Outlook for 2017

As Singapore’s economy dodged a recession and looks to growth in 2017, what should be on the top of every businesses’ agenda?  We spoke to BMC to find out what they expect.

ASEAN will grow in importance

Firstly, we will see the continued rise of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. ASEAN is projected to average 5.2 per cent annual growth from 2016 to 2020. In addition, ASEAN is forecasted to become the 4th largest economy by 2050, with a combined GDP to increase fivefold to US$10 trillion by 2030. This is attributed to a rising middle-income class, the China connection, and the integration of ASEAN. Together with the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which has forged closer integration among ASEAN’s economies by lowering barriers to trade, and the driving force of strong fundamentals, there will be significant investment opportunities for businesses in Singapore to pursue.

Businesses get real about accelerating digital business

Secondly, in 2017, we will go beyond talking about digital transformation to having a real dialogue about what organisations actually need to be doing to evolve, survive and thrive in the era of Digital Industry. The Singapore government has created the new Government Technology Agency to help drive digital transformation in the public sector, underscoring the importance of digital transformation in both public and private sector. This digital era is fuelled by three core elements that act as accelerators for Digital Industry, and they are; a culture of high speed innovation (as much about business model as technology) which is underpinned by both modern elastic infrastructure and digital-enabled employees. Organisations across all industries need to know how to leverage the power of digital technologies to create new and disruptive business models. Only those businesses who embrace a new mind-set to protect and preserve their existing infrastructure while investing in new digital technologies will reshape markets, deliver apps and services at hyper scale and become the leaders of the new digital industry.

The spotlight will shine on the employee experience in 2017

Thirdly, employees’ demands will drive an overhaul of digital workplace trends. The future of work requires an intentional focus on the employee experience across the entire workforce. Just as consumer applications, such as Grab and Deliveroo, have disrupted our personal and work lives, businesses need to focus on disruption for employees from inside the company. Organisations with engaged employees outperform those without by over 200%, but most companies already think their employees are engaged. Generally, that is not the case.

In 2017, we will start to see companies build employee-centric experiences that align both the digital and cultural changes needed to meet modern demands on where, when and how employees do work. The focus will move from IT service to a consumer-like employee service that empowers the workforce to be professionally successful and personally satisfied. This could be in the form of raising incidents on an application rather than filling up tedious forms and long e-mails to have the IT department resolve an incident.

The Singapore government is a prime example of this shift, as news of it rolling out Workplace to communicate with one another marks yet another first for Singapore among governments in the world. The professional edition of the popular Facebook social networking tool has been issued to 5,300 public officers in 15 public agencies and allows them communicate with one another on their mobile phones and tablets. This application replaces Cube, which was developed in-house by the Public Service Division, after complaints such as unfamiliarity with the interface and slow loading. From this example we can see how the impetus to change the employee experience does not just lie with IT or HR – it starts with executive leadership and needs buy-in all the way down.

Hackers taking the path of least resistance will drive greater vigilance

This year, Singapore saw one of its telcos, Starhub, fall prey to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on its broadband network. While not uncommon, this is the first attack of that nature on Singapore’s telco infrastructure. In 2017, security and operations teams must collaborate even more closely, given that hackers will continue to take the path of least resistance by exploiting common, unpatched vulnerabilities to gain access to organisations and their critical data. With many software publishers now releasing critical patches “in bulk”, hackers now have more time than ever to exploit new vulnerabilities. Every unchecked application or device is a potential open door for hackers to exploit known vulnerabilities, which, on average, take 193 days to patch .

In 2017, businesses need to heighten their vigilance and take a much more proactive security posture, and move to a more holistic view of vulnerabilities across an entire organisation. Cyber security should not be seen as a cost, but as an investment to manage risk. This means a much more aggressive focus on vulnerability management to further reduce the attack surface and associated risk to the organisation and the end-users.


While businesses in Singapore accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and practices to penetrate new markets and strengthen their competitive advantage, it pays to learn from the year gone by and adapt to the challenges brought by a new year in the Digital Era.

Darric Hor, ASEAN Regional Director, BMC Software