Technological innovation in Asia is set to gather further pace in 2017, led by sizeable investments from established companies and start-ups looking to grow and streamline costs, and stay ahead of their competition.

Fuelled by a myriad of factors, including Asia’s rapid smartphone adoption, the rise of e-commerce and the rush for productivity/automation, almost every company in Asia is investing more in technology and making their business more mobile/tablet-friendly. Within mainland China especially, large amounts of investment are moving towards Shenzhen, where there is an established infrastructure for technology-led manufacturing.

In other markets such as Taiwan and Malaysia, a greater concentration of digital innovation will likely be observed in areas like mobile and software development, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud-computing.

Japan too, is expected to explore ways of further building up an ecosystem that would help leverage its status as a technological giant, reported the Wall Street Journal. This includes building bridges between large, established companies and less risk-averse start-ups.

Fintech’s growth

With the rise of financial technology services, also known as fintech, and governmental support in this area, start-ups as well as established global and regional financial institutions are investing heavily to develop their own technological capabilities in-house. In markets where mobile and online payment systems remain under-developed, such as in Indonesia and Thailand, fintech services are an opportunity for new players to enter the market.

Already, Indonesia has granted new banking licenses to conglomerates, allowing them to launch digital banks. Hong Kong’s push for the movement has culminated in several notable outcomes, including the annual Finnovasia conference, which regularly brings together hundreds of attendees from different countries to chart fintech’s future in Asia. In Singapore, the country’s monetary authority has also committed to invest S$225 million in fintech over five years.

On an international level, more foreign companies are setting up regional headquarters in Asia, drawn by the region’s lower operating costs, excellent infrastructure and strategic location that make it easier to expand into new markets.

As a relatively young industry, the technology market is expected to face a considerable shortage of talent in this space. Employee recruitment and retention will become increasingly competitive, as the rate of technological growth outpaces talent development. Adding to such challenges is the tendency of candidates moving around more frequently than in other sectors, attracted by better opportunities and remuneration packages.

To overcome this shortage, companies are beginning to recruit beyond their industries and national borders. Talent flow is likely to be technology-focused rather than business-focused. Salaries are likely to increase as well.

5 tips to retain top technology talent

1. Keep on top of market salary rates. Specialists can command material increases, so the first step in retaining your technology talent is to frequently review the market rates on offer. It is essential that you communicate to internal stakeholders the vital importance of at least matching – if not exceeding – the going rate, and getting budget allocation accordingly. The laws of supply and demand apply.

2.  Look to the start-up world. With Silicon Valley setting the standard for technology employment, it may be wise to look to start-up culture and try to replicate some aspects of what makes technology start-ups so attractive. For example, technology specialists thrive on challenges and new experiences.

3. Flexibility. If budget is still difficult to find, there may be an opportunity to make up for it with perks like flexible working options. Bearing in mind that a technology specialist may work best uninterrupted at home, or even at night, a lenient work schedule can also be a way to get the most out of your team.

4. Invest in training. Training is an investment to maximise your team’s capacity and improve your employee retention rate. Hence, this should be an important piece of the budget puzzle – not an afterthought. Technology employees typically enjoy learning new skills. The opportunity to earn CV-enhancing qualifications like CCNA, MCP, PRINCE2 or Certified ScrumMaster, is valued.

5. Discuss career paths. To prevent technology staff becoming dissatisfied or restless with their job, it is worthwhile at annual review time and throughout the year to ask what each employee is looking for in their career – whether it is the opportunity to try new things, new roles or to transfer to another location.

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