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Singapore Could Be The Asian Big Data Hub

The city state is aiming to be the gateway to the Asian analytics market

21Jan

The rise of big data has seen companies adopting new technologies, approaches and hiring new staff to accommodate new data-driven changes. Despite this, McKinsey have predicted that the US is predicted to have a surplus of 140,000 to 190,000 data jobs unfilled, meaning that despite all the good work that has been going into expanding the sector, progress could be hindered.

However, as this data scientist shortage is becoming more noticed in the US, Singapore is hoping to become the big data hub for Asia, providing jobs and data centres for the entire Pacific region. Here we detail some of the reasons why Singapore has a real chance of achieving this.

Location

Despite being home to only 5.39 million people, Singapore has the potential to be able to become a Big Data hub. According to AMR, 2016 is likely to see a 60% increase in the number of companies in the Pacific region using Hadoop, suggesting a far more concentrated focus on data in the area. Being one of the strongest economies in the region whilst also being a highly controllable city state means that development can be done quickly.

It also has strong links to Western countries who have already developed mature data capabilities and some of the most data-driven companies have regional headquarters there. Whilst Hong Kong has traditionally been seen as the prime location for companies creating regional HQs, the recent trend has seen them moving to Singapore, with companies like L’Oreal, Aon and General Motors all moving to the city state.

Education

Singapore has the best education system in the world according to the OECD. In fact, there have even been attempts to try and emulate it (with mixed results) across the rest of the world. Their strongest subjects are maths and the sciences, which naturally lend themselves to a skill set ripe for data science. With the kind of education system and the potential it has in a data science capacity, the industry has a strong set of foundations from which to prompt growth.

To show this Singapore are planning to add 2,500 workers to its data analytics workforce and since 2010 they have seen an average growth of 3.8% per year in data related jobs. This kind of growth has been fuelled by a strong education system that has created a multi-disciplinary workforce that can be quickly retrained.

Internet Speed

Singapore has an average connection speed of 12.5 Mb/s, which is faster than most other countries, especially those who may look at also creating a Big Data hub. Australia has an average speed of 7.8 Mb/s for instance, whilst Shanghai is 4.17 Mb/s, both of which are significantly slower.

Whilst Hong Kong has a faster average speed, companies are now wary of the interference of the Chinese government after the recent elections held in the country, and many companies are hesitant to invest too heavily in the city when it seems to be the centre of social unrest. This got so bad in 2014 that Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte Kwan Wong Tan & Fong (the company's Hong Kong unit) and PricewaterhouseCoopers even released a newspaper ad to warn about the risks. The ad said ‘We are worried that foreign multinationals and investors will leave their Hong Kong headquarters because of this, or even withdraw their business, and shake Hong Kong's place as an international business centre over the long term’ clearly showing the damage that this did to the city.

Ease Of Travel

It is easy for nationals of the most powerful countries in the world to go to, and stay in, Singapore. This means that those who have developed the industry can work in the city much more easily than many other countries. In fact people can visit the city under a regular, non-working visa for 90 days. This ease of access will allow the industry to develop with the help of the international community of experts who have worked on it in already mature markets.

With data and analytics predicted to bring around $1.4 billion into the Singapore economy, having this ease of travel for those who will both create it and use it will be essential. 

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