialist in hong kong

Benjamin Elms

Director, Commerce (Sales & Marketing, Legal, Accounting & Finance, Supply Chain, Construction, Property, Engineering and Life Sciences)

Ben has eight years’ local recruitment experience and joined Randstad Hong Kong in 2016. A customer-centric consultant, Ben takes time to fully understand his clients’ talent needs before matching them with highly-skilled talent who are committed to changing the way companies engage with their target audiences and customers.

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