Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and cybersecurity are three technology domain areas that are drastically changing how businesses operate. Most companies are still grappling to make sense of these rapidly evolving technologies.

Having the right talent is imperative for companies to reap the benefits of these technologies. Michael Page, the global recruitment specialist, produced a series of reports to help companies explore the latest tech and hiring trends in these three domain areas. Michael Page and the Economic Development Board of Singapore present a summary for companies looking to hire talent in the three areas.

Artificial Intelligence

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1. Interdisciplinary talent needed

Increasingly, businesses will require tech talent to possess cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills beyond the conventional realm of technology, such as in marketing, finance and human resources.

“We are looking for talent who’s creative and good at problem-solving and an expert in their industry,” says Tian Feng, Director of Intelligent Industry Research Institute at SenseTime, a global AI company. “You need to fully understand the industry you are in, its challenges and opportunities. Meanwhile, you need to be able to use technology to solve problems efficiently and even foresee problems ahead.”

2. Build an ecosystem that nurtures AI talent

Besides investing time and money for the long haul, companies also need to improve their talent development strategy. “Many people believe that young talents get bored with work or are not motivated enough. I think this is a gross misunderstanding,” Feng explains. “Salary matters across every generation, but ultimately it comes down to personal development within an organisation.”

Linda Chen, Associate Director at Michael Page Beijing — Technology, added that to attract the best tech talent, it is critical to emphasise not just the companies’ long-term goal for digitisation. Companies also need to highlight the teams’ technical capabilities as well.

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To download a free copy of the Humans of AI: Innovations and hiring trends in APAC report, click here.

Blockchain

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1. High on passion, short on experience

The blockchain industry is not short on passionate developers and engineers eager to work with blockchain. What’s lacking, according to experts, is real-world experience, especially in the financial sector.

Michel Dinh, Chief Technology Officer, Fusang Group, a fintech company, said that while technical proficiency is undoubtedly important, one can ultimately develop skills sets. On the other hand, industry experience takes time, and many developers and engineers fall short on that front.

Max Soyref, Associate Director of Blockchain, KPMG Australia, agrees. “Not everyone will need to build a product from scratch. While knowledge of smart contracts or strong programming fundamentals is important, the business side is also critical. It is vital to find people who understand the value blockchain creates and can also translate it into business outcomes across business analysis, product and traditional project domains,” he says.

“We need more people supporting business services with a strong understanding of blockchain, including accountants, lawyers and tax people who understand public and enterprise blockchains.”

2. Autonomy as a recruitment strategy

In terms of blockchain-specific talent, Soyref believes that it all comes down to providing them with autonomy and interesting work. “If you are a blockchain developer, you often can choose where to work, decide whether you are challenged and try new things. You are in control of your own destiny. I think that is the recipe for retention.”

Soyref added that because blockchain is such a new, emerging technology, it is highly possible to build the ‘first something for something’ — hence companies should highlight pioneering opportunities that they can offer talent.

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To download a free copy of the Humans of Blockchain: Innovations and hiring trends in APAC report, click here.

Cybersecurity

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1. Soft skills are key differentiators

Cybersecurity is a highly collaborative role. Therefore, Faisal Yahya, Country Manager, PT Vantage Point Security Indonesia, a digital security company headquartered in Singapore, sees communication and writing capabilities as top soft skills among eligible candidates. Cybersecurity professionals need to learn from each other. They also have to ‘sell’ the importance of cybersecurity to various stakeholders. These are highly important soft skills that are lacking in the market at the moment.

Another emerging soft skill in demand is to be able to embrace change and adapt — quickly. This growth mindset is critical because the skills required of cybersecurity professionals change based on the most prevalent cybersecurity threats. According to Faisal, it often requires three to five years just for a cybersecurity professional to become proficient in one area of expertise, and that is more than enough time for the threat landscape to evolve once again.

As such, to be able to embrace change and have an adaptive mindset is key. “It’s not about personal growth, but how you open yourself up to feedback, how you accept the feedback and create the right architecture for the company,” he underscores.

2. Cybersecurity leaders should be strategic partners

While it is important for cybersecurity leaders to have a deep understanding of the business, the organisation must be prepared to position cybersecurity talent as strategic partners.

Faisal explains further. “It is about how well the organisation as a whole can accept, say, a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role. In fact, the salary is the least important thing. They want to know if the business can cooperate with him or her.” Cybersecurity talent are attracted to companies where they can be part of the decision-making process.

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To download a free copy of the Humans of Cybersecurity: Innovations and hiring trends in APAC report, click here.

Read more:
Singapore’s tech scene pulls ahead with Smart Nation initiatives
The Future of Technology: 8 key drivers of change for Tech in Asia-Pacific
4 essential tech hires in a new market and where to find top tech talent in APAC

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