Seizing Opportunities in Singapore, a Digital Exchange Hub

How and why the Lion City gains its stellar reputation for being a hub that enables enterprises to confidently evolve towards their digital future

Tejaswini Tilak
Seizing Opportunities in Singapore, a Digital Exchange Hub

As companies look ahead to a post-COVID-19 future rife with anticipation and uncertainty, one thing has become clear – digital transformation is not just a one-off action, nor is it a question of whether businesses need to transform. Digital isn’t something you add, but something your organization has to become. Businesses should therefore view digital transformation as a constant approach to change.

Beyond the cloud, it is imperative that businesses embrace a digital-first approach: one that draws on a completely different mindset to take on the bigger picture, where the cloud is still an important spoke in the wheel but is further enhanced by access to a diverse mix of locations, partners, technologies, and services – all integrated into one robust platform strategy. To support these businesses, interconnection, or the private exchange of data between companies, will be the de facto way forward.

Singapore’s strong digital connectivity, access to talent pools and emerging markets, as well as its market maturity in terms of innovation make it an ideal digital hub in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the Singapore economy being affected by the global pandemic, Singapore’s installed interconnection bandwidth growth is still expected to grow at a 51% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over five years between 2019 and 2023, according to the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 4, a market study published by Equinix. The country also expects its economy to grow at a faster pace than previously predicted as vaccinations gain pace.[1]

With an anticipated increase in digital business traffic exchange in Singapore, thanks to strong business activities by regional and global companies, Equinix’s fifth data center in Singapore (SG5) is well poised to meet the needs and demands of customers in the region and support their growth ambitions.

As part of the opening of SG5, I sat down with a panel of experts comprising Sandra Ng, Group Vice President at IDC; Romain Groleau, Managing Director at Accenture Southeast Asia; and Wong Joo Seng, Founder and CEO of Spark Systems, where we discussed Singapore’s role as Asia-Pacific’s centralized hub for digital exchange.

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Digitally supercharged for success

During our discussion, we all agreed that Singapore is an ideal cloud-ready location for businesses to realize their digital ambitions today and in the future. According to Groleau, 80 of the top 100 global tech companies have presence in Singapore[2], leveraging the city state’s digital infrastructure to develop, innovate, and reinvent themselves.

For Wong, whose Singapore-based trading platform developer company builds next-generation high-speed trading platforms for hedge funds, banks, and brokerages, he believes that Singapore’s pivotal geopolitical location with its few natural disasters is key to its success – set to be further bolstered by the launch of SG5. When it came to the topic of digital payments, he opined that Singapore’s progress was smart and systematic based on the population’s natural technology adoption rate, as compared to other markets that seem to have leapfrogged it.

Hybrid solutions for higher impact

Although optimistic about the future, everyone on the panel recognized that the pandemic as well as industry-level circumstances have precipitated several challenges.

According to Wong, although Singapore is currently the third largest financial center in the world, matching – a critical activity in trading which matches a buyer with a seller – used to only be carried out in London, New York or Tokyo and took up to 360 milliseconds per transaction. By leveraging Platform Equinix® to support its trading platform and connect to other key locations, Spark Systems was able to significantly improved trading latency from 360 milliseconds to 1 millisecond.

For retailers in the consumer goods sector, the lockdowns (or ‘circuit breakers’) in Singapore gave them no choice but to reassess their digital strategies. According to Groleau, the pandemic brought to light the need for retailers to explore direct-to-customer channels and product/experience personalization to meet the speed and complexities of customer demands today.[3] In relieving the pressure of increasing online transactions on digital infrastructure and the supply chain, Groleau advocated a shift to hybrid models that leveraged data between systems by migrating them to a common data platform.

As digital becomes the cornerstone to business success and survival in many ways, the underlying architecture needs to be robust to unlock growth ambitions. Whether they were born in the cloud or not, businesses need to look at the long term. Therefore, rather than continue relying on on-premise data centers that are rigid, costly, and fast becoming obsolete, many of them are moving to the edge and even distributing their strategy through a multi-cloud model for their partners and customers. As companies increasingly work with third parties for innovative and technically advanced solutions, the importance of ecosystems within these contexts also cannot be ignored.

What’s next for next-generation innovation?

Cloud-first architecture may have been enough for businesses to stay ahead before the new normal, but it is no longer the case. Unfortunately, based on a survey by Accenture, 36% of the respondents are yet to even realize the full benefits of cloud alone because they do not have the right operating model[4]  – but this is where Equinix can step in.

As Wong mentioned in the discussion, the best approach for the future of technology is to provide the base for it; and the broader the base is, the better. At present, with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day [5], it has become crucial for businesses to be able to tap onto edge capabilities and the right infrastructure to forge ahead into the future, with SG5 as enabler.

Ultimately, business resiliency is only possible with digital resiliency at the heart of it. With adaptable, agile, and flexible infrastructure set up within a vibrant digital hub, the possibilities are truly endless.

To view the full panel discussion from the exclusive webinar, please visit the link here: https://www.equinix.sg/resources/webinars/digital-infrastructure-for-singapores-new-future

1 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/singapore-raises-2021-growth-forecast-to-6-7-recovery-largely-on-track-despite

2 https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/business-insights/insights/singapore-flexes-its-standing-as-asias-technology-capital.html

3 Responding to consumer trends in the new reality

4 Sky High Hopes: Navigating the barriers to maximizing cloud value

5 https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/05/21/how-much-data-do-we-create-every-day-the-mind-blowing-stats-everyone-should-read/?sh=6738241960ba

Tejaswini Tilak
Tejaswini Tilak Senior Director, Segment Marketing Asia-Pacific