What were the key trends of 2016 in Singapore and the wider APAC region?

Published 30/12/2016 - 5 mins Read

By Armstrong Craven Team

Talent Research Specialists

Quick Summary Discover the key trends for 2016 in Singapore

5 mins Read

As we approach the end of another year, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the important trends to emerge during 2016 in Singapore and the wider Asia Pacific region.

Many of the thoughts below relate to the sectors in which Armstrong Craven is most active – technology, healthcare & life sciences, retail, consumer and financial services.

The trends demonstrate the vibrancy of the Asia Pacific economy as well as the considerable opportunities that lie ahead for business and the best talent.


Despite the city-state’s size, 10 of the top 15 highest funded fintech start-ups in Southeast Asia come from Singapore. This trend is also reflected in the massive increase in investments in fintech during the past year, where US$4.5 billion was invested in Asia alone, a four-fold increase from the previous year.

IoT or Smart Urban Solutions

In Asia, as consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts, the Southeast Asian Internet of Things (IoT) market is set to be worth US$7.53 billion by 2020.

Singapore is a popular choice for international companies in IoT. Dell’s recent launch of its third global IoT lab in Singapore, along with Greenwave also setting up its R&D centre in Singapore means companies are also looking at the city state as a base for building solutions and conducting cutting-edge research that benefits the region.

IoT, or Smart Urban Solutions, is helping to build a “Smart Nation” - unsurprising, given Singapore’s massive push to make it a wired-up city as part of its “Smart Nation” programme.


Asia is taking robots very seriously. Robotics is predicted to be a US$82.7 billion industry globally by 2020, with Asia Pacific growing faster than all other regions.

The Singaporean government has scaled up its National Robotics Programme to develop and deploy new technologies aimed at healthcare, construction, manufacturing, and logistics with robotics and automation technology.


Asia Pacific is a dynamic region for the retailing industry. Crucially, it’s affluent and becoming more so. Eighty-five percent of predicted growth in the middle-class worldwide will come from Asia.

Four of the top five countries in the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) released last month by management consultants A.T. Kearney are in the Asia Pacific.

An omni-channel presence has proved key for any retailer looking to enter the Asia Pacific market, as well as utilising social media to reach more customers. Empowered by digital technologies, consumer behaviours across Asia are evolving rapidly. Busy, connected and with more choice than ever before, the new Asian consumer expects a seamless path to purchase, with shopping experiences that save time and make life easier. Most countries in the region are either already enjoying a boom in online shopping or are scaling up their online commerce in 2017 and beyond.

Social Media/Digital

The reported number of internet users in APAC has jumped 27%, while the number of people using social media from mobile devices is up a staggering 50%. This compares to average global growth of 19% and 39% respectively for the same measures.

Here are the headline numbers for digital connectivity in APAC:

Internet users in APAC: 1.83billion

Social media users in APAC: 1.43billion

Mobile connections in APAC: 3.86billion

Mobile social media users in APAC: 1.36billion


The medical technology (med-tech) sector is expected to grow from US$88 billion in 2015 to US$133 billion in 2020 in Asia Pacific, and Singapore is "well-positioned" to act as a gateway to tap the market in the region.

Singapore’s medical technology sector contributes about SG $4.3 billion and around 9000 jobs to the country’s economy. To put this into perspective, 10 per cent of the world’s contact lenses, over 70 percent of microarrays, and roughly half of the world’s thermal cyclers and mass spectrometers are currently produced in Singapore – numbers which are likely to rise. Med-tech sectors which are already growing include cardiovascular, eye care, diagnostic, imaging, research tools, scientific instruments and orthopaedics.


Cyber technology can enable and empower business and society, but only if it is safe and trustworthy. Industry reports have also revealed a surge in cyber espionage across Southeast Asia as the region becomes a larger economic player on the global stage.

To realise its benefits, businesses and individuals must stay safe in cyberspace. In July 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs in Singapore launched a National Cyber Crime Action Plan.

A vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem will provide a sustainable source of expertise and capabilities for resilient infrastructure and a safer cyberspace. It will also bring Singapore to the forefront of cybersecurity innovation and create economic opportunities for Singaporeans.

The Government will collaborate with industry partners and Institutes of Higher Learning to grow the cybersecurity workforce. Scholarship programmes and industry-oriented curriculums will be introduced, while up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities for mid-career professionals will be provided through initiatives such as the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists Programme. The Government will also partner the private sector and academia to develop technologically-advanced companies, nurture local start-ups, and harness Research & Development (R&D).

An infographic by Microsoft highlights some of the key cyber security issues in the region. Amongst the findings are:

The top markets in Asia Pacific under malware threats (ranked by number of malware detections based on counts of machines):

1. Pakistan

2. Indonesia

3. Bangladesh

4. Nepal

5. Vietnam

6. Philippines

7. Cambodia

8. India

9. Sri Lanka


Top 3 encountered malware:

  • Gamarue
  • Skeeyah
  • Peals

6 recommended security tips for organisations:

Strong Fundamentals - Use only genuine, current and updated software.

Cyber Defense Ecosystem - Use robust and trusted anti-malware solutions.

Focus on Cyber Hygiene - Safer Internet practices and internal IT policies.

Assess/Review/Audit - Be comprehensive on cyber security, not just your technology.

Have a Data Culture - Data classification, access and identity management, encryption and multi-factor authentication.

Opt for Cloud - For next-generation cybersecurity and data protection. Choose a Trusted Cloud provider.

(Source: Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC)


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