16 October 2018

Too few Singapore job seekers are looking for roles in emerging tech

An analysis of technology jobs on the Indeed job site has revealed that too few job seekers in Singapore are looking for technology roles.

Job postings in cybersecurity, data science, machine learning, and robotics were compared to job searches and job-seeker interest in the same areas over a two-year period to understand the magnitude of the problem.
 
Indeed’s research showed that the gap between job postings and job searches was most stark for roles in cybersecurity. Recent high-profile cybersecurity headlines in Singapore, as well as an overall push by the government has led to an increasing demand for cybersecurity talent, Indeed said. Yet from July 2016 to July 2018, growth in job searches for cybersecurity was negligible, despite job postings growing by over 500%.

There is increasing interest in machine learning and data analytics jobs in Singapore however. Searches for machine learning-related roles increasing by 139% over two years. Job-seeker interest in data analytics is also on the rise, though at a much slower pace (48% growth).

Over the two years, the number of job postings in these three areas have grown exponentially. The number of roles in machine learning grew by more than 300% while data analytics was the fastest growing of the four specialties analysed, recording a 700% increase in job postings.
 
At 30% growth, the demand for robotics jobs postings has not increased as steeply as for other industries. Job-seeker interest in robotics recorded the highest growth (64%), showing that the talent gap in robotics is closing.
 
“We analysed data for cybersecurity, machine learning, data analytics and robotics due to their massive potential to be a disruptor of business. The demand for talent in these areas is currently going unfulfilled as evidenced by the lack of interest from job-seekers.

"Businesses, educators, and governments should make every effort they can to encourage talent in these areas and grow a diverse technology talent pool so that Singapore can continue to progress as a technology leader in ASEAN,” said Andrew McGlinchey, Senior Director, Indeed Asia-Pacific.

Four new Surfaces enter the market

Microsoft has launched four new Surface products that are designed for today's world.

Source: Microsoft website. The Surface Pro 6.
Source: Microsoft website. The Surface Pro 6.
"You need the right devices and technology that can travel with you, be ready when you are – whenever and wherever inspiration strikes," said Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay in a blog post.

"That’s the power of Surface, Windows, and Office connected together through the cloud, creating the right instrument for you. We’ve designed them together to optimise every ounce, every pixel, and every line of code to empower you to be more productive and more creative."

The new Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 come in an all-new matte black finish. "As a team we explore different finishes. And when we modelled our devices in this beautiful matte black, we fell in love. We knew we had to bring it to life for our customers," Panay said.

Surface Pro 6 runs on the latest 8th generation Intel Quad Core processor. It is more than 67% faster than the 5th generation Surface Pro, and features a PixelSense Touch Display.

Source: Microsoft website. The Surface Laptop 2.
Source: Microsoft website. The Surface Laptop 2.
Surface Laptop 2 also has boosted performance from a new Quad Core 8th generation Intel processor, which enables it to be 85% faster than the original Surface Laptop. Crafted with a premium design, PixelSense Touch Display, and best-in-class keyboard and trackpad, this new generation delivers 14.5 hours of battery life.

The Surface Studio 2 is the most powerful Surface ever. The creative canvas is built for creators who need vibrancy, high graphics performance, and fast processing, backed by Pascal graphics and a GPU that is 50% faster. The new Surface Studio is 38% brighter, with 22% more contrast, and designed to work with the Surface Pen to the tune of 4,096 levels of pressure, tilt sensitivity for drawing and sketching, and best-in-class ink latency.

And now, there are Surface Headphones to complete the Surface experience. "Whether you’re in an open work space, a café or on the go, Surface Headphones help tune out or tune in wherever you are. They slip comfortably over your ears to surround you with spectacular sound quality and 13 levels of ambient noise control," Panay said.

While Surface Headphones are optimised for Surface devices, they will pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device. Two beam-forming microphones on each ear cup, eight microphones in total, offer excellent call experiences. Intuitive on-ear dials provide easy adjustment of volume and noise cancellation.

Details:

Within the Asia Pacific region, Surface Studio 2 is available to preorder in Australia and New Zealand. Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 can be preordered in Australia, China, Japan, and New Zealand. Additional market availability expected in 2019.

Surface Headphones are currently only available in the US and the UK.

12 October 2018

Blockchain-based global e-trading platform for physical commodities launched in Singapore

Commodities Intelligence Centre (CIC) has launched Singapore’s first physical commodity B2B e-trading platform, together with partners Zall Smartcomm, a major B2B player in China; Global eTrade Services (GeTS) Asia, a CrimsonLogic subsidiary, and Singapore Exchange (SGX). Enterprise Singapore also played a role in bringing CIC's partners together.

CIC is a one-stop global trading platform built on Blockchain technology that will provide commodity traders around the world access to a range of services from transaction matching, one-click customs clearance, to supply chain financing and payment term options, as well as greater pooling of resources for both buyers and sellers.

CIC trades in products such as oil and petroleum, chemicals and plastic, as well as ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The CIC platform was trialled in July, and has nearly reached turnover of US$200 million in trade across markets such as China, Australia, India, and Malaysia. Successful transactions include a Chinese silk-related transaction to India, as well as the import of polyvinylpyrrolidones (PVP) materials from the UAE into China.

Powered by Blockchain, the CIC platform boasts of enhanced security across trade-related documents, from Certificates of Origin to commercial invoices. This enhances the transparency and trust between shippers, freight-forwarders and users, while providing a strategic edge to businesses trading on the platform.

Source: CIC. Peter Yu.
Source: CIC. Yu.
Peter Yu, CEO, CIC said the e-trading platform creates greater trading synergies within and beyond ASEAN with China, and the rest of the world as well. "With its strategic location and the opportunity to form an alliance with giants like Zall Smartcom, GeTS and SGX, Singapore was the perfect base to launch this platform,” he said.

Enterprise Singapore’s Assistant CEO Satvinder Singh added, “Commodity trading remains a critical growth pillar for Singapore’s economy having generated US$1.2 trillion in turnover in 2017, driven by a sustained global economy and demand from Asia. The presence of digital B2B platforms like CIC in Singapore, along with Singapore’s excellent connectivity, supply chain and financing ecosystem, will strengthen Singapore’s position as a global trading hub.”

“CIC is going to be a game-changing platform for Singapore’s commodity trading community. As a shareholder and technology partner of CIC, GeTS and its CALISTA platform orchestrates the key physical and non-physical – such as regulatory and financial – logistics activities on a digital ecosystem, making commodity trading easier, accessible, and predictable,” said Eugene Wong, Chairman of CrimsonLogic and GeTS.

“Importantly, CIC can revolutionise commodity trading by attracting more buyers and sellers globally to come on board, with the potential to lower and even stabilise the cost of commodities.”

CIC has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Marubeni, a leading Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate. The agreement aims to unlock commodities trade opportunities for supply chain finance.

Source: CIC. Supported by Zall, GeTS and SGX in Singapore, the MOU signing was witnessed by Iwasa San, MD, Marubeni ASEAN, and Sharon Chou, CFO, CIC at the official launch of the CIC platform.
Source: CIC. Supported by Zall, GeTS and SGX in Singapore, the MOU signing was witnessed by Iwasa San, MD, Marubeni ASEAN, and Sharon Chou, CFO, CIC at the official launch of the CIC platform.

Marubeni’s interest to collaborate with Zall Smartcom comes off the back of the company’s plans to provide comprehensive trade financing capabilities to international small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through more finance channels. The MoU sees Marubeni integrating the CIC to facilitate more payment term options to bridge buyers and sellers globally with greater ease and efficiency. The CIC platform will also help the business to streamline global trade by matching buyers and sellers of commodities, while also providing supply chain financing, faster clearance, and logistics services.

LG Electronics launches the B8S 4K OLED TV

Source: LG. The LG B8S 4K OLED TV.
Source: LG. The LG B8S 4K OLED TV.

LG Electronics (LG), a best-selling OLED brand, continues to advance its position with the new LG B8S 4K OLED TV. Made in Korea, the B8S adds to the 2018 line-up of 4K OLED TVs, and packs powerful features of the OLED series such as α (Alpha) 7 processor, 4K Cinema HDR, and LG’s ThinQ Artificial Intelligence (AI).

LG’s α 7 processor provides true-to-life images filled with rich colours, sharpness and depth for more realism. Its precise dual-step noise reduction process reduces grain and banding noise, improving clarity and smoothness of pictures. The processor also augments colour performance thanks to the advanced mapping capabilities.

The TV builds on LG’s proprietary algorithm to provide better viewing. The LG B8S OLED TV also features 4K Cinema HDR, which adds support for Advanced HDR by Technicolor as well as other major HDR formats. The cinematic experience is further enhanced with the support of Dolby Atmos, which offers object-based surround sound.

LG’s ThinQ AI TV is powered by the 5th generation webOS TV operating system platform. It offers a launcher bar for easy access and switching between apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Toggle, LG Gallery, or other commonly accessed functions like the web browser or TV scheduler. The 2018 LG TVs also features the new ThinQ AI that delivers intelligent voice-activated control. Viewers can speak directly into the remote control to give voice commands and execute actions such as setting the TV timer, changing the picture mode without manually navigating the interface, or search for content recommendations.

“The new LG B8S OLED TV is equipped with the same technologies that make its predecessors so powerful,” said Hosik Kim, Product Director, LG Home Entertainment. “It is priced more affordably without compromising on the superior offerings of the LG OLED, making its technology more accessible than ever.”

Details:

Series
OLED B8
Sizes
65 & 55
Models
65”: OLED65B8STB
55”: OLED55B8STB
Display type
Screen type
OLED
Screen size (inch)
65", 55"
Resolution
3,840 x 2,160
Backlight type
Self-lighting pixel
Digital TV (DVB-T2)
Yes
Toggle red button (HbbTV)
Yes
Picture quality
Picture master processor
α (Alpha) 7 intelligent processor
High frame rate (HFR)
4K/2K HFR
Pixel Dimming / Local Dimming
Pixel Dimming
Wide colour gamut
Perfect Color
Billion rich
colours
Yes
Colour enhancer
Adaptive Color Enhancer
Colour accuracy (3D colour mapping)
True Color Accuracy
Dynamic tone mapping
Enhanced Dynamic Tone Mapping
Black
enhancement
Perfect Black
Luminance
Ultra Luminance Pro
Depth enhancer (contrast)
Active Depth Enhancer
Noise reduction
Dual Noise Reduction
Sharpness
enhancer
Frequency based
Resolution
upscaler
4K Upscaler
HDR effecst (SDR to HDR)
Yes
High dynamic range (HDR)
4K Cinema HDR
Advanced HDR by Technicolor
Yes
Technicolor
Expert Mode
Yes
Professional game TV
Yes
Auto calibration
Yes
HEVC decoder
4K@120P, 10 bit
VP9 decoder
4K@60P, 10 bit
SHVC decoder
4K@60P, 10 bit
Sound
quality
Speaker system
2.0 Ch 20 W
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Surround mode
Dolby Surround/ OLED Surround
One touch sound tuning
Yes
Adaptive sound control
News/movies/music
Audio upscaler
Yes
Bluetooth audio player
Yes
Wireless sound sync
Yes
DTS decoder
DTS-HD
Smart
features
Smart operating system
webOS
Processor
Quad
Magic remote control
Included
Quick access
Yes
Magic zoom
Live zoom + Focus zoom
Magic zoom recording
Yes
360 VR
Yes
Mobile connection
iOS/ Android
Magic link
Yes
Intelligent voice recognition
Yes
Gallery
Yes
Cloud photos & videos
Yes
LG Content Store (App Store)
Yes
Musicplayer
Yes
Web browser
Yes
Convenience
Multi-view
Yes
Universal
control
capability
Yes
Time machine (recording content)
Yes
Analogue/ digital recording
Yes (external storage)
Live Playback
RF /Composite
Connectivity
Wi-Fi built-in
Yes (802.11.ac)
Smart sharing
DLNA/Miracast overlay / Wi-Fi Direct
Mobile
connections
Yes
(LG TV Plus mobile app)
Simplink (HDMI consumer electronics control [CEC])
Yes
Input &
output
HDMI 2.0
1 rear, 3 side
HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC)
Yes
USB 2.0
2 rear, 1 side
RF-IN (antenna)
1
Composite in
1
Component in
1
Digital audio out (optical)
1
LAN (Ethernet)
1
Headphone out
1
Power
Power supply (voltage, Hz)
AC 100-240V (50/60Hz)
Standby Power consumption
0.5W↓
Accessories
Remote controller
Magic Remote
Power cable
Yes
Wall mount
VESA size (HxV mm)
300 x 200
LG bracket model (optional)
OLW480B
Dimension/ weight
Size with stand
(WxHxD mm)
65”: 1,449 x 881 x 230
55”: 1,228 x 752 x 220
Size without stand
(WxHxD mm)
65”: 1,449 x 831 x 46.9
55”: 1,228 x 707 x 47
Weight with stand (kg)
65”: 25.4
55”: 17.8
Weight without stand (kg)
65”: 21.0
55”: 16.3
Availability
65”: Available now
55”: Available now
Price*
65”: S$6,399
55”: S$4,299

11 October 2018

Data literacy could be worth as much as US$500 million to a business

• The Data Literacy Index commissioned by Qlik and produced by Wharton School academics and IHS Markit, reveals that organisations with a strong corporate data literacy score exhibit up to 5% higher enterprise value

• While the majority of business decision makers recognise the importance of a data literate workforce, fewer than 20% are encouraging their employees to become more confident with data

Data literate companies are valued more highly than peers which are not data literate, according to the Data Literacy Index.
Data literate companies are valued more highly than peers
which are not data literate, according to the Data Literacy
Index.
Qlik wants to be synonymous with the concept of data literacy and is driving the idea that interpretation of data should move beyond the data scientist community. 

“We're building a big part of the creation of the idea of a data literate world for all,” said James Fisher, Senior VP, Strategic Marketing, Qlik. “In the future, individuals and organisations will need to develop data literacy skills. We want to help organisations to understand the value of data-driven culture.”

That value could be as much as US$534 million. Qlik shared results under embargo of research* commissioned on behalf of the newly-launched Data Literacy Project in a sneak preview during its 2018 Data Revolution Tour in Singapore. A key finding was that organisations in the upper third of the Data Literacy Index showed a 3%-5% increase in the total market value of the business, or enterprise value.

“The average market value of organisations in the study is US$10 billion,” Fisher said, making the 3%-5% figure equivalent to US$320 million-US$534 million. Improved data literacy also correlates positively with other measures of corporate performance, such as gross margin, return-on-assets, return-on-equity and return-on-sales.

This means that a data literate workforce is important, but the benefits are only maximised if the ability to use data literacy for decision-making in the business is encouraged. Companies have not made the connection yet however. There is still a gap between how companies see the performance and relevance of data and an appreciation of the significance of data literacy, Qlik said.

While 92% of business decision makers in large enterprises believe that it is important for employees to be data literate, 17% say that their business significantly encourages employees to become more confident with data.

“We probably aren't doing enough... to get access to that value,” said Fisher.

Lorin Hitt, Professor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania said, “This is the first time that data literacy has been measured on a company level, which includes not only the data skills of company employees, but also the use of data for making decisions throughout the company.

“This is important because our research suggests that this broader concept of corporate data literacy represents a mutually reinforcing set of business practices that are associated with higher financial performance.”

The research has found that more respondents in the Asia Pacific region have pivoted to emphasise data in the last five years than in other regions globally. Ten percent in the region have made changes in the way they use data while 20% are willing to pay higher salaries to employees who are data literate, showing that companies are not yet "walking the talk". Additionally, 40% in Asia have made "quite a few" changes to the way their companies use data, against 47% in the US.

In the Asia Pacific region:
  • Nine in 10 (92%) business decision makers believe is important for that their employees to be data literate
  • A third (34%) of organisations are providing some form of formal data literacy training
  • A sixth (17%) report that their business significantly encourages employees to become more confident with data

Singapore performed exceptionally within the Asia Pacific region and is the most data-literate nation globally. The country had a corporate data literacy** (CDL) score of 84.1 compared to 81.3 in the UK and 79.0 in Germany. The other leaders in Asia Pacific were Australia (a CDL score of 72.4) and India (76.2). Japan, on the other hand, scored 54.9.

Singapore is well-positioned for high data literacy with its large investments in technology, which provide access to data and analytics; an economy that is knowledge worker-driven; and university-level education with world-leading investments in computer science, specifically data science and visualisation skillsets, explained Fisher.

Other findings include:

Businesses are not ready to pay for widespread data expertise

The majority of businesses decisions makers feel it is vital for employees to be data literate, but just 24% of the global workforce reports being fully confident in their ability to read, work with, analyse and communicate with data***.

Further aggravating this skills gap, while two-thirds of companies (63%) are planning on hiring more data-literate employees, the onus is on the individual. Business leaders have been unwilling to commit resources to improve the data literacy of their workforce, with only 34% of firms currently providing data literacy training, and 36% willing to pay higher salaries to employees who are data literate. 
Availability of data skills does not lead to more data-driven decision-making

Nearly all business leaders acknowledge that data is important to their industry (93%) and in how their company currently makes decisions (98%). Just 8% of firms have made major changes in the way the data is used over the past five years.

Data-driven decision making had the lowest score of the three dimensions of corporate data literacy measured. Even companies that have data-literate employees across every business unit are not likely to be turning data into useable information as effectively as possible. 
“Even when we have the skills in place, organisations are not fully following through in terms of how they drive action and change within the organisation,” Fisher said.

Some industries have higher data literacy

There are far greater differences in corporate data literacy between industries than between regions. The healthcare, retail and real estate industries underperformed on data literacy (with respective data literacy scores of 67.1, 69.2 and 70.7), while the administrative, technical services and finance industries performed more consistently (81.1, 80.2 and 77.4 respectively). Sector-wise, the banking and finance industry has the highest average CDL score in Asia Pacific.

Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik said: “With the greater presence of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, the fourth industrial revolution is looming. Data will be its universal language and those companies that master it will reap the rewards.

“Yet, while companies pay strong lip service to the relevance and importance of data literacy to their business, their willingness to commit resources for data literate employees and evoke change to allow for data-driven decision making is lacking.

“Within just five years, the winners of the data revolution will be clear. The Data Literacy Index is not merely an eye opener. It is a call to arms for business leaders to defend their market share.”
Precursor research to the Data Literacy Index includes Qlik's data literacy survey, conducted earlier in 2018 and which assessed an employee’s data skillsets. 

Even though Singapore is the most data-literate country in the world, there is more room for improvement. The earlier survey findings discovered a low data literacy level across the board in Singapore. About two thirds 66% of C-suites and directors do not know how to deal with data, and four in 10 (42%) admitted that they frequently make business decisions on ‘gut feel’ over informed insight.

Other findings for the earlier survey included:

- Nine in 10 graduates in Singapore enter workforce unprepared to deal with data.

- Employees in Singapore are under immense pressure to use data at work.

- Nearly two thirds (65%) agree that they have to work with a higher volume of data today compared to three years ago

- Over half (56%) also admitted to feeling overwhelmed when dealing with data

The earlier survey also found that workers want to improve their data skills to boost their career (78%), but many are being held back by their employers. Almost half (47%) see the training offered as inadequate. Four in 10 (39%) graduate entry-level workers surveyed agree they have not had adequate training to be data literate, despite the majority (68%) willing to invest more time and energy to improve their skillset.

Qlik's own technology makes use of data literacy knowhow to offer a better customer experience. Its visualisation capabilities help to ensure that users use colour and charts well. "We are now using cognitive artificial intelligence (AI) to instill a greater level of data literacy," said Fisher.

The Data Literacy Index was created by Qlik on behalf of the Data Literacy Project, a new global community dedicated to igniting richer discussion and developing the tools to shape a confident and successful data-literate society. The Data Literacy Project, whose logo spells out 'data' in Morse code, has a portal with inspiring stories, active conversation, self-assessment tools as well as resources and education.

And while Qlik is a driving force for data literacy, it is not going to go it alone. Founding partners for the Data Literacy Project include Accenture, Cognizant, Qlik, Pluralsight, Experian, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Data to the People. More partners expected in the future.

There are many aspects to effective data literacy in organisations, including understanding the current corporate analytic strategy in conjunction with partners; democratising data literacy and embedding data literacy into core business processes. "It requires a fundamental change in the way individuals think and the culture of an organisation," Fisher noted.

In a panel discussing data literacy, Dr Keith Carter, Associate Professor, School of Computing, National University of Singapore, said there is a place for data scientists in organisations, but there needs to be supporting culture and a way to put them to use. 

Dr Carter, who teaches "ABCD", or AI, Blockchain, cloud, and data, said that culture is critical as it can be brought in the wrong way, or hacked. "With AI you can train it so that it provides the wrong answers, so you lose trust or make a bad decision," he said. 

"We need to do more to be able to create a culture where we understand what data is and how we can get better being data driven," agreed Dr Meri Rosich, Executive MBA Lecturer at GLOBIS University. "We have to enable not just people to understand (data) but understand the core ethical principles around the execution." 

Dr Rosich said data literacy is a core skillset that should be developed professionally and personally, and updated continually. While the Singapore academic curriculum is integrating more data-driven subjects, so children can understand data, tell stories, and test for facts, she said that an AI certification from a school will be obsolete in two years. 

"The process doesn't stop when you graduate. You need to develop systems that help you continue to learn," she said.

"The foundation is there. We now need to use that (and) apply it to something that is new to us, which is how to use data and how to apply data," summarised Fisher.

Dr Carter called the 3%-5% figure from the Qlik research conservative but impactful. "In the very near future, with good data, trustable data, AI can run a department, and then it can run a business unit; it can run a business, run a sector," he said. "Ultimately we'll see... sections of the government making top decisions on AI. It is moving faster than you expect."

Explore:

Read the TechTrade Asia blog post citing Qlik Asia Pacific's comments on data literacy

Read the global report to guide enterprise on driving data literacy within a company

The Qlik data literacy education programme is designed to empower everyone with the ability to understand, analyse and use data with confidence. Lessons are product-agnostic and teach concepts that can be used in any context and with any business intelligence tool. Offerings include:
  • A one-day instructor-led class available worldwide, onsite or virtually
  • Free self-paced online learning modules in the Qlik Continuous Classroom
  • Free comprehensive data analytics certification in the Qlik Continuous Classroom
  • Free learning resources for professors and students through the Qlik Academic Program
  • Free skills assessment to receive a training roadmap based on skill level

Try free data literacy classes from Qlik 

Browse the earlier research on data literacy

*Qlik commissioned global research that explored the relationship between data literacy and corporate performance in partnership with Wharton and IHS Markit. The research covers data-driven decision making and data skill dispersion - how widespread the use of data is throughout the organisation. Six hundred and four global enterprise business decision makers in 10 geographies were surveyed about their companies' use of data and approach to data literacy. The research study was defined by Wharton academics and conducted by PSB Research. 

The survey was conducted by PSB Research from June 27 through July 18, 2018. Business decision makers were selected from global publicly-traded companies, with at least 500 employees and which represented a wide range of industries including banking and financial services, manufacturing, retail, transportation, healthcare, energy, construction, utilities, and communications. The total number of interviews conducted was 604: 200 each in the US and Europe, and 204 in Asia. 

Measures of Firm Performance The corporate value can be interpreted as the percentage difference in enterprise value of the organization for a one standard deviation difference in the corporate data literacy score, holding fixed all other assets of the firm. The analysis of performance was completed using public financial data for the surveyed companies. The result is statistically significant at conventional levels, and consistent with estimates from the performance regressions using other performance variables. 

**Corporate data literacy (CDL) is defined as the ability of a company workforce to read, analyse and use data for decisions; communicate with data in the organisation; and use that data in decision-making for work purposes. The measure of corporate data literacy was established by IHS Markit and a Professor from the Wharton School. It lies on a continuum based on 

- The data skills of the employees (human capital) 

- Data-driven decision making and

- Data skill dispersion (how widespread is the use of data throughout the organisation). 

A survey was designed to measure the three dimensions of corporate data literacy. For each question a scale was developed from the categorical responses and the z-score computed to standardise responses across all indicators in order to aggregate them. The overall corporate data literacy score is computed as the sum of the three pillar scores. For the global sample, the distribution of CDL scores range from a low of 0 to a high of 100.  

**** Source: How to Drive Data Literacy within the Enterprise

10 October 2018

Older PCs are more expensive to maintain than newer ones

• Techaisle research commissioned by Microsoft and Intel has revealed that the cost of upkeeping a PC older than four years can be used to purchase at least two new modern PCs

• Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) running Windows 7 devices within the organisation should seek to make the shift before End of Support in January 2020

Source: Microsoft-Intel Make the Shift study. Comparisons for cost of maintaining a PC that is under four years old vs one which is four years or older. The newer PCs cost an estimated US$1,030 for repairs, whereas older PCs could cost as much as US$2,736.
Source: Microsoft-Intel Make the Shift study. Comparisons for cost of maintaining a PC that is under four years old vs one which is four years or older. The newer PCs cost an estimated US$1,030 for repairs, whereas older PCs could cost as much as US$2,736. 

Microsoft and Intel have released research from Techaisle, a global SMB IT market research and analyst organisation, which highlights the opportunities that Asia Pacific’s SMBs have by upgrading to modern devices at work.

The study*, which surveyed 2,156 SMB organisations across Asia Pacific, found that the cost of keeping a PC more than four years old is US$2,736 per device - enough to replace the ageing hardware with two or more new PCs.

The study also revealed that a PC older than four years old is also 2.7 times more likely to undergo repairs, resulting in loss in productivity. 85% of larger SMBs, with more than 500 employees, have PCs that are older than four years, compared to 60% in smaller SMBs employing less than 100 employees. This underscores the widespread usage of older devices within SMBs in the region.

“PCs are the productive engines for most SMBs in the region, where organisations rely heavily on their devices for their day-to-day tasks. However, seven in 10 SMBs surveyed have PCs that are older than four years, which significantly increases maintenance costs,” said Bradley Hopkinson, VP, Consumer and Devices Sales, Asia, Microsoft. “With budget constraints being the No. 1 IT challenge among SMBs today, business leaders should seek to adopt a device modernisation strategy so that they can maintain costs, while safeguarding their organisation from newer digital risks.”

The new study revealed that in the last year alone, as many as two thirds (67%) of SMBs may have experienced PC security and data theft breaches, with only 15% of them actually reporting these attacks.

“With a modern PC powered by Windows 10, SMBs can be assured of up-to-date security updates, powered by cloud intelligence that proactively protects their businesses,” added Hopkinson. “By reducing the potential risk of cyberthreats with a modern PC, SMBs can definitely improve their productivity and avoid downtime.”

“SMBs constitute 98% of enterprises in the Asia Pacific region, and employ half of the workforce in the region yet many of them still have PCs older than four years old. We believe that by having them move to a modern PC powered by an Intel Core processor, they can unlock greater productivity for their business while reducing IT management time and costs,” said Santhosh Viswanathan, MD, Sales and Marketing Group, Asia Pacific Japan Territory, Intel.

Respondents in the study identified their top business priorities as increasing profitability, business growth and improving workforce productivity. The study highlighted that SMBs are looking at IT as a response to address their business issues. The top IT priorities included investing in PCs, cloud solutions and security solutions.

“We found that the key barriers in migrating to a newer device were concerns of legacy applications not being able to work on a newer operating system, along with the lack of budgets. However, the benefits of adopting a modern device strategy outweighs the concerns. Too often, SMB owners focus on short term costs and while in most cases this approach is absolutely valid, at times it can lead to situations that cost them more. 

"The choice between maintaining older PCs and replacing them with newer PCs is one such area. However, these SMBs should re-evaluate their decision given the higher cost of maintaining older PCs which has a larger cumulative effect on the budget than purchasing newer PCs with latest technology. SMBs in the region should seriously consider making the shift to a newer PC in the immediate future,” said Anurag Agrawal, CEO & Analyst, Techaisle.

SMBs have an opportunity to improve their overall operations with modern devices. For those who have already made the move to newer PCs, the study found that:

• Nearly seven in 10 (69%) felt that they were better able to secure and protect their business data on newer PCs; 

• About two thirds (65%) agreed that it has helped reduce overall maintenance costs; 

• Six in 10 (63%) saw improved efficiencies due to new experiences powered by cloud and mobility solutions, and 

• Six in 10 (62%) agreed that a newer PC has made their staff more productive.

More than 42% of PCs used in SMBs are still on older versions of Windows today, according to the study. A Windows 10 modern device is likely to offer them experiences that are still familiar, in addition to being safe, secure, and productive.

New in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update include Your Phone, an app which allows users to access photos and texts on Windows 10 devices, the new To-Do app that helps manage, prioritise and complete tasks, as well as enhancements across Outlook.com, Edge as well as Office apps. In addition, users can expect general Windows security improvements, including support for biometrics login via Windows Hello for Business for Azure Active Directory and Active Directory.

*The Microsoft-Intel Make the Shift study was conducted in August 2018, and involved 2,156 respondents from Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea.

• Respondents were IT and business decision makers 

• The sample included SMBs across various sizes, which were classified as small (one-99 employees), medium (100-499 employees) and large (500-999 employees)