Top 3 Trends That IT Graduates Should Know

Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative means the country is focused on the development and pervasive adoption of digital and smart technologies.
Elliyani Mohamad Ali
Editor, gradsingapore

Trend #1: Cloud Computing

This is not a new trend, but with the adoption of cloud services surging for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cloud computing is still making waves in the industry. After all, SMEs make up about 99 percent of companies in Singapore and contribute almost half of the country’s gross domestic product.

Because of this, according to top consultant firm KPMG, platform-as-a- service is predicted to be the fastest- growing cloud computing, soaring from 32 percent in 2017 to 56 percent in 2020. This means the industry can expect more intense competition, more consolidation among cloud service providers, and lower prices for small business and enterprise users.

In layman’s terms, cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data as well as programmes on the Internet instead of a computer’s hard drive. The cloud refers to the Internet. This allows individuals to access their companies’ digital resources online from just about anywhere in the world that has Internet connectivity, which is an important aspect in this increasingly globalised world.

Singapore has already emerged as one of the biggest adopters of cloud technology in the Asia Pacific, and cloud computing is seen as an integral cog in Singapore’s Smart Nation plan. The industry can expect cloud computing to quickly be a central component in a majority of companies in the next three to four years.

What this means for IT graduates

Since most of the jobs in cloud have simply been taken up by employees already working in IT, there has not really been a huge chasm of demand for people with a cloud skill set. In addition, SMEs that adopt cloud computing would no longer have a need for an internal IT department. Most cloud computing systems come with its own after sales services, and make companies less reliant on its own IT department to maintain and fix issues.

But this is the age for digital innovation, so demand is still high for IT graduates specialising in cloud computing. Most of the jobs will require a profound knowledge of specific technologies, such as Open Stack, Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Ideal cloud-computing candidates should also be adept in several programming languages and frameworks, such as Chef, Python, Perl, Java, and Ruby on Rails.

It is almost impossible to learn them all, but focus on a couple of skills that are most popular. Amazon Web Services is still likely to be a major cloud player in the next few years, but because the industry is so dynamic with new entrants regularly joining the fray, there may be a shift in dominance within the cloud scene.

Trend #2: Big Data

The word is that data is the new oil of the digital economy, and it does not take much to see why. Companies like Facebook and Google dominate the digital sphere because they mine millions of their users’ online habits, and use them to gain advertising revenue.

They track the news we click, the searches we make, and even how long our cursor hovers in a particular section of the webpage. Considering Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are now billionaires, big data is a lucrative business if a company knows how to make full use of it.

But the industry is not just about getting advertising money. With today’s digital culture generating massive amounts of data, companies also use this data to gain insight into customer behaviour, learn more about their workforce, improve decision-making, and drive growth.

What this means for IT graduates

More companies are delving into big data, even SMEs. The Singapore government has set aside S$80m over the next four years under an SMEs Go Digital Programme to help local companies with more advanced needs - such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

In tandem with the government’s support, demand for such major data-centric roles has increased by 50 percent in Singapore over the last two to three years, and will likely continue to increase together with wages for jobs like data scientists and data analysts. However, the focus on big data is not uniform across all sectors, with telecommunications, IT development, life science and banking services employing most of the data specialists.

Candidates who are keen on specialising in big data typically have a background in computer science or mathematics. However, it takes more than just tracking and gathering large amounts of data. Companies need their employees to have the business acumen to connect data with actions that will boost the companies’ operations and profitability.

Trend #3: Cybersecurity

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) suffered a cyber-attack in early 2017 that caused the leaking of about 850 national servicemen and MINDEF personnel’s personal details, such as their NRIC numbers, telephone numbers, and birth dates. While the attack was planned with the intention of gaining access to classified military data, the hackers failed to do so since MINDEF’s internal system is separate from the public terminals.

Still, this incident is only one in several cases that occurred in Singapore in the years. According to security services provider, Quann, and research firm, IDC, up to 91 percent of Singapore companies are still in the early stages of building a proper security system. In addition, more than half or 54 percent of the respondents did not have a security operations centre to monitor their networks and security devices for any suspicious traffic.

The cybersecurity landscape will change as the industry is listed as one of the emerging growth sectors in Singapore’s digital economy. According to Channel NewsAsia, the local cybersecurity market is expected to generate 2,500 jobs by 2018, and reach S$900m by 2020. In addition, the government is pumping more than S$16m into the country’s cybersecurity research and development to strengthen the sector.

What this means for IT graduates

The government’s investments mean job seekers can see a strong focus on recruiting and training skilled individuals who are looking to pursue cybersecurity as a career option, especially within the public sector. MINDEF, for example, will train full-time national servicemen who have an aptitude for cyber security to be a cyber defender in the regular service, with a new short-term contract scheme.

With the law of supply and demand at work, IT graduates, who start in the cyber security field, generally receive a starting salary that is 10 to 15 percent higher than their peers from other faculties, according to IT security firm CyberArk.

For those looking to take up a cybersecurity-focused role, look out for the following key phrases in the job description: penetration testing, malware testing, threat intelligence, security monitoring, security risk, and security compliance