Industry farewells 2009, embraces 2010

Industry players look back at 2009, discuss recession fears and name some hot technology trends they'll be looking out for in 2010.

This year, the cloud of economic recession is hanging over most organizations.

Most IT leaders agree the recession left a significant impact on the industry but are keeping optimistic about this year's business prospects.

ZDNet Asia talks to some tech players to find out how they plan to chart these murky waters, what key trends will make or break business.

Find out what they have to say:

Mark Williams, Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager, Acision

Mark Williams

Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager
Acision

"Industry analysts correctly predicted the boom in mobile broadband growth."

Q: What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
That would be several big things comprising:

  • The rise of mobile broadband adoption and usage
  • Consumers incurring bill shock for mobile broadband while roaming
  • Handset vendors differentiating their smartphone products by offering complementary applications
  • The emergence of visual voicemail, facilitated by the increased adoption of the iPhone
  • Increased usage of MMS

Can you name one prediction that analysts got wrong or right about the industry last year?
Industry analysts correctly predicted the boom in mobile broadband growth. Furthermore, Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that mobile broadband subscriptions will increase to 330 million by end of 2010 and to 1.3 billion by the end of 2013.

Name one issue that you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
Short messaging service (SMS) spam is becoming a major concern for mobile users and operators. To curb SMS spam, operators, such as those in China, have taken steps to limit the number of SMS sent by any mobile user. This, however, restricts mobile users' freedom to send legitimate messages.

In order to tackle the SMS spam problem, mobile operators must provide users with a solution that offers them a high degree of control. Content control features such as black and white listing of telephone numbers is an ideal solution. Another feature would be auto-copying SMS text to another number or email address to enable parents to prevent the use of SMS during certain hours such as school hours by their children.

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
1. Sustaining revenues while mobile broadband usage rises
Mobile broadband usage will continue to rise, which means operators will have to invest in additional backhaul infrastructure to ensure optimum quality of service. Mobile operators must review their profitability strategy in mobile broadband as revenues are not sustainable under the traditional Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) model. Long-term sustainable revenues from mobile broadband can be secured only when operators adopt an Average Revenue Per Megabyte (ARP-MB) model.

2. Addressing network congestion
As mobile broadband traffic increases, operators will face a new challenge of ensuring that their networks are free from congestion. Upgrading backhaul network capacity is one way to ascertain that there is optimum bandwidth. However, this is a multi-million-dollar exercise and Acision believes this need not be the only solution to network congestion. Optimizing traffic flows from broadband devices is a key approach that effectively maximizes current network infrastructure, reduces the cost of additional backhaul investments, while maintaining a high quality of service.

3. Per-character billing for SMS
Like per-second billing for voice, per-character billing for SMS could be a reality in 2010, especially in countries such as India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan where the majority of subscribers are on a prepaid plan . Per-character SMS billing means billing for a number of characters instead of per message. For example, an SMS message, typically consisting of 160 characters, would normally cost US$0.05 to US$0.10 per message. If a mobile user sent an SMS that said "ok", that message could cost less than a full-length message.

Lee Oh Tee, South Asia-Pacific regional director, Axis Communications

Lee Oh Tee

South Asia-Pacific regional director
Axis Communications

"The security market in Singapore and Asia-Pacific will continue to grow despite the uncertain economy, driven by increased security concerns as well as the continued technology shift from analog to network video."

What was the biggest thing that affected your company this year?
Many companies delayed making any major purchases due to the economic uncertainty. Purchasing power was also affected in the region due to currency fluctuations. However, the downturn in 2009 also caused many companies to look into more efficient ways to run their business and to stay competitive.

In the security market, we saw governments and companies move from manpower security to electronic security as so as to obtain real-time security intelligence, optimize monitoring effectiveness and keep variable costs under control. Many also upgraded from analog to digital technology to future-proof their security infrastructure.

What was the biggest news in your industry this year?
Some of the bigger news that impacted our industry in Singapore and Asia-Pacific was the implementation of the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NBN) and the standardization of the H.264 standard in video compression techniques.

With NGNBN going live in Singapore by 2010 and countries in the region putting in place their high-speed broadband infrastructure, such as Australia and Malaysia, companies are already starting to migrate to digital network video surveillance solutions in 2009. We expect continued strong demand in the market within the next three years. While the more mature markets in Asia comprise primarily analog installations, the emerging economies are leapfrogging in their security infrastructure implementations of network-based surveillance. IMS Research estimates that the Asia market for network video cameras will reach US$4.1 billion in 2011.

H.264 is an open, licensed standard that supports the most efficient video compression techniques available today. H.264 is the first global video standard shared across all industries. Without compromising image quality, an H.264 encoder can reduce the size of a digital video file by more than 80 percent compared with the Motion JPEG format and as much as 50 percent more than the MPEG-4 Part 2 standard. This means that much less network bandwidth and storage space are required for a video file. This delivers significant cost savings, especially with the advent of high-definition network cameras with HD visuals.

H.264 has already been introduced in new electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and digital video players, and has gained fast acceptance by end users. Industry leaders like Apple are already using H.264 as the de-facto standard on the iTunes store for its video downloads.

What's your outlook for 2010?
The security market in Singapore and Asia-Pacific will continue to grow despite the uncertain economy, driven by increased security concerns as well as the continued technology shift from analog to network video. The network video market will gain more momentum as we see more products with H.264 standards as well as high-definition TVs. With more economies moving to a networked IT infrastructure and high-speed broadband implementations, we foresee strong growth in Singapore and Asia-Pacific and predict a 40 to 50 percent year-on-year growth in 2010.

Will there be an upturn in 2010 or will the recession remain?
The worst of the recession looks to be over, provided the Dubai crisis does not spread to this region. In fact, the APAC market is demanding for physical security and public safety solutions that are flexible, intelligent and innovative, and Axis has been specializing in that for 25 years. With our strong heritage of excellence in network video solutions, more economic optimism and pent-up demand from the slower economy of 2009, we are forecasting a pick-up in business.

Tony Melloy, Asia-Pacific general manager of deal structuring and professional services, BT Global Services

Tony Melloy

Asia-Pacific general manager of deal structuring and professional services
BT Global Services

"With the economic recovery expected in 2010, IT will also be required to demonstrate their ability to drive efficiency and deliver return on investments."

Q: What was the top news in your industry?
As a result of the budget constraints that many companies faced, there has been a shift in focus from capital expenditure to operating expenditure. The shift has resulted in the increasing popularity of managed services in the Asia Pacific region. BT noted that many customers have opted to utilize managed services for the non-core aspects of their businesses. In the region, these include banks, insurance companies and public-sector organizations.

What technology innovation or product are you looking forward to next year?
As companies continue to keep an eye on budgets, we see the trend toward managed services continuing into 2010, as more companies realize the benefits of working with global networked IT partners.

Additionally, we will see some bright sparks in collaboration and integration in mobility and the fixed network space. Virtualization of services, or cloud computing, will also be an exciting area to watch. Social media tools have taken off in a big way with consumers, but businesses are catching up and we may see them increasingly incorporate the use of tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in the enterprise space.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
IT departments will have to continue dealing with tight budgets and will need to give serious consideration to utilizing managed services for non-core aspects of their business. With the economic recovery expected in 2010, IT will also be required to demonstrate their ability to drive efficiency and deliver return on investments.

Do you foresee an upturn in 2010 or will we still be in the recession?
We are seeing different regions coming out of the recession at differing speeds. What is clear is that the recovery will be led by Asia. While the recovery will not be quick, we should start to see that become more prevalent in the spring of 2010. We may not observe a sharp upswing in the form of a V-shaped recovery; rather, it will be more of an elongated W-shaped recovery.

David Stanton, Asia-Pacific vice president of enterprise sales, Cable & Wireless Worldwide

David Stanton

Asia-Pacific vice president of enterprise sales
Cable & Wireless Worldwide

"The biggest challenge that CIOs continue to face is about gaining more accountability and efficiency from their overall IT and telecommunications spends."

Q: What was the top news in telco in 2009?
2009 has been a tough year for everyone. Over the last 12 months, most of our customers sought greater accountability and efficiency from their telecommunications spends. We tracked a lot of interest and investment by customers into propositions such as managed videoconferencing and telecom expense management (TEM)--as customers looked for more control, visibility and predictability in their communications expenses to help them plan and forecast operating expenses.

We anticipate this process to continue into 2010, as corporations plan for growth after the most significant recession of our time. This time, it is not just the usual "cut costs" mandate, but the need for a long-term fix to the perennial corporate ailment of managing telecom charges and ensuring more efficient use of telecommunications assets that the company has invested in.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
Toward the end of the year we saw several natural disasters take place, almost simultaneously--bringing back the age old discussion of the network resiliency offered by telcos. Communications networks are the central nerve system of the global business today. Trading floors, news networks, commodity trading, shipping--each of these businesses are mission-critically dependant on the worldwide network of submarine and terrestrial cables.

Delivering infrastructure diversity is now a critical requirement for corporate customers--and is central to the network design architecture for any world-class network service provider offering services globally and in Asia.

Although the telecommunications industry already works well together when a natural disaster occurs, continued focus in this area will need to be maintained to ensure that critical communication services can be provided to customers should other natural disasters occur.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
The biggest challenge that CIOs continue to face is about gaining more accountability and efficiency from their overall IT and telecommunications spends.

Telecom expenses can be among the most opaque corporate expenses today. In a time of increasing cost pressures, corporations in Asia Pacific--and indeed globally--are looking for more control, visibility and predictability in their communications expenses to help them plan and forecast operating expenses. Corporations want to manage costs in the short term--even as they plan for long-term corporate sustainability. We anticipate this process to continue through 2010, as corporations start to invest strategically for growth once again.

What's your outlook for 2010?
1. Higher uptake of managed services solutions in Asia
Against the backdrop of a global downturn, the outlook for networking is relatively positive as companies look to telecommunications as a path to surviving--and even thriving--in these turbulent times. Large enterprise organisations now realize the cost savings and efficiency rewards of strategic business, technology and telecommunications outsourcing. Customers in Asia and other emerging markets are growing in maturity and looking for strategic partners which can provide telecommunications products and solutions that deliver what businesses need today.

2. Customers begin to deploy next-generation communications solutions, finally--and are realizing the benefits
Large organizations understand today that the move to creating a next-generation communication and IT infrastructure environment across their business is a journey of many steps and has to meet their evolving collaboration and efficiency demands. Unified, next-generation communication solutions have reached a level of maturity where Asian customers see them as a rational way forward to optimizing their existing investments in traditional enterprise voice and video solutions, as well as to driving further growth and expansion. We are seeing increased demand for next-generation solutions with all our customers, such as Internet Protocol (IP)-based products such as managed videoconferencing, intelligent contact center solutions and IP telephony.

3. Customer service is back in vogue
Service providers across the world, especially in telecoms, have a dubious record of service satisfaction from their customers. Providing a flexible, innovative and customized solution that helps meet business demands is what customers are looking for. We believe that service providers need to understand and cater to customer needs--it's not about technology for technology's sake, but about moving at our customers' pace and working with them to achieve their business priorities.

Lim Kok Hin, senior director and general manager of business imaging solutions, Canon Singapore

Lim Kok Hin

senior director and general manager of business imaging solutions
Canon Singapore

"The print industry needs to work harder to demonstrate tangible benefits associated with adopting green print practices."

Q: What was 2009's most important industry development and why?
It was a tough year by any standards, where turbulent market conditions rocked the economy and no industry was spared. First, doing more with less was the mantra and still is. Second, as customers continually become more demanding and sophisticated, they are increasingly expecting new products or services to meet and exceed their needs.

In terms of the print management industry, the increased focus on digital printing technology was by far the most important development of 2009. The benefits of digital printing such as cost savings, customization, efficiency, speed and convenience, attracted industry attention and more businesses are making a switch to this medium of printing.

Can you name one prediction that the analysts got wrong or right about the industry last year?
Grave uncertainties shrouded the world economy in 2008 and 2009. Recession, the impact of IT and cost strategies engulfed CIO conversations, who were constantly juggling the tasks of managing and cutting costs.

Gartner's prediction for 2009 was that ongoing global economic problems could reduce IT market growth from 5.8 percent to 2.3 percent next year in a worst-case scenario. While discretionary IT spending was cut or delayed this year, the trend of cancelling critical IT infrastructure projects was not observed--a fact that demonstrates CIOs were forward-thinking in their approach. And there was an increasing growth in businesses streamlining work processes, and move toward digitalization to optimize resources to sharpen their competitive edge.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address. Today's combination of economic instability and the growing threat of global warming underscore the urgent need for companies to embrace "being green", or to be more environmentally responsible. For many organizations, green is the new black as companies step up their efforts to turn eco-friendly and cut costs thereof.

While businesses are becoming aware of the need to go green, there are still many companies that view this area with a lot of skepticism. In this aspect, the print industry needs to work harder to demonstrate tangible benefits associated with adopting green print practices.

As an organization, Canon strives to make products that are environment- and people-friendly throughout the entire product lifecycle. We have been taking steps to reduce energy use, conserve resources and eliminate hazardous substances in the procurement of raw materials, parts and commercially-available products.

What do you think are the top three technology priorities for 2010?
Automation. The increasing focus on bottomline management is forcing organizations around the world to implement tools that help them be more productive and cost-efficient. Automation is one such tool that helps streamline office workflow, maximize productivity and keep costs at a minimum.

Automation removes manual touch-points and brings visibility to document processes, while causing no disruption to current business operations. Hence, it is a key technology for us in the printing and business imaging solutions industry.

Business process management (BPM) technology. BPM is a management approach and the solutions that enable business process management are going to be closely watched by enterprises. The focus in the coming year is going to be on stretching existing capital expenditure as much as possible while reducing the company's operations expenditure.

Innovation. This will drive the technology industry. A sharp R&D focus facilitates innovation.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
2010 looks to be positive and we can slowly see the emergence of economic green shoots. However, cost will remain the most commonly encountered challenge.

Although budgets are being freed up slowly, the focus on trimming costs will continue. Customer retention and leveraging new technologies to make the enterprise more agile and flexible, will prove to be key priorities for the print industry in 2010.

Irving Tan, managing director of Singapore and Brunei, Cisco Systems

Irving Tan

managing director of Singapore and Brunei
Cisco Systems

"Internet must help companies to interact with people inside and outside its boundaries, and collaboration will drive the next wave of increases in productivity."

What was the biggest issue that affected your company this year?
Over the last 12 months, Singapore felt the impact of the global economic crisis faster and deeper than most other countries in the region--based on our size and our connectivity to the global economy. That said, Cisco remains confident in the long-term viability of Singapore, given the government's unwavering commitment to building the infrastructure for the future, such as the Next Generation National Broadband Network (NBN).

We see the next-generation broadband infrastructure being built island-wide as a precursor to a vibrant services-led economy enabled by the network. This will be the backbone that enables retail service providers to offer innovative services across sectors spanning education, transportation, healthcare, entertainment and finance. It will bring rich multimedia experiences to Singaporeans. Cisco has been driving the move toward networked economies with initiatives like EPIC@SG, and this ubiquitous connectivity will fuel Singapore's competitiveness in a global marketplace.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
The notion of work is changing and organizations are looking to do more with less. They demand strong return upon investments (ROI) and cost savings by moving ahead with investments in collaboration and unified communications tools. This is driven by the need for inter-company collaboration, clusters of experts, councils and boards, the millennial generation and increasing demand for workforce mobility.

The challenge for companies, then, is to effectively implement and utilize collaborative technologies such as unified communications, mobility solutions and Internet Protocol-enabled networking solutions to allow for faster response to customers--for operational efficiency and to compete on the global stage as we prepare for the future.

What's your outlook for 2010?
With the evolution of the Internet beyond "data transport" and toward providing a "media experience", we are focused on the following four trends in technology as major areas for our investments:

1. Video as the next killer application on the Internet
Video has the potential to transform what's possible in all aspects of our lives and create new experiences not just in work, but also sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, entertainment and finance. We believe video will be the next killer app and are working on making video a foundation for collaboration. Through this, we believe we can increase the productivity in companies and countries by 5 to 10 percent and our recent announcements for enterprise collaboration products attest to this goal.

2. Collaboration
The Internet must help companies to interact with people inside and outside its boundaries, and collaboration will drive the next wave of increases in productivity. In the future, collaboration will be extremely important--not just intra-company, but also inter-company between our ecosystem of partners and suppliers. We want to build a platform that brings together video, voice and data, and then bring in Web 2.0 concepts, but with policy and security measures so companies can use them.

3. Virtualization and cloud computing
We believe in the notion that we can separate applications and services from the underlying hardware and deliver them on demand. The network can serve as an orchestra leader for the data center, helping coordinate and streamline how these facilities provide the necessary resources to critical software applications for running everything, from corporate payroll systems to Internet video sites.

4. Smart and connected communities
As the urban population in the Asia-Pacific region increases exponentially, what we are seeing is a changing dynamic in the way we work, play, live and learn.

At Cisco we are working on an initiative called Smart Connected Communities where we use the network to make buildings smarter and energy-efficient, in addition to the hardware and data centers.

Sustainability is expected to be a US$1 trillion market for information and communication technologies (ICT) products and services that cut carbon emissions and reduce costs, and Singapore is well placed to grow in this space due to our qualified workforce, R&D capabilities and government incentives.

Andy Cocks, director of solutions development group and alliances, Datacraft Asia

Andy Cocks

director of solutions development group and alliances
Datacraft Asia

"Enterprise video is going to take off, with companies beginning to see how video and collaboration solutions dramatically reduce travel and improve collaboration across remote workgroups."

Q: What were the top three most important industry developments in 2009? These would be:
1. Server virtualization: This consolidates multiple platforms onto one to save power and physical space.

2. Cloud computing: This not only saves on capital expenditure (CAPEX), companies no longer need to build IT infrastructures for their data. Cloud computing also offers a flexible and dynamic working environment to enterprises. In addition, services provision is much faster with a virtual server as things run within minutes

3.Enterprise video: Cisco TelePresence remains strong as people have stopped traveling and use video as a more effective and green way of saving money.

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
We'll definitely be looking at a consistent increase in the uptake of enterprise video, especially with the acquisition of Tandberg by Cisco. Also, there will be higher traction with converged communications which integrate voice, video and collaboration technology. We anticipate as well that server virtualization will roll over to desktop virtualization.

In this regard, cloud computing will see even greater adoption in the new year than in 2009, Cloud computing is increasingly popular due to its dynamic and flexible nature. Furthermore, it allows companies to save on CAPEX expenditure. A survey by analyst firm IDC on companies in the Asia-Pacific region suggested that we're entering "a period of accelerating IT cloud services adoption", with the portion of organizations exhibiting significant adoption moving from 15 to 25 percent today to 25 to 45 percent in the next three years. Over the next five years, IDC expects spending on IT cloud services in the region to grow almost threefold, reaching US$42 billion by 2012.

Server virtualization is still in its infancy stage with less than 10 percent adoption rate, but the demand for desktop virtualization may arise in industries such as application development and call centers.

With the current economic environment, companies are going to continue reducing travel costs and improve operational efficiency. As such, they are going to use videoconferencing a lot more than they did before.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
Enterprise video is going to take off, with companies beginning to see how video and collaboration solutions dramatically reduce travel and improve collaboration across remote workgroups.

Charles Reed, CEO, DoCoMo interTouch

Charles Reed

CEO
DoCoMo interTouch

"Convergence is the direction that hospitality technology is moving in."

Q: Can you name one prediction that analysts got wrong or right about the industry last year?
Nobody was really prepared for the speed of the downturn which started off with the Lehman collapse. On the positive note, we also saw central governments stepping in to "right" the ship in such a conclusive and positive manner. However, we are still not out of the woods and 2010 will definitely be challenging.

What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
The recession made a huge dent on the global travel and tourism industry. With the number of business and leisure travelers dropping drastically due to the recession, it directly affected hospitality technology providers like us. Since we work on a revenue-sharing basis with our hotel customers for these services, the fall in hotel occupancy caused our revenues to drop, too.

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
Looking at the new year, we see:

  • A growing convergence of consumer and enterprise technologies through Web 2.0 communication apps. Enterprises can no longer ignore the proliferation of social-networking tools in the workplace. They will start embracing these tools as part of their employee networking and collaborative processes.
  • Security continuing to play an important role in shaping the IT industry, as the number of devices and ways in which data is accessed and transmitted across networks continue to grow.
  • That as increasingly more analog devices--such as telephony, security and surveillance systems--start switching to an Internet Protocol (IP)-based network, there will be a greater need for dynamic changes in network management solutions. This will also propel the growth of managed services.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
Convergence is the direction that hospitality technology is moving in, such as application convergence, network convergence, fixed-to-mobile convergence and convergence of traditional media broadcasting with IP media distribution. Through the convergence of all IP-based networks, there is seamless integration of a hotel's guest room and back office, increasing its IT capabilities and future-proofing its network.

This will also lead to increased demand in managed services as hotels look for solutions providers to help them simplify the monitoring and maintenance of multiple networks on a single platform.

What has been the biggest IT lesson learnt or the most memorable experience in 2009?
A key trend that made an impact on our company was a decline in the Video-on-Demand (VOD) market, i.e. movies such as Hollywood blockbusters. Guests are no longer willing to pay to watch movies in hotels since they now have easy access to their own content through the Internet. Using services and devices such as Slingbox, NetFlix and the iTunes store, the variety of content available to a guest through the Internet is limitless and traditional VOD content cannot compare with that. With the fall in demand for VOD content, we've turned to exploring alternate partnerships with different content providers.

The growing demand for high-speed Internet access (HSIA), as users connected to the Internet using different mobile devices to access more bandwidth-intensive applications, also drove a lot of innovation in our products and services.

How are IT budgets for 2010?
Some of the positive signs we are seeing are that IT budgets and forecasts are starting to improve. We see a shift toward outsourcing, specifically for hotels to be able to manage costs on a variable basis. Our recently introduced tiered services approach is now gaining ground and becoming very popular with our customers, where they are allowed to purchase the appropriate level of service at the right cost.

Clement Goh, managing director, Equinix Singapore

Clement Goh

managing director
Equinix Singapore

"In 2010, Equinix will continue to cater to Ethernet demand with the development of Ethernet Network to Network Interconnections."

Q: What were important industry developments in 2009?
One of them was outsourcing as a viable option for companies that previously preferred to build their own data center:
The banking industry was one of the worst hit verticals during the recession, with many IT departments within banks being forced to prioritize their IT spend and consider outsourcing data center services to external vendors. Despite the tightened budget, they still have to keep enhancing the performance of their operations, especially in terms of availability and cost efficiency. As such, they turned to specialized service providers for data center services that offer the highest reliability and widest range of network connectivity. The end result--banks stay competitive in a challenging market.

Growth of communications fueling demand for data center space:

We also saw an increase in demand for data center space from the telecommunications sector despite the recession. The demand was to accommodate the exponential growth of mobile data traffic, driven by a boom in advanced mobile applications such as the Internet, social networking and video. The exponential growth of Internet traffic, coupled with the rising penetration of broadband Internet services in the Southeast Asia countries, is driving traffic into Singapore which commonly serves as a regional traffic hub due to its connectivity, sound infrastructure, locale and pro-investment policies.

What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
As a result of the economic downturn, many companies experienced difficulty in securing loans to finance the building of data centers, as building these is CAPEX-intensive. Organizations like banks, which traditionally built their own data centers, have since implemented an outsourcing model as this is a financially viable option. While many sectors within IT found the global economic recession challenging, in fact, the region is currently facing a situation where the demand for data center space is far outpacing supply at a ratio of 3:1.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
The simplicity and flexibility of Ethernet has played a major role in helping companies across the globe to reliably and efficiently store, manage, retrieve and transmit their information. In 2010, Equinix will continue to cater to Ethernet demand with the development of Ethernet Network to Network Interconnections (NNIs). This will allow carriers to interconnect and pass data between Ethernet services. Equinix recently announced the development of the Equinix Carrier Ethernet Exchange platform with Alcatel-Lucent, an industry first that will enable the delivery of ubiquitous, high-performance global Ethernet services. This marks the evolution of the next generation of carrier interconnection services. The platform will provide fast connectivity to a broad range of service providers, creating a marketplace that effectively enables providers to offer the first regional and global offering.

Also, Asia has become one of the fastest-growing markets globally. Companies are looking to attract Asian investments, especially in the areas of equity and foreign exchange. Singapore, in particular, with its sound infrastructure, connectivity and pro-investment policies, is considered by the industry to be in a position to play the role of gateway to Asia.

Which emerging technology has the potential to enter mainstream in 2010, and why?

The global economic crisis has changed the way companies make IT purchasing decisions. A lot of these decisions will be centered around reducing cost, increasing productivity and impacting the bottom line. CIOs will continue to prioritize their IT investments in 2010, and more focus will be around cloud computing.

Francis Tan, Southeast Asia sales and marketing vice president, Fujitsu Microelectronics Asia

Francis Tan

Southeast Asia sales and marketing vice president
Fujitsu Microelectronics Asia

"USB-enabled devices, which once belonged to the PC world, have made their way into car infotainment systems driven by the popularity of thumbdrives and MP3 songs."

Summary of 2009 in a nutshell?
In the middle of the biggest slump since the Lehman shock, 2009 began on a bad note. Most Japanese semiconductor manufacturers were faced with structural problems. Troubled by the massive loss, most are rebuilding their system integrated circuit (IC) strategies, abandoning the business model they've followed for the last few decades.

Fujitsu Microelectronics implemented two major changes:

1. Abandoned the business model that demands the cutting-edge microfabrication process technology and the capital-intensive fabs needed to make it possible.

2. Instituted a fundamental revamp of the product line-ups, and redefined four new growth market segments: Mobile/Ecological, Automotive Equipment, Advanced Imaging, and High-Performance (Industrial Equipment).

How is business looking like in 2010? Which are the growing market segments in Asia? What are the key products to serve these applications and the benefits?
The new business model offers more focus and concentration--we can leverage on our technological strengths, concentrate on areas where equipment manufacturers want, as well as respond promptly to the changing needs of the market and society.

Examining the four focus areas, here are some key technology applications with good development potentials to watch out for in 2010:

1. USB 3.0 specification:

Today, PCs and digital audio-visual equipment handle an ever-growing volume of data such as digital photos, audio and video files. These market needs are driving storage devices, such as hard disk drives, to have ever-increasing data volumes and speeds. The ubiquitous USB interface, used widely in external hard drives and USB memory sticks, has had a slow maximum data transfer rate of 480Mbps under the USB 2.0 specification, too slow to meet current strong demand for the ability to read and write high volumes of data in a shorter time.

The USB 3.0 specification, ratified in November 2008, resolves this issue by providing a maximum data transfer rate that is over 10 times faster than that of USB 2.0. In addition, this revolutionary next-generation specification includes greater protocol efficiency as well as improved power management techniques, which enable lower power consumption.

2. Mobile applications:

Mobile phone architectures are becoming more and more powerful, with speeds exceeding frequencies of 500MHz. In such high-speed applications, electromagnetic interference/electromagnetic interference (EMI/EMC) emission issues are fast becoming critical and often contributing to higher testing costs and bill of materials using EMI/EMC shielding techniques and materials.

3. Automotive infotainment:

In recent years, we have experienced the fusion of PC consumer products in the automotive infotainment arena. USB-enabled devices, which once belonged to the PC world, have made their way into car infotainment systems driven by the popularity of thumbdrives and MP3 songs. Fueled by the advancement in video compression technology, high-bandwidth video-centric applications are required to support Blu-ray Disc playbacks and digital TV transmissions.

Virender Aggarwal, Asia-Pacific head, HCL Technologies

Virender Aggarwal

Asia-Pacific head
HCL Technologies

"Smaller budgets mean CIOs will not only have to find ways of achieving more with less, but will also have to enhance the efficiency of their organization's IT cycle."

Q: What do you foresee to be the top three technology trends or issues in 2010, and why?
2010 is slated to be a breakthrough year from an economic recovery perspective with analysts predicting a return in IT spending by mid-year; albeit the demand patterns may have fundamentally shifted. We are looking at a market of a different shape and size ahead. Lower "normal" levels of expenditure, lower volumes, hard costs, lower margins and lower annual increases--a demand environment that appears permanently damaged. What's more, there are no "undisputables" and no ground rules.

In the context of such an environment, technology will play a key role in defining the new leaders of the "new normal". From a trends perspective, I see the following three areas taking centerstage as the year pans out:

  • Business solutions will be the key question. CIOs today are not looking for technology solutions. They are looking for business solutions. They are in search of partners who have the expertise to help them get from Point A to Point B on their business plans. So winning on the basis of quality, experience or relationships is passé. The future lies in providing clarity--the "what" and the "how"--to help client on mature terms of partnership.
  • New-age computing will become a norm. New age computing techniques, particularly cloud computing, which is pushing the frontiers of IT innovation, promises to change the outsourcing landscape and how companies use data. The Asia-Pacific IT outsourcing space has been steadily witnessing the development of next-generation data centers, which lead to a robust IT infrastructure as well as imbibe scalability and flexibility in the computing environment.

    The move to a cloud computing system, which enables users across business verticals to access data on a virtualized platform, negates the need to incur significantly large expenditures on sophisticated IT equipment. This, in turn, results in huge cost savings, operational efficiency and optimization of power consumption. I believe coud will cast a large "web" among Asia-Pacific enterprises going forward and 2010 could be the breakthrough year for this new wave of computing.

  • Data centers will undergo a new "avatar". The prevailing economic conditions have fueled the hunger to pare cost in data center management. In order to address legacy applications and reduce some of the IT sprawl that exists in many companies today, converged fabric products and services will be a trend to follow in 2010. These services will help in simplifying data center management and significantly reducing infrastructure costs.

What do you see as the No. 1 corporate IT challenge this year?
With the economy trying to catch up on lost margins incurred in the recessionary period, each organization will face significant constraints dealing with smaller budgets, which will continue to be restricted in 2010 in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.

This means that CIOs will not only have to find ways of achieving more with less, but will also have to enhance the efficiency of their organization's IT cycle.

Now that IT has transgressed beyond mere cost reduction, the main priority in 2010 for CIOs will be to link their limited IT budgets with the enterprise's ability to set and achieve financial and strategic goals.

How is cloud computing transforming or changing the nature of your business?
Cloud computing is gradually creating a paradigm shift in what CIOs do and should expect from their outsourcing partners.

It has opened up frontiers that can be explored to create highly distinguishable business propositions for a prospective customer. For instance, in the area of disaster recovery, which is one of the most popular outsourced functions, cloud computing is creating a tectonic shift where companies can now use the technology to generate copies of their applications at a moment's notice.

We are working with our existing and prospective customers to help them realize the benefits of the cloud model. It is important to first build and spread awareness among the IT community of advantages the model offers--even beyond cost reduction. For example, it offers some great ways in which applications can be re-architected to achieve higher business goals such as agility.

Tan Yen Yen, vice president and managing director, Hewlett-Packard Singapore

Tan Yen Yen

vice president and managing director
Hewlett-Packard Singapore

"Full business value of cloud services cannot be realized without addressing security and privacy concerns."

Q: What was the biggest thing that affected your company in 2009?
Over the past year, companies across the board were affected by the global economic recession, with organizations placing cost-cutting measures at the top of their priority list. Businesses were looking to leverage IT so as to seek immediate and near-term ways to cut operating costs.

Driven by the need to review and reduce costs, a key priority for businesses was to look at ways to reduce their capital expenditure and move to an operating expense (OPEX) model. Utility-based contracts such as HP's Managed Print Services (MPS) look set to keep their front row seat in the boardroom by allowing companies to take assets off their books.

At the same time, CIOs had to focus on cost and competitiveness to plan for the recovery. Despite budget constraints, demands on technology were and are still growing. So, CIOs were looking at ways to spend smarter, by prioritizing new technology investments based on business value, adopting flexible sourcing options to keep critical projects running, and aligning costs to actual use.

Which emerging technology was overhyped, and why?
Cloud computing has been one of the hottest industry topics of the year, and will continue to be in 2010. However, actually ensuring confidence and securing the cloud for enterprises are issues that have yet to be comprehensively understood and addressed across the industry. As more organizations store sensitive data with third-party cloud service providers, it is becoming evident that the full business value of cloud services cannot be realized without addressing security and privacy concerns. Industry analysts identify security as one of the top three requirements for reliable cloud computing. In 2010, enterprises will be looking to take advantage of Software as a Service (SaaS)/Platform as a Service (PaaS) with a higher degree of confidence in the security--as well as the health and availability--of applications running in the cloud.

New research commissioned by HP in 2009 showed that 50 percent of technology decision-makers within Singapore-based firms are using or planning to implement cloud computing solutions within the next 12 months. Nearly 70 percent of business leaders who have already implemented new or additional cloud computing solutions did so to improve operational and cost efficiencies as part of their long-term business goals, according to the study.

In addition, the research showed that going into 2010, the majority of business leaders using or planning to use cloud computing solutions will either take a hybrid approach (40 percent)--a combination of public and private clouds--or tap into a private cloud (42 percent).

What will be the top three technology trends or issues in 2010, and why?
1. Managing IT sprawl: According to InformationWeek Analytics Survey of InformationWeek 500, only 34 percent of typical IT budgets are dedicated to business innovation. This is because the proliferation of IT sprawl has created technology silos in data centers that consume up to 66 percent of the technology budget for maintenance and operations. IDC also reported that solving the issue of IT sprawl is expected to create a US$35 billion market opportunity for converged infrastructure solutions by 2012.

Technology sprawl has organizations trapped in complex and costly silos, driving demand for efficient next-generation data centers that break down these divisions. A converged infrastructure brings software, servers, storage and networking together to unify business, application and infrastructure functions, speeding up the path to value, improved service levels, and ultimately, business transformation. By moving to a converged infrastructure, customers are able to utilize the individual components of their data center in a synergistic manner, reducing costs and accelerating business growth.

2. Virtualization will continue to be a key technology that dominates the market. We will still see a lot of traction for data center virtualization services, which can lower costs and bring about greater flexibility and efficiency to the technology infrastructure. A recent study commissioned by HP indicated that virtualization adoption is going mainstream with an increase in enterprises deploying virtualization for mission-critical applications (32 to 50 percent), app development (52 to 53 percent) and business continuity (37 to 42 percent), compared with 2008.

3. The Green IT conversation will continue to gain prominence among C-level executives as they see the opportunity to be environmentally responsible and to drive cost savings at the same time. Moving beyond discussions on intentions to adopt green IT, businesses in Singapore and Asia Pacific have already adopted environmentally responsible printing practices and reaped tangible results, and will continue to do so. Pre- and post-analysis of some HP MPS customers' imaging and printing operations have revealed energy savings of between 30 percent and 80 percent and reductions in paper consumption in the millions of pages.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
All CIOs are asking themselves, "How do I demonstrate the value of what we do to the business?" The CIO and IT leadership team should provide the CEO and management team the answers to three questions: Are IT costs trackable? Are the right IT investment decisions being made? Do financial controls permit effective chargeback? Singapore’s leaders are increasing their visibility and control into IT's value to the business, and in turn improving their communication back to senior management in business metrics, not IT metrics

Do you think there will be an upturn in 2010 or will we still be in the recession?
According to Mark Hurd, HP chairman and chief executive officer: "We expect the IT industry to return to growth in 2010 and believe that HP will outpace the market. Our broad product and services portfolio and global scale give HP a clear competitive advantage. As a result, we see tremendous opportunity to grow our business and improve earnings while delivering value to our customers."

That said, looking ahead to 2010, we’re in a world where change is the only constant. New research conducted on behalf of HP shows that more than 90 percent of senior business decision makers believe business cycles will continue to be unpredictable in the next few years. As a result, 80 percent recognize a need to be far more flexible in their approaches to business and technology.

Stree Naidu, Asia-Pacific and Japan vice president, Imperva

Stree Naidu

Asia-Pacific and Japan vice president
Imperva

"Cybercriminals will be evolving their operatus mundi and target data, whether stored centrally or over multiple locations in a structured or unstructured form."

Q: Which emerging technology was overhyped, and why?
That would be data loss prevention (DLP). DLP promised to stop major data breaches, yet it has continued in dramatic fashion. For enterprises, DLP deployments have proven to be long, painful and expensive. Further, the issue of stolen laptops and other physical devices may have been overhyped. For example, the largest data breach in 2009 was Heartland Payment Systems with 130 million records taken. In this case, external hackers attacked a database through the web application, which existing DLP solutions would not have helped. We still need a combination of solutions to tackle the security challenges that continue to escalate.

What was the biggest lesson learnt in 2009?
For many companies, it is the fact that yesterday's security technology cannot handle today's threats. Today, the security industry is a US$16 billion industry--yet less than 10 percent of this spending go toward protecting data. Technologies such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems cannot stop the SQL injections from automated bot systems that are responsible for taking millions of data records annually.

What were the top three most important industry developments in 2009?
1. Acquisitions: This year, IBM bought two companies to further fill its security suite--Ounce Labs and Guardium. These purchases validated that enterprises need--and will continue to demand--a combined application and data-centric approach to protecting data.

2. Compliance: The payment card industry (PCI) and other mandates continued to proliferate. Even in Singapore this year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has implemented additional guidelines for data protection.

3. Increased prominence of the chief information security officer (CISO): The chief information security officer is one of the fastest-growing jobs in IT. By hiring more CISOs, enterprises are acknowledging the need for a separate, dedicated expertise focused on security.

What will be the top security issue in 2010, and why?
The top issue will be the industrialization of hacking, with clear definition of roles developing within the hacking community, forming a supply chain that starkly resembles that of drug dealers. This community comprises botnet growers and cultivators whose sole concern is to maintain and increase botnet communities; attackers who purchase botnets for attacks aimed at extracting sensitive information; and cybercriminals who acquire sensitive information for the key purpose of committing fraudulent transactions. As these criminals become increasingly organized, so does their arsenal which will be automated tools such as malware distributed via botnets.

In 2010, we will also see a move from application to data security as cybercriminals look for new ways to bypass existing security measures and focus on obtaining information.

Network-layer attacks have decreased largely due to the established paradigm of network layer defenses, while application-level attacks are principally under control with established domain and web application security. Cybercriminals will be evolving their operatus mundi and target data, whether stored centrally or over multiple locations in a structured or unstructured form.

At the same time, there will be mounting attacks on social network sites (SNS) where vulnerable and less technically savvy groups are susceptible to phishing attacks and malware. It's not just the SNS that will need to put up strong defenses. As we have seen with the recent Rockyou.com vulnerability, more providers of widgets to SNS will be also be increasingly targeted.

Do you think there will be an upturn in 2010 or will we still be in a recession?
In general, spending is up and security has gained some momentum. However, the data breaches of 2009 have taught us that we should not be complacent. As such, companies should invest in technologies that will help them to be more resource efficient and attack resilient.

Howie Lau, general manager and executive director, Lenovo Asean

Howie Lau

general manager and executive director
Lenovo Asean

"Regardless of government regulations, all companies should start to adopt stricter corporate social responsibility to reduce the impact on the environment."

Q: What was the biggest thing that affected your company this year?
The impact of the global economic crisis on business planning and organizations had a significant impact on the PC industry--forcing the industry to be particularly nimble and innovative.

Businesses reduced their budgets and non-essential spend. However, the PC industry was buoyed by the small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and consumer PC sectors, which ended the year stronger than forecast.

Our greatest hits of 2009 came from both ends of the spectrum: Netbooks and all-in-one (AIO) desktops. Customers are increasingly looking for innovative features, functionality, value and design.

Emerging markets such as China, India, Asean and Russia have also "emerged" to become a key driving force in consumer demand. In our region, Asean has been a key growth engine. China, needless to say, continues to be an important market where Lenovo remains the market leader.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
The issue is the impact on the environment. The PC industry is witnessing a greater focus on going green. In the current business climate, going green isn't a luxury. Rather, it is a business imperative today.

Regardless of government regulations, all companies should start to adopt stricter corporate social responsibility to reduce the impact on the environment.

What's the next big thing in IT?
From our corporate customers, we see several trends--cloud, migration to Windows 7, bigger focus on green and total cost of ownership (TCO).

On the cloud front, we expect to see more customers move from concept and evaluation to implementation. Our strategy is to offer a full portfolio of both PC and cloud computing offerings which interoperate seamlessly. We address the cloud computing market through partnerships and Lenovo offerings.

With the launch of Windows 7, we see more migration to Windows 7 by large enterprises and SMBs.

We will also continue to see increased demand for green technology. The focus on green is moving toward energy efficiency as businesses and consumers look to cut energy costs as much as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition, we expect ROI (Return on investment), or TCO, to continue to be a priority. This will see businesses seek technologies that are durable and reliable.

How's business looking like in 2010--will there be an upturn or are we still in the recession?
We are starting to see positive signs that the worldwide economy is improving with large enterprises increasing their expenditure on PC as well as the growing consumer and SMB market.

Consumers and SMB will continue to grow aggressively as there will be more first-time PC customers in growing economies like Asean. PC prices have become more affordable and average income has generally increased. Education and social networking will be main content drivers for consumers.

PCs in the corporate world have gone from nice-to-have in the 1980s to must-haves today. Consumers and SMBs are increasingly moving in the same direction.

Rohit Gandhi, Asia-Pacific senior vice president, Mahindra Satyam

Rohit Gandhi

Asia-Pacific senior vice president
Mahindra Satyam

"In 2010, the main corporate IT challenge for organizations in Asia Pacific and globally will be to achieve more with less since IT departments will still remain under pressure to be prudent and save costs where possible, while still enhancing service delivery."

Name one prediction you feel analysts got wrong or right about the outsourcing/IT services industry in 2009.
Analysts accurately predicted the impact of recession on IT budgets in 2009, which was pertinent to outsourcers and managed service providers like us. Across the board, CIOs faced shrinking IT budgets, but had to achieve more with less and extract new value out of existing systems.

At the same time, analysts missed the mark on predictions regarding mobile applications, such as iPhone applications growing exponentially in 2009, thereby influencing consumer and enterprise productivity at the same rate.

While iPhone applications did become very popular, especially when Apple's handset gained 3G and GPS features and the simultaneous iPhone OS 2.0 update added support for third-party applications, in many cases, the iPhone did not measure up to the standards for device and data applications for enterprises.

What will be the top three technology trends or issues in 2010, and why?
In 2010, the main technology trends in Asia Pacific and globally will be triggered by the continuing restricted IT budgets and these are:

a) Applications/asset (data center, for example) rationalization, further fueled by cloud computing which will help to reduce costs and improve efficiencies of existing IT systems as well as support for operations.

b) Analytics will be another important trend of strategic IT to better consume and understand data as interactive marketing continues to gain adoption.

c) Social media tapping by enterprises as a new era of social marketing gains ground.

What do you see as the No. 1 corporate IT challenge this year?
In 2010, the main corporate IT challenge for organizations in Asia Pacific and globally will be to achieve more with less since IT departments will still remain under pressure to be prudent and save costs where possible, while still enhancing service delivery. This means that with a slightly more optimistic business outlook, at least as seen in the last few months, companies will need to delicately balance IT cost issues with business growth goals.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
The IT industry in Asia Pacific and globally needs to address the main issue of creating uniform "IT standards". Presently, in many areas, a lack of uniform IT standards confuses and complicates IT adoption, unnecessarily increasing adoption- and compliance-related costs.

How is cloud computing transforming or changing the nature of your business?
As a result of cloud computing, entry barriers for new players to offer expensive yet standard applications have been lowered, and hence alternate models for solution delivery are being tapped into. At the same time, the cycle time for infrastructure and platform mobilization for the development life cycle is getting reduced and this will offer better time to market to customers. Aggregate platform solutions for target industry verticals will take shape in the next 18 to 24 months, and this will be a new market opportunity for outsourcers and managed service providers like Mahindra Satyam.

David Taylor, president of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Micro Focus

David Taylor

president of Asia-Pacific and Japan
Micro Focus

"What we're seeing as part of the process is a very much closer alignment in IT and the business in terms of delivering value for money for IT services."

What were the top three most important industry developments in 2009?
These were:
1. Coping with the impact of the economic downturn: The financial crisis impacted everybody. However, there continued to be strong demand for application migration and modernization solutions even during these difficult financial times. In fact, with the economic downturn, application migration and modernization became even more relevant for companies looking to get more bang for their buck in IT.

2. Cloud computing: It is likely that 10 years from now, just about every application will be delivered from the cloud. What we need to consider is what the cloud would look like, and whether or not it would be public or private. We believe most corporations are not going to allow their applications to run in the public cloud, and may instead house their applications in a private or more protected environment as cloud computing continues to mature.

3. IT spend growing across several verticals: We see governments around the region continue to invest, creating opportunities and work for their people, which is fantastic for us.

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
1. How companies react to the economic crisis and eventual upswing: I think the next key driver for our business is how people react to the financial crisis in the coming year. What we're seeing as part of the process is a very much closer alignment in IT and the business in terms of delivering value for money for IT services. We see that trend translate into the diligence that companies are now going through to ensure they are getting true returns on their investment when making those purchasing decisions.

2. Business getting more competitive: More companies are competing for the same dollars, the same piece of the pie. So we need to put forward a very strong business case to justify purchasing decisions that we're asking companies to make.

3. Growth in Asia: There is a real contrast here. On the one hand, we have the powerhouse, China, followed by India whose domestic growth is quite significant in terms of IT expenditure. On the other hand, we have emerging markets from countries such as Vietnam coming forward and starting to really blossom in terms of their IT requirements. This creates quite a diverse market opportunity, and many companies are trying to leverage this. However, it is the organizations which have been here a long time and understand the business very well, which will really benefit from these opportunities.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
While the economy is likely to recover, companies will carry on taking a cautious approach and focus on continually driving down costs while increasing productivity. What we are seeing in the market are corporate and government agencies continuing to drive down costs significantly, while providing more services to their end users. We are also seeing a reduction in new applications being purchased and people building applications.

What technology trend do you think will transform IT this year?
There are two trends:
Cloud computing: The overriding tech trend is cloud computing and the utilization of that will evolve over time. What we're seeing today is really an early adoption of that environment, in true cloud environment.

Reducing IT expenditure and cost: As a result of the economic downturn, many customers have been looking to dramatically reduce their expenditure and cost. In fact, there was a strong demand for application migration and modernization solutions in 2009, and this trend is set to continue in 2010. Organizations will continually look for a fast, low-risk alternative to rip-and-replace technology solutions which will ensure that their business will ride out the economic downturn and improve their business value.

Phey Teck Moh, Asia-Pacific corporate vice president, Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions

Phey Teck Moh

Asia-Pacific corporate vice president
Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions

"Commercial devices are creeping into the domain of mission-critical usage with ease of implementation and short-term costs."

Name three hot technologies to watch.
Three broad trends will influence our lives in 2010:

1. Higher wide area network speeds made possible by advanced technologies like WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE). These will catalyze the mobility of media, delivering new levels of rich media experience for users. The Singapore government's plan of delivering 1GB speed to every household through the next-generation national broadband network is not too far away. The possibilities that these kinds of infrastructure improvements will open up and mold our lives are immense.

2. The other significant trend I foresee is the evolution toward richer multimedia applications such as video in the public safety domain, which presently is more voice and less complex data oriented. Video and its applications will add significant strength to the pre-emptive, combative as well as responsive capabilities of public safety agencies on the frontline.

3. Enterprise mobility is fast emerging as a critical component on the agenda of CIOs. This trend will gain further momentum, and increasingly more enterprises across various market verticals will leverage the locked-up value of mobility technologies to empower their field force. This trend will influence all core enterprise activities, raising the bar even higher for process efficiency, transparency, customer service and competitive strength.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
We see the enablement of wireless networks in organizations moving from a scenario-dependent and convenient communications solution to one that is commonplace and mobility critical for enterprises. The wirelessly-enabled enterprise is an attractive prospect for organizations not only from a cost and efficiency perspective, but also as IT departments try to keep pace with the increased use of wireless and mobility devices.

Wireless devices are ubiquitously used today. Personal usage does not extend easily to enterprise usage due to issues such as the ability to support the devices as personal device, short life cycles, evolving application interfaces, total cost of ownership, enterprise security and other concerns. Similarly, commercial devices are creeping into the domain of mission-critical usage with ease of implementation and short-term costs. However, on a longer term, this may compromise the mission-critical nature of the public safety or the mission-critical element of the government mission.

Delivering a recognized business case for the wirelessly enabled organization on a sustainable, cost-effective basis is the real challenge.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
To address the issue on turning business opportunity into reality, there is a need for the industry to establish standards. Standards allow for innovation that is sustainable and enables long-term returns for IT investments.

1. Standards for applications interfaces:

Globally, there is a move to establish uniform and mandatory standards regimes such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to safeguard networks and prevent theft of customer- and business-critical data. There is an onus on IT departments as well as related verticals and organizations to come together to help define wireless usage policies and standards, as the necessity and desire for wirelessly-enabled enterprises increases.

2. Security:

Securing access to the enterprise and intrusion repudiation remains a critical issue for IT. Security, both network and physical, is fast becoming a fundamental imperative for enterprises as well as governments.

At the physical security level, wireless technology providers need to work closer with governments and municipalities to widen their choice of public safety security solutions.

3.Mission-critical spectrum:

Establishing the spectrum for mission-critical networks is crucial to the future development of broadband public safety and mission-critical government systems.

For governments, terrorism is becoming an everyday threat. Therefore, new wireless-based technologies help equip first responders with tremendous preemptive capabilities in the form of video surveillance technologies, and secure and fail-safe interoperable digital communication platforms.

Vlasta Berka, general manager, Nokia Singapore/Malaysia and Brunei

Vlasta Berka

general manager
Nokia Singapore/Malaysia and Brunei

"Mobile payment has the potential to enter mainstream in 2010. We will see the start of an increase in cashless transactions in Singapore in 2010."

Q: What was the biggest news in your industry this year?
The mobile industry saw various vendors launching unlimited music download services. At Nokia, we launched a revolutionary music service called Comes With Music. This gives consumers hassle-free, unlimited downloads for a one-year subscription, after which you keep all the music you downloaded. This has been a huge success, especially in Singapore where consumers, as research has shown, have an incredible appetite for music.

What technology innovation or product are you looking forward to in 2010?
We are looking forward to location-based services. The ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device will enhance social networking for consumers. This encourages telecommunications convergence where consumers can easily share their photos and location with friends and family anytime, anywhere. Consumers can also easily locate the nearest ATM or whereabouts of a friend, and more!

Will business be picking up in 2010, or will the recession remain?
Globally, we expect market conditions to improve in 2010 and the overall mobile devices market to stabilize and grow more. This growth will include Singapore and Asia Pacific.

As Nokia communicated in the Q3 results announcement, for the coming year, we estimate the volume for the overall mobile device market to increase about 10 percent year over year. We also expect growth in smartphone volumes to be significantly greater.

Which emerging technology has the potential to enter mainstream in 2010, and why?
Mobile payment has the potential to enter mainstream in 2010. We will see the start of an increase in cashless transactions in Singapore in 2010, as the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has been seeking industry participation to encourage mobile payment. More point-of-sale (POS) terminals are expected to be deployed island-wide starting 2010.

James Wei, president of Asia-Pacific, Opera Software

James Wei

president of Asia-Pacific
Opera Software

"We are expecting to see a more compatible Web and it is also a definite victory for the Web community."

Q: What was the top IT news of 2009?
For us, the top news was that the European Commission accepted Microsoft's browser offer. From now on, European PC users will be offered a screen within the Windows software allowing them to choose their own browser. This is an influential step that will change the Web in the future. Back in the days of Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer, the Web had been developed in a less standard compliant way. Some sites break when opened by non-IE browsers, not to mention using other Internet devices such as mobile phones and game consoles.

While people are aware that they can choose their own browsers, it will change the way the Web is developed. Developers will be more aware of using open Web standards to make sure their site looks the same when viewed by non-IE browsers. We are expecting to see a more compatible Web and it is also a definite victory for the Web community, as interoperability and compatibility on the Web are the seeds for innovation and growth.

What was the biggest thing that affected your company in 2009?
The growth of mobile Internet users was significant in 2009. According to our State of Mobile Web report, the number of Opera Mini users more than doubled--from about 16.4 million in November 2008 to 41.7 million in November 2009. Rapid growth of mobile Internet users was evident, not only in developed countries, but also and especially in developing parts of the world where the Internet penetration rate was below 30 percent and mobile phones were more likely the only way for people to access the Web. In this case, a friendly, intuitive user interface and full Web capability are key elements for developing a mobile browser. Also, less data transmission to the mobile phone helps the Web page load faster and consume less memory.

What technology innovation or product are you looking forward to in 2010?
While increasingly more devices are equipped with Internet connectivity and the varieties of OS platforms, cross-platforms and cross device Web technologies will remain our focus in 2010. Take smartphones. There are more than three operating systems in the market, including Android, Brew, Symbian and Windows Mobile. For operators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), they would like to deliver the same and consistent user experience across their entire range of handsets, but they have to incur more resources, cost and time to accomplish that.

For end users, we are seeing the needs from people who want to synchronize personal browser settings with their desktop browser, as well as all their connected devices, ensuring that their bookmarks, search engines and others are always accessible. On the other hand, they would also like to see their data and MP3 files accessible between different devices. Cloud computing is one way to achieve that, and mostly through a third party. But people have to surrender the sole ownership of their content. What happens if a Web site closes down and takes all of the user's stored data with it? More and more companies and users are looking into personal clouds where it is not necessary to hand over the storage rights of your content to the third party. The latest Opera desktop browser now has integrated Opera Unite. This is a browser technology that turns your PC to a server and allows users to share their personal content and data without relying on third-party servers.

Do you think there will be an upturn in 2010 or will we still be in a recession?
A turnaround is underway and Asia is leading it. First, the global gross domestic product (GDP) forecast is better than the one in 2009, and the economy in Asia will perform better than other regions. Financial institutions see Asia-Pacific GDP growth of 7 percent in 2010, compared with 2.7 percent globally. China leads the growth, which will be about 9.4 percent; India, Indonesia and Singapore each will score about 5 to 6 percent; while South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan will garner 4 to 5 percent.

Second, from our State of Mobile Web report, Southeast Asia is the fastest-growing region for Opera Mini in terms of page views, number of users, and data transferred. Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, respectively, come next in each of those categories. Active communication activities indicate the growth of the economy.

Lee Hong Meng, Singapore managing director, Reliance Globalcom

Lee Hong Meng

Singapore managing director
Reliance Globalcom

"For global multinational corporations, their focus is on consolidation of vendors and outsourcing to minimize expenses."

Q: What do you remember best of 2009?
With the global economic environment as it was in 2009, multinational corporations were keen to maximize the efficiency of their current investments in global network infrastructures by ensuring all global offices could effectively contribute to business-critical projects. With this in mind, more organizations turned to virtual workforce collaboration in order to reduce costs and increase productivity, and are starting to see the benefits of achieving greater business process synergies more cost effectively.

To effect this, CIOs of global organizations are increasingly required to deliver reliable distribution of high-bandwidth, business-critical applications to business teams that are geographically spread across several regions. Organizations need to ensure that their regional teams have real-time access to these applications and other critical data in a secure and reliable manner, and to create more effective international project teams, improving business efficiency and workforce productivity.

In 2009, enterprises also faced challenges in managing large global networks across multiple time zones with multiple regional suppliers. This was especially challenging for global corporations which had outsourced business processes to low-cost business centers to take advantage of lower operational costs; as well as for companies which required reliable network access to developing markets. Moreover, global enterprises demanded a flexible network to scale to changing business requirements, whether it was increasing or decreasing bandwidth at a specific site, moving sites, or adding additional global locations on the network.

In many instances these demands came alongside strategic mergers and acquisitions, meaning that fewer internal IT staff was available to deliver increasingly complex network management capabilities--an element which is very rarely a core internal IT function in the first place.

What are the next "big things" in networking/telecommunications in Asia?
1. Increased uptake and acceptance of Ethernet technology:
We see the growth of Ethernet as a supporting technology for Singapore enterprises in 2010, as they increasingly look toward Ethernet networks as the basis for expanding their communication networks, as well as supporting their implementation of other applications via cloud computing models. As global Ethernet service availability increases, and its business value--both in terms of security, speed and efficiency--is further recognized by Asian enterprises, this will be a key trend that will support the growth of our business and the wider telecoms industry. This trend will be supported by the requirement for more high bandwidth, collaborative applications to be accessible in more international locations. And as cloud computing services become increasingly mature and integrated into global enterprise networks, we believe Ethernet will emerge as the key platform to support this.

2. Movement toward hybrid VNO provisioning:
Within the telecommunications industry, there will be a continued and more focused movement toward a hybrid virtual network operator (VNO) provisioning approach by all of the major global providers, to answer the enterprise demand for higher bandwidth connectivity into emerging markets. There is no single carrier with the ability to provide on-net connectivity to all of the emerging markets necessary in today's globalized economy. As such, the ability of global service providers to manage on- and off-net partner providers in local countries, to supplement their own backbone capabilities, will become increasingly critical. More so, global carriers now recognize that partnering with local providers to extend off-net coverage is vital, and owned-infrastructure rollout to support the target growth markets of global industry leaders is not viable.

3. Providing the "business agility" that will enable global enterprises to rapidly enter or leave specific markets, and to rapidly benefit from merger-and-acquisition activity:
As the global economy begins to improve, there is increasing focus on the ability to expand into new international markets via expansion or acquisition, and this will become an increasing priority. The telecoms industry in Singapore and across Asia must be prepared to support this trend as effectively as possible. This means being able to provide rapid deployment of solutions, easing the integration of existing legacy networks (that are required during acquisitions) with new solutions, while also supporting flexible contracts to support the varying nature of project durations. In practical terms this means providers will have to be able to manage existing legacy relationships with other providers, while also demonstrating a clear understanding of the most cost-effective and suitable technologies to be integrated into networks where market penetration is required. This level of network design consultation will be increasingly important if carriers in Asia wish to win new business. And being able to demonstrate a proven capability in this regard across all the diverse national markets in Asia will be critical.

How is business looking like for the telecommunications industry in 2010?
The telecommunications industry generally and in Asia has weathered the economic downturn relatively well as global enterprises continue to seek to improve their agility and collaborate more effectively through making efficient and prudent investments in communications spending.

This positive outlook is expected to carry on into 2010, and according to Gartner's recent projections, IT spending in Asia Pacific is expected to grow by 5 percent to reach US$515.6 billion in 2010, with telecommunications still representing the largest area of IT investment.

We have seen this being translated into segment-specific requirements among our customer base. For global multinational corporations, their focus is on consolidation of vendors and outsourcing to minimize expenses. We have seen this specifically with new customers like Ausenco--a global project management consultant that realized significant business benefit by consolidating the management of multiple service provider partners in challenging South American geographies to us. We also saw increased interest in managed services to decrease operational expenses and capital expenses (CAPEX). These buyers tend to be more technology agnostic and focus on solutions, while also looking to improve redundancy through multi-carrier international networks. Good examples here are companies like Tyco/ADT or Aurecon, which have enjoyed significant material reductions in voice spend by implementing Voice-over-IP services from us and decommissioning legacy PBX estates.

Whether or not the crisis has fully passed, what is most important for global enterprises is to ensure that they are fully prepared for the economic upturn that will follow. We are seeing more companies rolling out managed networks now, which were previously put on hold. This is a sign that many are looking to establish efficient, collaborative global workforces by making strategic IT and infrastructure investments to increase their service capabilities in new, emerging markets in the near future.

Gregory Wade, managing director for Southeast Asia, Research In Motion

Gregory Wade

managing director for Southeast Asia
Research In Motion

"For global multinational corporations, their focus is on consolidation of vendors and outsourcing to minimize expenses."

Q: What were the top three most important industry developments in 2009?
1. Innovation in unified multimedia and communications devices:
The new generation of smartphones allows users to unify a host of functions including PC, television, personal media player, digital camera, personal gaming device and portable navigation gadget into one single device.

2. Increased convergence and collaboration:
According to IDC, in 2008, a total of 1.19 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide, of which close to 13 percent were smartphones. IDC believes the adoption of smartphones will continue its upward trend, estimating that of the 1.4 billion mobile devices sold by 2013, 20 percent will be smartphones. This is because the smartphone has revolutionized the mobile handset market. It has become almost a compulsory mobile device for both business and personal use. Users want to be able to do everything on their mobile phones, including access email, surf the Web, organize their schedules and watch/listen to mobile media content.

3. Growth of social media and mobile entertainment:
The interest in social-networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter remains unabated as the Gen Y population continues to drive the use of social media. RIM has seen the strong adoption of social-networking applications such as Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones that has surpassed the 5-million mark. On the mobile entertainment front, the extremely popular collaboration with U2, the rock band, allowed the end user to download an application to his BlackBerry smartphone in order to sample music videos from U2's latest album release.

Can you name one prediction the analysts got wrong or right about the industry last year?
A trend to take note of is consumerization and social software. Consumerization is characterized as "a reflection of the aspiration of a generation, the need for participation, the desire to contribute and the sense of being a part of the community". This user empowerment, also termed Web 2.0, will drive demand, increase the adoption rate and determine the direction of new technology, including that of smartphones.

Recognizing this trend, BlackBerry solutions cover a wide array of social-networking tools for both business and personal use, which includes BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube and instant messaging. RIM has seen strong demand for social-networking applications such as Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones that has surpassed the 5-million mark, as well as an increase in the popularity of multimedia content with the recent collaboration with U2, a well-known rock band, to offer mobile users the latest multimedia experience.

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
The Economist predicted that by 2015, almost all mobile devices sold will be smartphones. The booming smartphone market can be attributed to the innovative technology that has enabled unification of several media devices, such as the PC, television, personal media player, digital camera, personal gaming device and portable navigation gadget, into one single device.

Beyond hardware, the future lies in the mobile applications market, which is a key focus for us in 2010. On the enterprise front, we expect that more software applications will be developed to streamline and integrate business communications that will boost efficiency and workflow, as well as eliminate reliance on multiple devices.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
We are optimistic given the encouraging prediction by The Economist that almost all mobile devices sold by 2015 will be smartphones.

2010 promises to be another exciting year for RIM and we will continue to drive the platform evolution in mobility by focusing on the fundamentals of data compression, connectivity and security, and continuing to introduce innovative integrated solutions catering to enterprise and retail customers.

Jeremy Cooper, regional vice president of corporate marketing, Salesforce.com

Jeremy Cooper

regional vice president of corporate marketing
Salesforce.com

"In 2010, we will increasingly see social networking technologies such as Twitter and Facebook integrated with CRM."

Q: What was the top news in 2009?
Cloud computing became of huge interest to companies looking to rationalize the cost of IT amidst the economic downturn. Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions allowed organizations of any size to embrace enterprise-class sales, marketing and service applications without the heavy investments and complexity associated with traditional technology models.

What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, continued to change the way companies interacted with their customers. These channels were increasingly integrated within customer contact centers, allowing organizations to participate in conversations no matter where they occurred.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address in 2010.
The industry should collectively work harder to ensure that feature-rich, enterprise-class software is not just available to huge enterprises with huge IT budgets, but to companies of all sizes. Cloud computing solves this issue because all that is needed is low bandwidth, whether wired or wireless Internet connection. Speed to deployment can be as quick as signing up for any service online, rather than months or years of installing and configuring software!

More importantly, cloud computing redistributes the burden of success--it no longer becomes the sole responsibility of the customer. With the cloud computing model, chances of failure are slim. Customers do not have to worry about upgrades, downtime or security issues as these are all taken care of within the cloud.

What technology trend do you think will transform IT this year?
In 2010, we will increasingly see social-networking technologies such as Twitter and Facebook integrated with CRM. Understanding how to join the conversation, as opposed to driving it, will be key for organizations looking to retain and enhance the value of existing customers. Not only will they allow organizations to market and address issues immediately as they arise, there is also the opportunity to leverage the knowledge being generated in these online communities as well as engage them in areas such as product development.

Tan Poh Choo, Singapore practice director, SAS Institute

Tan Poh Choo

Singapore practice director
SAS Institute

"There is increasing momentum in social media analytics as such networks gain popularity in Asia."

Q: What was the top news in 2009 from your perspective?
The biggest news in 2009 was the continuing volatile impact of the global downturn throughout the Asian region. We saw dramatic changes in business conditions, customer demand, and in many countries, government-led economic stimuli. 2009 saw organizations across all our industry sectors needing to rapidly change to external conditions at an unprecedented rate and scale. This highlighted the value of a comprehensive business analytics framework for deep insight to manage and optimize, as well as to identify new opportunities to pursue.

There was also increased interest in other areas, including text analytics or unstructured data analysis, cloud computing, and sustainability management or green computing.

Which emerging technology has the potential to enter mainstream in 2010, and why?
There is increasing momentum in social media analytics as such networks gain popularity in Asia. In 2010, we will see mainstream businesses learning to adapt to the use of personal interactive media and communications technologies to connect with customers. This will lead to greater insights on customer behavior; as businesses use it to better respond to customer needs. We will also see this adoption by public-sector organizations as they seek to improve their services with their public stakeholders.

On top of social media analytics, it is expected that text analytics and cloud computing will move to mainstream in 2010, as there is a strong demand for solutions in these areas.

Name the top three software-related issues that CIOs in Asia should pay attention to in 2010.
From an enterprise software perspective, CIOs in Asia should pay attention to the following in 2010 to keep their firms a step ahead of competitors:

  • Enable the organization to capitalize on vast data accumulating within its IT system and consolidate the data so it can be analyzed to create timely, high-quality information to support proactive decision-making.
  • Deploy business analytics widely through the organization's hierarchy and processes to improve business performance.
  • Identify and manage potential risks of improper or fraudulent usage of business functions and assets.
  • Technology consolidation and modernization to equip firms with the right tools.

The biggest challenge facing IT departments is...
The biggest challenge facing IT departments is managing and pragmatically incorporating the promise of new technology offerings with existing systems and investments. A good business analytics framework maximizes the value of technology and information assets. This enables organizations to address critical business issues right away, with the flexibility to add new functionality incrementally over time. As capabilities are added, the benefits continue to multiply, while total cost of ownership is reduced. Thus, the importance of technology consolidation and modernization.

Barrie Sheers, Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager, Sybase

Barrie Sheers

Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager
Sybase

"The development of innovative and feature-rich mobile devices that make mobile surfing easy, influenced the uptake of mobile broadband among consumers in 2009."

Q: What were the top two most important industry developments in 2009?
These were:

Increased focus on data management: the global financial crisis has caused many businesses to realize that, besides people, their other most important asset is information. Thus, they have taken steps to utilize their data more effectively in order to enhance their competitive edge and take cost out of their business.

Mobile commerce: as a result of the proliferation and innovation of mobile devices and mobile broadband, 2009 saw mobile operators launch an array of mobile banking, mobile remittance and mobile payment initiatives. Traditional methods of banking, payment and remittance are being challenged by the value proposition that mobile commerce brings to the consumer. This will continue to develop in 2010, with an increasing number of banks and telcos offering more simplified and easy-to-use mobile services.

What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
The development of innovative and feature-rich mobile devices that make mobile surfing easy, influenced the uptake of mobile broadband among consumers. Further encouraging this trend was the increased affordability of mobile broadband, with operators offering better packages to gain market share. The same could be said of wireless enterprise clients like notebooks and netbooks as well as wireless technologies, all of which made the unwired enterprise a reality

What are the top three technology priorities for 2010?
1. Cloud computing adoption:
Cloud computing gained huge interest in 2009 and will continue to be key in 2010. In light of this trend, because the cloud and its various components are scalable and interoperable on various platforms and in various environments, database management needs to be able to scale and be heterogeneous, too.

2. Next-generation mobile banking and mobile payment solutions:
While mobile banking is not new, what we continue to expect to see in 2010 is that the banks are now looking at the next generation of mobile banking solutions. Previously, it was about launching a service. In 2010, it will be about offering a simple-to-use and useful channel for their customers. Mobile banking has not taken off as expected, mainly because the solutions deployed were hard to use (remembering key words) and offered little functionality. Banks are now realizing that and will look to fix these shortcomings in 2010 and beyond.

Also, we see a number of institutions looking into other payment services. In 2010, we expect to see mobile payments for mass transit, car parking, payment of fines, etc. We are seeing both our banking and mobile operator customers come up with a number of useful and innovative payment services for consumers. Momentum is definitely mounting as more and more companies understand the convenience and immediate nature of the mobile channel as a payment option.

3. Analytics and business intelligence:
For many companies, business intelligence is a critical resource for decision-makers. To extract information from huge, ever-growing databases and then turn this into actionable business intelligence at the time it is needed, puts enormous strain on traditional data management systems. This strain can cause major performance issues as more users run complicated, ad hoc queries on large data sets. In 2010, companies will continue to look for innovative enterprise analytics and data warehousing software tools that give customers the power and speed they need to make actionable business intelligence a reality even in real time.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
2009 was a good year for Sybase, which believes it will carry on enjoying success in 2010. Besides enterprise mobility, companies will continue to focus on data management, looking at solutions in the areas of business intelligence and data warehousing to get the most out of their data and information assets.

Roger Lim, CEO, Webvisions Group

Roger Lim

CEO
Webvisions Group

"There will be increased mobility and wireless computing as wireless gear gets cheaper and bandwidth becomes larger."

What will be the hot trends or issues in 2010?
Cloud computing will mature over the next couple of years and I expect to see businesses trying to comprehend and adopt this trend. Adoption of the cloud will be more widespread.

Data centers will also evolve as the move toward virtualization gathers steam. As data centers become more dynamic, customers will benefit from increased offerings.

There will be increased mobility and wireless computing as wireless gear gets cheaper and bandwidth becomes larger. 2010 will see mobile computing and wireless computing like we've never seen before, both for the consumer and the enterprise.

What's your outlook for your industry in 2010?
Cloud computing is not new. In fact, the whole paradigm of centralized computing has existed for years. But I think 2010 will see massive adoption of cloud computing on a practical level by enterprises as well as small and midsize businesses as they move away from server-based computing and seek providers that can truly customize their computing, bandwidth and Internet resource needs. Lower total cost of ownership and the ability to scale dynamically without upfront investment would be key drivers for adoption.

What has been the biggest IT lesson learnt or the most memorable experience in 2009?
The global recession obviously meant many companies were constrained in their spending, and that led to many IT departments pondering how to maximize their existing IT investments. Yet the tightening of budgets also offered companies like Webvisions many opportunities to push out cloud computing services. Cloud computing offers organizations the availability of enterprise-class infrastructure (server clusters, blades, routers, storage area networks, firewalls, etc.) without the need to actually invest in the required capital expenditure. You pay for only the additional resources when you need it. This reduces your total operational cost and allows you to squeeze savings out of your IT budget. You save on IT manpower, too, as there is no need to invest in costly manpower to maintain and manage otherwise expensive setups of servers, blades and other capital equipment.

Andrew Tay, Asia-Pacific president, Zebra Technologies

Andrew Tay

Asia-Pacific president
Zebra Technologies

"IT investments in healthcare continued to rise in 2009, as hospitals saw the advantages of barcoded wristbands, RFID technology and mobile printing."

Q: What was the biggest thing that affected the industry in 2009?
The impact of the financial tsunami that hit the global economy as far back as 2008, was felt across all industries. For Zebra, the effect of the downturn was particularly felt in the healthcare and chemical industries.

A global economic meltdown and liquidity freeze mean organizations require optimal orchestration of human and material resources, and are under pressure to be efficient and agile to squeeze more out of the assets they currently hold.

On the bright side, the recession has definitely created an environment where business players constantly review business processes and put into practice the most important lesson that the crisis has taught us--to shift our minds from a recovery-only mindset to one that focuses on risk management, business continuity and resiliency.

What was 2009's most important industry development, and why?
Personally, the rise of emerging markets such as China, India and Indonesia was one of the most important industry developments of 2009. They are the key swing factor, the future of world trade and global financial stability, and the critical players in global politics. The growth of foreign direct investments (FDIs) to these markets was also a testament to the untapped potential they possess and the determination to support sustainable economic growth.

Apart from that, the growth of the retail industry and the government's emphasis on the healthcare sector in Singapore were also widely discussed in 2009.

With the growth in the retail sector, barcode and label printing as well as radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies played important roles in enhancing operational excellence, especially in warehousing and just-in-time stocking facilities.

Governments also invested in building new hospitals and healthcare facilities to meet growing demand. IT investments in healthcare continued to rise in 2009, as hospitals saw the advantages of barcoded wristbands, RFID technology and mobile printing.

Name one issue you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
RFID has been around for a long time, but till today, there isn't a common standard that everyone agrees to. By implementing standardized numbering systems and a global repository to store and access data, industry sectors will have a consistent and more effective way of obtaining information. In addition, the standards should make it easier to leverage RFID technology for automatically tracking and identifying products as they traverse the supply chain.

What's your outlook for your industry's market in 2010?
For the region, there are some encouraging signs that the worst may be over and that the downturn has finally reached the bottom. Employment is set to rise, which means consumer spending will improve.

As for the industry that we are in, compliance labeling, from nutrition facts and freshness stamps to tracking prescription drugs throughout the manufacturing process, will continue to play a crucial role in the supply chain and product safety. Companies that take a proactive rather than reactive role in creating and implementing standards will not only increase efficiencies, but also effectively manage risk and protect their corporate reputation. While some industries are not currently required to label, investments early on in product labeling and identification in the supply chain can lead to direct cost savings and easy product tracking, inventory and recall management.

Last but not least, cost management is also becoming more important as businesses need to continue to focus on organizational optimization and process improvements to drive productivity, customer value, and efficiency.