Industry July 2013

IT: the Future Is Bright

Professionals here will have many opportunities this year

By Vid Gunapala
Team leader, Michael Page Technology Japan
and Lalita Mosorin
Manager, Michael Page Technology Japan

The technology sector in Japan has experienced significant growth over the past 18 months. Further, there has been an increased demand for information technology professionals across start-ups, as well as small and large multinational businesses.

Top performers—particularly those who are bilingual—are being sought by foreign firms that have had the confidence to invest in Japan, especially in the retail-luxury goods and pharmaceutical-medical areas.

In addition, demand for technology professionals within the IT, telecommunications, financial services, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sectors has been expanding.

Over the coming year, there are expected to be significant and varied opportunities for IT professionals in these areas.

IT & Telecommunications
Internet technologies are rapidly spreading beyond consumer and business applications.

Cloud computing and the use of offshore IT infrastructure remains a key focus, as large enterprises and start-ups look for new ways to build cost-effective technology platforms.

In addition, telecom carriers are extending their fibre footprints and upgrading networks to the next generation of 4G LTE, to meet new demand from businesses and other consumers.

Driven by these sector trends is a need for talented professionals with skills and experience in mobile infrastructure and cloud computing. There is also a rising demand for IT professionals focused on solutions for emerging technologies, social networking services, data analytics, as well as iPad or iTouch devices. This reflects the large number of firms looking to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Over the coming year, it is expected that cloud computing and online solutions will continue to grow as consumers and enterprises increase their internet usage by storing and accessing personal and business data online. This can boost their business efficiency at minimal cost. Further, it is anticipated that the need for telecommunications and network engineers can only gain impetus.

Financial Services
Business activity within the financial industry—particularly insurance firms, Japanese megabanks and foreign asset management and consumer finance firms—is benefiting from the Abenomics policies that have been put in place by the Japanese government.

In addition, due to stricter regulations implemented by the Japanese government’s Financial Services Agency, there is a drive to improve information risk procedures.

As a result, hiring activity has increased within the financial services sector, particularly for professionals with IT security and risk management skills.

The increase in demand for business-side, front-line staff means that more IT support professionals are needed. Demand has been growing steadily since employers significantly reduced their IT teams between 2009 and 2012. The trend then was to move this function off shore, to such lower-cost locations as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Security and asset management firms are expected to have a positive outlook on financial market conditions, while the focus on improving information risk procedures should continue.

When it comes to foreign and local insurance firms, Japanese retail and commercial banks, and online finance firms, there is little doubt that demand will continue for IT professionals—particularly those who are bilingual.

B2B and B2C
Firms are focusing on software solutions that enable critical decisions to be made in real time, through analysis and delivery of sales and marketing information.

Further, Japanese consumer finance firms are expanding their online presence in East and South-East Asia, in an effort to coordinate projects and service delivery with the Japan market.

In a bid to strengthen IT teams and introduce innovation to the business, there is demand for enterprise resource management consultants and system analysts, specifically in the areas of business intelligence and customer relationship management.

Bilingual skills and regional experience are considered particularly valuable. Employers are also providing these professionals with career development opportunities, to retain their skills within the business.

Many businesses anticipate further growth within their IT teams over the next 12 months to meet the requirements of upcoming technology projects, and as organisations seek to align technology delivery with firms’ goals.

For the latest information on the recruitment market in Japan, including available jobs, salary rates and talent management advice: